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    - Reduce your stress and improve focus

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“I am a yoga teacher and truly enjoy Joanne’s blog. It is relaxing to read, refreshing and relevant. I often send her blogs to my students.” Virginia W.

Recovery After Hip Replacement Surgery

This week Breathe Easy welcomes guest blogger Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones. Jo Ann is an internationally acclaimed author and movement educator, as well as a full Professor of Kinesiology and dance. We became acquainted through her book The Vital Psoas Muscle, which is excellent and can be found at Her eagerly awaited next book, The Concise Book of Yoga Anatomy, is due out this fall, 2015.JSJpic

Many of my private yoga students have had hip replacement surgery and I asked Jo Ann to blog about how this surgery affects the psoas and illiopsoas muscles and the sacrum. Her comments and advice are excellent and highly useful. Whether or not you have had this surgery, staying mobile for life depends on appropriate conditioning of these areas. Enjoy Jo Ann’s blog. Continue reading

Yoga for Spine Flexibility

5Directions_SpinalMovementYoga has hundreds of postures and each one has the purpose of moving your spine in one of five directions. Being able to move easily in all ficve directions is one of the keys to wellbeing and healthy aging. In fact, iit’s been said that a flexible spine is a key indicator of health.

Think of the elderly people you know. How easily do they move around? Can they get up and down from the floor with ease? Can they twist around and reach something from the back seat of their car? Do they walk with a shuffle or is there energy in every step? Continue reading


hustle_bustleThe other day I was at the gym doing my exercise routine when I began to observe my self-talk. It went something like this:

“Okay, what else do I need to get done today? I still need to get my blog written for tomorrow’s post. Then, I need to prepare for my classes. Oh, and I need to stop by the grocery store and pick up something for dinner… etc. etc. etc.”

All of these thoughts were racing through my mind as I was racing through my workout. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was just going through the motions, oblivious to my workout or my surroundings.

My mind was a million miles away thinking of my next to-do and robbing myself of enjoying something I really like.

Have you ever been there? So caught up getting things done that you forget to enjoy what you were doing? Continue reading

Yoga for Shoulders

computer_catJust the other day a friend was complaining about pain in the musculature behind his right shoulder and that his range of motion was restricted when he moved his arm back. As he explained his work habits, I began to understand why this was happening. 

He works at a computer day in and day out and will sit for several hours in a row barely moving except for making tiny micro movements to operate the mouse.

That’s the plight of many of us who work in offices. After months and years of doing this, our bodies begin to talk back. Humans were meant to move but our daily lives just don’t co-operate. See my blog, Are You Sitting Down, for some pretty scary statistics on what all of this sitting is doing to us.

It’s really, really important to stand up every once in awhile if you’re at a computer all day. The trouble is we get engrossed and forget to move. So here are some suggestions: Continue reading

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?


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.


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



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