Can Yoga Help With Anxiety & Depression? The Answer is YES!

restorative-collage

Anxiety disorders, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, are the most common mental illness in North America, affecting about 40 million adults. If current trends continue, it’s estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world. A significant amount of research has been conducted on yoga as a therapeutic tool, and evidence supports the findings that yoga can help treat depression and anxiety.

Depression and anxiety are diseases in which people experience being stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk, obsessive rumination on the past or anxiety about the future. Physical exercises that increase awareness of sensations arising from within the physical body can help people heal. Yoga connects the mind and body through the breath, creating presence and mindfulness. Mindfulness in the body is the ability to inhabit the body and be present with bodily sensation as they fluctuate from one moment to the next.

Most people aren’t aware that inside each of us, there’s a mind-body communications network that contributes to the patterns of anxiety and depression. This network includes (but is not limited to):

The autonomic nervous system: The part of the nervous system responsible for control of the bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes.

The enteric nervous system: Often called ‘the second brain’ which controls the gastrointestinal system and is the reason we get ‘butterflies in our stomach’ or need to use the restroom more frequently when we are nervous and/or under stress. The Immune System: Made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body.

The Connective Tissue Matrix: A group of tissues in the body that maintains the form of the body and its organs and provides cohesion and internal support. The connective tissues include several types of fibrous tissue that vary only in their density and cellularity, as well as the more specialized and recognizable variants—bone, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and fascia.

To really effect change, we need to access this mind-body network and change patterns in these bodily systems.

Mindfulness may be a doorway to healing many anxiety disorders, and yoga, specifically Restorative Yoga incorporates practices to strengthen this quality. With the aim of awareness in mind, Restorative Yoga is not like the typical hot, sweaty Westernized forms of yoga that are prevalent. Restorative Yoga is a gentle, therapeutic style of yoga that uses props such as bolsters, blankets and yoga blocks to fully support the body in restful, still positions held from 5 – 10 minutes. The focus of the practice is to completely relax the muscles and very gently stretch the body, letting go of tension in the connective tissue, which includes bones, ligaments, tendons and fascia. Long holds allow time for stillness, presence, guided meditation and mind body connection and give practitioners an experience of present and safe in the moment. All of the poses are done on the floor, no standing or kneeling postures – you go down to the mat once and get up from the mat once, thus making Restorative Yoga accessible to anyone that can get up and down to the floor.

savasana-with-bolster

Savasana using a bolster to take pressure off the lower back

At FitZonePLUS, while in poses we use specific questions and cues that serve to increase a person’s awareness of the sensations in his or her body. For example, a Restorative class begins and ends with Savasana. Lying on the back, the arms and legs are spread at about 45 degrees, the eyes are closed and the breath deep. The whole body is relaxed onto the mat with an awareness of the chest and abdomen rising and falling with each breath. All parts of the body are scanned for muscular tension of any kind, which is consciously released as it is found. All control of the breath, the mind, and the body is then released for the duration of the pose, typically 10 minutes. The pose is released by slowly deepening the breath, flexing the fingers and toes, reaching the arms above the head, stretching the whole body, exhaling, bringing the knees to the chest and rolling over to the side in a fetal position. After a short time and a slow inhalation, the practitioner takes a seated position.

After completing this pose, we ask practitioners to check in with their bodies. Without judgment, how am I feeling physically? Is there any pain, tightness or tension in my body, if so, where is it? How am I feeling mentally? How deep is my breath? During final Savasana a second check in is done. This time we ask practitioners to notice any changes. To notice how their body and mind may feel different after 60 minutes of practice. Most clients notice that their body feels less tense, elongated, more open and flexible. The mind usually feels less cluttered and a sense of calm is present.

The more consistently you practice, the longer this feeling stays with you.

All types of yoga and exercise can help to ease anxiety and depression, however Restorative yoga provides more time for stillness and releasing tension from connective tissues. If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression or stress, give it a try, it may change your life!

Click here to view the FitZonePLUS class schedule. Restorative type classes on the schedule include: Happy Knees, Yin Yoga, Yin/Restorative Yoga, Reiki Restorative and Restorative yoga.

 

To the Guys Who Threw Eggs at Me Tonight

This is a powerful, powerful piece about fat shaming and how one brave, kick ass, witty and wonderful and inspring person dealt with it. I’m doing my best to help become viral – everyone NEEDS to read this.

Dances With Fat

Who throws and eggI was five miles into a nine mile training walk for my upcoming marathon when your car pulled up beside me, I didn’t think much of it until I heard you yell “HEY FAT BITCH!”  I stopped and turned to look at you and you took that opportunity to throw 2 eggs and, somewhat inexplicably, an empty egg carton, at me. (Picture at the bottom of this blog)

To recap – adult males threw the eggs and carton at me for daring to exist outside my house in a fat body.  Of course they are utter cowards who sped away immediately, leaving me with so many questions:

  • First of all, how did you come to have 2 eggs and an egg carton in your car? Did you throw the first ten at other fatties, or are you now dealing with 10 eggs and no carton in your car?
  • Were these…

View original post 755 more words

Weight Loss With Yoga

Weight Loss with Yoga

Yoga is a great way to lose and keep off weight. Through regular practice, it can positively alter your consciousness in a way that it benefits your mind and body. Through regular and sustained yoga practice you can elongate your muscles, lose weight and
learn to be more present, thus helping with anxiety, depression, eating disorders and a slew of other conditions.                                

Yoga has long been thought of as a great way to increase flexibility and relieve stress. Many people have seen the wonderful benefits yoga has in weight loss in recent years. Specific positions or asanas can target areas such as the abdomen, waist, and thighs. Those asanas that target the abdomen are the abdominal lift, the child pose, and the cobra pose. On the other hand, the downward and upward-facing dog poses, the hero pose, and the angle pose help tone the hips and thighs.

Any physical activity burns calories. Even as you sit and read this, you are already burning calories. When performing yoga, you can burn hundreds of calories per hour depending on the type of class. Though it generally burns fewer calories than more strenuous exercises, it works all the muscles in the body and tones them more evenly. Often seen as a low-impact form of exercise at the beginner level, yoga can be performed by almost anyone!

A healthy, balanced meal plan (with the appropriate level of calories for your body and goals) and a sustained program of yoga can help with long-term weight loss. Specific asanas can help increase your metabolism. The Salutation to the Sun, Pose of the Moon, Cobra pose, Bow Stretch, and Spinal twist all work to increase your metabolic rate and stimulate the endocrine system.

The best types of yoga for weight loss are considered to be the most physical. Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and Power Yoga are considered to be the most physical types. If you’ve never done yoga before, it is not advisable to start with the most physical types. Instead, try other types which are fit for beginners. You can try the most common form which is Hatha Yoga.  Once you become comfortable with this style, you may already start to notice changes in your body.

Most people also find that meditation and breathing exercises they learn during yoga help them to increase their will power. Instead of giving in to their cravings, they perform a breathing exercise or maybe even meditate.  Yoga generally makes you more clear headed, calm and happier…it promotes the well being necessary to quiet food cravings. To fight off cravings, increase your will power by trying this simple exercise. First, clear your mind. Breath deeply then repeat to yourself: “I will be healthier. I will be happier. I will live well” Positive reinforcement will surely help you lose weight with yoga.

If you are plus size and would like to try a class for bigger bodies, visit www.yogazoneplus.com.  We offer classes specifically created for plus size people.

Our First Plus Size Yoga Class Was Awesome!

It was a big day yesterday, our first class ever at YogaZonePLUS. It couldn’t have gone better and everyone was really happy with the class and said they’d be back. We went for a drink afterwards and got some great feedback from the students. The next class will be even better!

There is only 1 spot left for the Saturday, March 24 1:15pm – 2:15pm class and 3 spots left for the Wednesday, March 28 6-7pm class. Click here to join: http://www.yogazoneplus.com/Contact-Us.html Classes in March are only $10.00…come try it out, it’s fun and you’ll meet some great people which stretching your whole body.