Category Archives: Guest Writers

Can You Do Yoga Over 50? You Bet!

Please welcome Sheryl Stich back to the Whole Life Yoga blog today.  Sheryl teaches four (!) classes each week specifically designed for students over 50.  Continue reading to discover what makes so many students come back week after week.  It’s never too late to start a consistent yoga practice!

As students were chatting and stacking their mats and blankets after the Monday Yoga for Over 50 class, I started to reminisce about how the class began seven years ago with three dedicated students. After a few months, attendance began to flourish and in response we added a class on Wednesdays and Fridays. The classes have continued to grow, so we recently introduced a 4:30 PM class on Wednesdays.

Why is this class so popular? The Yoga for Over 50 class is very similar to an All-Levels class with modifications to accommodate the over 50 body. There are countless benefits of yoga for people over 50, including staying active, improving quality of life and slowing down the aging process. I teach a variety of strengthening postures, always include a balance posture and exclude postures that could possibly compromise bodies with arthritis, osteoporosis and other issues we may face.

When I asked my students what specifically draws them to the class, one student approached me immediately, saying the class matches her energy level, and that Viniyoga is great for the body, and just feels right – this class is perfect for people over 50.

Several students shared that they appreciate working around any physical limitations but still getting benefits from the postures. They recognize the importance of the individual modifications and they feel safe because they are not pressured into positions. One student proclaimed that the practice and postures helped her recover from breast cancer!

One recurring theme was that the class helps with every day things like increasing strength, flexibility, balance, body awareness and a sense of serenity. And the practice helps students be more confident and have an increased ease of movement throughout the day. Stress management, minimizing physical discomfort and preventing accidents also came up several times.

The class has helped one student feel stronger when skiing and another said it has increased her time in the garden from one to three hours. One student shared that she couldn’t walk very far because her hips hurt – this class has helped her be more flexible and strong and has taught how to move so she can spend more time walking.

The Yoga for Over 50 class also has a great sense of community. Catherine Williford has coordinated monthly luncheons for students in all the Over 50 classes, and this is what she had to say:

I love Over 50 Yoga at Whole Life Yoga because Sheryl is a gifted teacher who teaches with clear language and she keeps the pace perfect for those of us who might need a little more time. The poses seem to always be just what my body needed that day. I also love the community that is being created with monthly luncheons for whomever wants to join. I highly recommend this class!

Sheryl Stich is a certified yoga instructor through Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program and is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 500. Sheryl came to Viniyoga after recovering from disc hernia surgery in 2002. She also had hip replacement surgery, and found that yoga and breath work not only helped retain her health physically, but also helped mentally and emotionally. She finds much joy and happiness in sharing this “calm awakening” connecting the mind, body and breath with her students.

Benefits of Yoga for Chronic Pain: A Practice of Conscious Movement, Breath, and Meditation

Please welcome Whole Life Yoga instructor Katie West to the blog today!  Katie is such an inspiration to me and her students. Yoga is an incredible tool to help manage chronic pain, and I’m delighted to offer a new drop-in Yoga for Chronic Pain class by Katie on Thursdays at noon starting May 4.  Please join us!

The Body (movement/asana):

When living with chronic pain, one often develops a negative relationship with the body. If the body is limited and causing distress, frustrations, depression, or anxiety, the natural reaction is to disconnect from it. Many people want to suppress those emotions that are provoked by a chronic condition, so one might try to silence it, when all that is needed is to listen and respond with compassion.

Self-compassion is paramount when it comes to yoga and chronic pain. To be able to look at our own dysfunctional body, feel and nourish it, takes great courage and persistence. Our normal is a different kind of normal from those who do not have physical limitations. It is more delicate and special in that way. It is important to see this, to create a baseline for yourself and adapt from there. What differentiates Viniyoga from other lineages is its adaptability for different bodies and conditions. Correct movement for your body helps manage and minimize chronic pains, change old movement patterns, and build a more positive connection to your body. Viniyoga practices breath-centric movement where the breath is the core of conscious movement and builds a deeper connection to the body.

The Breath (pranayama)

One evening, I was on my side in the middle of the living room floor in crippling pain. Just a typical Friday evening. I began to focus my awareness on the expansion and release of my breath. I felt the warmth and vibrations of my breath within my body and the subtle contraction and relaxation of my muscles as I directed gentle awareness to achy areas. My exhale made my body feel at ease, and the control I had over the expansion in my body through my inhales left me feeling empowered. I slowly breathed life back into my body and realized I have the power to change my responses to what I had been labeling as negative physical sensations. Rather than wallowing in pity and complaining about my physical problems, I just breathed with intention and control, easing my achy joints and busy mind.

