Sadie: All yoga poses help to balance the body and breath, and therefore, the central nervous system. In my opinion, it's not the poses that matter most, it's the level of intensity. If a class is too hard, even yoga can trigger stress. Too passive and it can promote lethargy. Yoga as internal medicine is a personal thing. Some people find that more movement, or more of an exercise form of yoga is what best brings them to center. Some require a more gentle or restorative form. Many students find that incorporating both stronger and softer poses helps them feel fit, grounded and clear. People should try them both and see which style brings them the most benefits.
MHA: What about breathing techniques?
Sadie: One of the best breaths I've found for calming the mind and body is simple, and fast-acting. I call it the Double-Down Breath. Sit somewhere quiet, and begin to breathe through the nose. Inhale for 3 seconds, and exhale for 6. Do this for one minute, then do one more minute of 4 second inhales and 8 second exhales. Then breathe normally through the nose for one more minute. In just 3 minutes total, people usually experience a soothing, yet aware sensation that means the nervous system is now in equilibrium.
MHA: What is the best way for a beginner to start a yoga practice?
Sadie: The best way is to just start. So many people wait because they don't know what it will be like, and when they finally get there, they find it's an amazingly helpful tool they can always have access to. I would suggest that someone who wants to try yoga head to a local studio, and take a Basic or Beginner-level class. These are usually strengthening classes that get the body moving in a supportive environment with lots of variations and adaptations. Gentle and Restorative will be less movement but are great for those who want a more soothing practice and not as much of a workout.
MHA:Is posture connected to mood? What do you recommend to help improve posture?
Sadie: Posture is absolutely connected to mood. People with poor posture are usually cut off from their full breathing capacity. Breath is intimately connected to healing, brain function and central nervous system balancing. Along with poor posture usually comes a lack of belly tone or movement. Without the inner massage that belly and pelvic breathing and toning provides, serotonin production (the majority of which is produced in the gut, not the brain), less self-soothing and stress-busting is available. Simply standing up straighter--something that regular yoga practice causes naturally--and inhaling to expand the belly, exhaling to hug the low belly in and up can cause a major shift in mood...and health in general.
MHA: How do you recommend beginning?
Sadie: It's hard to start something new if one is feeling depressed, fatigued or isolated. But yoga is a magic practice, one that not only transforms the body, mind and way of living in the world, but it also provides an instant community of like-minded people ready to encourage and support your journey into unimaginable health and wellness. You just have to take the first step--onto the yoga mat.
Join us for Get On Your Mat For Mental Health with Sadie Nardini!
Wednesday, June 19 at 6pm on Court Street in White Plains
Register at www.mhawestchester.org