Saturday Theme: Rebalancing Energy

Rebalancing and recharging energy is my Saturday Theme.

As with other aspects of my Daily Theming, I believe rebalancing energy is as valuable to wellbeing as quality time, mindset, lifestyle, heart & soul work, nutrition, and exercise. Furthermore, dedicating time to recharge my personal energy level is a nice way to close the week.

Saturday tends to be a good day to do things with family and friends, and get stuff done around the house. Since most people are off from work, I am suggesting that with a little shift in focus, Saturdays can also be the perfect time to augment & restore positive energy and practice self-care.

This said, I think it is important to note that everyone has a different way to restore their energy.

Introverts vs Extroverts

Do you know if you are an introverted or extroverted person? Knowing this may help you figure out how best to recharge. (See video on determining if you are an introvert or extrovert)

A morning in bed with a latte and a good book or magazine is super sacred and rejuvenating for me.

Extroverted people are outgoing, talkative and energetic. They are stimulated and reenergized with people. According to Psychology Today Magazine, three-quarters of the population in the United States (no statistics found for Canada) are extroverts. As such, there is cultural bias towards extroverts and social pressure to behave like them.

Conforming to an extroverted behavior and lifestyle is tiring for introverts, who are more reserved and prefer small groups or solitary activities.

Author Susan Cain further detailed the differences between introverts and extroverts in her best-selling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop talking:

Introverts, in contrast [to extroverts], may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family […] Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.

Additionally, Cain advises people to “spend your free time the way you want to, not the way you are supposed to.” For example, she suggests staying home on New Year’s Eve if that makes you happy.  Following this, I say, stay home on Saturday night if you don’t feel like going out.

How I rebalance my Energy

I think I am introverted-extrovert. Although I enjoy social gatherings, I am much more comfortable in a smaller group or in a one to one situation. My energy feels very scattered in a large group. I get overwhelmed easily at parties or in crowds.

Spending time on my own is sacred and seems to be the only I can restore my energy.

I love a quiet evening or morning alone to rebalance and refocus. I enjoy soaking in a hot bath with candles, reading a magazine in bed, my gym time (especially when it’s empty) and writing solo in a café with a latte.

Saturday Theme Questions

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s my energy like in general?
  • Do I feel like being with people or spending time alone?
  • Who do I want to spend time with?
  • When do I have the most and the least energy?
  • What can I do that is fun or different?
  • What activities will help increase and sustain my energy today?

Saturday Theme Actions

Creating a cozy, hygge corner at home fits nicely with the Saturday Theme.

  • Get outside and spend time in nature. This is especially good for people who spend more time indoors during the week and for pitta (fiery) people;
  • Eat well and practice good digestion habits. After all, food is fuel; {See Thursday Theme: Nutrition}
  • Plan your Saturday day trip beforehand so that you are ready to go in the morning. (We have difficulty with this, but we are trying to improve.) This is especially helpful if you are out late on Friday;
  • Let go of unnecessary stress {See Letting Go exercise};
  • Connect with the people you love and who bring you joy;
  • Explore a new place and do something different: a walk a different part of town, a new restaurant or an activity outside your comfort zone, maybe salsa dancing or zip lining;
  • Change and improve the environment at home by tidying and cleaning your house and let go of things you don’t need. I highly recommend reading the book the ‘Life Changing Art of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo;
  • Redecorate an area of your home by painting a wall, moving the furniture around or hanging some nice photos of friends and family;
  • Fix things that are broken or need repair. This can include sewing on buttons, bringing bags or shoes to the shoemaker for repair, gluing things back together, etc. Discard things that can’t be fixed;
  • Take a nap and maybe have a night in and go to sleep early (yes, even on a Saturday night);
  • Finally, practice all the nice self-care rituals you know: yoga, meditation, pranayama, ayurvedic self-massage, day-dreaming, reading, etc.

If you have any other suggestions for a Saturday Theme or how to rebalance your energy, I’d love to hear them! Please post your comments below.

 

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Friday Theme: Friday Fitness & Movement

My Friday theme became Fitness Fridays mostly because became the exercise contributor to one of Arbonne’s 30 Day Healthy Living private Facebook groups. (Everyone is welcome to join my Facebook Group: Daily Rituals for Healthy Living Inside & Out.) Since I got into the habit of writing about fitness on Fridays, the theme grew from here.

It also makes sense to focus on movement at the end of the week so as to prepare for the weekend and give your energy a bit of a boost.

Get a trainer to help you create a training program you can do at home, while traveling or at the gym.

Exercise Habits

Plus, gyms seem to be quieter at the end of the week and on weekends. When I did some research to see if there was any truth to this observation, I found an article in Women’s Health Magazine about how to avoid crowds at the gym.

