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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THE MARVELLOUS CAT STRETCH

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Awakening deep intrinsic primal and developmental movement patterns, the moving cat stretch is one of my all time favourite movement patterns. It can be done any time of the day, all you need is a little bit of floor space and the ability to get up and down from it!

First thing in the morning it acts like a big yawn to help gently wake you up, centre and focus you for the day ahead; in the middle of the day it re-energises and better directs your attention – a much healthier pick me up than  reaching for the chocolate or caffeine hit; and done slowly before bed it helps to unwind and cleanse the day from your body and mind so you can go off to bed free from any unwanted mental or physical baggage.

Here are just some of the benefits:

  • stretches, strengthens and stabilises your arms, spine and torso
  • moves the breath deeper into your lungs helping to cleanse and better oxygenate all the tissues throughout your body
  • massages and opens the deep lower back and hips which in turn flushes the digestive system with fresh nutrient dense blood – great digestive aid!
  • strengthens and connects the deep abdominal muscles helping stabilise the torso and flood your system with all your feel good hormones! (dopamine and serotonin are largely manufactured in the gut)
  • opens the nerves through the spine, hands and arms helping to undo tension caused from slouching over a computer, smart phone or steering wheel, or constantly lugging kiddies around!
  • massages and opens the kidneys and resets the adrenal glands, helping you swap stressy fight or flight mode to calm cruise control – read more here
  • SO..helps relieve headaches, RSI, back pain, digestive troubles, anxiety, fatigue, disordered breathing…to name a few!

1) BEGIN ON ALL FOURS

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Knees under hips, hands under shoulders

CUES:

  • Keep the spine long and spacious. Imagine your spine being pulled from either end – out through the crown of the head and out through the tail bone
  • To help get the arm bones connecting well into the shoulder sockets and the shoulder blades well placed, bend your arms and point the elbows out to the sides then turn the arms so the elbows point in towards your body, straighten the arms.
  • Keep shoulder blades wide on the back of your rib cage and press the floor away from you, ie. don’t hang the torso down between your arms and collapse the shoulder blades together
  • Make sure head isn’t dropped – keep the back of the neck long just as it would be if you were standing

2) ARTICULATE

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Inhale to prepare. Exhale to draw the belly in towards your spine and gently articulate the spine into a curved cat shape. Inhale to pause…

CUES:

  • Your pubic bone should be looking at you and you should be looking at your pubic bone
  • Gently press through your hands to help widen the middle back
  • Gently use your lower abs to help pull your tail between your legs and lengthen the lower back. Imagine plugging your tail into your belly button
  • Keep the hands and fingers alive! spread them wide and feel equal weight through each finger

3) STRETCH

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Exhale to travel the cat curve backwards so you sit back on the heels, keeping your hands connected to the same spot on the floor. Inhale to pause…

CUES:

  • Relax your neck, jaw, throat and eyes as you release back into the stretch
  • Let your ankles roll out to the sides if the top of the feet or inner thighs are tight
  • Keep gently hugging the belly back in towards the spine

4) EXTENSION & STABILISATION

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Exhale to bend your arms, place the forearms on the floor, roll your shoulders back, lift your head, chest and spine into a lengthened position. Inhale to pause…

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Exhale to travel your spine forward stopping when your head gets to your wrists. Inhale to pause…

CUES:

  • Arms are parallel to each other, elbows draw towards each other so you can feel a little squeeze at your arm pits
  • Connect the abs by drawing the belly inward and upward
  • Keep your eyes towards the floor – this doesn’t mean dropping the head though!
  • Draw your breast bone forward to the wall in front of you and draw your shoulders and elbows backwards towards your knees
  • Your spine is parallel to the floor – not on a diagonal diving towards the floor

5) STRENGTH

tasha16Exhale to press the hands into the floor and stretch the arms back up to the beginning position. Repeat another 5 times beginning with your hands slightly more forward each time.  

CUES:

  • Keep your elbows towards each other to help connect the back of your arms and sides of the spine
  • Keep your knees over your hips – when you press up don’t avoid the hard work by moving your butt backwards!
  • Keep your abs drawing inward and upward
  • Spine stays long and connected like in plank position

CUT THE GLUTEN & REGAIN YOUR HEALTH

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These days most people are familiar with the term “gluten-free”, and many will have a vague understanding of what a gluten-free diet consists of. For many, gluten is assumed to only be a problem for people who have celiac disease; a strong physical reaction to gluten, and that gluten is fine (or even good) for everyone else. After all, we’ve been eating it for years and seem fine, our grandparents and great grandparents probably still eat it, and it’s promoted by mainstream health practitioners – how can we possibly not eat it?!

