4 comments on “Why You Should Remember Your Fascia Next Time You Practice Yoga”

Why You Should Remember Your Fascia Next Time You Practice Yoga

fascia1

In recent years you may have noticed that “fascia” has become a big trend on the yoga scene. There are many theories around this connective tissue in our bodies which still poses a great mystery for scientists. However, this is what research found out so far:

  • From the day humans are conceived, we consist of fascia. It is a sticky and fluid network of fabric that holds us together and which constantly adapts to all our movements.
  • Fascia lies deep within our muscular tissue but also connects them to each other. In addition, it is also present in more superficial parts of our body, where it holds our tendons, blood vessels and nerves together.
  • With time, injuries can cause this fabric to become thick and inflexible, thus causing restrictions and pain within this tissue. The results are little knots and tensions within our fascia and muscles which need to be released.

What Is Fascial Release?

When we talk about fascial release, it is important to make a distinction between myofascial release, which is the practice of applying pressure to the connective fascial tissue and fascial release, which you can basically do yourself at home. Myofascial release therapy is usually executed by trained practitioners. Alternatively, it can be done at home by using foam rollers or your own hands, which we then would call “self-myofascial release.”

If the sound of foam rollers or visiting a practitioner does not sound too appealing to you, then I have great news for you: Yoga, and especially Yin Yoga, is a great way to release your fascia!

How Yoga and Fascia Work Together

It has been proven that as little as 5 minutes of fascia releasing yoga a day can greatly improve stiffness, ease pain, and lead to greater flexibility. While most forms of yoga are a great way to release this inner tissue, there is also a different form of yoga which is even more effective: Yin Yoga.

Yin Yoga is an especially slow-paced form of yoga, where asanas are held over a longer period of time than most typical yoga styles. These prolonged yoga poses apply pressure on your muscles and thus on your fascia, helping to untie all those knots and tensions that have built up over time. The important thing to know about Yin Yoga is that even though Yin Yoga poses are very similar to Hatha Yoga, their respective names are different and should not be confused. Moreover, due to its more relaxed pace, it is an approach that also focuses much more on meditation.

Earlier I mentioned that fascia is a network that can be found throughout our body. This means that if you practice poses that stretch a particular part of your body, it is important to concentrate not just on this one part, but rather on your whole body. The reason being that a release in one stretched part of your body can lead to a fascial release in another part as well. Even just positioning your hand or foot differently can lead to a release elsewhere.

Which Yoga Poses Provide Fascial Release?

If you still feel left in the dark about fascia and how it can provide relief, try for example the evergreen classic: the downward facing dog. The stretches in your calves are the perfect example of fascia-focused yoga. While you are holding this pose, try to focus your attention on your whole body: What does the stretching of your calves do to the soles of your feet? How does my neck feel when I also try to relax my tongue? Remember, it is all intertwined and connected to each other.

Otherwise, I would recommend that you hold your yoga poses longer than usual (approximately 45 seconds at the beginning) in order to really feel your fascia release its tension. Especially floor-based asanas can be held easier and provide extra relief in your fascial tissue.

A Slow and Steady Pace Is the Key

While yoga is a great way to release your fascia, it is also important to remember to be aware of this connective tissue in your daily life. Although yoga certainly contributes to the flexibility of your muscles, fascial tensions can still result from surprisingly high levels of stress as well as bad posture. You can imagine how unhappy our fascia must be after a long day at work where we barely move!

This is why you should remember to try to take little breaks throughout the day to stretch those areas of your body that feel stiffest. Try to straighten your upper body whenever you feel like you are slouching – even such a little improvement in posture can help your fascial system to stay in constant flow and prevent blockages.

Just remember: Slow and steady is the key…enjoy!

—————-

fascia2

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Natasa Brasik, a yoga teacher based in Austria with an emphasis on Therapeutic and Hatha Yoga. With a background in medicine, she offers individual (online) yoga classes, where she designs specific programs for her clients with a focus on pain relief as well as back and joint health. Moreover, during the summer she organizes multiple yoga and sailing retreats across Croatia’s islands. For more information on individual sessions as well as her retreats, head over to Carpe Diem Yoga.

 

Advertisements
1 comment on “4 Simple Ways to Meditate More”

4 Simple Ways to Meditate More

homepage.jpg

To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

Many of us find meditation incredibly difficult. Sitting, breathing… waiting? What is it all for, anyway? We read articles and watch documentaries on the powerful effects of meditation, however, the commitment to sit and meditate can be daunting. I have found some really simple practices that bring me to a meditative state that can be integrated at any moment in time. Whether you are eating dinner, talking with your family, or driving in your car, here are some simple practices to bring you back into the present moment:

1. Take A Walk

My favorite thing to clear my mind is to take a walk. Whether I am traveling in a new city or walking the streets of my hometown that I have seen a thousand times before, walking gives the experience of feeling fully integrated into the environment. Going for a walk increases endorphins, and most importantly, offers an opportunity to become more aware of your surroundings.

