Wednesday, August 18, 2010

we interrupt the previously scheduled blog to bring you this...

i'm still compiling stress-less sequences for you -some pulled from work i do with my classes+clients- however, i came across this tranquility list from the beautiful and inspiring kimberly wilson and wanted to share it with you. 

wanna infuse tranquility into your everyday life?  here's some tips from the queen of serene:

~live simply~

~read great women writers~

~spend less than you make~

~give back~


~do work that you are passionate about~

~take time outs~

~exercise your body + mind daily~

~respond vs react~

~eat + drink nourishing yumminess~

~create daily~

~let your life be an artistic expression~

~make everything you do an experience~
here's the rest of her blog
do you practice any of these tranquil tips?
i find myself focusing on the 'make everything an experience' and 'respond vs. react' right now.  i kind of relate the experience one to staying present and indulging in the moment.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Readers Request Part Two: Asana Sequences for Less Stress

here's a great sequence to start your day with if you're feeling anxious or have something coming up that's causing you some stress.  allow your twists to ring out tension your body is holding and shoulder openers to deepen your breath and open your heart.

warm up
*start with a few alternating deep shoulder rolls
*interlace your fingers behind your back, fold forward over the legs and stretch the hands to the sky
*release the hands down to the mat while staying in your forward fold, stretch through the backs of the legs and allow the head to hang while visualizing your anxiety pouring out of your body

make your way down to your mat
~draw your legs to one side of your body, allow the opposite hand to come to the knee and wrap the other hand around your lower back to twist and open up the shoulders - Repeat on other side

~pull legs underneath you and release into child's pose. touch the big toes together, press the knees out to the side and slide the arms forward or backward as you lay your belly between the knees

~now stretch the arms out while keeping the forhead on the ground and lifting hips to the sky
~stretch the legs straight while keeping the forearms on the ground and focus on this deep shoulder opener
~come back to child's pose and than slide out onto your belly.  bend your legs into your body, grab your feet and kick them into your hands to open up your back and shoulders- breathe deeply
~release back onto your belly and keep your feet in the air, rock them side to side to relax the back.  then draw all the way down onto the belly flat on your mat. close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply into the belly, as if your in-breath will imprint your belly button into the mat.  concentrate on this deep breathing and feeling the belly press into the mat.  hold here for 8-10 breaths.

enjoy this quick, invigorating sequence to open up the shoulders, relieve stress and anxiety and help yourself relax a bit. the inversions bring a sense of calm so if that feels good, hang deeply in your standing forward bend and take time to enjoy your child's pose.

all images from yoga journal 
always consult a physician before starting a new exercise routine

Friday, August 13, 2010

stress less sequencing: part one

i'm really excited to share this first stress-less sequence with you. 

when most people start practicing with me to alleviate anxiety, they are surprised that i often start with breath work.  pranayama is an integral part of one's practice and definitely a key component in our relaxation.  i also really love it because its something you can do anywhere. its a technique that you can use if you're stressed at work, sitting in traffic or about to give a big speech to company execs.

now there's tons of ways to meditate and each one has beautiful benefits, but for the sake of keeping this technique simple, i'd like to share a breath meditation.  i find this one powerful because when we are stressed we tend to have short, shallow chest breaths. these short breaths are no benefit to us and for those of us that deal with shortness of breath or gasping during panic attacks, long deep breaths can be a lifesaver. belly breathing is the way we should always be breathing... inhaling through our nose, filling our belly, ribcage and chest... then fully exhaling through the nose. making sure to take our time.  if you just want to practice engaging in these full breaths, take a moment to slowly count the in-breath, then practice making the out-breath the same length.  if you're feeling anxious, count the in-breath and make the out-breath double in length.  so a four count in-breath would be an eight count out-breath.

here's a video demonstration to help you really start your practice:

don't feel obligated to master this over night - remember, there's no such thing as perfect! your mind will wander, you'll get bored, you'll get frustrated... its all natural. just use this beginning meditation as a way to tap into the breath and allow belly breaths to be a natural part of you. this may feel weird in the beginning to breathe so slowly, or you may panic feeling like you're not getting enough air.  just go at your own pace and experiment. start slow, like she says, for 1 to 3 minutes a day and work up as you see fit.

since i don't always find time to sit in meditation, i've found success at making it a ritual. it becomes a habit and something i look forward to. i do my mini-meditations before every yoga practice for 5 minutes with my classes and i do another one before bed to release my day.

other people love meditating in the morning and i have one student that always sits in meditation rather than savasana at the end of our sessions. 

**another tip: if you're unsure of how to breathe into the belly, take a minute to lay down flat on the floor or on your mat. put a light book on top of your belly. focus on using your inhales to lift your belly so that the book rises. then on your exhales, pull the belly in to help push the air out and watch the book soften back down.  one you get the feeling of belly breathing, you can take it to a sitting position.

and to share a personal story with you, these deep breathing techniques were one of the most important parts of me eliminating my panic attacks. i noticed when i started to panic, my breath became short and rapid and launched me into a full attack. this awareness helped me keep my breath from becoming like that when i got really nervous and that kept my panic attacks away. i'm not saying this works like this for everyone, but for me personally, pranayama has been a crucial step in my healing journey. it helps me keep my mind clear and my body calm. its hard for the body to launch into panic when the breath makes it feel calm and relaxed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

now taking requests!

i am currently working on Anxiety to Zen's first reader request!  it'll be broken down into segments and will focus on actual poses and sequences to rock out when you're feeling anxious or stressed - stay tuned!

