loving your body

Guest Blog: How Yoga Can Help You Embrace Your Body As It Is

Imagine how life would be if you loved the way you looked? Yes, including all those beautiful imperfections. Instead of wanting to change that certain part you dislike about your body, what if you came to completely accept it? What if loving your body became natural for you?

Living in a social media driven world, what’s online may make one feel anything but empowered and self-assured. Unfortunately, media has led us to believe that if we look a certain way, our lives will magically become perfect.

We get it, feeling confident in the modern world may not be easy but it’s totally possible. There are many women out there who love their bodies – and they’re all in different shapes and sizes.

Loving your body completely simply boils down to respecting yourself and accepting how you look. Using yoga as a tool, we assure you that the journey to this place is going to be an incredibly joyous one, and we will explain how in this guide.

Asana in yoga helps you reconnect with your body

Asana, or yoga postures, allow you to connect with your body via breath and movement.

Postures in yoga allow us to separate different aspects of our body, comprehend their functioning and understand how these areas work together.

If you’ve suffered from negative body image at any point of your life, you’re probably aware that it largely involves avoiding and isolating oneself from aspects of the body that induce feelings of shame and self-loathing.

Yoga helps you extricate yourself from this escalating form of neglect by encouraging you to listen to your body. To perform any yoga posture, you have to acknowledge each part of your body and understand how it prefers to move.

 

Pranayama promotes peace of mind

Yoga comprises of two main parts: breath (pranayama) and posture (asana). Pranayama, or more specifically, Ujjayi, is a specific style of breath in yoga. It develops heat in the body while stimulating rest and the feeling of peace.

Ujjayi is a deep and potent type of breath that fires up the lungs and throat. While this may sound counterintuitive in promoting rest, one of the main purposes of Ujjayi is to relax the body. It is a long, smooth breath created by lengthening your inhale and exhale.

A longer breath signals your body to relax. Taking some time to rewind is a great way of promoting self-love.

Yoga is an excellent stress-reliever. A 2005 German study indicated that women who described themselves as “emotionally distressed” showed significant improvement in their mood and overall sense of well-being after being treated with 90 minutes of yoga per week for 3 months. Well-being scores improved by 65%, and depression and anxiety scores improved by 50% and 30% respectively. Complaints regarding back pain, poor sleep and headaches had also been resolved.

 

Yoga encourages positivity

One of the key aspects of yoga is performing mantras. Contrary to popular belief, mantras are quite simple and can help you during meditation. They’re simply words or phrases, each with different purposes, such as helping you overcome challenges and showing gratitude.

Repeating mantras is a great way to understand the power of a positive mind. When you repeat a mantra every day, you start believing that it is true. With each passing day, the mantra and your belief in it become stronger.

“I love myself. I am beautiful, intelligent and unique.”

You don’t have to limit yourself to traditional mantras. You can even create your own. A mantra (such as the one above) that holds meaning in your heart and resonates deep within you can be easily brought to life by you. You are the creator of your positivity.

 

You’re always amazed

Just a few weeks of yoga is enough to fascinate anyone. You’ll be surprised to know that it is not the yogic postures, but watching what your body is capable of that will amaze you.

With time and practice, you become capable of moving your body in ways you never even imagined. With time, you’ll be able to effortlessly stand on one foot, wrap your arms and legs into an eagle, and even balance your whole body-weight on your arms.

Whether you’re performing an advanced posture or you’re in the process of deepening one, you’ll understand that your body is strong, flexible, and incredibly beautiful.

 

You’re grateful

Even though some magazine covers may make you think otherwise, yoga is for everyone. Yoga is a beautiful journey where you can witness your body’s full potential and truly appreciate what it can do.

In most cases, people never discover their body in their optimal strength, balance, and flexibility. Yoga is an invigorating experience which can make you feel like a warrior every day. Once you discover this strength within you, it’s hard not to feel grateful for the body that gives you so much.

 

Yoga creates communities of love

Yoga retreats, classes, and online platforms bring in several like-minded people, helping in creating a strong and supportive community. Practicing Yoga is not only fun, but it is empowering.

People join yoga classes for a variety of reasons. While some join it for physical reasons such as toning up and building flexibility, others join it to relax their bodies. Whatever your reason may be, you’ll soon realize that yoga brings about another essential outcome: feeling comfortable in your skin.

Almost anyone who joins yoga wants to learn to love his or her own body. Yoga creates a space where everyone, at the same time, is thinking about their connection with their bodies.

When you join your first yoga class, be sure to introduce yourself to someone and ask them what brought them to it. Listen to their response and share your reason as well.

 

meera wattsAuthor Bio: Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International.

