Yoga for Anxiety and Insomnia

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I have heard from quite a few people that this season of change seems to be raising their anxiety. And I am definitely experiencing this too. That, and insomnia, my old friend, has come to visit me again. It is as if we all want to make some big moves, shake things up and see all of our dreams perfectly manifesting. And we want it right now!

All those seeds we had underneath winter’s snow are wanting to burst forth and immediately become full blown blossoms. But that’s not the way things happen. Things must sprout slowly. It must be the right timing. The necessary needs and nurturing must be met if our ideas are going to bloom into their full potential.

This drive to make things happen NOW is making us move faster, push harder, and lean into the future instead of being in the present.

All of this anxious energy combined with the increased sunlight in the evenings is creating the perfect recipe for insomnia for many of us. We’re wired but we’re also oh so tired.

Here are a few yogic techniques that we can use to help us through this time of transition.

 

Legs Up the Wall Pose (Vipariti Karani)

Legs Up the Wall

How

  1. You can use a bolster under your hips as I do in this photo, but if you are less flexible you might want to not use a bolster at all or use a lower form of support, like folded blanket. If your hamstrings are tighter you may also want to be a little farther away from the wall, rather than having your buttocks up against the wall. If you use support you will want to place 5-6 inches away from the wall to allow for your tailbone to float in this space.
  2. The easiest way to come into the pose is to kneel near the wall and place your buttocks against the wall and then roll into the pose. If this a try. It may take some practice to figure out the easiest way for you to come into the pose.
  3. Extend your legs up the wall feeling the weight of your legs into your hip joints. Feel your tailbone floating in the space between the wall and your support. And feel your pubic bone higher than your sternum.
  4. Take a small roll (made from a towel for example) under your neck if the cervical spine feels flat.
  5. Soften your eyes and stay here for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Roll out of the pose slowly.

Benefits

  • Can be done in bed
  • Balances hormones
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Lowers anxiety
  • Relieves back pain
  • Calms the mind
  • Reduces swelling in the legs and feet

Alternate Nostril Breathing

How

Follow along using this video on my YouTube channel of a simplified version of Alternative Nostril breathing.

Benefits

  • Balances left and right sides of the body and left and right brain
  • Calms the mind

Meditation for Grounding and Protection

How

Listen to this Meditation for Grounding and Protection inspired by Tamara Hawk.

Benefits

  • Help you to feel more grounded and safe
  • Lowers anxiety
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
  • Decreases any tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems

In general meditation also:

  • Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
  • Improves the immune system

Are there other things you do to help yourself when you are feeling anxious or experiencing insomnia? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

Wishing you a calm mind and deep, restful sleeps,

XOX

Krystal

P.S. If you are looking for more ways wake up from our winter hibernation in a gentle and sustainable way, check out my Spring Retreat with Dr. Kyla Wright, ND and my spring yoga classes starting April 5, 2016.

 

A UNIQUE SELF-CARE PRACTICE

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What is Self Care?

Self care is care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self care is about treating yourself as kindly as you treat others. It’s about self-compassion!

Worth

Which is why self-care is also linked to our own sense of worthiness. If we do not believe we are worthy of the acts of self-care or of taking that time to look after ourselves, then practicing self-care is like an uphill battle.

I definitely struggle with feelings of being unworthy. And since, in recent years, I let go of most of my unworthy feelings around my weight it allows me to see how much my level of productivity is also linked to my level of worthiness.

I hustle all the time for my worthiness by trying to show myself and the world just how productive I can be. The big one is how much I hustle to prove it to myself.

This shows up in my life by driving me to keep working into the evenings, forgoing rest, meals, movement, meditation, all in the name of productivity. I truly know now that shaming myself into practicing more self-care is also not going to work. “I should go for a walk.” “I should take a break.” “I should have meditated today.” All of these thoughts will then just get piled on to the thoughts of: “I should have finished that proposal”; “I should have gotten that facebook post out”; and “I should be creating more content for my business”.  The result will be a big crash. I won’t feel good about myself. So I won’t feel like connecting with others and I will feel isolated and ultimately I will feel depressed. It’s a vicious circle.

This is why I love Brene Brown SO much. If you haven’t heard of her, google her TedTalk. Brene says, ‘There are no prerequisites for worthiness. Worthiness is an as-is, here and now proposition.’

