Yoga as preventative care,

soul-medicine

The idea of Yoga as preventative health care is not  new.

In the west especially, Yoga has become more about trying to make yourself look like the cover of a yoga magazine than about health; mental, physical & spiritual health. So how then do we convince people that yoga is for everyone, that yoga is about breathing, breathing life into your tired sick body. Yoga is about moving, moving your body in ways that propel your life forward. Yoga has always been about health, a healthy body, a healthy mind,a healthy spirit.

Take a few minutes and watch this TED talk from Lisa Rankin, MD……. go ahead I’ll wait, it’s important.

Is medicine killing you? Lissa Rankin, MD at TEDxFargo

This is a long one, but the message is very clear….. modern medicine, at it’s best is life saving and awesome for emergency or acute care, but for long term, chronic conditions modern medicine is lacking…. This is where complimentary care can have an amazing effect on the health & well being of the general population. Physicians need to have and to use the resources of those offering complimentary services, such as yoga therapy, massage, acupuncture ect ect. We too are here to help and to heal.

Dr’s, Nurse Practitioners, Physicians Assistants,  listen!…… I am a Yoga Therapist, use me! Or at least use others like me. We can help you teach your patients how to reduce their stress, to live healthier lives. Take time to understand what stress really is and then realize that there are resources available to you, to your patients, to everyone. Together we can ‘reclaim Soul medicine’.

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Om Shanti

Cheryl

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Here a Yogi, there a Yogi, everywhere a Yogi!

I love New Year  yes I know its already March, but the “new to yoga” crowd has been going strong this year and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down! If you’ve been hanging out at gym, fitness center or yoga studios for a while then you know what new year means for those of us that work there. Busy Busy Busy! The holidays are over and folks schedules are getting back to normal so they start coming back to classes on a regular basis. And then there are those that spent the holidays pigging out and slacking off  “Guilty as charged”.

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The’re back too.  And of course there are all those wonderful New year’s resolutioners (yes thats a word). So classes are kicking it, crazy full and lovely! So I thought I might give you a few tips on how to navigate a crazy full yoga room.

Classes have been so full, I can barely walk around without knocking over a water bottle or kicking a yoga block across your mat.  It does make moving around the room more interesting.  That said, it is good to know what to expect so here are a few pointers.

  • Don’t worry if your mat is 6 -8 inches from your neighbors, look at it this way you’re making new friends, your breathing each others air so you better learn to like each other.
  • Stagger your mats, you a little more forward, them a little back. Create space.
  • Be aware of your mat neighbors.  I do try to keep the use of lateral movements to a minimum in close quarters, but still be open to modifying your practice with smaller movements.  Sometimes less really is more.
  • Keep with you only what you need – blocks, straps and a blanket should do it.  If you want to have water, make sure its in a non breakable bottle with a lid.
  • Have fun.  The more people in the room, the more energy.  All this energy can lift your practice to unexpected heights.
  • If you are new to Yoga in general, remember you don’t have to “do” everything, just because your mat neighbor puts his/her foot in some interesting places doesn’t mean you have to.
  • Speaking of feet in crazy places, if you are gifted and can put your foot in interesting places (i.e Flip dog) keep in mind you might be invading someones space. Sometimes lees is more.
  • Oh and if you wear classes and sometimes take them off during class, put them somewhere they wont get stepped on, on the edge of your mat, I have been known to tuck mine down my top, they get icky but not broken and in savasana, lay them on your chest or belly.

And last ‘Be prepared to share”…space, breath, air and Yogi toys. Sometimes where you practice may not enough blocks/blankets/bolsters ect to go around. Someone may need ‘it’ more than you.

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DSC_0504 Bhakti Fest

These have to be pic’s of the worlds biggest yoga class ever 🙂 WOW

Om Shanti

Cheryl

Water is the only drink for a wise man ~ Henry David Thoreau

 

Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine.  ~Slovakian Proverb

One of the single most effective (and simplest I might add) ways to begin creating a healthier lifestyle, is to increase the amount of water you drink daily and at the same time decrease the number of sodas that you drink (or eliminating them entirely would even be better)….yes, even the diet ones.

Your body loses fluids throughout the day just performing its daily functions and fluid levels are important to maintaining healthy functions. Here are just some of the many health benefits of drinking water daily:

  • Drinking water daily improves concentration
  • Water boosts your energy levels
  • Staying well hydrated  is good for your skin
  • Staying well hydrated can help with pain management, by keeping your joints lubricated
  • Water helps to flush toxins from your kidney, helping them to work more efficiently
  • Drinking water can reduce your risk of having a heart attack
  • Water helps you stay regular

 

 

 

 

You want to be sure to drink even more fluids whenever you increase your physical activity, when eating a high fiber diet, during hot weather and of course push those fluids when you’re sick. Your body is 90 percent water and needs it for digestion, healthy skin, blood circulation, temperature control and lots of other reasons. Here are some tips for getting more water in your diet;