2. Notice Your Five Senses

No matter what you are doing right now, you can stop, and take note of your five senses. What are you seeing? Do you notice colors, shapes, or something else? What do you smell? What are you touching? How does it feel? Are you tasting anything? What can you hear? Can you stop what you are thinking, and simply relax into the experience of the five senses?

By putting our awareness on the world around us, it instantly becomes no longer about “me,” and more about our surroundings. By bringing our awareness to our present experience through the body, we can instantly become grounded in the present moment. As we become more focused we are on our own experience, the less space there is for judgment, comparison, or anything of the like.

3. Listen

I find listening to be the most profound of the five senses. When my thoughts are going haywire, when I listen to the world around me, they instantly become silenced. Where we put our attention, energy follows. By putting our attention on the world outside of our minds, our energy follows.

4. Beware of Your Words

How words hold our creative power. When we learn to be impeccable with our word, we can experience how powerful they really are. When what we say, feel, and do are in alignment, we are in great mental health. When I slow down, and really listen to what I am about to say, I am able to speak my truth freely.

Life can be a living meditation, but it takes consistent awareness to return to the present moment. These are simple practices I have personally discovered which help me regain my grounding. In this space of presence, we have access to our greater intelligence and connection in our lives. We are all already what we are looking for if we could only stop to experience it, right here, and right now. For more tips and tools on yoga, meditation, healing and the arts, head over to The Inside World.

—————

DSC_86271500px196.jpgEditor’s note: This is a guest post by Lexi Faith. Lexi teaches Sattva Yoga and Yoga Therapy, meditation, reiki and is an artist based in Bali, Indonesia. She is passionate about guiding women to reconnect to their creative, intuitive nature through coaching, yoga, meditation and the arts, and she offers daily drop in classes and retreats around the world. For more information, one on one sessions, and info on her upcoming retreats, head over to The Inside World.

18 comments on “Yoga Wisdom: Warrior Tales Inspiring You On And Off Your Mat”

Yoga Wisdom: Warrior Tales Inspiring You On And Off Your Mat

Excerpt from Yoga Wisdom: Warrior Tales Inspiring You On And Off Your Mat
by Stephanie Spence (Skyhorse Publishing)


Introduction

The setting: a luxurious villa on the Caribbean island of St. Barts. A wife and husband, along with several of his clients, are partying on a terrace overlook­ing the glittering ocean and sun-kissed beach. They flew in from Pittsburgh aboard his private jet that morning. The woman seems to have it all—she’s a self-made success story, wife, and mother. But beneath her mask of contentment and complicity, she hides a terrible secret: the price she’s paying for this glamor­ous life is that she is living a lie. Their friends and acquaintances would say that she and her rich, powerful husband of twenty-five years never argue. Well, she doesn’t argue. Why? She is terrified of being bullied, verbally dismissed, and belittled.

As usual, she is expected to entertain her husband’s guests, which means fulfilling their every desire—no matter how illegal. Submissive and compliant, her everyday mantra. Soon, the revelers want to kick things up a notch with Thai Stick, some of the best opium-laced marijuana money can buy. And they expect her to join in.

She takes the Stick, feels her stomach rebel. Her mind screams in protest. She brings the smoldering joint to her lips . . . and hesitates. Her husband, waiting his turn, nods for her to take a hit.

She parts her lips, ready to obey. Wait. What am I doing? she thinks. Selling her soul. Giving herself away.

Putting toxic substances into her body because her husband expects her to be the life of the party. She drops the Stick in a most deliberate way, oblivious to the gasps and protests. No. No more.

She is done with drugs, drinking, and ass-kissing. Ignoring one man’s dash to grab the Stick, now rolling across the patio, she turns to the man who had once vowed to honor and love her. His mouth moves, trying to form words in his shocked outrage.

Before his drug-hazed mind can produce the vitriol he so clearly wants to spew, she blurts out, “I want a divorce.”

A startled hush falls over everyone as they wait for his reaction. She’s pre­pared for the worst of his explosive temper. Instead of denigrating her, threatening her, or pretending that he cares, he simply walks out of the villa. Minutes later, she hears him drive away.

She excuses herself and holes up in one of the guest rooms to await his re­turn. The waiting is its own torture, and it’s for nothing. She finds out that he boarded his jet and left her behind.

But he wasn’t done. The following day, he sends her an email with only one sentence: “Your life as you know it will never be the same.”

My name is Stephanie Spence, a.k.a. Yoga Road Trip Girl, and that wife was me. That brave, bold declaration was only the beginning. As any survivor of abuse, whether physical, emotional, or mental, knows, you can’t go from living as a shell of your former self to empowered in a day, a week, a month. For me, it’s an ongoing journey of triumphs and failures, of heartbreak and joy.

