Yoga, an ancient practice of deep postures called asanas, has exploded in the West. It was originally created more than two thousand years ago by spiritual teachers who believed that these postures, which require physical energy, breathing, and mental focus, would prepare people for sitting meditation. Perhaps because of the popularity of yoga in the West, meditation and mindfulness practices have also gained notice. The current research on meditation shows us how meditating, the process of bringing the mind back to the present moment using a mantra or the breath, makes positive changes in our brains. Mindfulness, described as meditation in action, decreases the production of stress hormones, thus allowing us to be present instead of living in the past or the future. Now, even movie stars do yoga, as well as business executives and stay-at-home moms.
At last the West is catching on to something that Eastern cultures have known all along: Doing yoga builds core strength and increases flexibility, while the mind stays focused. It was a lucky day when, in my early twenties, I was introduced to a yoga teacher who had just returned from India after spending a year with B.K.S. Iyengar, the Yoga Master who passed away in 2014 in his late nineties. I was out of shape at the time and looking for something that would challenge me. Little did I know that it was the perfect pairing for my future studies. Since my teacher was fresh from India and the watchful eye of Mr. Iyengar, I had the advantage of learning Iyengar-style yoga from the very start.
B.K.S. Iyengar was precise and stern in the way he taught. All over the world, he was considered a gifted healer, and people would come to him with ailments that he treated with yoga postures. He felt that everyone should be able to do yoga, and he introduced the use of props such as blocks, tables, chairs, blankets, bolsters and even walls to achieve the postures that were needed for the individual he was working with.
I am forever grateful for having been introduced to this style of yoga. Because of its deep and precise character, it began my journey into teaching and establishing good posture, as well as understanding why it is so important. This style is a perfect complement to the Structural Bodywork I studied in my thirties, and the chiropractic medicine I studied in my forties. More important, during my recovery from fractures I received during a traumatic fall in 2010, it was doing yoga that literally got me back on my feet. Because of the knowledge I had of yoga and its focus on opening the hips, I was able to heal faster and more completely than would have been possible otherwise. My old injuries don't haunt me, and I owe that, at least in part, to my yoga practice . . .
I have watched stunning transformations in people who have come into my office in pain, with no knowledge of good posture; time after time, using yoga as a catalyst, people have blossomed into younger-looking, healthier individuals. Doing the proper postures coordinated with Structural Bodywork and good nutrition, people take away the tools they need to be and stay healthy throughout their lives. Yoga therapy creates individual practices targeting the specific issues that my patients need. Whether it is expanding the ribcage in someone with asthma, or working on lengthening the neck so that the head can move smoothly in someone with arthritis or spinal stenosis, this therapy enhances the needs of individuals and brings balance into bodies in a safe and noninvasive way.
If you are new to yoga and want to learn how to practice in a safe environment before launching yourself in a group class, I will give you the tools you need to practice anywhere. If you are in pain or have physical deterrents that need guidance, you are in the right place to enable you to move forward.