New Study Shows Yoga Has Healing Powers

The more we learn about yoga, the more we realize the benefits aren't all in the minds of the 20 million or so devotees in the U.S. Yoga helps people to relax, making the heart rate go down, which is great for those with high blood pressure. The poses help increase flexibility and strength, bringing relief to back pain sufferers.

Now, in the largest study of yoga that used biological measures to assess results, it seems that those meditative sun salutations and downward dog poses can reduce inflammation, the body's way of reacting to injury or irritation.

That's important because inflammation is associated with chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. It's also one of the reasons that cancer survivors commonly feel fatigue for months, even years, following treatment.

Researchers looked at 200 breast cancer survivors who had not practiced yoga before. Half the group continued to ignore yoga, while the other half received twice-weekly, 90-minute classes for 12 weeks, with take-home DVDs and encouragement to practice at home.

According to the study, which was led by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University, and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the group that had practiced yoga reported less fatigue and higher levels of vitality three months after treatment had ended.

  Yoga practitioners, like these students in the bow posture, could experience reduced stress and better sleep.      PHOTOGRAPH BY RENE JOHNSTON, GETTY IMAGES

Yoga practitioners, like these students in the bow posture, could experience reduced stress and better sleep.

 PHOTOGRAPH BY RENE JOHNSTON, GETTY IMAGES

Laboratory Proof

But the study didn't rely only on self-reports. Kiecolt-Glaser's husband and research partner, Ronald Glaser of the university's department of molecular virology, immunology, and medical genetics, went for stronger, laboratory proof. He examined three cytokines, proteins in the blood that are markers for inflammation.

Blood tests before and after the trial showed that, after three months of yoga practice, all three markers for inflammation were lower by 10 to 15 percent. That part of the study offered some rare biological evidence of the benefits of yoga in a large trial that went beyond people's own reports of how they feel.

No one knows exactly how yoga might reduce inflammation in breast cancer survivors, but Kiecolt-Glaser lays out some research-based suggestions. Cancer treatment often leaves patients with high levels of stress and fatigue, and an inability to sleep well. "Poor sleep fuels fatigue, and fatigue fuels inflammation," she says. Yoga has been shown to reduce stress and help people sleep better.

Other smaller studies have shown, by measuring biological markers, that expert yoga practitioners had lower inflammatory responses to stress than novice yoga practitioners did; that yoga reduces inflammation in heart failure patients; and that yoga can improve crucial levels of glucose and insulin in patients with diabetes.

Yoga for Other Stresses

Cancer is an obvious cause of stress, but recent research has pointed to another contributing factor: living in poverty. Maryanna Klatt, an associate professor of clinical family medicine at Ohio State University, has taken yoga into the classrooms of disadvantaged children. In research that has not yet been published, she found that 160 third graders in low-income areas who practiced yoga with their teacher had self-reported improvements in attention.

"Their teachers liked doing it right before math, because then the kids focused better on the math work," she says. "Telling a kid to sit down and be quiet doesn't make sense. Have them get up and move."

While it would be too complicated and intrusive to measure biological responses to yoga in schoolchildren, Klatt has done similar research on surgical nurses, who are under the daily stress of watching suffering and death. She said she found a 40 percent reduction in their salivary alpha amylase, a measure of the fight-or-flight response to stress.

And she's about to begin teaching yoga to garbage collectors in the city of Columbus before they head out on their morning shift. At the moment, her arrangement with the city is not part of a study. She just hopes to make their lives less stressful. And she does not plan to check their inflammatory response, though she admits she'd love to.


Source: 

By Susan Brinkfor National Geographic

Where Do You Get Printable Yoga Routines?

If you wish to practice yoga individually, printable yoga routines can help you to master the sequence. Learn what to consider when picking a routine for yourself.

The internet has been a bonanza to yoga. In days gone by a person interested in yoga had to find a studio by luck.

There are many different types and styles of yoga: some are strenuous and complex while others are gentle and easy; someone walking in from off the street would not notice the differences. With the internet, interested people are able to do their homework and find what’s right for them. Entire programs can be downloaded and printed. If you’re interested, create and tailor printable yoga routines to fit your needs.

Yoga routines come in two types: static and flowing. A static pose is one in which there is a starting point, then the bend is made and held for a period, and a return to the starting point. A flowing routine moves from pose to pose in a predetermined manner. A pose may be held for a period, but it is followed by another pose. If you are new to yoga take an inventory of yourself: determine your weak points and strong points, then design a routine around that. Newcomers might find it beneficial to start with simple poses, while the more athletically inclined might enjoy a more strenuous routine. Whatever your choice, you will find the Internet a great place to create one that best suits you.

Of all yoga routines, none is more famous than the Sun Salutation. Many people perform this when they first wake up. It is an excellent way to do some preliminary stretches before starting regular routine and is often used for just that in many studios. Type in “sun salutation” and you will see numerous pictures with which to devise your own printable yoga routines. To understand how the pose flows, go to YouTube or some similar website and you will find videos of people performing it.

There are many excellent websites that assist you in creating a routine. The Yoga Journal has one of the best. Go to www.yogajournal.com/poses/sequence_builder. Here you will find levels of exercises for beginners, intermediates, and experts. It offers a variety of free, printable yoga routines. What makes this site so good is the abundance of poses you can choose from and the ability to craft your own routine as well. Other websites with printable routines can be found by searching for “free printable yoga routines”. With such abundance of sites, you are sure to find the right set of exercises that can be printed out and used anywhere.

