We all have issues in our tissues. It’s where our life story is housed (happiness, sadness, scars, trauma, blockages, etc.). Our tissue is our connective tissue and that’s a broad term that means our fascia, tendons, ligaments, bones, and even blood.
What’s really interesting about our tissue is that it both separates AND binds together muscles, organs, and other tissues of the body. It’s made up of ground substance, elastin, fibroblast cells, collagen, and more. And our fascial system (also called the interstitium) is now classified as its own organ. The interstitium is the source of lymph fluid. So when we move and stretch, we’re moving lymph which makes for a healthy immune system.
Have you stretched your tissues today? In yoga we move our tissues in all directions for optimal health. Come practice and feel the peace!
This week’s yoga class theme was the Vagus Nerve. It’s one of 12 cranial nerves known as the wandering nerve (vagus means wander in Latin). It has multiple branches that diverge from two thick stems rooted in the cerebellum and brainstem that wander to the lowest viscera of the abdomen touching the heart and most major organs.
Tapping into the vagus nerve can create a state of inner calm, taming inflammation and thus enhancing wellness and reducing chronic pain. In addition to what we practiced in class, here are a few other ways to stimulate the vagus nerve:
-Chew gum; chewing gum boosts the release of hormones from the gut which enhance brain/gut communication.
-Get direct sunlight. UVA rays increase hormones that stimulate the vagus nerve.
-Sleep on your right side. Lying on your back decreases vagus nerve activation, but sleeping on the right side shows greater vagus nerve stimulation compared to left side sleeping.
-Meditate and practice yoga. Meditation and certain breathing practices in yoga increase vagal tone. Chanting OM is a great example that will increase vagal tone. Yoga boosts mood and lowers anxiety while also increasing vagus nerve and parasympathetic system activity. Slow, deep exhales activate pressure receptors in the heart and neck that send signals to the brain to activate the vagus nerve.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu
Staying present can be challenging all the time. Add a global pandemic to the mix, and our minds and thoughts travel everywhere! To stay present, it’s helpful to anchor attention on something where we can keep bringing our focus back when the mind strays. It can be frustrating to experience constant drifting back to the past or into the future, imagining things that will likely never happen. It takes a big toll on the nervous system and thus our overall health and wellness.
Try to use breathing as an anchor (it’s my favorite). And, it’s right under your nose! When the attention begins to wander away, just think “not now” and bring the focus back to the anchor with compassion and not judgement. Perhaps even acknowledge and accept the wandering. With practice this will become more fluid. Remember too, that practice isn’t for perfection. Practice is for navigating in the light, what we may truly need in the dark.
During this season of light and holy days, may your presence be a present!
Well, not literally, but we’re already a little nuts in different ways!
Did you know that some recent research has found that incorporating walnuts into meals on a daily basis has been linked to a reduction in the concentration of inflammatory biomarkers? While they may not be the go-to nut for meals and snacking (that would be pistachios for me!), walnuts do have essential omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid). This plays an important role in the functioning of the brain (and have you noticed, they look like a brain?). And it helps mitigate heart disease and inflammation.
Try some as a snack maybe mixed with other nuts you like, add them in a salad, or to cookie/cake recipes or even make a walnut (instead of pine nut) pesto. Experiment with them in other foods, chop them finely and sprinkle them. With the holidays coming up, try them in stuffing. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover something profound!
Reference: Mind Body Green Magazine, Scientists Find More Evidence For Adding This Inflammation-Fighting Nut To Your Diet
Mushrooms are an amazing superfood packed with vital nutrients and healing benefits. They are a great source of antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and other health promoting substances.
Many delicious and nutritious varieties include the shiitake, maitake, lion’s mane, oyster, and porcini. They are often available at most natural and gourmet food stores. However, there are hundreds of others that grow wild in the fields and forests. Naturally, it is necessary to properly identify wild mushrooms, and know exactly what they are, in order to avoid any problems.
Lion’s mane is one of the most interesting mushrooms with an array of health promoting properties. Much evidence based research has been conducted on this mushroom, and it has been shown to be beneficial for: mental health, boosting immunity, improving energy, and combatting inflammation.
Mushrooms should be thoroughly cooked and not eaten raw. Uncooked mushrooms can cause digestive upset. This is because they consist of a fiber called chitin. Cooking breaks down the fiber and makes it easier to digest. Some mushrooms cook within 30 minutes, while others can take as long as 90 minutes. It depends on the freshness and density of the mushroom. They are best cooked with light oil or organic butter. To fully enhance the flavor, add some white wine, vegetable broth, and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt. Bon appetit!
Conny Jasper is a holistic life coach, certified yoga instructor, certified Reiki Master, and certified massage therapist. She has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and helps people to heal and balance their body and mind. https://connyjasper8.wixsite.com/artist
We may think that ease (sukha) is better than effort, because it just sounds so, well EASY. Yet without effort (sthira) there is no strength or stability. On the other hand, we can overdo effort and feel as if we are straining and stressed.
In yoga we come into poses (asanam) that may be relaxing, and others that feel more strenuous. Practicing Sthira and Sukha really isn’t an either/or, though. It is balancing both at the same time.
For example, even in a relaxing stretch like child’s pose we can find a steadiness in our breathing and thoughts. In a stronger pose such as Warrior II, even while feeling the effort of the body’s muscles used to hold the pose, we can still look for a lightness and comfort by letting the shoulders relax down away from the ears and softening the muscles of the face.