To breathe is to live. To consciously breathe is a persistent practice and affects our systems and energy on different levels based on the conscious control of the lengths, segments, pauses, and accentuation of the breath.

The Mind (meditation):

The mind is the control room, reigning over breath and body. Meditation can provide tools to change your thoughts, emotions, behavior, and habitual patterns allowing you to control your mind’s process.  If you choose to focus your attention fully on something, and catch your mind as it is wandering, the act of bringing your attention back to that original focal point is the practice of meditation. If you choose to focus on more positive things such as building a more positive relationship with your body, it will begin to become a habitual pattern. The same goes for negative habitual thought. Meditation teaches us how to listen and respond to the patterns in our mind and change them if desired.

The combination of correct gentle movement, conscious breathing, and focused intention or visualization creates an empowering practice for those with chronic pain.

Katie West has completed 500 hours of yoga teacher training via Whole Life Yoga (WLY) and continued as a TA for WLY’s 200 hour training. She believes yoga is a gift to share with all, having found Viniyoga after years of chronic conditions stemming from structural and muscular issues.The lineage’s teachings yielded the tools to begin her journey of reintegrating body, breath, and mind. This exploration of connection helped minimize and manage her chronic pain and revealed a constant practice of balance to life as a whole. Her teaching style highlights the accessibility, therapeutic, and rehabilitative aspects of yoga. Katie honors the Viniyoga lineage as an instructor and finds any way for students to integrate yoga into their daily lives. She holds that yoga is for everybody and adaptable to all.

 

3 Tips for Staying Centered through Trauma

Hi all!  Please welcome Nadine Kenney Johnstone, author of a powerful memoir,  Of This Much I’m Sure, to the Whole Life Blog today.  In preparation for my next book, I’ve been researching the physical and emotional impacts of infertility and infertility treatments. When I learned of Nadine’s work, I asked her to join us and talk about her experiences as a yogi trying to conceive. Her tips are relevant for individuals living through any kind of trauma.

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I was taking a lot of heated vinyasa flow yoga classes before I started infertility treatments, and I always walked out of the studio feeling detoxed, strong, and calm. One of my favorite instructors was always there to adjust and support me into a deeper extension of a pose. At the time, I was living in Massachusetts, 800 miles away from my mother, sister, and friends in Chicago. So, this nurturing yoga environment was incredibly important to me.

When I started my fertility injections, my doctor stressed the importance of a stable core temperature, so heated yoga was off-limits. My studio didn’t offer non-heated classes, so I replaced my practice with solo walks around the neighborhood. This only furthered my isolation and gave me too much time to mentally obsess about all of the things I couldn’t control–if the injections were working, if the procedures would be successful, if I’d get pregnant.

Unexpectedly, after my egg retrieval procedure, my left ovary never clotted, and I had severe internal bleeding. I was rushed to the hospital and into emergency surgery. The recovery was even worse than that of a c-section. I was out of work and couldn’t drive for weeks. It was the loneliest time in my life. Though what had gotten me into this situation was the longing to be a mother, it left me wanting to be mothered.

On the first day I could drive, I knew exactly where I needed to go. I went to my favorite yoga studio, and though I couldn’t do 90 percent of the poses, the instructor gave me such healing support that I nearly wept. She felt like the mom, sister, and friend I didn’t have in Massachusetts.

When I did finally get pregnant–naturally, by some miracle–I found unheated classes and did yoga throughout my entire pregnancy, which might be why our son is a natural yogi!

I wrote about my experiences in my new memoir: Of This Much I’m Sure.  While reflecting, I learned that trauma, in any form, can be incredibly isolating, and as I look back, here are the things I wish I had done more of to help me stay centered:

Keep up with your yoga practice.

Stress can make you feel incredibly isolated. You need the company–the emotional and physical support from others. The poses and the breathing will give your monkey mind a job other than obsessing over things that you can’t control. If you are going through infertility treatments, go to an unheated class and talk to your doctor about any poses that might be off limits.

Train others to be good listeners.

