Tag Archives: yoga breathing

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/.

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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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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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.

 

 

Restorative Yoga 4 week course

Just in time before Christmas, give yourself a little gift of rest and restoration.

Gentle movement, supported postures, breath work and meditation.

Breath in Peace – Breath out Calm

Starting Thursday November 27th 7.30pm – 8.45pm €50

It is suitable for beginners and non alike. All you need is a willingness to rest.

Contact Brenda on 085 1502378

Here’s a link of what to expect in the class.

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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What is Restorative Yoga and why should I do it?

Restorative yoga is a practice that involves using some props, getting comfy and allowing the body and mind to rest in a specific posture.

Sometimes we equate the word REST to also mean doing nothing or being lazy in some way but Rest is so important to help recharge the physical, mental and emotional. To Rest allows you to restore your energy in order to move on with more pep in your step. Think about it – we recharge our phones and computers. Why? So that they can continue working to their full capacity. Surely we can say the same and do the same for ourselves.

What’s in a word? Words have a lot of power, can make us feel and think, can make us react. Take a moment or two to read this and see how the word sits with you. Sense how you are feeling before you read this article and then take stock of what you experience after. See the word in your mind and feel it.

REST: to stop work or movement in order to relax, refresh and recover.

Have you ever not felt good after a rest?
Why do we think we have to keep going?
What’s stopping us from resting?

The noun, rest, also means the remaining part of something. What?
Is it the space we give ourselves on resting? That catching up of oneself?

The synonyms of rest are pause, relax, lean, lie.

It’s ok to allow ourselves to rest. I know I’m not the only one that struggles with this sometimes.
Give yourself a bit of time today and reflect on rest. Who knows you might even find yourself doing it!

The next Rest and Restore Yoga workshop in Ananda is next Saturday 18th October 10am – 12pm €50. It is suitable for all abilities of practice even beginners.

Contact Brenda 085 1502378

Cancer Care Support at Ananda Centre

Thank you to everyone who came to visit us at the PINK PICNIC in the Conyngham Arms Hotel, Slane last week. Trish and the gang organised a brilliant event. It was great to see familiar faces and make some new friends…and all for a great cause. We hope you enjoyed the night too.

A little info on what we do here in relation to Cancer Care Support.
I all look forward to meeting you again at the ANANDA CENTRE.
Have fun tomorrow everyone taking part in the Pink Ribbon Walk.

Services Available

Massage for People Living with Cancer:
This massage therapy deconstructs common myths about the use of massage in cancer treatment. It emphasizes that mechanical action such as massage does not break tumours open or cause them to spread. It focuses on relieving the discomfort of treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. This type of massage therapy can be used in hospitals, in respite care, for the dying, and for exhausted caregivers. Each session is planned according to what treatment the person is undergoing at that time.
Contact Brenda: 085 1502378

Bio-Energy Therapy:
Bio-Energy healing works on treating blockages in the energy system which appear to be the cause of symptoms of ill-health, dis-ease, emotional issues etc. Bio-Energy uses in care may help to relieve symptoms of cancer or side effects of treatment such as anxiety, fatigue, pain, or nausea and vomiting. Bio-Energy therapy is said to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Some people with cancer have reported increased well-being, less pain and reduced nausea and vomiting after sessions. Bio-Energy therapy may be useful in reducing anxiety and increasing a sense of well-being.
Contact Evelyn: 086 8727472

Yoga Therapy:
Yoga in Cancer care is promoted as a natural way to help you relax and cope with stress, anxiety and depression. Generally, it can help to lift your mood and enhance well-being. Some people with cancer who have used yoga say that it helps calm their mind so that they can cope better with their cancer and its treatment. Others say that it helps to reduce symptoms and side effects such as pain, tiredness, sleep problems and depression.
Contact Brenda: 085 1502378

Reiki:
This Energy treatment may help some people to feel deeply relaxed, cope with difficult situations, relieve emotional stress or tension and improve overall wellbeing. Reiki is sometimes used in palliative care, especially in hospices.
Reiki may help to control side effects of cancer treatments, such as pain, anxiety and sickness. It is safe to have Reiki alongside your cancer treatment.
Contact Evelyn: 086 8727472, Ula: 086 0872526 or Brenda: 085 1502378

Acupuncture:
Acupuncture has received much attention as an adjunctive therapy in cancer treatments for its use in pain relief, reducing side effects, accelerating recovery and improving quality of life. A top recommendation for cancer pain is acupuncture. Acupuncture has its origins in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is based on the theory that one can regulate the flow of “Qi” or vital energy, by stimulation of certain points of the body with needles.
Contact Helena: 086 8163130

Reflexology:
Reflexology is a gentle, supporting, non-invasive wellness therapy that is used widely to support people who are living with cancer, who are undergoing various medical interventions and surgery or are involved palliative care/end of life situations. Reflexology uses pressure points on the hands and feet to stimulate specific parts of the body to help bring about homeostasis (balance). Many hospices and cancer units in hospitals offer reflexology as one of many complementary therapies to support a person on their journey with cancer.
Contact Ula: 086 0872526