The article cited an actual study conducted by a fitness tracker company Jawbone. (The company seems to have ceased activity since 2017, but they collected fitness data through their Fitbit style wearable workout tracking wristbands since 2008.) According to Women’s Health, Jawbone data scientist Emi Nomura reported that “people tend to log the most workouts on Mondays and drop off through the work week with a low point on Fridays.” The article and study also found that people tend to be less active on Saturday and Sunday than on Monday through Thursday.

I think the habit to exercise only at the beginning of the week is worth adjusting.

Like most people, I tend to have more energy at the beginning of the week, then at the end, so by Friday, I wouldn’t always feel like practicing yoga or working out. For this very reason, I made movement and fitness Friday’s focus.

Fitness Friday Questions

Hiking is a wonderful Fitness Friday activity for people with a flexible work schedule. Hiking is great cardio + fresh air and nature!

  • How can I incorporate physical activity today and this weekend s?
  • When I am energized, I enjoy kinds of physical activities…
  • What physical activity can I do when I have low energy?
  • Is there any form of exercise I have I always wanted to try?
  • What are my fitness goals?
  • Who or what can help me achieve my fitness goals?

Fitness Friday Actions

  • Start a new daily habit of exercise. I recommend 30-60 mins of activity daily, but that doesn’t mean it has to be intense – walk, yoga, pilates swim, bike or jog. My 30 Day Lean, Fit & Strong Healthy Living Program is amazing for this;
  • Even if your workouts for the week did not go as planned,  you can recommit to your health and start training again today: A 15 mins workout is better than no workout;
  • Start with a long warm up. If you haven’t exercised in a while, do a long warm-up and stretching session. Example: Loosen up with light cardio or 30 jumping jacks and 20 secs of running in place and repeat 3-4x and then eight to ten stretches for upper and lower body. You may actually only do this for a few days until you get into it;
  • Create a morning movement ritual. This doesn’t have to be your main workout. I do 9-10 sun salutations in the morning just to get the blood flowing, but your morning ritual could be some light stretching or walking your dog around the block; {See tips on how to create a Morning Routine}
  • Get a trainer. I see my trainer once a month for a new program and it is really helpful to have guidance for I can do at home, at the gym or when traveling;

    I tried a TRX class with my mom in Panama and it was fantastic! Also great to find activities you can do with or as a family!

  • Let go of excuses and do it anyway – even when I am alone with Koji; even when I am tired; even when it’s a travel day; even when I have so many other things to do;  Again, 15 mins of exercise and movement is better than no minutes;
  • Figure out what you can for exercise even when you are tired or busy. Maybe just a walk around the block after dinner or some yoga in the park. Think about this as a Plan B;
  • Exercise in the morning to boost energy and before the day gets too crazy or busy. Of course, you can exercise at any time of the day, but I find most of my clients have the best success maintaining an exercise program if they exercise in the morning;
  • Try a new class, a new studio and/or a new instructor. This is especially interesting when traveling and even cooler when the class is in another language! {For yoga studios and classes around the world, try Yoga Finder}
  • Have fun and add variety into your workouts. Try new equipment and new types of exercise. Fun types of exercise to try:
  • Click here for more Fitness Friday Tips (and everyday workout suggestions);

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Wednesday Theme: Heart & Soul

My Wednesday Theme is Heart & Soul.

Often referred to as Humpday, Wednesday is considered the day in which we must surmount in order to make it to the weekend.  In an attempt to brighten the reputation of Wednesdays, I use this day as an opportunity to check in and assess if what I am feeling, thinking and doing is aligned with the intention I set at the beginning of the week.

Another reason for the Wednesday Theme of Heart & Soul is Wednesday’s parallel position as the fourth day of the week to the heart as the fourth chakra.

This is the day that I try to refocus and restore my energy back to where I want it to be and reemphasize my self-care practices. I have done this deliberately because my days tend to pass quickly and I find it easy to be pulled off centre and sucked into the busyness of the week. I am trying to use Wednesdays as a day to reclaim my week.

Reconnecting with what is important to me and to the people around me is a huge aspect of this Wednesday Theme. I try to be extra patient with myself and others especially because I can feel my energy waning slightly by this point in the week. Before I used to become critical of myself if I was off track, which tended to block my energy and stunt my workflow. Now I allow myself to be more spacious and dreamy. This has dramatically improved my sense of self, allowing me to feel more inspired and solution oriented. This has also increased my productivity and given me more courage to take action steps, regardless of how small, toward my goals.

 

Heart & Soul Chakras

I love these Universe has your Back cards by Gabby Bernstein & Micaela Ezra.

Chakras are energy centres located along the spine that have specific physiological, psychological and emotional functions.

The Heart Chakra, known as Anahata in Sanskrit, is responsible for love, self-love, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. It is also responsible for the physical heart, circulation, and respiration. Anahata is about what gives us life, and what gives us love. Being mindful of this and releasing the thoughts, actions, and people that take away from our life and drain our energy is hugely liberating for the heart and soul. (See Letting Go Exercise below)

I also believe our Wednesday Theme is linked to the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara), which is about our connection to each other and to Spirit or the divine. It is our sense of belonging, value, and purpose. This keeps us on track.

