The Lazy Woman’s (and Man’s) Guide to Yoga: An Interview with Taylore Daniel

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Hi Taylore! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. We see your book, “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Yoga”, as a wonderful resource for caregivers. Caregivers often struggle to find time for self-care. Your pose suggestions can be done anywhere, anytime. Not only does yoga help ease sore muscles, it can help caregivers feel better emotionally so they can support their loved ones and take care of themselves.

Can you tell us about what inspired you to write the book “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Yoga?”

Well, there’s a lot of people who’d like to do yoga, but at the same time, yoga can feel intimidating and inconvenient. It usually involves a one-hour class outside the home. It involves floorwork, a change of clothes, a teacher, and poses that might feel strange or risky. So what inspired me to write this book was the desire to help people practice yoga in an easy, effortless way that fits their schedule, can be done sitting on a chair at home or out and about doing errands… no floorwork, special attire or teacher required.

How has yoga changed your life?

Yoga has been a part of my life since I was a child, when I took my mom’s Hatha Yoga book off the shelf and began going through it page by page, copying the poses. Throughout my life, there’s been times I’ve practiced yoga regularly. And other times, not. When it’s a regular part of my life, I feel strong, my joints are supple, I feel energetic and grounded. When I fail to practice, I begin to feel creaky, puffy and a little sluggish. There’s a direct relationship between yoga and quality of life, and the older I get the more direct this relationship becomes. 

Could you recommend a pose that helps give people energy first thing in the morning?

A fabulous energizing move in the morning is what I call “flying.” Simply put, raise and lower your arms at your sides, as if you were a bird. Moving our arms above our head pumps blood and oxygen to our brain, increasing alertness and clarity. As well, it loosens up and revitalizes the arms, shoulders and back, and gets the spinal fluid flowing through our body and lubricating our joints. Not to mention, this flowing move feels absolutely wonderful. (And it can even be done while you’re watching television or reading email.)

How about one for winding down in the evening?

A great way to wind down in the evening is with the breath. When we exhale longer than we inhale, our entire nervous system begins to calm. Inhaling slowly to a count of 2, and exhaling to a count of 4, you will almost instantly sense your shoulders relaxing, the muscles of your jaw and forehead becoming softer, your mind quieting. Feel the breath reach right down into the belly and your whole body will begin to relax.

I love the chapter in your book on tapping! It’s not something I’ve heard about often when reading about yoga. What would you say to someone who’s hesitant about trying it?

Using our fingertips, the palm of our hand, or a loose fist to gently and softly tap our limbs, our backs, our stomach or any other part of our body is a safe and effective practice that releases physical tension and knots. Try it right now, and see how it feels. It’s effortless and can be done anywhere, whether it’s behind the wheel of your car or waiting in a line up. Tapping also brings fresh oxygen and blood to the skin, so has the effect of giving us a lift.

An inevitable part of the caregiving journey is grief. Are there any yoga or tapping exercises that are especially good for coping with loss or changes of a loved one? 

As well as releasing physical tensions and knots, tapping relieves emotional stresses like grief, loss and anxiety. One effective tapping exercise is to, first of all, identify where the feeling of grief is located in your body. Is it your throat? Chest? Stomach? Once you’ve located where in your body the feeling sits, softly tap that spot with the pads of your fingers. You’ll find this simple exercise emotionally soothing, calming and nurturing.

Finally, what would you say to someone who tells you, “Yoga is not for me.”

When someone says, “Yoga isn’t for me,” I get it. There can be a sense of insurmountable obstacles with any new practice, including yoga. “Where will I find the time?” “What if I can’t sit on the floor in lotus position?” “What if I don’t live near a yoga studio?”

The main reason I wrote “The Lazy Woman’s (and Man’s) Guide to Yoga” is to make yoga so effortless and convenient that anyone can practice it, whether there’s time issues, mobility issues, or motivation issues. The key is to simply begin where you’re at, taking a moment here and there, seated comfortably or standing, at home or in the midst of running errands. The benefits from even a few seconds of yoga throughout your day are immeasurable.

Do you have anything else to add?

Thanks so much Cassandra for your great questions! They were thoughtful and practical, and I really appreciate you taking the time to ask.

Thank you so much, Taylore!

