I see myself not as a practitioner who has to set up a business to operate, but a businesswoman in the health and wellness industry. I have a mission to help people cultivate their highest potential and live their best lives by showing them ways to connect to their inner wisdom and transform their lives… so I’m looking for practical ways I can offer my services to as many clients as I can.
Every practitioner brings a different set of skills and a unique blend of flavour to his/her practice. I’ve been trying to find a way of expressing all the work I do with my clients above and beyond my modality – kinesiology. And it hasn’t been an easy or straightforward process.
Firstly, I had to break through all the barriers inside me that told me I wasn’t good enough, neither as a kinesiologist, nor as a businesswoman. Then I had to re-write all my conditioning that told me my dreams were impossible to achieve… the conditioning that caused me to subconsciously self-sabotage. This spilled into my personal life too… I sabotaged my weight-loss efforts, believed I wasn’t creative so I wouldn’t complete my creative projects, I did’t accept positive feedback in my day job (I’m in non-for-profit management) and I wouldn’t permit myself to imagine myself as successful. Then, I had to figure out who my ideal clients were… Who would I like to spend most of my time with, who inspires me, who would push me to face my fears and be the best version of myself so I can guide them do same… I found that I am passionate about contributing to the wellbeing of members of the LGBTIQ community. I found that I considered myself a member of this community too and that I had many stories and experiences that allowed me to relate to the community like no other…
It was an intense process… Not only did I have to find the essence of my work, but I had to communicate that essence by writing my story and condensing all my life changing experiences into a couple of pages. I had to also express my story from the point of view of my ideal client so that they can relate to it too.
After weeks of searching and re-framing my mindset, I think I’ve arrived at some clarity. I didn’t do it alone of course. I have a wonderful business coach who has been guiding and inspiring me every step the way. She’s introduced me to a wonderful group of powerful women who are all going through a similar process and in them, I found the best counsel. My partner has been a wonderful sounding board and I’ve been lucky to have incredible friends and family in my life who enlighten me through every interaction.
So now I’m in search of my visual brand. I’m learning how to express myself through my brand and this has meant countless hours on Pinterest, refining my visual expression skills. Today, I came across a picture that delighted me to no end and made my whole being smile. I’ve posted it here… Let me know your thoughts.
Next, I’m looking at how I can package my work so that I can add most value for my clients. I’ll be bringing this all together in the next couple of months…
The quality of your intimate relationship is directly responsible for your level of satisfaction in all areas of your life. Yet so many people put up with an unfulfilling relationship and don’t do anything about it. I see many people who know that they are not satisfied with their relationship, yet they find excuses not to do anything about it. Here are five of the most common excuses:
- It’s too expensive to see someone. My response is, ‘can you afford not to see someone?’ Ask yourself, what is this costing you? Being in an unhappy relationship has been proven to increase your likelihood of illness, reduce your chances of getting a promotion or a wage increase, and have a negative psychological impact on your children. Providing an example to your children of what a healthy relationship looks like is the greatest gift you can give your kids, so if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for them. And the cost of divorce can be astronomical, so seeing someone to help you grow your relationship is really just a small investment in your future.
- I’d like to do something about it, but my partner won’t come. This is a common scenario where one partner (often the female) sees the issues facing the relationship, whereas the other (often the male) steadfastly refuses to admit there is a problem. Women, by their very nature, will usually be more acutely attuned to the needs of the relationship, though this of course is not always the case. Either way, the reality is that if one person is not happy then the relationship needs work, and no one has the right to say how the other person should feel. Relationships need to be a partnership where you both work together to ensure the happiness of both partners. If your partner is struggling then it is your obligation to help them out and do what it takes to work things through. And if your partner won’t do it, then do it yourself and work out whether your relationship has the required mutual respect to be worthy of your continued investment.
