When Did Yoga Become Pretentious?

Work alone is your privilege, never the fruits thereof. Never let the fruits of action be your motive; and never cease to work. Work in the name of the Lord, abandoning selfish desires. Be not affected by success or failure. This equipoise is called Yoga. – The Bhagvad Gita

The practice of yoga in America has become a pretentious feat. It is a luxury for the wealthy and a rung on the ladder of social privilege.

Yoga classes are relatively expensive – anywhere from $10 to $25 per class on average. Monthly packages usually cost more than a gym membership, starting at around $100 per month.

And let’s not forget the gear.

Those really cool-looking brand name pants can run $100. I’ve seen mats, towels, and props start at $50.

How did this happen? When did yoga become a money-making machine? And when did it become a social barrier dividing the haves and have-nots?

Perhaps yoga has always created barriers among people (pretty much everything can). Regardless if this is so, I propose that we denounce any exclusiveness and regain focus on the essence of yoga.

In this article, we address some of the societal issues resulting from a large-scale misconception and misuse of yoga in America.

(For simplicity’s sake and to avoid any unintentional pretentiousness, the word “yoga” is lowercase throughout this article. Please, let’s not get our leggings in a bunch over this. )

Yoga for the poor

Put yourself in this situation:

You’re hungry.

You’re so hungry – like haven’t-eaten-in-days-because-you’re-homeless hungry. You have no home, no food, no shoes.

Do you ever think about taking up a spiritual practice in order to get more in touch with your inner being?

Probably not. You’re probably passed out on a park bench, begging on a street corner, or scavenging for food.

How about this situation:

You’re a parent of four children living in a shambled house infested with black mold.

You work two minimum wage jobs and got tricked into a variable rate mortgage a few years back. Your spouse is an addict and steals your hard-earned cash to buy drugs. You’ll likely lose the house next year and your children will have to go to the other school where kids smoke meth and steal from gas stations.

Just before bed, are you pondering whether a home yoga practice can help you drop those pesky 10 pounds before the bank forecloses your home?

Duh. No. You’re freaking out about how you’re going to afford your mortgage or move to a cheaper place without putting your kids at risk.

The point is: It highly unlikely that people lacking their basic needs are taking it upon themselves to practice sun salutations and ujjaya breath to reveal their transcendental Selves.

Yoga for the wealthy

People who have their basic needs met can afford the time and energy to devote their thinking to things other than their basic needs.

That means there’s time to sit and meditate and contemplate the meaning of life. There’s time to work on the body and improve overall wellness.

And there’s time to develop a solid yoga practice.

There’s also money to pay for studios, instructors, clothing, mats, and props. That money is reliable enough to expand the studios and inspire instructors and designers to get in on all the action.

There is no question that people with money have forged the path for yoga in America. And for that we should be grateful.

If it weren’t for people with money, yoga would never be as popular as it is today.

The spiritual side of yoga is far too radical for a predominantly Christian society to adopt. But, those that discover the extensive benefits of the physical side of yoga readily accept instruction on the asanas (postures).

As the asana trend continues to spread, more people are eager to incorporate yoga in their daily lives.

But of course, since people with money continue to forge the way, yoga continues to be expensive.

Why is yoga expensive?

Yoga classes have to cost what they do in order for the instructors to make ends meet.

Yoga teacher training costs a lot of money. Teaching certification, which isn’t legally required by the way, starts at $1,500. So, instructors dish out a pretty penny to share their knowledge and practice with us.

Plus, studios require rent and have overhead. Instructors that don’t use studios buy mats and other supplies for their students.

It’s tough to make it as a yoga teacher. But most aren’t in it for the money.

Most instructors know that they’re not going to get rich quick with their business. But they believe in it so much that they are willing to stick their necks out to provide guidance for their students. (By the way, please excuse all the stretching puns throughout this article.)

The people making bank off yoga are the ones training teachers and selling products like $100 leggings and $50 towels.

Now, the supply of instructors is increasing, so according to the principles of microeconomics, we should see a drop in price in the future. However, this is no good for the instructors. By increasing the supply of instructors, we decrease the price of instruction, which means the instructors will have to start skipping meals to pay rent unless the demand for instructors increases.

And so we find ourselves dancing along supply and demand curves, wanting high quality yoga instruction without paying high prices and wanting to make a living teaching yoga without losing its spiritual purpose.

At the end of the day, money dissolves the essence of yoga and contorts it into a mere commodity. An expensive commodity at that, which creates a huge social barrier whether we want to admit it or not.

Speaking of social barriers, let’s call a spade a spade, shall we?

Yoga isn’t just for skinny white girls

Go to any yoga studio in America and you may find that a majority of the clientele are skinny white girls. I myself am a skinny white girl.

This isn’t a bad thing – skinny white girls are allowed to practice yoga. However, there’s a stereotype associated with this group that is very intimidating to anyone who doesn’t fit the physical profile.

The media and advertisements don’t help either. Most of the images we see are of skinny white girls in super trendy expensive pants and sports bras. I don’t often see non-photoshopped images of average-sized people with varying complexions practicing yoga in off-brand clothing.

The whole media conundrum is evidence of how skewed the American perception of yoga is (in general) and how self-perpetuating it is. Not everyone has a skewed perception, but it’s certainly tempting to just fall-in-line and chalk it up to “this is just the way we do yoga in America.”

Which brings up another social barrier…

There’s no such thing as “western yoga”

All yoga is yoga. And if it’s not yoga, then it’s not yoga. Simple.

At its core, yoga is a mental and spiritual practice with a purpose to reveal the true Self. I’ll spare you the psychospiritual details (for now).

The postures and movements are just a part of the overall yoga philosophy, yet they dominate instructional classes. This is not a bad thing, but it can lead to a misuse of the yoga philosophy, which can have negative effects. It’s like Frodo trying to use the One Ring to do good. It just doesn’t work like that.

Attempting yoga without an appreciation for the history and underlying purpose leads to severe butchering of a beautiful philosophy and turns yoga into a commodity. If we keep this up, aspiring yogis will be bending over backwards to find good instructors and will have to pay an arm and a leg for classes. (That one was really bad…)

It’s evident that the eastern world’s underlying philosophies and way of thinking evolved in somewhat of a contrast to that of the western world. However, when you really dig deep into the history of yoga, you find that the core principles are no different from the principles that my favorite scientist, Albert Einstein, conjured up not too long ago (e.g., everything in the universe is energy).

