Making the first small steps to a regular Wellness routine can be like climbing mountains for some people. But good habits build up good health – essential if you've been on the path to healing from negative emotions (especially other people's!) and the damaging effects they can wreak in your life. Also extremely essential if you're in remission from cancer or if you think you might be at risk from cancer, diabetes or any serious, stress related illness.
Deep care of the mind is the perfect powerful balancer and harmoniser for our systems and spirits.With a yogic, holistic approach it is healing with the mind that heals the body and emotions. Here are a few simple ways to relax, nourish and care for your mind.
Cultivate the habit of smiling. Learn to do it, so that even when you don't feel like smiling, you can. Smiling relaxes the facial muscles and the brain. Smiling also tricks the brain into thinking it is happy as your expression sends messages back to it. I teach this in Yoga class as “your deep, inner Yoga smile”.
The “mundane mind” (manomaya kosha) relaxes, giving you time out for a little rest and refreshment. You are then more able to be with the peaceful, wise part of your mind.
Enjoy the Tea habit. The ancient way of tea drinking, taking time out for tea in the afternoon, is a method of destressing the mind and taking time for appreciation of the Yoga values of purity, tranquillity, harmony and gratitude.
Make yourself a cup of herbal tea: green tea is wonderful for the mind. It is amazingly beneficial for focus and concentration. Green tea also melts belly fat, so if you're overweight or diabetic this is a must. Use the same, old cup for your tea drinking ritual in the Zen way. Sit in the same spot to drink it at a regular time and allow yourself to be at peace as you take a break from the world.
Learn How to Gaze. This is one of the simplest ways to meditate with Yoga: it's the ancient skill of trataka, and we practice this in it's simplest form by candle gazing.
Meditation and relaxation directly positively affect our body's natural killer cells, have a beneficial affect on diabetes and, most powerfully, on Melatonin production. Neuroscientist Ranjie Singh has produced astounding research into the cancer-arresting properties of Melatonin.
Sit, light your candle and gaze at the flame whilst breathing evenly and deeply, and do this regularly, say 10 minutes a day. Oh, and by the way, kids just love this – I've been teaching it in my kids' yoga classes for years, we make a game by looking for the rainbow's colours in the flame.
And by the way, if you would like to take your first steps on the healing path, there is a simple, free-to-download “gazing” meditation on the website here: Gaze.
25 years ago I bought an expensive leg cream – one of the really good quality, big name French manufacturers. I read the leaflet about using the cream, massaging it in, how often to do it etc. I was totally surprised to read that the instructions told me that if I was on a reducing diet and toning up programme (which I was) I should get plenty of rest.
Rest? To get rid of my thighs? This was revolutionary news to me.
I was used to meditating, doing relaxation for visualization – but putting my feet up? I couldn’t figure out the reason for lying around doing nothing, surely that would pile the inches on?
Well, I’ve come a long way since then on the journey, and thankfully my awareness about my body has come a long way too. And generally there's been an overall raising in women’s knowledge about our health, mindbodies and lifestyles. So, this is what I found out and what I know now and what I’m passing on to you about rest and relaxation.
As simply as I can possibly say it, rest and relaxation are needed for 2 very important reasons.
Firstly, when you're detoxing or destressing your body is doing it’s job of clearing out old rubbish, it is working hard. If you don’t rest enough while this is going on, you are putting your body under tremendous strain and expecting it to do too much at once: using what little energy you will have at this time both to keep your body going in activity and to clear out. It’s like expecting your washing machine to wash and spin at the same time: two different jobs.
Secondly, and very importantly, you need to rest so that your body can use it’s energy for cell renewal. And where this is concerned, time is the great healer especially as we get older when the rate of cell renewal slows down. So we need to give our bodies the best chance to make new cells, to rejuvenate itself.
Along with rest and relaxation comes rejuvenation.
You get new, young, healthy cells to replace damaged, toxic, fat-laden old cells. Does that sound like a good enough reason to rest?
So how do you get it?
When you start any detox plan, you will need to start on a couple of days when little energy is required because you won’t have any! The best thing you can possibly do is to plan to have an afternoon nap if you can. If you can’t, then try and cat-nap, or at least stay in bed a little longer in the morning and go to bed a bit earlier at night. I’ve got into the habit of “coming down” after 8.00 pm – switching everything off, lighting candles, calming the mood, sitting down and fire gazing for an hour.
