Tis the Season… For Slowing Down and Self-Care

ACDY_Resting Butterfly_PWPAs the summer season comes to a close, many of us find ourselves naturally slowing down and falling into a more regular routine of school, work, etc. After a busy, hectic, fast-paced summer I welcome the advent of Fall and it’s calmer quieter energies. In fact, the autumnal equinox (day of equal light and dark) symbolizes a return to balance and is a good time to re-commit ourselves to some well-deserved and often needed Self-Care!

** See BELOW for Self-Care opportunities!  Aromatherapy Yoga:  Fall Restoration and Yoga Self-Care for LMTs for continuing education credits **

We’ve all heard the saying… “You can’t take care of someone else if you don’t take care of yourself”… right? But how many of us truly act in that way?

Whether you’re a parent taking care of children or a child taking care of a parent or other family… most people tend to put themselves last. Even from a professional standpoint, how many of us put our work or our businesses before our own well-being?

As a business professional whose work is all about providing care & support to others, I know all too well how challenging this can be! In the past, I have run myself ragged trying to get in those extra clients, or running from one appointment to another without leaving time to have a proper meal, etc..

And we all have our reasons for doing so… economic reasons, social expectations, belief systems, etc… Most likely it’s a combination of these and other factors. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of others if it’s our responsibility to do so – absolutely we must fulfill our life responsibilities.

But here’s something to think about… how often do we use this as an excuse to NOT take care of ourselves? Believe me, I’ve had to work through my own “martyr complex” and in the end, what I found was that not only did I sacrifice my own well-being, but I also sacrificed the quality of my work and integrity of relationships. Additionally, I set an example that was energetically disempowering for myself AND my clients and family members (whoever it was I was taking care of.)

The effect of this “self-negligence” goes beyond the physical effects… it creates an energetic signature that becomes embedded into our behavior and beliefs. In my case, I would physically feel tired, sore, sick, resentful, etc. But on a deeper energetic level, I was also sending the message that I didn’t care enough about myself and thus “teaching” those I was caring for that it was OK to be this way. And the more I allowed this, the more I reinforced this behavior in myself and (in a very subtle way) in others.

When I finally began to “undo” this habit and focus on choosing to take excellent care of myself, I felt a major shift in my work as well as my relationships! From a professional standpoint, I made sure that I scheduled my clients in such a way that I was able to feel GREAT (not just OK) when I worked with each one of them. It made my work more effective, comfortable and enjoyable for both of us on all levels!

And isn’t that the type of experience we want and deserve, whether it’s from our family or from our professionals? But how can we expect it from others if we don’t implement it ourselves? If we don’t take actions to be caring and nurturing to ourselves, we send an energetic message to the world that we don’t want or expect that from others as well.

There’s a wonderful piece called the “The Real Woman Creed”[although is it CERTAINLY applicable to men as well!!!] that we read in one of the women’s group in which I participate… here is a great line from that:

I believe that a woman [ or man ] who loves herself [ himself ] is a powerful, passionate, attractive force, and I commit, from this day forward, to loving myself deeply and extravagantly.”

So as you slow down this month, I invite you to reflect on your own Self-Care choices… how do you take EXQUISITE care of yourself?

And if you find your answer to be lacking, I hope that you will join me this month to re-commit to this very important task. And even if you take excellent care of yourself, please join me anyway, and we can share in loving ourselves “deeply and extravagantly!” 🙂

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Sept 20 & 28th: Aromatherapy Yoga – Fall Restoration workshop.  Contact Sheetal or visit West End Yoga Allentown or Living Room Yoga Emmaus for more information.

Sept 29th:  Yoga Self-Care for LMTs (licensed massage therapists)  All-day workshop for 6 CECs.  Contact Sheetal or visit Sage Continuing Education for more information.

 

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3 Key Principles for Good Posture… #2 Releasing the Shoulders & #3 Maintaining Safe Angles

My last post was about the first principle for good posture:  Engaging the Core.  To refresh… Strong spinal alignment begins with maintaining the natural lumbar curve of the lower back.  Too much curve (a condition called ‘lordosis’) and the anterior pelvic muscles experience congestion/constriction while the posterior muscles of the gluteals and hamstrings become overstretched and painful.  Too little curve (a condition called ‘kyphosis’) can create tension and hyperactivity in the posterior muscles of the body and weakness in the anterior muscles of the pelvis and abdomen.

