Category Archives: Alternative Health Indianapolis

Thieves Oil-Stealing the Ah-Choo and Flu out of the Holiday Season

The temperatures are dropping rapidly, we are pulling the sweaters out of the closets and although, yes, this means pumpkin spice lattes have made a debut, it’s not enough to make this mom look forward to the season.  Why am I so concerned for this cold fall/winter season you ask?  Jack Frost not only brings out the cozy winter wardrobe, but he brings along COLD and FLU season! And cold and flu season means this vicious cycle in the house where it ends up being shared through the entire family and it seems like someone is always sick. This is not the way I would like to teach my children the art of sharing—please keep your sick germs to yourself!  If there were something that all of you moms and dads could do to avoid sickness this season wouldn’t you be willing to try it?

I’m sure by now you have either tried yourself or know of someone close to you who swears by essential oils.  I was skeptical at first, as I am of everything, but it’s a tried and true addition for health and wellness in our homes, which is why I highly recommend you start implement them in to you holistic wellness approaches.  There are so many uses for essential oils, but with the winter woes on their way, I want to make sure you know about this one.

It is called Thieves Oil, and it has a tremendous impact on thieves oilfighting those cold/flu cycles that take over your home this time of the year. It is shown to boost immune systems and promotes a healthy respiratory system. As your bonus, you get a little history less about the name. Back in 1348, during an outbreak of the Bubonic Plague, four French thieves formulated a special aromatic combination of clove, lemon, cinnamon, bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary, while robbing the dead and dying. A little morbid, but they actually found it to help protect them from the illnesses they were around. These oils includes powerful antiviral, antibiotic, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties.  The most common use is to place it in a diffuser in your home or work place.  You also could purchase a pre-diluted form for application purposes.

So instead of letting the cold and flu season take over, try to take charge and be a little proactive fighting those germy battles. What better way to step in and get your feet wet than with essential oils than with something will assist your family during this sick season?

DIY Essential Oil Projects

Household cleaner, stress relief, aroma and energy, the list of essential oil uses goes on and on (and sounds like a health fanatic version of ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’). And for every new use, there’s do-it-yourself projects just waiting be done! If you’re unfamiliar with essential oils, check out my beginner’s guide. Below are some easy and fun projects you can do with essential oils.

  1. Aromatherapy Room Sprayessential oil

No need to pay a lot of money for a store bought room spray. All you need is a clean 4 ounce bottle that can spray a fine mist (make sure it’s glass or metal because essential oils can eat through plastic).

  • 2 ounces distilled water
  • 1 ounce witch hazel
  • essential oil of your choice

Fill the bottle with 5-20 drops of the essential oil (personal preference dictates how much you would use). Add the witch hazel next. Use the water to fill up the rest of the bottle. Shake well before you use it, since the oils often sit up on the surface.

You can also try combining essential oils together instead of just one scent. Try mixing chamomile and lavender for a calming scent, or peppermint and lemon for an energizing scent.

  1. Exfoliating Body Scrub

You can combine essential oils with a few basic ingredients to make a great body scrub. You begin with a base oil. For oil skin, try oils like grapeseed or jojoba. For dry skin, try macadamia nut or baobab. You can combine the oil with a natural exfoliant like sesame seeds or oatmeal (you can buy them at the grocery store and then grind them in a blender or food processor), coffee grounds, or even sugar. Finally, you need an essential oil. You can use lavender for its cooling properties or peppermint for its energizing properties. You can play around with the proportions, but a starting point would be two teaspoons oil, one teaspoon exfoliant, and 3 drops of essential oil. Mix together the ingredients and massage onto your skin. Rinse with warm water to rinse away the exfoliant and dead skin particles.

