Struggling To Accept The Truth? Here's How Yoga Can Help

Struggling To Accept The Truth? Here's How Yoga Can Help

Because of the negative news I feel I'm hit with on a regular basis lately, I've been struggling to find peace and acceptance. But like so many situations in life where I've faced challenges and thought I was out of resources, yoga has once again provided the right tools to keep me moving forward.

These three yoga teachings have been particularly helpful as I look to what’s next.

1. Breathe with intention.

Breath is a big part of yoga. Breathing techniques calm the nervous system, reduce stress, help clear the mind, and facilitate resilience and positivity in the face of challenge. Many yoga practices use the breath to create a physical space to let go of thoughts and energy that don’t serve us through the power of the exhale. Anxiety and anger are both emotions whose impact can be reduced by simply breathing with intention. Inhale the energy you want to cultivate, exhale that which does not serve you.

2. Know that we're all one.

It’s basic, but it’s also profound. When we strip away all the labels that we’ve created to describe one another, we find that we are all the same. One of my favorite elements of the practice of yoga is that it teaches us to drop labels. There is no space for judgement or self-judgement in yoga. We drop labels like “inflexible” or “not strong enough” by asking our mind to let go and letting our body perform at its ability without the artificial constraints of the mind. With every new accomplishment on the mat, we witness the lack of meaning in labels.

3. Connect with the good.

If you feel like there is overwhelming evil or negativity in the world, you need yoga. I have yet to walk into a studio and feel negative energy. Good is everywhere, but we have to choose to focus on it. It is a choice, and it’s one we have to continually make and learn from. Surround yourself with love and positivity. The more we find connection through love, the more we spread acceptance and positivity.

It’s not that there’s no work to be done outside of the yoga studio. There will always be work to be done. But the first piece of the puzzle is realizing that we are all connected—that’s how puzzles work! We are in this together. Acceptance is key. Once we find acceptance we can start listening and learning from each other. If that’s the standard we hold our leaders to, we must hold ourselves to that same standard. Let’s find acceptance so we can move forward.

January 27, 2017 by S M
Want To Eliminate Lower Back Pain For Good? Do These Yoga Poses Every Day

Want To Eliminate Lower Back Pain For Good? Do These Yoga Poses Every Day

Want To Eliminate Lower Back Pain For Good? Do These Yoga Poses Every Day Hero Image
Photo: Stocksy

As someone who prides herself on the level of strength and flexibility achieved as a result of my seven-plus-year yoga practice, I was both shocked and dismayed to wake up with extreme lower back pain last month. When I say extreme, it's no exaggeration. It literally took every ounce of energy I had just to stand up, sit down, or straighten my back in any capacity. By the second day, it was so bad that I could not stand upright without using a wall for support, feeling like my knees were going to buckle if I moved away from it. The pain was excruciating and debilitating.

As much as I love making meals in my Dutch oven, I am convinced that this awesome (but heavy!) invention was the source of my mysterious lower back pain. I tend to do things in a rush and failed to take the time to properly bend my knees while lifting it in and out of the oven. Well, I certainly paid the price. Lesson learned!

At the onset of the agony, my first instinct was to stretch my lower back out through gentle yoga postures. But after reading conflicting advice online, I eventually decided against it. So many articles tell you not to stretch or you will actually make the problem worse. By the end of the third day, I got to a point where I stopped taking the advice of 50 percent of the articles I read (because the other half tell you to stretch AND lie down), and I followed my initial instinct, which has rarely led me down the wrong road. I rolled out my yoga mat and proceeded to stretch out my lower back.

And let me tell you, it hurt like hell. But it was the smartest move I had made in days. Not only was I able to stand up straight after just 20 minutes of light stretching, I was able to walk around and sit comfortably again for the first time since the pain began. Really, is there anything yoga can't heal?

My tried and tested advice on how to heal lower back pain is this: Stretch the moment you wake up (using the simple postures below) and then repeat the same stretches again before you lie down for the night.

Give these poses a try:

1. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)


Photo credit: Jennifer Niles
Stand in Tadasana (mountain pose) with the feet hip-distance apart. On an inhale, sweep both arms up to the sky, then slowly dive down into a standing forward fold. Make sure to fold forward from the hips, not from the waist! Grab the back of your calves to pull yourself deeper into the pose. Feel the lower back release and the hamstrings lengthen as you focus on putting more weight into the toes vs. the heels. Hold this pose for 1 to 2 full minutes. The longer the better!


2. Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana)


Photo credit: Jennifer Niles


Start by sitting on the mat with the soles of your feet together. Grab your toes and begin to bend forward (from the hips) until a point where it is comfortable enough to hold for 1 to 2 full minutes. You also have the option of stretching your arms out in front of you and crawling your fingertips forward to release the back even more.

3. Double Seated Pigeon (Dwapada Rajakapotasana)


Photo credit: Jennifer Niles


Start in a cross-legged seated position. Start by placing the right foot directly on top of the left knee and the left foot directly underneath the right knee. Hinge from your hips and crawl your fingertips forward until you reach a place where you can comfortably hold the posture for 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Reclined Leg Stretch (Supta Padangusthasana­)


Photo credit: Jennifer Niles


Start by lying down on the mat with your knees hugged into your chest. Then, strap up one foot at a time and extend the leg into the air while resting the other leg along the ground with the toes pointing up toward the sky. Make sure that you are feeling this one more in the hamstring than the shoulders, back, or neck. Hold for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.


5. Child's Pose (Balasana)


Photo credit: Jennifer Niles


Separate the knees so that they are in line with the width of the mat, with the big toes touching. On an exhale, slowly fold the torso in between the legs and stretch the arms out in front of you. Rest your forehead on the mat. As you settle into the pose, continue to work on getting the butt closer to the heels. Slowly work on inching the fingertips forward to release the tension in the lower back. Hold for 1 to 2 minutes.
January 05, 2017 by S M