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Coping with Challenge and Change

13-09-2019

Coping with challenge and change.

Learning to feel comfortable during change is an invaluable art, and something that does not come easily to the human conditioning. 

Anxiety, fear, anger and resentment can manifest when unwanted change or challenges present themselves.

Life is a forever moving canvas of experiences. External and internal stresses, along with physical and energetic changes are a part of the picture life paints.

Your nervous system is intent on trying to keep a constant balance and equilibrium in the body and the mind tries to help by analysing and debating constantly the inner and outer environment of your day to day existence. 

During the journey of life, daily changes in environment, health, wealth, and the relationships between those that interact with us regularly, cause the mind to work overtime to establish a state of safety and peace.

The body responds by kicking in the fight or flight response, the sympathetic nervous system, until the perceived threat has been abated. In reality, the modern day threat, such as constant work stress, environmental stress and circumstantial stress, leave the sympathetic nervous system on constant alert.

As we age, the body can go through changes that further leave us feeling all at sea and it is even more important at this stage, to keep ones head above water and to learn to ride the waves.
In order for the body to find the ultimate peace and health, it is important to learn how to become calm and composed, mentally, physically and emotionally, throughout the changes that life demands.

Below I have listed a few ways you can remain balanced in your daily life.

1. Overcoming fear and Anxiety.

It has become a common phrase in the yoga and mindfulness world, but the true art of focussing on your breath is a simple and the most effective way to bring an immediate sense of calm to your body and mind. 

Throughout my yoga journey I have discovered the stillness that resides within the constantly moving motion of my breath. A sense of surrender to the flow of my breath has taken me to the deepest stillness I have ever experienced. 

On one particular occasion and during a panic attack that I was having in the middle of the night, brought on by hormonal changes that occur occasionally in the peri-menopause stage of life, I found an ultimate state of stillness by slipping behind my breath. 

As my body continues to change, I have had to learn how to manage the stresses my body is going through on a day to day basis. Anxiety, fatigue and confusion are to name but a few!

Anxiety is a common problem for a lot of people and it is something that can come and go, or it can be there almost constantly.

By forming a regular connection to the breath, you can begin to keep anxiety at bay, and should it rear its head in defiance, you can at least calm the intensity and length of an attack; if not stop it in it’s tracks completely.

How do you find the stillness within the breath?

Sit or lie down somewhere comfortable, or stand with your feet planted firmly to the floor.

Allow your awareness to move into the areas of the body that are making contact with the floor, whether that be the back of your body, your sit bones, or your feet.

For a moment, rest all your energy on those pressure points until they feel large and full of life. If external distractions are taking your attention away from this, count your breaths as you send each in-breath downwards to the points I mentioned. Repeat, until your attention is resting on those pressure points. This can take a few rounds of breath but with practice, this becomes quicker and easier.

You will begin to feel your energy slow down, and your breath will soften a little. 

If the heart is racing, just allow it to unfold in your awareness, without the need to change it or slow it down. It is just something else that is in view and you can begin to move your awareness away from it, once you have acknowledged your heartbeat as just another experience your body is showing you.

When you feel a little more grounded, begin to check in with your lower abdomen and let the weight of your awareness rest there.

Your abdomen may resist by tensing and releasing intermittently or continuing to grip. Whatever is arising, just accept it as experience.

After a while, your abdomen and your breath will begin to release.

It is at this point that you can turn your attention to the flowing inwards and flowing outwards of your breath. You do not need to move the breath, just relax and allow the breath to move your body.

When you can hold your soft attention within that flow, a centre of stillness will open up to you.

Allow yourself to rest within this stillness.


2. Create a sense of stability for yourself by setting a routine.

It is not possible to control everything around you, but you can help you body to adjust to changes you can’t control, by setting a gentle routine each day. 

Allow yourself to rise at roughly the same time each day, starting your day, with a conscious connection to your thoughts, emotions and how energetic or not you are feeling. You can then begin to spend a moment or two, re-establishing a mindset you wish to carry forward, helping you to move away from the condition your nervous system may be instilling in your system and bringing in a new level of energy and awareness for your day. 

Set yourself up for bed time each night by bringing a routine in that lets your body know it is time to rest. A moment sitting quietly, allowing thoughts of the day to pass by, and maybe even jotting them down in a journal so that you can allow the mind to clear itself of worries or concerns. Anything that you may need to do for the next morning, just make a note so that you don’t need to be worrying about remembering to do things, thereby allowing your mind to switch off.

3. Remember how it felt to be a child.

One thing I do a lot, is to recall what my energy was, my mindset was and the level of freedom I felt as a child or teenager. All that hope and those new experiences. The sense of self I was gaining, with each new friend I made or achievement I accomplished. I remember never thinking too far ahead. I was just happy to be me at each moment in time. I do remember difficult occasions when my mother was very ill, but back then, I had room to deal with pressures from outside.

