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If hope were a season, it would be Spring. Flowers are budding, bees are buzzing, trees are leafing and birds are building nests. Life picks up its paintbrush and makes a splash across Nature’s canvas. Its message:
“No matter where you are today,
Something new is on its way.”
While Spring gives evidence in the world around us, life flows just as hopefully within us. We usually relate to our physical world as solid and fixed. But it is not — it is alive, active and changing at every level, seen and unseen. Science now demonstrates that everything is energy, particles dancing with each other all the time. And I have learned this lesson in my bones.
One afternoon three years ago, in the fullness of Spring, I went out to buy groceries, stepped up onto a sidewalk and fell. I did not take another step for four months. Unable to stand, as I waited on the curb for the ambulance, I kept my mind focused on the desirable outcome. But I knew the truth. Even in those first five minutes, something in me responded, “Okay. If this is what’s next, let’s go.”
A guest post from Lisa Sunshine of Urban Zen
Anyone who practices yoga regularly knows that it can be a healing experience, both mentally and physically. In addition to the health benefits to be gained from a regular yoga practice, yoga therapists teach their patients specific ways to use yoga to combat everything from depression to back problems to side effects from cancer treatments.
Recognizing the importance of yoga and other Eastern healing techniques such as Reiki, essential oil therapy, nutrition and contemplative care, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program (UZIT) in New York trains its students to combine these therapies with traditional Western medicine to create a holistic approach to patient care. During the program, each technique is taught separately, then instruction is given on how to interweave them to create a truly integrative healing session. Graduates of the UZIT program leave with experience working bedside with patients and their loved ones and caregivers in hospitals, as well in yoga studios, private practice, outpatient clinics, cancer support groups and a variety of other settings.
Is yoga therapy right for you? Have you tried everything under the sun to eliminate an ache, pain or chronic condition? If your doctor has suggested that you try yoga therapy (and not just yoga classes), the first step is to find a great yoga therapist to steer you into a customized practice that may potentially improve the conditions of self-healing in your body, mind and spirit.
Pain, numbness, tingling? Do any of these describe the feelings you have when you come out of an asana? Please heed these warnings! Not all yoga poses are safe for all people. Just follow expert yoga teacher Patricia Sullivan’s story in the October 2010 issue of Yoga Journal. She painfully details a journey of denial in which her headstand caused (yes, caused) crippling nerve pain that eventually culminated in her falling asleep at the wheel and driving off the road into a lagoon.
Yoga yields many rewards. People will often start a practice of yoga because they hear it’s good for back pain, insomnia or for postural imbalances. But months down the road, they realize that they no longer get headaches or menstrual cramps, they’ve lost weight, and discover that they are less reactive and hostile. A persistent disciplined practice of any style of yoga reveals unexpected healing.
As a specialized yoga teacher and yoga therapist, my job is to help people heal themselves through the art and science of yoga. This includes postures, breathing, emotional support and stress reduction. I have witnessed miracles on the mat and in the classroom. The successes I have seen are not unusual. Teachers of yoga of any style see their students’ lives improve on every level with disciplined practice.
We are closing our decade, and it’s time to take a look back at 2009 and the amazing year of growth in our U.S. yoga community. One thing is for certain: Despite the economy and the recession, there was constant growth and expansion in the yoga world!
In only 10 minutes in downtown Santa Monica, I counted 54 people talking on their cell phones while walking down the street. Only three chatters were using headsets. While headsets are now required by law in most states when driving, you won’t get a ticket for walking and talking with your cell phone jammed against your ear. But your neck and shoulders might eventually issue a warning of pain, and then a citation of spasm. Cell phone stress is a plague that, over time, can lead to serious debilitating pain. But I discovered a yoga ball remedy when I was healing from a rotator cuff injury that kept getting aggravated by my cell phone use. Now I am hooked on this low-cost quick-fix solution.
About a year ago, Colleen and I helped chair the Urban Zen Initiative with Donna Karan and Sonja Nuttall. This 10-day forum explored the future of integrative medicine and the new healthcare paradigm. One of our immediate concerns was to train about 100 yoga teachers, mainly from the New York area, in some basic yoga therapy techniques that would address chronic health conditions and common symptoms of many diseases, including pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, and constipation. Colleen and I led these trainings along with a number of other senior yoga teachers.