In this post I hope to inform you of the effect gluten has on both celiac and non-celiac individuals through the way it damages the gut, which can switch on a host of (often non-digestive) physical and mental illnesses. I’m not wanting to scaremonger nor to place judgement, I simply wish to inform, encourage enquiry and promote the idea that what you eat powerfully impacts your current and future health. Taking gluten out of your diet is not just a fad associated with certain “types” of health-conscious people. A gluten-free diet for many unwell adults and children is critical – the vital key to unlocking better health and a happier more vibrant life.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, bran, farina and kamut.

What foods contain the protein gluten?

  • Flour
  • Bread
  • Pasta/noodles
  • Oats milled with wheat products
  • Couscous

And also the following products where flour can be used as an ingredient:

  • Baked goods – cookies, cakes, doughnuts, pastries, waffles, pancakes
  • Sauces/dressings – soya sauce, can be used to thicken soups, gravies, salad dressings, marinades, curries, Japanese sushi rolls, Chinese dishes
  • Batter/crumbs/crusts – pizza, fishcakes, burger patties, tempura, fritters, pies, sausage rolls, samosas, hot chips/wedges
  • Snacks – breakfast cereals, cereal bars, crackers, croutons, processed lunch meats, imitation meat, pretzels, liquorice
  • Drinks – beer, some ciders, sake, gin and whiskey
  • Beauty products – toothpaste, lip balm, lipstick, make-up
  • Medication and vitamins

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What’s so wrong with gluten?

The composition of gluten’s two amino acid sequence (gliadin and glutenin) is still too new and too tricky for our digestive systems to properly deal with.

Gluten is not digestable by ANYONE on the planet” – Dr. David Perlmutter.

We need to appreciate that we did not evolve to deal with these proteins. As a matter of fact, for almost 99.9% of humankind’s evolution our ancestors have been gluten-free” – Dr. Alessio Fasano.

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What does this mean?

When we eat gluten it breaks down the protective lining of our gut. Despite the gut having an incredible ability to heal itself, it really struggles to when it’s constantly bombarded with pollutants such as antibiotics, painkillers, pharmaceutical medications, a poor diet, stress, chemical toxins in the air and household products, the contraceptive pill and so on. Our gut lining houses virtually our entire immune system, and it has more neurons than our brain, so if we break this lining down we essentially lessen our ability to fight off the many bugs and emotional stresses that we are exposed to. This could mean that we become more susceptible to:

  • Catching colds, flus, viruses, wheezing, cough, tummy bugs; less resilience to food poisoning
  • Developing allergies to animals, grasses, moulds, cosmetics; dermatitis, rashes, eczema, athsma
  • Developing allergies to different foods; feeling bloated; having intestinal pain, bad wind, diarrhea, constipation
  • Feeling tired or wired, irritable, sad, anxious; having “brain fog”; difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • Low or no sex drive; acne; weight gain/loss; sleep and menstrual cycle irregularity

…to name a few

When we consume gluten regularly our gut lining becomes so thin that undigested food particles break through our gut wall and get into our bloodstream – this is known as leaky gut syndrome. Our poor immune system gets so messed up with all this floating debris that it confuses what is good and bad and starts attacking our own system, creating autoimmune disorders and switching on genetic disorders you may have inherited from your parents that have otherwise been lying dormant.

By the time the gluten protein reaches the brain its chemical structure has changed to one similar to addictive opiates such as morphine and heroin. These opiates act to block off certain areas of the brain causing inflammation and triggering any number of mental health-related disorders.

So our guts and brains are on fire and the rest of the body is smoldering – was that cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner really worth this? Most people eat these things and have no idea of the havoc they are wreaking until major illnesses show up and can’t be ignored. Some of these illnesses include:

  • Psychological problems – seizures, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, autism, schizophrenia
  • Blood sugar and cardiovasular disorders – Diabetes Types I,  II, and III / Alzheimers, asthma, cardiovasular disease
  • Autoimmune diseases – Hashimoto’s, Alopecia, Graves’ disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis
  • Cancer
  • Gut diseases – Chron’s disease, celiac, leaky gut syndrome
  • Muscular skeletal diseases/disorders – rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, cerebella ataxia, Ankylosing Spondylolisthesis
  • Hormonal disturbances – PCOS, endometriosis, infertility, miscarriage or still births

What is so profound is that this is a mechanism that happens in all humans, not just the 30% or more of us who have blood tests that show that we are sensitive to gluten. This is all comers. It’s all of us who mount an increased permeability of the gut when exposed to this perverse protein called gluten

Dr. David Perlmutter. Hello Paleo.

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How can we put the fire out and not just fan the flames with various medications?

