Yoga & Meditation

Accessible Yoga

As we all know, yoga has become extremely popular now in America. However, I’m sure if you think about who does yoga, a certain image may arise in your mind. Maybe some slender, muscular male or female balancing on their hands. What about everyone else? Especially individuals with any type of disability. I found an article that addresses this issue. There is an upcoming first annual accessible yoga conference in Santa Barbara, CA. The founder of the accessible yoga movement, Jivana Heyman, is interviewed in this article. 

Quick summary:

  • This conference will center on the awareness of adaptive yoga for individuals with disabilities or chronic illness.
  • The mission is to share yoga with everyone. It’s not just a physical practice.
  • Adaptive yoga students and yoga teachers will be attending the conference in order to build & empower the community.
  • Teachers and adaptive students will be trained first hand from the experts at the conference.
  • Learning to attend to the needs of adaptive yoga students.
  • Debunking the popular image of the yogi. Yoga is for all bodies.
  • Sponsors will be present & addressing the issue of affordable yoga teacher training.

If you would like to go to the conference or get involved in this movement click the link below:

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-first-annual-accessible-yoga-conference-brings-adaptive-yoga-to-the-for

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Cobra Pose vs. Upward Facing Dog

If you’re looking to perfect your yoga practice, here are some great tips! I found a video from Yoga Journal that explains the difference of moving into Cobra pose or Upward Facing Dog during a Vinyasa flow (Downward Facing Dog, inhaling to Plank Pose, exhaling Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale Cobra or Upward Facing Dog, exhale Downward Facing Dog), and which is appropriate for you. I’ve noticed in some of my yoga classes, while moving through a Vinyasa flow the teacher will say move to Cobra or Upward Dog. What’s the difference?! Which pose is appropriate for you?

First let’s run through Cobra Pose:

Beginning with the feet:

  • Tops of the feet are anchored to the ground
  • The thighs and the hips are pressing down into the earth
  • The elbows are slightly bent
  • Shoulders are back and down away from the ears allowing for the heart to be open

Compare to Upward Facing Dog:

Beginning with the feet:

  • Tops of the feet are anchored to the ground
  • The thighs and hips are lifted from the earth
  • The arms are straight & wrists directly below the shoulders
  • Shoulders are back and down away from the ears; heart is open

When should you do one or the other? That answer depends on where you are in your yoga practice. If you’re able to move from Chaturanga Dandasana without your hips or legs touching the ground, then Upward Dog may be a choice for you. If moving from Chaturanga Dandasana to Upward Dog seems to be too challenging for you, then lower your body completely to the Earth for Cobra Pose.

Always remember, it’s not about what you look like, it’s how you feel. Do what you can & your journey will unfold in its own time.

I suggest checking out the video to receive the full visual. Enjoy!

http://www.yogajournal.com/video/video/cobra-pose-vs-upward-facing-dog-vinyasa-yoga/

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Yoga | A Reflection on Asana

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As this forever winter begins to turn to spring, birds will chirp, flowers will bloom, and inevitably swimsuit season will be upon us all…

But before we get caught up in what that may mean to each and every one of us, let us take a moment to reflect on our connection to our bodies.

In yoga, asana or postures/poses are meant to foster a connection between the body and mind, between movement and breath. By doing so, this connection allows us to develop understanding and compassion on a number of levels. One level is that of meeting one’s body where it is. By this I refer to one’s physical ability to move and be in certain asana. Another level is where one comes to accept their body, their corporal form, as it is. By this I mean there is no judgment from the mind against the body. Any desire or fantasy of the body being in one form or another are met with compassion. This compassion is an expression of accepting one’s self as a whole.

Once we’ve been practicing yoga asana for sometime, we’ll begin to notice our perspective shift towards our feelings about our bodies. While it may take some time for us to come to terms with our own images of how we appear, asana moves us towards mastering these emotions in a way that allows us to stand strong and grounded, with confidence, in how our physical form exists. And, in time, this physical form becomes an expression of our emotional and spiritual form, because of how asana cultivates the connection between mind, body, and spirit.

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Yoga & Meditation for Veterans

It’s common knowledge how healing yoga and meditation is. The benefits of both are plentiful; not just for the body but for the mind and spirit. I came across an article in Yoga Journal discussing the healing powers of yoga and meditation for Veterans. The article itself doesn’t go into too much detail about the healing process. It does however, state the positive results that yoga and meditation provide for Veterans: decreased insomnia, anger, depression, anxiety, and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The article also interviewed five Veterans that have practiced yoga and meditation. The major themes of their experiences with yoga seemed to be it helped them accept themselves, opened their hearts, provided empowerment, and concentration.

Lastly, the article discusses the Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans program. This is a really awesome training to do if you are already a yoga teacher or just want to give back to the Veteran community. For Veterans, this is a program that may be offered at a local VA Hospital! It’s a win win!

