6. YOGA THERAPY FOR MENTAL CLARITY

6. YOGA THERAPY FOR MENTAL CLARITY

The minds original state is called Buddhi in Sanskrit. Its inherent quality is clear, deep, reflective and still like a mountain lake. Each impression can be seen as a causing ripples, distorting the image of what is actually infront of us. Learning the tools and steps involved in using those tools adjusted to the individuals’ needs is the science of yoga therapy.

Yoga therapy is based on scientific and medical evidence integrating the lastest western findings with ancient eastern practices. It combines the best of both worlds and is specific in it’s aims of health development. Whether physical, physiological, neural, or psychological, when east meets west, we can move mountains and return to the pure lake of Buddhi.

That said, for many of us who’ve tried everything in the books, on the net and from specialists and well meaning individuals, we can still feel like we’re going round in circles.

WHY MENTAL CALM CAN SEEM IMPOSSIBLE

Mental calm is cultivated through withdrawing the senses from the outer world to the inner experience. Stopping the incoming flow of information is the first step. Allowing us to process, mentally digest, all we’ve already taken in. The input also needs and output. If there’s not enough time for output we end up with mental and psychological constipation.

Mindfulness, breath awareness, concentration and meditation are the most common practices used acting as the conscious output of mental impressions.

But when our nervous system is on high alert and hormones with messages of threat or excitement course between systems, these tools can fail us. Sitting with our feelings of wired restlessness and nervous states can make us feel even more out of control. That’s why specific trainings or a therapist guiding the process are so essential in healing from complex conditions such as burnout, anxiety, addiction and obsession, which involve many different systems as well as different bodies, koshas.

GETTING SPECIFIC HELP PREVENTS FURTHER LACK OF CONFIDENCE

Therapists specializing in, or trainings specifically aimed at, calming the nervous system through evidence based research, enables us to more effectively access a state of mental tranquility. Having a spillover effect on hormones, which in turn affect every other system within the body, from digestion to sleep to immunity and brain health.

The quicker we get out of the exhaustion and disconnection cycle, the less it eats away at our self confidence and esteem. Preventing the associated wiring and mindset of inability to cope, confusion and lack of energy. Knowing why and how we are to move out, and feeling not alone in our situation, removes the shame, guilt and stigma. Again, essential to reclaiming our mental health.

MENTAL HEALTH IS THE BASIS OF MOVING THROUGH & FORWARD

One reason mental calm and clarity evade us might be the unconscious habit of not expressing clearly what we perceive, feel and see as the right approach, steps or actions to take. Swallowing our knowledge and views, we people please, holding back for fear of… fill the blank, and therefore unintentionally, and mostly well-intentionally, create distortion overwhelm. Muddying the lake.

Mental health equals mental digestion. Mental health is the state where what comes in also has enough mental space to be digested, assimilated, integrated and eliminated. Creating projects, trainings, communication or other action based steps that express our minds’ perception and recreation from those experiences, is how we eliminate mental build up.

The extreme mental overwhelm during burnout is alleviated by mental distancing and disconnection. Re-creating the mental space to digest. Moving through the mire in our minds’ contents allows it to rise to the surface of consciousness. And overtime slowly sink to clarity.

Mental clarity leads to calm and self-agency. Good planning and clear overview of issues helps us rise above the challenges and remember what life is really about- relating and living well.

BASIC TOOLS TO ENHANCE MENTAL DIGESTION

A busy mind is either in the past or the future. Being embodied brings us back to the present moment and relieves mental wandering. To be embodied we can use yogic tools to enhance vagal tone. To set the stage for a smoother path to moving out of burnout we can again rely on western science and eastern tools. We work in these three steps;

  • Vagal activation to move us into rest and digest, yogic breath and body practices create present embodied awareness, a prerequisite for mental digestion and clarity
  • Once we create a habit of vagal activation of PNS, we calm and clarify the mind and feel more capable and confident to deal with change
  • Mental wellbeing is further improved by mental output; journaling, meditation and planning how to deal with set backs, which will happen

Impressions are food for thoughts. Media, films, marketing, books, conversations, ads, ad infinitum. Information and education are forms of mental input. Eat all day and what’s the outcome? Exactly!! Setting ourselves up for mental health success is just as important, if not more so, as work and relationship success. You can only work and relate well when your mental being is well.

