Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Breathe to beat the blues

One of the most common and unsettling symptoms experienced by peri-menopausal and menopausal women is anxiety.

You may feel apprehensive and powerless, or may have a sense of impending danger, panic or doom, your heart rate increases, you start breathing rapidly, you may sweat even when the temperature outside hasn't increased, you may experience some trembling. You often feel weak or tired for no apparent reason.

Though yoga is a great cure for anxiety, some people cannot even contemplate attending a yoga class when they suffer from a paralyzing anxiety attack.

Pranayama (Yogic breathing techniques) can help you dispel anxiety and regain balance in your life.
If you can, try and go for a walk in the park or in the forest, avoid busy and crowded places, and when you find a nice spot, sit and practice this very simple and effective breathing exercise.
You can also practice Pranayama at home, but its effect will be stronger if you tap into the primal source of energy, nature. 

Spending 20 minutes a day in the sunlight and fresh air provides your body with vitamin D, a nutrient that affects depression and anxiety disorders, while correct breathing techniques relax the mind and body.

Nadi shodhana, or the sweet breath, is a simple form of alternate nostril breathing suitable for everyone. Nadi means channel and refers to the energy pathways through which prana flows. Shodhana means cleansing.
Nadi Shodhana calms the mind, soothes anxiety and stress, balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain, promotes clear thinking

Sit in a comfortable position. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Do this to the count of four seconds.
Immediately close the left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger, and at the same time remove your thumb from the right nostril, and exhale through this nostril. Do this to the count of eight seconds. This completes a half round.
Inhale through the right nostril to the count of four seconds. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril to the count of eight seconds. This completes one full round.

Start by doing three rounds, adding one per week..

Alternate nostril breathing should not be practiced if you have a cold or if your nasal passages are blocked in any way.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Matsyasana (Fish Pose) stimulates your heart, throat and crown chakras

Matsyasana (Fish Pose) is described in classical yoga texts as the 'destroyer of all diseases' and is truly one of the most beneficial among restorative poses as it rejuvenates the thyroid and parathyroids.
Some texts also claim that it can reverse the aging process.
For this and other benefits listed below, i believe that it is an excellent pose to practice during the menopause, unless you suffer from insomnia and migraine.

In this pose you get extra blood flow in, and around the brain, helping with memory and clearer thinking.
Because it stimulates endocrine glands, it can help those whose weight gain and fatigue is caused by endocrine disorders.

If emotional blocks are hindering your path to freedom and self-knowledge, or have an adverse impact on your relation with others, Matsyasana targets three important chakras, the Heart, Throat and Crown chakras. A blockage in these chakras can lead to self-hate, lack of empathy and compassion, inability to communicate effectively and express your emotions.

Practice with caution if you suffer from:

High or low blood pressure
Serious lower-back or neck injury.

Beginners should perform this pose with their knees bent, back supported on a thickly rolled blanket or a block between their shoulder blades and head resting on a folded blanket or block. Be sure your head rests comfortably and your throat is soft.

Lie on your back with your legs together.
Bring your arms underneath your body with the elbows as close together as possible. The palms should be facing down and as far underneath the thighs as possible.
Inhale and push with your arms lifting your head, neck, chest and back off the floor. The hips should remain on the floor.
Arch your back and try to bring the crown of your head as close to the floor as possible by curving the spine.
In the ideal position, the head should be lightly resting on the floor. The weight of the body should be on the hips and elbows. The legs should be as relaxed as possible, but kept together. The neck and face should be relaxed, shoulders pulled away from the ears.
Once in the proper position, take deep abdominal breaths to help expand the lung capacity.
Hold the asana for 30 seconds at first and work up to 3-5 minutes.

To come out of Fish Pose, inhale deeply and lift your head a little, straightening it out behind you. Lie down and bring your arms out from underneath your back. Relax in Savasana (Corpse pose).

• Opens the chest, heart and lungs and front of the body
• Increases flexibility in the spine (in this case cervical spine in particular)
• Strengthens the arms and shoulders
• Gives energy and is rejuvenating
• Makes the mind alert and active
• Increases circulation
• Combats depression
• Slows down degeneration of the spine
• Stimulates digestion (especially pancreas)
• Stimulates endocrine glands – thyroid, thymus, and adrenals as well as pancreas.