The good news about relaxation is that it is cumulative – you can build it up. Once you learn how, you can keep building on the techniques you use, and you’ll learn to like it so much, you won’t want your peace disturbed by anything or anyone!
There are plenty of relaxation supports on the market now, there are plenty of videos, books and free downloads giving relaxation techniques which you can read and adapt for yourself.
One of the best ways of using relaxation is visualization, which is a powerful tool for changing ourselves. Using the images in our mind’s eye, we can learn about ourselves and move ourselves on in our lives. I’m not going to give any techniques here other than a couple of simple ones because I think you will learn more if you investigate and experiment yourself, buying books, joining classes, developing a home practice. There's a short free download Relax on my website.
Personally, I’ve used visualization to see myself as the person with the image I’d like to have and watched myself turn into this person. There's a wonderful saying; your soul sets up a picture in front of you so you can step into it! It’s very powerful – and the key to visualization is relaxation, as your conscious mind must be relaxed.
When my skin had become dull and tired and lacking in elasticity a couple of years ago it responded well to rest and relaxation, which allowed my body to use energy for cell healing and regeneration. The visualization I used then was based on the image of the sun’s golden healing light.
For this visualisation, I imagined that all that golden, warming light energy of the sun was filling up each individual cell of my body. I ‘watched’ in my mind’s eye as the golden light washed slowly down my skin from head to toe. (The visualization of the sun’s light helps the pituitary gland deep within the brain to stimulate cell renewal and therefore skin renewal.)
Learn about relaxation. And yes, it is something some of us have to learn. I did. So, some of the golden rules for relaxation and rest are:
Don’t use anything stimulating late in the day – caffeine, tobacco, loud music, horror films.
Make your bedroom restful – take the tv out so you’re not watching upsetting world news late at night.
Make your environment peaceful, with mood lighting, candles, burning oil and incense, restful colours, soothing music.
Build relaxing herb teas, warm baths and soothing massage oils into your routine.
Give yourself space to relax.
Your body has a power of its own – a natural power for healing. And you need rest and relaxation to tap into the power.
An Approach to Weight Maintenance with Yoga and Ayurveda by Susan Ni Rahilly for www.suzenyoga.com Living With Yoga
In Yoga, we are concerned with the health and vitality of the whole person, bodymind and the spirit. We're making the bodymind a more comfortable place for the spirit to dwell. Maintaining a healthy weight is vital for enjoying life (and living as long as you can to enjoy it)! And vitality and joy for life is what this wonderful ancient system for living gives us.
Being in a regular Yoga Practice usually has the benefit of naturally maintaining a healthy body-weight. For the obvious reasons of physical benefits of the postures of Yogasana: not only the toning and strengthening of muscles, or the “fat draining” properties of the twist postures, but also the metabolism regulating of inversions (shoulderstands especially) and the internal organ toning and nourishing of the Surya Namaskara sequences (Sun Salutations). A regular practice of Hatha Yoga brings the balance we need, between the dynamic and passive nature of our energy; and in the more passive states that we attain during practice, then the mind and emotions are given the chance for clearing and detoxifying on a regular basis. And this is so, so important in maintaining balance to your whole system as a human being. I always think we get rid of more “rubbish” from our systems during the practice of passive poses, deep breathwork in Pranayama, stillness in Meditation and the deep rest of Savasana, or deep relaxation.
Whenever I'm asked which postures are best for weight loss. I always answer: “That's not how I teach. I only teach the whole of Yoga.” We never do anything in isolation in Yoga – and everything we do is about discovering more, more about our bodies, more about our minds and spirits, more about ourselves. You, as a whole person, are a process to be continually rediscovered!
More, below, about the Yogasana part of this approach to healthy weight maintenance. But now, lets add some Ayurveda (the wisdom or knowledge of life) to our daily routine. Two very simple tips from this ancient art/science of healing the body are incredibly powerful in detoxifying on a regular basis and regulating/strengthening. First, have a Sesame Oil “mouthwash” first thing in the morning; and second, after your morning Yoga Practice – see below – take one teaspoonful of organic Turmeric powder with one teaspoonful of honey in half a cup of hot water (I always add a drop of cold water to it's not scalding to drink this mixture).
