Pranayama.

This sounds like a fancy drink that you would get at the local gastro pub. I’ll have a pranayama and the cheese plate. Moving on..

Pranayama is the foundation of yoga breathing. 

It goes all the way back to the beginning of yoga. Many, many, many moons ago. The concept is simple: use certain techniques to enhance your breathing ability. There are various styles of pranayama, but my favorite is the Nadhi Sodhana. That’s a fancy Sanskrit word for “alternate nostril breathing.” Check out this video from my favorite yogi:

As someone who has journeyed with anxiety for many years, the ability to calm my nervous system feels tremendously empowering. If I feel like I am on the verge of panic, I utilize this technique to kick in that lovely parasympathetic nervous system. By slowing the breath, you eliminate the hyperventilation that is often associated with panic. This technique also uses a mudra to aid in the calming. What’s a mudra? Picture it as art through the use of your hand. You use different hand positions to encourage positivity and changes in energy. Think about all of the hand symbols we use in everyday life: thumbs up, peace sign, flipping the bird. Each movement conveys a non-verbal gesture. A mudra is used in the same way. By positioning your hand in a certain way, you are non-verbally sending a message to yourself. OK THIS IS STARTED TO SOUND REAL HOKEY, SARA. Ok, fine..moving on.

To begin the alternate nostril breathing exercise, take your dominate hand and fold down the pointer and middle finger. It should look something like this:

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Place your thumb over your right nostril (or left if you’re all weird and left handed) and block the passage of air. Inhale deeply through your left nostril.

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I know this looks slightly odd, but I’ll take looking odd over anxiety any day of the week, my friend!

Hold your breath for a slight, sweet, delicious moment. Use your ring finger to cover your left nostril. Exhale through your right nostril.

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Inhale through your right nostril.

 

Hold your breath and release air through your left nostril.

 

Repeat as many times as needed to feel calm and grounded. Don’t get crazy and pass out or anything because I don’t have time to squeeze a lawsuit into my daily activities. Enjoy this time. Find the space between the breath and get to know yourself. Spend time in the quiet space.

 

Love and light.

 

 

 

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Yogalicous.

What is yoga?

To me, it is this quirky bond between your mind and your body. This bond allows for you to cultivate light, love, and energy in a (sometimes) crappy world. I had an exam today for my Family Nurse Practitioner program. It is an online exam, so I have the freedom to take it whenever I feel ready. Today, I decided to incorporate a pre-exam pump-up routine. It was quite rad.

Picture this:

Sun Salutation/Surya Namaskar mini yoga session. I recently participated in a winter solstice 108 sun salutation yoga adventure at my local studio. It was epic. It was sweaty. It was thrilling. I have found that a few sun salutations on my mat during times of stress really sync my mind and body. You have to stay focused on the breath, but also engaged in the movement. After about 5 minutes of this sequence, I felt energized and focused.

Doterra Lavender in the diffuser. I’ve recently jumped on the Doterra bandwagon. I am so glad that I did! The lavender oil calms me down so quickly. It is blissful.

Binaural Beats playing in the background. If you don’t know what this style of music is…I would compare it to meditation crack. I’m not sure if crack and meditation have ever been used together in a sentence. TIME TO COPYRIGHT THAT PHRASE. Anyway, it is a style of music that can alter your brainwaves into a more meditative state. It can thrust you into Buddha-esque/enlightenment after a few minutes. Actually, I have no idea if it works at all, but I like the sound and I can dig the placebo effect.

During the exam, I did a small mindfulness exercise to check in with my body. I was sitting cross-legged, slumped over, and breathing shallow breaths. This posture is not exactly conducive to a sharp mind. I readjusted, finding a grounding position. I focused on taking deep, belly breaths. The haze cleared and I finished the test with ease.

How do you incorporate yoga into your everyday stress? Do you stop-drop-and yoga during crisis? Do you only do yoga during relaxation? I still feel like a fledgling in yogi world, but I am enjoying the journey towards a synergistic mind and body.

Love and light.

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Dig deep, find your inner light, and share it with the world.

Yoga for gangly folk.

I am a relatively large human. I believe the actual height is somewhere between 5’9″-5’11” depending on how much I can drop my hip. Being tall has been a blessing and a curse. People often ask me to reach things on shelves which gives me fulfillment and a sense of purpose in the world. It also gives me tired arms. Let me take you back a bit in the imaginary time machine that I am creating right now. Impressive, huh? Ready-go!

The year was 2000 and I was in elementary school. I was a staggering 5’7″ and all of the boys were about 3’6″. Dramatic, but you catch my drift. My body elongated and stretched out aggressively in a period of about 3 months. Add that to chin acne and bangs and you have hit the Holy Grail of awkwardness.

Fast forward to high school. I never really grew into my body. I played sports and was decent. I was never super fast or super strong etc. At least I didn’t trip over my feet anymore.

Fast forward AGAIN to present day. Welcome. As an adult, I still feel somewhat out of place in my own skin. Anxiety and panic have created this weird energy between my mind and my body. Sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own skin. I still am slightly clumsy and gangly. Anxiety makes your brain feel so odd that you don’t even feel at home in your own skin. This feeling is not ideal so I started exploring ways to connect to my body. Over the years, I attended free yoga classes at the college gym or tried an online video. I was never serious about my practice. I’m still not serious about it, but I love where my journey is headed.

Yoga makes me feel connected, grounded, strong, calm, healthy, and happy. The practice has strengthened my mind and body connection. My height is a strength in yoga. I might stumble on my way to the mat, but I am strong and graceful in my practice. I fall over in the occasional pose and lose my balance. It is a good reminder that life might make us feel awkward in our own skin, but we have the ability to cultivate strength and become grounded. Yoga teaches me about myself physically, mentally, and emotionally…and for that, I am grateful.

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