So all of this to say I think some of THE BEST self-care and the most accessible (but maybe not the easiest) to practice is noticing when we are hustling for our worthiness and asking ourselves “Is there another option in this situation?” “If I am trying to prove myself to others or myself, what am I hoping to gain?” “Do I maybe already have those things because I am the only one with the power to give that to myself?”

And then to switch our thinking to:

“I am the only one who decided that I am worthy. I am the only one who decides that I am worthy of love. I am the only one who decides that I am enough. And that is what I decide, I am enough. I am worthy. I am worthy of love.”

I say this is accessible because you don’t need any new equipment and you don’t even need to carve out more hours in your day to practice this so it is always available to you. However, changing our thoughts and beliefs can be WAY more challenging than trying to stretch your calves everyday. I have definitely heard the feedback from yoga students that it is less scary to try coming into a challenging pose for two minutes than to try sitting with yourself in silent meditation for two minutes.

Self-Care Exercise

This practice will be an exploration from a place of self-love and worthiness of what self-care looks like for you. I believe self-care is very personal and can look very different in different situations. There are the usual acts of self-care

  • Talk openly with a trusted friend.
  • Sit outside and listen to the birds.
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Take a warm bath/shower

But maybe there are some ways that we can practice self-care that are little outside the box and personal to you. For example, I love playing with creative expression of how I dress, my hair and my makeup and lately I have been doing what I call, “galaxy eyebrows” where I colour my eyebrows with blue and purple and pink shadows. It helps me to feel like me. It helps me to feel like my authentic self and this lowers anxiety and improves my connection with others.

Some general ideas of things that might be self-care are:

  • Things that makes us feel good and like our authentic selves
  • Things that comfort and ground us
  • Things that make us feel calm
  • Things that lower stress
  • Things that help us feel connected
  • Things that make us happy
  • Things we are enthusiastic about

Here is the practice:

Begin by sitting comfortably. Close your eyes and settle in. Let the world outside melt away. Let go of anything that happened earlier today. Let go of anything you think you need to do later. And bring your awareness into this room. See where your body is in the room. Then see the room around you begin to fade away as you gather up your awareness and bring it fully into your body. Fully into the present moment. This time is just for you. There is nowhere else for you to be. Nothing else for you to be doing. Just being in your body. Being in this moment. That is enough.

Practice breath observation for one minute. If you notice other thoughts, label them as a thought and let them go. Then come back to the breath.

For the next minute begin to breathe in and out through your heart. Breathing in and out of the spiritual heart. The area behind the breastbone and to the right of your physical heart. Like your lungs are in your heart. Let your breath caress your heart.

In this meditative state, ask yourself the following questions to get more clear on what self-care really means for you:

  • What makes me happy?
  • What helps me feel calm?
  • Where do I find comfort?
  • Where do I find connection?
  • What tools do I have to release stress?
  • What helps me to feel good about myself?
  • When do I feel connected to my authentic self?
  • What do I feel passionate about?

Breathe here listening to your heart and getting clearer on the actions you can take to practice self-care.

I hope you enjoyed this exploration of self-care. I would love to hear about any discoveries you made in your meditation. Please share them in the comments below.

xox

Krystal

 

Free Meditation to Visualize Success in 2016

As a thank you gift from me to you I want to offer up a free meditation for visualizing success in 2016. 2015 has been a wonderful trip around the sun, filled with up and downs, but all of them valuable experiences. As the year ends I will be taking stock of my year; the lessons I learned that I want to take with me into 2016, as well as the things I want to leave behind because they are no longer serving me.

This guided meditation can help you to get clear on your goals for 2016. We will focus in on one goal and see clearly the successful outcome of this goal. This can be any goal you have for your life. It could be to have a regular meditation practice. A regular yoga practice. It could be to live more fully in the present moment. It could be a positive outcome for your health. It could be around a new job that you are searching for or perhaps improving the job you have. It could be goal to help improve the relationships in your life. Anything. 🙂

I hope you will join me. Share in the comments below what your goals are so we can cheer you on!

3

xoxo

Krystal

Trick or Treat: Ground Yourself with Bhu (BOO) Mudra

Bhu Mudra Meditation

In the spirit of Halloween I wanted to offer a fun, easy and short practice of Bhu Mudra meditation. See what I did there? Bhu mudra. Boo mudra.

