Yoga and Insomnia sleep yoga Aug 27, 2021

First published in What Doctor's Don't Tell You Magazine.

We all know the knock-on effects of a bad night’s sleep, but when insomnia becomes chronic it can affect our whole being and ability to function. The daytime fatigue it creates can send us reaching for sugar and stimulants, which in turn affect sleep.

Insomnia falls into two categories; difficulty falling asleep and waking in the night. It tends to be divided into primary insomnia, where sleeplessness is the main symptom and secondary, where sleep is affected by another condition e.g. arthritis, fibromyalgia and depression. From a holistic and psychoneuroimmunological (PNI) perspective - where our bodies work as one completely integrated system – the calming and soothing mechanisms that allow sleep have such far reaching effects on lowering inflammation, modulating immunity and regulating mood and motivation, that promoting sleep quality is a foundation of health; not just the absence of disease, but quality...

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How to... Maintain Energy Levels energy yoga Jul 20, 2021

We humans have an interesting relationship with energy. We can expect so much of our resources, often underplaying the recovery time we really need and viewing ‘good energy’ simply as the ability to keep going, no matter what... which is akin to expecting your smartphone to keep working without recharging the battery.

In reality, energy that we can rely on and that remains generally stable throughout the day only occurs when we factor downtime and breaks into our daily lives - when we truly connect in to when we are doing too much and need to back off. This can apply to any aspect of our lives; work, play, exercise and anything else.

Energy is finite and shared around the body; when it is needed for digestion or immunity for instance, our want to move around becomes reduced - energy available to our muscle is needed elsewhere and we go into recovery mode.

The truth is energy needs to ebb and flow. We need to allow natural down-times to be able to pick up again...

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Keep on Moving yoga Jul 07, 2021

We humans are built to move continually, but our movement patterns can often add into rather than relieve our 21st century stress states. Our one response to stress – ‘fight, flight or freeze’ – has our whole bodies preparing for a tense, physical reaction, but sedentary habits often leave us stewing in our stress hormones and trapped in ‘constant alert’ with no outlet. The result can be tight muscles, jaw and face, often seen in neck and back issues, as well as headaches, anxiety and insomnia.

The trouble is that many of us have work lives that demand we sit for long periods of time, relegating exercise to defined pockets of time. But our bodies are not designed to be inactive; even if you are notching up the exercise hours, if you are sitting on your behind for more than two hours at a time, you are sending signals to body systems that you are essentially sedentary, causing metabolism and energy regulation to slow down accordingly. Staying in...

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Yoga and Menopause self care wellness yoga May 27, 2021

First published in What Doctor's Don't Tell You Magazine.

The menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life cycle. It is not an illness, but a passing into a new phase, where we drop away from the more frenzied activity of earlier years and into a more relaxed approach. Hormone fluctuations and resultant symptoms accompany each female biological life stage and changes are felt on all levels; physically, emotional and spiritually as we take stock and prepare to move on.

Menopause follows puberty and childbirth - each is a phase where moving inwards to reflect can help us understand ourselves and make adjustments. Yoga is a system that asks us to be present and meet whatever is arising with kindness and curiosity. At a time where we may have a confused relationship with our bodies, yoga can help us move with, rather than against natural physical tides.

How our changing biology feels

Menopause is defined as the time when monthly periods have stopped for more than 12...

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Healthy Internal Boundaries immunity webinar wellness yoga Apr 29, 2021

How your gut health determines your immune capacity

Digestive health is crucial to all body functions; to provide what they need and keep out potentially harmful cells and tissues. The gastro-intestinal tract (gut) is responsible for digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients and elimination of waste and toxins, but less known is its role in immunity – not just within the gut, but throughout our whole bodies.

Just like the skin on the outside of our bodies, the gut wall is essentially a barrier, constantly decided what is safe to allow inside and what should be kept out. Until food is absorbed into the body and remains in the gut, it is essentially outside the body – like that piece of undigested sweetcorn in the toilet bowl! Health of the gut wall (gut mucosa) is crucial for integrity of our defences and is sensitive to our emotional, stress and trauma responses.

The gut-immune-stress connection

The main anti-inflammatory part of our immune system is housed in...

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How to... Stay Calm breath self care yoga Apr 10, 2021

First published at Yogamatters.com

Finding calm in life can seem more and more elusive in our busy, often oversubscribed lives. Our expectation of how much information we can take in and how much we achieve is often at odds with the recovery our bodies and brains really need to function optimally and feel a sense of ease in our immediate environment.

We humans are characterised by the capabilities of our big front brains, the central cortex with its frontal lobes allows us to dream, imagine, create, plan, analyse and use language. When calm and relaxed, these functions can tick along and allow us to move through life joyfully, but when stress or anxiety rise, we move into the survival fight-or-flight mode and our whole relationship with the world around us changes.

Stress can have us feel like we’re living ‘neck-up’, where thoughts, ruminations and worries dominate our internal landscape. This is a fall-back to the self-protection our mind-body perceives we need,...

