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Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

Healthy habits for a (less) stressful holiday season

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2013 at 1:50 am

In a blink of an eye, we find ourselves approaching what is possibly the most anticipated (and dreaded) month of the entire year. “Winter is coming” may have served as an appropriate reminder of the chaos that would ensue on Game of Thrones, while back here in the non-fiction world, the same amount of shivers may be elicited when the words “Christmas is coming” are uttered. So how to keep the stress to a manageable level, before, during and even after the holidaze? Getting into a routine of healthy body, mind and spirit habits, which can carry you past the resolution-energized start of 2014. Here are a few tips to live by:

Drink your vitamins

Pill popping may not be your thing, and if you’re rushing from here to there, you may find yourself forgetting to take your supplements with a meal. So take out the proverbial middleman by getting your daily dose of antioxidants in a potent potion made out of fresh vegetables and fruits. You can even choose to supplement one, two or all three of your meals and go on a full-on juice detox just to give your digestive system a rest. The benefits of a juice cleanse are not only a cleaner overall system and a sharper mind, but also a lot more energy. Juju Cleanse has great-tasting juices that can ease you into it (Level 1) or take you all the way with their mostly green Level 3 concoctions. Their website Jujucleanse.com is also highly informative, which may tempt you into doing a full-day or even five-day juice detox. Should you decide to go liquid before the onslaught of parties and party food, make sure you take time to ease yourself into it and out of it. Want a taste before you commit? You can pop by their restaurant Juju Eats in Makati (www.Jujueats.com) where you can grab a juice drink and combine it with a freshly made salad or wrap and take them with you. You can also call 0917-5763012 for more information.

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Eat lighter or Eat for a cause

Since we are on the subject of nourishment, if liquefying your life may be too extreme (or seemingly impossible for you) as Christmas draws near, then you may want to look at supplementing your meals with vegan food. In other words, fare that is animal-product free. Edgy Veggy (www.edgyveggy.ph) has a full menu that can be delivered to your doorstep, or you can grab a bite at their commissary in Pasig. Their newest offering, vegan longganiza (P180) is made with mushrooms, non-GMO tofu and spices, plus every order of this particular meal gives 10-percent of its proceeds to the I Can Serve Foundation. None of their dishes are made with preservatives or animal fat and they serve generous proportions so even the hefty eater can feel satisfied without feeling the usual heaviness and sluggishness associated with eating commercially produced fast food. Meals that contain fewer preservatives and fewer chemicals also lessen the risk of adrenal fatigue syndrome, which is both an energy and mood killer. Spread the joy of the season by starting from the inside with healthier food choices when possible. For more information or to order, call 0917-8474831.

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Passive action

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Free your mind

A monkey mind is what a majority of us possess. This means simply that we process what seems like 10,000 thoughts in a day. The total is actually much higher than that: it has been documented that we have about 60,000 thoughts a day! Imagine the stress you carry cerebrally daily; no wonder the term “brain fog” has become more the norm, and it’s hitting us at any age, when it used to be reserved for those who were well into their 60s. So how to free yourself from a mind that can’t seem to shut up? Meditation and breathing exercises are the tools to find your center and be the master of your mind, rather than be the slave to it. The Third Eye Wellness Center (http://thirdeyeonline.com/) located in Bonifacio Global City is a new all-in-one wellness center that offers therapeutic practices that are beneficial for one’s outer and inner being. Its Transcend Spa offers massages, facials and care for your nails,  a vegetarian café (Chakra Café) where you can order light fare as well as freshly made smoothies and energy healing modalities such as Theta DNA Healing, Access Bars, Crystal Layout, Tarot Card Readings, Past Life Regression and the like. The energy healing modalities allow one to clear or remove limiting beliefs or blocks that may have been taken on from childhood. If you’re feeling like it’s you against the world, then check out what’s happening in your internal world first. You can also call 808-2984 or 0917-6362800 for more information.

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Come Fly With Me-A Workshop with Alexandria Crow

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2013 at 11:55 am

It looks like I have fully embraced my inner yogini. Finally having gotten my Teacher’s Training diploma, I find myself happily immersed in one yoga workshop after the other. First in June, a rather intense four days of back-to-back seminars (both physically intensive or philosophy rich) of yoga at the Asia Yoga Conference in Hong Kong. Coming back to Manila I discovered I had gotten way stronger, and way braver in doing my asanas (poses). I could get into an inversion with less nerves, it was just a matter of learning how to keep upside down for longer than a couple of seconds. That is now my current challenge, finding my center even when my perspective has been flipped around. Enter August with the coming of the almost ethereal beauty and grace of Alexandria (Alex) Crow.

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Although coming from a gymnast background, Crow battled with injuries that kept her inactive for some time. Her workshop in August will focus on “floating”. Working the upper body, opening the hips and strengthening one’s core (and probably reserve) to get up, and up into arm balances and inversions.

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There will be whole day classes, community classes and short, intense workshops for anyone who is wanting to deepen their yoga practice. I look forward to finding out the best way to get my legs up over my head, fully focused on my breath and feeling light as a feather. August will be my month to float and fly, and I hope to see more of my friends lifting off beside me on their mats! Check out Alex Crow’s schedule (August 9-14) on: http://www.urbanashrammanila.com/ or call one of Urban Ashram Manila’s two branches:

Brixton Branch (02) 661 YOGA / 0917 881 YOGA

High Street Branch (02) 869YOGA / 0917 718 YOGA

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How yoga can hurt instead of heal-a repost from The New York Times

In Living a Life Off-Center on January 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Are you a poser?

I love yoga. It is an activity that has helped me get over several rather sad chapters in my life.  It literally and figuratively opened me up to a whole new world of light and loving myself. I’ve tried many forms of yoga namely: astanga, sivananda, vinyasa, iyengar, jivamukti, lady niguma and anusara. I have enjoyed aspects of all of them, different practices coming in with the right asanas (poses) that were meant to expand my consciousness at the time I needed them the most. Having been relatively flexible and athletic since I was a kid was definitely an advantage with my yoga. Even if some of the poses frustrated me, I was a quick study, very devoted and I soon found my bliss during practice. After several years or being a regularly going to class, even practicing at home, I stopped for an even longer number of years. When I finally reunited with yoga a year ago, I found myself saddened at my stiffened muscles, my less than limber legs, painful back and my inability to do poses that I once could have fallen asleep while doing. The experience was truly humbling showing me a parallelism to life, that it isn’t always going to be the same, change is constant, and you have to keep learning and re-learning what you can do, what you cannot do, and what you must learn to do again if you choose. I am now slowly getting back into the “stretch and stillness” of things so to speak. It’s a minor triumph for me with every practice when I can hold a pose longer or feel my muscles slowly release as I also relax my mind and surrender to the breath.

