Complete Wellness: Ileostomate enjoys and shares the benefits of yoga for all abilities | Hawaii Reporter

Sivananda Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Course January 2018, Nassau, Bahamas

Author’s Note: Jim Mielke has been studying and practicing yoga and mindfulness meditation for the past 25 years. He received his Teacher of Yoga certification in 2003 from the International Sivananda Yoga and Vedanta Forest Academy in Netala, Himalayas, India. Jim recently completed his Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Course (500-hour Yoga Alliance Certification) at the Sivananda Bahamas Ashram.

Jim has also completed intensive meditation training courses in Thailand and India and is well grounded in Buddhist Meditation and Raja Yoga traditions. His instructional style encourages individual expression, spiritual or secular, and is tailored to all levels of ability and experience. Over the past 15 years, Jim has taught yoga and meditation in health clubs and schools in Thailand, Vietnam and in YMCA Conference and Family Retreat Centers in the United States. Jim currently resides in a quiet seaside setting in the south of Thailand, and has been living a full and active life with an ileostomy for over 40 years.

Originally published in The Phoenix ostomy magazine – www.phoenixuoaa.org

By Jim Mielke

Over the past 35 years, I have had the distinct privilege of living and working as a public health professional in some of the poorest, most remote and underserved parts of the Asia-Pacific region and in the U.S. My work involves assisting governments, international aid agencies and local communities to strengthen their systems managing communicable diseases (including HIV/AIDS), women and child health and youth leadership.

Volunteering Overseas

Starting out as an overseas volunteer for the YMCA and other non-governmental organizations, I eventually returned to school for specialized training in public health. I then proceeded to join organizations such as UNICEF and the International Rescue Committee, and have also worked as an independent contractor on public and private sector health projects funded by institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). In addition to having worked in over 20 developing countries, I also enjoy traveling to exotic destinations and currently live in a quiet seaside setting in Thailand.

I also happen to have an ileostomy, which has served me well for over 40 years. After suffering years of pain and misery with Crohn’s disease as a teenager, I received my first ileostomy in 1977. Before long, my life took off like a rocket with my newly recovered health. I can still recall feeling like a new man almost immediately upon waking up with my ileostomy – suddenly free from nearly a decade of suffering with inflammatory bowel disease.

However, for the next three years I was in and out of several hospitals for 11 major ostomy-related surgeries, including total removal of the large intestine and rectum. Withdrawing from the addictive medications prescribed to me over the years that seemed only to treat the symptoms was also a struggle.

In 1980, I re-entered university in Colorado, having been forced to withdraw earlier for health reasons. I heard about overseas volunteer opportunities with the YMCA while working summers at Silver Bay YMCA of the Adirondacks in New York. Soon after graduating in 1982, I was off to Sri Lanka for a 6-month internship as a YMCA volunteer leading outdoor recreation and life skills programs for disadvantaged youth.

For the next 8 years I worked with volunteer aid organizations in developing countries throughout Asia and the Pacific before returning to school to complete my doctorate in public health, and then began consulting on high-level (and typically high stress) United Nations and government health projects.

Rest and Recovery

One of the benefits of working as a private consultant is the freedom to take long stretches of time off between jobs. So in 2001, after several particularly high-pressure assignments in Cambodia and Vietnam, I moved to a beautiful, unspoiled island off the southwest coast of Vietnam where I rented a beach bungalow for $100/month. Two years of personal development and self-study – including daily yoga and meditation – followed. I also enjoyed plenty of inspirational reading on Eastern philosophy, spirituality and mysticism, as well as swimming, biking, eating well, and generally looking after my health and well-being. It was a wonderfully refreshing and revitalizing experience.

Each morning, shapely, leotard-clad women filed out of my bungalow. With such a curious sight, my neighbors could only guess about my nocturnal activities. In fact, the women were joining my early morning yoga practice before they went to work. Although I had taken some yoga classes over the years and enjoyed sharing what I knew with my friends, I needed some formal training in order to teach yoga properly and safely.

Yoga Training in India

In 2003, I took the leap and traveled to northern India for a four-week yoga teacher trainers’ course at a remote ashram on the banks of the Ganges where it rushes through the dramatic Himalayan countryside. The training honed my teaching skills while profoundly impacting my personal yoga practice, and my very way of life. Recently, at Sivananda Bahamas Ashram, I completed the advanced teacher trainers’ course, over four weeks of intensive yoga practice and the study of Vedanta philosophy.

When I applied for both training courses, I explained about my ostomy and specific physical and dietary requirements. For example, I really love vegetarian food and it makes me feel great — clean, light and with excellent digestion as well. But I have difficulty assimilating sufficient protein over a long period of time. So in India, they gave me extra yogurt for more protein. In the Bahamas, I brought my own protein supplement, which worked well. I also purchased travelers’ insurance and brought plenty of pouch changes and medications that I might need while away from home.

From the start, I was open about my ostomy. And although I was probably the first ostomate they had trained to be a yoga teacher, my teachers and fellow trainees were totally accepting and supportive of my physical situation and limitations. I was given alternative postures whenever the class was practicing advanced poses that I could not do. One trainee was an older woman who needed to use a chair for certain postures — and this was also perfectly acceptable.

At one point, when the class was enjoying a few laughs while learning yogic ‘bandas’ or ‘locks’ — some of which require contracting the anal sphincter muscle while holding the breath to maximize the prana (life force) generated by advanced breathing exercises, I shared (for more laughter), that due to my surgeries, I was missing a few parts and may not be able to experience this in the same way.

Complete Personal Development

Originating in India many thousands of years ago, yoga is oldest system of personal development in the world, encompassing a balance of physical, mental, and emotional health. It combines all the movements needed for physical health. with breathing exercises that calm, revitalize and refresh the body. Meditation techniques ensure mental power and peace of mind. Anyone can practice yoga regardless of age, condition or religion. Yoga is not a competitive sport, so you can practice at your own pace with no pressure and no comparison.

                  “Anyone can practice yoga regardless of age, condition or                                         religion. Yoga is not a competitive sport, so you can practice                    at your own pace with no pressure and no comparison.”

The underlying purpose of yoga is to realize your ‘unity’ with all of existence. The word yoga literally means ‘union’ or ‘joining’. In time, if you continue with regular practice, you will become aware of a subtle change in your approach to life. Through persistently toning and relaxing the body, and stilling the mind, you begin to feel a state of inner peace which is your true nature.

Yoga is not a theory, but a practical way of life. It is not just about headstands or twisting oneself into extreme physical contortions, nor is it just for ‘spiritual’ people. In fact, if you are practicing to show off or otherwise boost your ego – you are missing the point. Through asana practice, you can tone and relax the body, with pranayama (yogic breathing) you can control your emotions, and through meditation, you can come to a deeper understanding of who you really are.

