RAIN TO LIGHTEN THE HEART

RAIN TO LIGHTEN THE HEART

Namaste Beautiful, Amazing, Unique You!

I wish You, from the depths of my Heart, happy new moments and wonderful connections! 

Let’s make this year fulfilling with integral interactions, honest humour and sensitivity to our reality.

INTEGRAL INTERACTION & CONNECTION

Integrity and that sense of fulfilling certainty in the goodness of life, comes when we embrace the totality of our selves and our reality; the great, bad and utterly ghastly. To clear the fields aftrer the rain, so the warmth of the sun can awaken the potential creative power of life within us.

To start this year off I’ve created a short video to help us do just that, slowly, but surely

Lightening the Heart – a 10min RAIN meditation

Holding space for difficult emotions and uncomfortable feelings can be intense, even painful. RAIN stands for – Recognise Accept Investigate Nurture. A framework to allow ourselves to explore the discomfort, while letting it move through us. 

And us through it. Helping us have a circle of influence, realigning with our power, to investigate and nurture our true self again. 

CRITICAL THINKING & REALITY SENSITIVITY

Personally, the last two years have hollowed me out as I’ve tried my best to stay uplifted, motivated and moving forward as a mother, seeker, entrepreneur and honest human being. The constant changes and demands and losses, socially, financially, spiritually have drained me on many levels. Though not as badly as a burnout.

While research points to the facts that C19 is here to stay; endemic1 and those of us under age 65, without anxiety and chronic conditions 2such as diabetes3, are safe from hospitalisation and longterm effects of covid, questions about the continual rabid push to vaccinate, and ostricize unvaccinated, is warrented.

The huge wealth distribution toward big tech and pharma in these last two years, is till now, only felt by low income families and small businesses. Those wealthy enough to not feel the pressure and are not incentivised to demand or seek answers to questions they do not yet perceive or feel.

Censorship of critical voices of vaccination safety and effectiveness, especially when considering children, has led many scientists and medical professionals to be ridiculed, threatened and silenced. This should raise everyone’s eyebrows. Still many stick their heads in the sand due to feeling unable to influence the situation.

Yet if each of us uses what little or big influence we have, we can co-create a world worth living in.

DI-VISION LEADS TO DIS-EASE

I personally think it’s only wise, healthy and necessary to ask questions, probe and find out what is really relevant when health and wellbeing of the population is at stake. In context of all the facts, taking in account the mental wellbeing of the younger population, and life years lost to the stress in feelings of hopelessness and no prospects or perspective anymore.

Persecution, persuasion and bribed by authorities, division sows seeds of fear, anger and resentment increasing our cortisol, adreneline and cytokines’ associated inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to hormonal imbalance, increasing likelihood of chronic conditions; autoimmunity, diabetes, addictive behaviour as we try to ineffectively self-regulate, creating a viscious cycle of biorhythm disfunction and dis-ease.

People who are reasonably healthy are now being undermined from many sources. Putting more people at risk for chronic conditions.

Both the context of lacking social connection and the healthy hormones promoted from feeling happy in the presence with another feeling human being, as well as taking away the benefits of physical activity, future options, heap ontop of this the stress of future debt, division and disinformation from the governing bodies of countries, are huge burdens for us to bear, especially our young!!

Ministre comes from the Latin to be of service. Meaning governmental ministers; payed by people’s taxes, are servants of the people. Yet tax money has been syphoned to the biggest tech and pharma companies, who in turn keep us glued to screens preventing health even further. Why are governments not acting on these facts? And they have been sent copious documents by many professors and concerned bodies.

Why disseminate information that predisoposes us to dis-ease, is my main concern.

