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!)
Although choosing the style of yoga that works best for you is important, locating an instructor you resonate with is crucial.
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.
How can you find your own version of Jeni?
The other night, as I was driving home from teaching one of my weekly yoga classes, “Instant Karma” by the Beatles started to play on the radio. I’ve never really paid attention to the lyrics, as I’ve always enjoyed listening to the melody, but that night I was drawn to the chorus.
“Well, we all shine on, Like the moon and the stars and the sun, Yeah, we all shine on…
On and on and on, on and on…”
It got me thinking that we all need to shine. We all have unique traits and talents that set us apart from the rest of the world, yet most of us are too afraid to embrace these qualities because we are unaware of our own brilliance.
Winter is an interesting time for me — well, more specifically, an interesting time for my feet. I love summer because of the ease of slipping my toes into a pair of flip-flops and floppin’ around unencumbered by shoes. In fact, during cold months I wear winter’s flip-flop equivalent, moccasins; a shoe that is as close to a non-shoe as it gets.
In fact, one of the main reasons that I love teaching yoga as a profession is because I get to be barefoot for a living! There is something so freeing when my toes are unbound from the claustrophobic nature of high heels, tennis shoes, boots, mary janes … you name it! When my toes feel the freedom to roam, I find that my spirit has that same permission. The sense of adventure that I feel when I am liberated from the shackles of my shoes is only matched by the abundant bliss that I feel when I am out in nature, spontaneously and effortlessly awakened by the wild untamed natural world.
There is one exception to this no-shoe strategy I tend to live by: my hiking boots. When my feet inhabit these shoes, my sprit soars straight to its inherent wildness. Of course, it isn’t the shoes, per se, that illicit this magnificent response, it is what the shoes represent: trees, trails, birds, bees, sunrises, sunsets, mountains, moose, rivers, rocks … you get the idea. This wildness is as much as state of being as it is a location, in the wild, animate world. When I’m not on my yoga mat, this is certainly where you will find me — winding my way through the wide-open woods.
I recently attended a Health event as the magazine launched its new mantra, “Happy begins here.”
I love that saying.
I have been trying to remind myself daily that happiness comes from within me. All I have to do is see my little guy’s smile to be really happy; but there are some days I can still feel blue.
I am admitting this because I want everyone to know that we are all human and we all have emotions. Depression is a real thing and it’s difficult to be in the depth of it and feel somewhat helpless.
Anxiety usually stems from worrying too much about the future and your “to do” list. Here are some yoga poses you can do to combat anxiety. Depression, on the other hand is when we get stuck in the past. Practicing yoga helps ground us in the present moment so we can feel truly happy.
Try rocking forward to the front of your feet or sit bones (if you’re seated) and notice how it produces anxiety, moving into the future too fast. Now, lean back in your seat or to the heels of your feet; notice how you slump your shoulders forward and feel a little down. Finally, feel yourself anchored right in the middle of your seat or your feet and feel grounded and present. Try this exercise whenever you feel anxious or a bit depressed.
After I shared this information in my newsletter, I heard from some friends and students that they too suffer from both anxiety and depression. Clearly, lots of people deal with depression. Yes, even us “enlightened” yogis.
Planning a weekend getaway or a long vacation? No need to worry about losing time at the gym. Here are six fitness tips to help keep you on track while traveling, no equipment required.
If you practice yoga, chances are someone is going to ask you what yoga is and why you do it. I have answered both of these questions time after time over the years and it never ceases to amaze me how much misinformation is circulating, based on stereotypes or without thinking.
I was talking to my brother a few weeks ago, expressing how great yoga would be for my niece who is a very flexible athlete. His response? “She’ll start yoga when she’s 50 and starts to slow down.” You would think I would have taken this opportunity to inform him of the various styles of yoga available, the mental and physical benefits of yoga for all ages, and the need for an athlete to balance sports strength and power with the flexibility and healing benefits of yoga—but I didn’t. Instead I sat there stunned.
“Patience is not learned in safety.” -Pema Chodron
Spring tests my patience. Every single year. Especially here in Colorado, as the weather whips back and forth between snow and sun, and as calm mornings give way to blustery afternoons, my patience is tried every spring. I become anxious for warmer, more stable weather.
Every spring, I am reminded once again that I am not in control. Patience is the only way through.
We humans, though, don’t learn patience the easy way. We don’t learn patience when things are going our way. Rather, we learn patience when we are tested, and when we finally have to accept that we can’t control the world.
I can remember the days when my multivitamins tasted like candy. It was an absolute pleasure to take those little Flintstone chewables every day in the hope of “growing strong bones,” as my dad used to put it. As I’ve gotten older, taking my daily vitamins is a sweet ritual that I have carried with me. I line them up and remember their purpose as I ingest each one. But this month, my focus has shifted. I’m not as concerned with my calcium supplementation or the millions of strands in my probiotic. I’m now interested in is a much more important vitamin, Vitamin L—Love.
In America alone, 85 million women suffer from PMS, with symptoms including insomnia, depression, irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, and digestive issues. While PMS is common, it is not normal. Yes, there is some natural water retention that happens during a healthy menstrual cycle, and your energy will dip as you get closer to the first day of your period. But if you dread the days leading up to the start of your cycle, something is out of balance.