Remain seated and still do yoga!

Picture of Chair
Have you heard this: “I can’t do yoga until I feel better (or can get to yoga class).” 

Injury or illness, age or other ‘limitations’ (including working all day at your desk), may prevent you from getting on a yoga mat on the floor or to stand to do certain yoga postures, as you know them. However with some creativity and modifications you can ALWAYS ‘do’ yoga.

“If you can breathe you can do yoga” says Krishnamacharya.

Sitting as tall as you can yet relaxed is the key to many meditation postures and breathing exercises (pranayama). That is a great place to begin. If you can’t do any physical asana (posture) you can always observe your breath as it is or do some basic breathing exercises (inhale slow 3 counts, exhale 3, then work up to 4 counts etc), or recite a mantra (“I AM”) as you inhale.

There are chair yoga versions of most postures to increase mobility, vitality and flexibility:  sun salutation, forward bends, back bends, spinal twists, sitting mountain pose, eye exercises (helps computer strain) and breathing exercises (calms or energizes and increases concentration).

At your desk, in a wheelchair, or wherever you are sitting now, take a 2 min yoga break!  Re-energize with just 1-2 minutes of yoga posture. Try it: inhale lift your arms up overhead exhale lower. Repeat 5-10 times and see how you feel!. I’ve seen great shifts in posture and energy from my senior home chair yoga classes using poses from a simple chair yoga series I have devised. There are also chair yoga classes at local studios and senior centers that involve standing postures using a chair for support, but there is plenty of ‘yoga’ you can do without getting up or down from the chair if you are not able.

Yoga IS for Everyone! So stay seated and do yoga today! Inhale sit tall, exhale relax! 

Stacie Doorek is a Gentle Integral Yoga Instructor, Kundali Yoga Instructor as taught by Yogi Bhajan. She has done B.A. In Religious Studies and also trained in Iyengar yoga. Here is her story. You can find Stacie over here. Join Stacie on Sept 10 and 11th 2011 for a Chair Yoga Teacher Training. More details here.

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Salty water

Picture of man with a big fish he has caught

Two Bubbas are fishing, but they haven’t caught anything all day. Then another fisherman walks by with a huge load of fish.

They ask him, “Excuse me, but where did you get all those fish?”

The other fisherman replies,” If you just go down the stream until the water isn’t salty, there are a ton of hungry fish.”

They thank him and go on their way.

Fifteen minutes later, one fisherman says to the other, “Fill the bucket up with water and see if the water is salty.”

He dips the bucket in the stream and drinks some. “Nope. Still salty.”

Thirty minutes later, he asks him to check again.

“Nope, still salty.”

One hour later, they check again.

“Nope. Still salty.”

“This isn’t good,” the fisherman finally says. “We have been walking for almost two hours and the water is still salty!”

“I know,” says the other. “And the bucket is almost empty!”

Source: came to us via e-mail. If you want to share a laugh please e-mail a good clean joke to us at info [at] mylifeyoga [dot] com

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The Stress Trap!

Many of us suffer from chronic-illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, anxiety, etc. However very few of us realize that many of these problems are related to something called a “stress-trap”. For the first time ever a short video presentation has been created to illustrate this concept and show you a way out. This video will highlight that an understanding of the stress system is vital for our health and success. It will show us that we have to treat life as a long distance marathon and not a sprint.

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Is Stress Good For You?

Picture of lady focussed in study
The stress system is much maligned and misunderstood. Knowledge of the stress system should help identify it as our friend. This article will explore the role of stress system in our lives. This understanding should allow us to make use of the stress system when we need it and help us understand why we should be careful not to overuse it.

Imagine you are giving a crucial test and that a lot is riding on it. You want to focus and concentrate all your energy to make sure you put in your best effort. You want to make sure that you do not feel hungry or have the urge to go to the bathroom while giving the test. But how do you put your normal biological processes on a temporary hold? The answer lies with the stress system. All you have to do is invoke it! Once the stress system is invoked it will orchestrate for you all the behind the scene activities needed so that all your energies are focused on the test. Without the stress system it is not possible to accomplish anything of significance.