Naturopathy:
Naturopathic medicine focuses on health rather than sickness and uses “natural” approaches to healing. Using different methods it is helpful for pain relief and the side effects of medicine and treatments.
Contact Helena: 086 8163130

Please contact us here in ANANDA CENTRE if you have any questions on the above therapies. It is important to tell your doctor about any wellness therapy that you use. Then your doctor will always have the full picture about your care and treatment.
www.anandacentre.com
anandacentre@gmail.com

You are not your age…

Thank you to everyone who came to the Rest & Restore workshop in Galway last weekend. By request here is the piece I read out during our thoracic opening restorative pose…

Not

You are not your age,
Nor the size of the clothes you wear,
You are not a weight,
Or the color of your hair.
You are not your name,
Or the dimples in your cheeks,
You are all the books you read,
And all the words you speak,
You are your croaky morning voice,
And the smiles you try to hide,
You are the sweetness in your laughter,
And every tear you’ve cried,
You’re the songs you sing so loudly when you know you’re all alone,
You’re the places you’ve been too,
And the one that you call home,
You’re the things that you believe in,
And the people that you love,
You’re the photos in your bedroom,
And the future you dream of,
You’re made of so much beauty,
But it seems you forgot,
When you decided that you were defined,
By all the things you’re not.
~e.h (Erin Hanson)

Ring of Kerry this weekend? 4 reasons you should include yoga for cross training.

ring of kerry

The wonderful Ring of Kerry cycle is upon us again this weekend. Have you been training? It is getting more popular with the increasing trend of people taking to cycling. I always see an influx of last minute “help my legs” in my massage practice but did you know there are a few simple things you can do yourself in between to keep you on top of your game?

1. A couple of post ride postures will help ease muscle soreness. Just five minutes will help lubricate and stretch out tight muscles. Think back, hip and shoulders.

Triangle (Trikonasana) pose is good for this. Stand legs about 4ft apart, turn left foot to 45 degree angle, point right toes at 90 degrees. Bring arms to shoulder height. Reach into right hand and extend torso to the right leg. Rest arm gently onto right leg. Left arm reaches to the sky or rests on hip. Turn to look at left hand if reaching up and you have no neck issues. Across the front of the shoulders should remain open. Stay for 5 breaths. Coming back up gently on an inhale.

Triangle or Trikonasana pose

Triangle or Trikonasana pose

2. Prevent injury with a little focus on shoulder strengthening poses. It is inevitable that at one time or another a fall off the bike will happen. Bringing arms to chest will prevent any breaks to the arm but it means landing on the shoulder. My favourite way to explain how mobile the shoulder joint is; imagaine a golf ball and a tee…that’s what the top of the humerus (arm) bone looks like as it sits into the shoulder joint/socket…very, very mobile but downside is that it can dislocate very easy. There are many muscles and tendons keeping everything stable and in place. By keeping these strong it will make the shoulder less unstable and prone to injury should you come off the bike.
Downward Dog pose is great for strengthening shoulders, back and lengthening the hamstrings. Begin on hands and knees. Fingers wide, elbows and shoulders in line. Legs hip distance, knees under hips. tuck toes under. Lift knees, hips and bum up from floor. Imagine pushing the mat away with the hands. Head remains relaxed between arms.  Heels do not need to come to the floor, keep the back straight and sit-bones (bum) up and back.

Downward Facing Dog

Get your dawg on!

 

3. Pedal Power – your hip flexors at the top/front of thigh are what keep you moving on the pedals. But they can get stiff from the repetitive action of lifting the knee up and down. This in turn can lead to tightness in your ITB (iliontibial band) which is a ligament that runs down the side of the leg from hip to knee. The ITB keeps the knee stable in all this pedal action too.

Protect and keep your knees and hips pain free with a good pose like Pigeon. Start on hands and knees, bring right knee between hands and allow hips to come toward the floor. Walk back leg out a little so it is straight, keep hips level and  forward facing. Shoulders away from the ears. Strong into hands. Place a cushion under thigh of bent leg to get more balance.

pigeon pose

Do the funky Pigeon.

4. Don’t forget to breathe! Your breath is what gives you strength, stamina and focus. Harness this power even more with some Yoga breath techniques (pranayama). Your breath is what carries oxygen to the muscles too. Even something as simple as lying on the ground, knees bent, breathing in and out through the nose can create an awareness of this. Placing the hands gently on the ribs, inhaling and sensing the expansion in the ribcage. On exhaling, drawing the belly button back towards the spine engages the abdominal muscles which help move the diaphragm up to help expel the air. Doing this slowly and maybe even counting so that the inhale and exhale are even number.

lungs

Lungs = Powerhouse

Of course the best way to keep injury free is to practice daily and attend a yoga class with good, safe instruction. Please feel free to contact me about classes or one-to-one yoga.

I recommend that you consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. You should be in good physical condition and be able to participate in the exercise.