Take a Deep Breath, Relieve Your Stress

Earlier this year, after I lost my temper and began arguing with my partner, he took a moment of pause and said, “Take a deep breath.” Even in my anger, I knew he wasn’t trying to be patronizing, he simply knew I was irritated and wanted to help me relax. This is his thing; he spends 15 minutes every morning meditating. But I don’t. I suffer from an all-too-common condition. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, whatever the doctors have offered to diagnosis it as, I know it simply as: I can’t quiet my mind. Meditation has always felt like something that just wasn’t for me. You contorted yourself into uncomfortable positions, you had a mantra, you sat still for long periods of time. I couldn’t imagine making that a part of my life. And yet, in the midst of that fight, I decided to try. I took a deep breath. And then another. And then, a space opened up. I realized that you didn’t need to repeat some secret mantra or contort yourself into full lotus. You just needed to breathe. Just inhale, and exhale What works for me and many other beginners is called “coherent breathing”. It is a simple practice of inhaling for a count of six, and then exhaling for a count of six. For those just beginning the practice, it can be helpful to start at a count of three, working up with each new breath. You can be sitting upright or lying down, whatever is most comfortable; there’s no particular posture you need to assume to make it effective. To help narrow your focus on your breathing, you can place one or both hands atop your belly as you breath, feeling your abdomen rise and fall with each breath. When you take a moment to sit down and breathe, you may start worrying about things you have to get done that day, people you have to call, emails you have to respond to. Just come back to the awareness of your breathing. The longer you are able to keep your focus on that and nothing else, the more effective it will be at calming you down and relieving the stress of the day. Focus on your breath and the heavy stuff slips away. It sounds so simple, but there’s a complex biological process at work when you breathe deeply. During times of stress, we tend to breath in rapid, short breaths. Under duress, the oxygen levels in our bloodstream increase, carbon dioxide levels decrease and your blood’s pH comes out of balance. How breathing calms us down “Consciously changing the way you breathe appears to send a signal to the brain to adjust the parasympathetic...

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Meditation Improves Relationships

In case you missed it, emotional regulation resulting from mindfulness was discussed in Part 1. However, mindfulness can also be practiced in order to improve relationships; and no matter what gender you identify with, or what kind of job you perform, improving relationships makes life a whole lot better…and easier! “Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce activity in the amygdala, a region of the brain that determines how much stress we experience and that is central in modulating our fear responses. For example, people with very active amygdala tend to experience more depression and anxiety.” Study after study indicates that strengthening the trait of being mindful predicts: Increased response flexibility – Instead of responding in the same way to people or events with negativity, flip that emotion into something positive and see how that makes you feel. Decreased reactivity – Thinking about it, before acting on it, can be a good thing! Decreased emotional stress (in response to relationship conflict) – More deep breathing to keep things calm inside and on the outside. Improved ability to enter conflict discussion with less anger and anxiety – Clearly a winning strategy. In other words, decreasing amygdala activity through yoga and meditation can alter how we perceive ourselves in relation to others, but it also helps us deal with real life stresses in practical ways that lead to resolution. Less active amygdala, fewer emotional outbursts and more happy days! Start building your Hot 8 Yoga relationship by becoming BFF’s with yoga and meditation, and experience real improvement and satisfaction in your personal relationships! Monday through Friday, look for the “Invigor8 Meditation” classes beginning October 10th at all studios. See you on the mat! Source Material: http://www.traumacenter.org/products/pdf_files/Benefits_of_Mindfulness.pdf http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/11/mindfulness-emotional-stability-sleep_n_2836954.html...

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Seven Reasons to do Partner Yoga

Seven Reasons to do Partner Yoga

You get taller. One of my favorite Partner Yoga asanas is also the one that adds inches to my spine! By hanging upside-down with the help of another yogi, you passively decompress your vertebrae and create space where you’re feeling a bit stuck. Goodbye chiropractors, surgery, disc herniation, and back pain–Hello Inversion Therapy 🙂 You get smarter. Because many of the Partner asanas are inversions, we reverse the blood flow in the body and improve circulation. This is particularly powerful when we think about the benefits to the brain. Using gravity, we can safely provide this special organ with more oxygen and blood, thus increasing mental functioning, improving concentration, memory and processing abilities. In other words, skip the coffee and go upside-down instead! You lose weight. I mean this both literally and metaphorically. By practicing with a partner, we learn to let go enough that we actually feel our own lightness of being. The first time I was held in Partner Yoga was the first time I felt a profound sense of ease in my joints, length in my spine, and a playfulness that jump-started my literal loss of weight off the mat. Your MOM will look like WOW! As we come accustomed to reacting to our world in a predictable way, Partner Yoga teaches us that there is always another perspective to try on. By spending time upside-down in the hands (or feet!) of another yogi, we learn how to trust, how to relax, and how to see things in a different way. You strengthen your core. Especially as women, it’s more challenging for us to find our shoulder and arm strength, let alone use it to fire up our core. With the help of a yogi partner, I was able to finally connect the power of my limbs (legs and arms) to my CENTER! Partner Yoga asanas compassionately force your deep abdominal muscles to wake up and turn on…and this newfound strength translates seamlessly onto your individual mat. You build confidence and community. Remember that first time you kicked up into handstand? Or the first time you walked into a yoga class alone? The true gem of Partner Yoga is that the work is done WITH other people. And since every body is different, we fine tune our awareness and presence in a way that perhaps is harder to find alone. By spending time with each other like this, not only do we grow community locally in an organic way, but we support one another in becoming more confident and sustainable individuals. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to bring a partner! If you’re anything like me, the mushy-Valentine’s-gimmicky-couple stuff can make you a little anxious...

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The practice of conscious embodiment

The practice of conscious embodiment

Just as any physical structure needs a solid foundation to endure the forces of nature, the seeds of yoga must be planted with a firm and tender hand if they are to bloom with everlasting vitality. Yoga is the practice of conscious embodiment. It is a choice to awaken into clearer understanding within ourselves so that we may experience life more fully. Most people can feel the difference between a movement grounded in truth versus one that lacks authenticity. A healthy approach to yoga is no different than a healthy approach to any relationship. If we want something to grow beautifully we must treat it with loving care. Breath awareness creates space for truthful presence. This is the seed. From here we observe our thoughts and begin to take responsibility for our actions, clearing the soil that nourishes the root. Yoga postures are external shapes which express our inner state of being. When we approach a posture from breath, with alertness, ease, passion and receptivity, we empower ourselves to approach all aspects of life in the same way. With grounded intentions we discover that the branches, or ‘limbs’ of yoga practice begin to develop all together, with each part directly and intricately relating to the other. The key is remaining rooted with a positive and patient attitude for the long term process so we can enjoy the organic unfolding and go with the flow! – Love, La Mer Hot 8 Foundations Workshop (4 Week Series) January 31, 2015 – February 21, 2015 Beverly Hills Studio Location Click here to sign...

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Yoga Health Benefits for Men

Yoga Health Benefits for Men

While women are still the majority in yoga classes, there’s a strong movement of men not only trying yoga, but striving both on and off the mat. Men benefit just as much from a regular yoga routine as women. Read the full article >

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