The Weather is Beautiful; Why am I Feeling Depressed?!?

Since the weather has become humid, many people have been complaining of depression and lack of motivation. The nicholassun is bright, the weather is warm, the flowers…

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by Nicholas Sieben, M.S., L.Ac.

Since the weather has become humid, many people have been complaining of depression and lack of motivation. The nicholassun is bright, the weather is warm, the flowers are in bloom? Why the blues?

I think many of us are reacting to the climate: the same type of humid-hot weather inside us is resonating with the weather outside, causing lethargy.

The Weather Outside and the Weather Inside

The problem comes from blockage in the chest. The Lungs are feeling stifled and our energy feels depleted. The Classics of Chinese Medicine speak about our relationship to nature. We are part of nature. Therefore, what’s inside us reacts to what’s outside of us. Symptoms that occur with a particular type of weather indicates we are harboring the same type of weather within. This is the nature of weather in our bodies: it only gives us problems when the surrounding environment is also expressing a similar state.

Chinese Medicine

So for those of us who are struggling with Damp Heat: some insight into the problem can be helpful. Chinese Medicine views all conditions physically, mentally/emotionally and spiritually. Chinese Medicine is a physical science, as well as a philosophical system. What is happening physically in our bodies can give insight into what we need to do mentally and emotionally to evolve and heal. The same is true when we are experiencing mental-emotional systems. They are signs of some physical imbalance in our bodies.

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Damp- Heat

Damp-heat is philosophically seen as desires that are being dampened: we want to do or express something, but for some reason we’re not able to. Something is holding us back: the dampness. Or, it can come from something we are holding onto, which is creating heat from being stagnant. The dampness is a response to control the heat. The dampness can also be our resistance to fully letting something go. Or, the dampness can be our confusion about a situation: we don’t quite know what to let go of, or which direction to go. If it sounds sticky, it is! That is exactly the type of environment that is created internally. The heat thickens and dries the fluids in the chest and abdomen into a thick-sticky mess. This interferes with vitality, sinks the mood, and can even lead to digestive problems.

Damp-heat can also be the result of a bug caught in a prior season that we have not fully eradicated. The bug is kept in the chest, waiting to be expelled. For some reason, the body lacks the energy to fully expel the problem. The chest and diaphragm tighten to keep the problem from moving deeper into the abdomen. Chest tightness creates depression. It also blocks the chest, which is the area where the energy for the body undergoes its final production before it is circulated throughout the body.

When the chest is blocked, a whole host of symptoms can occur, including depression and lethargy.

Focus on Letting Go

To move past the sense of stuckness which comes with Damp-Heat blockage in the chest, we must focus on opening our chest, and letting go. We must also be careful not to consume foods that will further complicate the condition: excessive dampening or heating foods. Spicy foods, tropical fruits, hard cheeses, alcohol and fried foods can all exacerbate the problem: they will create more dampness and more heat. We may crave these things, and feel comforted by them; but after the rush of pleasure or ease, they will make the problem worse.

Talk About It

We must also be willing to talk and get things “off our chest.” Exercise that makes us sweat is helpful, including Tai Ji, Yoga or Qi Gong. We probably won’t feel like it, but we should do it anyway: to get things moving. Even stretching the arms high above the head can help: to release the diaphragm.

Get Energy Moving

An emotional release can also be helpful: to watch a tear-jerking movie or read a poem that moves us, or listen to some music that will move our hearts. Anything to get the energy in the chest moving!

Acupuncture

Acupuncture treatment can also be helpful. If the chest is blocked and unable to release, the help of an energetic medical system can provide the needed boost to open up. Chances are: we just need a little adjustment to get back on tract.

Nicholas Sieben has been working as a healer for over 10 years. He has a Master of Science degree in Acupuncture from the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences.  He continues to study under the internationally renowned Jeffrey C. Yuen, Taoist priest and Master of Chinese Medicine: 88th generation Taoist lineage: Yu Ching Huang Lao Pai. His mission is to promote greater freedom of body, mind and spirit through compassionate self-awareness. Through the use of ancient medical practices and the spiritual philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism, Nicholas helps illuminate the path to healing.

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Gentle Flow Yoga – Take it Easy

“Take it easy, take it easy – don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy”. Who would have thought The Eagles could sum up…

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“Take it easy, take it easy – don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy”. Who would have thought The Eagles could sum up what gentle flow yoga is all about?