Website: https://www.siddhiyoga.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/siddhiyogaacademy
Instagram: https://instagram.com/siddhiyogainternational
Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/siddhiyogainter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/meerawatts
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meerawatts
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/siddhiyogateachertraining

 

References

Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: Part I — Neurophysiologic Model. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;1:189–201.

Catherine Woodyard. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul-DecExploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.

Collins C. Yoga: Intuition, preventive medicine, and treatment. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 1998;27:563–8

McCall T. New York: Bantam Dell a division of Random House Inc; 2007. Yoga as Medicine.

tim-ferris-anxiety

Thoughts from Tim Ferris: “How to Cure Anxiety, One Workaholic’s Story, Six Techniques That Work”

I came across Tim Ferris @tferriss a few years ago when I read “The Four Hour Work Week”. For any of you who haven’t read it, I’d highly suggest it. By far one of the most inspiring books out there to help you automate your life and live the “new rich” way @4hwwapp.

I follow Ferris on various social media outlets, and paid particular attention to his blog post this morning, “How to Cure Anxiety — One Workaholic’s Story, Six Techniques That Work”.

Rather than trying to paraphrase his whole article, I’ll let you read through it here: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/02/19/anxiety-attacks-2/

 

My Short Review of Ferris’s Article

My thoughts as a Registered Clinical Counsellor are that a lot of his suggestions sound appropriate. Evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) suggest that this type of therapy gives you a new way of understanding and thinking about your problem. It also provides you with the skills to deal with the issues that you are struggling with right now. Additionally, it’s also nice to practice more mindfulness, to help you “get out of your head” and enjoy more of the here and now.

While reading through Ferris’ list, my favorite is his first suggestion is this:

Enjoy Guilt-Free Play with Friends.

When was the last time you got out there and played with your friends? As Ferris contends, exercise is a great way to reduce anxiety, and of course, it doesn’t always have to be the formal “gym” exercise. Why not throw a frisbee around? Yesterday I went to the beach with friends and we threw around the waboba ball – what a great way to be present, enjoy time with friends, and be outdoors.

Overall, it’s important to find and learn techniques that work for you. Stick with them! It takes patience, practice, and positive attitudes.

Does Nature Really Help Us Relax?

 

Most of us feel the zen-like feeling when we breathe in that breath of fresh air on a cold winter day. Or, relaxing at the beach listening to the waves, or playing in the sand brings us to that care-free state.

Nature helps most people relax. That’s why there are so many wallpapers with pictures of nature out there. That’s also why numerous of apps designed to put you in a relaxed state has sounds of nature built-in. But does these artificial manifestations of natural beauty really help people relax, similar to being in nature in reality?

Here’s a great article verifying the relationship between looking at nature and decreasing stress: Nearby Nature Effect

Enjoy!

Jennifer Lawrence and Social Anxiety

Making headlines today was the release that Jennifer Lawrence, from X-Men and more recently, the Hunger Games, suffered from Social Anxiety. Although our society is becoming more understanding of mental health issues, stigma still exists. When it comes to discussing mental health issues and getting treatment, there is still not enough openness regarding this topic.

For a celebrity like Jennifer Lawrence, to publicly share her challenges is inspiring for us all. It helps to reduce stigma and increases awareness about mental well-being. At the moment there are many ways someone could choose to treat their anxiety, from therapy to CBD Oil. Many people who don’t suffer from anxiety often question why people go to therapy and question What are the benefits of using CBD because they don’t understand the effects of anxiety.

Social Anxiety and It’s Prevalence

According to Statistics Canada, social anxiety, is one of the most common anxiety disorders. Social anxiety is

 “a disorder characterized by a fear of situations in which there is potential for embarrassment or humiliation in front of others. There are generally two subtypes of social phobia: one involves a fear of speaking in front of people, whether it be public speaking or simply talking with a person of authority; the other subtype involves more generalized anxiety and complex fears, such as eating in public or using public washrooms, and in these cases individuals may experience anxiety around anyone other than family”.

In Canada, anywhere between 8-13% of Canadian’s will be influenced by social anxiety. The disorder is more common in women than men. Also, there appears to be an environmental and familial link to the disorder.

 

Jennifer Lawrence’s story of facing her fear of social scrutiny head-on teaches us all one important thing. Facing the things that cause us anxiety is the best form of treatment. Hence, the best example is exposure therapy combined with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

If you’d like to inquire about social anxiety treatment in Mississauga or Bradford Ontario at Real Life Counselling, don’t hesitate to call us at 289-231-8479.

 

Reference

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-619-m/2012004/sections/sectionb-eng.htm#a3

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20756991,00.html

 

I’m excited. I’M excited. I’M EXCITED!

The year was 2005.

