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.

EMOTIONS & IMMUNITY

EMOTIONS & IMMUNITY

Our Immunity is our sense of self. When we feel attacked so does our immunity.

Right now our world is upside down, and everyone is feeling overwhelmed, down, lost, anxious, angry, and confused by the many different voices and facts, on some level. When I voice my counter culture opinion or feelings I’m sometimes met by rigidity, hostility. It feels like heresy. It’s a scary feeling.

So I asked myself, why do i want to voice my opion? Alleviate suffering and prevent dis-ease. What can I do instead?

Educate. The only way. All I want to say is that if you look at the above adjectives of our states, it’s emotional content. Hypervigilence, makes us reactive. This article explains how emotions enhance health or harm.

OUR IMMUNITY IS OUR SENSE OF SELF. WHEN WE FEEL SAFE SO DOES OUR IMMUNITY.​

You can decide if you need to move out of the fight and flight, and into a tend and befriend. If only for your health and everyone around you. Only then can we move into an honest, more sustainable world. Environmentally, emotionally, psychologically and physically.

How Emotions Change Our Tissues

Zach Bush MD, physician of internal medicine and endocrinology states emotional toxins are the third contributor to damaging health, after food and environmental toxins. “Emotional toxicity will shorten life and damage our quality of life more rapidly than any other biological process can.”[i]

Have you noticed how our minds are scattered lately? Our feelings have more effect than mainstream medical science acknowledges. According to the HeartMath Institute, the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. And has significant effect on brain function, influencing emotional processing, higher cognitive faculties such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. Stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability. This means that sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.[ii]

Robert Sapolsky, professor of neurology and biology, says there’s no real centre for our emotions, it’s an immensely complex circuitry[iii]. Which runs through the entire body. Our molecules of emotion, hormones and neurotransmitters, affect our brain and our brain affects hormones. The effects, visceral, reach far into our tissue development. A two way stream. We have as many hormone receptors in our gut as in the brain. Often called our second brain, because digestive health and receptivity affects our overall physical as well as mental wellbeing.[iv] The dialogue between gut hormone, bile acid and the brain plays an important role in energy homeostasis.[v] And the building blocks for our entire being.

According to Christiane Northrup MD, our beliefs become our biology. Beliefs shape our perception, filtering emotions, initiate thoughts, actions, reactions, responses, physiology and physical matter. Our daily thoughts and emotions, which are accompanied by a multitude of biochemical changes in the body, set up an electromagnetic field around us, and seeing like attracts like, every cell in our body attracts our vibratory equivalent.[vi]

Emotions As Energy & Matter

Quantum physics and Samkhya, see matter and energy, at the subatomic level, as being interchangeable. Expressions of the same manifestations at different frequencies. Energy vibrates and moves, when energy moves at lower and slower vibrations, it’s more solid. Experienced through our senses to hear, touch, see, taste and smell. The more conscious, imbued with awareness, a manifested form, the less condensed, and therefore receptive. The more solid, the less conscious and closed the body or system is. 

Just like matter, thoughts thought over and over become solidified. They form neural wiring so solid they eventually think themselves. Manifesting a belief. Moving into the less explored consciousness. Thought without awareness. It becomes subconscious, and if we don’t go and clear it every once in a while, through meditation, contemplation or reflection, or any form of non-doing and just being, it becomes unconscious. The energy becomes so dense it’s an energetic blockage, and turns into a matter. 

When we hold a certain vibrational energy pattern long enough, it solidifies. Emotions felt often enough often manifest as issues in our tissues. And physical manifestation of dis-ease is a long way down the track from when we first got off track. It’s a very loud, and often last call, from our soul.

Psychological and emotional factors influence our physical health greatly because our emotions and thoughts are always accompanied by biochemical reactions in our bodies. These reactions are mediated by cell membranes, which are the actual “brains” of each cell. The mind-body continuum can be adequately understood only when we appreciate ourselves as an everchanging energy system that is affected by, and also affects, the energy surrounding it. We don’t end in our skins.[vii]

Beliefs inform biochemicals, biology informs our cells, and cells copy themselves continually, taking on a new structure with each imprint and becomes the new template. This embodied attitude is then passed on as a solid reality, a certainty.

