Category

Inspiration

We should eat like our grandparents ate 🍎

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Nutrition, Space Foundation

‘Cherish your children for they are the footprints you will leave behind’

-Taylor Evan Fulks

With Dr Camilla White MBBS, Holistic Health Coach IIN

 

As health conscious parents, we are passionate about gifting our children with optimal health. We tirelessly strive to make the best choices for them nutritionally, socially and environmentally. Sometimes it can feel as though we’re fighting an uphill battle when faced with supermarket aisles full of processed sugary junk, overflowing birthday piñata’s, the dubious influence of social media and ever increasing academic demands. But as primary caregivers there is no denying the profound influence we have in shaping our kids futures, so the choices we make in their early years are paramount.

‘Diets that emphasise fresh, seasonal and local whole foods are ideal for kids’, says Dr Camilla White, one of our holistic doctors who specialises in women’s and children’s health, ‘we should eat like our grandparents ate’. Adequate nutrition is an essential feature of any wellness agenda but it’s tricky to implement when we have a fussy little eater on our hands. Despite the best intentions, if our child flat out refuses to eat a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, then they are unlikely to be getting the nutrients they need to thrive. Dr Camilla suggests the following to assist parents facing this challenge:

5 Tips for Parents of Fussy Eaters

  1. Hide the healthy stuff in a smoothie. Most kids love smoothies, it’s just like a treat. You can make green or berry smoothies with spinach, vital greens, acai, protein powder, frozen banana, mango or even some oats. Yum!
  2. Grow your own veggies and pick them together. Kids love to be involved in picking, peeling and cooking veggies that they have helped grow. It makes it way more fun.
  3. Eat together as a family. If possible eat the same meal as your kids. Leading by example is important and when kids see their parents eat healthy foods they will gradually get used to the idea. Plus it’s a great time for family connection.
  4. Keep offering the foods. Kids sometimes take time to get used to foods and may refuse it 15 times before changing their mind. Offer the food but don’t be attached to the outcome as it can create stress and intensify the issue.
  5. If all else fails, hide it in their meal. Veggies in a Spaghetti Bolognese for example.

‘A healthy microbiome is essential for immunity, digestion and absorption of nutrients’ says Dr Camilla, ‘it’s also important for managing mood disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD and autism’. In case you’re wondering, the microbiome refers to the variety of microorganisms that dwell in our bellies. Our gut can be likened to a garden, which needs to be tended carefully to ensure that the weeds (or pathogenic bacteria) don’t overgrow and crowd out the good guys. The microbiome has been receiving a lot of attention in recent years, as practitioners have increasingly observed its undeniable role in good health. So we know that preserving or restoring gut health in our kids is a key factor in keeping them well. But how do we do that? Dr Camilla has some suggestions:

Tips for Restoring Kid’s Gut Health

  1. Avoid processed, sugary snacks where possible
  2. Grow and consume your own veggies
  3. Let kids play in the dirt. Bacteria from soil is beneficial!
  4. Enjoy home cooked meals most of the time
  5. Make sure kids drink plenty of water and consume more dietary fibre
  6. Encourage physical activity
  7. Give probiotics
  8. Feed prebiotic foods such as bone broth, kefir or kimchi. Fermented foods improve microbiome function and composition, stimulate immune function and improve production of short chain fatty acids
  9. Make gelatin gummies to heal their gut lining. You will find a bonus recipe at the end of this blog.

The Northern Rivers region poses additional challenges with its high rate of intestinal parasites such as blastocystis hominis and dientamoeba fragilis. So high in fact, that Dr Camilla estimates around 50% of kids aged 5–10 are infected with one or both of these bugs. Antibiotics wouldn’t form part of her treatment plan however, as there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that this is the best approach. Rather, she recommends investing in a good quality water filter, crowding out the bugs with a probiotic supplement and giving gut healing supplements such as vitamin C or cod liver oil. Each patient responds differently however so the treatment plan is tailored to the individual.

So we know that nutrition and the microbiome play a huge role in the health of our kids, however there are a multitude of other factors also at play if we are to view this holistically. Being a mum to two beautiful kids herself (Evie, 4 and Banjo, 18 months), Dr Camilla is passionate about ensuring that all aspects of our children’s wellbeing are considered when striving to achieve optimum health. Here are her top five recommendations for raising healthy kids:

Top 5 Tips for Raising Healthy Kids

  1. Ensure they get enough sleep. Getting plenty of sleep is essential for their brain development, growth and a strong immune system
  2. More green time, less screen time. Limiting screen time and monitoring what they’re watching is essential as is spending time in nature, having free play in parks and paddocks the way nature intended
  3. Limit sugar and processed food. Cooking healthy treats at home and limiting refined sugar to special occasions is ideal, but be mindful of keeping a balance as over restriction can be counter productive
  4. Be kind and show compassion. Kids thrive on love and respect, learn to manage your own emotions and lead by example
  5. Slow down and be present. Allow kids plenty of free play time and don’t over-schedule with extracurricular actives and homework

Adapted from Original over @ our friends The Health Lodge.