  1. Reed diffuser

You don’t have to buy a special diffuser, you can make your own! You will need:

  • 3/4 C grapeseed oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon (or 75 drops) of essential oils
  • 8 ounce glass bottle
  • diffuser replacement reeds (you can usually find these in the home or candle section at a store or craft store)

Pour the grapeseed oil in first, then add the essential oils and mix until blended. Insert the reeds. After one hour, carefully pull the reeds out and place the dry side inside the bottle. Each day you can flip the reeds until the scent fades. Then add in the mixture (or try a new combination of scents).

Of course, to do these projects you will need to buy essential oils. While you can buy essential oils at some stores, make sure you research the product (not every option is good quality). You can buy high quality essential oils at Sunstone. To learn more about essential oils or to have a consultation with one of our specialists or call (317) 886-1000.

6 Tips for Finding Self-Love

Love is a beautiful, enchanting thing. It is held dearly and shared amongst friends, lovers, and relatives, passed down through generations like a precious heirloom. It’s that one thing we all yearn for so desperately. We search endlessly for it, lifetime after lifetime, seeking out the comfort of love in all the wrong places, and if we’re lucky, in all the right places. It resides in between pages of novels about star-crossed lovers and in the hearts of new mothers’, cradling their babies for the first time. Love is the key to a peaceful world, a better place, a new hope. Imagine a world filled with not only love for others, but love for ourselves. A love so deeply rooted within our bones and soul that it’s only natural to let it flow freely. We seem to have disconnected completely from our inner spirit, our love, and the degradation of our self-love burns a bright path to slowly destroying our planet as a result. We can heal this though.  It starts with each of us and our ability to love ourselves through and through and building that sacred bond that transforms us entirely. Self-love can be renewed, built or simply maintained by following some healing core concepts as defined. Come in to this experience with an open heart and mind in tow.

Find Your Self-Love

● Self love starts with self-acceptance: It’s easy to be hard on yourself or to punish yourself for being a certain way, doing a certain thing or showing a specific behavior. Everyone has self-doubt, an inner shadow within your ego that belittles you for what you ate for breakfast or how little work you did over the weekend. In order to begin the flow of authentic self-love, you must accept yourself fully and truly. Instead of focusing on the negative aspect of something or judging yourself, simply accept whatever it may be and say to yourself aloud “I accept this part of me and I release any negative energy surrounding it. I choose to heal and live in a path of love and light towards myself.” Then simply let that thought go. You can practice this in a moment of self-judgement to bring awareness to any self-destructive habits and replace it with thoughts of abundant love.

● Look into your own eyes: You know that feeling of staring dreamily into your partner’s eyes? Try channeling that love while looking into your own eyes in the mirror. You can do this as a daily practice for a set number of minutes or simply do this anytime you come face to face with yourself, perhaps while washing your hands in the bathroom, applying your makeup or brushing your teeth. However long you choose to do this self-love mirror work, release any snap judgements
or harshness. Smile gently. Feel the love, warm and radiant, flowing through your entire body as you lock eyes with your reflection. She is you and she is beautiful. Acknowledge and accept yourself as you are, find something to love in the things you feel that you don’t. Saying positive affirmation aloud can be incredibly beneficial during this self-love ritual. Something as simple as “I love you,” or “You are beautiful,” can be effective in generating more awareness and love within.Self-Love

● Set aside time for you: Life is busy and hectic, but that’s no excuse to deny yourself some pleasure or relaxation. Carve out some time in your schedule each day to do something just for you. It can be as extravagant or indulgent as you want. Do you have a stack of books you’ve been itching to read? Pour yourself a cup of tea, sink down into your favorite chair and dive into the first one on your list. Is your body trying to tell you that it’s exhausted? Accept this with love and draw yourself a hot bath, toss in some epsom salts, a few drops of lavender essential oil, and soak luxuriously while listening to your favorite playlist by candlelight.

