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One of the hardest things for me to do is to sit in that awful place of discomfort. Life is chock full of these moments. I get to practice being in this place more times than I’d like. I think I am getting better at it but then all of a sudden I’m back in deep and it seems so overwhelming. For me these moments are usually found in times of confrontation, uncertainty or conflict. I know now to take time to concentrate on my breath. I try not to get to caught up with thoughts as those just seem a method that my brain uses to make sense out of the situation and may just be stories created that hold no real truth. So what do you do if you can’t think your way out? Breathe. Concentrating on the moment at hand through breath is the only truth when things are not clear. It is so simple. Breath can dissipate these uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, anger and stress. Inhale 1. Exhale 2. Inhale 1. Exhale 2. It is as easy as… taking a breath.
Being both a yogi and runner has been enlightening this last year. As I recovered from a six month-long achilles injury, I increased my yoga practice. As I increased my yoga practice, I corrected a lot of misalignment and weakness in my feet and legs caused by running and increased my hip and hamstring flexibility tremendously. As my flexibility increased, my injury began to heal. Finally I was able to run again pain and shoe insert free!
But something had changed inside me besides my healed achilles tendon.
In the six months of waiting desperately to run, I began to really listen to my body. I realized that for years my body had been telling me things which I refused to hear. The constant pain I lived in from compacting my muscles from running long distances accentuated by stretching these tight muscles with yoga seemed normal. A runner is conditioned to push through pain and disassociate the messages our brain is telling us to run longer or faster because the body will.
The practice of yoga is called a practice because everyday we come to the mat and listen to what our body needs. Yoga helps us become mindful of what our mind and body is saying. We learn to turn off our mind of needless thoughts not as a way to push our body past a point of pain. Yoga helps us be comfortable in our bodies and minds.
I have started running again on trails and for short distances. I walk up hills sometimes instead of charging up them as if my life depends upon it and I really listen to my legs and bring awareness to my stride. I have woken up to what a body free of pain feels like and I can’t go back to punishing my body in the name of a PR. Marathons are still in my dreams but I have woken up and will approach my running with a new mindfulness and gratefulness. I have woken up and I have no choice but to listen.
I remember the disappointment I felt when September coincided with the beginning of working full-time post-college and not with the excitement of back to school shopping and all that implies. Fall holds in its crisp air the anticipation of a fresh beginning—a clean slate. Now, as a mother, I can relive this excitement once again with my children. I can even feel the charged energy of the impending first day and am craving the joy of possibility for that is what a clean slate is all about.
This summer I have found that as the first day of school approaches, my mind is getting more and more cluttered. Between planning my yoga class schedule and the kid’s after school activities for the year, organizing the house for the entourage of school papers and homework assignments, redoing my son’s room to accommodate the teen that he has become and getting in the last of the summer activities, I seem to have constant chatter in my head.
The noise in my head has muddled my mind—I’ve become more forgetful and reactive. But I know exactly what I need to create a clean slate, a state of possibility, and the key is meditation. I have found that meditating first thing in the morning helps to clear my mind and begin the day with more intention, focus and equanimity.
Taking the time to sit and get centered creates a calmness that carries me forward positively throughout the day. Meditating does not need to be complicated. Follow these instructions to find daily mindfulness.
1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
2. Close your eyes and bring attention to your breath. Notice the cool air passing into and the warm air passing out of your nostrils. Notice the different sensations while bringing your attention to each breath.
3. Return to the sensation of your breath if your attention wanders.
4. Start with 5-10 minutes once or twice a day gradually increasing your meditation to 20-30 minutes.
You don’t need new binders or backpacks to start the school year with a clean slate and the excitement of new possibilities. By clearing your mind of daily clutter you can create a fresh start everyday. Meditation might really be the breakfast of champions.
This article was written and shared to me by Sandra of the website Sports Management Degrees. Thanks Sandra!
Yoga, the ancient Indian art of stretching, breathing, and meditation, has never been more popular. Since its beginnings over 5,000 years ago, millions of people around the world incorporate the practice of yoga in their daily lives. However, many people who practice yoga have never thought about sharing this activity with their children. Here, we have found 25 great reasons why you should encourage your kids to do yoga.
- 1. It builds healthier eating habits. Some studies indicate that kids who practice yoga may choose healthier foods.
2. Yoga helps kids deal with life’s stress. When kids “slow down” to participate in the practice of yoga, they learn techniques to help them deal with life’s challenges.
3. Yoga helps children develop creativity. A holistic approach to teaching yoga allows children to experience yoga along with creative activities such as storytelling, expressive movement, and even art.
4. Practicing yoga helps kids learn how to control their emotions. Especially for kids with autism spectrum disorders or other behavioral issues, the calming techniques learned in yoga may help them manage emotional outbursts.