Removing the fuel that’s feeding the fire, i.e. gluten, will stop the damage so the healing process can begin. Even small amounts of gluten can halt the healing process and begin damaging tissue again, so you must be gluten zero. Of course some people can slowly reintroduce gluten once their gut is healed, but many simply choose to remain gluten-free after feeling so well without it.

Supplementing with probiotics, gelatin from organic grass-fed animals or bone broth, colostrum from grass-fed organic cows, and fish oils are fabulous ways to help heal and seal the gut.

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Why don’t our doctors tell us this? Why isn’t it more common place?

Translational research is research that changes the way doctors think and the way they practise. Now, it sounds utterly preposterous, but it is sadly true, that it will take around 17 years for mainstream doctors to act from this new information. This is an average, not an exception.

It was 21 years ago (in 1992) that Professor Michael Marsh authored a research paper that connected gluten consumption with celiac disease. How is it that still SO many people out there, including doctors, do not either know about or value the importance of a gluten-free diet when it comes to health and well-being? It was only 2 years ago that research about non-celiac gluten sensitivity came out – we cannot wait another 15 years until this vital information becomes mainstream.

What this research tells us is that there are MANY more people who are sensitive to gluten but do not have celiac disease. For every 1 person that has a problem in the gut after eating gluten (bloating, pain, constipation and so on) there are 8 people that have problems somewhere else in their body which they don’t directly connect with eating gluten (brain fog, depression, anxiety, arthritis, psoriasis, ADHD).

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Seeking guidance

If you are suffering from any kind of ailment that your doctor has been unable to help you with, and he or she has not asked you about your diet, then I URGE you to go out and find a Functional Medicine Practitioner. A FMP is someone who practises mainstream medicine but also has the view that you can regenerate anything in your body depending on the environment you give it – be that with relation to food, exercise, sleep and so on. They will not send you off with a prescription or make the conclusion that you are just a ‘sickly’ person or that your child is just naughty.

If you want gain a deeper understanding follow the links here to hear 29 of the world’s experts and opinion leaders on the topics of gluten-related disorders, nutrition and healthy living.

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Try it out

  • Mainly eat: vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, butter, animal fats
  • Moderately eat: fruit, coconut, nuts, seeds, rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, gluten-free oats, organic corn.
  • Become a label reader. Choose good quality gluten-free labelled products – you should be able to pronounce and recognise every ingredient on the label. Avoid all chemical additives and preservatives – no numbers!
  • Follow my recipes (all gluten-free), or google gluten-free recipes, or buy a recipe book –  there are loads out there!

* If you have gut-related disturbances you may want to also cut out all dairy products or at least replace them with raw dairy from a trusted source.

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If our bodies are expending less energy to deal with this tough protein, they have more energy for other more productive processes. Our liver, digestive and immune systems will get back to properly cleansing, nourishing, energising and strengthening us. We will feel happy vibrant and ourselves again.

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“The fate of your health, including that of the brain, is a choice,

not a destiny dictated by your genes”  

 – Dr David Perlmutter

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TWO INSPIRING NEW FEMALE MUSIC ARTISTS

Music plays a huge role in my life and is undeniably an essential part of our individual and collective well-being – affecting our emotional, physical and mental health in constructive and valuable ways. Pythagorus, Plato and Aristotle all described music as curative and as bringing necessary harmony and resonance to the body. Sonic healing has of course been recorded in history through the noted music, rhythmic drumming and chanting of ancient cultures – the image of the cave person banging the drum really gleans deeper intelligence than is given credit. Today we know that the body is a fluid network – everything in the body, bones included are liquid – and we know that liquid is the most efficient transport system: sound literally vibrates the water within us –  stimulating, massaging, healing. So ‘tune in’ with what sounds and tracks feel good for you and enjoy! These are my latest picks, have a listen!

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Combining futuristic production with sultry R&B vocals, this track by FKA Twigs is a beautifully layered slice of innovative contemporary pop music.  I especially love this video as the forms reflect so beautifully just how we should and can move. Liquid waves, spirals and pulsations that meld and morph without effort reflect the fluid language of the planet and of ourselves.

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Like FKA Twigs. Kelela juxtaposes soulful vocals with left field electronica to stunning effect on this track Bank Head.

PRACTISE MINDFULNESS

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Stop right now…

Be utterly still.

Without judgement,

drop in on yourself.

No right or wrong, good or bad,

just tune in…

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We know innately that everything we ever need can be found within each of us: the resolve to any physical ailment, internal conflict, or emotional upset is within us – if we just tune in we’ll find it. Unfortunately, pretty early on in life we pattern unhelpful behaviours and thoughts, and get pulled into action-packed, fast-paced living where outward reflection is celebrated and encouraged, and intelligent inward-looking is starved and devalued. Sadly this inability to look inward means we tend to never address feelings of stress, anxiety, shame, guilt, fear and sadness until they manifest themselves into pain and illness so that we can no longer ignore them.