If you can remember how it feels to be young and at the start of your journey, you will find you can begin to connect again to that same energy, and you will find it assisting your path right now.

It is all too easy to get bogged down with the “I’m getting old and tired” way of thinking, but that is all it is, a way of thinking! Studies have shown that you can completely change your body’s physiology and energy levels, just through thoughts and feelings you project onto your own body and mind!

Dr Joe Dispenza has written about the amazing ability we all have to balance the health and wellbeing of the body in his book, You are the Placebo.

4. Keep your body active and as healthy as possible.

Ill health is a part of life for a lot of people, but each of us, regardless of the current state of health, has the ability to assist the body towards a better state of health, by becoming as active as possible and by becoming conscious of the food we take in.

I like to walk outside daily, to bring me back to the times I used to play and run around outside. I allow those feelings and memories to flood through me as a walk. It literally lifts me up, step by step.

I also practice yoga every day. I keep in mind how agile my body was when I was younger and I know, through my regular practice, that I can help to keep it that way, through a dedicated practice of as little as 20 minutes a day!

I find walking daily, in all weathers helps me to acclimatise to change. Your body faces a torrent of differing conditions and you have to adjust everything about yourself, from the clothes you wear to the speed of your walk to accommodate the changes.

5. Be careful of the company you keep.

The people around us can seriously impact on our deeper sense of health, wellbeing and self-esteem. 

Consciously begin to notice your internal dialogue when surrounded by those who either lift your spirits, or who dampen them. 

I am not saying you should cut people out of your life, but by becoming aware of how different people affect your inner state, and your energy levels, it will open your eyes to choosing how much time you should spend, and for how long, in their company.

With job stress and when working with people who rock your boat, It is important to recognise that you may need to make changes to your working situation, if it is impacting on you negatively. Even if an immediate change is not possible, small and steady steps towards a change can keep your energy high and your eye on a more positive future. All of which will help you to cope when things are difficult in any given moment.

6. Laugh!

Find something that makes you laugh out loud and do it often…We all know how laughing makes everything feel better!

Surrendering to the process

Differing times of the year encourage a change within the inner and external processes, both within the body and with life in general. It is important to recognise and to align oneself with these changes. Some of us love the summer and some of us love the winter. We are all different.

As autumn approaches, the body and mind starts to align itself with the energy of release. Natures process is about shutting down, letting go and conserving energy as the winters rest period heads into view.

In order to help you to  move into the approaching months with ease, I will be holding an evening of balance and harmony to celebrate the Autumn Equinox on Monday 23rd September, in Kingsthorpe. Full details can be found here.

It will be lovely to share more time together as the seasons change! If you would like to join us for yoga on a regular basis, my full weekly timetable is listed here.

Autumn Equinox Evening - Monday 23rd September 2019

13-09-2019

The Autumn Equinox is a time for acknowledging the balance of night and day. We are moving towards the darker months and nature is preparing to sleep for a few months.

This energetic vibe can manifest within ourselves as a feeling of insecurity and fear and by becoming ungrounded and disconnected from oneself and the things around us.

I have tailored a yoga session to encourage an inner sense of connection, stability and courage. You will feel grounded and lightly energised, as we move towards a deep meditation and relaxation that will place you in touch with the stillness that resides within you. Allowing you to weather the external changes that take place at this time of year in more comfort.

Time and Venue:

7.30pm-9.00pm

Church of the Holy Trinity, Balmoral Road, Kingsthorpe, Northampton. NN2 6PQ

Monday 23rd September 2019

Cost: £9 drop-in.

Paypal payments can be sent to carrieanne@yogafreedom.co.uk. Bank Transfer is available on request. 

Booking is essential as space is limited.

Please do contact me for more information. You can also telephone me on 07984191016.


The Functional Medicine Approach to Health

21-07-2019

Hello Yogis.

One of my wonderful yoga students is also a practicing functional medicine practitioner.

I am honoured to share below an article she wrote about this approach to health and wellbeing.

Embracing Ayurveda and Functional Medicine to heal yourself

Dr Kavita Praveen
Functional Medicine Practitioner
MBBS, MRCPsych, AFMCP-UK Graduate

Who can benefit from the Functional Medicine approach?

Anyone who has a chronic disease such as Diabetes, PCOS, Multiple Sclerosis, Auto-immune Disease, Cancers etc. knows how difficult it can be to get through the day and address the many underlying health issues, not to mention the side-effects of the medications they are constantly battling. 

