From ADHD and Alcohol to Balance and Wellness with Yoga Therapist & Ayurvedic Counselor Maya Semans

Episode 131 September 20, 2023 00:53:55
From ADHD and Alcohol to Balance and Wellness with Yoga Therapist & Ayurvedic Counselor Maya Semans
Alcohol Tipping Point
From ADHD and Alcohol to Balance and Wellness with Yoga Therapist & Ayurvedic Counselor Maya Semans

Sep 20 2023 | 00:53:55


Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

Maya Semans is a Level Three Optimal State Yoga Therapist, C-IAYT, & Integrative Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor. She specializes in embodied mental health practices and provides whole-person, compassionate care to individuals with symptoms of trauma, addiction, anxiety, and depression. Maya works as a Yoga Therapist at a virtual Intensive Outpatient Program for adolescents and young adults and sees individual clients virtually through her private practice, Integrated Mind Body Therapy. 

In this episode, Maya shares her incredible journey, from growing up in the unique environment of a private boarding school (where her father was a teacher) to facing the challenges of burnout in the teaching field, and ultimately finding her path to freedom by giving up Adderall and alcohol.

We talk about: 

Find Maya: 

Email: [email protected] 

Instagram: @mayabe121 @mayaholistictherapy 


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Episode Transcript

Pod Maya Semens Welcome back to this episode of the alcohol tipping point podcast. Today I have Maya Semens. Maya is a level three optimal state yoga therapist and integrative Ayurvedic wellness counselor. She specializes in embodying mental health practices and provides whole person compassionate care to individuals with symptoms of trauma, addiction, anxiety, and depression. Maya works as a yoga therapist at a virtual intensive outpatient program for adolescents and young adults and sees individual clients virtually through her private practice, integrated bind body therapy. I hope that you enjoy this conversation that I have with Maya. Thank you for listening. Deb: I just want to say thank you for having this conversation again. It's wonderful to see you and for new listeners and new people, I want to just acknowledge Maya's being an extra. Person I was able to meet her when Mary Tilson and I did the Taos retreat in that was in May, so I'm just delighted to have you on the show and get to know you a little bit more Maya and then get to know about what you do because what you do is so interesting. So can you just give an overall about yourself and and what your unique job is? Maya: Thanks for that, Deb. Yeah, and I have to say I'm really excited to be here as well. It was such a pleasure to connect with your community and just see what a powerful community that you've built. So it's an honor to, to connect with your listeners here as well. So I am a yoga therapist and an Ayurvedic counselor, and really I help women. Work at treating the root causes of physical and mental and emotional imbalances. I work one on one with people and I also work at a virtual intensive outpatient program, so for young people for adolescents and young adults who are, you know, in a mental health crisis and they're receiving mental health treatment. I provide yoga therapy and Ayurvedic complementary treatment in, in that setting as well. Deb: Yeah. And when you first told me that back in Taos, I, I was like, okay, back up. Cause I had never heard of yoga therapy. And so can you share what that entails and how that helps people? Maya: Yoga therapy is. It's like the therapeutic application of, of these ancient yogic texts, which essentially mapped out for us a pathway to healing. , it's beautiful philosophy and, and like a real roadmap to practical healing. And now that we have all of this incredible Western scientific research another way of saying what yoga therapy is, it's a, it's a roadmap to regulating the nervous system. So, so in a clinic, Cool setting, like intensive outpatient treatment. Yoga therapy is a complimentary support service that supports clients with kind of practical embodied tools for, for regulating the nervous system and for coping with big, difficult emotions and, and life transitions. So, so yeah, that's kind of the short, the short version, but let me know if you have any more questions about that. Deb: Oh, you know, I do. So, so. Well, I love this. I love how Western medicine is now starting to incorporate more of Eastern medicine and more of the Wu like I like I call it the Wu, but it's kind of those alternative modalities and and like you said, there's more and more like scientific research that's backing like mindfulness and how helpful it is for us and yoga and and acupuncture and just You name it all these different modalities. And so I think it's really cool how we're doing all this integrative care to give people options besides like, okay, take medicine, maybe do some talk therapy or, or whatever your situation. So I think that's really cool. And so when you're doing yoga therapy, what that makes me think like, okay, are people doing, are they actually doing yoga positions and using their body and like, how does Maya: that work? That's such a great question. And I think when I got into yoga therapy, that's what I assumed we'd be like, you know, I'd be teaching yoga classes, but, but in reality, it, it depends on who's in front of me. And for some, and, you know, getting into your body and moving, especially for those of us with trauma is, can feel really unsafe. And so what's beautiful about yoga therapy is there is a. Large variety of tools because sometimes it takes a lot of trust building and capacity to even get to a point where it's safe enough to to kind of drop into the body and do physical practices. So I have clients who will say. You know, I'll, I'll, I always ask before we do any kind of