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Yoga for Fertility

The journey toward fertility can be a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  Women experiencing infertility are often stressed, pain-filled, saddened and angry.  These emotions generate chemicals in the body which weaken the immune system and leave the body in a constant state of “fight or flight”.  This “fight or flight” response interferes with the body’s ability to repair itself and actually increases the chances of infertility.

Fertility yoga can be an oasis in the middle of this turbulent journey.  Yoga helps to nourish and soothe the body.  Specific yoga postures release tight muscles in the hips and pelvic region improving circulation and blood flow to the reproductive organs. Certain yoga postures help to soften and “make space” in the pelvis and let go of tension in the abdomen.  These postures help to nurture and strengthen the endocrine system which is essential for proper hormonal balance.

Breathing techniques and relaxation help to detoxify the body and return the body to its natural balance.  As women learn to relax, they begin to have a clearer sense of self and insight into their fertility journey.

Alice Domar, Ph.D., an international leader in the field of mind/body medicine and women’s health, recommends yoga to the participants in her study not only to relax but also to establish a more loving connection with a body they may feel angry at for failing them. Domar also recommends partner yoga because it allows a couple to be physical together in a nonsexual way, since sex often becomes emotionally charged and linked with failure.  Domar warns that vigorous exercise may impede fertility and suggests women avoid physically demanding forms such as Ashtanga and Power Yoga if they are having trouble conceiving.  She recommends a more restorative class where the body, mind and spirit learn the art of relaxation.  This is the concept behind fertility yoga.

In 2000, Domar found that 55 percent of fertility patients became pregnant (and had a baby) within one year of participating in her 10-session program, in which they were introduced to yoga and meditation, along with other relaxation techniques and acupuncture. In a control group, just 20 percent had babies.

Couples that participate in Yoga for Fertility classes become calmer and clearer about their fertility and the decisions they face. Their journey becomes more manageable. They learn to be more accepting, trusting and joyful.

Yoga Pose Series: The Health Benefits of Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

yoga cny healing artsTadasana, or Mountain Pose, is a basic standing posture and is, therefore, the foundation for all others. Physically, it helps to create space within the body, allowing internal organs to work more efficiently. This can drastically improve respiration as well as digestion and circulation. Mentally, it leaves its users invigorated and motivated, making it perfect for an early A.M. yoga session.

So, start the day with Tadasana! Or, if you would rather receive instruction from a licensed practitioner, check out our yoga class schedule for each branch of CNY Healing Arts.

Getting Into Mountain Pose:

Stand erect with the bases of your big toes touching, heels slightly apart. Do not lock your knees and let your arms hang loosely at your sides. Lift and spread the toes and balls of your feet, then let them drop to the floor creating a wide, solid base.

Practice distributing your weight evenly around your feet, not just on your toes or heels. You should feel stability from all four corners of both feet. Strengthen this base by rocking back and forth, side to side. A strong base is essential to Tadasana. Gradually slow your swaying and come to a standstill. Feel yourself being supported by the floor.

Now comes the recognition and toning of several core muscles. Start by breathing deep and steady. Inhale slowly and flex your thighs without hardening your lower belly. Your kneecap will rise when you contract your quad, which is a sign that you are flexing correctly. Next you will engage your sit bones (literally the bones on which you sit). Rotate your thighs inward to automatically widen your sit bones. Once you’ve done this, lengthen your tailbone towards the floor so that it rests between your sit bones.

Your core is the group of muscles around your stomach and is where you maintain your body’s balance and control. Contract your core muscles to increase stability. Keep your posture erect. Press your shoulder blades into your back, then widen them across and release them down the back. Your shoulders should be parallel to your pelvis.

Without puffing your front ribs forward, lift the top of your sternum straight up towards the sky, widening your collarbone. Keeping your shoulders wide and your spine straight, elongate your neck so that the crown of your head rises toward the ceiling. Stay in this posture for 30 seconds to 1 minute, breathing deep and easy. To intensify this posture, try going through all prior stretching and flexing with eyes closed.

Benefits of Mountain Pose:

  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Increases awareness
  • Steadies breathing
  • Increases strength, power, and mobility in the feet, legs, and hips
  • Firms abdomen and buttocks
  • Relieves sciatica
  • Reduces flat feet
  • Develops strength and flexibility simultaneously, especially in the spine
  • Relieves tension, aches, and pains throughout the body
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Encourages healthy digestion and elimination
  • Leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated
  • Expels dullness and depression
  • Harmonizes the body and mind
  • Increases energy and enthusiasm

Yoga for Posture

Remember when we were kids, and we were told by parents, teachers, and other adults to “stand up tall” or “sit up straight”? Posture—it make us look taller, more confident, focused and alert (and even thinner)—but there’s a lot more to it than that.