- Relationships naturally deteriorate. Sometimes there is a misguided view that over time a relationship will lose its sparkle, so it’s best just to accept this and put up with less than what you want. But this doesn’t have to be the case. You can continually re-discover your passion, and keep re-inventing your relationship to keep it fresh and vibrant. I know that I personally fell into this trap in my previous marriage, and the result was allowing a disconnection to develop that ultimately led to the demise of the marriage. It doesn’t have to be this way though, and you will be surprised just how much your relationship can improve with the right guidance.
- My partner will never change. If you think that the only way your relationship will improve is if your partner changes, then you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of pain. The key is to accept you partner for who they are, flaws and all, and then work together to grow into the best version of you, and as a result create your best possible relationship. Having someone to help you do this can be crucial to your success.
- Better the devil you know. This one is rarely said, but it is without question one of the main reasons people don’t seek help. Humans naturally have a deep seated fear of the unknown, and it can be more comfortable to stay in an unhappy situation than to face the possibility of a different, uncertain future. Many people are afraid of what they may discover about themselves, or about what their partner may say about them. However opening yourself up, and being vulnerable, is one of the most liberating and powerful things you can do. Most relationship problems stem from misconceptions and misunderstandings, so opening up and sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings will enable your relationship to flourish in unexpected ways.
Are you using any of these excuses for not working on your relationship? Perhaps now is a good time to drop the excuses and do something about it, for don’t you deserve to have that amazing relationship you have always dreamed of?
Book your COMPLIMENTARY 1 Hour introductory session with Matt today, bookings can be made via email or ph: 0416 211 424.
- Offer valid until the end of July 2017
In every relationship there are times when the flame begins to flicker. Some couples are able to re-ignite the flame, whilst others never find the key to bringing the passion back into their relationship. So, what do those who maintain a successful and loving long-term relationship do differently? Here are seven possible answers;
- They focus on their partner’s positive attributes, and tell them how much they appreciate these qualities. Sometimes it can seem difficult to find these, and even harder to communicate them to your partner, but when you do it can change the dynamics of your relationship enormously.
- They listen. I mean REALLY listen. Ask your partner how they are feeling and then simply listen until they have said what they need to say. Remove judgement and show empathy to their feelings, even if you don’t necessarily agree with what they are saying. If you don’t acknowledge your partner’s feelings they will feel unsupported and disrespected, and that is a certain passion killer! Truly listening builds a bridge between you that will re-connect you to the love and passion that you once had.
- They empower their partner. Try being your partner’s number one fan. When they are happy, join in and share their happiness. When they achieve something good then celebrate with them. Pop a bottle of champagne or go out to dinner. When they are going through a stressful time, stand beside them and let them know that you are there to support them.
- They work as a team. So often couples get so caught up in their power struggles they end up feeling like they’re on opposing teams. Try making a pact to get back on the same team, and to work together to solve whatever issues you may be facing. Chances are this approach will enable you to find solutions that you hadn’t previously thought of.
- They are adventurous. Couples who keep the spark alive aren’t afraid to try new things. If you feel stuck in a rut have a think about some things you could do that you normally wouldn’t do, and then just do them! Some may work for you, others mightn’t, but you will have fun trying and you will likely learn more about each other along the way.
- They treat each other the same way as they did when they first met. Couples often wonder why the passion has died, yet they no longer do the things that they did to capture their lover’s heart. Have a think back to those early days. What did you do then that you don’t do now? Try re-establishing some of those habits and your partner will love you for it!
- They commit to continuous improvement in their relationship. If something isn’t working they look at ways to find a solution that works for both of them. They believe that being in love is more important than being right, and accept that it’s ok not to have things exactly how they want them. If you have not made a commitment to continuous improvement, when is now a good time to start?
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. Book your COMPLIMENTARY 1 Hour introductory session with Matt today, bookings can be made via email or ph: 0416 211 424.
What burdens are you carrying from your family that prevents you from experiencing inner peace, ease and flow in your life?
Are you tired of carrying these burdens that don’t belong to you?
Are you ready to unlock the hidden dynamics of your ancestral lines that hold you back?
Have you tried a variety of healing modalities and therapies to help relieve these burdens and resolve longstanding issues that keep you stuck in your life story?
Are you willing to look and feel with naked truthfulness, acceptance and courage?