 

Taylore Daniel is a yoga teacher and personal trainer. “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Yoga” and “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Yoga” are at Amazon.ca/com, Banyen Books, and other Vancouver bookshops. www.tayloredaniel.com

The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Yoga” and “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Yoga” is at Amazon.ca/com, Banyen Books, and other local Vancouver bookshops. Visit Taylore at www.tayloredaniel.com

 

 

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Mental Health First Aid Course

What follows is a review of a course I took from CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) this month.

Mental Health First Aid is described as : “providing comfort and assistance to a person experiencing a mental health issue or crisis until the person gets professional help or the crisis is resolved.”

There is a great need for this as: “In Canada one person in five will experience some problem with their mental health in the course of a year and… one person in three  will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime.”

A  Mental Health Commission of Canada study estimates mental health problems cost the economy $50 billion in the cost of direct services and lost productivity in 2011.

Added to this is the fact that mental illness most likely strikes people during their most productive years (25 yrs to 44 yrs).

The course, which takes two full days, covers:

  1. Substance-related disorders
  2. Mood-related disorders
  3. Anxiety and trauma-related disorders
  4. Psychotic disorders

And what of the future of mental health?

By 2020, WHO (World Health Organization) anticipates that depression will be the leading cause of disability for all ages and sexes in developed countries.

As there are 8.1 million caregivers in Canada (1 in 4 Canadians), the stress they endure is likely to have a major impact on mental health, so courses like these are essential.

All the more reason to practice good self-care.  Stay tuned for blog posts on resilience, and also some very cool mental health websites coming out of Australia.

Calm Pond

Moving from isolation to connection: Give when it hurts

When we talk to teenagers about giving back to the community through volunteerism, we run through all the obvious benefits: building a resume, learning employable skills, getting a letter of reference for future work and scholarship opportunities. But why should older adults volunteer? When I chat with seniors in our community, some latch onto the idea that volunteering is best left to the kids; after all they are energetic and have lots of time. While this may or may not be the case, I am always quick to remind them that seniors who volunteer in the community may not need to ensure they have a job reference anymore, but they probably do want ensure a more connected and less lonely future.

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When I think of the seniors I know who are also caregivers in the community, those who give unconditionally often at the expense of their own health, I wonder where they fit into this discussion. Family caregivers suffer an especially acute form of isolation and loneliness after years of caring for a loved one, one that is often coupled with fatigue and burnout. They are tired. The idea of doing more is ill-making. It is true, that when we’re in the midst of the crisis, adding to our workload isn’t wise.  That said, for some caregivers, an opportunity to connect in a different context is also an opportunity to break out of the isolation and might just help to establish their own social safety net.

Volunteering might just be the best inoculation against isolation we have

The seniors who volunteer with us don’t come because they are passionate about making coffee litres at a time. They don’t arrive because washing dishes is their favourite pastime or reading to a child is their long- lost calling. They come because when they are here, they are known and appreciated. They connect with friends and neighbours for an hour or two and they get caught up on one another’s lives. When they take this small action they are breaking out of that vacuum of isolation. For caregivers, this type of volunteering might be thought of as respite in motion.

Give an hour to stave off loneliness

 Some of our volunteers come to us newly widowed looking for a way to move on, often paralyzed with grief. Some move into the community to be closer to family and don’t know a soul, while others have children and grandchildren and friends who have moved away and are less reachable. Whatever the reason, all of them are living with the growing awareness that with aging comes a new kind of loneliness they may not have anticipated just a few years earlier when life felt busy and over-full. However, for seniors who give even a few hours once a month, new friendships with people having similar experiences is a welcome gift. So often we see how these connections become a network of support:  our volunteers notice each other’s absences and changes in health and are quick to check in on each other’s well-being. Bonds are forged through service and coffee cups that sustain these friends and neighbours through the ups and downs that life brings.

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The hardest part is showing up

Many of us count ourselves out of volunteering because we are certain that we have no skill or ability that could possibly be of help. Maybe we are new to the country and English is not our first language. Some of us are afraid of the unknown, afraid of not fitting in, of not having fun or not getting it right. I promise you there is something for everyone in all sorts of community organizations across the North Shore. If you haven’t volunteered before, or you haven’t in a while, consider this your invitation to try.

-Erin Smith

Erin is the Manager of Seniors’ Services at Parkgate Community Services Society in North Vancouver. The thoughts and opinions in this article come from her own experience and hope while working in community.