RETRUNING TO THE MOUNTAIN LAKE

Mental clarity is reachable with daily moments of mental rest from information and impressions. We have self-agency when we choose our life habits, not when our habits guide our choices and influence our lives. Journaling, breath awareness, conscious movement, sensual experiences, meditation and mindfulness bring us back in our own bodies, minds and values. It’s the exercise and output of our conscious mind and thoughts.

Just 5 mins of PNS activation plus 5-10 mins a day of meditation, creates the mental calm to choose habits wisely. This will give back hours of your day to feel clear and connected to self. And it can be as easy as going for a walk, run or swim in nature, WITHOUT ANY INPUT.

Much Love,

Shira

YOGA THERAPY FOR BURNOUT PREVENTION & RECOVERY

YOGA THERAPY FOR BURNOUT PREVENTION & RECOVERY

Burnout is often a slow slide of unconsciously neglecting ourselves. To tend to our wellbeing and health is as essential as any other aspect. Within us the aspects of self-knowledge, self-care, building strength and adaptability through self-acceptance and expression, all need a little TLC daily. Just as we tend to the gardens of our career and relationships, learning to tend to ourselves is fulfilling, rewarding and deeply nourishing not only for ourselves but for all those we love and look after. And essential to living well and reclaiming the wellbeing we so desire. Download PDF for easy tips.

Our present stress epidemic results in 80% of doctor visits. 52% of professionals are at risk of burnout. And 80% report that their stress is work related. Burnout affects two thirds of employees mental, emotional and physical health[1]. Burnout prevention prevents employee absenteeism.

Burnout that is left untreated can lead to chronic depression, anxiety attacks, a loss of control and self-confidence, as well as heart disease and high cholesterol. Worldwide 615 million suffer from depression and anxiety, costing US$1trillion each year in productivity[2]. Both yoga therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy are equally effective, and even complementary, in prevention and recovery of burnout,[3][4] because we work top-down and bottomup; meaning we use cognitive as well as somatic and sensory restoration and reintegration to heal deeply and allow the calm to move through our many layers.

Symptoms

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Disturbed sleep and biorhythms
  • Low immunity and confidence
  • Digestive issues and lack of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mental distancing and skin problems
  • Lack of focus and decision making
  • Chronic fatigue and depression
  • Darkening of skin pigmentation of face, especially around the eyes

Causes

  • Long work hours, excessive work, workplace politics, perfectionism, job insecurity[5]
  • People pleasing, our own sense of never being good enough or doing enough
  • Too many responsibilities, choices, roles, expectations
  • Insufficient rest, family time and time management

Excessive intake is a major culprit to mental and emotional overwhelm- We take in more information in one day than someone did in a lifetime 150yrs ago![6]

Treatment & Strategies

  • Social support
  • Yoga Wellness & Resilience Training[7] that includes
  • Rest and relaxation techniques
  • Physical strength building
  • Physiological regulation
  • Hormonal homeostasis
  • Vagal tone
  • Mindfulness 
  • Emotional literacy training
  • Recognising and creating boundaries

Taking time to process the INTAKE; information, media, conversations, social interactions is done via OUTPUT; rest, pause, physical activities, yoga, meditation and creative work or journaling.

Yoga Therapy Wellness & Resilience Training

Yoga therapy wellness trainings use both the body and the mind; top down and bottom-up approach, creating an integrative and effective strategy. Reclaiming overall wellbeing with longer lasting benefits due to body awareness and self-knowledge, allowing continual self-regulation long after the training or therapy is finished.

In the next 6 weeks I’m going to share with you the six steps to a quicker recovery, a better prevention techniques and results based steps needed to ensure we don’t slide into the old habits that brought it about in the first place. These help us gain body-awareness, effective self-care, emotional agency, mental clarity and enable physiological self-regulation.

Knowing ourselves and listening to our bodies cues, we understand our needs, abilities, weaknesses, boundaries and goals, both personal and professional. Boundaries require a healthy sense of self from which to feel our emotions and distinguish them from others. Enabling us to discern our needs, wants and abilities for physical, physiological and psychological. 