Author Gabrielle Bernstein‘s books have given me much food for thought. She discusses how being critical and judgemental of ourselves and others causes us to feel separate and alone. When things go stray in my mind or in my day, I think about Bernstein’s prayer and affirmation about fear:  “I recognize that I have chosen fear, and I choose again. I choose Love.”

About Love

TaI recently read two fantastic books on love: Love by Leo Buscaglia and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  Buscaglia summarizes the best ways in which to enrich the heart and soul is through acts of love. He writes:  “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Chapman further discusses expressions of love by distinguishing five different “love languages”:  Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Gift Giving. He says that people tend to feel most loved when they receive love in their primary love language.  (Take the 5 Love Language test to find out what your love language is.)

Ok, back to our Wednesday Theme…

 

Wednesday Theme Heart & Soul Questions:

  • How can I restore my energy, focus, and inspiration today?
  • What am I curious about?  What do I want to explore?
  • Going deeper (for the courageous hearts)… Who was I before my heart was broken?
  • What can I forgive and let go of?
  • How can I serve others and how can I show my love and gratitude?
  • How can I put more heart into what I am doing today?

 

Wednesday Theme Heart & Soul Actions:

  • Reconnect with your intention for the week;
  • Review your affirmations or write out new ones (See Affirmations to Create the Best Day Every Day)
  • Take time for deep breathing and oxygenate your body and mind. This can be done through breathing exercises (pranayama) and/or through cardiovascular exercise;
  • Practice self-care today, especially if you weren’t able to prioritize it earlier in the week. Examples: yoga before everyone else wakes up (Access my 20 mins Yoga Basics video); go on a solo date to a coffee shop, restaurant or to the spa; get a massage or osteopathic treatment; do the self-massage practice; take a bath; relax;
  • Work on the Heart Chakra and also on the Crown Chakra (See Chakra Balancing);
  • Express gratitude. Say thank you, send a card to someone, give someone else credit and be complementary;
  • Connect to people more. Listen with your full attention, love, smile, and look into people’s eyes;
  • Daydream in your favourite café or hygge corner at home and journal (See 20 Life-Changing Questions & How to Create a Hygge Corner by Blogger Deanna Piercy)
  • Read or listen to something that uplifts your spirit and opens your heart (See 10 Great Personal Development Books)
  • Do the Letting Go exercise to release stress and pent-up emotions: Write out everything that is going on (good, bad, happy or sad) and then burn the paper. This really works!
  • Catch up on sleep so you have more energy for the rest of the week. Try to get to bed before 11pm.

Do you have any other suggestions for a Wednesday Theme? Or perhaps any other ideas on how to reconnect with your heart and soul? If yes, please post your ideas below!

{Feature photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash}

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Tuesday Theme: Lifestyle Design

My Tuesday Theme is lifestyle design because I think it is important to consider the way I am living and experiment on how to improve it. This is a big topic in my 30 Day Healthy Living Program and a key part of my week. (See Daily Theming)

 

What is “lifestyle”?

The word lifestyle is used a lot in many different contexts from clothing to media campaigns. I use the term “lifestyle design” to mean how to create your ideal living and working situation on a daily basis.

A great lifestyle design to me is the difference between being where I want to be on say, a Tuesday afternoon and where I don’t. It’s also about being able to adjust things in the way that is memorable and highlighting what/who I love and am grateful for through my activities and people I spend time with. It’s about choices.

Here’s a great explanation of lifestyle from a website called Business Dictionary:

Lifestyle is expressed in both work and leisure behavior patterns and (on an individual basis) in activities, attitudes, interests, opinions, values, and allocation of income. It also reflects people’s self-image or self-concept; the way they see themselves and believe they are seen by the others. Lifestyle is a composite of motivations, needs, and wants and is influenced by factors such as culture, family, reference groups, and social class.

About Time

The definition above is pretty complete, but I believe lifestyle is more about how you allocate time than money. This doesn’t mean money isn’t important.  In my experience, people whose lifestyles I admire are people who have found a way to work less and live more without sacrificing their living standards. For me, a good lifestyle design is about having your cake and eating it too.

Author Tim Ferris revolutionized the concept of lifestyle design in his best selling book, The Four Hour Work Week.  He writes:  “To enjoy life, you don’t need fancy nonsense, but you do need to control your time.” 

Ferris cites Parkinson’s Law, a principle first published in 1958 that states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. This means if you have a week to complete something, it will take you a week. If you have only an hour, it will take you an hour.  (I have witnessed this with cleaning my house and with every deadline I’ve had.)  Mel Robbins also talks about this in The Five Second Rule.

Both authors discussed Parkinson’s Law while stressing the importance of limiting distractions in the pursuit of what’s important.

 

Environment

Creating the right atmosphere at home and work is also an important element of lifestyle design. My thoughts on this were greatly influenced by two books I highly recommend: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking.

