Posts Tagged With: Yoga

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:

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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!

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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:

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

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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:

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Find the Right Yoga Teacher or School for YOU!

Because yoga has become a major part of my life, the subject often comes up in conversation. Quite interestingly, most people respond to my love for yoga with one of the following comments:

  • I always wanted to try yoga, but I don’t know where it is offered.
  • I can’t find a teacher that I like.
  • How do I know if a studio or a teacher is “good?”
  • What kind of yoga is the best kind?

I have responded to these questions and comments as best as I could, but I figured I would share a solid resource that may ease some concerns for any potential yogis out there: The Yoga Alliance Website.

The Yoga Alliance is an professional organization that yoga teachers and schools of all traditions can register with as long as they meet the requirements. For example, to become an RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) with Yoga Alliance, the individual must prove that they successfully completed an approved and credible yoga teacher training.

So… Looking to start practicing? Who am I to say what style of yoga is best for you? How can I predict what yoga teacher or school you will “click with” and come to love? Check out the Yoga Alliance Directory and find something that suits you! Anything on Yoga Alliance is considered “legitimate.” It is up to you to search, attend, and reflect. If the first class you try isn’t the right fit, you can search again and explore some more!

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Yoga Philosophy: Yoga Sutra-s I.2

Yoga Sutra I.2

yoga citta vṛtti nirodha = yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively towards an object and sustain focus in that direction without any distractions

Yoga – introduced in Sutra I.1 and it is the subject matter defined for this sutra
Citta  – mind
Vr̟tti  – activities
Nirodhaḥ – to envelop

Flower:MindIn Sutra I.1 Patanjali introduces the subject matter of the entire text which is yoga.  In this Sutra, Patanjali goes on to define what the subject matter of yoga is and therefore this Sutra is known as the Lakshana Sutra which means it defines yoga.

So what is yoga? Yoga in essence is our ability to direct the mind in a chosen location for a sustained period of time without distractions. Yoga then is about the mind. We must naturally then ask what is the mind and what are the activities of the mind? Patanjali gets to this in the next few sutras more in-depth but first he establishes the definition of yoga. If we were to use one word to sum up the definition of yoga it would be concentration.

Although we see yoga today as being very physical it is important to understand that the physical aspects of yoga are indeed a big part and necessary for getting to the subtle layer that is the mind. It is very difficult to work on the mind since it is not tangible; we can’t see it, touch it, taste it and so forth. Because the mind is abstract it’s hard to work on it. Thus, yoga has found a way to work on the mind – through the body.

In this direct definition it becomes clear that yoga can look like many things; running, swimming, riding a horse, cooking, cleaning and so on. As long as we are focusing the mind exclusively on something without being distracted our mind is enveloped and all the activities (which we will get to in a few sutras) are focused, we are doing yoga.

If we think about, thousands of years ago when yoga was established the folks then were in great physical shape since they literally had to walk miles just to get water, work hard to get food and in general lived a very active life. Being in shape was not an issue like it is today due to overall lifestyle. Suffering was continual and it was noticed that this suffering was rooted in the mind. To get to the mind they used the body as a preliminary step and what a genius step to reach the more subtle layers of who we are. There must have been this recognition that the body and mind are inextricably linked and that by working on the body there would be a ripple effect on the mind.

Experiential Reflections

So now that we have the definition of yoga, what’s next?  Experiment for yourself how difficult it is to keep the mind focused solely on one thing. Pick anything like a tree swaying, the moon, a mountain, the ocean, a sound, a positive word, and see how long you can envelop the mind with this object. Notice how quickly the mind starts to think about something else, how quickly we start to label and judge things, how quickly we waver and become distracted. Try it out for just 1 minute and see what happens. To know what the definition of yoga is we must know what it is not…

Why do this? Well, it seems that we endure mental suffering daily to some degree and if we take a closer look it becomes evident that a lot of the pain we experience in our lives is due to the thoughts that we have about ourselves, others, and the world around us. What if there was a way to better understand the nature of the mind and thereby assist in the reduction of mental suffering?

Could be worth finding out especially when we look around and see how much suffering goes on for ourselves, our loved ones and the world around us. If we can positively change ourselves we can positively change the world, the ripple effect here of the body-mind as we are a piece of the Whole, a body part of the Mind. Too often do we blame everyone and everything else for our suffering and too often does this take us right back to deep suffering.

Perhaps some self-experimentation can lead us out of the daily turmoil and create a pathway to becoming better human beings overall. Only one way to find out – embarking on the quest that is the excavation of Self…

Have some fun experimenting with it and next to come is breaking down this thing we call “MIND”.

Photo By: anurag agnihotri

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Summer Yoga on the Way…


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Yoga & Meditation on Fridays!

Only a few classes left of this double dose of goodness after spring break! Join us!

