The idea of sitting still for a fixed amount of time can seem fairly intimidating, even for yoga veterans. The popularity of meditation has not reached its peak as the physical practice of yoga asana (yoga poses) has. Meditation and yoga are actually supposed to be practiced simultaneously. The main goal of both meditation and yoga is to focus on the here and now. The separation of meditation and yoga may lead to one not receiving the full benefits of a practice. So many of the popular yoga practices, and even well versed yogis, don’t take enough time to simply be still and present.
The issue arises from our society’s emphasis on movement. We are constantly reinforced for multi-tasking, working harder, and just constantly being on the go. Even when it comes to health, the more you move, the better, right? What about balancing that movement with stillness? How can we balance our physical movement with mental stillness?
That is where meditation comes in. While stillness is unappreciated and undervalued, it is the one thing that can bring peace to our chaotic lives.
Meditation brings us many different benefits, both physical and mental.
Some of the physical benefits include:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces anxiety attacks
- Decreases tension-related pain
- Improves mood and behavior
- Improves the immune system
- Increases the energy level
Some of the mental benefits include:
- Decrease in anxiety
- Improves emotional stability
- Increases creativity and happiness
- Gain clarity/peace of mind
- Increases focus
To experience the benefits of meditation, regular practice is necessary. Just like yoga, it takes only a few minutes every day. It can and should be paired with an asana practice. Beginners to meditation, like yoga, should focus on the breath. While thoughts may enter the mind, visit them then let them go, refocusing on breathing. This will help you focus on the here and now rather than things in the past or future.So take a few minutes at your work desk or at home, in the morning or evening, and just be still.
In today’s world of fifteen minute abs and diet pills, starting a healthy, physical exercise routine can be daunting. Between work, the kids’ soccer practice, dance recitals, and making dinner, who has the time to dedicate to a yoga practice. It’s hard enough to try and find time for a morning run, let a lone an hour to do yoga.
Well, first things first. You don’t need an hour! One can get the complete benefits of an hour long practice in a 15-20 minute time frame. The only caveat is one must be completely focused on their practice during that time.
The first thing you need to do when starting a yoga practice is learn to focus on the breath. By focusing on the breath, you will be able to be more present. As you move through each pose, allow your mind to wander as it naturally does in the moment, but bring it back to the breath. Focus on your breathing and you’ll find your mind will open and your body will start to relax. Try taking a few minutes out of your day and just focus on your breathing. Move from short breaths to longer, deeper breaths. See how that feels in your body, feel the changes in your muscles and joints. Really focus on how the change in breathing affects different parts of your body.
Another issue that always comes up is the poses. If you don’t feel like you’re a flexible person, yoga can be an intimidating activity. Trying to balance on your shoulders or your head can seem pretty impossible if you’re having a hard time simply sitting with your legs crossed. This is the vicious cycle that we fall into, we aren’t flexible so we don’t think we can even make an attempt at doing something that may help us become more flexible. The great thing about yoga is that there are poses and modifications for ALL LEVELS! If it’s your first class or if it is your 100th class, you CAN do yoga. If attempting to do your first downward facing dog hurts or feels uncomfortable, put your knees down. It’s okay! The goal of yoga isn’t to get into a specific pose, the goal is to create space, to release tension, and to open up your mind. Don’t judge yourself based on the person next to you in a yoga class, focus on yourself.
If going to a yoga studio is too intimidating, that’s okay too. There are so many great videos on YouTube or Yoga Social websites like DoYouYoga.com. They have series and single flow series. You can find pretty much any type of yoga routine you’re looking for, from the very basics to the most advanced!
So take a deep breath and dive in! You’ll never regret it!
Neck pain has become a growing problem in our modern day society as we humans become more sedentary. As people are working more on computers, our necks are being maintained in more sedentary and flexed forward positions for long periods of time. This flexed forward position puts continual pressure on the front part of the inter-vertebral disc in the neck see. This continuous and constant pressure at the front of the disc leads to mechanical failure of the disc. This mechanical failure causes degenerative disc disease and can cause the disc to bulge to the sides and backwards into the spinal nerves and into the spinal canal and sometimes can lead to compression of the spinal cord. This degeneration can then cause increased pressure on the facet joints at the back of the spine which can lead to degeneration or arthritis in the facet joints leading to more neck pain. Gravity then causes a continuous downward pressure reinforcing the degeneration in the cervical spine of the neck.
Moving the neck in the opposite direction, opposing the downward force of gravity with an upward force, can take the pressure off of the disc and take pressure off of the cervical facet joints. This will not only relieve pressure and pain but can assist with reversing the disc bulging and degeneration.
There is no blood flow into the cervical facet joints or into the cervical disc. The disc are known to be the largest avascular structures in the body. This means they are the largest structures in the body that do not have blood flowing to them. Almost all the structures in the human body (the organs, bones, skin, etc.) receive their nutrients from the blood and get rid of their waste products into the blood. The cervical disc and the discs throughout the spine receive their nutrients from diffusion from surrounding tissue. This occurs when there is negative pressure in the disc such as when the spine is stretched. When the neck is moved in the opposite direction of gravity or upwards this creates a negative pressure in the disc allowing the nutrients to be reabsorbed into the disc and the negative pressure will also cause reabsorption of bulging or protruding disc.
How can the neck removed in the opposite direction appropriately and safely?
Cervical Traction. Cervical traction can effectively and safely provide just the right amount of force and pressure relief in the appropriate direction to assist with reducing and relieving neck pains, improving degenerative cervical spine conditions, and potentially preventing the disabling neck problems which are becoming common in our modern day society.
Comfortably relaxing in a cervical traction unit for 15 to 20 minutes per day just 2 to 3 days a week is all that may be needed.