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HAPPY MIND & BODY

Movement Now Hypnosis Program

HAPPY MIND & BODY by The Stresshacker Sue SmithMove Your Body

I sometimes feel that I sit down for too long… but that’s the nature of my work as a Psychotherapist and Life Coach, thankfully I’m able to balance some of that by teaching yoga, walking and swimming. A sedentary lifestyle is not good if you want to stay healthy moreover, it’s ageing too. Scientifically proven as one of the 5 components that make up Wellbeing, exercise and keeping on the move is a must if we want to stay healthier, happier and youthful.

I’m often heard singing the praises of yoga. It really is more than just exercise, it’s a system of health. Other Eastern philosophies such as Chinese Medicine, subscribe to the notion that we have an emotional body. According to these approaches the emotions reside in the organs. You can hear it in language such as “I felt gutted (stomach) or choked” (throat) or “… he had some gall” referring to the gallbladder that is said to process anger, along with it’s partner the liver.

I definitely recognise the existence of an emotional body in my own style of teaching yoga and also when working one-to-one coaching clients. As a client or student of mine you’ll be on the receiving end of my ‘nagging’ or as I like to think of it, encouragement! Prompting you to direct your attention to the tightest or most uncomfortable part of your body and then breathe deeply into it whilst stretching. It facilitates a beautiful release and expansion that often alleviates pain and discomfort. You just feel great afterwards!

I’m often reminded of my favourite saying that the body will express what the mind is concerned with It’s true and I’ve been interested to observe my own body in the last 3 to 4 weeks whilst going through a particularly stressful and emotional time. Although I’m doing the same amount of yoga practice as usual, I’ve really noticed how tight and stiff my muscles and ligaments have become, in fact my body has been aching and tense. I realise that at times like this it’s more important than ever to keep up my yoga practice (it would be so easy to let it slip)! I have found the gentle long held yin poses have been particularly useful in releasing toxic energy (a build up of negative emotions such as fear and anger). HAPPY MIND & BODY by The Stresshacker Sue Smith

Some years ago my colleague and friend Sabine Smith and I created a lovely CD also available as a download called Movement Now. This is a gentle yoga program that we designed for people who haven’t done any exercise at all for a while, people who want a quick easy stretch program, people who are stuck at their desks all day long and people recovering from illness or surgery. It’s really easy to download to your laptop then pop onto your phone then you can practice anywhere anytime. Click here to buy.

The short program is a real energy boost and you’ll also notice that it creates a nice peaceful state mentally and emotionally.

So if you’re going through one of life’s testing times remember to keep up your practice. If you don’t do yoga then walk, swim or do some exercise and keep the demons at bay!

Also please look at our products and courses in The Stresshacker store to help assist you with your journey.

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Is Your Sedentary Lifestyle Killing You?

I’m keeping it brief and focussing on the body again this week, specifically the hips. Hopefully you’ll have your own hips for your entire lifetime so healthy hip tips are coming up!

I teach hatha yoga a couple of times a week at Breeze and Virgin Active. So you’d think I’d know better than to sit for long periods of time. But sometimes when I’m feeling less than inspired, writing a blog can take me a bit of time and boy do I pay for it! When I stand up my hips can feel really stiff.

There’s no question about it,  sitting for too long is bad for our health.

When we sit for long periods of time our hip flexor muscles are not working against resistance, they’re in a relaxed position. As gravity does its job and our upper body becomes heavier this weight then bears down heavily into the pelvic floor. Because our legs aren’t moving, our circulation and sometimes even nerve responses can be adversely affected because our legs are so inactive.

To keep the pelvic region healthy, move it!

If you work from home and are spending long periods of time at your desk, try sitting on a big exercise ball for some of the time, that way you’re engaging your core and moving around  in order to stay balanced.

The Stresshacker’s Healthy Happy Hip Tips

  1. Get up and move around a minimum of once an hour if not more frequently (set the alarm on your phone if need be).
  2. Go for a short walk, perhaps up and down the stairs a few of times.
  3. Stand with feet hip width apart and come up onto tip toeimages-1s then down again in a balance, do this about ten times and focus on good breathing.

