If you could attend a workshop with Gandhi, the Dalai Lama or Martin Luther King, Jr., you’d sign up just as fast as you could, wouldn’t you? I felt just as excited when I heard that Thich Nhat Hanh — a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, master meditation teacher and renowned advocate for peace — was offering a day of mindfulness near my home. The day-long program was put on by the Omega Institute at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, meaning all this Brooklynite mom had to do was arrange for childcare and get on the subway. Done.
Me on my new blue beauty
I just had the pleasure of test-driving an array of brand-spanking-new yoga mats — research for a Gaiam article on how to choose the right yoga mat. This was particularly exciting to me because I’ve had my current yoga mat for over 12 years. And although I’ve practiced on it hundreds, if not thousands of times, it is showing no signs of wear and tear.
One of the great things about yoga is that you don’t need to invest in a bunch of equipment to reap its benefits. As long as you have a yoga mat and some stretchy clothes, and you’re good to go. And yet there is one yoga prop I wish I could magically disperse to every household in America. Heck—the whole world! And that’s the humble yoga bolster.
The first time my back went out, I was 27 years old. I was about to go on a media tour, appearing on morning news programs to plug a book I had written, and I was terrified. I had a mortal fear of public speaking, and the very thought of waking up at 5 a.m. to talk eloquently about anything to thousands of people was … well, I can’t tell you because I couldn’t even ponder it. Whenever my mind wandered toward my impending TV debut, I froze. It didn’t take long for my back muscles to get the message to freeze, too — and pretty soon I was moving as gingerly as I could, whimpering with every step. And the pain lasted several weeks longer than the media tour.
My first job as a freelancer was a project from hell. My boss was a complete control freak. Everything I wrote he re-wrote 6 times. He insisted I go to client meetings in the next state, and then never shut up long enough for me to speak. He dallied on making decisions so long I had to work several weekends in a row to meet my deadlines. The kicker is, I knew when I was applying for the job that this guy was trouble. I had an undeniable pit in my stomach after the interview. When we were negotiating payment, I couldn’t sleep. But I listened to the voice that said “How will you pay your bills if you turn this down?” instead of the voice that said, “Run!”
Insomnia isn’t a four-letter word, but it ought to be. Lying awake at night is no fun, but everyone’s doing it: A survey by the National Sleep Foundation estimates that 58 percent of American adults experience insomnia at least a couple nights a week. Good ol’ yoga to the rescue once again! Selected with doctors at Mayo Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine program, the three yoga poses guided in the video clips below will calm your mind, release muscle tension and help you sleep like a baby.
When it comes to weight loss, we all want a quick fix. That’s the instinct that causes so many people to try fad diets or overexert themselves on their first trip to the gym in many moons. My dad (bless his heart) periodically loses a bunch of weight by eating only one meal a day. He gains it all back as soon as resumes eating normally, of course, but I can’t fault him for the desire to want to see changes as quickly as possible. Part of me would love to blast the jelly belly I developed after giving birth last year.
Our culture places a lot of emphasis on dramatic new year’s resolutions. We all want to lose 20 pounds, quit smoking, or make it to five yoga classes a week. If you’re a person who thrives on big challenges, by all means, shoot for the stars! But I know for myself, if I suffer a couple of setbacks on the path toward an ambitious goal, I’m all too ready to give up and go lie on the couch.
Seated twist pose how-to segment from The Practical Power of Yoga
I’m writing this post from a coffee shop. On one hand, I love working in a coffee shop: It spurs me to put on clothes that aren’t covered in smashed up pieces of banana (I have a 10-month-old), get some fresh air, and interact with other humans.
The holidays mean lots of time spent with family, which also means lots of opportunities for stressful situations to arise—it’s a universal law that the people who love us the most and know us the best also push our buttons like nobody else.