5. EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION FOR HORMONAL BALANCE

5. EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION FOR HORMONAL BALANCE

In this article we look at why emotional expression is vital to reclaiming wellbeing. The first step, self-knowledge, is the foundation of all the other steps. So, knowing more about our emotions and how they affect our hormones and nervous system; physiology, is key to undoing a vicious burnout cycle.

The next three steps;

  • self-care
  • strength
  • adaptibility, all work on physical and vagal nerve health, indirectly affecting physiology and hormonal balance. This short article looks at our how we can affect our hormonal and physiological health. And why they’re influenced by breath, energy and emotions.

HORMONES THE CHEMICAL EXPRESSION OF EMOTIONS

Hormones are complex. And for women even more1 so because not only do we cycle each month between fertile, full, falling and fallow, we also cycle through a lifetime of complex and wonderful changes that enable us to create an INCREDIBLE NEW LIFE. Fully intelligent, able to grow and evolve on it’s own. Something no science or tech will ever be able to achieve no matter how wealthy and powerful a man becomes. Sorry guys. It’s the one power women will always have till the end of time ;).

It’s also the reason women suffer more often from burnout2; 60%3. because this complexity makes balance a much more precise art of scienctific and chemical self-regulation. Medicine either gives you the chemicals your body isn’t creating, or represses the production of certain chemicals, both due to an underlying imbalance.

These chemicals, Candace Pert PhD., a phenomenally passionate neuroscientist and pharmacologist called the molecules of emotions. These molecules of information are our neurotransmitters and hormones. There’s no difference between them, only that their effect happens in a different part of the body; brain or organs and tissues, and therefore their effects either rapid, seconds, or long lasting, hours.

Hormone means setting in motion. Emotional expression ensures hormonal balance. Emotions are energy in motion and need to move through and out of the bodymind by expression, to avoid build up.

EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION PREVENTS CHEMICAL BUILDUP

They trigger a cascade of chemicals to connect different systems within the entire organism; endocrine, nervous, muscular, organs, respiratory, cardiovascular, lymph and immune, to name a few. Enabling communication of what is going on and which joint effort the organism is to orchestrate; jump up, dance, dive and hold the breath.

When we think, say or do something, we create a feeling within ourselves, which our vagus translates to the brain; visceral/afferent information. The brain responds/emotes to this stimulus with emotions, causing us to act, feel, think and interact in return. It’s the input and output of the chemical charge within our body.

This is healthy.

Anyone who disagrees still believes that we need to supress or manage emotions. Yet it’s not by supressing or managing that we co-create a better world. It’s through emotional awareness and literacy. Being able to discern our emotions and know what prompted them and what steps they want us to take.

Emotions also hold a great deal of energy and charge behind them once they’re released. We need to understand they’re innate message and move with them, rather than repress our body’s inherent wisdom, which leads to hormonal and chemical buildup in the tissues.

HOW EMOTIONS AFFECT HORMONES, MOOD & ENERGY

These curious chemicals are received by the receptors of a cell. The cell starts vibrating with and from this information4, opening up to the orchestrated joint effort, like bees dancing to pass on information of a new nectar source.

Every cell in your body has receptors for every hormone and chemical cocktail our body can make when it has the right building blocks. And we can naturally make all these hormones ourselves. The fact that our endocrine system is both responsive and receptive, to our external as well as internal environment, it needs sufficient rest, intense exercise, healthy whole foods and according to the cycles of the day and year; biorhythms. Affecting our bio-energy, inturn affecting our biochemicals.

Our bio-energy and biochemicals is the basis of our ability to build the blocks of our cells, tissues and more complex systems such as organs and nerves. All chronic disease is due to a chronic chemical imbalance5, which over decades goes on to create dis-organised tissues and organs, unable to communicate, receive or respond well.

We can can reverse this cycle by increasing our ability to absorb, integrate and use these building blocks through improving diet, exercise6 and activities7, both the doing ones, active and productive, and the being ones, reflective; yoga, meditation, mindfullness, gratitude and prayer.

Part of reversing the cycle is listening to what we feel and want to emote and do so in a beneficial way for all involved, we turn the current of energy and hormones from detrimental to beneficial.

Clear, healthy emoting leads to long-term physiological and psychological wellbeing, and inadvertently affects our vagus, brain and nervous health too.

EMOTIONAL CONNECTION IMPROVES RELATIONSHIPS

All this to say, by honouring our own emotional need for expression we allow ourselves and others to truly connect, feel good and therefore allow our receptors to open up to the chemical information our body is communicating. Opening up is a huge part of our bodymind being able to heal.

Relating and relationships, personal and professional, are built on emotions. Living well depends on our emotional literacy and awareness. Helping us distinguish who is sending which energies in any given space, and deciding which steps are set in motion for a healthy outcome, is possible with the first four steps of safety, calm, resilience and adaptibility.

Clearly communicating our feelings and emotions sets healthy boundaries, clears misunderstandings before they mount and prevents psychological overwhelm.

  • Self-expression of emotions leads to physiological homeostasis within mins-hours
  • Emotions are the expression of our subjective feelings. They are not right nor wrong, but personal and meaningful to us. 
  • Emotional literacy enables voicing our feelings beneficially

Life is relating. Emoting is output, feeling is input.

PRACTICE

Because breath affects our physiology and vagus nerve, it influences our hormones too. We can use breath and gestures, which also affect how we feel through neural wiring and the spillover effect to our hormones,

Feel any emotion that’s present right now in your body. Feel its temperature, quality, movement direction and maybe any associated colour. Then strength on a scale from 1-10 of this current. 

  • What event or circumstance is this emotion related to?
  • What is it trying to set in motion?

Now imagine befriending it. Breathe into it and out of it until it starts to open up and move through you. See if you can follow its movement, what is it saying? Can you guide the energy into a direction that benefits you? A poem, a song, dance or bodily movement? Maybe a constructive conversation, change of plan, new project or relationship that honours what you feel about any given situation.

Know it’s ok to feel what you feel, even if it’s not the same as others. It’s subjective and relevant to you. Relating them as a personal is asserting emotional experience without fear of rejection or shame. Enabling you relate issues with confidence as they arise. Changing how you feel, wake up and live each moment is reclaiming wellbeing.

Lack of communication an emoting creates a build-up of electric charge and eventually bogs us down. A healthy sense of self is found when the energetic charge behind the emotion needs is released and directed in an assertive and clear channel; creativity, self-expressive communication, dance, sing and other inventive channels of output.

And we can be creative, benefit ourselves and others while enjoy doing it! Eventually.

Much Love,

Shira


1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25273522/

2 https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210928-why-women-are-more-burned-out-than-men?at_medium=custom7&at_custom4=3992428A-389B-11EC-BB6D-CD200EDC252D&at_custom2=facebook_page&at_custom1=%5Bpost+type%5D&at_campaign=64

3 https://barendspsychology.com/burnout-facts/

4 Candace Pert, Molecules of Emotion, Scribner, 1997.

5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/

6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16380698/

7 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22773769/

2. SELF-ESTEEM & EMOTIONAL WELLBEING

2. SELF-ESTEEM & EMOTIONAL WELLBEING

Energy is the juice of life, Rasa in Sanskrit. When our energy current is unreliable it can make us feel as if we have no control over our lives. That’s just not true.