Yoga for Ostomates

There are literally thousands of yogic postures and variations to choose from and modify as needed to suit any physical condition or limitation.  For example, I can no longer do headstands due to multiple surgeries that have weakened my abdominal muscles. I can still safely do shoulder-stands and the standing ‘hands-to-feet’ pose for similar benefits.

The same goes for teaching. When I cannot demonstrate a particular asana (pose), I simply ask one of my students to demonstrate, and otherwise I give verbal instructions and assist where needed. Anyone who has undergone surgery should consult his or her surgeon for advice regarding physical activities including yoga.

I really love turning people of all ages on to classical yoga and meditation. But to understand the essence of yoga – as a practical, meditative path towards self-realization — you need to experience it for yourself. So put yoga into practice, and you will see the benefits. And when you are ready for some real fulfillment, become a yoga teacher and share the magic!

Stay tuned for more stories – coming soon!

You can read more about Jim’s backstory,  here and here.

11 Benefits Of Yoga That Will Have You Wondering Why You Never Tried It Before

Yoga is an absolutely phenomenal form of physical exercise, mental discipline, and spiritual healing. You know something is awesome when it can do all of those things at once. Anyway, there is a long list of benefits that you can and should take advantage of that all come with the simple thing that is Yoga. You may think that Yoga is only for women, but that is not so, especially seeing as more and more men are taking it up every day. No matter if you are a man or woman, Yoga has many different advantages for the mind and body, all of which you absolutely need to start taking advantage of as soon as possible!

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is originally a Hindu form of exercise, stretching, and mental training. In fact, it is also seen as a spiritual and ascetic discipline as well as a physical one. Yoga is widely practiced around the world and is revered for its mental and physical benefits. It involves a lot of mental focus, breathing control, meditation, and simple poses which are meant to strengthen both your body and mind. There are many different variations of Yoga, with a popular one being hot Yoga, a type which is practiced in a very hot room.

Benefit #1: Muscle Strengthening

One big benefit that you get from doing some regular Yoga is the strengthening of your muscles. Yoga involves a lot of positions and movements that force you to hold up your body weight in one way or another, and in some pretty odd looking positions too. The obvious result of this is that your muscles will become stronger over time.

A big part of this involves your back muscles and your core, as many Yoga poses are oriented towards challenging those muscles. This is however also true for virtually every other muscle in your body too. Everything from your forearms and shoulders to your glutes and calves will become stronger thanks to some Yoga classes.

Of course, we all want strong muscles, and that is not only because they look sexy. Strong muscles help to increase our physical performance, they make sports easier, they make us run faster and jump higher, and they help to make a plethora of daily tasks much easier, not to mention that it doesn’t hurt our self-esteem either.

Benefit #2: Cartilage & Joint Protection

Yet another benefit that you can reap from doing Yoga is that it is fantastic for the health of your cartilage and for your joints. This is in part due to your increased flexibility thanks to Yoga, especially when it comes to the health of your joints, but there is even more to it than that. You see, the problem is that as you age, especially if you are not physically active, your joints, or to be exact, the cartilage that helps your joints move smoothly, starts to break down and deteriorate.

This can cause some seriously painful problems such as arthritis in your old age, plus having no cartilage between your joints will be painful either way, not to mention cause a limited range of motion. Yoga is a great way to mitigate the effects of disability and prevent things like arthritis because of the nourishing effect it has on the cartilage in your joints. You see, the cartilage in your joints requires nutrients just like every other part of your body.

The difference is that your cartilage really only gets necessary nutrients when it is in motion, such as during Yoga. Yoga has the effect of squeezing your cartilage, which is very beneficial because your sponge-like cartilage needs to be squeezed to get nutrients.

Benefit #3: Flexibility

One of the biggest benefits that you will be able to reap thanks to some regular Yoga is increasing your flexibility. You may not be all that flexible yet and touching your toes might seem akin to flying under your own power when it comes to your first Yoga class. However, as you go back to your Yoga class day after day, you will notice your muscles, joints, and ligaments getting looser and looser.

Before you know it, you will be bending over backward and wrapping yourself up like a pretzel without any issue at all. Many, if not all of the poses that you do in Yoga will stretch out your body in one way or another, thus making you more flexible as time goes on. Being more flexible is great for many different things including preventing pulled muscles and other injuries, plus it can be pretty useful when it comes to your love life as well.

Being more flexible is also useful in terms of relieving certain aches and pains. For instance, having tight hips can cause knee pain, a tight upper back can cause back pain, and tight hamstrings can lead to severe lower back pain, all problems that can be solved with some simple Yoga.

20 Minute Yoga for Flexibility | Level 1

Benefit #4: Strengthening The Immune System & Regulating The Adrenal System

Yoga can also be very beneficial for your immune system because it helps to drain your lymphatic system. When you do Yoga, you stretch out your muscles and compress them at the same time, plus you move your organs around too.

This has the effect of draining a viscous fluid known as lymph out of the various lymph nodes in your body. This fluid is something that your body will produce on its own, but the new fluid that is created after the old fluid is drained out, is much more effective at disposing of toxic chemicals and waste, killing cancer cells, and fighting off infection in general.

Another reason why Yoga helps you improve the function of your immune system has to do with the levels of cortisol in your body. Regular Yoga can help lower cortisol levels and that is generally a good thing. Yes, increased levels of cortisol can temporarily increase immune function and it can help with memory too, but that is not the case for prolonged periods where cortisol levels are high.

Prolonged periods of high cortisol levels can damage your immune system, decrease your long and short term memory, can cause depression, and even osteoporosis too. Therefore, Yoga can help prevent all of those conditions by regulating your adrenal glands and your overall cortisol levels.

Benefit #5: Heart Health & Increasing Blood Flow

Now to be clear, most of the things you do in Yoga are not technically considered to be aerobic exercises, which is the kind of exercise needed to increase the health of your heart, but that is not always true because Yoga can actually improve your heart health. You can actually perform Yoga at a fast pace or engage in certain types of Yoga which incorporate aspects of aerobic fitness. In essence, this means that you get your heart pumping at an aerobic level, which means that it is pumping much faster than normal.

Your heart beating much faster than normal is akin to lifting weights for your muscles, or in other words, it makes it stronger and more efficient. Having a healthier heart has many different benefits including the lowering of your resting heart rate, the increased efficiency of your heart, a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, a reduction in heart and arterial disease, and increased endurance too.

One of the biggest benefits that you get from Yoga and aerobic exercise in general is that it will help lower your blood pressure, plus of course, provide you with a longer and healthier life in general.

Moreover, many Yoga exercises and poses also help to increase circulation, and not only because your heart works more efficiently. This is because poses such as those where you twist parts of your body help to wring blood out of your organs, send it back to your lungs and heart for oxygenation, and ultimately help to bring more fresh blood to your organs, something which benefits them in multiple ways.