100% Pure 💕

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, pilates, Space Foundation, yin, yoga, yoga philosophy
Some might find it dancing in the Boiler Room at the BIG DAY OUT 💃🏻
I’ve felt it looking into the eye of my newborn 💕
You might have heard the whisperings of Samadhi on the ocean breeze that day you sat and cried your little heart out after another break up. You cried so hard that in the end all that was left was peace.
The yogis call it Samadhi- a state of deep and pure love.
Literally, Samadhi is to establish or make firm. Broken down, In Sanskrit, Sam means together or integrated; a towards; and dha to get, or to hold- or put together to acquire integration, wholeness or truth.It is the eighth and final Limb of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, with three intensities or depths:
  1. Laja Samadhi- latent or potential level- begins in deep meditation or trance, or dancing. I think when I let go and surrender to god or am in Isvara Pranidhana and have complete trust I achieve this- that knowing feeling of grace and true trust and wonderment at life. It is a state of joy, deep and general well being. Dancing to my favourite band; looking at my newborn; in my mothers arms; in my favourite yoga pose, being adjusted by one of my wonderful yoga teachers- embodying love
  2. Savikalpa Samadhi- initial temporary state of full Samadhi. The conscious mind is still active and so is your imagination. The mind is quiet and has released desires, we get a taste of bliss; beingness but we might still be attached with the body and the attractions of the world. This might be momentary in svanasana after a massive yoga class where you were consistent and true and practised with integrity.
  3. Nirvikalpa Samadhi(orSahaja Samadhi)- end result. The mind is under control- no more desires or wishes, everything is one. Pure awareness remains ; nothing is missing – pure Wholeness and Perfection. – Pure bliss- not only feeling it but being the bliss- you’ve achieved the union(Yoke,or yoga)! and love- your heart is larger than the universe itself- or it is the universe. All cells of the physical body are flooded with the Ocean of Divine Love and Divine Bliss for any period of duration—hours, days, weeks, until you shift your awareness from the soul back to the physical body. Strange happenings may occur- better health as divine grace sustains the body, better feelings; and miraculous happenings may occur in connection with the Enlightened one. It’s possible to stay in Nirvikalpa Samadhi whilst being functional in our world.
Following these three levels, comes Mahasamadhi (ór great samadhi)–namely death or Nirvana. The final departure from every infinitesimal piece of attachment or karma as complete surrender unto God occurs and we are and dissolved into the divine. We transcend to worlds beyond karma and return to God, merging into transcendental Bliss.
A master said-‘Above the toil of life my soul is a bird of fire winging the Infinite’.
How can you invoke bliss, infinite possibilities and be in peace today? In each posture, each breath, each thought? How can you move to let go of desire, attachment to an outcome, to surrender to bliss and transmute into that bliss.
Love and blessings,
Rochelle

How to get By (How to get High)

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation, yoga, yoga philosophy

There ain’t nothing more inspiring than someone on purpose. Someone walking the talk. You know what I mean. That one friend you have that is just doing their thang like they mean it – day in; day out.

You look at them and think – “How the f*ck do they do that? How do they know what the heck they are doing?” We’ve got an inkling on what is going down. And it does not involve going to the bar every weekend.

“Breath is the new Black”

If you don’t breathe you will die . Its that simple darlin’. The breath is what connects you to all-that-is. Its the basic in your winter-spring-summer-autumn wardrobe no matter what is going on outside. Keep it moving. keep it flowing. Keep it long and consistent and clean. The yogis  and modern-day mystics use prana-yama (Literally the restraint of or control of the life force (prana). Most yoga teachers will teach an element of breath work, and in vinyasa it is a foundational element of the style of yoga we practice. We recommend check out some of the vids on Yogaglo like this one on Ujjayi. You can also find lots of free stuff online just search pranayama  or even better – come to class. 

Once we have the breath under a semblance of control, that cool-cat Patanjali thought that we could move onto pratyahara or the withdrawal of the senses.

I like to call it “Sensory transcendence” .

 As we take the each of these steps along the road to enlightenment (or at least a step towards a calmer mind) we move closer to the truth of all that is.

Ya see you have got to Tune out to Tune in

Tis’ as easy  as sweet apple pie- shut your eyes and become aware of your inner world. There is some really cool shizzle going on in there…… Shut down the external noise and become aware of what is going on for you. Ya know- your gut feelings- those one that scream at ya and sometimes you just ignore them.

My great teacher @michelle_cassidy taught me that once you get clear, you can begin to take right action, and from there you can trust that everything will unfold as it should.

Aloha,

Rochelle

 

Meditation

Lets go DEEP: Waves and the substance from which they arise are one and the same 🙏🏾

health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation, yoga, yoga philosophy

Svadhyaya

That mystery niyama? It’s svadhyaya—“self-study,” although the translation is a bit awkward. This Sanskrit word, like many, has a richer history than can easily be captured in one or two English words. Even within the Yoga Sutra (the bible of yoga, so to speak) the term svadhyaya picks up increasingly richer meaning as it winds its way through the first two chapters.

To translate svadhyaya as “self-study” is, on the surface of things, quite precise. The first part of the word—sva—means “self.” The second part—dhyaya—is derived from the verb root dhyai, which means “to contemplate, to think on, to recollect, or to call to mind.” Thus, it works to translate dhyaya as “study”—to study one’s own self.

But we Westerners carry some baggage along with the concept of self-study. In the West, the study of one’s self is psychoanalysis and this is not what yogis had in mind. Analysis of our thoughts, feelings, associations, and fantasies is not what svadhyaya is about. To get at that, we need to approach our subject from a different angle.

The Nature of the Self

Svadhyaya reveals itself in the traditional yoga teaching image of the ocean and its waves. Here, each wave, traveling across the surface of the sea, is likened to an individual being. It is distinguished by its location in space, as well as by other qualities, such as shape and color.

But the substance of every wave is the sea itself. Waves and the substance from which they arise are one and the same. And since individual waves are part of the sea, as they appear and disappear, they neither increase nor decrease the immensity of water in which they have their being. A wave is never other than the ocean—though it has its individual identity so long as it is manifested on the ocean’s surface.

The premise of svadhyaya is similar. Like the waves of the sea, it is said that individual awareness is never separate from the infinite consciousness in which it has its being. Individual minds have distinctive qualities, preferences, and colorings, but they are not entirely autonomous. Each mind is a wave in a vast expanse of consciousness.

