Just sharing for anyone who may find this relaxation audio useful. You are welcome to try this practice sitting at your desk, during a lunch break, in the morning before you start your day, or any other time when you need a little relaxation. Tour of the Senses Being mindful of the world around us naturally calms the mind. In this practice, we’ll use the senses – what we see, what we hear, and what we feel – to be mindful and to strengthen our ability to direct and sustain attention. Let’s start with the posture. Bring a light awareness to your body to begin here and sit upright in a comfortable posture. Now, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. As you breathe out, let your body and mind relax. Let your breathing return to normal and direct your attention to the sensations in your body. Notice any feelings of tension or feelings of ease and relaxation. Notice the feelings of the breath and any other sensations in the body. We’re not trying to feel any particular way here, just noticing – being curious about the sensations that are happening in the body. Next, bring attention to what sounds that are present right now. Don’t concentrate too intently. Just direct your attention to a sound and let your awareness relax into that sound. When the mind wanders off, gently bring it back. Direct your attention to whatever sounds are present and let the sound be an anchor for your attention. Now, you can gently open your eyes and direct your attention to what you see. Pick something in your visual field and rest your awareness on it. Again, don’t concentrate too intensely here. Let your mind be relaxed but still alert and attentive. Don’t worry if the mind gets distracted. When it does, bring it back to the object and start again. OK, now bring your attention back to the body. Gently close your eyes and direct your attention to the sensations in your abdomen. Sustain your attention to the feeling of movement in your abdomen as you breathe in and out. Now let go and rest in open awareness. Here you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to pay attention or stop the mind from paying attention. You don’t have to control the mind in any way. Just notice what happens in this present moment. Next, bring awareness to the sounds that are present. Don’t try to force your mind to be still. Just retain a thread of awareness as you direct your attention to sound. For the last few moments, relax your attentional focus and rest in open awareness. Don’t worry about what’s happening in the mind. Just let what you see, hear, and feel wash over you. Just let your mind do whatever it naturally does but remain present and aware. OK, that’s it. Before you continue on with your day, set a clear intention to keep practising. You can use any object of the senses to strengthen mindfulness and your capacity to direct and sustain attention. The key is to practice in short moments, many times throughout your day. (Source: Centre for Healthy Minds)
Research proves that the right friendships can make you happier and the people you surround yourself with impact your habits–both good and bad. Having positive friends helps you live longer and makes your brain work better.
The hug, specifically, has been repeatedly linked to good health. In a study that made headlines about hugs helping the immune system, researchers led by the psychologist Sheldon Cohen at Carnegie Mellon University isolated 400 people in a hotel and exposed them to a cold virus. People who had supportive social interactions had fewer and less severe symptoms. Physical touch, (specifically hugging), seemed to account for about a third of that effect. The researchers conclude: 'These data suggest that hugging may act as an effective means of conveying support'.
Running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression, according to a recent study. It may be possible to outrun depression, according to a study published online January 23 by JAMA Psychiatry. 'We saw a 26% decrease in odds for becoming depressed for each major increase in objectively measured physical activity," says study author Karmel Choi, a clinical and research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 'This increase in physical activity is what you might see on your activity tracker if you replaced 15 minutes of sitting with 15 minutes of running or one hour of sitting with one hour of moderate activity like brisk walking'. Cause or effect? This isn't the first study to show that exercise may benefit mood. But until now it's largely been something of a chicken-and-egg discussion — which came first? 'We hear a lot that exercise and mood are connected. What we don't know for sure is whether being physically active can improve emotional well-being, or if we simply move less when we feel sad or depressed', says Choi. This study aimed to find out. 'We wanted to see if there might be a causal connection, in either direction, between physical activity and depression,' says Choi. 'Does physical activity protect against depression? Or does depression simply reduce physical activity? Our study allowed us to untangle those questions in a powerful new way using genetic data'. Study technique To do this, the study applied a technique known as Mendelian randomization, using data from two large genetic databases that included hundreds of thousands of people. Having access to genetic data allowed researchers to use genetic variations between people as a kind of natural experiment to better see how exercise affects depression, and vice versa say, Choi. What they found is that exercise was able to independently reduce the risk of depression. People who moved more, they found, had a significantly lower risk for the major depressive disorder — but only when the exercise was measured objectively using a tracking device, not when people self-reported how much exercise they performed. Identifying types of movement People are not always accurate when it comes to assessing or keeping track of how much they're truly moving. 'We see in the research literature that objective and self-reported measures of physical activity don't always line up', says Choi. 'Objective measures offer unique perks because they don't rely on people's memory and are not affected by people wanting to present themselves in a certain way'. In addition, the tracking device was better at assessing overall movement. It didn't just give people credit for formal exercise. It also measured how much they moved throughout the day during ordinary activities. 