Beliefs & Body

Beliefs, mindsets and associated emotions pave the way for breakthroughs, or breakdowns. And seeing this isn’t a one way stream, we can use our biology to affect our beliefs.

This is what Yoga does so seamlessly, using the body, breath and movement to initiate change and transformation in body, mind and psyche. Mind with matter and matter with mind. Not over, under, nor around. Through. Not fighting with some infantile imaginary of an ‘enemy’. Once we own our enemies as shadows of self rejected and projected, emotions, mind and psyche become tools. Empowering, lifelong companions. We embody our emotions and move toward real evolution. We stop reacting and being rigid in our opinions.

An exchange between inner and outer worlds creates this shift in ebb and flow of energy within us. Every sensation within your body is just an expression of these two, body and mind, matter and spirit, meeting. Surrendering to the emotions as they arise, releases the tides and allows us to harness our energy and return to our true nature, biorhythms and being.

Express your voice from the full conviction we’re all at heart good, healthy and whole beings. Our fullest manifestation is love, power and beauty. Letting ourselves be, live, breathe, enjoy, relate, communicate, create, nourish and rest with more passion, enthusiasm and deliberation without constraint. And daring to ask and explore how we, each of us, can bring this profound way of living into day to day life? 

We regulate, guide and transform our emotions by understanding the messages of emotions. We can retrain our brain, beliefs and biology to become the creators of our experience.[viii]

3 Steps to Calm Emotions & Mind

The tend and befriend, also known as the rest and digest activation of our autonomic nervous system calms us down. It gets us out of our heads and into our bodies. It makes us feel safe. Held. Secure, trusting, calm and grounded. It’s us going into parasympathetic activation. It’s our social pathway of the Vagus nerve coming online. The vagus nerve travels from the carnium to the reprductive system and is 80% afferent, meaning it brings information from our senses to the brain most of the time. When we move our body and this long nerve, we’re sending our brain, nerves and endocrine system the message we’re safe, held and ok.

Notice I said social pathway. Being social makes us seek connection. Just having a conversation with a friend, loved one, or eating a delicious warm meal in welcoming company heals. Being together, joking and tending to each others needs activates our rest and digest system.

Social distancing, or is it physical distancing?… we have less access to this pathway. Setting us up for distress and hypervigilance. Simple Yoga practices activate our tend and befriend pathway by stimulating parasympathetic response.

Three simple practices move us out of hypervigilence and into tend and befriend.

  1. Doing spinal flexion and extension, cat cow, or just lying on your back doing pelvic tilts will get us in our body and out of our minds. It stimulates the entire vagus nerve and that inturn activates rest, digest, tend and befriend.
  2. Extending our voice with a long sound. Either a long vowel such as AAaaaaa, OOoooo or UUuuuu, or singing something healing like Enya, Ajeet Kuar, Patti Smith, chanting or prayer.
  3. Extending the out breath. Breathing in for 3 seconds and out for 6. Just 10 rounds will work.

Once we’re in this state we communicate, relate and honestly, really heal and feel all that’s going on. Both inside us and around us.

All the hard stuff and the goodness most of us seek. We all know there’s something more going on. It’s just not clear what and why. But we’ve got to stay connected, honest and immune by having real conversations, with questions, with the ambivilance and ambiguity of the uncertainty.

Please feel free and welcome to write me back, leave a comment and tell me how you’re feeling.

Much Love,

Shira


[i] Zach Bush interview by Fran Drescher at https://vimeo.com/409457528

[ii] HeartMath Institute -https://www.heartmath.org/science/

[iii] Robert Sapolsky, – Behave, (2017), Penguin Random House

[iv]  https://www.austinhormonedoctor.com/connection-mental-health-hormones/

[v] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47348954_Gut_hormones_and_the_brain

[vi] Christiane Northrup, M.D., – Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, (2010), Bantam Books

[vii] Christiane Northrup, M.D., – Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, (2010), Bantam Books

[viii] Lisa Feldman Barrett – You aren’t at the Mercy of Your Emotions-Your Brian creates them, Ted Talk

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/

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

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

A body is so complex, complete and incomprehensively perfect, alive and whole. An organism that regenerates, integrates, is self aware and self healing, self regulating and self conscious. A body that heals and knows what it needs to boost and nourish itself, on every level. Improving posture directly affects our breath and transforms our wellbeing.