WE ACTUALLY HAVE A VERY BIG SAY OVER OUR LIVES, ONCE WE UNDERSTAND OUR HORMONES, EMOTIONS AND ASSOCIATED ENERGY DIRECTIONS AS A CURRENCY WE CAN INFLUENCE.

Seeing relationships are built on emotions, and our energy levels influence how we feel and therefore emote, working with our energy states according to our needs, abilities and the time of day, and changing its direction when necessary, will change how we feel and relate.

Health is returning to wholeness. Burnout recovery and prevention is small steps to wholeness, starting with last weeks blog on self-knowledge. Knowing our Ayurvedic type and personality type, as well as our fears, needs, and emotional repetoire, begin the journey back to wholeness..

ENKINDLE SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH NURTURING DEEP RELAXATION

Knowing our self better, we also know what help us feel safe and nourished enabling deep relaxation. That’s when we start enjoying life again. Enjoyment and nourishment are the basis of self-esteem and leads to self-confidence. Just as it’s vital for a business to know their clients wants and needs to thrive, we need to know what we want and need to flourish ourselves.

Relaxation occurs when our vagus nerve moves into Prarsympathetic Nervous System activity, PNS. PNS activity positively affects our hormones, mood, energy, immunity and all the rest that we associate with health and wellbeing. Because it moves the blood from the muscles and brain back to digestion and restoration of tissues, organs and our entire system, it rebalances the chemistry caused by changes.

So vagal tone and the ability to switch well between PNS and sympathetic SNS, is key. Yoga therapy being especially very effective.

Three things are essential for deep relaxation to occur;

  • Switching from fight/flight sympathetic vagal activation to parasympathetic activity, rest and digest/tend and befriend  
  • Social interaction, connection and activity
  • Rebuilding our wiring for pleasure and enjoyment through self-care

3 WAYS TO ENGAGE REST AND DIGEST VAGAL ACTIVITY

Rest and digest activation of our vagus nerve enables digestion, restoration and socialisation. Chronic stress creates breakdown of cell juncture cohesion leading to digestive, immune and blood-brain barrier issues, further resulting in brain fog and hormonal imbalance

SENSES Seeing facial muscles, hearing a familiar or gentle voice, and sweet smells and tastes all promote vagal tone and PNS activation.The speed of neural connectivity of physical contact and emotional connection is the same, 60-70m per second. So we also allow the emotions of contentment, pleasure and joy to arise.

PHSYICAL Physical contact, touch, massage and hugs or hand holding is another very effective and sure way to increase the hormones of oxytocin, vasopressin and relaxin in small amounts. Which naturally reduces the effects of adrenalin and cortisol.[i]

SOCIAL When we interact socially, we activate the vagus nerv, sending messages of safety to the brain. Connecting with others, seeing another persons facial expressions as we interact, mirroring ours send visceral cues of safety and allows our nervous system to relax.

Supportive social engagement, being present in the moment by being embodied, sensing and feeling bodily sensations as we move, breathe and intergarte our body with mind and emotions. And our spine, that magnificent house of our nerves, also thrives when we move it in its full capacity, translated into our full capacity of being and therefore living well. Setting off a cascade of pleasant hormones.

EMOTIONS & HORMONES

As the quality of your rest is key to you reclaiming wellbeing, doing less and enjoying being more is the essence of restoration and enjoyment. Enjoyment is essential because it allows us to rest deeply and therefore truly relax. Which is when the body and mind can and will restore and heal.

Rest is not buildt in or considered worthy in our culture. Either we are go getters or people pleasers. On the treadmill long enough makes relaxation a hard art to come by because we’re wired, neurologically and hormonally to do, act and do some more.

Why? Guilt makes others comply and an excellent motivator for doing more.

Guilt and enjoyment are opposites of the emotional and chemical spectrum. Chronic guilt makes us rigid, emotionally, mentally and socially. Less adaptable to stressors prevents relaxation and our ability to restore so we keep doing, going and hoping to find what we seek through external approval.

Restoration happens when our vagal activation moves from fight/flight to rest/diges, and the hormones of adrenalin and cortisol are reduced by serotonin, GABA, DHEA, oxytocin and dopamine flowing through our system, enabled by mindful, breath centred, yoga practice to the sound of a gentle voice.

SHIFTING FROM FIGHT/FLIGHT TO REST/DIGEST

Stress moves blood and nutrients to the muscles and brain for quick action, away from mouth, digestion and metabolism; healing. A good way to know if you’re in SNS or PNS is to notice if you have a dry mouth. If so it signifies SNS activation; fight/flight.

What you can do right now is breathe in for the count of 4, exhaling for the count of 8 while humming. Do that up to 5 rounds or more until you notice more saliva in your mouth. Now you have switched to rest and digest. Now choose another activity – bath, foot massage, walk in nature, yoga, yoga nidra or meditation to take that relaxation a little deeper and make it last longer.

Yoga therapy works directly with vagal activation of PNS. Gentle touch, speech, extended exhale, spinal movement, all activate the vagus nerve toning it, leading to improved stress resiliency, emotional and relational adaptability

So we can self-regulate your nervous system! Feeling safe; week 1, is the first step to encouraging vagal PNS activation. Rest and relaxation are the second steps. Benefitting digestion, restoration, healing and growth, relaxation can half recovery time, improving psychological wellbeing through self-agency.

Reclaiming ourwellbeing and self-esteem as we start to enjoy the smaller things in life for a while.

Much Love,

Shira.


[i] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15834840/

1. BURNOUT & RE-EVALUATING NEEDS THROUGH SELF-KNOWLEDGE

1. BURNOUT & RE-EVALUATING NEEDS THROUGH SELF-KNOWLEDGE

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. 

We re-discover who we are through journaling about our present thoughts, fears, needs and dreams. As well as doing fun activities such as personality tests, Ayurvedic contitution tests or an Ikigai. These help us re-evaluate who we are now, compared to who we were 5-25yrs ago when we last check in with what we really want, know and value.

There are three key aspects we need to consider and re-evalute to regain and reclaim our wellbeing.

  • Emotions and their effects on hormones- therefore our energy, mind states and even physical health
  • Our biorhythm cycles affect
  • Vagus nerves activation

EMOTIONS OF SAFETY & TRUST ENABLE RESTORATION & HEALING

Saftey and trust rest on the bedrock of feeling like we belong, have something of value to offer and a sense of worthiness. Lack of self-knowledge contributes to distabilising our esteem and confidence. Knowing who we are, what we’re good at, what we value and love, and what we really don’t want, like or even hate, is essential to mental and emotional health.

Fear and distrust are factors that contribute to burnout. The normal baseline for the brain when we are not doing, is to seek for possible threats. When we learn to pause and act appropriately we’ll rediscover our energy. 

Often for those of us who burn out, we are either high achievers, people pleasers and very motivated persons wanting to create big shifts and cahnges in our world. Underlying most people pleasing, perfectionism and overachieving is a stress factor of fear of not being accepted, or lacking of sense of self; we overdo to be accepted to create a sense of safety.

Your first relationship is to yourself, understanding yourself and your needs, relating becomes easy, fulfilling and even fun. And as we change so do our needs and desires. Burnout is an opportunity to re-evaluate why we do what we do, and how to change it if we’ve outgrown

Example: Imagine for a moment there’s a wonderful person you want to talk to. Imagine also that you have a very solid sense of self, knowing and accepting all your qualities; the good, the bad and the ugly, fully. Imagine we all walked around in full honesty of ourselves. Feeling your full integrity imagine how you would feel to walk up to that person. How would you feel different?