● Eat whole foods that nourish YOUR body: Getting caught up in the newest diet trend is a waste of your precious time and money. The real secret to losing weight, increasing energy and living a healthier, happier life is by eating real food. Everyone is unique and learning what foods make you glow inside and out will align you with your true path to healing, thus perpetuating the wondrous cycle of self love. It’s been said that when you look good, you feel good and perhaps even more rightly so, when you feel good, you look good. When you take the time to give your body what it actually needs, you are operating from a place of love and understanding. Real food can be defined as whole, unprocessed, and fresh. So whether you are an omnivore or a plant-based eater, you will undoubtedly benefit from choosing organic whole foods to nourish yourself–mind, body and soul. Our wellness coach can help you create a meal plan based on real food and give you more information about the impact of ingredients on your overall health.

● Embrace your passion: No matter what it is that you’re passionate about, whether it’s living a healthy lifestyle or a specific hobby, such as dancing or painting, pursue it wholeheartedly. Never let anyone or anything stop you from embracing who you are and what you enjoy or want. When you make the time to live in your passion zone, you are living on course with your authentic self. Authenticity is a catalyst for abundant self-love in all areas of your life.

● Be more mindfully sensual and feel: You don’t necessarily have to make this practice about enticing or attracting a mate or your partner. This practice is for you and your inner goddess. Take some time out to simply feel your body in the moment. If you’re doing yoga, feel your muscles stretch gently and be mindful of each movement as you transition to another pose. Or learn to start meditation. If you are drinking a beverage, engage all of your senses and feel the liquid as it swirls on your taste buds, igniting them. Simply be in your body and feel each pulse, each trigger, each touch or aroma you encounter. Experience it in that brief and fleeting moment. Take it all in and allow it to fuel your desire to be even more mindful. Nothing is more delicious than feeling every sensation and generating that positive self-love while doing so. Being in touch with your body is the gateway to self-love, so embrace it fully and without regard.

How to Start Meditation

Meditation is a mindful process and just another piece to overall wellness. We like to think of health as a whole, not just individual pieces. There are many aspects that go in to overall health, and none are less important than another because they all are connected. Part of our health and wellness coaching discusses Meditation and Yoga and the impact it can have on your health.


Meditation isn’t easy in the beginning. If it was, everyone would be doing it and we’d all be happier, healthier, slightly saner people. My first attempt at meditation went a little something like this…Meditation

About a minute into the guided meditation, I began sweating and felt like I was on fire—this from just sitting still. As my body temperature began to rise, my brain started spewing thoughts uncontrollably. I felt like I was miserably failing meditation, which continued the complete loss of concentration. This went on for five minutes, the entire time, I wanted to get up and run out of the room.

I thought I had to silence my mind and my mind fought it the entire way. What I didn’t realize that first night was that I was missing the point. The noise doesn’t quiet down; it’s all about how you deal with it. When you learn to not engage with your thoughts, you find stillness in your mind, your breath, and your body.

Sounds nice, right? So how do you get there? Start small. I can’t stress that enough. If you go into meditation thinking you’re going to be sitting down for a half hour in a state of bliss, well, that’s probably not going to happen. In the beginning, five minutes will likely feel like an eternity. Start with three and see how it feels.

There are several different types of meditation, but I found in the beginning it was incredibly helpful to have a guided meditation practice. There are plenty available online. There are even apps you can purchase for your phone that will walk you through a meditation. Another popular technique is to focus on your breathing.


  • If you have a yoga practice, it helps to meditate after yoga. (That is the point of yoga, after all; it prepares the body for meditation.)
  • Find a comfortable place to sit. You can sit upright in a chair with your feet grounded on the floor or you can sit cross-legged on the floor. If you decide to sit on the floor, it could help to sit up on a pillow or a rolled blanket to elevate your hips.
  • Once you’re seated comfortably, close your eyes, take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale. Sit up tall. Picture warm water running from the center of your head and slowing washing over your body. Let each muscle slowly relax and as you picture the water running over it.
  • Softly focus on your breath. As thoughts come up, don’t engage with them. Acknowledge them and then let them go. Imagine they are a parade and you’re just watching them go by. If you get attached to one, notice it, then let go and refocus on your breath.
  • You want to move as little as possible during your meditation so your mind doesn’t get distracted. Notice if you get frustrated or uncomfortable at any point. This is normal. Just like your thoughts, let the emotions come and go without attaching to them. If you get lost, it’s okay, just remember to come back to your breath once you notice your mind has wandered.