Considering this, the line between east and west becomes blurred and we realize that we are more alike than different. In fact we are all the exact same.

Yoga for the people

Yoga is for everyone.

High quality yoga instruction should be made available to anyone who seeks it. It takes a certain caliber of discipline and maturity to develop a meaningful yoga practice, but the instruction should be present when the students are ready.

There is an increasing amount of resources that provide affordable means to learn the asanas (postures). The hope is that the philosophy of yoga continues to spread along with the asanas. Whether or not this happens depends on the instructors.

Here at The Be Well Place, we are developing a series that gives you the resources necessary to develop your own yoga practice. The idea is to keep the costs low enough so that lots of people can afford it, while providing a means to support the continued production of the series. There will also be plenty of free resources to get you going.

Please stay tuned as we develop the series. If you haven’t done so already, enter your email below to receive updates specific to the yoga practice series.


(photo credit: via cc)

Eight yoga exercises to melt away belly fat, the waist is not only slimmer but also revealling sexy curves | Feedy TV

Research have shown that only 15 minutes of exercise per day can effectively burn fat and improve your resistance, stamina, and metabolism. Try our workout plan and get toned abs.

1. Crunches

It is one of the best exercises for a flat belly that you can think of, as it helps you burn stomach fat easily.

Lie on your back. Bend your knees and put your feet on the mat. Keep your feet together or keep them slightly apart.

Place your hands behind your head. Make sure that your thumbs are placed behind your ears and that your fingers support your head. Don’t interlace your fingers as it will add extra pressure on your neck.

Lift the upper part of your body off the floor. Exhale when you go up and keep your elbows wide apart. Make sure you flex your abs when doing crunches. Go back to the initial position. Inhale on the way down.

Repeat the exercise 10 times. Do 3 sets at the beginning. Later on, you can do 4-5 or more sets during your workout.

If you want to make the workout a bit more challenging, you can raise your legs and cross your feet.

2. Side bends

This exercise will stretch and strengthen your obliques preventing the “muffin top” effect.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms straight up over your head as you inhale.

Lower your right arm down the right side and stretch the left arm over your head as you exhale, bending your body to the right.

Return to the initial position with your arms overhead as you inhale. Do the same exercise for the left-hand side. Make sure you bend only at the waist and use your obliques.

Repeat the exercise 10 times for each side. Do 3 sets.

3. Vertical leg lifts

This exercise will strengthen your lower abs.

Lie on your back with your legs straight and together. Keep your arms straight at your sides. Lift both legs up while keeping them straight. Slowly lower your legs so that they are a bit above the floor. Hold the pose for a couple of seconds.

Lift your legs up again. Inhale as you lower the legs and exhale on the way up. If lifting up straightened legs is too difficult for you, you can start by lifting your legs with your feet crossed.

Repeat the exercise 10 times. Do 3 sets. The more slowly you do this exercise, the harder it gets. So if you want your lower abs to be really strong, try to do the lifts as slowly as you can.

4. Forearm plank

This exercise may look simple, but it is extremely effective for strengthening your core muscles — abs, diaphragm, and pelvic floor.

Get down on your forearms. Keep your shoulders directly over your elbows. Your arms should form a 90-degree angle. Step back and lift your knees up. Maintain a straight line from your heels to the top of your head and look down.

Tighten your abs and hold the pose for as long as you can. When you are able to hold the pose for 60 seconds, you can progress to more complicated planks.

5. Bridge exercise

This exercise is good for your abs and it also strengthens your glutes and thighs.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet under your knees. Place your arms by your sides.

Tighten your abs and your glutes. Raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.

Curl your spine and go back down. Inhale as you go up and exhale on the way down.

Repeat the exercise 20 times. Do 3 sets.

6. Side plank

The side plank is a great exercise that will tone your core muscles, boost your metabolism, and improve your stamina.

Lie on your side with your elbow right under your shoulder and your upper foot on top of the lower foot.

Lift your hips to create a straight line from your feet to the top of your head. Do not let your hips drop.

Try to hold the pose for 60 seconds. Breathe calmly.

7. Cobra pose

This pose tones your abs, strengthens your arms and shoulders, and boosts your mood.

Lie down on your stomach and stretch out your legs.

Put your hands under your shoulders and move your elbows back.

Press your feet and your thighs against the floor.

Strengthen your arms and lift your chest up off the floor as you inhale. Press your tailbone toward the pubis.

Press your shoulder blades against your back.

Aim at holding the pose for 15-30 seconds. Breathe calmly.

Return to the initial position as you exhale.

8. Boat pose

Boat pose is the hardest exercise in our workout plan, so if you are a beginner, make sure that you start with simpler exercises.

Sit with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.

Lean back slightly and lift your feet so that your shins are parallel to the floor.

Stretch your arms out in front of you at shoulder height. Keep the pose with your knees bent for about 30 seconds. Engage your abs and lengthen your spine.

Put your feet back on the floor and relax for a few seconds.

Do the exercise again, but this time keep your legs as straight as you can so that your body forms a V-shape. Keep the abs engaged and your back straight.

Hold the pose as long as you can. If you feel that you are losing the V-shape, return to the pose with bent knees for a few seconds.

These exercises will not only help you reduce belly fat but will also improve your stamina — just don’t forget that these exercises should be done on a regular basis!

Hoang Ngan

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10 Reasons Why CrossFitters Should Start Practicing Yoga

10 Reasons Why CrossFitters Should Start Practicing Yoga

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CrossFit is all about community, and so is yoga.

For the past five months I’ve been teaching a regular Sunday yoga class at San Francisco CrossFit. After years of teaching in traditional yoga studio settings, this has been an exciting new challenge and a welcome change. I began training at SFCF in June of 2012 just after taking my first classes at CrossFit H20 in Medford, MA — owned by my best friends, Jaffney Roode and Benjamin Frank. I was instantly hooked on the intensity, speed, and explosive energy of CrossFit workouts. I quickly discovered that my background as a yoga practitioner provided me with the general mobility, positional awareness, focus, breath, and presence needed to stay on track with such a training program. CrossFit and yoga go together like fresh donuts and really good coffee, literally. Coffee, donuts, yoga, and CrossFit have become a regular occurrence on Sundays at SFCF.

