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Updated: Mar 13

 

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To navigate a chaotic world, it is even more essential than ever before to begin with nurturing yourself.


Do you wish to find out about a perfect counterbalance to a busy chaotic world ? Do you wish to learn about letting go and grounding yourself to stay strong, aligned and centred ? If you wish to find a way to healing, feeling whole and at ease, no matter what, then please read on…


Finding space and ease within is our theme for this term of yoga 🧘‍♀️ I feel we need this more than ever in a world 🌎 in turmoil. Stress on or off… When was the last time you completely switched off ? There is a road to healing.


In crises, we start doing strange stuff. Over the last couple of years, we have to deal with a rise in violence across the globe, the pandemic, wars and so on… It is a lot to feel destabilise on a business or personal level.


Personally, I have recently struggled to get a good night sleep, stayed up late into the night pottering about, indulged in comfort eating, buying food I don’t usually eat and started to easily feel frustrated when my energy level dropped. Does this sound familiar ? I know I am not alone, This is a typical stress reaction.

This behaviour is unlike me, so what happened ? The truth is that for in the last few months, stress has been slowly finding its way more and more into our lives. Besides the world news, I have had no heating at home as my boiler broke down this winter, I have been doing a lot of trouble shooting and suddenly, I found myself on crutches following a small ski accident resulting in endless medical appointments. The results of an X Ray and scan revealed a small ankle fracture, torn ligament and split Achilles tendon. Ouch !! This throws you completely out of balance. Not ideal, especially when you are a yoga teacher and like being active.


I am not complaining. There are much worse situations and I am very fortunate in many ways. I always like to learn from my experience. What I noticed is that I could not do my usual yoga practice, I learnt to adapt but more interestingly, I had lost my centre and a sense of connection. As I could not stand balancing on my own 2 feet, I ended up being perched and putting all my weight on one leg with the help of crutches. I somehow lost connection with my whole left side, with the earth below me, and to myself for a while.


BREATHE, MOVE, RELAX: I managed to carry on teaching and am learning along the way about self-compassion, patience and how to adapt my practice. My priority always is to reestablish a breath connection and find comfort and ease in my body. Crutches are so helpful to move around yet it brings tension in your shoulders, neck and back and your posture suffers as you come out of alignment. It also becomes very tiring.


I am so grateful I have Somatics I can use as a way to release tension and rebalance my body. Boy, did I need this or what ? Somatics allows you to develop interoceptive awareness to listen to your body. When lying on my mat, my body was telling me what I knew already. The whole of my body weight was resting on my right side. In other words, I could feel the right side of my back touching the floor but my left side was off the floor. After one hour practice, I was able to slowly release tension and reconnect both sides.


A gentle soothing Somatics flow, where I melt tension away, recreate space and freedom of movement truly feels amazing. It is an invitation to become quieter and feel what is happening within your body. It is an invitation to come back “home”. I love to take the time to reconnect. What I love is that sense of the body just letting go and return to its natural state.


The breath practice calms my nervous system and allows my body to open up and let go. Small gentle movements allow me to reset my body, mind and nervous system. What is even better is that sense of nurturing, grounding and calmness which comes with the practice. As I felt trapped in the chaos and turmoil of life, this is just what my body and soul needs right now. This is so therapeutic. I feel so grateful to have those tools to play with.


Somatics is a great practice on its own to feel calm, grounded, open and at ease in daily life. It is also a great warm up preparation for yoga or sport. Perfect for me !


Most important, I am trying to let my body rest when needed and learn from this experience. It is challenging. At times, I feel a bit teary, and all I really want to do is eat cake, chocolate and more cake. If I want to rest, I rest. If I don’t feel like exercising every day, that is fine. So, my mind does not approve of this situation and makes me feel guilty, yet I know my body is talking to me and I learn to listen. I learn to observe in a detached manner the dialogue between body & mind to help with my recovery process and healing. If you’re having a wobble, you may also have noticed all sorts of weird stuff going on. Any imbalance in your life will obviously impact your body, mind, energy and spirit. Are you arguing more, talking faster, struggling to sleep, feeling restless, desperate for information? Or are you simply feeling teary and overwhelmed, perhaps struggling to make decisions? Is your body feeling tense ? Are you experiencing palpitations, butterflies, headaches, an upset tummy ? Are you feeling fatigued ? Are you developing a low level of tolerance to noise and light ? Is your breath shallow or rapid ? If you are feeling any of these things, you are not alone. You are a fully emotionally functional human being. Those are reactions to stress. Let's review what happens to our being when under pressure.