I set off on my new life with nothing but a rental car and the clothes on my back and slowly rebuilt my life with the only lifeline I knew: yoga.

My daily yoga practice grew into so much more than perfecting a pose. Yoga became transformative, teaching me to live a fearless, authentic life of purpose and potential.

When I felt alone, it reminded me that I was part of a world-wide community. When I was hard on myself for falling out of a pose, it reminded me that this is a practice, not an end goal. When I felt powerless to master a pose, it reminded me to surrender to what is. When I hurt, it helped me to heal. And when I did master a pose at last, it applauded my strength—and showed me that I am a warrior at heart who can save myself.

When we are ready to grow, the Universe puts “coincidences” on our path to help us or send us in the right direction. These can be people, places, or events that your soul attracts into your life to help you evolve to higher consciousness or place emphasis on something going on in your life. Synchronistically, I met spiritual teacher Gahl Sasson through my yoga studio. My session with Gahl was infused with Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical interpretation of the Bible. Gahl’s depth of wisdom and devotion inspired me to deepen my spiritual prac­tice, along with my yoga practice. I devoured the exercises in his book, A Wish Can Change Your Life. Starting from the first chapter, I had visual, emotional, and physical confirmation that the book was working. This was unlike any other self-help book I had read. I immediately saw results. For the first time in my life, I had a clear direction for my future.

By the time I finished the book, I knew that my dharma, my soul purpose, was to educate and inspire as many people as I could to try yoga and embrace it as a way of life. I loaded up a rented RV and headed on a month-long journey I dubbed the “Yoga Road Trip.” Waking up daily in my moving cocoon of yoga, I felt powerful and free. My morning ritual of writing and playing house in my adopted home electrified my soul. It dawned on me that this was the first house I had ever picked out and lived in that was truly my own.

Whether my morning meditation was in a shabby trailer park, busy parking lot, or overlooking the ocean, I had a space that was all mine. I embodied the new freedom and adventure I had always longed for but had never been able to manifest on my own.

As I made my 4,000-mile pilgrimage from Southern California all the way up the West Coast and into Canada, I had a simple mission: video-interview and practice with a different yoga teacher every day. Instead of solely words and pictures on my blog, I hoped the moving images would resonate on a more in­timate level with the viewers, bringing them closer to these wise souls, my ex­perience, and me. Hungry for emotional connection, I believed the world of online sharing would resonate with the yearning for kinship that I believe is at the root of all social media. I pictured the blog more as a vlog (video log) from a vision I had while in Savasana. I also wanted to capture their wisdom and en­lightenment to help me discover a part of myself I had never known. The me that I was before life taught me destructive love. I had never learned to listen to and trust my spiritual self, the wise and loving voice of my intuition.

WARRIOR WISDOM

I reclaimed my lost self on the road. I understood for the first time how to thrive instead of merely survive. I regained my unique power and my voice. And most important, I had a road map for physical, mental, and spiritual health to give others. The impressive souls I met on my Yoga Road Trip, and those I have en­gaged with as I continue my journey, are at the heart of this book.

I became a Warrior when I embraced the understanding that I had to crash so I could transform my life. I scoured the globe to find top yoga teachers, truly authentic givers, who make yoga a way of life just as I do. They have huge hearts and simple wisdom driven by compassion, experience, and kindness. We all hope Yoga Wisdom inspires the whole world to embrace yoga as a way of life, one person at a time.

Yoga Wisdom takes you on the road of life with people who are full of self-love and radiating balance, so you can create that for yourself. Once you meet these life instructors, you can manifest everything you need to make a differ­ence in your life and the lives of those around you.

Physically showing up on your yoga mat is just the beginning. With determi­nation and patience, the real secrets and power of yoga come with time. We’re here to inspire you to not only show up for class, but to become a yogi, too—a yoga devotee full of love and light.

It’s time to unleash the Warrior inside you.

——————

Editor’s note: With an eye towards the future, but steeped in wisdom from 38 years of practicing yoga, Stephanie Spence is a Yoga Educator, Author, Inspirational Speaker, Activist, and Creative Leader. Based in Coronado, California, Stephanie is a trail blazer with an inspiring and empowering approach to self-inquiry and personal development. Stephanie is committed to helping ignite the desire for others to create a life of health and joy for themselves through a sustainable practice of yoga for a lifetime of transformation. Connect with her via her award-winning yoga blog, one-with-life.com or @Stephanieyogini. Her book “Yoga Wisdom: Warrior Tales Inspiring You On And Off Your Mat” is now available wherever books are sold. 

