A yoga pose to banish the blues

Image by: freedigitalphotos.net

Want to unwind, focus and maybe even lose weight? Try the yoga pose known as the “Seated Forward Bend.” According to traditional text, the Seated Forward Bend (the pose’s original name, Paschimottanasana, literally translates as “intense stretch of the west,”) can not only help a distracted mind unwind, but can be helpful in addressing obesity. The pose effectively stretches the spine, shoulders and hamstrings. Traditionally, it is also said to:

  • Relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stimulate the liver, kidneys, ovaries and uterus
  • Improve digestion
  • Help relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort
  • Soothe headache and anxiety and reduce fatigue

Step by Step

  • Sit on the floor with your buttocks supported on a folded blanket and your legs straight in front of you. Press actively through your heels. Rock slightly onto your left buttock, and pull your right sitting bone away from the heel with your right hand. Repeat on the other side. Turn the top thighs in slightly and press them down into the floor. Press through your palms or fingertips on the floor beside your hips and lift the top of the sternum toward the ceiling as the top thighs descend.
  • Draw the inner groins deep into the pelvis. Inhale, and keeping the front torso long, lean forward from the hip joints, not the waist. Lengthen the tailbone away from the back of your pelvis. If possible take the sides of the feet with your hands, thumbs on the soles, elbows fully extended; if this isn’t possible, loop a strap around the foot soles, and hold the strap firmly. Be sure your elbows are straight, not bent.
  • When you are ready to go further, don’t forcefully pull yourself into the forward bend, whether your hands are on the feet or holding the strap. Always lengthen the front torso into the pose, keeping your head raised. If you are holding the feet, bend the elbows out to the sides and lift them away from the floor; if holding the strap, lighten your grip and walk the hands forward, keeping the arms long. The lower belly should touch the thighs first, then the upper belly, then the ribs, and the head last.
  • With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates and lengthens almost imperceptibly with the breath. Eventually you may be able to stretch the arms out beyond the feet on the floor.
  • Stay in the pose anywhere from one to three minutes. To come up, first lift the torso away from the thighs and straighten the elbows again if they are bent. Then inhale and lift the torso up by pulling the tailbone down and into the pelvis.

Information courtesy of: DrWeil.com

Cenessa Stork – A Eulogy

Cenessa Stork blogCenessa Stork – a beautiful soul

It is with sadness in our hearts that we bring you the news that Cenessa Stork – who shared her story of her battle with cancer with us in October 2012 – passed away this past week.

In her interview, Cenessa said: “every day that I can get up and out of bed is a very good day. I am determined to have as many good days as I can until there are no more left. If I can make a difference in just one person’s life today, I know that my job is done.”

What powerful words from a very strong, brave and beautiful woman. Cenessa, you reminded us that we should make every day count. That we ought be grateful for all that we have, and that we need to focus on that which really matters; and stop to smell the roses from time to time. Your friends can attest to the fact that you did have many good days, despite the pain you lived with. And your legacy is that you HAVE made a difference in many people’s lives – no one who read your story came away unmoved.

You lived your life with enthusiasm and optimism, and you left this world with fortitude and dignity. You will be missed by many hundreds of people who knew you, as well as many who simply knew of you. We will continue to be inspired by your life and how you coped with adversity. Rest in peace, lovely lady!


Emotional Health

Emotional healthImage by: www.freedigitalphotos.net

Emotional or mental health refers to your overall psychological well being, and encompasses the way you feel about yourself, the quality of your relationships, and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with challenges.

Good mental health is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental and emotional health refers to the presence of positive character traits.

People who are mentally and emotionally healthy have:

  • A sense of contentment.
  • A zest for life and the ability to laugh and have fun.
  • The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.
  • A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and relationships.
  • The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change.
  • A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.
  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem.

These positive characteristics of mental and emotional health allow you to participate in life to the fullest extent possible through productive, meaningful activities and strong relationships, and also help you cope when faced with life’s challenges and stresses.

Taking care of your body is a powerful first step towards mental and emotional health, since the mind and body are linked. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well being. For example, exercise not only strengthens the heart and lungs, but also releases endorphins – powerful chemicals that energise us and lift our mood.

The activities in which you engage and the daily choices you make affect the way you feel physically and emotionally.

  • Get enough rest. To have good mental and emotional health, it’s important to take care of your body. That includes getting enough sleep in order to function optimally.
  • Learn about good nutrition and practice it. The subject of nutrition is complicated and not always easy to put into practice, but the more you learn about what you eat and how it affects your energy and mood, the better you can feel. For starters, avoid processed food as much as possible.
  • Exercise to relieve stress and lift your mood. Exercise is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression. Look for small ways to add activity to your day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going on a short walk.
  • Get a dose of sunlight every day. Sunlight lifts your mood, so try to get some sunshine daily.
  • Limit alcohol and avoid cigarettes and other drugs. These are stimulants that may make you feel good in the short term, but have long-term negative consequences for mood and emotional health.

Other strategies for taking care of yourself may include:

  • Appeal to your senses. Stay calm and energised by appealing to the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink.
  • Engage in meaningful, creative work. Do things that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive.
  • Get a pet. Caring for one makes you feel needed and loved. There is no love quite as unconditional as the love a pet can give. Owning a dog may also encourage you to get out of the house for exercise.
  • Make leisure time a priority. Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, etc.
  • Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Meditate, pray, enjoy the sunset, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.

Everyone is different; not all things will be equally beneficial to all people. Some people feel better relaxing and slowing down while others need more activity and more excitement or stimulation to feel better. The important thing is to find activities that you enjoy and that give you a boost.

Our blog is courtesy of www.all4women.co.za

Vitamin D – good for your heart

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Need (another) reason to keep your vitamin D intake up?

New research suggests that people with low levels of this essential nutrient may have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Researchers in Utah followed 27,000 men and women over the age of 50 who had no previous history of heart disease. After a year, they found those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were:

  • 77 % more likely to die than those with adequate levels of vitamin D.
  • 45 % more likely to develop coronary artery disease than those with adequate levels of vitamin D.
  • 78 % more likely to have a stroke than those with adequate levels of vitamin D.
  • Twice as likely to develop heart failure than those with normal levels of vitamin D.

The study was presented at the 2009 session of the American Heart Association’s Scientific Conference. Dr Weil recommends prudent daily sun exposure to support the natural production of Vitamin D in our skin, as well as speaking to your doctor about checking vitamin D levels and supplementing if necessary.

Our blog is courtesy of DrWeil.com