ADHD – WHY YOGA BENEFITS CHILDREN AND ADULTS

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ADHD & YOGA

Came across this wonderful article in the Autumn Canadian Yoga Alliance magazine…

Many adults live with ADHD, and so while this article focuses on children, it is important to remember it is the same for adults.

This article also supports the Tween Parent program I offer at the studio.

Yoga for Children Diagnosed with ADHD

“Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.”
(Kahlil Gibran, 1923)

The following article is written by Dr. Ashleigh Stewart

Introduction:

As scientific as the name may sound Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is an alleged and somewhat mysterious ‘disease’. Despite numerous studies dedicated to investigating its cause, no convincing evidence of any brain malfunction or other biological or genetic abnormality has been discovered.

Despite the fact that the source of ADHD is still vague, the symptoms that define ADHD are prevalent and prominent, so much so that approximately 6 million children in America alone have been diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder and prescribed with psycho-stimulant drugs, such as Methylphenidate, otherwise known by it’s brand name Ritalin, as the primary method of treatment.

My question is what is ADHD? Why are so many children being diagnosed with it these days, and what could be the real cause of it?

Also, how much do we really know about the effects of stimulant drugs on our children?

How will taking these drugs affect children’s lives physiologically, psychologically, emotionally and socially as they grow up?

Also, what are the implications in terms of the future of the human race and our world if we keep medicating our children with highly addictive drugs?

These questions are what led me to research yoga as an alternative, natural, holistic strategy for dealing with the symptoms associated with ADHD in children.

What is ADHD?
ADHD is known to manifest in early childhood as a behavioral disorder which is defined as a deficiency in age-appropriate attention, impulse control and the inability to follow rules and structured activities.

Associated behaviors include:
hyperactivity
speaking or acting before one thinks
difficulty in following instructions
poor organizational skills
restlessness
impatience
forgetfulness
low self-esteem
poor social skills

Children with ADHD find it difficult to slow down, even when they want to; often they are so hurried that they seem clumsy and uncoordinated which can often lead to them hurting themselves or other children. As well, children with ADHD generally do not perform well in school, though most of them test at average or above average intelligence.

Possible Causes of ADHD

There are many factors contributing to this behavioral disorder, and the fact that so many children are being diagnosed with ADHD. For example:

TV violence
overstimulation from video games/TV
lack of physical exercise
poor nutrition
parental prenatal drug use
sensory overload
pollution
overcrowding
breakdown of the family structure

We live in a busy, stressful world that even our children cannot avoid. Classrooms are overcrowded with split age categories and teachers are expected to fulfill the educational needs of many diverse children, with different personalities and at different developmental stages.

Parents are struggling to be emotionally and mentally present as they are preoccupied with the pressure of heavy work related stresses, busy schedules and the financial pressure of having to pay bills, loans and mortgages. Life these days is a chaotic frenzy of stress and pressure and of course it is going to rub off onto our children.

How Can Yoga Help ADHD?

Yoga is simple to learn and easy to incorporate into any busy schedule. The techniques learned in yoga can be applied at anytime of the day, almost anywhere and do not require any special clothing, expensive equipment or tools. In fact, yoga can be so simple that even very young children can learn the techniques on their own and can be taught to practice them during times when they feel stressed, overwhelmed or insecure and need to feel calm and safe.

Yoga is an effective system for helping children and their families to deal with the behaviors associated with ADHD, on a physical level, through the practice of asana in a non-competitive way. This can help enhance a child’s sense of body awareness, self control, patience and respect for other people’s physical space. The fact that yoga is typically practiced on a mat introduces the concept of personal space, and teaches a child that there are boundaries between her physical space to move within, and that of other people around her.

On a deeper level, meditation practice can help bring you beyond the surface of the behavioral issues that children are experiencing to reveal what lies at the root of the challenges, to understand them and deal with them.

