Monthly Archives: October 2014

Watch These Little Kids Explain Why They Love Yoga

Via @MindBodyGreen

Sure, kids can effortlessly bend their bodies like a pretzel and pop up into a perfect Wheel Pose, but what kids really benefit from in yoga is a sense of calm and clarity that they can take with them off their mat and eventually, into their adult lives.

Our friends at Wanderlust Festival partnered with Yoganonymous and put together this super-cute mini documentary that features kids not just doing yoga, but also explaining a little of their own take on yogic philosophy.

At Little Hippies Yoga School in Calgary, Alberta, one girl mentions, “Sometimes I need to go to a yoga class because I’m all stressed out and just wanna calm down… so I can relax and stuff.”

Sounds like we adults aren’t the only ones who have to worry about stress in today’s fast-paced world! When asked if she thought adults need yoga more than kids need yoga, her response was, “It’s just the same as adults ’cause one day they’re gonna be adults and they’re gonna have to know these same things.” That’s one wise little sage.

“It’s not dumb-dog, it’s down dog!” A boy was playfully corrected. At least we can be reassured that kids aren’t taking their yoga practice too seriously. Here’s the video!

How Yoga Heals The Diseased Heart

Via @greenmedinfo

By Sayer Ji (Founder GMI)

How Yoga Heals The Diseased Heart | GreenMedInfo | Blog Entry

How Yoga Heals

What if the simple act of doing yoga could heal your diseased heart? 

A new study titled, “Effects of Yoga in Patients with Chronic Heart Failure: A Meta-Analysis,” reveals that this ancient practice, ever-increasing in popularity in the West, has profound benefits to those who are suffering from cardiovascular disease.

Previous to this study, the idea that yoga could heal a diseased heart was considered strictly theoretical, which is what motivated a team of Portuguese researchers to put the concept to the test.

The team performed a meta-analysis of the published research on the topic of how yoga might improve exercise capacity and health-related quality of life in patients with chronic heart failure.

Their methodology was described as follows:

“We searched MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Excerpta Medica database, LILACS, Physiotherapy Evidence Database, The Scientific Electronic Library Online, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health (from the earliest date available to December 2013) for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining the effects of yoga versus exercise and/or of yoga versus control on exercise capacity (peakVO2) and quality-of-life (HRQOL) in Chronic Heart Failure.”

The analysis found two studies that met the selection criteria, which included 30 yoga and 29 control patients.

Their results were reported as follows:

“The results suggested that yoga compared with control had a positive impact on peak VO2 and HRQOL. Peak VO2, WMD (3.87 95% CI: 1.95 to 5.80), and global HRQOL standardized mean differences (-12.46 95% CI: -22.49 to -2.43) improved in the yoga group compared to the control group.”

Their conclusion indicated that Yoga does have significant benefits for cardiovascular patients:

“Yoga enhances peak VO2 and HRQOL in patients with CHF and could be considered for inclusion in cardiac rehabilitation programs.”

They found an impressive 22.0% improvement in VO2 peformance and a 24.1% increase in quality of life.

They advised that based on these prelimary results, “Larger randomized controlled trials are required to further investigate the effects of yoga in patients with CHF.”

Yoga Has Many Health Benefits That Science Now Confirms

In a previous article titled, “Modern Science Confirms Yoga’s Many Health Benefits,” we looked at the voluminous data that now exists demonstrating the wide range of health benefits yoga has been proven to produce. You can find the first-hand abstracts demonstrating this fact on our research page: Yoga Health Benefits, with over 70 indexed thus far!

Yoga is, of course, more than a physical exercise, but a method to integrate mind, body and soul. Yoga means, of course, to “unite” or “yoke” the disparate elements of the human experience. When you are engaged fully in yoga, the focus is on being present to one’s breath, which integrates mind and body naturally. Chronic heart failure patients can benefit from the way in which yoga enables the body to integrate into the mind in a way that requires the engagement of the physical and mental aspects of our incarnation, and results ultimately in the relaxation of both deeply.