5. Practicing yoga helps build self-esteem. Studies show that children suffering from eating disorders report an improved self-image on the days they practice yoga. But even “normal” children will have a better sense of self after practicing yoga.
6. Yoga is a non-competitive way to exercise. When children practice yoga, they learn ways to exercise that don’t involve winning or losing. Everybody feels good after doing yoga.
7. Yoga improves self-discipline. Children who are learning yoga also learn to master their own behavior. They learn to control themselves, rather than waiting for others to tell them what to do.
8. Yoga may help kids with ADHD. Studies from the University of Heidelberg suggest that yoga, in coordination with other therapies, may help kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
9. Yoga improves strength. Despite appearing to be a low-impact activity, yoga requires greater muscular strength the more advanced one becomes. Children develop stronger muscles from practicing yoga.
10. Yoga also improves flexibility. The deep stretching and breathing involved in yoga improves muscular flexibility, which is important for avoiding injuries.
11. Practicing yoga improves focus and attention. Yoga requires concentration. While some kids might not find this easy at first, the more they practice, the easier focusing will be.
12. Yoga play allows children to learn bodily self-awareness. By deliberately moving the body and thinking about the way it feels, children develop more self-awareness.
13. Yoga helps children develop control and awareness of their breathing. Breath awareness and the ability to calm down and meditate are important skills that children can use for their whole lives.
14. Yoga builds listening skills.Taking a yoga class builds good listening skills, helping your child be more respectful of others.
15. Yoga improves balance and coordination. Many yoga poses require the ability to balance. This is not always easy for children at first, but as they continue to practice, their balance will improve.
16. Yoga helps prevent sports injuries. By improving strength and overall flexibility, yoga can help young athletes prevent injury to growing bones and muscles.
17. Yoga develops the skill of midline crossing. It’s something adults take for granted, but any activity that encourages crossing the midline, or the imaginary line at the center of your body, is beneficial for motor skills.
18. Yoga is a fun way to get exercise! Doing playful yoga poses is a great, non-threatening way for kids to get moving. They can pretend to be the animals or objects named in the pose, such as the cobra, the tiger, or the mountain.
19. Yoga encourages a positive outlook. Yoga is such a calming, restful, and fun activity that it’s hard not to feel good afterwards. Kids who do yoga on a regular basis report feeling happier.
20. Yoga helps children develop directionality. Young children who have a hard time telling the difference between right and left will be helped by practicing yoga.
22. Yoga helps kids build patience. It takes patience and time to learn a new physical skill, and as new yoga poses are introduced, your child may not be able to do it all at first. But the important thing is that a good yoga instructor will give the child encouragement and time.
23. Yoga improves posture. Children that spend a lot of time seated at desks in school or in front of the computer at home may develop upper body tension and increased spinal pressure. Yoga relieves this.
24. With yoga, the focus is on the individual. Rather than being pressured to do exactly the same thing as the others in class, a child practicing yoga is on an individual journey within the class. An instructor can give feedback to each child and each child feels like they have learned something.
25. Yoga can help kids with special needs. Yoga has been shown to be helpful and therapeutic for children with Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other physically limiting conditions. Each child is different, so of course you should ask your pediatrician or specialist.
I am a huge fan of the show So You Think You Can Dance. The talent it amazing to watch. One of this season’s contestants is B-Boy Jose Ruiz. His street dancing is incredible, but he has shown his ability to adapt to many different styles of dance. He also is a yogi!
I love that in this video clip Jose explains that yoga helps him with his dance, but that he also does yoga for the benefits it gives to his mind. What a great role model!
Act now to help Congress pass a strong Child Nutrition Act. Click here to quickly link to your local legislators.
It is impossible not to be effected by the horrendous catastrophe that took place this week in Haiti. It is also easy to be confused as to how to help. So many organizations are calling out for donations to aid the Haitian people in getting back on their feet and rebuilding. I am always a little leery as to where I should put my money. I decided to just pick up my phone. Our society has a hard time putting our phones down. Don’t hesitate now! It’s as easy as texting “Haiti” and dialing 90999. The $10 charge is added to your phone bill. Piece of cake. Do it once. Do it twice. It’s easy and it makes a difference. Check out this article that I found on Tonic (which is a great website that focuses on positive news). Let your fingers do the talking and make a difference today.
Midtown is hosting David Romanelli this weekend. David is known worldwide for sharing his yoga+chocolate and yoga+wine experiences. Click here to find out more and to reserve your spot!
A feature story about kids yoga was written in the January/February addition of the Rochester Magazine. I am featured along with a couple of other studios. New classes at Breathe are starting soon after the New Year. Read all about them in the article!