5 Ways Yoga Helps with Anxiety

If you want to conquer the anxiety of life…
live in the moment; live in the breath.” – Amit Ray

One out of four Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point during their lives.  Such disorders are sometimes accompanied by panic attacks – intense feelings of panic that often come out of nowhere.  Panic attacks can include a pounding heart, sudden sweating, dizziness, and shallow breathing.  Living with anxiety and panic attacks is difficult, but there are a variety of techniques that can help to ease symptoms.  Yoga is an excellent way to reduce anxiety (and stress).  Here are five ways that yoga helps with anxiety.

  1. Yoga forces you to focus on your breathing.                    

When someone has an anxiety attack, they make short, shallow breaths.  This can actually make a panic attack worse because this type of breathing can cause a lightheaded, faint feeling.  The most important aspect of yoga is focusing on the breath.  When you’re feeling tired or a pose is particularly difficult, focusing on taking deep, slow breaths makes all the difference.

Training yourself to follow your breathing during yoga class is a useful skill that can be applied to other areas of life.  Whenever you’re feeling anxious or stressed, remember to take deep, slow breaths until you start to feel more relaxed.

  1. Exercise gives you endorphins.                                                              

Like other forms of exercise, yoga gives you endorphins.  Endorphins are neurotransmitters in the brain that have been shown to improve mood, reduce symptoms of depression, and relieve stress and anxiety.  Endorphins are essentially an all-natural antidepressant.  Additionally, flexibility and strength gained from yoga can help to prevent injuries and reduce chronic pain.  Who isn’t happier when they aren’t in pain all the time?

  1. Yoga reduces muscle tension.                                           

When we’re feeling anxious or stressed, we often tighten certain areas of our bodies without even realizing it.  Prolonged stress or anxiety can lead to pain and muscle tension in the back, head, neck, shoulders, and other areas.  Yoga helps relieve muscle tension by strengthening, lengthening, and relaxing sore muscles.  Over time, yoga can also improve posture, which aids in reducing muscle tension.

  1. Yoga is hard.                                                                                   

Yoga is challenging – even if you’re a more experienced yogi, you will probably have certain poses that are still tough for you.  Engaging in something that is challenging – and sticking with it even when it’s hard – will give you more confidence and faith in yourself.

During a particularly tough pose, an instructor may say “This is probably getting pretty uncomfortable.  Breathe through it.  Just breathe.”  This is a good metaphor for life with anxiety.  When you’re feeling uncomfortable, accept the discomfort.  You have survived feeling uncomfortably anxious before, and you will get through it again.  Accept the discomfort instead of trying to fight it.  Breathe.

  1. Yoga classes emphasize community and faith.                           

When you’re suffering from anxiety, you may feel like no one else “gets” it.  This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.  Yoga classes can be a way to meet new people and develop a sense of community.  During the resting poses, instructors often offer suggestions for relaxing and being more present.  They tend to emphasize finding peace and strength within yourself or a higher power.  Having faith in something greater than yourself can be helpful when trying to cope with anxiety.


A Final Note

Yoga is one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety and stress.  Yoga can help you to focus on your breathing, release endorphins, relieve muscle tension, gain confidence, and be a part of a community.  If you haven’t tried yoga before, I highly encourage you to try it out!


Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jen Hayes, a frugal lifestyle blogger and freelance writer. 



5 Relaxing Yoga Exercises for a Good Night Sleep

Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together – Thomas Dekker

Sleep is the best meditation – Dalai Lama

How yoga can help you unwind?

A very common cause of sleeping disorders is stress. Stress prevents the body and the mind from relaxing and keeps thousands of people awake at night. And this is where yoga can make the difference. A gentle, restorative yoga practice can help to calm down the mind and to release physical tension. This type of yoga practice activates the parasympathetic nervous system or the bodies “rest-and-digest” system, which helps to counteract physical and mental stress.

Below you can find five yoga poses to help relieve tension in the body and the mind. Ideally they are practiced one hour to 30 minutes before going to sleep, or you can even do them in bed. They are easy poses to be held three to five minutes for maximum effect.