6 Weeks to Reclaim Wellbeing

Week 1 Self-knowledge Understand your personal health needs, abilities, boundaries, weaknesses and goals. Re-evaluate.

Week 2 Self-care Learn how to move from fight/flight mode into rest/digest to heal and restore. Relax.

Week 3 Strength & Resilience Build physical strength to improve physiological homeostasis; mood, energy and bounce back. Resist.

Week 4 Adaptability & Flexibility Physical, emotional and mental flexibility equals adaptability to life’s changes and challenges. Revitalise.

Week 5 Emotion & Expression Clear emotional expression affects physiological and hormonal health beneficially. Reclaim.

Week 6 Mental Clarity Vagus nerve activation improves mental calm and clarity ensuring wellbeing and self-agency. Reintegrate.

Benefits of Yoga Wellness & Resilience Training

  • Learn techniques to access vagal parasympathetic activation for rest/ digest, tend and befriend
  • Gain self-awareness, mindfulness and associated mental calm, focus, solution identity and clarity
  • Improves physical strength, biorhythms and diaphragmatic breathing
  • Increases physiological homeostasis, energy levels, self-regulation and agency
  • Decreases sense of loss of control, emotional reactivity and exhaustion
  • Improves Sleep health, Digestion, Breath capacity, Energy levels, Sense of connection

Immunity & Sense of Self, Mental focus, Mental clarity, Adaptability, Ability to relax, Emotional availability, Mental presence 

Be Moved Feel alive & Move Into Living Well with and through your own effort, knowledge and some very simple and effective tools.


[1] https://www.actec.com/2018/09/17/how-to-prevent-employee-burnout-absenteeism-and-turnover/

[2] https://everyonesocial.com/blog/employee-burnout-statistics/

[3] https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-018-2141-9

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32805013/

[1] https://barendspsychology.com/burnout-facts/

[1] Fiona Agombar, Yoga Therapy for Stress, Burnout & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 2021, Singing Dragon.

[2] https://hbr.org/2019/12/burnout-is-about-your-workplace-not-your-people

BURNOUT, ADRENAL FATIGUE AND DEPRESSION

BURNOUT, ADRENAL FATIGUE AND DEPRESSION

Our light diminishes into a blanket of darkness, an all encompassing heavy fatigue that obscures. When we accept this phase of life, it brings with it the most profound wisdom and understanding of our human experiences and way of living. With the right knowledge and tools we enkindle the beauty that is us once more.

Burnout, Adrenal Fatigue and Depression

For many of us chronic burnout is often misdiagnosed as depression. Yes, it looks and feels similar. The levels of anxiety we experience during burnout; physiological adrenal dysregulation and fatigue, can be so overwhelming we shut down emotionally and mentally to prevent further exhaustion. 

Long-term fatigue and the accompanying changing physiological symptoms, affect every level of our being, and leads to feelings of unhappiness, guilt and worthlessness. Unhappiness culturally seen as a sign of failure. And unkindly dismissed as wallowing in our own self-pity, also leaves us isolated. Further dysregulating our system from healing and restoration and connection. 

Accompanying symptoms
  • Slow in the morning, fatigue in the afternoon, second wind in the evening
  • Fatigue and disturbed sleep
  • Listless and feeling physically heavy
  • Crave salty and sugary foods
  • Dizziness and blood sugar issues
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Moodiness, brain fog
  • Afternoon headaches
  • Chronic inflammation, low immunity to infections, digestive issues
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Low libido
  • Dark skin around eyes and skin discoloration
  • Hair loss and brittle hair
  • Weak nails 

So we walk into the doctor’s office looking for answers, for a way back to our old self, or something resembling that state. Only to walk away with the distinct message that it’s all in our head and our only option is to swallow a pill that further disempowers and dis-associates us from our self and health. 

Burnout is highest amongst health care professions, teachers, single parents, traders, managers, bankers and entrepreneurs. Studies show women are 20-60% more likely to suffer from burnout. Women report suffering from emotional exhaustion, while men often suffer from depersonalization. And people who’ve experienced trauma at some point are more likely to experience burnout,[1] because their resilience to stress is lower.