THE BODYMIND CONNECTION

Here’s another article celebrating the natural beauty, intelligence and ability of our bodies. Science has no way of recreating such a perfect organism apart from the power of procreation. But science can help us understand its intricacy and teach us how to intimately work with it. Every challenge that arises in our life invites us to grow. The consciousness of our bodymind attracts these teachings, so we can step into a bigger, brighter and more brilliant version of ourselves. Whether we feel ready to take on the challenge depends on our self-image, self-confidence and self-awareness. These 3 self’s depend on our wellbeing. Our state of mind, emotions and stance of body Self-confidence and awareness are intimately connected to our breath. And our breath is affected by our stance in body, life and living. So how do we enable, or better said, reconnect to the intelligence of our body? How do we inspire that self-regeneration, self-regulating healing aspect?

Enhancing Wellbeing Through Posture

In Spinal Love we explored how posture improvement nourishes our spine and all our organs. Today we’re going to lunge into the lungs.  Many studies have investigated the relationship between posture and breathing and the spill over effects. What’s evident is posture affects not only the spine and organs but all the muscles of the trunk. Many of are directly related to our breath, some indirectly. And if you know, like I love to say, “All is connected”. Through fascia, and many other tissues and systems, then this affects all the muscles, nerves, joints and tendons, all the way down to your toes.[1] Think the diaphragm, intercostals, neck and shoulder muscles,[2] but also the pelvic floor muscles, right down to the legs and feet.

When we sit all day, without body awareness, our shoulders and head begin to round forward. The chest muscles are compromised and tighten over time. Especially if it’s a day in day out habit. Our lungs become limited, our breathing shallow and rapid.[3] This causing our nervous system to become overstimulated, fight or flight switches on. Our nervous system is constantly told, “a bear is chasing us”. While at the same time, our muscles, organs and limbs get less activity, mobility and agility. Sending another contradictory message to the rest of the body that says, “we’re disengaged, rest and digest”.  But our body can only choose one of these pathways at a time. So, its in a perpetual state of discomfort, confusion and compromise. I believe this is the cause of our species present epidemic of chronic, inflammatory, immune and misdiagnosed health issues. But again, THIS is the body’s natural beauty, intelligence and ability to speak to us. Asking us to seek new pathways of living, moving, breathing and being. Our body consciousness, neuroception, knows autonomously and ceaselessly communicates with us.  Whether we listen or not is a different story.

Studies on Breathing & Posture

A Yoga study explored the difference between breath centred yoga and yoga without breath awareness. The group with practices to extend breath and engage in breath awareness, improved not only their breathing, but physical functions of whole-body strength and flexibility, especially of the lower extremities![4] Breathing affects our nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, immune system and eventually all these affect our endocrine system.[5] Imagine your lungs encaged in twelve pairs of ribs. And between each rib, many strong bands of muscle connecting one to another above and below it. These muscles, the intercostals, run diagonally internally, as well as externally,[6] like a grass woven basket. Intercostals pull and release our lungs, contracting and opening. The contraction pulls the ribs together, exhale. And on the release a breath of fresh air is drawn in, inhale. This constant and beautiful rhythm goes on, from the moment of our birth to the day we die. Our exhale clears toxins, calms the nerves and centres the mind. It’s dependent on our ability of muscle contraction. And just as important their ability to relax, allows us to take in that new, clear, lively breath.

Improve Posture – Breathe in Life

In Yoga we say of breath is our life. And within the breath lies our life energy. When we breath fully we live fully. When we breathe shallow we only live to that depth. And this ongoing relationship of the in and out, reflects of our way of opening and closing to the vicissitudes of life. So how does can we breath more fully? How can we live more completely? Improve posture! Yep, that simple. There are a few essentials to breathing fully.