Certain poses such as handstands can also help blood flow more readily from the legs and pelvis back to your heart, something that can help you if you suffer from swollen ankles, swollen legs, and kidney problems too. Finally, Yoga can also help create more hemoglobin in your blood, which are the things that carry oxygen throughout your body, thus giving your body a better supply of oxygen, something which it needs for many different things including physical activity.

On a side note, the aerobic effects of certain Yoga poses and types of Yoga also help to increase the efficiency at which your lungs absorb and process oxygen, which is also known as VO2, thus allowing your body to use more oxygen. The combination of better circulation, a more efficient heart, more oxygen carrying hemoglobin, and stronger lungs all lead to one main benefit, that being increased muscular endurance and a better ability to perform physical activity for a prolonged period of time.

Benefit #6: Maintaining A Healthy Digestive System

The next benefit that you get from doing Yoga is that it can prevent and control digestion issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, and can help you digest food better even if you do have a healthy digestive system. This is because Yoga involves a lot of twisting poses that cause your bowels and intestines to contract and loosen.

The long term effect of this is that Yoga stimulates your body to pass food and waste through itself more quickly, thus aiding in proper digestion, good nutrient absorption, and regularity in the bathroom. Instead of pounding back glasses full of that disgusting Metamucil, you can always try doing some Yoga instead.

Benefit #7: Bettering Your Posture – Your Back

Another benefit that you can get from doing even minimal Yoga is an improvement in your overall posture. Since Yoga does a lot to make your more flexible and limber, and also helps to strengthen your core and back muscles, the result will be better posture. Having good posture, which means having a straight back with your head directly above it, requires a strong core, back, shoulders, and good neck muscles too. Yoga is something that through various poses will help strengthen all of the necessary muscles needed for good posture.

Having good posture is not only good for looking more confident and taller, but also for your physical health. When you have bad posture, you will most likely be slouched over with your head leaning forward, something that can cause fatigue in your neck and back. When you have good posture with a straight back and your head perfectly above your back, it takes a lot less effort for your muscles to keep you balanced and upright, therefore decreasing muscle fatigue.

Moreover, having good posture is also a great way to relieve daily pains. This is because bad posture often leads to neck, back, and leg pain, all things which some regular Yoga exercises can help get rid of. On a side note, Yoga is also good for your back, especially your spinal disks because they can get damaged and compress nerves. Some simple Yoga moves can go a long way in decompressing your spine and the nerves in it, plus it helps deliver much-needed nutrients to your spinal cord too.

Benefit #8: Increased Cognitive Abilities

Something else that Yoga is shown to help you with is with a long list of cognitive abilities. First of all, Yoga requires a whole lot of focus and concentration, both things which can be improved through training. Without concentration and focus, you can’t really do Yoga. Exercise like Yoga is also known to cause an increase in the production of neurotransmitters in your brain as well as the rate at which those transmitters function.

This has the effect of increasing your long and short term memory, your focus and concentration, your problem solving skills, and your overall cognitive abilities. Yoga is also a type of exercise that concentrates on being in touch with your mind and improving mental skills, something which everybody can definitely benefit from.

Benefit #9: Better Bone Health

The next benefit you need to take advantage of through Yoga are the serious bone building benefits that it brings to the table. Many Yoga positions are known as weight bearing exercises. Weight bearing exercises are any kind of exercises which force a certain part of your body to hold up your own body weight and put a larger than normal amount of strain and pressure on your bones. This has the effect of increasing the strength, size, and density of your bones.

There are many Yoga poses which have you on your legs, or just one leg, and many which have you supporting your weight with your arms. Well, when you do any of those things, the weight you put on your bones causes the cells in your bones known as osteoblasts to generate more bone mass, thus resulting in thicker, denser, and stronger bones.

This is a very useful benefit, especially as you get older because old age can cause bone diseases such as osteoporosis, something which can be prevented or mitigated through bone building exercises such as Yoga. Moreover, having stronger bones also means that you have a lower chance of suffering a fracture or broken bone.

Benefit #10: It Helps Make You Happier

Yoga is also good for your mind, not just for your body. Yoga is good because it helps to provide your mind with more beneficial neurochemicals. Yoga is shown to increase the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and certain endocannabinoids, all of which are shown to make you feel happier, decrease anxiety, and help get rid of the effects of depression too.

These neurochemicals are all very important for your mental wellbeing and for regulating mood. This phenomenon of exercise producing neurochemicals which make you feel happier, elated, and joyful, is also known as the runner’s high.

Also, Yoga is shown to decrease the amount of monoamine oxidase in your brain. This is a substance that breaks down neurotransmitters, something which negatively affects your mood and cognitive abilities. The bottom line is that Yoga can provide for a happier you and that is a big bonus. On a side note, Yoga is also shown to relieve stress and relieve you of negative feelings such as anger and rage.

Benefit #11: Improving Your Balance

Yet another big benefit that you can reap from doing Yoga is an increased ability to balance. Yoga involves a whole lot of odd positions that force you to balance, something that is otherwise known as proprioception. Your balance is actually regulated by things called proprioceptors.

Well, just like with your bones, muscles, memory, and more, the more you do balance training, the better your proprioceptors become at accommodating for positional shifts and imbalances in order to help your body stay upright. Having better balance is a great thing to have, especially if you like sports that require a lot of it, sports such as skating or hockey, or even gymnastics too.

The fact of the matter is that the benefits of Yoga definitely outweigh any preconceived notions that you may have about it. Your strength, balance, flexibility, digestion, mental abilities, happiness, and more will all benefit from this awesome discipline so you should definitely give it a try as soon as you can!

If you have any questions or comments about Yoga, please feel free to shoot us a message and we will get back to you at the first available opportunity.

The Benefits of Yoga in the Elderly | Brown Chiari

While it’s true that exercise of any kind is good for people regardless of their age, certain limitations may prevent the elderly from regular physical activity. Weakening muscles, joint pain or difficulties walking inhibit many seniors from participating in common forms of exercise, such as walking, spinning or lifting weights.

For elderly adults, there are three key elements of a good workout: low impact cardio, resistance training and stretching. Yoga has the potential to cover all three of these components, making it a great option for seniors who want to engage in physical activity. In a recent blog post, AgingCare dives into the proven benefits of yoga, including:

While yoga is a great form of exercise, it also can help seniors feel more confident in their mobility and body awareness. It can also be a great bonding opportunity for seniors and caregivers who might want to participate in a class together. Yoga classes run in many different styles and difficulties, so you can find the class that works best for you.

10 Proven Benefits of Yoga for Your Kids

10 Proven Benefits of Yoga for Your Kids

Childhood is fun. We think that the moon is following us wherever our car goes. We do not spit the chewing gum even after we have sucked the life out of it. We pee in the swimming pool. Oops… admitted it by mistake! Being weird without being high on drugs is one of the side-effects of childhood.

Let’s face it, before the intrusion of technology, we at least had a childhood, no matter how weird we acted.

Knock Knock… Any room for Yoga?