Meditation will also help the child to connect with his inner essence, his spirit and his soul. When he becomes more aware of whom he is on a deeper level, he will be more able to express this to his mother and father, and teacher.

Another exercise children respond particularly well to is guided visualization with imagery. It helps them relax and calm down as their inner creativity is invoked and stimulated through use of their imagination.

This yoga technique opens children’s minds as they are allowed to fun free in their own mental landscape. This type of mental freedom helps them to build confidence in their own creative abilities and, as a result, self-esteem and trust.

The spiritual aspect of yoga helps ground practitioners in their own silence and inner awareness, something that is becoming increasingly difficult to experience in our busy pace of life today.

Yoga also teaches us about personal responsibility and that all our actions/choices create the circumstances and experiences that we live in our life.

The practice of PARTNER YOGA, (like the SOL YOGA – TWEEN & PARENT YOGA class) between the parent and child, can help build trust and mutual respect for each other as individual people, as well as being part of the parent/child connection.

Yoga, in this sense, can help rebuild, strengthen and solidify relationships within families on many levels in unique, fun and interesting ways.

Conclusion

Yoga provides a complete system, above all others, which, if practiced both physically and spiritually, can provide the basis for a way of life that incorporates physical, emotional and spiritual understanding and well being in a natural, healthy and holistic way.

Children are never to young to begin learning about personal responsibility. It will help them to understand that their behavior influences what happens to them everyday.

Children feel empowered in knowing that they have a choice in terms of how they behave and interact with others and their environment. A sense of personal responsibility, along with a feeling of empowerment to choose, will no doubt lead to better behavior from a calmer and more confident child.

When parents/teachers are able to acknowledge, accept and relate to who their child really is, and what he is trying to express through actions and behaviors, then he will no longer be misunderstood and viewed as being dysfunctional.

This is very important for the child’s sense of self worth and future success, and our future depends on us raising a generation of healthy, confident, creative empowered children.

Om Namaste
Dr. Ashleigh Stewart, D. Msc.

Tune In To FM Yoga… that is FUNCTIONAL MOBILITY YOGA

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WHO WILL BENEFIT?

Athletes,  in particular, but EVERYONE can benefit!  Consideration should be given to young athletes, as their bodies are growing and physical movement patterns and habits are being developed that may affect them the rest of their lives.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Through various poses and sequences of poses you learn to:

  • activate dormant/inhibited muscles 
  • eliminate the need for some muscles to compensate for inhibited muscles
  • improve muscular strength and power 
  • think more clearly
  • react more quickly 
  • feel better overall 
  • improve sleep patterns 

WHERE IN THE BODY?

Muscles in the body work together, in order to control our joints.

Only one muscle can be active at a time, this is know as Reciprocal Inhibition. 

A muscle will experience a reduction in strength and power when one of the muscles becomes dormant or inhibited and, therefore, dysfunctional.

This creates both physical and emotional stress.

It should be noted, a muscle will often become dysfunctional because it is a primary source of movement in the athletes sport.

WHEN DO YOU NOTICE BENEFITS?

USUALLY IMMEDIATELY! 

You have tension, maybe significant tension… this probably means your muscles are:

1.   DORMANT or INHIBITED and dysfunctional meaning they are not relaxing completely because they are:

             –  * INJURED 

             –     NOT IN PROPER FORM

2.  OVERACTIVE meaning they are always turned on and never relax 

3.  COMPENSATING because they have been busy carrying the extra load

*Yes, you should check with your doctor to determine if the tension is due to injury.  Once you have your doctor’s permission, then and only then, should you do yoga.

WHY SHOULD YOU DO YOGA POSES?

There are many benefits, particularly as an athlete, there is a need to correct over activity and compensation patterns or you risk: 

  • tearing muscles
  • increased potential for injury
  • not being functionally mobile, resulting in less strength and power

HOW DOES YOGA CORRECT ISSUES?

