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How to Let Yoga Make 2008 Your Best Year Ever!

How to Let Yoga Make 2008 Your Best Year Ever!
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    People today, are under fire.

    Relentless stress, longer workdays, fewer vacations, destructive nutrition and an epidemic of inactivity have led to an adult generation plagued by chronic pain, fatigue, disease and frustration. In search of an answer that does not require a lifetime of medication, many have turned to complimentary and alternative medicine and more conscious forms of movement.

    For many, yoga has led the way.

    While more than 16 million people practice in the U.S. alone, though, that’s still barely 5% of the U.S. population and participation worldwide is dramatically lower. This wouldn’t be such a big deal, but for the fact that a huge chunk of nearly everything the hundreds of millions of non-yoga-practitioners in the developed-world complain about can be substantially alleviated by some aspect of the practice.

    Yoga works, plain and simple.

    The combination of breathing techniques, movement, mindset training and, if desired the exploration of the more spiritual, subtle-aspects are nothing short of transformational.

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    In fact, the benefits of these modalities are so promising and cost-effective, larger-scale studies are now underway, some funded by the National Institutes Of Health. A sampling of the currently published research includes:

    • Yoga More Effective For Back Pain Than Therapeutic Exercise & Self-Care (Annals 2005 Dec 20;143(12):849-856)
    • Yoga Effectively Treats Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (JAMA 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1601-3)
    • Yoga Yields Weight Loss In Middle Age (Alternative Therapies In Health & Medicine; Jul/Aug 2006)
    • Yoga Helps Reduce Anxiety & Depression (Altern Ther Health Med. 2004 Ma-Apr;10(2):60-3, Soc Behavioral Med Ann Mtg; March 1993; Am J Psychiatry 1992; 149:936-943)
    • Yoga Reduces Risk Factors For Cardiovascular Disease (JAMA. 1998;280:2001-2007, J Assoc Physicians India 48(7):687-94 2000 Jul, J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Apr;11(2):267-74)
    • Yoga Lowers Pre-operative Anxiety & Stress (AACN Clin Issues. 2000 Feb; 11(1):68-76)
    • Yoga Reduces Frequency & Severity of Migraine & Tension Headaches (Int J Psychosomatics 36, 1989, pp 72-78, Neurology India 1991 Jan; 39(1): 11-8)
    • Yoga Effective Complimentary Treatment for Type II Diabetes (Proc XII Ann Mtg Res Soc Study Diabetes India 1984, Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 1993 Jan;19(1):69-74))
    • Yoga Reduces Risk Factors For Diabetes Mellitus (J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Apr;11(2):267-74)
    • Yoga Decreases Severity of Asthma (Pneumologie. 1994 Jul;48(7):484-90)
    • Yoga Accelerates Healing of Psoriasis Lesions (Psychosomatic Medicine, 60, 5: 625-632)
    • Yoga Reduces Stress During Cancer Treatment & Recovery (Psychosomatic Medicine 62:613-622, Supportive Care In Cancer Mar 2001; 9(2):112-23)
    • Yoga Effective At Reducing Stress (J Alt & Comp Med. 2005; 11(4): 711-717)
    • Yoga Effective At Treating Stress In Fibromyalgia Patients (Gen Hosp Psychiatry 15(5):284-9 1993)

    So, if you’re looking for a single activity to add to your routine in 2008 that boasts the ability to impact every aspect of your life, why not make it yoga?

    Beware, though, choose your yoga carefully.

    Before you rush out and dive in, you should know that there are more than 20 major schools or “styles” of practice today and many of them offer radically divergent experiences. Some, like ashtanga, vinyasa or power yoga provide a strong, flowing dynamic experience that can range from mildly to extremely rigorous. Others provide more of a gentle, restorative effect.

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    All approaches have value, but before beginning, it’s important to:

    • Identify what you are looking for from the practice,
    • Assess your physical condition and limitations and potentially seek input from your health-care provider,
    • Consider the type of setting you’d feel most comfortable in (gym, studio, retreat, home), and
    • Think about whether you’d prefer a group or a more private experience.

    Once you’ve sussed out your preferences, it’s time to explore local yoga options.