Are you finally ready to manifest the life you yearn to create???
Then keep reading………
Family Constellations is a psychodynamic and spiritual approach to resolving current problems by looking into family systems and ancestral lines. This therapeutic approach was developed in 1990 by Bert Hellinger- a German gestalt and systems psycho-therapist and a Roman Catholic priest, who spent many years in South Africa living with the Zulu people observing their family systems. We are all born into a family system and have a unique and special place in within it. Our family is the first place where we experience belonging, love, emotional safety, care, receiving and harmony. But as we all know, families aren’t always able to provide this in a balanced, loving and harmonious way. As children, out of deep and absolute love for our parents, we are willing to unconsciously carry their burdens in order to create a sense or safety and harmony in our family environment. As children, we also don’t have the capacity to create clear boundaries and voice what is right for us, and thus our needs are overlooked, dismissed or violated, resulting in emotional entanglements and disordering in the family system From this perspective current problems are perceived as stemming back to these entanglements, disorders (one example being a child carrying a parent emotionally) and exclusions (secrets). Sometimes we are not aware of past traumatic events that created the original disorder in our family lineage, but it gets passed on in our family’s soul both unconsciously and energetically. And we carry the burden of it!
The purpose of family constellation work is to re-harmonize a family system by reaching into the soul of a family with humility, respect and dignity. If you are willing to enter the experience of family constellation work with openness and curiosity about the experience, you will be sure to invite a newfound sense of freedom and lightness into your life.
So how does it work……….
In Family Constellations, the facilitator creates an open space for whatever needs to come out to come out. It uses a somatic approach and favors a whole body sensing and feeling experience over thinking and analyzing, to uncover hidden dynamics of the unconscious mind and soul. The facilitator will ask you to briefly describe an issue that is impacting you the most right now. The clearer you are about the issue, the deeper your constellation will go. The facilitator will then ask you to give some information about your current family, family or origin (parents) and both maternal and paternal grandparents. You will be asked about any major traumas in you family line such as death, divorce, migration, war, pregnancy loss and abuse. From the information you have given, the facilitator will decide who will be
represented in your constellation and you will be asked to choose people or objects to represent those people or issues. For example if your issue is depression, the facilitator will ask you to chose a person to represent yourself, your mother, father, possibly grandparents and depression and then place those people and issue in relation to yourself. These people are referred to as representatives. The facilitator will then guide the constellation based on feedback given by representatives on what they are feeling in the form of sensations in their body. You will then view your constellation unfold through the representatives, and will be asked to join the constellation when either you feel compelled to or when the facilitator thinks it’s appropriate for you to be included. You can choose to observe the entire constellation, however, it is a more powerful experience when you become part of it.
Family Constellation work can be facilitated through:
– Group workshops where other workshop participants will act as your representatives
– Individual sessions where the facilitator, floor anchors or objects will act as representatives.
– Hypno-constellations where the facilitator will ask you to bring your family and issue into your minds eye
Family Constellations can involve intense emotional releases and experiences and this is where the family soul experiences shifts, movements and freedom.
Family constellation work is brief, solution-focused therapy and issues can be transformed within 2-5 sessions. If you have engaged in counselling, personal
development or other healing modalities, then this will be a very brief intervention for you.
If this article had made you curious about this work, come along to our workshop Healing the Soul. Please see the events page on this website for further details.
If you prefer to work privately, book in for an individual session by contacting Yogahari Healing directly:
Eleni Kyrpigikidis is a qualified Social Worker and Counsellor, a certified Yoga Teacher, and Yoga Nidra teacher and a certified Family Constellation facilitator.
What would you like to have happen?
When I ask my clients, “How’s business, what’s happening?”, I sometimes get a response like…
“Business is okay but I’m lacking enthusiasm, motivation and focus” and, “my confidence is low, I’m doubting myself”.
With just a few, well-chosen questions, I get to the root cause and then something akin to the following unfolds:
“I’m unfulfilled and lacking direction and I’m not getting results. I originally wanted to do this work but now I’m here because I have a mortgage hanging over my head. It’s getting to me. The stress is leaking into my home life.