Posture is responsible for the proper alignment of our vital organs and functioning of the nervous system. Poor posture over time creates negative changes in the body. The way that we sit at our desks, stand, and walk all have an effect on our body’s alignment. If we slouch or have bad posture, chronic backaches, neck pain/stiffness, and carpal tunnel symptoms can result over time. Habitual poor posture can even lead to a hunched upper back (known as excessive kyphosis) or a misalignment in the lower back (also referred to as excessive lordosis).

Yoga is an excellent way to improve posture. It also yields other health benefits such as improved circulation and digestion due to the proper alignment of the spine and organs in the body. Taking a yoga class can also help to counteract and heal the effects due to poor posture in the past. This makes yoga the perfect exercise to heal and prevent injuries due to misalignment.

The positions that are practiced in a yoga class help to strengthen the spine. The stretching can help the ligaments and muscles that support the skeletal system. Yoga also builds a stronger core which will also help to support the spine and improve posture. If the core isn’t as strong as it should be, other muscles around it such as the ones in the mid to lower back take over. This puts undue strain on the back. Much of yoga focuses on breath work, which includes sitting up tall and taking in long, deep breaths.

There are many new, exciting yoga classes held at our CNY Healing Arts Centers. Check out our yoga schedule by clicking here!

Syracuse:
195 Intrepid Lane, Syracuse, NY 13205
315.671.5755

Rochester:
2244 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14610
585.244.1280 ext. 2

Yoga: Benefits of the Practice

Katrin Nauman - Yoga Instructor CNY Healing Arts SyracuseYoga is a discipline that currently enjoys renewed awareness and interest. We see it surfacing in various media: in apps for the iPhone, in YouTube videos, as well as in commercials and numerous television programs, even occasionally as the topic of controversy in the news.

In the west, most people view Yoga as an alternative to, or a complement for their regular fitness regimen. Although Yoga does offer extraordinary physical benefits such as increased strength, flexibility, stamina and balance, as well as enhanced cardiovascular and metabolic functioning, to name only a few, there are additional benefits of which many people may not be aware.

Traditionally, Yoga encompasses many disciplines, all of which are seen as paths toward greater awareness. These ultimately lead to liberation through our expanded consciousness.  What we know of today as the asana, or physical postures seen in magazines and videos, are only one aspect of the Yoga practice, called Hatha Yoga.  These postures were actually introduced as a means for the earliest Yogis to sit in meditation for longer periods of time, in their efforts to reach these higher states of consciousness.

In Sanskrit, “ha” means sun and “tha” translates as moon. In this form of Yoga there is a bringing together of these two vital energies, present in the body and in all life forms, seen as the active or outward moving principle, and the passive or inwardly receptive principle. This is analogous to the Yang and Yin energies of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The word Yoga derives from the root “yug,” meaning to yoke. The implication is one of union, of joining two seemingly opposing things together. Not only are we unifying the active and passive energies in the body, but we are also bringing together and harnessing the mind and the body, through an awareness of the breath.

Let’s imagine that we are farmers with the intention of plowing our fields in springtime so we may plant seeds that we will harvest when they come to fruition in the fall. We also have two great oxen we use to plow our fields, but those mighty beasts are on opposite sides of the field and are highly uncooperative.

Unless we introduce the discipline of the yoke, not much plowing will get done. This sturdy wooden yoke that will join them together, so we can steer them in the direction we want them to go. Then will be able to plow straight and uniform rows.

Now lets look at that scenario as an analogy for our life. We are indeed the farmer, but in this case, we wish to plant the seeds of our desire and ultimately reap the harvest of our creation in the form of the experiences of our life. The two oxen represent our body and our mind. When they are working at cross-purposes, it is very hard to achieve our intentions, but when they are operating in harmony, our life runs in a far more smooth and orderly fashion, and we can achieve our goals with greater ease.

So what then is the yoke, the key to manifesting our desires? Well, the tool that we all have at our disposal is the breath. That seems rather easy, you might say. All I need do is breathe?