Most people don’t know how to react to stories of other people’s struggles. Some will talk about the silver-lining; many will tell you to just relax. None of this advice will heal your pain. Choose a few trusted people and prep them about how to react. Tell them, “Listen, hug, repeat.”

Journal

Grab a notebook and time yourself: 10 minutes. Make note of your physical, mental, and emotional status that day. Note what’s irritating you. Note what you’re grateful for (both of yourself and the outside world). What have you learned about yourself today? And, finally, Were you able to speak your truth today? If not, why? Unspoken truth becomes a heavy weight that burdens you until you free it.

_Y5A6000(3)Nadine Kenney Johnstone is author of Of This Much I’m Sure (She Writes Press, 2017), a memoir of her experiences struggling with IVF and illness, and the healing power of hope and love. Her work has been featured in Chicago Magazine, The Month, PANK, and various anthologies, including The Magic of Memoir. Nadine, who received her MFA from Columbia College in Chicago, teaches English at Loyola University and doubles as a writing coach, presenting at conferences internationally. She lives near Chicago with her family.

 

 

 

 

 

The Dark Side of a Yoga Lifestyle

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Hi all!  Please welcome Hayley Maguire To the Whole Life Blog today.  I don’t personally know Hayley, but I was struck by this article and wanted to share it with you.  Those of you who have been to Whole Life Yoga know that we are no yoga fashionistas.  Yoga can benefit everyone.  You are welcome here!

In recent years, yoga has become very fashionable. It’s the little black dress of the health and well-being industry, with people around the world aspiring to bendy perfection. Instagram is full of yoga ‘celebrities’ with a cult following, and yoga is seen by many as the best way to live a healthy, balanced life. So, what is a yoga lifestyle? And why do so many people want a slice of it?

First of all, I would like to add a little disclaimer. I love yoga, I have been a regular practitioner for several years and I fully endorse the benefits of it. However, I’ve been feeling a little uninspired by the level of conformity that seems to be creeping in. Since when do we all have to dress the same, eat the same and live the same way? I thought yoga allowed us to enjoy the physical benefits of the postures while discovering more about ourselves and becoming tolerant of others. I didn’t think it involved competitiveness over who spent the most amount of money on a mat, leggings, or an eco-friendly water bottle.

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I remember the first time I tried yoga while I was living in Sydney several years ago. I didn’t think about whether my leggings were branded or if my yoga outfit matched. And neither did most of the people who were practicing in the room alongside me. The focus was on our personal development and the creation of community. That’s why I loved it. These days though, I look around and I see many women competing over who has the better body and who can outsmart the others with their knowledge of how to better live a yoga lifestyle. It makes me a little sad.

That brings me back to the question, what is a yoga lifestyle? Is it copying what we see on social media? Is it bragging about our consumption of the latest healthy food? Or is it more than that? I’m an advocate for the latter. I believe there is no perfect yoga lifestyle, it’s different for all of us. Some people may want to wear Lululemon, others may want to wear something completely different, but as long as they are comfortable, does it really matter?

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The same applies to people that are vegetarian, gluten-free, social drinkers, tea total, caffeine addicts or cake lovers. Everyone is different and people are drawn to yoga for various reasons. Some practice every day, others do yoga once a week, or just every now and then. What is important is the outcome. If people feel the benefits of their practice and are happy with it, then they are doing it right. For me, that is a yoga lifestyle. So, let’s embrace individuality and enjoy practicing yogahowever we choose to do it!

About the Author:Authors profile picture

Hayley Maguire is a writer and editor with a focus on travel and lifestyle. She has spent several years working and traveling around the world and loves learning about new cultures. She is currently based in the Austrian Alps exploring the mountains and sharing her interests and experiences on her blog Nomadic Maguire. Hayley is also a contributor at BookYogaRetreats.com.

Meeting myself where I am

Please welcome Whole Life Yoga teacher and 500-hour alumnus Sheryl Stich to the Whole Life Blog today. Teaching yoga is a practice. A sometimes deeply personal practice.  I’m delighted she is willing to share some of her insights with us here today.