Source: Yoga.com

Is Floating the New Meditation?

Written by Jennifer D'Angelo Friedman

Original source

You know how relaxing it is when you finally make the time to take a long soak in the bath? Imagine stepping into a tub the size of a walk-in closet, adding 1,000 or more pounds of Epsom salt, turning off the lights and soundproofing the room, and matching the water temperature exactly to the temperature of your skin. Now, you’re floating, literally. And this womb-like experience just might be the “new” way to meditate.

Floating has been around for 40 years or so and piqued interest in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but it’s having a renaissance right now due to vastly improved float cabins as well as the popularity ofmindfulness and meditation, says Jim Hefner, owner of Just Float in Pasadena, California, aka the world’s largest float therapy spa, which opened in September.

“You can point to the mindfulness thing, of course, which is happening right now,” he says. “The float tank is the most perfect place in our opinion to practice mindfulness due to the lack of distraction. But it’s also word of mouth. People come float and have a beautiful, amazing, profound, transformative experience. They tell their friends and come back.”

See also Meditation Troubleshooting: 3 Ways to Prepare for Calm

  A woman prepares to float in an Evolution Float Pod at Lift/Next Level Floats in NYC.

A woman prepares to float in an Evolution Float Pod at Lift/Next Level Floats in NYC.

So, What IS Float Therapy?

Here’s what you can expect: Floating can take place in an open “float room” or a closed cabin or pod, with lighting or in total darkness, and with or without music. The water temperature is matched to skin temperature, helping you lose perception of where your body ends and the water begins. And the salt, obviously, helps you float. “The part of the brain responsible for tactile input, the two-way communication between brain and skin, turns off, because there is nothing for it to do anymore,” explains Hefner, who offers his clients one open float room and 10 cabins to choose from. Along with turning off the lights and blocking out sound (both of which are optional), these are all “tools to promote the meditative state.” 

See also A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

The Theta State

Hefner, who has practiced yoga for 15 years, says he discovered floating two and a half years ago. “The day of my first float birthed this place—I felt so profoundly amazing, I needed to share it. I’ve been an adventure athlete my entire life, so I’m very comfortable and familiar with what we call the flow state. My very first time floating, it was amazing how similar it felt.” Moreover, Hefner says floating taught him how to meditate. “I recognized the sign posts to help myself get there—now I’m familiar with what that feels like.”

David Leventhal, co-owner of Lift/Next Level Floats, another float spa that opened last year in New York City, says experienced meditators trying to achieve a “theta” state, or the lower frequency brain waves associated with deep relaxation, visualization, and creativity, may get there very quickly during a float, and newbies may also be able to get there with little effort. “Some of our clients experience a pre-sleep, dream-like state where they couldn’t tell if they were asleep or awake. That sounds like theta.”

Just Float is currently participating in a study (dubbed The Blue Mind Project) in which neuroscientists will do brain scans to compare first-time floaters with experienced floaters using an electroencephalograph (EEG), a machine used to measure brain wave activity.

See also The Big Brain Benefits of Meditation

“Early findings are seeing similar brain-wave activity [during a float] to very high-level meditators,” says Hefner. “We hear stories that floating reduces anxiety and blood pressure, and creates general feelings of well-being. People say they slept better and felt happier and more aware. The hypothesis is that floating reduces coritsol (the stress hormone) and increases dopamine [the neurotransmitter associated with happiness]. We want to demonstrate and validate all of this anecdotal evidence.” There is some research on floating from the ‘80s and ‘90s, but the studies used really small sample sizes, Hefner adds.

Leventhal also acknowledges that a lot of the benefits of floating are still anecdotal, but says he sees “amazing things” every day. “It provides literally instantaneous pain relief for people with chronic pain conditions. One man who had broken his back the year before and had lingering pain felt great instantaneously. It’s intuitive … Epsom salt has been viewed as healing for centuries, and in a float tank, almost all gravity is taken off the spine. One client with TMJ (pain during jaw movement) who used to go to sleep every night with a mouth guard doesn’t need the guard since starting to float. Pregnant women seem to love it – it helps them deal with taxing on the body of carrying a child. Also clients with eczema and psoriasis say their skin looks and feels better when they float than when use prescription medicine.”

See also Need a Stronger Painkiller? Try Your Meditation Cushion

Above: The Ocean Float Room at Lift.

YJ Tried It

Lift was kind enough to offer this initially skeptical reporter a complimentary 1-hour float. While I came in thinking I might want to hop out after 30 minutes, I soon forgot all about the time and started to simply drift away, perhaps even into that pre-dreamlike state. I also felt energized and in an upbeat mood for the rest of the day, and the salt made my skin and lips feel silky.

“We’re used to a lot of people saying, ‘I’ll be shocked if I make it a half hour,’ then the music comes on to signal that the float is over and an hour has gone by,” says Lift’s other co-owner, Gina Antioco.