'This can include taking the stairs or walking to the store or putting away laundry, things that people may not recognize as being active but may add up', says Choi. This is good news because it means you don't need to be huffing and puffing on a stair machine to reduce your risk of depression. Little movements add up 'What our study would say is that any kind of movement can add up to keep depression at bay. I think that's why our study findings were especially appealing. It didn't say you have to run a marathon, do hours of aerobics, or be a CrossFit master just to see benefits on depression', says Choi. So, the message is this: If you do love a good, hearty gym workout, keep going. But if you don't, just getting off the couch and moving for a little while can help. Ideally, to prevent depression you should do at least 15 minutes a day of higher-intensity exercises, such as running, or at least an hour of lower-intensity exercise, such as walking or housework. 'Intentionally moving your body in more gentle ways throughout the day — like walking, stretching, taking the stairs, doing the dishes — can still add up in good ways for your mood. I think that's an encouraging message', says Choi. (Source: Harvard Health)
Do you look in the mirror and tell yourself I’m disgusting? Now just imagine saying that to yourself every time you looked in a mirror. How would that feel? That’s not tough love. There’s no love in that kind of talk. That’s not getting 'real' with yourself and an awful pattern worth breaking. Do you hate yourself because you are overweight? And if you lose weight, you’ll be happier? Actually, it’s the opposite. You may be overweight because you have a low sense of self-worth. You won’t lose the weight until you learn to love yourself just as you are right now. The reason why you may not be losing the weight is that you are fighting the wrong battle. You must win the war with self-hatred in your head or those extra pounds will never get shed. If you don't believe you deserve to feel good, why on earth would you do the hard stuff it takes to change? You won’t. Science agrees with me on this point. Being negative makes it HARDER for you to feel motivated. Research also shows that if you focus on the good stuff about getting healthy, (how good you’ll feel, what healthy things you 'get' to eat, and why you DESERVE to be healthy), you will be able to lose weight. If you bring a negative mindset to it, (I’m disgusting, I have to starve myself, I have to deprive myself), you will feel unmotivated, have a harder time sticking to a new routine, and you will give up faster. (Source: Mel Robbins, Motivational Speaker).
Sciatica is one of the most common, yet misunderstood, types of pain. As many as 40% of people will get it during their life, and it becomes more frequent as you age. Sciatica tends to get lumped in with regular back pain, but it is different. The pain originates with the sciatic nerves and often goes away by itself within a few hours or days. However, some attacks can come and go for several weeks or even months. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to prevent sciatica, as well as relieve the pain. Here are five tips from, Harvard Health, for coping with sciatica 1) Increase exercise Exercise is a key way to prevent or help relieve sciatica. Consider these types: Aerobic exercise: walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling can dancing, and other activities that increase your heart rate without causing more pain if you already have sciatica. Strength training: exercises using free weights or weight machines, or isometric exercises, which involve contracting muscles without obvious movement. Flexibility training: Callanetics, yoga, tai chi, Pilates, and similar activities that increase both flexibility and strength. Really, any exercise that you can enjoy and do regularly is going to help. So try something new, go back to an old favourite, or both. 2) Strengthen your core It might not seem obvious that a stronger core could improve your spinal health. But your core is not just your abdominal muscles, even though they are key contributors to the stability of your spine. Muscles in the back, sides, pelvis, and buttocks also are part of your core. Strengthening all of these muscles helps to support your spine. Many types of exercise, including Callanetics, yoga and Pilates, can strengthen the core muscles. For example, planks and bridges are movements that target the core. 3) Avoid sitting for long periods Prolonged periods of sitting put pressure on the discs and ligaments in the low back. If you have a job that requires a lot of sitting, take frequent breaks, or try a standing desk. Less sitting is better. 4) Manage your weight Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for sciatica. And people who have sciatica and are overweight tend to heal more slowly. Why? The increased weight puts pressure on your spine and can lead to herniated discs. Even minor weight loss will reduce inflammation and pressure on the spine. 5) Practice good posture Mum was right—slouching isn't good for you. But you don't have to walk around the room with a book on your head to practice good posture. Follow these tips: Pay attention to your body's position when you're standing or sitting. To prevent slouching, pull your shoulders down and back. Imagine your shoulder blades touching. If you work at a computer, take frequent breaks. Position your monitor so you can see it without bending your head down or tilting it back.
An interesting study on how a sedentary lifestyle can cancel the potential heart benefits of weight control. More reasons for us to keep moving - it's pouring with rain outside and I don't really enjoy running in the rain so I'm off to see if I can find myself a drop-in class. Have a lovely weekend everyone, D.x
Now that the Easter holidays are over we can concentrate on getting fitter for the summer! I have classes running on a Monday at 09:30 and 10:40 this term. If free and interested the half term block starts on Monday 27th May cost £35. If you cannot commit to a block there is an £8 'Pay As You Go' option. Just clicks the links for more information and to book.
Would you like to book a private class/es, cost £50, for up to a maximum of six people? one-hour class. Measurement service (depending on the number of sessions) Access to Members Section, which includes free exercise videos you can try at home. Small tailored personalised classes. Get in touch, email firstname.lastname@example.org to agree the time and suitable day. Class/es are paid in advance.