Remember, this is the practice. And you have to practice at anything to get better at it. Your mind will never be completely empty. If you’re having a hard time getting started because your mind is so busy, try starting your meditation when you are the calmest. If that is in the morning before the day begins, try then. Some people do better after they have tackled the events and can let it all go, so maybe the afternoon or evening is best for them.

As you practice this more and more, you’ll start to apply the letting go to your daily life. If you get frustrated at work or mad in traffic, life’s little annoyances will be easier and easier to let go of. Eventually, you will learn how to engage less and less with your thoughts and just notice them. Slowly increase the length of your meditation and you’ll notice that sitting still with your thoughts gets a little easier each time.

Good luck!

Hydration-How to Hydrate the Right Way

Hydration can have many different impacts on your overall health and wellness. Every cell and organ in your body requires water to function correctly.

If your lips are chapped, your skin dry, your digestion off, your muscles sore, your body bloated, or if you feel tired or fatigued, you might not be well-hydrated. Even if you’re drinking enough water, you may not be drinking it in a way that’s harmonious to the body.
The body needs water for all its functions; to flush out toxins, digest, carry nutrients to the cells, lubricate joints, and cool the body (plus a myriad of other actions). When we sweat and urinate– or even just breathe and carry out our day-to-day activity– it’s imperative that we replenish the body’s lost water.


Proper hydration requires first and foremost drinking enough water. We’ve all heard the 8 glasses a day rule. But given that we’re all different sizes with varying lifestyles, this rule isn’t applicable to everyone. Some of us are big and some small, some sweat more than others, some practice rigorous exercise and some don’t, some live in hot, humid climates while others live where it’s cold and dry. Each of us loses a different amount of water each day, which means there’s no one-size-fits-all rule.

There might not be a scientific way to measure how much water is enough. However, the body gives us plenty of clues. Thirst is a natural urge that should never be ignored– it’s a message that the body needs water. Always drink when you’re thirsty. That being said, don’t only drink water when you’re thirsty, but sip water throughout the day.

Your lips and urine provide more clues. Urine should be more or less clear and straw colored and anything darker might signify a need for more water. Your lips too are an indicator of hydration. If they’re feeling dry, moisturize with a glass of water rather than lip balm.

Proper hydration isn’t only about how much you drink, but also how you drink. Just as the body thrives with the proper ingestion of food– slow, thorough chewing and regular mealtimes, for example, the body thrives with proper intake of water.

First things first, drink room temperature or even warm water. In the US, we have a bad habit of drinking ice water. In general, cold food and beverage is not good for the body. Icy cold water douses the digestive fire (the body’s source of heat and the principle responsible for digestion). Skip the ice cubes and switch to room temperature water in the summer and warm water in the winter. This keeps the digestive fire burning as it should.

Next, sit down and sip. We should not only sit down to eat, but to drink, too. Sit down, take a sip, and then take a breath. Repeat. Chugging massive amounts of water will just make you run to the bathroom. Make it a habit to drink slowly and mindfully.

The manner in which you take in water can make a huge difference in hydration, digestion, excretion, and the way in which you feel on a daily basis. When it comes to drinking water, listen to your body to know how much is enough, and you’ll see and feel a huge difference.

To learn more about holistic health in Indiana, contact us.

Trauma Therapy in Greenwood

New location for Trauma Therapy in Greenwood

As we celebrate the end of another great year, I have SO MUCH to share with you!  First of all, I want to thank you for your business and for your support of Sunstone Health & Wellness.  I am truly grateful and honored to be a part of your journey through counseling and healing in the Greenwood, Castleton, and Indianapolis areas.

