International Yoga Day

By: Jen Champion

Vista Wellness Center will feature a free gentle yoga practice for the community on International Yoga Day, June 21, 2022. This is our local celebration in conjunction with hundreds of events worldwide. 

International Yoga Day is the official United Nations promotion of individual global health, harmony, and peace. This event’s origins date to 2015, when nearly 36,000 people, including political figures worldwide, performed 21 yoga postures for 35 minutes in New Delhi.

The event calls for the practice of joy in movement, compassion, kindness, and experiencing togetherness among all cultures. We can grow to recognize the kindness inherent in each of us and help strengthen the bonds that bring people together. Set an intention today to find value in everyone. Make a conscious effort to uphold and respect each other. Foster self-care and worth to help build individual resilience and strengthen our local and global communities.

Yoga helps people gain positive momentum toward good health and act from a place of friendliness and compassion. We can better realize our unlimited potential of self and our collective consciousness to support whole health throughout the whole world.

Join Instructor, Jen Champion and enjoy supportive yoga guidance in a safe place: 4-5 pm, Vista Wellness Center, 1531 Pearl Street, Eugene

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Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

The current events of the world can create feelings of stress for many children. That, paired with the recent history of isolation and a loss of support systems, such as in-person school, has resulted in all kids feeling an increased sense of stress in their lives.  Helping kids deal with the stressors of uncertainty will help them be more successful in managing challenging times ahead.

Big Life Journal has some helpful resources to help kids deal with stress, including printable guides and worksheets. Some ideas for helping kids deal with stress include:

  • Re-frame stress–Stress can lead to growth if children understand that stressful situations will not last forever. These situations represent challenges to overcome and lessons to learn.  Seek to understand your child’s stress rather than dismiss it
  • Shift from a fixed to a growth mindset–it’s not fixed, it can be improved, and you do have the power to influence the situation.
  • Stop catastrophic thinking–do not dismiss their worry. Their concerns are very real to them and there have been a lot of reasons to worry recently.  But help them put words to their fears and focus on what they can control
  • Practice Problem solving–listen, discuss the positives and negatives of a situation, brainstorm solutions
  • Try stress management techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, or yoga exercises for kids.

Although many kids may experience stress, there are also many kids experiencing a higher level of mental health issues.  On May 7th we can observe Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The purpose of this awareness day is to increase public awareness about the needs of children with serious mental illness, provide information on evidence-based practices, and encourage those who need help to seek treatment.

According to the World Health Organization:

  • One in six U.S. children ages 6-17 has a treatable mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety problems or ADHD.‍
  • Half of all mental health conditions start at 14 years of age, but most cases are undetected and untreated.
  • The consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.

It is important to have conversations with your children, to recognize when their mental health issues are more than just expected stress responses, and to get them help. Early intervention can have positive results that benefit them for the rest of their life. Therapy can have a significant impact on a child. And more severe issues can be addressed through a consult with your mental health provider as well as a doctor or psychiatrist if needed. Teaching our kids that it is okay to not be okay sometimes, is an important first step in them feeling like they can ask for help when they are struggling.  Taking care of a child’s mental health is as important as their physical health. We can create a safe space for our children, so they can feel good about themselves. 

Follow the resources below for more:

Virtual Events For Parents & Caring Adults 

What’s in the Guide for Parents: Caring for Kids with Mental Illness

Helping Children Cope 

Need Help? | Kids Help Phone 

Youth Mental Health | Mental Health America

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Alcohol Awareness Month

The month of April marks National Alcohol Awareness Month. The first Alcohol Awareness Month was founded by Marty Mann, one of the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Most adults in the United States who drink alcohol can drink moderately and without any issues. However, alcohol-related problems are the third leading preventable cause of death in the country. Alcohol use disorders affect about 15 million adults in the United States, and an estimated 90,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year.

How do you know if drinking alcohol has become a problem for you or a loved one? Alcohol becomes a problem when it impacts your life in a negative way:

  • Has your personal or work life been deteriorating because of your drinking? 
  • Have you had times when you drank more or longer, than you intended? 
  • Are you drinking to feel better? 
  • Are you drinking to cope with stress or other problems? 
  • Do you feel anxious or irritable without a drink? 

