Many of my followers have read about my wellness journey. I've often shared my experiences with anxiety and depression. My journey has been wrought with ups and downs, but maintaining a healthy body with whole foods has been key to keeping a physically fit body.
However, I often say, "You can't compartmentalize the human body. When one area, be it mind, body or emotions, has been neglected, it effects the whole". I have often struggled with depression, not fully understanding the root cause. While I won't spend a lot time here talking about my journey, although I could write a book on the subject, I will share the benefits of yoga and how I integrated the practice as part of my personal care routine.
For about seven years, I have always wanted to become a certified yoga instructor. I wasn't interested in the westernized version of yoga, which focuses on the physical body, I wanted to understand the mind/body connection and how to center it using the breath. After much research, I found Sadhana Yoga School, which is centered on the ancient teachings of yoga, Sanskrit writings, and The Upanishads of yogic philosophy. Just be clear yoga isn't a religion, it's a way of life, which I have fully embraced. I am almost certain that I would not have overcome some of the mental, physical and emotional challenges I've faced without my practice. Yoga allows me to relax and induces a calm state of being, as it reduces stress levels in the central nervous system. It allows me to be present, in the now, using the body and the breath to quiet my "monkey mind" and racing thoughts. Yoga allows me to focus on the importance of self-care and keeping whole being healthy.
My yoga practice includes meditation, stretching, synchronized yogic poses and relaxation. Before I step foot on my yoga mat, I set an intention, such as "I want to give myself the gift of self-care today", or "I want to be more present and alive in body." When my practice has concluded, I thank Spirit, my inner teacher, for the willingness to present and learn about my body and inner wisdom.
MY YOGA JOURNEY (VIDEO BELOW)
Try This 30-minute Yoga Class For Beginners and Seniors with our friends at Sovereign Hands Yoga (see below)
If you’ve done your “downward dog” yoga pose today, you’re probably feeling more relaxed. Regardless of your level of yoga expertise, if you’re practicing regularly, you can feel better from head to toe.
Yoga offers physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages. And, if you’re going through an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga can become an integral part of your treatment and potentially hasten healing.
A yoga therapist can work with patients and put together individualized plans that work together with their medical and surgical therapies. That way, yoga can support the healing process and help the person experience symptoms with more centeredness and less distress.
1. Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility.
Slow movements and deep breathing increase blood flow and warm up muscles, while holding a pose can build strength.
Try it: Tree Pose
Balance on one foot, while holding the other foot to your calf or above the knee (but never on the knee) at a right angle. Try to focus on one spot in front of you, while you balance for one minute.
2. Yoga helps with back pain relief.Yoga is as good as basic stretching for easing pain and improving mobility in people with lower back pain. The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.
Try it: Cat-Cow Pose
Get on all fours, placing your palms underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. First, inhale, as you let your stomach drop down toward the floor. Then, exhale, as you draw your navel toward your spine, arching your spine like a cat stretching.
3. Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms.Gentle yoga has been shown to ease some of the discomfort of tender, swollen joints for people with arthritis, according to a Johns Hopkins review of 11 recent studies.
4. Yoga benefits heart health.Regular yoga practice may reduce levels of stress and body-wide inflammation, contributing to healthier hearts. Several of the factors contributing to heart disease, including high blood pressure and excess weight, can also be addressed through yoga.
Try it: Downward Dog Pose
Get on all fours, then tuck your toes under and bring your sitting bones up, so that you make a triangle shape. Keep a slight bend in your knees, while lengthening your spine and tailbone.
5. Yoga relaxes you, to help you sleep better.Research shows that a consistent bedtime yoga routine can help you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Try It: Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Sit with your left side against a wall, then gently turn right and lift your legs up to rest against the wall, keeping your back on the floor and your sitting bones close to the wall. You can remain in this position for 5 to 15 minutes.
6. Yoga can mean more energy and brighter moods.You may feel increased mental and physical energy, a boost in alertness and enthusiasm, and fewer negative feelings after getting into a routine of practicing yoga.
7. Yoga helps you manage stress. According to the National Institutes of Health, scientific evidence shows that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss and quality sleep.
Try It: Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Lie down with your limbs gently stretched out, away from the body, with your palms facing up. Try to clear your mind while breathing deeply. You can hold this pose for 5 to 15 minutes.
8. Yoga connects you with a supportive community. Participating in yoga classes can ease loneliness and provide an environment for group healing and support. Even during one-on-one sessions loneliness is reduced as one is acknowledged as a unique individual, being listened to and participating in the creation of a personalized yoga plan.
9. Yoga promotes better self-care. Scientific Research on Yoga Benefits The U.S. military, the National Institutes of Health and other large organizations are listening to — and incorporating — scientific validation of yoga’s value in health care.
Numerous studies show yoga’s benefits in arthritis, osteopenia, balance issues, oncology, women’s health, chronic pain and other specialties.
Resources Credit: HopkinsMedical.org
If you or any one close to you suffers from Depression, Anxiety and Neurological Disorders, support is available.
Father's Day is always bitter-sweet for me. While I celebrate all of the fathers which have had an impact on my life over the years, I think about my own dad, who is no longer with me.
My dad, was the traditional working man (employed by Ford Motor Company for 30 years) and provider, as many Black-American fathers are, making sure his children's basic needs, food, water, shelter, and education were met. He not only provided the basics, he made it possible for my siblings and I to participate in extra-curricular activities, such as athletic, music and various youth programs.
My father, Eugene Owen Thomas, the son of a tobacco farmer and homemaker in rural Kentucky, was born in 1930 on the heels of The Great Depression. My dad never went beyond the third grade, which was typical for the time, but what he lacked in education, he certainly made up in creativity and ingenuity. I rarely saw my dad call on anyone to assist him with home maintenance tasks such as plumbing, painting, carpentry and other repairs. He always found a way and simply figured things out, which is what I admired most about him. He did not allow his 3rd grade education to impede him in any way, especially when it came to taking care of his family and home.
In addition to his many talents, my dad was a barbeque pit master. On any given day, rain or shine, you could find him in the back yard smoking or grilling something delicious on his home-crafted barrel grill. In addition to his skills on the grill, he also made his own barbeque sauce, a revamped version of an old family recipe. His Kentucky-style vinegar-based barbeque sauce became such a hit that family and neighbors would purchase his recipe by the jar. Had he taken his sauce to market, I have no doubt it would have rivaled some of the top brands on the shelves today.
My fondest memories of my dad was connected to food. Whether he was grilling and barbequing butcher cuts or wild game, he always allowed me to look over his shoulder. Quite honestly, I attribute everything I know about food preparation to my dad. Although my dad was not an emotionally expressive man, he expressed his love through cooking for his family. I am forever grateful for the time we spent together and the bond created through food.
Learn how to make my own version of Gene O's Kentucky-style Barbeque Sauce. Turn To Page 72 > Click Here
Regina Thomas Dillard is a certified plant-based chef, the author of "FEED: Living Food Recipes to be Made and Eaten with Love", and founder of Inner + Sanctum Wellness, a business dedicated to assist others as they embark on their holistic journey. All products are handmade and sourced from reputable organic and natural ingredients.