Why Yoga

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Why Yoga?

Why is it that Yoga and seems to be proliferating everywhere these days? Empirical studies indicate that there are a multitude of reasons. Yoga not only gets you moving, it gets you to slow your mind down and focus on your breath, which is soothing to the nervous system. Academic Journals abound with research on the subject. Yoga has been shown to have positive effects on stress, weight loss, cross training, depression, burn out, anxiety, heart disease, chronic pain, cancer survivors and the list goes on. The ancient practice has long laid claim to supporting health and wellbeing but now we have ways of measuring these assertions (Adhia, Nagendra, & Mahadevan, 2010) (Holger, Romy, Gustav, & Anna, 2013) (Sarvottam & Yadav, 2012) (Schure, 2008) (Taspinar, Aslan, Agbuga, & Taspinar, 2014).

That being said, not all yoga is taught in the same manner. Years of experience, training and certification are all things you should inquire about. There are many different styles of yoga: restorative yoga, mindful yoga, yoga therapy, power yoga, yoga for stiff bodies, yoga for weight loss to name a few. To find the yoga that is right for you, describe your general state of health and needs to an experienced yoga instructor and they will be able to direct you a suitable teacher or class. If you go to a class and it does not suit you know that there are lots of options.

Many people come to yoga because it is a healthy way to get in shape in a noncompetitive environment and what they get is that and more. When I had my kids my time got way more limited. I had to get my fitness in much more efficiently. Yoga became my modality of choice because I could get my body, mind and spirit tuned up in one session. I needed to move but I also needed the soothing of my nervous system that came with each class. With my spirit lifted I was infused with hope that yes, I could do all I had undertaken. In time I realized that the transformative mind and spirit aspect of yoga was what drew me deeper and deeper in. After years of study and practice, Yoga is my bedrock. It restores my body, strengthens my connection with the goodness of life and those around me and slows me down enough to function more effectively in life.

But don’t believe me; see what the empirical research has brought to light. In study after study yoga has shown to have a noticeable to significant effect on helping people reframe their lives to deal with disease, pain, stress, burnout as well as making them more receptive to learning and growing beyond what before seemed to be huge hurdles.

Author: Mary Cain – Yoga Instructor, Massage Therapist, MA Psychology

References:

Sarvottam, K., & Yadav, R. (2014). Obesity-related inflammation & cardiovascular disease: Efficacy of a yoga-based lifestyle intervention. Indian Journal Of Medical Research139(6), 822-834.

Holger, C., Romy, L., Jost, L., Gustav, D., & Anna, P. (2013). Quality of Life and Mental Health in Patients with Chronic Diseases Who Regularly Practice Yoga and Those Who Do Not: A Case-Control Study. Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine, doi:10.1155/2013/702914

Taspinar, B., Aslan, U., Agbuga, B., & Taspinar, F. (2014). A comparison of the effects of hatha yoga and resistance exercise on mental health and well-being in sedentary adults: A pilot study. Complementary Therapies In Medicine22(3), 433-440. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2014.03.007

Adhia, H., Nagendra, H. R., & Mahadevan, B. B. (2010). Impact of Adoption of Yoga Way of Life on the Reduction of Job Burnout of Managers. Vikalpa: The Journal For Decision Makers35(2), 21-33.

Schure, M. (2008). Mind-Body Medicine and the Art of Self-Care: Teaching Mindfulness to Counseling Students Through Yoga, Meditation, and Qigong. Journal Of Counseling & Development86(1),

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Facing Fear – Becka Cooper



beckaWith the love and support from my family, friends, and my amazing yoga community I was accepted to attend Ana Forrest’s, Advance Yoga Teacher Training in Carnation, WA. I drove my little grey Subaru Forrester from Salt Lake City to Carnation, 829 miles later, eager to begin my nine day training. Over each grueling 12 hour day I would come face to face with a new mental, emotional, and physical challenge. Each night as I reflected on the day I would ask myself what false-belief was I ready to address and let go of. By the sixth day, my ankles – both of which I have had surgery on, quite suddenly became sore. I went into a panic, laid down and did legs-up the wall, choking on my tears. Ana Forrest, in her loving nature, kneeled down next to me and whispered “What’s going on for you?” I expressed my fear of not being able to accept or support myself, the possibility of being in a wheelchair again, not being able to walk, and how it all affected my feelings of self-worth. Ana instructed me to move off the wall and go into a low lunge. She asked, “What can your feet do now?” She pointed out that they can hold me up in low lunge and that I can activate my feet bringing more energy and strength into both of them. For the remaining six hours of asana and all the next day, I did low lunge instead of warriors and leaned against the wall for support during half-moon and standing splits. Being present in my body and how I was feeling physically, mentally and emotionally, moving from that place instead of giving up on myself. I began to reprogram my brain and start to let go of those false beliefs and energy blocks I had stored in my ankles. To move out of giving up on ourselves, we need to find what action we can do. Mine was moving out of legs-up the wall and moving into a low lung in place of warrior.