If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself, it may be time to evaluate the role that alcohol plays in your life. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has some helpful resources, including their Rethinking Drinking page, which allows you to take a closer look at your drinking patterns and offers research-based information to help you decrease or quit drinking. 

Alcohol dependence claims the lives of more than 90,000 people every year. In 1987, and is the most used substance by youth and adults in the United States. For more resources and ways to get help, you can check out the resources below:

Alcoholics Anonymous 

SMART Recovery

 Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder | NIAAA

What Are the Treatments for Alcohol Use Disorder?

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Developmental Disability Awareness Month – Deaf History Month

By: Christina Bein – LCSW

March is often known to be the start of a new season, where we can move out of winter and into spring. It’s also a month of bringing awareness to Development Disabilities and Deaf History Month (from March 13 – April 15). 

In a world where people come in all shapes, colors and sizes, we also have variations in our developmental and physical capabilities. 

Some limitations in capabilities are more noticeable and some are less obvious – yet each person learns to find a way to navigate through the intricacies of being part of society.

During the height of protests and marches in support of Black Lives Matter in 2020, diverse groups of people came together to take a unified stand on how this country, government, police, etc – need to do better when it comes to how we treat and support our black communities.

In these protests, deaf people and translators came and represented. They also took it a step further to re-language how people sign “black” (referring to the people) to make it more appropriate, empowering, and respectful. 

The intersectionality of being black and deaf is a unique experience not often shared or discussed in mainstream society. 

During the 2020 protests, and even before it, black deaf people were targeted and misunderstood for using sign language, mistaking them for communicating gang signs. 

When protests were happening there was not enough clear warning to those of impaired hearing, inability to read lips because of masks, or other developmental disability to avoid nearness to flashbangs, gasses, and other tactics used by police forces to disperse protestors. 

The argument from the other side is that these particular persons should not attend protests. It speaks to how little society allows for the integration of developmentally disabled or deaf individuals to participate as their whole self.

What does it look like to help build an environment for our fellow human beings to show up as their whole self?

We could expand our understanding and help by being an ally to their advocacy, sometimes using our voices to amplify theirs to be heard.

Here are some local agencies whose mission is to support communities with developmental disabilities.

Local agencies & resources with information and events supporting developmental disabilities:

Community Pathways

Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities

Compilation of services/agencies in Lane County

Oregon Association of the Deaf

Video for ASL “Black Lives Matter” from June 2020 during protests

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Walk Your Dog Month

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The month of January is Walk Your Dog Month, making it the perfect time to get moving in the new year.

Walking your dog often ensures that both of you are getting more fresh air and exercise. It’s a great daily activity to do with your beloved pet, and it allows for more bonding time.

You can also include the whole family to make it a fun outing that incorporates exercise and healthy behaviors for everyone.

When days get busy, it’s normal to want to relax, but even getting in a few minutes of walking time can make a difference for both you and your dog. 

Here are some benefits of and ideas for your walks: 

Motivation And Health

Furry friends require exercise to live their happiest lives. Taking your dog out for a walk can be a great way to combat anxiety, keep their joints active, and help them stay healthy.

But the health benefits don’t stop with your pets. Joining them on walks can also help increase your activity and give you some daily cardio. Exercise also has a positive impact on our mental health. It can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, and can improve your mood and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal. And walking with your dog can help you interact with others as many people love to stop and pet your dog and chat with you.

New Locations

You can incorporate some fun into your walks by trying out new routes. A predictable route can get tiresome, especially if you walk down the same path every single day. 

Having a change of scenery can be fun for your dog and for you. Do a different route each day, try walking through the park, walk to a friend’s house, walk on the trails, or try walking to the dog park and back. It’s okay to switch it up. You might even meet new friends and find new adventures along the way.

Prepare For Weather

The cold winter weather doesn’t have to slow down your walks. You can be ready for any weather with the right gear.  A raincoat and rainboots or a winter coat and hat can help you stay comfortable despite the conditions.  You can take more frequent, but shorter walks when the weather is especially nasty.  Or make it fun by embracing the weather–splash in puddles with your pup or run around in the snow and throw snowballs for your dog to chase.

You can also make sure your pets are in proper attire. If your dog has short hair, you can consider putting a coat or sweater on them to keep them cozy. Boots also help protect their paws from ice, snow, or slush they might step in.