Here's why: the Sesame Oil flushes away toxins that have built up in tissue over the last 24 hours, and one of the easiest ways to cleanse them out is from the tissues of the mouth – gums, mouthskin, tongue. You take about a tablespoonful into the mouth and move it around, swishing between the teeth for a few minutes – until the oil changes colour and becomes more opaque. Spit the oil out into the washbasin and rinse your mouth.
The Turmeric is one of Nature's most powerful metabolism regulators – to bring balance for optimum body-weight – and it is an amazing immune-system strengthener, about 5 times stronger than Vitamin C. I have to be honest and say that the morning mixture of Turmeric, Honey and water isn't the most pleasant thing in the world to drink, but you do get used to it. And you'll soon love what it does for you! Also, make sure the Turmeric is organic otherwise you are wasting your time.
Next, there is absolutely no doubt that belly fat is dangerous – there is overwhelming evidence now to show us that this is the most destructive type of fat to have building up in your body around your internal organs. And one of the easiest ways to “melt” it, is: drink Green Tea! Simple. Drink at least 3 cups of Green Tea daily. (And of course there are lots of other benefits to drinking this wonderful tea.)
So now, on a daily basis, this is a simple Practice routine: Start your day with Surya Namaskara, Sun Salutations, to warm the body up, stretch and wake up, and tone up your internal organs – bringing them to “life” for the day by increasing blood flow and prana. And for this version we're going to add a shoulderstand for the metabolism regulating benefits and weight maintenance.
Taking two rounds of the practice, leading first with the right side of the body and on the second round with the left. As you are coming towards the end of the practice round, both feet at the front of the mat prior to coming into Tadhasana, Mountain or Standing Posture: as you come from the lunge position, bringing the back foot to meet the foot at the front of the mat, go straight down into a squat. Now, take the butt down to the mat behind you, onto the sitting bones, raise the feet, cross the ankles and take a firm grip with the hands on the feet. Go into a sitting bone balance for a couple of breaths.
Okay, now we're going to roll back on the mat, rolling the spine on the mat in Spinal Rocking: back and forwards a few times to gain momentum, tonifying the spine. Next time you rock back, roll right onto your shoulders and use the momentum to go into shoulderstand. We are aiming to increase the time spent in this asana gradually until you can manage 2 minutes. This is the optimum time for metabolism regulation – and your chin needs to be tucked firmly into the throat chakra, which massages this energy centre. Coming down out of the posture gently, bend the knees, bringing them in the direction of the forehead and rock forwards, come onto your butt, then onto the soles of the feet into a squat and from there either come up into a forward bend, or you can curl gently up to standing: into the standing posture and complete your Surya Namaskara round.
Exercise-wise, you'll benefit from a regular daily walk as well, for the Prana flow and the positive effects on the mind and the moods.
In the evening, spend 5 minutes or so in one of the passive or restorative Yogasanas – a simple, supported forward bend for example, or the Great Rejuvenator with your feet up against the wall. Simply resting and breathing and letting the mental and emotional rubbish from the day just ease away as you breathe. Your mind and your emotions will thank you for this simple practice.
Well now, once you've got used to adding a few simple things to your daily routine, let's think about taking out a few harmful things as and when you're ready to. First, for a healthy weight and a healthy bodystate you just have to cut down on harmful fats – especially dairy-fat. So, if you're cooking in butter or a heavy fat like ghee, you just have to stop. Simple as that, these fats are killers. Second, cut wheat out of your diet: and you might have to do this gradually. The Gluten from wheat now in our modern world is just toxic to your system as it is a glue which binds rubbish together in your system, making it hard to eliminate. Third, get rid of sugar. Sugar is one of the modern day killers – responsible for rapid ageing and disease. Again, come off sugar gradually as it's a hard habit to break. You replace refined and processed sugar with fruits and vegetables in your diet, especially dark leafy greens.