CREATIVITY THROUGH CURIOSITY

I’ve been reading books to get perspective and come to terms with what is actually going on globally; 

21 Lessons for the 21th Century- Yuval Noah Harari

The Master and His Emissary- Iain McGilchrist

The Biology of Desire- Marc Lewis

The Dawn of Everything – David Graeber and David Gwenrow

Debt, the First 5000yrs- David Graeber

7 and a Half Lessons About the Brain- Lisa Feldman Barrett

The Genetic Lottery, Why DNA Matters for Social Equality – Kathryn Paige

and find ways of living that are sustainable and enjoyable.

According to Lisa Feldman Barrett, our society, national borders and global state cries, are just social realities we’ve created. And as long as we believe their shadows to be real we can’t see the light that is already all around us and within each single, special being. Iain McGilchrist theory is about how an overly active left hemisphere, which is wonderful to disect, discern, pull aprt, isolate and conceptualise, but lacks the ability to see context, relate, emote fully such as the master, the right hemisphere does so well, is why we see this dichotomy of living, thinking and structuring which is causing our meaning crisis, as John Vervaeke calls it on his podcast series, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis.

Bob de Wit likes to think we can go glocal, meaning global and local, decentralising power back to invested people in their own communities. Thereby not only taking back our power but just as importantly our sense of belonging, responsibilty, ability and sense of social purpose, which we are lacking greatly currently.

Yuval Harari paints a very vivid, bleak future, as well as options that could put to use tech and science to communal benefit. Kathryn’s work points out how science can help activate more inherent equality through nurturing the right aspects of ourselves.

All point to our common responsibility. Each and everyone of us.

HONEST HUMOUR

So, there’s not a lot to be done. I mean we only need to find more creative, caring and connected (truly connected) ways of growing, working, paying, living and playing. Co-create economies that uphold balance for healthy societies, environment and power dynamics.

No big deal.

Maybe no deals.

Or maybe, many honest deals, everyday, with ourselves and each other. Again and again and again.

All COVID points to is our inherent power and responsibility to co-create and no longer wait!

We’re being asked to see the roses as well as the thorns, the soil, the consequences of planting too early, too much, not enough, or manipulating because we desire control.

Life is chaos. Beauty lies in the uniqueness of mistakes, which is also the birth of creation and the breath of inspiration.

Life and the new is birthed, ushered in with love and dedicated attention, not made by science or tech.

As a mother, seeker, entrepreneur and honest human being, with fears and hopes, I invite you to reach out, so that we can together create a world of caring connections, creative ways to support and uplift each other with ideas and insights to how we can move forward in harmony and common-unity.

Much Love,
Shira

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8461290/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34551070/

2 https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2021/pdf/21_0123.pdf

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7375314/

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

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/

4. OPENNESS AND ADAPTABILTY IN RELATING

4. OPENNESS AND ADAPTABILTY IN RELATING

Imagine that no matter how challenging a situation, or how someone presses your buttons, you meet it with grace and clear equanimity. Imagine how great you’d feel. You radiate confidence and self-love, and therefore easily accept and accomodate others.

Rigidity and the habitual are the opposite of adaptibility and acceptance.

Over the last three weeks we’ve looked at how we can reclaim self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence before, during or after, burnout. Once these three steps are integrated in body, mind and psyche, the next step is flexibility and adaptibility, leading to self-acceptance. Because mindful yoga practice is reflective; connects the dots between body, mind and psyche, through physical flexibility we discover mental and emotional adaptability.

How?

PHYSICAL FLEXIBILITY EQUALS PSYCHOLOGICAL ADAPTABILITY

Our physical body is like a map, a template, for our mental and emotional bodies. When it’s flexible and able to move into different spaces and places without too much resistance and friction, it relates this to our mental body through how we feel as we accomodate new dynamics and forms. Take for example nimbly running with your child in the forest, dodging branches and jumping over fallen trees. Your ability to quickly change speed and shape enables you to move with grace, possible when your joints have mobility and muscles flexibility.

Flexibility gives flow to the many physical movements, changes and taking up space in new places. Because Yoga reflects different facets of self, flexibility in body equals adaptibilty of mind. Adaptability gives flow to your relationships and vitality to our sense of self in social interactions. Your body reflects your mind and energetic stance in life. Flexibility equals dynamism to lifes’ challenges and changes.