As we are living in uncertain times, worry and anxiety can run wild. For the last few years, we have seen a rise in terrorism, increased violence, climate change, the pandemic, a rapid change towards a digital world where there is less human contact, more cyber-attacks, and now a declaration of war from Russia… Clearly the world is in turmoil. We have been asked to isolate, stay home, wear masks, keep a social distance and adapt to situations and ever-changing rules. All this can be perceived as threats to ourselves, our loved ones, and our way of life. It is easy to feel destabilised, be swept away, feel terrified and totally out of control.


Technically, threats are perceived by the amygdala, a complex structure of cells located deep inside our brain. The amygdala, a small almond shape cluster of nuclei, is part of the limbic system and plays a key role in how we assess and respond to environmental threats and challenges (including fear, anxiety, and aggression). It is the oldest, most primitive part of our brain, designed to ensure our physical survival in times of dangers.


The real issue is when perceived threats, real or not real, lead to prolonged stress, anxiety, mental and physical imbalances… The amygdala responds to danger or no danger. In other words, Bear No Bear !!


BEAR MODE ON !! Because all threats look like a bear to the amygdala, it preps you accordingly in a fraction of a second to fight or run real fast to deal with the situation. Our brain automatically springs into action sending a signal to our body by starting to pump cortisol and adrenaline around getting us ready for action to fight or flight. This is what we call the Fight or Flight response (there’s also freeze, meaning you just get paralysed). You come to a state of high alertness: your heart rate goes up, your breathing goes shallow, your muscles are ready for action. Blood is redirected to all vital organs and your digestive system shuts down.

This is a fantastic mechanism to escape danger in the short term. If it goes long term, the result is an awful lot of stress and anxiety. You can end up feeling really overwhelmed and having all sorts of reactions. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS: Stress and Anxiety isn’t just mental – it is also physical, cognitive and behavioural. You may notice all kinds of things: stomach upsets, headaches, insomnia, changes to eating, changes to the way you talk. It’s also cognitive: It becomes difficult to think straight and we also become very bad at making decisions, absorbing information and generally thinking rationally - Which is EXACTLY what we need to do.


The amygdala performs a key role in the processing of memory, emotional responses and decision making. Stress impacts on our nervous system and can deplete our energy if it goes on for too long… It uses the fight & flight mode, part of our sympathetic nervous system. So how do you switch off back to a relaxed mode ?


BEAR MODE OFF is the solution but how do you do turn it off ? It is essential to learn to let go and ground ourselves. Once set in Flight and Fight mode, you can get stuck into it. In addition, your body has become addicted to the rush of adrenaline asking for more stress, action, coffee... You find it difficult to switch off, relax or sleep. An endless vicious cycle difficult to break but not impossible. In the meantime, you are depleting your natural energy reserves in your adrenals, situated above your kidneys leaving you feeling fatigued or burnt out.


The good news is that it is possible to destress and relax. And, no, it is not just about sitting in front of the TV or having coffee and cake. I will share below a few tips scientifically proven to bring you back to a state of calm, switching from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic system, where you can allow your body to heal and restore itself. If you wish to find out more and share a soothing practice with me, feel free to get in touch.


A ROAD TO HEALING: The Vagus Nerve, one of the longest nerve in our body, controls the function of our cells, organs and systems. You can learn how to rebalance it to soothe our nervous system. This helps to calm the body which when under stress starts to create inflammation leading to all sorts of health issues if left unattended.


It originates in the brain stem travelling right through the chest, heart, lungs and abdomen and plays a fundamental role in our overall health and parasympathetic nervous system. It connects to your eyes, vital organs, digestive and reproductive systems. It is one of the most important nerves in our body and is key to our health and wellbeing.


The so-called “wandering nerve” is responsible for our rest and digest capacities to calm and soothe when under attack from a virus or life’s daily pressures. It is even more essential than ever before to nurture yourself in today's world. The vagus nerve has an impact on your mental, physical and emotional health. It regulates emotions, digestion, respiratory and heart rate, releases tension, trauma, reduces inflammation, improves sleep, boosts your immune system and metabolism and more.


You can read more about the numerous wellbeing effects of the vagus nerve in one of my previous website blogs on how a higher vagal tone increases your health & happiness and can help recovering from Covid-19 long term side effects.

The vagus nerve is deeply embedded in our autonomic nervous system and is one of the longest nerves. It is so vital as it has direct links to our brain, heart, lungs, gut and all of our organs.