Here are 10 reasons why I believe yoga can help you grow as an athlete, reach your goals, and continue to excel beyond your wildest expectations.

1) Yoga improves your range of motion and general mobility

Most of the classical poses in yoga support the same concepts of creating torque, finding a braced neutral spinal position, and always working from core to extremity.

Are your heels coming off the ground in your overhead squat? Is it impossible for you to do a handstand because your shoulders are so tight? How are your pistols? Can you get down there? Practicing basic yoga poses like downward facing dog, warrior two, and pigeon (just to name a few) help reinforce external rotation of the hip and shoulder necessary for many basic movements of CrossFit. Performing these yoga shapes consistently helps improve your overall mobility. Greg Glassman did say that all Crossfitters should be able to do the splits. This could be your future.

2) Yoga helps you focus

Have you ever had to complete 150 wall balls? That target is your “drishti” or point of focus where your gaze rests. In classical yoga there is a strong emphasis on creating a focal point that doesn’t move so you stay consistent while you’re moving. This technique of setting a steady focus helps tremendously with Olympic lifting, double unders, high box jumps, and toes to bar, just to name a few.

3) Yoga teaches you how to breathe more efficiently

CrossFit is primarily about moving fast with intensity, but in order to cultivate speed you must also cultivate rest.

After my first “Yoga for the Crossfit Athlete” class at San Francisco CrossFit, the Supple Leopard himself, Dr. Kelly Starrett asked me how it went. I replied, “It was awesome.  The athletes move really well…but they breathe like shit.” Vinyasa Yoga is a practice of linking movement to breath, so you move through postural transitions using your inhale and exhale. This pattern of breath awareness seamlessly transfers to a long burpee workout where the timing of breath and rhythm is essential to staying on point. Yoga also helps you learn how to breathe deeply into your diaphragm, which directly translates into your ability to produce more power and sustain movements for longer durations.

4) Yoga develops your ability to balance

Balance is one of the Ten General Physical Skills highlighted in Greg Glassman’s definition of CrossFit. It’s necessary for most of the movements you see in a classic CrossFit workout. Practicing yoga poses such as Tree, Eagle, Dancer’s, or Half Moon help you achieve the stability needed to perform high rep or do cartwheels on a balance beam at the Sac Town Throwdown (not that I’ve ever done that). If you’re lucky, this balance thing trickles into your real life outside the gym and suddenly you’ve landed your dream job, relationship, home, and you have time for your CrossFit and yoga addiction.  Lucky you!

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Chair Yoga – It May Not Be What You Think! An Interview with Heather Dawson – Kushala Yoga and Wellness in Port Moody

In all kinds of yoga, we use props. Your yoga mat is a prop that keeps your feet and hands from sliding, and it gives some cushioning too. The mat does a little work on your behalf so you can focus on other aspects of the postures. It creates the potential to experience more in your practice.

Using a chair as a yoga prop follows the same principle. With a chair, you can move deeper into postures, with more confidence and stability. Energy can be redirected into fine tuning your alignment, and increasing your strength and mobility. Wherever you are in your practice, you will find an edge of challenge that will help to improve your quality of life.

Heather Dawson teaches a weekly drop-in Chair Yoga class on Saturdays from 11:45am – 12:45pm. On Saturday April 21st from 11:45am – 12:45pm, come try the class for free! Friends and family are welcome. Register Here.

Heather Dawson on Chair Yoga

Kushala Yoga: What made you interested in teaching chair yoga? How long have you been teaching it?

Heather: I have always believed that yoga is for everyone, and using a chair makes yoga poses beneficial and accessible for more people. I have been teaching chair yoga for 6 years.

KY: In what ways do people benefit from chair yoga?

Heather: Everyone has limitations in their bodies. For some people, this makes mat yoga especially difficult – it can be hard to get in or out of a pose. For others, even if mat yoga “works”, they may risk injury or just not be able to get the full benefits of the practice while working with the mat alone.

While standing or sitting, having the chair for support, we can adapt the poses creatively, and go deeper into the alignment. The chair is a tool, not a crutch. It makes yoga less formal, more conversational, you may even meet new people in class! With chair yoga, the real benefits of yoga can be directly gained; increased mental clarity, better proprioception (awareness of your body), strength and flexibility of course, and it lowers stress hormones levels.

KY: What surprises people the most about chair yoga?

Heather: People are surprised that the class is really like doing an all levels Hatha class. They leave feeling they have had a work out, and a good stretch. We do a meditation at the beginning and at the end of class, and work on breathing exercises too. Members have said they are sleeping better, feeling more relaxed, and less achy in their bodies.

Combining Yoga Retreats & Outdoor Adventures with Maine Guide Leah Titcomb

Don’t get us wrong, yoga studios are great, and they have their place, as anyone who has been through a New England winter can attest. But have you ever practiced yoga in an outdoor setting? There’s something undeniably energizing about feeling the breeze in your hair and the grass on your toes as you breathe deeply during your yoga practice. That’s one of the reason’s we’ve been so excited to discover the yoga retreats led by Maine Guide and founder of Forever Wild Yoga Leah Titcomb. Leah’s trips combine yoga retreats with overnight outdoor adventures by canoe and SUP in a way that’s refreshing, challenging, thought provoking, and just plain healthy. Essentially, her retreats are deeply rewarding for both the body and the mind, and we think that’s a fantastic concept.

Maine guide leads outdoor yoga retreats.
Maine Guide Leah Titcomb combines a love of the outdoors with a her yoga practice. (Photo courtesy of Forever Wild Yoga)

Leah is a registered Maine Guide, and has been guiding professionally for 15 years. She came to yoga as a way to build strength and flexibility, but in time discovered it to be a spiritually transformative practice as well. The feeling of Ahhhhh, the sense that everything is where it should be, that you get when you’re paddling across a Maine lake on a clear morning or hiking up a mountain through the spruce trees? That’s essentially what yoga seeks to cultivate as well, so Leah thought combining the two seemed like a good plan.

The results of her ideas are a series of retreats that intertwine Leah’s outdoor guiding specialties of SUPing and canoeing with the grounding practice of yoga. For example, there’s a 5 day canoe/yoga retreat down one of Maine’s most remote rivers, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, that includes daily guided yoga & meditation sessions in addition to experienced canoe instruction. That’s a hearty canoe trip, but Leah is careful to pair the challenge with some serious relaxation and enjoyment. Healthy and delicious food is a focus on all of her trips, as is time to kick back and unwind (see the photo at the end for evidence). Her SUP/yoga adventure on Maine’s Rangeley lakes is another great example: 3 professionally catered meals a day on that trip!