3 KEYS TO ENHANCE ADAPTIBILTY

  • Self-acceptance and adaptability go hand in hand
  • Grief, sadness and an unwillingness to let go and accept changes; external or internal, withhold your natural ability and receptivity to give and take; stopping flow and flexibility
  • Accepting the changes; personal, professional, relational, creates space for growth and finding peace with our new self

Accepting our self means accepting all of it; the great, bad and utterly ugly. It’s holding space for whatever comes up within ourselves, but also outside of ourselves, and remaining emotionally present, or connected to self and other. And learning to let go of ingrained habits and beliefs is key to mental and emotional self-acceptance and adaptibility. What helped us in the past, but may not serve us any longer, is outgrown; what got you here, won’t get you there.

LETTING GO TO GROW

Sadness and grief are emotions that ask us to let go. To release, the familiar, the unseen, the unaccepted, unappreciated, unforgotten and unnecessary.

If we fear letting go, maybe because subconsciously we believe we can’t deal with the consequneces of releasing a habit, no matter how detrimental it is, can result in depression. A coping mechanism to prevent change; supression of other emotions such as anxiety, shame, guilt and denial, which are associated with the sadness or grief, are held at bay in this way. This holding on is strength, but it also prevents growth.

TO GROW WE NEED TO LET GO!

Adapting is stretching into the new of self and life. Reaching into the unknown with light-heartedness, a willingness to open up and see. Closing off is a great way to avoid possible pain, but it also stops newness coming in. New experiences stretch our awareness, open up new ideas and inspire us. Revitalising our mind, opening our emotional self to possibility and promise.

And sure there’ll be more bumps in the road- such is life- but we’ll be carrying less baggage.

PRACTICE

Now feel your heart and distinguish how open you are to new experiences, is there a flow of incoming and outgoing? How does it feel if you were to see it as a stream? Now using safety, rest and strength feel that you are resilient enough to open up a little. See how that feels, breath in and out from your heart. Can you hold whatever arises with lightness, strength and trust? What happens to your mind, energy and body?

Strength, rest and safety enable us to soften and open up, allowing a sense of flow back into our lives. Knowing we can connect as participants of life again gives hope and revitalises us.

The body becomes an entry point, or map, to create flexibility in mind and psyche so we open up to new capabilities.

Holding back, resisting change and not letting go because we fear the unknown, is keeping life from flowing through us and us from flowing through life. Accepting our self and the changes we return with dynamism more quickly.

Much Love,

Shira

“Working with Shira has taught me I have the capacity to uplift myself and there’s a sense of coming home”. – Nelleke Scharroo

Want to know more about the Yoga Wellness & Resilience Course? Click here.

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

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/

MIND SPACE- CREATIVITY, COMMUNICATION & EXPRESSION

MIND SPACE- CREATIVITY, COMMUNICATION & EXPRESSION

MIND SPACE, EXPRESSIVE POWER

Don’t you love it when You get that feeling you’re able to do anything? Not the megalomaniac kind. Just knowing our pure potential and ability to create anything we desire at any given moment. 

Well this is delightful, exhilerating and creative feeling the realm of Space. 

Of the five elements, Space is subtlest and closest to the Unmanifest. Before we move into consciousness, understanding the subtle power of space makes our mind space more accessible.

We’ve gone from solid to subtle in the last 4 months. Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space. The five elements make up our world. They’re the substance of soul, mind and body. Different ways Self expresses its infinite possible diversity of existence. 

A balanced space element is when we express ourselves freely and with ease. We’re great listeners and know the art of telling stories. That exhilarating feeling of communicating with clarity and conviction. Our ability to speak our feelings, thoughts, ideas and vision.

Space in our physical body is within ears, tongue, all channels, and the cavities of throat, chest and pelvis.

