What a beautiful time of year, gorgeous colors in the trees from vibrant green to fiery orange to ruby red, time to relax with family, and eat delicious meals with everyone you love. Oh eating delicious foods, it can be tricky when overindulgence is baked right into the holidays (I mean, stuffing, need I say more?).
Recognizing contentment before, during and after a meal (before the stress of the holidays forces you to overindulge) doesn’t have to be impossible. With just a few tweaks to your routine and a few yoga stretches to aid in digestion and stress relief, the holidays can be indulgent and fun without the stomachache after.
1. Three yoga poses for better digestion and peace
Sit and twist to massage the stomach: Sit on the floor or a pillow with legs crossed. Then place your right hand to your left knee and your left hand behind you on the ground and breathe deeply. Then switch to the other side with left hand on right knee and right hand behind you on the ground.
Cat cow: This one is great for beginners and master yogis. Start on all fours in a table position. Then round your back up like a scared cat as you exhale and slowly arch your back down and lift your head like a mooing cow. Do this sequence a few times to loosen your stomach and stretch your muscles.
Seated forward fold: Sit on the ground or a pillow with your legs straight out in front hip distance apart. Then slowly fold forward as you exhale out deeply and stretch your hands to meet your feet. Take it easy and enjoy the stretch in your legs and back.
Here is a video for yoga for digestion:
Just doing the first six minutes of this yoga video from Yoga with Adriene will help you digest your food and calm your mind.
2. Nourish your adrenals (aka The Stress Gland)
The Adrenal Glands are the kidney bean shaped glands that sit on top of our kidney. The Adrenals Glands store Vitamin C (in fact the highest concentration of Vitamin C is in our Adrenal Glands). Vitamin C is utilized to produce cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenals, and in times of stress cortisol is in high demand. The more we stress out the more our vitamin C stores in our adrenals becomes depleted. This can lead to an array of health problems, like the common cold.
Have you ever noticed everyone is sick around the holidays? Now you know why!
STRESS + EATING POORLY = SICKNESS.
When you aren’t eating a well balanced diet, consisting of mostly vegetables, proteins, and good fats, you are not nourishing your body. Which leads your body to ask for nutrition from your reserves. This isn’t good because you are depleting your body's backup system.
THIS IS VITAL, if you deplete your Adrenal Glands of Vitamin C and you never replenish the storage, you can end up with a sickness. The worst part is that it might take a much longer time to go away. In some cases colds can linger for months! Then if you injure yourself or end up in the hospital your body needs those reserves to keep you alive.
The only way you can quickly replenish the reserves of the organs is to add to your diet high dose whole food supplements. That means high quality, organic, food based supplements, like we sell at Well Balanced Body.
If you are local, stop by our office during the Holiday Season, we are selling $1 Adrenal Health Supplements that contain everything your adrenals need to deal with stress and to prevent the holiday bulge. (Dr. T recommends taking 2 of these packs per day during stressful times.)
3. Let your Central Nervous System center yourself
The Central Nervous System consists of your brain and your spinal column. It controls everything in your entire body. Maintaining your spinal alignment is crucial in allowing your body to stay healthy. Especially during the holidays!
3 ways to help maintain spinal alignment
4. Choose a mantra
Creating a mantra you can say to yourself as you’re cooking, picking family up from the airport, organizing an event or volunteering this holiday can help you feel the love in any situation even while dealing with stress. When we can pause to breathe and encourage ourselves, even just for one minute, any stressful situation can become less overwhelming. Choose a mantra or a short positive statement that makes sense for you. Like: “I am whole,” “I love myself, “I am content,” “Eating well is a joy and a privilege,” or “My family wants only the best for me.”
Whether it is hard to believe in the moment or not, choosing a positive statement to tell yourself can help reinforce your self confidence and boost your mood. Win win!
These few tips will hopefully get you through the week without letting stress or overwhelm get the best of you. Remember to feel thankful for who you are and what you have no matter what stress is going on in your life. Take it slow and know that love is within you. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!!
Dr. Malori Tinsley (Dr. T) held a workshop on how to strength your deep core and increase pelvic flexibility. Dr. T and her good friend Anna Tsui, a business and life coach, taught yoga poses for a strong core, how to trust your self, breathe and stay calm. Dr. T and Anna offer four ways to strengthen your deep core and stay peaceful throughout the day. By strengthening the core, and therefore bolstering your inner strength, you can visualize who you want to be and better connect to your core self.
Inhale, deeply. Exhale, slowly. Now sit down and do that for 40 seconds. Just breathe. What may seem like a simple task is more helpful than you may think.
Anna said that most of us are in a reactive state for most of the day, but she said “Taking just 40 seconds to breathe can help get you out of a reactive state.”
Without pausing, without checking in with ourselves, we respond to a myriad of factors. This constant action and reaction takes a great toll on spirit, self and body.
A situation is put in front of us and, “we react by holding our breath,” said Dr. T. “This puts a toll on our nervous system, putting us into the dreaded fight or flight state, leaving us more susceptible to disease. Our breath is so important and being conscious of it is a great start to changing your health for the better.”
Dr. T uses the power of breath in her practice and in her daily life to remain calm, healthy and productive. “Breath can put you in a better state of mind and health,” she said, “This is what our classes teach you to do, to come back to something so simple.”
How to: Another great exercise is Rhythmic Breathing. Dr. T recommends the exercise to reset the nervous system. Start by sitting up straight in a comfortable position. You can sit on the floor or in a chair. Then breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8 for two minutes. “This helps re-balance our reactive stressed out states,” said Dr. T.
2. Be a warrior, or a clam
Whether you are new to yoga or a master yogi, learning how to activate your core and bring awareness to your center is an important step.
“Increasing your awareness takes a lot of patience. Don't dive in. Take it one step at a time and start slow,” said Dr. T.
The warrior positions, clam shells (see photo), oblique engaging movements, bridge position, and the cat cow stretch are all great ways to become stronger and more in tune with your core.
Your deep core muscles are the ones that keep your spine supported, your side muscles that help you twist and dance, and of course your abdomen that keeps you balanced and mobile. When properly engaged, all of the deep core muscles work together to tone your body and keep you standing tall.
How to: For the clamshells, lie down on the floor and roll onto your right side. Then bring your legs up as if you were sitting on a chair so that your legs form a 90 degree angle with your body. Then open your legs while keeping them bent. Your legs should like a clamshell opening up. This is good for strengthening your pelvic floor and strengthening your inner thighs.
3. Think of a color
Anna lead the class in a visualizing exercise while sitting on the floor. By visualizing a color, focusing on a positive feeling, and choosing a location that embodies that feeling you can stay calm and mindful, so you can feel centered inside and out.
To start, think of a positive message to send to your body and mind. Think to yourself “I want to feel ___________.” And put in the word that feels good in the moment. Perhaps calm? Confident? Loved? Patient? Or maybe you are encouraging yourself to love your body more? By starting with this statement you can flow into a mantra and a more peaceful day.
How to: Sit quietly and think of what you want to improve in yourself. Then choose a color that exemplifies this good feeling. Once you have your color in mind picture a place in which you see yourself feeling this way, perhaps in a forest, at the beach, or in your home.
Then create your mantra. This is as simple as making a positive statement about how you want to feel. If you want to feel more centered your mantra would be “I am centered.” If it is to feel more self-love your mantra could be “I love myself.” Think of your color, place and mantra. And don’t forget to breathe!
4. Take a moment
The Well Balanced Body studio is the perfect place to take a moment for you, with soft music, candle light, and the scent of zesty orange essential oil it is a center of calm. Remember to take moment for yourself and make it special, light a candle, turn off the TV, put your phone in airplane mode for five minutes, and close your eyes. Whatever you want to focus your energy on, whether it is taking time for yourself, calming down after a busy day, or gearing up for a long day ahead, taking a moment to center yourself will make all the difference.
By breathing deeply, engaging your body, and visualizing a peaceful image, that reactive self can become a more mindful self.
Leave us a comment of the color you visualized or your favorite way to center yourself!
Did you miss this workshop or just want to continue to strengthen yourself? Join us at Well Balanced Body on December 2nd from 10 to 12pm for a Fundamentals of Self Care Workshop lead by our yoga teacher Michelle. We can’t wait to strengthen with you!