Technology — what was supposed to be a useful servant has now become a bad master. A one-minute task of switching off the alarm or checking an email leads to half an hour of browsing and scrolling through messages, pictures, and jokes. Before we know, study time, play time, and eating habits are already compromised. As parents, we plan so much for our kids, but not everything goes as per our plans. Given all the big plans you have for your kids, does yoga fit in it?

How Yoga is Spreading

Yoga is an excellent way to borrow “my time,” and feel loved, alive, and free from technology invasion. As they say, logout, shutdown, and do yoga. Interestingly enough, a growing number of kids are embracing yoga in their lives. Kudos to their parents! The National Center for Health School’s health blog reported that 1.7 million American kids are hooked to yoga. These numbers were from 2012. Getting caught by its growing interest, it won’t be an understatement to claim that the figures might have doubled by now. Hope you are not left on a cliffhanger dying to know the current numbers. Ok, let’s take a look at some current statistics.

Yoga by the Numbers

A study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance states that more than 36 million people practiced yoga in 2016 in the United States alone. Now, here’s the evolution part. Four years back, the numbers were around 20 million. Judging by its growth, we might hit 50 million in a year or two. Bingo! That would be a monumental feat by all means. After all, these are not mere data, but a positive endeavor in the right direction. We all know that yoga has been linked to our overall health and wellness. Since Yoga among kids is also on the rise, let’s explore some proven benefits of yoga for kids.

1. Encourages Self-Acceptance

There is no shortage of people in the real world that send out endless messages of lack and inadequacy. It’s easy for our kids to get sabotaged with these messages. As a result, they might grow up with feelings of self-doubt and lack of confidence. What may also follow is the ruthless job of masking the stinky feeling of frustration, pain, and anger. At best, we could only be a mere spectator to this event, especially when our kids have mastered the art of hiding their feelings from us. Don’t fret yet because this Satan of better life won’t be able to put up a battle against a much stronger opponent, ‘Yoga.’

Yes, yoga is a no-fluff approach to killing self-doubt at its roots. It helps one gravitate to a state of mind where one is comfortable being themselves. It arms kids with the right tools to break off the undesirable feeling of lack and self-doubt. Yoga clears all the clouded thoughts and allows the sun to shine once again by eliminating all the harbored negative thoughts and by killing the inner critics in a person. So, it pays to embrace yoga to eliminate the soul-sucking self-doubt from your kid’s life. There is no better way to morph oneself into a better and more confident person.

2. Physical Benefits

As reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five school going kids are obese. The obesity epidemic is on a ruthless trail. As we all know, obesity can have immediate as well as long-term impact on a kid’s social, physical, and mental wellbeing. Yoga can keep their bodies moving. With daily exercise, kids can derive a great deal of physical benefits such as reduction in weight, improved athletic performance, increased flexibility, better muscles, protection from injury, and healthier body metabolism.

Believe it or not, we have just scratched the surface over here. Truth be told, the health benefits of yoga are difficult to explain in a nutshell. We haven’t even talked about how it improves body posture, solves digestive problems, betters bone health, increases blood flow, drops blood pressure, relaxes our system, and so on. Not sold yet to roll out the Yoga mat for your kids? Okay, stay tuned as we introduce you to some more benefits of yoga for kids.

3. Living in the Present

Adults or kids, we are so tied to the past and future that we forget about the valuable ‘present.’ Believe it or not, most of us are doing a great disservice to ourselves by being trapped in the past and future.  Yoga can help us take stock of the incredible power of the present. Yoga attends to our mind, body, breath, emotions, and soul. By sharpening our mind and through the awareness of the breath, it allows us to stay focused in the present moment. So, don’t quit yet. This is not the moment to step back.

By helping us conquer fear, tame desires, and defeat sadness, yoga can get rid of unnecessary stress and expectations that could be holding us back from living in the moment. Instead of dictating actions to our body, yoga coaches the mind on how to listen to our body in complete awareness without any judgments or expectations. Remember, this is not an easy state to attain. It could take a while for any yoga practitioner to get there. Therefore, it helps to start off early. By the time kids grow up, they would be a naturally present person.

4. Awesome Stress Tool

Just because you can’t see your kid’s thoughts, doesn’t mean that they cannot fall prey to stress. A study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey states that one out of every five kid in the United States suffers from some kind of mental problem. Remember, kids are not emotionally prepared or equipped to handle stress like adults. They often fail to detach themselves from the source of stress, so they could react oddly in certain situations.

Practicing yoga can prove to a great outlet to disburse stress. Health experts have long agreed that yoga releases happy endorphins—also investigated and confirmed by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Not to forget the fact that yoga incorporates several relaxing moments to calm one’s mind and body. Its proven calm relieving abilities provides both immediate as well as long-term benefits. So, don’t let the stress of daily life hold your kids back. They don’t deserve to lead a life filled with panic, anxiety, and trauma. Let the Yoga wand do its magic!

5. Improves Focus and Concentration

Today, our kids are bombarded with endless external factors that keep their mind scattered for the most part. Whether it’s Pokemon or any other fancy app, kids surrender to every other digital tool on the release date itself. Their focus and concentration appear nowhere in sight. As a result, their grades plummet. Our kids suffer in other areas of life as well, where focus and concentration are a necessary evil. Most parents are left with a grossed look on their face because they know that they are up against their worst enemy, ‘evil technology,’ which has already won the first round.

For the round two, it’s advisable to show up in the enemy’s territory with your companion, yoga. Yes, it’s proven that yoga has the ability to improve focus and concentration, so you are sure to win the upcoming battle. When kids learn how to stay glued to one place and focus on what’s important at the moment, they do not let their minds wander easily. Better yet, they do not get distracted by everything under the sun. This boosts their attention span like nothing else. With improved focus and concentration, they perform better in school and all other walks of life. So, there you have it, the elegant secret to better focus and concentration.

6. Fosters Non-Competitive Environment

The majority of us are raised with the belief that we cannot grow without cut-throat competition. Without competition, we are bound to be a lazy, mediocre bum in life. The worst part is that competition compels us to envy winners and feel marvelously bad about ourselves on losing a battle. On the other hand, healthy competition also brings out the best in us. Truth be told, competition is a double-edged sword. It has its share of good and bad elements.

Gladly, yoga is a non-competitive activity. So, there are no undesirable expectations, pride, or envy involved. Moreover, yoga keeps things in perspective. In yoga, kids are not taught to compare themselves with one another. People of all ages try to be the better version of themselves as opposed to being at each other’s throat. With a mix of young and old people, it’s more of a joyful, health beneficial environment without the competitive ruckus. It’s more of an inward journey of life that does not have room for an outward competitive drive.

