Tag Archives: mental-health

5 Ways Mindfulness Meditation Benefits the Body

Many people know meditation is beneficial, yet few know why. Meditation, which can be practiced in various forms, has been used throughout history to benefit the mind, body and soul. Now there is even more evidence that taking up meditation may be the right thing for you.

“We have known for a long time that meditation can help to promote wellness,” explains Dr. Gary Kaplan, founder of The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, located in McLean, Virginia. “Meditation can play an important role in how you feel, both physically and mentally.”

Clinical studies have demonstrated the benefits of meditation, including:

  • A recent research study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital that mindfulness meditation, over the short period of eight weeks, increased the amount of gray matter in regions of the brain involved in learning and memory, regulation of one’s emotions and self-awareness.
  • Other studies have shown that regular meditation helps reduce practitioners’ feelings of anxiety and fear and enhance their natural creativity and problem-solving abilities.
  • Mindfulness meditation increases practitioners’ empathy for others and can allow for improved communication and relations with colleagues, family and friends.
  • Studies have also shown that regular meditation, by facilitating relaxation of the body and mind, can help improve sleep, lessen the sensation of pain and lower blood pressure.
  • There is also clinical evidence that meditating regularly improves depression and increases practitioners’ overall sense of well-being by providing a method of letting go of fearful and negative thoughts and decreasing emotional reactivity.

“This new study by researchers at Mass. General Hospital is very exciting because it suggests that meditation may be able to help heal the brains of people who suffer with depression, anxiety disorders, and chronic pain” adds Kaplan.

Mindfulness meditation involves entering into and holding a deep state of focused attention or relaxation. Although many practitioners like to follow a regular routine, meditation can be done anywhere.

Whether you’re sitting on a bus or stuck at an interminable business meeting, it’s possible to enter into the state of alert, mindful awareness and reap the benefits of meditation– without missing your bus stop or falling asleep at your meeting.

 

Explains Kaplan, “Meditation is not about religion or beliefs, it’s about learning how to stop ‘time-traveling.’ Unfortunately, we spend a great deal of time either thinking about the future, which tends to engender worry or anxiety, or dwelling on the past, which often brings up regrets and loss. Either way, we are less able to dedicate all of our attention and creativity on what is happening in the here and now. Meditation offers us a means of staying more in the present moment.”

“So many benefits arise from doing mediation, and it is so convenient to do, that I encourage everyone to give it a try–20 minutes a day for four weeks–and see what happens,” advises Kaplan. “You may be surprised at just how much more focused and relaxed you feel, and like many of my patients, you may decide to make it a permanent part of your daily routine.”

About The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine and Gary Kaplan, D.O.

The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine was founded by Dr. Gary Kaplan, a board-certified doctor of family medicine, pain medicine and medical acupuncture. For more than 25 years, The Kaplan Center’s team of physicians, physicaltherapists and other health care providers have combined the best of conventional medicine with the best alternative practices to address chronic pain and illness and to help individuals attain optimal health for life.  A leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, Kaplan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, a Clinical Associate Professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine and he has served as a consultant at the National Institutes of Medicine, including serving on the NIH Consensus Panel that authored a paper on the treatment of chronic pain and insomia with relaxation techniques. To learn more about The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, visit www.kaplanclinic.com/.

3 Ways Restorative Yoga Can Help You

Once  month I hold a Rest & Restore 2 hour Restorative Yoga workshop. We do gentle movement and then, using bolsters, blankets and blocks, we get into positions that allow our bodies and minds to melt. We slow it down and get rid of the busy-ness in our heads. It is suitable for anyone who has never done yoga before, it is suitable for people with injuries, people who have a strong yoga practice and those who simply want to take some time out for themselves.

The next Rest & Restore workshop is Saturday June 13th at 10am and there are Restorative Yoga classes every Thursday evening at 7.30pm.

Here are 3 more reasons to do Restorative Yoga.