The stress system can be viewed as an “energy booster”. This is because the stress system is able to divert energy from other routine tasks and channel it towards a single purpose. When this is done properly amazing results can accrue. We all are aware of times when we are “in the flow”. When this happens it appears as if we lose track of time. All distractions and worries fall by the wayside. We are entirely focused on the task we are doing and our creative juices begin to flow. Only when the task is completed we realize the amount of time that has passed and are amazed by the amount and high quality of work accomplished. This would not have been possible without the stress system being fully activated and channeling all our energy into the task we were doing. After the task is accomplished we feel exhausted but exhilarated. There is a feeling of accomplishment and though we feel drained at the moment we would love an opportunity to get back into a similar kind of flow and have our creative juices flowing in the same way again. This is an example of “good stress” and we would all love to have “good stress” in our lives as it makes us productive and useful.

On the other hand there are plenty of examples of “bad stress”. There are times where we know we have to get going on an important task but cannot find the energy and focus. We worry about the result and find ourselves distracted. The creative juices are simply not there and we find ourselves mired in confusion and error. The flow of thoughts and ideas is missing and our actions seem disoriented and error-prone. Our stress levels rise but nothing productive seems to come out. Eventually we give up in frustration. Our energy is drained and we feel low and burnt out. We never want to be in such a position again and dread the notion of taking up the unfinished task one more time. This is an example of “bad stress”.

So the question is: how do we get into situations that create “good stress” and avoid those that produce “bad stress”? Continue reading

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I have witnessed miracle after miracle every week!

Picture of leaf depicting life and renewal
What an unexpected gift the yoga of recovery has been. Almost 2 years ago, I attended a weekend intensive out of curiosity and had no idea how this would bring such a profound healing into my life. At the time, I had 13 years of recovery under my belt and had been doing yoga off and on again for a few years. I was content in my life but thankfully, I was not complacent. Showing up for this weekend opened me up to places within me that I didn’t even know existed. Some were painful, ugly and scary and some were grace-filled, magnificent and nourishing. All of these wondrous experiences have served me well and I have kept showing up, trusting that shifts would occur, more would be revealed, and barriers that I am not even conscious of will dissolve.

I can remember when Nikki led us in a partnering practice where she had us stand as we would normally stand. We picked up our partners and our partners picked us up. Standing as we would normally stand, it was easy to pick each other up. Then, she led us through rooting into Mountain Pose, inviting us to draw from the energy of Gaia, to plug into the earth, to grow roots that extended throughout the earth. Then, we tried to pick up our partners and our partners tried to pick us up but this wasn’t possible. All of us were astonished – truly in disbelief at the miracle that happened when we physically tapped into a power greater than ourselves. I wept because I fully understood with every fiber of my being what embodiment is and the difference between intellectually knowing the concept “we root to rise” and embodying this truth. I along with many in our group have shared time and again how we remember to come back to this space and hold our center in the midst of life’s chaos, understanding that alone in our limitations, we will easily be knocked over and overwhelmed but tapping into this limitless power, we are held in a strength greater than the mind can fathom.

I have witnessed miracle after miracle every week! I have seen people with various addictions come for the first time – most have never been on the mat and most have never checked in to see how they are feeling in their bodies. Many enter closed off out of nervousness and vulnerability, skeptical of this hokey thing called yoga, yet they show up. Something brings them to the yoga of recovery and it is a privilege to watch them experience healing that they cannot express in language. They are moved to tears from places unknown and they hug Nikki in gratitude for this healing. Nikki takes no credit, she simply reminds them that they did the work and to keep showing up. They leave the studio more alive in their bodies with new energy that cleanses and restores them.

We don’t have to study yoga or fully understand the yoga principles to benefit. All we must do is show up on the mat, where we are in that moment – cynical, hopeful, defeated, pissed off, tired, content – and begin to breathe and move. The weekly gatherings that I now attend are truly sacred time in a sacred space, and even when I am traveling, I consciously connect with this beloved community.

This is an essay written by a participant of the Y12SR program by CITYOGA, the yoga program of a 12 step recovery, offered to those recovering from substance abuse. The name of the participant has been kept anonymous.

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