I’m an achiever, not a loser, but I’m spiraling. Maybe I’m depressed? Whatever it is I can’t snap out of it. I know there is something more for me but I don’t know what it is. I haven’t talked to anyone about this yet.”
I meet this client often. Someone, who despite their best efforts, is lacking fulfillment, meaning and purpose and is disconnected from their potential. It’s clear to me that this person is capable of making a huge impact in life but only when their thoughts, feelings and actions are aligned with what’s possible for them.
What my clients want is simple. They want to wake up in the morning and feel motivated, enthusiastic and driven about the work they will devote their entire day to. And that regardless of whether it’s challenging or not, they want to feel excited because they love their work and they’re good at it. Like a surgeon who wakes up and says out loud, “I love my job and I’m going to be awesome today”.
And when this happens, there is an abundance of energy and flow. The kind of energy that is focused, calm, confident and smooth. The kind of flow where all you need to do is take the first step of any task, procedure or responsibility and the rest just happens exactly as you want it to.
And with this energy and flow, your A-game becomes natural, effortless and unfolding. Without thought, it just happens. You’re just doing it – the results are evident.
In a corporate setting, the words fulfillment, meaning and purpose are often considered abstract and fluffy terms; that when you attempt to obtain them it feels like clutching at air.
However, fulfillment, meaning and purpose are huge contributors to engagement, business longevity, performance and ultimately profitability. They are also very much achievable. What make them possible are measurable qualities of value unique to each individual.
Fulfillment, meaning and purpose happen at the intersection of your values, ideals and strengths. That’s when you find yourself doing what you love to do and as a result you are being the way you want to feel because it’s an expression of the most notable and favoured talents that you have.
- Know your Values, what you love to DO, and live them.
- Know your Ideals, how you love to BE, and embody them.
- Know what your Strengths are, what you best HAVE to give, and play to them.
That’s how you set yourself up for success.
And when you action these simultaneously in your profession, and flow and energy happens, then you will have the kind of impact that you have always known and sensed you are capable of.
And, it will become real for you and others.
The Next Step
I’m dedicated to assisting professionals and entrepreneurs, who struggle to perform at their peak, to upgrade the way they think, feel and act so they can achieve more profitability, more influence and more impact.
If you’d like to find out how I may assist Click here and book a Free 10 minute chat
Written by Heath Myers. Heath Myers, Agent of Change, is a professional and highly experienced transformational life coach, executive coach, holistic counselor and program facilitator with over 12 years experience teaching, studying and practicing a variety of advanced personal and professional development systems. He offers outcomes-focused coaching specifically for those who are serious about getting enhanced results in life and making real change. Click here to read this blog and others by Heath.
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 email@example.com 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:
- Wake and get moving before sunrise. Being up before first light allows the body to synchronize with the rhythm of the sun. It’s also the time of day that the elements in nature support the meditation, yoga prayer and a healthy bowel movement, which is key to optimum digestion!
- Say a prayer/give thanks Training the mind to begin each day with positively, optimism, is a beautiful way to start the day. You know what they say about our thoughts influencing the world around us? When we start the day in a positive mindset, positivity is bound to follow.
- Scrape the tongue Ever heard of an Ayurvedic tongue scrapper? Doing this first thing, followed by brushing the teeth and swishing cold pressed sesame oil, (known as gandoosh) in the mouth for a minimum of 5 minutes, will cleanse the mouth teeth and gums protecting them from harmful bacteria, offering numerous benefits including whitening the teeth!
- Drink warm lemon, honey and ginger water first thing in the morning before food – this helps to prepare the digestive tract for breakfast and assists the body’s natural elimination processes. Make sure you use organic raw honey and add the honey to the water only when it’s warm, not boiling hot as boiling water will reduce the medicinal benefits of this precious ingredient.
- Evacuation – that’s right, I’m talking poo here. A great morning routine encourages bowel movement. For optimum digestion, this happens ideally before consuming your next meal.
