Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The 6 Highly Effective Habits for More Energy

You’ve all heard of the old used up sentence “Humans are all creatures of habit” often connoting that we are somehow bound to our habits. It might even feel very convincing that you are bound, because for some a habit could be supporting other habits. A common example is keep showing up to work, which pays the bills, which keeps things moving and you make it through the week without stopping then you spend the entire weekend living. When moving through the motions, only some ask how can I do this differently or better?   

The Seva philosophy understands and advocates taking small steps, which create big changes. The steps when taken regularly become highly effective habits that have the capacity to move life in the direction of our personal desires.

Have you ever asked yourself, what might you eat, think, feel and act like if you were living your dream life? And what are some of your habits that stop you from aligning your actions (with ease)?

Below are 6 science based steps, prescribed by Ayurveda to make it easier for you to practice them as habits. You’re probably already aware of most of them, but just need to commit to take small and consistent steps to turn them into living habits.

Those habits will then develop you to make better choices with greater ease and you won't even have to talk yourself into it. You will feel better for doing them, than not.

Its a lot like brushing teeth - no one ever said "I'm so glad I didn't brush my teeth today!"

These 6 steps are habit building steps, which will prepare you for personalized habits that will create more effective changes in your life. They will start moving you in the right direction straight away. Think of it like this, they are small changes without it feeling like you're moving a mountain.

To give you a bit of basis for my advice here, both Yoga and Ayurveda are researched and trialed sciences that prescribe individualized lifestyle habits for best health.  The following steps will improve your capacity to adopt more personalized changes with ease and will not have any harmful side effects by practicing without guidance. 

What these sciences both advocate is that health and vitality are no longer at the mercy of external factors but an inner power that we can cultivate for ourselves. You will always know your center, how to maintain your connection to it and how you can keep topping up when life pushes you off kilter.

So are you ready to get started? WARNING: These steps are very simple but very potent. 
Don't let the simplicity and ease fool you. If you can do them for an entire season, you will be ready to take on deeper practices taught at Seva. Are you ready? You must promise to do these daily. Like brushing your teeth. Here they are:

1.     HYDRATION - Upon waking drink 2 litres of warm water. Water rehydrates your organs and gets the toxic waste moving in the right direction.

2.     TONGUE SCRAPING - Gently scraping the white coating off the tongue each morning promotes better oral hygiene. You will also enhance your taste faculty improving your choice in foods.

3.     NASAL RINSE – As a Yoga practitioner you need access to both your nostrils for best breath practice. Nasal rinsing clears the mucosal bacteria and dirt from the sinus cavity that not only helps with an improved sense of smell but your ability to manage your energy better. Your alertness, mood, appetite, speech depends greatly on the rhythm and quality of your breath. When your nasal passage is clear you feel clear minded and make better choices throughout the day. You will dream more frequently, that will aid in clearing subconscious mind clutter.

4.     EAT TIMELY - Eat your heaviest meal at 12 and an early dinner by 7pm. Besides eating high quality foods, eating at the incorrect time is a bigger cause for imbalance. Even if you feel you have a high metabolic rate (I hear this one a lot) eating at the wrong times will put digestive organs under strain. All the undigested food will sit in the digestive tract becoming toxic waste that will weaken your digestive fire. This is a cause for much of your mental lethargy, stress and long term health issues.

5.     QUALITY REST – Yoga practices help with rejuvenating the body and mind’s fatigue and prepare your body to sleep well. But to have optimum energy in waking hours, without losing focus, or needing to caffeinate, wake up before sunrise and don’t stay up past 10pm. The energy before sunrise in nature increases peace of mind, and adds freshness to the 5 senses. Getting 8 hours of sleep will provide adequate physical rest and improved mental energy.

6.     DAILY JOURNALING – Journaling your thoughts in a prescribed context like maintaining a Meditation / Yoga / Pranayama Practice can benefit in becoming better at what habits you are practicing. Journaling has science backing its benefits on the mind and body and proves to be a highly effective habit for self-awareness and making highly informed decisions. You can read my blog article on "5 benefits of keeping a yoga journal" for the benefits.

