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How to Let Yoga Make 2008 Your Best Year Ever!

How to Let Yoga Make 2008 Your Best Year Ever!
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    People today, are under fire.

    Relentless stress, longer workdays, fewer vacations, destructive nutrition and an epidemic of inactivity have led to an adult generation plagued by chronic pain, fatigue, disease and frustration. In search of an answer that does not require a lifetime of medication, many have turned to complimentary and alternative medicine and more conscious forms of movement.

    For many, yoga has led the way.

    While more than 16 million people practice in the U.S. alone, though, that’s still barely 5% of the U.S. population and participation worldwide is dramatically lower. This wouldn’t be such a big deal, but for the fact that a huge chunk of nearly everything the hundreds of millions of non-yoga-practitioners in the developed-world complain about can be substantially alleviated by some aspect of the practice.

    Yoga works, plain and simple.

    The combination of breathing techniques, movement, mindset training and, if desired the exploration of the more spiritual, subtle-aspects are nothing short of transformational.

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    In fact, the benefits of these modalities are so promising and cost-effective, larger-scale studies are now underway, some funded by the National Institutes Of Health. A sampling of the currently published research includes:

    • Yoga More Effective For Back Pain Than Therapeutic Exercise & Self-Care (Annals 2005 Dec 20;143(12):849-856)
    • Yoga Effectively Treats Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (JAMA 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1601-3)
    • Yoga Yields Weight Loss In Middle Age (Alternative Therapies In Health & Medicine; Jul/Aug 2006)
    • Yoga Helps Reduce Anxiety & Depression (Altern Ther Health Med. 2004 Ma-Apr;10(2):60-3, Soc Behavioral Med Ann Mtg; March 1993; Am J Psychiatry 1992; 149:936-943)
    • Yoga Reduces Risk Factors For Cardiovascular Disease (JAMA. 1998;280:2001-2007, J Assoc Physicians India 48(7):687-94 2000 Jul, J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Apr;11(2):267-74)
    • Yoga Lowers Pre-operative Anxiety & Stress (AACN Clin Issues. 2000 Feb; 11(1):68-76)
    • Yoga Reduces Frequency & Severity of Migraine & Tension Headaches (Int J Psychosomatics 36, 1989, pp 72-78, Neurology India 1991 Jan; 39(1): 11-8)
    • Yoga Effective Complimentary Treatment for Type II Diabetes (Proc XII Ann Mtg Res Soc Study Diabetes India 1984, Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 1993 Jan;19(1):69-74))
    • Yoga Reduces Risk Factors For Diabetes Mellitus (J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Apr;11(2):267-74)
    • Yoga Decreases Severity of Asthma (Pneumologie. 1994 Jul;48(7):484-90)
    • Yoga Accelerates Healing of Psoriasis Lesions (Psychosomatic Medicine, 60, 5: 625-632)
    • Yoga Reduces Stress During Cancer Treatment & Recovery (Psychosomatic Medicine 62:613-622, Supportive Care In Cancer Mar 2001; 9(2):112-23)
    • Yoga Effective At Reducing Stress (J Alt & Comp Med. 2005; 11(4): 711-717)
    • Yoga Effective At Treating Stress In Fibromyalgia Patients (Gen Hosp Psychiatry 15(5):284-9 1993)

    So, if you’re looking for a single activity to add to your routine in 2008 that boasts the ability to impact every aspect of your life, why not make it yoga?

    Beware, though, choose your yoga carefully.

    Before you rush out and dive in, you should know that there are more than 20 major schools or “styles” of practice today and many of them offer radically divergent experiences. Some, like ashtanga, vinyasa or power yoga provide a strong, flowing dynamic experience that can range from mildly to extremely rigorous. Others provide more of a gentle, restorative effect.

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    All approaches have value, but before beginning, it’s important to:

    • Identify what you are looking for from the practice,
    • Assess your physical condition and limitations and potentially seek input from your health-care provider,
    • Consider the type of setting you’d feel most comfortable in (gym, studio, retreat, home), and
    • Think about whether you’d prefer a group or a more private experience.

    Once you’ve sussed out your preferences, it’s time to explore local yoga options.

    Here is a brief summary of the major types of yoga you’ll run into and the general experience they’ll offer:

    • Vinyasa/Power/Flow/Ashtanga/Jivamukti – rigorous, flowing, dyamic practice, rooted strongly in movement, postures and breathing exercises. May be extremely challenging and generally also provides a great workout. Different teachers may bring in more or less of the subtler-side of the practice
    • Iyengar – more static, but still very physically challenging experience, with a strong emphasis on precision and alignment, holding postures for an extended time and very little movement.
    • Anusara – similar attention to detail as Iyengar, but more movement and focus on mindset and the energetic side of the practice. Less movement than Vinyasa, but more than Iyengar. May be highly challenging.
    • Integral/Sivananda – Very traditional experience, rooted more in the subtler-side, study of traditions, philosophy and scriptures, breathing and energetic work, with less emphasis on postures.
    • Hot/Bikram – set of postures and breathing exercises performed in a super-heated environment (105-degrees +) . The heat makes this a very intense experience.
    • Kundalini – experience taps strongly into the subtle-side in an effort to release the body’s lifeforce and allow it to travel up the spine. Strong emphasis on breathing, chanting, interaction and unique set of movements and postures
    • Hatha/Kripalu/restorative – balanced emphasis on breath, meditation and postures, many of which are designed to release physical imbalances and holding patterns in the body. Generally, a gentle experience, not tailored o those looking for a strong exercise-experience, but highly-valuable nonetheless.
    • Viniyoga/yoga therapy – individualized experience that is tailored to the precise diagnoses and needs of the individual. Most often done on a private basis, though, some classes may be found.
    • YogaFit – begun as fitness-classes, based on modified yoga postures, YogaFit is the designated yoga at a number of large health-club chains.
    • Hybrids – Yogilates – yoga and pilates, Tai Yoga – yoga and massage, Yoga boxing/Spinning – yoga and indoor cycling

    Once you’ve determined your general yoga preferences and noted which styles of practice sounds appealing, search for the local setting and type of class that feels right to you and commit to trying it out. A great resource to learn more and find yoga in your local neighborhood is the beginner’s area at YogaJournal.com.

    And remember, the nature of the experience, even at the same studio or gym, can vary fairly dramatically, based upon the skill, ability, experience and personality of the teacher.

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    So, even if your first or second experience do not immediately resonate with you, be sure to explore a few more teachers, styles or settings, instead of simply writing off a practice that has the ability to make your life a calmer, more energized, less painful, more enjoyable place to be.

    Wishing you all an incredible 2008 ahead!

    PS – This list is by no-means all-inclusive, so feel free to add to my list or share your thoughts, stories and ideas in the comment section below.

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    Namaste (Sanksrit for the light in me honors the light in you)

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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