Sunday, March 25, 2018

Abide by these 5 Do's and Don'ts for a happy partnership

Relationships are meant to to be treasured and cultivated. Following some basic rules may help you deepen and strengthen your bond. Abide by these 5 Do's and Don'ts for a happy partnership - this article, by Taylor Bennett, was originally published on Thriveworks

Don't miss the 5 Do's by Nidhi Idnani, iReikiNow :-)




Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Your nose knows! And it is time you know too!

Feeling anxious? Stressed? Are you unable to focus? Do you feel exhausted or overwhelmed? If any of this describes you, do yourself a favor and practice Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. The Sanskrit words Nadi means channel or meridiens and Shodhana means to purify. Thus, nadi shodhana refers to cleansing the pathways or channels of energy so that energy or Pranaa or Qi can flow easily within the body. Also called Alternate nostril breathing (ANB), it is one of the best breathing techniques that helps to purify on all levels - mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.

Read More: Deep breathing - The best and free medicine



Benefits:

A study conducted in 2013 proved that Alternate Nostril Breathing alters brainwaves, positively influences cognitive processes and helps the brain perform better on tasks that require sustained attention. Another study shows that it reduces blood pressure for those suffering with hypertension. Additional benefits of Nadi Shodhana include:

  • Balances the left and right hemisphere of the brain
  • Balances the nadis or the subtle energy channels within the body, allowing energy or Qi to flow smoothly within the body
  • Calms the mind and brings it to the present moment 
  • Helps to let go of negative and toxic thoughts and emotions
  • Improves clarity and focus
  • Improves respiratory function and increases lung capacity
  • Increases the supply of oxygen to the body 
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Relaxes the muscular system
  • Releases toxins 
  • Sets the stage for deep meditation


How to practice:

  • Posture: Sit in Sukhasana or Easy pose. This is one of the best poses for breathing exercises and meditation. It has tremendous health benefits.
  • Alternate: You could also sit on a chair with the feet uncrossed and flat on the floor.
  • Allow your spine to be straight, and make sure that your head and back are aligned.
  • Rest your left hand in your lap with your palm upward and your fingers gently glued together.
  • Gently close the eyes.
  • Begin with a few deep breaths. Take a deep inhale and slow, gentle exhale. Repeat this for a few breaths. Then follow the steps below:

Steps for one round of Nadi shodhana:

  1. Bring your right hand in front of your face, keeping the index finger, middle finger and ring finger gently glued together.
  2. Take a slow and deep inhale with both nostrils.
  3. Close your right nostril with the right thumb. Hold your breath for a moment.
  4. Gently and fully exhale from the left nostril, pausing briefly at the end of the exhale.
  5. Inhale slowly from the left nostril.
  6. Close the left nostril with your little finger. (For a brief moment, both the nostrils are closed, helping you to pause.)
  7. Release the thumb from the right nostril.
  8. Exhale slowly and completely from the right nostril, pausing briefly at the end of the exhale.
  9. Inhale slowly from the right nostril
  10. Close the right nostril with your right thumb. (For a brief moment, both the nostrils are closed, helping you to pause.)
  11. Release your little finger from your left nostril
  12. Gently and fully exhale from the left nostril.
This completes one cycle. Repeat for at least 10 cycles. End the practice with a few deep breaths. Keep your eyes closed for a few moments. Observe your thoughts, emotions and sensations. Then, gently open your eyes, allowing yourself to continue with your daily routine but promising yourself to take the awareness of the breath with you throughout the day.

Tips:

  • Start the practice by exhaling from the left, and end the cycle by exhaling from the left.
  • Place a pillow under your buttocks when sitting in Sukhasana. This will help to strengthen the lower spine and relax the hips downwards.
  • Hold the breath as per your capability. Those suffering from asthma or any other respiratory or cardiac issues need not hold the breath.
  • Keep the breath natural. With practice, the length of the inhales and exhales will increase.
  • Consistency is important. 
  • Ideally, practice this on an empty stomach 


When to practice: 

Practice Nadi shodhana or ANB every morning and evening to experience its many benefits. Use it when you feel that you are hitting a mental fog and need to focus. It is a great alternative to caffeine for that afternoon pick-me-up and does not have any side effects. Any time you face anxiety, or nervousness such as before an interview, a big meeting or a test, or just feeling overwhelmed by the endless daily routine, is a good time to practice this too. Practicing Nadi Shodhana at those times will balance the energy flow within the body and will help restore an inner calmness.

Finally, use it as a coping mechanism and a de-stressing tool, as evidenced by Hillary Clinton's use and endorsement of Nadi Shodhana. In her book, What Happened, and in an interview with Anderson Cooper, while referring to ANB, Hillary said "I would highly recommend it....It is very relaxing".  In fact, she thinks that ANB may be an effective alternative to anti-anxiety medication.



If, after the biggest setback of her professional career, Nadi Shodhana worked for Hillary, imagine how effectively it can ease our daily pressures and bring wellness into our life.

So give it a shot. Your nose knows! Reap the benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing!

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be a guideline. Always practice Yoga Asanas or Pranayama with an expert before attempting on your own.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Deep breathing - The best and free medicine

"Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathing is the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do before we die. In between birth and death, we barely pay attention to the breath. But breath is not just the exchange of gases - oxygen and carbon dioxide. Breath is a tool to improve the efficiency of the body and the mind. 

Breath - the holistic medicine:


Take charge of your breath to take control of your thoughts, emotions and body.