movement, I ask, you know, what is your relationship to, or, or resistance to yoga or mindfulness? And a lot of the young people use their only experience with this stuff is like being forced to do it in a residential treatment center. So they, they have, you know, for, for a lot of them, or, you know. I hear the same thing for folks coming out of drug and alcohol treatment, like I was forced to do this yoga thing. I hate it, you know, so so yeah, I think to answer your question, it's, it's, it can be that, and ultimately, We want to go there because, you know, we know that trauma lives in the body and so involving the body in the healing and connecting with the wisdom and the signals of the body is super important to to the healing process and to starting to Empower ourselves to understand what we need and and how we need to set up our lives so that we can support our own healing And balance but it it might not start there. You know, it really it's it it starts with relationships Always relationship and the yoga sutras are, are, are such beautiful, powerful ancient wisdom that I can counsel from from that. So, you know, a huge principle in, in yoga is non harming. So maybe we have a, you know, we learn about self compassion or we talk about, we can reflect on and discuss different topics as it relates to non harm. So there's, there's a ton of entry points into yoga therapy that, that don't definitely don't have to start with the body and the breath. Deb: Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. Well, let's go back to your experience with drinking and addiction. I would love to hear more about Maya: your story. , thanks for asking that. You know, I, I haven't been asked this too many times. So I actually am I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this. So yeah, when I think back to my story of addiction and my relationship to alcohol and substances, I have to really start with 13 year old being diagnosed with ADHD and being prescribed Adderall at 13 and not really given any, you know, at that time it was very much like, We noticed she's, you know, distracted. She's not getting things in on time. She's looking out the window during seventh period math class. Like we need to support her. She has attention deficit. So here's this drug. It's going to help you be better at sports. It's going to help you focus better in school and get more organized so you can get better grades and be, you know, go to a better school or whatever the track is that I was sort of being pushed into, but I was never given. Kind of the emotional support or even the support to, to be curious about what that substance was doing to my mood and to my relationship to my peers and just kind of the the, the emotional kind of piece of like being diagnosed with ADHD and, and what that meant for me as a 13 year old. So yeah, I start there because at a very young age, I was learning to, to regulate myself and my energy levels and my mood with an outside substance like Adderall. So, so that's where it starts. And then you know, as a teenager, Adderall became like this kind of social currency, like everybody wanted it. I remember my, I mean, my peers, we explicitly, I was explicitly taught by my peers through like conversations like, you know, this is how you take it to lose weight. You know, this is fun. We can drink longer and be more social. So I began to learn from my peers. Cause again, these conversations weren't really happening with the doctor, with my parents. It was like, this is, this is the drug. To help you with your schoolwork, but in the meantime, you know, us as teenagers are like, well, we can do this is what it can do. And so I learned how to, you know, be more fun and party longer and drink more. And so it, it kind of turned into this way of, I think ultimately wanting to connect with people and fit in. And, and that was sort of the The gateway into later more heavy drinking and cannabis use to sort of come down off of that off of the Adderall. Deb: Yeah. And it sounds like I know there's more to your story, but it sounds like you're I'm just thinking about the pressure that we're putting our teens under and And it sounds like they wanted to give you that drug because they're like, okay, we need you to not be looking out the window. You need to get good grades. You need to go to a college. You need to fit in, you know, you need to be quote unquote normal. And here's a drug that's going to help you be normal. And I'm, I'm just thinking about, Oh, I just feel bad for teenagers. And all the pressure they have on themselves to to be perfect and to be better than perfect too. And just to get into the good schools and how that starts early and how it wasn't okay for you to look out the window during math class or whatever. Maya: Right, right. And you know, if they had given me something I was interested in, I would've been very much engaged . Deb: Sure. So, so the Adderall then kind of became social currency. You probably could share it with your friends. Maybe even people use it for multiple reasons. And then so you're, you're drinking, smoking pot, taking Adderall. And, and then what happens? Maya: Totally. And you know, I, my father is a teacher. And so it's the middle of high school, our whole family moved to a boarding school in Vermont and we lived on campus. And you know, we had a dorm attached to our house and This was the first time I was exposed to kind of a level of, of kind of elite wealth of my peers. You know, I had before this, I was, you know, still attending a private school, upper middle class for sure. But, but then I was kind of planted in a a boarding school where I was exposed to a level of wealth I never had before. And it turns out, and also I'll say like the, The kids at the boarding school where a lot of them were being sent there because there was some kind of issue either in school or in the home