Yin for the Sleep Win…#Yinning

Deep Sleep Yin Yoga with Jane Holland at The Melbourne Apothecary

How many nights have you SWORN you would get off Netflix earlier/ stopped scrolling social media in bed/ run a bath/ rubbed lavender in your pillow/ done a guided mediation/ got a better night’s sleep?! Or perhaps you tend to lay in bed, wide eyed, coaxing yourself to drop down, only to become more restless the longer you remain awake?! If you answered yes, you are not alone! An astonishing 39.8% Australians are not getting the recommended quality and/or quantity of sleep each night, leading to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, cognitive dysfunction, poor immune regulation and higher chances of depression and anxiety during and post-pregnancy (Adams 2017).  And this where yin yoga comes into play – yin for the sleep win. Let’s dive in.

Increasingly, we are living in a screen-driven, complex, and uncertain world. The prevalence of sleep problems and prescribed sleep medications actually increased between 2010 and 2016, suggesting that despite increasing awareness in the general media and medical literature about sleep, we are not making meaningful changes!

So, what can you do?

One of the first things you can do to support your sleep is to get honest and conduct a night-time audit. It is much harder to change a behaviour you are not aware of, so understanding your patterns and how they might be contributing to poor sleep comes first.

  1. RECORD… Track your movements between 6pm and bedtime each night for the next two weeks. Keep a record of the times you ate/ drank, what you watched on TV, amount of alcoholic drinks/ cigarettes, interactions with partners/ family/ housemates, time on your phone, reading, what you do when lying down to bed, exercise etc. Also note caffeine intake (how many coffees/ teas/ cola drinks you had during the day) Make this as detailed as possible.
  2. ASSESS… Each morning, record how your sleep was the previous evening – how many times you woke, if you got up during the night, how vital you feel when you wake on a scale of 1-10 (if you have a device that tracks this you could record the data as well).
  3. REVIEW… After two weeks, go back to your journal and notice if there are correlations between evening activities and sleep quality/ quantity.
The next step? Operation SLEEP HYGIENE
  1. EDIT… Start small. That is, find ONE thing you can remove from your evening ritual that might be connected to poor sleep, and introduce ONE thing that might improve your sleep.

SUGGESTIONS…

  1. REMOVE– Wi-Fi in your home after 9pm, scrolling on apps whilst lying in bed, alcoholic drinks, caffeine after midday, bright lighting around the home in the evening, arguments with family/ housemates, going straight from Netflix to bed, eating/ working within an hour of going to sleep, electronics in the bedroom.
  2. INTRODUCE– dimmed lighting for an hour before sleeping, sipping warm water in the fresh air for 10 minutes before bed, yin yoga, 10 mins of meditation, reading, a warm shower or bath, daily exercise (20-30mins), going to bed at the same time every night, removing all electronic devices from your bedroom
  3. REVIEW… Notice what changes for you over the following two weeks. Does your sleep improve? What are you feeling since your audit? Can you introduce another small change after these two weeks?

Including meditation and gentle yoga before bed is one simple method of reducing stress and supporting in to ‘come home’ to your body and breath. Studies have shown that including meditation, breathwork and yoga reduces stress and associated negative health effects, as well as improving sleep quality and quantity.

Yin yoga, a practice which includes long held postures targeting deep connective tissue and calming the nervous system, has shown great promise in reducing stress and ensuring good sleep hygiene.

A 2012 US study found 55% of participants who included yoga in their weekly practices reported improved sleep, and 85% reduced stress (Stussman 2015). Yoga’s ability to increase relaxation and induce a balanced mental state has also been explored, with a regular yoga practice resulting in an increase in the total number of hours slept, significantly less time getting to sleep, and a feeling of being rested in the morning (Woodyard 2011).

While there is not one definitive answer to improving sleep quality and quantity, becoming aware of our daily habits and behaviours is an incredibly important starting point in establishing what is true. By getting honest, it is possible to firstly acknowledge and then establish what changes can be made. Implementing a regular yoga and meditation practice may provide both a nourishing and supportive way to come back into alignment with our natural cycles, improve sleep and experience deep rest.

So as the sun sets on your day, watch your own habits and behaviours as you prepare for sleep. Will you be winding down with nature and following your natural rhythms supported by yoga and mindfulness? Or will you scrolling mindlessly, yearning for deep restoration but unwilling to make changes… The choice is yours.

Written by Jane Holland

Jane Holland is a respected yin yoga teacher, international retreat facilitator and educator. She is the creator and facilitator of our current “Deep Sleep” series – yin yoga for restoration.