I was in my last year of my Bachelor’s program, meticulously spending hours checking my research data and putting the final touches on my thesis defense. Night after night, I found myself ruminating over having to present in front of my professors, not to mention mine in front of my peers. Ever since I could remember, public presentations, regardless of size or length, caused me grief. I mean, not your typical 11th hour jitters, but…blushing, shaking, nauseous stomach, cold sweats – you name it, I had it.

So, the day had come. I was to defend my thesis. Although most of the day felt like a blur, a few moments still stick with me. The first was feedback from one of my peers as we were standing in the halls practicing our scripts. I shared with my friends how nervous I was, feeling unable to control the physical and emotional reactions happening in my body. My friend, Susan*, turned to me and said, “…instead of telling yourself you’re nervous and scared, why don’t you say you’re excited!”. I listening, and thought to myself – “heck, I have nothing to lose!” So, minutes before my hour of fame, I said, “I’m excited”, “I’M excited”, “I’M EXCITED!”. I think after the 3rd excited, I was starting to feel it. The reaction kicked in! Then, before I knew it, I was done.

I think that’s the second part of my memories of my thesis. My accomplishment. I “felt the fear but did it anyway”. There’s no better feeling then working through a tough obstacle. Or, overcoming a fear.

I encourage you to feel inspired, to reach out for help if you need it, and to “feel the fear and do it anyway” (as Susan Jeffers would say).

 

Enthusiastically,

Ashley J. Kreze

mindfulness counselling toronto

Mindfulness Improves Self-Esteem

Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm. Have you ever practiced Mindfulness? Do you remember to remind yourself daily of the present moment? If your answer is no, or rarely, well, you should; it’s good for you. Mindfulness helps in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. It helps you connect with yourself and be in the present moment, which makes you more relaxed and less worried. Additionally, research shows that mindfulness improves self-esteem and builds confidence.

How Mindfulness Improves Self-Esteem

The Institute of Coaching shared a great article about the impact of mindfulness on our confidence and self-esteem. Here is an interesting part of it:

“Mindfulness practice improves self-esteem.

Why would sitting and sensing the present moment improve our self-respect and self-value?

Here’s one way to think about it. Recall that a mindful brain state is one that doesn’t judge. It is simply open and accepting of the present moment. On the other hand, self-esteem is the conclusion one makes in the role of a judge of one’s status and role: “Am I enough? Have I accomplished enough?” It evolved as an essential biological force, ensuring our survival by keeping us ever-vigilant about whether we are meeting the standard set by our tribes, avoiding rejection and being an outcast.

Non-judgmental moments allow us to step off of the self-judging roller coaster, and experience, even for a few breaths, the natural brain-state of what I call “it’s all ok-ness”.

What a lovely place to sit and rest. You may want to become a regular visitor.”

 

Will you set time to practice mindfulness today?

 

Reference

Pepping, C.A, Donovan, A, and Davis, P.J. (2013) The positive effects of mindfulness on self-esteem. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(5), 376-386.

 

If you’d like to inquire about mindfulness or self-esteem enhancement in Mississauga at Real Life Counselling, don’t hesitate to call us at 289-231-8479.

overcome-your-fears

Overcome Your Fears and Transform!

I hear my clients struggling with different kinds of problems. Some are shy and have difficulties making new friends, some are constantly getting into conflicts, some are staying in destructive relationships or on the job that’s making them miserable, and some are dreaming about their perfect life without making any move towards it. This is just a teeny-tiny portion of all the different struggles my clients are facing; but every one of them is unique to that person’s life situation. However, one thing stands out as the background issue of almost all of the problems I hear about. It’s fear. Fear of rejection, fear of uncommon, fear of change, fear of failure. Even I myself was struggling with anxiety in public-speaking situations, which you can read about on this link. Additionally, many have no clue how to overcome fears, so it can all get pretty messy.

Once you learn to face your fears and stop running away from them, but instead do the thing despite the fact you’re scared, you’ll transform. You’ll discover there are many great opportunities you’re able to catch, you’ll learn to live the life you want and you’ll discover some awesome parts of yourself you maybe didn’t even know existed. Sounds exciting? I agree. But it needs work and effort.

How to overcome your fears?

The first step is to discover and make yourself aware of your fears. Second, and the most difficult step, is to face your fears. To let yourself feel the fear, and do the thing you’re scared of anyways. Only this way, you can come to the third and final step, and that is overcoming your fears and, with that, transform your life.

This is exactly what Susan Jeffers talks about in her book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”. This book contains tons of enlightening ideas and useful techniques that will help you get out of passivity-mode and start working on facing your fears. Additionally, Susan teaches you how to stop negative-thinking patterns and start implementing positive thinking into your daily habits. There is much more to this incredible book, so I recommend you start your transformation by reading it.

 

 

If you’d like to inquire about anxiety reduction or relaxation techniques in Mississauga at Real Life Counselling, don’t hesitate to call us at 289-231-8479.