  • Try to drink one glass of water every hour during waking hours. Keep a glass by the kitchen sink and every time you walk through the kitchen, have a quick sip.
  • Add fresh mint leaves, slices of strawberry, apple, lemon, or lime to a pitcher of water. Serve chilled.
  • My favorite addition to water is cucumbers, cucumbers have many health benefits all their own, so peel em’, slice em’ and add them to your water, an added bonus, is you have a snack at the bottom of your class
  • Drink herbal teas. Herbal teas have many healing properties and come in a seeming endless list of flavors; green tea, yerba matte, chai, chamomile, mint, raspberry leaf, cinnamon/apple, just to name a few. In the summer time you can serve them over ice. In winter, drink them hot.
  • A little juice during the day is Ok as long as it’s all natural, NO sugar added, 100% juice. But only in small amounts, even 100% juice is considered a ‘sugary ’drink and while it is naturally occurring fruit juice, it still adds calories and sometimes a lot of calories. So keep your juice consumption to a minimum.

Probably the best thing you can do is to create habits that encourage water consumption.

  • Every time you reach for a soda, grab a glass of water instead
  • Sip a glass of water with each meal
  • Start everyday with a glass of room temperature water with at least ½ a fresh lemon squeezed in it. The warm lemon water has many health benefits besides helping to rehydrated you after 8 hours of sleeping.

 

 

You should limit drinks containing sugar, caffeine and alcohol,  they have a tendency to de-hydrate the body. Plus, any type of Soda Pop or cola drink should be eliminated completely. Americans consume so much of the sugary, fizzy stuff that if you eliminated it from your diet (and do nothing else!) you can lose on average 13 lbs in a year, just by giving up sodas. Think about that! They have absolutely no nutritional value…at all. And even if you are drinking the sugar-free ones, they still don’t have any real food value, they still have caffeine and carbonation and of course there is the controversy over the use of artificial sweeteners. So why bother.

So how much water do we really need, well the old school way of thinking was 8 glasses a day, right. But there is a more modern and individualized approach, take your weight, say 150 lbs, drop the lbs and change it to oz’s…150 oz’s and cut that in half,  75 oz…So 75oz a day of fluid intake, (doesn’t count sodas or caffeinated drinks or alcoholic beverage), that does count high fluid foods such as watermelons which are 90% water, cantaloupes, tomatoes, grapes and leafy greens. So you don’t have to drink more than a 2 liter bottle of water a day if you also these foods in your everyday diet.

Try adding more fresh cool water, and let me know how you feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Om Shanti

Cheryl

Just a thought

The power of Yoga isn’t in your ‘core’ or in your legs. It isn’t in pushing into the perfect pose. Yoga isn’t about rushing to the finish. Yoga is what is in your heart & in your head. Yoga is an understanding that only through practice do we become steady. Knowing that, you know that there isn’t a ‘finish’ line, that each day is fresh and each time we come to our mats, it’s a new practice. And that’s when Joy begins to flow.

Om Shanti

Cheryl

Yoga therapy. So, whats that all about.

As I begin another series of trainings in yoga therapy I have people asking me ‘what is yoga therapy’ or ‘what does a yoga therapist do’.

In the west when we think of yoga, we think of it primarily as a physical practice, as exercise. But yoga is a multi-dimensional practice, and along with its sister science, Ayurveda medicine, has been used as medical treatment and prevention for thousands of years. Yoga therapy has many applications such as managing high blood pressure, coping with the effects of cancer treatments, or treating mental and emotional disorders like depression or anxiety. It is especially helpful for treatments of musculoskeletal issues like low back pain, knee and shoulder issues, just to name a few. In an article for Gaiam Life Janice Gates, then president of the International Association of Yoga Therapists stated “Yoga therapy is very much about the whole person. It is complementary to physical therapy, but we take into account that back pain may be related to an emotional element, or it may be from lifestyle, some pattern that is not serving them, physical movement patterns or other patterns.”

Yoga therapy integrates traditional yogic concepts and techniques, with western medicine and modern psychology to become a complementary health & wellness practice. The Yoga Therapist creates a safe place for healing and growth to happen, by combining these elements and treating their client as a whole person, not just a disease.

Yoga therapy has been making inroads into the healthcare industry for quite some time; the ideas, concepts and deeper understanding of all that yoga has to offer are slowly making their way into main stream medical offices. Many doctors are now recommending yoga therapy to their patients primarily as a way to combat the effects of stress. But there is so much more that yoga therapy can do and while physicians are now beginning to understand how yoga therapy can complement modern medicine many doctors recommendations stop at stress relief. Maybe they don’t know how yoga works or perhaps they don’t have any personal experience with yoga, but without the information about how yoga works and how to best prescribe it they will simply continue to tell their patients to “go do yoga”. Since most patients won’t (or perhaps shouldn’t) seek yoga on their own, doctors need a resource, someone they can refer their patients to, someone with the knowledge of the right poses, or what breathing and meditation techniques would work for them. The yoga therapist can bridge the gap as  the patient begins to transition from dis-ease to a life more functional.

