The Benefits of Yoga at Any Age

from Nancy Kirkland

People derive different kinds of benefits from a yoga practice. Yoga and other eastern practices differ from most western forms of physical activity because you really have to incorporate the mind into the practice. With aerobic oriented activity like running or swimming, you can just let your mind drift off. With yoga, the mind focus brings a greater benefit in addition to the physical benefits of greater strength, flexibility, and balance. A lot of people sleep better, feel calmer, and breathe better. You don’t have to go in with the intention to get those benefits, they just result from doing a good yoga asana practice.

Yoga also helps people find what is challenging for them, be it physical, mental, or emotional, and helps find a way to address it. People often do yoga positions way too quickly. They will say their shoulder hurts, and I’ll say give it 6 months. Give pain time to resolve. Pain is a very good teacher and yoga is not a pain free practice. When people come to class with pain, they need to recognize that yoga is not an immediate cure all but that there are great benefits to a regular practice.

Yoga is a practice for people of all levels. HaLe’ has students ages 20 to 80, so don’t let fitness or age keep you away. Find a teacher that resonates with you and then stick with them. Don’t try for a lot of variety; go deeper instead of wider. Allow your class to become a community that develops over time. That’s a very supportive group to be in.

Also, don’t avoid props and don’t underestimate restorative yoga. Props like blocks, straps, and chairs make yoga much more accessible to people and allows them to achieve a comfortable practice with a properly aligned body. Restorative yoga is key to improving breath, awareness, and observations skills, even though a lot of people really resist it when they are new to yoga practice because they feel restless, want to exercise, and don’t see the value. It is an important part of a yoga practice; don’t ignore it.

A yoga practice, because it incorporates mind and body instead of being just body, comes with a lot of benefits. A good asana practice should be both convenient and enjoyable, and doing the yoga postures properly has different benefits for everyone. Most of all, though, don’t take it too seriously. It should also be fun.

 

Nancy Kirkland has 45 years of yoga practice and has been teaching yoga for 17 years.

The Medicine of Sound

From Julie Fisher

Sound Healing provides deep relaxation and stress relief. It is especially helpful when emotions are running high, whether from stress, or grief, or going through something traumatic. We are not taught how to let our feelings flow, but instead are often encouraged to shut them down and ignore them, or to tell their stories, which can keep us in our mind and reinforce the emotion. But with sound, it shows where the feeling is in the body. It might wrap around the shoulders, or move down the spine. The sound gently brings the emotion up to the surface, where it might be felt as a warm sense of tension in the heart, and then it releases. It moves through us and leaves us relaxed.

People often come in to a sound healing class, workshop, or private session high strung and bouncing off the walls. It takes a minute for them to settle down, and then a switch happens and they go into a new state. Their body shifts, their breathing changes, and they go into a place of rest. Their awareness increases, they become aware of different sensations in their body, and the mind is finally able to let go and relax. Creating that space and awareness allows a deep release of stress and tension. Afterwards, people’s faces are more open, with more light in their eyes.

One person comes to Sound Healing because she literally receives messages, connecting with her higher intelligence and intuition. Another came when he hadn’t slept in 3 days, fell asleep, and woke up feeling like he’d had hours of the best sleep of his life when it had only been 50 minutes. Someone else has gained an improved sense of rest and is now able to connect with her breath as a simple and easy to access tool with powerful and immediate effects. We often talk about the power of the breath, but the Sound Healing helped her distill that in a way that is so simple and obvious that it became a discovery.

We all have issues whether we are aware of it or not, and sound brings it up to the surface in a way that feels safe, like a comfortable cocoon. When we are safe enough to look at it, then it can come up and release. Sound Healing allows us to become aware of things we didn’t even know, like patterns of tension in the neck and shoulders, and then the healing sound allows it to just pass through us and relax.

Fibromyalgia Symptom Relief through AIYA Yoga Therapy

Fibromyalgia symptoms cross physical and neurological boundaries, as do symptoms from traumatic accidents and surgeries that throw off the nervous system. There are many conditions that seem to affect the nervous system but that challenge Western medical diagnositics. The symptoms are real, even if they can seem mysterious and confounding to Western medicine. Assisted Integrated Yoga Asana (AIYA) Yoga Therapy is excellent at calming this family of symptoms.