Individual minds have distinctive qualities, preferences, and colorings, but they are not entirely autonomous.

The aim of svadhyaya is to bring the experience of that immense Consciousness, the Self, to awareness (these words are capitalized here to set them apart from ordinary consciousness and self-identity). Just as we might theorize that one day a wave could discover its watery nature, so a human being may discover the deep Consciousness that is the substance of individual awareness. It is this process of Self-discovery that is the essence of svadhyaya.

But to say that Consciousness may be brought to awareness, or “known,” does not mean the Self is an object, like a book or a piece of fruit. We can never claim to have stumbled upon the Self like we would a piece of loose change in a parking lot. Just as a wave cannot be the possessor of the ocean, the Self cannot be possessed by individual awareness.

Instead the Self must be experienced as the deep basis of individual awareness, and this is possible only when the mind can grasp its own underlying nature (sva) through yogic means. Broadly speaking, we could say that all yoga leads to svadhyaya, but certain specific methods are more closely associated with it. The sages tell us that we are the Self and that to “study” it is to gradually know it. The specific techniques for gaining this kind of experiential knowledge are collectively called svadhyaya.

Western Counterparts

The concept of svadhyaya is not limited to the East. In every age and place, East and West, poets, mystics, and philosophers have explored its ramifications. Shakespeare opens Sonnet 53 with these intriguing lines:

What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
And you, but one, can every shadow lend.

If we interpret the words shadow and shade to mean individual human souls, then Shakespeare is portraying us all as strange shadows—shades who only darkly reveal the light dwelling within us. To paraphrase Shakespeare, then, we might ask, what is the substance in which every individual soul has its existence? As we have seen, this is svadhyaya’s essential question.

Walt Whitman, in Leaves of Grass, also illumines the concept of svadhyaya, but with a different kind of imagery. Whitman speaks in the first person, and in a voice that bridges the finite and infinite. Here are some lines from “Song of Myself”:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. . . .

Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
Infinite and omnigenous. . . .

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself,
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

In his characteristic style and with unguarded innocence, Whitman proclaims here that his is a soul whose compass is universal. He speaks of himself as if he were both wave and sea—simultaneously embracing both. This is the vision of svadhyaya.

Inner Repetition

How can such a vision be part of our daily practice? An alternative translation of the word svadhyaya tells us that the word means “reciting, repeating, or rehearsing to one’s self.” Thus, svadhyaya consists of repeatedly impressing on the mind the idea of infinite Consciousness and returning again and again to an intuitive vision of it. This is accomplished through contemplative recitations (usually taken from sacred texts) and meditation on a mantra (mantra japa). It yields an increasingly transparent vision of the Self.

When the mind is transparent, when it is not distracted by competing thoughts or disturbed by likes and dislikes, it does not conceal the Self. At such times it is said to be sattvic—filled with sattva (the principle of clarity and even-mindedness). This state is the aim of svadhyaya for it allows the experience of Self-awareness to permeate the mind.

But if the mind obscures the Self, the mind is dark and insensitive to its underlying nature, and there can be little Self-knowledge. At such times it is said to be filled with tamas (the principle of obscuration). At other times, when the mind is distracted by desires and mundane involvements, it is said to be dominated byrajas (the principle of activity). Rajasic elements of mind need to be disciplined in order to acquire a taste for quietness, but when the mind is tamasic we need preparatory practice, drawing from the complete range of yoga disciplines, to prepare the way for svadhyaya.

{The Practice of Svadhyaya}

Look for inspirational scriptures, readings, poems, or lectures delivered by those who seem to have acquired inner knowledge.

 

Use these resources for contemplation of the Self.

 

Begin the practice of mantra japa—repetition of a mantra in meditation.

 

Rest in the mantra for 10–20 minutes each morning or evening (or both).

 

Let the silent witness, the indwelling consciousness in you, gradually awaken.

Contemplative Recitations

Over three millennia ago, poets of the Vedic age spoke of the Self as the One dwelling in the many, calling it the Purusha (the cosmic person), and described it as a being with “countless heads, countless eyes, and countless feet.” One of their hymns, the Purusha Sukta (the hymn devoted to the cosmic person), is one of the foremost sacred texts in the svadhyaya tradition. The first three verses, which follow, may be used for daily contemplation.

Om. With countless heads, countless eyes, countless feet,
Moving, yet the ground of all,
The Cosmic Person is beyond the reach of the senses.

He is all this, all that has been, and all that is to be.
He is the Lord of immortality, who expands Himself as food.
Such is His glory, and yet the Cosmic Person is more.

One part of Him is creation,
And three parts swell beyond as His boundless light.

This hymn speaks of the Self as the one among many who sees through the uncounted eyes of created beings; who is unlimited by time or space; who is the essence of the process of life-maintenance; and yet whose nature is only partially taken up by all this. Contemplating on such a presence—thinking and behaving as if it exists, and seeking to know it, though it is not seen or heard through the senses—is the first stage in svadhyaya.

Mantra Meditation

It is in mantra meditation that svadhyaya—silent, inner recitation—bears its fullest fruit. Repeating a mantra anchors the mind to one thought—a sound pregnant with the presence of the Self. Vyasa, the great commentator on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, confirms this in his commentary on sutra 2:2. There he says that svadhyaya means the repetition of purifying mantras. And in his commentary on sutra 1:25 he notes that there is a science of such mantras, “a particular knowledge of His name.” This knowledge lies at the heart of svadhyaya.

According to this tradition, mantras are given to students for protection and guidance. They are recited in the mind. But paradoxically, they are the source of inner silence, for when a mantra permeates the mind, it draws awareness in while the outward-going aspects of the mind become silent. Real silence in meditation is not the mind emptied of sound. It is the mysterious experience of the mind filled with the sound of a mantra.

