Yoga Therapy that matters:)

Between the stimulus and the response there is a space, and in this space lies our power and freedom.
– Viktor Frankl

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The above is the prescription for general well-bing and that I was reminded of after having to fly to Japan to be with my aging mom who suffered a stroke and got carried into the hospital only to be admitted straight into ICU – internal bleeding in the head requires urgent care, yes. Every second counts as more bleeding, more brain cells and neuropathways in trouble. SO between travels and work and family and illness in that family, there’s no time to go to yoga classes (thank god I’m trained as an instructor and a therapist to take care of myself at times of dire straits:) but everywhere you go, the yoga studio for your practice is within. It’s right there within you – you can do yoga just about anywhere. ANYWHERE.

One of the things I notice as I observed and assisted with my mother’s recovery is how important Rehabilitation or Physical Training is. Having come across Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and a Language Specialist at St. Luke’s International Hospital, I could not have been more thankful that my mother received the best in post-stroke care. You have to start moving as soon as you are able – so as soon as her bleeding stopped with IV-meds transfusion, she was directed to start her physical therapy with these amazing compassionate professionals. Keenly aware through the slow simple movements – Move those muscles or you lose them. Really vital before strengthening those muscle groups is the iron rule – YOU’VE GOT TO STRETCH. Banish stiffness, bring the circulation into all the tightness – Tightness in the body; stiffness in your ligaments are intrinsically related to restrictive breathing that ultimately affects your mental clarity such as cognition and reasoning. Knowing that body and mind are intrisically connected, when the body is constricted and tight, so is your breath; when your body is soothed and relaxed, so is your mind, ultimately affecting your psyche … your quality of life.

Upon returning, I thought I never make it back to my Yoga Therapist Training Intensive – so beaten by a bad case of jet lag – this month’s module themed “Yoga & Addiction”. Beyond all the notes, the above quote shared by our teacher strikes a chord in me. Whether you have an addiction issues or not, or if you have a friend or a family member with such challenge, enlisting outside support of a well trained therapist could make a difference between recovery or demise. Recovery and healing is possible through yogic training for the mind & body. It takes practice for all to access this power referred to above – there’s so much benefit to practice of yoga for the external physical aspects as well as for overcoming and befriending the internal struggles we all confront whether it be innocent addictions or destructive addictions. First we start with a little commitment to practice each day and it becomes a habit and the kind of habit that gently nudges the behaviors in such a way to stimulate new grey matter growth, benefits, i.e., neuroplasticity – all attained through the mindful practice of yoga.

Give it a try! It’s lifelong:) I love it.

Photo of “Healing Yoga for Wellness” by Lorien Neargarder, RYT 500
Nothing beats a direct and real contact with her but … sometimes we aren’t so lucky.
She will be missed in California – all the reason to get this DVD!

Right On

*** Elegance ***

It is not easy
to stop thinking ill of others.
Usually one must enter into a
friendship with a person who has
accomplished this great feat
Himself.
Then something might start to
rub off on you
Of that
True Elegance

So interesting when I opened my emails this morning, I had one from UC Berkeley’s The Greater Good Science Center, with a title “How to Handle a Toxic Relationship”. We all know toxins in our environment and foods can cause inflammations and compromise our immune system … what about other kinds of toxins ?

In pursuit of a being who has no ill will within, to be that truly “elegant” breathing creature that Hafiz refers to, that I emulate. I use forgetfulness as a way to cope OR
my other usual tactic is … avoidance. But is that truly healing? Is that truly the way to handle toxic people?
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A lot of people are into spring cleanse – juicing green smoothies, eating only organics, banning red meat, etc. etc. and it’s also an excellent time to identify ALL toxins in your life – it’s not just about eating organic foods, it’s not about restraints and discipline – it’s about evaluating relationships that can be toxic – Is it the boss that lacks respect? Is it a so-called friend who gossips and spreads misleading rumors? Is it an overly judgmental relative? Is it the extremely critical peer with passive aggressive ways? Is it that one who criticizes like a NY Times Critic being paid to do it? Is it that someone consumed by greed and ego who grew up feeling inadequate? Is it that person who ate too much honey and “stuck” in a hole you tried pulling out many many times? Allow the independence, allow their insights, allow their intelligence and inner wisdom to guide them out of the hole … trust.

To stress resilience YES; but as you boost your resiliency, why not just let them go, let the toxins wash away and make room for the kind, thoughtful, confident, brave and very human people you admire to be in the circle of joy with. Relationship is not a “project” – series of them make up our life – it’s about life. Being aware that there are ups and the downs and all in-between, we help dislodge the toxins around and in us

Through yoga.

Thus ensuring our health.

*** Green Smoothie ***

(serves about 2-or-so:)

1 organic apple – pref. green**
Few organic green grapes with skin on if available
5-8 Kale leaves (or spinach & other deep green leaves)
1 T organic spirulina
1 C + organic coconut water OR
hemp milk OR almond milk – any clear or white liquid of goodness
1 banana pref. frozen
Organic Raw Local Honey to Sweeten if needed:)

Enjoy – Fill up with all good nutrients; eliminate what does not nourish you. Motto of the Day?
That’s the REAL cleanse.

Mindfulness

The habit of ignoring our present moments in favor of others yet to come leads directly to a pervasive lack of awareness of the web of life in which we are embedded. This includes a lack of awareness and understanding of our own mind and how it influences our perceptions and our actions. It severely limits our perspective on what it means to be a person and how we are connected to each other and the world around us.
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Oddly timely that Mindfulness Training was offered to me through the local school system – while my ego said – what? I already practice meditation – why – but then, out of curiosity, I took up the offer. I am so enjoying the program offered by Mindful Schools because it puts into a structured package all the things I have learned on my yoga journey and makes them plain English language that everyone can better understand. If it’s to be more effective, I would also go a step further and take the Dynamic Mindfulness Course with Niroga Institute. It’s a natural progression as we need that “dynamic” movements to get to the stillness –
we can’t just sit like monks from the get-go … especially in a school setting because Mind is so intimately connected to the Body, we have to study and affect both to make a real change; that of personal transformations connected to the transformations of those around you.

To me, Mindfulness appears to be a Western word encapsulating yoga philosophy. It’s about Dhyana with the use of Pranayama, so that we regain our vitality and find a purposeful meaning in life. But of course one cannot talk like this with all this Sanskrit and yoga philosophy so … translated into a more palatable and accessible language. And it’s rolled out into the schools where its most needed. This recognition of such a need is also interesting because the ancients had the asana, the physical moving aspects of yoga to settle down the energetic young boys too agitated or behaviorally troubled to get to that place of just sitting. Quietly to reflect … It’s a tough proposition to ask testosterone driven boys or anxious girls (girls were not allowed to physical yoga way back when …) to be still and quiet enough to meditate. So the physical – the dynamic movements – settled them down. Once the body releases tension and tightness, the fidgeting, the tingling, the itchiness, the soreness … the wiggling, the bouncing, jumping … stops. The agitation in the body eases. Then … fluctuations of the mind ceases to take us to that world only those who experienced it can define … as place of peace and equanimity. As a student of yoga, Mindfulness to me is a Western name to Dyana, i.e., meditation or a process and a practice to get to that state.

At the root of Mindfulness is the Eastern philosophy, particularly from yoga philosophy and kind of reminded me of that story from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
little prince