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How to... Cope with Stress self care stress yoga Mar 26, 2021

Stress is a common factor in everyday life, but it is important to not define this as simply bad, but rather examine our responses to challenges and the number of things ‘to do’ that we may habitually take on – or not say no to!

The nature of stress in the 21st century (in developed countries) isn’t so much about everyday survival and physical hardship, yet we still respond in the full physiological fight-or-flight way even if we’re wound up about the email influx, worried about paying the bills or having relationship woes. Finding ways and the time and space to come down from these heightened responses can create a day-to-day life where demands can seem less threatening, reactions less well, reactionary and a sense of easy come/ easy go more possible it. It is this adaptability and resilience that shows how well we are able to cope and when it feels frazzled and low, how much we need to nurture the sense of safety and gathering resources that we need...

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How to... Sleep Soundly sleep yoga Mar 12, 2021

We all know that quality of sleep the night before can have a huge influence of how we feel and behave the next day. On average, humans spend nearly two-thirds of their lives asleep and this is time well spent. The rejuvenating effects of sleep are not so much about time with eyes closed in bed, but the quality spent there.

Sleep is a state of altered consciousness, where we drop into brain cycles where we have a relatively low sensory relationship with the external world. Nearly all of our voluntary muscles – the ones we can control to move around – are inhibited and we move between two distinct states; REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM sleep.

During both waking and sleeping, our brains run through 90 minute cycles – these are similar, but obviously the night-time ones involve dropping down deeper into unconsciousness. In sleep, within this period, there are four stages of non-REM sleep (about 75% of the night), followed by REM, which gets longer each time...

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Spontaneous Daily Activity yoga Feb 06, 2021

Spontaneous Physical Activity

We can tend to place physical activity purely into the category of exercise and like many aspects of modern life, domesticate it into specific, corralled time slots. When we add this into sedentary tendencies to sit down all day, this all-or-nothing approach to movement can be jarring (and felt as such into areas like the lower back and knees) and does not move tissues and fluids around the body as designed.

One of the downsides to the rise of gym culture is that, having worked out a couple of times a week, people may think being sedentary the rest of the time is okay. The reality is that this sudden shift from 0–100 miles an hour can shock the body and cause the very stress we’re trying to avoid. We need to move regularly throughout the day – ideally a little every hour. This movement is often referred to as Spontaneous Physical Activity (SPA) or sometimes ‘incidental’ or exercise, as it’s simply about moving more...

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Respiratory & Immune Support at Home – focus on diet covid19 support immunity nutrition self care wellness yoga Jan 26, 2021

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates

In my blog series on Respiratory & Immune Support at Home, so far we have looked at your capacity for self-carefocus on the breath and focus on lifestyle factors to do at home. In these blogs, we have covered:

  • Our respiratory system and the importance of creating energy in each of our cells.
  • Our immune system – how we can help our bodies to work in harmony to be able to operate a defence system against invaders.
  • Breath awareness and how every single time we inhale or exhale, each of these actions is directly linked to our immune system.
  • Different types of breath and the beneficial impact they have on us, e.g. nasal breathing, mouth breathing and diaphragmatic breathing.
  • The all-important factor of oral hygiene, lymphatic health and stress reduction to aid our bodies’ self-defence capacity.

This week we are looking at diet and...

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Respiratory & Immune Support at Home – focus on lifestyle factors to do at home covid19 support self care wellness yoga Jan 26, 2021

If you were one of those with more time to spend at home and reflect on previous habits, you may have been including self-care practices that reconnected you with your body and nature. There has been some ‘official’ talk of the importance of supporting immunity through diet and exercise, but with the focus on ‘fighting the virus’ has in many ways taken the focus away from this opportunity to understand the nature and needs of our innate immune system.

Viruses are always part of the world we live in and how we support our innate immunity is part of the call to eat, move and breathe as close to our natural design as possible. That means tuning into health not as an action (something ‘to do’), but rather an opportunity to focus inwards and find the rhythm and flow of how all of our natural defences work.

From our oral, lung, skin and gut microbiome, to our emotional states to bring down inflammatory tendencies; we can have a profound involvement with...

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Respiratory & Immune Support at Home – focus on the breath (including free meditation album) breath covid19 support immunity self care wellness yoga Jan 26, 2021

Following my series on the self-care measures you can take at home to support your innate immunity, you can see part one here for the background information. This week we will look at the breath, and how bringing awareness to the quality of your breathing can support your immune potential, as well as your respiratory health.

At the end of the article there is a link to access Charlotte’s album De-Stress Meditations: Calming in Belly and Heart for free to support you during these times where coming into embodiment via the breath is such an important resource. Please feel free to share this with anyone you know may be in need of calm and fostering safety.

Next week we will come to diet and lifestyle support for the immune and respiratory systems.

Breath awareness

How we breathe is inherently linked into our immune system, as both our respiratory system and immunity are both orchestrated by our nervous system; as well as communicating with all other body systems...

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