Seven years ago I found a copy of yoga teacher Matthew Sanford’s book Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence, in the local used bookstore. The book lit me on fire: Not only did Sanford’s story of loss and healing profoundly move me, his deep and unique experience with yoga’s ability to transform touched into my own and inspired me to teach to people with disabilities.
Yoga helps runners with flexibility, fitness, and focus. It can be restorative and enjoyable for diabetics. Cancer patients use yoga poses to fight nausea and fatigue. Veterans find it beneficial in decreasing PTSD symptoms. Many say yoga is good for the heart.
“Yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life, but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of experience. We don’t transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better.” -Donna Farhi
As a yoga instructor, I am blessed to be able to share such a positive, life-changing practice with people, on and off the mat. When I first started teaching yoga, it never really occurred to me how my practice would work its way into my life off the mat, but it has.
I’m frequently asked, “So what do you do for a living?” When I state that I teach yoga, I usually get many responses about how much yoga has made a difference in someone’s life and how much they love their practice, but occasionally I get the “yoga…I’m not flexible enough to do yoga” response.
I respond that for that reason alone they are perfect for yoga, as yoga creates flexibility, rather than flexibility creating yoga. While I find it sad that people think they have to be flexible in order to take a yoga class, I also understand where this impression comes from, because with the growth in the popularity of yoga, there has become more growth in the amount of celebrity yoga instructors and yoga models who can twist themselves into various pretzel poses.
After a routine tackle during his last season playing football in Jacksonville, Keith Mitchell was left paralyzed for six months. In this video, filmed at Wanderlust O’ahu 2014, Mitchell explains how yoga helped him reinvent himself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Although people realize the numerous health benefits of yoga for adults, they may not realize that kids can reap the same benefits from practicing yoga. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Yoga can be a gentle method for your child to get more physical activity and enhance his or her well-being.”
Yoga can allow kids to learn discipline, enhance athletic performance, heighten body awareness and self-control, build both strength and flexibility, and increase concentration and focus. It can also help kids feel empowered, and helps them stay calm (even kids with ADD or ADHD). This translates into healthier minds and bodies, not to mention better performance at school.
Teaching children about the merits and health benefits of exercising can be challenging for any parent. While some kids are entirely receptive to different exercises that you might present, others may be resistant. The good news is that the following this 5-minute-a-day yoga routine for kids is not only fun, but can also enthrall your child and instill effective health benefits at the same time.
How many times have you tried to tell your friends about the energy body but you just can’t seem to convince it’s real?
How many times have said friends stopped talking to you altogether, or at the very least mentally categorized you as the cuckoo?
Yoga teachers are famous for saying funny things that don’t make sense to non-practitioners. It’s hard to put into words the things we feel sometimes, especially words that everyone can understand.
But those days might soon come to pass. Stephanie Shorter, PhD, presented a lecture at the Dallas Yoga Conference on yoga research, summarizing past and current scientific research in words that yoga teachers and students can understand and most importantly, connecting all our crazy new age rhetoric into hard science.
Here are five enlightening facts to help you understand what is happening in the body on a physiological level, plus practical applications to integrate into your daily practice (good news: you probably do these things already!)
My first experience with yoga was through an after-work exercise program at the school district where I worked. The instructor gave initial instructions, but didn’t explain how to modify a pose if you were unable to do one in the way she described. The lady next to me mastered all the poses in their original form and between her and the teacher, I felt lost, confused and most of all, uncomfortable. That encounter caused me to stay away from any yoga class for several years.
After hearing rave reviews about a local studio and needing to alleviate my joint pain from arthritis, I tried a gentle yoga class. From the moment I walked into the studio and was greeted by Jeni, the instructor, I knew I’d found a perfect place to develop a yoga practice. Jeni exuded friendliness and warmth, she explained everything, and she had one of the most soothing voices on the planet. If you mention an ache or pain you have, she incorporates moves into the class that help alleviate it, she gives lots of individual attention and she also takes other yoga classes. I’ve taken this same gentle yoga class from Jeni, every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. now, for about seven years. And I’m never leaving.