First day of school jitters ensue this time of year for students and teachers alike. Just a few nasty side effects of back-to-school anxiety include constipation, diarrhea, insomnia, and headaches. Your first reaction may be to pop a pill, but thankfully, yoga can help, too.
Practice these simple yoga poses in the morning before school and in the evening before bed to calm your nerves, clear your mind, and release stress and tension.
Easy Pose to Feel Grounded
More comfortable than trying to twist and tweak your knees in lotus pose, Easy Pose offers the same calming effect in mind and body. You don’t have to be a pro at meditation, either. This pose is appropriate for anyone willing to be more centered. (more…)
I recently met a young woman at the farmers market who was inquiring about taking one of my yoga classes. After a few minutes of discussing the many varieties of yoga, she told me she was hesitant to try it for the first time because she was convinced that with the rising popularity of yoga, everyone by now must already be so advanced.
Not wanting to feel like a total beginner in a sea of what she thought would be only svelte and lithe yogis, she voiced her discouragement.
It is not uncommon for people to feel like they’ve lost their chance to try yoga for the first time because they are under the false impression that they will be too far behind compared with the masses who have been practicing for several years. While years of practice may yield impressive poses, yoga is really meant to inspire happiness.
The following are three fear-busting truths that beginner yoga aspirants should read, believe, and share with other soon-to-be yogis to alleviate anxiety or doubt about trying yoga for the first time. (more…)
Attention high school teachers! Do you find yourself rushing to yoga after school to help you deal with the stress of being around teenagers all day? Perhaps you do, and you go because you know after an hour of yoga you will feel better, calmer, and have more energy for an evening of grading papers. It is generally understood that after practicing yoga, your mind will be clearer and as a result, you won’t stress over the little things that would otherwise bog you down and wear you out.
But if you are stressed from being around teens all day, how do you think the teens feel after constantly being around each other? Peer pressure, hormones, social anxieties and low self-esteem are all components that contribute to having a high level of stress.
The Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics recently piloted a study to determine the psychological effects of yoga on high school students. Led by Jessica Noggle of the Harvard Medical School in Boston, the results of the study concluded positive benefits of yoga on teenagers.
For ten weeks, one group of teenagers participated in regular physical education classes, while the other group practiced Kripalu yoga; a style of yoga that consists of yoga poses, breathing exercises and meditation. Prior to the start of the PE or yoga program, and after ten weeks of attendance in class, students completed a run of psychologically focused tests. Testing included measuring states of anxiety, tension and mood.
Many of us are bashing Paula Deen for her diet choices, raking Mitt Romney over the coals for acting like every other politician, or clamoring over reasons why Jillian Michaels decided to leave The Doctors. You might be shaking your head if you are one of the rare Americans who doesn’t really care who has diabetes, or who lied to the media, or who is keeping their personal decisions private. But, according to scientists from the University of California in Berkeley, gossip may be good for our health.
Gossip is defined as idle talk or rumor about the personal or private affairs of others. Gossip is also referred to as tattling or reporting someone who was caught in the act of doing something wrong. Often times we tell ourselves to leave it be, because our grandmother told us that if we don’t have anything nice to say about others we should just not say anything at all.
The scientists of UC Berkeley set up several trials with volunteers to test the mental and physical effects of gossiping. Subjects were asked to watch two people playing a game, one of which who cheated. Subjects then had the decision to either let the next player know he or she was going to be playing with a cheater, or just let it pass. Results indicated that voicing the incidence of wrongdoings by others actually made them feel better by lowering their heart rates and calming their anxiety about the matter.
Hoarding food is something that I talk about frequently in adoption preparation classes. It is common and to be expected that children who have not always had enough and not had parents to look out for their best interests would want to hide food for later. Parents need to be vigilant to clean out pockets so chocolate bars do not go through the wash, and clean up rooms to avoid rodents, insects, and rotting food. In cases of adoption, I encourage parents to be calm, avoid commenting on the behavior, and patiently wait for it to extinguish itself, which it will in the majority of cases.
There is less written about food hoarding in adults, although there is some written about older adults who hoard food, particularly those that have lived through the Great Depression. Primarily, hoarding food is a sign of anxiety surrounding the availability of food and sometimes it is a compulsion, something that one feels driven to do to ease anxiety. There is a slightly higher percentage of females than males that hoard food, and often the hoarder lives alone and is mostly socially isolated. Nearly three out of every four adults that hoard food do not believe that it is a problem.