Lift offers three Evolution Float Pods, which resemble giant eggs with clamshell lids. (There is no pressure to close the lid if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, but the pods are large and not “coffin-like,” as Antioco says they once were in the ‘80s). In these pods, you can control the lighting as well as the music, but most clients eventually turn off both, adds Antioco. They also have two Ocean Float Rooms adorned with lights on the ceiling that look like stars (I chose the Ocean Float Room). You can choose to have the lights on or off in this room, but you cannot control the music. Once the floater is comfortable, Lift encourages everyone to at least try floating with the lights out and the music off to “see where their brain takes them.”

Another common concern: nudity. Floating is something you do in your birthday suit, but you’re completely alone with the door locked and the water is clean. Lift’s water is completely recirculated at least 3 times between each float, then treated with either a combination of a germicidal UV lamp, ozone, and hydrogen peroxide, or with a small amount of bromine. Plus, clients are asked to shower before and after each float. Similarly, Just Float also asks clients to shower before and after each float and purifies the water four complete times between floats using a combination of hydrogen peroxide and UV sterilizers.

See also YJ Tried It: Salt Therapy Treatment

The Future of Floating

Mark Frickel, who manages a team of consultants and salespeople at FloatationTanks.com, says there were approximately 80 flotation centers at the end of 2010 and now there are more than 300 in the U.S. He also predicts that 2016 will be the biggest year ever for floating.

“Those of us within the float therapy community all knew that floating is something special, something really beneficial that would resonate with a lot of people in a lot of different ways once the public was introduced to it,” says Frickel, noting that he’s received sales inquiries from doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapists. “Many people will come in to try it at least once, and they often find that they can integrate floating into other practices or float regularly as a tune-up to reduce stress, manage pain, or just get in better touch with themselves. People find that a good float sets a great pace for the next few days.”

Hefner is bold enough to predict that five years from now, floating will be as big as yoga. “Floating works,” he says. “For me it was a state of sort of feeling myself. To feel and arrive at my own pure consciousness so easily was profound – you can call it the space between your own thoughts, you can call it consciousness, you can call it pure love, you can call it God, you can call it a mystical experience … whatever you call it, it feels very distinct, and when I arrived there I felt like I had been there before and it was home.”

How I Took Responsibility for My Toxic Relationship & Found Forgiveness

BY KARA-LEAH GRANT

Recently, while choosing photos to put in a Facebook album celebrating my son’s fifth birthday, I came across a series of photos that his father and I had taken of ourselves one month before I finally left him.

I paused, and looked at us – the happy and in-love us, the good side, the side that kept me a destructive and difficult relationship for nearly four years – and I was grateful I hadn’t deleted the photos as I so nearly did a few months after we broke up.

Then, I didn’t want any reminders of the good times, of the love and the fun and the laughter. I was still angry and resentful and hurting that Luke was the way he was and hadn’t been able to pull it together so we could stay together. (Notice the assumptions in that sentence?)

Because that’s the thing about our relationship. We were compatible in so many ways and there was great sexual and loving connection between us. We were intellectually matched. There was boundless love between us.

But it was a toxic, destructive and co-dependent relationship.

Neither of us had sufficiently worked through our relationship wounds and neither of us were coming from a place of self-love.

I was insecure and needy with poor – almost non-existent – boundaries and Luke had addiction issues plus got verbally and emotionally nasty, reacting out of his wounds.

But it was my fourth back-to-back long-term relationship in ten years – something that played at the back of my mind. I didn’t want to fail at another relationship and I was determined to stick this one out.

And when the relationship got bad a few months in, I blamed myself. I knew I had issues – that I was fearful and insecure. In my mind, if I could sort myself out then our relationship wouldn’t have issues anymore and everything would be fabulous.

It was classic behaviour from a woman with poor boundaries – I took sole responsibility for the health of our relationship.

I over-looked Luke’s poor behaviour, making excuses for him and putting up with verbal and emotional abuse. I even justified it by noting how I was growing and changing within the relationship – that the abuse was making me a stronger and clearer person. That was true – it was. Yet that’s a lousy reason to stay in the relationship. There are other ways to grow and become stronger.

I also stayed because of the love, the fun and the good times. And I stayed because I was afraid of being alone, I was afraid I wouldn’t find that kind of love again, and I was afraid I wouldn’t find someone as charismatic and sexy again.

I stayed because I was co-dependent with poor boundary issues.

When I finally left Luke, on the eve of New Year’s Eve 2010, I had a good understanding of all of these factors. I was clear on how I had been co-creating the toxic atmosphere that we’d been living with. Yet I was still pissed off and resentful towards him.

Despite all the crap, all the deceit and lies, all the abuse, even when I left him, I had still wanted us to grow together and create a healthy, loving, strong relationship.

I still wanted him. And I still thought he was capable of being the man who could create that relationship.

So I was angry that he didn’t bother to become that man, failing to see that he couldn’t, failing to see that he didn’t know how.

Because we had a child,  we still needed to communicate about contact. Plus I was generally concerned about Luke’s mental state of being and so would take long phone calls from him where he would talk 80% of the time and I would support and encourage him to get his life together.

Even though we weren’t together anymore, the way we related was still toxic, and it flummoxed me. I thought that I had it together now – how come we were in the same pattern of relating?

I began to put in stronger and stronger boundaries – something that seemed absurd to me. I didn’t want to be this woman, I wanted us to have a mature, adult attitude to managing contact with our child. But Luke’s erratic and abusive behaviour eventually led me to taking him to the Family Court and enforcing supervised contact through his parents.

