The stress response has always been with us, as our prime instinct, when our ancestors had to flee from the dangerous animals or fight for food. The adrenaline rush, as we sometimes call it, in small amounts is very healthy and motivating. Even getting up from bed needs an adrenaline rush and higher blood pressure, which wouldn’t happen without our “built in stress response system”.

What is stress?

Stress occurs when our brain perceiving the threat – it could be anything from an unwanted bill to a confrontation with an angry motorist (which would be external stressor). Part of the brain called  hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system: releasing hormones like adrenalin and cortisol, blood pressure goes up, the heart beats faster, white blood cells stick to the walls of the veins in case of any wounds to activate the healing processes, the body retains water to preserve body fluid in case of severe bleeding, it also gets a dose of sugar and fats to give us fuel to react to defend ourselves or escape depending on situation, big amounts of glucose and oxygen are being delivered to brain, skeletal muscles and heart. Our body is prepared to escape the danger. It’s called “fight or flight response” and as was said before in small amounts has got positive effect on the body. The only problem starts when the body is effected with stress for a long time.

There is no proven link between stress and disease, but because stress impacts on our immune system, few books mention a few stress related disorders like:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome IBS
  • Hypertension
  • Asthma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Migraine
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

And that’s where Yoga can be used as a technique, tool to improve stress related symptoms.

The idea of the “relaxation response” was introduced by Dr Herbert Benson. Dr Benson has done a lot of research on fight or flight response and in result he came up with theory that to fight stress we need to either use up the energy which our body produced during the fight or flight response, and in our daily modern lives that doesn’t happen very often, or we need to fight the stressor with different relaxation techniques.

Now let’s have a look at different relaxation technique offered by Yoga and their benefits on stress levels.

Asanas

Yoga postures have impact on our internal organs, hormone and immune system. They have been designed to keep our body, muscles and joints in a good shape. Linking Asana with breathing we create meditation practice for our body and mind.

 

Breathing Techniques

Breath is the basis of everything, breath is our beginning and our end; we start and end human life with it. Breath is linked to all processes in our body, every single cell and most important is its impact on our brain. We can easily see how breathing impacts everything else including the nervous system, the digestive system, the immune system, the urinary and reproductive systems. Because breathing happens automatically we don’t think about it a lot unless we experience breathing difficulties. Most people’s breathing is shallow and they don’t use full lung capacity, which can cause problems in the body.

As we discussed earlier, stress can an have impact on our breath and breath is one of the techniques yoga uses to cope with stress, yoga allows you to deepen and slow down the breath and relax the nervous system and release the tension in your body sometimes within minute.

 

Relaxation 

No matter what we do in life we build up tension in our body and modern life does not give us a ready recipe of how to cope with it. If the tension is in the body or mind it creates a vicious circle in our body because all the organs are connected, that can have an impact on not only on our health but also life and relationships. Through relaxation we can release tensions:

  • Muscular tension – that includes tension in the nervous system and hormones.
  • Emotional tension – even repressed emotions can be released through relaxation.
  • Mental tension – we can access the subconscious mind and release tension.

There are different techniques of relaxation like visualisation, yoga nidra, progressive relaxation and many more. All of them are about releasing tension in the body and mind to create calmer and peaceful life.

 

Meditation

It has been proven scientifically that there are different stages of brain activity and by meditating (and in deep relaxation) we can influence our state of mind in a controlled, awake way and move it to a theta wave state which is possible during sleep. It has been proven to be a more efficient way of energising the body than sleep

 

In the 21st century, era of MRI scans, advanced technology and advanced medicine, our life is still full of daily stress. Yoga starts to be recognised by medical research as one of the remedies for stress. Its techniques have been proved to have a calming effect on the body and the mind and are a holistic approach to physical disorders. No matter what a person’s conditions are, and what approach to yoga they take, if it’s done in a safe way it has an impact on mental and physical health.

 

In case of any medical conditions always seek advice of your GP before starting your Yoga Pratice.

 

Bibliography

Bennett R., (2015), handouts day 9, 21st of March 2015, Fight or Flight

Bennett R., (2015), handouts day 9, 21st of March 2015, What happens when we relax?

