Some humans seem to always be searching for answers. Deep, spiritual and meaningful answers to fundamental and life-defining questions. The search for these answers takes us on a journey to find ourselves, to understand ourselves and ultimately to change ourselves for the better.
I have a love-hate relationship with my head. At times, it fails me. I feel out of control, alone, frantic and then the anxiety, self doubt and exasperation sets in and I’m spinning out of control into a deeper and deeper hole of my dark emotions. Sometimes I hit the bottom but mostly I cling to the wall, hoping I can pull myself out this time before I head too deep.
Other times I feel light, calm and balanced. I feel happy, I feel alive, I feel gratitude. I have amazing clarity, everything in life flows and it takes quite a bit to knock me into my spinning downward spiral. The rest of the time I’m grappling between the two states, transitioning from one to the other.
This is my journey. These are the ebbs and flows of my life. I’m not special, I’m not unique, I’m just acutely aware of how my mind teaches me about life. I’m aware of how events that occurred many years ago still influence me today because, some of the time, I choose reaction rather than action. Becoming aware of this means I can choose to change for the better.
The biggest lesson that kinesiology has taught me over the years is that I have a choice in absolutely every part of my life. Yes, all of it. I choose to allow the low times in, to really feel them and process them so I can recognise and appreciate the better times. I can choose to find the source of my feeling: is it coming from fear? Is it coming from past experience? I can choose to work my passion rather than the job that paid me well. I can choose to see something with rose tinted glasses or I can choose to see the dread. I can choose to question everything.
Kinesiology can help you on the rocky road to understanding yourself. You will find out things about your mind you didn’t realise existed. You will identify patterns, you will revisit your childhood, you will start to grasp the real reasons you are sick, in pain or anxious and can’t sleep. But ultimately YOU do the work. You are the one who will resonate with your blocks, you are the one who ultimately reprograms your head and you are the one who will need to change your perspective. Use kinesiology as your tool, but go in with eyes open that you are choosing to work for your development, your change. You are the only one in control of your life and you must make a conscious choice to develop it.
Written by Phillipa Huynh. Phillipa is a kinesiologist working at Prana House who teaches you how to make your life ‘fit’ again. Previously working for 12 years in the corporate world, Phillipa knows all too well how stress can affect you and works with you to give you the tools to face life’s challenges head on and bring about a sense of balance. You can contact Phillipa by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting http://simplykinesiology.com.au
How do you welcome yourself into the day?
What habits do you have to keep your body and mind nourished and nurtured? Before diving into the ocean of Ayurveda, I hadn’t given these questions much thought at all.
Sure, I knew starting the day with a bit of exercise, a good breakfast, maybe some yoga and meditation was a good idea… but why? Why in the morning? And why does it matter if it’s regular or not?
Can’t I just start the day with a double shot latte, and forget about breakfast? Eat lunch at my desk around 2pm, reach for the chocolate around 4pm for a quick pick me up, can’t focus, have another coffee, have dinner late because I went to my workout/yoga class/spin class after work, over eat because pushed though my hunger 2 hours ago, actually …pretty sure I skipped lunch because we were so busy at work! …Sound familiar?
Apparently that’s not the way forward if I want to experience optimum health and to prevent any kind of nervous breakdown in the future!
Our bodies are constantly aiming for homeostasis; equilibrium in the internal environment of our physiology. When we create a routine that supports this aim, the results are more energy, clearer thinking, increased productivity, a more robust immune system and of course a more peaceful experience of day-to-day life.
The exploration of Ayurveda has not only offered me insight into all of this; it’s given me a greater understanding of self-care and preventive health through the act of dinacharya – the daily routine of self-care; A routine that aligns us with the rhythms in nature.
When our bodies are synced with the rhythms in nature, our internal rhythms, known as biorhythms associated with hormone production, healthy digestion, menstruation, and a strong immune system are supported to function optimally.
The following is an example of dinacharya or daily self care routine recommended through Ayurveda. Following this type of routine helps to keeps the body and mind in check and less affected by the changes of season.
Dinacharya – Daily Routine:
I know what you’re thinking….’how on Earth am I going to find the time to do all of this!!’
Don’t worry; I’ve been there. That was my initial reaction.
The key is to be realistic. Create an achievable routine that works for you and your circumstance. If you’re not sure where to start come in and see me for a consultation and we can tailor a routine specific for you.