When a mantra permeates the mind, it draws awareness in while the outward-going aspects of the mind become silent.

After first learning to observe the breath in the nostrils, beginning students are usually given the mantra soham (pronounced so with the inhalation and hum with the exhalation). This starts the process of quieting the mind and awakening the inner witness, for soham means, “that…I am; the Self…I am.” Repeating soham is the first step in acquiring direct, intuitive knowledge of the Self. Thus it is in daily meditation that the practice of svadhyaya comes to fulfillment.

A Final Thought

In his own intimate way, Walt Whitman places a few final elements of svadhyaya before us for contemplation. Again, in “Song of Myself,” he avows that the Self is not running away, not struggling to keep the truth from us, not unresponsive to our efforts at Self-knowledge. Instead, he tells us that knowing the Self is the consummation of a search requiring patient and repeated effort. And most touchingly, as is the case with so many other revelations of being, he reports that the Self is nearby and filled with grace. In Whitman’s words:

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

 

Words and thoughts from our friends at Yoga International.

Your life becomes a Masterpiece when you learn to Master Peace ☮️

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, pilates, Space Foundation, yin, yoga, yoga philosophy

Santosha: Contentment

In nearly every translation of Yoga Sutra II.42, santosha is interpreted as the greatest happiness, the underlying joy that cannot be shaken by life’s tough moments, by injustice, hardship, bad luck. “Contentment is really about accepting life as it is,” says Bell. “It’s not about creating perfection. Life will throw whatever it wants at you, and you ultimately have little control. Be welcoming of what you get.”

You can practice this on the mat quite easily, by acknowledging your tendency to strive to do a perfect pose and accepting the one you’ve got. “There’s no guarantee that you’ll get enlightened when you do a backbend with straight arms, or touch your hands to the floor in Uttanasana,” says Bell. “The process of santosha is relaxing into where you are in your pose right now and realizing that it is perfect.” Lasater compares santosha to the deep relaxation possible in Savasana (Corpse Pose). “You can’t run after contentment,” Lasater says. “It has to find you. All you can do is try to create the space for it.”

If you release your mind from constantly wanting your situation to be different, you’ll find more ease. “It’s not fatalism; it’s not to say you can’t change your reality,” says Cope. “But just for the moment, can you let go of the war with reality? If you do, you’ll be able to think more clearly and be more effective in making a difference.”

During those times when you don’t feel content, just act for one moment as if you were. You might kick-start a positive feedback loop, which can generate real contentment. It might feel absurd when your inner landscape isn’t shiny and bright, but the simple physical act of turning up the corners of your mouth can have amazing effects. “Smile,” suggests Devi. “It changes everything. Practicing smiling is like planting the seed of a mighty redwood. The body receives the smile, and contentment grows. Before you know it, you’re smiling all the time.” Whether you’re practicing asana or living life, remember to find joy in the experience.

 

Words via Our friends @ yogajournal.com

Cleanliness is next to Godliness 😇

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Patanjalis first Niyama- or Personal Observance is “Saucha” is broken down here by Kara-Leah Grant 😍

The first yama is Saucha, usually translated as purity and sometimes as cleanliness.

No matter what kind of yoga we’re doing – asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting, Bhakti yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga – we’re always working with purification. Yoga as a practice purifies our system and by extension, our lives.

This clearing out, on all levels, allows Prana (life force) or energy to flow freely. We release and dissolve all kinds of blockages.

This is what saucha is about – clearing out the dirt and removing the unnecessary. On a basic physical level it applies to how we clean ourselves. It’s the way we shower, scrape our tongues, clean our teeth, wear clean clothes and eat life-supporting, nourishing foods that move cleanly through our systems. Done daily, and with reverence, these simple practices will lay a strong foundation to our lives. We’ll feel better about ourselves.

On a deeper level, saucha shows up in our lives in other ways.

Saucha is about purity of energy, so in our homes, it’s about the way we organise and maintain our space.

Compare the feeling of walking into a zen-style room. The floor is wooden, there is a rug on the floor, aligned perfectly with the walls. Two pot plants fill separate corners. There is a sense of everything in it’s place and a place for everything. The room is light and airy.

Now walk into a cluttered lounge with furniture at haphazard angles, dirty dishes strewn around the room, weeks of newspapers stashed on the coffee table, clothes hanging over chair arms and toys strewn across the room.

How does it feel walking into each room? What is your inclination walking into each room?

In the zen-style room, my inclination is to sit and breathe. The energy of the room is pure.

In the cluttered lounge, my inclination is to clean up and find a place for everything. Then I can sit and breathe because now the energy of the room is pure.

That is saucha in action – the recognition that everything has it’s place and there is a place for everything. From that place of places, energy can flow smoothly. There is nothing to do but breathe.

There is good reason for this niyama and I notice it in my own life. Whenever I move into a house, first I have to get everything in order. It’s not a pristine manic order, but a sense of discovering where everything belongs so it can fulfill it’s function with maximum efficiency and beauty.

Living with a child means there’s often toys littering the lounge floor. But those toys have a place and when it’s time for bed, Samuel helps me put all his toys in their place. Underneath the daily messiness is a sense of order which we always return to, maybe not every single night, but most nights.

This adds a clarity to my life that makes my mind work better. I write better in a clean space. Everything flows smoother. The light of my life can shine brighter in a clean, orderly house when I’m clean and pure!

Imagine this – each of us has a light inside that shines out to the world. If the glass that surrounds that light is smudged, or blackened, our light will be dull or faded. The practice of saucha cleans the glass so the light can shine brightly.

My light-shining often takes the form of housework.