Yoga Poses create a lasting improvement when practiced regularly by:

  • changing the athletes patterns of movement 
  • activating muscles that have been dormant/inhibited, and therefore,  dysfunctional 
  • stopping the need for other (synergistic) muscles to compensate

Proper Breathing takes us back to using our parasympathetic nervous system, allowing for the proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.

This in turn provides:

  • clearer thinking
  • improved reaction time 
  • healthier muscles
  • helping us to stay, when appropriate, in our parasympathetic nervous system – eliminating chronic stress! 

Understand, many people “over breathe”, not allowing the carbon dioxide  to be fully exhaled.  This affects the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.  The body recognizes, incorrectly, that you are in are in a state of “fight or flight” and the sympathetic nervous system turns on. 

In a moment of crisis this is good!  

However, if we live with this sympathetic nervous system turned on, we are in a state of chronic stress, we experience many unhealthy side effects:

  • adrenal fatigue 
  • hormones out of balance 
  • difficulty sleeping 
  • anxiety attacks
  • increased heart rate 
  • increased blood pressure
  • dry mouth
  • sweaty palms
  • lowered immune system

SOL Seasons Of Life Yoga has a program to address these issues:

FUNCTIONAL MOBILTY YOGA

OR

FM YOGA

I was pleased to have been accepted into a 3 month Mentorship Program with Dana Santas, YOGA EXPERT with CNN Health, MOBILITY TRAINER for MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA. 

The mentorship focus was to develop a knowledge base, whereby;  I can confidently assess, correct and create, using fundamental elements, an appropriate yoga sequence, for an individual, with a concentration on issues pertaining to hockey players and goalies, specifically. 

ASSESSMENTS & PRIVATE CLASSES

$60/hr.

available by appointment:

Assessment approximately 1 hour, with a discussion on poses to assist in bringing the body back toward proper alignment, and instruction on proper breathing technique.

To arrange for an assessment and/or private class

506-466-1314 

annabelle.juneau@gmail.com 

YIN YOGA not only for the body but also the mind

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[envira-gallery id=”416″]The following is an article by Esther Ekhart on Yin Yoga.

If you are looking to try Yoga, Yin Yoga can be a wonderful way to begin. Anyone with Fibromyalgia or any type of Arthritis sees immediate benefits!

SOL Yoga will offer classes this September, if you are interested contact to register now by FB, email or call.

What is Yin Yoga ?

Yin Yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, opposite and complementary principles in nature. Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. Other yin-yang polarities include cold-hot, down-up, calm-excited.
Yin Yang symbol.

In the body, the relatively stiff connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia) are yin, while the more mobile and pliable muscles and blood are yang.

A Yin Yoga class usually consists of a series of long-held, passive floor poses that mainly work the lower part of the body—the hips, pelvis, inner thighs, lower spine. These areas are especially rich in connective tissues. The poses are held for up to five minutes, sometimes longer.

So who is it for?

Yin Yoga is for you if you are tired, over-stimulated, when your energy is too erratic, your mind overactive, whether you are craving for energy or you feel you have too much of it.

We live in a world where we are bombarded with stimuli, stimuli that is available 24/7. Think about your laptops, phones and other mobile devices. It’s so easy to end up not switching off at all anymore. To end up with a mind that is constantly busy processing all that information that you throw at it. Whether the information is good, valuable or rubbish, it doesn’t matter, the mind still needs to deal with it.

The mind gets used to that amount of information and starts to crave stimuli if it gets quiet. So you end up browsing, looking for stuff, it doesn’t matter what as long as you fill the gaps. Gaps we really should allow to stay empty to find some sort of down time – for the mind to stop and for you to just be.

Any kind of dynamic form of yoga caters for this aspect of keeping yourself busy. Although the mind may calm down as a result of the active exercise, you are still feeding the part of you that wants intensity and wants to be stimulated. You just happen to have found yourself a healthier stimulus!

