Monday, October 31, 2016

Yoga for Cancer Recovery: Boosting Immunity

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

If you are coping with a cancer diagnosis, remember that you are not alone! Unfortunately, the incidence of cancer has risen dramatically over the last fifty years. By some estimates, one in two people will be affected by cancer at some point in their lives, as opposed to one in twenty people fifty years ago. 

This increase in the incidence of cancer is quite daunting. So, if you are a Yoga practitioner and you are facing a cancer diagnosis, you are clearly not the only one. 

However, even if you are not alone, dealing with cancer can be very overwhelming and incredibly upsetting. According to experts, many forms of cancer are related to environmental toxicity. Some researchers believe that up to 95% of all cancers are related to environmental factors. For those of us who have a genetic vulnerability to developing certain types of cancer, the high level of carcinogenic chemicals in our food, air and water directly promotes the development and growth of cancer cells. One of the most important aspects of fighting cancer and winning is limiting your exposure to carcinogenic compounds in the environment, in addition to supporting the optimal functioning of your immune system. 

Many of the cutting-edge allopathic treatments are now focused on boosting the immune system, because the functioning of the immune system is so critical to winning the war against cancer. In addition, many of the natural protocols for beating cancer entail nutritional recommendations and herbal supplements for enhancing the immune system. One of the primary ways of boosting the functioning of your immune system is to get enough deep, restorative sleep. Sleeping well is one of the most important factors of allowing the body to balance, heal and fight disease of all kinds. A regular practice of Yoga postures and breathing exercises will help to promote restorative, deep sleep. 

Taking in an adequate amount of vitamin D is another critical element of supporting your immunity. Spending time outside in the sunshine for twenty to thirty minutes a day will help to boost you immune system. By combining moderate physical exercise, such as Yoga, with being outside in the sun, you will further support your immune system. If it is too cold to spend time outside, or it is cloudy or rainy much of the time to receive your vitamin D from the sun’s rays, you may want to take a vitamin D supplement. If you are fighting cancer, maintaining an adequate level of vitamin D is critical to winning the war against cancer. 

Researchers are discovering that an optimal amount of vitamin D is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a strong immune system, keeping your mood optimistic and lowering inflammation throughout the body. In addition, by remembering to breath deeply and take in fresh oxygen, you will help to create an internal environment that is not conducive to the growth of cancer. If you are a Yoga practitioner, the combined practice of Yoga postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques will comprehensively support your physical and emotional well-being, while you strive to eradicate cancer and reestablish an optimal state of health.

Another critical element to winning the war against cancer is to maintain strong connections with your loved ones and your community at large. By taking Yoga classes at a studio or health club, you will easily maintain your connection with others and also help to support your health through a balanced practice of Yoga postures and breathing exercises. In order to increase the level of oxygen in your body, practicing gentle Yogic breathing exercises will flood your tissues with more oxygen. By saturating your tissues with oxygen, you will create an internal environment that is inhospitable to the growth of cancer cells. 

Including pranayama exercises into your Yoga practice will also nurture your body’s ability to relax, which will boost your immune system, as the adrenalin-fueled release of cortisol is turned off for a period of time each day. As you consciously practice Yogic breathing exercises, you may discover that you have been unconsciously holding your breath or breathing in a shallow manner most of the time, especially if you have been dealing with a life-threatening illness such as cancer. Consciously practicing Yogic breathing exercises will help to retrain your body to relax and take in the life giving energy of fresh oxygen on a daily basis. 

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

What Should a Hatha Yoga Teacher Know? – Part 4

regular yoga practice
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Yogic Methodology: When thinking about Yogic Methodology there are two kinds that come to mind. One is the application of Yoga techniques to daily life and the other is Yoga teaching methodology. Competent Yoga teachers should thoroughly know both.

When considering the application of techniques to daily life, we know that Yoga will change a student’s health for the best and improve his or her lifestyle, but it must be gradual. The mind, body, and spirit will not change much in a month, but a year of regular Hatha Yoga practice will yield some significant health changes.

How many students want an instant life change? Too many, and this is why we should not make unrealistic promises. It is up to the Yoga student to take action, come to classes regularly, and practice what you have taught in your classes. It is up to the Hatha Yoga teacher to fill the student’s mind with knowledge and encouragement.

If it took decades of neglect for a new student to achieve poor health, how can he or she expect a little bit of Hatha Yoga practice to perform miracles? Every aspect of a student’s health will be changed for the better by regular practice, but this is an “on demand” world, where some people are willing to risk the side-effects of a pill rather than take positive action toward better health.

The natural effects of regular exercise, proper breathing, better posture, improved diet, and self-discipline will result in a student who is less stressed, has fewer ailments, lives longer, and sleeps better.

When a student continues to make Hatha Yoga a part of his or her life for years; the true value of good health will be felt and seen. This same student will most likely practice Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, Raja or other forms of Yoga “down the road.” The benefits of Yoga in any form will cause a student to go deeper into his or her personal practice.

