Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Joy, Yoga & You

Occasionally, I come across some really remarkable literature, or kernel of truth within some unremarkable literature that I resonate with completely. I recently bought a book called "Yoga for Chronic Pain Relief" by Kelly McGonigal, PhD. As the name implies, it is a wonderful book for working with chronic pain. What is not obvious is that the book outlines some universal truths in a simple and clear way, so that anyone can benefit from it. (No, I'm not receiving royalties, just want to share what I found.) People who suffer from depression, anxiety or any chronic illness can relate to what she writes. Here is one of my favorite concepts presented in an easy to understand way:

"Yoga identifies joy - a natural sense of well-being, gratitude, and peace - as the deepest aspect of what it means to be human. You might have felt this kind of joy at special moments in your life - the birth of a child, the view of a sunset, or while immersed in hands-on or creative work. These glimpses are not dependent on external events [the key point here]. It is simply easier to be in touch with your natural state of well-being in these special moments.

In the yogic view, joy is the closest to what you might call your true nature. It is not a fast-changing, fast-disappearing happiness that fluctuates according to your thoughts, mood, and present circumstances. In contrast, the ability to feel at peace in this moment is central to who you are. this inner joy is less vulnerable to the changes in your life, and it is not dependent on fixing what is wrong or getting what you want. Even chronic pain [or depression, illness, anxiety, etc.] cannot take away your ability to feel this part of yourself."

Please remember this notion when you are pain - emotional, mental or physical: your true nature is closest to joy, a deep well of bliss that is unchanged by circumstance. It is always there for you, beneath the layers.


What we are practicing now...
Sirsasana II (tripod headstand) is a challenging pose that requires warmed muscles, core strength, healthy neck and wrists and a good dose of courage. It is not to be held as long as traditional Sirsasana, but it is a pose that fits nicely into a dynamic practice. You should be able to hold Bakasana (crow pose) for a few breaths before trying this pose. Make sure you are properly warmed up, too. Here is a wonderful video that shows how to enter tripod headstand.
Be sure to rest in child's pose and then release your neck following headstand. Enjoy!

Schedule updates and events... see Schedule for complete class listing...
  • Coming soon: Stay tuned for the next workshop on Cancer, Yoga & Other CAM Therapies, a lecture and yoga practice that will help anyone in treatment and in remission (and their families). Next date TBD.
  • Save the date: on Saturday, July 10th, Lorien will be celebrating her 40th birthday with a free beach yoga class in Santa Cruz. 10:30am-noon at either Moran Lake, 21st Ave or Sunny Cove beaches... stay tuned for the final location (send me an email if you have a preference)!