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Reduce Stress with This Breathing Technique

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Reducing Stress and Strengthening the Relaxation Response

By Jen Champion

We have all experienced stress, whether the media is sharing the news or the traffic jam has you late for a job interview. It is important to note our personal experience and how we relate to it, so we can then respond skillfully. We need to be in charge of our responses to stress and our actions around it. 

We need the natural physical reactions stress creates to remain safe from harm and move forward in certain situations. But too much stress can lead to negative responses.  We cannot cope easily and become exhausted and ill. The good news is, when our nervous system is in balance, we can maintain or regain optimum health and well-being.

Our Sympathetic nervous system can be referred to as the gas pedal, and the Parasympathetic is the brake. When the pedal is to the metal, we go too fast, have difficulty navigating obstacles, and we eventually run out of gas. When the brake is on for too long, we cannot move and get stuck; stagnation also causes stress. We want to travel at a speed that allows us to be engaged in the curves and landscapes and not be dizzied by them. When our scenery is constantly blurred by things out of our control, we cannot appreciate the sea’s waves or snow-capped peaks, let alone go with the flow. We write negative self-narratives and push through sensations of fatigue and pain without even recognizing we are doing it.  

We need to have balance in our systems so our bodies can differentiate between good and bad stress to function optimally. We can then identify stress triggers and skillfully approach the situation to balance the gas and brake pedals. An excellent place to start is learning and practicing techniques from yoga traditions that begin with breath training. The yogis believe the breath is the link between the body and mind, where one can cultivate energy to charge or calm areas of the mind, body, and emotions to be in harmony with self and nature.I am here to help us learn how to become more aware of ourselves and take the appropriate action to move in and out of stress with more flexibility and ease. I will share techniques to help us create balance in our lives.  

Breathing Technique

In this breathing practice, we begin to rest and will then move our bodies to help create awareness, release tension, and strengthen the relaxation response.

  • Sit on a chair with your feet on the surface below you. Hands rest on your legs. Close your eyes and become aware that you are breathing. Keep your awareness at the tips of your nostrils and breathe with your lips gently closed. 
  • Begin to connect with the following five qualities of breath. 
    • Deep 
    • Smooth 
    • Even 
    • Quiet 
    • Continuous. 
  • When you breathe in, feel your abdomen expand and follow the awareness in the expansion in your lungs. As you Inhale, feel and hear the word “nourish.”  As you exhale, release breath awareness from your lungs through your abdomen and feel and hear the word “relax.” 
  • Repeat for one minute. (You can grow your practice into longer segments when you feel ready).
  • Mindful Movements can increase circulation throughout the body, improve posture and balance, restore vitality and rejuvenate the body and mind. One way to practice this is to coordinate your breath with your movement.
  • Begin to ground and connect with stability in your core (your muscles that stabilize your trunk and allow for balance and movement) 
  • Relate to our core like this:
    • Stand on your bare feet on a nonslip surface, carpet, or yoga mat.
    • Press your feet firmly into the surface below you. Activate your legs and lower abdominal muscles and maintain a smooth, deep, even breathe
    • Maintain this activation and begin to move.
      • Sun Breath Arms: Inhale and lift your arms overhead. Exhale and lower your arms. The amount of time it takes for your complete inhale is the amount of time it should take you to move your arms overhead or to where you can comfortably get them. Same on the exhale. Sense a warmth and comfort surrounding you.
      • Circle of Joy: Inhale and place your hands together in the center of your chest. Exhale and interlace your fingers and press palms down and straighten your arms. Inhale, lift your interlaced fingers and arms overhead. Exhale and release fingers and arms to sides with a smile and an audible sigh. Repeat 5 times. Invite joy into your life and send it to others.
      • Seated Forward Fold: Sit on a chair with your feet firmly placed on the floor. Activate core muscles and breathe deeply. Inhale and lift your arms overhead. Exhale and hinge forward from the hips, let your arms open beside you and move to rest your forearms and elbows on your thighs. Bring your palms together, dip your chin slightly towards your chest. Breathe and relax. Stay for one minute and then inhale and slowly rise up. Sense a feeling of introversion and respect towards self.


Join our online yoga classes to help you create self-awareness, control stress, and maneuver obstacles with ease. Learn how to fill your tank with vitality, cruise, and enjoy the scenery and your life.

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