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.

A lot of runners don’t know the two types of stretching that help running: Pre and Post. Pre-run stretches need to be focused on warming up the area, especially legs and hips, and creating blood flow and some flexibility. Stretches should not be held for very long, only two or three breaths, because you can overtax a muscle by stretching it and if you do that before you start, it will make you feel weaker during your run. Pre-run stretching should be about 5 min and focused on getting heat and blood flow into the areas you’ll be using.

Post-run stretches are different from pre-run stretches. They should be held for longer, about 6 or 7 breaths, and will help work out any tightness. It is important to really focus on the breath, taking nice deep breaths with full exhales to help clear the body of lactic acid. There also is no concern about over stressing or tiring the muscles through stretching because this is when you want them to relax.

A regular yoga practice is also of great benefit to runners. If you think you’re just running with your legs, you’re not going to run very long. Beyond the usual focus on the legs and hips, the calf muscles, hamstrings, and the flexibility of the hips allow the whole pelvic area to work efficiently. Ultimately what you are trying to achieve is the strength and flexibility to allow your body systems to work together and avoid injury.

Yoga is about balance and teaching our bodies how everything is connected and how it all works together. All movement comes from the core, and so strengthening the core and teaching the body how to move fluidly without overstressing one particular part of the body will allow you to run faster, longer, and to avoid injury, so that running can become a lifelong adventure.

 


Liz Trinkler has been running for 40 years without injury and has completed 5 marathons. She teaches Ha.Lé Yoga on Mondays and Wednesdays 12:00-12:50.

Pelvic health has a huge effect on quality of life. Daily activities influence pelvic health in ways we may not be aware, like sitting postures, bathroom habits, etc. Learning what your pelvis holds and how it is interrelated to your anatomy can be very empowering. Gaining this knowledge helps increase awareness and appreciation for the pelvis and its important functions as the floor to the spine, connector of hips and pelvis, holder of organs and babies, etc.  Understanding what “normal” pelvic floor function is can be a starting point of awareness.

Dysfunction in pelvic health happens across the population, from pediatric to elderly, and can be affected by more things than having babies and aging. Improving pelvic function often helps with pain that is not responding to other therapies, especially low back pain, as well as bowel and bladder dysfunction, painful intercourse, and lumbar and spine dysfunction. The pelvic floor depends on the spine, abdomen, breath, and lower and upper extremity strength and function. Conditions such as low blood pressure and bowel and bladder issues may be directly related to pelvic dysfunction.

There are simple daily habits you can be aware of to bring better health to your pelvic area, including certain postures, bowel and bladder habits, and exercises. Histories of trauma, like sexual or physical trauma, pregnancy, birth, or surgery can all have an effect on pelvic health.

The most important starting place, though, is to learn to breathe into the pelvis. When you inhale, bring your breath all the way down to your vagina and/or perineum, and then fill the diaphragm, and then the chest. The pelvis is a body part you can’t see, and once you can be still enough to connect with it, there is an awareness that will open up. So be still, be with the breath, and breathe into the pelvis for pelvic health.

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.

Yoga is for self-fulfillment.
Yoga practice is about self-awareness.
It serves a purpose to balance misunderstandings and misperceptions.
It develops the knowing, the clarity, and the being, increasing accuracy in knowing yourself.
Yoga is a view or perspective, and it can help change your perspective.
Yoga can be your greatest self-help guide as you learn how to reduce your suffering and come out of suffering.

Yoga is also movement, and it gives attention to the direction you are headed.
It is about yoking together and bringing together the elements of self-control that direct the activity of the mind, bringing us a more peaceful and more balanced feeling.

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

 

 

dew drops close up

 

At a recent evening Vinyasa Yoga class, I experienced a good, old fashioned “yoga cry”. It felt great. I didn’t try to push it aside or act like it wasn’t happening. I didn’t care that everyone else could see. Okay, maybe I did a little bit. But, in the car, on the ride home, I let the tears flow freely. I felt myself releasing and opening. I felt clearer.

 

I was not new to this experience. Early on in my practice, I had cried often in class. But I was blessed with a knowledgeable and compassionate instructor who helped me to understand the effects that yoga asanas can have on the subtle body. He explained that the purpose of the asanas is spiritual transformation and that yoga is not just another gimmicky workout. But mostly, he left me alone to process my own experience.

 

My recent sob on the mat helped me to better understand the yoga catchphrases of “honoring my practice and “listening to my body”. I felt a surge of gratitude—realizing that yoga is always available, that it allows me to give and take as needed. I honor my practice by coming back to it again and again.

 

-Emily

 

Emily Davidson Nemoy is elated to be teaching Rise and Shine! Slow Flow Vinyasa Yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:15 AM at Ha.Le. In Slow Flow Vinyasa Yoga, movement is synchronized with the breath. We purposefully move at a slower pace so that the practitioner has time to mentally engage with the body, understanding when a pose should be modified. A morning yoga series is a great option for working folks who need to get their practice in before the rest of their day begins. Emily loves teaching and practicing in the morning when the mind is clearer, making it easier to be more focused and mindful.

Try her class 

This 11-minute audio podcast guides listeners through a series of simple, gentle stretching exercises that release tension in the neck, shoulders, chest, back and spine.  The way we stretch helps determine the quality of motion we display.

Beginning with basic neck rolls, the series progresses through four stretches. Stretching should be gradual and slow and paired with deep breathing. Hold each stretch for 2 seconds, then release.

I recorded this guided session for a series on self-care for providers within the National Health Care for the Homeless Council who are dedicated to breaking the links between poor health and homelessness.

Those of us who provide care know we do our best when we take care of ourselves, though these stretches will benefit anyone at nearly any fitness level. Designed to relax and restore, this short routine is a healthy way to start the day or take a break from your work.