Try This To Activate A Deep Yoga Practice Quickly

If you want a simple, quick way to enter into the realm of yogic healing try this practice:

“If I could teach only one yoga exercise—one that had to last you for the rest of your life—it would have to be Sat Kriya.* Why? Because this one exercise contains just about all the benefits of Kundalini Yoga within itself. Sat Kriya is designed to do the one thing from which all well-being springs: raise the kundalini energy.

Here is simple and effective Sat Kriya. It is by no means the last word on Sat Kriya; but beyond words, it works.”

The details are spelled out here.

For additional research on how to reverse cardiovascular disease read: 

 

How Your Brain Deals with Overload – Infographic

Via @MindBodyGreen

Remember the famous ‘This Is Your Brain On Drugs‘ commercial from the 1980s? While this infographic, ‘How the Brain Copes with Information Overload’, may not equate your brain functionality with a frying egg, it’s not much better — especially for multi-taskers, as “multitasking increases time to complete tasks by more than two times and increases errors.” 

How Your Brain Deals with Overload (Infographic)

The Skeptic’s Guide To Meditation – Infographic

Via @MindBodyGreen

When ABC News anchor Dan Harris had a panic attack on live TV in 2004, what was the most embarrassing moment of his life also prompted major lifestyle change.

Once notably a serious skeptic on all things considered “new-agey,” the newsman is now one of the biggest advocators of the real benefits of meditation for mental and physical wellbeing.

His book 10% Happier humorously discloses that no matter who you are and how busy you may be, there is always time for meditation. Dan Harris and the folks at Happify put together this playful tutorial for all you meditation cynics out there, so that you too can become 10% happier in your life.

The Skeptic's Guide To Meditation (Infographic)

 

How To Find Happiness At Work, Even If You Don’t Like Your Job

Via @MindBodyGreen

By Sharon Salzberg

How To Find Happiness At Work, Even If You Don't Like Your Job

Is it possible  or even wise to try  to be happy at jobs we don’t resoundingly like?

The answer is yes. Within ourselves we have many resources to become more productive and feel happier at work and beyond. Foremost among them ismeditation  a portable practice that commonly relies on the breath. Meditation can open up space in our minds and hearts to help us reframe problems at work as sources of clarity and strength.

Over the course of listening to many people’s stories, I have noticed a few common themes about real unhappiness on the job. I developed what I call the “eight pillars of happiness in the workplace.”

1. Balance opens the door to happiness.

According to neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson, “Emotions…should be thought of in the same way as a motor skill.”

We can literally train ourselves to feel happier. Mindfulness redefines our attention so we can connect more fully to the present moment, and let go of biases, habits, fears and so on. Try this: take a few moments before beginning any assignment to observe the sounds around you. Note your reactions. This is an opportunity to connect to your senses, a part of yourself that is not a part of the role you play at work.

2. Concentration is trainable.

When sitting down to work, we often instead find ourselves responding to texts or distracted by social media updates. But distractedness can also manifest itself as plain old absent-mindedness  not being present. To cultivate the art of concentration, deliberately choose to be mindful in a simple context. Pay attention to how your fingers feel as you type or hold a cup of coffee. Really pay attention  but don’t name your sensations. Feel the strength of your attention and realize that it can be transferred to anything, really!

3. Compassion is a force.

Competition is a natural impulse  and often a healthy one  but it doesn’t have to discount compassion. If we learn to focus on we rather than me, to embrace and accept others as well as ourselves, we can feel the strength and power of connection. At the beginning of a meeting or phone call, silently offer wishes of happiness to your colleagues. This gesture can help break open the cycle of stress, resentment and competition that we often feel at work.

4. Resilience is the best answer to stress.

One of the most important things you can do at work is realize that we don’t have as much control over our experiences as we think. As Maya Angelou once said, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

To help yourself dismantle this myth of control, rather than be “reduced” by it, take a few minutes at the beginning of every phone call or meeting to determine how you might like to be perceived. Would you like to come across as gentle, stern, open-minded or fearsome?