We can properly Engage the Core by:

1. lengthening the tailbone toward the heels

2. activating the lower abdominal muscles

3. gently pulling the navel in and up toward the rib cage

This allows us to align the pelvis upright and hold the natural lumbar curve with a strong core.  Feel free to watch the video from my previous blog post for more review!  Again, it’s NOT rocket science!  It just takes some awareness, knowledge and discipline for ANYONE to experience good posture and the benefits that go along with it.

 

So here are the remaining two video clips – Releasing the Shoulders and Maintaining Safe Angles & Planes –  from my Yoga Essentials DVD series.  These are the foundation on which you can build good postural habits.  Please post any questions, comments or feedback… I’d love to hear from you!

 

3 Key Principles for Good Posture…. #1 Engaging the Core

For many of us, good posture has become quite elusive due to our sedentary lifestyles.  Human beings weren’t meant to spend as many hours in a seated position as we do today…. at work, in the car, watching TV, at the computer, etc.

In working one-on-one with my wellness coaching clients, I have seen time and time again how they have greatly benefited simply by improving their posture!  “How have they benefited?”, you ask?

They have…

  • reduced, and in some cases eliminated, chronic back and neck tension and pain
  • improved their breathing by expanding their chest cavity and thus allowing for deeper, longer breaths
  • strengthened their core muscles by regularly practicing their good postural principles
  • facilitated movement in their bodies so they move more efficiently and with greater ease
  • increased confidence and self-esteem when they experience ALL OF THE ABOVE!

It’s NOT rocket science!  It just takes some awareness, knowledge and discipline for ANYONE to experience good posture and the benefits that go along with it.  To get you started, I’ll be posting 3 video clips, each one introducing a key principle for good postural alignment.  These clips are from my Yoga Essentials DVD series and are the foundation on which you can build good postural habits.

Here’s the first one… Body Geometry:  Engaging the Core 

Stay tuned for the other two…

Posture Perfect!

We’ve all heard it at some point or another in our lives… from a parent or perhaps a teacher… “Sit up straight!”  It may have seemed like a nuisance at that time, but that could be some of the best advise we were given as children.  This lesson becomes especially poignant because of the sedentary lifestyle many of us tend to evolve into as adults.

Having good posture has many health benefits:

  • You improve and maintain good core and spinal strength
  • You allow your body to work at maximum efficiency and minimum effort
  • You improve your self-esteem because you feel better and look better (Not to mention taller; I’m 5’ tall and every little bit counts!)
  • You have a more empowering presence

So how did we get to this place where so many of us have such poor posture?  I believe there are 3 key reasons than many of us are no longer able to sit up straight or even stand up straight for an extended period of time:

  1. Lack of awareness of when we are engaging in poor posture
  2. Lack of understanding of what proper spinal alignment is
  3. Weakness in our core region.

Awareness… Awareness… Awareness… Everything begins with having awareness.  Once we gain the awareness of when we are engaging in poor posture, we then need to have an understanding of how it should be corrected.  And after learning how to bring our bodies into a good posture, we then also need to be able to maintain it.

This is where a daily yoga practice can be extremely helpful.  Of course, we are constantly practicing awareness in yoga… we are always paying attention to the sensations and emotions our mind/body experiences.  Thus as our awareness is honed, our ability to recognize poor posture is improved.

Secondly, fundamental to all yoga is knowledge of proper spinal alignment in each pose, stance and movement.  For example, learning and practicing how to align the spine in Mountain pose helps us to stand up straight and steady…. In Easy Pose or Hero Pose, we learn how to sit up tall with no strain on the back… In Standing Forward bend, we learn how to bend forward in the most efficient manner so as to minimize effort and strain.

And finally, our continued practice helps us to retrain and rebuild parts of the musculoskeletal system that allow us to maintain and “perform” good posture.  Gradually, we find ourselves standing up taller and stronger for longer periods of time… we are able to sit longer and with less strain because of our better posture (although we should always take breaks during extensive sitting!)… and we experience more graceful, efficient movements that take less effort because we’re working “with our bodies” rather than fighting against them.

I know that it can sometimes seem overwhelming to think about all the things we could do to improve our health.  I’d like to suggest that by simply focusing on good posture, we can take a BIG first step toward better mind/body health.  It’s never too late to sit up straight!

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To begin learning more about how to improve your posture through yoga, visit www.anyonecandoyoga.com… download chapters of my complimentary E-Book on the Home page, check out my 3-Part “Yoga Essentials” DVD set from the Shop or contact me to learn about my yoga coaching and wellness programs.

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