Maine lakes and rivers canoe and yoga retreat.
Happy canoe paddlers deep in the Maine wilderness. (Photo courtesy of Forever Wild Yoga)

Leah’s retreats are designed to inspire a connection and spiritual grounding within nature. She’s also a knowledgeable birder and naturalist who has taught both natural history and outdoor leadership courses. That depth and variety of knowledge is what really makes Leah special as a guide. She takes a complete view of outdoor adventures, from natural science, to mindfulness, to physical challenge, but ultimately understands that it’s really just all about having a good time.

Canoe guide and yoga instructor Leah Titcomb.
Leah taking it easy in her canoe. (Photo courtesy of Forever Wild Yoga)

Leah Titcomb, Founder of Forever Wild Yoga, is a Registered Maine Guide, Naturalist and Educator who has been guiding professionally since 2003 throughout the US and abroad. She is a native of Maine and was raised in a family of Maine Guides on the coast. She is medically trained as a certified Wilderness First Responder with over ten years of experience managing and running backcountry expeditions. She has led extended wilderness trips, taught natural history and led technical outdoor leadership trainings in backpacking, flat water and whitewater canoeing. Through her career, she has become most passionate about experiential learning and helping people connect with the outdoors. She is also a Certified Yoga Instructor and Master Reiki Practitioner. While practicing yoga, she felt a similar sense of happiness as when she was in the wilderness and decided to combine her wilderness guiding expertise with yoga. She brings a sense of lighthearted playfulness to retreats and enjoys moments of still concentration as well as the ability to laugh at oneself.

Visit Leah’s website to learn more about her offerings.

The post Combining Yoga Retreats & Outdoor Adventures with Maine Guide Leah Titcomb appeared first on Back40.

Do children even need yoga? -Kristel Paimla

As of today we will start introducing kid’s yoga teachers from all around Estonia. Our opening interview is with yoga enthusiast Kristel Paimla, who is a kid’s yoga promoter. In the article we will find out what she thinks of kid’s yoga, raising children and life itself, do children even need yoga ect.

How did you discover yoga?

Classic: my personal life had become so uncomfortable at one point, that I had the choice of either shoot someone, use antidepressants or yoga. All jokes aside life directed me to yoga with great changes.

After completing Kundalini yoga teachers training, I found myself at Tallinn’s Disabled People’s House, where I shared the wonderful ancient philosophy of Kundalini yoga, while continuing my own development and healing, which is an inescapable part of being a teacher. I started thinking to myself why does a person have to grow up, letting all things about them go a-wire and only then discover yoga to repair the damages. It would be so great to start this self-discovering road from an early age and stay in a connected state. I asked my teacher Sukhdev Kaur weather there was yoga for children.

The answer was yes. But at that time in 2010 there were no courses in Estonia, but there were great teachers in Spain, Germany and USA. But studying abroad was too expensive for me. So the plan was born with other likeminded people to get together a group of people in order to organize the first children’s yoga teacher-training course in Estonia with leading foreign teachers. And so the snowball started to roll until the Kid’s Yoga Studio was also offering kid’s yoga teacher training courses. Today I am also publishing a kid’s yoga book, which will see daylight in the following months thanks to donations through the site Hooandja.

What has yoga given you in life?

I am at loos for words to describe all that yoga has given me. The main thing is that I have found myself and gotten the courage to walk my own path and do my own thing, which at the moment is being dedicated to serve children and children’s yoga. It was a very radical step considering the fact that I had been working in law since 1997. All jokes aside, today I’m at a point where in my dear homeland Estonia people put an equals sign between my name and children’s yoga and in some circles people consider me the mother of Estonian’s kid’s yoga.

Do you have any sayings that you follow in life?

Yes. The main thoughts are: Everything is good for something. Have the courage to dream and dream big, because all dreams come true sooner or later and in the best way. Everything happens for a reason. You are always held. Give your all. Do not assume. All acts have a positive intention behind it.

Is there a book that has affected you in a great way?

There are many. Starting from “Pipi Longstocking” ending with “Rumi’s 40 rules of Love”. At the moment I am reading Osho’s “The Book of Children: Supporting the Freedom and Intelligence of a New Generation” due to writing my own kid’s yoga book. I am not a big Osho fan, but in this instance I do recommend this book for all parents and people who deal with children, because it is very inspiring, yet so elementary.

Why is yoga important for children?

First I would like to highlight that kid’s yoga, which is based on Kundalini yoga, is not just about physical exercises. It is something much more. Yoga is a lifestyle, which consists of physical exercises, meditations, mantras, humanology (being human, nutrition, development, conscious decisions and communication, taking responsibility etc).

If you give a child the chance to try out yoga, then they like it and usually they stay with it. Though sometimes people don’t understand that children are doing yoga, because kid’s yoga is in it’s essence very playful and creative, where depending on the teacher, there is a lot of singing, dancing, music and art. Children leave the class in a good mood and in a state of calmness. I never see kids leaving angry or malicious. Even the kids who are told that they are bad at home, kindergarten or school are in essence good, friendly and open. They get this label because the adults that handle them aren’t able to handle themselves or don’t understand their behavior because it doesn’t fit in the social norm.

And sometimes sadly the children start to believe the label given to them and so they start acting according to the label. Yoga classes help children just be and feel valuable. Children experience trust, honesty, love and are free of labels, which sometimes can be missing or distorted at home, kindergarten or school.

When we practice yoga, it affects us physically, mentally and spiritually. In classes we often talk about setbacks in life: when something doesn’t work, someone has lost a friend or a loved one and other topics that are important to kids. We discuss these topics rather than hide these emotions. When you are sad you are sad. We dissect topics like love, hate, sadness, loneliness, stress, birth, death – everything that kids want to talk about and of course we do this all in a playful manner. For example we play newspaper ball war and I ask them: “Who has felt anger?” After which all kids raise their hands. Then we discuss it: what anger looks like, where it feels in the body, what they have done when they have been angry and what could be done to release this emotion without hurting anyone. Children come up with fascinating ideas that surprise you. Kid’s yoga has a lot to do with the voice through talking and singing.