 

 

References:

Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Int J Yoga. 2011;4(2):49-54. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.85485

(Stussman BJ, Black LI, Barnes PM, Clarke TC, Nahin RL. Wellness-related use of common complementary health approaches among adults: United States, 2012. National health statistics reports; no 85. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015.)

Adams RJ, Appleton SL, Taylor AW et al. Sleep health of Australian adults in 2016: results of the 2016 Sleep Health Foundation national survey. Sleep Health 2017;3:35-42

Daukantaitė D, Tellhed U, Maddux RE, Svensson T, Melander O. Five-week yin yoga-based interventions decreased plasma adrenomedullin and increased psychological health in stressed adults: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2018 Jul 18;13(7):e0200518. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200518. PMID: 30020987; PMCID: PMC6051627.

Your Free COVID Care Package

COVID Recovery Package with Fertile Ground and The Melbourne Apothecary

We are here to help you – it’s what we love to do. This COVID care package is for you if you:

  • Want better health, rest and body-wide repair,
  • Want help with navigating the complexities of making your Fertility Plan,
  • Have PCOS and want to start making healthy recovery strides simply by adjusting your diet,
  • Need help creating better breathing and respiratory health habits to carry you through a COVID climate,
  • Are experiencing frayed mental edges that need soothing,
  • Want relief, attention and release of areas that experience cyclic or persistent pain,
  • Love to have beautiful restorative sleep,
  • Want insights into how to ramp up the health of your diet and your digestive tract
How can we help?

You may have noticed that we’ve enacted an outpouring of free things to you since the inception of COVID. We have made a concentrated effort to create free resources for you with love from many of our wonderful practitioners, to support your mind, body, and sense of connection through all the recent challenges and beyond.

These resources have felt like a lifesaver for many people who have felt disconnected, stressed, in pain, anxious and fearful with reverberating body-wide repercussions like restlessness, digestive issues, insomnia, panic attacks, breathing difficulties, muscular pain and more. It’s important that you pay attention to your health with even more precision during stressful times like these.

We are robust and resilient when given the right ingredients for thriving and surviving.

 

Your COVID Care Package Freebies

We are dedicated to supporting you now and beyond – download any and all of the freebies contained below in our free COVID Care Package. We have built all of these resources for you and will be adding to this package often over the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled on our newsletters and Instagram OR Facebook pages so that you can grab each freebie as it comes out.

It is our pleasure and mission to support your glowing health and healing always.

 

Free 10-minute Naturopathic Wellness Consults

Book here for anyone who needs preventative wellness strategies for immunity, symptomatic relief for an acute condition and general health enquiries. We will, of course, refer you if needed for more complex issues/conditions, but this is a great way to make a start toward your healthier life.

 

Immune Essentials E-book

Nine simple steps to enhance your health and resilience written by our wonderful naturopathic team.

Get instant free access and start taking simple actions every day to improve your immunity and stay well this winter.

 

Your Fertility Plan

Naturopath, Sage King, is putting together a free 6 part series designed to help you navigate your fertility journey. Sage touches on everything from preconception care, pathology screening, to assisted reproductive technology (ART) and how to optimise your outcomes with Naturopathy. Register to be notified when the series is released.

 

Free PCOS & Diet Guide

Do you have PCOS? Access this simple Naturopathic guide to get started with balancing your body through your diet. Inside you’ll receive delicious PCOS friendly recipes, detoxification details, information on how to approach carbohydrates, fats and proteins, food swap charts, as well as steps that you can take to really kickstart your healing. Well known PCOS treating Naturopath, Josephine Cabrall, has put this together to help anyone suffering with PCOS start to find the path to healing. Get your free copy of this fantastic resource.

 

Deep Sleep Yin Yoga

Jane Holland, yoga teacher, international retreat facilitator and educator has lovingly created this Deep Sleep online series in collaboration with Fertile Ground at The Melbourne Apothecary.

These yin classes are designed to guide you into your body to fully inhabit sensation, find release and arrive in spaciousness, allowing you to melt tension and move into a deep state of rest. Jane is generously offering to everyone to come and experience their first class free.

Register for your first free class and get ready for the rest 😴 of your life.

 

Free Buteyko Starter Pack for Healthier Mask Breathing & Nervous System Relief

Mask wearing and mask breathing is really hard. Why? Much of it is to do with carbon dioxide which, when understood and used to your advantage, can actually be used to improve your health rather than hinder it. In fact it can be part of the solution to many health issues beyond respiratory protection. Use this Starter Pack to begin to address your foundational respiratory health.