For more info & the slide show of the Veterans interviewed click below:

http://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/portraits-courage-5-veterans-healing-power-yoga/#slide-0

Check out the Mindful Yoga Therapy website for training opportunities and programs near you:

http://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/portraits-courage-5-veterans-healing-power-yoga/#slide-0

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How Yoga & Meditation Can Help Heal Addiction

It is common knowledge that if one is suffering from addiction, he or she will most likely frequent a Twelve-Step program. This is the Western approach to addiction. However, the Eastern approach to addiction is that it is not a separate disease, rather it is an over attachment within the condition of human suffering.

Kevin Griffin, the author of One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps and cofounder of the Buddhist Recovery Network (BRN), explains that addiction may be a “misguided spiritual search”. The longing for a spiritual connection may manifest itself as addiction. Addicts can be seen as sensation seekers, looking for something else in life, so why not satisfy that hunger with yoga and meditation?

Where do yoga, mindfulness and meditation come into play? Think about how addiction is the polar opposite of possessing a bodymind connection or maintaining a full and present mind. Through the integration of yoga and meditation with Twelve-Step programs, an addict can become more present and mindful of his or her thoughts and actions, instead of giving into impulsivities and cravings.

A recovering alcoholic, who has remained anonymous in this article attested to the following: “I wasn’t drinking, but my addictive tendencies were making the rounds in different areas of my life, so I still felt crazy and restless and unhappy. At the suggestion of a fellow recovering alcoholic, I signed up for a yoga class. In yoga postures, I got introduced to how frenetic and negative my thinking was, and I knew that that’s where the change needed to happen. Abstinence from alcohol wasn’t enough. Eventually I started a meditation practice, which is where I get to both observe and train my mind.”

For the full article and more information, click the link below:

http://kripalu.org/article/860/

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Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhan Pranayama)

Alternate nostril breathing is one of my favorite breathing techniques! It’s simple & easy to do. What I love about it is you can do it anywhere; at school, work, or just running around. It’s a great way to de-stress and most importantly it balances the mind. Alternate nostril breathing is found to be calming and can help clear the mind. According to the article listed below: Nadi Shodhan Pranayama “Helps harmonize the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which correlate to the logical and emotional sides of our personality”. Lastly, it can improve circulatory or respiratory issues.

How to do it:

  • Whether you’re at home or out (bathroom, car, etc.), find a quiet place for yourself.
  • Ideally you’d like to be seated, spine is long & erect.
  • Using the right hand, place the index finger and middle finger on the space between the eyebrows.
  • Thumb rests on the right nostril; ring finger and little finger rest on the left nostril.
  • Begin to close off the right nostril with the thumb and breath deeply into the left nostril.
  • Then, close off the left nostril with your ring finger and little finger and let the breath flow out through the right nostril.
  • Breathe deeply into the right nostril, closing it off with the thumb, and breathe out gently through the left nostril.
  • This completes one around. Suggested 9 rounds.

I hope you enjoy Nadi Shodhan Pranayama as much as I do!

For more information and a video of this technique click the link below:

http://www.artofliving.org/yoga/breathing-techniques/alternate-nostril-breathing-nadi-shodhan

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Yoga for Athletes: Trail Runners

My love for running came before I started practicing yoga. Once I began to practice, I noticed how good the poses felt and in particular, how great the stretching feels. I thought ‘Imagine incorporating some of these stretches while I run?’ If you are a runner you’ll love the integration of these poses:

http://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/4-poses-perfect-trail-running/

Also, if you would like an entire one-hour yoga class made for runners, click below:

http://www.yogajournal.com/video/cross-training/yoga-trail-running/

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Yoga | Do You Feel Like Moving Your Body?

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Yoga | Willingness

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What does it mean to be willing?
To be willing is not to resist, but to embrace.
To be willing is not to hide, but to explore.
To be willing is not to fear, but to brave.
To be willing is not to idle, but to rise.
To be willing is not to do, but to be.
I am willing to be willing.
I am willing.
I am.

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Deepavali – Festival of Lights

Today we celebrate the festival of lights, “deepavali,” an extraordinary festival in the Indian calendar that marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. Deepavali celebrates the symbolism of the eternal conflict between good and bad and the victory of the good.

In yogic terms, this can be understood as a renewal of our inherent potentials for clarity in thought, word, and action. The flame signifies the dominance of the qualities of sattva (neutrality) over the chaotic fluctuations of rajas (hyperactivity) and tamas (stagnation), both inside and outside.  The outer celebration of light is therefore an extension of each of our inward journeys towards greater spiritual balance and harmony.

Celebrate Deepavali today by lighting a candle, observing the conflict of good and bad within yourself, and allowing a neutral space to surface and abide within you…

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