  1. Savasana – Corpse Pose


Savasana or Corpse Pose is a very beneficial pose to calm down the mind and to relieve stress. It is commonly the starting and ending pose of any yoga practice.

  • Lie down on your back
  • Feet are mat width apart, toes dropping out
  • Arms are relaxed by your side, palms facing up
  • Shoulders are away from the ears, relaxing on the mat
  • Back of the neck is long, chin slightly tucked in

People with lower back pain might like to place a cushion under their knees to relieve tension in the lower back. If you feel tension in the neck you can also place a blanket or a low cushion under the head to keep the back of the neck long. As you lie in this pose, bring your focus to your breath, observing each inhalation and exhalation. Feel the expansion of your belly as you inhale and observe your belly relax as you exhale.

  1. Anuloma Viloma – Alternate Nostril Breathing2-anuloma-viloma-alt-ernate-nostril-breathing

Anulom Vilom or Alternate Nostril Breathing is an excellent breathing exercise to balance the right and left side of the brain and to calm down you77r thoughts.

  • Sit in a comfortable position
  • Place your left hand in Chin Mudra (tip of the thumb and index finger touching)
  • Place  your right hand in Vishnu Mudra (bending the index and middle finger)
  • Place your right thumb on your right nostril and breathe in through your left nostril for four counts
  • Close both nostrils using your right thumb and your right ring finger and little finger and hold your breath for eight counts
  • Release your thumb and breathe out through your right nostril for eight counts
  • Breathe in again through your right nostril for four counts
  • Close both nostrils using your right thumb and your right ring finger and little finger and hold your breath for eight counts
  • Breathe out through your left nostril for eight counts

This is one round. Continue this breathing exercise for five minutes. Once you feel comfortable with this ratio, you can hold your breath for 16 counts. While practicing Anulom Vilom, keep your focus on your breath, following each movement of your breath. This breathing exercise activates the parasympathetic nervous system, slows down the breath and the heart beat. Because you breathe in and out separately through each nostril for the same count, both hemispheres receive an equal amount of oxygen. The hemispheres are balanced and the mind is calmed down.

  1. Shashankasana – Child’s Pose


The following pose in this sequence for a good night sleep is Child’s Pose or Shashankasana (also called Balasana).

  • Sit on your knees in Diamond Pose, back straight
  • Keep your hips on your ankles and bend forward until your forehead touches the floor
  • Arms are relaxed by your side, palms of the hands facing up

When you are in this pose the hips should be resting on your heels and the head should be resting on the floor. If this is difficult you can make two fists and place your forehead on your fists or place your forehead on a cushion. If required you can also open the knees apart or place a cushion in between your hips and heels. Make sure you feel comfortable. With each exhalation let go of any tension in your body.

  1. Supta Baddhakonasana – Lying Butterfly Pose


Baddhakon asana is a very good yoga pose to increase hip flexibility. It is said that emotions such as tension, stress, anger, etc. are stored in the pelvis. By working on hip flexibility, the tensions in the hip joint and as a consequence also emotional tensions are relieved.

  • Place the souls of your feet together and let your knees drop out
  • Gently lean back and lie down on your back, keeping the souls of your feet together
  • Arms are relaxed by your side, palms facing up

If you can’t lie down completely on your back, you can use a bolster and lie on the bolster. Make sure your head and back are properly supported. If you feel tension in your knees you can place a cushion under your thighs to reduce the tension in the knees. Once you are comfortably in the pose, bring your focus to your pelvis. Use each exhalation to release the tension in your hip joints, and try to relax completely.

  1. Legs-up-the-wall pose


The legs-up-the-wall pose is a very gentle inversion which improves blood circulation in your lower limbs. It is a very relaxing pose after a long day of standing on your feet.