Posture Improvement

And allowing our posture that open and free space of the chest, by slightly bringing the shoulder blades toward each other, and softly down the back. Lifting the ribs up and away from the hips so the abdominal muscles lengthen, and the diaphragm becomes free, are foundations of better breathing. Making sure when we sit that the sitting bones are more elevated than the knees and ankles ensures our belly muscles can relax. Only then can the psoas and back muscles release and give the space to the lungs. Did you know that letting the pelvic floor muscles soften even affects the lungs? 

Body Awareness

Connection to our body, it’s ability, it’s limits, it’s needs, desires and vitality, live in this part of yoga practice. Tuning in to our sense of embodiment takes time and it helps if you have a teacher who practices what she preaches, so she can guide you into your body deeply. So, you can attune with it intimately.

Muscle Stretch, Strength & Integrity

Again, movement can’t be overstated for improving breath, breathing and cardiovascular health. I used to think Yoga was the be all, end all pill for all life activities. But I’ve since come to realise we need to run, dance and swim to fully appreciate, celebrate and integrate who we are and what we’re capable of. Cardio is vital to heart rate variability, a response of our vascular system to environmental stimuli. So, get up and get your heart pumping! Remember what it means to be embodied!!!

Relaxation

Restorative yoga, Yin and any other gentle form of yoga, that allows the body to stay in a position for at least 2 minutes, allows muscles to relax which are tight, and/or weak. This retrains muscles that have adopted constricting and compromised holding patterns. So, here’s to our beautiful, intelligent and able bodies! Here’s to living fully, with integrity and ambivalence simultaneously. We’re only human, and yet that’s already so much… Breathe fully and with integrity of your entire body. Live and love yourself, no matter what!

Love to you, your body, your breath and the life you choose to live,

Shira.


    References 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329219/ 

[2] http://rc.rcjournal.com/content/59/4/543 

[3]https://www.healthline.com/health/breathe-deeper-improve-health-and-posture#posture-and-breathing

[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329219/ 

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3482773/

[6] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/intercostal-muscle

YOGA FOR SPINAL LOVE

YOGA FOR SPINAL LOVE

The last article was about posture improvement. A huge part of improving posture comes down to spinal health, or spinal love, as I like to call it. 

The spine is the centre of our body. It houses our central nervous system and supports our torso; organs and all our bodily systems. Actually if you think about it, the spine is core to our health and happiness. Back care isn’t just about being pain free. Spinal health equals wellbeing. Physical, mental, emotional and even psychological. Back care can literally change your life. Spinal love starts with understanding our spines needs and catering to simple but effective back care.  So what’s spinal love? Well let’s see how incredible our spine is and what it needs to keep being so amazing. 

Amazing facts about our spine

– The human spine starts to develop in utero at two months of development – It connects the brain to the body allowing the mind and body to communicate so that we can do all we want to do with our body in this world – The spine has over 120 muscles, 200 ligaments and 100 joints – Luckily the spine is incredibly strong and can hold hundreds of kilograms of weight – It’s also incredibly flexible, if bent forward and backward it does 2/3 of a circle – It can expand and contract, as well as, move in all direction because of all these muscles – The spine has an exceptional memory of posture, so what you create it will maintain – 80 % of all back pain can be relieved through improved posture and healthy movement patterns – Sitting puts around 100kg of pressure onto your spine. Bending forward from standing or sitting puts double that pressure on your back.

Healthy spine happy back, body and brain  

The wellbeing of our organs, digestion, respiration, and the entire muscular system, directly depends on spinal health and functionality to serve their purpose. Our immune, endocrine and neurological system all indirectly benefit from back and spinal health. The human spine is unique in that it’s upright in relation to earth and the force of gravity. So the way we care for it also unique. Our spine developed over millions of years of evolution to the way it is now as a culminative process. The four curves we have also developed according to our needs as bipeds. Each curve of our spine developed at a different stage of our development, accommodating differing needs and purposes. 