Sometimes we do “releasing bad feelings” classes, for example clapping or stomping. We also do guided meditations – we imagine how a garbage truck drives in front of us and we throw all of our anger, fear, disappointments, ugly thought in to the truck and have it taken away. All that is left is love, trust, lightness and joy. Often we sing an Estonian version of a mantra “I am happy, I am good”. Parents have told me that children sing that mantra at home, when they’re in a bad mood or there are hard times at home. This is a way for the child to learn how to support him/herself emotionally.

In addition to emotional discharging, children have the courage to express themselves in yoga classes and what is most important – be heard, involved, appreciated. I have often seen children, who at first don’t have the courage to talk about themselves, because they have been conditioned to listen and be silent or believe that their thoughts aren’t important. Also it is very common that many children have stage fright, but even this is overcome with yoga.

Why should you start with yoga as a child?

We live in the fastest time known to history, where abundance of info and stress is not just a problem for adults. Parents are often too busy with work or messed up themselves, so kids grow up in a world, where they have to face the world on their own and sometime even be a parent for their parent. Children grow up in a world where loneliness, malnutrition, poisonous environments, lack of exercise, electronics, video games, TV, stress from home and school, drugs and poverty are their everyday companions.

I will give you my favorite example. Even though our population is small, our classes are overpopulated and kindergarten groups are as large as in China. We also force all sorts of teachings and after school activities on our children in an attempt to make them happy, successful, talented, intelligent, rich ect human beings. For what? Why force a growing pine, oak, birch? No one buds into the process of a growing tree, but for some reason we want to make kids into beautiful bonsai trees, so that it would be beautiful to watch and to gloat in front of friends and relatives.

What is the result? A bunch of miserable children, who live a life that they have not chosen for themselves, that has been forced upon them, something that has come from a third party and children have not had the courage to say NO! nor the time to figure out what they actually want to do in life. In the meanwhile while we’re trying to make our children into bonsai trees and realize our own dreams through our children, we don’t even have time to go deep and really pay attention to our children, cause we make them run the race to be the best, most successful. To chase money, things and positions. So what are we really teaching our children? I think we’re just sowing forward our own fears, sense of lack, double standards and not being satisfied with ourselves. We sow what we are and the point that we are in, which often makes us mistake fear for love.

Many kid’s sports, which are good for the physical body, are in their essence very competitive and just add more stress to their lives. Not to mention that in most dance class’s children are made to move and act in an inappropriate way. Little girls making moves that would be more appropriate for young women of the age 20+, they also get their faces made up and they are suggested to eat less. This is insanity, because we’re letting kids know that we don not accept them for who they are nor their God given beauty. Yoga is not more reasonable, because the only one you are competing with is yourself, without having to act like you’re older nor use make up. They also don’t have to feel left behind, which often happens in other classes when you have been absent for a few times.

Also breathing fresh air and being outdoors is more a more rare and has been substituted with being inside: cars, home, classroom, sport halls, youth centers, and shopping centers. This is why more a more children and teenagers have all sorts of problems with health, behavior, emotions, concentration, sleep, low self esteem, stress, overweight. What’s more important they suffer under the belief and sense of lack. It seems like children are afraid to live. For example, in an outdoors class I asked the children to lie down on the grass for relaxation and many didn’t do it due to the fear of ticks.

So in order for this not to happen, I think yoga is the best way to support the physical, emotional and spiritual development of children and teens. Not just the physical exercises but also all the tools for life that yoga offers. Yoga helps the child to understand him/herself and be aware of their emotions, behavior, surrounding environment, the world as a whole and how to manage all of this.

How does kid’s yoga differ from other types of yoga that adults practice?

Kid’s yoga based on Kundalini yoga is hard to even compare with adult Kundalini yoga. If anyone would attempt to give a grownup class to children, I would imagine the children running out fast, because it would be rather boring for them. The structure of the class is the same though: tuning-in, warm-up, kriya, deep relaxation, meditation, and tuning-out. When an adult class lasts for 1,5 hours, then a kid’s yoga class lasts for 30-60 minutes, depending on the age of the children.

Since kid’s yoga doesn’t mean statically sitting in one place and doing strenuous asanas or still meditations, it’s more about having fun and accessing peace of mind through that, it suits most children. But there are children who it doesn’t suit and that’s ok too. For instance, there was a teenaged boy that came to my class, who had a very big need for attention and approval. When we were doing yoga exercises in class, then he always wanted to compete with others, wanted to be the first and the best, but we don’t compete in yoga. At the end of the class when we were all drawing, he would solve difficult math accusations, which I found very cool, but for him the yoga class was too boring, because he couldn’t get a first place prize, so I never saw him in class again.

When we talk about yoga with kids of the ages 11-13, then some of them already want to be like grownups and they like it very much when the class resembles the one meant for adults. This is why it is perfectly fine when parents, uncles, aunts bring kids with them to adult yoga classes. At least in Kundalini yoga it is acceptable, because children are a part of our lives.

What are the changes you have noticed on your children from practicing yoga?

Children, who practice yoga regularly at least once a week, become more open, creative, balanced, caring and joyful. They are physically, emotionally and mentally healthier. This is expressed by joy of life, courage, self-confidence, calmness and creativity. Even their grades improve. Of course yoga also improves the physical aspects – endurance, flexibility, coordination and nervous system. It helps digestion and strengthens the immune system.

I have two success stories in my experience – one child overcame stuttering and another who was like an old oak when it came to flexibility, was able to bend and flex like a young birch after some time of practicing yoga. My own children always meditate when they feel in a rut; they start singing the mantra “I am happy, I am good”. The third child is just as good and joyful as he is because of yoga.

How often should children practice yoga?

As often as possible.

When would be a good time to introduce yoga to a child?

The sooner children start discovering themselves, the better and easier it is for them for the rest of their lives. Since most behavior patterns and problems start in childhood, the sooner we repair the connection with the world, and ourselves the better.

Yoga is suitable for children of all ages. For example babies practice yoga with their mothers. From the age 3-4 most children can participate in yoga classes on their own.

Where did you get the inspiration to write a kid’s yoga book?

From children. From life itself. From my everyday practice with children. From Kundalini yoga teachings.

What inspires and motivates you in life, what makes you smile?

Love, that creates. Children, our greatest teachers. Nature. People. The fact that I have come to this world and I can wake up each morning and experience being a human being and the beauty of the world. Even if it is sometimes challenging.