There are many though, who have a different attitude to me and treat their practice like a workout.  I was fortunate enough  to have had a yogi when I first started who talked about how to listen to your body. She wasn’t like a gym trainer who pushes you to your limit when you are doing reps and sets til your muscles are aching, she challenged us with poses but didn’t force us if we were in pain or if we were having too much difficulty. She allowed us to grow into the poses in our own time. On the other hand, I have also been in the presence of her polar opposite, a teacher who treated my body like an asana crash test dummy; pushing, shoving, twisting even yelling at me to get me to stretch thatmuchmore for the “perfect” pose. Nazi yoga was what I coined that particular class and I never went back. That experience scarred me for many years after not just on the physical plane but emotionally as well. I wasn’t seriously hurt, but I left deflated-my body felt inadequate and weak, as did my spirit.

This is why when I came across this article posted by a friend on Facebook, I decided to share it. May we all enter into our practice and our lives remembering we are still human, that we are all susceptible to our egos, and may we give our bodies and ourselves more respect and tender, loving care because we deserve it.  Be gentle everyone. Ohm shanti.

How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body

Danielle Levitt for The New York Times

Members of the Broadway cast of “Godspell” do their flexible best. From left: Uzo Aduba (doing the wheel), George Salazar (extended-hand-to-big-toe pose) and Nick Blaemire (headstand).

By WILLIAM J. BROAD
Published: January 5, 2012

On a cold Saturday in early 2009, Glenn Black, a yoga teacher of nearly four decades, whose devoted clientele includes a number of celebrities and prominent gurus, was giving a master class at Sankalpah Yoga in Manhattan. Black is, in many ways, a classic yogi: he studied in Pune, India, at the institute founded by the legendary B. K. S. Iyengar, and spent years in solitude and meditation. He now lives in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and often teaches at the nearby Omega Institute, a New Age emporium spread over nearly 200 acres of woods and gardens. He is known for his rigor and his down-to-earth style. But this was not why I sought him out: Black, I’d been told, was the person to speak with if you wanted to know not about the virtues of yoga but rather about the damage it could do. Many of his regular clients came to him for bodywork or rehabilitation following yoga injuries. This was the situation I found myself in. In my 30s, I had somehow managed to rupture a disk in my lower back and found I could prevent bouts of pain with a selection of yoga postures and abdominal exercises. Then, in 2007, while doing the extended-side-angle pose, a posture hailed as a cure for many diseases, my back gave way. With it went my belief, naïve in retrospect, that yoga was a source only of healing and never harm.

Danielle Levitt for The New York Times

Salazar: I would say I’m a 7 out of 10 on the flexibility scale.

Danielle Levitt for The New York Times

Aduba: You know when people jump up into those crazy positions, like they stand on their eyeballs or something, while you’re sitting there just trying to figure out which side of the mat you used the last time? I envy them.

Danielle Levitt for The New York Times

Blaemire: The plow was the easiest position of the day — though it is quite a strange feeling having your face that close to your knees.

At Sankalpah Yoga, the room was packed; roughly half the students were said to be teachers themselves. Black walked around the room, joking and talking. “Is this yoga?” he asked as we sweated through a pose that seemed to demand superhuman endurance. “It is if you’re paying attention.” His approach was almost free-form: he made us hold poses for a long time but taught no inversions and few classical postures. Throughout the class, he urged us to pay attention to the thresholds of pain. “I make it as hard as possible,” he told the group. “It’s up to you to make it easy on yourself.” He drove his point home with a cautionary tale. In India, he recalled, a yogi came to study at Iyengar’s school and threw himself into a spinal twist. Black said he watched in disbelief as three of the man’s ribs gave way — pop, pop, pop.

After class, I asked Black about his approach to teaching yoga — the emphasis on holding only a few simple poses, the absence of common inversions like headstands and shoulder stands. He gave me the kind of answer you’d expect from any yoga teacher: that awareness is more important than rushing through a series of postures just to say you’d done them. But then he said something more radical. Black has come to believe that “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm.

Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable. Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”

Black seemingly reconciles the dangers of yoga with his own teaching of it by working hard at knowing when a student “shouldn’t do something — the shoulder stand, the headstand or putting any weight on the cervical vertebrae.” Though he studied with Shmuel Tatz, a legendary Manhattan-based physical therapist who devised a method of massage and alignment for actors and dancers, he acknowledges that he has no formal training for determining which poses are good for a student and which may be problematic. What he does have, he says, is “a ton of experience.”

“To come to New York and do a class with people who have many problems and say, ‘O.K., we’re going to do this sequence of poses today’ — it just doesn’t work.”

According to Black, a number of factors have converged to heighten the risk of practicing yoga. The biggest is the demographic shift in those who study it. Indian practitioners of yoga typically squatted and sat cross-legged in daily life, and yoga poses, or asanas, were an outgrowth of these postures. Now urbanites who sit in chairs all day walk into a studio a couple of times a week and strain to twist themselves into ever-more-difficult postures despite their lack of flexibility and other physical problems. Many come to yoga as a gentle alternative to vigorous sports or for rehabilitation for injuries. But yoga’s exploding popularity — the number of Americans doing yoga has risen from about 4 million in 2001 to what some estimate to be as many as 20 million in 2011 — means that there is now an abundance of studios where many teachers lack the deeper training necessary to recognize when students are headed toward injury. “Today many schools of yoga are just about pushing people,” Black said. “You can’t believe what’s going on — teachers jumping on people, pushing and pulling and saying, ‘You should be able to do this by now.’ It has to do with their egos.”

When yoga teachers come to him for bodywork after suffering major traumas, Black tells them, “Don’t do yoga.”

“They look at me like I’m crazy,” he goes on to say. “And I know if they continue, they won’t be able to take it.” I asked him about the worst injuries he’d seen. He spoke of well-known yoga teachers doing such basic poses as downward-facing dog, in which the body forms an inverted V, so strenuously that they tore Achilles tendons. “It’s ego,” he said. “The whole point of yoga is to get rid of ego.” He said he had seen some “pretty gruesome hips.” “One of the biggest teachers in America had zero movement in her hip joints,” Black told me. “The sockets had become so degenerated that she had to have hip replacements.” I asked if she still taught. “Oh, yeah,” Black replied. “There are other yoga teachers that have such bad backs they have to lie down to teach. I’d be so embarrassed.”

Among devotees, from gurus to acolytes forever carrying their rolled-up mats, yoga is described as a nearly miraculous agent of renewal and healing. They celebrate its abilities to calm, cure, energize and strengthen. And much of this appears to be true: yoga can lower your blood pressure, make chemicals that act as antidepressants, even improve your sex life. But the yoga community long remained silent about its potential to inflict blinding pain. Jagannath G. Gune, who helped revive yoga for the modern era, made no allusion to injuries in his journal Yoga Mimansa or his 1931 book “Asanas.” Indra Devi avoided the issue in her 1953 best seller “Forever Young, Forever Healthy,” as did B. K. S. Iyengar in his seminal “Light on Yoga,” published in 1965. Reassurances about yoga’s safety also make regular appearances in the how-to books of such yogis as Swami Sivananda, K. Pattabhi Jois and Bikram Choudhury. “Real yoga is as safe as mother’s milk,” declared Swami Gitananda, a guru who made 10 world tours and founded ashrams on several continents.