Boolani H., Reddy N., Atkins d., and Lakkireddy d., (2013), Healing the Heart: Can Yoga be the Missing Piece that Completes the Puzzle in Modern Medicine?, Yoga and Physical Therapy 3: 148. doi:10.4172/2157-7595.1000148

Davies M., (2008), The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook

McCall T., (2007), Yoga as Medicine

Saraswati N., (2005), Seeing Yoga, a contemplation of Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras

Saraswati S., (1983), Meditation from the tantras

Saraswati S., (1998), Yoga Nidra

Saraswati S., (2008), Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha

Sarkar, D. and Deepak, A. , 2009. Yoga Therapy for Countering the Adverse Effects on Astronauts’ Health Due to Micro-G or Zero-G Environment: A Concept Study http://www.yogaforspacehealth.com/downloads/Yoga-For-Space-Health.pdf

Smitha C. at al, 2007, A randomised comparative trial of yoga and relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, v 15, pp. 77—83

Tortora G., Derrickson B., (2011), Principles of Anatomy & Phisiology


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Orange Lotus Yoga Classes – August 2020

LIVE classes are back!

  1. Mondays 8pm – 9.30 pmWeekly Gentle Hatha Yoga back in studio 22! (No class Bank Holiday Monday). See safety assessment below, £25 for 4 classes, £7 per class – text Anna on 07821417634 to book before paying. Only 12 spaces. Bank transfers and card payments preferred, however if that’s not an option please let me know. I am not able to refund Eventbrite fees. Studio 22, 22 high street, Crewe, CW2 7BL, entrance from Oak Street car park.

Monthly access Tickets £25:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gentle-hatha-yoga-online-4-weeks-ticket-with-discount-tickets-115469158361

or pay via paypal – paypal.me/annasmithers. Contact me on 07821417634 for account details to avoid charges. As a self-employed person, I understand that for some of us financial situation can be difficult. If you cannot pay the full amount, please contact me directly.

  1. Yoga in the garden – contact me if you are interested, weather permitting
  2. 1:1 indoors back again

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Befriend Your Fear – using yoga to help.

 

When: 28th of June 2020, Sunday

What time: 10 am – 12 noon

Cost: £10

What to expect:

Immerse yourself in complete relaxation.  What to expect on the day?

Will go through specially prepared yoga asana (physical) and pranayama (breathing) practice which could be helpful with befriending the fear.

And will include half an hour of aware relaxation called Yoga Nidra. A mini Spa for your Mind. A Very relaxing Sunday morning preparing you for the whole week! You are so worth it.

 

Tickets:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/online-yoga-workshop-befriend-your-fear-using-yoga-to-help-tickets-106576733880

or pay via paypal

As a self-employed person, I understand that for some of us financial situation can be difficult. If you cannot pay the full amount, please use donation ticket. If you cannot pay anything at all, please contact me. We are all in this together! You can also use paypal account if you wish

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/orange-lotus-yoga-online-classes-donation-tickets-101342837154

paypal.me/annasmithers

 


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Today I would like to keep you a bit longer than usual. Person attending my mindfulness/relaxation class, wrote to me with the practice experience and with the permission – I am sharing. Love the creative way. Obviously, that doesn’t have to be your experience, but I just want to show you how exciting the journey into yourself may be! Searching for the true Self…
This person is practicing meditation for 1.5 years now. Thank you so much for sharing and allowing me to pass it on!

Sending love and light

Our live streaming online class each Wednesday 8PM
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/102887902486

“Hello”
Who said that?
“Me”
Which me?
..
..
I don’t know about you, but I have long been aware of at least two Me’s, although I have only recently begun to understand their relationship with each other. The two Me’s are the “Story- Teller” me and the “Narrator” me.
The Story-Teller me, is the one you hear when I talk out loud. Words come out of my mouth and both you and I can hear them.
The Narrator me, is the one that only I can hear in my head. You can’t hear this one, but it is always there. In fact, this is the one I can hear now as I type, it is saying the words and my fingers are doing the typing.
In fact, the Narrator me is nearly always there. It hardly every stops, always chattering away randomly, repeatedly, arguing, challenging everything, worried about everything. It is the storm going on around.
These two Me’s are not different people in anyway, just a different version of the one “Me”
The Narrator also has an eye, it’s the “Mind’s Eye”. It can see things just like my real eyes but in a different way. It’s the visual imagination. Nothing particularly weird, spiritual or insightful but still there all the same. As the Narrator is chatting on, it is creating images in the mind of what it means. As other conversations, noises, sights, feelings come in form the senses outside, it is building new images in my mind. Oddly, I can’t actually see the Mind’s Eye itself, but I can see the canvas it places the images on. The “Movie” screen. This constant Movie of images is all part of the chattering, a part of the storm. To find the eye of the storm, is to quieten the Narrator and switch off the Movie.
Sometimes I am aware of it going quiet when it is in sync with the Story-Teller me. These are the times the Narrator is being able to externalise what it is says through the Story -Teller. This is why I think writing is good because it often allows this sync to happen. A type of shortcut or bypass. A version of truth. Sometimes the Narrator goes quiet when it is listening, but usually not for long.
I find another way of quietening the Narrator, through Meditation. However, this is a different type of quiet. It’s not in sync with the Story-Teller as such, because the Story-Teller is either not present or maybe is quiet also. It is rare I find this quiet Narrator time, but it does happen. Concentrating on the breath or any other singularity, reduces the Narrators chatter to a hum, or an “ommmm….”, or sometimes even more rarely, even an absolute nothing. The Narrator is listening for longer.
Both the Narrator, me and the Movie screen are in my head. Inside my skull. The Eye “sees” from there and I “hear” the Narrator’s voice from there. I expect this because this is where I have always assumed the “I” of me exists. Both my consciousness and unconsciousness live there.

