A lot of folks hold strong stereotypes when they hear I’m a yoga instructor. They assume I work at a studio and teach asana based yoga classes. When I clarify, saying I’m a trauma-sensitive yoga instructor, many people are confused. The conversation usually goes one of two ways, I describe what trauma-sensitive yoga is in detail or I’m asked what the difference is between what I do and what “mainstream” yoga is. When I further describe sites I work at, such as addiction treatment programs and jail programs, it seems even more confusing for some. I get asked why these populations need yoga, why people who have “done something wrong” need it.
Instead of typing out a clarifying blog post, I’m going to let me own words speak for themselves. Here’s a recent interview I did for the Beyond Theory podcast, a podcast for The Meadows Behavioral Health.
Beyond Theory Podcast | S1 E12: Aditi Desai on Bringing Yoga to Diverse Populations
Check it out and let me know what you think! I hope this clarifies a lot of what I do and also what yoga can do for the world.
As the holidays approach, many of us will be taking trips to see family and friends. Whether long or short, flying can be rough on the body. Sitting for long spans of time can put strain on certain joints and muscles.
Here are some poses that can be done fairly easily during that long flight to see grandma (or whoever it may be).
- Seated cat/cow with eagle arms
- Sit with your feet grounded and your back slightly away from the back of the chair
- Cross your left arm under your right, clasping hands
- Inhale, reach the elbows up, opening the chest
- Exhale, bring the elbows down, folding forward
- Repeat with right arm under left
- Forward fold
- Bring your hands to your knees
- Inhale lift your chest up
- Exhale slowing fold your chest towards your lap
- Seated spinal twists
- Sit with your feet flat on your ground
- Take one hand to arm rest
- Slow pivot upper body towards that side, twisting at the hips
- Repeat on opposite side
- Leg lifts
- Slowly raise one leg at a time, holding in raised position for a 2 breath count
- Inhale lift leg
- Exhale release leg
- Ankle rolls
- Slowly lift the foot off the ground and roll in one direct, repeat in opposite
- Repeat for opposite foot
- Neck rolls
- Sit with your back straight
- Slowly roll neck in one direction
- Repeat in opposite direction
- Mountain pose
- Find a space to stand
- Engage abs, legs, and arms
- Feel the strength in your stance, closing the eyes
- Inhale, exhale for 2-3 breath count
- Using the aisles, do small lunges up and down the aisle
- Seated meditation
- Sit with your feet flat on the ground
- Close your eyes
- Notice your breath
- Inhale/Exhale deeply
Opioids are all over the news these days. Whether talking about them in an addiction context or as a form of pain treatment, medications are constantly being discussed and debated. Should we be using opioids for pain? What is the risk of addiction? How can we stop addiction from happening? Are there alternatives to drugs for pain?
While I’m not a medical physician, I have a great deal of personal experience with pain and know for a fact that yoga has helped me not only deal with the pain, but even alleviate it.
The first step, for me, was becoming aware of the pain and exactly where it was located. Simply taking a deep breath and focusing on where I was feeling the pain, what kind of pain it was, and determining whether I had to deal with it or if I could live with it. From there, I found yoga poses that targeted that specific spot, for me it was the lower back. After a few months, I noticed my pain steadily decrease. After a few more months, I even noticed I rarely felt the pain at all.
It takes some time and effort, but yoga does work. Recent studies and articles have shown that yoga can not only supplement a tradition pain treatment regimen which involved medications, but in some cases it can actually replace that regimen.
For specific poses, see a previous post: Yoga for Chronic Pain
*Please see a medical physician before starting any regimen for pain treatment.
Recent studies have been coming forward suggesting that yoga and mindfulness meditation can help alleviate chronic pain. In some cases, studies have shown that these practices may be more effective than prescription pain killers.
Here are a few poses that may be helpful in alleviating chronic pain. Note: Please follow any advise by a licensed physician when dealing with chronic pain.
Place hands on belly and feel the physical sensation of the breath as it fills your stomach, lungs, and chest. Focus on any physical and emotional sensations that arise.
Sit in a comfortable position. Maintain good posture with your back straight, shoulders rolled back and away from your neck. Begin breathing deeply and intentionally. Maintain focus on the breath. As thoughts or emotions arise, meet them where they are at without judgment. Give them minimal attention, then let them go, returning focus on the breath.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Lay on your back. Tense muscle groups throughout your body, starting with the feet. Hold the tension, focusing on that tension and the physical sensations that arise with the tension. Release the tension in that muscle group before proceeding to the next muscle group. Being with the feet and slowing move up the body, ending in the face/head. The last activity is to tense all muscles in the body, holding the tension, then releasing all muscles in the body. (Guided video Progressive Muscle Relaxation Meditation)
Seated Side Bends
Seated Spinal Twists
Downward Facing Dog
Standing Side Stretches
Seated Forward Fold
Supported Bridge Pose
Legs Up the Wall
Why Doctors Are Endorsing Yoga Instead of Opioids for Lower Back Pain
Yoga and Chronic Pain Have Opposite Effects on Brain Gray Matter
How Does Yoga Relieve Chronic Pain?
*All images from Google Images
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.