Yoga Passport Teacher Profile: Lisa Brennan, Yoga for Stress and Anxiety

Yoga Passport is a unique Yoga Immersion and Teacher Training that I’ll be co-teaching at FocusOm beginning in January, 2109. It emphasizes the ultimate goal of yoga: to connect with one’s inner spirit. We’ll explore not only the tools of classical yoga, such as asana, pranayama and traditional meditation, but more modern practices as well. Many current practices help create a state of “yoga”, by quieting the mind, cultivating a healthy life, and connecting us to our own inner wisdom. This program offers a survey of many tools presented by many teachers, to broaden the students scope on their spiritual journey. If you’d like more details about this program, click here.

I’m excited to introduce you to another of our tour guides on this journey, Lisa Brennan. Many yogis come to the practice as a means to manage stress and anxiety, and Lisa has many tools to share with our students.

Lisa Brennan has a Masters in Counseling Psychology, is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, and a certified yoga instructor and a certified Music and Sound Healing Practitioner. Lisa will be sharing with our Passport travelers specific yoga techniques for managing stress and anxiety.

While she regularly used yoga techniques, such as asana and pranayama, as tools to help children she worked with who were on the autism spectrum, Lisa’s personal experience informs her first-hand how yoga can help with daily stress and large-scale anxiety.

“After I had my second child I began to practice yoga regularly. I didn’t really know the benefits; I just knew I felt much better after I practiced. I had a newborn and a two year old. I was so sleep deprived! One time I was in Child’s Pose, and a feeling of calm washed over me that I hadn’t experienced in so long, that I found myself welling up in tears. I left that yoga class feeling so transformed! That was the day I was hooked.”

As Lisa’s children grew, and life threw new challenges her way, she continued to draw upon her yoga practice to manage everyday stress. She sites three poses as being her “go-to” stress management poses:

“Legs-up-the-wall sets the heart below the legs, which lowers blood pressure, calms the nervous system and feels really good for the feet and legs.  Headstand reverses the blood flow to enrich the brain, which calms anxiety and is detoxifying.

“And, Child’s Pose is particularly psychologically soothing. It activates the Third Eye, and stimulates the pineal gland to secrete chemicals and hormones that trigger the body out of the flight or fight mode of a stressed system. The chemicals the body under stress create attack the immune system, so it’s important to manage stress effectively.”

Part of managing stress is catching it before it takes root, and Lisa maintains practices that help day-to-day. As often as possible, she begins her day with either a guided or individual meditation. And, she likes to practice either Ujayi and/or ratio-breathing.

“If I start the day with breathwork, instead of simply jumping out of bed and immediately racing around, I find it sets a better tone for my entire day. On those days, when I feel stress, I’m more aware and more apt to turn to the breath to manage anxious feelings. The breathwork benefits infiltrate my entire day.”

Lisa looks forward to sharing more techniques with our Yoga Passport students!

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