  • Lie down on your back, hips touching the wall
  • Place your legs straight against the wall so your legs and upper body form a 90 degree angle
  • You can keep your legs together or open your legs wide for an extra stretch of the inner thighs
  • You can place your hands on your belly or relax your arms by your side, palms facing up


Tips and tricks for optimal sleep

Sleeping disorders can also be caused by improper sleeping habits or routines before sleeping. The activities you do prior to going to bed as well as the environment have a very big effect on your sleeping pattern. Therefore it is advisable to develop a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. This informs your body that it is almost bed time and gives it the chance to prepare. Here are some do’s and don’ts which might help you for a good night sleep:

  • Avoid watching TV or using the computer right before going to bed
  • Avoid coffee, chocolate or any other stimulating substance in the evening
  • Keep negative emotions such as worry and stress outside the bedroom
  • Avoid taking naps during the day
  • Avoid heavy workouts close to your bedtime
  • Take out 7-9 hours of sleeping time
  • Make your bedroom a cool, dark and quiet space
  • Use your bedroom for sleeping and relaxing only
  • Keep a notebook nearby to write down ideas and reminders for the next day

Developing a bedtime routine is very important to help you deal with insomnia for many reasons. It helps to calm the mind before bed, and it helps to condition your body and your mind in realizing that it is almost time to go to sleep. The yoga sequence in this article is a very gentle sequence suited for people of all ages and of all practice levels. You can play some relaxing background music and if you like you can also use some essential oils such as lavender to stimulate a relaxing and calming atmosphere. While practicing these yoga poses, avoid getting distracted with thoughts by bringing your focus to your breath, using each exhalation to release any tension.

Enjoy the relaxing yoga poses and… Sweet dreams!


Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Yogi Ram, a renowned Yoga and philosophy teacher from India. He is the founding director of the Arhanta Yoga Ashrams in India and The Netherlands.

hoe groei ik - langer worden

5 Step Plan to Grow Taller

Did you know that in the morning you are a few centimeters taller than in the evening?
According to medical science this is due to re-absorption of liquid into the spinal disks during the night. During the day the disks lose their fluid bit by bit due to compression caused by the weight they are bearing, resulting in a shortening of the spinal column.
What no one mentions though is that part of the gain in height during the night is due to improvement in posture. While you are sleeping the muscles of your back and neck relax and unlearn the wrong posture they are submitted to during the day.

The question is: How we can make these few extra centimeters permanent?

1. How much can I gain?
– Perform this simple test.
Needed: A tape measure.
Time: In the evening before going to bed.
Stand in a doorway in a normal and relaxed position and measure the free space above your head. Write down the number. Now stand with your back against the side of the doorway, push your back against it and stretch the back of your neck by moving your chin to your chest. Now measure again and write down the number.
The difference in these two numbers is the height you can gain!
In the next steps you’ll find out what you can do to make this gain permanent.

2. Drink!
To counteract the loss of spinal disk fluid you have to make sure your body stays hydrated. Drink lots of water, but don’t overdo it; 2 liters (about 4 pints US) in moderate climates is more than enough.
Here are some alternatives to boring (c)old water:
Fresh fruit juice, herbal tea, aguas frescas (Did you ever try cucumber-lime? My absolute favorite!), kombucha, chia seed soaked in water, a cup of soup, or eat an apple, a mandarin or an orange.
No, coffee and alcoholic beverages are not on this list. They de-hydrate the body!
Tip! Try drinking a glass of lukewarm water and you’ll notice it goes down a lot easier than cold water.

3. Take a nap!
During a nap the muscles of your back and neck are relieved of the burden of wrong posture and get a chance to reset to their relaxed state. The spinal disks don’t have to bear load and will re-absorb fluid.
Try getting into a habit of taking short power naps. Not too long, just 5 to 10 minutes. Any longer and you’ll get into deep sleep and you will feel exhausted after waking up.

4. Work on your posture!
Taking regular walks, stretching up, adapting your working space, exercising and using a pillow can all contribute to improve your posture and in this way contribute to a permanent gain in your height. In my first blog post you can find some tips on how to improve your posture.

5. Stand Tall!
Let’s examine what is keeping us from standing tall.
Apart from examining pure physical factors I dare you to look the most important one straight into the eye: lack of self-esteem.
Here is a simple but very powerful exercise to help you grow. Repeat these phrases during your day. Really, try it for 2 weeks! You will be astonished with the result.

Monday: “I claim this space”

Tuesday: “I am OK!”

