Legs Up the Wall Reduces Stress

19 08 2012

It just takes five minutes in Legs Up the Wall pose to relieve stress. Sometimes I like to end my yoga session with Legs Up the Wall, or midday to rejuvenate my body and mind. This pose is considered an inversion pose and all inversion poses help to clear the mind. Situations, relationships, and we take on a new perspective when we are looking up, rather than down.

Practiced regularly, Legs Up the Wall may help to:

 Calm the mind

 Relieve low back tension

 Aid in relieving minor anxiety and depression

 Ease stress on the adrenal glands

 Reduce swelling and cramping in the legs and feet

 Aid in digestion

 Relieve minor headaches

 May help regulating blood pressure

 Insomnia

 May relieve some symptoms of menopause and PMS

CAUTION: Legs up the wall is generally not recommend for those menstruating, with eye problems, with neck or back problems, after third month of pregnancy, and anyone with heart problems. Check with your yoga teacher first. 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.

Moving into Legs Up the Wall:

Before beginning, you may want to have a blanket or two handy to use, if needed for support. Remember, comfort is important.

1: Stand next to wall with your left shoulder and left hip against the wall. Sit to the floor with the shoulder and hip remaining against the wall. (Option: place a folded blanket close to the wall and place buttocks on blanket when sitting.)

2: Swing around to bring your bottom up close to the wall and legs reaching up the wall towards the ceiling. Lower back and head to the floor. (Option: If using a blanket, position hips comfortably on blanket to relieve any back or leg discomfort.)

3. Move hips away from the wall if hamstrings are tight or lower back is uncomfortable. (Option: Bring soles of the feet together, bend knees out to the sides, and slide outside edges of feet down the wall towards the pelvis.)

4. Make sure the neck is comfortable. A folded towel under the head or neck may be helpful.

5. Arms are placed out to the sides away from the body with palms up. (Option: Body temperature may drop slightly. A blanket to cover up with may be helpful.)

6. Close the eyes and breathe deeply. Inhale and exhale slowly, filling and expelling the lungs.

7: After 5- 10 minutes, bring knees toward chest and roll to your right side. Remain on the right side and take 2-3 deep breaths before sitting up slowly.

Experiment with the blankets and positioning of the hips and legs.

Need to de-stress before going to bed? Grab a blanket and head for the nearest wall.

Tammy’s Challenges

Mind: Do what is necessary to be able to sleep 8 hours each night.

Body: Trade workout DVDs with a friend or borrow one from the library. Ask a friend to join you!

Soul: Smile at yourself each time you look in the mirror. You must love yourself before anyone else is able to love you.

Namaste

Tammy





Karma Is Where Change Happens

30 05 2012

Article printed in the Weekly Record Herald on June 27, 2012

Hi, my name is Tammy Shellhaas. I am a yoga instructor/personal trainer and I would like you to join me on a journey to challenge your mind, body, and soul. Every other week we will explore a new aspect of a healthy lifestyle. My hope is to offer new information, or a new perspective to what you already know, or reintroduce an idea that may have been forgotten. So, let’s get started…

Have you seen the TV show, My Name is Earl? I saw an episode when it first aired. I do not follow the series, but the concept stuck with me. The show begins with Earl explaining the premise for the series:

 

“You know the kind of guy who does nothing but bad things and then wonders why his life sucks? Well, that was me. Every time something good happened to me, something bad was always waiting round the corner: karma. That’s when I realized that I had to change, so I made a list of everything bad I’ve ever done and one by one I’m gonna make up for all my mistakes. I’m just trying to be a better person. My name is Earl.”

 

Earl has been in and out of jail and seems to have been living a life of criminal behavior, until he wins the lottery. While out celebrating his win, he is hit by a car. During his hospital stay, under the influence of pain killers, he hears about karma on a TV playing nearby. Soon after that, Earl decides he needs to make a life change and heal his karma. He makes a list of everyone he has treated unfairly and commits to repairing the damages. After his first good deed, he surprisingly finds the lost lottery ticket. It must be a sign that his karma has changed. So, with the help of his lottery winnings, he proceeds onward with his list.

 

The karmic concept may seem confusing. What is it really? In Sanskrit, it means “action”. Whatever we think about, do, or say determines our karma. In the yoga tradition, karma is threefold: our current actions, the effect of our past actions, and what we could call our destiny. This is where it gets interesting. Our actions do not only shape our karma, but anyone else touched in some way by our actions is also affected. Then each person’s karma reaches others and exponentially spreads beyond what we could ever imagine.

Back to Earl: as Earl continues to right his wrongs, his motives appear selfish, in that, he is only trying to improve his karma. However, Earl shows signs of change toward a sense of morality and ethics. He no longer is drawn to the criminal behavior to attain his means. So, from the yoga perspective, karma is where change happens. What we have done in the past creates our lives today. What we do today creates our lives in the future.

Look at your life. Would you like to proceed in a new direction? Change one action, thought, or comment, just one.  It will change your path in the direction of your desires.