I ceased all contact with him completely, except for emails.

Those emails are telling.

When I stood up and did something he didn’t like, I would get an abusive and nasty email. Generally within about a day or so, I would get another email apologising and saying nice things. If I didn’t respond to that the way he wanted, another nasty one would usually follow.

I got to the stage where I felt like I was operating an automated machine – if I push this button, I get this response, if I push that button, I get that response.

I realised it had always been like that in our relationship and I had always been trying to work out the magic combination of buttons to push that would deliver a mature, emotionally stable and adult relationship.

I believed that a great relationship was in there somewhere and I just had to figure out the right way to act for it to come into being.

The truth was, despite Luke’s generous and loving heat, his charisma, his intelligence, his wisdom and insight, he was deeply wounded and still acting out of his wounds. That great relationship was never possible between us.

If I had loved myself and had strong boundaries, our relationship would have been lucky to last three dates. I would not have stood for any of his crazy-making behaviour. I would not have been foolish enough to open my heart and fall in love because I would have seen Luke for who he was, instead of who I wanted him to be.

Instead, my desperate desire to be loved and be in a relationship meant I ignored all the obvious warning signs, labouring under the delusion that I could be supportive and help Luke heal so we could have the kind of relationship I wanted.

Not terribly smart is it? But of course, I didn’t know all that then. My behaviour was still unconscious.

Now, I know the only person I can blame for my heart ache and dashed dreams is myself. Not Luke. He was as unconscious and clueless as myself. He was doing the best he could and got just as frustrated at the messiness of our relationship as I did. He was on the receiving end of my wounds and we’re both responsible for the failure of our relationship.

A few months ago, I met a man I was interested in. We had an intensely strong sexual connection. Once upon a time that would have been enough for me to jump into whatever was on offer, boots and all, even if it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

This time, I didn’t. For the first time in my life, I didn’t let my sexual desires lead me down the garden path. I stood in my integrity and named what I wanted, refusing to accept anything less.

It was frickin’ powerful.

Recently, dropping Samuel off with his grandfather, I saw Luke for the first time in two and a half years. It was a brief encounter, yet I could feel that the stickiness between us, the hook that created the dynamic that ruled our relating all the way through our relationship and beyond, it was gone.

He was just another man. He didn’t have any power over me anymore.

The next day, while practicing yoga, I was coming out of a lunge posture and spontaneously a prayer of forgiveness for Luke spilled out of my heart.

I watched, somewhat astonished, as these words made themselves in a prayer and released from my heart.  Forgiveness had spontaneously arisen.

It was the four year anniversary of me leaving Luke this New Year’s. It seems that’s how long it’s taken me to fully learn the lessons of our relationship and finally let go. It’s longer than the three and a half years we were together.

I will always love Luke – that has never changed, all the way through. I will always be grateful for the role he played in mirroring back to me all my weaknesses and issues around men and relationships. Our relationship and my desire for a healthy version of our love motivated me to sort my shit out.

There is no greater tool for growth and awakening than love and relationships. Sometimes that growth happens within the context of a destructive relationship. Sometimes it happens within the context of a constructive relationship.

Next time, I’m choosing constructive. Destructive? Been there, done that, got the war stories to prove it.


source: http://theyogalunchbox.co.nz/how-i-took-responsibility-for-my-toxic-relationship-found-forgiveness/

The 10 Best Yoga Poses to Do After Work

source: Yoga.com

Nothing can make your neck sore, your back ache, your hips stiff, and your brain fried quite like a long day at the office. Luckily for us all, there are yoga poses that can target and relieve these tense areas. And practicing yoga won’t only address the kinks in your body; it has the added benefit of relieving all that mental stress that builds up throughout the day. Here are the 10 best poses to do after work.

1. Neck Stretches

Staring at a computer or phone all day can leave your neck feeling tight and tense. Target this sensitive area directly with some therapeutic neck stretches.

Sitting comfortably, tilt your head to the right and left, holding for one deep breath on each side until you feel the tension and soreness dissipate. Then repeat by tilting your head forward and backward. For a deeper stretch, you can use your opposite hand to apply gentle pressure to the top of your head, as shown in the picture.  

2. Cat/Cow (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)

Sitting all day is one of the worst things you can do for your back. Gently undo the damage with some slow cat/cows.

Place your hands under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. As you inhale, arch your spine, drop your belly and look up. As you exhale, round your spine, taking your gaze toward your navel. Repeat for 10 deep breaths.

3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

We talk about downward facing dog a lot here at yoga.com, but that’s because it’s just so beneficial! This posture will lengthen your spine, stretch your legs and hips, open your shoulders and chest, and improve your circulation all at the same time. If you can only do one pose after work, make it this one!

Starting on your hands and knees, tuck your toes, straighten your legs and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Step your feet backward a bit if necessary and spread your fingers wide. The most important thing in this pose is to keep your spine long, so if you feel your back rounding, try bending your knees a tad. Hold for 10 deep breaths.

4. Wide Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)

After work we tend to have a lot of stress and other emotions to release. Forward bends are perfect for these moments, as they encourage us to let go of anxiety, worries, and other negative feelings.  Prasarita padottanasana will also release a tight lower back, provide a deep stretch to stiff legs, and open up the chest and shoulders—all very necessary after a long day siting!