But a growing body of medical evidence supports Black’s contention that, for many people, a number of commonly taught yoga poses are inherently risky. The first reports of yoga injuries appeared decades ago, published in some of the world’s most respected journals — among them, Neurology, The British Medical Journal and The Journal of the American Medical Association. The problems ranged from relatively mild injuries to permanent disabilities. In one case, a male college student, after more than a year of doing yoga, decided to intensify his practice. He would sit upright on his heels in a kneeling position known as vajrasana for hours a day, chanting for world peace. Soon he was experiencing difficulty walking, running and climbing stairs.

Doctors traced the problem to an unresponsive nerve, a peripheral branch of the sciatic, which runs from the lower spine through the buttocks and down the legs. Sitting in vajrasana deprived the branch that runs below the knee of oxygen, deadening the nerve. Once the student gave up the pose, he improved rapidly. Clinicians recorded a number of similar cases and the condition even got its own name: “yoga foot drop.”

More troubling reports followed. In 1972 a prominent Oxford neurophysiologist, W. Ritchie Russell, published an article in The British Medical Journal arguing that, while rare, some yoga postures threatened to cause strokes even in relatively young, healthy people. Russell found that brain injuries arose not only from direct trauma to the head but also from quick movements or excessive extensions of the neck, such as occur in whiplash — or certain yoga poses. Normally, the neck can stretch backward 75 degrees, forward 40 degrees and sideways 45 degrees, and it can rotate on its axis about 50 degrees. Yoga practitioners typically move the vertebrae much farther. An intermediate student can easily turn his or her neck 90 degrees — nearly twice the normal rotation.

Hyperflexion of the neck was encouraged by experienced practitioners. Iyengar emphasized that in cobra pose, the head should arch “as far back as possible” and insisted that in the shoulder stand, in which the chin is tucked deep in the chest, the trunk and head forming a right angle, “the body should be in one straight line, perpendicular to the floor.” He called the pose, said to stimulate the thyroid, “one of the greatest boons conferred on humanity by our ancient sages.”

Extreme motions of the head and neck, Russell warned, could wound the vertebral arteries, producing clots, swelling and constriction, and eventually wreak havoc in the brain. The basilar artery, which arises from the union of the two vertebral arteries and forms a wide conduit at the base of the brain, was of particular concern. It feeds such structures as the pons (which plays a role in respiration), the cerebellum (which coordinates the muscles), the occipital lobe of the outer brain (which turns eye impulses into images) and the thalamus (which relays sensory messages to the outer brain). Reductions in blood flow to the basilar artery are known to produce a variety of strokes. These rarely affect language and conscious thinking (often said to be located in the frontal cortex) but can severely damage the body’s core machinery and sometimes be fatal. The majority of patients suffering such a stroke do recover most functions. But in some cases headaches, imbalance, dizziness and difficulty in making fine movements persist for years.

Russell also worried that when strokes hit yoga practitioners, doctors might fail to trace their cause. The cerebral damage, he wrote, “may be delayed, perhaps to appear during the night following, and this delay of some hours distracts attention from the earlier precipitating factor.”

In 1973, a year after Russell’s paper was published, Willibald Nagler, a renowned authority on spinal rehabilitation at Cornell University Medical College, published a paper on a strange case. A healthy woman of 28 suffered a stroke while doing a yoga position known as the wheel or upward bow, in which the practitioner lies on her back, then lifts her body into a semicircular arc, balancing on hands and feet. An intermediate stage often involves raising the trunk and resting the crown of the head on the floor. While balanced on her head, her neck bent far backward, the woman “suddenly felt a severe throbbing headache.” She had difficulty getting up, and when helped into a standing position, was unable to walk without assistance. The woman was rushed to the hospital. She had no sensation on the right side of her body; her left arm and leg responded poorly to her commands. Her eyes kept glancing involuntarily to the left. And the left side of her face showed a contracted pupil, a drooping upper eyelid and a rising lower lid — a cluster of symptoms known as Horner’s syndrome. Nagler reported that the woman also had a tendency to fall to the left.

Her doctors found that the woman’s left vertebral artery, which runs between the first two cervical vertebrae, had narrowed considerably and that the arteries feeding her cerebellum had undergone severe displacement. Given the lack of advanced imaging technologies at the time, an exploratory operation was conducted to get a clearer sense of her injuries. The surgeons who opened her skull found that the left hemisphere of her cerebellum suffered a major failure of blood supply that resulted in much dead tissue and that the site was seeped in secondary hemorrhages.

The patient began an intensive program of rehabilitation. Two years later, she was able to walk, Nagler reported, “with [a] broad-based gait.” But her left arm continued to wander and her left eye continued to show Horner’s syndrome. Nagler concluded that such injuries appeared to be rare but served as a warning about the hazards of “forceful hyperextension of the neck.” He urged caution in recommending such postures, particularly to individuals of middle age.

The experience of Nagler’s patient was not an isolated incident. A few years later, a 25-year-old man was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago, complaining of blurred vision, difficulty swallowing and controlling the left side of his body. Steven H. Hanus, a medical student at the time, became interested in the case and worked with the chairman of the neurology department to determine the cause (he later published the results with several colleagues). The patient had been in excellent health, practicing yoga every morning for a year and a half. His routine included spinal twists in which he rotated his head far to the left and far to the right. Then he would do a shoulder stand with his neck “maximally flexed against the bare floor,” just as Iyengar had instructed, remaining in the inversion for about five minutes. A series of bruises ran down the man’s lower neck, which, the team wrote in The Archives of Neurology, “resulted from repeated contact with the hard floor surface on which he did yoga exercises.” These were a sign of neck trauma. Diagnostic tests revealed blockages of the left vertebral artery between the c2 and c3 vertebrae; the blood vessel there had suffered “total or nearly complete occlusion” — in other words, no blood could get through to the brain.

Two months after his attack, and after much physical therapy, the man was able to walk with a cane. But, the team reported, he “continued to have pronounced difficulty performing fine movements with his left hand.” Hanus and his colleagues concluded that the young man’s condition represented a new kind of danger. Healthy individuals could seriously damage their vertebral arteries, they warned, “by neck movements that exceed physiological tolerance.” Yoga, they stressed, “should be considered as a possible precipitating event.” In its report, the Northwestern team cited not only Nagler’s account of his female patient but also Russell’s early warning. Concern about yoga’s safety began to ripple through the medical establishment.

These cases may seem exceedingly rare, but surveys by the Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that the number of emergency-room admissions related to yoga, after years of slow increases, was rising quickly. They went from 13 in 2000 to 20 in 2001. Then they more than doubled to 46 in 2002. These surveys rely on sampling rather than exhaustive reporting — they reveal trends rather than totals — but the spike was nonetheless statistically significant. Only a fraction of the injured visit hospital emergency rooms. Many of those suffering from less serious yoga injuries go to family doctors, chiropractors and various kinds of therapists.