During the body scan last week, I experienced a third Me. One that wasn’t a Story-Teller me or a Narrator me and more interesting wasn’t in my head.
I (both Me’s) hear your guided description, Feet, Lower Legs, etc. My Narrator me, is instructing my Minds Eye to look at these body parts (along with lots of other random chatter in the background), and the image of the body part is placed on my Movie screen in my head. At which point I experience, feel, see the body part in isolation. This is pretty normal for me. I try not to listen to everything the Narrator is saying, especially the unrelated background chatter, and try not to pay to much attention to the Movie. Instead, I try and just let it just happen without the Narrator, narrating and displaying the events.
As you direct I/me to be aware of my Arms, my Head etc, all is normal, as it usually is. The Narrator me and the Movie are both playing their role but getting quieter. But then you said something along the lines of “be aware of your brain”. A this point, without realising it at first, I moved out of my head and “felt” I was looking at my head (where my brain exists) and seeing the Narrator and the Move screen (which is where they both exist) from somewhere else.
At first it was like when you put two mirrors face to face, and they produce infinite images of each other. Because the act of looking at my brain and head, which contained the Movie screen, which is usually what I watch, was like looking at a Movie of a Movie.
It was at this moment I also felt I was seeing the Story-Teller me and the Narrator me and the Movie screen as a whole for the first time. But then I became aware that in order for this to be happening, I had to be looking from a new place. A place outside of the normal place of the head. I also realised for a split second that I was looking at all this from a new Me I had not been aware of before.
Was this an out of body experience? Was this the new Me? A real Me?
I have no idea what it was, but it was a new experience. This thought process will be continued….

#yoga, #yogacrewe, #creweyoga, #meditation, #relaxation, #mindfulness, #whoami


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I hope you are all keeping safe and sane. So here I am writing is such a difficult time. Times full of fear and not only my own but the bigger fear, global fear. And even if we don’t want to, it still impacts us on smaller or bigger scale. And some of us can cope with it better and some of us find it very difficult. I imagine isolation can be a very challenging time for some people, not being able to see others can be difficult. For some of us however it could be a time to rest and slow down. For those on a front line it could be time of the biggest fear because they never know what they are bringing home with them to their families, children and close ones. There is the financial fear for people who are self employed and lost all their income. There is fear for all of us with struggle to get food we are used to and lifestyle we are used to. There is definitely a lot of fear around us.

So what can we do when fear takes over?

  1. Getting back to your body through physical yoga practice may help. But it doesn’t have to be yoga, any exercise, walking, cycling, running. Anything you can do in the situation we are in. If you have garden, maybe some garden work. To get out of our mind and come back to the body. There is also really nice mindfulness scan which helps with that. See link below:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyKhfUdOEgs

 

  1. Breathing practice of equal breath is pretty safe however if you suffer with corona virus and have problem with breathing or very anxious, have asthma or any other medical condition which could impact the ability to breath please avoid it for now.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKXpGj80mAQ

 

The idea is to make your inbreath and outbreath equal. Start with count which is natural to your breath and with time you can increase the count. So for example if you naturally breathing on count to 3, start with that but you can increase it with time to count of 8 or 10.

 

  1. Find things you love to do. There are so many courses available online for free at the moment it’s actually overwhelming. But go back to what you love doing and find time to do it. Is it painting, reading, writing, dancing, singing, playing instruments, or maybe cooking or baking? Think what you love. This situation which we are in is out of or control, but it can bring benefits as well.