  1. Apart from being physically comfortable, Restorative Yoga poses also give your brain rest. The positions used allow your mind quieten itself naturally. Every part of the body is helped to relax, supports and props are used and you’re covered with a favourite blanket as you breathe deeply and evenly. There is nothing to think of except how cosy you feel!
  2. Restorative Yoga can help provide comfort and relief from stress and minor aches and pains, it may also improve the metabolic parameters in people who struggle with weight, according to a 2008 “Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders” study. Also those at risk for diabetes and hypertension may benefit from a regular restorative yoga practice. Restorative poses can help stimulate the circulatory system, which improves energy. Everything from post-operative to womens health to a number of stress-related conditions such as Adrenal Fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can all be helped with Restorative Yoga.
  3. It is 2 hours of time for yourself to leave the stresses and strains of the outside world. But it also teaches us ways in which to handle those everyday stresses and strains. You will learn simple ways in which to take Restorative Yoga home with you.

For more information on the workshops and weekly Restorative Yoga class contact Brenda on 085 150 2378 or see www.anandacentre.com for upcoming events

National Workplace Wellbeing Day March 27th 2015

March 27th is National Workplace Wellbeing day. Talk to me if you would like me to connect with your workplace…lunchtime yoga, relaxation, meditation/mindfulness or on site massage. Wellbeing in the workplace has a positive effect all round from mental health to productivity.

Call me now 085 1502378 or pass this on to HR

http://www.bitc.ie/2015/01/national-workplace-wellbeing-day/

3 Easy Random Acts of Kindness

How about committing a random act of kindness for three different people?: 

Someone you don’t know 

Someone you know 

Yourself 

 Someone you don’t know ; This is quite simple and can quickly become a habit. (That’s a good thing!)
Smile. When you’re in a depressingly long queue  at the bank, watching a parent deal with their toddler’s public meltdown, or sitting next to another car in traffic. A kind grin goes a long way when you’re feeling a bit hopeless about the daily hassles in life. 

 Someone you know ; Take a moment to think about who in your life may be a little touch-deficient. Maybe you know someone who is recently widowed, a single parent with older children, or a new empty-nester. Maybe even a young teenager in an especially introverted stage of awkwardness.
Make it a point to physically reach out to  someone. It could be a warm hand shake, high-five, or great hug, whatever is appropriate for that person and situation. Touch is shown to make us happier and healthier, and it benefits both you and the receiver! 

 Yourself; People depend on you, so it’s important to take care of yourself. If you’ve only got a few minutes, steal away and flip through a great magazine. If you can set aside some more time, go to a Restorative Yoga class, get a massage, go for a walk by yourself to recharge, or window shop and grab a coffee. 

 Kindness doesn’t have to cost you anything, and it doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. A little goes a long way!



Legs Up The Wall pose… says it all really.

Legs up the wall or Viparita Karani has been praised in the past as being the go-to pose for all that ails you. I’m sure there is scientific proof out there somewhere for this bold statement but what I do know is that it a wonderful, relaxing pose with the added benefit of having positive effects on many of the bodies systems.

Essentially an inversion (a pose where the heart is at a higher level than the heart – think headstands, shoulder stands), Viparita is a gentler way to allow blood flow and nourishment to the reproductive, urinary, digestive systems and at the same time the heart gets to rest from pumping the blood from the legs back up. The lymphatic system is involved in this circulatory action too so the immune system is getting a boost. It also:

  • Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet
  • Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck
  • Relieves mild backache
  • Calms the mind

There is a list of more benefits at the end of this article.

It is a great pose for anyone who has neck issues and cannot practice a full head or shoulder stand.

I’m trying to include it in my practice everyday, even for 5 minutes at the end of the day. Last year I had way too many colds and sinus problems so I’ll keep you posted on my progress. It can be practiced anywhere you have a wall…easy! No special props needed.

