TRAUMA RELEASE PROCESS – 02.19.15 (When Life Turns Up the Heat)

Stress and anxiety can cause us to miss out on so much in our lives.  One dwells in the past while the other makes us fearful of the future.  It appears like a never-ending battle attacking us from both sides.  Both are overwhelming, both slowly destroy our physical body, both cause our mental body to distort fiction and nonfiction and both are capable of being lessened by focusing on something.  The something is …

NOW!  🙂  Okay, that was a little too enthusiastic for 6:50am … but it is exciting!  The Now provides us an opportunity to ask a question.  Why are we here?  This isn’t a call to discuss our reasons for humanity on Earth, but rather an opportunity for us to look at our lives as they are … now.  Here asks us to look at the present moment and not stray back into the past or too far into the future.  The focus on the past can bring stress (even from positive memories) and the future can bring anxiety (again, even from pleasurable thoughts).  Both of which have negative effects on us.  Living for the moment and consistently asking ourselves, “why am I here?”

It could be as simple as … “I’m here to do the best dang job of cleaning this dishes in the history of now.”  Yeah, a bit of a stretch, but think about it.  No comparison to the past and no thinking about doing the dishes for the millionth time.  Alleviate stress.  Alleviate anxiety.

It could be as complicated as … “I’m here because I am making a difference in the lives of others right now.”  The difference could be as a parent, as a friend, as a concerned stranger … the possibilities are limitless.  

So … why are you here? 🙂

When Life Turns Up the Heat

Stress and anxiety are not the same, although they are close companions and often trigger each other.

1.  Stress comes from the feeling that a certain set of circumstances should not be happening.

When we believe something in our life shouldn’t be the way it is, we go into a mindset of resistance.  We mentally oppose what’s happening.  This is the feeling we identify as stress.  Something has come up, and we want to get it over with, get past it, get it out of the way.  In other words, we are in flight from the way our life is right now.

2.  Anxiety stems from from the feeling that something should be happening that clearly isn’t.

When we believe something ought to be happening, we yearn for it, ache for it, often to the point that our longing eclipses our ability to enjoy what’s presently happening in our lives.  Longing for something that isn’t happening causes us to be dissatisfied with our life as it is right now.  The effect upon our mental wellbeing and our health is the same as that of stress.

In both stress and anxiety, our inner experience is that we want to be somewhere other than where we are.

BOOK – “The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process” by David Berceli (BUY IT!)


I’m an analytical person.  I know for some folks this is hard to believe.  I like checklists, to-do lists, procedures, the volume to be at an even number, my clothes organized by the color spectrum and to have my cleaning supplies organized by brand name.  Yep.

There are discussions among Yoga instructors that want classes to be organic and create themselves from the moment.  There are other schools of thought that look to research and preparation along with reviewing notes while teaching.  Athletes do the same.  Some will state how practice is a waste of time and that you grow in the heat of competition.  There are others that work religiously to perfect their skills in practice to bring them to fruition in game time.  I believe there is a place for both … and I have taught and competed from both.  For me, I type all of my class flows so that I can carve them up with feedback from participants and self-reflective words.  I like being prepared.

The reason I do this is because I deal with anxiety after I do things.  Most people enter into an event being anxious and nervous.  I end a lot of classes and tennis matches, hockey games, and races with “what if”s and “should have”s.  Anxiety management is important to me so that I do not end such a great experience (win or lose) with negative self-talk.  My love of checklists loves the content below.  Eight different strategies to help deal with anxiety.  Read, use and have fun!

Anxiety Management:  Go from Panicky to Pumped! (Part 2)

1.  Be well prepared.  Nothing helps build confidence more than knowing that you are ready for the challenge at hand.

2.  Nerves are natural.  No matter how calm your opponents may appear, they are likely experiencing the same level of anxiety – or more so – than you are.

3.  Ally with the anxiety.  Tell yourself, “My body is preparing itself to perform,” and “I’ve done well before, and I can do it again now.”

4.  Breathe evenly and deeply.  Good breathing reduces anxiety by clearing your mind of fog and by reducing physical tension.

5.  Get creative and use your imagination.  Understand that you are bigger and more powerful than this anxious feeling.

6.  Stay in the here and now.  Monitor negative “futurizing” and worrisome thoughts about winning or losing.

7.  Stay on a positive thought channel.  Flip the switch from negative to positive self-talk when you are emotionally spiraling down.

