September 2020 – Melinda VanKirk
Finding Balance – Reduce Your Anxiety and Depression

Finding Balance – Reduce Your Anxiety and Depression

Balance – Reduce Your Anxiety and Depression with One Simple Practice

Balance is my focus this week.  By definition, it means “to bring into harmony or proportion” (merriam-webster.com).  How am I working on finding balance?  Right now, I am focusing on one simple practice – a morning walk into the rising sun.

It seems so easy to fall out of balance in our lives, with emotional changes, environmental changes, and physical changes that we experience every day.  Our world is one of anxiety and stress – which is ironic considering we have so many things to make life easier right at our fingertips.

The reality is, we are impacted by a lack of connection in our world. Our phones, computers, and tablets are tools designed to connect us to the world, but can often exacerbate that feeling of disconnection.  Literally, our physical human connection is impaired – how often do you look at someone else when your phone is in your hand?  What do you notice yourself doing instead of talking to the person sitting next to you?  (I am guilty of this too – so please know there is no judgment here, just self-observation.)  The pandemic has amped up these feelings more than ever – there is so much discord, violence, isolationism – we all feel it.

(Click here to learn more about my personal journey.)

Balance
Balance

So I ask you to reflect on your own feelings

“What can I do to regain balance and find connection in my life?”

When you find balance within yourself, you can reduce your anxiety, fear, and stress.  You can be a better person for everyone and everything else in your life.

Finding balance allows us to show-up more for our families, our friends, our neighbors, and even those we have never met.  Finding balance within our world begins by finding it within yourself.

One Simple Practice to Find Balance, Reduce Anxiety, and Help with Depression

Balance
Balance Zen Tower

Walking into the Rising Sun

Four Tips on Building This Habit

 

Recently I began a new wellness adventure in my life.  In May, I began seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner, and have been slowly changing my lifestyle to live a healthier life through my daily habits.

If you aren’t familiar with Ayurveda, it is the sister science to yoga (founded in many of the same principles) and literally translates to “knowledge of life.” Ayurveda focuses on the idea that a healthy lifestyle can restore balance and good health.  It connects the mind, body, and spirit with our environment – much as our yoga practice does.

(To learn more about Ayurveda,  you can read more in this in-depth article from the Chopra Center.)

Each week I am working on adding a new habit to my life, and I wanted to share this week’s habit, as it has greatly improved my feelings of anxiety and depression, even in the short amount of time I have been actioning it.

This habit is simple – Walking towards the rising sun.  

As the sun rises in the morning hours, take a short walk facing the sun. This can be a great time for your morning meditation – leave your devices behind, and notice the sounds of nature around you.  Reconnect with the earth, feeling the ground under your feet.  Find your roots, your balance, and allow the energy of the sun to fill you with joy and gratitude.

^

Start Small

This practice can be done in just minutes a day.  Decide that for 2 minutes a day you are going to take a walk in the morning towards the sun.  Committing to 2 minutes a day makes it easier, and won’t aggravate your stress levels. (If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up either!  Remember, this practice is to REDUCE anxiety.)  You can build the length of your walk from there, and grow the habit as you like – if you have 10 minutes, maybe that will be the key amount of time for you.  This is your practice, and you will find what works best.  No right or wrong here – as you are unique, and what works for someone else may not work for you.

^

Set a Habit Trigger for Yourself

For example, setting your walking clothes out the night before.  Or maybe you work it into your day right before your morning coffee – figure out what works for you, and find how you can be consistent in your practice.  Write it down, set a reminder – put it in your phone or calendar – where does this fit into your schedule?  Even if you are at work early, take a break when you in the morning to take your 2 minute walk outside.  Maybe it’s just before you go into the office and you are in the parking lot – what a great way to de-stress before you tackle the day!

^

Make this a Nourishing Practice

As you walk towards the sun, appreciate the sun, nature, and draw in it’s energy for your day. 

^

Make this practice one of enjoyment!

The whole point of this exercise is to reduce stress, so be easy on yourself as you begin to develop the habit.  Aim for 80% of your days – but maybe start with 20%.  It is most important to take things one day at a time and work towards automation.  