Keep in mind, the more energy you have, the more time expands, or at least it feels that way! The more you implement a self care routine in your life, the more energy you have!
What daily rituals or routines do you already have in your life that support and generate strength and vitality? Love to hear from you!
Written by Carla Beasley. Carla is an Ayrevedic Lifestyle Consultant and Yoga Instructor who is the owner of The Nourishment Garden. Contact Carla on +61 402 467 234 or visit her website for full details.
I have found over the years that many relationship issues sprout from a lack of understanding of our masculine and feminine natures. Whilst everyone is different, and all men and women have varying levels of masculinity and femininity, there are certain physiological and chemical differences that ensure that we do generally act and react in ways that can confuse and confound the opposite sex.
Two chemicals in particular that are intrinsic to how we behave in our relationships are testosterone and oxytocin. Though women also have testosterone, it is predominately a male hormone with men generally having between ten to thirty times more than women. Testosterone, amongst other things, is responsible for aggression, risk taking and sexual appetite.
Oxytocin, on the other hand, is often referred to as the ‘cuddle hormone’. Though it is considered that men and women have similar amounts of oxytocins, women have far greater access to it as it is released with the assistance of oestrogen, which is predominately a female hormone. Oxytocin is known as a bonding chemical, and is very important in bonding mother and child as well as assisting in childbirth and the production of breast milk. It has also been shown to increase trust and generosity, as well as improving social skills.
‘At this point partners often incorrectly question their relationship, falsely believing that the reduction in intensity is a warning signal that something is wrong’.
When men and women first fall in love, both of these hormones are released in significant quantities. As a result, in the early stages of courtship couples tend to be all over each other, with men being more affectionate due to their increased oxytocins, and women being more sexually responsive due to their increased testosterone. However, after between six to twelve months, these hormones return to their normal levels, and couples naturally fall back into a less physically intense bond. At this point partners often incorrectly question their relationship, falsely believing that the reduction in intensity is a warning signal that something is wrong.
Oxytocin is important in maintaining a long term relationship due to its bonding nature, and also its ability to suppress testosterone. Studies have shown that greater testosterone is directly correlated with reduced empathy, and therefore an increase of oxytocins will enable couples to work through issues with greater understanding and respect. Oxytocin is also released in large quantities during sex, however immediately after climax the oxytocins diminish rapidly in men, whilst they remain relatively constant in women. This is why men often just want to roll over and be separate after sex, rather than cuddle and talk.
So how do you increase oxytocins? Easy; simply thinking fondly of your partner will automatically release oxytocins, as will just a single loving touch. So if you are finding your relationship is increasingly distant, try remembering the good things about your partner, then tell him or her what you like about them whilst giving them a gentle, sensual touch. It may just be the first step to rediscovering your passion for each other!
Matt Glover is a qualified Master Life Coach, Master NLP Practitioner, and Master Ericksonian Hypnotherapist. He is the founder of Happy and Healthy Relationships, and also runs a divorce support meet-up group to provide a forum for people trying to deal with the devastation of a broken relationship. He has a very gentle, easy going manner, and is passionate about helping people to live a wholehearted and abundant life. You can contact Matt via email or ph: 0416 211 424.
Yoga’s multi-dimensional approach can be a powerful tool for healing trauma and there is growing scientific research to support this. Yoga helps us to reconnect with our body, which is an essential part of the healing process for anybody healing from trauma. It also builds capacity to nurture self-compassion- fundamental for trauma survivors who experience chronic feelings of shame and worthlessness.
The word trauma comes from the Greek word for wound and is a very frightening or distressing event that can be life threatening or be perceived as life threatening to physical or psychological wellbeing. Experiences of trauma can include childhood abuse and neglect, sexual assault and rape, intimate partner violence, experiences of war and torture, chronic homelessness, chronic physical illnesses, natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, car and fire accidents and can be experienced as a single or re-occurring event. Trauma experiences that have not been processed, or integrated into our physical, psychological and emotional landscape can have an intrusive impact on daily life. Some of the impacts of trauma include: difficulty sleeping, feeling agitated, anxious or depressed, difficulty concentrating and being around large groups of people, self-hate and worthlessness, feeling emotionally and physically numb, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, self-harm and a misuse of substances such as alcohol and drugs and prescription medications.