Well, the body and the mind might not come together so willingly. The farmer must bring the oxen close enough to place the yoke around their prodigious necks. They are stubborn; they clearly have agendas of their own. The one tends to be like Ferdinand, indolent and loathe to do anything but lie around and smell the flowers, or he is gripped by his passions, pinning away for a cow in the other pasture, while the other is restless and high-strung, bucking and chaffing at anything that would restrain it. It requires perseverance and a tremendous force of will to light a spark in the one, and to quell the inner unrest of the other.

So the farmer must utilize another tool to coax the oxen into alignment. That tool is the ox goad, or, in the case of our efforts, concentration. When we can bring the mind and body into balance through the focused awareness of what is occurring in both at any given moment, we can harness the power inherent in each and create a vital, harmonious, bountiful life, and continue on our path toward expanded consciousness.

So with Yoga, in order to achieve its greatest benefits, we must dedicate ourselves to the task. We call it a practice for just that reason. We don’t “do” Yoga, we practice it, just as we would a musical instrument or sport. A committed musician or athlete understands that to become a master requires one very important thing – discipline. In this discipline of Yoga we fine-tune our instrument, the body, through a focused practice that is firmly centered in the breath, which vitalizes the body and keeps the mind centered in the present moment.

Yoga provides us with a disciplined practice that allows us to concentrate our awareness fully in the body and with the breath so we can train our consciousness to a single point of focus. The physical benefits like increased strength, greater flexibility, and enhanced lung capacity are a bonus of the practice, like icing on the cake, as it were; they are not its main purpose. Though surely, when body and mind are in balance, we do function more optimally in all areas of our life.

We are all well acquainted with mirrors. Most of us in the western world utilize them on a daily basis. Using a mirror we must engage our sense of sight, which requires light to be present.  In Yoga, we are developing our sight as well, but this is an inner sight, what we call our intuition, which simply means inner knowledge or knowing.  We begin to illuminate the inner landscape in the exploration of the body and the mind, through the physical postures and through focused breath awareness. Eventually, we don’t need these physical mirrors to reflect back to us how we appear to ourselves. In Yoga, we develop an internal awareness, one not contingent on anything external for our sense of self.  But more importantly, we gradually discover the true nature of our mind, and we gain control of it, instead of it being in control of us. We are now driving the oxen….

An effect of Yoga is this ability to reflect our thoughts and actions back to us, as if in a mirror or a pool. We observe our thoughts, mind, consciousness and actions and begin to correct them, bringing us into a greater state of balance and equanimity.

The ancient Indian sage Patanjali, who created the first treatise or handbook for Yoga over 2500 years ago, said the practice of Yoga is: “Citta Vrtti Nirodha.” Citta means the mind or consciousness, vrtti can be seen as disturbances or fluctuations in the mind, and nirodha translates as: to restrain or subdue.

If we visualize citta as a lake, its movements (vrtti) are the ripples and waves on the water. In the practice of Yoga, we attempt to still (nirodha) those ripples. When the water is calm, we can more clearly see our true reflection, our true essence. From this place of stillness arises our inspiration. When our mind is still, we can more readily tap into this limitless fountain of Creative Energy.

The practice of Yoga can be described as a process of unlearning. Over the course of our lives we create patterns of behavior and thought that begin to solidify in our bodies and minds (samskaras.) These patterns are what block us from tapping into the stillness. So the continuous flow of this creative energy is restricted. Yoga clears the obstructions in our bodies and minds, and melts the crystallizations. It softens and releases the blockages that hinder us from tapping into the full power of our creative potential, and manifesting what we desire. Once there is a certain level of mastery, we can eventually move into higher states of awareness and consciousness.

Ultimately, Yoga is a journey of discovery. We are more concerned in this discipline with the process than we are with the product. When we are fully committed to the process, the product cannot help but be beneficial and inspired.

So are you ready to embark?  You don’t need to pack anything for this journey, you are far better off coming empty handed, or rather empty minded. So drop your baggage and let’s begin…

Namaste~

 

By Katrin Naumann, MFA, RYI – yoga instructor at Syracuse CNY Healing Arts Center

Katrin’s Energy Healing, Spiritual and Life Guidance Practice Inner Balance Life Works, is located in Manlius, NY. She designs and leads Yoga and experiential workshops, sacred services and meditations, which provide practical tools for realizing one’s full life and Soul potential. She is currently collaborating on a series of recorded meditations and two books on Alchemical Transformation, and The Teachings of Tarot. Visit her website at www.innerbalancelifeworks.com. See the classes she teaches at CNY Healing Arts here.

