Yoga – Take me OM

August 15, 2012

in ABC's of Healing, Tips & Tricks

I’ve been a big fan of yoga since I discovered it in college, and in recent years it has become an increasingly important tool in my healing process.

Yoga has a way of taking me out of my head and plugging me into the now. It’s a place where I feel strong, connected, whole and most of all, at peace.

My yoga practice is so much more than bending and twisting my body into shapes; more than stretching and strengthening my muscles and bones,and more than turning myself upside down. It gives me perspective; it gives me space to breathe; it pulls me forward and allows me to relax and let go.

Here’s one of my favorite poses to slow down, stretch and breathe to reduce stress and release muscle tension. It’s the precursor to the pose you see me practicing on a paddleboard in the picture above, the wheel.

Bridge Pose
A gentle inversion that works with gravity to open your entire chest and shoulder area, Bridge pose improves liver and spleen function as both internal organs are stimulated in the process and helps the body’s natural ability to digest fat and prevent internal toxins from overwhelming your system.

Here’s how it’s done:

Lie on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.

Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.

Lift your butt until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel.

Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck (where it’s resting on the blanket) up into the torso.

Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.[1]

I’ve been thinking about what a great gift it was for me to discover Yoga when I was a teen. Even though my practice was not established enough at that time to keep me from ignoring the MS signals my body was sending me to slow down and take care, it had made enough of an imprint on my life for me to reach for it when I needed that stability and peace that I knew it could provide.

In the days, weeks and months following my MS diagnosis I practiced every day, through tears, terror and anxiety, and held on to that undercurrent of peace I knew was buried under the pain and confusion.

I believe yoga has played a huge part in speeding up my recovery from MS, and healing parts of my self that green juice just can’t reach, and keeping me calm. It’s helped me recharge my battery, kept my attitude in check, my body limber and my mind strong.

Last week I had the opportunity to bring Yoga to kids and teens at the first of two summer camps, and it was a blast! I know that even if these kids only walked away with a few, simple ideas about yoga and asana practice, it has the potential of being a great force of positive change in their lives for years to come.

It’s my dream to spread the healthy word to as many people as possible, and show them that a little bit of mindfulness in their daily life, and a pinch of discipline will keep them connected and listening to their bodies, healthy and happy.

Source: [1] Yoga Journal

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