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Does Your To-Do List Include YOU?

It seems our To-Do list takes care of everything and everybody but ourselves, and that’s not healthy.

Have you done something nice for yourself today? How about yesterday? During the past week? Too many of us could answer those questions with a resounding, “No.” It seems our To-Do list takes care of everything and everybody but ourselves, and that’s not healthy.

We Americans love The Busy. We are Busy with our Job Work and Busy with our Home Work and Busy with our Family Work. “It must be done,” we tell ourselves. “It’s what responsible people do.” True. It is what responsible people do. But responsible people also make sure they are taking care of themselves so they can keep doing what matters for the people matter.

So how do we responsible people keep it all in balance? Too much on the To-Do list – tasks that aren’t truly necessary – can keep us from caring for ourselves as well as we care for others. It can keep us from taking a few moments to unwind, to practice yoga, to read, to visit with a friend, to enjoy a bit of quiet meditation, to treat ourselves to a much-needed massage… We’re tempted to think we can endlessly continue to put pedal to metal and our wheels will keep turning even when the tank is on Empty. But a car won’t run that way. And neither will our bodies, minds, or spirits.

So if you have fallen out of the habit of caring for yourself and making sure you get the mental, spiritual, and physical food you need, I’ve snooped around and found some suggestions on how to start filling your own tank. You know, so you don’t accidentally drive everyone off the cliff.

1. Make a daily To-Do List, and put yourself on it. Schedule time with a friend, book a yoga class, block out some time to read or meditate…
2. Scrutinize your To-Do List to see if any tasks can be removed without a truly negative outcome.
3. Delegate. Where possible, think less hand holding and more responsibility and accountability for those in your care. A 12-month-old can’t change his own diaper, but a 15-year-old can certainly pack his own lunch. You need not do everything for everyone.
4. Lower your standards here and there. If you winced at that one, chances are you could benefit from practicing it. The floor doesn’t have to sparkle like Waterford crystal. The kids can load the dishwasher differently than you do. Your spouse can tackle the grocery aisles.
5. See rote tasks as an opportunity to meditate. Allow yourself to become completely absorbed in folding that stack of towels. Instead of letting your mind wander (or complain), see the colors, feel the textures, notice the patterns.
6. Learn to say NO to offers that don’t fit into your schedule or into what you value. Practice saying no: stand in front of the mirror, smile, shake your head softly, and say, “No, I’m sorry – I already have plans.” It’s a true statement. You’ve made plans that include caring for yourself!

After a couple of weeks of including you on the To-Do list, notice of how you feel. Happier? More at peace? More patient? More rested? Awesome! You just might inspire your family, friends, and co-workers to be nicer to themselves.

If taking a yoga class is on your To-Do List (and we certainly hope it is), join us on the mat soon!

Yoga Helpful for Diabetes

Yoga helpful for treatment of diabetes

The American Diabetes Association published a 2011 study showing yoga helpful for diabetes (type 2). The study concluded that yoga can be used as an effective therapy in reducing oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes and that yoga in addition to standard care helps reduce BMI and improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetic patients.

The study states, “In comparison with standard care alone, yoga resulted in significant reduction in BMI [Body Mass Index], glycemic control, and malondialdehyde [a biomarker for oxidative stress thought to be responsible for insulin resistance and associated clinical conditions such as atherosclerosis, microvascular complications, and neuropathy], and increase in glutathione [a powerful antioxidant] and vitamin C.”

Edmond, Oklahoma massage therapist Brook Williams was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age two and has personally found yoga helpful for diabetes. “I have found that my circulation increases with yoga,” Brook says. “It helps to keep blood sugar levels at a better rate – lower than usual.”

An article in Men’s Health Magazine, “Yoga for Diabetes,” states, “It is one of few exercises that sets the entire body in motion with the breath, circulating the blood through parts of the body that might otherwise go unused in our day-to-day routine.”

If you are considering adding yoga to better balance your blood sugar levels, here are a few tips.
1. Start slowly and listen to your breath. The breath tells you where you are – if you are breathing fluidly, you can push a little further into a pose if you feel like it. If the breath is hard to catch or choppy, your body is asking for mercy. Show compassion to yourself and back off a bit.
2. Practice easy seated twists with Ujjayi breathing to increase circulation in the pancreas. When we use Ujjayi breath, we take a full inhale through the nose and when exhaling through the nose, create a slight constriction at the back of the throat so the exhale sounds like we are fogging a mirror (practice a few times using an open-mouthed exhale). To practice a seated twist, sit on sit bones with left leg extended forward, leg muscles engaged. Cross right leg over left and place right foot flat on the floor near the left thigh. Place right hand behind buttocks, fingertips facing away from the body. Wrap left arm around bent right leg. Inhale and lengthen spine toward ceiling, exhale using core muscles to twist – think of wrapping the ribs more tightly around the spine. Keep lengthening on inhales and twisting on exhales for four or five Ujjayi breaths. Slowly come out and repeat to the other side.
3. Practice deep Ujjayi breathing throughout the day. If you can relax the abdominal muscles enough, the downward movement of the diaphragm on inhales will massage the abdominal organs; that’s good for the organs and the entire body.
4. Consider attending a class at You Power Yoga. We have beginner and gentle classes for those who are new to the practice, and the first visit to our studio is free for adults. Check out our schedule online. We would love to welcome you!