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Ayurveda, Nature, Yoga

Mindfulness Snack!

Try this short Mindfulness practice that I call “Just Listening”

Practice this whenever you feel the need for some mental space,  5 minutes away from the desk, or to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the chattering “monkey mind”

It is simplicity itself and can be done anywhere.  This is me enjoying glorious winter sun today in our lovely Wooler Woodland Park.  I like to practice outside as the sounds of nature are so soothing and,  well…..  natural!

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Find yourself a comfortable seat,  and make sure you are warm enough and wont be disturbed (dog walkers tend to let you be!)  You may want to set your phone timer for 5-10 mins (and put it on silent)  Close your eyes.

Begin by noticing your breath coming in and out of the nostrils, cool air coming in and warmer going out.  As you inhale imagine growing a little taller as the breath travels up the spine, creating a little space between each vertebrae, and as you exhale relax the shoulders keeping your lovely long spine. Settle in with a few slow breaths.

Now you can simply “Just Listen”.  Begin by noticing the sounds nearby and all around you…  There is no need to engage in any thoughts about them, simply notice and listen to them…  If you find yourself carried away by a thought, simply notice that too and gently bring your attention back to “Just Listening”

Gradually begin to notice the sounds that are farther away from you, the most distant sounds that you can barely hear, and then the furthest sound of all.  When you feel you want to, begin to bring your awareness back to the sounds closest to you again.  Enjoy the peacefulness and stillness that this simple practice can offer.

When practiced regularly mindfulness can help us to build emotional resilience, helping us to deal more effectively with the stress of our busy lives.  It can help with pain and insomnia, and it is free and easy to do.

Enjoy!

 

Aromatherapy, Massage, Nature, Thai Yoga Massage

Why is Massage Therapy so effective?

Massage is an ancient therapy and comes in a variety shapes and forms,  from Aromatherapy to Thai Yoga Massage to Heavenly Head Massage plus many more…  It can help with a whole range of symptoms from stress and fatigue to aches and pains, arthritis and immune system disorders and much more.

We all know that massage feels great and is super relaxing, and now we have the evidence to back up these health enhancing claims.  Dr Michael Mosely and his team of experts have been on the case in an episode of  Trust Me I’m A Doctor to examine the latest scientific evidence.

Blood tests showed that T Lymphocyte cells (a type of white blood cell) were boosted by an amazing  70% after an hours massage therapy compared to only a slight increase in T cells after the participants had an hour of restful relaxation prior to their massage – this ruled out the idea that a nice lie down wasn’t responsible for such massive change in immune response!

So what does this mean for our health and wellbeing?  Well lots really…  White blood cells are part of our complex immune systems and are responsible for protecting us against infection, and for healing and repairing the body’s organs and tissues.  They are stored in specific glands which are connected to the skin through nerves.  When the skin is massaged, the nerves are stimulated allowing the glands to release the white blood cells into the circulation helping with a wide range of health conditions.  This could explain why massage seems to help so many people with so many conditions.  But the story doesn’t end there…

It isn’t only the touch itself, but rather the quality of the touch that is important.  The feel of warm, gentle hands on the skin, an assured and compassionate touch through clothing, the attentiveness and mindful presence of the therapist, the relaxing pace of the massage and the whole nurturing experience are just as important.  Read on…..

Affective Immunology is a fascinating new field of research that points to a link between our immune system and our emotional responses.  Both these systems can either be protective for the body if kept under control or detrimental to it when they are in disarray.  Affective Immunology is based on two fundamental assumptions: (i) the immune and emotional systems mirror each other; (ii) both the immunological and emotional responses are dynamic and continuously changing.

The first assumption is based on a large body of both clinical and experimental evidence showing an increased incidence of emotional disorders in patients suffering from immune diseases and an increased susceptibility to immune diseases in patients suffering from mental disorders.

The second assumption is based on new and emerging ideas that both the emotional and immune systems are highly “plastic”. The term plasticity has been used to indicate the ability to constantly change and adjust depending on our external factors or living conditions.

The conclusion?  The research suggests that boosting our immune systems through massage can have a positive effect on our physical and our emotional health.  Therefore by making kind and caring choices for ourselves with regard to our lifestyle, diet and exercise,  we can make positive changes to our health and well being through supporting our immune systems and our emotional health.

Massage therapies, mindful Yoga, meditation and relaxation practices are all helpful to build resilience and strength – modern science again catching up and with the ancient wisdom!

There is also huge interest in plasticity in the field of Yoga too –  I will writing about this soon!

There is nothing quite like a nourishing massage therapy!  The power of compassionate touch is such a wonderful healing practice, and there is a therapy to suit everybody.

An Aromatherapy or Heavenly Head Massage is especially suitable to soothe and ease a stressed and tense body and mind.  The combination of long deep massage strokes combined with the powerful healing effects of essential oils work their magic on the nervous system, allowing you to drift into a place of superb relaxation and tranquility…

If you prefer a more active therapy wearing clothing,  then choose my Thai Yoga Massage.  Using a combination of rhythmic acupressure and soft earth touch and movement, gentle Yoga type stretches and harmonic rocking.  Thai Massage gently lulls you into relaxation as you are quickly able to release tension, unwind,  and go with the flow of this ancient and beautiful practice.

ThaiVedic  Yoga brings together some of the most effective healing arts in the world today – Ayurveda,  Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga therapy and modern medicine – a truly integrated holistic system to restore health and harmony. Using the diagnostic system of Ayurveda,  we can determine your Dosha and the kind of lifestyle that is balancing and healthy for you, including the sorts of food you should eat and the amount and type of exercise you should do to bring balance.  We can use any of the bodywork and Yoga therapies according to your needs at this time.

