STRESS RELIEF: Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body by encouraging relaxation and lowering the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system, as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.
PAIN RELIEF: Yoga can ease pain. Studies have demonstrated that practicing Yoga asanas (postures), meditation or a combination of the two, reduced pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions.
- BETTER BREATHING: Yoga teaches people to take slower, deeper breaths. This helps to improve lung function and trigger the body’s relaxation response.
- FLEXIBILITY: Yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches and pains.
- INCREASED STRENGTH: Yoga asanas (postures) use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength literally from head to toe. Yoga also helps to relieve muscular tension.
- WEIGHT MANAGEMENT: Yoga (even less vigorous styles) can aid weight control efforts by reducing the cortisol levels, as well as by burning excess calories and reducing stress. Yoga also encourages healthy eating habits and provides a heightened sense of well being and self-esteem.
- IMPROVED CIRCULATION: Yoga helps to improve circulation and, as a result of various poses, more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.
- CARDIOVASCULAR CONDITIONING: Even gentle yoga practice can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increasing endurance and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.
- BETTER BODY ALIGNMENT and BALANCE: Yoga helps to improve body alignment, resulting in better posture and improved balance.
- FOCUS ON THE PRESENT: Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind body health. It opens the way to improved coordination, reaction time and memory.
Everyone has fears. It is a natural part of being human. Fear can protect us from harm by sending a rush of adrenaline to help us physically deal with potential danger. But there are times when fear may keep us from participating fully in life. Once we realize that fear is a state of mind, we can choose to face our fears, change our minds, and create the life we want to live.
Our minds are powerful tools to be used by our higher selves, much like computers, sorting and using data to make connections between thoughts and responses.We have the ability to observe and choose differently, no matter where the fear came from, we can create new connections by choosing new thoughts. This journey requires many small steps and the practice of patience and courage through the process. Mindfulness and meditation are excellent tools for quieting the outer world, stepping into your inner world and allowing courage to rise. It is not the absence of fear but rather the courage to take action anyway that brings success.
Autumn is here, the balance of the light and dark and often the cold of winter and the heat of summer can occur in one 24 hour period. It can be stressful to feel you are ‘getting it all done’ when you think of all that needs “doing” as the school year progresses, the summer gardens are needing to be tucked in, the fruits of the harvest are ready to be put away for the coming year, and firewood gathering/stockpiling…for many of us.
Taking 3 minutes to bring your attention to your breathing will help to still the mind and body. Place your tongue behind your top, front teeth and inhale to a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 7, then exhale for a count of 8. Do 10 or more rounds of this breathing, gathering your attention to the breath and giving yourself these few minutes to let life drift by as you tend to the inner peace of your self and your breathing.
This breath pattern can be done throughout the day and anytime you feel the need to drop out, tune in and give some time to yourself.
Join me as we lift our hearts and spirits, open our joints and minds and find the center of our being.
It is Autumn, the time to begin the turn of our focus inward. The practice of Yoga offers many paths to bring you
back home to your center. This will be a very gentle class and everyone is welcome.
All day I have watched the purple vine leaves
Fall into the water.
And now in the moonlight they still fall,
But each leaf is fringed with silver.
Amy Lowell, 1919
I love to nap. Taking a 10 – 15 minute break in the middle of day to drop out of the external world and sink into my own place of quiet is restoring and refreshing. This variation of yoga nidra (yogic sleep) taught by Swami Rama can help you restore your energy. This simple practice helps you settle into a profound state of rest while remaining alert at a deeper level of consciousness. By drawing your attention to your heart center, you will become a silent witness to your sleeping body and mind.
- Choose a spot where you will not be disturbed. Sit on the floor against a wall, stretching your legs out and crossing one ankle over the other. Cup your palms in your lap and, with your eyes closed, either allow your head to hang forward or to rest against the wall.
- Feel the relaxed movement of your breath, letting it flow easily and smoothly. Then observe 3 to 5 breaths at the nostrils, to center your mind.
- Next, one by one, rest your awareness (and breath) at the eyebrow center, then at the throat center, and finally the heart center.
- Keeping your awareness at the heart center, quietly resolve to let your body and mind sleep for a specified length of time (say, 10 minutes). Trust your mind to awaken you when that time has elapsed.
- As you sleep, continue to be aware of the slightest sensation of the breath. You are letting your body sleep, with awareness.
- Stay in this state until your mind wakes you up. Then slowly shift your head and stretch your body. Draw your attention outward, opening your eyes into your hands and then to the room around you.
Fostering self-love gives us a feeling of joy and contentment that enhances our every experience. As we focus on loving ourselves and engage in activities that make us happy, we augment our personal development and strengthen the connection to our higher selves. We benefit from a deeper awareness of our existence and connect more deeply with others and engage more fully in every moment. This lends a deeper sense of richness and contentment to every aspect of our lives.