Wednesday: “What I think matters”

Thursday: “I will participate”

Friday: “I will look into your eyes”

Saturday: “I am beautiful”

Sunday: Well done! You’ve worked very hard this week and can take the entire day off 🙂


I greatly appreciate your feedback!
If you have any comments, or if you have another tip please leave it below.

7 Step Plan to Improve your Google Ranking

7 Step Plan to Improve your Google Ranking

This is for everyone who owns a website and is wondering why after all this time it still isn’t showing up anywhere near the first page in Google.

Here are 7 things you must do in order to start climbing the ladder.

1. Does Google even know your website exists?
If your website doesn’t show up in any Google search, not even far down the results it is possible Google hasn’t indexed your site yet.
• One of the easiest ways to let Google know your website exists is to open a Google+ account, add a ‘Page’ and then add your website to it.

2. Identify your keywords and keyword phrases
Make a list of at least 10 words and/or short phrases (of maximum 4 words each) for which you want people to find your website.

3. Make sure these keywords and phrases appear in your website’s content
– Use your most important keywords or keyword phrases in the title of each of your website’s pages (H1 tag*).
– Next important keywords go high in the text, or in paragraph titles (H2 tag*).
– Repeat important keywords or keyword phrases near the end of the page.
Note! Avoid repeating keyword phrases more than 3 times in the content of a page. Search engines like Google will punish you for this and your website ranking will go down.
* More information on the importance of the use of H1 and H2 tags.

4. Use your important keywords and phrases in the title> and description> tags of the HTML code of your page
The most important go in the title, the secondary in the description*.
• Make sure to create an easy to read and appealing text. This is what people will see in the Google search results. Even if you make it to the first page, nobody will click on a result that doesn’t make sense!
* More information on these (meta) tags.

5. Make sure to put your keywords in the ALT and TITLE attributes of the image> tag
Do this for every image on the website; photos, logo, graphics, any file that ends with .jpg, .jpeg, .gif or .png.
Content Management Systems like WordPress and Joomla allow you to set these attributes when you upload an image to your library.
Note! Be careful which text you put in the ALT and TITLE attributes. If a visitor hovers over the image with the mouse this text pops up; in some browsers this will be the alt text, for others the title text.

6. Get other websites to link to yours
– Ask them to use My Important Keyword Phrase as link text instead of www.mywebsite.com
– Try to get links from other websites in your branch. This is your link neighborhood and Google looks at who is living there.
Note! Don’t be tempted to use services that offer 100 links to your website for
€ 3,- or something similar. This will damage your link reputation.

7. Use a SEO plug-in
If you use a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla you can install a plug-in to help you with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the science that helps you getting closer and closer to the first page in Google results.
• For WordPress there is a great plug-in called Yoast SEO.

If you don’t know how and where to implement these recommendations don’t wait and go find someone to help you. Improving your Google ranking takes time and you will only climb the ladder after you have taken the first step…

I greatly appreciate your feedback!
If you have any comments, or if you have another tip please leave it below.

6 Tips to Improve your Posture

6 Things you must do to Improve your Posture

Your posture influences your energy level, your mood, your self esteem and the way in which people around you re-act to you.
Here are 6 tips on how to improve it.

1. Sit straight

While we were young we probably all heard our parents tell us to “Sit straight!”
Do we still need that advice now?
The answer is “Yes!”
When you straighten up you allow a free flow of blood to your brain, making you more alert, awake. If you catch yourself slouching in your chair give yourself a gentle reminder to sit up straight, again and again. Your body will start listening and with time your posture will improve.

Tip: To remind yourself to straighten up you can tie a bracelet around your wrist, or a piece of string around one finger, or paint one of your fingernails in a different color.

2. Stretch up

After sitting in a chair working for 20 minutes, stretch your arms high up over your head, interlocking the fingers. Breathe deeply in and out. Stretch up as high as you can! Now, without changing the position of your back, bring down your arms and relax your shoulders. Now you can continue work again, or your class.

Tip: In class the teacher might confuse your stretched up arms with participation. As an alternative you can stretch them behind your back, interlocking fingers.