I have some pretty exciting news to share with you!  Starting January 1, 2015, Sunstone Health & Wellness will relocate to a new, quieter location.  We feel this is going to be a great move for our business and our clients. We are growing and expanding and this location will be more suited for counseling and our expanded services.

Our new address for Trauma Therapy in Greenwood will be:

Sunstone Health & Wellness

1700 W. Smith Valley Rd., Suite B4

Greenwood, Indiana 46142

You may notice that the new address isn’t too far from our current one!  The new space is a very private 1,200 square feet suite, featuring a waiting room, group room, and three office spaces.  We are currently in the process of renovating the space, and I can’t wait for you to see it!

As our business is growing, I am so excited to begin expanding the services that we are able to offer to you! I will still be offering the counseling and trauma therapy in Greenwood and Castleton that you know and trust as well as the individual and family counseling. I love being able to offer alternative health to Indianapolis and holistic approaches to therapy, to truly serve the mind, body, and spirit including EMDR, hypnotherapy, art therapy, health and wellness coaching, essential oils, and more. Stay tuned to hear more about each of these.

Along with the new location, we will also have new contact information starting January 1.

Phone Number:  (317) 123-4567

Fax Number:  (317) 123-4568


See?  I told you that I had a lot of exciting news to share with you!

Again, I cannot thank you enough for your continued support of Sunstone.  This expansion and continued growth is something that has been a goal of mine for many years.  You’ve probably heard me say that I can’t imagine doing anything else for my job, and I truly mean that.  It is my deep and profound pleasure and honor to serve you and your family.

Much Love in the New Year,

Lacey Rentschler









5 Minute Essential Oils Massage

Sunstone Health & Wellness wants to bring more alternative health to Indianapolis and Greenwood. We use essential oils in many of our practices to offer holistic health to Indiana.

Ayurveda (the science of life that hails from ancient India) encourages us to keep healthy and prevent disease with a daily routine full of self-care. One of the most beneficial practices in this routine is abhyanga; a nourishing oil massage (one of many essential oils). Even if regular professional massages are within your means, self-abhyanga can be done on a daily basis and in the comfort of your own bathroom. Five minutes and basic essential oils are all you need, plus another 15 minutes to let the essential oil soak in (during which you can stretch, do some breathing exercises, or simply relax).

These five minutes can make a huge impact on your overall health and wellbeing. When practiced regularly, abhyanga has a myriad of benefits-besides moisturizing skin and making it glow. The therapeutic self-massage tones the skin, muscles, and underlying body tissues. It improves circulation, aiding the body in its removal of toxins and metabolic wastes. The rhythmic motion of the massage lubricates the joints and relieves muscle stiffness. It calms the nervous system, boosts immunity, and helps to promote sound sleep. It can help in chronic fatigue. Abhyanga strengthens, nourishes, improves flexibility, and slows down aging.

Abhyanga is clearly five minutes well spent. The ideal time to give yourself this nourishing massage is before both bathing and breakfast. Alternatively, you can massage yourself in the evening, which helps with a good night’s sleep. Note that you should skip this massage on a full stomach, during menstruation, and if you’re pregnant.

Here’s how to practice self-abhyanga:essential oils Indiana

  1. Choose your essential oil. Traditionally, herb-infused medicinal oils are carefully selected according to the individual and their condition. If you’re not sure which oil is right for you, use coconut oil in warmer months and sesame oil in cooler months. Use the best quality essential oil you can afford, and make sure it’s organic and unrefined. The skin is the largest organ, so feed it the good stuff. Store the oil in a glass bottle.
  1. Heat the essential oil by placing the bottle in a pot of warm water. Warm essential oil better penetrates the skin.
  1. Start the massage at your head. Pour a little oil onto the crown of your head and rub. This helps to release negative energy and excess heat. Massage your entire head using small circles. This relaxes the brain, strengthens the sense organs, and calms the mind.
  1. Massage your face with upward strokes and gentle circles to give a natural face-lift. Gently pinch-press from your inner eyebrows to outer. Massage your neck, ears, earlobes, and the area behind your ears.
  1. Massage the body from top to bottom. Use circular strokes on the joints– the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. This helps to release any stuck energy. Use long, linear strokes on the rest of the body from the center outwards, following the direction of hair growth. This encourages the body’s energy flow to move in its natural direction. Use both hands to massage the belly in large, clockwise circles. Massage each finger and toe, the palms, and the soles of the feet.
  1. Let the oil soak in, then wash off. 15 minutes gives the oil time to penetrate the body. Wash it off with a gentle, natural soap. You can even leave a little residue as a moisturizer.