7. Improves Mind-Body Coordination

Yoga is a Sanskrit word which means yoke or join. At its core, this 5000-year old art means union. A host of yoga poses fuels certain chemicals in our brain to promote inner peace and mental wellbeing as stated by a new study conducted by a UCLA-led team of neuroscientists. It’s the most effective union of the mind, body, and the soul to release boatloads of harmony, happiness, and good health. The mind-body synergy offers unparalleled benefits to a person. All yoga poses emphasize on deep, controlled breathing, which is an essential step to calm the mind and body to experience deep rooted benefits. Over the years, a growing amount of studies has proven the physical and mental benefits of mind-body exercises.

8. Sparks Creativity

When kids are allowed to do their own yoga poses, it inspires them to be creative in life. New possibilities emerge when kids are given such freedom. As a matter of fact, it proves to be one of the best forms of self-expression. It helps one generate positive energy to get motivated to access their limitless creativity. Not to forget the fact that studies have shown that mindfulness meditation has long been associated with creativity. So, creativity hasn’t vanished from our lives yet. Its use is on the extinct these days. Yoga helps to fill the gap over here by poking creativity out of our kid’s head.

9. Boosts Confidence

As kids master new poses with daily practice, it creates a flow between the mind and body, which radiates confidence. Remember, it all starts with baby steps, before the kids are able to do near-impossible poses. The humble start to praiseworthy feats imbibes a great deal of confidence in them. Since yoga allows enough opportunity to master a pose at one’s own pace, there is no room for frustration or disappointment. Even learning at a slow pace does not take a hit at one’s confidence level. Having mastered some poses in the past, they know that victory is only a few lapses away. All they need to do is keep moving.

10. Encourages Social Interaction

Yoga teaches kids that we are all the same from the inside, no matter how flashy a person may appear from the outside. Moreover, yoga inspires kids to be more patient, helpful, kind, and empathetic towards others. A person with such qualities is generally welcomed with open arms in a group setting.  A study conducted by the University of Nottingham on kids showed that certain yoga poses encouraged togetherness, mutual caring, and a more positive attitude, which made social interaction an easy task.

Unlike other things that we have tried in the past, we are not paying a lip service to a good life by incorporating yoga in our kid’s life. With most children steadily falling prey to technology and illness, it won’t be an understatement to claim that yoga is the cornerstone of active and healthy living. Not to forget the value of happiness, satisfaction, and self-worth it generates.

So, it pays to be a “go-getter” and head shopping for a yoga mat to set the path for a yoga routine in your kid’s life. It would prove to be one of the best decisions of your life. Even if were to derive 10% of the benefits outlined above, the time spent on yoga would be fully justified.

The Benefits of Yoga for PTSD

Trauma affects us all in one way or another, we’ve all known someone or had our own experiences with it and know that it’s affect can be very debilitating in day to day life. It can lead to feelings of helplessness, loss of control, anxiety, depression, and other complications. An article recently published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that Canada has the highest lifetime PTSD prevalence rate out of 16 countries worldwide, surprising higher even than countries like Nigeria, Brazil, and Iraq.

Traditionally, the treatment used for PTSD is a combination of exposure treatment and pharmaceutical drugs.   For some, this can work well but for others the side effects of the medications can be disconcerting and many people do not complete the exposure treatment because they may become overwhelmed and flooded with memories or dissociate which interferes with the resolution of the trauma. In order to resolve these traumatic memories the individual needs to be able to remain in the moment and manage intense physical & emotional sensations that come with the exposure treatment, this is difficult because PTSD affects the ability to regulate impulses.

A research study conducted in 2013 by the Trauma Centre in Brookline, MA looked at yoga as an adjunct treatment for PTSD. The study showed that Trauma Sensitive Yoga significantly reduces PTSD symptoms and may be able to help individuals tolerate physical and sensorial experiences associate with fear and helplessness and to increase emotional awareness and the ability to manage trigger responses.

Trauma Sensitive Yoga is a style of yoga that is specifically designed to help individuals mitigate the effects of PTSD. These classes focus on creating a safe environment for the individual to connect with their body and internal sensations. The classes consist of yoga poses, breathing exercises, relaxation, and meditation techniques that help cultivate body awareness, emotional and physical regulation, release muscular tension, calm and focus the mind, regulate the nervous system, as well as practices to increase compassion and self-acceptance.

Shanti Yogi is pleased to offer a Yoga for PTSD program, starting Thursday January 19 at 4:30 p.m. To register for this program or for more information on the class please contact us at 854-2900 or shantiyogicentre@gmail.com.

To learn more about the benefits of yoga for PTSD, check-out this wonderful 9 minute video:

Sat Nam,

Jacynte Leger, CYA-E-RYT-500

Jacynte Leger has been teaching yoga in the Moncton area since 2009, she teaches weekly classes at Shanti Yogi including Yoga for PTSD and she is also one of the facilitators of Shanti Yogi’s Therapeutic Applications of Yoga program.

Surprising Benefits of Yoga and Wellness Retreats

Today’s guest post comes from RetreatHub, a company devoted to making it easy for retreat organizers to find the perfect venue for their event.

Often, our daydreams take us to a sunny beach in Cancun or urban hiking through the streets of Italy — or whatever the next exciting location we’re hoping to visit might be. Just imagining all the wonderful environments, foods, and cultures might be enough to make you happy until that date on the plane ticket.

These vacations can be a great way to get your mind off your regular life, but have you ever considered a vacation designed for your mind, body and soul?

A wellness or yoga retreat is a special type of getaway that is extremely rewarding and might do more to uplift you than a couple weeks of sipping piña coladas on the sand. Retreats recharge your battery from all the distractions of life and help you focus on the important things in life. It’s a wonderful way to re-engage and live in the moment again. And you might be surprised by some the benefits of opting for a wellness retreat rather than a traditional vacay.

Bring only yourself

Don’t worry about planning where you’re going or what you’re going to do — most retreats take care of all those matters. The location is going to be beautiful, and the pleasant weather will help you feel your best. There’s no need to worry about missing trains, standing in long lines for art museums, or worrying about that street food item that you might be paying for later.

Everything will be laid out for you so you only have to focus on rest and relaxation. Don’t worry about overspending your budget either — retreats are usually inclusive enough to provide you everything you need. Coming home with no holes in your pocket is a solid feeling indeed!

No need for your laptop

Have you ever truly disconnected from your phone/computer for more than a day, a week, or a fortnight? Perhaps, you forgot what that feels like. The only computer you need here will be your brain. Taking much needed time away from the screen can give us natural light and actually make us wander outside to feel the grass beneath our bare feet and sun on our skin. Camping trips, hiking, or outside activities might have the same influence for your body, but they generally don’t tie in the spiritual aspect (unless that was your intent in the first place).

Ditching the tech leaves your relationships with others in a healthy suspension so you can have time to focus on yourself. Take a break from the emotions you feel after seeing your friend’s envy-provoking picture on Facebook or the text conversation that never seems to end.