What would you like to say to the rushing person of today?

Be present, recognize and relax. Be you. Even if you have managed to shove a million things into your daily schedule, be present while doing these things. For example when your child, spouse or whoever tells you something, listen and be there for them. When you prepare food, pay attention to the colors, smells, taste and texture. The same with eating or any other activity. Enjoy your life, your being, every act and moment, even when being in traffic jam or experiencing toothache.   Ref-

The post Do children even need yoga? -Kristel Paimla appeared first on Best Blog site in India – Write Your Story on Yoursnews.

7 Tips to Use Social Media Mindfully as a Yoga Teacher

In the yoga world & community today, it is almost impossible not to be on social media. Social media is useful to get in touch with like-minded people – teachers and students alike – and to share and learn about our yoga practice. It is, however, very possible to let them be time and energy consumers without realizing it. We do have a choice not to be on there to avoid distractions, the comparison trap, and criticism, but the optimist in me truly believes there is a way to use social media mindfully to reap only the benefits these platforms have to offer.

Here are a couple of guidelines I’ve collected, either as I’ve received them from others or thought myself they might be wise to follow:

Unfollow People who Don’t Inspire You

Sometimes it can be tempting to compare yourself to yoga teachers, especially as the industry is becoming increasingly crowded. But because you’re a yoga teacher doesn’t mean you need to be up to date with the latest drama around the biggest Instagram yoga celebrities, nor do you need to know how others, who you can’t really relate to, meditate or practice yoga.

Remember there are as many ways to practice and teach as there are yogis on this Earth. You don’t have to follow people who you can’t relate to, and it doesn’t all have to do with yoga either. Make sure your Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and/or Twitter feeds are places that feel comfortable, where you look forward to discovering uplifting, thought-provoking and soothing content that will serve you.

Block People who Might be “Stealing” your Energy

This one sounded very harsh to me the first time a teacher recommended that I do. I shared with her that I didn’t feel comfortable posting some things on my pages (especially Instagram) because I knew old friends and acquaintances were watching. After all, it makes sense to be able to choose who can see what you post online the same way you’d chose to dedicate your time and energy to only certain people.

The same way it’s important to set healthy boundaries in real life, you have to set them online, too. As soon as you feel your integrity, authenticity and comfort are being compromised on social media, then you might want to investigate whether anyone watching doesn’t really belong in your conversations. It is your right to decide who takes what you give out – even if your profiles are public, not knowing who’s behind their screens makes a (surprisingly) real difference.

Use Social Media to Connect with Like-Minded Teachers

Just like you crave true and authentic connections in your life, and as you might feel unsatisfied with what social media have to offer, there are people like you who feel the same way. Think about it: social media are special and great because they allow people who care about the same things to connect even though miles might separate them. No vegetarians around you? You can be sure Pinterest has lots of recipes to spice up your kitchen aspirations. No one to practice kundalini with? YouTube will definitely help. The list is endless! A quick search will help you find the people who you truly want to share with and learn from.

Post what You Really Want to Share

I personally struggled with this one in the beginning, specifically when I started using Instagram to share my yoga journey and teachings. It might sound stupid, but I felt the pressure to post pictures of my asana practice when it wasn’t really what yoga truly meant for me.

Slowly, I allowed myself to share more of what I truly wanted to share, more of what mattered to me and slowly, I felt much more at ease with all social media platforms in general. I’ve also realized that the more I share what I truly believe in, the more people who I align with can find me. And that agrees with the idea in tip #3!

Schedule Your Time on Social Media

This one is very straight-forward but very hard to stick to. Ideally, you’ll have 2 or 3 time-frames (or maybe just one) during the day when you open social media apps. You can set a timer and once it rings up, your time is over. Say you like to use Facebook and Instagram, then maybe you’ll have 20 minutes at 1pm for Instagram, and 20 minutes at 6pm for Facebook. You can set it up as you like.

This might feel a bit rigid but it helps to establish the habit. If you’re used to scrolling mindlessly several times during the day, then this one might be a good first tip to implement. You’ll feel much more peaceful and focused!

Use Automation Tools for Posting

This one goes hand in hand with tip #5; when you limit your time on social media, you might feel like this time goes by very quickly if you have to post things on there, too. The trick is to use automation tools as much as possible to spend less time on there. You can work in a word document or in your notes app to write down content, then edit or create your pictures, and then upload everything at the same time. You should know that:

  • When you have a ‘business’ page on Facebook, you can decide to post ‘now’ or choose when your post will go live when creating it from the page itself;

Take Time to Read, Take in, Enjoy what You See

Since you use social media yourself, you know how long it takes to create a post. You know how much energy, time, dedication and often, personality is put into each post you create. Take time to truly take in what you see on your feed, to appreciate what comes up, and think about the people behind their screens who dedicated some time and thought to create each post. Make it an entire in and of itself!

Call yourself out when you’re scrolling mindlessly, and take time to sit with what your read, the colors in the images, the words in the quotes, the intentions and meanings conveyed in each post. This will drastically enhance your experience.

Remember its Name: Social Media

It’s supposed to serve the purpose of connecting people, making us more, well, social. There are many ways to use these platforms to feel more in touch with yourself and others, so make sure you leave space for trial and error as you find what works for you. Also remember you have a choice to spend as much or as little time on there as you want – when it comes to teaching and building a mindful business, you are the one to make the decisions. If you’ve chosen to be a yoga teacher, it’s because yoga has become a way of life, not just a mat practice. Make sure your aspirations and beliefs seep into your social media use!

Ocasio-Cortez takes time off for ‘self-help,’ laments loss of yoga sessions due to politics | Fox News

Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t yet started her new job, but she’s already taking a break.

The Democratic Socialist said Monday that she’s taking time a week off for “self-care” after feeling burned out and lamented that her political activity changed her lifestyle.

“I am starting a week of self-care where I am taking the week off and taking care of me. I don’t know how to do that though, so I would appreciate any and all self-care tips,” she said in an Instagram video.

“For working people, immigrants, & the poor, self-care is political — not because we want it to be, but bc of the inevitable shaming of someone doing a face mask while financially stressed. So I’ve decided to take others along with me on IG as I learn what self-care even means and why it’s important,” she added on Twitter.