If you don’t have enough time for full-body abhyanga, at least massage the soles of your feet. On the other hand, take your time when you can and give yourself a truly nurturing, loving self-massage. Your body and mind will thank you.

To learn more about essential oils in Indiana, please make sure you contact us  at Sunstone Health & Wellness. We have many alternative health options available to the Indianapolis, Greenwood, and Indiana neighborhoods.


Turning Depression On Its Head With Yoga

Depression and other mental health issues are serious and should be evaluated by a professional. For counseling in Indianapolis or Greenwood, call Sunstone Health & Wellness today.

Today’s post is the final in a 4-part series on yoga and depression.  This series has been brought to you by guest blogger, Jennifer Minchin.  Jen is a yogi, constant explorer, and lover of the written word.

Did you know there’s pretty much a yoga pose for any mood and every possible body ailment? In B.K.S. Iyengar’s book Light on Yoga you can look up everything from how to ease a headache to polio with yoga. Different yoga poses activate different muscles, organs, and gland systems within your body, with the goal of finding overall balance. So what about depression? Which yoga poses can help?

Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Stand with your feet hips width’s distance apart. Make sure the feet are parallel to each other with your heels lined up directly behind the first and second toes. Bring your hands to your hips and fold forward, hinging at the waist. Once you’ve lowered down, lower your hands to the floor or a block if you can’t reach the floor. (If you don’t have a block available, you can use a chair, pillows, blankets, etc., whatever will help bring the floor to you.)

If you keep your weight centered between the front and back of your foot you will get a more even stretch. If you’d like to release your hamstrings a bit more then move your weight more towards the front of your feet.

Child’s Pose

If you don’t have a lot of flexibility in your knees, you may want to skip this one because it likely won’t be relaxing. However, if you can sit up on your shins with no problem, start there. Hinge forward, folding over your thighs. Let your head rest on the floor and stretch your arms out in front of you. Imagine all of the day’s worries just falling out of your forehead and into the floor. As you exhale sink further back into your hips and just let go.

Legs Up the Wall

This one is exactly what it sounds like and it’s easy to do! Find yourself a wall, lay flat on your back, and slowly work your legs flat up the wall. Eventually your legs will be at a 90-degree angle to your body. Stay here for a couple of minutes and just breathe.


If you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, you can practice some inversions to bring freshly oxygenated blood back to your head. Oxygen and glucose are two things the brain needs to function properly, so bathing your head in this oxygen rich blood is a great way to kick start the “happy” chemical production you need. An inversion is a pose in which your head is below your heart. With inversions, you’re literally turning depression on its head!

So if you’re new to all of this, you can start with a forward fold, which technically is an inversion.

For those of you who may already have a yoga practice or are familiar with these poses, headstand, handstand, and shoulder stand are great for anxiety and depression. If you’re not familiar with how to get into these poses, you’ll want to find a local teacher who can walk you through them step-by-step and be there to safety guide you.

These are just a few of the many poses that are great to help counteract the effects of stress, anxiety and depression. If you’re interested, find a local studio where you can practice. Becoming part of a community is also another great way to start to work your way out of depression.

If you are so someone you know is depressed or looking for counseling in Indianapolis or Greenwood areas, contact us to learn how we can help.

Breathe In Wellness, Breathe Out Depression

*Depression and other mental health issues are serious and should be evaluated by a professional. For counseling in Indianapolis or Greenwood, call Sunstone Health & Wellness today.