Of equal importance to my environment are the people around me. I am a huge proponent of the adages “your vibe attracts your tribe,” and “you are the sum of the five people you hang around with most.”

Lifestyle Design Questions

  • What is really important to me?
  • How do I feel when I wake up in the morning?
  • Can I make this day, this week more memorable?
  • Is my highest image a reflection of the way I want to live?
  • How can my environment be cozier and more comfortable?
  • What activities, people, food, music and things inspire me and give me goosebumps?
  • Do I go to bed feeling satisfied, happy and fulfilled each day?

Lifestyle Design Actions

  • Enhance the atmosphere at home by lighting candles, redecorating or reorganizing an area of your house and play great music – change playlists for every task (I love Spotify);
  • Change how you feel about traffic by listening to audio books while driving (Thank you Audible);
  • Do something different for meals – pancakes for lunch, picnic dinner, trying new recipes (See new recipes);
  • Make quality time for the people who bring you joy and uplift your spirit;
  • Exercise and meditate anyway even when you are alone with your kids, even while traveling, even when busy or tired. It’s not easy, but worth it;
  • Delegate tasks and jobs you don’t love – For us, hiring someone to clean the Loft is the best;
  • End your relationship with complaining and gossip – seriously awesome stuff will follow;
  • Be protective of your lifestyle and your time – limit distractions as much as you can;
  • Make a sanctuary in your home like  a yoga or meditation corner;
  • Every day is a good day – use the good china for breakfast on Wednesday and don’t wait too long to travel or for “special occasions;”
  • Find something to celebrate daily;
  • Keep trying things, be open and as creative as you can.

Being protective of lifestyle is increasingly important to me since becoming a mom. I think this beneficial because I feel more productive, present and alive than ever. This said I would never be so arrogant as to suggest that I have everything all figured out. I work to find solutions to things I tend to complain about and then share my solutions with others.

Do you have any other suggestions on how you are improving your lifestyle design? If yes, please post your ideas below!

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Monday Theme: Monday Mindset

My Theme for Mondays is Mindset. Monday Mindset has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

I love Mondays! To me, Monday feels like a fresh start, like a New Year’s Day or a new month. My energy is on point and everything is open and possible. It feels like a good time to recommit to my goals, to start something new, and get to work.

As I mentioned previously, I am working on becoming a more organized person. I have discovered that Daily Theming has helped me become more focused, more productive and less prone to stress and fatigue.

Full disclosure: I enjoy what I do for work. I truly love teaching yoga, doing ayurvedic consultations, running my 30 Day Healthy Living Programs and working online with Arbonne. As such, I look forward to getting into my myriad projects when the week begins.

If this is not your reality… yet, I invite you to use the Monday Theme to reshape your Mindset.  Here are some questions to reflect upon:

I really enjoy starting my days with my morning tonic of Arbonne Greens Balance, Arbonne Energy Fizz and lime juice in water. In fact, this is the perfect starting ritual for my Monday Mindset. As such, I have hooked so many people onto this including my husband, toddler, parents and countless friends and clients.

Monday Mindset Questions

  • What am I grateful for? Are there things that are already working well?
  • Do I know my top priorities for this week?
  • What is my intention for the week?
  • Am I excited about something in particular?
  • What am I worried about or dreading this week?
  • How high is my level of willingness to grow and learn?

Motivation by choice vs obligation

The one thing that has really helped me fully embrace the Monday Mindset theme is to reshape my way of thinking about tasks.  Shifting from doing things out of obligation to doing things because I choose to is a lesson in motivation I learned from Brandan Barber Coaching.

Like many of us, I use to think about my tasks on my To Do list as obligations and felt guilt, stress, and shame when I didn’t complete them. Now, I try to see each task as a choice, as something I want to do or choose to do because… and then I articulate the benefit and reason why the task is important.

Here’s an example: I used to detest administrative work, especially accounting. It felt like a chore and I wasn’t good at it. Because accounting was hard and overwhelming, I made accounting part of my Monday Mindset on abundance. I put it at the beginning of the week on purpose.  My new mantra is, “The more I have the more I can give.” Now, I look forward to paying people because I appreciate the work they do. As well, I choose to pay my rent and bills on time because I appreciate where I live and I am grateful for services like internet, electricity, cellphone, etc.

This simple shift in my perspective has had a profound impact on my productivity.  It also feels more energizing and motivating to know I have a choice. This is especially helpful on Mondays when getting started or restarted on a project is important.

Monday Mindset Actions:

  • Prepare my Monday Morning on Sunday night (See Sunday Theme);

    A morning routine is very helpful for me my Monday Mindset as it helps me get my day and week started.

