Posts

EX-HALE your way to Relaxation…

How about if we all had a certain magical power within us? A magical power which can ease stress and tension, reduce anxiety and make many of life’s stresses feel manageable… Oh wait – we do! Our own breath is a hugely powerful resource which many of us can learn to tap into very simply and with incredible results.

As yogis have known for centuries—and, as medical science is beginning to discover—the breath has amazing recuperative powers. By controlling the breath (a practice called Pranayama), the yogis found, they could alter their state of mind.

Not all breaths are created equal. A great, simple breathing exercise for calming both the nervous system and the overworked mind is a timed breath where the exhale is longer than the inhale. When your exhale is even a few counts longer than your inhale, the vagus nerve (running from the neck down through the diaphragm) sends a signal to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system and turn down your sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system commands your fight or flight response, and when that fires, your heart rate and breathing increases, and stress hormones like cortisol start pumping through your bloodstream, preparing your body to face the threat. If the threat is, “A lion is chasing me and I need to run for my life” this is helpful. If the threat is, “I am late for work” this is not a particularly valid threat, and in fact it can be damaging to the other systems of the body.

The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, controls your rest, relax, and digest responses. When the parasympathetic system is dominant, your breathing slows, your heart rate drops, your blood pressure lowers as the blood vessels relax, and your body is put into a state of calm and healing.

Here’s how to Ex-hale your way to Relaxation:
1* To begin, sit still and tall somewhere comfortable. Close your eyes and being breathing through your nose.

2* Inhale for a count of 1. Hold the breath in for a count of 1 and exhale gently, counting out for 4… and finish by holding the breath out for a count of 1. Keep your breathing even and smooth.

3* If the 2-4 count feels too short try increasing the breath lengths to 4 in and 6 out, or 6 in and 8 out, and so on. But if longer breaths create any anxiety there is no need to push yourself. The most important thing is that the exhale is longer than the inhale, not the absolute length of the breath.

Namaste! x

The art of staying cool…

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” (Rudyard Kipling.

By choosing a yogic way of life, we choose to live by certain principles. As one season flows into another, we look at those changes and with a slight shift of our techniques and practise – we commit to keeping our bodies and minds fit and adapting to the changes.

We asked the team here at Ibiza Retreats and here are our favourites.

#1: Breathe yourself cooooool…  Sheetali pranayama:
1. Stick your tongue out and curl the sides of the tongue upward towards the center of the tongue.
2. Breathe in through the mouth, hold the breath and slowly exhale through the nose.
Repeat five to 10 times.
You’ll find your body temperature cooling down.

#2: Stay hydrated – water is life! 
Our bodies are over 80% fluid… we need to keep it this way. Drink plenty of fluids. If you find plain water difficult to swallow – make thirst quenchers with added flavour (and nutrients!). why not try:
* A squeeze of lemon & fresh mint
* Pomegranate and grapefruit – the sweet and sharp is super refreshing
* Fresh Coconuts including the delicious juicy flesh are nature’s best way to hydrate
* Fresh mint tea – just hot water and fresh mint – then cool it and ice it!

#3: Slow flow yoga
* Adapt your usual flow to the change in temperature. Focus on lengthening your breathing and practice gently and meditatively to balance the mind and body
* Practise these very early or later than usual when it’s cooled down.
* Avoid excessive or overly-strenuous asanas when it’s extremely hot. Or even more reason to practise earlier or later if you need your strong practise. Be kind though to your body!

#4: East Consciously
* Don’t rush – take your time over your food and set time aside to avoid putting undue stress of your digestive system and organs.
* Reduce the spicy food, caffeine and sugar which can all stimulate the systems of the body
* Fatty food ensures the heart and digestive system have to work harder, so go light with your food. Salads, fresh veg are abundant this time of year and are perfect stay-cool foods.
* Yoghurt (dairy free if possible) is a wonderful sweet or savoury stay-cool snack. Easy to digest and cooling as you swallow. x

#5: Our absolute favourite – Viparita Karani
So many of our Clients find peace in this beautiful posture and we swear by it! After a long day – especially when it’s hot, it’s so important to calm the systems of the body down – including the mind!

Basically – the translation of Viparita Karani is “legs up the wall”.  We call it “legs up the wall (or anywhere else we can find)”. This pose helps the old blood and lymph fluid drain from the feet as well as asking gravity to help the heart return the blood back to be oxygenated. It also calms our old friends the adrenals.

Cover your eyes with an eye-bag sprinkled with a few drops of lavender oil. Add a blanket or bolster under your sacrum to really give the kidneys some love. This pose can be done anywhere, yet soft music and low lighting can add to the soothing experience.

Namaste…x