Ocasio-Cortez, who unseated powerful New York Democrat Joe Crowley earlier this year during the primary election and easily cruised to victory in general election as she had no real opposition, went on to say that since her entry into politics and activism, she had to give up her more comfortable lifestyle.

“Before the campaign, I used to practice yoga 3-4x/week, eat nutritiously, read and write for leisure,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Instagram. “As soon as everything kicked up, that all went out the window. I went from doing yoga and making wild rice and salmon dinners to eating fast food for dinner and falling asleep in my jeans and makeup.”

“Before the campaign, I used to practice yoga 3-4x/week, eat nutritiously, read and write for leisure. As soon as everything kicked up, that all went out the window. I went from doing yoga and making wild rice and salmon dinners to eating fast food for dinner and falling asleep in my jeans and makeup.”

“I keep things raw and honest on here since I believe public servants do a disservice to our communities by pretending to be perfect,” she added. “It makes things harder for others who aspire to run someday if they think they have to be superhuman before they even try.”

The New York Democrat revealed that she decided to spend “a few days in the middle of nowhere” in upstate New York.

Ocasio-Cortez, together with other newly-elected lawmakers, will start her term on Jan. 3.

How a Yoga Teacher is Saving First Responders Across America From Depression – With Downward Dog

Police officers and firefighters across America are coping with the stress of life on the front lines by slipping into a downward dog.

The nonprofit group Yoga For First Responders is teaching these emergency workers a better way to handle the demands of their hazardous jobs.

36-year-old instructor Olivia Kvitne Mead founded YFFR in 2013 after she was inspired by her work with military veterans. If the 5,000-year-old practice could help them with PTSD, then she was certain that first responders could avoid burnout and perform more efficiently at the scene of emergencies.

“There are lots of yoga programs for veterans but they are all focused on after their tours of duty,” said Mead. “That doesn’t happen for first responders. They are in their jobs for 30 years until they retire. They go to work and see trauma, death, destruction, loss and the worst part of humanity, then they have to go home and be a mother or a father, a husband or a wife.”

Mead, who is from Denver, Colorado, believed that yoga could help lower their rate of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and alcoholism. According to a study from the Ruderman Foundation, more first responders committed suicide in 2017 than those who were killed in the line of duty.

“There is a missing skill set in first responder training and that is what is leading to these high statistics of burnout, divorce, alcoholism and suicides,” said Mead. “They need to be taught the ability to handle stress and trauma and process it. Otherwise you are just going to get squished by all the trauma you witness.”

And it’s a good thing that she pursued the idea, because she turned out to be right.

She first contacted the Los Angeles Fire Department in 2013 and pitched her idea to teach yoga to firefighters. “The then-head psychologist of the department already practiced yoga and he knew the benefits – [but] his number one concern was: how are we going to get the alpha male population to do yoga which is marketed as a female, delicate exercise?

“I said that I already taught veterans and I thought I could speak to this group of people.”

She began to volunteer twice a week at the fire department, showing up every Tuesday and Thursday with yoga mats – and soon, the Los Angeles Police Department joined firefighters in becoming interested in her program, too.

“The behavioral science section of LAPD was hosting a wellness day for their high command staff,” said Mead. “The detectives were not clocking out, working 24/7 and dropping dead of heart attacks left, right and centre. It was almost an epidemic.”

Mead admitted that not all first responders have been eager to get on the yoga mat.

“I worked with one firefighter in Iowa. He was a bigger guy and he didn’t want anything to do with the yoga,” she recalled. “But I came back to the fire department to give weekly classes. When I explained to him that I was here to help him do his job and sleep well afterwards, he changed his mind about yoga. He came to every single class I did.

“I later learnt that he hadn’t been able to sleep a whole night for a year after being called out to a car accident. He told me one day: ‘After your yoga classes, I was able to sleep last night’.”

Today, Yoga For First Responders works with 35 police and fire departments across the United States, including in Denver; Wichita, Kansas; and Lawrence, Massachusetts.

The training is also now officially part of the Chicago Police Academy syllabus, meaning every new recruit takes yoga sessions before joining the force.

Mead insisted that yoga not only helps first responders to handle the stress of their job, it allows them to do their jobs more efficiently; especially because teaching deep, controlled breathing allows firefighters to require less oxygen when battling blazes.

“Breath work helps CO2 tolerance in the body,” said Mead. “It means that while a firefighter’s air bottle normally lasts 15 minutes in action, we can make it last longer.

“Yoga strengthens the body and makes it more mobile which is very important for first responders, as their body is their tool—but the true essence of yoga is neurological training.

“It trains the mind and the nervous system to withstand anything by teaching breathing techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy.”

The Henderson Fire Department in Kentucky now offers a YFFR class three times a week, and they are seeing “really great” attendance. Lieutenant Josh Dixon came to his first class last November and now practices yoga five times a week.

“We can’t control what goes on outside our body, especially in an emergency,” said the 41-year-old responder. “But you can control what goes on inside.”

(WATCH the video clip — Donate to the nonprofit, or find a location)

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Yoga for Seniors DVDs and Online Videos – Get Moving Again

Experience the benefits of gentle yoga for seniors with our beginner yoga videos and DVDs.

Yoga is not about twisting yourself into a pretzel. It’s about giving your body the attention and love it needs through breathing and gentle movements. It’s about being healthier and happier at any age.

Join yoga instructor Cat Kabira as she helps you to reconnect with your body every day. In 8 carefully designed yoga sessions, each focusing on a specific part of your body, Cat will help you to increase your flexibility, reduce stiffness, eliminate stress and find more energy.

Whether you are new to yoga, or want to restart your practice, this gentle yoga video series is for you!

Dear friend!

Margaret ManningMy name is Margaret Manning and I am the founder of Sixty and Me, a community of over 500,000 amazing women over 60. I want to take a few moments to tell you why I am so excited about this gentle yoga for seniors video series.

Every day, I talk to older men and women who want to get more from life. After decades of looking after other people, perhaps it’s no surprise that some of us feel a bit stiff and tired. Some of us are dealing with pain and almost everyone feels like they have too much stress in their lives.

Isn’t it time that we did something for ourselves? Isn’t it time that we reconnected with our bodies and gave them what they need to feel great again?

Yoga isn’t just for people in their teens and 20s who can twist themselves into a pretzel in their sleep. In fact, you could argue that it is our age group that needs yoga more than any other. That’s why I created this video series. I wanted to develop a series of videos that anyone can use, regardless of their weight, fitness level or confidence.