The gentle assisted movement of AIYA Yoga Therapy, developed by Kristen Hubbard, brings relief to muscles and joints by moving through a range of motion and stretching as well as flushing of interstitial fluids. Sessions are done one on one on a thick mat on the floor, as the therapist takes you through a passive series of assisted stretches, other gentle movements, and working with the breath.

Kristen Hubbard has worked with fibromyalgia patients since 2011. Her treatments have a wonderful positive effect for fibromyalgia symptoms, and include a gentleness of process that makes sure all parts of the body are always supported and that there are no jarring or intense movements. This proficiency in effective treatment is informed by Kristen’s expertise in restorative yoga.

New clients should begin with a 1 hour initial treatment so that client and therapist can build trust and feel comfortable with each other. Depending on what the client needs, Kristen often recommends coming every other week for 4 or 5 treatments and then dropping down to more of a maintenance schedule. Since every body is unique, treatments also include discussion about self-care recommendations and some ideas for stretches at home in order to prolong the positive effects.

AIYA Yoga Therapy helps people with fibromyalgia symptoms get to a place where they are more comfortable in their bodies as they get to know their range of motion through safe movement free from fear of injury. They tend to have lessened pain days and less intensity of symptoms. The effects seem to last for several weeks before symptoms begin to return.

A Feminine Practice of Health

From Jane House

We all have weird things that come up for us in our bodies. Sometimes they are constant symptoms, and sometimes they just show up periodically. Usually, we try to fix them, or to medicate them. Sometimes they are concerning enough that we find ourselves running around to various doctors so they can do the fixing or the medicating.

The practice of yoga can help us reclaim the knowing and power that we lose when our health is being approached from the outside in. When we drop into our bodies, and breathe, we can turn inward.

The body is always talking to us through symptoms, texture, light, pain, and more. We can learn this new language. We can use bodywork, or yoga, or meditation in order to turn to our bodies and to sit with them, to talk with them. This is a feminine practice, just sitting with what comes up.

When we sit for long enough and listen for long enough, we get information from the body up instead of from the head down. An image or an intuition will come through. For example, my left knee swells up for no reason, and it pulls me inward and downward into my body. So I respond to that and listen to it instead of trying to fix it. I read the symptoms and signs that crop up from the inside.

Recently, sitting with my swollen knee, after a month of slowing down, I got the intuition to work with Adie, who does lymphatic massage at HaLe’. I had never met her or tried her work. But the prompt kept coming from the inside, and her work, her particular healing, got into my body and moved something, and my knee got unswollen.

Other times, I’ll get an image, something that comes up from the past that I need to work with psychologically, and it comes from the ground up, an intuition.

When we drop into our own bodies we can become our own advocates, and it’s a really new and different experience, this not getting something from the outside in. It empowers us. The feminine practice is about honoring the body instead of controlling the body.

The Folk Art of Thai Massage

Thai Yoga collage

Thai Massage is a folk art, a healing art, and is a great complement to other healing therapies. It has its roots in both self-care and love and care of others, as inspired by the practice of Loving-Kindness, or Metta.

Practicing Thai Massage teaches a person how to ground and focus, how to center themselves, and helps create a sense of body-conciousness and body awareness.

Receiving Thai Massage helps drastically reduce stress levels in the body, and is a good treatment for neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and muscle soreness, as well as helping to open the joints.

Thai Massage is a branch of Thai medicine and medical theory, and is something that has been practiced by the indigenous people of Thailand for a long time. It started as a form of partner yoga, with its roots in self-massage. That is where the terms Thai Yoga Bodywork or Thai Yoga Massage come from.

There’s a system of self-care and self-massage techniques rooted in the whole Thai process because it starts with yourself. The techniques taught in classes are designed to mimic some of those original self-massage techniques, only they are modified to be done with a partner.

These partner techniques are especially fun for couples, parents, family members, and friends to learn and practice with each other. Once you have the training, you can easily do it together at home. It is also useful for fitness professionals like personal trainers, for massage therapists to broaden their skill base, and for yoga teachers to use with private clients.

