FEELING WIRED OR ANXIOUS POST-EXERCISE?

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Have you ever experienced post-work out panicking or an inability to wind down? Or have you ever connected the two? Unfortunately it can be one possible side effect of overworking your upper body or working with incorrect alignment.

Overstimulating your upper back and neck muscles, particularly for stressed people, can send the body into panic mode as these are the same muscles that activate when we sense danger. The brain takes this tension as an indication that you’re about to go into some kind of battle, and floods the body with stress chemicals such as adrenaline.

Increasing the blood flow, and thus relaxation around these tissues, helps reset the nervous system back into cruise-control by flooding the body with relaxation chemicals and endorphins.

Try the following to help keep you strong but calm:

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CHANGING THE STORIES

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We have all created narratives throughout our lives that keep us locked into unhealthy thought patterns. Even though these stories make us feel fearful, angry, sad or anxious, we love them because they feel like home: they’re comfortable, familiar & predictable.

One of the stories I love to run is that life = worry. I pick through my day to find something to hyper focus on and build into a worry story. This story is great at keeping me occupied and stopping me from venturing out of my comfort zone. Another common story people love, is to find ways of blaming other people for the misfortunes in their own lives. As long as they can blame others they’ll never have to look at their own part in the story and change their ways. There are many, many stories we tell ourselves…do you know yours?

Despite our stories having strong pathways (due to constant use!) it is totally possible to re-write them, I can vouch for this. The steps outlined below have been incredibly helpful in rewriting new nourishing stories.

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BRIDGING YOUR PRESENT STATE WITH YOUR DESIRED STATE

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The Tasha Be movement practise is my primary tool for helping myself and my clients better organise our physical bodies in order to find balance and clarity within every aspect of our lives. When you’re working physically on your body there is no way you are not also affecting other aspects of your life. For example gaining strength through your pelvis and legs will invariably have you feeling more grounded and self assured, which may then gift you the courage to make big decisions such as changing jobs, leaving a relationship, or signing up to study something you’re passionate about but have never given attention to.

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UNRAVELLING THE LAYERS

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Live The Process, recently published my most personal writing to date, ‘Unravelling The Layers’.

Live The Process inspired me to share some of the details of my own personal health journey when I was captivated by the stories their writers shared; I experienced first hand how powerful their honest tellings were in educating, and building trust and connection. It is a rich, beautifully intentioned place to immerse yourself in, so do venture over.

In the article, I share a snippet of my process, and of how I learned to heed the “whispers” of my body. I explain that through my own research, self study and with the help of various alternative therapists I have healed my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and overcome the myriad of symptoms that go along with this hormonal disorder. I also share that, despite the natural on-going nature of my journey, I have been buoyed by the incredible shifts that have taken place physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Oh and as an aside – I still very much idolise my beautiful sister and want to follow her everywhere, and I would absolutely tolerate a rollocking from my old ballet mistress just to take one more class with her! I am grateful for every opportunity, as I believe there is something to learn from everyone and everything.

Read my full article here.

VIDEO: THIS IS WATER

Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.” –  Jon Kabat-Zinn

This commencement speech from author David Foster-Wallace is a wonderful reminder to stop, breathe and get perspective. It is so important to practice stepping outside of your own stories, your own self-centred world and to be aware of the bigger picture – to notice the people around you, to act with compassion and without judgement and to realise we are all in this together.

I had a personal reminder of this recently when I was out at a show. I had been looking forward to it for weeks, but I became particularly annoyed when a woman sitting in front of me kept wriggling around in her seat all throughout the first half. Thankfully, through my work with a variety of clients and from my mindfulness practise I was able to watch myself getting irritated and reframe my thoughts and experience.

As difficult as it was I chose not to get wrapped up in my own petty and selfish thoughts, I instead focused on how grateful I was to be there, and how nice it was to be around so many people having a good time. Perhaps, I thought, this woman is moving around for a good reason. As it turned out, when the lights came up for the intermission the woman turned around and said “I really hope I’m not annoying you, I have a muscular disease where I can’t sit still and have to constantly move. I can swap places with my friend if it’s upsetting you, I’m so, so sorry”. In that moment I thanked my practise, and did my best to help reassure the woman that everything was fine and I hoped she continued to enjoy the show.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl

MINDFUL EATING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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Not only are the holidays a lovely time to celebrate and have a change of scenery, they also provide the opportunity to have a shift in gear. As I outlined in my previous post, this is a time of year when emotions run high, so it really is worth taking a moment to decide how you’d like things to unfold. Make sure you look after and nourish your body, as well as your mind along the way.

Looking after yourself does not mean you have to behave like a saint – what it means is avoiding any opportunities to beat yourself up, to feel guilty, anxious, unwell or regretful. Because so many people punish themselves by either over-indulging, or over-restricting during this period, I’ve dedicated this post to helping choose the best way to eat and drink for you.