Is Burnout Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue leads to chronically elevated cortisol, causing adrenalin, noradrenalin and DHEA dysregulation. This has a cascade effect on all our other endocrine glands; pineal, pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid, thymus, pancreas, ovaries and testes. Affecting their respective hormones and the cycles they regulate within our body systems.

Our cycles of sleep and waking, digestion, restoration and healing, get up and go and allowing ourselves to relax, are all thrown off track. This plays out as mood and energy fluctuations, metabolic imbalance, sleep disturbances, fatigue and boosts of energy at unwanted and unnatural times. Common derangements of adrenal fatigue are hypoglycaemic symptoms; low blood sugar, chronic fatigue syndrome.[2]

Adrenal fatigue isn’t an accepted medical diagnosis[3] as a disease, rather reffered to as adrenal insufficiency. But if we would realise imbalance leads to dis-ease, and burnout a protective mechanism; trying to forewarn us to slow down and make certain vital changes to our lifestyle, or disease will develop, we can prevent much suffering and shame.

Adrenal Fatigue Research Facts

Burnout studies are under-researched. One meta study; which most other burnout research articles refer to; used the data of 25 studies done on individuals with burnout and 33 studies on healthy subjects! This study states because there’s a lack of substantial evidence due to inconsistency in analysis and data research[4], we can’t call it adrenal fatigue. All 58 studies focused on cortisol levels, not taking into account other hormones, nor DHEA, which lowers cortisol levels. 

Not forgetting that study subjects are often only caucasian men of 70kg of body weight, between the ages of 25-35 years of age, leaves a lot to be desired when we’re in our 40’s, women, and overwhelmed by our many roles, responsibilities and tasks. Setting these studies up for insufficient evidence.

What Excacerbates Burnout?

Burnout is further impacted by work-related stressors; perfectionism, workload, work hours, increased responsibilities and tasks, lack of autonomy or control, financial stress, career stage, loss of meaning and joy in work, having children at home, work-life integration, decreased support, real or perceived lack of fairness in promotion and compensation, gender bias, discrimination and sexual harassment. Both an organisational and a personal problem, a one size fits all approach isn’t enough when dealing with something as complex as our endocrine system.

Other Causes & Contributing Factors 

Therefore, knowledge and owning the part that is ours to reclaim; our physical, physiological, emotional and psychological needs, we see what disrupts our health, what we need to remove from our lives to move into living well. Knowing that adrenal fatigue is a physiological imbalance, we can support ourselves through physical, physiological, emotional, mental and psychological changes with tools.

Overcoming Burnout

Physical Needs

Get tests done- at a functional medical doctor see what causes physical and biological imbalance. 

Healthy fats- olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and avocados

Supplements & Herbs- Zinc, vit D, C, chamomile, ashwagandha, liquorice, rhadiola 

Physiological Needs

Eat protein rich foods- adrenals need protein to convert into hormones aiding healthy endocrine function, relieving anxiety, insomnia and mental fatigue.

Decrease inflammation- depression strongly correlates with systemic inflammation, addressing our physiological imbalance through food; curcuma, bitter and astringent foods bring down the acidity, caused by excess sweet, sour and salty foods, can relieve any inflammation cuased by biology. Leafy greens for HPA axis health.

Mental Needs 

Strengthen mindfulness– Meditation 10-20 mins a day, Sama vritti; breathing in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 5 for 2-5 minutes, Bumble Bee breath, with an exhale hum in a low tone, allow the in breath to come naturally, repeat 10 rounds.

Emotional and Psychological Needs 

Minimise stress– see which cause most mental and psychological stress on a scale from one to ten- work, family, home, personal. Create a schedule to minimize stress and find more rest in each of those areas. This PDF with tools will help you get clarity, set boundaries and find more space in your day to day living.

Because knowledge, self-acceptance and these tools allow us to listen to our body’s natural wisdom and urgings, we can let that tiny flame within us become a healthy fire once more. One that gives light and glows with wisdom. 

Much Love,

Shira.