Around this time, stories of yoga-induced injuries began to appear in the media. The Times reported that health professionals found that the penetrating heat of Bikram yoga, for example, could raise the risk of overstretching, muscle damage and torn cartilage. One specialist noted that ligaments — the tough bands of fiber that connect bones or cartilage at a joint — failed to regain their shape once stretched out, raising the risk of strains, sprains and dislocations.

In 2009, a New York City team based at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons published an ambitious worldwide survey of yoga teachers, therapists and doctors. The answers to the survey’s central question — What were the most serious yoga-related injuries (disabling and/or of long duration) they had seen? — revealed that the largest number of injuries (231) centered on the lower back. The other main sites were, in declining order of prevalence: the shoulder (219), the knee (174) and the neck (110). Then came stroke. The respondents noted four cases in which yoga’s extreme bending and contortions resulted in some degree of brain damage. The numbers weren’t alarming but the acknowledgment of risk — nearly four decades after Russell first issued his warning — pointed to a decided shift in the perception of the dangers yoga posed.

In recent years, reformers in the yoga community have begun to address the issue of yoga-induced damage. In a 2003 article in Yoga Journal, Carol Krucoff — a yoga instructor and therapist who works at the Integrative Medicine center at Duke University in North Carolina — revealed her own struggles. She told of being filmed one day for national television and after being urged to do more, lifting one foot, grabbing her big toe and stretching her leg into the extended-hand-to-big-toe pose. As her leg straightened, she felt a sickening pop in her hamstring. The next day, she could barely walk. Krucoff needed physical therapy and a year of recovery before she could fully extend her leg again. The editor of Yoga Journal, Kaitlin Quistgaard, described reinjuring a torn rotator cuff in a yoga class. “I’ve experienced how yoga can heal,” she wrote. “But I’ve also experienced how yoga can hurt — and I’ve heard the same from plenty of other yogis.”

One of the most vocal reformers is Roger Cole, an Iyengar teacher with degrees in psychology from Stanford and the University of California, San Francisco. Cole has written extensively for Yoga Journal and speaks on yoga safety to the American College of Sports Medicine. In one column, Cole discussed the practice of reducing neck bending in a shoulder stand by lifting the shoulders on a stack of folded blankets and letting the head fall below it. The modification eases the angle between the head and the torso, from 90 degrees to perhaps 110 degrees. Cole ticked off the dangers of doing an unmodified shoulder stand: muscle strains, overstretched ligaments and cervical-disk injuries.

But modifications are not always the solution. Timothy McCall, a physician who is the medical editor of Yoga Journal, called the headstand too dangerous for general yoga classes. His warning was based partly on his own experience. He found that doing the headstand led to thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that arises from the compression of nerves passing from the neck into the arms, causing tingling in his right hand as well as sporadic numbness. McCall stopped doing the pose, and his symptoms went away. Later, he noted that the inversion could produce other injuries, including degenerative arthritis of the cervical spine and retinal tears (a result of the increased eye pressure caused by the pose). “Unfortunately,” McCall concluded, “the negative effects of headstand can be insidious.”

Almost a year after I first met Glenn Black at his master class in Manhattan, I received an e-mail from him telling me that he had undergone spinal surgery. “It was a success,” he wrote. “Recovery is slow and painful. Call if you like.”

The injury, Black said, had its origins in four decades of extreme backbends and twists. He had developed spinal stenosis — a serious condition in which the openings between vertebrae begin to narrow, compressing spinal nerves and causing excruciating pain. Black said that he felt the tenderness start 20 years ago when he was coming out of such poses as the plow and the shoulder stand. Two years ago, the pain became extreme. One surgeon said that without treatment, he would eventually be unable to walk. The surgery took five hours, fusing together several lumbar vertebrae. He would eventually be fine but was under surgeon’s orders to reduce strain on his lower back. His range of motion would never be the same.

Black is one of the most careful yoga practitioners I know. When I first spoke to him, he said he had never injured himself doing yoga or, as far as he knew, been responsible for harming any of his students. I asked him if his recent injury could have been congenital or related to aging. No, he said. It was yoga. “You have to get a different perspective to see if what you’re doing is going to eventually be bad for you.”

Black recently took that message to a conference at the Omega Institute, his feelings on the subject deepened by his recent operation. But his warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears. “I was a little more emphatic than usual,” he recalled. “My message was that ‘Asana is not a panacea or a cure-all. In fact, if you do it with ego or obsession, you’ll end up causing problems.’ A lot of people don’t like to hear that.”

This article is adapted from “The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards,” by William J. Broad, to be published next month by Simon & Schuster. Broad is a senior science writer at The Times.

Editor: Sheila Glaser

5 ways to get more ‘ME’ time in 2012

In Philippine Star Column on January 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm

As 2012 rolls along a little faster than some of us would like, here are some simple steps to make the world — well, at least your inner world — slow down just a little bit.

Sun worship: You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.

1.  Do sets of sun salutations or surya namaskar. If you want the full benefits of stretching, toning, breathing and just an overall sense of well-being in approximately 10 minutes then learn the most basic of the yoga asanas, known as the sun salutation. There are different versions depending on which type of yoga you learn but they are incredible for opening up the chakras, stilling the mind and conditioning the body and spirit, not to mention if you do them often enough you get really toned arms, a stronger core and limber legs. Take some classes to get the basics and you can do this at home. Try the newly opened Core Yoga, which offers vinyasa and “hot yoga” classes to choose from. Core Yoga is at 1504 AIC Burgundy Tower, ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, tel. 576-3756 or 576-3857.

 

 

 

Heavy mental. Be the master of your own mind with meditation

2. Dedicate yourself to a spiritual practice. The philosophy of sadhana or spiritual practice is essential to a life that is open to receiving all that the universe can give. To remove what the masters call a “monkey mind” is to teach it to be still, and that is achieved through regular meditation and calm, easy breathing. Whether you devote five minutes or 50 minutes, you have to commit to creating a space in your home and life to sit down and just let go of external noise and distractions. Remember you must commit, whether it’s every day, three times a week or once a week. It is the ultimate “me” time, and frankly, you are the most important person in your life. Contact organizations that teach ways to meditate such as The Art of Living Philippines, which holds workshops once or twice a month. Visit www.artofliving.org/ph-en or call 0917-848-4898 or 216-6139.

 

 

 

Make it real. Daily affirmations to transform your life

3. Say affirmations. When you affirm yourself or a situation you are making it real to you and your life. It has been said that your brain cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy for as long as you truly believe in something. It may sound hokey at first to affirm or “convince yourself” but the more you repeat an affirmation, the more the possibility of it occurring in your life becomes a probability. Create an affirmation that is short yet detailed and one that you can repeat about 50 times a day for 30 days. As an example, if financial abundance is what you’re after you can say, “Wealth is coming to me easily and effortlessly.” Pick up I Can Do It!, an easy-to-read book by metaphysical healer and author Louise L. Hay, to get a whole bunch of affirmations to choose from that can help transform your health, love life, career and even self-esteem. It even comes with an audio CD. I Can Do It! is available via special order from National Book Store.