In all serious, fall time can be a chaotic and busy time. Many of us are getting back into routines and filling up our schedules. Ayurvedically fall is a time that can cause vata imbalances. Vata is the air element of our constitution. Symptoms of a vata imbalance might be excessive worry and stress, difficulty making decisions, feeling scattered in your mind and light or unrestful sleep.

To help balance vata we need to ground. So today we will practice Bhu Mudra a very grounding and calming mudra. It is associated with your first chakra and can increase a sense of safety and stability.

Pose: Sukhasana

Mudra: Bhu

Affirmation: I am supported by the earth.

Check out the video here.

Tell me how this meditation makes you feel. Do you feel calmer afterwards?

Krystal

Thoughts on Practicing Yoga in a Bigger Body

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Twice now I have had the honour of being a part of the Chat, Chew and YOU sharing body positive yoga. While preparing for the last show, I took some time to think about what it’s been like practicing yoga in a bigger body and what I maybe wish I had known back when I started, what I wish I had access to when I started, and what my yoga practice has done for my relationship with my bigger body. I want to share those thoughts with you today.

First of all, everyone has access to the benefits of yoga, any body any size and any ability. If you can consciously observe your breath you can do yoga. See Yoga is Not Just Asana.

However, I totally get the intimidation around starting yoga or any movement practice in a bigger body. When I started going to yoga classes, I was always the biggest body in the room. And even today as a teacher, I am often the biggest body in the room. Most yoga classes out there focus on asana and moving your body can make you more aware of it. Which can be a big trigger when you loathe your body and can bring on increased feelings of body shame.

This is why finding the right teacher is so important. You want a teacher who doesn’t use body shaming language in the class, like “to burn more calories do this” or “if you are trying to lose weight try this”, or even calling a certain expression of a pose “the full expression of the pose”. The benefits of an asana practice can be experienced and felt in any variation and any body.

It’s also important that your teacher be well versed in the many variations and modifications of poses. If they are a bigger bodied person they are more likely to have found modifications that will work for bigger bodies, but it is really on the yoga instructor (of any size) to learn modifications and offer them to their students. It is on the teacher to meet their students where they are. On the other hand, I also highly encourage you to modify during class for what works for you, even if the teacher doesn’t offer it. You know your body best and you know what works best for your body.

 

When you find the right teacher and the right space to begin a yoga practice, how can yoga help you make peace with your body?

  • Find pleasure in moving your body in the moment and not some future benefit
  • Find peace through connection to breath
  • Learn to be in the present moment because the present is where our power lies
  • Learn to observe your thoughts, question them or accept them, and not to attach too much value to those thoughts, especially if they are self-harming thoughts
  • Stimulate your body’s relaxation response for increased energy and a sense of peace

And eventually this will hopefully lead to:

  • Creating a space to appreciate your body for everything it can do and everything it does for you
  • Noticing where your body is strong and capable and focusing on that
  • Seeing your body as an ally, not an enemy you have to be at war with
  • Seeing your worth as more than a number on a scale
  • Redefining health – My definition of health includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. You can be healthy at any size. There’s even an organization dedicated to this topic called “Health at Every Size”. Check it out. 🙂

If you would like to continue, or even start, your yoga journey, I have an online meditation program called Daily Luscious ReTreats that would be a great place to start or to deepen your yoga practice. The 21-day program talks you through the meditation process from learning how to meditate to themes of gratitude and unconditional love. Sometimes as we rush around trying to be everything, we forget to JUST BE! Breathe and just be.
 
Daily Luscious ReTreats is here to give you that time to just be!

For more info on the program click here and scroll to the bottom of the page. I will be revamping my online programs soon so this meditation program will only be available until August 31, 2015.

I’d love to hear about your yoga journey and any questions you might have. Write me any time.
Krystal

 

Yoga is not just asana!

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First of all I just want to say thank you from the very bottom of my heart

for all the lovely responses I got to my last post. It was truly overwhelming and uplifting in the best way possible. Hearing that my message that you are enough touched so many of you gives me the boost I need to keep going. Because along with the feeling of not being enough, I often question whether I am making the difference in the world that I wish for or if there is a better way for me to make a difference. So your feedback is everything to me. Basically, I really need you guys!

So with the idea of promoting mental health and the hope of making yoga seem more accessible (Yoga is not just asana!), I wanted to share three benefits I feel from my meditation practice. And if it inspires you to meditate today, then I have attached a link to one of my online meditations. 🙂

 

Only Love and Compassion

Sometimes it can feel like any action I take may have a negative effect in the world, even if my intention is positive. So my meditation practice can feel like this huge sigh of relief. I feel that as I sit in meditation I am only bringing good into the world. All I feel is love and compassion for myself and others, and I like to start my daily action in this way.