Stand with your feet about three feet apart. Turn your toes toward each other very slightly and interlace the fingers behind your back. Inhale, lift your chest and engage your core, and lift your hands behind your back. As you exhale, fold from your hips and bring your head towards the floor, keeping your legs and spine straight. Hold for 10 deep breaths.

5. Seated Side Stretch (Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana)

Give the sides of your torso and your lower back some love with this deeply relaxing seated stretch.

Bend your left leg and bring your left foot to the inside of your right thigh. Keeping your torso rotated to the left and your chest open, bend toward your right leg. If you can, take hold of your right toes with your right hand and stretch your left arm over your head to meet the right. Hold for 10 deep breaths. Don’t forget to repeat on the other side!

6. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

This pose provides a deep stretch to the hips, inner thighs, and (if you’re flexible enough to fold forward) lower back. It’s also great for sciatic discomfort, which is often exacerbated by sitting.

Sit up straight, bring the soles of your feet together in front of you and clasp your hands around them. You can stay here, or you can deepen the stretch by folding forward, making sure to keep your spine long. 10 deep breaths!

 

7. Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Pigeon might be the BEST stretch to relieve sore, tight hips and improve range of motion at the hip joint. It is also extremely relaxing, provides deep psychological benefits, and like baddha konasana, can benefit those with sciatic pain.

From your hands and knees, bring your right knee behind your right wrist, and your right foot behind your left wrist. For yogis with more mobile hips, the right thigh and calf will make almost a 90 degree angle, while others will still feel a deep stretch at a 30-45 degree angle. Stretch your left leg straight out behind you on the mat. If you want to go deeper, inhale and open you chest, and exhale and to reach your arms out in front of you, slowly lowering your torso towards the floor. Hold for at least 10 deep breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

8. Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

After being hunched over a desk all day, it’s important to softly stretch our spine in the opposite direction with baby backbends like sphinx pose, sometimes called ‘half cobra.’

To enter the pose, lie on your stomach and engage your back muscles to lift your head and upper torso from the mat. Align your elbows underneath your shoulders for support. Keep your chest wide and open and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Look straight ahead and hold for 10 deep breaths. 

9. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

This pose is a beautiful and beneficial pose to include in your practice, as it will gently ease open any areas where you’re still holding tension, as well as realign your spine and relax your mind.

From all fours, bring your feet together behind you. Bring your hips back so they are resting on your feet or heading in that direction. Stretch your arms out in front of you or place them along side you, and rest your forehead on the floor. Breathe deeply as your shoulders, chest, lower back, and hips relax and open up. Rest in this posture for 10 breaths, or as long as you need.

10. Savasana

Working all day doesn’t only make our bodies stiff and sore—it can also make our minds feel stressed and agitated. Finish your after-work practice with a long meditation in Savasana, and re-enter the world feeling relaxed and renewed.

On The Mat Again; If Willie Nelson Did Yoga (And Had A Baby) This Is What It Would Sound Like

We found this the other day and think it's absolutely hysterical! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do! 


Written by Erica RodeferWinters aka The Spoiled Yogi

Source: http://www.spoiledyogi.com/on-the-mat-again/

Here’s a little ditty I wrote during my recovery from childbirth (to the tune of “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson”.

On the mat again –
Just can’t wait to get on the mat again.
The life I love is moving, stretching, breathing.
And I can’t wait to get on the mat again.

Tryin’ poses that I’ve never done.
My mid-section like a rag I wrung.
And I can’t wait to get on the mat again.

Thanks Willie!

Saying you’re not flexible enough for YOGA is like saying you’re too dirty to take a BATH!

Written by Antranik

Source: http://antranik.org/not-flexible-enough-for-yoga/

 

Common Question Time!!!

As someone who is very inflexible and interested in yoga, I don’t think I’m flexible enough.  It seems to me that until I get a little bit more hamstring flexibility (among other areas), I just wouldn’t be able to do most positions to how they are intended and am better off focusing on very basic stretches first. What would you recommend for the flexibility challenged?

Antranik Answer Time!!!

There’s a saying in yoga that you are considered a beginner for the first 10 years of your practice.

There may be some poses you can do ‘perfectly’ right off the bat. And then there are poses that may take months, years or decades until you can do them ‘perfectly.’

Yoga isn’t about performing that ‘textbook perfect’ pose. Every single person has their completely unique challenges and they are on their own journey/pathway. Yoga is more-so about this process of unwinding and participating in your journey.

  • Your form will look better with practice.
  • Your flexibility will come with practice.
  • You can’t expect to un-do years (or decades) of inflexibility in a couple yoga sessions.

Besides, it’s not just about flexibility. It’s about flexibility, strength and balance and holding this calm, cool collective expression of bliss while you’re practicing.

  • You may be inflexible but you may also be very strong and can hold certain poses without a hitch (often seen with men who weight-train).
  • Or you may be too flexible and not have the strength to hold the pose for more than a few seconds (often seen with women). Often times in this case they may look like they have perfect form (especially with the hip-openers) but are not engaging the proper muscles and actually cheating by hyper-extending their joints because the strength isn’t there to hold them together.

So again, yoga is more-so about the process of winding and not about performing the ‘textbook’ perfect pose.

But one thing is for sure, if you keep avoiding yoga because you’re not flexible enough… then when will you be flexible enough to do it?