I recently was asked by a student was there anywhere else that one could practice if space at home was limited and the answer is yes. In fact, you can get quiet inventive. Use a table, chair or the sofa. You can even practice on your bed before sleeping, a good way to unwind even if you feel a bit silly. What would be great is if you have a dedicated space to practice and you never know, you could end up do more postures, some meditation and even breath work! All you need is a clear wall space wide enough for you get in and out of the posture with ease.

So, how do you get in and out of this posture with ease?

  1. Place you blanket or mat with the short end to the wall.
  2. Sit to one side/hip against the wall. Have your bum to the edge of your lengthways part of the mat closest to you.
  3. Then gently swing your legs up the wall, your upper torso on the mat/blanket.
  4. Bring your arms out on the floor, a bit from your waist, palms up or place them resting on your abdomen.
  5. Your legs can be straight with heels resting on the wall or have the knees bent, feet on the wall. Whatever feels right to you.
  6. If you find your chin tilting to much to the ceiling place a support under the head, not too high. Just enough to bring the head level to the chest.
  7. Keep a blanket handy to through over yourself to keep warm as you relax.
  8. Allow the body to melt into the floor and connect with your breath.
  9. Hold for 5-20 minutes

To come out, bend the knees gently into the chest and roll over to one side. Rest for a couple of breaths here then come back to a seated position and let the body settle.

Viparita Karani may help with:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Digestive problems
  • Headache
  • High and low blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Migraine
  • Mild depression
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Urinary disorders
  • Varicose veins
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Menopause

Cautions: Inversions as a rule should not be practiced when you have your period but this one can be if it is not too heavy.  As with any inversion Legs Up The Wall should be avoided if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma. With serious neck or back problems only practice this pose with the supervision of an experienced teacher. If your feet begin to tingle during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis.

So there you have it – Legs Up The Wall. It is a pose I often include in my Rest & Restore workshops and weekly Restorative classes. If you would be interested in learning more please contact me or check out www.anandacentre.com for more info.

Have fun and remember yoga is for everyone 🙂

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Melt your stress with Rest & Restore

The first Rest & Restore Restorative Yoga workshop of 2015 takes place in Ananda Centre, Slane on Saturday Jan 24th 10am – 12pm.

It is suitable for all levels of yoga ability including beginners.

Restorative yoga works closely with the nervous system in helping the body and mind unwind.

If it sounds like something you would like to try just give a call 085 1502378.

See http://www.anandacentre.com or http://www.restrestoreyoga.com for more info…

Namaste,

Brenda

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5 facts you should know about women’s health

5 facts you should know about women’s health

  1. Women are more prone to certain health conditions than men. Women are more likely to experience depression, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. Some conditions, like osteoporosis, are directly related to women’s hormone fluctuations and smaller frames. Others, like fibromyalgia, are much more common in women, but scientists have yet to figure out why.

 

  1. Women do not always experience the same symptoms as men with the same conditions. While men are more likely to experience a heart attack than women, women are more likely to die of the same heart attack. The reasons may be related to the publicized symptoms: while everyone knows about chest pressure and pain down the left arm, these are symptoms typically experienced by men. Women may experience dizziness, light-headedness, or fatigue. Knowing the different ways conditions manifest in men and women can truly be a lifesaver.

 

  1. Women have different risk factors than men. Remember that bit about women being more susceptible to stroke? In addition to the risk factors shared with men, there are also many women-specific risks, including being pregnant, taking hormonal birth control pills, using hormone replacement therapy, and experiencing frequent migraines. Unfortunately, these additional risk factors don’t always show up in educational materials.

 

  1. Women and men sometimes react differently to drugs and other treatments. Women wake up faster from anesthesia. Some drugs, like ibuprofen, seem to be more effective in men than women, while others like erythromycin (an antibiotic) work better in women. And of course there are medications typically prescribed for sex-specific issues that can interfere with each other. As an example, Paracetemol can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control.

 

In spite of all this, women’s and men’s bodies are more similar than they are different. We share 99% of our genetic material with every other person on the planet. We have the same basic structure, suffer from most of the same illnesses, and heal in the same way. A healthy diet, active lifestyle, adequate sleep, and positive attitude are beneficial to men and women alike. There are no studies showing whether massage or yoga therapy is better for any one subset of people than others. Maybe that research will be done in the future.