A Reiki session is the epitome of calm and serenity….  Lying fully clothed, Reiki uses “floating hands” to clear energetic blockages and bring deep feelings of peace.

I also offer Yoga classes and 1:1 Yoga Therapy.

I look forward to working with you soon!

 

 

Ayurveda, Yoga

So what are we doing when we get on our Yoga mat??

I love Olga’s approach to Yoga – to me it makes so much sense. As I get older I have found great value in slowing down, breathing deeply, moving mindfully,  and listening to the messages my body and mind tell me.

Here are some suggestions about what to include in your yoga checklist to get the most out of any yoga practice…

Written by Olga Kabel – Yoga teacher and Yoga Therapist

ShowUp1. Show up:

first physically – literally getting yourself down on your mat, and then mentally, bringing your attention to this moment, to this body.

 

Listen2. Listen:

Instead of allowing your mind to make all the decisions, listen to your body. Notice how you feel (keeping an open mind) and which parts of you need more care on any given day (physical body, energy or mental state). Throughout the practice consistently check in with yourself – how does this movement feel, how am I doing, where does my mind go, and so on.

Breathe3. Connect to the breath:

In yoga we give lip service to deep breathing all the time but then somehow lose that connection halfway through the practice. Instead have your breath inform and guide EVERY SINGLE ONE of your movements. Breath is the most direct link we have to our physiology, specifically the balance between the sympathetic (‘fight-and-flight”) and parasympathetic (“rest-and-digest”) systems, which means that by regulating the breath we can literally change how we feel.

Customize4. Choose a practice that is relevant to YOU.

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, you might have short-term and long-term practices. Short-term practices address your current physical, energetic and mental-emotional state. Those practices can be completely different from day to day. They are most effective when you are trying to maintain a stable body, consistent energy and clear mind to deal with today’s challenges. In a long-term approach you would do the same practice for an extended period of time (days or weeks), tweaking it only slightly. This is done for the purpose of addressing chronic issues that usually do not get resolved in a space of one practice.

Focus5. Keep your attention anchored.

When you do a familiar practice it is easier to go on an autopilot and just cruise along while simultaneously thinking about unrelated things. Attention is a tricky thing – it takes practice to learn how to direct it and maintain it.

 

Expand6. Do more than asana.

Asana (yoga poses) are great and can serve all kinds of useful purposes. But it’s simply not enough for a well-rounded yoga practice. Working with your breath and your mind is just as important (if not more). It doesn’t need to be anything complicated or intricate. The simplest way to include other elements in your practice is to take 12 deep breaths at the end of your practice (using pace or technique that is connected to your overall theme), and then stay mindful of your experience for 5 minutes (keeping your attention anchored on how you feel).

Observe7. Take time to absorb and integrate.

Don’t be in a rush. Take time between poses to close your eyes and check in with yourself. At the end, don’t just jump up and run to the next thing. You can use Savasana or any comfortable seated position to take time and observe the impact of the practice on each one of your layers (physical, energetic and mental-emotional). This will deepen the effect of your practice and will give you valuable information on whether or not it worked for you (which you can use moving forward).

In this complex and ever-changing world it is always good to get back to the basics and celebrate yoga’s ability to get us in touch with ourselves. In the long run this has more impact then looser hamstrings or mastery of difficult poses.

Ayurveda

What’s Ayurveda got to do with the weather??

Sudden changes in weather like the ones we are experiencing at the moment can affect our moods and even our health.

How many of you have felt at low ebb, low energy, a bit of a cold coming on, can’t quite seem to get into your groove so to speak?

This past week has had a sense of heaviness, increased moisture  in the form of rain, sea frets or cloud-covered days, and a grounded, slow feeling.  These are all qualities shared by the Kapha Dosha.  This kind of weather can seem a bit oppressive at times, and can leave us feeling weighed down, stagnant, or uninspired.  And actually, every kind of weather can either bolster or encumber our sense well-being depending upon our inner nature – some of us like it hot while others relish the damp and cloudy days.  Some people even enjoy a long cold winter – brrrr!!

Personally I am solar-powered and love the light summer months of dry warmth with plenty of sunshine which balances out my inner nature perfectly!  This heavy greyness sends me right out of kilter – so what to do??

Ayurveda teaches us that like increases like and that opposites balance.  If you’re feeling slow, heavy and a bit stuck, the perfect antidote is to get moving with a short invigorating morning routine to shrug off the sluggishness.  Brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, and if time allows give yourself and oil massage followed by a warm shower.

Treat yourself to some energising exercise – ideally this will be between 6-10am or 6-10pm which are the Kapha times of day.   This might be a brisk walk or bike ride in our glorious countryside, an energetic yoga routine or maybe even dancing around your living room to some funky tunes!  Wear some bright and warm energising colours like reds or oranges.  Be spontanious to lift your mood, see some friends, go somewhere you’ve never been before!  Eat some light and dry foods to balance out the heaviness you are feeling.

Doing something that balances out the qualities of whatever the weather brings  will make a world of difference to how your day goes – and as always the weather will change, so however you feel today – this too shall pass…

Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga

Mindful Movement – Yoga with Lyn

Beginning next Wednesday 23rd May 6 – 7.30pm Cheviot Centre Wooler. £8 per session.

Bring your mat and a blanket for a slow and mindful practice to some beautiful music!  Gentle Hatha Yoga suitable for all ages and abilities. We will also have a little therapeutic fun with some simple Thai Massage partner work,  and a gorgeous relaxation to close 

I also offer a weekly class in Chatton Village Hall on Tuesdays 1 – 2.30pm for those who can’t make an evening class – it would be lovely to see you at either or both!

If you want to know more about the Yoga I teach, or any of the therapies I offer, please get in touch. Looking forward to seeing you all soon.