The Autonomic Nervous System and the Brain
To understand how yoga can assist in trauma recovery we need to understand how trauma- particularly how complex trauma affects the body. The best place to start is to understand the autonomic nervous system.
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) consists of two branches – the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). The SNS is responsible for triggering the flight or flight response when the body senses and perceives danger. The SNS moves blood to the muscles for quick action, partly triggered by the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which increases the heart rate and increase blood pressure in response to danger.
The part of the brain that is responsible for alerting us to what is dangerous or what is safe is the amygdalla.
Internationally acclaimed trauma expert, psychiatrist and author Bessel van der Kolk in his book, “The body keeps the score” likens the amygdalla to a smoke detector. “The central function of the amygdalla, which I call the brain’s smoke detector, is to identify whether incoming input is relevant for our survival….if the amygdalla senses a threat…it sends an instant message down the hypothalamus and brain stem, recruiting the stress hormone system and the ANS to orchestrate a whole body response” (pg 60). The amygdalla’s danger signal releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline preparing the body to either run or fight back. When it recognises that the danger is over the body returns to normal. This is the job of the PNS. The PNS releases acetylcholine that calms arousal by relaxing muscles, slowing down the heart rate and returning breathing back to a normal rhythm. The PNS is essential for self-preservation, digestion, rest and wound healing.
In complex trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder the body and its physiology get stuck and the ANS becomes imbalanced. The amygdalla becomes hyperactive and starts reacting like it’s in constant danger. In response to this the body continues to secrete stress hormones, which leave a person in a hyper-aroused state. When the body thinks it’s in constant danger the risk of misinterpreting whether a situation is dangerous or safe becomes blurred.
One way to calm down the amygdalla is to strengthen the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. Van der Kolk refers to the pre-frontal cortex as the “watchtower”. The pre-frontal cortex enables people to observe what is going on and then predict and make conscious choices about what it observes. In trauma this system breaks down and becomes imbalanced making it challenging to control emotions and impulses. This is the part of the brain that is most affected by trauma.
On the most basic level, yoga gives people an opportunity to release tension in muscles that are chronically tight from the body’s constant feeling of danger- always alert to every sound in the room, every movement in the room.
With practice yoga helps us to reclaim a connection to our body, which increases opportunities to experience ourselves viscerally. To be able to feel muscles contract or extend or to feel our feet on the ground is an extremely important part of the healing process for those people who have become numb to feeling or for those who experience dissociation in an attempt to survive.
Yoga postures provide opportunities to explore mindfulness as postures help us remain connected to the present by focussing the mind’s attention completely in the body. Yoga postures cultivate an ability to observe sensations in the body and to become familiar with those sensations that evoke discomfort. By holding a posture we learn that discomfort can be tolerated and momentary and does come to an end. This is a powerful experience for those trapped in the memory of trauma. Mindfulness puts us in touch with our moment –to- moment ever-changing nature of our feelings and emotions. Van der Kolk notes that, “When we pay focussed attention to our body sensations we can recognise our emotions and with that increase our control over them.”
One of the core practices of yoga is breath awareness. Paying particular attention to the breath helps us experience the immediacy of the present moment. Mindful breathing techniques regulate breathing, activate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm the mind. Breathing techniques can be a powerful self-soothing tool for regulating heightened emotional states. Van der Kolk also notes that a growing body of research is showing that activities like yoga, meditation and mindfulness allows you to deeply access the “watchtower”. Research is showing that as little as one hour of yoga once a week over a period of eight weeks has shown thickening of the pre-frontal cortex. For more information about cutting edge research into the effects of meditation and yoga on brain activity and changes in brain structure check out Dr Sarah Lazar.
The body becomes the enemy because of the sense of helplessness, lack of control and self-blame felt during the time of the trauma. As the body’s physiology begins to be restored we come to slowly befriend the body. Reclaiming a loving connection to the body is central to the healing process and has a profound effect on our physical and emotional wellbeing. Developing self-compassion is the key to reconnecting to our body in a loving way.
Yoga is the ultimate practice for cultivating self-compassion because its teachings reveal that our innate inner essence is unconditional love and acceptance. Yoga calls this the True Self. Some western talking therapies like Internal Family Systems Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy often draw on a concept of a Self that is separate to our feelings and experiences. The True Self in yoga is both transcendent and immanent and is unaffected by our life story- it sits beyond our feelings, emotions and experiences and yet it contains them all! The True Self feels and holds and embraces the good, the bad and the ugly with total unconditional acceptance and love. Yoga teaches us that it is only when we move towards difficult sensations, emotions, feelings and memories with total openness and compassion that they begin to loose the power they hold over us.