In the meantime, if you’d like to know whether it works for you, there’s only one way to find out!

Schedule an appointment today on 085 1502378 or see www.anandacentre.com for more details on Yoga Classes and other therapies available at the centre.

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Self care made easy…

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Busy-ness is the trend these days. People carry over-packed schedules like winning trophies. “I’m SO busy at work!” “How do you have time to do that? I’m too busy to read/watch TV/exercise/do anything fun.” “I can’t get monthly massages or go to a yoga class I have too much to DO!”

Too much “busy” could be making you tired, sick, and probably cranky.

When do you give yourself time out or relax? RELAX. “Relaxation” is a word we hear lots, but don’t know always know what it means. Here, I’ve compiled some options for you.

re·lax  verb \ri-ˈlaks\

1: the state of being free from tension or anxiety.

2: a way to rest and enjoy yourself

3: recreation or rest, especially after a period of work.

4: the loss of tension in a part of the body, especially in a muscle when it ceases to contract.

5: something that you do to stop feeling nervous, worried, etc.

More importantly, what does relaxation mean to you?

If you’re not a “hot bath and good book” kind of person, you probably cringe at hotel spa photos of people with stones piled on their backs. But here’s the beauty: You can make your own definition of relaxation.

It’s your job to figure out what you enjoy doing, what makes you smile, and what makes you feel like you are a hundred miles from work or home jobs?

Then, make time for that.

You have a schedule. Write in special time for a hobby, a nap, massage, your favorite show, a weekend getaway, a new class, ANY thing you enjoy can be relaxing.

Here are some more ideas:

  • Spend part of the day alone.
  • Spend part of the day with your family, doing ONLY fun stuff.
  • Meditate – see the apps Headspace and Insight Timer if you have a smart phone.
  • Devote time to your hobby.
  • Sleep in. Or get up extra early. Whichever excites you!
  • Get the kids to school and pop back into bed for an hour…oh the loveliness!
  • Schedule a massage or reflexology! Here in Ananda Centre we offer both. See www.anandacentre.com for more details.
  • Come to one of my Rest & Restore Saturday morning workshops. 2 hours of gentle movement and blissed out, supported postures. Next on is Jan 24th 10am. Contact me on 085 1502378 to book your place.
  • If you’ve always wanted a day to “not leave the house” today’s the day! Wake when you wish, eat when you’re hungry, stay in your jammies and read a book.

Taking care of you is important. And, self-care puts you in a better frame of mind to take care of the people who depend on you. So find the thing that mellows you out, and make it happen!

How Yoga can help HIV and AIDS

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December 1 is World AIDS Day. This month, whoever you are, take a little time to learn about what’s been discovered about HIV since you first heard of it all those years ago. We now know about different strains of HIV, and how our bodies react differently to each. We know how to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and how serodiscordant couples (couples in which only one partner is HIV+) can safely conceive children together. And we know that the support of friends, neighbors, family, and loved ones is one of the key factors in the health and wellbeing of people with HIV.

How Can Yoga Help for HIV/AIDS?

Yoga can help boost immune system and many studies have shown:

  • Reduction in anxiety and stress
  • Increased white blood cell counts
  • Decreased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol
  • Activates natural killer cells

Yoga can also help decrease pain in symptoms specific to HIV/AIDS by relieving:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Cramps
  • General body tension
  • Oedema
  • Inflammation

Additionally, by increasing blood flow, Yoga assists with increasing oxygen and nutrients to areas with symptoms.

More Yoga Goals for HIV

Various Yoga techniques can be incorporated into a yoga therapy HIV program. These varying techniques used are practised through Pranayama (breathing), Asanas (postures) and Kriyas (cleansing). They help facilitate the removal of excess phlegm to relieve respiratory congestion, increase blood and lymph flow to assist the liver function in toxin removal and to encourage blood cell regeneration. They help prevent or reduce muscular atrophy typical of immobilization/inactivity through improving muscle tone.