TIP No. 1. BREATHE. It’s so basic, yet breath control or pranayama works wonders. It works in minutes can be performed anywhere. It helps counteract all the physical reactions the amygdala triggers. You can learn how to consciously control your breath for different effects. You can learn to control your breathing to calm things down and inform your body that all is well. Your body will then start to dial down the adrenaline and cortisol.


Patanjali, an Indian sage, author of the Yoga Sutra, a collection of pearls of wisdom on yoga, knew what science has now proven: controlled, deep breathing shifts our nervous system by activating the calming, regenerating, and relaxing response whilst lowering stress levels.

“Calm is retained by the controlled exhalation or retention of the breath” Yoga Sutra 1.34, Book 1


Controlled, prolonged exhalation has been shown to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, the branch of our nervous system responsible for our “rest-and-digest” relaxation response. I teach and ask my students to practice this breath in all of my classes as I believe it is fundamental and most beneficial for our wellbeing. It might take a couple of sessions to learn but they soon feel the amazing health and calming benefits.


TIP No. 2. Walking in nature is deeply soothing. In a forest, near a water, in the hills or mountains.


TIP No. 3. Water Therapy. A shower, a bath, swimming, walking or floating in water works wonders. Exposure to cold water in particular stimulates your vagus nerve.


TIP No. 4. Yoga and Somatics. This is a wonderful way to slow down and reset, to switch off from the outside world for some “Me” time. It will nurture and soothe body and mind. It will help you breathe, move and sleep better. Somatics will melt tensions away from body & mind leaving you feeling calm and grounded. For more info and benefits on Somatics, please visit https://www.yogawithbelle.co.uk/why-somatics


If you wish to learn more wellbeing tools, feel free to contact me. I regularly offer private and group classes as well as workshops. Contact Isabelle, Email yogawithbelletw@hotmail.com


I am holding an online nurturing yoga somatics workshop on the Vagus Nerve on 12th March 2022, where we will cover theory, more tips and share a physical practice to calm and restore our physical and emotional being, leaving you feeling calm, grounded and whole able to cope with life's pressures and challenges. If you have missed it, I also teach privately so happy to share with you what I know to help you. It could be for a small private group or a one to one.


You can also sign up for the newsletter to be kept informed of our yoga somatics classes and workshops and follow me on Instagram or Facebook for yoga tips, fun and wisdom.


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Did you know that I recently helped people with post Covid recovery ? Symptoms were shortness of breath and lack of energy. A few clients came to me to improve their situation. I used a combination of breathing techniques and Somatics. It worked wonders. The results were brilliant. Their breathing and energy dramatically improved.


I am a yoga teacher and Somatics Coach. I offer Somatics Rest & Restore classes in small groups or on a 1 to 1 basis. Want to de-stress ? Recover from Covid-19 ? Breathe better ? Boost your energy ? Feel more joy ? Read on to find out more...


I feel humble and am so honoured to be able to assist my clients: “I can breathe better and love the feeling of calmness and joy”. Beth «Thank you for welcoming me to this lovely restorative class which helped me to breathe properly again after Covid-19. I would recommend it to anyone in need to slow down and explore the benefits of proper breathing. » Karen


« I really enjoy the calming effect on my mind and the lengthening effect on my body. Pure bliss !« Gill.


« I have been doing the Somatic practice at home since you introduced me to it, and I really see the benefits. Thanks for making a difference to my life !! » Elisabeth Combining yoga breathing techniques with Somatics are a brilliant combination to assist the body heal & repair itself. It works wonders. It helped Karen, Nicola and others to breathe better & get some energy back when recovering from Covid-19.


Some came to me directly and some were referred by their osteopath. So how does this work and how can it truly benefit Covid-19 patients in their recovery?


A recent scientific paper reports: “The current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic causes severe acute respiratory syndrome - initially described as lung inflammation, However, we now know that it can cause a wide range of symptoms in people of all ages ranging from no symptoms at all to systemic inflammation.


An excessive inflammatory phase called “cytokine storm” can occur in severely infected patients affecting their immune system, leading to tissue damage, organ dysfunction, erratic cardiovascular response, and altered hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal response. Hence, excessive cytokine release increases the risk of mortality.


A new hypothesis and theory article has been published in the Frontiers in Medicine which focuses on the stimulation of the vagus nerve as a potential COVID-19 therapy.