Often, we can find ease or contentment simply by letting go of expectations – what we think “should” be – and simply acknowledging what IS. We can feel the pose and use the breath as a guide to that sweet spot of harmony within.
As you step off your mat and into your life, can you find this same balance of effort and ease? For example, even while performing a task such as preparing dinner, I find a sense of ease by putting on my favorite music and reflecting on the day with gratitude.
More about our guest blogger:
Eva is the Owner/Founder of Nourish Yoga & Wellness. Her mission is to inspire adults to live more energetically and vibrantly by helping them incorporate simple changes in their lifestyle, especially in learning how to move and breathe to connect to their body through yoga. She believes strongly in making yoga available for EVERY BODY and specializes in working with beginners and older adults. To learn more click here: https://www.nourishyogawellness.com/
Ever wonder why a certain smell can bring up memories and even elicit a physical response? Our sense of smell effects the limbic system in the brain — it has powerful healing capacities!
Our limbic system is a combination of higher mental functions and our emotions. It is directly linked to parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance. It’s because of this, that the smell of essential oils can produce profound positive effects. Essential oils can help support overall wellness. They consist of over 100 different natural organic compounds that supply support for every system in the body. When inhaled, the aromatic molecules of an essential oil interact with sensors in our nasal cavity, lungs, and pores. Once engaged, the sensors emit strong emotional signals starting from the limbic system, then the hippocampus, and spread throughout the rest of the body to places like the heart and the digestive tract.
Some essential oil examples are:
Citrus oils: orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit. Known for uplifting aromatic qualities.
Floral oils: geranium and rose. Known for an aromatic quality that encourages peaceful feelings. Does all this make scents?
Read more about Beverly McGivney (YL # 1149206) here:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebodhiseed1121; Instagram: @thebodhiseed1121 Beverly, the creator of the Bodhi Seed, has a passion for whole person wellness. During her personal exploration of whole person wellness body, mind and spirit, Beverly was inspired to create The Bodhi Seed. The Bodhi Seed is a platform to educate and advocate on wellness using nature’s energy while inspiring purpose and abundance! She believes in creating non-toxic living mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically!
There has never been a better time to close your eyes or soften your gaze. To look and to feel deeply within yourself at the center of consciousness and your being. Where a divine light exists and every answer to every question about your truest self lives. ~LLS
Virtual Gentle Yoga for Computer Users – Saturday, May 30th 9:00-10:30. Looking to counter the effects of heavy computer/device use? Are your shoulders, neck, upper back bothering you and maybe even your wrists or eyes? Look no further, this Gentle Yoga class is for you! Cost $10. Registration is open. Join from anywhere in the comfort of your own home.
The Basics of Meditation – Saturday, June 27th 9:00-11:00. There has never been a better time to begin a meditation practice. Have your heard about the many benefits of meditation for your health and for anxiety? Come learn the background, benefits, and practical techniques in order to get started right away. Cost $25. Registration is open. Join from anywhere in the comfort of your own home.
Weekly Programs (open registration): Virtual Gentle Yoga and Meditation – Friday Mornings at 9:00. New session beginning 6/12 (five classes: 6/12, 6/19, 6/26, 7/3, and 7/10). Registration is open. Cost $40. Classes left in the current sesson are: 5/29, and 6/5. There will be subsequent sessions, so please reach out if you’re interested. Join from anywhere in the comfort of your own home.
Virtual Mindful Chair Yoga and Meditation – Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. beginning 5/19 (includes 5/19, 5/26, 6/2, 6/9, and 6/16) Cost: $40.There will be subsequent sessions so please reach out if you’re interested. Anyone who lives anywhere can join from the comfort of home and even in PJs!
For a limited time, I am offering a free virtual Yoga Nidra and Meditation experience. Gather your props in advance: mat, cushion, blanket/s, pillow/s. Meet me in cyberspace!
~Virtual Yoga Nidra (Deep, Profound Relaxation) and Meditation – Tuesday evenings 7:30-8:15 p.m. This can be practiced reclining or seated. Yoga nidra takes the student on a journey within connecting the mind/body through a series of steps to a quieter place for meditation. Ongoing until further notice.Register for Yoga Nidra/Meditation with this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/v5Akde-ppzsid3XXbWe7mZw1DtClCDlp8Q
It’s the time of the year for stuffiness, allergies, and blocked sinuses. There are many great methods to cleanse the nasal passages – saline sprays and gadgets galore! My favorite is very simple. It is one that a dear friend introduced me to years ago that I never thought I could use – a plastic netipot. Now, please do your research about the use of netipots. Learn how to use them properly. Learn how to clean them and what type of water to use. The best way to describe the feeling after using one is this: Image stepping outside on a snowy winter’s day and inhaling deeply (sorry, if you’re in a warm climate!).
Another practice I’ve come to love is the use of organic oil in my sinuses. Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) recommends using nasya oil, or putting oil drops in your nose. Here are some of the many benefits:
It’s balancing and calming.
It soothes and moisturizes dry sinuses.
It is said to improve the quality of your voice, strengthen your vision and prompt clarity. It helps to release tension in the head and mitigate the build up of stress.
Nasya promotes clear breathing and supports the flow of prana (life force).
You can find netipots and nasya in stores and online. It’s something worth experimenting with. Who nose?
Please note: As with any new practice or substance used in your body, please check with your medical professional to ensure there are no contraindications or issues with use.