I’ve noticed that when I feel scattered or heavy I naturally do housework. I’ll start organising.

Maybe I’ll go to put something away in the fridge and notice the fridge door has smeared ketchup on it. I’ll fetch a cloth and clean that ketchup. In doing so, I’ll notice crumbs in the door shelves so take out the bottles and clean the shelves.

Half an hour later I will have completely cleaned out the fridge and arranged everything according to how we use it and how it best fits. The cleaning and ordering of my physical environment has a comparable effect on my psyche. I feel clean and ordered and clear again.

This is a completely different experience from cleaning a fridge because it ‘has to be done’. There’s almost a merging between myself and the fridge as I attend to it’s needs in the moment 😉

I known this about myself for five or so years now – that housework is meditative and therapeutic. It’s only through my study of saucha that I’m now able to put a name to my action. Making this conscious means I can choose to take action when required now – I can notice when I’m feeling out of sorts or scattered, take a look at my surroundings, and figure out what needs sorting out and cleaning. It’s brilliant!

How might saucha show up in your life?

How do you keep your body clean and pure? Your clothing? Your room? Your house? Your life?

Words and Wisdom via Kara-Leah Grant 🙏🏾

Connective Tissue Health & Myofascial Release

fitness, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation

An international yoga teacher, author & health & wellness expert, Tiffany Cruikshank is known as a teacher’s teacher & has written for & graced the cover of many prominent publications.

Tiffany imparts some wisdom on the subject of the connective tissue below: Check out the source of this article for a full list of references 

Connective tissue has a long history of being overlooked in favor of what seem to be more important features in the body. In medical school cadaver dissections, the connective tissue is carefully extracted and thrown away to reveal the more precious structures and organs, but our low prioritization of it is finally being reconsidered in light of recent research putting fascia and other connective tissue in the spotlight. With so many new studies opening our eyes to the crucial functions of this tissue, the need to reexamine our understanding of it and its potential contributions to our health and quality of life is undeniable.

Fascia, a type of connective tissue, has a broad array of functions, including linking nearby tissues, supporting organs, reducing friction that comes with muscular force, forming compartments that enclose groups of muscles and other structures, separating tissues, investing the tendons (thereby adding to their strength and resilience), creating functional chains of muscles that allow us to move more smoothly and efficiently, and much more. This tissue also contains important immune  cells, protective adipose cells, myofibroblasts that assist tissue healing, and a complex communication system to help oversee it all. Another important feature of fascia is that it is a continuous intermeshed system of fibrous tissue that weaves through the body, from head to toe. This interconnected system can be the reason your pain in one area may be influenced by changes in another part of your body, and it is also a big part of how we adapt and respond to stress via a body-wide tension-distributing system. Every year, half the fascial fibers (collagen) are replaced in a healthy body, providing us a powerful intervention point to steer these changes in the tissues at any time.

MYOFASCIAL RELEASE

The term myofascial release refers to any technique that works on the muscles and the fascia. There are many different modalities; however, the most common self-myofascial release (SMFR) techniques usually involve the use of balls or foam rollers. The beauty of SMFR is that it can be done with simple tools and training, making it accessible to the general public. There are numerous articles and studies showing positive outcomes for these modalities. The main limiting factors of these studies are that many of them are small and their methods can vary considerably. Nevertheless, most of them show significant positive outcomes with only minor side effects, which usually involve temporary soreness and/or bruising.

Fibroblasts, cells within the fascia that are responsible for producing the fascial matrix, play a large role in how the tissues remodel over time in response to the demands placed on them. These demands can have relatively positive (as in yoga, stretching, exercise, or myofascial release) or negative (in the case of poor posture, repetitive motions, or injuries) effects on the way the fibroblasts remodel the components of our  connective tissue. Myofascial release is thought to both stimulate and regulate fibroblasts; it helps break down excessive connective tissue deposition as well as stimulates them to produce new, more resilient connective tissue. It also enhances hydration of this tissue.

Probably the most well-known uses of SMFR are to increase mobility and relieve pain and injuries. The effects of SMFR on mobility are probably the most commonly studied, with positive but often temporary effects seen. Immobility, repetitive movements, poor posture, and injuries can all cause excessive collagen deposition that leads to fibrosis or adhesions between the tissues, resulting in diminished range of motion and mobility. SMFR helps to reduce and prevent excessive collagen deposition by increasing collagen turnover to keep the tissues strong, elastic, and resilient. This feature is critical both for working with injuries and helping to prevent them. Also, one of the great advantages to using SMFR is that the increases in mobility do not initiate the temporary decrease in muscle power and performance seen with stretching.

A key feature of connective tissue that we are still learning about is its function as a communication system. With six times as many sensory neurons than are found in any other tissue (besides the skin), the fascia is a huge sensory organ important both for proprioception (spatial awareness) and interoception (internal body awareness). One of the often-overlooked benefits of myofascial release is this increase in proprioception, which you feel right away. Try, for instance, rolling out your feet before attempting a challenging balance position, and you can experience this firsthand. Research suggests that increasing proprioception can also decrease pain. What’s even more interesting is the new research pointing to the fascia having its own internal communication system, which functions independently from the nervous system via vibration, crystallinity, and electricity. This suggests an inherent body-wide intelligence within this system.

Within the fascial layers, we also find important immune cells that help to modulate inflammation and tissue healing. Many people think of the fascia as just surrounding the muscles, but this tissue also interweaves through the muscles and surrounds organs, bones, nerves, and blood vessels throughout every part of the body. Since it envelops just about every structure of the body, you can imagine how important the immune function in this protective internal fascial layer is.

There is increasing evidence that the physical and mechanical environment of the tissues can influence cell behavior and tumor progression. In fact, some of the newest research on fascia focuses on its effects on cancer and suggests that healthy fascia could be an important component in treatment and prevention.