8.  Take yourself lightly.  Always remember that sport is what you do and not who you are.  Smile.  Laugh.  Have a good time.  Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can really happen?”  If the worst does happen, ask, “What can I do to cope?”

Remember that FEAR means to “Face Everything and Respond.”  To perform at a champion’s level, let the butterflies fly in formation!

BOOK – “The Champion’s Mind:  How Great Athletes think, train and thrive.” by Jim Afremow  (BUY IT!)

PERFORMANCE YOGA – 02.02.15 (Anxiety Management)

Anxiety isn’t a bad thing.  It means that we care.  We’re worried that the goals that we’ve set for ourselves and the moments that come up in our lives.  Our humanity is defined by our ability to have compassion for others and ourselves.  So we’re normal (or whatever our own definition of that word is, ha!).

As a middle school math/science teacher for the past twelve years, I have witnessed countless forms of anxiety … test anxiety, athletic performance anxiety and social anxiety.  I’ve watched numerous young adults attempt to learn how to deal with anxiety.  I’ve seen anxiety turn to anger, panic and frustration.  All they want to do is their best.  They’re normal (or whatever is normal for a middle schooler, ha!).

Anxiety can drive us insane, but it can also drive us to peak performance levels.  Will we accept the moment and let go of a future that doesn’t exist?  When we allow anxiety to drive us to panic, we manifest a future that we truly do not desire.  When we accept each moment as an opportunity to display something new and amazing, we find ourselves so driven to excel.  Let’s not allow anxiety to bring about panic, but let’s bring the performance of the moment be brilliant, amazing and beautiful.

Anxiety Management:  Go from Panicky to Pumped!

Anxiety or excitement is proof that they, and you, care about performance and outcomes.

A panic response is thus an exaggerated mind-body reaction – a false alarm – that can be diffused or redirected.  Our instinctive responses to panic are always counterproductive, such as fleeing, isolating ourselves, trying too hard to relax, or beating ourselves up mentally.

What you truly fear, if you are willing to admit it, is embarrassment that you will fail to perform in the moment and because of that must suffer the consequences of anxiety and panic.

Panicking is not going crazy, but rather the manifestation of fear of a terrible outcome.

BOOK – “The Champion’s Mind:  How Great Athletes think, train and thrive.” by Jim Afremow  (BUY IT!)

Flow w/Fred – 9.18.14 (YFD – Mindfulness for Anxiety-Based Depression)

In class Thursday evening, we used the following passage to connect our minds and bodies.  Pain is definitely a difficult subject to tackle.  It has cost each of us so many hours of our lives.  It is allowed to however.  Pain will happen to all of us and has happened to all of us.  Being mindful of the present moment in regards to it is a skill necessary of practice.  And this practice is not limited to simply seated, standing in Mountain or laying down in Savasana.  Mindfulness of pain and the present moment can happen during any task.  It just takes time and practice to become more aware of the affect pain has on us.  I’m still practicing, so do not expect day number one to show incredible signs of release and enlightenment :).  One day at a time and one moment at a time is all you need to deal with the struggle all of us face with pain.  Take yoga with you off your mat today and enjoy the last day of summer!

Mindfulness for Anxiety-Based Depression
“Mindfulness meditation does not require closing one’s eyes, although often people find that comfortable.  I usually close my eyes when I am sitting, but I open them if I am sleepy.  I can still be paying attention to my process; I can feel my body; I can feel my breath; I can attend to my mind states.  A person could think of themselves as a mindfulness practitioner and never sit down.  You could walk for your entire practice.  You can cook mindfully, clean house mindfully, do any job mindfully.  Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention with the hope of seeing more clearly what is happening inside and outside.  If I see more clearly, I will be able to respond in a way that doesn’t cause suffering to myself or anyone else.”