life. So, so their parents were sending them away and, you know, a lot of them also to just get a better education or because their family went to boarding school and it was something they wanted their kids to have that experience of. But with that came an exposure to, to a level of drinking and drug use that I had never been exposed to before. So in those years at boarding school, to fit in and, and to kind of be, be a person there and just the culture was heavy, heavy drinking and to this day to look back at it, I kind of, I still almost can't believe the extent to which in high school, you know, on this boarding school campus, the, the alcohol and drug use was, was so normalized day, night. So it was, it was really, That's where I learned to drink and learned that, you know, this is what we do. This is, I, that was how I learned how to connect with people and how to, you know, kind of forge my identity is like, this is, this is what I do. This is how I get connect and relate to others. So, yeah, that was a big piece of it as well. Deb: That's a unique experience. I mean, I, I know that we definitely had a heavy drinking culture. I just grew up in a small town in Idaho, but I'm thinking like, what, I wonder what made it so intense. At your boarding school and maybe it was access to more funds like they could afford more of the the drugs and the alcohol and then if they're, they don't have parents, like all of that kind of freedom, even though you're at a boarding school, like, what do you think made it such an intense experience? Maya: , you know, I think. We had access to kind of like second homes on the weekend. So there was a lot of partying with, without parental supervision, like that was the accessible and, you know, I think there was also a lot of trauma, you know, a lot of, a lot of kids were sent there and, and there was some deep trauma. So I think access privilege, I think opportunities to, to be unsupervised. And I think. Just in general, a cultural, a culture of drinking that was sort of accepted by families and parents and, and allowed. But I think there was also a lot of trauma there amongst this particular population, you know, that I remember kids used to tell me like, you're, you're so lucky, you know, because they'd see the relationship with, that I had with my parents. And that was hard for me to understand because I'm like, but wait and buy whatever you want. But but yeah, I think, I think there was a lot of trauma there too. Deb: Yeah, yeah. And then so what happened after boarding school with you? Maya: Yeah, so then I went on to college and I think I, I continued this, like, pursuit of perfection and continued to use Adderall, continued to use alcohol and and cannabis. And then I got into a pretty intense profession. I went in the, the, I was very passionate and decided that the, the most radical thing I could do In my life would be to commit to being a public school educator. And so I went to graduate school to edit, you know, I chose a school that was specifically set up to support preparing teachers for being public school educators in urban settings, which doesn't exist. There's not a lot of them. So I was determined to, to be well prepared and You know, I found myself in a public school in Northern California in Oakland, California that was you know, set up to, to take kids that were kicked out from, from other larger public schools. And we had less staff, less funding and the school kind of ran on the grit of the teachers and the passion of the teachers. And so I found myself in this environment where I was rewarded for You know doing above going above and beyond for working around the clock for saying yes to every extra thing. I I was Presented with and there was another big drinking culture I mean, I remember it would be like noon and I mean it was a stressful stressful environment and the teachers you'd see the teachers And they're like we were already making plans for for five o'clock after work, you know, and that was kind of And I think there was so much stress and such a desire to help, but also there was a lot of loss that I was experiencing. I mean, my first year, a student I was very close to was, was shot and killed. And, and I, I just, the drinking was the tool, the coping skill that I had learned from a young age and that's how I just was able to continue on working and showing up and not kind of dealing with the, the, the depth of the loss and stress that I was kind of working under. Wow, Deb: , I didn't know that you had started out as a teacher and I mean, just these helping professions, teachers, nurses, you name it, just and and there's there. You're right. You're kind of like. They are, they are themselves drinking cultures and normalizing it. And also, you're like, they're so front facing, like, you're putting on this persona, and you have to be on all day or all shifts, and, and you're not really, like, authentically you, I feel like. And so I noticed, so much more burnout related to those kinds of professions, also where you have to hide, , if you have a problem, because it could affect your career. I mean, you could get fired or disciplined. Maya: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I resonate with everything you just said, 100%. Deb: , so you worked as a public school teacher, and then, I mean, because how did we get to where you're at now? Maya: Well, you know in the, in the, in yoga philosophy, they say, like, you're, you're, the, you're rock bottom is the best day of your life. So I had the blessing of a rock bottom. That, you know, total and complete burnout. And, you know, I had the opportunity to I ended a contract at a school. The position was not they didn't need me for the next year. So I qualified for unemployment. I took that and I moved home for a full year and didn't work. And I just started to take care of myself and That's where this all