September- A Month of Growth – In Many Ways
by Tisha Tate Garcia
September is National Yoga Month. It is also a month full of everything from Hug Your Dog Day to National 401(k) Day to National Guacamole Day (a personal favorite). Not to mention the whole month is harkened as the National Chicken, Papaya, Honey and Better Breakfast Month. Even Rotary highlights September as Basic Education and Literacy month.
But back to National Yoga Month, which was designated as such in 2008 by the Department of Health and Human Services. The goal was to create awareness and offer education about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle.
Several years ago I bought a Groupon to lose weight. Honestly, I had bought a lot of things to support that effort over the years. This particular Groupon was for an unlimited month of yoga. That first “discounted” month led to a lifestyle change with multiple positives: over 120 pounds lost, peacefulness gained, reduced anxiety, a sense of calm and so much more. It is those unseen things that have made the biggest impact on my life. Today, I am a certified yoga teacher within the International Yoga Alliance.
Just like most things, yoga is different things to different people. For me, it is simply feeling better in your body and more peaceful in your mind. And you don’t have to stand on your head to get there – just breathe. Breathing is my favorite way to practice and teach yoga. In fact, since the 1970’s, Harvard Medical School has noted the benefits of deep breathing.
Many of us live “stressed out.” We now know extended periods of stress lead to health challenges including heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, anxiety and more. The CDC reports stress-related illnesses cost U.S. businesses billions of dollars each year. In our fast-paced culture, we often put ourselves at the bottom of our list. Even making it to a weekly Rotary meeting, which I find good for my soul, can be tough.
Deep breathing immediately gives us the opportunity to move from fight/flight (stress) mode to rest/digest (healing) mode. It can be as simple as this….move your awareness gently to your breath. Exhale completely and feel your shoulders begin to soften. Inhale through your nose and feel the coolness of the air as it passes through your nostrils. Hold at the top of the inhale for a few moments, and then gently exhale through your nose, softening your shoulders again. Repeat this cycle at least two more times. Notice how you feel.
Do the things that are good for you. When you are good to yourself, you can be even better for others. Make it to Rotary and take time every day to breathe your way to better health. Cheers!