My husband’s shoulder started hurting him a few months ago. At first it would come and go. Then it started aching and burning at night, so much that he couldn’t sleep on his side. I suggested lots of exercises to help strengthen his shoulder (which, to my dismay, he did not practice), and he regularly used his Yoga Tune Up® Balls for self-massage, but he was still in pain.
By Paula Anderson
“It’s a dog’s life.”
That’s a phrase we hear time and time again. But why is so easy for our pets to seemingly embrace joy? And what is it about these furry descendants of the wolf that brings us such peace? Could it be that they, too, share an innate love of yoga?
We live in a world that stresses convenience and instant gratification. The emphasis on protecting our health is declining as our waistbands expand. It can be difficult to lead a truly healthy life in these times of fast food and artificial sweeteners, but there are some ways we can strive to be truly healthy in the 21st century. Taking a big-picture perspective, here are the three basic elements to living a healthy life:
One of the main goals of a regular yoga practice is to be able to reach Samadhi, a state of deep concentration and meditation resulting in union with a greater reality … a greater universal consciousness. When we are in Savasana, we are working toward this state, feeling the benefits of our asana practice, resting our bodies in order to open up to our breath and release all of the tension and thoughts running through our minds — coming to a place of blissful nothingness.
Fifteen years ago, I was not acting my age. Since I would recoil from any form of exercise, as well as any green foods, I was overweight, inflexible and debilitated by lower back pain. The 40 extra pounds on my frame — plus tight, shortened back muscles and weak abs — left me moving like an 80-year-old version of myself.
I suffered daily from sciatica, back spasms, limited mobility, weakness, you name it. When I got stuck in my car one day, unable to swing my legs out because of my sciatic pain — at age 23 — I realized, “Something’s gotta change.”
I started reading up and realized a shocking number of people suffer with chronic back pain, partly from hours spent sitting in a way that flattens the lower back curve. (BTW, Gaiam’s Balance Ball Chair, the very one I’m sitting on as I write this, is a great tool to help build core strength and re-align your spine.)
Then, I found yoga. Over time, using some of the same poses I’m showing you here, I built a lean and pain-free body.
Recently I was talking with a friend of mine about life and the decisions we’ve made and I came to the realization that practicing and teaching yoga are two of the best choices I’ve ever made.
We’ve all heard of the many benefits of yoga: improved coordination, stronger bones, better posture and balance, stress reduction, body-mind connection, overall strength, and flexibility.
It’s not uncommon to hear people bemoan their inability to get to the gym, or more specifically, to get to their favorite group fitness class. Even worse, not making it to class means they probably won’t work out at all. But missing your regular class doesn’t mean you have to skip exercise altogether. You can get a great workout anytime, anywhere with the right workout plan in place. And it’s much simpler than you think to create one yourself!
Summer is a time for relaxation and fun with more open schedules, warmer weather, outdoor activities and vacations. However, there can also be a sense of pressure and stress in trying to meet our expectations of a laid-back season.
Just the other day, I looked at my calendar and felt overwhelmed by all of the activities on it. Delving deeper, I realized that I needed to create some space to simply be: read a book, go deeper into my meditation practice, savor the smell of a peach as I cut into it or the smell of flowers while sitting in my yard.
Taking the time to be present in the moment is a beautiful practice in its own right, and yoga and meditation are two ways achieve that goal by creating a space within, bringing your attention inward and turning your thoughts away from distractions.
Living in Colorado, I spend most of the winter feeling guilty. Not for failing to shovel my sidewalk or for skipping the gym to watch movies under a blanket. No, I feel guilty because while I’m inside hibernating, my dog is stuck inside with me. Walks get cut short because of the cold and puppy playdates get canceled when a snowstorm makes driving too treacherous.
Even if you don’t live in a cold climate, there are times when we’re too bogged down by life (work, relationships, etc.) to give our pets the attention and exercise they deserve. But summer is the perfect time to make it up to your canine companion!
As the seasons shift, our bodies cycle through an organic ebb and flow of change that serves to harmonize and create balance within us. These changes are usually influenced by the seasons themselves: hours of daylight, foods that are abundant at particular times of the year, weather patterns and seasonally inspired activities.
Although your body will adjust to these changes naturally, it never hurts to integrate some simple tweaks into your routine to aid in the transition and link yourself more intimately with the season that is upon you.