When we first get curious about the world around us and lift the head to see at 3-6 months, we develop the cervical and lumbar curve. When we start to interact and want to reach for and move toward other persons, objects and places through crawling, we further develop those two curves. Then as we begin to find our autonomy and start walking, the last curve, our sacral curve gives balance to our upright posture. The natural curves of our spine give both our bones and discs resilience and bounce back. They create the flexibility and strength for our back and all that’s attached to it. Think about it, these curves create the room for movement of both the discs and bones to slide, slip and transition, forward, back, sideways and even to twist.  So our aim is to allow these natural curves its full range of movement. Physical, mental and emotional health are depend upon spinal health. For a full description of the health benefits of healthy posture look click here.

Effects of an unhealthy spine

Without the room to move each movement would be painful, laborious and awkward. The natural curves help our back and spine withstand huge amounts of stress. Without these curves, and spinal health all the bodily functions; digestive, nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, circulatory, lymphatic, urinary, and metabolic, are affected adversely. This in turn affects our hormonal and immune system, our sense of self as a whole connected and embodied person. This spills over to our sense of self and connection to others. Articles have been written on why back pain might be inherent to our upright position. But this misses the point that, we as a species developed to move, walk, run, climb and be active at least 6-8 hrs a day. In active and mobile cultures people don’t suffer back issues. And without daily activity our back and spinal health gives way to aches.

Symptoms of our back needing Spinal Love

– Pain, Tingling – Headaches, Migraines – Dizziness, Foggy brain – Restricted movement – Restriction of daily activites – Radiating pain in leg – Bony growth of cartilage in joint  – Fear of falling, Balance & Proprioception issues – Stiffness – Fatigue – Tightness – Inflammation, Fusion of vertebrae – Postural problems – Breathing difficulties – Altered cardiopulmonary function – Osteopenia, Stenosis, Spondilitis, Osteoporosis – Unbalanced spinal muscles, Muscular imbalance – Changes in bone density – Asymmetry causing degenerative changes in the spine and pelvis.

4 Ways to Spinal Love & Back Care 

If we don’t listen to the wisdom and wonder of our body’s natural intelligence we can end up with spinal conditions, back pain and problems. These changes are the body’s only way to communicate our unhealthy habit. And if we ignore this too long we will be hearing louder calls of communication, “Hey? Hello up there! This part of you needs some tender loving movement! It needs some attention!” So, Let’s listen to our body & give it some Spinal Love!

1. Move Daily

Most important!! Move. Whether its dancing to loud music when you get home, or going for a run, walking in the forest or Yoga practice, do it daily and do it with passion. Preferably a few times a day, get some real motion. Motion is lotion.

2. The Six Directions

Make sure to move the spine in its 6 direction everyday, a few times a day. Forward, backward, sideways L & R, and twisting L & R. That’s why Yoga is so amazing, and makes us feel so great. Because we take the time to do all the postitions and really squeeze, release, free and slide the spinal discs. This allows them to really absorb moisture, nutrients and blood supplies. Remember disc health from the last article. 

3. Body Awareness

Listening to our body is only an option when we have body awareness. Becoming aware of it’s language it a process. And it can be a playful process if we let it be a dialogue, a dance, a deliberate yet dallying of attention. It doesn’t need to be a chore. Again Yoga provides a perfect setting to cultivate this skill.

4. Hydrate

Drink. Drink. Drink lots of water. A hydrated spine is a happy, healthy spine. Tea, green, white or black, is dehydrating, so they don’t count 😉 It’s that easy, and dare I say even fun. So give that spine some TenderLovingCare, Spinal Love. It doesn’t ask for much, when you think of all it does in return. Spinal Love infleunces how we feel, think, move and live. Back care and health is intimately linked to our respiration. Respiration and inspiration come from the Latin root, spirare, to breathe. Spinal health revitalises and brings our whole body into physiological balance! So let’s celebrate the flex-ability, the strength and the amazingness of our spine with Yoga, which so easily caters to all the spine’s needs.  Namaste, and lot’s of love to you and your amazing spine,

Shira.

HOW YOGA BENEFITS POSTURE IMPROVEMENT

HOW YOGA BENEFITS POSTURE IMPROVEMENT

Improving our posture can benefit us on so many levels. Body, mind, energy and emotions all improve. And Yoga can support us in creating and even enhance these benefits. Yoga, when done with body awareness, alignment and understanding anatomy and physiology, not only improves posture, it improves our whole sense of wellbeing and living.