So, there you have it. The 6 science backed highly effective habit building steps for anyone wanting to generate higher levels of health and energy, for a better performing Body and Mind right away. 

Supriya Roy (Adv. Dip Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Founder of Seva Yoga)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Adulting - Could we do it another way?

On the very first day of our Beginner’s Yoga Course, we sit in an open circle and introduce ourselves. We share our personal big why for starting Yoga now. When asked what self-care looks like for each person, many (surprisingly) smirk and share “I showered before I came today” or “Went to the beach last summer and that felt good” and “sleeping in whenever I can” is a popular response.
Some are hilarious to hear and hard to believe but it is a big reality for many working, parenting, highly committed and very dependable adults these days. There are many reasons why Self-care is not a conscious item on our To-Do lists and one major reason research has found is the person’s unconscious belief system on achieving success.
Have you recently asked yourself how success feels and looks for you? What might you eat, think, feel and act like if you were successful? How close are you to feeling like the best version of yourself? Do you regularly stop and check-in on how you are feeling? 
Many adults believe sacrificing attention to their own wellbeing is a greater demonstration of their love and commitment to others. Although self-sacrificial, this is how majority of us train ourselves to be “better performing" people in our careers and personal lives. Albeit, mostly unconsciously, this way of thinking also becomes a major reason for failure in performance and enjoyment of success in life.
Self-care is probably commonly associated with signing up to a gym to get "stronger", eating healthy to keep "extra weight off" or enjoying a remedial massage for "pain relief". However self-care is a lot less reactive to health problems, and concerns more with the person’s current state of being. Self-care in fact does not worry about the look, but it delivers better physiology, greater mental clarity and self-awareness that helps navigate through stressful experiences of life. It helps us generate positive states in mind and body to enable better or best overall performance and enjoy the successes of life on a long term scale. Self-care is a tool for perpetual wellness.
If this resonates with you, and you are ready to learn how, we have some useful tips for you to get started right now. We want you to go to the gym and the day spa and we also recommend you spend 10minutes every hour of your day to stop and notice your breath. If you notice that you’re breathing through your chest alone, shallowly and fast we recommend you do this: 1. Sit up straight, 2. Relax your shoulders, 3.Take very slow and long breaths using your abdomen and chest. 4. Mentally say “I am relaxing”.
Do this for 10 minutes every hour of your day for at least 3 days in a row. And check back with us to let us know how you went. One of the fundamental pillars of a Yoga practice is consciously taking deeper breaths giving immense benefits to all its students.
So, self-care ultimately boils down to taking small steps to develop lifelong skills which give you time and energy back with greater appreciation for what really matters. With regularity, each time you practice your self-care routine, you create a perpetual change toward positive emotions and a physiology that gives you a sense of success, regularly and naturally. 
Here at Seva, service begins with service to ourselves. 
Supriya Roy (Adv. Dip Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Founder of Seva Yoga)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

5 Benefits of Keeping a Yoga Journal

Your yoga journalling will be of most benefit if you keep it timely and spend no more than 20 minutes a day. If you are curious about what it takes to start, you can start with 1 x A5 sheet of paper and a pen. 

You don’t need to be good at spelling or grammar. In your Yoga journal you will write specifically about your practice experiences. Take my practice journal as an example and you would find pictures, stickers, scribbles, random words, sentences, poetry and even letters through the year’s experiences. So don’t think you’re limited to just pen on paper.

A Yoga journal is like your very private, open green field, and you can run on it however you like with your pen. It’s your time, and space for you to write about anything you like. At the end of this article you can find a guided journal entry page, to help you track your yoga practice, if you should want to use it, like many of my private clients and students do.

Right now I want to touch on WHY I recommend you keep a practice journal for your yoga journey.