I am not saying cut out the dynamic yoga, I love Vinyasa and Hatha yoga a lot myself and benefit from it greatly. I just think it’s a good idea to also balance all the on-the-go aspects of life and a great way to do that is through Yin Yoga.
Esther Ekhart

YIN YOGA AND THE BODY

Yin Yoga works on the Yin tissues – also known as the connective tissues. Connective tissue responds best to a slow, steady load. Yin Yoga poses are held for around 5 minutes in a class. If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time in this way, the body will respond by making them a little longer and stronger—which is exactly what you want. Remember the principle of exercise is to stress the tissue so the body will respond by strengthening it.

Different Yin Yoga poses stimulate and remove blocks in the myofascial meridians in the body. This has the effect of balancing the body’s internal organs and systems.
Yin Yoga requires the muscles to relax around the connective tissue in order to get a stretch, so not all yoga poses can be done safely or effectively when practicing Yin style. Thus Yin asanas have different names when practised in a Yin style.

For example, Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose) in a Hatha or Ashtanga Yoga class involves lengthening the spine, stretching the muscles of the back and engaging the muscles of the legs and abdomen to fold the torso towards the legs. Whereas in a similar Yin style version – Half Butterfly (pictured), the muscles are relaxed, the spine naturally rounds so that the head comes towards the knees rather than the feet as the body releases.

YIN YOGA AND THE MIND

Becoming still in a pose and staying for a while, creates those gaps that I was talking about earlier. Keeping the gaps empty creates the space, for anything that wants to, to come up. For example, feelings of anxiety, feelings of happiness or sadness, boredom. Anything you suppress with all the on-the-go business in your life. Finally you take time out to allow for any of those feelings to be there. Emotions, thoughts, feelings we have kept in the shadow.

Generally speaking during a Yin Yoga class the teacher will encourage you to allow all those feelings to be there, but not identify with them. The teacher will guide you to become the observer of everything that arises in that space. All those stored away emotions, feelings and sensations now have a chance to come out. You have no idea how much energy it costs the body to keep all that suppressed. So the release you get from letting it all come out can also be just as big.

You learn to observe only the pure physical sensations of emotions, without getting caught up in the stories about those emotions.
These stories usually have to do with why we feel such and such, whose fault it is etc. Just observing these physical sensations, without giving juice to the stories allow those emotions and physical sensations a way out of your system. You open the door in a way of speaking.

This way you clear the mind of these often unconscious emotions, and you give your system an opportunity to work through the blockages they have caused in the body. What a wonderful and much needed process!

Here are some principles to keep in mind when practicing Yin Yoga

Find your appropriate edge:
Move slowly and gently into the pose. Don’t go straight to your “maximum” in the pose and never stretch so far as to cause pain.

Stillness:
Consciously try to release into the pose, and to remain still, without fidgeting or shifting position too much.

Hold the position:
Start with holding a pose for 1-3 minutes and progress to 5 minutes or more.

Key benefits of a regular Yin Yoga practice…

Stillness: calms and balances the mind and body
Stress and anxiety reduction
Increased circulation
Improved flexibility
Fascial release
Greater joint mobility
Balance to the internal organs and improved flow of energy or prana through meridian stimulation.

JUNE 21ST INTERNATIONAL DAY OF YOGA

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[envira-gallery id=”403″]In September 2014, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at the United Nations General Assembly and put forward a proposal for an international day of observance for yoga. This idea gained overwhelming support with the majority of the member countries and so 21st June was declared by the UN as being the International Day of Yoga.

The SOL Seasons Of Life Yoga studio will be closed on June 21st & 22nd, as I will be providing Yoga at the FACE 2 FACE conference being held at the Algonquin Hotel. It is an honour to be invited again this year to bring meditation and yoga to Atlantic Canada’s top business leaders.

How will you observe this day?

A Sun Salutation would be a lovely way to start your day! The perfect 5 minute morning stretch!