- Warm Oil Self Massage – In Ayurveda it is said that every human being needs regular oil massage. Self-massage is a great to way to get this. Regular self massage strengthens the immune system, improves self confidence, counter fatigue and improve sleep.
- Bathe or shower – Before breakfast and before meditation as an act of cleansing the body, and allowing the warm herbal oils to settle into the skin.
- Meditation – Can be considered a form of eating, a type of food for the brain and body. Meditation can soothe a hungry mind. There is so much ‘scientific’ evidence available now proving the benefits of meditation. One key benefit being mental clarity and a sense of peace that prevails in moments of chaos when a regular practice is kept.
- Nourish yourself with a warm delicious easy to digest breakfast particularly in the cooler months or if the digestion is weak.
- Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time each day, taking time to be with your meal and appreciate it with full awareness. Bring your awareness of the taste, the colours, the smells the sounds of each mouthful. All of this enhances the body’s ability to digest, process and assimilate the nutrients from every mouthful and ingredient.
- Sip warm or room temperature water throughout the day to encourage and support digestion and keep the body hydrated.
- Be in bed with lights out before 10pm for optimum rest and the best quality sleep. The news isn’t new that the hours we sleep before midnight is the richest hours of and Ayurveda suggests that doing so results in more energy, increased memory and longer life – you never know until you give it a go! 😉
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
- Sit on a chair or on the floor in a comfortable upright position. Feel your feet connected to the floor. Feel the chair beneath you. If you are sitting on the floor prop yourself up onto a folded blanket. Feel how the buttocks rests on the blanket
- The choice is yours to close your eyes or keep them open
- Soften the shoulders, facial muscles, jaw, temples and eyes. Keep your inner gaze soft.
- Quite your mind and repeat the following intention silently to yourself three times:
I return to the innate wisdom of my body to heal itself. I remain in restful awareness
- Gradually bring your breath into your awareness. Continue to breathe normally for 10 breaths
- Notice what happens when you focus your attention on your breath. How does it feel?
- Aim to keep the breath steady and rhythmic. Notice what the quality of your breath is like without comment or judgement. Just notice. Notice if comments or judgements do arise. If they do, allow them to float away
- Allow your awareness to ride the ebb and flow of your breath
- Slowly you will begin to add a count to both your inhalation and exhalation
- Inhale and count to 2, exhale and count to 2. Continue for 10 breaths. If 10 feels too long, start with 5 or any number that feels achievable for you
- Keep the breath steady, even, and smooth.
- Remain soft through the face and throat
- If you are able to, slowly increase the count to 3 on both the inhalation and exhalation. Continue for another 10 breaths
- Slowly you will begin to lengthen just the exhalation.
- Continue your breathing in this way:
- 1,2, 3 I breathe in
- 1,2,3,4 I breathe out
- Again notice what happens when you let the exhalation be longer than the inhalation. And when you notice that, then what happens?
- Continue for another 10 breaths
- Gradually allow the breath to return to its own natural rhythm.
- Bring the above intention into your awareness again and repeat three times.
- When you feel ready slowly let your awareness come back to the feeling of the body either sitting on the chair or the blanket. Notice 2 or 3 sounds in the space around you.
- Gently you can allow the eyes to open.
- Notice how you feel.
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:
- Get to sleep before 11pm (Baby steps, ok? My aim was 10pm, but I’m on my way)
- Stop working at night. That means no laptop for me after dark unless for (very) short tasks.
- Wear blue blocker glasses after sunset to stop the damage to my system from artificial blue light that is particularly NOT natural after the sun has gone down. Even though my husband STILL laughs at me each and every time he sees me wearing them. STILL.
- Open the blinds around 7am each morning, or at first light. Even though this is not enough to drag my sorry bum out of bed, it’s a start.
- Get my eyeballs out into the sunshine (if possible) as soon as I get out of bed for as close to 10 minutes as I can. You must understand I’m a last-minute kind of girl, so I only sometimes allow myself enough time to do this.
- Sit outside and work as much as possible during the day.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org