 

 

 

 

Choose your own adventure. Plan that great escape with a single step

4. Take a trip. Everyone needs his space, especially you, so take the time to plan the perfect getaway. It doesn’t have to be abroad but you need to leave what is familiar and even comfortable for you for a couple of days. Treat this particular activity with reverence. Go out and buy yourself a brand new suitcase or weekender in a color you love. Make an afternoon out of it. Check out Tripologie, which offers an excellent selection of travel essentials and even looks like a jazzed-up check-in counter so you really get in the mood. Once you’ve bought the bag, put it somewhere where you can see it often and start imagining where you’re going to go. As you pore over travel mags and websites, get excited, get inspired and make it something to look forward to, really look forward to. There is nothing like an adventure to bring in unexpected opportunities (and even people) into your life. Oh, and this would be a good time to make sure all your travel documents are in order! Tripologie is located at Alabang Town Center and Eastwood Citywalk 2, visit 

Feet me right. Reflexology releases toxins and stress

5. Feel a little pressure. Have a proper foot reflexology massage. Each point in the foot corresponds to a major organ in the rest of the body. This is one of the simplest ways to disconnect from the world while giving the rest of your insides some time to recuperate from what has been absorbed from the daily grind. Wherever you feel pain or discomfort at a certain pressure point, you can link that to a particular area or even symptom. Many foot reflexology fans tell tales of their digestion improving and even headaches diminishing because of regular treatments. Make an effort to pamper your feet once a week (perfect for those who are in heels all the time) because they take you everywhere you go and everywhere you’ve been. Treat yourself to the Inghma Method of Reflexology at New Spa, which comes with a head and back massage as well.

E-mail at info@neo.ph or call 0917- 7938888 or visit www.neo.ph

A good way to start the week: Transform yourself!

In Living a Life Off-Center on April 18, 2011 at 3:24 am

I just loved the title of this article that was posted on one of the communities I’ve joined on Facebook. Even if it’s written with the US in mind I felt it would resonate with everyone. With a title like: Sowing Seeds of Transformative Possibility and Magic, how could you NOT want to resonate with it? 🙂 Enjoy this lovely Monday read!

If I may, if you haven’t tried yoga yet, you should. With all my heart it is the ONE physical practice that I feel is healing for all, no matter how old, young, fat, thin, weak, strong, flexible or inflexible you are. It will transform you, inside and out, just give it a chance 🙂

Love and light!

Yoga in an Age of Anxiety: Sowing Seeds of Transformative Possibility & Magic

To live in the U.S. today is to live in a culture that’s soaked in anxiety to the point of saturation. What with rampant unemployment, debt, economic instability, social dysfunction, and trash culture, not to mention war, global warming, and the threat of terrorism, millions of Americans have become used to slogging through what’s come to feel like an endless swamp of stress and uncertainty.

There’s a lot of ambient fear. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and feel it pressing in on me like some cold ghostly presence. I find myself wondering if the world as I know it will remain functional long enough for my children to grow up and live “normal” lives. I feel sucked in toward dark fantasies of terrorist attacks triggering right-wing reaction, the imposition of martial law, and the end of American democracy. Or that the next time Wall Street overheats the meltdown won’t be contained and our complex web of interdependent socio-economic relations will crack wide open into anarchy. Or that the ice caps will melt and the oceans rise and beautiful San Francisco will go under along with our hopes of a wiser, more just and more sustainable society.

Most days, these amorphous anxieties stay subterranean. I keep them at bay. I don’t keep up with the news the way I used to. Like most people, I’m absorbed in the busy details of my everyday life. But sometimes at night, in that semi-conscious zone between waking and sleeping, my guard is down and a surge of toxic anxiety breaks through to the surface.

Generally I don’t speak of it. It feels almost unspeakable.

But my guess is that this experience of an amorphous, yet palpably powerful sense of anxiety and fear is widely shared. (And of course, millions are dealing with much more immediate fears like, can I afford to get sick without becoming homeless?) It feels unspeakable because it’s too scary, too much of a downer. It’s too negative. We don’t want to acknowledge it. To verbalize it feels rude. Maybe unlucky. Maybe even somehow wrong, as naming the anxiety and fear that’s collectively weighing on us could have the nasty unintended consequence of intensifying the burden of whoever hears it voiced.

Understandably, we don’t want that to happen. So we maintain the silence.

Acknowledging the Elephant in the Room

But I think that we do need to speak. Or at least I feel that I do. In part, simply to acknowledge the truth of what I feel. But also – more ambitiously – in the hope that by voicing my thoughts I can play my bit part in helping to nurture whatever seeds of a better future have been and are being planted.

Which is, for me, where yoga comes into it. Not that I’m naïve enough to think that yoga will save the world. But I do believe that between the number of people practicing and the transformative possibilities it offers, there’s some real potential leverage there to work with. And given that such leverage is in exceedingly short supply in America today, it’s important, I think, to become fully cognizant of whatever possibilities for positive change we do have.

Artist Billie Grace Lynn captured my feeling that we’re living under a pressing weight of social problems that we sense but don’t speak of. And that we need to learn to see these issues in a new way that enables us to work with them flexibly and creatively, while remaining grounded in a felt experience of the sacred mysteries of life.

Her viscerally arresting sculpture, “White Elephants,” consists of several enormous elephant figures made of shells of translucent white ripstop nylon. Whether standing or lying down on the floor, the elephants maintain a sense of towering yet translucent immensity thanks to internal fans that keep them fully inflated, but constantly shimmering with light and movement. Commenting on the conceptual significance of the work, she writes:

Elephants carry vast meanings on their backs. In particular, white elephants have been considered sacred since ancient times in Asia . . . Possessing a White Elephant conferred great prestige on a family but also a huge burden. Keeping a white elephant was very expensive since it had to be provided with special food and accommodations and could not be used for labor. The gift of a white elephant was considered both a blessing and a curse and it bankrupted many recipients, some deliberately.

Another literary elephant is the English idiom, “the elephant in the room” which means an obvious truth that is not spoken or is ignored usually because it is taboo or embarrassing.

Ganesh, the elephant god, whose effigy is found at the entrances of homes, businesses, and temples throughout India exemplifies the contradictions and connections between the known and the unknown. Ganesh marks the transitional space between the sacred and profane. He is a protector and destroyer, and the creator and remover of obstacles.

At this point, the White Elephant is an apt metaphor for our contemporary condition; too expensive to sustain, too precious to surrender, and in a state of rapid change.

May this ancient symbol of transformation remind us to respect each other, to remember the past, and to protect the future. The elephant is able to move silently in spite of its great mass, perhaps we too will learn to step more carefully.

