Yoga Poses To Ease The Pain

Ease Your Back To School Anxiety With This Grounding Yoga Sequence And Mindfulness Meditation

Center your mind, body, and spirit in the midst of back to school chaos.

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The recent Fall Equinox marked the official transition from summer to fall. Fall is associated with change and transformation, and often, a heightened sense of anxiety. Beginning a new school year can feel stressful and de-stabilizing, and anxiety can quickly creep its way in.

Yoga is a practice that has physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits and can bring a sense of connectedness and calm when anxiety threatens to take over. Practicing a few simple yoga poses and a short meditation can transform your day by helping you feel more present and grounded. These yoga postures link movement to breath to warm up the body and prevent feelings of restlessness or fidgeting during the meditation. This routine is perfect for new yogis and first-time meditators!

These poses can be done sitting in your bed before getting up for the day or seated on a cushion or pillow.

1. Simple seated pose (Sanskirt: Sukhasana) 

Begin by sitting cross-legged with your palms facing downward on your knees. Take a moment here to bring some awareness to your body and your breath, without feeling like you need to change anything. Gently stretch your neck by drawing the right ear down to your right shoulder, come back up to center, and then reach the left ear towards the left shoulder. Slowly turn your head left and right, up and down, like saying "no" and "yes".

2. Seated side stretch (Sanskrit: Parsva Sukhasana)

Place your right palm on the ground and on an exhale, extend your left arm up overhead for a gentle side stretch. Inhale, come back to center. Place your left palm on the ground and exhale, reaching your right arm up over to the left. Inhale, come back to center.

3. Simple seated twist (Sanskrit: Parivrtta Sukhasana)

Reach both arms up overhead and on an exhale, take a gentle twist by turning over to your left side. Be careful not to "crank" your neck to feel the twist. Allow the twist to happen by rotating your torso instead. Rest your right hand on your left knee and reach your left hand behind you and let it rest. Stay here for a couple breaths, and on an exhale, release the twist. Do the same twist on your right side by reaching both arms up overhead on an inhale, and rotating over towards your right on an exhale. Slowly release the twist and come back to center.

4. Seated forward fold (Sanskrit: Utthita Sukhasana)

Inhale, reach the arms up once more and on an exhale, fold forward. Extend your arms out in front of you, resting them on the ground. If this puts a strain on your lower back, place a pillow or two underneath your arms for support. After staying here for a couple of breaths, press into your hands to slowly come back to a seated position.

5. Mindfulness Meditation

If you are new to meditating, I suggest setting a timer for five or 10 minutes to start. You can keep your eyes open or closed, whichever is more comfortable for you. Take a quick inventory and notice how you are feeling. Are you feeling any tension or anxiety, or noticing any thoughts racing? Make a conscious effort to notice these sensations and thoughts, without judging yourself. Each time you notice a new thought pop up, direct your attention back to your breath. Follow the breaths that come in and down your torso, and notice how the exhales come effortlessly. Focusing on the breath helps keep you rooted in the present moment, the here and now.

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs. In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm..

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Working On My Emotional Health Is At The Top Of My To-Do List

I'm finally realizing the importance of my mental and emotional health.

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The month of April has been so eye-opening for me. For the first bit of the year, I felt like I was in a slump; like I was just going through the motions and not fully living my life.

I was letting boy drama, school stress, and my poor actions to deal with those issues take over my life. I was allowing the anger and shame from those mistakes bubble up inside me until I was just about ready to explode.

I was allowing myself to go back to old ways of coping with problems that I knew weren't healthy, but I knew would be a short-term fix.

I simply wasn't living.

Then, one day I woke up and told myself I needed to change, and that if I didn't, I'd be on this same path ten years from now... or worse. I told myself I needed to get my life back on track with the Lord and with who I want to be as a rising senior in college.

After meeting with one of the leaders at my church (btw, everyone needs a Mrs. Jenny in their life!) and with my therapist, I'm starting to realize how important my emotional health is. My way of dealing with problems hasn't been working all that well, so I know it's time to try something else.

It's all going to be a huge learning process (and at times, an uphill battle), but I know working on my emotional health now will build me to be the best I can in the future.

By learning to become more open to healthier ways of dealing with issues as they come up (like not avoiding problems and actually facing them head-on), I know I can become my best self, and that is something I'm willing to work on with my whole heart.

So, I'm learning to let go of needing to control everything in my life because honestly, wanting to control everything puts me more out of control than when I first started.

And, I encourage you to do the same.

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