Yoga teaching methodology is how a teacher reaches out to the audience through the use of teaching, communication, or observation methods.

Student corrections in regard to techniques should be straight to the point, but every Yoga teacher should take care to be tactful in the process. Yoga students come to you for guidance, so keep your ego “in check.” A few “rogue” teachers who are gruff and condescending can ruin any student’s desire to continue practicing Yoga.

What are the qualities of a good Yoga teacher? There are many, but being able to spot students in need and still show compassion is very important. Being able to teach any student is another strong trait. The realization that each Yoga student is uniquely different from each other, and cannot be “cloned” is a milestone in teaching.

Demonstrating and correcting techniques is only part of the job when teaching Yoga classes. A successful Yoga teacher must communicate with all students throughout the class and keep the passion for Yoga going.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our prenatal yoga teacher training program, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

Can You Practice Yoga in Your Sleep?

By Sangeetha Saran, CYT 500

Did you know that yogic practices can help you get a restful night's sleep? It can almost be said that you are practicing yoga in your sleep because yogic methods aid in changing your sleep patterns. You might notice that you currently wake up through the night or just wake up feeling like you haven't slept at all. This can leave your mind and body tired, which affects your productivity for the entire day. So, what yogic methods are best to include in your bedtime routine to ensure a restful night?

Soothing Yogic Poses

The lotus pose with deep breathing focuses on breathing in and out completely. Using this breathing technique helps to calm the mind and body and stabilizes and strengthens the nervous system.

Although it sounds energizing, the hero pose is very calming because it requires you to sit in a position that stimulates pressure points on the tops of your feet that promote overall relaxation.

The standing forward bend can help to relieve tension in your head and neck. It can alleviate tension headaches. Your stress will dissipate as the tension leaves your body with this pose.

The cat-cow pose is great for stretching the back muscles as it requires you to extend and relax the spine. Proper breathing is essential in executing this pose correctly. Stretching your back muscles will result in a deeper sleep.

The plow pose focuses on deep abdominal breathing. With this pose, the focus of your weight is in the center of your back, below your shoulders. This is an important pressure point that can aid in deeper breathing and can be soothing.

The reclined spinal twist compresses the spleen which is responsible for digestion of food and also of daily events that take place in your life. You will get a better night's rest if digestion is working optimally. Digestion of recent events will help you clear your mind, preventing your thoughts from racing at bedtime.

The corpse pose is used to end any yoga class and is a great way to end your day. This pose helps to relax the upper back and spine. Most people have a lot of tension in the upper back. This pose helps to relieve that tension and also encourages breathing naturally which has a calming effect.

If you suffer from insomnia or sleep problems, consider practicing yoga before bed. Make a nightly routine and stick with it. You will see your sleep patterns improve and you will be glad you incorporated yogic methods into your bedtime routine!

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our prenatal yoga teacher training program, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

Yogic Happiness - Fact or Fiction?

500 hour yoga teacher training programs
By Jenny Park

If you practice yoga all the time, you might be oblivious to the number of people who are suffering from depression. As the current mental health epidemic continues to be at an all time high, the practice of yoga training to increase one's happiness and sense of well being has become a growing trend. 

In today's fast paced world, many people find themselves chronically stressed and worried, which can often lead to bouts of depression. As the population continues to over rely on medications in order to cope with life's dilemmas, a growing trend of utilizing yogic practices alongside traditional medicine has proven to be very successful for many people to combat depression and regain a sense of happiness.

Yogic practices are deeply embedded in ancient traditions, which focus on utilizing the mind and body connection to achieve a blissful state of being. What makes yoga techniques particularly effective for achieving happiness has to do with effectively developing this connection and becoming more in tune with one's inner self. When an individual engages in any kind of physical activity, endorphins are released, causing a rush of intense happiness (often referred to as "runner's high," in the jogging world), however, with yogic practices, the mindfulness which one must utilize in order to effectively engage in each pose is so powerful, that those hormones, which are released into the system, cause a more permanent state of bliss. The practice of utilizing pranayama techniques while maneuvering into each asana causes one to eventually reach a sense of inner tranquility.

Yoga training has been recommended by doctors as an adjunct therapy for individuals who are suffering from depressive disorders, as a way to teach them how to be more mindful of the small things that create states of inner happiness. This practice is particularly helpful for people suffering from depression, due to the fact that these individuals are often not aware of how their mindset might affect their physiological being, as well as vice versa. By becoming more aware and in tune with how interconnected their mind and bodies are, they are more empowered to exert a positive influence over their physical and mental well being.

In today's fast paced lifestyle, many people have become less aware of the beauty that surrounds them. People go through life at break neck speed and run on autopilot day in and day out. Oftentimes, they don't slow down until they are forced to by illness or death. A typical class within a yoga school is a wonderful place for all people to learn to slow down, rejoice in life's little pleasures, and rediscover a state of inner happiness and complete bliss.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Want to learn more about how to become a certified yoga instructor or practicing yoga as a form of therapy? Please feel free to use the resources on the right side of this page for research.