  • Get up early – no snoozing!  (Snoozing creates sleep inertia and makes you feel sluggish in the morning)
  • Implement a morning routine. For me, this is meditation, yoga and my morning greens from Arbonne (Greens Balance + Energy Fizz + lime juice in water = best way to start the day!);
  • Write out a primary affirmation or focus for the week: I am calm, I am at ease, I am productive, I am having fun, I am fulfilled… (See Daily Affirmations)
  • Prioritize the two to three tasks or goals that are the most important today and for the week and scheduling them in;
  • Figure out why I want to and choose to do the things I have to and should do this week (motivation by choice versus obligation);
  • Focus on my Productivity Mindset;
  • Read or listening to an uplifting and inspiring book, podcast or training to help me get into action (See my list of 10 Great Personal Development Books);
  • Protect my Monday Mindset from distractions – keeping my phone on silent, turning off notifications, checking email only twice during the day;
  • Check in regularly to see if closer or further away from my Monday Mindset goals;
  • Exercise! I find that if I exercise on Monday, I am most likely to reach my goal of going to the gym at least three times this week.

Do you have any other suggestions for a Monday Theme? If yes, please post your ideas below!

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Sunday Theme: Quality Time, Reflection & Preparation

My Sunday Theme is quality time, reflection & preparation. This is when I spend time with family & friends, practice self-care, plan, and prepare for the week ahead.

Although I wouldn’t describe myself as organized or a natural planner, I believe that Daily Theming, giving each day of the week a special focus, has improved my mental, emotional and even physical health. I have tested this myself and find I am a lot more focused. I feel more at ease and peaceful. I am getting stuff done. And my days feel full and abundant. As such, I designed my 30 Day Healthy Living Program with these Daily Themes in mind.

Sunday Funday

Like arranged on a calendar, I mentally start the week with Sunday. It’s like a pre-weekday for me and a good day to connect with the people who are important to me.

I also try to set aside at least a half hour of quiet time to do a check-in with myself (usually in the afternoon during Koji’s nap or in the evening, after Koji has gone to bed). I review and reflect upon what’s happened over the weekend and over the last week by pondering questions like the ones below.

 

2018-07-08-Sunday2

Figuring out how to incorporate my family into my self-care practices and discovering new ways to spend quality time together is one of the aspects of my Sunday Theme I love the most.

Sunday Theme Questions:

  • Who is important to me and how can dedicate quality time to them today?
  • What can I do today to practice self-care?
  • What happened last week that was awesome?
  • What did I accomplish over the weekend and last week?
  • What’s happening right now that could be better?
  • What can I do now that will make the coming week/days easier or better?

I recently attended a conference with Arbonne, the line of botanical health and beauty products I represent. During one of the trainings, one of the trainers, Chantale Oliveira brought up a very interesting concept that I am now working into my evening routines and as part of actions associated with my Sunday Theme of review and prepare. This is the concept of writing not only a “To Do” list, but also an “I Did” or “I Accomplished” list.

What an awesome idea! I have been doing this all week and my daily satisfaction feelings have skyrocketed! While To Do lists are helpful for keeping track of things and fit in perfectly with our Sunday theme, I Did lists help us stay on track of our progress.

You may think checking off boxes on your To Do list might serve the same function, but not really. Try this and you’ll see what I mean.

Sunday Theme Actions:

  • Spend time with family & friends and remembering what’s important;
  • Reflect upon and write down your “I Did” list with the things you accomplished over the weekend and last week;
  • Make a personal, professional & family To Do lists for the week ahead;
  • Prioritize the tasks on your lists (See Productivity Mindset);
  • Delegate as many tasks as you can;
  • Add reminders & allotting time for your essential tasks on your calendar;
  • Schedule appointments for the week;
  • Do laundry (if needed);
  • Grocery shop (you can order groceries online) & meal prep for the week (See Simple Plant-Based Food Plan) ;
  • Prepare clothes, lunches and other stuff needed to make Monday morning as easy as possible;
  • Self-care: Rest, read, self-massage, meditate, journal, breathe, go outside and daydream on the  ‘big picture’ (See 20 Life Changing Questions);
  • Practice Letting go;
  • Take a relaxing bath,
  • Go to bed early.

Of course, another suggestion for a Sunday Theme is to REST completely – no errands or chores on Sunday. If your home tasks like laundry & groceries can get done on another day, it’s lovely to use Sunday to have quality time with family and/or friends time and time for personal development, reflection, gentle organization, and self-care.

Do you have any other suggestions for a Sunday Theme? If yes, please post your ideas below!

 

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Stress Management with Pranayama & Three-Part-Breathing

Pranayama is the practice of learning how to breathe consciously and increasing our vital energy. Regardless of life’s ups and downs, the breath is always with us and is our most tangible connection to the present moment.

Nevertheless, it is surprising how little emphasis is placed on breathing throughout our daily routines. It’s the same tune we’ve heard before: We wake up. We run out the door. We work all day, barely stopping for a lunch break or a deep breath. We multitask all day and then run errands after work. We have dinner perhaps while watching TV or being on our phones, and then we go to bed only to do the exact same thing the following day.