Pain doesn’t go away as a result of a meditation practice.  Even long-term meditators experience the ordinary losses that being human entails.  However, the recognition of impermanence that comes with meditation practice helps support the understanding that the pain will pass.  We don’t need to identify with our pain, our depression, or even our negative thoughts about ourselves.  We don’t have to suffer more because we’re in pain, which is what happens when we find ourselves unable to acknowledge and simply accept the pain.  Sitting in meditation, attending to the passing thoughts and feelings, helps us notice just how fleeting our feeling states are.  Suffering is resistance to the pain; suffering is struggling with the pain; suffering is saying that it should be otherwise.  Don’t talk about the end of the pain.  Talk about the end of the struggle with what it is.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintraub

Flow w/Fred – 9.4.14 (YFD – Calming the Anxiety)

With a new month comes a new sequence!  As we used a substantial warm-up, Sun Salutation A, a modified Sun B and some strong Mountain 2 flows, we for partner bow.  The whole class tonight centered around opening through the thoracic vertebrae to allow the lungs to expand.  I wanted everyone to breath deeper and fuller than they had in a long time.  I wanted us to find neutral.

We introduced Alternate-Nostril breathing for the first time tonight and the class rocked it :).  Here is a link to more information and a YouTube video for your viewing pleasure.

Calming the Anxiety
“Breathing,” says Yoga physiologist David Coulter, Ph.D, “is one of the most remarkable functions of anatomy and physiology.  It is the only biological activity which can be brought under full conscious control and yet functions semiautomatically twenty-four hours a day.”  If you do nothing else but commit to learning pranayama breathing, you will bring not only your breath under conscious control, but also your emotions.  This doesn’t mean you will repress your feelings, but rather you will begin to witness and more able manage them.

“I’m a writer, and I literally lose words that I know.  It’s as if I’m standing on one side of a synapse, peering to the other side.  There’s a word there – the very word I want for a poem I’m writing – but I can’t reach it.  It remains there, dancing, just beyond my ability to grasp it.  It’s a very frustrating experience, and it invariably signals the onset of depression.  I’ll write a perfectly decent poem and feel like it’s nothing, worse than nothing, I’m worse than nothing.”

Learn to be very watchful, and to refuse to give in to the self-judgments.  Learn how to take care of yourself by increasing your prana by getting outdoors, taking long walks, and riding your bike.  Find your breath.  Find your space.

“I’ve found that rhythmic deep breathing, and especially Alternate-Nostril breathing (Nadi Sodhana), can be very nurturing, and even allow me to be ‘outside’ of the depression for a time.”  My breath can neutralize the energy.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintrab


Flow w/Fred – 8.28.14 (YFD – Balancing Left and Right)

Pranayama techniques have fascinated me.  I spend a lot of time throughout my classes introducing or reminding students just how powerful they are.  We are able to aid our physical and emotional body through these different techniques.  I’ve introduced three part breath and ujjayi breath to my classes, but never ventured out to alternate nostril or one sided nostril breathing.  In our deep and powerful breaths, the use of the diaphragm is so crucial to sufficiently oxygenate the blood.  It is such a joy to watch as a student learns to breath deeply and fully … connected physically and emotionally.  

With nostril breathing, there are opportunities to stimulate the body and calm the body.  There are times throughout my day that I need my body to function at a higher capacity.  Right nostril breathing allows me to increase my metabolism and help with some digestion.  There are times throughout my day that I get frustrated, upset, angry or even down.  Left nostril breathing allows me to calm my thought process and slow down my heart rate.  Both are equally significant and very much needed.  In class we took two cycles of breaths on each side for balance.  I am excited to see how these breathing techniques continue to impact my students.  

We will introduce alternate nostril breathing next week!  Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment :).

Balancing Left and Right
Mental illness is a state of imbalance, so Alternate-Nostril Breathing or Purifying Breath, is a good way to provide balance for the right/left hemispheres of the brain and to increase oxygen to the cerebral tissues, which likely increases blood flow to the brain tissue.  Right nostril breathing has a stimulating effect on the body and mind, while left nostril breathing has a calming effect.  

If someone is suffering from major depressive episodes, their energy might be expanded with right nostril breathing, in which you inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left.  On the other hand, if you are feeling anxiety, a few extra rounds of left nostril breathing will help.

In Yogic terms, suffering can be explained by an imbalance in energy channels (nadis).  As a left nostril breather, there is continual enhancement of lunar, cooling energy channels and an imbalance with the heating, energy channels.  The importance of breathing on both the right and left sides of the body, balancing the cooling and heating energies.

“Twenty years of chronic depression lifted like a cloud,” he says.  Kevin felt that Right Nostril Breathing would not have been effective if he were still drinking and had not gone through years of traditional psychotherapy.  For Kevin, recovering from depression was a multipronged approach, but he believes that learning and practicing Right Nostril Breathing was “the crowning touch.”

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintrab