The Top Way I Stop a Panic Attack

This post is an email from the October session of the free BreatheEcourse; mindfulness to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD. Enjoy! 
4 Day BreatheLet’s work on DBT!. But first a quick word about journaling.

If you’re struggling with the journaling, as I know some of you do, set a timer. Set the alarm on your phone. Write just for ten minutes. I know that sometimes we pressure ourselves to  write down every single thought and then it feels like we started an avalanche.

There are no rules to journaling. You don’t have to capture every thought or every moment of your day. You write what and how much you want.

It’s like being on the mat. You’re in the moment and you notice what you notice. We don’t have time for every pose during a session and that’s okay. We don’t even get in every pose we know and usually we don’t get to practice a pose for as long as we’d like. So just write and don’t get overwhelmed by thinking it has to be a certain way.

Okay, so we’re just going to talk about my favorite dialectical behavior skill. It falls under TIP.

Temperature change
Intense Exercise
Progressive relaxation

I know you think we’re going to talk progressive relaxation. Nope! My favorite TIP skill is temperature change. It works like a charm for me. Before DBT no one ever told me that I could stop panic attacks. i was just supposed to get better at enduring them.


Remember, our goal is to move into Wise Mind. (Wise Mind is when we’re not engaging in black or white thinking, but settling into the place in the middle; the plaid place) When emotions are feeling big, we want to run towards Wise Mind.

Let’s take two people. Let’s pretend they’re in a relationship and they’ve had a huge fight. And they happen to be complete opposites. One is very analytical and fact-based and the other is very creative and feelings-based.  The person who swings towards Emotion Mind is crying and feeling sick and feeling like everything is over and is completely in their feelings. This person my seem hysterical and beyond talking to. The person who tends to Reasonable Mind is having trouble accessing their emotions, is gathering facts and weighing pros and cons to decide the next step. This person may seem like they’re not engaging cause they’re already analyzing the facts and already thinking about the next step.

So it’s January and one person goes for a walk in the cold and the other hops in the shower. A cold shower. This blast of cold shifts both their brains’ chemistry and soothes their nervous systems. Individually, they move towards Wise Mind.

termperature changeThe Emotion Mind person is able to quiet the big feelings, be not quite so much in the high emotion of the body, but into what is really true for the body, move a bit into the head and gather some facts, moving more towards that middle ground. They realizes that despite this being hard and feelings being hurt their partner is generally kind and loving and they have survived fights before and this will pass.

The Reasonable Mind person is able to get out of the head so much and move into the body/heart. They feel the hurt and pain of fighting with their love and can say, I really don’t like this feeling. I don’t want to do this anymore.

Because they were each able to move into Wise Mind, they were able to come to a place where they could value each other and the relationship and maybe even take some steps to ensure this fight doesn’t repeat itself.

Now, I just like that outcome. It didn’t have to be that way. They could have moved into Wise Mind and the Emotion Mind could have gathered facts and decided that these fights are happening way too often and this isn’t the kind of relationship they want. Reasonable Mind could have got into their emotions and decided that it hurts too much to fight like this and it’s not worth it.

Both are valid outcomes because they came from Wise Mind. The opposite might be that Emotion Mind, crying and screaming ran out of the house and called all the friends that were going to say that their  partner is a louse and doesn’t deserve them. The Reasonable Mind might have started a pros and cons list, leaving out emotions and decided that the best thing is to break up. In a few days when they moved more towards the middle ground they might both regret their decision. Some regrets can be fixed. Some can’t.

I’m a huge fan of Temperature Change. Years ago, before I took DBT I was in the beginning stages of a panic attack. I couldn’t catch my breath, I was sweating, my heart was pounding, I was nauseated. I got afraid, which is the worst thing you can do for a panic attack. If you start to fear it coming on, you just make it grow. So I was snowballing fast.

I was with my ex, who grabbed the biggest bowl in my cabinet, fill ed it with ice and water and told me to plunge my face. I really don’t like super cold, so I resisted. He was adamant. I did it once, came up gasping and he made me do it again. I did it again and when I came up it was like someone had covered me with a heated blanket. I felt this warm calm. My breathing had slowed down. My heart stopped pounding. I wasn’t sweating anymore. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe that a panic attack stopped completely. It sold me on DBT. I signed up a few months later.

I highly recommend DBT to anyone who’ll listen. It honestly changed my life.

