Posts Tagged ‘stress management’

Throw Gravity Out the Window!

November 14, 2008

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about gravity. I suppose it’s only natural given the gravitas of the current economic situation.  It could also be the fact that as an aquatic therapist, I spend many hours a week speaking to clients about gravity’s counterpoint – buoyancy. Apart from outer space, deep water is the only place where we can literally throw gravity out the window and free our bodies (and our minds) of its heavy influence.  

Did you ever consider the negative connotation of the words and expressions that stem from gravity? There’s the aforementioned gravitas, there’s grave – as in “going to an early grave” or thegrave expression on his face“, not to mention the “gravity of a situation“. Buoyancy, on the other hand, coveys lightness, cheerfulness and exuberance – “he was buoyant in his attitude” “the fans were buoyant after the big win“, “she gave him a buoyant hug and kiss at the airport“.

Of course we need gravity to anchor us to the earth. Often, though, we are too weighted down by it – whether it be physically with musculoskeletal pain from injuries or surgery, or emotionally with worry and stress. Certainly our country is anything but buoyant economically right now. Lately it feels as thought we’re sinking rather than floating financially (unless it’s after being given a life raft like some of the banks and mortgage lenders). But maybe it’s time to literally and figuratively “throw gravity out the window” . Smile, breathe, laugh, hope and if possible, emerge yourself in a body of water, trading buoyancy for gravity.

As she was quietly floating upright in the deep end of my warm swimming pool at the end of her workout the other night, my client Cathy said to me, “everyone should have a few minutes a day without gravity”.  I couldn’t agree more!

Be well,

Carolyn

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Hurry Up and RELAX!

November 7, 2008

As I raced through traffic to my yoga class last night, frantically trying to parallel park in the new early darkness I wondered why I was bothering.  Shouldn’t I have just gone home and practiced on my own mat with my own company? I know I’m much more disciplined with holding postures when I’m in a class setting, but sometimes it feels like it takes me half of the class to relax after the stressful effort in getting there! Furthermore, at the end of the class it’s a struggle to shut off my mind as I lie in chavasana, thinking of all I have to do when I finally get home.

With all of the stress in most of our lives these days it’s no wonder the state of relaxation is nearing extinction. So what’s a person to do? Well, while we may not be able to control the undulating stock market we can control our reaction to it.  

First of all, find the little things that bring you pleasure and help you achieve peace of mind and absolutely commit to doing at least one of them daily. Many people find sitting and meditating calms their mind, but for me, relaxation usually requires being in motion. Yoga in that sense is my moving meditation, as is running at a comfortable pace and swimming laps.  But what about when we wake in the middle of the night – our minds racing with worries?  For me I know I can’t get up and go running.  At that time of night, I don’t even want to get out of bed to do sun salutations in the living room.  In these situations I use a simple, but effective breathing technique to calm my mind, relieve tension and ultimately bring me back to sleep.  I’ve described the technique below. When I use it at night to fall back asleep, I usually I conk out after 2 breathing cycles, but this breathing technique is equally effective in relieving tension during the day  when you’re stuck in traffic or you’re stressing about an important conference call.

Tension-Reducing Breathing Technique – (for Day or Night)

1. First let all of the air out of your mouth

2. Keeping the tongue on the roof of your mouth, inhale through your nose for 4 counts

3. Next, hold your breath, mouth closed for 7 counts

4. Finally, exhale through your mouth with force (should hear loud exhale)

5. Ideally, this exercise should be done 2x day for 4 cycles

6. Increase the cycles to 8 when necessary

Breathe and Be Well,

Carolyn