started. But you know, the, the, the drinking remained, the drinking was still present. So I was bringing in yoga. I was starting to eat healthier, but that was still there. And so that the journey with alcohol continued for a, for a few more years after that. And it's, it's, it's taken me, it took me a while to, to remove that piece and kind of get to the, the root of what was driving that in the first place, because that was, that was a big part of me being able to remove alcohol. Deb: What about like your Adderall? Maya: , so yeah, I no longer take Adderall. I did I, I, I did take it, you know, for a few years after teaching. And ultimately I had built up enough coping skills and To, to feel confident that I was ready to let it go. And, you know, for me, it's a, it's a choice that feels really aligned. And I know for some people it's really necessary, but because now I have my life set up where I'm, you know, I'm doing what I'm passionate about and I'm, I have a schedule where I can really take care of myself. I, I, I don't, I don't rely on it anymore. And, and I'm, that's a choice that. You know, I, I feel really lucky that I've been able to make, Deb: yeah, and thanks for pointing that out. I mean, medication definitely has its role in, in lots of different conditions and it's, it's personal. It's. Choice to because it sounds like when you were in junior high, you didn't have that choice to even take it in the first place. Maya: , and you know, even when teaching like I just I didn't have the kind of foundational skills and awareness and and because I was in such a stressful environment. I mean, that was the only way I knew how to how to show up. And so it, it took a lot of work for me to have the confidence and, and capacity within myself to navigate life and showing up without. Adderall. So it's, it's, it's require a lot of work. Deb: . And then what do you think about alcohol for you has made that like one of the more difficult substances to give up? Maya: . So, you know I kind of, when I first quit alcohol, it was kind of in the same like perfectionist way. Like I'm like, all right, I'm doing all this yoga. And I'm still kind of having issues. I still don't feel there's still, you know, I'm still dealing with anxiety. I'm still dealing with the depression. I still was sort of having these cycles throughout my month where I was feeling good some, some of the month and feeling kind of off the rest of the month. So I initially, when I quit alcohol, I'm like, all right, well, this is. This is the one thing left like if I quit alcohol my whole life will be perfect and everything will be fine And we can just like, you know move on and you know, it turned out I removed alcohol and I still had a bunch of Difficulties that I was faced with and I didn't I didn't you know, you know, my belief is that ultimately We do things because they're serving some kind of purpose for us. So, so I w I was using alcohol as a resource to, to manage something that I, I, I didn't bring in a, another resource to, to help me manage that thing that was still there. And so when I removed alcohol, I was still having these fluctuations of mood in my month. And I think I was initially, and I, and I. You know, it wasn't getting therapy. I hadn't kind of done that deeper emotional work. And so I, I went back to it because I'm, because it didn't, it didn't do what I expected of it. Removing it didn't give me the, the perfect life that I expected. So I figured, you know, well, I guess it's not the alcohol, right? Deb: Well, I, I really appreciate you sharing that . It's not everybody's experience that they remove the alcohol and it's rainbows and daisies. Like you're still you and it can for me, you know, for me, it made things so much better. And for a lot of people, they see. They see different stories. They see things on Instagram, like, Oh, all I need to do is remove alcohol. My life will be perfect and amazing. And that's just not always the case. So I appreciate you sharing your experience. Maya: , because, you know, ultimately there was an underlying, you know, I have ADHD and I, you know, I have a a mood disorder related to my cycle. And so removing the alcohol, I'm like. Now I'm, I'm left to feel all of that, which was almost too much for my system. And so it's really taken this journey in yoga therapy and Ayurveda that's helped me become more aware of these cycles throughout my month and have empowered tools to work with it at the level of the nervous system, at the level of my digestion at the level of my breath. And now I realize. Alcohol is necessary to, to not have in my life because now that I'm paying attention and I have the capacity in my system to feel it all and pay attention to it I know what alcohol was doing for me and I, and I, and I have now a new resource. But because what, what the alcohol was doing was helping me to manage the, the moods that I was. experiencing throughout the month. And now that I've, I'm aware of that and I have different tools I'm, I'm now empowered and confident in my, in my sobriety. Deb: Yay. Well, let's talk about that because one of the things we wanted to talk about today was how alcohol impacts hormonal health. And you're kind of alluding to like your cycle and can you share about hormonal health and alcohol? Maya: Absolutely. Yeah. So, so, you know, I'm, I'm speaking from the lens of yoga and Ayurveda and you know, hormones were not even. coined or didn't emerge. We didn't have this language of hormones until 1905. And so from the, for the lens of yoga and Ayurveda, we, we don't use hormone as, as like a term, but we have a different way of looking at hormones. So I just want to kind of. Preface my explanation of hormones with that. Deb: But Maya, before you get into hormones, can you just share a little bit about, are you, are you Veda and what that Maya: is? Of course. Yeah. I'm glad you asked that. So I, your Veda is the sister science to yoga. So yoga is. I kind of described earlier this pathway to healing that lays out different ethical principles and, and guidelines to, to living and breath practices, different ways of relating to our inner experience and Ayurveda is. Is similar. In that it's a whole person approach. So we look at the whole system. We don't just look at the hormonal system or just look at gut health. We look at the whole human system. And we have different ways of in Ayurveda. It's like a road map to navigating imbalances. That is, it's comprehensible and manageable and meaningful. And in Ayurveda, the key to health is Is finding balance. So we have, you know, ways to really assess each individual and, and what imbalances are sort of arising for them. And then we, just like in yoga, we have a ton of tools that, you know, we choose for the person depending on their, their stage of life and their needs and, you know, their unique, you know, makeup to help support them in coming back into balance. , it's an ancient wisdom, and, and it's all about finding balance. Deb: , and sounds like it's, like, the holistic, whole health, the whole person. Maya: Totally, totally. Deb: Okay, thank you for sharing that. So going back to hormonal health and alcohol and that whole connection. Maya: Yeah. So let's talk about that. , hormones are messengers between our mind and our body. That's kind of an Ayurvedic perspective on hormones. And, you know, hormones are, they're chemical messengers, messengers that control and coordinate the functions of all of our tissues and organs in the body. So each hormone is secreted from a particular gland and gets distributed throughout the body. And so proper functioning of our, of our whole body system really relies on, like, this finely tuned release of, of hormones in the right amount and at the right time. And alcohol is proven, right? We have plenty of evidence that, that supports this, that alcohol off Alters and impacts the functioning of the hormone, releasing glands and the target tissues. So alcohol. So from an Ayurvedic perspective, and I and just like a whole person perspective, we really want to look at the impact of alcohol on our whole inner ecosystem. So it's it's not that just like, you know, alcohol and and this is true. Like I do. I'm sure like a, a doctor and MD could get into like the nitty gritty of like how alcohol affects specific hormones at specific times, but, but we know it, it impacts our whole inner ecosystem. And so because we're all connected it, it, it impacts the way our whole body functions. So, you know, things like gut health, circadian rhythm, our menstrual cycle, regulating menopause with ease. Those are all things that are impacted by hormones. And you know, alcohol is pro inflammatory. So it impacts gut health and, and the microbiome powerfully impacts hormones. So symptoms like menstrual pain and anxiety and PMS. PCOS, migraines you know, menopause symptoms, those are all hormone, those can all be impacted by hormones. So, so alcohol throws all of that off and, and, and yeah, you, so, so yeah, I think that's, that's plenty of information for folks. Deb: . I mean, it's just another reason not to drink. Right. Okay. Okay. And so now that you. remove the alcohol, you're still kind of having all these hormones and you mentioned like different fluctuations throughout the month. And so what are some ways that we can help support our hormonal health? Maya: , hormones are these messengers to us. They're signals to us. And so Practices, the practices of yoga therapy and Ayurveda have helped me become more attuned to these messengers and to these signals that I was pushing down before that I was too busy to, to listen to had, you know, too much to do to, to listen to. So, so one is supporting, support, like listening to these signals and. For me, another thing has been education. So as a person with ADHD and, and as a person who menstruates estrogen is higher the first two weeks of my cycle and estrogen is related to the release of dopamine. So it's, it's actually become really easy for me to manage my ADHD symptoms in those first two weeks because I've got a lot of estrogen and, and therefore I've got more dopamine. But once in the, in the last two weeks of my cycle, when the estrogen begins to drop. The dopamine also begins to drop, so that information has helped me understand that in those last two weeks of my cycle, I'm much more susceptible to going out of balance and that that deep habit or resource that I've learned from a young age from those days in high school of turning to alcohol to cope with that imbalance is still present for me, and so I know I'm most susceptible to falling out of balance and therefore maybe relying Back on old coping mechanisms in those last two weeks. So that understanding for me has been empowering because then I get to. I know the way I have to take care of myself in those last two weeks are is I require a lot more nourishment. I require a lot more self care in those last two weeks. So information, understanding the different cycles in our body and in our lifetimes. The same thing is for perimenopause. Estrogen goes down. So for women with ADHD, What we're finding is a lot of women are getting diagnosed with ADHD until this time of perimenopause and menopause and that's because they've been able to manage up to that point, but as the estrogen goes down and the dopamine, therefore the dopamine goes down, we're turning to, you know, dopamine enhancing Behaviors and and substances like alcohol. Deb: Well, that's really interesting. And then how about with men? How does the Yeah, how do how does alcohol affect the men's hormonal? Maya: I know that Women and men, we, we like metabolize alcohol differently. And so our our tolerances are very different from men. And I know that men's hormones are just pretty