I’ve recently read a fascinating book by Gabor Mate called “When The Body Says No” about this very topic.
In it he looks at the effect of the mind-body link on illness and health and the role that stress and one’s individual emotional makeup play in an array of common diseases.
Based on scientific evidence he shows how suppressed thoughts and emotions contribute to a range of chronic health conditions such as IBS and inflammatory bowel conditions, fibromyalgia, and arthritis as well as serious illnesses including cancer, Alzheimers and motor neurone disease.
Suppressed emotions and thoughts stress the body, and this chronic stress causes inflammation and suppresses the immune system – both major contributing factors in illness and dis-ease.
The books is quite the wake up call! To wake you up to allowing yourself to feel strong emotions and process them – rather then denying them and pushing them under. Read more…
Humans are creatures of attachment. It overrides even the desire for life. This is biologically important so that we can be taken care of.
A human child especially is vulnerable to loss of attachment because they are born almost entirely helpless and need attachment to survive; our brains are very immature.
The quality of that attachment is significant for further brain development outside the womb and is something that actually changes the brain of the child when it is withheld; a developmental stage is often not completed properly, with the emotional brain (limbic system in the centre of the brain) failing to develop with a sense of safety at its core. Read more…
As a yoga teacher, there’s a phrase I’ll often hear: “I can’t come to yoga – my back’s hurting”.
And it breaks my heart a little every time I hear it, because yoga can help!
Now, I’m not suggesting that you should force yourself to class and onto a yoga mat if you’re in acute pain and you’re crying out every time you move, or you’ve just had an operation on your back and you’re in recovery.
But most of the time when we’re experiencing back pain, spasms, niggles, aches and so on, yoga WILL help.Read more…
Where are you living? No, I don’t mean which town, or whether you’re in a house or apartment.
I mean, what space do you occupy? Do you live in your mind or do you inhabit your body?
It’s a good question to ask yourself because in our busy lives it can be all too easy just to occupy the top two inches of our body and live in the mind.
And when we live in our minds we’re rarely present. We over-analyse the past and fret about the future. We’re at the mercy of the to-do list in our heads. We lose perspective. We might fly off the handle at the merest provocation. We daydream, disappearing into our thoughts.
Occupying the mental plane of existence disconnects us from our body. Our breath becomes shallow and our muscles get tense and tight. We ignore our body’s needs to or even stop noticing them at all. Read more…
Do you sit for hours a day? Working at your desk, typing, focusing intently at the screen.
Hours go by and you realize you’ve barely moved.
And by the end of the day your shoulders are up around your ears and so tense, your neck is aching, your back feels like the handle of broom – not like it’s made up of 24 moving vertebrae!
So many of us are forced to sit for long periods because it’s the nature of our job (and then we sit all evening watching TV, or reading, or glued to our laptop of mobile device). And the result is back pain and low energy levels. Read more…
Do you sometimes feel totally exhausted? Drained of energy? Like your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone?!
Believe me, I know what it feels like after a day of trying to cross as many things off your to-do list as possible, being pulled this way and that by the many demands on your time and attention. Sometimes I feel exhausted and totally drained .
Yes, (even) yoga teachers can feel like this too. However, being a good yogini I know which yogic tools to reach for to help restore me to a state of equilibrium.
And I know that when you reach this feeling of deep tiredness, you have a choice. Read more…
Life can seem like such an uphill struggle sometimes.
Too much to do, not enough time.
Arguments with the family, friction at work.
Worries about your or your family’s health.
The media telling you should eat this and not that, that you should exercise like this and not like that. That you’re drinking too little, not enough. That you should be doing such-and-such for a happy life, live somewhere else, feel different, be different. Argh!!!
You crave a way to find a moment’s peace; to drop the angst and self-judgement and find some serenity. Read more…
How do you get comfortable? No matter which way you sit the ache is there, the tingling, the throbbing, the snatching…
Whether it’s an annoying niggle or an ever-present ache or a pain which comes and goes, back discomfort/pain can be energy-sapping and nerve-fraying (I know, I’ve been there!)
The underlying discomfort is made worse by the feelings of anxiety and frustration that your body isn’t behaving itself, or maybe feelings of fear that the pain may strike at any moment and leave you temporarily incapacitated.
There are two ways yoga helps back discomfort/pain. Read more…
So, I started yoga in 2000 – for the same reason many people come to my classes now – because I felt stiff and inflexible.
But what causes this common phenomenon of feeling stiff, achy and ill-at-ease in our bodies?
It’s partly about tight muscles. But it’s also about the tightness of the joints themselves.
Stiff muscles and joints lead to discomfort in the body which we brace ourselves against – leading to more tightness, especially as this tends to be accompanied by shallow-breathing. Add to the mix anxiety and stress and we end up feeling as if we’re tightly bound by ropes and afraid to move!
Of course, this is where yoga comes in to the rescue.
Yoga stretches and lengthens the muscles, encourage us to breathe deeply, contributing to that delightful sense of release and relief at the end of our yoga practice.
However, many yoga practices are based on constant flowing movements. This is great for the muscles, because muscles love to move.
But it overlooks the joints themselves. Read more…