Summer is amongst us and in full bloom. It usually signifies a happy season for most of us. As children Summer meant no school, longer daylight hours and more time to just enjoy youth. As an adult, it usually means vacations, barbeques, and delicious seasonal foods. I remember as a child looking forward to the last day of school because it meant that boating with my family on the Long Island Sound was coming-up.
Unfortunately, sometimes the warmer seasons don’t bring joy to everyone. There have been many studies that suggest that suicide increases in warm weather. Annie Hauser, writing in Weather.com, talked with Professor Grady Dixon in 2014 and writes,
“ Spring is when severely depressed people can be motivated enough to take action and do something. In most people, depression creates overwhelming feelings of listlessness and disinterest, so the idea of putting together a plan to commit suicide is too difficult during the winter, when depression symptoms may be worse in some people, he (Dixon) said. "Another hypothesis: [Patients] know how they're affected by seasonal winter depression. They anticipate they'll feel better when spring and summer roll around," Dixon said. "When they don't, that's a catalyst for suicide." One of the oldest theories holds that people who are depressed and withdrawn during the winter don't bounce back in spring, as other people do.”
I am a minimalist, but like many of you – I struggle to keep it simple. Both mentally and in the physical worlds.
National Simplicity Day was founded to honor Henry David Thoreau, on the day of his birth, 12 July , 1817, and his insistence that a simple life, lived without busy clutter and in nature, was the way to glimpse the “universal truths” that inherently lie deep within each of us. He suggests that these truths get buried by our attachment to the material and the status quo. Celebrating the mundane, the simple acts of daily life, the arrival of the first spring flower or bird, as miraculous and soul sustaining.
A life of simplicity, lived in natural surroundings is ideal, maybe a goal to try to attain, but impractical for the majority of urban dwellers. Maybe you don’t have two years to go live in the forest. Maybe, like me, you can’t even take the whole day out of your busy schedule to idle in the wilderness. However, the neighborhood park or arboretum could be just the ticket for an afternoon of unplugging. Take a copy of Walden Pond with you for some inspirational reading, or as the case may be, re-reading. Make a point to get down to the most basic of equations, ( you plus nature equals biophilia) for at least an hour or two. Biophilia is the recently scientifically determined phenomenon that humans feel good in nature. Proven by millions of dollars and countless hours of research, and not by millennia of humans liking to watch sunsets, take picnics with loved ones or sit by waterfalls or in our gardens. When I was in Japan recently I went “ forest bathing “
The oddly paradoxical aspect of this theory is that Nature, taken in its entirety, is really anything but simple. It is a complex interwoven net of conditional systems,constantly varying and completely dependent on the absence or presence of one another.
If you think finding a deeper connection with your partner, decreasing stress, enhancing your sexual relationship, and getting fit all at the same time sounds like a sweet deal, you might want to consider rolling out a yoga mat (or two).
Couples yoga is changing the way we look at the the role of exercise in relationships.
What are the benefits of couples yoga?
The benefits of couples yoga are similar to an individual yoga class and include stress reduction, increased range of motion, relief from pain, cardio and circulatory health, improved respiration and energy, better posture, and much more. Couples yoga takes these benefits one step further and also includes the element of bonding with your partner in a new way.
By creating a shared experience, the poses in couples yoga allow you and your partner to listen to each other and work together. “Couples yoga helps bring couples closer physically, emotionally, and energetically,” explains Beth Shaw, founder and CEO of YogaFit.
There’s everything from chocolate yoga to cat yoga to trap yoga, but there’s also a not-so carefree counterpart: grief yoga, which has provided healing for those suffering since long before cats made their way to the mat. We spoke with Beth Shaw — founder and president of YogaFit, the largest yoga training and certification program in the world — about the merits of this often-overlooked method of healing and how to practice it.
Shaw first experienced the interaction of grief and yoga after a breakup in her late 20s. She says she immersed herself in yoga daily to the point where it became her new “anchor,” replacing the old one of her ex-boyfriend and their romantic connection. “You know, science has shown that a broken heart is legitimate,” shares Shaw. More than simple sadness, grief can be all-consuming. “Grief is a mind-body experience,” Shaw agrees, explaining that it can affect one’s hormone production, cortisone levels, appetite, sleep patterns, energy levels, heart rate, and more. It makes sense, then, that yoga, a bodily activity, can help mitigate the overwhelming emotion. Yoga is a “healing tool,” Shaw says. “It can lift you from the depths of despair.”
Among other debilitating side effects, it keeps individuals from being in the present moment and fearful about the future. Other common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Excessive worry
- Being easily fatigued
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleep disturbance
- Muscle tension
But the good news is that yoga helps keep people grounded in the now. If you're feeling tense, worried, down, restless or have trouble concentrating, then you can benefit from starting and maintaining a yoga practice.
Yoga is the 6,000-year-old science of body mind health. Yoga poses (asanas) help release tension and stress from the body by regulating hormones and increasing endorphins.
While a general yoga practice can help easy anxiety symptoms, you can also pick specific poses that address the challenge. But first remember to consult a doctor or mental health professional.