It’s also important to keep our hips mobile and since they are a ball and socket joint, they like to be gently rotated. If we only stand up and sit down, we tend to use them more like a hinge joint and this can make them stiff and tight. (unless you’re a kick boxer or salsa dancer!)

  1. Stand feet hip width apart and circle your hips in both directions. Next gently move your hips in a figure of 8 about ten times then back in the opposite direction.

At home in the morning and before bed:images

Lay on the floor put a small cushion underneath your head, bend your knees to your chest and with one hand on each knee take the knees wide apart. Gently circle them in one direction 10 times then the other. Aim to keep your lower back (sacrum) relaxed to the floor.

Enjoy!

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LET’S GET THIS FIRE STARTED!

When the digestive system is in good functioning order, all is well in the world and we feel happy and balanced. When it’s under par or dysfunctional, misery reigns and we can be subject to mental imbalance and emotional turmoil.

As one of the main elements in the body we can do much to keep the digestive system functioning at its optimal level. This naturally has a positive knock-on effect on the rest of the systems in the body that in turn helps us to feel strong, vibrant and healthy.

Those of us with weak digestion will do well to follow some simple rules to strengthen this system.

In order to do this, imagine that we’re going to build a fire.file1301281803365 

Think of this fire as being inside and just below the navel (belly button). This fire (which we call Agni in yoga) helps to promote good metabolism by extracting the nutrients from our food and absorbing them into the body, discarding the waste (the elimination process) and burning up toxins. You’ll appreciate that this is a very simplistic explanation of a huge process.

If you’ve ever started a fire from scratch you’ll know that the hardest part is the getting the flames going. So we might blow some air on to the kindling to encourage the ignition. For us, this translates as taking part in some aerobic exercise, particularly that which pumps a little air upward in the stomach such as stomach crunches, or bringing knees to chest, or leg raises. I call this solar work.

Another way to fan the fire is by diaphragmatic breathing as follows:

Rest your right hand on your diaphragm little finger resting just above the navel and your left hand just above the right with the left thumb roughly in the middle of your chest. As you breathe in and out in a slow, relaxed, rhythmic, wave-like motion, only your bottom hand should be moving up and down with the exception of a slight almost imperceptible movement in the bottom fingers of your left hand.

For a more detailed training of diaphragmatic breathing, you can find good clear instructions available on the audio program Breathe Easy.

Having kindled the fire, we want to keep it burning and another way to do this is to fast from 7.00pm to 7.00am. So eat a good breakfast and where possible, eat a little earlier in the day to ensure you’ve had your last meal by 7.00pm. Naturally this requires a bit of forethought and planning and needless to say if you’re diabetic this is not a good idea, so take advice from your nutritionist or GP.

A bit tongue in cheek, but if you want to douse the flames, drink cold liquids such as iced water, cold beers and wine with your meals. Ensure that you over-eat and eat late into the night. A regular diet of fatty fast foods processed and refried foods should all have the effect of putting out your digestive fire! When this happens we have to start all over again, trying to drum up the energy from somewhere to build the fire all over again.

Signs that we don’t have a good digestive fire might be bad breath, a poor appetite, a feeling of dullness and lethargy, feeling unwell. Elimination can be inhibited and we may suffer from constipation or other digestive problems. When our fire is low or out we find it difficult to get up and get going it can feel like a real struggle to set and achieve our goals.

Signs that our digestive fire is burning brightly are

Feeling light and buoyant in the body (whatever it’s size). Feeling rested when we awaken. Having a glowing skin. Feeling physically balanced and centred. Having a clear mind and a positive out-look. We will feel on purpose with our goals and will feel healthy and energised.

So much of this is down to the choices we make on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis.  Based on the above, scribble down a few notes and make plan of action to start a good fire and keep it burning brightly. Plan your meal times and what you will eat to keep the flames alight.

Wishing you good health and happiness throughout 2016.

If you’ve found this article interesting please feel free to pass it on to your friends.

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It’s Time To Quit FAGS?