With body awareness and self-knowledge you too will learn to gauge when to rest and allow your your body and mind to heal, and when and to what extent, you can rebuild strength to reclaim wellbeing, both physiologically and psychologically.

WELLBEING NEEDS REGULAR BIORHYTHMS

Self-knowledge and awareness lead to self-care, resilience, adaptability, mental clarity and clear emotional expression naturally. Not knowing our specific needs, desires and abilities, nor how our nervous and hormonal system works and how we can affect it, is the only thing in the way of reclaiming wellbeing.

Learning our unique and diverse needs for healthy sleep, exercise, work, food habits and relationships, is part of self-knowledge; WE ARE NOT AN ISLAND. We are always in relationship with all the above. And what might be healthy for your partner or child, may not work well for you. Figuring out your Ayurvedic constitution and specific needs according to present abilities, needs, goals and resources, is part of re-evaluting what will get you back on track.

Our physical needs, which are real and worthy, affect our physiology; energy and biorhythms, which in turn affect mental health through setting up healthy boundaries to ensure we take care of our self well.

VAGAL TONE & PHYSIOLOGICAL

The last point to work on in self-knowledge is knowing what activates your autonomic nervous system from rest and digest to fight flight and back again. The fight/flight sympathetic nervous system is needed in the morning; when we need cortisol levels to rise so we feel awake and ready. And the rest and digest, parasympathetic nervous activation, in the afternoon/evening, for winding down.

The thing with burnout is that our adrenals are incapable of providing sufficient hormones, because they are- Burned out- the medical term being adrenal insufficiency. The adrenals are part of the HPA axis of the endocrine system, responsible for regulating the body’s entire systems and biorhythms. So we wake up feeling groggy, foggy, listless and unable to do much of anything. Which can trigger guilt, shame and fear again.

The most important thing to do is to slowly and safely build up strength whilst also ensuring deep relaxation to restore the adrenals and our endocrine system. A maximum of strenuous exercise in the morning, (without causing muscle shakes, which means we’ve gone past our present abilities), even just 1 minute, and slowly build up strength and stamina overtime, whilst also building in 10-40 minutes of restorative practices.

Restorative yoga, taichi, Yin yoga, meditation, yoga nidra, mindful walking or resting, iRest or guided practices. Voice is very soothing for the nervous system. Make sure to choose a voice you actually like listening to, to mitigate stress through parasympathetic vagal activation. Touch and social connection is also essential to vagal rest and digest activity. Massage, hugs, hand holding, intimacy and gentle touch are great for adrenal restoration. 

Take the 3min burnout Survey and help create an azmaing training to overcome fatigue, weakness and mental and emotional overwhelm.

YOGA THERAPY – TOP DOWN & BOTTOM UP

The way yoga therapy works is both bottoms up and top down. Meaning we work with the tools and body, bottom up, and knowledge and scientific understanding of psychoneurology affecting nervous activation, top down. So we support and care for ourselves from both ends, to create a solid container of physiological safety and stability, enabling deeper restoration and healing, with longer lasting effects.

The 6 week Yoga Wellness & Resilience Training will help you re-evaluate your present needs through self-knowledge. It’s not just knowledge and tools, you’ll learn how to adapt them according to changing needs and abilities. Resulting in specific and direct physiological self-regulation and self-agency. Helping you feel better, have more mental clarity and restore quicker. Checking chronic burnout prevents us developing chronic anxiety and depression. 

Knowing what you want, need and are capable of doing in each given moment gives freedom and a sense of agency. Learning to pause and be a little more, and do a little, or a lot, less ;), is what the body’s way to ask you to re-evaluate which habits no longer serve you.

So join me in the next 5 weeks with more understanding of how to heal deeply and prevent it recurring or prolonging.

Much Love,

Shira.

Testimonials: 

“Shira helped me understand how to listen to my body’s needs so I know when to pause, act or build strength. In my body, mind and in relationships. Moving me out of my depression, lack of confidence and energy and back into a vibrant person” – Kristen Schultz

“I was overworked, physically, emotionally and mentally drained, lacking confidence in myself and body. Learning to relax, feel and see differences in my body and mind invited more focus, acceptance and energy. Shira as a professional therapist teaches to inform and adapts to the individual.” – Nazia Mangal

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

WHY WE NEED EMOTIONAL LITERACY

WHY WE NEED EMOTIONAL LITERACY

The juice of life is emotion. When something stirs you; be that great art, music, writing, song and dance, all are birthed through the creative process of emotional life. Pleasure, pain and power. Look in any dictionary and you’ll find dead described as devoid of emotion, sensitivity and activity, motionless and incapable of being moved or opening up.

Emotions are the glue that hold relationships, families and societies together. Built on the bond, bridged by connecting beyond the rational, it’s this deeply visceral sensing that unites. Felt. Embodied. It re-establishes our integral need to feel part of a greater whole. Our common-unity. It’s a universal language interoceptively understood by all living things. 

Even krill feel and emote.

Relationships are the essence of life and are always built on emotions. Imagine not relating, not connecting with feeling, the awkward silent, ambivalent instants, but also those, deeply intimate, fulfilling moments. 

One can’t exist without the other, they’re part of the same continuum.

Emotional Literacy Versus Emotional intelligence

Emotional literacy is different from emotional intelligence in that it dives into the universe of emotions. Name any adjective and it can literally be translated as something we feel and can express, if we choose to. Recognising the uniqueness of each emotion for what it is, we don’t pathologize it. 

Giving it space to be, and become because emotions always move and shape shift, we actually harness the energy within. Then it informs our choices as to what changes we want and need to create, transforming us in the process. 

We need emotional literacy because an emotion holds immense energy. Instead of sublimating or diverting the intense charge that arises, similar to giving gas and then slamming on the breaks, it’s harnessed and channeled. Used instead of wasted, emotional literacy gives us the understanding and momentum needed to create the much needed change. Be that societal, relational, political, environmental or physiological.

Emotional Literacy

Emotional literacy is first feeling what arises within us as an energetic statement. Are you fired up, did someone throw a wet blanket on your fire, have your socks been knocked off, are you off track, beaten down, sucked dry, deflated or elated, alive and kicking, radiant, priceless, ready to roll, unmovable and content or ready to sing your heart out? 

Use that information.

Second, understand what initiated the feeling in the first place. Was it something someone said, did, gained, or displayed that triggered it? Or is it an underlying fear, association, belief or thought that caused the feeling? And from that knowledge, deduct what changes need to occur to prevent, if it affects you adversely, or to direct the energy to full fruition, if favourable. Use the inherent energy within the emotion to transform what needs changing.

Thirdly, find out how to emote that energy as a culmination and real-I-sation, (sation means sowing), of what you know deep down to be right for you at this moment in space and time. 

Emotions are Storytellers Enhancing Wellbeing

Whether promising or disparaging, each emotion tells a story. Connecting our past with present and future, mind with body and soul, as well as me/you/we with world. It’s deep, juicy stuff. Confusing only if we don’t take the time to become literate in this very nuanced language. 

