Yoga Helps Back Pain

Lower Back Pain
After herniating several discs in my lower back, I suffered years of chronic and debilitating back pain. While the doctors suggested surgery, I wanted to exhaust all other options before I made such a drastic decision. I saw orthopedic doctors, physiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and osteopaths, trying every noninvasive option available before a friend suggested that I try yoga. Following her advice, I decided to take private lessons with Stephanie to see if yoga could help. Stephanie was knowledgeable, patient, and caring. Her ability to help me heal transcended what all the medical professionals were able to achieve, and within months I was back on track to living a healthy lifestyle. It’s been ten years since I started studying with Stephanie and thanks to my work with her I’ve been able to avoid the surgery. I’ve also done so without compromise as I’m able to enjoy karate, sailing, golf, tennis, surfing and all sorts of other rigorous sports… all without back pain.” – Dan Kern

This is a testimonial provided for Stephanie Foster and has been reposted with permission. You may find this and more tetimonails here. If you have a testimonial that could help guide others please send it to us: info [at] mylifeyoga [dot] com

Related Post: How Iyengar Yoga Helped Me Heal My Chronic Low Back Pain

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Pain Free For The First Time!

Painfree Now Playing Basketball
I’m a 37-year-old mother of 3. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 14. I have suffered greatly over the years with swollen & painful joints. I took Ecotrin (coated aspirin) for about 10 years only to end up with an ulcer. Then I just learned to live with the flare-ups, taking anti-inflammatories & lots of heat/ice. At about 18, I started having problems with my neck. I went to chiropractors for the next 2 decades on and off. They said I had a pinched nerve in my neck. Then the pain went from my neck to my shoulder down my arm and back and felt as though my trapezius muscle was wrapped around my collarbone. It was incredibly painful. I soon learned that nobody could tell me what the problem was, never mind help me. At 30 I was in two car accidents within one month. After that my neck, shoulder, trapezius muscle, whatever it was, was unbearable. The doctors said I had whiplash and soft tissue damage. On my own I went back to the chiropractor. That did nothing. Then a muscle specialist sent me to physical therapy, four times a week. At that time I could not raise my arm over my head & had no range of motion in my neck at all.

After 10 weeks of physical therapy there was no improvement. I decided to try HotCore (Bikram) Yoga. At first I still had a hard time getting my arms over my head, but after only 6 weeks I could do it with almost little to no pain. At my most recent class I tried to reach my neck to my chest? It worked! I have not been able to move my neck for so long I couldn’t believe it! Continue reading

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How Yoga Helped Me Navigate Choppy Waters

Melanie Camp

Melanie Camp

I was 56 when my husband passed away. I had been practicing “hot yoga” for nearly 5 years when my husband of 32 years passed away. I started adding more days to my weekly practice to heal and meditate…to release anger and frustration…to handle the stress of separation and it worked.

I found that I fit the statistic of 56 — the average age of widowhood. I felt too young to be a widow and as my practice improved I knew that the door to a happy life was not closing. Yoga helped me see that the possibility of a healthy and full life was ahead of me and that there were no limits to my flexibility. Because each posture addresses so much of the “inner mind”, my adjustment to this new chapter was enhanced by a positive focus and a consistent practice.

After a few months of reflection, I decided to participate in my yoga teacher’s first Yoga Teacher Training along with sixty other yogis from around the world. I enrolled for five weeks of intense training, six days a week from 7am until 9pm or later. I did it…I completed my training and while I was not convinced that I would be teaching, I wanted to share my knowledge. With a body that was more toned than ever, I began sharing the message wherever I traveled. “Yoga can change your life!” became my theme song.

With meditation and concentration, I sent a message out to the universe that I wanted more than ever to “participate” in this new life; explore my new freedom and challenge my fears. The following year I attended yoga retreats in Brazil, North Carolina and Costa Rica and later Santorini, Greece. I took advanced yoga training and began to teach privately and as a substitute at my regular studio. I attended yoga conferences in Canada and Arizona and I supplemented my yoga training by visiting an assortment of yoga studios from California to New York. I was asked to teach at a Day School in Miami Beach and in preparation for that assignment I attended training for Kids Yoga in Italy along with 20 others. I was the only American!

Along with the yoga exploration I began sailing….I wanted to experience a taste of the sea and the mystery of its lure. After assorted sailing classes and day sails with a sailing club, I participated in my first ocean passage with 55 other sailboats from Virginia to the British Virgin Islands. Yes, I meditated and I relied on my Yoga to get through a major storm under very challenging circumstances for ten days on a 55 foot Schooner. Continue reading

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The Story Of Swami Vivekananda: East Meets West

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda

The improbable journey of a brilliant but headstrong child called Naren in becoming a monk called Swami Vivekananda has been covered earlier. The Swami is now on a ship headed west to attend the Parliament of Religions. This is an epic and unprecedented journey for it is the first time a realized master of the caliber of Swami Vivekananda is headed west.

