THEOS CASIMIR BERNARD
When he was a student at the University of Arizona in 1927, Th a mysterious, serious illness eos Bernard came down with causing his heart to weaken significantly. At one point, he and his mother overheard his physician tell a nurse “he will not live.” Because it was evident that doctors had given up on her son, Bernard’s mother, against medical advice, signed releases and took her son home where she provided and supervised his medical care.
Little by little and over several months, Bernard began to recover. As he recuperated, his attention was drawn to his mother’s sizeable collection of books dealing with yoga, a practice virtually unknown to Americans at that time. Learning that “infinite energy” was available through yoga, Bernard says he “began to read everything I could uncover about this ancient spiritual science called Yoga; for this was apparently the only thing that offered a way to me.” Applying a combination of Yogic positive thinking, some basic poses, and yoga breathing (pranayama) exercises, Bernard recovered eventually returning to University and later writing one of the first Western books about the health benefits of yoga, titled Heaven Lies Within Us: Yoga Gave Me Superior Health.
THE ZOOM REVOLUTION
Our world and the yoga industry are forever changed from the COVID pandemic. With yoga studios “temporarily” closed or operating with strict regulations for social distancing there has been a rapid shift to more online options than ever before. Even as studios reopen in places, hybrid zoom and in-studio options are common. Many of us have been challenged as teachers to figure out new streams of income and learn the technology involved. We have also had to adapt our teaching and guide our students during a very stressful time.
One of the benefits of teaching with ZOOM is that many teachers are becoming more independent and relying less on the studio system for income. The global political climate is presenting us with an opportunity to reexamine the systems we work in – systems of race, culture, sexism, and finance are all part of the yoga industry. This is a time for reflection and business choices that honor the ethics of yoga more than ever. I’m envisioning a change towards higher-quality learning experiences for students rather than drop-in classes that focus on numbers and do not support pedagogy. Another bonus is the opportunity to get to know your students better – suddenly you are in their living room meeting their families and pets. This gives us all a chance to integrate yoga practice into our home lives rather than relying on an external location to create the perfect environment. I believe this experience will help us appreciate the studios when we return and have the skills to practice anywhere.
HOW TO TAILOR YOGA TO TREAT SYMPTOMS OF STRESS & ANXIETY EFFECTIVELY?
Depending on the reason for the stress and the level of severity, it can have a debilitating effect on your quality of life. Stress and anxiety share many of the same emotional and physical symptoms, such as unease, tension, headaches, high blood pressure, and sleep disorder. Yoga benefits our overall mental and physical well-being and it is well documented how tailored yoga can help to treat the symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Stress is generally a response to an external event. Our bodies create a stress response to deal with a threat. Chronic stress, when our bodies are frequently creating stress responses, can lead to severe anxiety symptoms and the development of an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide spectrum of symptoms and disorders and is one of the most common mental health conditions in the UK. Common symptoms include rapid heartbeat, sleep disorder, shallow breathing, and repetitive negative thinking. There are seven anxiety spectrum disorders, the most common being generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is defined as excessive and persistent worry that is hard to control.
THE BENEFITS OF PRANAYAMA FOR MOOD AND WELLBEING
STARTING YOUR HOME YOGA PRACTICE
Despite extensive research, we still don’t know much about the earliest beginnings of yoga, although its origins can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago in Northern India with the word yoga first mentioned in the ancient text, the Rig Veda1. Over time yoga has presented itself in many different forms but the benefits have remained closely aligned. Whilst not all physical and mental benefits have been backed by science, there is a number that is supported by the scientific community. In a number of studies, yoga has shown to play an effective role in helping to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression2.
WHAT HAPPENS TO US WHEN WE BREATHE?
When we inhale we activate the sympathetic nervous system. When we exhale we stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. So, when we breathe in a smooth and consistent rhythm with equal length for inhales and exhales, we actually balance the nervous system. We can also alter the breathing rate and the length of our inhale vs exhale to affect the nervous system in different ways. ‘Savitri pranayama’ means rhythmic breathing. Compared to simply slowing down the breathing, rhythmic breathing..
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Practicing yoga is a great way to keep your mind, body, and soul at ease. Given the current environment, it has become more apparent than ever the need to look after ourselves. The current climate over the past months has left many of us experience symptoms of stress, anxiety, and fear. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicines showed that individuals with a diagnosed mental disorder who practiced yoga exhibited greater reductions in depressive symptoms.