It's apple season! One of my favorite field trips is a visit to Carver's Apple Orchard in Cosby. Shorty always gets a fried apple pie. I enjoy looking at all the apples and buy at least a bag. A warm bowl of oatmeal goes so well with apples.
Apple season is a harbinger of “The Holidays.” It all begins with Halloween and bobbing for apples. Before you know it, it's time for Thanksgiving, Christmas AND STRESS. Yoga is celebrated as a way to lower stress and anxiety. Pranayama, Restorative Yoga, a good diet and hand drumming all help. Read on for a few ideas for dealing with the stress of “The Holidays” and unfortunately the current events on the news.
One of my first teachers, Jackie Chiodo, has her own YouTube channel. You can watch her videos when you need an extra practice.
"Imagine all the people, living life in peace” John Lennon
Namaste', Sandy Palmer, ERYT200 & RYT500
"Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness,
but a sign of strength."
Pranayama, deep breathing, is one way to become serene when stressed. It helps your brain function in the prefrontal cortex which is the thinking area. During stress the brain operates from the amygdala, the area of fight/flight/freeze. This is for survival, there is no time for thinking here. There are some complicated reasons that explain why breathing is helpful. To be brief, a calm brain can stop and think better.
The best way to inhale is through the nose (that's what it's for). You can exhale through the nose or the mouth depending on the situation. Breathe so that you feel your ribs and your belly expand. Use the top of your belly to exhale. The following breaths are calming and help with focus.
- Deep Breathing (diaphragmatic) - Breathe in to a slow count of 4 or 5. Exhale to the same count. Repeat several times. This bathes your body in oxygen, lowering your blood pressure, easing your heart rate, relaxing your muscles, and nourishing your organs (among many other things).
- Box breath, used by Navy Seals for stress reduction. Inhale to a slow count of 4, hold your breath for the same count of 4, exhale to the count of 4, hold your breath for 4 counts, inhale for 4. Repeat this several times.
- Box breath modification: Inhale for 4, hold for 5, exhale for 6, hold for 7, inhale for 4, etc.
Restorative yoga is another way yoga can help. As the holidays draw closer, I always try to add more restorative poses to my classes. It is a very slow and relaxing form of yoga that has some surprising benefits. It improves sleep and feelings of well being, soothes the nervous system, reduces pain, gently strengthens connective tissues, and may help reduce abdominal fat by reducing cortisol.
Resting Pose - Legs Up the Wall - Viparita Karani
Lie down with your bottom as close to the wall as possible. Maneuver your legs up the wall with your bottom on the floor. Your bottom and hips are about 1" or 2” out from the wall. Your legs are straight up the wall. Your back and head are on the floor. Make it comfy with a blanket under your back and a pillow under your head. Using an eye pillow is nice. Start out holding the pose for just a few minutes to make sure it works for you. Take some time to feel things out. You may need to prop up your hips for a more comfortable position. You can eventually hold this pose for up to 15 minutes. To come out of the pose, slowly bring your legs down, bend your knees and roll to your side. Stay on your side in a fetal position for about 30 seconds, then slowly sit up and again, stay still for about 30 seconds. (this prevents dizziness). Watch this demonstration. A good alternative is Legs on the Chair Pose. Watch here.
Benefits: Relieves stress, knee pain, and backache; improves circulation; and is calming. Cautions: Do not do these poses if you have out of control high blood pressure and/or leg swelling. Talk to your doctor first if you have glaucoma or other serious medical issues.
Overnight oats makes eating oatmeal very easy. Oatmeal is a good source of fiber, minerals and helps lower cholesterol. Here's how I make overnight oats.
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
2 cups milk (cow, nut or oat) or water
1 quart jar
Pour the oats and milk into the jar. Screw on the lid and shake. Leave in the refrigerator overnight. That's pretty easy. You can modify it by adding sweetener, coco powder, dried fruit, spice, nuts and/or seeds. The additions are endless. I add fresh fruit (chopped apples) and plain yogurt right before I eat. Serve hot or cold.
How to make nut or oat milk
Oat milk: mix 1 part oats to 4 parts water and blend until smooth.
Nut Milk: Soak 1 part nuts to 3 or 4 parts water. Soak for 12 hours. Blend until smooth. (or use a nut milk maker)
For both types, you may want to add 2 pitted dates before blending. (A natural sweetener.) You can strain the mixture through cheesecloth. I do not when using for overnight oats.
Drumming also reduces stress and anxiety. It improves your heart rate, boosts immunity, improves circulation, reduces pain, and feels good. My husband and I offer a hand drumming class at the My People Senior Community Center in Sevierville.
Drum Circle - November 1st & 15th
Noon - 12:45pm