Question: What would you recommend for the flexibility challenged?

Take the beginner-level classes.  The beginner-level classes are mostly comprised of the most basic asanas (poses) which are all very good basic stretches. Just do it, and keep at it! 

Inspiration: Yoga for EVERYbody (Dana Falsetti's Story)

When we read her story we fell in love with her message. We think you will too. Meet Dana. We think Dana is pretty awesome.... 


Find out more about Dana and her yoga teaching here: http://www.nolatreesyoga.com/

 

  Dana Falsetti

Dana Falsetti

I came to my yoga practice after years of binge eating, years of struggling with confidence, years of gaining and losing weight in bouts of depression and anxiety, and crazed attempts to find a little peace.

I hit a point in my life sometime early on in college where I was both my heaviest at about 300 pounds, and my unhappiest. I thought the two went hand in hand, so I started hitting the gym in hopes to make a permanent change. Significant weightloss and loads of empty compliments later, I realized that absolutely nothing had changed. My physical body changed, but my body changes every single day and always will. I was still me, I brought myself and all of my habits and tendencies and fears with me to my "new" body. 

So I came to yoga as a last resort. I was unknowingly searching for something, and I think ultimately that thing was peace. I remember my first class well. I walked in having the largest body in the room on top of being the beginner, and yoga was hard. I couldn't hold down dog for 5 breaths, my shoulders were on fire, and all the while other people in the room were popping up into optional headstands like it was no big deal. I remember thinking that would never and could never be me. I thought my body would limit my practice, but eventually I learned that only my mind sets limits. 

 Dana Falsetti

Dana Falsetti

Many people think they need to be thin, flexible, or strong to practice yoga. Please, hear me when I say that yoga is for everybody. Bodies change and evolve every single day, and the physical practice is simply a manifestation of the internal change. Yoga is a spiritual practice, one that allows you to be and see yourself. It's a practice of non-attachment. Your physical body isn't a deciding factor in whether or not yoga is for you. Your body changes. There's nothing to be attached to that won't leave you hurting or feeling empty down the road. Come to yoga to find out how you feel, not judge how you look. We do enough of that anyway. Give yourself a chance, give yourself the gift of knowing your worth and it will change your life. 

Love and light to all of you beautiful people, 

xx Dana

 

Source: Dana Falsetti's website: http://www.nolatreesyoga.com/ 

“Musterbation” : When Enough is Enough

by: Jovita Orais 

Yep, that’s the word all right. I did not misspell it. "Musterbation" is a word that Dr. Albert Ellis( a renowned American psychologist) described a kind of frame of mind that we whip ourselves with a lot of "shoulds" or "oughts."

 Over Thinking -abstract-Painting watercolors by moonix-20 @ diviantart

Over Thinking -abstract-Painting watercolors by moonix-20 @ diviantart

When we "musterbate" we flagellate ourselves with a set of rules and standards, lots of "musts", "oughts" and "shoulds" that we feel intense pressure to perform. It’s as if you are forcing yourself to do the tasks. We defeat ourselves by the way we force ourselves to get moving. We feel like an ex-convict under a tyrannical probation officer. Every tasks seem unpleasant and dull we can’t stand to face it.

For example, have you experience desperately wanting to lose weight but ironically you ended up lazing around not exercising and stuffing yourself with greasy hamburgers and sinfully rich chocolates? How about telling yourself that you ought to write and finish that report tonight, so you could hand it in the very next day but you wind up procrastinating, sitting in front of the tv or yapping on the phone?

However if we feel that everything is so right that taking action seems so natural and effortless, and we irrevocably feel that it’s the obvious next step then why not? But it’s not an everyday occurrence when your bursting with desire to swing into action and say to yourself "I know this is the right thing for me to do right now, I can’t wait to get started." If most of our days are like that then we have to be grateful. It would be nicer if we completely get rid of the nagging self-doubts (should I do this? should I do something else?) completely. If we can align our values, feelings, thoughts and actions in harmony we are in the direction of fulfillment and abundance.

When we tell ourselves " I should have bought that piece of land right before the real estate market boomed" or "I should have mowed the lawn before the lawnmower got busted" we are perpetually whipping ourselves with so many "oughts," "shoulds" and ‘musts" that we are feeling obliged, burdened, tense, resentful and totally drained of energy to get moving.

Consequently hating ourselves for being unproductive and lazy.

Why is this pushy approach (either from within or outside ) doomed to failure? Why won’t it work? Let me explain. If you, yourself or someone else eggs you on, aggressively urges you, prods you even cajoles you to do something you will feel a natural resistance. (Your mom tells you to make your bed before going out or your friend tells you to break off with your jerk boyfriend.) It’s like this. It’s a basic law of physics, that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Anytime you feel shoved, whether by someone’s hand actually on your chest or someone’s bossing you around, you will tighten up and resist so as to maintain equilibrium and balance.

You will attempt to preserve your dignity by refusing to do the thing that you are being pushed to do. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. You can’t win either way. Because if you refuse to do, you or the other person demands you to, you end up defeating yourself just in order to spite him or her. In contrast, if you do what the person tells you to do, you feel had. You gave in to those pushy demands. You get the feeling the individual controlled you and this robs you of self- respect.

