Similarities between Yoga and Counseling

As I continue on my path of researching Yoga both personally and professionally, I have realized how closely related the two fields are. There are so many similarities in fact that we really should be combining both worlds at the same time.  When we are emotionally well, not only do we connect with others better, but we also become more creative, motivated, focused and attentive to our bodies.

Many people come to yoga or counseling initially because of some health issue whether it be physical, spiritual or mental. Most individuals are looking for outside help because he/she has exhausted each of his/her own coping strategies.

Clients learn in Yoga as well as in Counseling, that there is a fine line in finding balance between “letting go” and “gaining control”. In both forms of treatment, we look to let go of what no longer serves us, and in turn strive to gain control of a healthier lifestyle. For example, letting go of negative thought patterns in counseling, so as to gain healthier more positive thought patterns.

According to Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD, PT, and Yoga Therapist, “with yoga we want to relax the mind and body so that tension can be released and healing can begin.”  By letting go or relaxing certain muscle groups in Yoga we can begin to gain control in a different muscle group such as our breath or reducing our thoughts. For example, in Tree Pose we want to ground down through our feet while at the same time lifting through the crown of our head. Therefore, two different actions simultaneously acting together to create one goal.

Yoga and Counseling could complement each other beautifully if practiced together. Many clients find while in counseling that they aren’t even connected to their physical body because they are so wrapped up in what is going on in their head. Same thing can happen in Yoga and then injuries could occur because we are not practicing awareness. Being aware of where our body is currently placed is just as important as understanding where our thoughts are driving our moods and behaviors. Deep Breathing relaxes the physical body by lowering blood pressure and heart rate, which then in turn continues to relax the mind. 

So, take a moment and stop what you are doing and just take notice of where your body is currently. Is it sitting in a chair, or standing in line? What do you feel? What do you notice? Without judgement, just try and slow down the breath, by breathing in through your nose to the count of three, and out through your mouth to the count of four. Do this 3-5 times until you can begin to notice a warmer more relaxed state in the body and mind. Continue to this until you feel better and more relaxed. Then you can move on with your task and focus.  This moment of relaxation might even change your mind!

Namaste

Advertisements

Breast Size and Physical Activity

Photo by Zun Zun on Pexels.com

The above recording is mostly an a brief educational opportunity for physicians and nurses, but it brings up an important topic. Breast size is a real barrier for many women who want to engage in a physical activity, in particulary a team sport, but feel support is so low in typical bras that they are embarrased to move around.

The Bra Queendom falls under the realm of fashion. This is nice for ladies as far as colors, or wanting a certain contour such as more cleavage or minimizing.

I’ve noticed an increase in women asking for consideration for plastic surgery to reduce their breast size. When I examine them, I usually see the problem is a poorly fitted bra.

Signs of a poorly fitting bra include:

  • Pain in the neck an upper back
  • Bra Straps that cut into the shoulders leaving creases
  • Rashes underneath the breast
  • Inability to run (or jump) in a bra meant for being active due to breast pain
  • Needing frequent adjustment throughout the day

Ideally, its best to be fit by a seamstress or professional who is experienced in bra fittings.

It is possible to fit yourself. Here is a nice video that can walk you through the process:

Once you have corrected your size, consider haivng different bras depending on activities. I personally wear a T-back or Razor back for high impact activities. In a sports bra, you want wide straps that distribute the weight of your breast better.

Thanks for reading!

Setting your Intention

With the beginning of every yoga class I like to remind my students to set their intention for class. Maybe it’s a desire to release something that no longer serves, or it is a desire to gain something.  Maybe the intention becomes a way to honor someone or something. It can also be an alignment towards our higher power.

When I perform an intake session with my counseling clients, I will ask the same questions. What is your intention or hope for this session? What do you want to let go of, or gain with this session? How do you want to feel once completed with this session? Or how will you know you have made some progress with this session?

Setting intentions are like setting a goal, or aim, or attitude. It gives us a purpose or a reason for us to pay attention to this exact moment. I would like to believe most of us have goals and goals tend to keep us motivated in life.   Intentions also tend to help keep us focused. Our brains are extremely powerful and tend to overwhelm us at times with thoughts, memories, desires, etc. With intentions we can narrow all of this and become more focused on the here and now, in the present moment.

Deepak Chopra, MD, defines Intentions as being “a starting point and creative power.” Everything begins to happen when we set an intention. He goes on to further explain that an intention “is a directed impulse of consciousness or seed”.  Intentions should come from the heart and should align with your personal values. Intentions are a way to align the heart with the mind by connecting what matters most to you.

The best time to set an intention is during meditation or stillness. Take a deep breath in, let it go with a big sigh. Do this several times while at the same time relaxing your body. Set an intention and then give it to the universe and let go of any anticipation or desired outcome. Let the universe do with it as it will.