 

Connection

It has been said before about meditation and I will say it again here: I feel connected to everyone and everything during and sometimes even after my meditation. One of the teachings of yoga is that suffering and disease come from feeling separate. When we feel isolated, alone and unsupported in our world we tend to be on constant alert for threats and our stress levels rise. Feeling connected helps us see others’ pain as our pain. It builds compassion. It builds community. We are not alone.

 

Present with What Is

When we sit in meditation we are forced to be present with what is – what is happening in our mind, what kind of thoughts are we thinking (or trying not to think), what kind of sensations are we feeling in our body today, how easily our breath is flowing or not flowing. This can be scary sh*t. As the men of Dhamma Brothers expressed, Vipassana meditation was harder than being on death row. But being in the present is where we have power. The past has already happened and the future has not happened yet. The place where we can effect change in in the present and my meditation practice brings me there.

If you would like to give a meditation a try here is my 10 minute meditation on Loving Kindness.

Please share any thoughts you have on this post with me. The make me the happiest!

Love,
Krystal

You are enough!

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Sometimes I struggle with feeling like I am not enough. Let’s be real, I often struggle with feeling like I’m not enough. And one of the ways that I like to prove to myself that I am not enough is to say “You didn’t even practice yoga today”. I mean, come on, I’m a full time yoga instructor and a big time yoga lover – how can I be enough if I skip my yoga practice?

There are many core beliefs underlying this cycle of thinking that I would like to examine and challenge for myself.  One of the beliefs that I am definitely not willing to accept, and for sure I do not want to perpetuate in the yoga community, is that we are a “good yogi” (enough) only on days where we do a 60 minute primarily asana-based yoga practice.

This is not the intention of yoga. Yoga is union. Yoga is a system of tools for your life. Yoga is in the moment. Yoga is one conscious breath away. Yoga is not just another thing on our to do list that we get to check off for a sense of worthiness and approval of ourselves.

So with this in mind I want to share with you that today my yoga practice looked like one minute of conscious breathing meditation and I am still enough. In fact, that one minute of conscious breathing reminded me that I am always enough.

And, whatever you did today, you are enough.

Love,

Krystal

Celebrate Mother’s Day With Yoga

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It’s Mother’s Day this weekend! Time to celebrate the women who brought us into this world, and what better way to do that than with some yoga. 😉

Check out my ideas for how you can share yoga with the Moms in your life below.

Moms-To-Be and New Moms

For the Moms-To-Be and the New Moms in your life, I am just releasing my brand new Mom and Baby Yoga Nidra CD this very weekend! The CD has three audio tracks, including:

    • Baby Bonding, connecting you to the magic and power of the life growing within you;
    • Beautiful Birth, helping you to visualize a beautiful birth; and
    • Mom Time, giving you some time for yourself after the baby has arrived.

Yoga Nidra is one of the most powerful and relaxing yoga practices. I know the Moms will LOVE it!

Moms with Kids

For the moms with younger children, you can give yourself the gift of sharing my Yoga-Based Games for Kids E-book. Set your kids up with the e-book and then take a few moments of quiet to yourself. If you want even more of a guarantee of entertaining these little ones, or perhaps some help getting them to bed, check out the guided relaxation audio that is included right in the e-book!

Moms with Teens

Moms of Teens might enjoy doing a Partner Yoga practice with their child. Partner Yoga offers a fun way to spend time together, create memories and learn new ways of communicating and supporting each other. If you are looking for some ideas, check out this great resource for partner yoga ideas.

Moms who want to Connect

Meditation is typically seen as a solo activity, but when you practice together you are each holding the space of meditation for the other. Doing a meditation together gives you the shared experience, which can then be discussed after the meditation is complete. If you are looking for a meditation, you can check out my meditation on Unconditional Love here.

Moms who want some Alone Time

For Moms who really need some downtime, a restorative pose (like the one pictured above hugging a bolster) and some yoga nidra can really help you forget about any troubles in your world. I have some free Yoga Nidras up on my YouTube channel or you could gift your mom my original Yoga Nidra CD, Yoga Nidra from the Heart.