Thai Massage is a wonderful practice to integrate into your lifestyle, with its benefits for giving, receiving, and sharing with others.

Ha.Le’ is pleased to offer an upcoming Thai Massage training workshop March 5th and 6th 2016 with Charlene Gaffney. More information here.

Stress Release

stress release

When we allow ourselves to rest and to receive,
we give ourselves permission to let go,
and that is the very heart of stress release.
We can then start the untangling
of bound thought patterns, tissue fibers, and ideas about ourselves.
Stress release can happen in a moment, in a flash, in seconds,
and you know when it happens.
We recognize it.
To find stress release, you only need to show up, to arrive,
into our culture of care at Ha.Le’.

Don’t wait until life settles down; you are not going to get less busy.

Allow Grace

allow grace
We all have ideas about how we would like to look and feel in our bodies, and in this season of New Year’s Resolutions, it is easy to become extra critical and impatient with ourselves.
This year, allow yourself some Grace.
We all need grace and space to develop. Some things can take a long time to process, so please give yourself that time. Instead of judging yourself and others, allow time to transition, and trust yourself and your therapists to get you where you need to be.

Happy New Year,

Janice Cathey

What is Restorative Yoga?

spiritual indian symbol of lotus flower

 

 

by Kristen Hubbard

Restorative Yoga uses blankets, pillows, and other props to allow the body to fully and comfortably relax into each pose, often resting in each pose for 3 or more minutes. Through these fully supported body positions, breath awareness, and meditative contemplation, Restorative Yoga restores a deep sense of calm relaxation to the body and mind. Every effort is made by the teacher to assist the student in finding comfort in each position. Transitions between poses happen slowly, with ease and awareness. The body’s comfortable, supported postures allow the mind to begin the process of unwinding.

 

Due to the continuous influx of stimuli in our daily lives, most of us live in a constant state of alertness. Where this behavior does keep us from being eaten by tigers, falling off of cliffs, and other such peril, it also creates a state of continuous mental, physical and emotional stress. As the body recognizes the sensation of full support and the lack of imminent danger, the mind is unburdened of physical concerns and able to refine focus on the breath.

 

In Restorative Yoga, as in other styles of yoga, we use the breath as a link between the conscious and the unconscious. We can both choose to control our breath as well as surrender to the natural process of breathing. Thus, focus on our breath and the experience of breathing begins to bring us truly into the present moment, into what our body and mind can sense right now, removing focus on exterior stresses and daily concerns and allowing the nervous system much deserved rest.

 

With the physical body fully supported and the nervous system functioning with ease we have the opportunity to explore even deeper states of relaxation. The meditative states achieved through Restorative yoga practice are often more restful than an average night’s sleep. This rested state of mind and body is where we put together the puzzle pieces we’ve picked up throughout our conscious daily life. This is where we establish patterns and where we create memories.

 

A regular Restorative Yoga practice is a powerful tool for those interested in improving the health of the mind, the body, and their vast network of interconnectivity. With the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher, Restorative Yoga is available and beneficial to students of all level, including those completely new to yoga, recovering from injury, seasoned practitioners of any style, on its own or as a complement to any strong practice.

 

Ha.Le’ is pleased to offer Restorative Yoga taught by Kristen Hubbard, as one of our many therapeutic yoga classes for all levels. Please join us! 

 

Class Schedule

 

 

Mindfulness: 10 Insights to make your mind a good friend

Zen stones

 

How would you answer this question, “What is the most important question you have ever been asked?” (and your answer CANNOT be “Will you marry me?”). Over 8 years ago, as I sat as a student in a class called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), I was asked such a question.  The Instructor (now Mentor) asked, “Is your mind a good friend or does it take you into bad neighborhoods?”  Needless to say, my mind was screaming, “NO I AM NOT YOUR FRIEND AND NEVER WILL BE”.  Now, 8 years later, I can say with certainty that my mind was only giving me bad advice. Below are ten (10) insights that have emerged since making mindfulness a daily practice.  Read them and ask yourself, “Is your mind a good friend?”:

 

  1. Know Yourself

This is more than just self-awareness or knowing you like dark chocolate more than you like milk chocolate. It is about knowing your DNA, i.e. knowing your purpose, what you value, and what is never compromised.