The hydration of the connective tissue is a key component in its health, influencing communication, adhesions, and immune function. Imagine dry tissues rubbing over each other with every movement. Impaired hydration of the fascia causes increased friction, stimulating the fibroblasts to lay down more collagen cross-links between layers of tissue, eventually leading to adhesions between the layers. You might think drinking more water would solve the problem, and though that may be part of the answer, it doesn’t necessarily equate to connective tissue hydration. Gentle SMFR techniques help to increase the hydration of the connective tissue to decrease adhesions, enhance communication, and facilitate healthy immune function. Think of the connective tissue as being like a fish bowl; not only do you need to add more water, you also need to clean it out from time to time.

CONCLUSION

There are also other body functions that SMFR influences—the parasympathetic response, the blood and lymph circulation, and possibly many more that may be revealed as the studies continue. In addition, there are mental and emotional implications of the connective tissue system that we don’t fully understand yet. Practitioners may observe this in their clients as an unexpected emotional release that may spontaneously arise with SMFR. The beauty of SMFR is that you don’t need to understand the emotional history of a trauma or injury to let it go; you need only provide the space to allow it to pass. Studies suggest that receiving SMFR just once or twice a week will yield a more resilient fascial system in six to twenty-four months, so slow and steady wins the race for connective tissue health. As with any healing modalities, it’s important that you consult your doctor before using SMFR and seek the help of someone trained to use it.

Though there is still a lot of research needed to show the extent to which the fascial layer may be involved in many pathologies, there is already more than enough to indicate the need for further inquiry into how the health of this tissue can affect so many interconnected systems. Myofascial release techniques show promising outcomes in enhancing mobility, increasing proprioception, supporting injury prevention, promoting tissue healing, regulating inflammation and immune function, and optimizing tissue resilience. As SMFR has so few side effects, I believe it’s our opportunity to pursue further study to see how we can best use this simple, cost effective modality that could have a significant impact on pain, inflammation, injuries, tissue health, and possibly pathologies such as cancer.

AUTHOR NOTE

Thanks to the Fascia Research Congress for promoting the work of so many researchers who help bring this information to the public, and many thanks to all the researchers out there doing the work.

Check out the source of this article for a full list of references.

See you on the mat XXX

The Yamas: Brahmacharya: Right use of Energy

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation, Uncategorized, yin

We found this babes musings on this often misunderstood (and brushed over quickly) Yama. Let @emmanewlynyoga break it down for you- Brahmacharya is not what you may have been thinking…..

What does Brahmacharya mean?

The fourth of the Yamas, Brahmacharya is often translated as ‘celibacy’ or ‘chastity’, which doesn’t always make for a very popular Yama…! Traditionally, ‘Brahmacharya’ was meant to encourage those involved in the practice of yoga to conserve their sexual energy, in favour of using that energy to further progress along the Yogic path.

The common misconception that Brahmacharya is all about celibacy means it is often overlooked or considered irrelevant in our modern culture.
However, the practice of Brahmacharya or ‘right use of energy’ as it is widely translated, is more prevalent now than ever.

Contemplation: The word Brahmacharya actually translates as ‘behaviour which leads to Brahman’. Brahman is thought of as ‘the creator’ in Hinduism and Yogic terms, so what we’re basically talking about here is behaviour which leads us towards ‘the divine’ or ‘higher power’.

Regarding Brahmacharya as ‘right use of energy’ leads us to consider how we actually use and direct our energy. Brahmacharya also evokes a sense of directing our energy away from external desires – you know, those pleasures which seem great at the time but are ultimately fleeting – and instead, towards finding peace and happiness within ourselves.

“Brahmacharya also evokes a sense of directing our energy away from external desires … and instead, towards finding peace and happiness within ourselves.”

Where is your energy directed?

Consider for a moment where your energy is most directed. I’ll have a guess that a large part of it is put towards worrying and generally concerning ourselves with things that don’t really serve us best. A lot of our energy may also be spent on trying to present ourselves as someone we’re not in order to please or impress others, or maybe we direct our physical energy towards endlessly pushing ourselves to be fitter, stronger or skinnier…. Does any of this sound like you? If so, it might be time to look a little closer at that Yama you’ve been avoiding….

In order to be the best version of ourselves and to use our energy in the right way, we need first of all to listen to what our bodies need. After all, to be able to spread our message to the world and really make the most of what we learn from our yoga practice, we need to have enough energy within ourselves.

In order to be the best version of ourselves and to use our energy in the right way, we need first of all to listen to what our bodies need.

 Boost your happiness to boost your health

As many parts of the world move towards Winter, our immune system naturally needs a little boost, but we don’t always listen to what we really need the most. By becoming aware of our energy levels and really listening to what we need, we can take action to ensure we feel at our very best.

Yoga is an all-natural happiness booster – you may notice that if you’re feeling down, nothing helps more than a great yoga class – and happiness is actually a proven immune-booster too! When we’re unhappy or fearful, our bodies respond by switching on our stress-responses (that infamous ‘fight or flight’ system we’re always hearing so much about), which heightens our blood pressure, lowers our energy levels and weakens our immune system. When we’re happy and relaxed however, our nervous system switches on our healing mechanisms, which helps to keep our bodies in a vibrant and powerful state.

If we are able to direct our energy towards something positive each day – rather than directing our energy towards our often negative thoughts – we’ll not only be able to boost our immune system, but we’ll also actively be making the right use of our energy!