Emotional literacy directs and channels the energy flow of a feeling by emoting it. Expression either in work, creative projects, programmes that create change, art or music. It transforms our physiology, energy, chemistry and therefore our moods, mind states and enables releasing old psychological patterns and beliefs. Creating space for new, life-affirming expressions of being human.

Be limitless in your imaginings, generous in your love and courageous with your actions!

Much Love,

Shira

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/

FROM SHAME TO SELF-CONFIDENCE

FROM SHAME TO SELF-CONFIDENCE

Self-worth. Self-respect. Self-confidence revealed by self-sabotage of success. 

There are many reasons we self-sabotage. Unconscious inner drives make us go round in circles, related to past traumas, undigested fears and internalised shame. Shame and self-confidence are both on the same continuum, I explain more in my forthcoming book, Reclaiming Our Wellbeing.

Negative thoughts, beliefs, patterns and reactions reveal a healthy underlying need for self-protection. These surface to be explored, expressed and embodied so we digest internalized past traumas through clarity. Clarity and identifying patterns is connected to our Fire’s ability to act, do, give light, transform, energise and discern.

Moving from shame to self-confidence can be really hard because its one of our deepest emotions for social survival.

 

Research shows shame is correlated to autoimmune dis-ease, cancer and other inflammatory conditions. It’s an internalised biological expression of the belief that we are not welcome, worthy or wanted. It’s one of the most excruciating emotions a social creature can endure, and therefore we internalise it.

To move from victim to victorious means leaving behind the safety of the known. When we can’t stomach the shame of our past, our identity or present relationships, disgust arises as self-protection. That self-protection allows us to take distance, reflect and identify what causes us to feel so ashamed. For this we need the energy and heat of fire.

 

 

FIRE TRANSFORMS ONE STATE TO THE NEXT

Emotionally, mentally and physiologically our digestive fire consumes, assimilates, integrates and eliminates. Absorbing what’s good for us and excreting what’s harmful. We discern, clarify and get to the point by moving between two extremes. And fire initiates that shift and discerns what’s needed and what’s not.

That’s how we find a middle ground, which leads to feeling confident, enthusiastic, empowered, passionate and worthy. To get to those feelings we need fire to bring light to the unconscious drives, digest the undigested and get clear on what we’re angry and ashamed of, so we can eliminate it from our system. Understanding if your fire is excessive or deficient helps you know if you need more or are over doing it.

 

  • Deficient  WORTHLESSNESS, SHAME, SELF-SABOTAGE, BLAME, RESENTMENT, FRUSTRATION, ANGER.
  • Excessive JUDGEMENTAL, CRITICAL, ARROGANT, CONCEITED, HAUGHTY, DISDAIN, NARCISSISM.

In a relationship where one person has excessive fire, the other is almost always deficient in fire. So often you’ll find these dynamics at play.

By allowing yourself to feel shame, see if you can let it shift into resentment and then anger. Maybe you supress anger and it becomes self-sabotage. Anger gives us plenty of energy and power to move onto self-worth because we honour our core values. Using focus, determination and self-reflection we find our own way and shift towards self-confidence, by focusing on what we really want, being honest even if its not what someone else wants to hear, and that clarity leads to brilliance. 

 

 

TRANSFORMING SHAME INTO SELF-CONFIDENCE

The following journaling prompts come from my new course the Yoga Teachers class, which leads us from self-knowledge to self-confidence and self-expression. These prompts can be used for facing your shadows, neurotic behavior, limiting beliefs, self-destructive habits, painful patterns of emotional reactions, unclear projections and stressful relationship dynamics, and the underlying positive intent that wants to be brought to light.

Write down what have you self-sabotaged in the past; a project, a relationship, your life, career, studies. 

Now apply the next three steps to that experience and understand what your subconscious was trying to bring to light.

 

1. DREAM BIG

Turn your self-sabotage situation into your dream, ideal situation, if you believed anything is possible. Write down your DREAM situation and be limitless in your imaginings, courageous in your abilities, and generous with its impact.

* What would your ideal situation consist of?

* How would your life feel, sound and look different to what it is now?

* What would it change in other aspects of your life?

* How would it affect other people’s lives?

Name five associated emotions that means ideal to you? (Example; Safe, Freedom, Connected, Empowered, Alive, Satisfied, Joyous, Engaged).

 

2. NOTICE LIMITING BELIEFS

As you write the above you most likely have a voice saying ‘You can’t do that because …!’

So hear the voice and what is its main message? ‘You don’t have enough time, energy, resources’, or ‘It’s impossible because…’ or, ‘Who wants another…?‘, or ‘I know I can do that, but am happy as I am.’

These beliefs, thoughts and mindsets help us avoid growth. Growth means change, moving into unknown territory, and out of our comfort zone.These beliefs let us off the hook of leaving behind our outgrown self, and say, ‘Stay small, because you might fail, fall, waste time, need to change or leave behind…, …,’ 

Self-sabotage leads to frustration, anger and resentment, critical, arrogant and conceited communication, because subconsciously we know we’re not moving on. Sitting with these beliefs and associated emotions is key to releasing the charge and undoing our limiting habits. RAIN is an easy effective practice to move through pain.

 

3. IDENTIFY SHAME JOURNAL

Now you know which beliefs keep you in shame and away from self-confidence, self-respect and self-worth, identify which emotion is holding you back and find the opposite of that emotion. 

Examples; 

Shame – Dignity

Anger – Radiance

Resentment – Autonomy

Critical – Authentic

 

JOURNALING FROM SHADOW TO RADIANCE 

 

Remember a time when you experienced this emotion, say it’s radiance, and you were ridiculed, ignored, shamed for it. Or it was taken away, in some way or form. Use this in the journaling prompts below. This is your shadow, even though its a positive emotion, its connected to a negative experience. 

This is key to realising why we go round in circles, hold ourselves back from making our dream a reality. Dig deep, until you find the one memory when feeling that great hurt that much. Maybe you can’t remember because you were an infant, then just feel into the emotions, you’ll know when you have found that one that’s excruciating.

Dear (radiance) ___________  your shadow,

I’m angry with you because

 ___________ ruined my life because

I hate ____________ because

I’m scared of ____________ because

I feel bad about ____________ because

I feel sorry for myself regarding ____________ because

I feel excited with _____________ because

I love me with _____________ because

I’m happy with _____________ because

This makes me feel _______________

I hope this helps you get under the deep dark shadows of self-sabotage, and bring to light the radiance that you deserve to embody, hold and share with others.

Much Love,

 

Shira.

 

The journaling prompts have come from Ashley Turner and Mona Miller.

 

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FROM GUILT TO PLEASURE

FROM GUILT TO PLEASURE

Playfulness, our ability to go with the flow, reflects our feelings about our relationship with the world. Pleasure is the emotional charge of a playful bodymind. Guilt or severity its opposites. Do we feel free to have fun and enjoy, do we always need to control otherwise we feel guilty, or do we just let it all go whatever direction?

Pleasure, like water, seeks movement and the easiest course, finding joy and play in whatever arises. It accepts and lets go of the illusion of mastery and control, willing to see where experiences take us, without holding back or resistance. Water, like our senses, are meeting points for our inner and outer worlds and the enjoyment from that volantary sensual exchange.

When we resist pleasure, either because of a sense of guilt, lack of playfullness and curiosity, or our seriousness, we resist prosperity. Guilt restricts, closes down our sensual joy channels. Because our original emotion is bliss, our movement or lack of it, determines the how this emotion transforms into another expression.