Healthy, beautiful nourishment

There are no pizzas, french fries, or hot wings here. There are only healthy, nutritious items in front of you to help you get away from the processed, preserved, and pasteurized foods of the modern world. Give your chance for your body to have a bit of a healthy eating reset and indulge in that delicious slice of fresh mango, bite into that succulent cherry tomato, or even experience a new fruit you’ve never ever had in your life!

Many spiritual gurus practice a clean diet to help avoid distractions in their minds and keep it pure from toxic chemicals. You might be sipping on one too many margaritas at a resort but not here!

New connections all around the world

Your new spiritual friends are waiting for you at the retreat. They, too, want to connect with you and share the beautiful moments of their lives. You’ll build great friends in this new support network who all share this deep passion for wellness. Who knows — maybe you’ll even get an invite to their country, or offer to host them in your home? Isn’t it a wonderful feeling to know you have friends around the world? Sharing goals and helping each other through the more emotional aspects of a retreat creates a great sense of camaraderie.

So much to take home

Take all this great inspiration and habits you have built up over the weeks and keep growing into the version of you that you want to be. It might be hard at times, but hopefully you’ll embrace your healthy habits, and perhaps your new friends will keep you stick to them. And when you’re ready for a little refresher, your next yoga/wellness retreat house will be waiting for you.

Ever attended a yoga or wellness retreat? What did you love, and did you find anything difficult? —Your Friends at RetreatHub

The Mental Health Benefits of Yoga: Effects & Impact | PowerYoga

If you practice yoga, then you most likely have experienced the “high” that yoga offers—that feeling like you are grounded in your body, calm, connected, clear, and centered. In this space, it might feel like a dark cloud that was following you around prior to class has suddenly disappeared. Or, that negative thought, emotion, or physical sensation eating away at you has miraculously subsided. You float away from your practice, and no unwanted experience can detract from your calm and peace. This is why yoga is often touted for its calming and relaxing effects on both mind and body.

Above and beyond the calm and relaxation, you also may have experienced a deeper connection between your mind and body, as well as more intimacy with your internal experiences, e.g., thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. And, perhaps you have noticed that with this deeper connection and intimacy comes less judgment and evaluation of those internal experiences. This process translates into that state of bliss we experience after our practice, and arguably leads to less suffering in our lives (aka emotional health and well-being). Hence, yoga for mental health has received increasing attention from both yogis and scientists alike, with the benefits of yoga for mental health traversing several areas ranging from mood and anxiety disorders to stress reduction.

Depression and Anxiety

Yoga, with its emphasis on purposeful movements and the use of breath to guide us through asanas, can help with depression and anxiety. Yoga increases awareness of present-moment experience and attentional focus, and as a result, can help individuals become aware of negative moods and the dwelling (i.e., rumination) in negativity that is characteristic of depression. Through these pathways, individuals can begin to disengage from evaluative thinking and “mental chatter.” The hyperarousal or discomfort of physical sensations such as sweaty palms, tightness in chest that are associated with anxiety can also be worked with during a yoga practice. The more aware of and engaged one is with breath and the process of paying close attention to the breath while in and during the transition from one pose to the next, one can allow for physical sensations and the thoughts about those sensations to exist, without the associated arousal or tension that occurs when emphasis is placed on these experiences. Over time, acceptance of an uncomfortable sensation or thought may occur and the individual can simultaneously live his/her life in a meaningful way with less distraction from the “anxiety.”

The effects of yoga on mental health can also promote self-efficacy (one’s ability to accomplish tasks and move through life challenges, despite stressors), counteracts lethargy and agitation associated with depression and anxiety, and can nurture and support participation in social, work, and intimate relationships.

Traumatic experiences by their true nature are heart-wrenching, dark, and scary, and can often lead to a fear response that consistently pervades the mind and body. Over time, a deep-rooted sense of fear and resistance to experiencing, or “being with,” thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations develops and results in a complete shutdown of the mind and body. Yoga as a mind-body practice provides a gateway to accessing the more primitive, reptilian part of the brain (responsible for survival and maintenance), which helps individuals with trauma to relearn how to approach sitting with unpleasant internal experiences in a healthy and safe environment.

Stress Reduction

Stress is a major epidemic in our society that can create a “hypervigilance” in our mind and body, and impairs our ability to come from a less reactive place during times of increased stress. Yoga functions like a self-soothing technique in that it alters the stress response system, helping to “tame” and quiet down the nervous system. In this way, the mental benefits of yoga are witnessed with the reduction of stress by way of decreased cortisol (stress hormone) levels in our body. An overarching theme that weaves its way through all yoga poses is the “letting go” of deep holding patterns in the body and finding a state of balance to support healing. Longer-held poses characteristic of Restorative yoga, for example, function to dial down the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response, the place we react from when feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with the many demands of our lives. Then, a space is created to move from fight-flight to relaxation, and the parasympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for activating the relaxation response) can thrive and work efficiently.

The impact of yoga on mental health is diverse and expanding. Yoga is a unique mind-body practice with its emphasis on moving through asanas in a mindful and purposeful way. Further, the use of breath as a focal point to guide you and to keep you grounded in your body, especially when the mind wants to distract you with seductive thoughts or emotions, provides a dynamic platform for working with emotional health issues. So, whether you are interested in a rigorous power vinyasa class or a calming and gentle restorative class, you will likely enter that state of bliss, and experience emotional health benefits along the way.

Mental Benefits of Yoga – SeeKen

Yoga is derived from the word “Yuji” means Union. Yoga is an ancient practice; which is there amongst us since more than 5000 years. Yoga brings mind and body together. Expert Practitioners and hardcore Yoga Practitioners have been teaching the mental and physical benefits of Yoga. Yoga Practice provides many Mental and Physical Benefits. Yoga offers improved circulation, flexibility, strength, respiration, energy etc. while some exercises are only beneficial for physical health. However, Yoga is Unique. Yoga Practice is Beneficial for both; mental as well as for Physical health.

Yoga and mental health have an admirable link. Yoga not only provides preventative mental and physical benefits but it also teaches breathing awareness-along with the varieties of breathing techniques which help Yoga goers and doers to maintain energy, strength, and relieves stress. Yoga Improves mood, reduces stress, anxiety etc. There are many mental diseases which can be cured with the help of Yoga Practice.

Yoga teacher and licensed psychotherapist- Ashley Turner says -‘Yoga is the key to psychological and emotional healing as well as resolving issues with self-confidence, relationships, and more.

Further, Turner says That Yoga is a Psychology- The whole practice of Yoga helps us to work with the nature of our mind, the nature of being human, how emotions live in our body and how does it affects our mind and behavior.

Yoga practice is for all ages, abilities and fitness level. A person who is a consistent Yoga Practitioner is for sure more flexible and has more mental strength compare to a non-Practitioner. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy the benefits of Yoga. Few breathing techniques can make you feel calm, relaxed, present, and mindful. Yoga can also be helpful in your difficult time; it can be helpful for moving through difficult periods in your life.