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Through the course of over 500 hours of Yoga Teacher Training, Tracy ingrained in our brains to always “meet our students where they are.” Today I was experiencing intense feelings of bereavement over losing my life partner Mark nearly a year and a half ago to a serious illness. Instead of heeding that niggling little voice inside me telling me that I should be further along in the grief process, I decided to let go of the “should” and completely honor how I was feeling: lost, alone and super unclear about my future. I tell my students that my class is safe for them, whatever their emotional responses, and today I needed to tell myself that I am also safe – with myself! I decided I would be much better served if I “met myself where I am.”  So throwing all logic out the window, I cried and cursed and hugged Daisy my puppy and talked to Mark, telling him I was actually miffed at him for leaving me. I know from studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali that we create filters through which we see the world and ourselves. By being brutally honest with myself and telling the truth about how I really feel, not how I think I should feel based on my filters, I felt the layers of sorrow slowly peeling away little by little. Not that I am totally healed by any chance, but by meeting myself where I am, as Mark would often quote, I started “The journey of a thousand miles that starts with a single step.” Life is a preserving practice – and always try to meet yourselves and others where we are, whether on the mat or on the street.

Sheryl Stich is a certified yoga instructor through Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program and is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 500. Sheryl came to Viniyoga after recovering from disc hernia surgery in 2002. She also had hip replacement surgery, and found that yoga and breath work not only helped retain her health physically, but also helped mentally and emotionally. She finds much joy and happiness in sharing this “calm awakening” connecting the mind, body and breath with her students.

Enough

Please welcome Whole Life Yoga 500-hour graduate Marcie Leek to the blog today.  I’m so INCREDIBLY proud of Marcie and the work she’s doing.  Thanks for joining us here today!

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For the past few years, I’ve been teaching classes called “Befriending Your Body through Yoga” to plus size women. My intention with these classes is to create a comfortable space where women who have bigger bodies are able to come and see what yoga can offer them. As the name implies, there is also an element of self-compassion underlying the classes. Teaching self-compassion to my students is as important to me as teaching pose adaptations because in my own life I have found that practicing yoga has led to a much kinder, gentler, and more accepting relationship between my (overcritical) mind and my (overweight) body. This is nothing short of a miracle.

I grew up in a small desert town in the 70s. My perceptions of beauty came from the Charlie’s Angels, the Bionic Woman, and Tiger Beat. At that time, there was no body positivity movement and no Yoga and Body Image Coalition and, as a girl of a certain size, I could have used them. My body didn’t look or move like the bodies of most girls around me, and I felt markedly different. No matter how much I dieted, I couldn’t get down to the movie-star weight of 107 pounds. So, I abandoned my body in favor of my mind, striving for excellence in order to make myself good enough, lovable enough, and acceptable enough.

I’m no longer a girl, and I’ve learned from some of my students that not all rounder-bodied women grew up ashamed of their bodies. I’m wistful when I meet women like that. I wonder what my life might have been like had I not spent years aiming to be invisible for fear of mockery or rejection. There have been other students in my classes who grew up like me and who say that it takes every bit of their will just to get to class, particularly the first few times. They are afraid of being visible, of being watched and judged. I feel so deeply for them because I recognize that struggle. They, like me, have samskaras, as yoga philosophy would call it. Samskaras are patterns deeply imprinted at a subconscious level. They can affect our habits, thoughts and actions. The samskaras about my body that I learned from and cultivated in my youth followed me for much of my young adulthood and still affect me today, even after years of conscious work with them. They are familiar to some of my plus-size students because the messages that conditioned them permeate our culture. The messages we receive are that bigger bodies are not normal, acceptable, or desirable. That we are lazy, undisciplined, and ugly. That the sum total of who we are will never be enough to compensate for the fact that we are fat.

One of the greatest gifts I’ve received from yoga is the ability to find a place within myself that is not only quiet and accepting but also has no interest in following the patterns and beliefs of my samskaras. This is what I want to pass along to my students: the understanding that yoga can help them access this same place within themselves, and that it is a place of deep kindness and self-love that is unimaginable when the samskaras are running the show. My deepest Self isn’t interested in what I weigh or what I’m wearing to class, nor is it interested in comparing my body or my abilities to the other students around me. It’s such a relief! I practice yoga to experience that connection with my Self and to experience my body and my breath as it is in the moment, and I’ve learned that what it is in each moment is enough.

Marcie Leek is a Seattle-based yoga instructor and is registered with Yoga Alliance at the 500-hour level. She is also certified in Yoga for Round Bodies.  She has found yoga, meditation, and breath work to be powerful tools in her life, and she is inspired to help others do the same. You can learn more about Marcie on her Facebook Page or at her website www.nourishingbreathyoga.com and contact her at marcie@nourishingbreathyoga.com. Marcie’s Befriending Your Body through Yoga E-Course begins on January 17.