You can contact Erin or learn more about programs at the vibrant Parkgate Centre here:  esmith@myparkgate.com
www.myparkgate.com

7 Tips for dealing with change

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Here are 7 helpful steps to dealing with change, brought to you by an Australian mental health website:

  1. Ask yourself: What’s the worst thing that can happen?
  2. Ask yourself how much you can control (when a big change occurs, it’s important to consider how much control over the situation you really have)
  3. Accept and reframe: accept that there are things beyond your control, being comfortable with that fact will bring greater peace and comfort.
  4. Celebrate the positives. The positive aspects of the situation may not seem obvious, but you can seek them out.
  5. If the unwanted change is within your control, take an active approach to dealing with it.  Develop action plans.
  6. Manage your stress. Practice mindfulness or meditation, or engage in other relaxation techniques.
  7. Seek support: it is perfectly normal to seek support if the change you’re facing is really big. There are always others in similar situations and professionals available to help.

Finally, my own little piece of wisdom: “the only constant is change.”

It also helps to conjure up the image of a mountain: though many storms may fall on the mountain it endures, it always  endures.

Be well,

Calm Pond

How to Practice Self-Care in 5 Minutes

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You might be feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders today. You’re trying to run more errands than you have time for and you just remembered you forgot that important thing you were supposed to do last week. Maybe you’ve been swallowing some tough emotions and haven’t been able to connect with that person in your life who’s a wonderful listener. Practicing self-care might be the last thing on your mind.

Do you have 5 minutes to spare? Just 5.

Click here for a list of 98 ways to practice self-care in 5 minutes or less, or try any of the following suggestions. How did you feel after?

STRETCH | Stand up and raise your arms slowly over your head. Roll your head from side to side. Interested in yoga but not sure you have time? Read The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Yoga to learn how to practice yoga anywhere, anytime!

MEDITATE | Try this 5 minute guided meditation.

DANCE | Put on a song you love and let loose!

CALL A FRIEND | Sometimes when we’re having a tough day, what we need most is to connect. Pick up your phone and call someone who always makes you smile. If you can’t get a hold of them, leave a message and tell them you’d love to talk soon.

How do you practice self-care in 5 minutes or less? We’d love to hear from you in our comments!

Cassandra Van Dyck

3 Non-Traditional Energy Drinks

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When you’re tired and having trouble getting through your day, you might be tempted to reach for a big cup of coffee, or, if you’re really fading, an store-bought energy drink. You know the ones – they’re fizzy and taste sort of like pop, but have a medicinal undertone. These drinks are highly caffeinated and often contain loads of sugar and other ingredients that might not be the best for your health. They give you the boost of energy you’re looking for, but you could end up feeling worse in the long run. Energy drinks have been known to cause headaches, anxiety, and to disturb sleep.

With all that’s on a caregiver’s plate, it’s common for fatigue to creep in. So, what should you reach for when you’re feeling a dip in energy but still need to get some things done? Here are 3 suggestions.

WATER | Sometimes when you’re tired, you’re really just thirsty. Ask yourself how much water you’ve had today. Fill up and drink a glass or two, then reevaluate your energy levels. Not a fan of water? Add lemons, cucumber, or berries for a delicious infusion!

SMOOTHIE | If you’re feeling tired and craving a boost, your body could be telling you that you need some fuel. A smoothie packed with nutritious ingredients is a great way to get some nutrients and give your body some lasting energy. Avoid adding too much sugar if you want to prevent a crash. I love this recipe by Carley Mendes.

MATCHA | If you’re an avid coffee drinker but you’re not crazy about how you feel after drinking a late afternoon cup, consider matcha. Matcha still contains caffeine, but less than coffee. It can be heated and whisked in to water or milk and mixed with sweetener for a delicious take on a latte. Click here for a recipe.

What do you do when you’re tired and need some energy? We’d love to hear from you in our comments!

Cassandra Van Dyck

Review of: ‘They can’t find anything wrong!’

What do you do when you feel ill, and go to the doctor, but all the tests come out normal?  In his book ‘They can’t find anything wrong! : 7 Keys to understanding, treating, and healing illness’, Dr. David D. Clarke (Sentient, 2007) addresses just that issue.

Here are some things you need to know if you find yourself in that situation:

  1. The 5 Types of Stress:
  • childhood stress
  • stress occurring now
  • stress from a traumatic event
  • depression
  • anxiety disorders

2. Next here are the 7 keys:

  • understand that your symptoms can be diagnosed and treated
  • search for the sources of stress
  • care for yourself
  • get better by writing
  • employ appropriate therapies
  • overcome resistance
  • become the person you were always meant to be

Here is something you might like to try:

Make a Hero Award for Yourself:

Before you make the Hero Award, it is sometimes useful to list every difficulty you’ve endured. Put the card where you will see it every day. Keep the card until you no longer need it as a reminder.  Keep it for years or as long as you need it. (I made my Hero Card on an ordinary index card using coloured pencils.)

