Improving Life, Improving Experience Issue 9, July 2012
Welcome to all new members of our stress-busting community!
From popular science talks about the brain, emotions and behaviour to practical demonstrations giving you tools to reduce your stress level, Hove StressBusters is a group dedicated to community wellbeing and stress management.
The weekly low-cost drop-in clinics and workshops are an ideal opportunity to try out different stress-busting techniques at a fraction of a cost of a regular session. You can choose from a range of treatments designed to help you relax and support you in dealing with a variety of stress-related issues including MOOD, SLEEP, PAIN and WEIGHT management, ANXIETY/PHOBIAS, SMOKING & other ADDICTIVE behaviours.
Cost: £10 for a 20 minute 1:1 appointment (group activities & workshops are £5)
17th July - Business Wellbeing Clinic
Business Development & Coaching, Accountancy (tax, book-keeping etc.)
24th July - Stress & Wellbeing Clinic
Alexander Technique, Reflexology, NLP, Hypnotherapy, wingwave® Coaching;
Sedona Method (30 minute group activity)
31st July - Mindfulness Workshop
A 60 minute workshop for everyone who is interested in learning and practising mindfulness techniques
3rd July - FREE Business Workshop: 'Start-Up Sales Strategies?'
Business Workshop for complementary practitioners and other self-employed individuals & business owners - Taking the stress out of doing the work you love!
Hove StressBusters Talks & Demonstrations
Our July Yoga Special last week covered the practice of yoga from several different angles: scientific, philosophical, historical as well as practical. It was incredible to see how intertwined neurobiology and Eastern practices really are even though at first they seem to be two parallel worlds. Most people who were at the event last week have had previous experience of yoga - some only ever attended one or two classes, whilst others are or have been practising yoga regularly. It was therefore very interesting to hear about their positive as well as negative experiences with different types of yoga practice and also to find out the reasons why some people simply never really got into it.
The Science of Yoga
The event started off with a talk about stress, yoga and the brain. Dr Jelena Goranovic, psychology researcher and lecturer and co-founder of INNERNATION Coaching & Development, described the neurobiological mechanisms of the stress response. She went on to summarize the results of research studies which demonstrated a number of significant physiological effects and health benefits of yoga, including enhanced muscular strength and body flexibility, reduced stress, anxiety and depression, improved sleep and quality of life, reduction in chronic pain, improved respiratory and cardiovascular function, reduced blood sugar levels (very important for diabetic patients), reduced intra-ocular pressure (great news for glaucoma sufferers) and even a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures in treatment-resistant epilepsy patients.
Jelena finished off by presenting the results of a groundbreaking brain imaging study which showed that regular yoga practice improved mood and reduced anxiety significantly more than an equally intensive course of physical exercise. This study was the first to demonstrate that the improvement in mood following yoga was correlated with a significant increase in the levels of brain's own anti-anxiety chemical, the neurotransmitter called GABA.
After the break, we had a chance to experience the stress-reducing properties of yoga ourselves. Penelope Zikic, yoga teacher and the founder of Maitri Yoga, expanded on Jelena's talk by explaining the history and philosophy of yoga practices. She then went on to run a brief practical session which demonstrated that: 1) yoga really can be done by anyone, regardless of their level of physical ability, 2) it really is possible to do it using a chair, and 3) it can be fun!
In the Hove StressBusters tradition of empirically testing and evaluating the effectiveness of different approaches to wellbeing, this event also had a twist. Everyone took part in a brief study which evaluated the mood effects of yoga using the same questionnaire which was used in the brain imaging study Jelena described earlier. While we could not see what was happening to GABA in our brains, the results of our study showed that even this brief chair yoga session with Penelope produced a significant increase in self-reported positive engagement and the feelings of revitalization and tranquillity as well as a decrease in physical exhaustion.
The Western science is clearly lagging behind the empirical discoveries of the Eastern traditions, but it's great to see that the benefits of yoga can be confirmed not just through personal experience of doing it but also through the rigorous use of scientific methods including brain imaging.
LIQUORICE Liquorice has a long history as an adrenal support, used to buoy up flagging energy reserves. We now know this is because it keeps the stress hormone cortisol circulating. This may not sound an attractive proposition but this hormone is needed to get up in the morning and keep up blood sugar levels. Long-term stress can deplete its morning production, having us turn to sugary breakfasts, caffeine or stress to provide motivation. Liquorice is a great alternative and makes for delicious teas but, as it is so stimulating, it should not be consumed by people with high blood pressure and everyone else should avoid consuming it past 2pm as it can affect sleep. It is also used traditionally for digestive ailments commonly caused by stress, as it supports the protective membranes that coat the digestive tract, effectively soothing the gut and acting as a mild laxative. It inhibits the bacteria Helicobacter Pylori, responsible for stomach ulcers whilst also healing the stomach wall.
Keep spreading the word: the more people get involved in our community group, the more diverse and interactive our events are going to be!