Ahimsa for children: How to encourage your children to respect animals and care for the environment

Please welcome Emma Mills to the Whole Life Blog today. Emma is a freelance writer and mom of two, who loves nothing more than taking her pet dogs for long walks.  

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love both yoga and animals.  The concept of ahimsa, “doing no harm,” encompasses both.  So when Emma asked to write an article about encouraging children to respect animals, I had to say yes!  Enjoy!

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If you are a yoga enthusiast you will know that yoga as a belief system goes beyond the actual exercise element and is in fact a philosophy which promotes inner peace, self control and self realisation. One of the most important principles of Yoga is ahimsa, i.e. non-violence. This is used as a guideline for how we should treat other human beings but it also teaches us not to hurt living things including animals and the world that we live in, which is why many many Hindu’s and Buddhists who adhere to this philosophy are vegetarian. If you want to encourage others to follow the ahimsa principle you must first promote respect for the world around us and the animals that share this earth with us. This is especially important for children because it is an important step in creating a sustainable, animal friendly future.

There are many things you can do to encourage children to respect animals and the environment. One of the most important things you can do is set a good example for your children and exhibit the behaviours you want them to learn. So for example if you want to encourage your children to be kind to animals you must be kind to animals around them. Buy mouse-friendly traps that won’t harm the rodent, take spiders outside rather than killing them and try to teach your children that bees should be respected rather than feared. Take your children to your local zoo, watch a film about animals with your children and, if you have the time, consider buying an animal that your whole family can take care of and learn to love.

In regards to the environment, it’s important that children spend lots of time outside and learn to appreciate nature. Focus on play and experience and encourage your children to explore your back garden or take them on regular trips to a local green area. Make sure they are comfortable with nature and they have positive early experiences in the great outdoors, because not only will they learn to appreciate mother earth but they will be healthier and fitter in the process!

Encouraging your children to respect animals and engage with nature is really important and once you get started it can be a rewarding and fun experience for everyone. If you would like more information on how to promote respect towards animals refer to these tips.

Emma

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Yogi Interview of the Month: Marcie Leek!

Hi everyone! Please help me welcome Whole Life Yoga teacher training graduate Marcie Leek to the blog today.  Marcie is truly amazing, both in the audiences she touches and the innovative ways in which she teaches.  Enjoy!

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What do you specifically appreciate about Viniyoga?

When I first came to Viniyoga, I was a burned-out (English) teacher taking a sabbatical. In the classes I attended at Whole Life, my chaotic and self-critical mind stilled during class. This was miraculous to me (truly!). I found a peace there I had not found in previous yoga classes. My hunch is that Viniyoga’s focus on the breath, and connection between breath and movement, helped me find a meditative, calm, and (self-)loving side of myself that I hadn’t been able to access before.

How has yoga changed your life?

So many ways! I am so much better at practicing living in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or being fearful about the future. I’m not cured of this, of course, but I often notice when I go there (into my head and/or into my fear), and I even manage to call myself back pretty quickly sometimes. I also have become much better at observing self-care boundaries than I was. I’ve slowed down, and I pause more. I’m nicer to myself in my head. I am more aware of my body and of the connections, positive and negative, between my body and my mind. I’ve also become more courageous about bringing ideas into fruition and putting them out in the world, even though it scares me. I know myself more, and I trust my Self more. And I have made some wonderful friends!

What made you decide to take a yoga teacher training program?

I wanted to help other people find that peaceful place within themselves.

Now that you’ve graduated, how are you sharing what you learned?

First, I teach two series classes that aim to bring two very different populations to that peaceful place I have found through yoga. I teach a series and classes called Befriending Your Body through Yoga, in Seattle and now online. It’s a series for plus-size women who want to learn how yoga can help them develop or maintain a self-compassionate relationship between body and mind. I also teach a series called Moving through Grief with Yoga, which teaches people how the tools of yoga can help them as they go through the process of grieving. I am passionate about both of these series and have loved watching them grow! I also teach cancer patients and caregivers for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance the same tools as I teach my other students: self-compassion and how to work with the body, breath, and mind as they navigate a challenging time. I’m so grateful to be able to share yoga with all of these people who might not otherwise know how it can benefit them.

What specific populations do you most enjoy teaching?