Running around all day, living and breathing on autopilot, isn’t optimal for our physical and psychological well-being and yet most of us do this often, self-included.

Some statistics about stress

  • According to Health Canada, more than 70% of Canadians feel stressed on a regular basis.
  • Statistics Canada reported that more than 30% of adults between the ages of 25 and 54 claim that most days were quite a bit or extremely stressful.
  • Women were 1.5 times more likely than males to report that most days were quite a bit or extremely stressful.
  • Interestingly, the proportion of residents who reported that their days were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely’ stressful was higher than the national average in Quebec (26.2%).

The impact of these findings by Statistics Canada indicated that high levels of daily stress resulted in a lower rate of life satisfaction.

Physically the body responds to stress with a “fight or flight” response, explains Barbara A. Brehm in her book Stress Management: Increasing Your Stress Resistance. The heart beats faster and harder, blood pressure rises and breathing becomes more shallow and rapid. Over time, countless studies, including several conducted by Stat. Can., have shown that chronic stress can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and rheumatism, migraines chronic bronchitis and stomach or intestinal ulcers.

How to manage stress with pranayama

Practicing proper breathing techniques is perhaps the simplest way to help the body cope during strenuous times while allowing the mind to relax and focus on the task at hand. Yogis say, “When the breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the breath is still, so is the mind still.”

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Pranayama is about increasing life force. In his classic book Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar’s wrote: “Prana is the breath of life of all beings in the universe. They are born through and live by it, and when they die their individual dissolves into the cosmic breath.”

The yogic practice of breath work is called pranayama, which also means to control vital energy. There are three types of breathing: clavicular (shallow), intercostal (middle), and diaphragmatic (deep).

Clavicular Breathing: Air enters the body by raising the collarbone and shoulders. This method of respiration is the least efficient since it only involves the upper part of the lungs. When we are stressed or anxious, we often revert to this type of rapid, shallow breathing. (Studies show that more women breathe this way, as women react to a higher range of stressors than men.)

Intercostal Breathing: Often referred to as ‘athletic breathing,’ the intercostal form of respiration fills the middle region of the lungs by lifting the ribs and expanding the thoracic cage or chest wall. When combined with diaphragmatic breathing, the body is properly oxygenated.

Diaphragmatic Breathing: This type of breathing is categorized by the swelling of the abdominal region, as the diaphragm subsides on the inhalation and the base of the lungs fill with air. The rhythmic lowering of the diaphragm produces a constant, gentle massage of the abdominal area and helps the organs function correctly. (Most men breathe this way.)

Dirga pranayama or threepart breath

2018-06-30-Pranayama-3

The most energy efficient method of breathing incorporates all three types of breathing— diaphragmatic, intercostal, and clavicular. In yoga, it is important to breathe in and out through the nose, because the air that enters and exits the body nasally is warmer and more filtered than through the mouth.

As you inhale –
1- Lower and flatten the dome-shaped diaphragm – ‘breathe’ into your belly’
2- Expand the rib cage;
3- Raise the upper part of the thorax and collarbone.

As you exhale – 
1- Lower the collarbone and upper thorax area;
2- Deflate the rib cage;
3- Gently contract the abdominals and squeeze out any residual air left in the lungs.

TIP: Focus on the exhalation
Most people believe that, in the act of respiration, one must give precedence to drawing in the breath. However, unless we first exhale the breath completely, it is impossible to inhale correctly. At the end of the exhalation, the abdominal muscles should contract to help empty the lungs of impure air.

Pranayama is also an excellent segway into meditation as it calms the mind and has myriad benefits.

 

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Daily Theming to Enhance Joy & Wellbeing

In an effort to enhance wellbeing and augment joy, I started to my implement daily theming into my 30 Day Healthy Living Program and into my own life. A year later, I am truly amazed at the effect this has had on my overall sense of fulfillment.

Disclosure

 Let's be honest, travel days are stressful. Because of these challenging moments, I set my creativity in motion and came up with a system for daily routines & daily theming no matter where we are in the world.

Let’s be honest, travel days are stressful. Because of these challenging moments, I set my creativity in motion and came up with a system for daily routines & daily theming no matter where we are in the world.

Being organized hasn’t come naturally to me. I am an entrepreneur working from home and from the road (read: no boss & no structure). I have always been resistant to any kind of routine and planning is still somewhat foreign to me.

These are the times when I want to yell at my husband or son, vent my grievances on social media and/or cry in the bathroom. To be truthful, I occasionally do this (especially the yelling, blaming and crying parts), but things are shifting.

Now that I am a parent and a spouse, I am increasingly aware that my time and my energy are no longer only my own. Every minute, every thought, every emotion and every action counts more than ever before.

This said I am making huge efforts to transform my fear, worry, and anger into curiosity. My yoga and meditation practice helps and so does understanding that it is more fun and energizing to become creative during difficult times rather than contravening and gloomy.