Today’s post is the third in a 4-part series on how yoga can help with symptoms of depression.  It is brought to you by guest blogger, Jennifer Minchin.  Jen is a yogi, a constant explorer, and a lover of the written word.

In yoga, breathing exercises are referred to as a pranayama, which translated means “directing the breath”. When you practice pranayama you are altering your natural breathing rhythm. There are several types of breathing exercises you can practice in yoga and even in meditation, and each come with their own list of benefits. While you can incorporate breathing into your yoga practice, if you’re not quite ready to step on the mat, you can certainly start with your breath. If you’re looking for a method that will help alleviate some symptoms of depression, first, let’s take a look at which category of depression you may be dealing with.

When we talk about imbalances in yoga, we speak in terms of the three gunas. Depression is an imbalance, be it chemically, mentally, or emotionally, and you likely can put your symptoms and feelings into one of the gunas. We can get pretty sidetracked when looking at what exactly a guna is, so let’s just look at the general characteristics of each and see if any of them resonate with you:

  •  Sattvic – This is the goal. To be in a sattvic state is to feel emotionally and physically balanced.
  • Tamasic – This is a state of lethargy and all of the synonyms that come with it. You’re feeling heavy, disinterested, sad, and/or hopeless. When most people think of depression, this is the state of being that comes to mind.
  • Rajasic – The other side of the depression coin is anxiety and mania. This is what it means to be rajasic. You’re over stimulated and/or over anxious.

The goal of a regular yoga practice, or a regular pranayama practice, is to move to you closer to a sattvic state, to find balance. So if you’re rajasic, the last thing you want to do is add more energy you’re already keyed up state. If you’re tamasic, restorative and calming practices are probably not the best choice. Choosing the right practice for your state of mind is integral to finding balance.

One of my favorite breathing practices is called Nadhi Sodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breathing. This one in particular is good because no matter which type of depression you are suffering from, you can practice Nadhi Sodhana. So if breathing exercises are new to you, or you’re having trouble figuring out if you need more or less energy, this is a good practice to start with.

Alternate Nostril Breathing is quite literal. It’s a breathing exercise in which you alternate which nostril you close off and which you breathe in and out of. Each nostril connects to different energy aspects of the body, mind, and spirit.

The left nostril is linked to the right hemisphere of the brain. When you focus on left-nostril breathing, you are creating a calming effect. If you’re feeling anxious (or rajasic), left-nostril breathing can help ease some of that for you. It can also help stimulate creativity.

The right nostril is linked to the left hemisphere of the brain. Right-nostril breathing will stimulate the mind and the body. If you’re looking to become more alert, breathing through the right side of your nose could help energize you. Focusing on the right side is great for those feeling tamasic.

Interestingly, throughout the day one of your nostrils is dominant. If you’re feeling stressed, your right nostril may be dominant. If you are swung far in the other direction, your left nostril may be taking the lead. Once you learn more about the role each nostril plays, it’s easy to see how balancing the effort is important to your overall wellness.  When you practice alternate nostril breathing, that’s exactly what you’re doing, you’re giving the body balance.

Let’s get started.

  • Find a comfortable seat. You could be sitting cross-legged on the floor, a couch or a bed. You generally want your hips higher than your knees, so if you’re sitting cross-legged, consider sitting up on a pillow or blanket. You can also sit in a chair with your feet planted firmly on the floor.
  • Place your left hand on your left thigh.
  • Move your right hand up in front of your face. Rest your second and third fingers lightly between your eyebrows.
  • Place your thumb lightly on top of your right nostril and your third and fourth fingers lightly on your left nostril.
  • With your two fingers, gently close off your left nostril and breathe in through the right. Then switch, closing off the right and exhaling through the left.
  • Inhale through the left, then switch and exhale through the right. Inhale through the right, switch to exhale (then inhale) through the left, and so on.
  • Do this for several rounds. As you become more used to the practice, you can continue for longer periods of time.