Yoga: Eastern Influence on Exercise in the West

The east has made a huge impact on our western culture, including our exercise routines and the way in which we approach our health and wellbeing. The benefits of incorporating a holistic mind, body, and spirit approach to our wellness is more mainstream now.

Hindu monks, beginning with Swami Vivekananda, brought yoga to the West in the late 19th century. It was combined with an advanced form of breath work and meditation known as Kundalini Yoga by Yogi Bhajan in 1969. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a physical form of exercise across the entire Western world.

Many western physicians have begun to view yoga as a lifestyle change, instead of just a form of exercise, due to the positive effects it can have on many areas of our bodies. Many people, when they think of exercise and toning, think of lifting weights or running on a treadmill; however, yoga is a form of exercise that is just as effective at toning muscle and aiding with weight loss. Since it is also a very relaxing experience, the amount of cortisol in the system is decreased, which helps to further aid with weight loss.

Eastern forms of exercise like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and yoga also increase flexibility and improve balance. There are many poses which include stretching and holding which help to cultivate muscular strength and power. Gaining flexibility and balance helps to decrease injuries to the muscles.

Yoga has been shown to be helpful to:

  • decrease arthritis/inflammation
  • aids with breathing-related issues such as asthma
  • improves circulation throughout the body
  • decreases the risk of hypertension
  • helps to boost immunity

Eastern influenced exercise also heals the mind and can help with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mindfulness and living in the present moment
  • Awareness of body through focused breathing and inner reflection

At CNY Healing Arts Centers, we have a full yoga schedule online with a variety of classes and instructors to meet your needs. For more information, call the location nearest you:

Syracuse:
195 Intrepid Lane, Syracuse, NY 13205
315.671.5755

Rochester:
2244 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14610
585.244.1280 ext. 2

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga offers many wonderful benefits for the mother-to-be. The months leading up to the birth of your baby are an exhilarating and wonderful experience. It can also be a little stressful at times with all of the preparation for your delightful bundle (perhaps, a little exhausting too). Yoga helps the mind and body prepare for the months (and years) ahead!

In prenatal yoga, the gentle stretching exercises will help the muscles in your body. During pregnancy, there are new aches and pains that you may not have experienced before such as lower backache. Yoga can help to strengthen the muscles in the back which help to support the weight of the baby. Strengthening the muscles in the back, arms, and neck will help later when you’re feeding and carrying your child!

It is advisable to lift from the legs versus bending over at the waist throughout pregnancy and is a good practice in general. Yoga helps to tone the leg muscles and contribute to lower body strength. This overall fitness will help when getting the baby into car seats and in and out of vehicles or strollers.

Prenatal yoga also focuses on proper breathing methods which will help during the labor process to stay focused and help the body and mind to relax. Also, the body’s balance is altered during pregnancy and yoga may help with stability. Yoga teaches us to stay focused on the present moment which is wonderful to learn as you enjoy every moment with your new family! Another added bonus is yoga’s ability to aid in circulation, which is especially important during the prenatal time to help blood flow to necessary areas of the body.

Learning to take these moments for yourself now and after the baby is born is so important for your physical and emotional well-being.

Please visit us at  CNY Healing Arts Syracuse for a prenatal yoga class!

Syracuse: 195 Intrepid Lane, Syracuse, NY 13205

Thursday’s 5:00PM with Meg

Sunday’s 10:30AM with Meg!

Detoxification

Detoxification—it’s a word that’s used a lot these days, but what does it really mean? To detoxify the body means to rid it of harmful toxins and unwanted substances. Toxins enter the body through air, water, food, and even through certain medications.

There are three main routes to detoxifying the body and these are through the digestive, circulatory, and lymphatic systems. Yoga, massage, and acupuncture are all excellent ways to assist in removing the build-up of toxins that are in the body.

During yoga, the stretching and poses help the removal of wastes such as lactic acid, carbon dioxide, and lymphatic fluids, and also helps to aid in digestion. Too much lactic acid in the body around the joints can create stiffness and the pain. An excess amount of carbon dioxide inhibits the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to vital organs such as the heart and the brain causing fatigue and poor concentration. Breathing techniques that are incorporated into yoga help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide.  The vigorous movement during a yoga class helps with the lymphatic glands, such as the thyroid, and can help to prevent a build-up of lymphatic fluids which causes swelling in the body.