 

Surely everyone knows how great yoga is for stress reduction, isn’t that a ‘given’ anymore? But yoga is also beneficial for people getting back to the business of life after major surgery, illness or injury. And yoga is for everyone; young children are being taught yoga & meditation in schools to help them study and elderly residents in nursing homes do yoga in chairs to help alleviate the effects of aging and to help them stay active. Yoga is for people looking to slow down the aging process but also the injured athlete wanting to get back in the game. Yoga therapies are for the obese client and those battling eating disorders; for someone healing from trauma to another person making their way back from addictions.

Yoga therapy offers holistic healthcare solutions for everyone.

If you think yoga is just about stretching or being flexible you limit what yoga can do, how yoga can help you.  Yoga contributes to your overall health and well-being in so many ways. Yoga teaches healthier breathing habits that help the body with superior oxygenation providing many benefits on a cellular level, giving you bright, healthy, youthful skin; increased energy; reduced mental and physical fatigue; increase mental clarity and yoga gives your body’s immune system a big boost. All that healthy breathing combined with the yoga postures can benefit your metabolism without the stress that hard cardio workouts can put on the body. And some studies are now showing that ‘less is more’ when it comes to heart health and exercise. Beyond the physical benefits, yoga contributes to a sense of well-being and self-awareness. Yoga can enliven our senses, helps us be aware of the world around us and allows us to move through that world in a way that serves us on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. Modern medicine simply does not address all of those components.

Yoga therapy concepts are an important component of preventative medicine too. If we expect to age well, to live productive lives, to remain active in our communities then we need to add yoga to our lives to allow us to get healthy, be healthy and to remain healthy. As yoga therapy continues to grow into the medical fields, yoga therapists will have the responsibility help physicians understand the benefits of prescribing yoga to their patients. We need to work together, physicians and yoga therapists, along with other complimentary and holistic treatments to empower people to live healthy lives.

At its heart yoga is about living life without fear. Whether that fear manifests as physical pain, emotional turmoil or mental distress, Yoga therapy is another tool that you can use to live healthy and well.

Roger Cole demonstrating an adjustment for the SI joint on yours truly, at a recent training event.

Chaturanga Dandasana; dreading, dreading, dreading

aka, Hover or half plank, Low push up, it doesn’t matter what you call it Chaturanga is still a dreaded pose for yoga virgins. It’s a toughie, I get it, and even men sometimes have trouble with this one. But this pose isn’t all about strength; there is finesse to it as well. And remember this isn’t realllly a pose, nooo it’s not, it’s a transition between plank and cobra/updog. It’s a bridge from point A to point B, albeit, sometimes a shaky pre-Columbian art bridge AKA Romancing the Stone, but a bridge none the less.

Chaturanga builds strength in the obvious places, Triceps, upper back, chest, it is also a great core strengthener and since the foundation of Chaturaga is in  your plank pose, it has all the benefits of Plank as well. Starting in Plank;

  • shoulders over tops of hands
  • long line from crown of head to heels
  • belly drawn in, bandhas engaged
  • press down through the hands to create the lift in the body
  • use the bandhas in the hands too

Ok, now we’re all set up; go on, Chaturanga to your hearts content. Go ahead, lower down…I’ll wait…….

So? How many of you ended up doing ‘bellyflopasana’?

 Yea, like I said it’s a toughie. But this is where the finesse comes in, you have to keep your elbows close to the body as you lower down, otherwise you lose the work of the big muscles in the upper back.  If you’re just learning this pose or having trouble with it lower your knees to the mat. Seriously, lower your damn knees. Sorry, but why wont anyone do that? Did they have a teacher who rapped them on the head with a ruler if they modified a pose?

Look, if your belly is getting to the ground first (before the chest and chin) take  the knees to the ground before you start down, if you’re lowering the belly first you compromise the low back, put too much load on the shoulders and probably lock your elbows. You end up moving through the bones and not the muscles, so how are you getting any stronger if you aren’t using the muscles.    Sigh….

Tips for Chaturanga

  • keep your ears pulled back ( i.e. don’t drop your chin to your chest)
  • press the heart center forward, that helps keep the torso long
  • press the tail bone towards your heels, lengthen don’t tuck, that just flattens out your back, and ‘tucking’ is a whole ‘nother post
  • press down through the hands and engage Uddiyana Bandha as you lower down
  • keep the legs very active, Quads drawn up &  Hamstrings engaged

We wanna avoid this if possible. By tilting the shoulders down towards the finger tips, puts way to much load them.   To protect the shoulders you need to work towards getting a 90 degree angle in the elbows. So try this ….. As you start lowering down press forward out of your toes, that should shift your torso forward enough to get the 90 angle you are looking for in your elbows.

This is lovely Sadie Nardini  doing a damn near perfect Chaturanga. She Rocks for sure.

From that point you can keep pushing forward and roll over your toes into Cobra or Updog.

Happy Hovering 

OmShanti