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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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    Last Updated on November 12, 2020

    Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

    Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

    If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

    If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

    In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

    What Happens When You’re Too Tired

    If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

    Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

    • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
    • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
    • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
    • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
    • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
    • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
    • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

    Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

    Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

    Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

    1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
    2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
    3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

    The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

    Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

    You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

    Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

    If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

    Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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    Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

    Symptoms of fatigue include:

    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Low stamina
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Anxiety
    • Low motivation

    These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

    Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

    How Much Sleep Is Enough?

    The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

    Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

    Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

      The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

      Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

      Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

      If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

      It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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      4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

      Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

      1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
      2. Exercising regularly
      3. Using stressbusters
      4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

      After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

      I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

      Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

      • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
      • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
      • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
      • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

      The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

      Living Healthy

      Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

      In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

      As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

      Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

      1. Unplug

      Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

      Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

      2. Unwind

      Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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      3. Get Comfortable

      Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

      Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

      Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

      This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

      Exercise

      Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

      That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

      I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

      If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

      Attitude

      Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

      When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

      But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

      Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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      1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
      2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
      3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
      4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
      5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
      6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

      This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

      When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

      Nutrition

      Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

      If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

      Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

      Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

      1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
      2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
      3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
      4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
      5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
      6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
      7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
      8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
      9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

      Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

      That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

      Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

      The Bottom Line

      If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

      If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

      Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

      More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

      Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
      [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
      [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
      [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
      [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
      [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
      [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
      [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
      [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
      [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
      [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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