Healthy Holidays

13 12 2012

The holiday season is fast approaching. Christmas decorations are on the shelves, the must-have toys are advertised on TV, and images of sugar plums are dancing in my head. I enjoy the holidays, but sometimes the hustle and bustle can make me feel stressed and run-down. You would think the season would be a time of joy and excitement, but with the lack of sunshine due to the shorter days, my mood can tend to lean towards the gloomy side, if I am not careful. This is when I need to take care of my immune system to avoid getting sick.

Sleep is important. During the holidays my routine may be  interrupted by changes at work, get-togethers with family and friends, kids coming home, which then my concern is not only sleeping, but getting enough sleep. Personally, I know I need 7-8 hours of sleep to function during the day. If I am unable to reach the 7 hours, I try to take a half hour power nap sometime during the day. I have even taken 10-15 minute naps in my car. You would be surprised what those few minutes of relaxation can do.

Diet is a tricky thing for me to control at this time of year. When I say diet, I don’t mean I am trying to lose weight. By diet, I am suggesting a way of life. My goal most days is to eat as healthy as possible, knowing there will be days that I veer off course. But, I have found that if I am consistent with my diet 80-90% of the time, I can easily get back on track. So, when I am looking over the buffet of food I am tempted with only once a year, I enjoy myself in moderation.

Learn to say “No”. This is a suggestion where you do as I say, not as I do. I am not good at saying “no”. I enjoy helping others and want to please, sometimes at the expense of my own mental and physical health. During the holidays, it is easy to try to squeeze one more thing onto the agenda: one more gift to buy, one more cookie to bake, another party to attend. I am learning to think twice before committing myself to something I may regret and causes undue stress. I pick and choose want to do rather than what I feel obligated to do.

I love to shop. I don’t mind the crowds, but then I have never ventured out the day after Thanksgiving. Shopping online has become a great way for me to comparison shop, or to find an item that wasn’t available at the store, or to make a purchase when I don’t have the time to shop. One of my friends does all her shopping online. Another friend tries to avoid crowded stores that are packed with all types of germs. To each his own.

Exercise. Now, as much as any other time of year, it is important for me to keep up with my workout routine. It keeps me mindful of my eating, my sleep, my energy, and my mood.

Lastly, I need to set aside time for myself, time to relax. A good book, a bath, mediation can be forms of relaxation to rejuvenate and refresh. We all need to take care of ourselves. Listen to your body for signs of a cold or sluggishness and respond with some self care.

 Tammy’s Challenges

Mind: Attempt to sleep 7-8 hours per night.

Body: Maintain your workout routine as much as possible.

Soul: Choose to “taste” the holiday treats or share with a friend.

I would love to hear from you.  Contact me through email at Tammy@TammYoga.com and Facebook at TammYoga and Twitter @TammYoga.

Namaste

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