Allow yourself a little time everyday for this wonderful bodymind system of Yoga and Ayurveda to work it's magic, and by giving a little you will gain so much. Treat yourself well, tell yourself you are perfect and you will soon be the shining self you are here to be!
(The picture is Realization by Elena Ray at www.elenaray.com)
Profound Benefits For Your Back, Posture And Well-being with Pranayama Breathing Practices.
Pranayama or Yoga Breathing is a practice that employs the mind, the body and the spirit with remarkable results. This gentle Yoga technique relaxes, relieves tension, and strengthens muscle tone. The result is a stronger back and improved posture which in turn reduces back pain and dramatically increases vital life force energy. What a wonderful gift, and it's a gift that is yours to control and to give to yourself.
The art of Pranayama uses the power of breath control to exert a profound effect upon the emotions.
By practicing stillness and controlling the flow of your breathing, you direct the deeply therapeutic benefits of Yoga to targeted parts of the body. Taking the thoughts, the mind, into the body with breaths focusing on a particular area allows the healing life force to flow to that area and infuse it with vitality. This breathing technique also frees your emotions to rise and surface. Thus, the emotions work through you and for you. Pain related to emotional tensions and stress is thus released. Breathing in the powerful aspects of silence, calm, and stillness fills the mind and body with a reassuring sense of well-being.
As you control emotions through Pranayama, you strengthen the mind-body connection and spirit by amplifying the vibrations of your own life energy. The Sanskrit words "Prana" for the energy or life force that we breathe in, and "ayama" meaning expansion and control, combine to give a name to the practice that is far more than just breathing lessons. I've been teaching a powerful set of practices for working with back pain for over 8 years now, and it took 2 or 3 years to discover and develop a simple but deeply effective program. And I'm always awestruck at the knowledge the ancients have passed down to us today.
The ancients considered Pranayama such a profound force that learning it was not advisable without the presence and guidance of a Guru. In today's culture, especially in Western society, Gurus are neither common nor easily found. Fortunately, our advances allow us guidance from a guru or master without direct personal contact, through technologies like the internet, CDs and DVDs. These methods are perfectly acceptable for our times. They enable you to learn and practice with the virtual presence of an experienced teacher, not simply reading a book alone and trying to master the techniques on your own.
The feeling of taking your own power back and mastering a technique that gives you control over pain is indeed a rich gift for life.
Reveal your Bliss Nature and find a harmonious balance of body, mind, and emotions by embracing nature's gift of silence. Silence calms anxiety and promotes healing and wellbeing.
Finding the Sound of Silence is an individual experience. Some find silence in the continual drone of city traffic or the crash of ocean waves; others find it in the echoes of children's playful laughter or a forest full of birdsong. There are, however, very sacred and special moments of absolute silence, a complete and utter stillness and absence of sound when time seems to stop. With no stimuli to respond to, we have the freedom to simply exist and embrace our inner spirit.
We are accustomed to living in an environment of continuous sound, but noise demands a physical response beyond simply hearing. Noise constantly stimulates body and mind. Continual vibrations disrupt the balance of our water-based circulatory and nervous systems, leaving us anxious and tired. Silence allows us to clear our thoughts and emotions, giving our body an opportunity to regenerate and relax.
Finding silence is a cumulative process. As with relaxation, we build silence into our lives little by little. Even 10-minute segments of silence are beneficial, but achieving longer 30-minute periods will foster profound peace, harmony, and good health. By creating regular time for silence and quiet, you will eventually reach the Yoga meditation goal of becoming happier in your body and more accepting of self. As part of self-acceptance and finding value in life, human beings must possess hope. Silence provides time to embrace hope and find the freedom to be human.
Silence is the essence of Zen meditative practice. As we remain still, focusing on our physical being and concentrating on being present to ourselves, we can explore our state of mind and find meaning in life. In the silent and quiet spaces you build, you will be able to organize thoughts and emotions and divest yourself of anger and frustration. Silence clears the way for natural healing of mind and body to occur. It restores balance and harmony and allows the vitality and beauty of your inner self to shine through.
Hi Salem -- I DO believe
old souls exist -- my
wife and I both feel that
daughter was born an old
soul -- she has wisdom
and perception beyond her
years -- she knows
intuitively what is true
-- maybe we all do but
tend to lose tha...