What is Viniyoga?

BreatheEasy1Respect for the Individual

Whenever I say I’m a yoga teacher, the first question is “what type of yoga do you teach”. “Viniyoga”, I say. This is followed by either a blank stare or “oh, I do vinyasa yoga”.

Viniyoga Is Not Vinyasa Flow

First of all, vinyasa and Viniyoga are not the same thing. Vinyasa just means combining several postures together into a flow, hence “vinyasa flow”. Continue reading

Yoga for Balance and Brain Health

Balance_ToesA Breathe Easy© Personal Practice Tip

Did you know that passing a balance test is an important indicator of brain health?

Research

A study of about 1,400 adults with an average age of 67 showed that those who could not stand on 1 foot for 20 seconds had more signs of “silent strokes” than those who could. These silent strokes aren’t easy to detect but can lead to more serious strokes and dementia.

This study, published last December, also showed that poor balance could lead to lower scores on thinking and memory tests. You can read more about this study here

Can you stand on 1 foot for 20 seconds? Continue reading

The Right Way to Breathe in Yoga

SeatedBreathingWhen I was in teacher training, we had a discussion on what “correct” yoga breathing is. This is a topic yoga teachers have heated debates over. There are two choices:

  • Inhale – expand belly first then chest
  • Inhale – expand chest first then belly

My teacher let the discussion run for a little while and then explained that the answer is “it depends”… on the purpose, i.e. what you are trying to accomplish.

However, the debate still continues among teachers … Continue reading

Does Yoga Reduce Stress?

woman_screamingHave you ever felt like the screaming woman in this picture? Of course you have. We all have. Life can be so stressful. Whether it’s fighting traffic or dealing with a surprise snowstorm or rushing to meet some deadline, there seems to be an unlimited availability of stress and stressful situations.

And, because of this ongoing stress, we’re experiencing more stress related diseases than ever before. Why is this? Certainly our ancient ancestors had plenty of stressful situations. There were wild animals and starvation to name a couple. I wonder if they had chronic stress and associated diseases like we have today? According to research, no, they did not. Continue reading

Yoga and Observation

private yoga instructorIn his blog, Facing the Stress Epidemic, J. Brown reflects on the type of yoga he practices and teaches. His comments really resonated with me so I am sharing them with you. Here are some of his points that I found particularly meaningful.

My Thoughts

  1. As he notes, yoga is described as being great for stress reduction yet that is not always the case. Classes that ignore the breath or mention it only occasionally “… exhibit a lack of understanding about the nature of stress or how to effectively address it.”
  2.  Yoga that has breath as the primary emphasis, rather than as an afterthought, does much more to reduce stress because the deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system allowing our body to rest and repair.
  3.  Athletes are taught to power through the pain no matter how you might be feeling. Certainly, that was my behavior. I learned very early on that powering through just doesn’t work in yoga. As J. Brown says, you will get hurt.
  4.  Yoga is about observation and understanding your physical, mental and emotional state every time you get on your mat. By observing where you are, you can adjust your practice to where you at the moment and mindfully experience the benefits of yoga.

Continue reading

The Fountain of Mental Youth

file5441234667192Not that many years ago it was thought that the adult brain was unchangeable and that when brain cells died they were just gone – never to return. Thankfully, studies have shown this is not the case. Our brains are capable of growth and change for as long as we live.

Neuroplasticity

I’ve blogged before about the science of neuroplasticity. It’s a field that fascinates me. Neuroplasticity is the ability of our brain to grow and change in response to new information. In other words, we can most definitely grow new brain cells. Continue reading

Are You Sitting Down?

BridgePose

How many hours a day do you spend sitting?

If you’re one of the millions of people who …

  • Work at an office job
  • Commute by car as driver or passenger
  • Watch TV or go to movies
  • Attend school
  • Play computer games

… your answer is probably that you sit a lot.

In her excellent book, The Vital Psoas Muscle, Jo Ann Stauguard-Jones refers to us as “The Hip Flexion Society” because we spend so much of our lives in chairs. We have the dubious distinction of being more sedentary as a society than at any other time in human history. Continue reading

Willpower … Forget it

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 2.56.54 PM

Years ago when I was in corporate America, I stopped by a friend’s house to visit before heading home. I had left work about 8:00p.m. my usual exhausted and hungry self. I went into my friend’s refrigerator to find something to eat (We’re practically family so it was okay to do that). I decided on ice cream even though there were more healthy choices available.

Continue reading

Rewire Your Brain and Prosper

swan

In my blog, “The Happiness Advantage”, we saw how meditation grows the part of our brain responsible for feeling happy and when practiced regularly can actually rewire our brains.

Studies about meditation and our brain seem to be everywhere these days. Neuroplasticity is the science of how the brain changes its structure and function in response to training. It identifies meditation as a primary tool for building a more agile brain, even as we age. Continue reading

The Happiness Advantage

beach copy

Happiness is a very individual thing. What makes one person happy doesn’t work at all for the next person. But, our beliefs about how we achieve happiness are surprisingly similar and for most of us, are based on external events. If we get “x”… then we will be happy. It’s the way many of us have been conditioned since childhood.

Continue reading

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