To flow fully the banks of our joy need to be both firm and free, just like our tissues, mind and psyche.

Energetic Holding Patterns 

Excessive stress causes unnecessary tightening. Blocking ease and our ability to flow, physically, energetically and mentally. Chronic holding patterns might express themselves as guilt, rigidity, controlling, critical, too serious, self-conscious, or lacking spontaneity and playfulness. The river of abundance, prosperity and possibilities dry up, along with our creative and joyful juices. 

Not enough stressors can leave us with excessive emotions as our energy reserve overflows. Without containment, we may feel overly emotional, watery, let our energy gush from us without discernment and end up feeling drained, lacking, down, lost; our energy and emotions directionless. 

We might have a combination of both holding patterns simultaneously. 

Translated to our energy body, we might not feel contained and able to respond with integrity to a given situation. Resulting in further controlling or flooding. Unconscious guilt might then drive our relationships, projects and beliefs. And emotions are energy in motion, holding the energy or leting it gush, wastes immense, enjoyable energy, and we don’t even notice it.

Hiranyagharbha, our Golden Womb needs to be honoured and felt. 

Pelvic Flow is the Key to Pleasure  

Releasing tension and creating integrity of our sense of self in relation to the world, feels like flow, fun, pleasure and prosperity naturally arising like a bubbling spring.

The key to pleasure is movement and pelvic health. Like water, the pelvis loves to flow and move. To play out the constant ebb and flow, give and take. This ensures and allows us to contain our sense of delight and joy. It enlivens our abundance.

As babies, this abode of joy and delight is with what we began to crawl. We use our pelvis to propel us forward and move into the world. This exploration of feeling for ourselves creates pleasure. When my toddler first moved herself toward that which she wanted to experience, there was sheer joy, wonder and excitement all rolled into the propelling motion of the pelvis. This is essence of moving into bliss. This endeavour to sense the world also created our lumbar curve. Our ability to relate, connect and withdraw. And our first impressions of sensual experiences, plus the first arising emotions, are all contained here. 

Create Pelvic Integrity to Enjoy Life More

To create pelvic integrity and enjoy life fully we need to get to know this area. We need curiosity and playful minds to move past our guilt and expertise. Body awareness and self-knowledge leads to self-esteem. Begin to strengthen and relax this area, until all the tissues and energy flows freely and feels firm, simultaneously. This is how we transform guilt into pleasure. Holding both simultaneously.

Ask yourself in difficult areas of your body, What holding patterns do I have here?

Are some muscles really tight and resist letting go?

Are there parts that let it all gush out, leaving me drained? 

After you feel if you hold or release excessively, you can build back the integrity of this area by doing strengthening movement that warms up this area, and slow soft, stretching to open and release the tissues.   Create firm freedom. 

Be present with sensations in our pelvic area. Think of it’s ability to create another life, and all our projects and creations begin in the Golden Womb. The potential combinations of the inner and outer world coming together in countless ways. The pure potential alive here. It’s time we enjoyed what is instead of thinking what isn’t. It’s time to drop our uncertainty and walk into the world with a sense of certain delight, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

Life is amzingly wonderful and AWEsome first and foremost.

Joyous and prosperous in each moment, as water moves, content and playful, our Golden Womb contains the feeling of all I need to fulfil me is within me and in each and every moment.

In what ways can you feel more curious, playful and joyous?

With Love,

Shira.

PRANA LIFE ENERGY BREATH SOUL

PRANA LIFE ENERGY BREATH SOUL

Prana is Life Energy, Breath & Soul.

Life is energy. Energy defines life. Energy as defined by physicists, according to Dr Daniel Siegel, is the movement from possibility to actuality. Very similar to anciet and traditional philosophies.

And Prana is the Sanskrit word for the intelligence of life’s energy and movement. 

WHAT IS PRANA & WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

A seed holds Prana, and with it, the potential to become a tree and forest. Cut that seed open, and though we won’t see anything, once cut, the seed has lost it potential and ability to become- live, thrive and give. That invisible, unfathomable intelligence and life force is Prana. The primal life force and breath of life itself.

This subtle intelligence behind all psychophysical functions is also responsible for the movement of breath, senses, mind and emotions. The vital life force responsible for the animation of every organism and the life of everything in the universe.[i] Without Prana nothing would exist. This life energy fuels evolution, powers the vital life processes in all life forms, and becomes the thoughts and desires of the mind[ii] ready to be redirected or stored. 

HOW IT AFFECTS US ON ALL LEVELS OF LIVING

Energy is the basis of all life. All creation is made up off energy. The first living forms on earth, were self sufficient, able to sustain themselves merely through energy synthesis, using sunlight, carbon and water. Stem cells removed from the body still hold life intelligence and form into diverse cells to perform different and intelligent functions. This wonderous feat is the power of universal Prana, or Self.

On a physical level all organisms use energy to survive, grow and thrive. The process of changing energy from one state to the next, transformation, allows growth. Our primordial DNA. Einstein understood energy as eternal, continually changing shape and state. A process of transforming from potential energy to kinetic, heat, light, electrical and chemical energy, releasing and condensing into another form. From potential to solid and back. 

On a universal level Prana is the eternal energy, breathe and soul which can’t be destroyed or created. It’s the all-vibrant, intelligent essence of life, the continual movement of awareness pervading all. All energy follows a movement of inhalation and exhalation, like the breath, expanding and contracting in a perpetual ebb and flow.[iii] And life changes from one state to another. As do we, when we allow Prana to flow freely through us. This is when we feel most alive. 

On an spiritual level our soul enters this world through Prana. Our first act, to breathe. We live because of this breath and when we breathe out our last, our soul leaves along with our individual Prana to merge once more with universal Prana.

Like waves or currents, gathering and dispersing.

It’s the movement that enlivens and transforms. 

ANCIENT WORLD KNOWLEDGE

Cultures all over the world honour this invisible life current with name and purpose. The Chinese call it Chi, Japanese, Ki, Polynesian, Mana, Islam, Baraka, Hebrew, Ruach Adonai, and Christians, the Holy Spirit. In Greek, Psyche, literally means breathe, life and soul, and in Latin the same word means animating spirit within mortals.

Prana sustains our individual life energy from the moment of birth to our very last breath. With it comes and goes the love, passion, purpose and desires with which matter is imbued. It invigorates, innervates and initiates every change, movement and growth through cellular intelligence. The difference between a body that breathes fully and one that has limited breath, is the quality of our Prana. It lets us feel alive, exuberant and awake. It’s the transforming power to becoming.  

It’s the source that nourishes, sustains, maintains and transforms all living things. It’s universal presence within us for a time. And Prana is only in the present. Pulsating in us, as we live, move and breathe because of this wonderous force. Bringing to life each and every cell, system and body, with it’s intelligence and incredible gift of life. And we are most present when we’re aware of our breath and energy.

PRANA AS A PRACTICE

Prana embodies all knowledge of life because it is the awareness and intelligence behind creation. Bridging the manifest to Unmanifest, as breath mediates between ego and spirit. Because of this prana is the single most important factor for wellbeing. All Ayurvedic therapies work with prana to bring about balance. All higher forms of yoga work toward developing prana[iv].

We can enhance our Prana through breathing well, called Pranayama. The control and extension of breath. Breathing techniques from Yoga and other integrative traditions help us to clear, clean, strengthen and relax the muscles and organs that support healthy breathing.