It’s obvious that improving our posture improves how we feel.
A healthy posture gives us resilience in our spine, the ability to breathe fully, move freely and experience wellbeing.


Posture improvement affects
  • Breathing
  • Flow of nerve communication
  • Health of organs
  • Digestive processes
  • Musculoskeletal health
  • Stress resiliency
  • Sleep
  • Hormonal balance
  • Feelings of wellbeing, wellness and energy

How bad posture affects our body

We all shrink as we age, but some of us not so old, are already shrinking due to bad posture. Now shrinking isn’t important to some of us, but it does have detrimental physiological effects.
One of the most important is that decreased height causes the vertebral discs to lose moisture and dry out. When our discs are plump and juicy, they keep our spine flexible and absorb any shock.
When discs dry out they become flat and thin, being less supple they are prone to injury and degeneration leading to chronic back pain, neck pain, headaches. This is the perfect setting for other issues related to spinal degeneration, think neck, shoulders, arms, hips and legs. As soft tissue weakens it’s less resistant to gravity and life’s push and pulls.

But have you ever stopped wander to what degree that spills over to, or how it affects every part of our, body, mind and self?
Well let’s only look at what benefits posture improvement has on our physical body.

The many benefits of posture improvement

When the trunk is well supported by strong core muscles, joints and ligaments, and the limbs work in congruency with each other and in conjunction with the core, all our vital organs are fully supported. This allows our organs to work in harmony with each other so that each is well nourished by healthy blood, oxygen and nutrient supplies.
Just think about the kidneys, adrenals, heart, lungs, and liver.
Healthy kidneys holds our sense of strength through clearing toxins and keeping us vitalised. Our adrenals fill our sense of ability through regulating our activity and resting times. They give us the courage to act when invited and the calm to know when we need to retreat.
When our heart is fully supported we have a good blood supply, circulation and sense of respond-ability. The lungs when totally supported can open fully to breathe deep and enliven our entire bodily system with breathe, oxygen and spaciousness. All the muscles around these organs are massaged and nurtured, which trckles down to all connected organs and tissues.
Our liver performs more than 3000 functions. 500 of those are essential tasks to keep us healthy. Giving our liver a wide range of movement through diverse exercise and bodily movement, our liver is more than happy to serve all it’s purposes. The liver directs all the metabolism and detoxification.


Primary tasks of the liver are:
  • Bile production and excretion 
  • Excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs 
  • Metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates 
  • Enzyme activation 
  • Storage of glycogen, vitamins, and minerals 
  • Synthesis of plasma proteins, such as albumin, and clotting factors 
  • Blood detoxification and purification

Not only that but the surrounding tissues, joints and nerves, are also endowed with this generous supply of life giving properties. Every single cell and system of our body is affected by our posture. Each cell’s ability to regulate and maintain internal balance is affected, for better or for worse.

Movement, breath and Yoga for posture

Wide ranging bodily movement that caters to moving all the body parts in all directions creates for support of surrounding tissues and organs through healthy posture, and the nourishment from good circulation a a healthy heart. Allowing our muscles, bones, nerves and joints to get the right kind of movement and freedom which leads to general wellbeing and maintenance.
Any of these affect not just our physical sense of wellbeing but also our mood, energy levels and place in the world. When our hormonal and nervous system function well, we have strong immunity, we have a clear mind, our rhythms of sleep and wakefulness are in harmony too.


According to researchers John Lennon and Norman Shealy in their article in American Journal of Pain Management:
“posture affects every physiological function from breathing to hormonal production. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse, and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture.
The most significant influences of posture are upon respiration, oxygenation, and sympathetic function. Ultimately, it appears that homeostasis and autonomic regulation are intimately connected with posture. The corollary of these observations is that many symptoms, including pain, may be moderated or eliminated by improved posture.”


When we have a upright and harmonious stance in body, in relation to our world, we have a healthy stance in life.
Its really that simple and powerful.
Improve posture and improve your entire physiology.

So what is posture improvement?

