chakra-1063278_960_720Here is a friend’s response to Mental Health week; and my comments based on yoga’s theory.
“So it’s (in the media;) mental health awareness week “let’s talk. “

And I get a pit in my stomach and almost cringe with all the hype!

I feel like it’s missing the mark completely and simply creating more segregation and judgement. It is simply adding more labels and making people feel different when in reality we all struggle with mental health just in varying degrees. We are a world running unconscious and solely from the mind. There is of course a growing consciousness and souls who are doing the work.”

Yoga’s Philosophy

Mental health awareness week is the acknowledgment; and acknowledgement is always a necessary first step. This is what we are doing.
Next step is to understand and experience – I am not my mind, I use the mind – that would be an awesome second step.

Then to acknowledge who is using the mind – well, we are deepening our practice of yoga. We walk right into yoga’s philosophy of  the Witness. Now we are walking towards freedom.

And develop the skill of moving the mind to a higher plane, and we are right there with a crown on our head – emancipated, liberated. It is a process. Yoga reminds us this process requires practice over a long period of time. What are we practising? It depends on your interest.

Some gravitate to daily meditation, others to serving others, some to finding answers. Yoga’s approach can be holistic, offering something for the body, mind, and spirit. There are many yoga paths that all lead to liberation. And there are directions to follow. Ultimately, we will all walk the path to mental well being.

Heather Greaves has been a student of yoga practicing for a long period of time. She is the owner/director of Body Therapies Yoga Training – www.yogatogo.com – where the focus is on befriending the human being: mind, body, emotions, spirit. Reach her at heather@yogatogo.com

plane-1000995_1280Greetings from Ghana. I arrived in Ghana a week ago. On my second evening, my host invited me to go for a walk. I was surprised; and accepted the late night invitation with a little bit of hesitation. After all, it was after 9 pm, and the electricity was out. Part of the routine electrical outage that will end soon, I’m told. The invite to walk carried the air of normalcy. So off we went into the night.

Ninety minutes later we were back from the commercial to the residential. We were part of the moving, breathing life in the night. People talking in groups of 2 or more; some dozing off. Generators humming in some shops; other shops lit by solar lights. On one street, in one corner songs from the gospel blared,  and in the other corner not too far away, a large group of men – young and old – quietly watched soccer on TV. Their team might have been losing.

We walked with our portable light.. mostly in the road. And I had a silent companion – the Off clip on.

One thing was for sure, I always felt safe… always.

On the long journey here from Canada, this is how the yoga training helped:

  1. Acceptance:  The sooner I was able to accept situations like 3 hour delayed flight and other travel gaffs, the easier the travel experience.
  2. Focus: In those “deal with this hand” cards, focus and stability helped me to stay calm and carry on as life unfolded.
  3. Clarity: Acceptance and focus brought clarity: essential to remaining open to solutions.

Really appreciate this mind training yoga gives. We take our functioning mind on long and short trips.

Heather Greaves is a yoga practitioner and thrives on the clarity she receives through yoga’s mind training. Her yoga teacher training programs highlight mind training for happier, healthier, more joyful living. She can be reached at heather@yogatogo.com.

addtext_com_MTEyMjQ4MTM4NzczMistake #1: You practice yoga only on an as needed basis

You try to make sure you practice at least once a week with a yoga DVD or at a studio. You definitely practice when you feel the stress is getting out of hand, your back hurts, or your sleep is disturbed. That’s great. It can be even better.

Solution: Make time every day to practice. Select the yoga techniques you are drawn to, that work for you, and are also simple. It is more beneficial to practice yoga 5 times a week for 10 minutes, than once a week for 60 minutes.

Mistake #2: Struggling to fit your body into the yoga pose

You find some poses difficult, and yet push your body to tackle the pose. For example, sitting poses could be uncomfortable. You are hunched over, hips and hamstrings scream to stop, and you wish it were over.

Solution: Accept the uniqueness of your structure and the condition of your body. Find ways to modify the pose and the pace to fit where your body is and its present need. For e.g. in sitting poses, sit on a cushion or two so the knees fall below the hips.

Mistake #3: You lose awareness of the breath.

When the yoga instructor says remember to breathe, you think, Oh yes, as you realize you were holding your breath once again.

Solution: Connect each flowing movement with the in breath and out breath And when you hold the pose still, feel the expansion and contraction in the body created with movement with the breath. Make the breath your friend and guide.

Heather Greaves is a yoga practitioner and enjoys exploring flow movement in 5-minute breaks she takes during the day. She is the Owner/Director of Body Therapies Yoga Training, a yoga school in Hamilton, Ontario where you are encouraged to practice yoga at your own pace. www.yogatogo.com

 

Heather Greaves interviews Steve Ferrell, E-RYT 200 and Facilitator of the workshop: Essential Anatomy for Yoga Teachers

HG: Why should someone teaching yoga, and movement in general, take this workshop?ANATOMY

SF: It is so important for anyone teaching movement to learn, not just the muscles and bones (anatomy) of the body, but also how those parts work together (bio-mechanics). Learning to move without compensation is especially important when it comes to helping self or others heal from injury. Yoga teachers in the workshop will learn not only to feel with more awareness what their bodies are doing, but also how to see good and not-so-good movement in students and clients.