Tammy’s Challenges

Growth does not come from one perspective. To achieve a healthy lifestyle, you must do more than concentrate on exercise alone. Diet changes will enhance your wellbeing, but it alone is not healthy. Let’s not forget the soul or spirit. It needs nurturing as well. So, here are a few mind (diet) – body (exercise) – soul (mental) challenges for you to try.

Mind: Measure food servings.

Body: Balance on one foot for one minute, repeat on the other leg. Repeat 5 times. This is a good core exercise.

Soul: Sit quietly, eyes closed, and take 10 deep breaths. You can do this anytime, anywhere, to relieve anxiety and clear your thoughts.

 

I would love to hear from you.           Email: Tammy@TammYoga.com

Facebook: TammYoga

Twitter: @TammYoga

Namaste  (The spirit in me respects the spirit in you.)

Tammy





YogaFit for the Brain with Dr. Bill Larkin

6 05 2012

Post from YogaFit Newsletter:

Grow the Peanut; Shrink the Jelly Beans

At the Palm Springs Conference last May I had the great opportunity to speak to another totally tuned in YogaFit audience who get the significance of what I talk about.

I gave the group three pieces of aluminum foil, two jelly beans, and a peanut.

The participants put two jelly beans in the palm of their hand and closed that hand. The jelly beans are the amygdalae of the old, first to be created, reptilian brain. They are full of emotion, flight-flight, fear, anxiety. This part of the brain has had millions of years to develop in evolution to guard and protect us against tigers and other big harm. These are strong emotions we have inherited.

Wrap one sheet of aluminum foil around the closed hand and there it was, the reptilian brain. Wrap another sheet of additional millions of years of development around that same hand and you have a brain wrapped in millions of neuropathways connected to those jelly beans. Then on top of this brain we put a peanut that is the anterior cingulate; the emotional heart of the brain. It is a switching station that takes all of the signals of the brain that are positive and good and turns down the power of the amygdala from creating way too much negative emotional reacting. Our “peanut” anterior cingulate sits right above the insula of the brain which has mysterious connections to addiction that we are only beginning to understand.

Now add the last layer of aluminum foil that represents another few million years.  It is the frontal lobes. This part of the brain communicates with the anterior cingulate what we think and reason. This part of your brain is just behind your forehead.

But it is the peanut that is in the central position of modulating the thoughts of the frontal lobes and the reactions of the amygdala.

Here is the short of it, grow the anterior cingulate (the peanut) through yoga and it will dump chemicals on the amygdala and cool it down.  Super simple but this is what happens when YogaFit increases the growth of neuropathways that enforce and strengthen the work of the anterior cingulate.

Yoga affects the “heart” of the brain that is the anterior cingulate. It adds to the synchrony of the mind and body and elevates mood. Grow the peanut, shrink the jelly beans; do yoga.

Add to that consciously feeling the better feelings you feel, intensify them, feel more peace, more gratitude, more joy, more hope.  These are all states of mind you produce when you engage in the disciplines and direction in which YogaFit takes you.

Make a conscious effort to increase the positive emotions that the YogaFit experience creates. These emotions that elevate mood affect the “heart of the brain” that is the anterior cingulate we have simulated with a peanut. You are releasing a host of positive chemicals and hormones in the work you do.

Two things are extremely helpful increasing the growth of the anterior cingulate.

1. Believe that it’s happening. Plug-in your belief system to know that you are growing your brain and directing its development in a healthy way. Believing well adds to the elevation of mood and good feeling.

2. Capitalize on the good feelings your magnificent movements, filled with centuries of wisdom create for you. Intensity the good feeling you feel; just feel them more, make them last longer. Recreate these feeling states at other times during day by memory. Carry these states of better feelings with you. You are, all the while, growing the peanut that is the anterior cingulate, the heart of the brain.

Grow the peanut, shrink the jelly beans, do yoga and carry it with you in your memory throughout the day.

The significant breadth of the YogaFit program grows your “peanut” across time and significantly cools down your “jelly beans”.

Dr. Larkin is Director of the Applied Neuroscience Institute and author of Growing the Positive Mind and 12 New Steps for a New Millennium: The UpSpiraLife Group





Shavasana – Final Relaxation

11 03 2012

Why is it so hard to relax? Shavasana, final relaxation, is the last pose in a yoga session, where we quiet our mind and body. It is the toughest pose to master! You are lying in your back, legs stretched out on the mat, wider than your hips, arms by your sides, away from the body, palms up. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath, following the inhale and exhale of your breath. Other thoughts will come into your mind, acknowledge them, release them, coming back to the breath. Try it just for 5 minutes.

Try it. It’s harder than you think. Most of us multi-task all day. Doing nothing could be the toughest thing we tackle today. But, the rewards are worth the effort: restful sleep, clearer thoughts, mental focus, less anxiety, the list is endless.

People have such a hard time with Shavasana, that some will even leave class at this time. Some think it is a waste of time. They came for the workout, but do not realize that the poses were designed to tire the body to be able to do Shavasana and quiet the mind.

Next yoga class, keep in mind the most rewarding part will be Shavasana.