If you’re HIV positive, here’s a little of what you can do to keep yourself healthy and suppress the virus:

De-stress yourself. Stress can really affect the immune system, making you more open to illness and infection. A good sleep each night, practices like yoga and regular massage therapy can help combat stress.

Be sure to vaccinate against infections.  Pneumonia and flu can be devastating to someone with HIV. Getting the regular vaccinations against these and any other infections is a good way to stay healthy especially in winter months.

Stay healthy in your choices. No smoking, eating healthy, regular exercise, avoiding alcohol, and of course looking after your mental health too.

 

 

Massage Therapy, Yoga and Anxiety

“It is estimated that 1 in 9 individuals will suffer a primary anxiety disorder over their lifetime. Only a fraction of these individuals receive appropriate treatment which is a great pity as it has been demonstrated consistently that with expert therapy the majority of sufferers can achieve a lasting improvement.”  www.stpatricks.ie

Anxiety is described as a feeling of dread, fear, or apprehension often with no clear justification. Most people experience symptoms of anxiety at one time or another, but for those with a disorder, normal daily life is often interrupted and limited.

A few common anxiety disorders are panic disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), social phobia (Social Anxiety), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While there are varying symptoms with each, many physiological responses overlap with the different disorders. Many people are able to function with symptoms while others are unable cope with them.

Some disorders manifest with physical symptoms like sleeping problems, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, sweating or dry mouth. Others are purely emotional, denoted by  excessive, unrealistic worry, feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness. Usually, there’s a combination of physical and emotional symptoms.

Massage Therapy or/and Yoga may help anxiety

The American Massage Therapy Association has adopted a position statement based on research findings asserting that “massage therapy can assist in reducing the symptoms of anxiety.” It goes on to say that massage may reduce symptoms of anxiety in women in labor, psychiatric patients, cancer patients, patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, children with illnesses, and many more types of clients.

In an article published on http://www.healthharvard.edu it was noted that  “a descriptive 2005 study examined the effects of a single yoga class for inpatients at a New Hampshire psychiatric hospital. The 113 participants included patients with bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia. After the class, average levels of tension, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, and fatigue dropped significantly, as measured by the Profile of Mood States, a standard 65-item questionnaire that participants answered on their own before and after the class. Patients who chose to participate in additional classes experienced similar short-term positive effects.”

The effects of massage and yoga therapy include reduced blood pressure, slowed/regulated breathing, and a slower pulse rate. If increased heart rate and rapid breathing are symptoms of anxiety could  and yoga therapy may have a positive effect. Simply taking time to relax and removing yourself from the busy-ness of daily life can be helpful in handling some kinds of anxiety. Having a one hour massage once a month or attending a restorative yoga class are of great benefit.

Those with more complicated anxiety issues may benefit from regular massage/class  in conjunction with talk therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Restorative Yoga is used to help anxiety issues by stimulating the Parasympathetic Nervous System (Rest and Digest instead of Fight and Flight). The parasympathetic system slows our heart rate, dilates blood vessels, increases digestive and glandular secretions, and calming certain muscles. By regularly putting our body in this relaxed state it becomes less vulnerable to stress-related disease. The focus of Restorative Yoga is relaxation and renewal. The body is supported in various yoga poses that are maintained for several minutes at a time with the aid of props.

Ask questions

If you are unsure about trying massage or yoga to help your anxiety, ask questions. Call me and we can talk about your experience with massage or yoga and how it may help you. Check in with your doctor and your therapist or counselor. (Be sure to let me know if they would like more information about massage, yoga and anxiety, I can provide that!)

When you’re ready, we’ll schedule an appointment or come join the monthly Rest and Restore Workshop here at Ananda Centre, Slane (Tel: 085 1502378) and you can see firsthand how massage and yoga may help you.

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