When he arrived in Chicago Swami Vivekananda learnt that he needed a letter of introduction to register, and that the date for registration had already passed. There was no chance that he would be allowed to speak in the “Parliament of Religions”. After a few days in Chicago he realized that he was running out of money. The opening date of the “Parliament of Religions” was put off by a few months. Somebody told him that Boston was cheaper and he could make his money last longer. So he boarded a train for Boston. On the train he met Miss Kate Sanborn, who invited him to be a guest at her home. She introduced him to Prof J. H. Wright of Harvard University. Swami Vivekananda had many in-depth discussions with Prof. Wright and the professor was duly impressed. When he learnt of the swami’s difficulty in attending the “Parliament of Religions” he told him that, “To ask you for your credentials is like asking sun about its right to shine!” The chairman of the committee that selected the delegates was his friend and he wrote him a letter that said, “Here is a man who is more learned than all our learned professors put together.” Based on this the swami was accepted as a delegate. Knowing that the Swami was running short of cash Prof. Wright even bought him the tickets to Chicago.

The day came when the “Parliament Of Religions” opened. There were thousands of people in the audience. Swami Vivekananda found himself on the stage with 23 other delegates. One by one each delegate was introduced and spoke briefly. At last it was his turn. He had no prepared speech and he had no idea what he was going to say. He had never addressed an audience of this size before. When the time came to speak the first words that came out from his mouth were, “Sisters and Brothers of America.” On hearing this the audience spontaneously broke out in an applause. Here was a delegate who instead of addressing them formally was addressing them from the heart. This touched a chord and the audience responded immediately with a warm ovation. The warmth of the audience helped settle down the swami who went on to give a great speech. After the speech was over the applause was deafening! The audience fell in love with the swami who suddenly found himself the new star of the show. Swami Vivekananda refused to be pigeon holed as a representative of Hinduism but considered himself as a representative of all Religions. He spoke for religious tolerance and religious unity. The audience was waiting for somebody to speak at that level and responded enthusiastically.

Here are excerpts from his short speech: Continue reading

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The Story Of Swami Vivekananda: The Wandering Years

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda

Sri Ramakrishna had set Naren, a brilliant but strong headed young man, on a daring and somewhat impossible path. To think that a group of destitute monks from India would even dare to embark on such a journey was laughable.

At that time India was destitute and occupied by a colonial power. Indian society was plagued by rigid norms, superstitions, and outmoded rituals. On top of all this Indians had divided themselves into rigid and dogmatic caste structures that prevented free flow of ideas. The entire structure was on the verge of collapse. Famines routinely took millions of lives. There was wretched poverty all around and the sense of hopelessness shone through the eyes of the common man. If India sank not only would ancient spiritual wisdom be lost but the ensuing chaos would be a huge problem for the rest of the world. On a broader scale the world was hungry for a unifying message and a broader understanding of the message of yoga and the Vedas. Could yoga provide insights for a new science of consciousness? Could this new understanding be the thread that unifies all the world religions and ends religious conflict? Could this message of unity be the basis for free and united India?

A rag-tag bunch of penniless monks led by Naren were out to change the world. But they had first to worry about their next meal and a roof over their head. Fortunately a devotee came forward and agreed to foot the expenses. A decrepit house thought to be haunted by spirits was rented. Naren knew that he had to build on a solid foundation. For the next two years the monks lived in dire poverty and frugality. They however took the time to embark on an ambitious education program. They examined the histories of different countries and various philosophical systems. Aristotle and Plato, Kant and Hegel, Sankaracharya and Buddha, Ramanuja and Madhva, Chaitanya and Nimbarka, and many others, were thoroughly discussed. The Hindu philosophical systems of Jnana, Bhakti, Raja Yoga, and Karma, each received a due share of attention, and their apparent contradictions were reconciled in the light of Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings. The dryness of discussion was relieved by devotional music and singing. In addition all the monks spent time meditating every day.

Next began a period of wandering. The monks had to know and understand the people they sought to transform. They had to learn about local social customs and norms and see first hand the problems people faced. They started with short trips in groups. As they gathered courage they learned to travel for longer distances. On a typical trip a monk would have no money with him. Besides the clothes the monk was wearing he carried a staff and a begging bow and nothing else. Naren carried his two favorite books with him in addition: The Bhagvad Gita and The Imitation of Christ. During their wandering they subsisted entirely on the mercy of the local people for food and shelter. Sometimes somebody would buy them a bus or train fare or else they would walk. This was a most grueling undertaking. It has to be viewed in the context of extreme poverty faced by most of the population. Sometimes the monks would go without food for days and at times pass out from exhaustion, sickness, or hunger. Continue reading

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