steady and consistent throughout the month and throughout their lifetime. So they're not susceptible in the same ways to these fluctuations that make, make one more vulnerable to to maybe relying on. Drinking and dopamine kind of seeking behaviors just to maintain a baseline. And I also know that I think what the research is showing is that there's a much bigger increase in women drinking at like the age of late 50s and 60s than we're seeing in an increase in men. So I don't know the exact impact it has on men's hormones. I feel confident in asserting it's it's not a positive impact, but I know that they're just not in general having to navigate these cyclical experiences in their lifetime. And even in the month Deb: yeah, that's that's so interesting. So you're saying like So perimenopause your estrogen goes down definitely menopause postmenopause low estrogen and so with that comes low dopamine and with that comes you're more likely to be hunting for dopamine which comes in a red Bottle in wine or whatever, wherever we get it, which, you know, it's pretty accessible. You can get that at the grocery store. So a lot more women end up developing problematic drinking in their fifties and sixties. Maya: Specifically women with ADHD, so that, that experience of the drop in dopa and estrogen and dopamine is experienced even more intensely for women with ADHD. But I think women in general, I think that's what. What the research shows is that the desire to drink goes up at the, at those stages of life, but also our ability to metabolize it and, and the, the way it, you know, our tolerance for it drops. So it's this like kind of very perfect storm for disrupting our hormones, right? Because we want it more, but it impacts us more intensely and then. You know, it, it is impacting our hormones as well. Deb: And then , what is the connection between ADHD and, and drinking problems? Maya: So, 25 percent is, is the latest research I've seen. 25 percent of folks who are entering into treatment facilities have an ADHD diagnosis. Wow. , it's almost to the point where I think like everyone should be screened for ADHD if they're entering treatment. So, so, yeah, I think because You know, again, it's this it's a it's a issue of dopamine and lack of dopamine and and impulsivity. And we're so folks are just more susceptible to to drinking in these kind of behaviors. And then again, with women, it's just this added piece of Navigating the turmoil, the emotional turmoil of the monthly cycle, which, which can be so much more intense for women with ADHD and actually women with ADHD. 40 percent of women, 46 percent of women with ADHD also have PMDD, which is a much more severe form of PMS. It's a cyclical mood disorder related to your menstrual cycle. And remind me Deb: what that stands Maya: for. Yeah, premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Okay. Deb: What are some ways, besides drinking, what are some like natural ways or practical tips that you have to help someone manage their hormones and manage their moods and get dopamine in a natural way? Maya: This is such a beautiful conversation to have because there are so many, and we can build resistance to hormone imbalance. And I, I, one of my favorite Ayurvedic teachers says, you know, the, the more complicated the, the imbalance, the more simple the, the strategy of the solution should be, which I love. And we have these three pillars of health, diet, lifestyle, and how we manage stress. And so we can keep it really simple by just kind of thinking of those pillars. So sleep hygiene is another one that's, that's really helpful to think about. But as far as like, Kind of concrete ways to manage, I would say, you know, you know, for me, a daily yoga practice that is prescribed by my yoga therapist that helps me kind of land in that place of balance and regulation daily. So embodied practices. Are really powerful. Breathwork is is really powerful. You know, the breath connects our mind and our body and is a way to support our system and coming into a parasympathetic state. So breathwork mindful eating is something that Ayurvedic teaches us that, you know, when we, Ayurveda says that when we eat, And we're stressed out. We don't just eat our food, but we also eat our emotions. So rituals for you know, centering ourselves, offering, offering gratitude and eating in mindful ways can be a really powerful way to support our, our digestion, which is also, you know, connected to our emotions and our mind. So those are just a few things. Deb: , I've only recently gotten into breathwork. Like we did a breathwork workshop experience when we were in Taos. I, that was not what I was expecting, I have to say. And so can you share a little bit about breathwork and how You could practice that just at home. If you're just someone that lives in suburbia, and you don't have access to a yoga studio or a breath or, you know, like, how can just the ordinary person do it? Who's just being introduced to this kind of these kind of Maya: modalities. Again, yoga therapy and Ayurveda, we really look at this stuff at an individual level. What I would say, and this is what I say to my clients is, I'll, I'll offer you a breath technique, but then the point of it isn't that the breathing practice has a specific effect. Because we're all so unique. So for one person, this might be a breath practice that really calms you down. And for another person, it might have it might aggravate your system. So the point is to try something and then notice how it feels in your body. So what I would say is there's no one size fits all, but, but the point of it, what we really want is to just begin to pay attention. So I would say to start. I would encourage people to do a little breath assessment, maybe in the morning, in the afternoon, in the night. And, and how you can kind of self assess your breath is, you know, find a quiet