CBC Radio interview on Mindfulness and Meditation

I recently had an amazing opportunity to walk back into the halls of the CBC where I spent 5 years working as a journalist. This time, I was a guest on a very cool radio show. The topic? Soul Searching.

The show was hosted by my friend and fellow yogini, Erin Noel. I am so excited to share the link with you and share a bit more of my personal story about what meditation has done for me. As I said in the piece, I have merely scratched the surface and I'm looking forward to seeing where this practice takes me next. You can listen to the full story online here (my interview is around 13:50 mins). 

I hope you like it and if you want to talk further about meditation or yoga ... there's no time like the present (get it?! PRESENT?! Because meditation takes you into the present moment? ok... I'll stop with the bad jokes). :)

Namaste.

 

Connect and Return to Wholeness

I wanted to tell you my yoga story, or at the very least the beginning of it.

Like many, I began practicing yoga in my teens as a way to manage stress and anxiety. At that time these concepts were totally new to me. My mother recommended yoga as a self-care tool. And as many yogis can attest: it was love at first class. 

Since then, I have taken my yoga practice with me everywhere. Life has been, and will continue to be, full of ebbs and flows -- but what I learned from my practice, is that it’s how you deal with those changes that will determine your success.

Before becoming a yoga teacher, I worked hard at being a journalist. I also started to disconnect from my practice. My mind and body paid for it, and in time I found myself returning to my mat for solace. I practiced for peace (worldly and inner); I practiced for solitude; I practiced to find myself again. Through this work a part of me was transformed.

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Sound Escape

Ólafur Arnalds is a BAFTA-winning multi-instrumentalist & producer from Iceland. He mixes strings & piano with loops and sometimes crosses it with ambient/electronic pop. In this beautiful video, the visual expression of his music comes alive through digital art. Sit, stare, and enjoy. It has an immediate calming effect. I use his music for restorative classes - and it has the power to totally envelop you in it's soft beauty. Just like this video.

Yoga for Stress and Anxiety

We can all agree that our society is chock-full of daily stresses. Looming deadlines, sick and cranky kids, and gridlock traffic can all send you into a tizzy. Our bodies often respond to these daily stresses with anxiety. It’s a completely normal response to our life experiences.

Anxiety works like a protective mechanism to prevent us from entering into a potentially dangerous situation. And it can help us escape from one, should we find ourselves there. This naturally occurring response is aptly named the fight-or-flight response.

Research shows that the more active your fight-or-flight response is, the easier it is to trigger anxiety in the future. So with continued stress, you may become more sensitive to the effects of anxiety. Sort of like the chicken or the egg conundrum!

Anxiety can be treated in a variety of ways. From medication, talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to various relaxation techniques. Here are some natural yogic ways to fight it:

Just Breathe: Pranayama
At the core of many anxiety attacks is your breathing, or lack there of. When you’re anxious, the diaphragm is tense, which stops the air from moving downward as you inhale. Research shows that pranayama, or mindful breathing can be just as effective for some as prescribed medication.

Calm the mind: Meditation
In the '70s, Herbert Benson, M.D, and founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard found that practicing transcendental meditation could lower blood pressure, improve heart health and reduce stress. Your mind can be the culprit that creates and perpetuates anxiousness. Constant negative self talk or worry about health, finances or relationships can turn into a relentless replay of unresolved issues. Meditation helps to shut off that dialogue. Sometimes it’s as easy as focusing on the sensation of your breath entering through the nostrils. This type of focus creates a state of deep relaxation, which then translates into a calmer, and more focused overall existence.

Get Moving: Asana
Another extremely important yogic tool in battling anxiety is a good Asana practice. The movement burns off nervous energy that can contribute to feelings of anxiousness. While you’re practicing Asana, you’re totally absorbed in the breath and the body’s movement. This is a great way to tap into the powers of pranayama and meditation. Asana can prepare you for a great experience while sitting and breathing in meditation.

In addition to the immediate benefits of exercise, people who practice these three things regularly tend to build a greater internal sensitivity, which allows them to detect early signs of anxiety.

If you're interested in putting this amazing practice into action, join me for an 8 week workshop series with a special focus on yoga and how it can curb anxiety and stress.

Note: I wrote this article for slice.ca. For full article, pose guides, and breathing techniques click here.