Space, the element of pure potential and creativity

Sound is subtle and Powerful. Words are powerful. And like space, sound is the subtlest of manifestation. We can’t smell it, Earth, we can’t taste it, Water, or see it, Fire, nor feel it, Air. But we can hear it and feel its vibrations through space and in our body’s channels and cavities.  

And just as the Space element is the most subtle, the organs of space receive and express the subtlest of manifestation best. Think music, song and Mantra, poetry, story and any other medium that conveys our deeper hopes, fears and emotions. Feeling that vibration when something speaks to the very core of our soul. It resonates. It realigns us with our true essence. 

That recognition is space at its finest. Our inspiration and spark for creation comes from the space of possibilities. It’s the bridge between in and out, heart and mind. And because Space is the element of communication, expression, and creativity, we refine it through our throat.

The connecting link between experience and expression of thoughts as well as feelings.

Purpose & Power of Space

Space is the seat of inspiration[i]. Because it’s also the meeting point of subtle and material, it brings balance and purification through interaction and integration of spiritual with physical. 

When our headspace is clear it’s easy to express our visions, dreams, insights, feelings, thoughts, and desires. Articulating these we begin the process of making it real. Through communicating we get feedback from others. This feedback allows us to define, redefine and remix what our real vision and gifts are. We purify our feelings, thoughts and deepest desire, through this constant exchange. We get clarity. And clarity is power. So, the space element is an empowering element to manifesting. 

Our original Shakti; deepest desire and power, can begin to work its magic when Space is clear. Every action, word, thought, and desire of safety, pleasure, and power are initiated by this creative force. An initial wish expressed to come into life as a unique being. It’s ready and waiting for this communication, creation and expression of Self through You.

Space Out of Balance

Ever had the feeling no one listens to you? Or you’re too embarrassed to speak your idea, opinion, or truth, even though you completely disagree with what’s being said? Well this is a deficient space element.

Have you been told you’re a terrible listener, or that you talk too much and never let another speak? Excessive Space.

Between experience, expectation, expression and the resulting exchange, we relate to others a clue about how and if we’re listening, and how, or if, we are being heard. To transform and be empowered, our voice, ears and throat give us very clear feedback. Our voice leads to our creations. In this process, we purify our experience, expression and communication of self. We learn by listening to the actual exchange. 

We also refine our other four elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, through our ability to communicate.

Tools to bring back balance to Space

Mantra

Even in the Big Bang theory, sound is the first of any manifestation. The Vedic equivalent of creation theory is the sound AUM, Om. The first sound when we open our mouths, A, it signifies beginning creation. U, which is the continuation of creation. M, the sound that naturally arises when the lips are closed. Teaching starts with Om to honour the creation process. In Greek philosophy Logos, or Word, is the divine principle that permeates the universe. “In the beginning, there was the word. And the word was with God. And the Word was God,” “When there were no depths, I was brought forth,” Genesis, all resound the concept of space, sound, creation and manifestation.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga rebalances our space element because it allows us the time needed to open up gently, and through calm attentive breathing in the opened areas create space without force or coercion.  For example, lying in supine Cobbler pose over a bolster, supported by blocks and blankets, gives our belly, heart, chest and hips the chance to open. Creating space releases tension, energy, and any issues in our tissues.  It allows us to reconnect to areas that are usually closed and unconscious.

The space element provides the denser elements freedom, a gap in time to transform and become, a window in space opening doorways to opportunities. That’s why

Meditation

Imagine there is absolutely Nothing, only unbounded space and stillness. Within there lies a dormant, rich, fullness of all the pure potential of creation. When these infinite potentialities begin to stir, and move, the Air element is breathed into existence. As Air awakens and begins to shift, rouse and initiate with more velocity, it creates heat. The Fire element is inspired into being. Fire’s light and heat separates from the heavy qualities of cold and wet. Giving way to Water. Within the Water, are particles even denser. Compact, solid and unmoving. Here the Earth element is delivered.


[i] David Frawley – Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses

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.

INFLUENCING OUR EMOTIONS & ENERGY THROUGH PRANAMAYA KOSHA

INFLUENCING OUR EMOTIONS & ENERGY THROUGH PRANAMAYA KOSHA

Influencing our energy and emotions is vital in stressful moments. Through Pranamaya Kosha, our energy body, we can learn how to regulate how we feel, respond and bounce back, with grace and ease. 

I just moved house this weekend, and listening to, and taking care of my energy body’s needs, is vital to resilience, wellbeing and energy levels.

So this morning when my alarm went of at 6 AM, exhausted from moving house and all that goes with it, instead of getting up, I listened to my body. She cried loud and clear, “STAY IN BED. Only get up when the heaviness of body and grogginess of mind had dissipated”. 

Therefore I had to miss some of my yoga practice, and not do the dynamic practice I was yearning. But instead meet my body where it is right now.

It’s vital to be as honest and attuned, because body awareness, just tuning into your bodily sensations again and again, helps us sense what our body really feels, needs and lacks. 

We’ve spent years ignoring or overriding our body’s needs and desires. 

It’s the norm. The other day, I unknowingly broke my toe and I admonished myself with, “ Don’t exaggerate, it’s probably not that bad.” When I got home and dared to look, it was huge, red, blue and purple.

Under all our hectic-ness our vibrant calm, dynamic stillness, radiance pulsate. When Pranamaya is healthy, we’re confident, curious and creative. We can create wellbeing by knowing how our vital body feels, what it needs and which practices will most benefit it now.

So what’s Pranamaya Kosha, how do we regulate our energy and emotions, through it, and why is it called Pranamaya Kosha?

Prana is Life Energy, Pranamaya, our body of vitality

Prana is Sanskrit for life, energy, breath and soul. Maya means made of, and Kosha, explored more in-depth in the last article, is one of our diverse sheaths of living. So Pranamaya Kosha is our body of energy, life, breath and soul.

The Chinese call it Chi, Ki in Japanese, Mana in Polynesia, Baraka in Islam, the Trinity in Christian, and Rauch Adonai in Hebrew. 

The embodiment of fullness, power and source of all creation. It’s the creative expression the Divine through us. The movement of Life itself. 

The active power takes form while remaining complete. Streaming through and connecting all channels of life through our breath and movement. The elements of space and air changing and re-connecting. 

Our vitality is in our breath

This breath of life, is symbolised as wind, breath, mind and spirit, because it conceals, is transient, fleeting, yet a powerful force of change and transformation.

The first thing we all do when we come into the world is take a breath. Without it, we don’t live. And our last act release of our last breath of vitality.

In our vital body, life and energy streams, cascades and fills up our vessel. Life moving and flowing through us. Our breath is universal life force replenishing us when we rest or move fully. And the nostrils are the entry point for our energy.

So just by breathing fully, deeply and consciously we wake up that Pranic body, our vitality.

Adults have a lung capacity of four litres, but usually we only take in 300ml of breath per cycle. We can completely empty of lungs and clean out all that stale air. Rid ourselves of anything old, unwanted and outgrown. But usually we don’t give it much mind, energy or life.

And just as bodies of water stagnate, or dry up, our channels of energy, neglected or overused, causes our energy, emotions and vitality to do the same.

Emotion is energy in motion. For more on this read Emotional Empowerment.

We can regulate our energy & emotions easily

Mudras, mantras, chakras and Pranayama all affect our energy body directly.

Mudras, gestures which redirect energy flow from our hands into another circuit, a proactive statement we choose to embody. Mantras engage the mind, and redirect energy circuits of thinking and focus into new channels and patterns of thoughts that counter our present mental habits. Pranayama, the most direct way to influence energy flow, can uplift, ground, expand, concentrate, heat, cool, enliven, or even, dampen ourselves if we choose.

With all of these, finding the right practice according to our needs is top priority, and usually the hardest part of any practice. Body awareness and honesty are so vital to our energy and emotions. Because when we know what we feel, and where we want to get to, we can choose the right practice.

Clarity is power.[1] The more clear you are about what you want and need the more likely you’ll achieve it. So Yoga forms practiced with intention, conscious breath and embodiment of the form, also are pathways to transform our emotions and energy flow.

So, first and foremost, is to find out what our body feels like. What quality does it have? Is it heavy, light, open, expanded, wired, dissipated, gathered, flowing, stagnant, or does it have different qualities at the same time? 

And where do you want to take yourself, in the next hour, day, week, month?

From this clarity you can use the tools and teachings of Yoga to take you to the next level.

Then we can choose the right practices for it.

So meeting my body, feelings and mind state where I am is the indicator as to what practice I will do each time I get on the mat.

So lets get body aware. There’s intelligence in that beautiful body of ours, always speaking.

Our desire’s are our souls language to move us in the direction that will not only benefit us, but all who cross our path.

Let’s breath fully, and take a deep plunge into life energy. Let’s clear our Pranic circuits and create new ones that are life affirming, soul inspiring and daring greatly!

Love to our body’s wisdom, vitality and connection of our life energy,

Much Love,

Shira.


[1] Billy Cox

THE BEAUTY OF OUR BODY

THE BEAUTY OF OUR BODY

Have you ever stood still to wonder at the amazingness of our body? Do you know what it does every moment of every day for the entirety of your life? The beauty of our Body lies in it’s incredible, unbelievable intelligence.

Just think about this, with all its cleverness, innovation and exploration, science, technology and the medical world, with thousands of years of our human budding minds, we can’t, nor ever will, be able to recreate something as incredible, intelligent and alive as the beauty of our body. Our Earth Body. Made from Matter, with LOVE. How it functions and what it needs in order to become this body you live in for the rest of your living days, is a miracle. And this incredible body only needs a few things to live fully, ideally and prosper. If we learn to listen empathetically to our body beauty, with the intention to understand its’ messages, we’re already a long way on the path toward living a healthy life. 

We don’t need to read every book, theory and diet or exercise regime. We just need to know how it functions, what it needs and what can hinder its health and beauty. We only need to reconnect to our body beauty. The next 2 months will be in celebration of our Body Beauty. We’ll look at the five different bodies according to Yogic philosophy, and how to attune better to their needs. When we listen and learn to honour and relate to our body in an integral, responsible and responsive way, health and wellbeing naturally follow.

This short and sweet article celebrates our inherent and ever present Body Beauty.