place. You can place a hand on the heart or in a hand on the belly, take a few deep breaths, and then try to release all effort over your breathing. And this can be kind of hard to do on yourself, but I, it's, it's worth the, the the try. And almost like you would take your pulse. Count the The length of your inhale and count the length of your exhale. So and, and notice sort of the patterning in your breath. Notice if you're, if you're tending to, to grasp or hold on to the breath at the top of the inhale. Notice the qualities of your breath, whether it's smooth or whether it's long or slow or, and, and where in the body you're feeling the breath. So, so start by just inviting in some curiosity for how you're experiencing your breath. So that would be part one. And then two, anytime we lengthen, anytime we focus on lengthening the exhale, that sends little messages to our body that it's safe to relax. Lengthening the inhale or holding the breath at the top of the inhale is encourages the sympathetic nervous system to activate. So the fight or flight response. And then anytime we lengthen and smooth out the exhale, we activate the parasympathetic. . Once you get your breath count, so say you notice, all right, my, my, I'm exhaling for a count of two, and I'm inhaling for a count of three. Then I would encourage you to, to just practice some progressive exhale breaths. Just allow the inhale to happen freely, and then exhale, you start at your exhale for two. And then do another round and try to extend your exhale for a count of three and then maybe move up to six so you can almost think of this like building that exhale capacity. It's like going to the gym and you're, you're trying to build, you know, muscles in your body. You can, you can also build your breath capacity. Spending a little time every day trying to lengthen that exhale, which we know send signals to the body that it's safe to relax. Parasympathetic turns on that that can be a really beautiful way to just be in relationship to the breathing in your body and and help your body expand that exhale capacity. Deb: , and that's so I love talking about breath work or using your breath because it's free and it's accessible. Right, so really focusing on the exhale and you know, you'll hear a lot of people say like, I don't realize it, but I'm holding, you know, I find myself holding my breath throughout the day. I, yeah. And so you're saying like, when you're holding your breath, you're kind of stimulating that fight or flight. Yeah. And mechanism. Maya: Yeah. And it's information that the nervous system is in a state of fight or flight as well. Mm. Deb: Okay. I'd love that tip. What other kind of practical tools can you Maya: share? I think you know, it takes a lot of courage to start to listen to these signals. The other, , Invitation I want to offer to people is to to be open to shifting your perspective to these signs of imbalance and on hormonal imbalance that might be communicated to us through that holding of the breath or a headache or digestive issues or, you know. Menopause symptoms or, you know, menstrual pain be open to, to kind of being in relationship to those as signals and information that we can then pay attention to and, and because that's, you know, our bodies are sending us signals and, and the more we can kind of be curious with compassion. About these different signals. I think the more empowered we can be to to make some changes. So one one other practical tip that can help just kind of nurture or soothe the system as we as we, you know, get curious for just what's happening in our body is warming up some oil. The way I warm up my oil is I boil water and I put it in a mug and then I put like coconut oil or, you know Whether it's almond oil or a nice like organic oil in a small glass jar and I put the glass jar in the hot water so the, the the oil gets warm and then, you know, so before bed or wherever you can get 5 to 10 minutes to yourself you can lock yourself in the bathroom or whatever you need to do and take that warm oil and massage your feet. And go to each joint of your, of your toes and, and make circular motions and try to focus on deeply breathing. And, and that oil on the feet is a way to kind of ground that energy and, and bring the energy down and out and, and soothe the body and connect with ourself and nourish ourself. Because I think a lot of this is, is like. relating to how we nourish ourself and expanding the way we think about nourishment. I think that's one, it's a, it's a beautiful and powerful practice that can help us balance our, our hormones and, and, and our nervous system. Yeah. And Deb: then you'll have like really soft feet. Maya: Totally. Put some socks on, use a towel. You don't want to get the oil all over. Deb: . Well, that sounds lovely. And like, you're not really using a special oil. You can just use coconut oil or whatever you have. So just warm oil and a nice little foot rub. Absolutely. Maya: Yeah, focus on your breath, be in relationship to your breathing and your body signals and give yourself a warm oil massage on your feet. Deb: Okay. I'm going to do that tonight or I'll make my husband do that. Even better. Well, what would you say? I'm going to change gears a little bit before we wrap up, but since this is a podcast for people looking to change their relationship with alcohol, what, what are your top tips for anyone who's looking to change their drinking? Maya: Not to do it alone. And, and, you know, That's part of hormone health too. When we're, when we're isolated, our body experiences that as a threat and we, we get stuck in fight or flight. So I think join a community. And I just have to say, Deb, like being at the retreat and connecting with women who have been in your community, it's so clear how powerful community is specifically for what it requires to, to stop drinking and, you know, living