It’s something so many of us suffer with on a daily basis. Whether it is just small bouts of minor anxiety and depression, or severe, debilitating panic attacks, thousands everyday are enduring unneccesary stress. With these days come shaky and sweaty hands, racing thoughts, shallow breathing, and a sense of helplessness. It’s becoming a widely recognized problem for so many around the world today. Anxiety is a peace-thief. Researchers have searched for years trying to uncover the best ways to combat this growing condition. For those who opt to fight anxiety a more natural way, there has been one specific warrior they’ve found to be incessantly victorious time and time again– YOGA.

How exactly does a consistent yoga practice fight anxiety?

1.  BREATHING

The simple act of mindful breathing can help reduce anxiety. When you focus on the breath, your mind has a chance to rest and let go of negative thoughts. Yogic breath is also good for the body. Deep breathing increases oxygen levels in the blood supply, which helps remove toxins from the body. It also increases lung capacity and helps improve digestion. Anxiety steals our breath sometimes, so it’s so very important to set aside time to focus on giving it back to our body.

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2.  SWEATING

It’s amazing what a few stretches on a mat can do for your physical body and strength. Holding poses that feel comfortable for longer periods, create strain and resistance, causing quite a healthy workout. Sweating is another way our bodies rid themselves of toxins and burn pent-up energy. Many of us lack the daily exercise that we need to get natural endorphins flowing. This can lead to even more anxiety. Even thirty minutes of focused breath and stretching will increase heart rate, sweat, and the release of our daily dose of serotonin.

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3.  STRETCHING

The practice of asanas (or yoga poses) is good for both mind and body. Physically, asanas help release the tension that anxiety creates, allowing the body to feel recharged and healthier. When the body feels better, so does the mind. The challenges you face on the mat reduce anxiety by taking your mind off your worries and fears. You find yourself focusing on your strength, your body’s flexibility and limitations, and physical endurance, and giving your mind a much-needed break from reality. Taking your mind off of things that you can’t control and placing them onto things that you can control, eliminate the hold that anxiety has over your mind.

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4.  MEDITATION

Meditation is challenging, but not impossible. The ability to clear one’s mind of all thoughts is a skill that takes time. It is a path, not a goal. Meditation starts by simply taking the time to focus on your breath. It gives your mind a chance to slow down and teaches your body to relax.  In addition, with a regular meditation practice, you will begin to notice patterns in your thinking. The things that trigger anxiety, panic, and fear will become apparent to you. Once this happens, you can learn to change the patterns by recognizing your triggers. Learning to focus your mind on positive, thoughts full of gratitude, helps hold the effects of anxiety at bay.

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5.  NAPPING

Don’t we all do yoga for the savasanas–naps at the end?  After a concentrated time of focus, stretching, sweating, and meditation, the act of lying flat of our backs, no matter what life may have in store for us afterward, is exactly what the mind needs every single day. If meditation is the focusing of the mind, then savasana is the clearing of it. Whether it takes on the form of being completely in tune to all 5 senses and enjoying the smell of lavender in the air and the sweet sounds of the breezes on your patio, the pose of surrender and REST is exactly what each one of us need before or after a busy day. We all struggle to slow down. We move from one task to the next, and then onto a myriad of daily distractions, never allowing our minds to fully rest. Savasanas remind us that there is always time to  s l o w d o w n.  And it is extremely necessary.

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It’s time to step onto your mat… the practice will take care of itself. Through the simple steps of conscious breathing, regular asana practice, and meditation, anxiety is a thing that can be controlled, reduced, and ultimately overcome one breath, one pose, one day at a time. Take hold of your practice. Take hold of your life!

Namaste.

Have you caught the “Nica-Buzz” yet?? Nicaragua is now internationally recognized as an often overlooked, yet primier tourist destination for wanderlust souls. Known for it’s pristine, untouched beaches, rich history, colorful culture, and low cost of living, expats and tourists alike are flocking to this gorgeous country to enjoy the “tranquilo” lifestyle.  A lifestyle of more relaxation and adventure is necessary for one’s mental and physical health.  With so many around the world now suffering a combination of sick, tired, depressed,anxious, and miserable, it is a sad fact that many people seem to accept that a different way of life doesn’t exist. Whether you are in the mood for a permanent move, temporary relocation, or just an overdue vacation dedicated to your health, here are