I love what I teach and believe in it, but the DBT program is amazing. If you’re interested in learning more DBT skills from a yoga teacher consider signing up for BreatheOnline, which starts January 21st.  If you like the group therapy vibe, check out your local mental health facility. Occasionally some therapists teach it one-on-one, but Marsha Linehan says if you’re not getting it from a team of therapists, it’s not DBT.

2018BreatheOnlineWhat can you do to shift your brain chemistry? Try a few things. Change your Temperature. Run around the block as fast as you can for some Intense Exercise, especially great for anger emotions. Go to YouTube for some Progressive relaxation recordings. Keep a list of the tools that work the best for you.

Post that list somewhere you will see it over and over again. The fridge, the medicine cabinet, on your dashboard.

Happy Managing!

Contact me to sign up for the Free BreatheEcourse. Drop me an email. Or, if you’re ready for deeper work and an opportunity to practice the skills and tools while getting support, community and connection, join me for BreatheOnline!


What If You Planned For The Unexpected?

Wednesday!I’m in the middle of teaching BreatheEcourse, the free seven day course to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD with mindfulness skills and tools. In a little over a week, I start teaching BreatheOnline, the six week version I developed from Yoga for Anxiety and Depression to do the same, but slower and with more depth and opportunities to practice the skills and tools.

So, I’m thinking a lot, everyday, about managing stress, mental health, life.

Over at BreatheOnline, we check-in on Wednesdays to pause and take an assessment of the week.

How’s your week going so far? You probably had an idea on Sunday or Monday of what the week would look like. Take a minute to pause, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. How does the reality of the week measure up to the intentions set at the beginning of the week?  Are you feeling worried about getting everything done this week? Are you feeling like you’re on track to have a successful week?

This is the day that you can pivot, shift or keep on keeping on.  This is the moment to set intention again. Wednesdays get a bad rap, but they the perfect day to reset, to begin again, to redirect.

Life happens and things are out of our control. People get sick, there are snowstorms, cars break down. We anxiety, depression and PTSD people can let that derail us. Rather than be surprised by the unexpected or stressed or upset that we can’t control life, what if you planned for the unexpected?

What if on a daily basis you left blank places in your calendar as cushions for the unexpected? So when your kid calls during a meeting to tell you that she forgot her cello, you actually have space to shift things around and help her out. What if daily you said to yourself, I need to prepare for the unexpected and you meditated and drank an extra glass of water? What would preparing for the unexpected look like for you?

Join us January 21st for BreatheOnline. Get six weeks of practicing mindfulness tools and skills as well as connection and community! At the end of six weeks you have a plan to help you manage stress, mental health, life. Get a free one-on-one session with me to help you create that plan and receive custom yoga poses and breath work to ensure your success!. 






Final Friday, What Are You Celebrating?

Friday!It’s THE Final Friday!! What are you celebrating? This is the question I ask every week over at BreatheOnline’s secret Facebook group. Every Friday we celebrates the wins.

So, what are your wins? We’re talking the whole year. We’re talking the new job/love/marriage/house, but we’re also talking the healthy choices you made this year. What have you done that’s good for you body/mind/spirit this year?

I posted the Final Friday check-in at the blog this morning and had some answers. The podcast is new

One listener shares,  “My win: getting involved in politics again with Brand New Congress!”

Someone else shares, “I started treating my business like a business instead of a hobby.”

My wins? I shared a bit on the podcast, but there were so many more! I encourage you to grab your journal and just start a list.

What are you celebrating? What are your wins?


This year I moved to New York, a lifelong dream. You can check out my pics on Instagram to see just how much I love it. It exhilarates me, energizes and makes me smile every day. Every. Day.

A Yogi Kitchen grew. I helped more people find balance, learn more tools to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD and heal more backs than ever.  This is my dream and my passion. I love healing people, teaching people, offering love], support and guidance.  I couldn’t ask for more out of a career. Everyday IO am happy to do what I do. Everyday i look forward to what I do. It’s a good life.

I didn’t plan this, but while I lost a major source of income by circumstances outside of my control, I also let go of someone who violated my boundaries over and over. The relief about it all ending has been immense, a sure sign that I wasn’t listening to myself. Last year, I had a client ask for more and more from me and because she’s in her 80s, doesn’t have kids or relatives near by, I was consistently saying yes to her. She was asking me to do things that I wouldn’t ordinarily do. While our reasons for parting ways was surgery and a long rehab stay, the relief was huge. So, I’m having to scramble to make up this lost income, but it’s still a win to have this stress and disrespect end.