I share their frustrations regarding conventional medicine practices which mostly addresses the symptoms on the surface. So is there a different solution and what is it?

For individuals who are feeling demotivated, I can assure you there is a better solution which addresses the disease at the root level. 

This is called Functional medicine, which is a relatively new field in the UK, also called as Lifestyle Medicine. 

In essence, it is science and evidence based medicine of many ancient systems like the Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine etc. All these systems use a holistic approach, working with the mind, body and soul to bring back balance and healing. 

What is Ayurveda?

Some people think of Ayurveda as something that only yogis or people with intense discipline can practice. This is far from the truth and Ayurveda is much needed in modern day to help bring back balance and certainly needed for someone addressing a chronic disease. 

Ayurveda is the science of life (Ayur=life and Veda=science).

 Ayurveda truly and rightly so believes that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. Taking this one step further is that this can happen only when the right conditions for healing are provided. 

This can be done gradually and incorporated into your life style through making changes in lifestyle and diet, and you will start to see positive results immediately. 

One of the integral ways is to eat mindfully a variety of colourful and flavourful diet. 

Ayurveda teaches us that each individual has a certain dosha (vata, pitta, kapha or a combination of these). 

These change over time with circumstances and seasons. Tuning into yourself to identify this and eating as per your dosha helps to rebalance the body. This may sound complex but is very simple once you start to practice. For eg. although raw food is considered healthy, this may not be the case for vata types, certainly in colder months when they need cooked and easily digestible warm foods. 

Spices are very important in Ayurvedic cuisine adding flavour, warmth and medicinal properties for food. 

Then there are other elements of Ayurveda such as yoga and meditation which are ways to become more self-aware, improve digestion and assimilation. 

Why use medicines when our food can be so powerful!! 

So folks if you make one change in this direction, I urge you to cook fresh with a range of vegetables and spices, eat mindfully with your loved ones without the use of gadgets whilst eating.


You can find out more about cooking using Ayurvedic and Functional Medicine Principles in my cooking classes - COOK TO HEAL



Have you tried these?

21-07-2019

Hello Yogis.

Now that you may be guiding yourself daily towards better health and vitality, through the 14 day challenge I set a couple of months ago and which I will continue to leave live throughout August, I thought I would share with you some other changes you can make in your life, to help not only yourself but this wonderful planet that you live on.

Yoga is a holistic practice and within it’s philosophy, Yogis learn to appreciate that they and the world they live in are one! 

As we breathe in, trees breathe out, and vice versa. 

Every action that we take, has a direct consequence, not only for ourselves but for everyone we come into contact with and who they then come into contact with, and so on, until it ripples far and wide, affecting the human, animal and planetary consciousness and welfare experience.

By making just a few small changes this month, I am hoping to contribute to a greater, collective awareness of this concept and also to help the planet as I go.

In order to achieve the above, I have been trying to complete a challenge myself. Throughout the whole of July, I have been turning my attention towards using other alternatives to single use plastic.

I have made some easy changes over the course of the last month or so that I thought I would share with you.

Toothpaste

I have long since moved beyond conventional toothpaste for a more natural approach, choosing instead to use herbal brands, but these usually come in plastic toothpaste tubes. Kenny and I instead sourced a new brand called, Georganics, that is available to purchase directly from the Daily Bread shop in Northampton.

I have tried both the peppermint and spearmint versions but they do other flavours too, and have found them to be amazing. Conventional toothpaste contains a lot of harsh chemicals and you won’t realise until you stop using them, how badly those chemicals can negatively affect the feeling and health of your mouth. This toothpaste not only gets the teeth clean, and keeps your breath fresh, but your mouth feels relaxed and calmer following use.

Dental Floss

Dental floss is a real problem for the environment but fear no more. I have found a dental floss made of silk. It is biodegradable and comes in eco friendly packaging, It is called Woobamboo and is also available from Daily Bread 

Shampoo and soap.

As you know, I have very long hair and I need to look after it. I have sacrificed my usual shampoo this month for a Shampoo Bar made by Friendly Soap Company.

It not only washes but also conditions the hair. You need to take care to rinse it well, but it is amazing and has made my hair feel even thicker and fuller than normal. I have so far used the Lavender and Geranium version but have a new bar of Lavender and Tea Tree to try next. This is also available from Daily Bread and at a fraction of the cost of regular shampoo! 

I won’t be switching back to my previous brand!

I have also been using the faith in nature soap bar instead of shower gel for well over a year now. It is so much nicer on my skin.

Re-usable cups

For a few years now, I have used alternative re-usable cups when purchasing coffee and tea out. I carry them with me in my bag. Often coffee  shops will offer a 50p discount to customers who are using their own cups.

