by Travis Eliot
Life is very busy. Many of us are juggling careers, relationships, families, hobbies, errands, school studies and much more. We are also being bombarded by text messages, emails, social media updates, news, media and world events. Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. Now, more than ever, taking care of yourself is a necessity not a luxury.
In my new book – Journey into Yin Yoga – I write about a growing body of evidence that is linking cancer, heart disease and stroke to overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is related to fight or flight. In a chronic sympathetic state the body is inundated with harmful amounts of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This excess creates a negative chemistry within the body that is extremely harmful.
It is important that we find time daily to switch into a parasympathetic state. By switching on the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system you will give the body a chance to recover, recharge and repair.
The following are time efficient tips that will improve your health, elevate your mood, and help you age gracefully!
1) Move Your Body
Moving the body with awareness is medicinal. By exercising you will decrease stress hormones and increase feel good hormones that greatly contribute to your health. As a yoga instructor, I’m naturally a big proponent for yoga. Certain rigorous styles such as power or vinyasa yoga will benefit your strength, flexibility, balance and stamina. Even if you only have 20 or 30 minutes this can have great rewards. You can find different styles of yoga and durations to stream here. One great thing about yoga is all you need is you and your mat allowing you to practice at home or on the road!
2) Get Energy
The yogis call it prana and the Taoists call it Chi, which is life force energy. We all need proper energy to fuel our bodies and minds. Eat foods that are in a natural, fresh state free of pesticides, preservatives and chemicals. Drink fresh water with fresh lime juice throughout the day to help detoxify the body and increase alkalinity. Take several deep breaths inhaling through the nose and exhaling out the mouth. This will help to oxygenate your cells and increase vitality throughout the body.
3) Find Stillness
Take some time during the day to close the eyes and get still. This can be at home, in your car (not while driving!), at the office, or on an airplane. Simply closing the eyes can conserve 30% of your energy. It takes a tremendous amount of energy for the brain to process all the information that comes in through the sense of sight. With your eyes closed you can repeat a word like ‘calm’ for a couple of minutes. Your brain will broadcast this energy of calm and ease throughout all the 100 trillion cells of the body. Keep in mind that ease is the opposite of disease. A calm mind is the foundation to taking care of yourself.
4) Give Gratitude
Where the mind goes is where the energy flows. By paying attention to all the blessings that you have, you will enrich the quality of your life. Every night before going to bed write in a journal three things that happened during the day you are grateful for. This simple and short practice is a game changer. You will experience the fullness of your heart and bring the attitude of gratitude with you into your sleeping state. You can take it further and continue to express gratitude throughout your day. Being grateful is the key to have a great life!
By following these time friendly tips, you will take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. As they say on the airplane, “place your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” By giving back to yourself you will be able to give more fully to others. Even on the most hectic of days you are never too busy to take of yourself!
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Travis Eliot is a Yoga Alliance-certified E-RYT 500 instructor, meditation teacher, kirtan musician and certified Ayurveda practitioner. He teaches his signature Holistic Yoga Flow classes in Los Angeles and in workshops and retreats around the world. His style is intensely dynamic and has inspired many of today’s top athletes, celebrities, and entertainers.