My dad is dying. I talked about this in the podcast. Not only is the win the sense of peace and closure we have, the two of us, but I am able to be still and open with him. Today my sister had the end of life talk with him. He’s a peace with most of their conversation. My sister just this moment texted me that my dad is worried about everyone being okay. So, I’m sitting at a bar typing and crying. It’s actually a win. My dad can be an ass and hearing that he is worried about us when he’s dying is more than I expected of him. It’s sweet and kind and selfless, not words I would use regarding my dad before that text two minutes ago. My sister and I are a great team. We are respectful and kind to each other, are on the same page about everything, and haven’t had hostile word yet. Win! We will be able to walk my dad home. Win!


My love and I are feeling closer and stronger than ever. This year I got THE ring.  It is gorgeous in a way I never anticipated. We’d talked about a completely different kind of ring, one that we both liked. He asked if I wanted a diamond and I don’t. Not only do I not want to wear anything with the ethical issues on my finger, but it’s not really me. We shopped together and never found THE ring. I thought we were putting it on the back burner until we found something perfect. AND THEN,  he saw this one. It’s not a great pic and you can’t really tell that it’s sapphire, but believe me, it’s beautiful. And it’s perfect. It is so me, without me realizing that it’s me. I love it. A friend who has known me since childhood, says that he knows me better than I know myself. So, just to calm any gossip. I am not engaged. This is the walk down the aisle for us. This is us for the rest of our lives. This person is perfect for me, knowing me better than I know myself. I am a happy woman. =

Health is good, that’s a win.

I have the best of friends, who love me and support me, letting me talk and listen and check-in with me through everything I’ve been through this year. Win! I attended my 30th year HS reunion this year. It was SO much fun and SO full of deep connection that I am making more of an effort to stay in contact with this family. I’m a lucky, lucky woman.

So, this is my win list for right now. I could go on. It’s not to say that there weren’t parts of the year that sucked, that sweetie and I never fight or that everything is simple and easy. Life is hard. There’s no playbook, no rules. We’re all just figuring it out as we go along, but focusing on the wins makes life feel so much richer and sweeter.


The wins are so big and important that over at BreatheOnline‘s secret Facebook page, we check-in with wins every single week of the six week series. Join us January 21! 





The Unexpected Gifts

I’m in Chicago with my family. The last few visits have felt really good on lots of levels. It feels good to be able to show-up and be here for my family and not push this away.
Dad Oxygen

My dad getting oxygen during PT. For the first time he let me help him in my capacity as a yoga therapist. Together the three of us helped him with his physical therapy.

The pictures are of my dad, who is dying. I’m here for a week to spend time with him, to help my sister with some of the work, to be present with what is.

Yesterday, I helped him reschedule a surgery, cleaned out his fridge, straightened his room (which he won’t let anyone do, but I didn’t ask permission), helped with his PT, met with his social worker and ironed out our understanding of his benefits, made friends with his nurses, whom he has done everything to piss off, and just sat with him.
A difficult person throughout his life, it’s not surprising that he has alienated most of the staff at his care facility. He has been labeled a difficult patient. They told me yesterday that they hate having to go to his room. I told them I totally understood, which I do, but it also breaks my heart.
His facility is top-notch, though,  and despite hating it, they do administer to his needs and maybe even in some little way care for him.
So my job today is to just sit with him, to make him feel a little less alone in his last months here. And believe me, the person who is benefitting the most is me. To be able to walk my dad to the end is a gift. To be able to be gracious and accommodating to his tirades and pain and discomfort and fear is an honor. 
It is not an honor bestowed by him. It is an honor I bestow upon myself. I am someone who does not want to push away life. I want all the feelings, all the experiences, all the emotions. I want the difficult, the ugly and the bad. Not only because they make the glories and the celebrations so much brighter and sweeter, but because I want the entirety of life. I do not want to look back and regret or wish.
While I am honored by this gift, this privilege, I realize that not everyone gets this. Loved

PT Dad

The man who once weighed 250 pounds and was almost 6 feet tall, seems tiny, weak and frail. 

ones drop dead instantly or are killed in accidents. Not everyone gets the softer, more vulnerable side of their parent. While his comes with bouts of anger, irritability and plain bitchiness, his vulnerability and softness is still a side I don’t know. In our 48-year relationship I am learning new things about him, experiencing him in a different way. That is a gift.