Intentions are a wonderful way to begin your day and help keep you grounded.  What is your intention today?

Essential Oils and Pregnancy

Photo by Thiago Borges on Pexels.com

Disclaimer:  I am board certified Internal Medicine.  Please follow the recommendations of your obstetrician if you are considering using essential oils or aromatherapy during your pregnancy.

I was recently asked what essential oils to use during pregnancy.  I thought I could answer the question easily, since I’ve used essential oils for a few years now, and I’ve often recommended essential oils without much thought.  I recently read Bottle of Lies, a chilling reminder not to take drug safety for granted. I decided that before I would answer her, I should check some references.  There is always a concern about safety of a chosen drug or treatment. Even more so, pregnancy is a unique time. Fetal development can be affected by many factors, and there many historical reminders of assuming at treatment is safe during pregnancy when it really isn’t.  

I was surprised to find that most of my trusted references concerning aromatherapy, essential oils and use in pregnancy are sparse, with very little information.  I decided to search the database Pubmed for answers. .

I approach this subject with caution because throughout the history of medicine, treatments deemed to be safe initially are later to be found unsafe.  There are many blogs and post that will give a list of essential oils to use during pregnancy, but I caution readers not start any therapy while pregnant without speaking to your physician. Essential oils are natural, but like any treatment, they are highly active within the human body.  

Pregnancy is typically a time of many symptoms.  Women are often seeking relief from nausea, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, and postpartum depression.   I did a general search term of essential oils/aromatherapy and pregnancy. I initially reviewed 39 medical journal articles seeking some guidance.  I was able to narrow my search to a few relevant articles, any my search list can be found here

   

Nausea and Vomiting Relief

This is the most common symptom pregnant women must cope with.  Pregnancy related nausea and vomiting is unfortunately not very well understood.  Prior to actually researching the topic, I assumed, like many people, that peppermint, ginger, and lavender are the best essential oil to relieve nausea. 

When peppermint oil was tested in a small study consisting of 56 pregnant women suffering from nausea and vomiting in the first and second trimester, it was found to have the same effect as placebo for relieving nausea and vomiting(1).

1.Joulaeerad N, Ozgoli G, Hajimehdipoor H, Ghasemi E, Salehimoghaddam F. Effect of Aromatherapy with Peppermint Oil on the Severity of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Single-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled trial. J Reprod Infertil. 2018 Jan-Mar;19(1):32-38. PubMed PMID: 29850445; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5960050.

I found another study here also showing that peppermint is not likely to reduce pregnancy related nausea and vomiting. A systematic  review of the effects of complementary medicine conducted by researchers also confirmed that peppermint was not effective at relieving nausea (2).

 

2. Ozgoli G, Saei Ghare Naz M. Effects of Complementary Medicine on Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review. Int J Prev Med. 2018;9:75. doi: 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_430_16. eCollection 2018. Review. PubMed PMID: 30319738; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6177529.

Lemon essential oil was found to be effective in relieving nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy in two of the articles I found (2, 3).

My recommendations with the information I have available is that Lemon Essential Oil is a good idea to relieve nausea.  I would recommend to use the aromatherapy by inhalation only, breathing the oil in on a tissue or cotton ball a few times a day to relieve pregnancy related nausea. 

Aromatherapy for Easing Labor Pain

Treating labor pain is likely going to be of the utmost concern. Many women these days are opting to forgo traditional anesthesia techniques and use holistic care to assist during labor. Women choosing to forgo regional anesthesia such as epidural injections may opt to use aromatherapy during the labor process.

A study consisting of 104 young women in labor with uncomplicated pregnancies showed that overall pain levels throughout early labor were reduced in those  that received aromatherapy. (4).

Tanvisut R, Traisrisilp K, Tongsong T. Efficacy of aromatherapy for reducing pain during labor: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2018 May;297(5):1145-1150. doi: 10.1007/s00404-018-4700-1. Epub 2018 Feb 3. PubMed PMID: 29397442.

Women in labor in an Iranian hospital showed reduced pain an anxiety during labor when they received Rose aromatherapy (5).  

Hamdamian S, Nazarpour S, Simbar M, Hajian S, Mojab F, Talebi A. Effects of aromatherapy with Rosa damascena on nulliparous women’s pain and anxiety of labor during first stage of labor. J Integr Med. 2018 Mar;16(2):120-125. doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2018.02.005. Epub 2018 Feb 9. PubMed PMID: 29526235.

Aromatherapy for Postpartum Depression

A small, double blinded study of pregnant women, many who were at risk of postpartum depression tested the efficacy of using Rose and Lavender essential oils to reduce the incidence of postpartum depression.  This particular study I found interesting because the subjects were chosen that had risk of depression, which made gathering a large sample size difficult. Most studies tend to select subjects with no history to simplify gathering date.  The researchers tested a combination of rose and lavender essential oil again sesame seed oil and sweet musk oil, and no oil at all. According to the results of the present study, it seems using aromatherapy has a significant effect on reducing depression after delivery (6).

6. Kianpour M, Moshirenia F, Kheirabadi G, Asghari G, Dehghani A, Dehghani-Tafti A. The Effects of Inhalation Aromatherapy with Rose and Lavender at Week 38 and Postpartum Period on Postpartum Depression in High-risk Women Referred to Selected Health Centers of Yazd, Iran in 2015. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2018 Sep-Oct;23(5):395-401. doi: 10.4103/ijnmr.IJNMR_116_16. PubMed PMID: 30186346; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6111664

My Recommendations

  • Nausea Relief:
    • Consider trying Lemon Essential Oil used by inhalation.  I would not recommend it topically since it may cause photosensitivity (sun sensitivity).  I recommend inhaling Lemon essential oils using a diffuser of choice or applying a drop to a cotton ball.
    • Peppermint essential oil is not shown by my evidenced based search to be effective at relieving nausea or vomiting in pregnancy, however, if you find using it helps, consider using only inhaled forms.
  • Mood Improvement:
    • Consider using Rose Essential Oil or Lavender Essential Oil for improving your mood.  Lavender essential oil tends tobe reasonably priced. Rose essential oils is expensive, and I would recommend investing in the purchase form a company with a good track records such as Doterra.  Doterra makes a ready made Rose Essential Oil.

During my research, I discovered the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.  I bookmarked this wonderful online resource.  This organization is primarily for professional aromatherapists but has some wonderful resources.  This link will take you to the websites recommendations on aromatherapy use in pregnancy. 


Please see the citation list below. Please post any additional questions in the comments. Thank you for reading!

Citations

1.Joulaeerad N, Ozgoli G, Hajimehdipoor H, Ghasemi E, Salehimoghaddam F. Effect of Aromatherapy with Peppermint Oil on the Severity of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Single-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled trial. J Reprod Infertil. 2018 Jan-Mar;19(1):32-38. PubMed PMID: 29850445; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5960050.

2. Ozgoli G, Saei Ghare Naz M. Effects of Complementary Medicine on Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review. Int J Prev Med. 2018;9:75. doi: 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_430_16. eCollection 2018. Review. PubMed PMID: 30319738; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6177529.

3.  Yavari Kia P, Safajou F, Shahnazi M, Nazemiyeh H. The effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a double-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2014 Mar;16(3):e14360. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.14360. Epub 2014 Mar 5. PubMed PMID: 24829772; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4005434.

4.  Tanvisut R, Traisrisilp K, Tongsong T. Efficacy of aromatherapy for reducing pain during labor: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2018 May;297(5):1145-1150. doi: 10.1007/s00404-018-4700-1. Epub 2018 Feb 3. PubMed PMID: 29397442.

5.  Hamdamian S, Nazarpour S, Simbar M, Hajian S, Mojab F, Talebi A. Effects of aromatherapy with Rosa damascena on nulliparous women’s pain and anxiety of labor during first stage of labor. J Integr Med. 2018 Mar;16(2):120-125. doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2018.02.005. Epub 2018 Feb 9. PubMed PMID: 29526235.


6. Kianpour M, Moshirenia F, Kheirabadi G, Asghari G, Dehghani A, Dehghani-Tafti A. The Effects of Inhalation Aromatherapy with Rose and Lavender at Week 38 and Postpartum Period on Postpartum Depression in High-risk Women Referred to Selected Health Centers of Yazd, Iran in 2015. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2018 Sep-Oct;23(5):395-401. doi: 10.4103/ijnmr.IJNMR_116_16. PubMed PMID: 30186346; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6111664

Yoga as Self-Care for the Counselor

                Counselor fatigue is often overlooked in our field. Sometimes even completely ignored. We try to balance work and life by carrying heavy caseloads, maintaining copious amounts of paperwork that professors never tell you about in graduate school, all the while still taking care of ourselves, our health, households, etc.  We counselors have learn to care for ourselves just as well as we care for our clients.  If not even more, perhaps!

                Therapists are taught to be “containers” of others thoughts, feelings and beliefs. We are taught to hold things and keep them confidential. These thoughts, feelings and beliefs of our clients are often a result of traumatic life events and they may simply not align with our own thoughts, feelings and beliefs. 

The energy transferred from our clients to us in a session can leave us feeling exhausted or even depleted emotionally. Therapists are encouraged to educate our clients about healthy lifestyles, self-awareness, and emotion regulation. But what about our own stuff that we carry with us each day? Sometimes Counselors feel that we should have all of the answers and therefore don’t reach out for help at times when we may need it the most.

                Yoga cultivates a welcoming attitude for all that arises in the mind, whether it be positive or negative. Yoga not only brings the mind and body together but relieves stress, increases moods, and assists in work-life balance.  Yoga helps increase our awareness of our physical bodies and souls if we just take the time out to listen. The best thing about Yoga is that you can take it with you and do it anywhere! At your desk, in the airport, or even standing in the grocery store check-out line.

                Next time you have a few moments alone and in a quiet space, make sure your feet are firmly placed on the ground. Now, place your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your heart and just pay attention to your breath. What do you notice? How does it feel? Does it come in through your nose rough or soft? Is it cool or warm? Try not to change the breath, but just notice it and see if you can’t slow things down for yourself for a moment.

                Take this moment to recharge!

Taking Time out for myself utilizing Yoga

In today’s society there is a liquor store, dry cleaners, and nail salon on just about every corner. Everyone is constantly in a hurry. Everyone wanted “it” yesterday.  “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Like the lady said. But in fact, that’s the very thing we need. Time. More time! But also more relaxation.

Every day in my private practice I hear people tell me they don’t have time for self-care and relaxation. Sometimes I hear that response even after I tell them I am only asking for 15 minutes a day! Break it up into 5 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon, and 5 in the evening. Surely, you have that kind of time to do something nice for yourself that encourages healing and relaxation.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with a heart issue. I couldn’t believe it! I was just 44 years old at the time. What? High blood pressure and a leaky valve! You can imagine the shock that set in my body. That diagnosis totally changed my line of thinking. That very moment made me rethink my line of work and my self-care. What was I doing to relax and how could I do more? Not to mention, how am I modeling self-care for my clients?

Since that time, I have made yoga a main priority for myself. Every morning for 30 minutes I practice yoga in my house or my back yard if the weather is nice. It brings my mind into focus and sets the tone for my day. Yoga is my self-care. If I don’t practice yoga every day, I feel “off”.

Yoga is more than the poses, or Asanas, that everyone thinks it is. It’s about living in your body and breathing. It’s about bringing more awareness into my body and making my body, mind and soul unite as one. It’s also about slowing things down essentially. Without it I wouldn’t be able to complete tasks and concentrate, slow down, breathe and unwind.

Watch a sunset, read a book, take a walk, or listen to music. Make it your time to do whatever it is that’s healthy and brings you joy.  Take just 15 minutes for yourself. You deserve it!

I do have time for this. Do you?

Please welcome Brandi!

I have the honor of introducing a dear friend and colleague who will be posting, Brandi Gibson.

Brandi and I met as students at the same Yoga studio. We have come to know each other very well, and are working toward an exciting collaboration (Stay Tuned!). Brandi specializes in marria and Family counseling, as well as addiction treatment.

Brandi’s first post can be found here. Please keep stopping by to read how Brandi combines her expertise as a Master’s level Counselor, Yoga Instructor as well as Reiki practioner. I’m so looking foward to her insight on these topics. Having personally been a Yoga Student of hers, I am honored for her presence here.

Yoga as a Coping Skill

Yoga in Sanskrit means “union” of the mind, body and spirit.  So it makes sense that I myself being a licensed mental health counselor, also practice yoga. With my yoga practice I feel I am joining my mind, body and soul to becoming a whole and complete being. I feel there is so much more to healing than talk therapy although it is useful. The body stores energy whether positive or negative and stress, a form of energy, can be held in the body causing pain and illnesses.

I was probably first introduced to yoga as a small child as I watched my mother stretching down in the floor in front of the TV in the evenings after supper. As a child I was full of energy and probably was difficult to keep still. My mother could tell you stories about me dancing in the pews at church. Dance became my first love. I found I could escape any negative thought or feelings through dance and release excess energy. I also felt whole and complete when I danced, as if nothing could tear me down. It became a source of resilience for me.

Then once I became older and a dance injury kept me out of dance, I began to try other things. I found yoga again after my divorce. On Tuesday nights I would take my very young son to spend time with his dad while I would attend a very crowded yoga class. I immediately reconnected my mind with my body and spirit again. If you have ever been through a divorce you understand how emotionally draining it can be and how overwhelmed with feelings you can become. Yoga gave me a peace of mind through not only the poses, called Asanas, but also through the breath, or Pranayama.

Three years ago I decided to become a certified yoga Instructor with the intentions of combining it with my private practice therapy. Today in my private practice, I teach my clients how to breathe and reclaim their Yoga which we are all born with, but must find.  How do you relax?