3. Use a pillow

When you are sitting on the couch, or driving your car you can put a small firm pillow in your lower back area. This prevents your lower back from sagging and in this way allows the transmission of energy along the spine. When your lower back curves inwards your shoulders automatically move backwards and are able to relax.

4. Get rid of the chair!

Get rid of your beautiful, expensive, soft and ideal for slouching executive chair! Go to the canteen and grab one of the chairs there. They are by far ergonomically superior to your own fine chair.

Bonus point! Because now you can’t fidget with any knobs and leavers and can’t turn around and roll about, you might be able to concentrate on your work.

5. Lie down

Wrong posture puts strain on the muscles of your back, shoulders and neck. When you lie down these muscles get a chance to reset.

Short exercise: Lie down on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. With your hands lift your head an inch from the floor and move your chin towards your chest, stretching the back of your neck. Gently put you head back on the floor and place your arms beside your body. Breathe in and out 10 times. Try it now!

Bonus point! Tell your kids to do their gaming and whatever they are doing on their smart phones in this position. They’ll improve their posture greatly and get strong arms at the same time 😉

6. Walk

Walking involves almost every muscle you have in your body. Wrong posture puts a static load on muscles in your back, neck and shoulders, cutting off free blood circulation in the muscle tissue. When you walk these muscles get a chance to release this load, receive oxygen and relax.

Exercise: Put the thing you hold in your hand away for a moment and walk with your hands moving freely beside your body. Look ahead and you’ll see beauty around you.

I greatly appreciate your feedback!
If you have any comments, or if you have another tip please leave it below.

Oefeningen met de BackMitra voor Bovenrug, Nek, en Schouders

Om mee te beginnen

Juiste plaatsing tov de rug - BackMitraHet is de bedoeling dat je met je hoofd, nek en bovenrug op de BackMitra ligt, zodanig dat het bovenste gedeelte van de wervelkolom ondersteund wordt. Het ene uiteinde van de BackMitra ligt ongeveer onder het laagste punt van je borstbeen (zie foto hiernaast voor de juiste plaatsing t.o.v. de rug).

Gaan liggen

Leg de BackMitra bovenaan in ’t midden van je mat met het logo aan de zijkant. Ga zitten, met je rug naar de BackMitra toe, met opgetrokken knieën.

Leun naar achteren op je ellebogen.
Ga verder door naar beneden totdat je het uiteinde van de BackMitra in je rug voelt.
Verplaats jezelf zodanig dat het uiteinde op de juiste plaats terecht komt.
Ga langzaam op de BackMitra liggen.

Controleer de correcte plaatsing van de BackMitraControleer de juiste plaatsing door met je vinger een lijn vanaf het laagste punt van je borstbeen in de richting van de vloer, vervolg deze lijn tot aan je wervelkolom. dit is het punt dat op het uiteinde van de BackMitra rust. Als je niet zeker weet of je wel goed ligt, gebruik dan een spiegel of vraag iemand je te helpen.

De knieën zijn opgetrokken, voeten en knieën ongeveer op heupbreedte uit elkaar, voeten plat op de vloer, hielen licht naar buiten gedraaid.
Uitgangspositie oefeningen bovenrug - BackMitraTil met beide handen je hoofd een klein beetje op, beweeg de kin in de richting van de borst, door naar je knieën te kijken. Leg je hoofd langzaam neer.
Controleer met je hand of er vrije ruimte is tussen je onderrug en de vloer. Is dit niet het geval kantel dan je bekken licht naar achteren, zodanig dat je hand tussen je onderrug en de vloer past.
Plaats je armen ontspannen naast je lichaam.

Oefening 1

Oefening 1 - Armen naar het plafond - BackMitraHaak je duimen in elkaar en oefen een lichte trekkracht uit, die je gedurende de oefening vast houdt.
Strek je armen uit naar het plafond. Armen hoeven niet geheel te strekken.
Til je armen zo hoog mogelijk op, zodanig dat je schouders van de vloer komen. Laat nu je schouders naar de vloer zakken, de armen blijven naar het plafond gestrekt.
Beweeg langzaam de armen over je hoofd naar achteren. Voel hoe het punt van grootste Oefening 1 - Armen over het hoofd - BackMitradruk zich op de BackMitra naar boven verplaatst. Volg dit punt met je aandacht. Het kan voorkomen dat je in deze beweging plaatsen van weerstand tegenkomt. Pauzeer daar dan even, adem een paar maal in en uit en ga langzaam verder met de armen in de richting van de vloer.