Enter my new daily routines and system of daily theming.

My System of Daily Theming

Having a system and a theme is better for me than a schedule.  Although not specifically about productivity, my system of daily theme is about personal development, and being happy, healthy and wealthy on all levels. This is about channeling my energy while improving my wellbeing and living intentionally.

Each day has a focus that provides inspiration to keep moving forward, especially when I don’t feel like it. Here’s how it goes:

SUNDAY – Quality Time, Reflect & Prepare

 Like on the calendar, I mentally start the week with Sunday – it’s like a pre-weekday for me. This is when I review and reflect upon what’s happened and where I’m at. I try to rest and take the day as easy as possible while having my eye on the week ahead. Grocery shopping and laundry may get done today as long as it doesn’t intervene with family time or the feeling of ease.

On Thursdays, I strive to be more like my dear friend Alana, who is always testing new recipes and makes the most nutritious AND delicious meals.

On Thursdays, I strive to be more like my dear friend Alana, who is always testing new recipes and makes the most nutritious AND delicious meals.

MONDAY – Mindset

I love Mondays in the same way I like the start of a new year. My energy is fresh and everything is open and possible. It’s a good time to start something new and get focused. This is the day when I would set an intention or focus for the week. Example:  being at ease, being patient, attracting abundance, connecting with people, embracing my faults, etc.

TUESDAY – Lifestyle Design

Lifestyle is about the way we live day to day. I think it is very important to consider this and make a conscious effort to improve how I am moving through each day. As my husband constantly reminds me, “This is our life. This is it. We have to be happy now, not someday.” So we talk about the trips we want to take and set ideas in motion. We light candles and maybe open the good bottle of champagne and find something to celebrate, even if it’s “just” Tuesday.

WEDNESDAY – Heart & Soul

Wednesday, Humpday, is the midpoint of the week, so to me, this is a good opportunity to check in and see if what I am feeling and what I am doing is aligned. I make a point to make gratitude a big part of this day. I may take time to write in my journal. I connect with a friend I have been thinking about for a while. I will try to spend some quiet time in the bath after Koji is asleep. I may also send thank you cards to clients, friends or family members just because.

THURSDAY – Food & Nutrition

Full disclosure, I am not a foodie per se. I enjoy good food, but I primarily eat for fuel and prioritize nutrition over taste. I often eat the same things over and over again. Because I want to enhance my appreciation for food and widen my perspective, I made Thursdays about food and nutrition. This gives me an excuse to try a new recipe from one of the beautiful cookbooks I seldom open or maybe do something different for meal time.

FRIDAY – Movement

Like most people, I tend to have more energy at the beginning of the week, so by Friday, I wouldn’t always feel like practicing yoga or working out. For this very reason, I made movement and fitness Friday’s focus. Fridays are often traveling days, so I make a big effort to doing something active no matter how small. Even walking around the airport during connections is better than sitting in the lounge, and 10 sun salutations first thing in the morning is something.

SATURDAY – Energy

Saturday is a great day to do things that augment & restore positive energy and to spend quality time with friends and family. I try to close my work week on Friday, but I may use part of Saturday (during Koji’s nap) to wrap up some projects or work on something that brings me joy. Doing home redesign or improvements to improve the energy in our home could also be Saturday activity.

What also helps

Yoga is a huge part of my life. I also like to have themes or intentions for each practice. This helps me understand what I want out it.

Yoga is a huge part of my life. I also like to have themes or intentions for each practice. This helps me understand what I want out it.

In addition to daily theming, having daily rituals have really helped me streamline my energy, especially in the morning. {See my morning routine}

There are many interesting articles about how daily theming improves focus at work and helps you get things done. I recently read an article in Forbes Magazine about daily theming. Productivity strategist and author, Mike Vardy was interviewed about his methodology for success – click here to view the article. Along with a daily focus for tasks like Mondays are admin days, he recommends having a theme for the year. He chooses three words to embody his intentions for the year:

What words are going to be the waypoints or the measuring stick so when I’m choosing the projects that I want to pursue, when I’m deciding what conferences I’m going to attend, […] or what things are going to fuel my intentions going forward, I can look at these three words.”

I love this idea and this is exactly what I mean to do on a daily/weekly basis.

{Working on creating more content related to each specific day. Love to hear your ideas! Please comment below or email me!}

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Open your Nadis & Increase your energy

Nadis are energy centres & channels responsible for giving vitality to every cell and system in the body. Imagine living every day with more flow and more exuberance.

In this post, I am sharing simple ways to boost the subtle energies of the body for maximum results.

What are Nadis and why are they important?

When the nadis are clear, prana or vital energy flows easily to the cells and health is optimized. When they are blocked, we become weak and ill. Stress, unhealthy lifestyle habits and trauma also obstruct the circulation of this life force.

The word “Nadi” comes from the Sanskrit word “Nad”, meaning flow or motion. According to the ancient Tantric texts, it is believed that there are 72,000 nadis in the body.

