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Wellness

 

 

How Yogic Breathing Can Teach You to Center Yourself When You’re Stressed

Meera Watts

Stress is something you can't completely remove from your life. You're bound to encounter it at work, school or even your home. Despite being almost inevitable, however, there are a lot of things you can do to lessen stress and its effects on your body. You can try soaking in a hot bath or getting a nice massage.

But you know what the most effective, safest, and cheapest way to relieve stress?

Breathing. Now, if you're wondering what that has to do with yoga and how it can work against your stress, read on.

Breathing and Yoga

 Photo Source: Total Yoga

Photo Source: Total Yoga

When you are in a yoga class, you're often told to breathe consciously. It enables you to connect with the subtle energy inside you. It helps you navigate through your different levels of consciousness, affect your physical, mental, and emotional state.

Engaging with your breath is one way for you to be more present. It helps you concentrate on each aspect of your breathing process and that's what enables you to let go of what's in your past and what you expect to have in the future.

Additionally, when you breathe consciously, you activate the parts of your brain that impact emotion. As a result, your feelings will be more relaxed and balanced.

On Changing Breathing Pattern

 Photo Source: Joyday Movement

Photo Source: Joyday Movement

By altering the pattern of your breathing, you'll have this unique ability to create different states of mind.

For example, if you slow down your breathing, you activate the cerebral cortex which relays inhibitory impulses. These impulses overflow into an area known as the hypothalamus and relax the area. As your breathing slows down, you experience a soothing effect on your emotions.

Activating the Relaxation Response

 Photo Source: Mad Men

Photo Source: Mad Men

Stress isn't just a threat to the body. It actually does a lot of things to your system.

Once you experience it, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure gets elevated, the flow of blood to your brain increases and your muscles begin to tense

While those reactions and processes are normal for coping to the stress, they can put your general health at risk if you fail to keep them under control.

Yogic breathing activates your body's relaxation response to address them. It causes:

Lower heart rate and blood pressure // Muscle relaxation // Slower and deeper breathing // Lower blood flow to the brain

In addition to those benefits, practicing yoga and yogic breathing can also increase your focus, energy, ability to fight diseases, relieve pain, and improve your problem-solving skills.

Training the Body's Response to Stressful Situations

 Photo Source: The Real Housewives of Atlanta

Photo Source: The Real Housewives of Atlanta

Yogic breathing can induce a state of relaxation. It can reduce the stress signals to temporarily slow down or prevent the impending stress response.

Now, how do you train your body for that? First, you must understand that a breath is divided into 3 parts- chest, middle abdomen, and lower abdomen.

When you inhale, you must first fill up your lower abdomen with air. Then, fill your middle abdomen and the chest. When exhaling, remove the air from the chest first. Then, your middle and lower abdomen.

If you do it correctly, you won't find the need to push your abdomen out when inhaling and exhaling. The process should be effortless.

Don't be in a hurry to master the process. Take your time and understand that the best way for you to breathe properly is to work on building up little by little. With time, your lung capacity will start to expand and as a result, your brain will be more balanced, calmer, and more able to concentrate and make really important decisions.

How to Better Take Care Of Your Mental Health In The New Year

Gabeal Davis

The new year is upon us and a lot of us have made resolutions for 2018 like getting fit and making better financial decisions are at the top of a lot of people’s list, but where does improve your mental health falls on the list? Do people even think about improving their mental health alongside their physical? How would you even prepare yourself mentally to be better and improve your mental health? Well here are some ways you can take better care of your mind in the upcoming year.

Starting a Journal

Writing is something I love to do and being able to keep a journal helps me unwind. It gives me emotional and mental clarity and validates my experiences rather they are positive or negative. A journal also help me gain control over my emotions and kill off some of my stress, anxiety, and depression issues. So writing in a journal will be beneficial for you and maintaining your mental health next year.

Talking

Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. This year you should focus more on voicing your feelings more than keeping it to yourself. By holding onto the feelings and issues you have will only make things worse, your essentially a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

Relaxing

One of the easiest things to do is relax, but we often times forget because we are stressed over whatever situation we are dealing with. We have to remember to breathe and do things we enjoy to unwind. Some people enjoy working out, yoga, or meditate to relax and release stress. These and many other activities will help boost your energy and mood and improve your mental and physical health.