[1] https://barendspsychology.com/burnout-facts/

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15058215/

[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/expert-answers/adrenal-fatigue/faq-20057906

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27557747/

ONE NERVE TO EASE OR DIS-EASE

ONE NERVE TO EASE OR DIS-EASE

The Vagus Nerve

A hype in Yoga therapy circles, adamant I wasn’t joining in, for years, it sat on the shelf. Then Ganesh Mohan mentioned Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory at the Yoga therapy training, thrice. Finally, I dove in… 

Why hadn’t I done so earlier?!

Mindset, fear, limiting beliefs, lack of self confidence, resistance, procrastination, lethargy. Take your pick. If you ask me, a little of each. 

The vagus nerve affects all of these, and so much more, for better or for worse, depending on which pathway our vagus activates easier.

Two paths, two very different outcomes

The Vagus nerve has two pathways one to excite, sympathetic, and the other to relax and rebalance, parasympathetic. Yoga-based practices intrinsically promote vagal tone and decrease the wear and tear of the body. Yoga practiced intentionally, with slow rhythmic breathing during the physical, emotional and mental challenges of practice, allows us to exercise non-reactiveness in stressful situations. It increases parasympathetic vagal tone.

So you might ask, “What does that mean for me?”

Well, the tone of our vagus nerve directly impacts our wellbeing and physiology. If we work more in the activated and excited state,that most of us are in daily, we strengthen the tone and circuitry of sympathetic- fight or flight response. and if we are great at relaxing, allow our bodies to rest and restore when it asks for it, we increase parasympathetic- rest and digest response circuitry.  

This impacts everything from our weight, sleep, immunity, inflammation of organs and tissues, stress response, general wellbeing, to our ability to relax, the shine of our hair, the health of our skin, our energy levels, which affect depression and anxiety are affected by vagal tone!

How it Works its Wonders through Wandering 

Its name comes from the Latin vagus,means wandering. And like a vagabond it’s dedicated to travelling from all the organs to communicate our organic state. Our perception of it’s value is vague because it moves so subtly. 

If we wander with the longest cranial nerve in the body on a journey from brainstem, striated muscles in the face, head, neck, back of the tongue, ears, down the throat to the lungs, heart, and deep down into the gut, we touch all feeling tissues. The vagus nerve connects skin, muscles and our entire visceral body. Viscera means deeply feeling. Its our innate organ sensing and communicates with our brain how we feel. Basically, its our emotional pathway.

Most nerves are either able to sense or enable us to move, the vagal does both. It controls sense and motor communication between feeling and acting. It’s importance as pathway of bodily intelligence, is finally beginning to surface in modern medicine. Physiologically interwoven throughout our entire system, Yoga benefits the vagal nerve. Vagal tone is strongly impacted by slow rhythmic breathing of Yoga, and movement enhances our sensitivity to our inner states.[i]

Pretty influential, when you feel it.

Visceral messages like gut feelings, butterflies, instinct, intuition, are all initiated by this amazingly wondrous nerve. Called Neuroception, this perception of the body’s neurons without awareness of the mind instinctively sense our environment and another’s neural signals. These feelings draw our awareness and attention within the body. These sensations tell us we need to make some changes. Either in the lifestyle or dietary habits, or our environment, the people we hang out with or the work we do. 

When we ignore the body’s intelligence that something’s wrong, again and again, we’ll develop dis-ease. This is just the body’s way to say, “Hello, you’re not listening! Hey, you up there, you need to make some changes!”. Continue to ignore the cues, due to insensitivity, lack of will, or ignorance, and it builds up into deep seated dis-ease. Ayurveda calls this process Samprapti. It becomes chronic. 

What You can do to Tone that Wandering Nerve  

1. Feel Safe and Welcome

One of the most important things for our vagus nerve is feel safe. Feeling safe is the precursor of healing and thriving. That bodily sensation of safety, when we relax, rest and digest. When the nervous system rests, the vagal nerve switches from sympathetic mode, meaning active, ready to run, escape or fight, to parasympathetic, meaning passive, ready to restore, absorb and enjoy. 


Our organs of digestion, reparation and growth, are only nourished when we’re relaxed. Feeling safe is basis for a healthy relationships, social engagement and play. Safety is the foundation for higher brain function and higher states of awareness, which gives way to our creative, intuitive and joyous nature.  