– Becka Cooper

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Three Little Words…”Just Show Up”.

Trixee BuckinghamAlmost 5 years ago I first stepped foot into Avenues Yoga; heart heavy with the burdens and
pain of a fresh divorce coupled with those of losing my job. My mind was churning with chaos, I
felt numb all over and, worst of all, I couldn’t breathe. My friend, Jen Hecht, met me at the desk
and welcomed me with a big hug. I had called her the night before, remembering that she was a
yoga instructor, and asked for help with breathing. I was in such a poor state, mentally and
emotionally that I literally felt like I was suffocating. Jen patiently walked me through some
pranayama techniques on the phone and invited me to her class the next morning. “Just show
up.” she said. So, I did. The warmth of my friend Jen along with the beautiful ambiance of the
historic brick walls, wood floors and wide windows felt like welcoming arms enfolding me. I felt
such comfort here.
I recall that first class being one that I could barely hear the instructor’s voice or notice anything
going on around me. Standing on the mat and moving was the only thing that seemed to slow
the chaos in my mind. I didn’t even notice when we moved on to the next pose and consciously
struggled with keeping my mind present in the room with my body. When it was time for
savasana, I could hardly keep still. My eyes didn’t want to close from the mental chatter and
clatter going on in my head.
This was the beginning of my yoga practice. There were no whistles, no bells. There were no
fancy yoga pants, no Yoga Journal white-toothed smiles or heroic sweaty core power moves.
My practice began in a less-than-glamorous way. I was a frazzled being with hair uncombed,
tied back in a frenzy, wearing some wrinkled t-shirt and old sweats, who was lucky enough to
roll out of bed in time to “just show up”. I couldn’t even pay attention in class. But, hey, I made it.
Despite the restlessness and disconnection of both my body and mind, I felt a warmth, a quiet
comfort that seemed to radiate from those brick walls and wooden floors and it began to
envelop me. It called me back, day after day until I found myself calm and present enough to
watch the morning sun move across the studio floor and notice the reflection of light as it
danced on the leaves of the trees outside the windows. This was a place of peace. A haven
from the worries, pressures and judgements of the outside world. I had found a home that would
allow me to unwind, heal and rest. A place that not only allowed, but encouraged the blossoming
of a regular practice. And the more I “just showed up”, the more the chaos faded, the mind
chatter quieted and before long, I found myself able to focus and really feel at peace. I no longer
had to fight to keep my mind in the room with my body.
The evolution of practice is such a beautiful gift. Little by little we unfold like the petals of a lotus
flower and blossom showing our full potential, our innermost beauty. How your practice begins
does not matter. It’s simply the fact that it does begin that matters. My gratitude runs deep and
wide for my friend Jen and her wise words – words she may not have realized the impact they
would have as she spoke them that day. Those 3 words set me on a path of yoga and self
realization that has been slowly unfolding for almost 5 years now: “Just show up”.
It’s enough.
-Trixee Buckingham

Join Trixee in the Studio Mon, Wed & Sat for 8:40 Good Morning Yoga

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Transformative powers of a yoga practice

Yoga is a mirror, to look at ourselves from within.” B.K.S. Iyengar

If we are to pracDanatice yoga, we must be prepared to look within, to be mindful of our body-mind state, to acknowledge our strong and weak points, and address them in order to move forward. Yoga is a process, and a way of bringing intelligence to the body, beyond the momentary experience of pleasure or pain. A yoga practice should last a lifetime, and give us the opportunity to exist more fully in the world. The yoga teacher’s role is to guide us, to help us see our strong and weak points, to help us be mindful, and get us going again when we stop moving forward. I’ll always be grateful to my teachers for doing that, and strive to do the same for my students.