Researchers are finding that the vagus nerve plays a crucial role in sustaining cardiovascular homeostasis and controlling inflammation. Scientists have found that vagus nerve stimulation by peripheral lipopolysaccharide lowers the inflammatory response in the central nervous system... They have explained that the autonomic nervous system controls the production of cytokines. This is done by regulating interactions with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which causes the release of anti-inflammatory hormones, i.e., glucocorticoid.”


“As the virus gets into the nervous system and into the brain, it creates inflammation within the body. Some patients with COVID-19 have had neurological symptoms, including headache, loss of sense of smell and taste, hallucinations, vivid dreams, meningitis, and even seizures or stroke.”


So, what is the vagus nerve and why is it so important? As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, a higher vagal tone increases your health & happiness. Originating in the brain stem, it is one of the most important nerves in our body, and it’s the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system travelling right through the chest and abdomen. It plays a fundamental role in our overall health and parasympathetic nervous system. The so-called “wandering nerve” is responsible for our rest and digest capacities to calm and soothe when under attack from a virus or life’s daily pressures.


It is deeply embedded in our autonomic nervous system and is one of the longest nerves. It is so vital as it has direct links to our brain, heart, lungs, gut and all of our organs. Now can you see how it can help to soothe and restore your body?


In my blogs “Breathe, Time to Pause & Reset” and “Freedom & Space: The best kept secret”, I spoke about how Somatics teaches us to take notice, release, and repattern addressing neuro-muscular skeletal imbalances. A little bit like NLP for the body. It helps address issues where your body may need rehabilitation to rediscover ease.


Somatics works on a deep level, soothing your nervous system by engaging with the parasympathetic nervous system. It directly acts on your vagus nerve, sending messages to your body to rest and heal itself. Somatics is a non-invasive technique, which empowers you to be in control to restore yourself to health.


Interestingly enough, scientists are currently experimenting with stimulation of the vagus nerve with their Covid-19 patients. Here is a short extract from Journal reference: Azabou, E. et al. (2021). Vagus Nerve Stimulation: A Potential Adjunct Therapy for COVID-19. Frontiers in Medicine:


“Recently, scientists have revealed that vagus nerve has shown significant results in COVID-19 patients. They believe it might reduce multi-organ dysfunction and have positive cardiovascular effects...At present, 2 studies are being conducted to assess the efficacity in COVID-19 patients, where scientists are using a device which is applied to the patient’s skin at the neck region over the vagus nerve to dispense periodic doses of VNS in a non-invasive manner. Researchers believe that this approach could minimise mechanical ventilation in COVID-19 patients.”


Click this link to read the full report

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210527/Vagus-nerve-stimulation-may-be-a-potential-adjunct-therapy-for-COVID-19.aspx


There are many ways to influence the vagus nerve. I have previously held a couple of workshops on the vagus nerve and am holding another one on 8th January 2022, when I will share tips, exercises and techniques with you, should you be interested to learn more. A healthy vagal tone will support you in having a balanced mental and emotional state, as well as improving your physical condition.


Stimulating this nerve leads to better mental health as it helps with stress reduction. It improves other ailments such as anxiety disorders, depression, mood disorder, heart disease, tinnitus, obesity, leaky gut, poor blood circulation, fibromyalgia, energy levels and more.


Somatics directly interacts with the vagus nerve. It invites us to relax, befriend ourselves, attune to the breath, and explore the subtle relationships between different parts of the body. We move slowly and mindfully turning our senses inward to connect to ourselves and feel what is happening within. As we learn to become quieter, we work to release tension, calm the nervous system and create more space in our body & mind. We start to experience ease, freedom and joy.


Somatics can not only ease backs, hips, shoulders, neck pain, tension headaches, sciatica… but it also restores your nervous system bringing balance back in the body.


So, whether you have suffered from Covid-19 or not, all in all, Somatics is an excellent antidote to the stresses of everyday life. It melts all physical and mental stresses away, leaving you feeling relaxed with a deep sense of wellbeing and renewed energy.


Somatics & some of the Key benefits:

Develop body awareness & mindfulness

Reduce anxiety & inflammation

Dissipate aches & muscular tension

Nurture & Soothe Body and Mind

Calm your body & nervous system

Assist your body to heal & rebalance

Lower heart rate & blood pressure

Improve sleep & digestion

Increase energy, focus and clarity

Enhance posture and ease of movement

Help to release trauma from within

Breathe, Move & Sleep better

Improve your mood & overall wellbeing

Feel healthier, calmer, happier!


I am holding a 2hr workshop on the vagus nerve on Saturday 8th January 2022 “Restoring health & joy”. This is open to all. No previous experience necessary. This will include theory, tips & practical exercises. Feel free to get in touch if interested.