Its an upright spine held, supported and lithe with all ligaments, tendons, fascia, and other connective tissue, working as one. Not just a straight back, but one who honours its natural curves. And a mind who can inhabit through awareness our embodied experience.
It’s a body whose many systems; nervous, endocrine, immune, digestive, circulatory, respiratory, muscular and connective, function as a whole. It communicates and integrates all experiences. It can express itself with as much ease as the spine is supple and juicy.
In yoga we say, We are only as healthy as our spine.


And our spine is only as healthy as we allow it to move in all its many directions; sideways, backward, forward, twisted or extended. That’s why yoga is so powerful, it moves the spine in all it’s potential positions, postures and the combined possibilities of these.
Just like our bodies and minds, our lives can only be as whole as its range of movement and freedom, so our posture leads to health of body, mind and soul, through every cell and system.

Let’s reclaim our wellbeing!

Namaste, and much love to You, your cells and your Soul,

Shira.

YOGA THERAPY FOR BURNOUT

YOGA THERAPY FOR BURNOUT

Burnout is way too common. Many struggle with burnout, or are on the brink, but often don’t dare speak about it. The shame and guilt isolates us even more, ingrains our sense of overwhelm and feeling of being alone. 

Yoga, wellness and health care practitioners and professionals, with our knowledge, practice and skill in destressing, detaching and knowing our greater Self, we often feel we should be immune, more resilient. And that’s why there’s so much stigma attached to health experts with burnout. We should know better. People believe we’ve got such a relaxed and easy life. Couldn’t be more wrong.


We’re in the industry of creating, caring, learning, exploring, branding, marketing, networking, providing and embodying what we preach. And that’s only the work section of our lives. No wonder we burn out. 
As I get more seasoned, I realise no one is immune. Life happens, and if we listen, we learn. Wisdom comes from wounds. And wounds don’t make us lesser. Yes we have weaknesses, and these are just potential places to grow, learn and become a beginner again. Enjoy, explore and embody. We can prevent or recover from burnout better knowing some key points. But first let’s understand what’s actually going on physiologically.


A practitioner since 3 decades and still I’ve burnout twice in my life. It’s a devastating, frightening, depressing and painful, especially as you watch your passion become a prison.


Close to burnout, I had many days, months even, coming home from teaching and wanting to crash on the floor, just go to sleep there and then. Even when I did, my body was so tense, I couldn’t rest.
The thing that gets you up and out of bed with joy, turns into something you feel you have to do. The insights, releases and love you felt in your practice are gone.


The body feels heavy, tired, shaky and weak. The mind is scattered, flitting and restless. And to practice feeling the body, being mindful and going within, is no longer a source of joy, but a painful realisation you’re nervous, unsettled and so uncomfortable in it. You’ve lost some deep connection.

Burnout can make us feel fearful and powerlessness.

What Is & Causes Burnout?

Burnout, medically known as adrenal fatigue, is due to constant physical, psychological or emotional stress. Our adrenal glands make us more alert and active by releasing the hormones cortisol, adreniline and noradreniline. Normally our body and hormonal system regulate, within minutes to hours, when stress stops.

When chronically under stress, our adrenals become overactive, continue this too long and they become fatigued. 

This can be due to small but consistent stresses such as not having a regular income and ability to pay the bills, being spread to thin on too many projects constantly to try and get more reach, exposure etc., not enough feedback, support, payment and acknowledgement from clients, students, colleagues or mentors. These small but significant stressors add up. Especially when we’re empathetic, caring and social individuals, which most healthcare practitioners are.  


So triggers causing fear, distrust and generally feeling not supported in an area of our lives, overactivate our adrenals.
Think irregular work, irregular schedule, irregular income. Any uncertainty. And a big issue in service industry, uncertainty about our worth in monetary value. It eventually erodes our self worth and confidence, compounding feelings of inability and insecurity.  
Competitiveness between ‘yoga’, health and wellness industries leads me to ask whose wellbeing are we actually interested in? Our connection, community and common goal; a healthy world, is destroyed as soon as we see another’s wealth and win as our loss or lack. This scarcity mentality undermines our wellbeing and adrenals. Seeing connection and community is the very essence of health as a social species, competitiveness goes against why we fell in love with Yoga, wellness and healthcare, in the first place. 