a life that. You redesigning a life or living a life that you want to live is is hard, courageous work. And my experience was that the the women and at the retreat who have been involved in your community have have found that support and empowerment to to walk away from alcohol. Because of that, that, that deep connection and the community that, that you have cultivated. So my, my big message is don't do it alone and join a community. Deb: Thank you for saying that and noticing that. And what's interesting too is so much of it is online. And do you, do you think this is back just to like hormones and being around each other? How has that affected by being on online? Because I, I feel like who knew you could get so close to a group of people that you've only met through the screen and feel this connection and, and maybe it transcends being in person, or, you know, do you need to be around a physical community or what, like, what are your thoughts about that? Maya: Totally. You know, I think. I'm a person who is like a highly sensitive person. So for me, , my system like thrives on the opportunity to get that social connection and not have necessarily all of the stimuli or all of the, the extra kind of like social stressors that can come from being in person. So I, I, there's an absolutely a place for both, but I think that being online offers certain people like. Like highly sensitive people or people that tend to be more shy or just whose social battery gets depleted more quickly in, in, in real life, in person situations. It's such a powerful opportunity and infor and invitation for those folks to really benefit from the, from this, from the connection that comes from being online. So as one of those people, I love it. And I'm so grateful for it. But I do think there's a time and a place for in person too. Like we need it all, but. But the Deb: I agree, and I it's interesting, just kind of reflecting back to when COVID started I did health coaching through my job at the hospital and get and counselor said this to and maybe you've experienced this in your own work, but it was like, how are we going to connect with people online or over the phone? And it was interesting because I found that. Connecting with people, even with the screen off, even just on the phone, we actually ended up having deeper connections than I think that we would have in person. And I think that they may have been the kind of people that you're talking about, Maya, like, where you are a little more introverted, and you do need some space to just look around, and maybe it's not as comfortable to be, like, Looking at someone and telling them some deep stuff. And so I think that it taught us all these different ways we can, can connect and alternative ways to do it. And like, it's so beautiful with your work. You do, you have an online virtual practice. Maya: I do. I Deb: do. Yeah. Well, tell, tell people how, well, if you want to share about, more about your experience with, with the online thing but then also I want people to know how to connect with Maya: you. So I, I do, I offer one on one yoga therapy and Ayurveda consultations online and I find that it works really well for me and, and the people that come to me. You know, are people , who do well with that as well. So I think it, it is a personal preference, but, but there's enough folks out there that do well with , that that it makes sense for me to, to continue to offer online consultations and, you know, I get to keep myself really regulated and present and yeah. So for me, it's really beautiful. So yeah, I am I have a wait list. I'm going to start taking on new clients in November and I'm, I, I mentioned I'm, I'm going to India for a month to do a Ayurvedic treatment, a month long Ayurvedic treatment. So I'm, I'm putting one on one stuff on hold for a month, but starting in November, I'm going to start back up seeing clients and yeah, if you're looking for, you know, holistic tools and lifestyle mind body, Ways of managing sort of the underlying root stuff that lead us to these behaviors. Feel free to reach out and we can set up a call and, , I would love to connect with, anyone that, that resonates with, of course. Deb: Well, I appreciate that and, and some of my goal with this podcast is just to present different ways to change your drinking and make sure that you have like all kinds of different tools to help you because everyone is so different. We're all so unique and that's wonderful and it's great that there's these different modalities out there for, and, and just see like be open minded, be curious like you were talking about even with your body, but be curious. to, to different modalities to help you. And you never know, like that could be the secret sauce. So how can someone find you? Maya: You can find me on my website. It's integrated mindbodytherapy. com. , you can get on my wait list and connect with me there. I'm also on Instagram. I have a personal account and a business account that I'm building. My business account is mayaholistictherapy. So you can connect with me there. And then you can also like come hang out with me on my personal account as well. At mayab underscore one two one. So yeah, that's where you can find me. And I just love connecting with people. So feel free to just message me or any kind of connection is welcome. Well, Deb: thank you, Maya. I'm so glad that we got to do this interview. I know that you're all the way in Bali, which I think is really cool. And then you're going to go to India. And I just, I love hearing your story of how you went from being a burned out teacher to living your best life and really listening to yourself. And so happy to know you. I'm Maya: proud of you. Yeah, thank you, Deb. I, I appreciate the opportunity to be here and connect with you. It's, it's truly a pleasure.

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