 

  1. Choose wisely

Someone once said the most important choice we ever make in this life for personal happiness is who or if to marry. And it is less about finding the right person than it is about being the right person.

 

  1. Let go of resentment & regret

Resentment is like eating rat poison and expecting the rat to die. Regret is holding on to a hope of having a better past. Letting go is not shooting a second arrow after you have been stung with the first one.

 

  1. We see what we seek

If we are looking for faults, we will see faults. If we are looking for the good in someone, we will see only the good. What we seek, we will surely find.

 

  1. Spend time alone

Yes, even all of you extroverts. You don’t have to be like Thoreau at Walden Pond to take periodic refuge without the presence of others. When you lose touch with your inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself.

 

  1. Show up, tell the truth, & respond with compassion

Showing up means being present with others, i.e. being HERE NOW not somewhere else in your head.

 

  1. Slow down

I was once told that when you get in a hurry, you run off and leave more than you ever catch up to. I never quite understood what that meant, but I have run off and left many precious gifts that were only waiting for my patience to arrive.

 

  1. Be open to everything and attached to nothing

Nothing also meaning “no one”. Clinging, craving and attachment are the core elements of 99% of all human suffering. The heart and mind function like a parachute…they only work when open.

 

  1. The pain now is part of the happiness then…that’s the deal

Rilke said it best when writing, “Let everything happen to you, the beauty and the terror. Just keep going. No thought or feeling is final.”  This is the Law of Impermanence.

 

  1. Smile more, complain less, never give up

Smile more, complain less, & never give up.

 

-by Elmo Shade

Elmo offers meditation and qigong classes, mindfulness workshops for adults and teens, and individualized mindfulness coaching. 

ashiatsu nashville

What is Ashiatsu?

Have you ever seen photographs or video footage of a therapist walking on a client’s back, using overhead bars and straps as support?

That is Ashiatsu, a powerful and effective form of massage therapy that is one of our offerings here at Ha.Le’ Mind and Body. In Japanese, the root word “Ashi” means foot and “Atsu” means pressure.

Controlled foot pressure uses physics of both bodies – therapist and client – for maximum benefit. With feet, the therapist activates acupressure points and spreads tissue fibers, distributing more body weight and pressure than what is available during traditional massage therapy using fingers, hands and arms.

With the feet, Ashiatsu therapists push, pull and pump tissue to relieve symptoms of chronic soft tissue damage. Ashiatsu is very effective at treating scar tissue and is the most profound way to receive myofascial release.  The support bars and straps allow therapists to control the weight and pressure – Ashiatsu feels like a deep massage (which it is) more than it feels like someone is walking on your back.

Barefoot massage techniques have deep historical roots throughout Asia and date back at least 3,000 years. In India, oils on bare skin and one balancing rope characterize Chavutti Thermal. Elsewhere throughout the Pacific Rim, Buddhist monks would provide the healing art of barefoot massage, through clothing, to pilgrims who made financial offerings of support and devotion.

In the West, Ashiatsu was introduced by Ruthie Harding, who saw a group of women using their feet to massage a row of men on cots in the Philippines in 1967. The women all used one long rod suspended from the ceiling for support. During a trip to India, she saw a man stabilizing himself with two knotted cloths hanging from a tree while using his feet to massage a man on a mat.

I trained at Ruthie Harding’s facility in Colorado. Here in Nashville Ashiatsu massage is one of our specialties. The method creates a strong bond between therapist and client. Such a bond increases a client’s comfort level, making the massage more effective. We use a method of sinking into muscle fibers as breath allows, and the pace and knowledge of our therapist make our sessions therapeutic, profound, and beneficial.

One size does not fit all when it comes to body work, but for many of our clients in Nashville Ashiatsu is the perfect fit.

If you’d like to experience Ashiatsu, give us a call at 615-415-0242.

Page 2 of 3123