I also am privileged in a way that my sister is not, in a few days, I will fly back to New York. I get that.
It is a wonder to me that my rage and hostility towards this man does not fill the hospital room. Somehow, though, I’m able to be present with what is and feel some peace with him. We can sit quietly and watch television. We do not talk about sexual assault or harassment, the president, Roy Moore, Russia or net neutrality. We sit and watch black and white movies and football. We don’t talk that much. Sometimes he tells me about his friends that I haven’t seen since I was a child. I work on my computer. It’s peaceful.
Tomorrow, he has surgery and at his age, with his heart, that’s always risky. So, today I’m going to sit with him and then when he gets transferred to the hospital, go with him. THEN, at the end of the day I’m going to have drinks with childhood friends, people that despite not seeing me all that often, know, love and support me. Oh! and people who’ve gone through this too, so they get it.
Today, the toolbox is wide open and there are tools scattered on the floor. I am coloring outside the lines to manage my own anxiety and PTSD and stay compassionate and open to him. Despite the difficult history and the past behaviors, this is not about me. My job is to hold space and to bear witness. I will have time to process, but this moment is about allowing myself the freedom to feel love and peace towards someone who may not deserve it. This is my strength and my growth, which will ripple for years to come. 

A Letter for Moments of High Anxiety

I’m working hard on updating my online courses that are coming up in January, BreatheEcourse and BreatheOnline. So, I thought I’d share an older post that is still very relevant. In fact, I wrote something very similar to a client last week. I guess I should look through my archives more often. Enjoy!

A Yogi Kitchen

This post popped up as a memory on Facebook. I originally wrote this on December 2rd, 2014, not a year ago as I originally mentioned on Facebook. . It’s a good one for re-sharing. Enjoy! 

A letter to one of my favorite clients who is the midst of loss and anxiety. Writing to her helped me see myself, helped me see the progress, the work still to be done. Working with wonderful people like this mom helps me heal myself as much as anyone else. Thank you for trusting and being open and honest, vulnerable and willing to do the work. Thank you for the the honor of your presence in my life. 

Dear Mom Who Is Feeling Really Anxious Today,

I hear that you’re struggling and I know how that feels. I hear that you’re frustrated and sad, edgy and lonely. I hear you and know that it’s okay. I’ve…

View original post 671 more words


Tis The Season for Connection

It’s December and this is when our lives are full of connection. Connection is why we look at this time of year so fondly. It’s when we made cookies with Great Grandma, when we went with our parents to see Santa, when we schemed with our siblings to figure out what we were getting for Christmas. Later, it’s when I spent late nights whispering with my husband about what would bring that look of delight into our daughter’s eyes.

Years after those childhood baking adventures and well after my marriage ended, I still feel connected by engaging in those same activities. I learned how to make pepper nuts from my former Mennonite MIL and I feel connected to her and my daughter, who loves pepper nuts,  by baking them every year, even though my ex’s mom is no longer family.

This is the season we connect. But let me suggest a better solution to this one-time-of-year-connecting. Let me suggest, that most of us take these weird MIL and extended family connecting

as a way of getting the big fix to carry us through the year.

Let me suggest that while this holiday connecting is a wonderful, wonderful thing, it is not where we should be planting all our connection energy. How many of us go into hyper-mode for the holidays and then feel like we need January to recuperate. Then we’re depressed in February?

Why are we depressed in February? We’ve taken a step back from everyone and lived on the couch for month. Our brains need consistency and stability. Choosing to connect in December and then disconnect in January is not good for us.

So, how can you do this differently? As humans we are really big into binging. Netflix makes billions off of this habit.  We love eating ice cream until we can never eat that flavor again, drink until we need a whole day to recover and work until we need TWO WHOLE DAYS to restore.

What if we found some moderation? What if we took tiny bites and baby steps interspersed with some deep, loving, self-care? What if we coped ahead and saw busy times ahead and planned ahead for the ups and the downs. What if we thought about balance and moderation? What would that look like?

What if you did the most healing yoga pose you know, every day for the next 3 weeks?

What if we didn’t feel obligated to do everything everyone else thinks we should do during the holidays? What if we did special things just for ourselves? What if we snuck away for an hour or two every weekend till the end of the year and did something that we really enjoy, like look at the windows in the department stores with a cinnamon hot chocolate. No kids. Go to a favorite restaurant and have a glass of prosecco and the most decadent appetizer. No partner or bestie. What if we did special fun things just for ourselves? What would that feel like?

If this makes you cringe or start to get edgy just thinking about it, don’t worry. In February we’re going to work on love. SELF-LOVE. Stay tuned for the Self-Love challenge. If you don’t like A Yogi Kitchen on Facebook, Go There Now and Join us!


Until February, think about joining me for the Free BreahteEcourse! We start January 7th!