Yoga Benefits people who suffer through depressions, anxiety, lower life satisfaction, stress, and high level of biological markers for inflammation. The study has proved that few minutes of yoga practice has resulted in reducing markers of inflammation in adults. It has reduced depression and anxiety problems and also helped people to remain in the present moment.

There is no doubt and it is very clear that mind and body practices, like yoga, meditation, deep breathing are very beneficial to reduce stress, anxiety, depression etc. Yoga and other mind-body practices able’s to show such great positive response amongst people because of the relaxation response, It is Relaxation response that accompanies these mind and body practices that lead to the many improvements to physical and mental health.

There are several Mental Benefits of Yoga:

1)  Improves Concentration and Focus

Yoga practice and it’s every pose and techniques improve brain functions. If your focus and concentration level is low then yoga can be very beneficial. Certain yoga techniques have been used to stimulate the brain and nervous system.  Thus, practicing yoga can be very beneficial for your concentration and focus.

2) Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Almost every health problems and mental problems start with stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety take a mental and physical toll on the body; frustration, nervousness, and worry arise due to stress and anxiety which eventually leads to high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes. And as we know that Yoga practice is very beneficial for relax and calm mind. Yoga practice is very consistent with reducing stress and anxiety.

3) Insomnia

If you are facing a sleeping disorder, then yoga practice can overcome your sleeping disorder problem. Sleeplessness and chronic sleeping disorder are very common nowadays in all ages. To overcome this problem many people cut their caffeine and takes sleeping pills. But even after trying all this they fail to overcome it. However, the stress-reduction and breathing techniques of yoga are very helpful for these disorders. Yoga practice can naturally overcome your insomnia problem. Practice Yoga Regularly for a peaceful stress-free sleep.

4) Helps to know yourself

Yoga removes you from fight-or-flight mood and calms your nervous system. Through yoga, you get to know yourself and cultivate a more nonjudgmental relationship with yourself. You start building self-trust. You start eating healthy and start taking care of yourself. Because Yoga helps you to understand the importance of health and peaceful mind; your mind remains calm and your entire day goes without frustration and irritation. You look things from a broader perspective.

5) Helps in schizophrenia and PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)

Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder, where a person can face or can experience confusions, delusions, bizarre behaviour, abnormal anger, personality loss etc. It cannot be cured. But can be controlled through lifelong medication, social therapies etc. Many study and research proves that yoga can be Beneficial for the person experiencing Schizophrenia, Yoga and add on practices can be very helpful in treating Schizophrenia patient.

Another Disorder PTSD which follows with shocking and Terrifying life experiences that may trigger anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares for years or potentially lifelong. PTSD Is common in sexual assault victims, natural disaster faced victims etc. Many experts suggest that can be beneficial in treating this disorder. Yoga Makes people live in the moment and help them to overcome past traumatic experiences.

Would like to end this Blog with a deep saying-” WHEN YOU OWN YOUR BREATHE, NOBODY CAN STEAL YOUR PEACE.”

Thank you.

These were Few Mental Benefits of Yoga; do share your views dosto.

What Are the Health Benefits of Yoga? | Power Yoga

How Do We Reap the Best Benefits of Yoga?

Throughout my travels and 35+ years in teaching yoga, I am constantly asked the question, “Bryan, how do I get the best benefits from my yoga practice?”

The yoga poses and your experiences within the poses will bring your entire body to an alive vibrant state, and activate every nook and cranny of who you are. You know the old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” So, we use everything to create an environment for self-regeneration.

The body is not self-regenerative; you have to prod and poke and entice it back to aliveness. In this way, you really get to know yourself, feeling and experiencing all these places, some of them long forgotten or even never known.

Our bodies are intricate webs of inner workings, dependent on the vitality of every strand that transmits energy to every other strand. As places inside the body degenerate and atrophy due to lack of use, these strands are no longer conductors of prana (chi or energy), and these places become ample breeding grounds for disease and decay. In yoga, there is a saying, “We overdevelop nothing, but use everything.” There is no practical need to overdevelop a muscle, but activation is necessary for regeneration. Remember, this is about feeling good, not looking good, although looking good is a common by-product.

Many people think that yoga is about flexibility, but the truth is it has nothing to do with flexibility. Yoga is more about activity and elasticity. Elasticity is a state of suppleness, whereas flexibility is a judgement in comparison to a certain paradigm. The thing is, our bodies are completely unique; we cannot have an objective standard. Suppleness is personal flexibility, which might look a whole lot different than standard flexibility. When the musculature is supple and relaxed, the skeleton will fall more naturally into place (alignment). When that occurs, our prana (energy) moves freely through the meridians (lines of energy) and, when our energy moves more freely through our entirety, we feel something very special called lightness. In the dual sense of weightlessness and energy.

Yet, as we use these types of yoga poses to enliven and release the body of tension and toxins, we need to challenge our mind not to produce any more. Remember, stress is a huge inhibitor of health (balance). So, doing the yoga poses is one thing, but how we do them is the key; that’s the top yoga, the state of mind behind all things.

The outer environment in which I live, is a reflection of the inner environment in which I live. The yogis traced back the root of all misery, and the seed from which that root stemmed is attachment. And, what am I more attached to than me and my body? I have this image of myself and, when I can’t maintain it, a whole lot starts to surface. A yoga practice tends to prod and poke at that image, forcing one to experience limitations and boundaries not normally experienced. It’s hard to experience my limitations and boundaries, because they are not always congruent with this image I have of myself. There also tends to be judgement, frustration, fear, and a lot of reactiveness. The practice purposely creates the environment for these feelings to arise as an opportunity to eradicate them. The eradication process begins with our awareness of them and then bringing our awareness to our breath, feeling them but not feeding them. Soon, they become less powerful due to the lack of food (mental energy and unconscious loyalty) we give them. The weaker they become, the less we experience them and their dark manifestations in the outer world. The less reactive we become, the more accepting we are of ourselves and others, as well as experiences, and the more peace (balance) and harmony pervades our life. Tension (stress) begins to cease and our bodies start to release. And I begin to really shine!

Power Yoga Benefits

This brings us back full circle to Power Yoga. Originally, yoga was created to facilitate the stillness in order to emancipate the wisdom. Some still use it for this purpose. Beyond this, yoga is a tool or system created to facilitate balance. In order to facilitate balance, the imbalances need to be exposed and eradicated. This can be a totally possible yet challenging endeavor, and this is where we start losing people.

Unfortunately, many people don’t seem to want to do the work necessary to create harmony. When you spill something on the floor, you clean it up, right? You don’t want to live with that mess. Well, that’s all yoga is designed to do: bring awareness to the mess and give you direction to help start the cleanup.

From the first step in yoga, you start feeling better, simply because your house has just begun to become cleaner or less cluttered. The move toward harmony begins immediately. You don’t need some blind faith that someday down the road yoga will enlighten you. The first class helps us quiet our minds and experience the peace beyond. This same first class helps us release some tension, which gives us a feeling of lightness, balance and connectedness. We’ve begun to restore the web.