    Here is a brief summary of the major types of yoga you’ll run into and the general experience they’ll offer:

    • Vinyasa/Power/Flow/Ashtanga/Jivamukti – rigorous, flowing, dyamic practice, rooted strongly in movement, postures and breathing exercises. May be extremely challenging and generally also provides a great workout. Different teachers may bring in more or less of the subtler-side of the practice
    • Iyengar – more static, but still very physically challenging experience, with a strong emphasis on precision and alignment, holding postures for an extended time and very little movement.
    • Anusara – similar attention to detail as Iyengar, but more movement and focus on mindset and the energetic side of the practice. Less movement than Vinyasa, but more than Iyengar. May be highly challenging.
    • Integral/Sivananda – Very traditional experience, rooted more in the subtler-side, study of traditions, philosophy and scriptures, breathing and energetic work, with less emphasis on postures.
    • Hot/Bikram – set of postures and breathing exercises performed in a super-heated environment (105-degrees +) . The heat makes this a very intense experience.
    • Kundalini – experience taps strongly into the subtle-side in an effort to release the body’s lifeforce and allow it to travel up the spine. Strong emphasis on breathing, chanting, interaction and unique set of movements and postures
    • Hatha/Kripalu/restorative – balanced emphasis on breath, meditation and postures, many of which are designed to release physical imbalances and holding patterns in the body. Generally, a gentle experience, not tailored o those looking for a strong exercise-experience, but highly-valuable nonetheless.
    • Viniyoga/yoga therapy – individualized experience that is tailored to the precise diagnoses and needs of the individual. Most often done on a private basis, though, some classes may be found.
    • YogaFit – begun as fitness-classes, based on modified yoga postures, YogaFit is the designated yoga at a number of large health-club chains.
    • Hybrids – Yogilates – yoga and pilates, Tai Yoga – yoga and massage, Yoga boxing/Spinning – yoga and indoor cycling

    Once you’ve determined your general yoga preferences and noted which styles of practice sounds appealing, search for the local setting and type of class that feels right to you and commit to trying it out. A great resource to learn more and find yoga in your local neighborhood is the beginner’s area at YogaJournal.com.

    And remember, the nature of the experience, even at the same studio or gym, can vary fairly dramatically, based upon the skill, ability, experience and personality of the teacher.

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    So, even if your first or second experience do not immediately resonate with you, be sure to explore a few more teachers, styles or settings, instead of simply writing off a practice that has the ability to make your life a calmer, more energized, less painful, more enjoyable place to be.

    Wishing you all an incredible 2008 ahead!

    PS – This list is by no-means all-inclusive, so feel free to add to my list or share your thoughts, stories and ideas in the comment section below.

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    Namaste (Sanksrit for the light in me honors the light in you)

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    Published on November 14, 2018

    Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

    Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

    With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

    For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

    In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

    Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

    Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

    It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

    For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

    Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

    Symptoms of Fatigue

    Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

    • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
    • mental blocks
    • lack of motivation
    • headache
    • dizziness
    • muscle weakness
    • slowed reflexes and responses
    • impaired decision-making and judgement
    • moodiness, such as irritability
    • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
    • reduced immune system function
    • blurry vision
    • short-term memory problems
    • poor concentration
    • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

    Causes of Fatigue

    The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

    • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
    • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
    • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
    • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

    Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

    Medical Causes of Fatigue

    If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

    Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

    Anemia

    Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

    Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

    There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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    This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

    Diabetes

    Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

    Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

    Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

    Thyroid disease

    An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

    Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

    • Lack of sleep
    • Too much sleep 
    • Alcohol and drugs 
    • Sleep disturbances 
    • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
    • Poor diet 

    Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

    • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
    • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
    • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
    • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

    Psychological Causes of Fatigue

    Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

    • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
    • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
    • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

    How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

    Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

    1. Tell The Truth

    Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

    To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

    Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

    The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

    One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

    • How you feel
    • What time of day it is
    • What may have contributed to your fatigue
    • How your mind and body reacts

    This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

    2. Reduce Your Commitments

    When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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    If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

    When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

    Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

    3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

    If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

    Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

    If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

    Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

    Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

    4. Express More Gratitude

    Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

    It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

    Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

    5. Focus On Yourself

    Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

    There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

    But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

    We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

    6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

    Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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    Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

    The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

    Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

    7. Take a Power Nap

    When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

    Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

    This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

    8. Take More Exercise

    The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

    Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

    The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

    You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

    9. Get More Quality Sleep

    To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

    Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

    My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

    10. Improve Your Diet

    Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

    Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

    On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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    To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

    Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

    Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

    11. Manage Your Stress Levels

    Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

    When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

    Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

    My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

    12. Get Hydrated

    Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

    Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

    If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

    The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

    The Bottom Line

    These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

    If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

    Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
    [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
    [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
    [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
    [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
    [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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