Yoga

One of the best things that I remember from my childhood is my mom’s passion for yoga. Often I would ¬†join her on the mat and try to copy her poses. I could walk on my knees, put my legs behind my neck and stand on my head. Not so much anymore….. ūüôā — but I have always wanted to start yoga and get into the yoga groove. My problem is, I really don’t enjoy¬†big, filled-to-the-brim yoga studios. ¬†I like to be in my own space, I like the peace, and I like to enjoy yoga when it fits into my schedule.

Breathe

Breathe

That is why I was so happy when I found Myyogaonline and Doyogawithme.

Two fabulous programs, videos of different lengths, different levels, different styles, different teachers Рyou pick and choose what fits you best.

I absolutely love it!

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. Rumi

There are so many benefits to doing yoga. It’s quite amazing what happens in just a few moments of deep breathing, slowly moving the body into poses, simply being on the floor reduces stress and before you know it, you feel more relaxed!

P.S ¬†Please listen to your body and don’t do too much – let your body be your guide!

Here are some great articles about the benefits of yoga:

One from Harvard University on how yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Another by Science Daily, an interesting study shows that yoga reduces stress and anxiety among prisoners and has a positive effect on impulsive behaviour.

And a third by the Yoga Journal about the overall health benefits

On a finishing note – I am moving my blog to be self-hosted – this means my blog might be down for a day or so – Looking forward to seeing you over there ūüôā

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Summer without stress

I’m off! Today is the day I have been longing for – for months – the first day of the summer holiday!

I am off to spend 3 delicious weeks in a summer-house by the sea.

I can hardly wait.

Summer

Summer

I am so excited and at the same time I know it’s important to plan ahead, so that we make the most of it. Successful holidays don’t just happen. Holidays can be disappointing! We all have expectations and dreams and they may not turn out the way we wished, hoped and longed for. Unfulfilled expectations cause stress and disappointment!

The time leading up to the holidays can be particularly stressful.

We all need our holidays – to recharge, rejuvenate and fill ourselves with new energy.

So how can we increase our chances of fulfilling it …

This is “my” plan for a stress-free summer:

  • Unplug. Actually turn of all electronics and be out of reach. Yes, no need to check emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs etc.
  • Mindfulness – live in the moment. Practice mindfulness, breathe, and be in the moment.
  • Meditate – to reconnect with myself through daily mediations
  • Read books – instead of computers and internet, I want to read great books, in the shade …..
  • No plans – be spontaneous. No schedules, just feel the flow and be part of it.
  • Play – God yes, be crazy, play let go, have fun, look silly
  • Bare feet – connect to the earth and the ground -lots of research on this …. great idea.
  • Go slow – nothing I need to do or nothing I need to get to – just inhale the moment – remember to stop and smell the roses.
Smell the roses

Smell the roses

“Every Sweet-scented rose tells from it’s heart the secrets of heaven and earth” –Rumi

Bare feet in the sand

Bare feet in the sand

Beach

Beach

I know this will not be easy and I am sure I will have withdrawal issues for a while ūüôā But I also know how vital, how crucial, it is to disconnect to reconnect – and recharge.

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” And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”

Khalil Gibran 

I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

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Unplug

Last week it was “National day of Unplugging ” did you know?

It went by without me having the slightest clue even of its brilliant existence. Probably while I was myself plugged in and most likely busy working online, tweeting, blogging, updating Facebook,   Unplugging Day came and passed me by!

Hmm, I asked my two gorgeous teenagers – “did you know it was National Unplugging Day, a few days ago?” No reaction – and not surprising – they didn’t know either.

But when talking about health and well-being, unplugging is crucial! We need to unplug and create space to slow down, be quiet and simply just be.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

 

We need this quiet time to listen and tune in to our needs. Even though, the body is amazing, the perfect GPS, always reliable; it has to have the space to tell us what we need. It can tell us if we are happy and content, if we are stressed and out of tune. So often we look outside ourselves for the answers, but the best answers come from within. The body never lies it always tells the truth. But, it needs to be “unplugged” from the outer influences and given time to relay its messages.