To function fully the lungs need to be supported, held and free to move fully. Remember movement is the expression of energy and life. Without a full range of movement we can’t expect the body, brain, nervous, endocrinal, immune and cardiovascular systems to function well, let alone in an integrated way, Which leads to optimal wellbeing. And healthy pulmonary system affects all physiological processes.

The part of the brain that affects breathing is intimately connected and effects our emotional and sensory part of the brain. In turn affecting our mood, energy, sense of safety and feelings. A Yoga teacher well versed in Ayurveda, Pranayama and mindfull breathing can help others self-regulate, regain health and even retrain the nervous system, if they themselves have been able to do so in their own journey of becoming a good enough being.

IMPROVE YOUR BREATHING & LIFE ENERGY

The most basic practice is also the most effective practice. Breathing out fully while sitting with dignity and allowing the belly to be relaxed.

It will clear the lungs, calm the nervous sytem through the vagal nerve moving into parasympathetic mode, make space for more incoming breath, and give relieve to asthmatics who tend to breathe in more than out. This allows the empty lungs to rid itself of old stale air, making way for more fresh vital breathing.

An average adult has a lung capacity of 3.5 litres. The average person only takes in about 0.3 litres. That’s less than 10%!! That explains why most of us feel exhausted most of the time. Another factor is we breathe in the upper lobes of the lungs which absorb less effectively. Combine that with poor posture and compression of the lungs, and we lose that refreshing and energising inspiration of vitality.

So let’s get back our vitality.

Just sit yourself up on a block, bolster or something so the hips are higher than your knees. This relaxes muscles of the pelvis, lower spine and belly. Allowing you room to move, breathe and be. Focus on the out breath moving out slowly, smoothly and softly. Let the in breath come by itself. With each out breath feel the belly muscles mving in and up. Let them actually move the breath out from underneath the ribs.

Do that for 3 rounds.

Then extend the out breath to a count of 6, letting the in breath also become 6 counts by relaxing the belly and pelvic muscles. Do 10 rounds. Repeat this everyday for a week. Once this is easy and comfortable, you can extend the count to 7, 8 and so on until a count of 10. Always let the practices of prana be comfortable and easy. Remember breathing is closely linked to emotions, when it becomes strained so will our emotions.

This is called Sama Vritti, meaning same movement. It calms the mind and nervous system and is the basis of all other breathing techniques, which build on this foundation.


[i] Vasant Lad, Marma Points of Ayurveda, (2008), The Ayurvedic Press.

[ii] Eknath Easwaran, The Upanishads, (2010), Jaico Publishing House.

[iii] David Frawley, Ayurvedic Healing, A Comprehensive Guide, (2000), Motilal Banarsidass.

[iv] David Frawley, Yoga & Ayurveda, Self Healing & Self Realisation, (1999), Lotus Press.

YOGA FOR A CONNECTED HEART

YOGA FOR A CONNECTED HEART

Yoga for A Connected Heart

Have you ever felt that deep direction from universal forces and at the same time complete free will? Well that’s when your air element is home. It’s place in our body is obviously the lungs and heart. The hands and arms are extensions and express the power air through our bodies. Through them we move forward, change activities, create, express, share and receive.

The power of air, of give and take and exchange, searches for, creates and finds new openings, ways, beginnings and connections. It seeks freedom and deeper relations through movement, change and redirecting our wiring, pathways and channels. It’s very versatile and agile, just like our emotions. 

Feeling Free & Connected

Air that’s balanced allows us to feel carefree, peaceful and connected to something wholesome whilst we move, exchange and interact with others. It instils deep trust by seeing all things as being interconnected. And enthuses us with curiosity to try out new things, places, activities and meet new people. 

Through this movement and exchange of experiences new pathways are discovered and we’re inspired. We create new projects, concepts and arts from these fresh impressions and connections. We feel in flow in the grand scheme of things. Connected and free simultaneously.

Excess/ deficient -pain point & causes

Too much of the air element makes us feel spaced out, wired, spread too thin and overwhelmed. When anxiety, doubt, uncertainty and panic are symptoms. 

Our boundaries are most probably weak. Either we let in too much, or give away too much, depleting our sense of self, which we developed through our fire element. Discerning who we are and what we value becomes a vague notion when we are too busy giving, creating and over producing. 

Too little of the air manifests as lack of inspiration, motivation, creativity and energy, rigidity, denial and expert syndrome. Closed to others’ ideas, ideals, concepts and projects. We can become depressed and lack interest in new aspects of self, life and others. 

Without exchange and an influx of fresh ideas we won’t discover new insights and experiences, learn new aspects of ourselves and therefore life becomes boring and meaningless. This can become a cycle of stagnation. 

Yoga for a Courageous Heart

A balanced air element needs movement. We need to follow the cycles of ebb and flow, give and take. Full, empty and everything in between.  Life is the desire to live. And living includes growth, change and death for the new to arise.

Create balance between flexibility and strength, from physical to psychological, try new things and experiment. Confront activities, attitudes, thoughts and beliefs you hold dear, and see you’re openness, or lack of, through new experiences and expressions. Build up strength on those new found activities, attitudes and beliefs and then dare to expand a little more from that new expression of self.

  1. Embody a Courageous Heart

Working with the lungs, heart, arms and hands will activate the air element. When air is excessive, anxiety, doubt or restlessness is present, we need to strengthen the muscles and organs of this area, both back and front of heart, ribs, lungs and shoulders. Think side plank, plank, push-ups against the wall, east side stretch, and arms extended behind the back while holding a block between the hands.

If air is deficient we need to open the heart area. Yoga that extends arms up, out, back and over the head frees the heart. Spread your fingers, open and expand the chest and heart.

  • Energetic Attitude of Fresh Air

Breathe fully, taking in the full spectrum of life and releasing and expressing ourselves as fuller expression of self. In case of excess, breathe into belly area, breathe out slower with a ratio in 6: out 10. In cases of deficiency, breathe more fully into the chest, breathe out slowly and strong, with a ratio of in 8: out 6.

  • Mental Stance of Steady Openness

When excess air evokes anxiety, stop checking your phone, internet and what others are doing and focus on You. Stay in your lane and take time to rest, take a warm bath, light a candle journal get to know yourself again. It takes time to settle a mind that is vast and used to moving all the time, grant yourself all the time needed, whether hours or weeks. 

When deficient in air allow yourself to see and experience through new eyes and another’s mind. Don’t get stuck in your ways, the expert syndrome, try something new daily. Make notes of your resistance to other opinions, ideas and practices, and then dare to try them for yourself.

  • Freedom to Express & Listen

Socially air gives a sense of freedom to express, create, receive and share our very deepest self. 

Excessive air in our beliefs manifests as doubt, uncertainty and being wishy-washy. Nothing holds and nowhere to connect. Journal on your core values, see if some are influenced by outside; your loved ones, society, peers, old levels of consciousness.

Deficient air in our psyche looks like rigidity in our beliefs system. We ‘know’ everything already, often too afraid to look or listen to another’s perspective or expression of self. Denial is huge here. Journaling on what ideas or conversation we find confronting and our degree of aversion, shed light on what concepts are being questioned, and why we fear opening up to new concepts on this topic.

Ultimately Yoga is about having deep, honest and fulfilling relationships with self and others. To give and take. To create and share from the exchange. To be respons-able; able to respond openly, freely, unapologetically. 