Reasons why we struggle to slow down and go inward:

1) It isn’t recognised as valuable. We are taught to cultivate and be aware of only 5 senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. There are many, many more senses that need equal attention. What about proprioception? Our sense of where our arms and legs are in relation to the rest of the body is essential in strengthening our co-ordination and body-brain communication.  What about gut feeling? Our gut has more neurons than our brain and is passing on an incredible amount of useful information – but can we tap into the messages? And how about magnetorection – our natural sense of direction? What’s the point in tuning into this when we can just use Google Maps huh?

2) We are desensitized and numbed by the overwhelming amount of fast-paced stimulus thrust in our every direction. How often do you sit quietly without watching TV, looking at the internet, checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, listening to music, reading a book, talking… when we are always occupied with external stimulus we lose touch with what’s happening inside.

3) We take most of our cues from our brain – an organ that literally runs on programs that were set predominantly in childhood (and often out of fear). Just as we need to update our computer software, so too do we need to reprogram our unhelpful brain patterns. Next time you are stressed just notice what your response is… time for a drink? Food binge? Or perhaps time to yell at your spouse or wreck yourself at the gym, clench your jaw or tighten your shoulders? These repeated responses which attempt to give momentary “relief” by numbing, covering up or ignoring the real issue, only strengthen and loop negative brain pathways. Bringing awareness to these destructive responses helps give you space to identify triggers and program more nourishing behaviours.

4) We give up ownership of our body and problems to medical practitioners and drugs. How about building relationships with practitioners who work ‘with’ the body and help the body realize its healthy direction. Ensure that you are guided, educated and part of the healing process – ask questions, tune into your responses, give feedback… know yourself and own your well-being.

So what is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an activity of attention. Normally you sit in a comfortable, quiet place, close your eyes and purposely focus your attention on your breath and on the present moment – accepting all that arises without judgement.

Sitting there you want to bring awareness to the now, notice what’s going on – attend your life. Inevitably when left to itself the mind races through all kinds of thoughts, this is totally normal. When you find your mind wandering just return to your breath and to being the “watcher” of those thoughts – attending is more important than what you are paying attention to. Uncomfortable emotions can arise such as fear, anger, resentment, guilt and shame but you can find the courage to watch them take their course instead of being skipped past or buried. Trust that in doing so they will dissolve and be replaced with new patterns that are better aligned with your true self: with continued practice you will quiet the mind and slip into the space between thoughts, the space where you can reclaim your life.

Mindfulness and cultivating attention helps you to:

  • Savour the pleasures in life – become fully engaged in activities and truly notice what makes you feel good
  • Be in a wiser relationship with yourself –  to better gauge and trust what is going on, rather than to be at the mercy of irrational fears and thoughts.
  • Bring clarity to what is and is not working for you in your life – choices related to relationships, work, health, environment are more aligned with your truth making decisions easier
  • Redirect negative brain patterns and encourage more positive and nourishing behaviours
  • Focus on the here and now – making you less likely to get caught up in worrying about the future or regretting the past, less preoccupied with success and self-esteem and better able to form deep relationships with others.

Of course there are many proven physiological benefits also, such as:

  • lowered blood pressure
  • reduced stress
  • balanced hormones
  • chronic pain reduction
  • improved sleep patterns
  • improved digestion
  • better management of mental imbalances such as OCD, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and addiction

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Tips on practising mindfulness

  • Find a time that works each day that you can commit to. Morning and middle of the day are great, and before bed can also be a good time to wind down if you are a wired type!
  • Start with just 5 minutes and if that passes easily then see if you can make it to 20 minutes each day – this would be ideal!
  • Choose a comfortable quiet place to sit or lie – close your eyes, maintain length in your spine, rest your arms wherever comfy
  • Start by following and watching your breath – don’t change your breath pattern, just watch it
  • When your mind wanders, when thoughts, emotions, sounds or physical feelings occur just acknowledge them and let them pass without getting involved and come back to your breath
  • Practise simply being mindful throughout your day – before you send an angry  email, while speaking in a meeting, before beating yourself up about a mistake you’ve made, whilst feeling pain or sadness… stand back from the thoughts, breathe, give yourself space to simply watch. Then respond authentically in the moment guided by fresh, honest thoughts that only act to serve you well.

When you enter deeply into this moment, you see the nature of reality, and this insight liberates you from suffering and confusion. Peace is already there to some extent: the problem is whether we know how to touch it – Thich Nhat Hanh

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To learn more please watch this great talk by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn. Other great experts on mindfulness are Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and Gabrielle Bernstein.