SIX TIPS

1. Get clear about how and what you want to eat and drink, and if you want to consume alcohol or not. If you adhere to a specific diet for health reasons decide if you want to stick to it, or if you’re happy to deviate. Be honest and make these decisions from a place of love and compassion, rather than fear and control.

2. Commit to your intentions. Once you’re clear about what you want to consume, then commit to that decision. Associate good feelings with your decision and remind yourself of these regularly. If you decide to stick to your dietary needs then the next two points are key:

3. Research and take time to find out what’s on the menu, be it at someone’s house or at a restaurant.

4. Communicate your dietary requirements before the event – I spent years needlessly suffering for fear of upsetting people and being polite. If people make you feel uncomfortable about your needs that is definitely their problem. Do not make your decisions based on what will make other people happy, this will never turn out well – lies, pain, resentment and irritability will likely ensue. You owe it to yourself and to your host to communicate clearly what exactly it is you need so as to not upset any plans on the day.

My food choice suggestions:

  • Fill up on the vegetables and proteins. If you’re a meat eater choose meat close to the bone. Skip the gravy unless it’s gluten-free. If you’re wanting a sweet treat for dessert then choose fresh fruit, dark chocolate or cheese. If you opt to skip dessert then you can go straight to the coffee or green tea to help aid digestion and curb the sugar cravings
  • My beverage suggestions: drink a decent amount of still water with a squeeze of lemon before and after your meal. If you’re not drinking alcohol then honour your decision and stick to it! (any peer pressure to drink comes from insecurity and selfishness). Sparkling water, green tea or freshly brewed black coffee can be good options for a booze free buzz.

5. Avoid the post-booze blues by following my tips on this blog. The main points:

  • Never drink to forget, to hurt, to manipulate, to cope. It’s a better idea to take a sip after you’ve tuned in and found something to smile about and celebrate
  • Choose gluten and sugar-free drink options
  • Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink
  • Eat nutrient dense food before and after

6. Supplement to support your digestive, immune and detoxification systems. Here are my recommendations

Bonus tip: MOVE!

One of the best things we can do for our bodies is to MOVE. When we move we stimulate and pump the fluids around our body that manage, feed and clean our organs, muscles, skin, nerves, hormones and bones. However you are feeling, go for a walk, do a few stretches, put on your favourite music and dance! Choose whatever you most enjoy – sometimes that’s all you need to do to perk up.

To help you along your way here are 5 exercises to help beat the bloat!

And for a daily and weekly movement guide read more here.

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I hope these tips hold you in good stead over the holiday period. Please take note and put your needs first! Happy holidays! 🙂

 

Photo credit Matthew Valdr

DE-STRESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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A year or two ago I came across the quote “STOP THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY”, and it has been my ego deflating go-to mantra ever since. The ego, or the controlling part of us, loves the drama of being busy. Even though it feels stressful and upsetting, being busy makes us feel like we have a purpose, but more to the point, it blocks us from having to address the deeper stuff we don’t want to see, or aren’t ready to deal with.

The holidays are the perfect time to welcome busy-ness as it can be such an emotionally charged time of year. Not only is it a time that you often meet up with people you wouldn’t normally choose to see, but it is a time that also offers a lot of reflection: Who is no longer with us? How will the changes of the past year play out? How does this year compare to last? Am I happy with where I am? Do I need to change? How will cope with seeing that person? How will I cope with my family difficulties? What can I say to make them feel better?

Amongst this constant brain chatter, the busy social calendars and the all too enticing opportunities to numb (drinking, meals out, loud conversations, manic shopping, constant company) you must give yourself some mental, emotional and physical SPACE.

One minute is all you need.

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DEDICATE ONE MINUTE TO CALM, RELAX AND RESET 

1. Find a quiet, calm space where you won’t be interrupted

2. Lie, sit or stand still

3. Breathe in and out through your nose, and scan from head to toe telling each part of your body to relax and let go.

Relax your forehead. Soften your eyes. Release your jaw. Relax your throat.  Let go of your shoulders. Let your ribs melt. Calm your spine. Let your belly soften. Relax your butt. Release your hips. Empty your legs. Feel the weight of your feet. 

4. Now take a deep breath in and imagine filling every part of you as if you were blowing up a balloon version of yourself – your breath fills your head, neck, front ribs, back ribs, arms, fingers, lower back, belly, hips, legs, feet and toes.

5. On your exhale let your breath out like a big sigh. Feel the weight of your bones, the relief in your tissues. Feel calmness wash over you.

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I hope this one minute body scan supported by your breath helps you realise that it’s not necessary to hold it all together by gripping and tensing your body. Quite the opposite is true – when you give yourself space everything becomes easier.

It also becomes easier to accept that everything is as it should be. The bigger picture is far greater than we can ever imagine.

“Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein

HOW TO CULTIVATE YOUR INNER KNOWING

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Over the next few months I want to really focus on how to cultivate a way of living that best connects you with your own individual needs. I’ll do this through breaking up my posts and centering them around different ways of: exercising and moving, eating and making food choices, communicating and choosing the company you keep, and finding mental peace and quiet. The more you are in tune with your real self, the better you will be able to hear your inner-voice, which ultimately has all the answers we need to live a fulfilled life. It might sound clichéd, but the answers are all inside if we want to listen!

Unfortunately throughout life we learn many ways to block our inner knowing in order to be accepted. If our true expressions don’t fit the norm we learn to stifle or rebel against them. We learn to navigate life by “controlling” our emotions through restriction or over-indulging. When you’re feeling stressed, angry or sad do you sit and allow yourself to feel this so you’re able to listen to what you’re upset about and thus allow it to pass? Or, do you choose to shove it away or numb it with a piece of chocolate cake, a glass of wine, by yelling at your spouse, watching TV, over-exercising, surfing the net, going shopping or going to bed?

Because so many of us are numb to ourselves and our true desires it can be difficult to instantly tune in. Like anything we need to learn to cultivate awareness and this can be done by paying attention to how we move and what exercise choices we make; how we eat and what food choices we make; how we talk to ourselves and to others; what kind of people we attract and relationships we have; how we divide our time and if we choose to dedicate time to wind down and relax or not.

Despite what we are taught, the only way to live a truly fulfilling and happy life is by being ourselves, whatever that may be. Thankfully there are small shifts going on around the world that I hope will continue to evolve and help people realize this – school curriculums are incorporating a broader range of subjects that cater to varied behaviours and ways of learning; the practise of mindfulness and meditation is exploding; mental illness is becoming less stigmatised; younger generations are being encouraged to share their feelings; more minority groups are finding their voices.

In my next post I will talk about different movement techniques you can practise to help you know what kind of exercise best suits you and when. My belief is that movement or exercise must be used as a means for nourishing, healing and strengthening ourselves. It must not be yet another means through which we punish ourselves. Movement is life-giving so I believe everyone must move – I do not promote constant rest (unless you are severely unwell) nor do I believe in pushing our bodies beyond our limits… both of which are fear-based approaches. More on this next time.

“Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”

– Eckhart Tolle

INSTANT MOOD-LIFTERS

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For whatever reason – be it a busy lifestyle, watching the news, running away from uncomfortable thoughts or having unhealthy relationships – we can lose our sense of who we are and what makes us truly feel good. Unfortunately it’s often tragedy or loss that shocks us into getting perspective on what really matters, but you can be proactive and tune in to your inner voice at any time. The best way to tune in and align is by putting yourself first – all good comes from feeding yourself first – once you do this then you can truly be of assistance to your loved ones and the world.

Below I have outlined three easy things to instantly lift your mood. Making an effort to do things that make you feel good will allow you to shift away from fear-based thoughts and patterns, and make it easier for you to realise that joy is your natural right and state of being. Scientific studies have widely proven that moving, smiling, focussed breathing and singing all stimulate endorphins and hormones associated with stress and anxiety reduction, feelings of pleasure, trust and connection. Test them out for yourself!

 

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ACTIONS!

  1.  STAR JUMPS
  2.  SMILING MEDITATION 
  3.  SING ALONG TO YOUR FAVOURITE TUNE

1. Start standing with your legs together and arms at your side:

Jump your legs apart and at the same time clap your hands above your head, then jump your legs back together while bringing your arms back down to your side. Repeat for one minute (or more of course if you fancy!)

WHY? Without movement there would be no life! I always recommend that everyone moves their body daily to the best of their ability, as without daily movement your vitality will diminish. Something as ‘sparky’ as star jumps helps push blood, lymph and oxygen around your body which not only stimulates the production of your feel-good chemistry, but also helps these delights be felt all the more quickly!

2. Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably:

Close your eyes and tune into your breath. Breathe in and out through your nose for one minute while either imagining, or actually tracing, a smile across your face and throughout your body. Visualise the smile beginning behind your eyes, then imagine the smile bringing light, warmth and joy to your whole body.

WHY? This one-minute smile meditation is simple yet quite affecting. How often do we smile for ourselves? This is you dedicating and gifting yourself all those lovely messages given out by a genuine smile. Smile at yourself, to yourself and for yourself. “Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself.” -Mantak Chia

3. Find your favourite place to listen to music then choose to sit, stand, or lie:

Take a few deep breaths then hit the play button and sing! (dance if the mood takes you!)

WHY? Singing is an extremely powerful tool in shifting energy and mood. Think of singing like an internal massage where musical vibrations are able to move through you and change your physical and emotional landscape. Even sound itself can be incredibly healing; this quote by Dr M Gaynor explains the power of sound beautifully: “If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes”.

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There are many other incredibly quick and simple ways to help us feel clear, grounded and aligned with our true selves. I hope these three help you out asap! Enjoy 🙂

‘You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection’ – Buddha