How do you feel when you perceive others that way?

5. Connection beats competition.

Mindfulness of the body helps us communicate more skillfully (in fact, one study showed that in face-to-face interactions, 55% of the emotional meaning was expressed through facial, postural and gestural means).

The more attention and care you invest in communication with colleagues at work, the more connected you’ll feel to others and to yourself  your intentions. As an experiment, before sending an email, send it to yourself first. Take in the tone, implications and omissions. Make any changes, and reread once more before hitting send.

6. Happiness can‘t exist without integrity.

From the Latin word for whole or complete, integrity in the context of work refers to preserving a sense of wholeness, honesty and authenticity on the job.

Try getting in the habit of setting a daily intention for each workday, before the day begins. Perhaps say to yourself, “May I treat everyone today with respect, remembering everyone wants to be happy as much as I do.” Keeping these kinds of intentions in mind help us reconcile our deepest values with our daily routines.

7. Meaning is a must.

We all want to feel like our daily routines add up to something  be it a paycheck, social change or connection with colleagues.

Look for ways to acknowledge someone else’s challenges on the job. This is a simple exercise that helps to cultivate perspective outside of ourselves and our immediate desires. No, it will not ameliorate all the difficulties of our own role at work, but it helps to create a sense of meaning outside of ourselves.

8. Awareness opens our hearts and minds.

Life  and work  is how we see it. When we open our awareness at work, we release our attachment to the need for validation, competition, the fear of losing our turf, and so on.

If you find yourself straining to think “outside of the box” at work, consider instead the question of what made up that box to begin with. Understanding the origin of our assumptions can often help us dismantle them, and learn to be more present.

Being more present opens up our hearts to our conditions as they actually are. With an open heart and mind we are open to happiness  at work and beyond.

 

About the Author

Sharon Salzberg

Sharon Salzberg is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. She
has been a student of meditation since 1971, guiding meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. Sharon’s latest book is Real Happiness At Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace, published by Workman Publishing. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and is also the author of several other books including the New York Times Best Seller, Real Happiness: The
Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program (2010), Love Your Enemies (2013), Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience (2002),
and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (1995). For more information about Sharon, please visit her website.

How To Be Alone (Without Being Lonely)

Via @MindBodyGreen

By Hannah Braime 

How To Be Alone (Without Being Lonely)

We have more tools and resources to connect to each other now than ever before. Yet, with this ease of connection comes a price: we unlearn how to spend time with ourselves. Making time to be alone is important for developing our sense of self and individuality, deepening our self-knowledge, and unwinding.

Here are four suggestions you can use to re-learn the art of being alone without being lonely:

1. Take yourself out on an artist’s date.

This suggestion comes from writer and creative guide Julia Cameron, who prescribed weekly artist dates in her 12-week creativity course The Artist’s Way. An artist’s date involves setting aside an hour, an afternoon, or a whole day for yourself and doing something that will delight your inner child.

This could be baking your favorite cake, visiting your local craft store, watching an old movie, or anything else that lights up your creative side. To keep your artist dates fresh, start keeping a “love list” of activities you want to try.

Set aside time on a weekly basis to be with yourself, engage with something that enchants your inner child, and watch for the positive shifts that will happen in other areas of your life as a result.

2. Meditate for just two minutes a day.

Meditation is one of the most valuable ways we can spend time with ourselves, and it’s a great opportunity to introduce more clarity, serenity, and focus into our lives.

If you’re struggling to make time to sit with yourself on a regular basis, start by making a commitment to sit and breathe for two minutes each day. After a couple of weeks, raise the time to three minutes, then four minutes, and so on, until you reach a length of time you feel satisfied with.

Meditation isn’t a sprint; it’s a life-long practice; starting small but staying consistent now will lay the foundations for your emotional prosperity in the future.