2. Slow Rhythmic Breathing

The wandering nerve will wander less aimlessly if we breathe slowly and with the intention to breathe rhythmically. Especially the out breath will enhance the parasympathetic nervous system. If you find it hard to relax, then breathing out slower then in will bring the ralation mode into play. Breathe out for 8 seconds and in for 4-6, as you feel comfortable. Do this for at least 10 rounds. But the more the merrier 🙂

3. Practice Yoga with Slow Rhythmic Movement

Yoga movement practiced slow and with rhythmic intention deepens the breath, strengthening core muscles and enhances our baroreceptor sensitivity. [i]  It also makes sure our awareness is switched on. This in and of itself assures calming the nervous system, stilling the mind and regulates emotions and energy levels because we’re more attuned. 


We can use the body to engage the relaxation part of the Vagus by doing simple movements such as cat cow, or gentle or modified sun salutations.

4. Use a Positive Affirmation that Creates a Sense of Welcome

Whatever fear comes up, ask what the thought is behind that fear, hear the words and then find the exact opposite words to strengthen your positive intention to feel safe, welcome and accepted. The Vagus works both top down and bottoms up. Meaning we can override it from our bodily sensations, or with thoughts.

So we want to create a smooth slow and rhythmic practice, both of the breath, the movement and mental patterns.

The intention and the intensity will also benefit your Wandering nerve, the wandering mind and our sometimes wandering health, while we wonder where in heavens it went this time…. 

Know you have the power in your hands, body and mind, when You educate yourself and apply that knowledge!! Begin to move with your Wandering Nerve. Start that journey of wondering with life, it’s complexity, it’s completeness and your capabilities.


Namaste, much love, safety and nourishment to Your Soul,

Shira.

 
 
[i]Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Lorenzo Cohen, Timothy McCall, Shirley Telles- The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care

GET CLEAR, CALM & COLLECTED IN 7 STEPS

GET CLEAR, CALM & COLLECTED IN 7 STEPS

Getting clear, calm and collected in 7 Yoga steps to stop anxiety. 

Yeah!! It’s finally spring for those in the northen hemisphere and autumn in the southern. My favourite seasons. The seasons of change and renewal. Also the seasons of increased Vata. Last weeks article was about emotions and how we can transform them through Yoga and meditation. This week we’ll be looking at anxiety from Ayurvedic eyes and what we can do specific to empower ourselves if we feel overwhelmed. 

  • Understand what causes anxiety
  • Learn how you can change your nervous system with Yogic practices
  • Use your diet and daily routine to balance your emotions and mind
  • Enjoy self care that will calm and centre your body, emotions and mind

Most of my teen and adult life I struggled with anxiety. Most who know me wouldn’t know it, because I was really good at acting like I was fine. I think a lot of us live our lives that way.


You probably experience bouts of doubts, worry, anxiety, panic attacks, emotions changing for no real reason. Or maybe You’re feeling stuck in flight or flight response and want to manage or even master this feeling.


Do feel like you have become a different person compared to how You used to feel?
I know I have many times… 
And You want Yoga practice and knowledge to become resilient and confident again. That’s exactly what I wanted and didn’t know how or what. But after years of trial and error, I have some tools that can make a huge difference. To do that let’s dive into what causes anxiety to better understand how we can remedy.

Anxiety and it’s Causes 

Medically, anxiety is the nervous system stuck in fight/flight response. The fight/flight response occurs when there is any stress, whether the threat is physical, mental or emotional. It releases adrenaline, a stress hormone, preparing our physiology to escape or fight. It diverts the blood away from the internal organs of digestion, regulation and growth, to motor muscles. If our body is flooded with adrenaline we can get stuck in this alert and ready f/f mode.  


(If stress is chronic and consistent over long periods of time, our adrenals become exhausted, medically called Adrenal Fatigue, better known as Burnout.)


Ayurvedically, anxiety is excessive Vata dosha in the nervous system. Vata dosha is the psychobiological function of movement within the body/mind complex. Vata is like Wind; movement, breath, life changes. Too much wind becomes erratic, cold and drying movement of our energy and emotional states and quality of our living.


