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Stress Management: Feeling Great with Exercise & Breath work

The holidays can be a wonderful time of year but they can also be a stressful time of year. Besides the holiday's there are other times when life just happens and we end up saying something like "Really? Why me?" "Why is this happening?" "I can't handle it!" Sound familiar? You're not alone. :)

Regular exercise helps increase mood and lowers rates of depression, and increases self esteem. Why does this happen? Your body releases a chemical called endorphins when you exercise. These endorphins react to receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. They also help make you feel positive in your body. If you are a runner you know this feeling after a workout as though you are euphoric aka 'runner's high'. This is similar to that of morphine. (webmd)

Other things exercise helps with:

  • reducing stress

  • Improve sleep

  • physical benefits of being stronger and heart healthy

  • having more energy

  • it's proven to reduce depression and anxiety

Did you know pilates and yoga are similar?

You might wonder how? They both focus on your breath leading initiating movement. Each movement is guided by an inhalation and exhalation. The response is like a guided active meditation. Now you may have tried really tough pilates or yoga classes and thought, "no way was that meditative" but get this! That push helps challenge you to stay with your breath in challenging times not just in class but outside in the real world. What a great place to practice handling stress! So next time you think "Gosh, I don't know if I can do this move," ask yourself "am I holding my breath?" Chances are you are. That holding of breath makes you tired because you aren't getting oxygen to your body plus you are adding tension in your system.

Tension = stress.

Now we all want to feel good and if looking good is important to you then you are going to put your body under some stress to have an outcome of burning calories or building muscle. But, can you do it while maintaining your sense of calm or joy? Ah hah! That is the key to finding success and it all comes down to practice, practice, practice. You might get really good at it in the gym or studio, but then the next trick is to ask yourself this. "Am I or can I apply this to my day?" If you get in the habit of asking this question every time you notice your heart rate rise plus you refocus on your breath and slowing down, I promise you, you will feel a difference.

Breath and How it can cause physical damage

It not only can be destructive it can be healing. Ever see those body builders in the gym look like their face is going to explode when they lift an extremely heavy load of weights? That's why you may hear them yell and exhale with a lot of noise. They are releasing tension in their system. Holding that much tensions can cause hemorrhoids (ask my doctor friend) , hernia's (too much pressure), brain damage , and leaking in your pelvic floor.

Pelvic Floor Leaking

This last one I just taught a workshop with a physical therapist. As a core exercise specialist I have had many women come in complaining of leaking after birth. Why does this happen? Well to be discussed in another blog article here so stay tuned. But the fast solution to them not leaking (if they have urge incontinence vs. stress incontinence) is to distract themselves from the trigger that makes them want to go pee by doing something else and taking diaphragmatic breath, or a deep slow inhale and slow deep exhale.

So during times that are stressful destress by taking exercise classes like pilates and yoga, at our studio preferably :) Or concentrate on your breath and slow it down.

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Take care out there and we hope to see you on your mat.

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