Our happiness and health rely on us taking that time to tune in.

I remember when I trained to become a psychotherapist, part of my training was going through intense therapy sessions and I remember how difficult and humbling it was for me to try to answer the simple question “How do you feel?” – How did I feel? Really feel? I didn’t know!

The honest truth was, I was so used to, when asked that question, to say “fine” without ever actually feeling my body responses. It was a new experience to me to connect to myself, to listen to my body and then be able to answer honestly how I felt. An even worse question was “What do you need?” – Again, I honestly had no clue. That was painful!

It took time and practice to learn and relearn. We are born with the ability to feel and know what we need, but early on we learn to suppress those feelings – in order to fit in.

I am a great believer in creating unplugging moments, every day. But how do we do that in a world that is so plugged in all the time?

I have devised a set of unplugging strategies, that works for me:

  • Getting up 1/2-1 hr before everyone else to meditate, sip tea, write my journal (with a pencil), run, jog, or just sit.
  • Unplug over the weekend just giving myself time to hang out with the family, read good books, wear my gumboots and do gardening, hike, walk, feed the hummingbirds and generally just be.
  • Before bed some quite time for a hot bath, a good book, some journalling, a lit candle, some gentle music, an evening meditation.
  • Sitting still with a hand on my heart, closing my eyes, while asking my heart (not my mind) the questions “how do I feel'” – ” what do I need” and quitely wait for the answers.

How do you unplug?

Presence

Presence

Here are some great links to inspire you further:

http://www.expresswhoyouare.com/

http://zenhabits.net/

 

Be the change

Our children are stressed more than ever. They are on a non-stoppable – high – speed treadmill. Demands from school, parents, extra curricular and a never ending intrusive connection to social media and cell phones. Our children are on 24/7, always on the go.

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As a tragic result, we see anxious, depressed and stressed out children like never before. Nearly 7% of Canadian teens suffer from some serious and/or disabling anxiety.

According to an article in Globe & Mail¬†” School study paints a picture of teens under pressure” – this is a serious problem.

The article reveals the Canadian study of 103.000 grade 7-12 students. It  shows that teenagers are under so much stress that they are losing sleep, being driven to tears and experiencing greater levels of stress than parents and teachers expected.

Read the statistics of the study here

Dr. Atkinson, a clinical psychologist working in Toronto, sees children who are confused and overwhelmed, who are not able to experience life in a natural way, because they have to do more and move faster.

I see stress and anxiety as symptoms, a serious wake up call to all of us. Something needs to change.

Underneath stress and anxiety there are needs and suppressed emotions – stress and anxiety are natural reactions to what the children are experiencing, they are signs of overload, but the children have nowhere to go. This way of living has become the norm, we are all stressed. While this unhealthy environment goes on and on, we are creating children who are worn out, burned out before they even begin, maybe for life.

This means that children today need us more than ever.

The good news is that we by pulling the emergency brake can help our children deal with stress and burnout. Not by telling them and staying on the treadmill ourselves, but by slowing down and dealing with our own stress.

They need to see us:

  • get off our own treadmill
  • say “no” and mean it
  • say “yes” and mean it
  • meditate
  • go for walks
  • be mindful and present
  • be in the moment
  • do nothing
  • take a nap
  • have time to chat
  • have time to listen
  • have fun
  • take a long bath
  • do yoga
  • read a book
  • bake a cake
  • take care of ourselves
  • say what we mean
  • listen to our bodies
  • follow our hearts
  • take deep breath
  • have no plans

They need us more than ever: to support them, encourage them and spend time with them. 

It can be hard to do these things, but lets do it, for ourselves, our children and the future.