19 comments on “Why Yoga is a Growing Part of Global Healthcare”

Why Yoga is a Growing Part of Global Healthcare

When yoga was developed as a spiritual discipline in ancient India, it’s unlikely that its originators ever imagined how their practice would look thousands of years into the future. Intensely spiritual in its inception and throughout much of its history, yoga has evolved into something with a global scope and endless iterations – from the strictly traditional to modern inventions like beer and goat yoga.

But it’s perhaps yoga’s latest significant development–from a spiritually-centered pursuit to an increasingly regular feature of the scrupulously evidence-based, secular and scientific world of modern medicine–that is most striking. Evidence is growing to suggest that yoga has real value in a formal healthcare setting, and that this complementary therapy could become a part of both prevention and treatment of a variety of illnesses.

A (Very) Short History of Yoga

Historians theorize that yoga could be between 5,000 and 10,000 years old, but the first written mentions of the word “yoga” appeared in sacred texts known as the Vedas during India’s Vedic period, which began in 1500 BCE. Perhaps the most famous of the yoga scriptures is the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, thought to date back to 500 BCE. In the 2nd century, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra collated various past scripts to create an 8-limb path to enlightenment, beginning the “classical” era where the roots of yoga became structured, and easier to teach and practice.

After this came the development of Tantra and Hatha yoga (which are recognisable to us today), and until the early 1900s yoga was practiced nearly exclusively in the East. The worldwide growth of yoga began with Swami Vivekananda delivering a presentation about yoga in Chicago in 1893, with the first yoga centre opening in Hollywood around 50 years later.

From this point yoga has become fully integrated into the Western world, and the idea that yoga therapy can have a positive effect on the outcomes of a variety of health problems has been growing for decades. In the 1920s, Swami Kuvalayananda first introduced the idea that it would be possible to measure the physical and physiological changes that occurred through yoga practice, and since then a wealth of scientific research has been conducted on yoga’s impact on everything from heart disease to psychosis.

Yoga in Healthcare

The long fight against illness has bought us to a point that’s completely unique in human history. With the odd exception, we no longer need to worry about the ravages of infectious disease; knowing that widespread inoculation programs, good public hygiene and treatment options including antibiotics and antivirals tend to keep a lid on anything really nasty getting out of hand.

This is an extraordinary phenomenon, and one that has been hundreds of years in the making, formed from the hard work of many generations of scientists and doctors making slow steps forward to a better future. But despite the fact we can celebrate that we are no longer dogged by plague, cholera, smallpox or any number of life-threatening illnesses, a new health crisis has arisen. A result both of our longer lifespans and widespread lifestyle change, chronic and non-communicable disease is set to be the biggest health challenge of the coming century.

A diet of processed, sugar-laden food, a working environment that allows little time for relaxation or creative expression, lack of exercise, loneliness, intense financial pressure – these are all features of many people’s lives in the modern world, and they are having a profound impact on their health. Whether it’s the rise in depression and anxiety, or the fact that in 2015 84.1 million Americans aged 18 and older had prediabetes, it’s becoming clear that traditional medicine is struggling to tackle this modern health crisis.

This is where yoga can (and does) have a positive impact. Looking after people’s health is a very expensive endeavour, with significant amounts of a country’s GDP often dedicated to this one goal. Yoga is an inexpensive way to help people both manage symptoms of illness and to also stop illness from developing in the first place, and it can be practiced at any age, and at all stages of health.

Yoga is accessible, improves wellbeing, and those who practice yoga regularly are less likely to exhibit chronic mental and physical health problems. It is also associated with other positive lifestyle habits, suggesting that when people are encouraged to look after their health using yoga, they start to make healthier choices in other areas of life. Stubborn issues such as low back pain and insomnia can be alleviated with the implementation of a yoga therapy regime, and as general wellbeing improves, so does people’s experience of life.

Health is often determined by a complex range of social, economic and environmental factors, and the grinding nature of long-term illness, as well the relentlessness of modern pressures, can make people feel utterly overwhelmed. Yoga can empower the individual and help them make the best choices for themselves, as well as being something that can be practiced in a supportive community setting.

We are living longer lives than ever before, but this progress is threatened by preventable (if complex) issues such as obesity, and the quality of our lives is being undermined by poor mental health and unhappiness. The ongoing integration of yoga into traditional healthcare ultimately represents a shift in thinking. Instead of facing a disease by treating symptoms when they arise, healthcare is increasingly embracing the idea of considering the root cause of illness, and working to prevent it from appearing in the first place.

————–

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Heather Mason, a yoga teacher and founder of The Minded Institute, a center of yoga therapy in London exploring the intersection between yoga and healthcare around the world. Heather became interested in the use of mind-body therapies after her own experience of depression and anxiety, training over many years and across the globe in yoga and yoga therapy. Follow Heather on Twitter and Facebook.