Vata when balanced is expressed as positive mental and emotional states like creativity, joy, intuition, expansiveness and deep spiritual understanding. When imbalance due to excess, Vata creates nervousness, doubts, worry, restlessness, just like too much wind will do to your skin. Because like increases like, opposite decreases. Therefore, to remedy excessive Vata, we need to increase the qualities of rhythm, warmth and moisture and the heavy quality of oils, sweet foods and anything that is not light, cold and erratic.

How to Change Gears of the Nervous System with Yoga

Advice is all too often, ‘Minimise stress’. But when our nervous system is stuck in the fight/flight gear, it can be really hard to switch to the rest/digest response. Luckily Ayurvedic principles applied to Yoga is powerful and effective.
Therefore, like winds’ irregular movement causing waves on the lake’s surface, the mind becomes erratic when we lack routine, rhythm and regularity. This affects our sense of clarity, our energy levels swing and our emotions become unreliable. Now imagine a movement that is soft, smooth, rhythmic within your body, breath and mind. This is the pattern we want to teach our breath, nervous system and mental fluctuations.  Because this will affect our body, energy, emotions and mind. So the key is to go slow, smooth and softly in our day, practice, daily routine and any movement.

The 7 Simple Steps to Overcome Anxiety

The first 5 steps are to calm the nerves. The last one is to strengthen the nervous system.
Or download my Free PDF Yoga for a Calm Mind

1 Routine & Regularity

Eat regularly, wake up & go to sleep consistently, meditate, exercise and relax regularly. Find a rhythm that works well for You and stick to it. Prediction immediately calms the nervous system. Even symmetry and a clean and clear home will create a collected and centred feeling.


2 Stay Warm

Eat warm, oily food, dress warm so nerves are not constantly stimulated by chills. Warming the nerves engages the relaxation response, slows down the mind and grounds our emotional state. It switches us from fight/flight response to rest and digest response. 


3 Breathe Out Slow

Slow breathing calms the nervous system, but the out breath activate the parasympathetic nervous system- the part responsible for the relaxation response. So breathe in for 5 breathe out for 10, do up to 10 rounds. Don’t do retentions, they might trigger nervousness.


4 Grounding Yoga Poses

Any poses that are close to the ground, bringing the energy inward and down will ground the nervous system. Any open and spacious movement will only create more anxiety. So forward bends such as cat/cow, child’s pose, wind relieving pose, forward fold, and garland pose. Even just lying on the floor, and hugging the knees, is very beneficial and centering.


5 Self Care

Self care can’t be overstated for anxiety, we tend to worry and spend too much time in our head. The most grounding practices are a warm bath, oil massage and touch. After a warm bath with essential oils such as Jasmin, Rose or any sweet smelling oils, oil yourself with a warming oil such as mustard, sesame or almond and nourish the soul, through touch.  Touch is major healer of nervous sytem disregulation and anxiety. What every mother knows, when a child or baby cries nothing is more effective than holding, hugging to call the fears and sense of loneliness. More hugs and hand holding activates the relax response. Getting an oil massage its vital in calming the nerves. Also watch a funny film, allow yourself to indulge in an activity that will literally cheer you up.


6 Physical Exercise

This is huge! As a Yoga teacher for a long time I thought this was irrelevant for me, but human body is meant to run, walk and climb. Since 2 million years we have evolved to do just this. Therefore, when we do vigourous exercise our bodies are used to their full potential and that enlivens and awakens the natural intelligence of our bodies. Once the above routine calms your system, start jogging or doing a physical exercise that strengthens the entire body.


7 Proactivity

Being proactive means we do things to progress, not to perfection. Perfectionism causes paralysis and procrastination, cutting confidence. So its opposite is take action, see the fear and do it anyway. Anxiety is also associated to thoughts of the future, whereas depression is to do with the past.  So act on those thoughts of the future, don’t ruminate or become paralysed, just act. Don’t worry if you make a mistake, or someone doesn’t like you for what you do. You can’t please all the people all the time. We are human, not supernatural. Accept yourself and You will believe others are more accepting of You.

Now it’s time to turn ideas and insight into action. Write down in the comments below what You do to contribute to your anxiety and which steps you can take right now to remedy it.

Much Love,

Shira.