Mindfullness & Stress Reduction Group Spring 2013- C.Kurash

Yoga - Invigorate & Energize

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Healing Yoga: Deepening Your Practice

Arsha Vidya Ashram

The setting for this Spring retreat is the Poconos of
Pennsylvania at Arsha Vidya Ashram, a unique
spiritual center dedicated to the study of classical
Indian disciplines, including yoga.

Our program
takes place in a spacious fully-equipped Iyengar
Yoga studio where you will have an opportunity to
deepen and support your practice through the use of
the many yoga props. Meals are nutritious Indian
vegetarian style. A large book store offers books on
yoga and healing, recordings and gifts from India.

Individuals and couples of all ages and levels of
ability are welcome. Beginners and those with
physical limitations will be offered assistance to be
comfortable in the poses.

Program Highlights:

  • Two daily yoga classes include asana, breathing practices, deep relaxation, restorative yoga and meditation.
  • Evening programs help you integrate the practices and deepen your understanding of how yoga can enrich your life. “SPRING INTO RENEWAL” with Cathy and Rachelʼs favorite healing techniques.

DATES: Friday, April 26, 2013 – Sunday, April 28, 2013

  • Retreat begins at 4pm Friday with a yoga class and concludes after lunch on Sunday.

PLACE: Arsha Vidya Ashram,

COST: $375. paid in full by March 26,2013—$400 after March 26 ,2013

  • Cost includes all activities, classes, meals, accomodations in a standard 2 person rooms or a deluxe 3 person room. All rooms have a private bath and phone. A $50. deposit will hold your space.

Co-Leaders: Rachel Gluckstein and Cathy Kotelchuck, Registered, Certified Yoga Teachers, have over 34 year’s experience teaching yoga and leading retreats. They draw from the Kripalu and Iyengar traditions. Rachel and Cathy create a warm and welcoming sacred space where you will feel nourished in body, mind and spirit. MYRNA LADEN WILL BE JOINING US FOR HEALING MASSAGE.

MORE INFO: Rachel: 718-380-2261; or Cathy: 516-621-1295; Please make checks payable to Cathy Kotelchuck 44 Hillturn Lane, Roslyn Heights, N.Y. 11577or Rachel Gluckstein–77-03 167 Street, Fresh Meadows, N.Y. 11366


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The Power of the Breath

BreatheIt is something we do each and every day without thought and without question. Our chest lengthens as our lungs expand and air enters and exits our mouths and noses. This act preserves our lives, yet its power goes unrecognized.

Breathing, respiration, oxygenating, whatever you may name it, is the act of passing air through our bodies in exchange with the environment. When we breathe, we come in contact with the existence of breath. Through complex biological and physical sciences, this act is analyzed and studied thoroughly, but in the art of meditation, we learn of a different function of breathing: Pranayama.

According to Yoga Journal, an online and printed resource for yoga-doers of all levels, Pranayama is the art of controlling one’s breath in order to provide energy to a tired body, to lift a down spirit, and to tame a wandering mind. This practice has originated in Middle-Eastern regions and has spread to the United States more recently. Yoga and meditation, though used interchangeably are two different practices, which share the same benefits through varying methods. Yoga is commonly known for movement of the body and muscular activity while Meditation is known for movement of the mind and emotional activity. Both practices place an equivalent emphasis upon “the breath.”

“The breath” is named such because ancient sages, also known as, wellness instructors, believed it to be its own entity within humans. They believed there was a distinct difference between “breathing” and “the breath.” “The breath” is known to be a singular existence and focal point while “breathing” is simply the act of passing air through our bodies. “The breath” allows one to bring Prana into our lives, what ancient sages believed to be the vital force of humanity. Prana is the idea that through the act of controlling “the breath,” we can find harmony and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our purposes. It is also a method of being in touch with our inner spirituality and embracing the world for its gifts of oxygen, shelter, and nourishment.

A common misconception of the meditative practice is that it is tedious and difficult. However, the truth is anyone can meditate and it does not require a lot of time or a lot of effort, especially if one wishes to practice Pranayama. All you need is a few minutes to close your eyes or bring them to a soft gaze upon a near object and breathe. Rather than just inhaling and exhaling, as you do naturally, count to five as you inhale, take a brief pause, and count to five as you exhale. If you wish, you may lengthen your counts to suit your needs. Keep your inhales and exhales equal for a few times, then lengthen your inhale to perhaps a count of seven and keep your exhales to a count of 5. The numbers are not significant, compared to the notion of controlling your breath, and being aware of your body in the present moment. Simply embrace the movement of your breath as your posture changes with each inhale and exhale. Do this for as few or several moments as you’d like.

For more information regarding the act of Pranayama, a simple Google search will always suffice. Also, take a look around your local library for Yoga and Meditation books, movies, journals, and any other media you’d like. Long Island Media has several articles regarding this topic as well, specifically written by our own member Break the Norms. Simply search for yoga and meditation in our convenient search bar, or click on the Health and Wellness link in our toolbar underneath our Articles tab.

Remember, breathing can not only save your lives, but it can save your mind.

Written By: Angel McCarrick

Photo By: ronsho ©     License: Creative Commons



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