I love to teach yoga to anyone who will let me teach them, but I am particularly fond of what I call “tender” populations. This might be the people who come to a particular series, but it also includes newcomers to yoga (especially people who think they can’t do it), expecting mothers, and more.

What would you say to someone who thinks they “can’t” do yoga?

Yes, you can!

How are you different from a “typical” yogi?

Well, I sure don’t fit the physical image most people have of a “typical” yogi – my body is much rounder, and I’m much older than most people I see on the cover of yoga magazines. I was in my late 40s when I graduated my first round of yoga school and 50 when I finished the advanced training.

Where do you teach?

My series (Befriending Your Body through Yoga and Moving through Grief with Yoga) alternate 6-week blocks most quarters of the year, and classes are on Thursday evenings at OmTown Yoga (5500 35th Ave NE in the Ravenna/Bryant neighborhood). I also teach a drop in class at OmTown on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm. Befriending Your Body through Yoga has a Level 2 drop-in class at 7:45 on Tuesdays as well as the Level 1 series on Thursdays. The SCCA classes are limited to residents of the Pete Gross House.

How can people learn more about you? 

My website: www.nourishingbreathyoga.com

My NBY Facebook Page: Nourishing Breath Yoga

Marcie Leek is a Seattle-based yoga instructor and is registered with Yoga Alliance at the 500-hour level. She is also certified in Yoga for Round Bodies. She has found yoga, meditation, and breath work to be powerful tools in her life, and she is inspired to help others do the same. You can learn more about Marcie’s classes at her website, www.nourishingbreathyoga.com and contact her at marcie@nourishingbreathyoga.com.

13 Insane Yoga Benefits

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Please welcome guest blogger Jane Evans to the Whole Life Yoga blog today. Jane is an advocate for overall health and well-being. She writes for GO Mammoth Pilates and Yoga departments and also teaches classes across London.  Tell us, Jane, what are some of the benefits of practicing yoga?

Practicing Yoga has many incredible benefits, not only is it an intense workout for your whole body developing strength and muscle tone it also increases mental concentration combined with spiritual awareness.  All of the above help to enhance lifestyle because you can apply the principles of Yoga to practically every activity you do day to day.  Of course, there are plenty of other superb benefits of Yoga some of which you may not know about.  As Yoga has been around for many centuries it’s no surprise that millions of people across the globe enjoy the positive gains and scientists agree that there are so many benefits both mentally and physically from Yoga practice. Here are 13 insane Yoga benefits which certainly give you food for thought!

Greater Flexibility

If you find that you can’t bend or stretch as much as you’d like or perhaps your joints and muscles are stiff then Yoga will help to loosen and strengthen where you need it. For example, bending over and touching your toes might seem like an impossibility but a few months of Yoga practice and you’ll more than likely be able to bend over and place your palms flat on the floor!

Improved Posture

You might think you stand perfectly well and why should you change the way you walk? Yoga will enhance your posture because it encourages you to stand tall and give your body suppleness so will actually improve your stance.  This is because Yoga stretches the muscles and elongates them but it also works on the principle of balance so the body works equally on either side.  Your posture will change, even subconsciously for the better.

Better Strength

Who needs to go to the gym to strengthen your body when you can practice Yoga and get better results without profuse sweating? Yoga is designed to strengthen every muscle in the body and the various poses must be held for a while which really hones in on muscle training.  The more advanced you become with your Yoga, the more complex the poses, so there’s always a new challenge to take on!

Improved Relaxation

Yoga is an intense workout and requires concentration and dedication – the sessions aren’t designed to be easy but the results don’t just bring about body changes, they also go a long way to quiet your mind. This means you can relax quicker and with ease – even sleep better!  This is because Yoga works on the nervous system, helping it to relax and focuses on meditation which is an art-form that soothes the mind. There are even specific Yoga poses which can help you to rest when you want to.

Yoga Energizes

While Yoga can relax you when needed it also boosts energy levels because of the breathing technique applied to this workout. It’s all based on how much oxygen you breathe in and Yoga makes you breathe far deeper than you would normally.  There’s another reason too, some Yoga poses regulate the cortisol hormone helping to balance energy levels and then again, as Yoga helps you to sleep well you’re bound to feel more energetic the next morning.