Take the unconscious process of breathing and make it a conscious process and notice how it benefits your mind, body and spirit. The pattern of the breath is dependent on physical actitivity as well as our thoughts and emotions. When tired, we yawn and inhale extra oxygen. When angry, we tend to have rapid and shallow breaths. As opposed to that, when calm, our breath is slow and stable. Therefore, if our emotions can control the breath, logically, by deliberately working on the breath, we can subtly change our emotions. If A=B, then B=A; if the way we think affects the way we breathe, then the way we breathe, will affect the way we think. Next time you feel anxious or stressed, bring your awareness to the breath. Watch it. Observe it. Gradually increase the length of inhales and exhales. Notice, how magically it brings peace and contentment.

Deep breathing has huge benefits for the body too. It balances the autonomic nervous system, improves the cardiovascular sustem, respiratory system and aids metabolism. Therefore, the breath can be intentionally used as a tool to increase the performance and capability of the body and the mind. Ancient yogis understood this and introduced "Pranayama", the science of consciously breathing in a particular way, which would enhance our health, emotions and spirit. What yogis have practiced and preached over thousands of years has been acknowledged by science too.




Scientific evidence supporting deep breathing:


Studies have shown the significant benefits of slow and deep breathing. "Controlled, slow breathing appears to be an effective means of maximising Heart Rate Variabilty (HRV). " Higher HRV indicates that the body has a strong ability to tolerate stress. As per another study, Pranayama breathing helps to "positively affect immune system, hypertension, asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress related disorders." Additional studies have also shown that it reduces inflammation and stress. 

So, among the many benefits of "Pranayama" below are some of the significant ones: 
  • Increases energy levels
  • Increases the suply of oxygen to the brain
  • Increases mental clarity and focus
  • Improves cardiovasculare health
  • Improves posture
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Stabilizes blood pressure
  • Stimulates metabolic function


Practice - It's easy:


Deep breathing need not be daunting. Just practice this simple routine - Sit up straight with the spine erect but with the shoulders relaxed. Inhale through your nostrils to a count of 4, hold to a count of 1, and then exhale through your nostrils to a count of 4, hold again to a count of 1. Gradually, increase this pattern to 6-2-6-2 or 8-4-8-4. 
This can be practiced for a few minutes every morning and evening. Or practice this as short one minute sessions when you would like to control the traffic in your mind and take an internal pause. Also read: Think less, think better, feel great 
For an added dose of "Zen", use deep breaths along with this guided meditation.


Take deep breaths -  it is the BEST medicine. It has no side effects and it is FREE!


Monday, December 18, 2017

Mindfulness Meditation - discover, experiment and own it


Often people ask me how important is posture or space in meditation? Should we practice in a group setting or practice alone? Is it essential to light a candle while meditating? Should I keep me eyes open or shut? Is there a specific time of day to practice? These questions are relevant not only for mindfulness meditation but other forms of meditation too such as Chakra meditation,or guided visualization.

Here is a primer on mindfulness meditation but before we begin, it is worth reminding ourselves, how mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, "Mindfulness is paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."

Posture: While there is a benefit in sitting upright, perhaps cross legged or on a chair, with your eyes gently closed, a particular posture is not mandatory in many meditation practices. Often people prefer to lie down or some choose to meditate while walking, running or even swimming where they feel they become one with their surroundings.

Space:  Where we chose to practice can seem very important to us. For some people a certain kind of space is critical to meditate, perhaps a room where there is a lot of natural light or a room with no natural lighting. Some may find that meditating in a natural surrounding, be it at a lake front or the mountains, may help them zone in. The rhythmic sound of water can be especially calming to some or the gentle wind ruffling the hair and caressing the skin can be relaxing to others. And yet, there are those who meditate while they ride the bus to work every morning.

                          


Time of the day: Mornings work very well for many people as the mind is usually clear and rested. Indeed, sages, gurus and meditators over thousands of years have preached the importance of starting the day with meditation. However, thousands prefer meditating just before going to bed while others prefer short one minute sessions through the day. Read my article on Traffic control (controlling your mental clutter) for more.

Group setting: Meditating in a group helps many meditators because it instills a sense of routine and discipline. They find a group practice invigorating and the collective energy very beneficial. And yet, few prefer to practice alone stating that their meditation is their own individual journey.

Accessories: Candles, light music, a meditation cushion, flowers or a statue of Buddha or even apps and meditation gadgets are accessories that many feel are essential to the practice of mindfulness meditation. More about commercialization of mindfulness in a later post.


In reality, you do not need any special equipment, commodities or space to meditate. Yes, space, accessories etc may seem important for beginners but with experience and practice, you might find them (or not) to be trappings and you might just find yourself dropping these accoutrements at some point in time. You also do not need to meditate at a particular time of day. Recent studies conducted by Harvard Medical School indicate that meditation is beneficial at any time of the day. Consistency is key. More important than the angle of your spine, or the music (or lack thereof) in the background, is what is happening in your mind, or even what you are doing in your mind? Are you enjoying being in the moment?

Likewise, while formal meditation sits are extremely important and help us to get into the zone, ultimately, the ability of transferring this feeling of calmness, acceptance and stability to our everyday routine and into our personality is what mindfulness meditation is all about. And if you feel anxiety or worry creep in, consciously pausing your thoughts, anchoring yourself into your breath or a visual imagery may transport you back into the zone. It is more important to be mindful where ever you are, and in whatever you are doing. Space, posture, setting, length of practice or the time of the day is not as important as your intention to practice. May your meditation or mindfulness be your own, however you may choose to define it. May you discover it in a mindful way that embodies your truth and your dignity.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

8 Keys to Healthy Relationships, According to Mental Health Professionals



How do we maintain healthy relationships with those that mean the most (not just with our significant other, but friends and family too)? Here are 8 keys to healthy relationships by mental health professionals - published on Thriveworks. Don't miss point No. 8 :-)