In 2021, I am also holding a Somatics workshop on 21st November and a Restorative Yoga workshop on 4th December. I wrote a blog of Why Restorative Yoga is one of the best medicine. Feel free to join us in any of the workshops. Check details on the page Classes/Events.


To find out more about Somatics, check https://www.yogawithbelle.co.uk/why-somatics


To book a class or a workshop, simply email yogawithbelletw@gmail.com. You can also sign up for the newsletter to be kept informed of our yoga somatics classes and workshops and follow me on Instagram or Facebook for yoga tips, fun and wisdom.


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So, Covid happened and what a turmoil this has been for all of us. For most of us, our lives have changed; for some more than others and we are still busy adjusting to our new lives and schedules. There have been so many disruptions. Things are still up in the air with a sense of uncertainty as this is new territory. This has been such a stressful time and has left many of us feeling exhausted. There may even be a sense of loss. The body needs to reset and recharge.


We live in a noisy toxic world with more chemicals and pollution than ever before. Stress and anxiety are high and more stress has been generated by the pandemic. Maybe you were already struggling with other challenges in your life ? We lead busy lives trying to juggle it all as we feel the need to keep going… often ignoring that inner voice within us asking us to “please press the pause button and rest for a while”.


We act like superheroes forgetting we are human beings. Action is required yet equally rest and recuperation is key for our wellbeing and that of others around us so we can carry on offering support without feeling depleted. How often do we stop and pause ?


Being in a state of high alert and continual tension can be a trigger for chronic fatigue and burnout. Our immune system weakens making us more susceptible to catch a cold or other viruses. The cells in our body need to repair and rebuild themselves. Two of the key ingredients needed are Oxygen and Rest.


If you are suffering from long Covid symptoms, or simply feeling lost, worried, stressed, or tired, your body is trying to talk to you. You need to slow down, rest and recharge. The mind can be bossy telling us to keep going…We, the mind, just need to allow this without feeling guilty. To detox and rest mind & body is not a luxury but is a must for our wellbeing.


Stress gets stuck in our bodies. We need to learn to release and let go at some point. There is a difference between proper rest and sleep. A lot of us suffer from sleep issues and if you are lucky to fall asleep at night, how often do you wake up in the morning not feeling refreshed ? To preserve our health and thrive, we need to listen. Plan some “Me time” and allow your nervous system to be soothed and nurtured. Allow for all tensions to melt away from your body.


This means no television, phone, or other gadget. No stimulus or distraction. Just to be by ourselves for ourselves in silence. I know this can sound scary but believe me, it is well worth it. It feels like bliss. Your body and mind will thank you for it. Rest & restore. Offer your body and mind what it needs. You may want to indulge in a bath or a walk in nature. Drink water. Do some gentle breathing and restorative yoga exercises.


The aim of Somatics and restorative yoga is to offer a nourishing, soothing practice to calm the nervous system down. We learn to switch from a fight and flight mode to rest and digest mode. I encourage students to listen to their bodies and reconnect within. If this is new to you, it is best to practice in a group with a teacher to guide you.


Should you wish to explore further, I am offering you the opportunity to do just that. I run weekly classes and offer workshops. Somatics or restorative yoga workshops to let go of everything to unwind, relax, reset, restore, rebalance. Check out www.yogawithbelle.co.uk/classes/events You can attend In person or online.


All welcome. No previous experience necessary. Somatics offers a mix of gentle movements and breathing. Most of it is done on the floor. All you need is a quiet space, a comfortable exercise mat, a small cushion and a blanket. Restorative yoga uses props like bolsters, pillows, blankets… to allow the body to feel fully supported and let go.


When you take time to take care of yourself, this is an act of love and kindness towards yourself and others as when you feel refreshed and restored, calm and happy, you are in a much better place to assist others around you. Here is what some of my clients said afterwards:


“I have never felt anything like this. I found my first experience with Somatics to be wonderful and am still feeling fantastic; It brought a connection between my mind and body that I have not experienced before, and one that I wish to explore further!”


“Amazing, I feel relaxed and grounded. I breathe easier”. “I feel a sense of inner calm”


To book a class or a workshop, simply email yogawithbelletw@gmail.com. You can also sign up for the newsletter to be kept informed of our yoga somatics classes and workshops and follow me on Instagram or Facebook for yoga tips, fun and wisdom.


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"I help my clients to find balance, strength, ease of movement and

peace of mind for a happier life"

Isabelle Leroy, founder of Yoga with Belle