Don’t know how to do a Sun Salutation? Come learn at SOL Seasons Of Life Yoga.

Remember, YOU CAN DO YOGA… NO MATTER THE SEASON OF YOUR LIFE!

THE SCOOP ON VINYASA

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[envira-gallery id=”400″]This is info from Ekhart Yoga. Sharing this because it is the best article I have read on Vinyasa.

So here is the scoop on VINYASA…

“Vinyasa means “movement linked with breath.” Postures are strung together in a short or longer flow.

This style of yoga is often quite dynamic, which requires the mind to stay focused in the present to be able to keep up. Focusing keeps you from drifting off and helps you to be present in your body rather than stuck in your head.

Vinyasa, like all yoga styles, originated from Hatha yoga. The term vinyāsa refers to the alignment of movement and breath, which turns static asanas (poses) into a dynamic flow. Modern Vinyasa flow yoga (also known as power yoga and flow) is best described as freestyle Ashtanga as it doesn’t adhere to the rigid structure of Ashtanga set out by K. Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga can be traced back to 200BC.

The term vinyasa refers to a specific series of movements that are frequently done between each asana in a series. These days – the vinyasa is up to the yoga teacher.

Breath:

The length of one inhale or one exhale dictates the length of time spent transitioning between asanas. Attention is placed on the breath and the journey between the asanas rather than solely on achieving perfect body alignment in a pose, as in Hatha Yoga. The breathing style used is a relaxed diaphragmatic style of breathing, like an ocean sound which resonates in the throat (ujjayi).

Muscle Contractions:

Another major principle of Vinyasa Yoga is the bandha, or muscle locking/contraction, which assists you in retaining a pose and moving safely in and out of poses. There are 3 Bandhas.

1. Mūla Bandha, performed by tightening the muscles around the pelvic and perineum area.

2. Uḍḍīyāna Bandha, by bringing the navel in towards the spine and slightly up. contracting the muscles of the lower abdominal area.

3. Jālaṅdhara Bandha, is achieved by lowering the chin slightly while raising the sternum bringing the gaze to the tip of the nose.

Vinyasa classes are often quite dynamic, which requires the mind to stay focused in the present. The practice itself is like a moving meditation.

Most vinyasa yoga classes begin with sun salutations – a sequence of postures done in succession. Many Vinyasa Flow classes incorporate some kind of meditation before and/or after the class too.

Benefits of a regular practice

Calming – The steady cycle of inhales and exhales provides you with a CALMING, MENTAL FOCAL POINT.

Purification of body -The continual movements, from one pose to another, gives you an added CARDIOVASCULAR benefit creating internal heat. The increased circulation and sweat leads to purification of the body.

Increase MUSCLE STRENGTH & flexibility – the routines, weather they are slow paced or fast paced are a great workout for your body.

Brings you to the present – Yoga opens you up to THIS MOMENT, WHICH IS ALL THERE IS and which is the doorway to experience truth and real happiness.”

WHY RUNNERS ARE DOING YOGA

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[envira-gallery id=”391″]As a runner, are you looking for ways to lessen your running time and improve your overall outcome; how you feel?

Muscles that profit from a yoga practice include hamstrings, hip flexors, quads, abdominals, IT band, glutes, lower back, and even feet.

Runners being prone to injury, always want to reduce the risks. Not only does yoga elongate your muscles, but it also aids in muscle recovery, helps prevent injuries and reduce stiffness.

Yoga brings balance to overworked muscles, providing the strength to run more efficiently.

Other benefits include, improving a runner’s gait through the balance and stability found in yoga practice. Balance and stability, also improve the runner’s posture, allowing for a smoother stride and improved gait.

Improving runners breathing with the diaphragmatic breathing learned in yoga, helps runners improve aerobic endurance, allowing them to runner farther.

Overall, it’s about doing what feels good and treating your body with love. Try different poses and flow. Experiment with running and yoga , and give your body time to adapt to this new practice. Yoga is all about being kind to yourself, so don’t worry if it takes a bit to settle into a new routine.