Learn More About Creative Souls

Interested in our content?  Learn more about Melinda and what we are all about.

Transitioning Into Fall – Balancing Vata

Transitioning Into Fall – Balancing Vata

Transitioning Into Fall – Balancing Vata

As we begin transitioning into Fall, and out of the heat of Summer, you may find yourself feeling “off” or out of balance.  As the temperatures drop, the days get shorter, and the air becomes dry, we often find ourselves in a state of flux.  

Personally I have been having some difficulty transitioning to this new season.  As much as I love Fall, I find myself out of balance almost always during a seasonal change.  Odd sleep cycles, vivid dreams, and poor digestion have been the result of my body needing to make changes in order to come back into balance.

What are you Experiencing?

Take a moment and think about how your body has been reacting to the seasonal change.  Has your sleep been interrupted lately? Have you been having lucid dreams or waking up at odd hours? How about your digestion – is it poor? If so, you may be experiencing an imbalance, which could be caused by this change in seasons.

Transitioning Into Fall
Transitioning Into Fall
Transitioning Into Fall

Combatting the Fall Transition –  Finding Balance through Yoga

One way to combat this transition into the Fall season is through your asana yoga practice.  Grounding, strengthening poses and repetition will help balance the body, and challenging poses heat the body and release mental tension.  Twists make space in the body – physically flushing out the old and making space for the new.

Challenge yourself!  Forget your ego – forget about if you can “nail it” and experiment with some challenging postures.  It’s all just playtime – falling out of a pose can be fun, and laughter is always the best remedy for stress.

Come join me in a class to try out some fun and playful peak poses.  

Tips to Help the Seasonal Transition into Fall

Transitioning Into Fall

Seasonal Change and Yoga – what do they have to do with each other?

Read this detailed guide for the Ayurvedic perspective –

Banyan Botanicals Fall Guide

Seasonal changes are directly linked to our bodies’ sense of balance.  Yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, helps us work through these imbalances in our lives.

As we begin Transitioning into Fall you may have noticed some changes happening around you – in Ayurveda, we are moving from the heat of Summer, or Pitta season, to the cooler, drier temperatures of Vata season. We are now in this time of transition where the hot temperatures give way to cool, dry air, and unpredictable changes in the weather.  Vata season is governed by the air element, and just like Fall, Vata holds these qualities – cool, dry, windy.  This change in season can cause us to become out of balance, which impacts us physically and mentally.

How Can You Stay Balanced with these changes?

According to the Chopra Center, “when too much Vata accumulates in the body and mind, the imbalance may manifest as physical or emotional disorders, including insomnia, dry skin, arthritis, constipation, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.”

If you are feeling any of these things, it may be time to pause, look at your eating and routine and make some changes.

See our tips for how to keep balanced this time of year.

^

Change up your diet to eat seasonally

Look for local fresh produce (organic when possible) and eat for the season.  Apples, squash, sweet potatoes – these are all great for this time of year.  Soups for dinner are a wonderful choice, as they are warming, oily, and comforting – the opposite of Vata.

^

Switch-Up Your Asana

Slow down your practice and get strong!  Use grounding poses to build strength, and introspective poses to help you reduce “monkey mind.”  Move fluidly and with intention, making your practice a moving meditation.  Check your ego at the door and tap into you.

^

Practice Grounding Breathwork

Practice balancing breathwork (pranayama) like alternate nostril breathing – Nadi Shodhana.  Click to see my video on my favorite version of this breathwork practice.

^

Nourish Your Senses

Dress for the weather – be careful to not get cold and dress appropriately.  Give yourself a daily warm oil massage after your shower (I love sweet almond oil with a drop or two of your favorite essential oil).  Clear-out your nasal passages with a Neti Pot, and even lubricate them with a dab of sesame oil.  Pay attention to your mood and be sure to take time for nourishing self-care practices.

How Yoga Can Help Creativity

How Yoga Can Help Creativity

The Link Between Yoga and Creativity

So you may be wondering what on earth yoga and creativity have to do with one another, and how yoga can help you become more creative.  Well you might be surprised how much yoga can help you tap into your intuition, overcome your fears, and step out of your comfort zone to open yourself to creativity and new possibilities.