 

  1. I know in times like that it’s difficult to think about bigger picture but sometimes it helps to help others. So check with your neighbours, do they need help? Are they isolating? Catching up with family and checking how they are.

 

  1. This situation definitely gave me opportunity to be grateful. A lot of things I took for granted every day, my lifestyle all of that is not accessible at the moment. And I am grateful for food on my table. Each week when I get my vegetable box delivered to my door I smile and I appreciate all this hard work farmers put to grow it, deliver it to shop and shop deliver to me. And when I cook I cook with love and appreciation of the months of growth for me to be able to cook it for dinner. I also appreciate all the people working at the moment to keep our life as normal. I appreciate the nature. With all the craziness around us that’s my source of stillness. It goes on as nothing ever happened. I can almost hear it breathing with relief and enjoyed a short break from us.

 

  1. Take one day at a time. Just get up and practice mindfulness all day. Try to stay in a present moment instead of allowing the mind to take us to the past or the future.

 

  1. Be kind to yourself. If you are at home like me and find you have more time than usual, it doesn’t mean you have to do more. I know there is a whole list of things you could tackle but if the situation is overwhelming and it’s not happening for whatever reason just be kind to yourself. There is no right or wrong. Whatever is – is.

 

 

The situation we are in is not in our control, we didn’t choose it. But here we are. And I think it’s brilliant opportunity to think about life and what’s important. What do you want from life? What is important to you? Not to your family, society, but you? What do you want to come back to when everything is over.

I found myself that I love teaching yoga to children and due to safeguarding issues and my insurance I can not do it at the moment, but they are working on it. And miss it a lot. And I love it. I found that writing is something what I am passionate about and still want to keep doing it. I found my yoga practice is keeping me sane and grounded and I appreciate it more than ever.

What is important to you?

 

And of course if you still want to join my weekly classes it’s never too late. Please see information below.

ONLINE LIVE YOGA CLASSES TO DE-STRESS DURING CORONA VIRUS

Classes open to new, past and current students. New students need to fill in health questionnaire before attending

  1. Gentle Hatha Yoga – Mondays 7.30PM
  2. Relaxation and Mindfulness Class – Wednesdays 8PM
  3. FREE Community Chat – Tuesdays 7PM

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/963858700?pwd=azRBQnpNeFRXNmNpNkZWREFsOUgrUT09

Meeting ID: 963 858 700
Password: 422475

  1. Private 1:1 with adults, Family Yoga and Kids Yoga available on request. 

 

Tickets:

  1. Hatha Yoga £5 ticket for a single class – choose a date

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gentle-hatha-yoga-online-single-ticket-for-existing-students-only-tickets-100410195598

 

  1. Relaxation Single ticket £4 – choose a date

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/relaxation-and-mindfulness-in-practice-single-ticket-tickets-100403202682

 

As a self-employed person, I understand that for some of us financial situation can be difficult. If you cannot pay the full amount, please use donation ticket. If you cannot pay anything at all, please contact me. We are all in this together! You can also use paypal account if you wish

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/orange-lotus-yoga-online-classes-donation-tickets-101342837154

 

paypal.me/annasmithers

Or ask for my account number to avoid charges.

 

You also need to agree with the below to participate:

I take responsibility for my own health and safety whilst participating in the yoga class, whether face to face or remote, and I also understand that it is my responsibility to:

 

  • check with my doctor if I have any difficulties or concerns about my ability to participate in the yoga class
  • advise the yoga tutor of any change in my medical information or ability to participate in the yoga class
  • follow the advice given by my doctor and/or yoga tutor remain on screen when participating in a remote yoga session

I understand that for any periods of time throughout a remote session during which I move off screen or are outside of the teacher’s view, whether intentionally or not; no liability will arise on the part of the teacher.

 

Why Yoga?

– to de-stress during coronavirus
– It improves flexibility, strength and balance if practiced regularly.
– It has potential impact on relaxation response and helps to relax.
– It has impact on internal organs and hormones.
– Could promote sleep quality.
– Helps with breathing.
– And many, many more – you need to experience it!

 

Also if you are staying at home with kids from next week I will be posting every day on Facebook some easy breathing practices for children and parents to keep us sane and calm

So like Orange Lotus Yoga page and check the updates. Also “Yogi Superhero” is available on amazon if you are struggling for ideas what to do with kids.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1654493368/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=anna+smithers&qid=1578984027&sr=8-1

You tube video explains on how you can use it

And most important stay healthy and safe!

 


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