When we live, breathe and relate fully we come from that courageous heart. One that dares to express and experience herself fully, without fear, shame, blame, guilt or judgement. We except ourselves and our shortcomings, we see these as growth opportunities, rather than threat. We know we’re perfectly imperfect just as we are. We have self love, self-appreciation and self- approval and therefore we can love, appreciate and approve of others. There is no fight, hostility or fear in a courageous heart.

PELVIS, PLACE OF PLEASURE, PLAYFULNESS & PROSPERITY

PELVIS, PLACE OF PLEASURE, PLAYFULNESS & PROSPERITY

Do you ever wonder where your pleasure went? Did you know feeling rigid, controlling and critical often has to do with our pelvis? Or that feeling drained, disconnected or never … enough, is equally related to pelvic health. Because our pelvis is our place of pleasure, playfulness and prosperity, it’s integrity is essential.

Because the pelvis is linked to our emotions and our energy, pelvic integrity can amount to our life being fun, fulfilling and easy, or dreary or demanding.

Pelvic integrity is key to enjoying life’s gifts.

That sense of aliveness is born here.

To feel alive, joyous and at ease with whatever comes our way, pelvic integrity is es-sensual.

When our playful, go with the flow nature dries up, guilt, rigidity, disappointment, exhaustion, explosiveness, bitterness or feelings of never good enough, surface.

Each month I create a new sequence that honours the season and our body needs in accordance with that. I do this both to allow students to go deeper and explore a little further an area of the body, the emotions connected to it and the holding patterns we might have here mentally and energetically. And to be very honest and transparent, to prevent me going nuts trying to out do my last class. This month is water and the pelvis.

How Water and the Pelvis are Related to Pleasure & Prosperity

The pelvis, Latin for basin, in French le bassin, holds our joy and contains our pleasure. It’s our reservoir of energy and emotion. Ayurvedically, this area embodies and flows like water, and the ball and socket joint moves like a river. 

Because of our pelvis’ mobility, we dance with joy, shake our hips, move freely in a sensual way with pleasure. If my pelvis is stuck, or I can’t feel it, dancing just isn’t fun, freeing or fulfilling.

Playfulness, our ability to go with the flow, reflects our feelings about our relationship with the world. Do we feel free to have fun, do we always need to control, or do we just let it all go?

Water seeks the easiest course, finding joy and pleasure in whatever arises. It accepts and lets go of the illusion of mastery and control. Willing to see where experiences take us, without holding back or resistance. Water and pelvis are meeting points for inner and outer. 

They’re sensual.

  • Because all life starts in water and the pelvis, it’s symbolic of prosperity, abundance and pure potential
  • Water and pelvis flow like emotions, a constant ebb and flow, give and take, make or break, movement
  • Our pelvis- initiator of movement- connects our upper and lower body, the sensual self with the thinking self, which results in creativity
  • Feeling prosperous is an overflow of the movement between the two banks
  • Our sense of pleasure arises through the contact of inner and outer world, and the infinite possible combinations from these interactions
  • Because our original emotion is bliss, our part in the play, our movement or lack of it, determines the deviations of this original emotion

To flow fully the banks need to be firm and free.

Energetic Holding Patterns of the Pelvis

Excessive stress causes our tissues to tighten unnecessarily. Ease and our ability to flow, physically, energetically and mentally, become blocked. Chronic holding patterns might express themselves as guilt, feeling rigid, controlling, critical, self conscious, or lacking spontaneity and playfulness. The river of abundance, prosperity and possibilities dry up, along with our creative and joyful juices. 

Not enough stressors can leave us with excessive emotions as our energy reserve overflows. Without containment, we may feel overly emotional, watery, let our energy gush from us without discernment and end up feeling drained, lacking, down, lost; our energy and emotions lack direction. 

Our pelvic tissues might have a combination of both holding patterns simultaneously. 

Translated to our energy body, we don’t feel contained and able to respond with integrity to any given situation. Resulting in further controlling or flooding.

Because of unconscious guilt here, and emotions are energy in motion, both holding patterns waste immense, enjoyable energy, and we’re not even aware of it.

But we can learn to contain and live with pleasure 

Our rivers just need some TLC. 

Our golden womb needs to be honoured, heard and felt. 

Pelvic Flow is the Key to Pleasure

Releasing tension and creating integrity of our sense of self in relation to the world, feels like flow, fun, pleasure and prosperity naturally arising like a bubbling spring.

The key to pelvic health is movement. Like water, the pelvis loves to flow and move. To play out the constant ebb and flow, give and take. This ensures and allows us to contain our sense of delight and joy. It enlivens our abundance.

As babies, this free abode of joy and delight is with what we began to crawl. We use our pelvis to propel us forward and move into the world. This exploration of feeling for ourselves creates pleasure. 

When my toddler first picked up little pebbles in her chubby sensitive hands, there was sheer joy, wonder and excitement all wrapped into one. This is essence of water. It’s all emotions rushing from and back into bliss. 

This endeavour to sense the world also created our lumbar curve. Our ability to relate, connect and withdraw. And our first impressions of sensual experiences, plus the arising emotions, are all contained here. 

Create Pelvic Integrity to Enjoy Life More

To create pelvic integrity and enjoy life fully we need to get to know this area. We need to move past our guilt,  build body awareness, self acceptance, and begin to strengthen and relax this area, until all the tissues and energy rivers flow free and firm. 

You need to feel what holding patterns you have.

Are some muscles really tight and resist letting go?

Maybe you don’t contain but let it gush out, leaving you empty? 

After you feel if you hold or release excessively, you can build back the integrity of this area by doing strengthening, movement that warms up this area, and slow soft, stretching to open and release the tissues. 

Create firm freedom.

A sure way to ensure feeling prosperous and playful is being present with sensations, feeling this area’s ability to create another life, and all that being will co-create and experience through Her projects, ideas and senses. The potential combinations of the inner and outer world coming together in countless ways. The pure potential alive here.

It’s time we enjoyed what is instead of thinking what isn’t. It’s time to drop our uncertainty and walk into the world with a sense of certain fulfilment, pleasure and delight.

Joyous and prosperous in each moment, as water moves, content and playful. Our golden womb contains the feeling ‘I’m good enough’ and ‘there’s more than enough for all of us’ out there, and more importantly, in here, all the time.

Much Love,

Shira.

YOGA FOR BETTER SLEEP

YOGA FOR BETTER SLEEP

Waking up in the middle of the night and trying to fall back asleep, often, seems like an eternity. (Especially when we know we need to be fresh next morning for that VIProject!) You’re not alone. Worldwide 51% of us have sleep woes. And it’s not just adults, more and more kids struggle with sleep issues. Practicing Yoga for better sleep improves our sleep and ensures we feel fresh when we wake up.

Sleep issues include trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, not refreshed upon waking, or insufficient sleep. Yoga for better sleep can relief or completely alleviate all these issues. Yoga for better sleep uses simple practices to calm the nervous system, integrate our body, mind and emotions to ensure we sleep soundly.  Here are some funny facts of common places we fall asleep during the day due to lack of sleep- -10% of people fall asleep while at work -7% while driving- OMG can you imagine!  -7% in church  -6% on public transport  -and 1 % on the toilet, oops On a more serious note, let’s look at our sleep woes and the havoc it can wreak for body, mind and emotions.