Hoarding food is also a lesser discussed symptom of an eating disorder as well. It is most understood as a symptom of bulimia when a sufferer stashes away binge food items. Food hoarding can also be a symptom of anorexia, however. In the throes of anorexia, sufferers can become obsessed with food despite the fact that they will not allow themselves to ingest it. It can be comforting to anorexia sufferers to have food items available, especially if their body has transition into a starvation mode.
The TIME Magazine cover article from December 5, 2023, by Alice Park titled The Two Faces of Anxiety has raised a bit of a ruckus online. Mostly, bloggers have questioned the choice to make Why Anxiety Is Good For You the cover art in the United States, while a graphic image of the Egyptian revolution was published in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific editions. It has been questioned whether TIME believes Americans do not care about world events or are simply that self-focused. It seems to me that the editors of TIME simply believe “anxiety” is a buzzword that will sell in America, and apparently more than an uprising in Egypt. This seemed even more likely after watching the interview the senior editor of TIME did with CNN to discuss the problem of anxiety that they claim 18 percent of American adults suffer from.
To meditate is to disengage from a seemingly ever-present mental chatterbox and reflect on just one pure thought. If you think this sounds easy, stop reading this article for a moment and witness your thoughts. Are they jumping from subject to subject? Are you thinking in fragmented thoughts? Do thoughts randomly pop into your head for no apparent reason? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, the following information will be helpful to you.
Sit in a comfortable position, free from external distractions. Close your eyes and focus on one single thought, whether it is a word, image or repetitive sound.
Concentrate fully to keep your focus on this one thought without interruption. If you make it even just 30 seconds without any other thoughts entering your mind, you are doing remarkably well.
What to Expect
If at first you don’t succeed, simply try again. Meditation requires a tremendous amount of effort and repetition to master but yields great benefits, so be patient. It is not uncommon to want to just ditch the practice all together, as it can be extremely difficult to focus and concentrate. When your thoughts go willy-nilly, take a break and then try again later.
A new study shows that those who do even a small amount of exercise have better mental health than those who do not.
An article in the New York Times examined a National Institute of Mental Health study that now gives better insight as to why physical activity leads to happier, less anxious people. Although it is commonly known that exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins, many do not know why it occurs or the physical processes of the brain during a workout.
Researchers at the NIMH experimented on both aggressive and even-tempered male mice to find the answers. The dominant male mice got their own private cages, and when they were integrated with the others, they used several intimidation techniques against the defenseless mice. After two weeks of living with their aggressive neighbors, the skittish mice were severely nervous and stressed.
But another group of even-tempered mice were not as intimidated by the aggressive mice. This experimental group had been given an exercise wheel and an exploratory tube in their cage. Although the mice were submissive toward the more aggressive male rodents, they did not appear to be nervous.
Though many people don’t realize it, stress symptoms have a negative impact on your health. In the short-term, stress can cause fatigue, gastrointestinal discomfort and headaches, among other ailments. Over the long-term, stress can make you susceptible to more severe conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and even some cancers.
While stress management is a powerful thing, not everyone has time to devote to techniques that have been proven to help, like yoga and meditation. Luckily, you can manage some of your stress with what you eat. When people think of eating to combat stress, they often think of comfort foods that are not typically very nutritious: ice cream, macaroni and cheese and calorie-laden mashed potatoes.
Luckily, there are a variety of healthy foods – even super foods – that can help your body manage your stress levels and help you prevent feeling the stress – physically and mentally.
Beyond avoiding alcohol, caffeine, fish, and soft cheeses, many women allow themselves some extra indulgences during pregnancy. New research from the Oregon National Primate Research Center, presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual conference in San Diego, may have expectant and nursing mothers re-thinking the fat content of their diets and how it will permanently affect their children’s behavior and level of anxiety, not just their long-term health.
According to Live Science, researchers created a high-fat diet based on what the typical American ingests for pregnant monkeys in the experimental group. “Even if we take the offspring, after they’re weaned from their mothers, and put them back onto a normal, healthy diet, their susceptibility to stress and anxiety still remains,” said researcher Kevin Grove. “This really appears to be a permanent issue that occurs in utero.”
Yoga is such a great activity. It is relaxing, improves your flexibility, improves your mind-body connection and certain yoga poses can even improve your strength. Overall, yoga is a fantastic compliment to your other fitness activities, but researchers have found a new benefit to regular yoga sessions: happiness!
That’s right, the regular practice of yoga has been shown to actually improve mood better than walking. We’ve already reported that exercise may be as effective as anti-depressants, but this new research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine actually shows an association between yoga postures, increased mood and decreased anxiety. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) compared the neurotransmitter brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels of those doing yoga with those of participants who spent time walking. Low GABA levels are associated with depression and other anxiety disorders. (more…)