I always opt for organic bamboo cups

The coffee or tea always tastes better without that plastic undertone that you so often get when drinking from coffee shop disposable cups. You can purchase them here from Daily bread 

Weekly food shop.

For at least 2 years now, Kenny and I have been sourcing our weekly shop from online organic suppliers. There are lots to choose from.

Our favourite company and the one we will continue to order from are Abel and Cole. They are constantly updating packaging and supplies, carefully weighing up the impact all changes they make to their packaging, have on the environment in both the short and long term. You can read more about this here.

The produce is very very fresh and lasts well in a fridge. I find the prices to be very reasonable, with a weekly shop for groceries costing us about £80-£100. 

They deliver to our door early on a Monday morning, with no hassles or problems, leaving me more time for my yoga, meditation and other interesting pursuits, rather than fighting my way around the supermarket.

Buying groceries is a very personal choice so feel free to try a few companies before settling on one that suits you.

Having some meat free days each week.

The final change I have made is to consciously reduce the amount of animal products I am consuming. I have not eaten meat or diary regularly for around 10 years, but I usually have fish a few times a week. I love eggs so used to have them daily. 

I have over the past few weeks, gradually reduced my intake of both so I now have eggs once a week and fish once a week. The rest of the time, my diet is plant based.

What was interesting was the way in which I approached this. I listened to my body and I didn’t just change my diet overnight. I started by gradually introducing daily changes, where for one day a week, I would make that day a plant based day, this then increased to two and three, and it wasn’t long before I arrived at my current diet. 

I paid close attention to how my body responded to the changes and quickly realised that I actually preferred how I felt on the days when I didn’t consume eggs or fish. 

Having said that, even now, If I feel I need to have egg or fish I will do that.

Moving towards a plant based diet needs a lot of consideration. 

There are many many health benefits, but it is not always a suitable path for everyone. 

Do consult with a doctor before making drastic changes to your diet and in particular if you suffer from any health condition that dietary changes could upset.

As I mentioned, the important thing is to listen to your body, when making these changes. How much energy do you have! Where are your cravings, etc. If you find that you are craving meat, is it a head craving, or is your body that is asking for it?

Because I have been practically vegan for years, I made the transition quite quickly. If you eat a lot of meat and dairy, you will need to make the changes slowly and in a considered way. It takes time for the body to adjust. 

Also you need to consider taking certain supplements if you do move to a full vegan diet. There are plenty of websites that can offer this advice, but as I mentioned before, seeking advice from a doctor or nutritional therapists may be a good idea.

Do consider this before making lifestyle changes.

In yoga philosophy, one of the 8 limbs is Ahimsa, which translates loosely as non-violence. Initially, upon reading this statement, one could jump and interpret that meaning to say, that you should never eat animals or use animal products, where an animal may have suffered in it’s production, but Ahimsa moves beyond this initial concept. If your body is responding negatively to changing from a meat based to plant based diet, for whatever reason, then you are causing yourself harm, that should be considered strongly when making a decision as to whether to continue with the changes you are making.

If you are interested in the plastic free July challenge, you can view more details here.

With love and blessings!

Carrie-Anne.

A complete success!

28-06-2019

Hello Yogis.

Following the success of last month's 14 Day Challenge, I have decided to extend the availability of the videos I recorded, so that you can enjoy guided yoga and meditation every day for the next month or so, in the comfort of your own home.

During the challenge, I recorded a live Facebook video each morning for 14 days and some students were able to join me live at 6.30am to be taken through a 20 minute practice.

For those who were unable to join at that time, I shared the videos to the group so that they could be enjoyed at any time of the day.

The videos are still live and I will be keeping them live for at least a month. 

In order to start from day 1, look out for the video dated 3rd June and begin the classes from there. Videos recorded prior to that are just setting the stage for the classes. You are of course welcome to watch all the video content.

If you would like to view the video’s and take the classes, you will need to join the Facebook group I created.

If you do decide to watch them. do give feedback because if I can see that they are being viewed, I may keep them live for longer.

I do hope that you can make use of them to increase your energy, strength and wellbeing as we move through summer so that you are stronger and more buoyant as the winter months approach.

It has been a real pleasure to deliver the online classes and I am planning to run some online classes in the future so do watch this space.

Have a wonderful summer and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Take me to the Facebook group and videos.

Sending lots of love and light to you all!

Carrie-Anne. xx

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    Yoga Freedom offers regular monthly and bi-monthly Yoga and relaxation events in Kingsthorpe. The wonderful community of Yoga Freedom students also come together annually, to celebrate the autumn and spring equinox and the summer and winter solstice. Christmas is a time for getting together and relaxing too, so why not look out for the Winter’s Deep Chill event.

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