Yoga and Contemporary Culture

Om Zia Drum (artist: Casey Jones)

Interpreted through the lens of yoga and contemporary culture, I find this incredibly evocative. To be sure, the analogies aren’t exact. But in some ways, I feel that yoga is like the White Elephant – cherished and even sacred, yet also at times exacting a cost.

After all, yoga similarly requires “special food and accommodations” – e.g., a way better than normal diet (ideally locally sourced and organic), open time and space (both usually quite difficult to come by), and, perhaps, expensive classes and retreats (at least for those who can afford them).

And that’s just on the concrete, material level.

Shifting to the level of life choices and experiences more broadly, yoga also offers a paradoxical combination of dual movements. On the one hand, it’s popular because it enables us to cope with the anxieties and fears that are so pervasive today. Scientific studies confirm that yes, yoga does indeed calm the nervous system. To a significant extent (much more, I believe, than is usually acknowledged), yoga is widely valued because it helps us get by in a stressful society with more of our health and sanity intact.

Yet when we get deeper into it, this popular paradigm of yoga-as-coping-mechanism starts to shift into reverse gear. I’ve known quite a few people who decided that they needed to quit their jobs – or make some other, equally wrenching life change – due to the truths that they discovered for themselves in their practice. Paradoxically, they may have started practicing in order to cope with the pressures of work. But after a certain point, they realized that what they really needed wasn’t simply to cope. What they really needed was to change. And significant life change, as any psychologist will tell you, is incredibly stress inducing.

But not all stress is necessarily bad. Just like a really good stretch is one that takes you beyond your comfort zone, the stress of breaking free of unhealthy patterns is a good thing. It may be a relationship that needs to end, an addiction that needs to be broken, or a risk that calls out to be taken. There are countless examples. But it’s that White Elephant thing again: A cherished practice can exact a cost. Positive change isn’t necessarily easy.

Billie Grace also speaks of Ganesh. The elephant god symbolizes the “contradictions and connections between the known and the unknown . . . the transitional space between the sacred and profane.” How do we negotiate that space? How do we live those contradictions? Yoga as the White Elephant is a practice to ride as we learn to accept the uncertainly of the future in the immediacy of the present moment.

And then we come to society:

At this point, the White Elephant is an apt metaphor for our contemporary condition; too expensive to sustain, too precious to surrender, and in a state of rapid change.

I love the fact that she doesn’t come out hating. One reason that I haven’t wanted to speak of our sea of societal fear and anxiety is that I haven’t known how to do so without being negative. And more negativity just adds to the sense of oppression. Of being weighted down and unable to breath freely.

But we do have better alternatives. Perhaps the work to be done is to make them even more widely visible and available. And to speak of them in a way that shatters the silence surrounding the elephants of this age of anxiety in our collective room.

Transformative Possibility and Everyday Magic

During the last 15 years, as yoga’s boomed in popularity in the U.S. and worldwide, it’s been largely understood as a highly individual pursuit. This is, of course, right in line with dominant trends in our culture, which has become more and more inundated by a rising tide of individualism, consumerism, and market-based competition. The public is out; the private is in. The social is ignored, devalued, or trashed. The individual is championed, but under enormous pressure to sink or swim on his or her own.

It wasn’t always this way. Bracketing the question of the pre-modern roots of yoga for the moment, it can be said with certainty that some of its most important modern-era teachers were strong advocates of social engagement, committed to reform and in some cases, revolution. Swami Vivekananda, who first introduced yoga to the American public in the 1890s, was an outspoken critic of chauvinistic Christian missionaries and caste-championing Hindu priests alike. Sri Aurobindo, founder of the highly influential school of Integral Yoga, was a revolutionary dedicated to ending British colonial rule over India. And even as recently as the early ‘90s, Yoga Journal’s mission statement invited readers “to join us in bringing to our troubled world a life-affirming vision of harmony and wholeness.”

I would love to see this tradition of social engagement reinvigorated in the yoga community today. Happily, there are signs that this may be happening. Just in recent weeks on Elephant Journal (an oh so fittingly named reference for this post!), there’s been socially relevant work that:

Certainly, more examples could be given. But the main point is that there is already good work being done to expand the many benefits of yoga beyond its current focus on the individual to include a larger social ethic and vision. And this, I believe, is a desperately needed medicine in this age of rampant anxiety and fear.

Lakota Medicine Wheel
While it’s impossible to boil down the many possibilities for positive change that yoga offers on a societal level to a simple set that everyone might agree on, I’d like to suggest several that I believe are particularly relevant to the project of planting and nurturing positive seeds of change in today’s Age of Anxiety: 1) A democratic commitment to making yoga available to all. While dedicated yogis might have to restrain themselves from breaking out into brawls over questions ranging from the authority of the Yoga Sutras to the legitimacy of lululemon, one principle that everyone seems to agree on is that yoga should be available to all. This commitment to universal accessibility embodies a deeply democratic ethos that naturally supports even such politically controversial programs as teaching yoga to prisoners. Given what UC Berkeley political philosophy Professor Wendy Brown has aptly identified as the strong “de-democratizing” tendencies in contemporary American culture, this basic democratic commitment is a vitally important ethos to assert and build on. 2) A universal commitment to yoga as a practice of holistic mind-body-spirit health and healing. Again, while practitioners may disagree strongly over issues of “what is yoga,” most endorse an understanding of it as an integrated mind-body-spirit practice that promotes health and healing. Given rampant levels of poor physical and mental health in U.S. society, this is a valuable commitment that – if progressively extended to reach more and more people who need it – could hugely improve quality of life on both the individual and societal levels. Further, the belief that something that we can loosely describe as “spiritual health” is the natural birthright of all people represents an incredibly important ethic in a society that’s increasingly willing to write off social “losers” as collateral damage in a winner-take-all society. 

3) Access to a felt sense of the sacred in everyday life. This is where the magic comes in. Yoga practitioners may practice every religion from Wicca to Hinduism to Christianity – or they may be very definitive about practicing none. We can and do have disagreements over all the big questions: whether the soul exists, where spirit and matter are dual or non-dual, whether we are reincarnated or go to heaven or simply cease to exist after death. But I think that one fundamental commonality that most serious practitioners share is a sense that their practice puts them in touch with something that could be loosely described as the sacred. Yoga pours an ineffable magic back into our experience of the world in a culture that’s increasingly stripped of meaning. This sense of connection to something larger than ourselves and more mysterious than we can rationally comprehend is probably the best medicine that we can offer our f-ed up society.

So my prayer for today is this: May we acknowledge the elephants in the room that we’ve become habituated to ignore. May we connect to our hearts, strengthen our spirits, engage our minds, and speak our truths with grace. May we work some crazy White Elephant magic to create positive individual and social change. And may we learn to practice the vexing paradox of becoming fully engaged with life while relinquishing our desire to reap the fruits of our actions.