Also you are giving yourself two problems for the price of one. First, you ended up not doing the tasks which really are for your own good. Second, you are being hard on yourself after not doing anything.

Inappropriate "should, ought or must" statements are surefire pathway to guilt. These irrational statements imply you are expected to be perfect, all knowing and all powerful which of course, you are not. There was no foolproof way to predict a real estate boom in your neck of the woods that’s why you didn’t buy that strip of land when it was up for sale. There was no way you can tell before hand the lawnmower is going to be broken.

Here are Four Ways To Get Rid Of Your Coercive Shoulds, Oughts And Musts:

1.Rewards System. It’s human nature to go after what we want not what we don’t want. For example , if you want to lose weight, think of the benefits; you have more energy to socialize, you fit very well in that little black dress, you look attractive in it, someone hot will ask you out, your social/dating life will improve.

2.Reformulate the way you tell yourself to do things by eliminating coercive words from your vocabulary and translating it into " It will make me feel better if I"….. or "It would be nice if "… or "It would have been better if…..".

3.Keep a daily log. Write every time you do things on your own volition. Without anyone telling you what to do. At the end of the day tally everything. Over a period of several weeks you will notice that your daily score keeps increasing. This will remind you that you are in control of your life. You will have more self-confidence. And you are able to view yourself as a more capable human being.

4.Schedule five minutes a day to recite all your should statements and self-persecutions out loud. Rattle off all the most abusive self- criticisms you can think of (" I’m such a rotten loser"). Limit you "shoulds" to this scheduled period so you won’t be bothered by them at other times. No more worrying, complaining fretting, stewing, disliking at anytime of the day.

Does this sound all too simple? Will it work for you? Why not try it and put it to the test? You will be treating yourself with a sense of respect. You will have personal dignity and a feeling of freedom of choice. You will motivate yourself through rewards rather than punishment. Get in touch with the limits of your knowledge. Accept yourself as an imperfect person. Believe you can transform yourself, break a bad habit, cultivate a new useful one, enhance self-control and lead a productive life by living a "should-free" day. Everyday.


Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

10 Expert Tips To Prevent Wrist Injuries In Yoga

 

Most yoga injuries aren't severe and are easy to ignore. Maybe you stretched just a little too much and your hamstring is sore the next day. Wrist injuries, on the other hand, are a bitch, and you can damage your wrists easily if you don't take care. That's certainly not something you want. When your wrists are injured, it can be hard to do even the smallest tasks, let alone yoga.

 Crow Pose

Crow Pose

At some point during your practice you're going to encounter arm balances or other poses that require your weight to be on your hands. The fear of injuring your wrists may stop you from attempting them. Even worse, you might proceed anyway with improper alignment, and build up permanent damage to your wrists.

This was a big concern of mine when I started practicing yoga. I have had carpal tunnel syndrome since I was a young teenager, and I was worried about making it worse. Even though I have since learned how to prevent wrist injuries in my own yoga practice, I did it the hard way: trial and error.

Here is what expert yoga instructors have to say about preventing wrist injuries in yoga.

1. DON'T BE AFRAID OF MODIFICATIONS

"I broke my wrist in 2003. I learned to modify all poses -- except downward dog -- with my forearms on the floor," Beth Shaw, owner of YogaFit explains. "You can modify the downward dog into a quarter dog by placing your forearms on the ground.  But many poses -- including downward dog -- can also be done with the fists to protect the wrists and create stability.

"If you do end up putting all your weight on your hands in a pose, like a handstand, spread your fingers as wide as you can and concentrate on pressing into your fingertips so that it takes pressure off your wrists," Shaw continues. "Or you can do a handstand by placing blocks under each hand and gripping them. It also helps to get someone to lift you into the handstand position."

2. CONNECT WITH YOUR BODY

"One of the key pieces of knowledge that you learn by practicing yoga is the ability to become connected to your physical self," says Jamie Martin Wilson, a freelance Hatha/Iyengar instructor. "Since yoga is a practice that requires gradual building upon and mindful strengthening, you will know your time. It is by this interaction with yourself that you become able to acknowledge your capabilities, strengths, limitations, or injuries for the present moment.

"As you practice your asanas, for example downward facing dog, you will learn to distribute the weight within your palms and fingers and as the pose presents a weight bearing action, one will eventually strengthen their wrists. Always working to the edge: where you feel your limit without pain. It is helpful to work with a teacher that you feel comfortable and trust that will guide you with support," concludes Jamie.

3. WARM UP

"To prevent wrist injuries in yoga one must 'warm up' the area/body to prepare for the pose," says Lily Eslahjou, instructor at BodyHoliday LeSport in St. Lucia.  "Specifically for arm balances it is important to stretch the wrists.  Kneeling on the mat and fingers pointing back to knees on the mat, hold the position for 5 -10 breaths, stretch the tops of the wrists as well by making fists arms straight out and dropping fists down. Circle wrists in both directions.

"If kneeling down to stretch wrists is a problem because of knee injuries then wrists can be stretched by placing hands on the wall, arms straight out, shoulders aligned with wrists," Eslahjou suggests. "At least 5-8 sun salutations to warm up the body and wrists through plank, chaturanga will be enough to move into arm balances safely."