It may be helpful to write a letter to a parent that caused you stress.  You can write it to an imaginary child that could have gone through the same stress as you did, and comfort that child.

Here’s more advice from Dr Clarke:

Take 5 hours per week for personal self-care.  Many people find it helps to leave the house during this time so you don’t get distracted by unfinished work.

For more info, consult Dr. Clarke’s website

Take good care,

Calm Pond

A Loving Kindness Guided Meditation

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How was your holiday weekend? You might be feeling tired today, or perhaps a little stressed. Holidays and dinners can be fun and relaxing, but they can also feel stressful and involve a lot of work! Today is a great day for a little self-care. 

Have you tried loving kindness meditation?

Read all about it here. 

Set aside 20 minutes for yourself today. Create a space in your home that you find calming and peaceful. Make a cup of tea, or if you have some extra time, run a hot bath. Once you’re comfortable, take a comfortable seat, and try this guided meditation.

 

Cassandra Van Dyck

3 Ways to Build Resilience

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“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and and belonging.” – Brene Brown

How do you react when times get tough?

Your loved one’s health is declining. You have a growing to-do list and feel that you have no support. Money is tight. You’re having trouble finding respite. You’re having a hard time getting enough sleep. 

There are so many stressful situations and obstacles that come with your caregiving role that are not within your control. Although you can’t always prevent tough situations from occurring, you can decide how to respond to them.

The ability to recover and respond to a challenging situation is called resilience. Some people seem to have it in spades, while others struggle to bounce back from setbacks. Your ability to be resilient is based on lots of things – the way you were raised, your unique disposition, and your current challenges. Some days you might feel very resilient, and others you think you can’t handle one more thing. You might be going through a particularly hard time because of recent changes or challenges. There are a lot variables.

No matter where you’re at, there are things that you can do to boost your resiliency. Read on for 3 suggestions.

CRY | No, really. Remember that resiliency does not mean that you are not effected by the tough things that are happening in your life. You do not need to shut out emotions or pretend that everything is okay when you  feel underneath that it is not. In fact, doing so can make things worse. It is important to be able to express emotions and to be able to reach out for help when you need it. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back; it is not the denial of emotions. Resiliency requires vulnerability. The better you are able to experience and feel tough emotions, the easier you will be able to move on from them and reach out for support.

CONNECT | Who do you call when you need to talk? If they’re not available, who’s your back up? Try creating a plan for yourself to refer to when you feel that you’ve reached the end of your rope. Write a list or create a map of your support network. Add family, friends, professionals, and network groups. Resiliency does not mean going it alone. Having support when you need it will help you to work through hardships so you can move forward.

PRACTICE SELF-CARE | We talk about self-care a lot, and for good reason! You cannot expect to respond to challenging situations with resiliency if you are not taking care of yourself. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. Make time do the things that you love.

Cassandra Van Dyck

3 Tiny Indulgences

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Practicing self-care does not, and should not, cost money. 

This is important to remember, to share, and to practice. Although many practitioners offer valuable services, self-care is often marketed to the public by companies and individuals to make money. Self-care can and should be practiced by all caregivers so that you are giving yourself the same care and attention that you give to your loved ones. For some tips on practising self-care, click here. 

Every now and then, however, it can be nice to spend a small amount of money and indulge in tiny indulgences that makes you smile and relax.

Here are three ideas:

FOOT OR CHAIR MASSAGE | If you would like to relax, search your neighbourhood for practitioners that offer foot reflexology or chair massage. The cost of these services tends to be less, and deals can often be found on groupon.

PASTRY AND A WARM DRINK | There are so many cafes on the North Shore, and for under $5, you should be able to purchase a delicious treat and drink. If you’re worried about the price, opt for drip coffee or a cup of tea. Carve out an hour to sit at the coffee shop and read a book or a newspaper, write in a journal, or do nothing but enjoy your treat.

SAUNA OR HOT TUB |Drop-in to a local rec centre and spend some time in the sauna or hot tub. It should cost no more than $6 to spend a couple of hours relaxing and rejuvenating.

What sorts of tiny indulgences do you splurge on? We’d love to hear from you in our comments!

 

Cassandra Van Dyck