Be the change you want to see in the world РMahatma Gandhi

 

The power of music

This past week I have been reminded about the many powerful benefits music has on us. What a huge positive impact it has on our lives – Imagine a world without music! Music is in our lives in so many ways. When we listen to music, it awakes all kinds of emotions in us – joy and happiness, sadness and sorrow. Music holds memories and music speaks to the heart. It connects us in a special way.

Where words fail, music speaks – Hans Christian Andersen Continue reading

Give yourself a break

When did you last spend 10 minutes doing absolutely nothing? Just 10 minutes?

We are busier than ever, running faster and faster, expecting more and more from ourselves.

 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Self-Compassion

We are so hard on ourselves Рwe are raised to be kind, polite and respectful to others Рbut not to ourselves. Somehow, it is okay to treat ourselves disrespectful and talk to ourselves in the cruelest of  ways!

We have about 25.000 – 65.000 thoughts a day – 90 % are critical and a big part of those are turned towards ourselves!¬† I¬† am too fat! Gosh, I look dreadful! I suck at math! I totally tone-deaf so I don’t sing along! I will never be able to do that! I am a terrible cook,!I don’t deserve that job/position/credit! I will never make that kind of¬† money! She is much more beautiful than me! He is much better than me! He (she) doesn’t love me! I am unlovable……………etc. etc. Would we talk to others like that? No-way! But nevertheless we bombard ourselves with it every day. Then we smile and pretend everything is okay and wonder why we feel so miserable!

These kind of thoughts are stressful on our body. They effect our health. They create imbalance in the body and they make us feel miserable and depressed!

If these negative thoughts were even a bit positive or helpful, if they could motivate us and get us on the right track – then we could use them – but unfortunately – they are not!

Dr. Kristin Neff Ph.D, associate professor, Human Development and Culture, Educational Psychology Department, University of Texas at Austin is the author of the book Self-Compassion. Kristin Neff is also featured in the best-selling book and award winning documentary “The Horse Boy” – that tells the story of her family’s personal journey with autism.

I love her approach – not the usual “think positive”¬† approach, but rather, having compassion for who we are with everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, shortcomings and all – accepting that we are humans, that we are not perfect and that we do make mistakes. She talks about self-compassion being healthier than self esteem in this great article in Psychology today.

She uses her own story, she has humor and insight – and she is hugely inspiring!

This is a great interview with Kristin Neff in the program The High Bar with Warren Etheredge

The High Bar

Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. Her website is full of useful information, videos, self-compassion meditations, interviews exercises and more. Kristin Neff is also the writer in Psychology Today’s blog¬† with articles such as “Why self compassion is healthier than self esteem” and “Self-compassion for caregivers” and “let go of self-criticism and discover self-compassion” ! She also writes for¬† Huffington Post’s blog with articles like “Does self-compassion mean letting yourself off the hook”? and “Treating yourself as you’d treat a good friend”

http://www.self-compassion.org/

The Horse Boy Movie

You may also want to read my post about compassion

Make running part of your life – for good

Jogging is such a perfect way to unwind, relax your mind, and recharge the body. It is impossible to go out for a run and return back, grumpy – it’s simply, not possible. Jogging is an excellent mood enhancer, it works every time! Professionally, it is often a part of the treatment for depression and stress.

Jogging is also a great way to solve problems and ignite your creative juices. Feeling empty or stuck with a problem? Get changed, put on the old running shoes and hit the road. Chances are that the problem will solve itself as you run – all of a sudden you can see things in a new perspective and find a solution.

Running/jogging is a great way to get some “you time” – away from it all.

I am sure most of us will agree that jogging is good for us, but many will also agree with me that it is really hard to actually establish the routine of running, several times a week, every week, every month, every year, year after year.

I see too many people out there looking as though they are not enjoying it at all – pressuring themselves way too hard, beyond healthy, looking stressed, in pain almost – running is just another thing on the to-do-list.

Considering running as a chore is stressful, no fun and you are much more likely to injure yourself ! I’m quite sure that running this way is not healthy either!