 

Debunking the #1 Yoga Myth

Often the first thing I hear when I tell people I am a yoga teacher is, “I’m not flexible, so I am not very good at yoga.”  This statement makes me cringe every time I hear it.  Yoga is so much more than being flexible and getting into challenging poses.  It is so much more than the PHYSICAL practice, and really begins with the MENTAL practice.

 

Yes – I said mental – meaning MINDFULNESS. This term can mean many things to many people, but according to lexico.com, mindfulness is “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”  Yoga helps us activate mindfulness by drawing our awareness inwards and facing the inner shadows that hold us back in life.  

 

Yes, yoga includes physical postures and practice, but it also includes meditation and self-study. By combining all facets of yoga, you become more mindful, and tap into that creative part of yourself.  This is how yoga can help creativity.  The more you practice it, the more easily you can access it!  

How Yoga Taps into Creativity

As a creative being, how often are you afraid to tackle that new project, or take a chance on a new idea.  Are you afraid to move out of your comfort zone and take risks?  I live with this fear every day – and it can be crippling. It causes us to make choices that go against our own intuition to “play it safe.”  

 

Through yoga practice (mindfulness and physical practice) I find that I become less afraid to take that leap and follow my inner guide.  Simple acts of movement, meditation, and journaling are the most beneficial things I can do for myself each day. And I don’t need to spend hours of my time doing this either.  20 minutes a day in the morning can make a huge difference on my outlook for the day – feeling less stress, balanced, aware, and ready to take on the day.  

 

The feeling I receive from my yoga practice, whether I choose to do something creative that day or not, allows me to open up my mind to new possibilities.  There is scientific research on how meditation and breathing practices can improve your health – with the one undisputed outcome being that meditation increases focus. Just Google it and you can find multiple articles instantly on the many benefits of mindfulness and yoga (with science to back it up!).

Meditation

Ways to Start Your Day for Creative Inspiration

Here are some tips to get you started!

  • Start your day sitting in a quiet place.  Sit with a tall spine and close your eyes, or take a soft gaze onto the floor.  Now take a few long deep breaths and feel yourself become present in the moment.  If your mind starts to wander, draw your attention back to your breath.  

  • You can set an intention for your day, or use this time to draw inward.  If you have difficulty focusing, and you would like some specific guidance, feel free to use a meditation app or online video.  I absolutely love Calm and Headspace for their guided meditations.

  • Take 5 minutes to write down in a journal (or on a piece of paper) 3 things you are grateful for.  I do this every day and it helps lighten my spirit and feel good going into the day.  Set an intention or positive affirmation for yourself for the day – this may be something simple (like “I am at peace”), or a directive of how you would like to feel for the day (for example, “I release all fears and embrace my challenges with love”).  You can set a mantra for yourself as well, such as “I release self-doubt and trust in myself.”

  • Take 10 minutes to do some stretches to start your day.  Sign-up for our newsletter and receive a PDF for some stretches to creatively start your day!

Of course you can choose to take as much time as you like in any of these steps!  And if you don’t have time in the morning, try out your practice in the evening after work or before you sit down to do whatever creative activity you plan to work on for the day.

It’s also a great way to take a break from your work and de-stress and stretch out the body.

Painting

After Your Yoga Practice

If you have the time, I highly suggest getting started on any creative activity immediately after your morning practice. 

Set-up exactly what you want to work on creatively before you start your asana and yoga practice, so you can jump into your creative activity with enthusiasm and focus right after.  

Even if you only spend 10 minutes, having your supplies out and ready create an invitation for your creativity whenever you walk by.  It can be very restorative to sit for just a few minutes at a time and do some type of creative work – even just drawing lines or sketching ideas in your sketchbook to come back to later.

Every week I teach an online yoga class that will help you tap into your creativity called Vinyasa Flow for Creative Souls.  For more details go to my Schedule page. 

Happy creating!

Free Yoga Journey:

Find your Zen again -

"Rebalancing Self" Mini-course

 

Find your zen again with this mini-course including my daily breathwork practice, guided meditation, and simple stretches to start your day.

 

We will never share or sell your email address.

You have Successfully Subscribed!