HG: What kinds of changes in thinking and behavior might you expect from the workshop participant?

SF: From the basis of how I teach movement, people learn to more accurately and intimately feel their strength, flexibility, and stability; where their edge of all 3 of these categories are, and how to explore them safely when entering, holding and exiting any pose.

They will leave with more curiosity about movement, mind, and health.

What would a typical day be like?

SF: A typical 6-hour day is a balance of theory, experiential movement exercises, and conversation. And a lot of opportunity to practice teaching what’s been learned. These classes are very organic and student driven. I really strive to set a very comfortable, fun, and non-hierarchical learning environment.

HG: Under what circumstances do you think it important for the instructor to give visual clues, and how will the learner improve this skill?

SF: It’s important for teachers to be able to demonstrate postures accurately and safely. Teachers can’t get away with not demoing all together, especially to newer students; but learning how to do this safely is an important skill to develop. As the participants get to know how to feel their movements more deeply moment to moment, they will start to learn how far is safe to demonstrate on any given day.

HG: How would taking this workshop make it easier for the yoga practitioner to enjoy entering, holding and exiting any pose?

SF: So this is my basic strategy as I move into, hold, and transition out of any posture. The first is that I always use my breath as a tool for feedback rather than just as a way to try and help calm or vitalize the nervous system.

I use my breath and how I experience it moving to give me a glimpse into what my physical body and nervous system are trying to communicate to me as I move and hold.

Second, as I move into a posture I start to notice where my body might be gripping or working in ways that aren’t helpful (or compensating) from the transition in to the pose.

Third, if I notice any area compensating that I can’t consciously soften with more attention and/or the breath, I back out of the posture to the point where the compensation pattern subsides.

HG: Final thoughts?

I think that one perspective on movement that is far too often overlooked is that movement is about working WITH the breath and the body, instead of just trying to control the breath and the body.

Steve Ferrell was introduced to Yoga at the age of 27 in February of 2007.  At the time he was a body-builder with a thriving career as a Personal Trainer and group fitness instructor. After his cliched first Yoga experience with his wife Adele (air smelling sweeter, sun shining brighter… All that hippy-dippy stuff) he knew that he’d be doing Yoga for the rest of his life. Within 3 months he surprisingly but enthusiastically found himself enrolled in his first 200hr YTT.  His initial 200 hr with Integrative Yoga Therapy, founded by renowned  Yoga Therapist Joseph LePage (facilitated by Heather Greaves), was an invaluable introduction into the depth that Yoga has to offer. Since then Steve has studied in several styles of Asana (Classical Hatha, Ashtanga-Vinyasa, Anusara, Yin Yoga, Yoga TuneUp, Pure Movement). He has a passion for all things Anatomy.

Steve will facilitate Essential Anatomy for Yoga Teachers on January 9, February 13, and March 12, 2016. Workshops will be held at Wellwood Resource Centre, 501 Sanatorium Rd. in Hamilton. Workshops qualify for 18 CE credits. For more information and to register, visit www.yogatogo.com

 

 

 

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The Serenity Prayer is repeated daily by some, and by others on an as needed basis. The following is an example of a flow of thought at one of those as needed times. It’s a self talk to move to a calmer place.

by tpsdave - David Mark

by tpsdave – David Mark

This circumstance is impossible. I’ve been stewing about it. Have to find a way to handle it.

Acceptance 

Acceptance does not mean agreeing. The situation has happened already: yes, it has. And I accept that even though it wouldn’t be my choice, I am starting to be more at peace with it.

Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I can and cannot change.

Assessment

Can I change this situation? I suppose so. It’s going to take a lot from me. Perhaps I can do this. What do I need to do, or maybe what do I need to have?

Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I can and cannot change.

The courage to change the things I can.

Okay, let’s be realistic. I cannot change a person. In fact, I don’t have the authority to change anyone. It’s sensible to accept each personality just as it is.

The presence of mind and compassion to breathe with the things I cannot.

Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I can and cannot change.

The presence of mind and compassion to take time and breath consciously as I remember the situation. Each one plays the game as seen. Perhaps I can soften my heart. I feel better now. I’m breathing easier. I feel softer, clearer and calmer.

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Appreciation

I appreciate that this is a journey; tiny softening. I can choose to recall the situation and repeat the process another time, softening my heart a little more each time. It’s a boon for my mental health.

Heather Greaves, yoga therapist, is a student of life. She shares processes that work for her, with the awareness that someone may benefit. She is the lead instructor in a yoga certification program where others study and teach yoga and meditation for wellness, and do so in a manner that is holistic and sensitive.

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