4. LEARN PROPER ALIGNMENT

"When learning arm balances, there are two important things to remember to keep your wrists strong and avoid wrist pain," Montreal-based instructor Jennifer Kruidbos begins. "The first is alignment. In the vast majority of arm balancing poses, it’s best to align the center of the wrist with the outside of the shoulder, making sure the index fingers are parallel to one another. This prevents bending sideways, which can strain the wrists.

"The second thing to remember is strength," Kruidbos continues. "When doing arm balancing posing, press down through the knuckles at the base of the index and middle fingers, and grip the mat with the tips of all four fingers and the thumb. This will cause the arch of the hand to lift, distributing your weight evenly so it’s not on the heel of the hand, which is what tends to cause wrist pain."

5. DISTRIBUTE YOUR WEIGHT EQUALLY

"There are a few keys to preventing wrist injuries during arm balances," says Laura Calcaterra, owner and instructor at Big Yoga in Houston. "Equal weight distribution throughout your hands, stacking your elbow joints directly on top of your wrist joints before putting weight on your wrists, and also using your core to lift your body weight up instead of dumping your weight into your arms and wrists. It is also important to set your ego aside and come out of the pose if you start to feel pain in your wrist. Have fun playing with arm balances rather than pushing toward a desired outcome!"

6. SET THE FOUNDATION

"Avoid wrist injury by turning the hand outward," says Sid McNairy, owner and founder of Sid Yoga. "This sets the foundation for shoulders to be open and elevate pain in the wrist. Placing blocks under hand is another way to elevate the tension in the wrist. Another way is to keep the wrist straight. This can be performed by practicing on their fist. These few modifications will aid a practitioner in prevention of wrist problems."

7. BE READY TO ADJUST YOUR ENERGY

“The general rule of thumb I give to my students is to listen to their bodies," explains Natascha Bohmann, 200RYT and owner of Udana Yoga and Wellness in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. "If something hurts, your body is telling you that an adjustment is needed – whether physically or energetically. Self-awareness is really the foundation for addressing or preventing wrist pain. By understanding both physical and energetic alignment, one can easily modify or correct a pose and, ultimately, find and build the strength in the pose.

"For example, in plank pose, the alignment over the shoulders is key (and helps make the pose feel noticeably better)," Bohmann says. "Someone with carpal tunnel or weak wrists can access the pose through a modified plank (placing the knees and tops of the feet on the ground), by coming into a dolphin plank (forearms to the ground), or by adding additional support under the hands (such as folding the mat for extra cushion or using a towel).

"In terms of energetic alignment," continues Bohmann, "it’s important to understand proper distribution of energy throughout the hands. One should avoid collapsing weight into the wrists. The energy should be even across the four corners of the hand while creating a sense of lifting through the center of the hand.

"A simple way to experiment with this is in table top pose. Try shifting the energy in the hands and notice the difference between putting pressure into the wrists (with the weight primarily at the base of your hand) versus distributing the energy throughout the hand. Building strength in the wrists takes time, but with awareness of alignment in both the physical body and from an energetic perspective, one can step onto the mat and meet their practice with renewed confidence.”

8. BE MINDFUL

Dana Santas, a yoga instructor who works with major league sports teams, advises, "Avoid mindless collapse straight down into the wrist joint with a flat palm. Set your stance with a conscious distribution of weight and force through the hand that begins under the thumb and first finger (and space between) and spreads out across the other fingers (without putting too much pressure on the outside). Pressing down with the pads of the fingers--almost as though you are sliding them inward towards your palm--helps to avoid a flattening collapse into the palm and wrist joint.

9. STRETCH, STRENGTHEN, AND SUPPORT

"Our wrists are something that we often take for granted," yoga teacher and Lululemon Ambassador Vanessa Van Noy tells us. "Keeping them safe and injury-free is not something  often contemplated until we find ourselves injured. When practicing, a few simple considerations can keep our wrists strong, supple, and intact.

"Stretch. The wrists often get tight and we don't even notice. Limited range of motion is often a cause of injury. Strengthen. Doing poses in which you bear your own body weight are important to keep them healthy long term. Poses that keep the wrist at a right angle or greater like Downward Facing Dog and Plank are a good place to start. Making sure the shoulders don't move past the wrists," cautions Van Noy. "And support them in the process. Always be willing to let your wrists rest if they feel sore or wrap them if you feel that they could use some reinforcement."

10. REMEMBER IT'S ONLY YOGA

"The best tip I can give to prevent wrist injuries in yoga is to really think about spreading your fingers wide on your yoga mat, to distribute your weight evenly throughout your hands," says Nathalie Croix, founder of Shanti Yoga Shala in New Orleans. "We put so much weight on our hands during practice that is important to be very aware about weight distribution. For example, in a pose like downward facing dog it's ideal to think about pressing your heels down as you move your thighs back and lift your hips and simultaneously spread all fingers of your hands and feel all knuckles of the fingers grounding and pressing into the mat, grounding the pose.


"If a student cannot bear weight try dropping the elbows on the mat, and modifying with a dolphin pose instead of the traditional downward facing dog. Please remember to take rest as much as needed during practice. It's OK to skip a pose or two. It's only yoga! We are doing yoga as a life long practice not just for today," Croix reminds us.

  • Posted in: Basics and Facts
  • Written By: Ysmay
  • Source: http://www.42yogis.com/yoga/item/10-tips-preventing-wrist-injuries