Amazing Fun Facts about our Body Beauty 

  • The brain weighs 1.3kg but feels like 250g thanks to our cerebrospinal fluid. Do you ever stop to feel the brain in your skull?
  • The brain seamlessly orchestrates and harmonises a multitude of functions. Motor control; reasoning, planning, emotion, language, interaction, relation, innovation. Sensory reception, integration and response. Regulation of autonomic functions; homeostasis, heart rate, breathing, sympathetic/parasympathetic activation, digestion, metabolism, immunity
  • A brilliant brain equals a calm, reflective mind, which in turn affects our life
  • The brain and body are in constant communication
  • All our nerves strung out in a line amount to 99,200 kilometres! No wonder we are overly tired, sensitive and wired with kms of our nerves constantly exposed to all the stimulation of todays messages, conscious and unconscious
  • Every nerve has a corresponding artery
  • Our lungs breathe from the moment we’re born till our last breath, giving our vital body fuel. 600 million times a lifetime, our lungs are autonomous and yet we can extend or shorten our breath if we pay attention
  • Adult lung capacity is up to 5 litres. Most of us only use 0.3 litres per breath!
  • Loving our lungs and expanding our breath we massage all our vital organs, allowing them to absorb nutrients, oxygen and fluid
  • Our heart beats endlessly; 3 billion times a lifetime! Beating tirelessly if we give it rest when it whispers, move it when it yearns and allow it the space and time to dance and feel the emotions of life and living
  • The heart is the first organ to function. At 3 weeks the young embryo’s heart begins it’s dedicated beating, circulating blood! This is a miracle of cells coming together, quivering and then begins the journey of pulsing throughout life
  • The heart possesses its own command and nervous system, yet can be modified by the brain and central nervous system, CNS. The heart is directly influenced by emotions and perceptions of stress. The amount of oxygen in our blood affects our heart rate, and sense of wellbeing
  • A happy heart is a calm, curious, confident and creative body
  • Our gallbladder stores the bile from our liver, essential in digesting fats and eliminating unhealthy fats
  • A glowing gallbladder equals hormonal balance, immunity and brain health
  • Our amazing liver has more than 500 vital functions! Our liver is the heaviest organ and filters out all poisons. Playing a major role in hormonal balance, digestive metabolism, energy storage, balances sugar levels, neutralises toxins, eliminates excess hormones, synthesises proteins to repair and rebuild cells. It regulates blood clotting, resists infections, clears drugs, processes iron, carries away waste. Too much to name!
  • A lively liver equals vitality
  • Our incredible stomach pre-digests food in a particular order, first carbs, then proteins, then fats. It secretes a mucus protecting it from its own corrosive acidity. Hydrochloric acid destroys all bacteria and most viruses
  • A stomach heard equals complete absorption of vitamins, minerals and nutrients
  • Our spleen produces red blood cells, destroys blood cells we no longer need, defends against viruses, germs, bacteria and parasites
  • A vibrant spleen is a vibrant sense of self
  • Our kidneys distribute and maintain liquid levels, control our blood volume and pressure, maintain healthy levels of minerals and salts in our system to optimise our strength. They eliminate our wastes and produce hormones necessary for bone health
  • Kindness to our kidneys uplifts our strength, resilience and energetic bounce back 

Body Beauty Mystery

How does the body do all these things?! From one cell dividing into many. Each one taking another formation, performing another function, and eventually finding its’ vocation. A bit like we do as individuals. Needing to become separate to find our unique gift. That’s still a mystery, and always will be. That’s the beauty of our body. All our body does is sublime. And does it day in, day out. Without our conscious participation, or without it becoming exhausted. Its autonomous. Its naturally inclined to do this, because that’s its deepest desire, its’ purpose.

Your Body Beauty is interdependent; working with what you offer it, building its cells from the food, exercise, thoughts, experiences and relationships you feed it.

All these purposes are deeply affected by our posture, our mood, our wellbeing, our company and activities. We can enhance or extinguish our body’s incredible intelligence. We can learn to listen to our visceral needs. Remember visceral is deeply feeling, emotional charge is held here too. When we begin to become aware of our body, body awareness, then we can start this conversation and be an active partner in co-creating our health, wealth and wellbeing.  

Listening to our Body Beauty

Everything in the universe is in perpetual motion[1]. And our body is like a micro universe. Everything inside of us is also in continual motion, relation and transformation. And motion is lotion. Motion is life. Motion is the play of energy taking new formations. Motion creates freshness and leads to health.  The way Yoga, and that’s Yoga with a capital Y, as in mindful, intentional, breath orientated and consciously chosen according to our needs, caters to movement of all joints, organs, muscles groups and bodily systems, to reconnect our minds and feelings with our incredible, intelligent and inheritant aliveness.

“We have a natural pharmacopeia already within us”.

– Candace Pert.

We can orchestrate our own healing process through knowledge. Understading how to apply that through tools and practices that engage that system. Yoga therapy has the tools, teachings and practices to work alongside and engage that natural healing process. Next week we’ll dive into the five bodies, the Koshas, and how Yoga therapy works to reconnect and engage that natural healing cabinet of all those interdependent bodies. Love your Body, move your Body, and let that Beauty that only you have and hold, shine through, by practicing empathic listening. Love,   

Shira.


 [1] Jean-Pierre Barrel – Understanding the Messages of the Body 2007