and in the meantime, if there's any other requests out there, send 'em my way! would love to start introducing this more into the blog. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

another celebration weekend down!

i don't know about you - but my summer 2010 is INSANE!  between weddings, showers, parties, family functions, birthdays and graduations i've been quite the busy chick.  and for those that live with anxiety, celebrations -while a happy occasion- can definitely bring on the stress!  so this weekend, a friend of mine had a joint bachelor/ette party in atlantic city. this absolutely brought out the stress for me.  it put me face to face with old school stressors - long car rides, traffic, food, big crowds of people, no room of our own of place to go if i got sick... all my triggers coming out to play, and yet i never contemplated not going 

so yeah, the days leading up to this event i was nervous, but i practiced everything that makes me feel better and made sure to set myself up for success.

here's some things i did to help ease any potential stress:
1) i told my friend how i was feeling. i was extremely open that these things used to cause me to run away screaming, but i was still gonna go and just kinda play it by ear. i explained everything that caused me to get anxious to her and felt better knowing that it was out there and if i was indeed anxious, she'd already be aware of what was going on and everything would be cool. i wouldn't have to push through it and fake it. took a ton of weight off my shoulders!

2) did yoga, exercised and ate clean the week before to make sure i was physically feeling great. avoided food i know would sit heavy, cause stomach pain or jitters.

3) made fun playlists to get me in 'roadtrip' mode

4) asked my husband to be my support. i told him i may need time to vent, or talk it out, until i got the stress outta my system.  he totally understood and was always there to lend an ear if i had a concern, or just wanted to logically talk myself out of a fear or negative thought.

In a nutshell, we sat in HOURS of traffic, i was faced with food options i didn't choose and i was thrown some other curveballs - but i never panicked. no worry. no fear. no "oh my god i feel sick moments." no stomach aches or pains. nothing. i was totally cool with everything handed my way.

and you know what?  it felt good. 

hear me roar!
and yes, i was a little anxious.  i'll always have things that'll make me anxious.  but i faced the challenge head on, did everything i could within my power to set me up for success and let go of trying to control the situation. this is what my friend chose, and i was going to be there.  and it felt amazing to feel so strong doing something that used to cripple me with fear. 

i wanted to share this with you guys, because its important to use these milestones to keep in mind how far we come.  and even if you're not at the point yet where you feel you can completely conquer your fear and anxiety, you can always make small steps of success. 

and i live by my husband's MO of "enjoy the little things" 

so enjoy any milestone you have!  let's keep celebrating them together!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

exciting day in the blogosphere!

two amazing women have given me the opportunity to share my story with their readers. i was so honored to be included in their beautiful work and i'd like to share it all with you guys too!

so check it out!
Naturally Nina


Green Junkie Living

if you're not already an avid reader of Nina or Olivia, you guys are in for such a treat! i love connecting with amazing people! 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

slow and steady works for me

i was super excited to see a friend a hadn't seen in months this past weekend.  she's a killer hostest and always welcomes my pup (aka the 4-legged love of my life) over with me.  she's one of those people i can tell anything to and, like it or not, i'm gonna get back brutal honesty.  she's known about my struggles with anxiety since way back when and has always been a supportive structure in my life. so since we hadn't connected in awhile, we had much catching up to do and something she was very interested in was seeing how i was doing with my anxiety.

i lit up and told her i'd been panic attack free for almost 2 years, symptom free (pounding heart, shortness of breath, blurred vision, etc) and i was officially living it up in ways i was previously scared to (two amazing trips booked for the fall!).  she was impressed and proud and asked me "so you never even feel anxious anymore?"  -insert sound of screeching brakes-

i responded that i absolutely still get anxious, its an emotion. i can't turn it off any more than i could turn off happiness or sadness.  what i did turn off is the crippling fear from it. yeah, i get anxious, but it no longer holds me back or escalates into life altering fear.  and you guys know how i always share that i still sometimes get anxious in the mornings?  well, i've never quit my early classes or turned down early sessions with clients due to the chance i could feel anxious. i used to RUN from whatever caused me even a hint of anxiety. she looked at my quizzically and said "so you're pretty much in the same place you always were with this."

um NO

definitely not

it took me close to 10 years to develop that level of anxiety, the panic attacks, the loop of negative thoughts, the fear, the insecurity....

my healing journey is not one that happens at the flip of a switch!  no one's journey is.  we can't change overnight... at least, not a lasting change. it takes time to learn what works for us, what helps us alleviate our anxiety, for us to practice overcoming things that scare us, talking and sharing our experiences, learning to meditate or change negative thoughts to positive... oh my gosh!  there's no way this happens overnight.

and this got me thinking.. how many people doubt their journey if it doesn't happen in the blink of an eye? how many people give up because they feel they'll "never get it."  it took me almost a month before i could work through a panic attack and ward it off and many more months to stop being scared that one could "happen at any moment." we get used to thinking a certain way and dreading certain things, so we have to restructure our entire thought processes and perceptions.  and we're not used to doing it.  it shocked me that my friend interpreted slow and steady progress, for no progress.

so don't get frustrated if your journey is slower than you'd like it to be or different from someone else's.  you are working on making positive, powerful and lasting changes in your life! please stick with it!  find your outlets, track negative thoughts, practice positive ones and know that each step along the way is one to be celebrated!  and above all else, don't let someone else's perceptions of your journey alter your own perceptions.