Listen to your body and let your practice serve you

We’re often encouraged to listen to our bodies in a yoga class, but if we’re accustomed to practicing Yin, butterfly pose in one particular way, it can be difficult to change our habits – even when our bodies are asking us to. To make the most of our energy, we can enhance our health and well-being with the right yoga practice for us at that time; if you’re accustomed to a strong yoga practice and your body needs restoring, allow some time for a deep Yin practice. If you always opt for a soft and still practice, try some Power Yoga to give yourself a boost of strength and energy. Your body is always talking to you; listen and see what it has to say!

Listen to your body! Think about where you’re directing your energy – is it helpful or hurtful?

Brahmacharya in your Yoga class

Mixed-level yoga classes are increasingly popular, which means there are lots of different abilities, Yoga class needs and energy levels together in one class. Often in these classes, lots of different options are given so everyone can make the most of their practice. You may be offered variations and modifications of postures, the option to move through a vinyasa or to rest in Balasana (Child’s Pose).

This situation can lead us in two different directions; surrounded by other practitioners, you might feel pressure to ‘keep up’ or impress others, but consider whether taking the posture is helpful or not – your practice is about your body, no one else’s. On the other hand; if you’re the type to shy away from taking it to the next level, consider stepping out of your comfort zone a little – outside of that little bubble of familiarity is where we grow the most!

Brahmacharya in every-day life: How do you use your energy?

Right now there seems to be an over-emphasis on how ‘busy’ we should all be – that busy is better – and that if you’re not busy, there’s something wrong. The point is, whether we’re constantly ‘busy’ or not doesn’t matter – it’s whether what we’re doing is worthwhile. Filling our schedule with as much as we can may seem impressive on the outside, but when it comes to how this makes us feel on the inside, it doesn’t leave much space to breathe.

“Brahmacharya encourages right use of energy, so if your energy levels are flagging at the moment, consider whether your daily tasks are draining you of your vitality. Could you find a way to take a few moments a day to just stop and breathe and find a little peace?”

This ability to slow down will not only allow your body and mind to take a much-needed break, but you’ll be much more aware of how you’ve been using your energy that day. As we mentioned earlier – listen to your body! Think about where you’re directing your energy – is it helpful or hurtful? Be aware of how you feel physically and energetically when you’re in certain situations – do some people drag your energy down? Do others make you light up? Is there something you love doing that really gives you a boost? (For most of us yes, it’s probably yoga!) Whatever your day-to-day schedule includes, become aware of not just what you do, but how you do it, and how it affects you.

By becoming aware of how our bodies and minds respond to certain situations, we can begin to cultivate a life that does serve us, and that does make the best use of our energy. By contemplating Brahmacharya within our every-day actions, we can take our yoga practice off the mat and into our lives and allow it to serve us at all times….

So what behaviour leads you towards your higher power and helps make the right use of your energy?

x Emma

 

Blog reposted from Ekhart Yoga 🙏🏾

Remember the Breath

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation, yin, yoga

Resident Yin Yogi @terrafirmayoga shares her musings on the magic of the Ujjayi Breath.

Ujjayi Pranayama is the most simple of all yoga’s breathing practices. And because it is so easy to do, it is so effective. It can be done in any position. Sitting down, lying down, standing up, doing yoga asana, driving in a car, going for a walk and even listening to a friend talk…

Effective at slowing down your nervous system, your heart rate and your racing mind.  You need to breathe.  Especially if you have anxiety, stress or depression, aches or pains, injuries or illness. You need to breathe.

In Yin Yoga we learn to breathe the Ujjayi breath in a yin way.  Slow, steady and soft.  There is effort, but it is minimal.  This takes time and practice.  I like to teach it at the beginning of every yoga class, as the breath is the essence of yoga.

The key to Ujjayi is a gentle narrowing of the throat passageway.  This exaggerates the sound so you can hear it. The most important element of Ujjayi is the sound. As you slow down your breath and smooth out the flow, the sound becomes consistent and steady while becoming quieter and quieter.  It is the internal sound that is so divine.  It is the internal sound that heals our wounds and replenishes our cells.  This breath is guaranteed to detox your body and cleanse your mind.

The slow pace of the breath allows time for oxygen to be absorbed into the cells with each inhale, improving the efficiency of your cellular breathing.  Did you know that you have 50 trillion cells inside of you?  If your cells are breathing efficiently this improves your metabolism which affects how your body handles nutrients from your food.

At the same time each exhale carries out toxins and waste product.  Which yoga describes as purification. A way of making your body less dense.  Simultaneously, your mind and emotions are cleared of the density as well.

The word ‘prana’ is a Sanksrit word which means life force.  It is also called chi, mana and oxygen.  Pranayama means you are moving this force through you.  A body with high levels of prana is vibrant and doesn’t succumb to sickness. Any dis-ease will be improved by increasing your levels of prana.  The level of prana moving through your body determines your health, vitality and glow.

In a general class you may have enough time for 5-8 minutes of Ujjayi.  It is merely an introduction to the full practice of 20 minutes everyday.  But 5-8 minutes is enough to get you started on your journey to wellness and it will help you go deeper when you practice the yoga poses which follow.

It is a mystery how this simple breath can weave magic into your life, but if you remember to breathe an Ujjayi breath or ten everyday, I guarantee it will change your life for the better.

Remember to Breathe…

Love Tara X

You can download a 7 minute guided Ujjayi practice with Tara on Spotify or iTunes. 

Type in Tara Fitzgibbon or Breathe, Rest, Let Go.

 

Loving Mindfully

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation

Well this one just about sums me up for the moment…. (being deep in my cycle 😩 but hey we are all human and one of the big upsides of this process is feeling it all (well at least thats what I tell myself on the off-days). 