EchoYoga Classes and Workshops to look forward to

In Living a Life Off-Center on April 6, 2011 at 3:50 am

Since I’m still very much on my yoga “high” I’d like to share the schedule of EchoYoga for April. Take special notice that there are also healing type workshops available in May and June. I’ve taken the past life regression workshop myself but other ones may resonate with you. Feel free to pass on.

Workshops and Classes

AT THE ECHOYOGA COMMUNITY CENTER, Penthouse, Century Plaza, 120 Perea Street, Makati City, Metro Manila
Email: echoyogaworkshop@gmail.com /  mobile: 0906-5063958 / www.echoyoga.echostore.ph

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REGULAR CLASS OFFERINGS

  • Gentle Flow
    A beginner flow class where poses flow from one to another in conjunction with the breath. 

    Mondays and Wednedays 6:30-8pm
  • Yoga for Big People / Restorative Yoga
    Classes are focused on breath and gentle stretches that allow healing and restoration of balance of the Mind and Body. Bolsters and blocks are used to help in the relaxation, stretch and lengthening. This class is perfect for the absolute Beginner, Golden Seniors, the Highly-Stressed and those who are Injured. The evening Restorative Class is shared with Yoga for Big People where specific postures are adjusted for those with the bountiful blessing of weight. 

    Thursdays 5-6:30pm
  • Vinyasa Flow
    The word Vinyasa means “breath-synchronized movement”. Vinyasa Flow is a dynamic system of linking the breath (prana) to the postures (asanas). The vinyasa based practice is designed to build strength and flexibility from rhythmic exploration of movement. 

    Saturday mornings 10:30-12 noon
  • Led Ashtanga
    A teacher-lead practice where students are instructed in the order of the poses from the primary series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. 

    Tuesday nights 6:30-8pm / Fridays, 6:30pm
  • Yoga for Life: Therapy for the Immune System
    This first every community-based yoga class series is specially designed for the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS, and for others who support them and want to experience the beauty of yoga.  It offers a variety of postures, breathing practices and guided meditations that are directed towards alleviating the fear and stress associated with HIV and AIDS. Yoga quiets the mind, improves breathing and circulation, strengthens the immune system, among other physiological and psychological benefits.  Regular yoga practice can be an important complementary therapy to a comprehensive HIV treatment program.

    Inquiries:
    Charmaine – charmaine.cuunjieng@gmail.com •  Paulo – comradepaw@gmail.com

  • Mysore
    Mysore is the traditional way Ashtanga Vinyasa is taught where students progress at their own pace following the sequence and guided by a teacher 

    Saturdays, 8-10am

* Please reserve a slot before the workshop

  • Beginner Grounding Workshop (Four Sessions) / Teachers: Marilen Elizalde and Myla Maru
    This basic workshop is designed for absolute beginners with the objective of grounding the students in the basics and principles of yoga. It is highly recommended that students attend all four sessions as each session builds on the previous session. 

    Morning series: Four Tuesdays of April 10am-12nn/ April 5, 12, 19 and 26, 10am
    Evening series: Four Thursdays of May 6:30-8:30pm/ May 5, 12, 19, and 26, 10am
    Fee: Php 3,500
  • Yoga Therapy For Depression (for the fund-raising benefit of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation)
    A two-session workshop focused on giving a sequence of therapeutic yoga poses to help combat various levels of depression. Sessions may include energy healing with Reiki healers who will teach and demonstrate the flow of Universal Energy and work to raise and balance the participant’s energies. 

    May 7 and 14,  Saturdays, 4-6pm / Fee Php 2,000 for two sessions
  • Yoga Therapy For Athletes (for Sports Injuries and Rehabilitation) Teacher: Sen Sanchez
    This workshop will offer a series of therapeutic yoga sequences for athletes, trainers, physical therapists.  The workshop will address sore muscles, hip pain, knee injuries, low back strain, and ankle sprains. By loosening up tight muscles, yoga helps improve total body mobility and flexibility, giving a greater range of motion and improving performance. 

    May 21, Saturday 4-6pm  and June 9, Thursday 6:30-8:30pm  / Fee: Php 1,000
  • Past Life Regression (One-off Session) / Facilitator: Jeannie Javelosa
    A group session that opens the subconscious to visualization of possible past life connections. Includes meditation, facilitation for regression into subconscious and soul work; and group discussion. Please bring a notebook and ballpen. Limited slots only. 

    June 25, Saturday 4-6pm / Fee: Php 1000
  • Moving Into Meditation / Facilitator: Jeannie Javelosa
    No one can teach anyone meditation. It just happens. This session includes a seating sequence, lecture on basic guidelines for the meditation practice and a discussion on challenges of the practice. 

    April 28, Thursday at 6:30-8pm & June 30, Thursday at 6:30-8pm / Fee:  Php 700 or two class cards slots
  • Introduction  To Ayurveda / In partnership with the Arogya Ayurveda Center
    Teacher: Patrick Eyquem, of the Maharishi MaheshYogi vedic sciences lineage
    Ayurveda (in sanskrit means “the complete knowledge for long life” or “the science of life”) or Ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and practiced in other parts of the world as a form of alternative medicine.  The original science of health is as old as the human race. The written records (of the Veda and Vedic literature) of the complete system of natural health care is about 5,000 years old. Evolving throughout its history, Ayurveda remains an influential system of medicine in South Asia. Ayurveda has been restored for its full practical value and range of application by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi , working with eminent Ayurveda physicians. Lessons build on the past ones, so participants are requested to try to complete all four sessions during this quarter. 

    April 9 (Session 1) and April 16 (Session 2) / Saturdays at 4-6pm
    June 4 (Session 1) and June 11 (Session 2)  / Saturdays 4-6pm
    June 16 (Session 3) and June 23 (Session 4) / Thursday nights 6:30-8:30pm
    Session 1 – Origin and the 8 branches of Ayurveda, the three doshas
    Session 2 – The food, the eater, the diet. Influence of food on doshas
    Session 3 – Panchakarma and basic home Ayurvedic pharmacy
    Session 4- General discussion includes rules for preparing and taking food and ayurvedic recipes
    Fee: Php 500 or one class card slot per lecture session.
  • Awakening A Conscious Heart
    Teacher: Tara Khandro
    This seminar invites you to remember, re-member and return to the felt-sense experience of oneness with yourself, Mama Gaia and All that IS. Please bring a notebook, pen , water and an object that represents your heart.  Dress and ready yourself for movement, chanting, alchemical practices, shamanic journeying, meditation, release, activations, and play. Tara Khandro is a natural born mystic, healer and clairvoyant. Tara developed Alchemy of Wonder™, an integrative consciousness healing modality for violent trauma survivors.  She has given this work in United Nations conferences, drug treatment and crises centers, universities and colleges, interfaith conferences, with genocide survivors, anger management programs, in natural disaster zones and in human development centers such as the Omega Institute in New York. 