I will be at the Yellowknife Trade Show this weekend with all of my CDs and DVDs. I would love it if you stopped by my booth to say hello!

Let me know what you plan to do to celebrate your mom in the comments.

Have a great weekend Moms!

Krystal

Tips for Developing a Home Yoga Practice (Infographic)

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Yoga is essentially an inquiry. An inquiry into ourselves. An inquiry to observe our actions and reactions. An inquiry to get to know ourselves a little better.  An inquiry to tolerate the consequences of being ourselves a little more. And hopefully an inquiry to LOVE ourselves a little more.

A home and personal yoga practice is essential to receive all of these benefits. The experience is yours. The practice is yours. You get to shape it into whatever you need, whatever you want.

OWN IT! The journey of self-inquiry is profound and endless.

Below are some of my best tips to get you started on this rich path to deeper SELF LOVE in your home yoga practice!

1. Give yourself the gift of space

Creating a space at home or the office where you will do your practice can help remind you of your intentions and also encourage you to practice. Knowing that you have a space that you can use can be half of the battle. And the more you practice in it, the more that space will remind you of how good you feel during and after your practice. Your space can be filled with your props and any other visual cues like an altar or a poster displaying an intention or affirmation. Often anxiety about the other obligations we have in our life can overpower our desire to begin or maintain our own home daily practice so having those visual cues of your dedication can be very helpful. Give yourself the gift of creating a little space in your life and in the day that will be a sacred practice for self-care.

2. No rules

A yoga practice is just that, a practice and twenty minutes of daily yoga practice is more likely to show positive results sooner than two hours of occasional practice. So allow yourself to let go of a rigid idea of what your home daily yoga practice should look like and see if there are any natural breaks in your day that might lend themselves to begin a practice with the time available.

3. Listen

Take some time at the beginning of your practice to notice how your body is feeling. Are there places in your body where you need to release tension and stretch? Are there place that need more gentleness and compassion? Do you have energy you need to release? Also notice what is happening in your mind. What kind of mood are you in today? What kind of thoughts are you thinking? Are there any shifts you would like to make in your mind that your yoga practice could help you with? Notice your breath too. Your breath can be an excellent indicator of how you are doing. Is your breath fast or shallow? Are you able to breath easily into all parts of your torso? Use this information to get a feel for what you need from your practice each day.

4. Use your breath

Use your breath at the beginning of your practice to clear your mind, setting the intention that you will be present with your body, mind and breath for your whole practice. You can begin with deep belly breaths and work into a three-part breath or ujjayi breath.

5. Choose Your Asana

Asanas are the poses we do in our yoga practice. For your asana practice it is nice to start with some poses to warm up your body like the six movements of the spine (cat/cow, side stretch and twists) and a few sun salutations. From there you could move into other poses based on how your body and mind are feeling that day. You can get ideas for which poses to do by making some mental notes in class on how the different poses make you feel and which ones you like or feeling like might be healing for you. If want some more help and guidance with a personalized therapeutic home practice, you could see me for Private Yoga Therapy Sessions.

6. Get Creative

  • Have kids and find it hard to make time for your practice? Make your yoga practice “Family Fun Time”.
  • Standing in line at the grocery store? Come into Tadasana and take a few conscious breaths.
  • Feeling tension in your neck and shoulders at work? Take a five minute break and do the 6 movements of your spine right from your office chair.
  • Having trouble sleeping? Lay in your bed and swing your legs up the wall coming into the Great Rejuvenator, Vipariti Karani.

Infographic - Tips for your home yoga practice

EARTH WEEK 2015 CELEBRATION – FREE MEDITATION AND YOGA CLASS!

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As a celebration of this lovely planet that supports our needs every day, The Luscious Life is offering you a free online meditation to Connect with the Earth. This meditation will deepen your connection to the earth, allow you to feel the energy of the earth and send some love back. Check it out here!

Also, there will be a FREE Yoga Class with the lovely Anneka Westergreen as part of Ecology North’s Earth Week celebrations. The class is at the Collective Soul Space, Tuesday April 21, 12-1pm. Hope to see everyone there!

Last but not least, there are still a few spots left in the new round of Next Level Yoga: Invert Yo’self. Inversions can improve circulation, increase immunity, reenergize and relax you. And they can be TONS O’ FUN! It starts on Wednesday, and you can register online here!

And let us know what you are doing for Earth Week in the comments below! Happy Earth Week 2015 everyone!