My practice is alignment-based yoga, and my teachers are based in Iyengar Yoga, a style known for using props, for holding poses longer, and for being practical and applicable to many other yoga styles. My first encounter with Iyengar Yoga, however, was not the one that sucked me into the practice. On the contrary! A graduate student in dance, in my twenties, I wanted to move, to wiggle out of the discomfort of the long holds, to run away from facing myself. Now, many years later, I relish the length of time in poses. I don’t look to a mirror for feedback, only for reference; the work is on the inside.

What changed? Obviously, the yoga didn’t change. I did.

For a long time, I tried to change myself from the outside in. After many years and experiences, both easy and hard, I learned that change comes from within. Svadhyaya—the practice of self-study—is the fourth Niyama (see the Introduction of B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga ). As Iyengar states, “The person practicing Svadhaya reads his (sic) own book of life, at the same time that he writes and revises it. There is a change in his outlook on life.”

Allow yourself to be transformed, to become fully engaged, to experience your Self from within, and to look out consciously from the inside. Notice how it creates a sense of connection to self and other. And with that, greater capacity for compassion, connection, gratitude, and clarity.

submitted by Dana Levy

 

citations
Movement and Action: The Use of the Mind
The Practice of Gratitude in our practice: Workings of the Heart
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A look into yoga…

 The natural order of life seems to be chaos & order, destruction & creation, life & death, giving & receiving, inhale & exhale, all opportunities to open & release, to practice letting go to make space for the possibility of something new/different.  Becca Cooper_sm

Ive been thinking of this as many people deep to my heart are going through trials, hardship, & I once again find myself single with all the heartache & confusion that comes with breakups. Wondering how I bring these broad ideas into personal understanding?

How does this show up in my life? Well there is the falling apart of careers, cars, health, injuries, then the coming back together of all those things. Disagreements & misunderstandings in friend/family & romantic relationships, that when talked/worked through can lead to a stronger bond. The relationship with my body & internal self is the same when sometimes in my self-talk I speak kindly & take care of myself while other times not so nice.

Being a mostly power asana practitioner I realized while doing core work that to improve muscular function, my core rips apart, in chaos with exhales then comes back together stronger.

Moving even deeper I really looked at my exhale while doing the “simple” vinyasa of arms above head with an inhale & to heart center with exhale & realized our exhale really is the constant practice of releasing & letting go.

So now bringing this into action; by catching myself from become an emotional zombie, allowing space, time & permission to feel everything & even being grateful that I can still feel fully be a passionate person, thereby letting go & releasing deeply. Which seems to bring me toward a quicker & more sincere heart healing.

May we all continue our practice of uniting our head, body, breath & heart so we can learn the language of our body & listen to the wisdom of our heart.

Namaste,

Becka Cooper

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Reflections of teacher training…

Parris-46I was a mean girl. Rude, unkind, derogatory, plain downright mean. Only as many of us, I didn’t know it. Most that know me would say that I was actually the opposite. Outwardly, I was kind, loving and caring, on the inside a dark shadow was lurking. This shadow came to light about two months into my 200RYT teacher training.

Every day walking into teacher training I would see myself in the reflection of the glass, instantly judging what I saw there. Thinking how I couldn’t believe that I was wearing yoga pants that made my thighs SO HUGE, or how bad my hair looked, or just an overall distaste for what I saw. Diving deep into the training, I started to become aware of these thoughts. A lot of teacher training is spent in reflection of your own mind. Looking at your thoughts almost through a window – not judging them, but noticing that they are there.

I remember one day walking up to my reflection and liking what I saw. We were working our bodies as well as our minds, and my body was showing it! I remember being aware of my reaction, almost as though I was just observing the process, like hmmm – interesting. Fast forward to the end of our beautiful teacher training journey, I couldn’t wait to see my face, body and spirit looking back at me. I became just happy to have a reflection, a body – rather than judging or complimenting it, I was just in awe that I was showing up and that I was changing, both on the inside and the outside. I now make it a point to stop and look at my reflection, sending love to my inner self – for she is a ROCK STAR, and that is awesome.

I started teacher training to be a teacher, to “teach” others. Through teacher training I became my own student, setting off for a lifetime of learning. ~ Sarah Parris

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