When you hit the wall and need to push through you can use the same mindfulness in yoga and create an intention or mantra when you are running. When the mind turns on and tells you you can’t run any longer, conquer your thoughts by repeating your mantra. Choose one that you like. It could be something like “I am doing everything easily today”, or, “I am strong”.

Yoga can keep you focused and on the move!

NOW TEACHING PRENATAL YOGA

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FB_IMG_1428155714467Certified as Prenatal Pranakriya Yoga Teacher at Kripalu, I am teaching Prenatal Yoga at my studio, SOL Seasons Of Life Yoga.

Benefits for the pregnant woman include:
* Improve energy level
* Enhance sleep
* Manage stress
* Increase balance
* Improve posture
* Relaxation techniques
* Aids relieving fluid retention
* Helps prevent gestational diabetes
* Boosts circulation
* Increases lubrication to joints,
tendons and ligaments
* Reduces stress and tension
* Improves flexibility

Benefits during Labour & Delivery:
* Strengthens muscles in preparation
for birth
* Better stamina during birth
* Decreases adrenaline and
increases endorphins during labour
* Creates inner calm
* Increases mother’s confidence

As a community, the women attending Prenatal Yoga share their experiences providing emotional support and suggesions to one another.

They meet again at the You and Your Little One classes, after baby is born and continue to be their supporting relationship sharing their experiences and helping each other, in the after class visit at the studio.

I received my Prenatal training with Jacci Gruninger. She has 15 years of experience teaching Prenatal Yoga to Yoga Teachers. Jacci provided expert material, myth busting some things which are heard. She provided amazing insights into the bonding as baby is growing in the home she has made in her belly.

There is so much a pregnant woman can do! So many poses to alleviate stress, back pain, shoulder pain, swelling, and so much more!

The goal is to help her and baby enjoy the whole experience, be prepared for delivery and have tools to help the labour and delivery be as smooth and comfortable as possible!

FB_IMG_1428155714467

Scientific Research – Why Yoga helps Depression, Post Traumatic Stress, Epilepsy…

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Scientific Research: How Yoga Works
BY Angela Wilson ON October 9, 2014

We all know that yoga does a body (and a mind) good. But up until recently, no one could really say with any degree of certainty why—or even how—it improves conditions as varied as depression and anxiety, diabetes, chronic pain, and even epilepsy.

Now a group of researchers at Boston University School of Medicine believe they’ve discovered yoga’s secret. In an article published in the May 2012 issue of Medical Hypotheses journal under an impossibly long title, Chris Streeter, PhD, and his team hypothesize that yoga works by regulating the nervous system. And how does it do that? By increasing vagal tone—the body’s ability to successfully respond to stress.

The Study: The Effects of Yoga on the Autonomic Nervous System, Gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and Allostasis in Epilepsy, Depression, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

What Is Vagal Tone?
Most of us don’t even know we have a vagus that needs toning, but we most certainly do. The vagus nerve, the largest cranial nerve in the body, starts at the base of the skull and wanders throughout the whole body, influencing the respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. Often thought of as our “air traffic controller,” the vagus nerve helps to regulate all our major bodily functions. Our breath, heart rate, and digestion—as well as our ability to take in, process, and make sense of our experiences—are all directly related to the vagus nerve.

We know when the vagus nerve is toned and functioning properly because we can feel it on different levels: Our digestion improves, our heart functions optimally, and our moods stabilize. We have an easier time moving from the more active and often stressful states of being to the more relaxed ones. As we get better at doing that, we can manage life’s challenges with the right blend of energy, engagement, and ease. When we can consistently maintain this flexible state we are thought to have “high vagal tone.”