If we can find our way to the True Self through practice and time we slowly unveil a deeper layer within our being that stands stronger than our life experiences and the emotional currents of our mind.
Yoga affirms that we are much bigger than the events that have taken place in our life. When we allow the armour of our heart that has ensured our survival up until now, to gradually crack open, a whole new desire to care and deeply know ourselves unfolds.
A practice for activating the parasympathetic nervous system
I return to the innate wisdom of my body to heal itself. I remain in restful awareness
You may choose to record this brief practice so that you can immerse yourself into it more easily.
Eleni Kidis is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and certified Amrit Method Yoga Nidra teacher. She is also a social worker/counsellor and provides private yoga sessions for trauma survivors. She is the founder of Yogahari Healing Art and will be running a 5 – week Restoring Balance Course for trauma recovery and mental wellbeing. Restoring Balance begins Saturday 5th November 2016.
For bookings please visit: yogahari.com.au or 0403 774 410
There’s so many people out there struggling with their sleep each and every night. And I’m not talking about parents of babies, toddlers or young children (though no doubt they would love a full night of sleep, but their situation is relatively temporary). I’m talking about people who either find it difficult to get to sleep, find it difficult to stay asleep or generally wake up without feeling refreshed – how sleep is meant to make you feel.
Last year, I was involved in a study with seven of my colleagues titled “An investigation into the efficacy of Professional Kinesiology Practice in improving the quality and quantity of sleep”. The study consisted of 67 people, 60 of whom completed 6-day sleep diaries before and after 3 kinesiology sessions that were specifically aimed at improving their sleep. The results were a 16% increase in the number of hours sleep each night, a 19% improvement on the self-rated quality of sleep and a 39% reduction in the number of times woken on average. These results came after just 3 to 3.5 hours of kinesiology with each person. Imagine what another few hours could achieve!
Personally, I’ve only had one instance of having sleep difficulties and that was when I went through topical steroid withdrawal a few years back. It was horrible to not be able to sleep and then trying to function at work, that was just hard work. So I can absolutely empathise with those who struggle with sleep. That aside my only problem with sleep was that my hours were all wonky. Going to bed at 2am and (when possible) getting up at 10am or later would be my ultimate day! Only I have a child and sleeping until 10am is just not possible, so I just wasn’t allowing myself enough sleep.
Recently I’ve been doing a great deal of research on circadian rhythms – otherwise known as your body clock – and their impact on healing. And for the last few months, I have been making a huge effort to reset some of my bad habits. You see, I’m a night owl – through and through. I love to sit up and work in the wee hours of the morning, the time that I have just to myself, feeling like the whole world is asleep except me (and the rest of the world on the other side of the globe of course). Oh the things I would get done! I would read, explore, research and be entertained. I would usually be freezing cold, but that’s what my trusty little heater would be good for.
But now I have changed. And the catalyst for my change was my child’s swimming teacher. She gets up at 5am… every day. Probably a habit she formed as a youngster who was in the pool at the crack of dawn. Then each night, she’s in bed by 9pm. And that was all fine and well for her, but when she discovered that I was often awake around 2am, she said the words that any health practitioner dreads, “Oh my goodness, but that is so unhealthy!”. She was right, of course, which is why the discomfort it caused me was so… unsettling.
So I’ve now made a very conscious effort to:
By taking these steps, I’m resetting my circadian rhythm to be more like humans were meant to be! And my skin is improving as a result. Evolution takes so much longer than a few generations (seriously, a lot LOT longer) and to think that my habits were good for me was just… wrong. So as I’m trying this out on myself for healing purposes, I am also advising some of my sleep-lacking clients to do the same and the results have been very positive. Perhaps I should be setting up another study on sleep? Interested??
Written by Phillipa Huynh. Phillipa is a kinesiologist working at Prana House who teaches you how to make your life ‘fit’ again. Previously working for 12 years in the corporate world, Phillipa knows all too well how stress can affect you and works with you to give you the tools to face life’s challenges head on and bring about a sense of balance. Phillipa also loves teaching you how to integrate meditation into your day seamlessly. You can contact Phillipa by emailing email@example.com