Monday, March 31, 2008

Be A Sun Goddess

The other day I took the A train out to Far Rockaway Beach. I hadn’t been out there in years, but weeks of dark, gray, cold and wet NYC weather had me feeling down. I was craving the sun and ocean - a combination that always relaxes and lifts my spirit.

There were few people out on the boardwalk and the beach when I got there. The slate gray sea pounded the taupe colored sand with waves that shimmered silver. The sun danced against an incredible robin’s nest blue sky - baby powder blue with a tinge of turquoise. I did some cleansing breaths to take in the negative ions that I knew would refresh me.

Negative ions are electronically charged particles that remove airborne contaminates from the air we breathe. It is these ions which have a rejuvenating effect when you are near a waterfall, in the mountains or the beach. I was doubly blessed that day because I was getting a dose of much needed sunlight and the effects of the ocean.

Today we live like the cave people we often joke about. We seem to always be indoors, whether it’s in our offices or at home, sitting in front of a computer or television. Sunlight is a premium in this city. Those of us who live in Manhattan get even less sunlight due to the highrises that function as our offices and homes, but also cut off our sun exposure.

Our ancestor’s bodies rose and set in sync with the sun, yet, we set our alarm clocks to get up and we go about our days in dimly lit offices and homes. The average sunny day has about 70,000 lux of light. Most homes and offices only have on average 200-400 lux of light. We seldom take the time to get the much needed sunlight that we need. Sunlight makes our hearts beat faster, increases our metabolic rate and alertness, helps us sleep at night, and improves our mood. It also infuses us with Vitamin D.

Because of our so-called modern life style, we also have low levels of Vitamin D. Sunlight gives us Vitamin D, which in turn stimulates the production of serotonin – the feel good hormone. Women of color are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D, because the darker skinned we are the more slowly we create Vitamin D.

The amount of Vitamin D a light-skinned person produces in 20 minutes takes a dark skin person two hours for the same amount. Getting more sunlight can also be an appetite suppressant. Women who walk every day eat less carbs, according to several studies.

Perhaps we can get more sunlight in practical ways:Go for walks five or more times a week
Walk near a body of water (when possible) on darker days
Use a transparent umbrella on days it rains and snows
Rearrange work furniture to be closer to a window
Take a Vitamin D supplement (200 to 600 mg a day, depending on your age)
Open blinds and curtains in the daytime
Remove overhanging valances on your windows at home
Paint walls a brighter color
Bring lighting fixtures, brighter bulbs, or a light box to work
Switch to subcompact fluorescent bulbs
Wear lightly tinted or clear sunglasses for UV protection
Place large mirrors around your home to reflect more light

Benefits of more sunlight: Improvement in mood
Increased circulation to the brain
Boost your energy
Curb carbohydrate cravings
Control of appetite in general
Deepens your sleep

Source:When Your Body Get The BluesMarie-Annette Brown, Ph.D., R.N. and Jo Robinson

Friday, March 7, 2008

Yoga and Depression

This post is about Yoga and how it can benefit those suffering from depression. I am not against a person seeking the traditional therapies such as psychotherapy and medication, but there are natural alternative therapies that can compliment talk therapy and medications. I did therapy and medication when my depression was severe, and it saved my life.

Now, that my depression has lessened, I feel it can be managed with prayer, yoga, meditation, and holistic medicines. Yoga and meditation can also be combined with traditional therapies until you have your depression under control. Also, possibly through yoga and meditation one can cut back on the medications.

Everyone feels "blue" from time to time, but when depression deepens or persists for a long time, it can suppress your energy for living and make you more vulnerable to disease by dampening the immune system. Depression is sometimes a warning that may help you to protect your mental and physical health. It can be viewed as a signpost, signaling "It’s time for a change.”

Yoga, or "Yog" as it is traditionally called, means "Union with the Divine." It is a science of Self which dates back more than 5,000 years, orginating in India. There is no Eastern spiritual or religious practice that has not been directly or indirectly influenced by this path. The first thing a depressed person stops doing is moving. Regular exercise becomes intolerable.

But Yoga exercise, starting with as few as three poses a day in just a few minutes’ time, coupled with correct breath patterns, can become so pleasant to you that soon you will want to do more and more. The heavy, unmoving feeling of depression will be gone. Yoga exercises put pressure on glands and organs, helping them to produce the soothing, healing chemical balance that is needed to feel well and be well.

Yoga exercises improve circulation, sending invigorating oxygen to your brain and all your muscles. The stretching and strengthening movements flush toxins from the body as well.

Often depression sneaks in slowly, as breathing patterns change from too much sitting at a desk, stress, age, or illness. The deep, invigorating breath techniques of Yoga bring large amounts of fresh oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. Like a spring wind, it blows through the system bringing new light and strength to the unused parts of the body and mind where depression hides.

Complete relaxation and meditation practice show you how to access the strength and power of your inner self for a support system that keeps you going through all the ups and downs of your life. Meditation and yoga poses can help you attack the root cause of depression - the feeling that you can't handle the demands of your life. It tones the nervous system, stimulates circulation, promotes concentration, and energizes your mind and body.

Practice a daily yoga routine that includes 30 minutes of meditation and at least 20 minutes of poses. Yoga stretching exercises help improve blood circulation making it easier to break through the lethargy that often accompanies depression.

Amy Weintraub, author of the bestseller, “Yoga for Depression” also suffered from depression for years. “Yogis have always believed that depression is that separation from our source. Yoga, including postures, breathing exercises and meditation is the science of positive mental health. Practice Yoga regularly and it will strip away the obstacles that separate you from your source. You will begin to recognize your wholeness. Practice Yoga every day and it will change your life. It changed my life and the lives of many of my students.”

Ms. Weintraub, makes it clear she doesn't recommend yoga as a substitute for conventional medical treatment for depression." Yoga is not instead of psychotherapy or medication," she said. "It's in addition."

ABC of

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Prayer for Depression

Dear God,
I feel such pain, anxiety and depression.
I know this is not Your will for me, and yet my mind is held in chains by fear and paranoia.
I surrender my life, right now to You.
Take the entire mess, all of it, now too complicated to explain to anyone but known by You in each detail.
Do what I cannot do.
Lift me up.
Give me a new chance.
Show me a new light.
Make me a new person.
Dear God,
This depression frightens me.
Dear God,
Please bring me peace.
Marianne Williamson from "Illuminata"

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