3. Turn off your devices and disconnect.

While smartphones and other devices are great for staying connected to other people, they can be both a gift and a curse. When we have a negative experience, we can rant about it on Facebook, rather than learning to self-soothe.

When we’re working on something that is difficult or uncomfortable, we only need to reach for our phones for temporary relief, rather than sticking with the task at hand and strengthening our focus and resilience.

It’s never been easier to get immediate external validation, and this distracts from the most important validation of all: the validation that comes from ourselves.

Disconnecting means turning off the phone, leaving the laptop at home, and putting the devices on “Do not disturb.” It means experiencing some temporary discomfort as we lose this external source of validation and entertainment, but it also means experiencing a stronger sense of inner confidence and security in the long-term. By disconnecting from our external distractions, we develop a deeper connection with ourselves.

4. Make time to sit each day and write about whatever happens to be on your mind at that moment.

Journaling is one of the most effective ways to develop a closer and more loving self-relationship. When we write for ourselves, we can express our true thoughts and feelings in a safe environment, without fear of repercussion or rejection.

If you’re new to the practice of journaling, make time to sit each day and write about whatever happens to be on your mind at that moment. Like meditation, start with a small practice—just five or 10 minutes—and increase it as you become more comfortable.

Through journaling, we can gain clarity on issues or problems in our lives, we can create visions for our future, and we can practice self-acceptance and compassion. Most of all, we can learn that even when we are alone, we always have ourselves for company.

What are your suggestions for being alone without being lonely? How do you like to spend time with yourself? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

About the Author

Hannah Braime is a coach and writer who helps people live a life where what they do on the outside reflects who they are on the inside. You can find her at Becoming Who You Are and connect on Twitter and Pinterest. To download your free ebook “The 5 Most Common Blocks to Authenticity and How to Overcome Them”, click here.

The Shared Roots of Mental and Physical Pain

Via @Lumosity

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

The old adage is being called into question by new research from UCLA: Dr. Naomi Eisenberger has found that social rejection and physical pain are intrinsically linked in the brain, so much so that a lack of the former can impact the latter.

How social rejection might affect physical pain

In an experiment published in the 2006 issue of the journal Pain, Eisenberger used 75 subjects to explore perceptions of physical pain in the context of social situations.

First, researchers identified each person’sunique pain threshold by transmitting varying levels of heat to the forearm. Participants rated pain levels until they reached “very unpleasant.” This provided a baseline for personal pain thresholds under normal conditions.

Participants then participated in a ball-tossing game with three characters on a computer screen. One character represented the participant, and researchers told participants that the other two characters were played by real people, though a computer actually controlled everything. The participant was either socially included (the ball was tossed to their character) or excluded (the ball was never tossed to their character). In the final 30 seconds of the game, a new heat stimulus was applied and subjects again rated the level of pain they felt.

Unsurprisingly, the non-included group reported67% more social distress on average. More surprisingly, the same people who reported great social distress from the game also reported higher pain ratings at the end of the game—showing a link between social and physical pain.

Other studies on improving emotional control

Many fMRI studies have confirmed that emotional and physical pain both activate the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. Still other studies note that people who suffer from physical conditions such as chronic pain are more likely to have emotional anxiety and feel social rejection more deeply.

In a recent 2013 study in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers explored one method of enhancing emotional control through an adaptation of a well-studied working memory task called n-back. In the standard n-back task, people must remember different visual or auditory stimuli from 1, 2, 3, or more trials ago; in this case, they were prompted with images of different facial expressions and emotionally loaded words such as dead and evil. Out of 34 total participants, those who spent 20 days using this emotion-based working memory task controlled their distress more effectivelywhen later exposed to films of traumatic events.

These two studies are fairly preliminary; the future of understanding and improving emotional control is still full of open questions. But as researchers continue to explore the complex workings of the human mind, there is more and more evidence that seemingly unrelated functions may in fact share underlying brain processes. These fascinating insights into the neuropsychological basis of emotional distress only scratch the surface of what we can learn about the impact of emotional control on our daily lives.