Sleep, our Foundation of Vitality

We all know sleep is vital to our physical and mental health but very few know how really important it is to our quality of life.[1] Continued insufficient sleep disrupts all our bodily systems. Causing energy levels to swoon and soar, cascading into fatigue, brain fog, depression, anxiety, nervousness, accidents, mood swings, hormonal changes and other physiological shifts. Inflammation increases, immune function becomes impaired, and inhibits muscle, organ and tissue repair and recovery from trauma, injury or stress.[2] Chronic sleep deprivation leads to deep seated physiological changes such as; obesity, diabetes mellitus, septicaemia, hypertension, heart conditions and vascular changes leading to strokes. Let’s look at our human sleep history and understand what constitutes healthy sleep in reality.

Sleep History & Reality

So, what’s healthy sleep and how can we contribute to creating better sleep patterns to not fall asleep on the toilet?  A million years ago, every night our foremother naturally woke up just before the dawn, between 3-5am, when the air was at its’ coldest, to tend the fire, check everyone’s still alive and well enough, before getting back into the warmth of her bed. We rarely slept much more than 6-7 hours at a stretch in our short human history.  That might come as a surprise with the constant myth of 8 holy hours.  News flash- We’ve had this pattern till the arrival of electricity and artificial light… No wonder some of us more sensitive souls still wake up between 3-5am. In Yoga we call this the hour of the Creator, or Brahma Muruhta, 90 mins before sunrise. It’s the best time to practice meditation, Yoga and contemplation on our existence.  So, the next time you wake early in the morning, or in ‘middle of the night’,  know that you’re completely healthy. It’s a totally natural rhythm. Waking up in the wee hours of morning actually means your still in-tune with nature and our old cycles.  And one of our worst sleep thieves are thoughts like, “I’m not getting enough sleep.”

So, What’s Healthy Sleep?

Really, it depends!  Healthy sleep and sufficient sleep depends on many things. Your goals, your present health, your age and responsibilities, your levels of stress, and your physical and mental constitution or nature. Long before becoming a mother and having adult responsibilities, I spent 10 days at a Vipassana meditation centre. For the life of me, I couldn’t sleep more than 4 hours a night. While awake I just lay there bringing my awareness back to breath again and again and again, thousands of times. And I got up feeling as great as a Gladiator ready for my next day of mental demons.  The reason was because I wasn’t physically very active, and mentally I was focusing and then calming the mind; not ingesting lots of mental impressions. This meant very little exertion of mind and body, and therefore needing less sleep. Since having a child and running my own business, I definitely need 7 and a half hours. And when I do it in one go, which isn’t often, I’m healthy as a hummingbird amongst the flowers all day. If not, I come back to my breath again and again. And most mornings, even if I only get a few hours of broken sleep, I still feel refreshed because I didn’t stress out about being awake. Now we know we don’t need those holy 8 hours let’s look at some Fascinating Falling Sleep Facts. Reminding yourself of these when awake next time will ease your mind.

  • 6-7 hours sleep a night ensures longevity, more so than 8hrs!
  • Most of us wake up 6 times a night but just don’t remember! 
  • Don’t count sheep, it activates the Left-brain hemisphere = wakefulness. Instead, imagine you feel the sheep’s soft wool, it activates the Right brain hemisphere = rest
  • It’s very natural to wake up between 3-5 AM, think cave-mum/dad
  • Our circadian rhythm determines our sleep pattern, and is controlled by the stress and sleep hormones, adrenalin and melatonin. These both respond to daylight and darkness, levels of stress during the day and moments we allowed ourselves to de-stress through yoga, meditation, prayer, journaling or contemplation
  • Every 90 minutes we’ve been through a complete sleep cycle of sleep, dream sleep and deep sleep. Between these cycles and during dreams we tend to turn and wake up

So, don’t get your knickers in a knot if you ‘only’ get 7 or 6. Maybe that’s all you need. Some people live their whole lives with just 5 hours and feel fresh, alive and fit, when they get up.  So, the most important is how you feel upon waking.

4 Sleep Robbers

So what steals your sleep?  1. Irregularity causes our nervous system to be active until there is some form of routine. Check your schedule, eating habits, sleeping habits, and daily routine for irregularity, if more than 2 are irregular, start creating more routine and rhythm will bring calm to your nerves 2. Poorly timed activities & exercise will raise the heart rate, release adrenaline and disturb sleep. Spicy food, coffee, sugar, intense exercise. Remember the adrenaline and melatonin. Stressful events in the early part of the day gives us time to rid our body of excessive adrenaline by moving it out of the body. If we don’t have that time to be physically active in the afternoon, Yoga can really help. But doing an intense Yoga practice will only increase adrenaline.  3. Technological stimulation before sleep disturbs our melatonin release. Strong lights, sounds, or screen before bed. Best to avoid any screens 90 mins before sleep. Artificial light and not honouring our body’s natural cycle of melatonin and adrenalin, sleeping and waking, is a huge contributing factor. Excessive screen time, and/or being exposed to the screen too soon before going bed, exacerbates our woes. Add to that our present sedentary lives, now you understand why your body is a all of tension when you go to sleep. You already were, but you might not have noticed with all the days busy-ness. 4. It’s worth repeating, the worst thief of our sleep is the thought, “I’m not getting enough sleep.” 

Simple Yoga Steps for Better Sleep

First, be happy when you wake up after 6 hours and forget fretting!  Even if you only sleep 3 or 4 hours and feel you need more rest, just remain in bed, don’t turn the light on. Feel your body lying there. Let go of that tyranical ideal of 8 hours and ‘I must sleep more’.

  • Begin to feel a soft, slow, belly breath, for about 2 minutes. Then tell yourself it’s completely natural to wake up and allow yourself to let go of any tension you might be holding onto in the back body. 
  • Do some soft gentle movement of the pelvis and hips with pelvic tilts, until you feel more embodied. 
  • Then roll the shoulders gently, calmly in circles 3 times one direction, then 3 times the other direction, release any tension from neck shoulder and head.
  • Then slowly lift the hips up of the bed coming into a bridge, and roll them back down. Do that very slowly and smoothly like waves rolling your body up and back down for 1-2 minutes.
  • Then allow your body to become soft and heavy. Release any tension and come back to the slow belly breaths for another minute.
  • Let the mind become calm.

Let your mind rest in the body. Even if you wake up in the middle of the night. Don’t worry, don’t even try to get back to sleep.  Just say to yourself you’re ok, in rhythm and restoring by not doing anything.  Just be. And know that by not doing any activity your body, mind and soul are getting the rest and integration they need. In my Yoga for Better Sleep I teach you body awareness and effective, specific and simple yoga sequence to ensure a deep letting go of any unconscious holding. You learn to turn of the active Nervous System, NS, and moving our physiology into the restorative NS, the parasympathetic NS. We release excess stress from the back body, which often holds all our unconscious stress of the day, preventing us from going into a deeper state of rest. When you learn to work in tune with your natural cycle, your body, mind and emotions, you can use Yoga as a tool to regulate and integrate your day, your tensions and even your stress. In my classes and Courses, I teach you to feel what your body, mind and emotions need, and how to use Yoga’s practices and teachings as tools. I would love to hear from you. Please share your experiences in the comments below. With rhythmic love,

Shira.

 



[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473877/


[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473877/