I have been a jogger, on an off, my whole life – but it is not until 2 years ago, that I have actually become a faithful runner and I couldn’t live without it!

While out running the other day, I was thinking “how did it happen?”.¬† For years, I had been an on-and-off runner, usually running¬† 2-3 K max two or three times a week. I would be doing this for some months and then the “monkey mind” would finally convince me I didn’t need it any longer. Then I would stop for a couple of months, till I finally got a grip on my self and started all over again. I did not enjoy it, I forced myself and I actually hated it! I also got injured from running again and again, my knees would bother me, then one foot would become sore with plantar fasciitis, and I would stop, again!

This is how I did it

I was told about Jeff Galloway’s Run -Walk -Run program and that changed everything for me

Jeff Galloway is my hero – he taught me all I needed to know to motivate me to hit the road and keep running.

Galloway is an American Olympian and after many injuries he invented his “Run-Walk-Run” method that has inspired thousands to start running and keep at it. He is the author of many books – he even wrote a book called “Running until you’re 100”!¬† His message is clear – anyone can run!

By adding more walks in to your runs you:

  • Run injury free
  • your muscles recover faster after each run
  • you gently but surely improve your capability
  • you listen to your body
  • your runs are stress free
  • your runs are enjoyable
  • you feel the improvement week after week

I swear by Galloway’s program. It fits perfect with my philosophy that we have to listen to the body and do mindful running.

This is how I got started, inspired by Galloway:

  • ¬†Run-walk-run, every other day – so for example Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday is your, run-walk-run days
  • ¬†30 min every time
  • Then Mondays – Wednesdays – Fridays,¬† are walk days – 30 min.
  • Saturdays, a longer run – by doing this, you really improve! You will feel that your usual 30 min run-walk-run becomes a piece of cake – a run in the park ūüôā
  • Sunday is rest day – important to have this!
  • Try to get out the same time, every day – to create a routine.
  • Find a running buddy – it is always easier if you know someone is waiting for you out there.
  • Make time – wake up an hour early, for example. Do you know how beautiful it is outside early in the morning? (see this)

In the beginning I was walking a lot more than I was running. To be totally honest with you I could not run 10 steps without being out of breath. As I kept to the program, each time I could run a little longer. It doesn’t matter, as long as we get out – that is the most important.

By following this program you will very quickly, feel improvement. Make sure you can always carry on a conversation without huffing and puffing. Take it easy – AND put in as many walk breaks as you need. Who cares?

I love Oscar Wilde’s philosophical quote:- Life is too important to be taken seriously! This is true when it comes to running too!

Get out, have fun and above all enjoy your run!!

Links to Jeff Galloway’s website and books;

Jeff Galloway

Running, getting started

Running until you’re 100

Space within

Yesterday evening I went out kayaking with a group of girlfriends. We went out at 5pm, after work. None of us are pros in any way and most had only tried kayaking a couple of times – It was a blast!

What caught my attention the most was the peace – it was such an incredible experience to cut through the water, quietly. Hearing the water, smelling the sea, hearing the birds –¬† it was like meditation.

I saw a couple of seals on the way and one in particular caught my attention – he was right next to me, floating on top, with his eyes almost closed, looking so peaceful. Every now and the he took a deep breath in –¬† just enjoying the moment, being in the now. What a great reminder it was – it was like he was telling me – “slow down, close your eyes and breathe in”

We live in hectic times and often we don’t even think about it – but we are on 24/7 – we can always be reached, cell phones, emails, text, Skype, Facebook, internet –¬† we have the cell in the pocket, close to heart – just in case. Then there is the television, the radio, the constant business of life. Wow yesterday – I¬† felt just how important it is to tune out, every now and then.

One of my favorite websites is called – excuse the name – but “free cabin porn”. It features secluded cabins all over the world – small private sanctuaries – where people go to tune out. Check it out here

I am reminded to create that space within to tune out – and leave the world as it is – just for a while.