The biggest centres are the chakras and there are larger concentrations of nadis at the joints, hands & feet and sense organs: eyes, ears, nose, lips and tongue.

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Right intention and appreciation redirects your energy and improves the flow of prana throughout your system.

Ways to clear the nadis and balance your energy

  • Right Intention – Your energy flows where your attention goes, so MIND YOUR MIND! Set your intentions clearly, repeat uplifting affirmations, be grateful, take in positive impressions as often as possible. (see Daily Affirmations)
  • Hatha Yoga – Yoga helps to free stagnant energy and balance two of the main nadis that weave through the chakras: Ida & Pingala, the female (lunar) energy  & male (solar) energy. In fact, the term “hatha yoga” actually means “sun-moon yoga” referring to the practice of bringing these nadis into equilibrium.
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing – This breathing exercise also helps to balance Ida and pingala and opens the sinuses, an important gateway for prana / life-force / breath to enter the body.
  • Ayurvedic Self Massage – This practice is also fantastic for stimulating the nadis and clearing congestion from the joints and muscles. The benefit is particularly noticeable when you observe the difference between the arm you just massages compared to the one that has yet to be massaged.
  • Cleansing & Improving Digestion – The tips to improve digestion along with the seven-day detox or cleanse dramatically improves the effectiveness of the nadis and your overall well being. (see tips for improving digestion)
  • Consuming healthy food & healthy products is key. Read your labels and make sure you educate yourself to know that what you put in your mouth and on your skin is safe and beneficial. You cannot not even imagine how absorbent your skin is! Whatever you put on your skin absorbs directly into your blood stream within 30 seconds!
  • Exercise & nature appreciation – Daily movement at a moderate intensity helps to circulate energy and blood flow throughout your body. It’s best to avoid extremes and if you can exercise outside and breathe fresh air in nature, all the better! (see tips for exercise)

 

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Ayurvedic Self-Massage Guide & Download

Ayurvedic self-massage is a highly beneficial treatment on all levels.

I recommend this type of self-massage because it particularly helpful for lymphatic drainage, aiding the body’s detoxification process. It also a nice, nurturing ritual that can be continued regularly as it helps foster self-love and appreciation– two qualities everyone good use more of!

Ayurvedic self-massage is also known as Abhyanga. It can be done with or without oil.  An article by ayurvedic practitioner, Sandhiya Ramaswamy for the Chopra Centre describes abhyanga like this:

There is no greater expression of self-love than lovingly anointing ourselves from head to toe with warm oil […] It is believed that the effects of Abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, Abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth.

I often include dry self-massage (sans oil) in yoga practices with my students as part of the ‘warm up’. (See details about the Therapeutic Yoga Clinic)  It is very nice to do at home with warm oils, especially when you are fresh from the shower or bath and already semi-relaxed.

Benefits to Self-Massage 

  • Encourages self-love;
  • Stimulates cardiovascular circulation;
  • Lymphatic drainage;
  • Improves digestion and immune function;
  • Promotes relaxation and grounding;
  • Lubricates joints;
  • Helps you sleep deeper and more soundly;
  • Releases muscular tension;
  • Calms the minds;
  • Balances the nervous system;
  • Increases the flow of energy & prana in your body;
  • Smoothes your skin (especially when using warm oil);
  • Regulates body temperature;
  • Enhances your mood and confidence.

How to practice self-massage

There is no right or wrong way to do self-massage, but it is best to start with your head and end at your feet. Do circular motions on your joints and vigorously rub up and down between the joints.

Blog-2018-05-25-Self-Massage3

CLICK HERE to download a guided self-massage practice I recorded for you

 

Using oil

If you want to use oils, great. Oil helps to calm the nervous system and hydrates the skin. It’s very important to use a good quality, cold-pressed oil (available at all health food stores) and warm it up slightly prior to using it.

Here are the recommended oils to use per dosha:

  • Vata benefits most from warm sesame oil.
  • Pitta benefits most from warm almond oil.
  • Kapha benefits most from warm sunflower oil.

If you aren’t sure which one to use, almond oil is a safe bet or even olive oil. If you know aromatherapy, you could also add a drop or two of lavender or ylang ylang to further promote relaxation.  I very much like the Rescue & Renew Detox Massage Oil from Arbonne & the Arbonne Harmony Essential Oil blend for a high quality tri-doshic oil.

Evening Ritual

I like to make a date for myself on a Friday or Saturday evening when I have some time and can stay in. I have an early dinner, take a hot epsom salt bath with oil and then do a little self-practice of massage and maybe some light yoga and meditation. I heat the oil gently on the stove on low for a few minutes and then pour it over my head letting it saturate my hair. Then, I massage the oil into my skin from head down. I drink a hot cup of herbal tea and go to bed early. It’s heavenly.

TIP:  If you use oil, sleep on a towel or pillow case you won’t mind getting oil stains.

 

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