Not all yoga classes have to be preparation for the Olympics. In fact, gentle yoga is just that, “gentle”, while also being invigorating and helping keep your body toned and in shape. This video from Pilgrimage Yoga, “Gentle Flow with Jamie”, shows how you can benefit from “taking it easy”. And, as it turns out, taking it easy or gentle yoga actually helps to not let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy!

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What is Gentle Yoga?

Gentle yoga is not as strenuous or difficult as “regular” yoga. Movements in gentle yoga are slower and not as difficult to get in and out of. Some of the postures, or asanas, are the same as you would normally do. However, this is not a flow where you go from down dog to plank to upward dog and back to down dog in one breath. This is gentle, slow…..easy! That doesn’t mean you’re not getting anything out of it. As we will see, it’s quite the opposite.

Like a lot of yoga sessions, this one starts with setting an intention and a proper seat position. This forms a good base from which to do other postures. Jamie walks us through a seated stretch for the side body, a seated twist and finally a seated forward fold.

After sitting, we move to tabletop pose where we are led through a series that includes Cat/Cow, modified Warrior II on one knee and Child’s pose (balasana).

Also included in this session is some instruction on Pranayama breathing – specifically alternate nostril breathing.

Benefits of Gentle Yoga and Breath

By it’s nature, gentle yoga connects movement to breath – and that’s a great thing! Since each movement is linked with the breath, we enter the posture gradually. This preparation nurtures the joints, muscles and connective tissue. In addition, some other benefits of gentle yoga include:

• Increased flexibility
• A calmed mind
• Stress relief
• Enhanced range of motion
• Balanced digestion
• Improved sleep patterns

Pranayama, or alternate breathing techniques, further assists with feeling more calm and centered, reduces anxiety and has been known to improve sleep patterns.

The video demonstrates the proper way to hold your fingers and walks you through the process of inhaling and exhaling through one nostril by blocking off the other and then doing the same with the other nostril. Surprisingly, this technique, which has been around for a long time, has students reporting they feel more calm and centered and that it helps mitigate intense emotional feelings and helps them sleep better.

Gentle Yoga and Pranayama in Daily Life

Gentle yoga and pranayama can be practiced most anywhere at any time. Sitting at your desk at work is a perfect time for a break of alternate nostril breathing. Likewise chair yoga, which can also be performed at your desk, is a form of gentle yoga. You can also practice gentle yoga at home, even from your bed. Practically speaking, gentle yoga and pranayama are available to the yogi to practice anytime, anywhere.

The overall approach to gentle yoga, however, can be summed up by our friends The Eagles:

Lighten up while you still can
Don’t even try to understand (well, maybe try)
Just find a place to make your stand
And take it easy.

Who said yoga had to be difficult?

Namaste

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A Stressful Day at Work

Most of my workday is spent in a seated position staring at a screen. It is NOT lotus position, but rather some distortion of what…

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Most of my workday is spent in a seated position staring at a screen. It is NOT lotus position, but rather some distortion of what a good posture should be. I try reminding myself to sit up straight as I look deep into the screen, but I don’t always catch myself. My back muscles are constantly sore and my eyes are blurry. Lately, I’ve also been noticing minor aches and pains in my joints, especially in the morning when I first wake up. Am I a complainer? Maybe, but I’m determined not to end up looking like a twisted tree trunk so I decided to look at some healthy alternatives.

Great timing, because I happened on this video from Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga’s online studio called: Gentle Yoga – 30 minutes with Danielle. I was drawn to the peaceful, relaxing nature of the video – from the soft background music to the soothing voice of the instructor, Danielle. There was also a “student” in the video demonstrating everything the instructor said that was very helpful in understanding what to do and how to do it correctly.

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Gentle Yoga in Practice

The video starts with a great example of proper sitting posture, which was timely for me. Next, they cover some simple but effective loosening of the hands, fingers, wrists and arms. This flows very nicely into other areas of the body – first with neck and shoulder stretches, followed by ankles, toes, legs, hips and spine. No part of the body is ignored!

Gentle Yoga in Everyday Life

The session ends with a gentle supportive spine twist, using 2 blankets as a “pillow”. This video was extremely helpful for my situation, not only because of the actual class, but also because I could use some of these stretches/movements at home and work and most don’t require a yoga mat. Since watching the video I find myself much more aware of my posture and practice moving my joints throughout the day. Now when I wake up, instead of complaining about my little aches and pains I have something positive to turn to. I would highly recommend this video for a gentle yet effective yoga class.

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