Laat je duimen los en beschrijf met de armen langzaam een ruime cirkel, de handen blijven vlak boven de vloer. Ook in deze beweging kan het voorkomen dat je plaatsen van weerstand tegenkomt. Pauzeer daar dan weer even, beweeg je handen, adem een paar maal in en uit en ga langzaam verder totdat de armen naast je lichaam zijn.

Haak je duimen weer in elkaar.
Herhaal deze oefening 2 maal.

Ga door met oefening 2.

Oefening 2

Oefening 2 - Pelvis optillen - BackMitraArmen licht gespreid naast het lichaam, handen op de vloer of op de buik.
Druk de bal van de voet in de vloer en duw hiermee het bekken van de vloer. Ga door tot het bekken zo’n 10 tot 20 cm van de vloer is. Het is niet de bedoeling zo hoog mogelijk van de vloer te komen, maar ervoor te zorgen dat het achterhoofd een stukje naar boven verschuift en daarmee de nek strekt.
De knieën vallen hierbij niet naar buiten. Als je knieën hierbij de neiging hebben naar buiten te vallen, plaats dan een yogablok o.i.d. tussen de knieën en blijf gedurende de oefening lichte druk uitoefenen.
Probeer de benodigde kracht niet uit de bilspieren, maar uit de beenspieren te halen; de bilspieren blijven zoveel mogelijk ontspannen.
Door het optillen van het bekken en de druk vanuit de voeten verschuift je hoofd een beetje naar boven op de BackMitra.
De achterkant van de nek strekt en komt in contact met de BackMitra.

 Als bij het naar boven brengen van het bekken de kin de neiging heeft naar boven te wijzen, til dan je hoofd met beide handen een beetje op en beweeg de kin in de richting van de borst.

Adem rustig 3 maal in en uit.
Kom langzaam naar beneden met licht aangespannen buikspieren totdat het bekken op de vloer is.

Herhaal deze oefening 2 maal.


Rust na de oefeningen - BackMitraRol naar je rechterzijde en leg de BackMitra naast de mat.
Rol terug op je rug, strek je benen en ontspan.

 Om tot zit te komen rol naar je rechter zijde en kom steunend op je handen omhoog.

Hier vind je video’s met meer oefeningen.

Oefeningen voor Bovenrug, Nek, Schouders en Armen

10de Nationale Yoga Conferentie 2013

Een korte video waarin Brigitte Longueville restauratieve yoga met de BackMitra onderricht tijdens de 10de Nationale Yoga Conferentie 2013 in Mexico City.

9de Nationale Yoga Conferentie 2012

Een korte video over de BackMitra presentatie door Brigitte Longueville op de 9de Nationale Yoga Conferentie 2012 in Mexico City.

9th Yoga Conference – Restorative BackMitra Session with Brigitte Longueville.

Hoe kan je Rugpijn voorkomen?

Soms gebeurt het, met een plotselinge beweging, na een intensieve training, tijdens het tillen, of bukken om iets op te rapen: rugpijn! Ineens kunnen we niet meer doen wat we eerst wél deden…

Hoe kan je Rugpijn voorkomen?
Met slechts 5 tot 10 minuten per dag oefenen met de BackMitra kan je voorkomen dat spanningen die problemen in de rug veroorzaken zich ophopen en vastzetten.

Hoe werkt dit?
De BackMitra creëert ruimte en ontspanning door middel van druk.
Door druk uit te oefenen op de wervelkolom kunnen de omliggende spiergroepen zich gaan ontspannen en ontstaat er ruimte. Zo worden RSI- en rugklachten voorkomen en treedt er een verbetering van de lichaamshouding op doordat de rug terugkeert naar zijn natuurlijke kromming.
Lees verder…