As long as we approach our yoga practice by listening carefully to what the body needs and by moving away from any existing ideas of where our ego wants this body to be, our initial experience can be wholly satisfying.

The hardest part of the practice of yoga can be honoring our bodies and what they need in this moment. Too often we find ourselves slipping back into our old habits of goal orientation, self-criticism and reactiveness, which are the root of so much imbalance, disharmony, misery, and so forth.

What are the Benefits of Yoga

To go through all the benefits of Power Yoga would take a long time. But I can go through some really important benefits and some of the really powerful effects. For me, Yoga is much more than a physical practice. The goal is wellness.

I think it would be irresponsible of me not to have it more of a physical practice because we know now that most all “real” health is coming from a calm and peaceful mind. They’re telling us now that 80 to 90% of all physical ailments are coming from mental stress.

The benefits of Power Yoga are multifaceted. It’s basically mind and body. We try to go through every nook and cranny of the body because everybody knows you can’t take care of something you don’t touch. We try to cover every single aspect of physical fitness which is strength, flexibility, balance, stamina, and cardio. So we basically cover the fitness paradigm.

The Multi-Dynamic Power Yoga

So when you do a Power Yoga class on a physical level it’s really just multi-dynamic. You’re touching every place in your body. Just like when you brush your teeth you’re trying to brush every tooth. It’s kind of commonsensical and then we try to cover every aspect of fitness but within this, we also want to address the mental state. It’s like this really safe place to practice living.

When you’re practicing yoga, some things might be painful and some things might feel good. Some things might be hard and some things might be easy. Sometimes you might like what you see. Sometimes you might not like what you see. It’s kind of like a little mini life and we have an opportunity to practice living in a safe environment. To practice going through all of this stuff in a less reactive and more accepting way. So the stuff we go through starts affecting us less negatively because we’re not reacting to it. Because the stress that’s poisoning you never happens to you. It’s how you respond to what’s happening to you. Combined with the type of thoughts that you’re having. So we practice responding in a less reactive way as we try to quiet down the mind.

The Fitness-Routine-Based Power Yoga

A fitness routine based on aesthetics feeds your ego, not your spirit. By increasing your ego, you actually become more vulnerable, more susceptible to the everyday occurrences that are out of your control. By feeding your ego, you ignore what you truly need in order to create something your ego desires. Consequently, you end up working against yourself and your goal of health, and you actually create more imbalance.

Our Power Yoga classes are directed at creating the highest level of energy, vitality and freedom. The only way to do this is to work with yourself, not against yourself. By working hard sensitively, we create an environment that’s healing and that honors each individual, an environment that respects our boundaries and works within him or her. In this way, we create an atmosphere conducive to natural expansion and growth. We’re not interested in pushing past our edge to get to a place where we’ve been brainwashed into thinking we need to be in order to have happiness!

Setting Up Goals for Yoga

Goal orientation, which sometimes is expressed as “I’ll be happy when,” leads you away from the here and now. Looking outside yourself for happiness doesn’t work. If you’re not happy now, you won’t be happy for long no matter where you go. Why? Because happiness, or wholeness, has to come from within.

And wholeness comes with acceptance of Right Now! There will always be another place to go, so there is no such thing as getting there. As far as your potential for happiness is concerned, “You are there.”

Self-criticism leads us to feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, worthlessness, and low self-esteem, as well as the criticism of others, which keeps us at each other’s throat.

Reactiveness creates tension. Discomfort is a part of life. Unwanted things happen, and wanted things don’t happen. Our comfort zones get trampled. No one, no matter how wealthy or powerful, can escape discomfort. Yet within our discomfort, we actually have a choice: Shall I accept it or not? Accepting discomfort is intentional passivity. Non-acceptance is resistance.

But the truth can’t be resisted, so resistance creates disharmony. This resistance manifests itself as reactiveness, and these reactions create internal locks or knots. These locks are held in the body. As we unconsciously react more and more, knots upon knots are built in the body, slowly but surely forming walls or barriers that start disconnecting us from ourselves.

Physical Health with Yoga

Fortunately, our yoga class helps to create optimal physical health by enlivening and invigorating our whole body, ending dormancy, strengthening the weak links, and releasing the knots. It also energizes the mind and provides a safe, controlled environment for working on all the negative issues that are exposed. This is the real key!

Because the body is a direct manifestation of the mind, as we heal our mind, our bodies naturally follow. Also, our bodies are subject to the laws of nature. Eventually they will dry up and blow away, because all matter is in a state of flux. Yet it seems our minds are subject to no laws. As far as we know, our minds are limitless. So it makes sense that through yoga poses we start to hone and strengthen the unlimited aspect of ourselves, our minds! This leads us into a whole new place of connectedness, balance and satisfaction.

This information didn’t come from a book. It came from a yoga practice. We all have deep wells of insight and creativity that are waiting to be tapped by the long, strong roots of yoga.

11 surprising benefits of yoga

  1. Aids concentration. Balancing poses (the ones where you have to concentrate on not falling over!) are thought to help focus the mind in daily life. Perfect pose: Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
  2. Lessens migraines. A three-month study by the University of Rajasthan showed certain yoga postures substantially reduced migraine attacks. Perfect pose: Child’s Pose
  3. Helps heart health. Emerging research suggests the combined effects of yoga muscle work, breathing, and relaxation can calm the nervous system and reduce blood pressure, allowing for less pressure on the heart. Perfect pose: Big Toe Lock (Padangusthasana)
  4. Reduces constipation. If you want to get things moving down there, then massage your digestive system with some yoga poses. Relaxation also helps things move more freely! Perfect pose: Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
  5. Boosts brainpower. Okay, so yoga doesn’t grow brain cells but studies have shown that the stress releasing and focusing properties of hatha yoga can help cognitive performance. Perfect pose: Tree (Vrikshasana)
  6. Gives a good night’s sleep. Relaxation and deep breathing = nodding off nicely, thank you. Perfect pose: Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
  7. Boosts memory. Studies have shown regular meditation causes the brain’s cerebral cortex to thicken. Perfect pose: Corpse Pose (Savasana)
  8. Steps-up self-esteem. Abdominal strengthening poses and breathing techniques such as kalpalabhati are thought to help boost  self-esteem, motivation, motor skills, emotions and confidence.  Perfect pose: Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
  9. Reduces blood pressure. The British Heart Foundations suggest breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation can, in some cases, lower blood pressure. Perfect pose: Easy Pose (Sukhasana) with breathing exercises (pranayama)
  10. Fights depression. Scientists from Boston University School of Medicine in the US found that levels of amino acid GABA (a chemical that helps promote calm in the nervous system) were much higher in yogis than those who did equivalent strenuous exercises such as walking. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to cut the recurrence of depression by 50 per cent. Perfect pose: Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana).

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