The Starter Pack includes 3 x 15 minute Buteyko embedded meditations and comprehensive instructions about duration, frequency, what to expect as results. Made with love by our breath specialist naturopath Carly Woods

Carly has also made a hilarious and informative online quiz entitled ‘Are you a Dirty Mouth Breather?’ So go ahead and find out – are you a Dirty Mouth Breather?

 

Acupressure for Stress Relief

Stressed? Understatement of the year perhaps.

Download this wonderful Acupressure for Stress Relief Guide from Acupuncturist, Chinese Medicine practitioner and Naturopath, Holly Peyton-Smith (thanks so much Holly).

Grab it fresh out of the digital inbox and take therapeutic action to slay your stress.

 

Winter wellness Super Soups RecipEbook

This fabulous Super Soups Ebook has been built for you with love by Naturopath Tina Jenkins. Do you want to ramp up your Winter wellness in an oh-so-delicious way??  If so, make sure you grab your copy here.

 

Phew! That’s A LOT of resources for healthy living that you can use right now or access later as you need. Feel welcome to share it with your friends too – these resources are for everyone.

Have a great time consuming all of these wonderful resources packed full of actionable health-enhancing goodness. Thank you to all of our loving practitioners and team for putting these together for our community so quickly and with such care.

Brought to you by Carly Woods Director, Naturopath and Breath Specialist, Fertile Ground Health Group and The Melbourne Apothecary.

Your Guide to Healthier Mask Breathing

Healthier Mask Breathing with Carly Woods

Do you feel comfortable mask breathing?

Do you feel fear about wearing a facial mask? 

Do you find it claustrophobic? 

Do you find it anxiety producing?

Are you wearing it properly or are you treating it like a piece of face jewellery (only wearing over the mouth with your nose out, or putting it on the top of your head or chin because it feels irritating?)

So many things to consider. Read on to find answers and helpful solutions to all of these things.

Why is mask breathing so hard?

Mask wearing and mask breathing is really hard. Why? Much of it is to do with carbon dioxide which, when understood and used to your advantage, can actually be used to improve your health rather than hinder it. In fact it can be part of the solution to many health issues beyond respiratory protection. But first let’s address the respiratory aspect.

At first mask breathing can make us feel anxious. That’s because 

  • When we first start breathing more carbon dioxide (incremental amounts from our out-breath) we experience a sensation of air hunger. If your body is not trained to accommodate (and benefit from) this experience (like altitude climbers and free divers) it can be really confronting.
  • When we find it hard to breathe behind a mask we often open our mouths, which ends up contributing to a state of sympathetic dominance in our system (fight or flight) = anxiety producing.

Adapting to this new way of mask breathing can be daunting, especially for those of us who have suffered anxiety or stress around breathing, claustrophobia or air constriction in the past. Whacking a mask straight onto our faces might be really intense, let alone dealing with the sensation of mild air hunger.

Finding a solution – Buteyko Therapy

Buteyko Therapy was originally developed in the 1950s to treat asthma, however (thankfully) the Buteyko breathing exercises and principles can be applied across a variety of conditions (many of which are top of mind globally now) AND they can be easily applied to support healthy and comfortable mask breathing. 

These exercises provide a powerful tool that you can use to relieve stress and anxiety within minutes, to prompt nasal decongestion, support healthy respiration and respiratory recovery, healthy digestion, pave the way to restorative sleep and support general body-wide repair.

It seems crazy that these incredible little lungs that we grew all by ourselves, when used correctly, support such profound health. And yet not so crazy, when you think about it…

  • We can go weeks without eating.
  • We can go days without drinking.
  • We can go minutes without breathing.

So that’s pretty sobering.

It is my mission to teach you how to use Buteyko to your advantage, with urgency. Simply. Daily. Easily. Powerfully. Alongside your mask. Let’s begin.

What conditions can Buteyko Therapy help to address?

There are too many to list, so I’ll list the ones that are most relevant at this moment in time.

  • Respiratory decongestion (hayfever, colds, flu, rhinitis, sinusitis)
  • Asthma 
  • Anxiety & stress
  • Panic & overwhelm
  • Sleep issues (insomnia, sleep apnoea, snoring)
  • Digestive issues
How does Buteyko Therapy work?

A basic explanation of the way Buteyko Therapy works is to say that it retrains your respiratory centre in your brain to accept more appropriate levels of carbon dioxide in your system. This is done through a series of gentle introductions to the sensation of air hunger to gradually nudge your brain’s tolerance towards a more optimal state. 