Give up the fags

FEAR

ANGER

GUILT

SHAME

Fear Anger Guilt and Shame are ‘blocker’s to feeling good. They prevent a good clear flow of energy, known in the East as Prana, Ki or Chi. Negative emotions such as the FAGS above, can lead to feelings of impatience, confusion lack of understanding and an inability to focus and concentrate.

 

Give up the fags

Of course it’s important to be able to experience a complete range of human emotions, however excessive fear, anger guilt or shame, disproportionate to a given situation, is simply unhealthy!

It has been my long held belief that excessive FAGS are precursors to physiological ailments. Many a strong, stoic person who keeps going, putting on a ‘brave face’ despite horrendous life events, may later find themselves suffering all manner of health issues.

The body will express what the mind is concerned with.

When we supress natural emotions such as FAGS they have to go somewhere, as my partner’s mum used to say “they don’t go in your boots!” But they do need to be expressed and many people deal with their emotions by somatising them i.e. storing their feelings in the body.

Eastern philosophies tell us that we have layers of body and one of those layers is the emotional body, which they suggest, is the organ body.

The organs although separate, operate in pairs, such as gall bladder and liver, urinary bladder and kidneys. They sometimes share systems, such as the interrelated cardio-vascular and respiratory system of the heart and lungs.

We’re said to have pathways (traditional yoga says 72’000 of them) that are meant to bring energy in the form of chi or prana through these pathways to the organs, in order to keep them working at their optimum level, to leave us feeling well and balanced.

Eastern approaches to health such as acupuncture and yoga suggest that unexpressed emotions are stored within the organs, which can eventually become overloaded and in the extreme, manifest as illness.

Many clients and yoga students who present with physical pain in their body begin to recognise a correlation between that pain and anger for example.

Others may identify fear that impacts their breathing, leaving them feeling tight and restricted in the chest. Thankfully it is possible to override these old pattern with simple breathing exercises and a few shifts in thought patterns at a deeper level.

Sometimes negative feelings can be paralysing for people leaving them feeling stuck and low with a general feeling of malaise and lethargy.

Whatever the manifestation, the presence of FAGS will leave us feeling mentally and physically drained and has an enormous negative impact on our self-esteem and wellbeing.

Did you know that when you make a shift in your physiology it changes your emotional state, which can quickly have a positive knock-on effect on your thinking? This is just one of the reasons yoga has become so popular today. Even if it’s a tough class at the time, we plough on knowing that we’re going to feel so much better, stronger and more energised at the end of it!

286319534790553Try some of the physiological, shifting suggestions below and see if you can change your state!

Exercise really is important, so aim to get moving again. If you’ve tried and failed, buddy up with someone. By making a commitment to someone else you’re more likely to honour the arrangement. Arrange a walk. Plan a swim together or attend a pilates or yoga class. Join a gym. Check out your local church hall, there’ll be all kinds of classes to try there.

Ever thought of singing? Book a lesson or join a local choir. They’re not all about singing Christmas hymns. There’s a 100 strong Rock Choir in my area for example.

Develop a 5 minute exercise routine:

Bring alternate knees toward the belly or chest X 5 on each side to start with, then as you bring one knee up connect it to the opposite elbow for another 5 on each side.

Stand with feet hip width apart and circle the hips 20 X in one direction then the other. Follow this with ‘snake hips’ make a figure of 8 with your hips in one direction and then the other for 20 cycles.

Again with feet hip width apart (preferably bare feet) On the inhale lift both arms out in front of you, then up over your head and back round X 20.

Next take arms out to the sides and up beyond the head bringing the hands to meet above the head and back down again X 20.

Let me know how you feel after that!

Enjoy!

 

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Need to get away? Join me on a stress-busting yoga retreat in Sussex

Florence House Flyer 2015 Would you like to experience a weekend of yoga bliss?  During the weekend you will stretch, relax deeply, learn new fascinating tips for de-stressing, enjoy the breath taking scenery of the Sussex Downs, eat scrumptious, freshly prepared (and often home grown) vegetarian cuisine and make new friends.

And and of course there’s the yoga!

Don’t take my word for it, here’s what others have to say:-

Continue reading Need to get away? Join me on a stress-busting yoga retreat in Sussex