So, there are HEALTH BENEFITS to it, Yes! You get to own free space to dump the load of your brain and it’s very good for your overall health! Okay I’ll get to the scientific findings on it:
“University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker argues that regular journalling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research also indicate that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events help you come to terms with them, acting as a stress management tool, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on physical health.” – Purcell, 2018

With all due respect to research and the science of journalling though, I have personally benefited from it and now use it as a therapeutic tool with my private clients. My intention is to reduce their stress, connect them to their mind and body, and increase their capacity to understand their own potential in achieving their wellbeing goals backed by evidence.

The top 5 benefits I would like to highlight are:

1)      Improved Self-Awareness – If you’re thinking that someone else has the answers about what makes you special and the best person to be around. You need to get in touch with the person inside of you and see how much s/he knows about you. Journalling offers a chance to reveal to us our real emotions, opinions, views about how we individually perceive our experiences. You might be shocked to see how wonderfully wise or different you are and how valuable your standpoint really is for the life you are wanting to live. Journalling your real thoughts will help expose your false beliefs and give you a closer look at how the most important person sees you - Yourself. The better your self-awareness the higher your chances to change what you don’t like.

2)     Expose the Censors  – When journalling your practice, you gain a different perspective on how you are being. As in are you engaging with your experience or does your engagement waiver from time to time? And why? You can write down your deepest fears, what triggers you to hold back or perhaps you feel sensations you’ve never felt before? Write down what you are finding inside of your body, and you will get to know your actual strengths and barriers are toward making change happen.

3)      Up your Self-Care – While Yoga itself is a part of your self-care routine, the journal is a sacred tool to discovering new goals, inspirations, and identifying your personal hardships and most importantly uncovering your true needs. You are your main carer and possibly for another 5 people who need you and your energy for their life to function properly. To best serve those you love, don’t you think meeting your own needs has to come first? Truth is most of the times self-care is at the bottom of the to-do list for any person leading an average life. But if you’re looking to live life more vibrantly, you need to up your self-care. Having a journal with your very personal needs list actually is the ULTIMATE best step. It will help you make sure you get your actual needs met. As we say it here at Seva, small steps create big changes.

4)      Solve Problems Effectively – For a very long while I recorded the number of classes I took per week, how I felt after each class and what I wanted to heal in my life. And one day when I looked back at my practice journal entries for the past 6 months, I found a tonne of personal data about WHY I could never maintain my engagement through a 90 minute class. The problems were clear to track, and I was able to take accountability for my own shortcomings. I saw that I had to learn to relax more and stop trying to blame it things outside of myself. You too can track your journey and have a place to gather data from to solve actual problems.

5)      Gain Clarity- The act of setting some time to contemplate a subject matter is a meditative act. My practice journal has been hands down one of the best companion tools to progress my meditation practice. When you write down everything that is sitting in your mind, this itself is so therapeutic and freeing and with that extra space in your mind, you hold a powerful chance to shift the needle of your life to wherever it is you are meant to be going.

Print these questions, and write down the answers in your journal anytime you take a class or do anything Yoga related. This includes reading a book, listening to a podcast, taking a developmental workshop, masterclass, course or retreat. Once you’ve answered those, use the rest of the page to free write about anything else that you felt like writing down. Don’t dismiss thoughts or questions you had come up in your awareness – write them all down. The space is all yours, so let it FLOW out of you! Free that Mind Up! 

Date & Time of class:______________

1.       Rate your engagement from 1 to 5 (1 = disconnected, 3 = semi-engaged, 5 = connected):            1            2            3            4            5

2.     Type of Class taken: _______________

3.     Write down 3 main observations of your experience like mood, energy, motivation and limitations: _______________________________________________________________             

I hope this article has touched on something of value to you. I’d love to hear about your experience, thoughts and feedback about keeping a Practice Journal. All Seva Yoga courses recommend purposeful practice journaling and it has been a wonderful tool of self-inquiry, self-awareness and evolution for many of our advancing students.

     Supriya Roy (Adv. Dip Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Founder of Seva Yoga)

APA Reference
Purcell, M. (2018). The Health Benefits of Journaling. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/