“Purposely expose myself to air hunger? Why on earth would I do that?” I hear you saying. Fair enough. Let’s find out why.

A gradual sensation of air hunger (in controlled Buteyko Therapy setting) prompts incremental advances in carbon dioxide tolerance. This is an important balance to get right, because carbon dioxide:

  • Plays an important role in helping your blood to release oxygen into your tissues (for the keen science analysts out there check out the Bohr Effect)
  • Prompts activation of your parasympathetic nervous system (your rest, digest, repair state)
  • Contributes to decreasing your brain excitability (hello calmer brain)
  • Helps to relax your smooth muscles (which equals greater general relaxation, better sleep, better digestion and release of tension throughout your body)

Now that’s not all. Buteyko Therapy also works to increase the natural nitric oxide production in your nasal cavity, which you then breathe down into your beautiful lungs (via nose breathing). Why is nitric oxide helpful?

Nitric oxide gas

  • is antiviral and antibacterial (yay)
  • is a natural bronchodilator (opens the lungs)
  • acts in the respiratory passages and lungs in an anti-inflammatory way (so you can see the link to decongestion)
  • helps to move you into your parasympathetic state (again – your rest, repair and digest state)
Support comfortable mask breathing with Buteyko

There are many Buteyko principles and exercises that you can use to supercharge your health. For simplicity, start with the following:

  • Always nose breathe ONLY, even with your mask on – do NOT mouth breathe unless you have to talk or have physical nasal obstruction (snot, unless so dense that you cannot possibly take a breath through a tiny part of your nostrils, is not counted as a physical obstruction).
  • If you must mouth breathe (when talking) ensure it is smooth, gentle and not audible. If audible, shut your mouth and nose breathe for a time until your nervous system calms down and then resume talking, calmly.
  • Wear your mask for short periods at first (15-20 minutes) and slowly work up to wearing it for longer periods so as not to shock your system.
  • Do daily Buteyko meditations to start to retrain your body towards healthier respiration (grab the free Buteyko Starter Pack for Healthier Mask Breathing that I’ve built for you).
  • Learn how to wear your mask properly (as decreed by the WHO).

By the way, when you begin nose breathing consistently you’ll notice that your nose starts to decongest. Some people can experience post-nasal drip or the need to blow the nose more. This should not last more than a few days and doing an increased number of buteyko exercises daily will generally help you move through it more quickly.

Interesting and wonderful facts to perk up your day
  • Nitric oxide is antiviral and antibacterial and it is enhanced in the body via nose breathing – yay! Nose breathing is so easy and simple, we can all do it!
  • Use your nose to breathe in order to reduce the viral load AND to reduce the potential transmission of water particles into the atmosphere (if infected) – there is a 42% greater water* loss from breathing out through the MOUTH than the NOSE – and when something is transmitted via water particles this would feel like common sense to convert to total nose breathing, don’t you think? So get on board and (with love) shut your mouth – for all our sakes.
  • Always nose breathe, as much as possible, even during exercise. Gauge your exercise intensity by your ability to nose breathe. You can enhance your ability to nose breathe while exercising by simply smiling (with your mouth closed). Smiling widens your nostrils. Plus you get wonderful responses from people passing you. Remember not to wear your mask while exercising (WHO recommendation) – simply stay 1.5 meters away from anyone and close your mouth.

So let’s all nose breathe and let our smiles be the thing that is contagious. Connection and protection all in one foul nasal swoop. High facial fives. It’s almost like we’re designed to be happy and healthy…😉

The nose knows.

Written by Carly Woods

Buteyko Practitioner & Naturopath

Download Carly’s free Buteyko Starter Pack for Healthier Mask Breathing – 3 Buteyko embedded deeply restorative meditations complete with comprehensive instructions for duration, frequency of use, and benefits to your body. You will learn which part of your face to breathe with and why, you will be guided through using these recordings daily to build up to comfortable and healthy mask breathing, to nourish your lungs and to leverage the protective power of your nose.

Are you a natural nose breather or a dirty mouth breather? Find out via this fun and informative quiz.

I want to acknowledge all the fantastic work my trainer and global Buteyko expert, Patrick McKeown, is doing for everyone all around the world at the moment. Look up his ted talk. He is a brilliant trainer, wonderful person and incredible to listen to and learn from.

Reference

How to Breathe While Wearing Face Mask, by Patrick McKeown