These are just some of the most common ways you can take better care of yourself mentally. Of course, none of these tactics are new, but so many people neglect them when they fall victim to depression and stress. 2017 has beaten so many of us up mentally. The topic of mental health has even risen to the forefront this past year. Let’s focus on conquering some of the issues that ales us in 2018.

More Than Just The Average Blues...

Morgan Daniels

 Photo by JOYDAY MOVEMENT 

Photo by JOYDAY MOVEMENT 

As a child, on rainy days, I'd sing "rain, rain go away come again another day..." It would help get rid of the gloomy feelings that I felt on rainy days. Growing up, when it was rainy/dark out, I would just want to stay in bed and wake up when it all went away.

I did not know why I felt this way. It's like the weather would put me in a permanent funk. I would stare outside my window looking for my joy and it was as if I couldn't see it on the other side of the glass. I would wonder, does anyone else feel this way? As I'd hum the song that once helped me through. "Rain, Rain go away..." the rain was still in my mind. Literally clouding my own happiness. I began to wonder, "why do I feel this way?"

So, I googled. And googled. And googled.

Until I found an answer of this internal sadness I that was dependent on the weather outside. They called it, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Others call it names such as: winter blues, summer depression, or seasonal depression. This can cause depressive symptoms from something as simple as the weather.

With this being said, if you are having more than the average blues, you are not alone and you will get through.

— A Girl that found her JOY no matter what the Weather.

Erroneous Motive

Martine Beauvais

 Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

I regret letting him back in.

The blossom I’d planted for him

had nearly died in the shadow of time gone by

before the veil of forgotten joy was ripped.

In poured the memories, as brilliant as light from the sun;

warm and life-giving.

Up sprang the possibilities of what could be,

like vines come to suffocate my conscious mind.

I stood aside while my reality was smothered by rich fantasy

and welcomed it.

 Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

“I want to surround you like heavy mist resting on expectant blades of grass,"

I would say to him.

“Soak me into your skin and soul; drink from my fountain,"

I would demand!

"Discover my valleys and rest in my canopy,"

I would beckon.

I would be everything I knew he was missing;

everything he didn't know he needed.

I would fill in the blanks and rearrange the pieces.

I was selfish.

I am selfish.

I am still not ready.

Sorry, I'm PMSing.

Jalyn Harden

Almost two weeks before a woman’s menstruation phase, she is almost always expected to feel fatigued, moody, + have these out-of-control cravings that may lead to bloating and/or excessive cramping. For most women, myself included, we might be precipitated by symptoms that disrupt our social functioning, sleep schedule, productivity + work ethic. In most phases, I find myself apologizing for my irritable mood and blaming it on the PMS. This can't be life. 

 Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

If you’ve experienced these symptoms, more than likely it’s premenstrual syndrome which is characterized by the "physical and emotional symptoms." Recently in my studies, I was informed that Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is the severe form of PMS, clinically diagnosable with its' respective criteria and appropriate duration.  After reading the criteria, what surprised me were two things: 

1. The criteria: Wow, this is actually a disorder. 

2. These symptoms affect A LOT of women I know! 

 Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

This is NOT to say every woman I know has PMDD. However, PMS can definitely impact your regular routine + may even have you to develop another routine just to deal with the precipitated symptoms. I’d like to examine PMDD through a socio-cultural perspective + possibly challenge the current literature which explicitly states PMDD isn't a culture bound syndrome.

 Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

To any woman reading this, you have literally felt my pain or even worse. In our “American” culture, most times we pop some ibuprofen to relieve of the physical pain + continue to our roles as a professional, wife, mother, daughter, member of society with these daunting symptoms. If we’re lucky enough we can call out or work, and spend the day crawling from our bedroom to bathroom because we can’t stand [the pain]. Some, not all, phases are as symptomatic - but I've gotten used it and deal with it, because I'm an American woman. 

On the contrary, in other cultures and countries, menstruation is not seen as a week of suffering, but rather a cleansing, a process encouraged even for men. Menstruation also is not as disabling + negatively viewed for women in other parts of the world. Women are still able maintain their weight with proper diet and exercise. With this being said, socio-cultural influences may play a bigger part than we imagine in our physical + behavioral symptoms during this time of the month. Take inventory of your diet, lifestyle,  and overall physical health to get more answers around your PMS and/or PMDD symptoms. 

If you have any questions, please see a medical doctor first ruling out all other somatic issues. 

 

Until next time, 

Jalyn Tai