“5 Reasons to Revive Your Soul in Nicaragua”:  

1.  Bask in the Sunshine

Soaking up the sun has received some bad press as of late. While it’s true that one shouldn’t spend all day in the sun, moderate, direct exposure to the sunshine is a healthy, necessary thing, and is easy to do in Nicaragua’s tropical climate.  The locals will joke that there are three seasons in Nicaragua; Summer, Windy Season, and Rainy Season with temperatures of 80-95 degrees fahrenheit year round. You will find most outside throughout the entire day, smiling and milling about their daily chores with a sense of jubilation and purpose.  Many believe this positive mental attitude is attributed to the beautiful sunshine.  In addition to encouraging a better mental state, exposure to sunlight has so many other positive benefits, such as the body’s production of melatonin and can promote more restful sleep. It’s also required for the body to produce Vitamin D, a vital nutrient not often available in the foods we consume daily. Doctors are now requesting patients to aim for 30 minutes of direct sun exposure at least a few times a week. Nicaragua is the perfect place to visit to bask in the sunshine and reset your body’s positive mental state.

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2.  Breathe Fresh Air

As the old saying goes, you can survive weeks without food, days without water, but only a few minutes without air. Given it’s place on the priority list, it goes without saying that the best air is fresh and clean. In Nicaragua, where the entire county’s homes, restaurants, and shops are all “open-air”, there is no doubt that all it’s inhabitants and visitors can breath fresh air with confidence. Away from the smog and industrial pollution of much of the first-world, Nicaragua is known for it’s beachside breezes and lack of dry air that penetrates much of the world’s climate-controlled homes and businesses. According to the EPA, air quality is usually two to five times worse inside than outside, full of chemical fumes from furniture, paint, flooring materials, air fresheners, and dehydrating air-conditioners and heaters. Come on down to Nicaragua and breathe easy, clean, and salty sea air. The difference is refreshing.

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3.  Get Your Dose of Vitamin “SEA”

There are abounding nutritional properties that the ocean provides, as other health-giving elements that one can benefit from. Nicaragua is surrounded by The Pacific on one side and the Caribbean on the other, providing an insurmountable number of gorgeous coastline to soak in the vitamin “sea” for your well-being. Research shows that the sound of waves alters wave patterns in the brain lulling one into a deeply relaxed state. Relaxing in this way can help rejuvenate the mind and body. Floating in the salt water can cure all sorts of skin and body ailments as well, as the exfoliation promotes better oxygen absorption and boosts seratonin, a body chemical linked with mood and stress. Go a step further and learn to surf, boogie board, or snorkel on the Nicaragua coasts!

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4.  Eat More Clean, Whole Foods

Much of Nicaragua is agricultural. Fishing villages line the coast, boasting fresh deep sea fish direct from the boats. The more inland sections of the country focus on farming all types of fruits and vegetables, as well as coffee, red beans, and rice. Much of the food that is consumed in Nicaragua came from Nicaragua. Most chicken and fish dishes are free of chemicals and preservatives and came from a farm or ranch just down the road. Huge “mercados” are centers for providing the locals and tourists with clean, whole foods. Many flock to Nicaragua to “detox” their systems from the “fast food” culture up north. Eating clean, whole foods helps one feel more energetic and productive and instantly improves mental health.

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5.  Get in Some “Adventure Therapy”

Over 100 years ago, doctors began using nature and it’s elements as a way of helping patients. The practice of using the outdoors to improve mental and physical health has developed into a concept called adventure therapy–using experiences that are active and challenging to boost mood, and jumpstart the body and mind into a better mental place. Nicaragua’s mountains, beaches, rainforests, lakes, and volcanoes are the perfect prescription for those who need a dose of adventure in their lives. Ziplining, catamaran sailing, volcano hiking, parasailing, surfing, rock-climbing, horseback riding, rainforest camping, scuba-diving, and ocean hoverboarding are just a few of the adventurous excursions that are available in this amazing country.  Discovering yourself through yoga and other forms of fitness can raise those endorphin levels and give you a much needed mental boost as well. (For more info on yoga retreats, contact us HERE!)

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Do you need a prescription for better health and mental wellness?! Travel to Nicaragua this year and revive your body, mind, and soul! Adventure and sunshine awaits you!  Bring your friends and refresh together! All-inclusive Group Retreats available through NYI HERE.