You’ll notice right away one side is easier to breathe through than the other. The easier side is currently your dominant nostril. Once you get used to alternate nostril breathing, you can practice focusing on the side that is appropriate for your guna.
If you are so someone you know is depressed or looking for counseling in Indianapolis or Greenwood areas, contact us to learn how we can help.

Yoga Can Help You Journey Back From Depression

*Depression and other mental health issues are serious and should be evaluated by a professional. For counseling in Indianapolis or Greenwood, call Sunstone Health & Wellness today.

Today’s post is the first in a 4-part series on how yoga can help with symptoms of depression.  It is brought to you by guest blogger, Jennifer Minchin.  Jen is a yogi, a constant explorer, and a lover of the written word.

It finally occurred to me that there was a real problem when I woke up with four two-inch long cuts in my left arm. Taking a knife to myself the night before somehow, somewhere in my brain seemed to be the answer to the crushing weight of my depression. At that point, the only thing I could force myself to do was yoga. With a will that came from somewhere deep inside me I didn’t even know that I had, I would get up each day and head to a yoga class. It took several months, but at one point, I realized that I had started to feel better.

Yoga helped me get to a place where I wanted to work on the things I had shied away from in the past. It made me dig deep and really look at myself to find what I was really missing—happiness. After spending a lot of time on the mat, and subsequently in teacher training, I started to understand that wellness, both mental and physical, is one of the many gifts of yoga.

Just how does yoga help with depression? Practicing yoga postures help cleanse your organs by moving stale blood and delivering fresh blood. Studies have shown that chanting activates certain systems in your body, helping to balance hormones. At the beginning and end of many classes the word “Om” is chanted. Depending on which style of yoga you choose, there may be additional chants. (Don’t let the idea of chanting scare you. It’s actually fun! But if you’re still sketched out by the idea, it’s totally okay to just skip that part of class and listen.) Breathing practices help to calm your sympathetic nervous system and activate your parasympathetic system. These are just a few of the ways yoga helps get your body and mind moving in a healthier, happier direction. We’ll take a deeper look at these benefits in the other posts for this series.

But for now let’s look at how yoga helps you be present and why that’s important. Depression makes you want to hide. You could be hiding from people, yourself, or issues that are too hidden or too difficult to bring to light. I hid in alcohol, in partying, in bad relationships, and just flat out hid in my apartment. In a yoga class, you will focus on the movement of your body, your breath, and how you feel in each pose, which slowly but surely, will teach to you start paying attention to the present moment.

You’ll begin to find that different poses can bring up different feelings. Your practice becomes a journey into self-exploration and self-study. How do you react when you come upon a new challenge? Do you shy away from your edge? Or do you stay there and face what’s coming up for you? During my time working through the deepest part of my depression, one of my biggest challenges was camel pose. Camel is a deep backbend, also known as a heart opener. Heart openers make you feel exposed. For me, that was the hardest thing in the world, and getting into that position would send me into a near panic attack. My heart would race, my breathing would become shallow, and I’d have to come out of it. One day my teacher said to me, “Just drop back. Nothing is going to happen to you.” I realized he was right. Soon thereafter I was ready to face a piece of my own insecurity and the pose became one of exhilaration instead of a place of fear.

Just like I did in camel pose, you can begin to work with your own range of emotions and get to know yourself better. The way you think about poses will change. You will begin to feel stronger on your own two feet and want to start applying the lessons learned in yoga to other areas of your life. It’s a slow process and hard work at times, but getting to know yourself outside of your depression is an important step to realizing that depression doesn’t have to dictate the rest of your life.

It’s these little lessons, these little achievements that are going to help you learn that everything you need to be okay is inside of you. Soon you will feel strong enough to take the next step—whatever that may be for yourself.

If you are so someone you know is depressed or looking for counseling in Indianapolis or Greenwood areas, contact us to learn how we can help.