Add to this the fact that most women in the service industry, want to give their utter best to create a better world. Working hard to self educate, develop and self regulate, teaching others to create amazingly nourishing and fullfilling services and meaningful lives, we forget to nourish ourselves. We strive to be the best, but shy away from asking our colleagues, community and leaders to return the same investment with effort, soul and love.


Service, when taken out of context, and milked for the profit of large organisations, leaves those not well versed in business, value and industry, high and dry. This imbalance tips the scales of confidence, self worth, and wealth. Detrimental to our wellbeing and all those dependent on us. This domino effect lets some schmucks, with no empathy or sense of unity, profit from our squables.
Eventually those who care burn out.


We need to stick together as sisters, and family, to co-create a great world for our kids. We need to say F… off to manipulators and denigrators of our common goal. By working toward making business a more sustainable way of serving the world, and create better living for all. 

Prevent & Recover More Gracefully

We can prevent burnout by setting ourselves up for success by self care. Feeling safe, supported, strong and steady.
Most important is create balance between what we actually want, need, and the resources; time, energy, money, we have to offer, only once we’ve nourished ourselves with loving time, vitality, volition, joy, vocation, finances.
Switching from sympathetic to parasympathetic; from fun, fight, flight and freeze, to rest, digest and destress. Using different aspects of our lives; mood, energy, emotions and thoughts, to reflect back to us where we need some TLC. And how we can value ourselves by honouring our needs, desires and feelings, greatly enhances our recovery after burnout. Or prevent it when we feel exhausted most of the time.


Physically we’ve evolved to run, dance, dive, climb and swim. We’re meant to feel alive. I used to teach that Yoga practice shouldn’t raise the heart rate too much. But now I’ve come full circle and realise it’s all healthy, as long as we check in with our energetic and emotional states and regulate according to what we find. To get activate and raise our heart rate so our body’s natural biorhythm and bodily systems are switched on helps balance our hormonal system. Adrenal glands are a very vital part of the hormonal system. They’re the backbone for all the other hormones of metabolism and energy. Regulate adrenal hormones within weeks by going jogging or swimming 2-3 times a week.


Emotionally, feelings reveal our values, needs and desires, pushing us to act upon our inner guidance. Educating ourselves through books about different emotions or a trainings in emotional literacy and empowerment are great to prevent burnout. Emotional awareness ensures we know and honour our needs, desires and values, so we can reclaim our wellbeing, passion and purpose.
Psychologically we’re meant to feel accepted, connected and be part of a larger whole, feeling our lives and contribution to others have meaning, are valued and appreciated fully. To initiate this level of exchange, we need to know our values, worth, and what we can bring to the table.


Once we state it and hold our community accountable for equal value in return, we start to tip the scales back to balance. Not just preventing personal burnout, but planetary burnout too. We’re a reflection of the greater goings on in life. What happens in the microcosm is happening in the macrocosm too.


All parts work together equally. No slacking at the expense of another.
We need reach out.
We need to know what, where, who and how we can help, and also ask for support, help and guidance for our own journey. Download From Burnout to Brilliance to recover and restore adrenal health and move out of burnout syndrome.
Which can be so hard for those of us used to being the rescuer.

The Wisdom of Burnout

Through this deep transformation I have learned to really listen to minute changes, nuances and honour them fully. I take things slowly, fInd beauty and joy in the little things. I hear my emotional messages and developed an understanding of my body’s innate wisdom, mind’s creative ability to find solutions and see opportunities of growth in psychological knots.


Our beautiful body is different every day. Honour it! Celebrate it! Once we learn to work with what is, instead of what we want, there is such a solid connection and love for self and other. Instead of overwhelm, it’s overflow of a full cup. My boat can’t be rocked. I hit rock bottom and I have found a more fluid and vulnerable and real ME. One that doesn’t need to hide or pretend at any level.


I thought I was pretty transparent, but there’s always room for improvement. This is liberation. As long as we hold onto any image, no matter how pure, or well intended, we’re suseptable to falling. Once we fall and know our weaknesses, see them and laugh at our whole self, illusions and all, we are free to BE.

Much Love,

Shira