Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Breath of Life

Lately, the body and mind’s need for rest has been a recurring theme for me! If you’ve been in class, you’ve heard me talk about the importance of connecting with your breath of life. It’s an on-going assignment! I’d like to offer  three gentle reminders for  developing a personal practice focused on breath work.

  • As you exhale, focus on giving the ribcage permission to rest.  Remembering that the ribcage releases towards the pelvis on your exhales.  Inhale on the word “Let,”  exhale on the word, “Go.”
  • After observing your breath for a few cycles, see if you can create evenness between the exhales & inhales.  For example, if you inhale on a 4 count, exhale on a 4 count.
  •  Choose a number, say 25, and count backwards on your exhales.  If you become distracted and lose count, just pick up counting where you last recall.

This summer, my daughter snapped the above photo of me resting and focusing on breath work after touring a historic home in New York’s Hudson Valley. Since then I have enjoyed countless conversations with fellow teachers and students - about our ability (or lack of ability) to rest. What we all seem to need is permission - knowing that it’s okay to sit down and just breathe, just be.

May we all be. Permission granted.

first published online at www.LongLisa.com in 2008

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Yoga's Benefits

The photo is of Jack doing an awesome block lunge at age 85! Jack, from Buffalo, NY,  is married to one of my amazing students, Inez. The article below is from www.empowereddoctor.com. I share the article because I have witnessed my students shift concurring with the research.

“Taking yoga classes yields a slight but important decrease in the fear of falling among senior citizens, a recent study showed, as well as conferring greater lower-body flexibility and removing constraints on their leisure activities.

Fear of falling may have a significant impact on the health and quality of life of older adults because it causes them to curtail their social and physical activity. It has this effect even on those who have never fallen.

"Our study found that yoga was a feasible intervention with older adults and that they perceived great benefit from it," said Marieke Van Puymbroeck, an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies in Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She recently discussed her research at the International Association of Yoga Therapists" Symposium for Yoga Therapy and Research, in Los Angeles.

In the study, 14 men and women with an average age of 78 participated in a 12-week, twice-weekly, 60-minute class in hatha yoga, taught by a professional yoga therapist. Five of the subjects had fallen previously. Hatha yoga is a physically easy and non-strenuous form of yoga.

The attendance rate was quite high, Van Puymbroeck said, and the dropout rate very low - 90 percent and 6 percent respectively - an excellent showing compared with most physical activity and yoga classes for the elderly.

At the end of the 12 weeks, the subjects reported 6 percent less fear of falling, 34 percent greater lower-body flexibility, and a significant decline in leisure constraints.

Participants described "tremendous benefits," Van Puymbroeck said, repeatedly detailing their improved ability to generalize principles of posture to other situations, enlarged range of motion, better flexibility and improved balance.”

first published online in 2009 at www.LongLisa.com