    April 14, Thursday 6:30-8:30pm  & May 28, Saturday 4-6pm / Fee: Php 1,000 or two class card slots
  • Deep Into Yin Yoga
    Teacher: Donna Tumacder-Esteban
    Yin Yoga is a calming and relaxing practice where participants yield to each pose, held for 3-5 minutes with relaxed muscles, allowing time and gravity to get deeper to the fullness of each pose. The target  are the deep connective tissues between muscular layers and those surrounding the joints. Yin Yoga complements and balances dynamic practices such as Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Bikram. It is also complementary to other forms of active sports and workouts such as running, swimming, martial arts, and gym work. Yin Yoga is suitable for all levels and ages and is safe for pregnant women. 

    April 7, Thursday, 6:30-8pm / May 3, Tuesday 5:00 – 6:30 pm / June 2, Thursday 6:30 – 8pm
    Fee: 700 per class or two class card slots
  • SEVA (Service) Sessions
    ECHOyoga holds scheduled SEVA sessions where yoga classes are connected to charity and healing for the benefit of  The Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF: Bringing Depression to Light) a fund-raising initiative in partnership with this non-profit organization that promotes the awareness & understanding of Depression through community education and empowerment programs. 

    Depression is a common mental disorder that is characterized by sadness, loss of interest in pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration. If you feel any of these, or know of someone who does, these workshops are for you. Join us. Or sponsor someone who needs it.

    In Yoga philosophy, the virtue of generosity as a yogic responsibility reminds us that all beings live from the donations of others, as the world family, and that we are all connected.  The action of giving back is a sincere sharing of wealth (money, talents, service) acquired by right means, and it is counted among the ten niyamas (the code of conduct) on the Yoga path.

    Service (seva in Sanskrit) is something necessary for continued development on the Yoga path. Community is nurtured through voluntary gatherings for service together where teachers and students can connect with each other while at the same time do something that makes the world a better place. Teachers offer their services for free.  Students can also use their class cards, or donate more than they can, less when they need to.  Check out our schedule for such fund-raising workshops: Join us, donate, or sponsor someone!

  • Yoga Therapy For Depression (for the fund-raising benefit of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation)
    A two-session workshop focused on giving a sequence of therapeutic yoga poses to help combat various levels of depression. Sessions may include energy healing with Reiki healers who will teach and demonstrate the flow of Universal Energy and work to raise and balance the participant’s energies. 

    May 7 and 14, Saturdays, 4-6pm / Fee Php 2,000 for two sessions
  • Meditation Circle Of Light(Community Event)
    Certain times of the year, during the solstices and equinoxes, the changing seasons bring potent energies that can be harnessed to help balance the earth. This is a community meditation event led by ECHOyoga in collaboration with Stillpoint Manila, Pulse Yoga, Medicine for Gaia and the United Religions Initiative. This is open for free to the general public, and donation for use of space is welcome. 

    June 21, 6:30 pm
    September 22, 6:30 pm
    December 21, 6:30 pm
Photos courtesy of Silvina Gall

How Yoga can Heal

In Living a Life Off-Center on April 5, 2011 at 1:52 am

It has taken me years to finally reconnect with my yoga practice. When I was doing it on a regular basis about 3x a week it stretched and toned me, helped my metabolism, strengthened my core and did wonders for my awareness of what I ate and how often I ate. Since I was not practicing, even if I remained active, my body has grown stiff and I’ve experienced more aches and pains and soreness in body parts that used to be limber and well, ache free.

Since January, I have been regularly doing Anusara yoga classes combining them with other modes of yoga such as Vinyasa, Lady Niguma and Jivamukti. Almost overnight, I felt my spine regenerate, and my shoulders and chest opening up, my legs stronger, and I have more energy than normal, yet I do get a deep sleep at night. Perhaps because my breathing has also improved and with added meditation before and after each practice, I am one step closer to achieving more peacefulness and finding my center in spite of a rather chaotic personal and professional life.

For those of you who are practicing, would like to  practice or maybe need one last gentle push to start, here’s an article I’d like to share with you:

The small study was the first to examine the benefits of yoga on atrial fibrillation -- a problem that is a leading cause of stroke and is most common in the elderly.
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Photograph by: Shaughn Butts, Edmonton Journal

Yoga, already proven to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, can cut in half the risk of a common and potentially dangerous irregular heartbeat, according to a U.S. study released on Saturday.

The small study was the first to examine the benefits of yoga on atrial fibrillation — a problem that is a leading cause of stroke and is most common in the elderly.

In addition to halving the episodes of atrial fibrillation, the study found that yoga also reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression related to the condition.

“These findings are important because many of the current conventional treatment strategies for atrial fibrillation include invasive procedures or medications with undesirable side effects,” said Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, an associate professor with the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, who led the study.

He presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology being held in New Orleans.

The study involved 49 patients with the heart rhythm disorder who had no physical limitations and no prior experience with yoga. Their episodes of irregular heartbeat were measured for a six-month period by researchers at the hospital.

During the first three months, patients were allowed to participate in any physical activity they liked.

For the remaining three months, they underwent a supervised yoga program that involved breathing exercises, yoga postures, meditation and relaxation.

Forty-five minute yoga sessions with a certified professional were held three times each week, and patients were encouraged to practice daily yoga exercises at home.

Heart monitors measured episodes of irregular heartbeat throughout the trial, and patients completed short self-administered surveys to assess their levels of anxiety, depression and overall quality of life.

‘SIGNIFICANT IMPACT’

On average, yoga cut episodes of the irregular heartbeat in half, while also significantly reducing depression and anxiety scores and improving scores in physical functioning, general health, vitality, social functioning and mental health, the researchers found.

“It appears yoga has a significant impact on helping to regulate patients’ heartbeat and improves the overall quality of life,” Lakkireddy said.

Atrial fibrillation causes blood to pool in the upper chambers of the heart, where it can clot and travel to the brain, causing strokes. Millions of patients with the condition take the blood thinner warfarin every day to lower the risk of such clots, and thereby prevent strokes.

Considering its low cost and benefits, Lakkireddy said yoga should be considered in overall treatment of atrial fibrillation and other heart rhythm problems.

But Lakkireddy cautioned that larger studies are needed to bear out the findings of his study, and that patients should continue with standard medical therapy.

“Based on my findings, one should not tell patients that yoga will fix everything and they can stop taking their anticoagulants. Yoga is strictly a supplement for everything else they are doing medically,” he said.

A new wave of promising medicines to prevent such strokes is being developed by several drugmakers, one of which — Xarelto being developed by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson — will be highlighted at the heart meeting.

But the pills come with side effects, and are expected to cost thousands of dollars a year, when they reach the market.

© Copyright (c) Reuters
*****Remember, we do not truly live from the mind, but from the heart. Take care of yours, with your diet, your attitude and allow the healing benefits of yoga to strengthen that wonderful, beautiful muscle that beats in your chest.  I heart yoga, truly, madly and deeply.