Yoga Gives You A Healthier Heart

This is one of the reasons why so many doctors recommend Yoga to heart disease patients because Yoga delivers oxygen to the body’s organs helping them to function better. Yoga also thins the blood because of the poses and this helps to circulate blood all the way round the body and pump the heart.  Thinner blood can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Yoga Decreases Water Retention

If you suffer with water retention particularly in your hands, legs and feet you will find that taking up Yoga helps to decrease swelling. This is because of its blood thinning benefits and it helps your body to rid itself of toxins so circulation is improved and unwanted water removed.

Yoga Helps Metabolic Rate

If you have a low metabolism you might be looking to give it a much-needed boost. Taking up Yoga will help you to quicken your metabolic rate which in turn could help you to shed any unwanted weight.  This is because Yoga boosts your energy levels which affect how quickly your body converts food and drink – Yoga is an active workout after all!

Yoga Teaches You How To Breathe

Well that sounds ridiculous because of course you know how to breathe – but actually do you know how to breathe properly? Generally, people don’t breathe deeply enough and Yoga teaches incredible techniques which help to increase oxygen levels in the body.  This is why it’s often prescribed as a method to use in respiratory conditions.  Yoga really does focus on breathing and expands your lung capacity so it’s excellent for asthmatics or other breathing difficulties.

Yoga Boosts Memory

Yoga is one of those exercises that is superb for mental agility because it encourages you to concentrate. It’s fairly simple to explain, Yoga pushes blood flow around the brain so it is very beneficial to the memory area and in studies, participants reported greater recall and improved concentration after just one short Yoga session.

Yoga Reduces Blood Pressure

It does this in a number of ways. Firstly it is a relaxing workout and focuses the mind on poses and meditation so is a great stress-reliever, often stress is the reason behind high blood pressure. If you practice hot Yoga, you will greatly reduce your sodium stores because of the sweat involved, while everyone needs sodium in their diet, too much salt is bad for high blood pressure and heart disease.

Yoga Improves Bone Density

This is why it is often prescribed as an exercise for osteoporosis or osteoarthritis patients. It’s also excellent for arthritis sufferers because it focuses on mobility and strengthening muscles.  Yoga can also keep calcium present in the bones and calcium deficiency leads to brittle bones.

Yoga Brings Peace

In today’s busy, anxious world many people find themselves over-stressing the little things in life and forgetting to focus on what’s really important such as friends, family, partner and of course – themselves. Yoga brings inner calm and peace because it is a mindful exercise which teaches meditation and spirituality.  Just a few weeks of Yoga practice will help to change how you perceive different situations and also go a long way to help you switch off from anxiety and negative thoughts.

How Did I Spend My Weekend?

Hi all!  Please welcome Whole Life Yoga teacher training graduate and Whole Life Yoga instructor Roxie Dufour to the Whole Life blog today.  Roxie can be contacted at YogaRoxSeattle@gmail.com. Roxie will always hold the honor of being the yoga student I saw get married in a kayak.  It’s only natural that she should combine teaching yoga with her favorite pastime.  Roxie, please share!

2014-8-31

How Did I Spend My Weekend?

Answer: Combining my favorite things!

Over the weekend, my husband Dave and I assisted in the Washington Kayak Club Basic Sea Kayak Class at Deception Pass. Yes, we are the kayakers under the bridge in the swirly waters, 28 students, and 9 instructors.  The best way to describe it is going to camp with your kayak.  I was asked to squeeze in a ‘brief’ yoga class.  I knew the students needed to warm up shoulders, neck and hips, side body stretching, and lots of torso rotation for paddling, calming anxieties and tension, and to invite balance, integrate left/right movements.  In any yoga class, there are adaptations and options to incorporate factors.  Some students have never been in a kayak or taken a yoga class.

No pressure, right?

Tapping on the Viniyoga lineage, Tracy Weber’s teachings, meeting the students where they were, and from experience…keeping it simple was my plan. Did I mention, we were at the beach, wearing dry suits, PFDs, and dressed ready for immersion?

Basic Kayak Yoga2

The sequencing was simple with about seven postures, all standing, because dry suits are expensive. Connecting simple movements to the breath impacts the autonomic nervous system and increases circulation.  I visualized the student’s shortened breath patterns, muscle tension, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. I was nervous, too. Having students recognize where they are and accept that place with compassion is important to any student, anxious kayakers included.

Basic Kayak Yoga3

My reward was seeing shoulders relax, smiles, sighs of relief, thank yous, and “When do we get wet?”

Whether you are on the mat or heading to your kayak, yoga is a positive piece of the day, keep it simple.

Roxie

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.