“Low vagal tone,” on the other hand, brings with it a sense of depletion. Our digestion becomes sluggish, our heart rate increases, and our moods become more unpredictable and difficult to manage. Not surprisingly, low vagal tone is correlated with such health conditions as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and epilepsy—not coincidentally, the same conditions that show significant improvement with yoga practice. Researchers hypothesize that it is vagal stimulation through yoga that improves these conditions.

To test their theory, the researchers investigated practices they believed would increase vagal tone. For example, they found that resistance breathing, such as ujjayi pranayama, increases the relaxation response, as well as heart rate variability (another marker of resilience). And a pilot study conducted on more experienced yogis showed that chanting Om out loud increased vagal tone and the relaxation response more than chanting it silently to oneself. Studies such as this one begin to reveal how different yogic practices impact human physiology in different ways.

ABOUT Angela Wilson Angela Wilson, MA, manager of evidence-based curriculum for the Institute for Extraordinary Living at Kripalu, holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Lesley University, is a 200-hour Kripalu Yoga teacher, and has completed 250 hours of ayurvedic training.

Living Your Best Life?

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STHIRA & SUKHA

In class my students often hear me say, “follow your Prana (breath/energy), always Sthira & Sukha, steady with ease and grace… as you should move through life, always steady with ease and grace!”

The following lovely article expands on this, written by Esther Ekhart:

STHIRA & SUKHA

Sthira refers to stability and strength. Sukha refers to comfort, ease and openness / flexibility.

On our yoga mat, but also in our lives, we are looking for the balance between our flexibility/ freedom and our strength/ stability.

If we only have flexibility in our asana practice, this can mean we have not enough stability to keep our body and joints safe. Being only strong, means we have short muscles. We can’t fully expand and find the freedom and delight in our poses.

If, for example the abdominal muscles are weak, but the lower back tight, you will end up with a sway back. You will hang in certain joints and over time this can cause problems. You need balance between opposite of muscle groups as well. Yoga, like life, is all about balance.

To work with this information in your yoga practice, it’s important to determine in what category you fall.

SUKHA OR STHIRA

Do you have too much sukha in your body, are you mostly flexible and open? In that case you should focus more on improving your strength to balance your flexibility.

If you are a runner, for example, and you start doing yoga, you may notice your muscles are stiff and tight. This is more sthira and so you will have to work on your flexibility to create this balance.

AWARENESS AND INQUIRY

So again it all comes back to what yoga is really about. Awareness and inquiry. If we don’t bring this to our mat then we just continue with our stuck, repetitive patterns. This will eventually lead to injury and our experience of yoga will be short lived and uncomfortable.

We are also looking for a quiet, fully present mind in our yoga practice in order to find stability and strength. From this foundation we can then experience the lightness and ease. If the mind is too active and aggressive, you will approach your yoga practice that way – you will probably push your boundaries striving for the perfect pose. If your mind wanders, lacks stability, we will lose the stability in our pose too and the pose becomes dull and lifeless.

So look at the way you live your life too, is everything planned and timed and do you push yourself often? Or are you late, forgetful, fearful and do you never push yourself?
Then ask yourself the question:

“What do I need to do in my yoga practice to break this pattern, to balance myself more? And can I do the same in my life?”
If you can do the opposite on your mat to how you usually are in your daily life, then something will start to shift, on and off the mat. You are moving towards more balance.

The invitation is to play around with this idea to use your yoga practice to break out of your normal habits and create a few new healthier and more balanced ones.

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go” – Rumi

SUCCESS IN THE NEW YEAR…

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New Year resolutions give us hope that we will make a change in our life.

A new approach is to choose an intention, think of it as a “what if ?”. You may find this approach softer and gentler with yourself.

Be firm in your resolve and make this part of your daily routine to feel what it would be like and visualize the outcome.

In yoga, this is called a SANKALPA. It means an idea formed in the heart, a solemn vow or determination to perform.

You may wish to try this simple approach.  Create an intention, feel it and visualize it daily and open yourself up to the universe…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!