Yogi-go-getter @byronbayyogi breaks it down for u here in this bite-sized snippet of whatcha need to know to keep groovin the way that only you can do #mylove. So settle into your fave chair/cushion/Turkish towel and drink this in babe ❤

There is only one of you after all- and you came here to #shinebright darling girl X

Image via @arterium

We so often waver between knowing that we are enough and the innate, biological desire to be intimate. As a woman, a long time practitioner of yoga and mindfulness, and a girl who never forgets the impossible portrayals of love in the plethora of Disney movies of her childhood, I’ve found myself in the life-long predicament of looking for love – inside and out.

And I found it – over and over again – or at least I thought I did. I found best friends, lovers, adventure companions and, eventually, someone to divulge all of the messy details of my psyche to and plan a future with. What I expected to come with these discoveries was ease. A falling into the metaphorical arms of eternal security, and a deep knowing that no matter what happens in my world, I am worthy because somebody loves me! But what I started to understand was that no matter how picture perfect my relationship is, there will always be times when I feel the earth beneath me shake – that that security is an illusion.

The yogis and spiritual masters tell us over and over again, and as I walk the path of understanding in my own life, I’ve begun to take note of these valuable lessons.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

One of the major benefits of a regular yoga or mindfulness practice is body awareness. Through tuning into our bodies we begin to understand how emotional tension can manifest itself in our physiology. Liz Koch (coreaware- ness.com) is an expert on the psoas muscle – a long fusiform muscle located on the side of the lumbar region. Koch says that we hold a lot of emotional tension in this area, which is why it’s not uncommon to experience strong emotions in certain yoga poses; “A primal messenger of the central nervous system, the psoas is an emotional muscle expressing what is felt deep within – what is commonly referred to as “gut feelings”. Remember the last time a relationship ended badly and thinking ‘I should have listened to my gut’? Start to trust the sensations in your body. You don’t need to immediately react to those sensations, but ultimately they may be giving you some very necessary insight into your subconscious, and you can use these insights to guide your decisions in relationships.

BE PRESENT

Modern mindfulness guru and founder of the Headspace app, Andy Puddicombe, suggests some advice for staying present during turbulent and uncertain times (and, let’s face it, love can be pretty turbulent). He recommends that instead of using our energy for wishing that a situation were different, we can put that energy into simply being – being in the moment with our self or another. When we do this our life (in relationship) “becomes a journey we are on together, day by day, discovering what is new and meeting each and every moment afresh. If we can do this, then we will experience an increasing sense of confidence, in being at ease with both comfort and discomfort, difficulty and joy.” The way to achieve this is through a simple practice of mindful meditation. “Make sure you take some time out each day”, suggests Puddicombe. When you commit to a formal practice of meditation (even a short one), it will be easier to allow negative thoughts and judgments to emerge and easily pass. Enjoy your relationships in the now and allow them to unfold organically, basking in the newness that each day brings, every day.

LEARN TO NURTURE YOUR INNER CHILD

Mindfulness master and Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh reinforces: “To take good care of ourselves, we must take care of the wounded child inside of us…if you listen every day, healing will take place.” We all carry wounds from our childhood, and these can be triggered and re-emerge in romantic relationships. When you notice yourself experiencing strong emotions in reaction to a situation in a relationship, see if you can sit with that feeling. Sometimes when we feel the urge to strongly react, we’re experiencing trauma from our past, and often this has little to do with the current situation. Take time to listen to and take care of your inner child before reacting. Hahn suggests that we can meditate on our inner child (breathing in – I see myself as a five year old child, breathing out – I smile with compassion to the five year old child in me), spend time listening to our inner child, talk to our inner child and write letters to our inner child to facilitate healing.

DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY

In his book ‘The Four Agreements’, spiritual teacher and author Don Miguel reminds us not to take things personally in relationships. He writes, “nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.” When you can understand this, he goes on, “you can say, “I love you,” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need. You can say yes – or you can say no – whatever you choose – without guilt or self-judgment. You can choose to follow your heart always.”

Modern philosopher and author of numerous books and essays on the topic of love, Alain De Botton, supports this advice, suggesting that when we find ourselves in conflict in our relationships, we should sometimes treat our partner like a child. He says, “one of the kindest things that we can do with our lover is to see them as children. And not to infantilise them, but when we’re dealing with children as parents, as adults, we’re incredibly generous in the way we interpret their behavior.  And if a child says, “I hate you,” you immediately go, okay, that’s not quite true. Probably they’re tired, they’re hungry, something’s gone wrong, their tooth hurts, something.”

LET GO

One of my favourite philosophers, J. Krishnamurti, has some enticing words of wisdom when it comes to love. He says, “the demand to be safe in relationship inevitably breeds sorrow and fear. This seeking for security is inviting insecurity.” When we rely on another to make us feel good about ourselves, we lose the ability to take control of our own self worth. We cannot force our lover into a vicious cycle of placating us – that’s not love. “Fear is not love, dependence is not love, jealousy is not love, possessiveness and domination are not love, responsibility and duty are not love, self-pity is not love, the agony of not being loved is not love, love is not the opposite of hate any more than humility is the opposite of vanity”, says Krishnamurti. He says, simply, when you are “not seeking, not wanting, not pursuing, there is no centre at all. Then there is love.” When we understand this, we can begin to see the importance of letting go in love. As the Buddha said, “you can only lose what you cling to.”

MAKE SELF-LOVE YOUR PRIORITY

“Authentic self-esteem comes not from improving your self-image but from knowing and accepting that core self within that is beautiful, wise, and loving,” explains Deepak Chopra. From this place of genuine self-love that doesn’t rely on external validation, you put yourself in the best position to love others and be loved. If you truly loved yourself, you wouldn’t need others to substantiate you. Instead, you could enjoy the delight of your own company. Develop the habit of continually asking yourself the question: What would I do if I loved myself?

Words by Jessica Humphries.