If you have been practicing yoga for years, then this video series might not be for you. But, if you want an easy to follow, slow-paced course that takes you through each part of your body, without pressure or expectation, this video series is for you!

I am so excited about this gentle yoga video course. Cat Kabira worked with 1000s of older men and women and she is an absolute gem. The videos were filmed in one of my favorite places in the world, beautiful Bali. And, they were designed specifically for you!

I hope that you enjoy these videos and they help you to get on a path to a healthier and happier life in your 50s, 60s and beyond!

Please Meet My Good Friend, Cat Kabira

When I decided to film these gentle yoga videos, I knew that I needed to find a special teacher. I wanted to find someone who really understood our needs. I wanted to find a person with the charisma and experience to keep us motivated… someone who lives and breathes yoga every day. And, I wanted to find a kind and genuine person who you would want to spend time with every day.

My team had to travel thousands of miles, to beautiful Bali, but, I eventually found someone that I could be proud to work with. Her name is Cat Kabira.

Cat is an amazing woman and a good friend. For decades, she has taught 1000s of older adults how to reconnect with their bodies, become more mindful and establish healthy lifestyle habits. Now, I want her to help you to live a healthier and happier life through the practice of gentle yoga.

Let Me Tell You a Bit More About the Yoga for Seniors Video Series

When I first started to do yoga again after several decades of inactivity, I had concerns. Was I too old for yoga to be effective? Would the extra pounds that I had picked up over the years prevent me from doing the moves properly? Was I too stiff to enjoy yoga? Would I be embarrassed to join a yoga class and be surrounded by younger people doing advanced moves? Now that I have been doing yoga for a few months, I have never felt better.

If you have any concerns about starting a gentle yoga program, I want you to know that I understand. That’s why I set out to create a video series designed just for us.

These videos are slow-paced yet effective. Cat doesn’t rush through the moves like so many “yoga for seniors” videos that I have seen. The poses that Cat demonstrates offer an easy way to get started with yoga and provide a foundation for more advanced classes that you may take in the future.

Best of all, you can participate from the comfort of your own home. You don’t even need fancy equipment. As you will see in the following introduction video, Cat is more than comfortable helping you to find items from around the house to make your yoga practice easy and fun.

I’ll explain exactly what is in each video in a second, but, first I want to give you a chance to watch Cat’s introduction video. In it she explains how the gentle yoga course is organized and what you can expect. It’s also a great chance to get a feeling for Cat’s personality (I promise that you will fall in love with her like I did!), so please enjoy!

Here’s a Quick Breakdown of the Videos

Before starting on the video series, I talked with 100s of people in our community about how their bodies felt. One thing that became clear was that we all feel the effects of getting older differently.

Some of us have stiff joints. Others have tightness in our neck and shoulders from decades sitting behind a desk. We have designed this gentle yoga video course to address most of the common challenges that we experience as we get a little older.

In the first 7 videos, Cat focuses on one specific body area at a time. Whether you have tightness in your lower back or want to bring flexibility back into your legs, these videos will help. Then, on the 8th day, Cat brings everything together into a full-body flow that you can use to reconnect with your whole body.

Here are the topics that she covers:

Introduction to Gentle Yoga for Seniors – Prepare your mind and body to get the most from the gentle yoga practice (27 minutes)

Gentle Yoga Video 1 – Focus on Joints (40 minutes)

Gentle Yoga Video 2 – Focus on Neck and Shoulders (46 minutes)

Gentle Yoga Video 3 – Focus on Lower Back (37 minutes)

Gentle Yoga Video 8 – Full-body Flow (29 minutes)

That’s over 5 hours of gentle yoga in an easy to follow format.

I have personally been working with these videos for several weeks and I have never felt better. I hope that you feel the same after giving them a try. As a bonus, I included three interviews with Cat that will inspire and motivate you on your journey.

I hope that these videos get you on the path to a happier and healthier life!

Read Genuine Reviews! What Women Like You Are Saying About these Videos…

Are You Ready to Give Your Body Attention and Love it Deserves?

100% Money Back Guarantee within 7 days of receiving your product. DVD customers must return the product to receive a refund excluding shipping and handling fees. Just contact us.

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Questions and Answers

Based on my experience with the other videos that we have released, I’m sure that you have questions. That’s totally ok! I want you to have all of the information to decide if this yoga video series is right for you.

Question: How do I get the videos?

Answer: Within about 5 minutes of purchasing the videos, you will receive an email that has your login details to our secure customer website. Once you login, you will have access to all of the videos. You can watch the online videos streaming on any device with a browser and Internet connection. If you choose the DVD option, you will receive your 2-DVD set within 5-15 working days of your purchase. Please note that online access is always included and DVDs are an optional add-on.

Question: What if I don’t like the videos? Do you have a guarantee?

Answer: Of course! With our yoga for seniors videos, I didn’t have a single person request a refund. But, if you really don’t like the videos, just send an email to info (at) sixtyandme.com within 7 days of purchase and I will give you a full refund. Yoga for seniors DVD customers must return the product to receive a refund excluding shipping and handling fees.

Question: Why are the videos so cheap? Are they still high quality?

Answer: Great question! I actually struggled with this quite a bit. On the one hand, I probably could charge quite a bit more for these videos, based on their high-quality level and the depth of the content. The truth is that we want as many people to benefit from them as possible. That’s why I’m keeping the price low. For the price of a book, you can have over 5 hours of gentle yoga for seniors videos.

Question: What happens if I can’t get access to the videos?

Answer: Don’t worry! We won’t leave you hanging. If you have any trouble accessing the videos, just send us an email at info (at) sixtyandme.com and we’ll help you out.

Question: How do I know that it’s safe to purchase these yoga for seniors videos online?

Answer: It’s certainly a fair question. There are plenty of horror stories out there and we certainly respect your desire to be careful. We use a secure payment system that is supported by Authorize.net and Infusionsoft.com. Sixty and Me LLC is a registered company, based in Switzerland and we value our reputation. You can rest assured that we will do everything in our power to make sure that you have a positive and safe experience when buying our videos from our website sixtyandme.com/gentleyoga.

Question: Will this yoga program help me treat my arthritis, osteoporosis, fused spine, etc…?

Answer: This yoga program is not intended to solve any specific medical condition. Everyone’s body is different, so, please consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.