Massage and acupuncture can also aid in the removal of lactic acid in the muscles, and assists the immune system by relaxing the body and lowering stress levels. Acupuncture increases the blood circulation and also has a natural diuretic effect which aids in the removal of unwanted substances. The idea behind acupuncture is that the “qi” or ‘force or energy’ circulates throughout the body via the meridians. Meridians are like channels or pathways. Qi protects the body much like the immune system and helps to keeps pathogens and toxins out.

For more information on our services, stop by and visit or call any of our locations listed below:

Syracuse:
195 Intrepid Lane, Syracuse, NY 13205
315.671.5755

Rochester:
2244 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14610
585.244.1280 ext. 2

Pranayama-It Starts and Ends with the Breath

Breathing is essential for life, and it can be controlled consciously and unconsciouslyPranayama is the art of breath control; ‘prana’ meaning life or life force, ‘yama’ meaning development.  

When the brain isn’t oxygenated properly, it will negatively impact of all the vital organs of the body.

Some other effects of poor amounts of oxygen in the system are mental sluggishness, negative thoughts, and depression.  

Proper breathing helps to:

  •          energize the body
  •          relieve anxiety
  •          reduce hypertension
  •          reduce muscle tension
  •          purify our blood stream as increased oxygen removes toxins
  •          aid in digestion
  •          relieve congestion
  •          improve the endocrine system
  •          increase metabolism
  •          assist in proper functioning of the brain, nerves, and glands as well as other internal organs
  •          improve the condition of our skin

How we breathe is important as well.  Notice how the doctor asks us to sit up tall and take a nice, deep breath during physicals; this is because good posture and proper breathing goes hand in hand.   When we sit up straight, this allows for the full use of our diaphragm.  When we slouch, it closes off the throat and windpipe, reduces lung capacity, and when combined with stress can results in increased muscle tension.  Improper breathing causes an imbalance in the muscles resulting in neck stiffness and headaches.

There are four basic stages of pranayama:  inhaling from the core, retention while keeping the muscles still, slow and steady exhalation, and a pause/rest stage before beginning the cycle again.

A great way to retrain these muscles and incorporate proper breathing techniques can be acquired through yoga.  Through yoga and proper breathing our focus increases, we reduce stress, and gain better self-control and relaxation.

CNY Healing Arts Centers offers a great variety of yoga classes to help you focus on your breath work and improve your overall health and well-being.  Click here for the full class listing.

Syracuse:
195 Intrepid Lane, Syracuse, NY 13205
315.671.5755
Rochester:2244 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14610
585.244.1280 ext. 2 

Using Yoga Throughout the Day

Yoga is a holistic exercise that not only stretches and improves the body, it stretches and improves our mind!  What is learned in yoga can be taken out of the classroom and applied to our lives and everyday experiences and situations.

Whether at the workplace or working in our homes, frustrations arise and our daily activities can become hectic and fast-paced.  Feelings of anxiousness can further inhibit us to focus and get things done…Enter Yoga! Here’s where we can take what we have learned during classroom yoga sessions and apply to our lives.  Yoga helps us to become aware of our bodies and how we’re feeling when we’re in the state of relaxation and quiet.  During yoga you ‘scan’ your body and become keenly aware of sensations and in tune with heart rate and breathing, as well as any muscle tension.  Performing deep breathing and concentrating on stretching helps us to focus on the task at hand and calm us.  Yoga teaches us to become more grounded and clears the clutter in the mind.

Our day-to-day relationships with co-workers, children, and partners can sometimes bring about negative emotions…Enter Yoga! Yoga can help with these feelings.  In yoga, when we’re concentrating on the mantras or the music – that is often when ideas come to us or we think of ways of coping with challenges that we are trying to overcome in life.  Yoga also increases endorphins which help to provide mental clarity and mood elevation.

Adding yoga in our daily lives gives a feeling of serenity and encourages positive thoughts.  It also helps to direct our energy where we want it to go.  When feeling stressed, breathe deeply in through the nose and out several times.  Basic yoga positions and stretches can be done anywhere and added to our routine throughout the day!

CNY Healing Arts Centers –  Click here for class schedules

Syracuse:
195 Intrepid Lane, Syracuse, NY 13205
315.671.5755

Rochester:
2244 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14610
585.244.1280 ext. 2

 

The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga and Meditation

Finding out you’re expecting a baby is a wonderful and joyful blessing in a couple’s life!  It is easy, however, to get caught up with all of the preparations which can create some anxiety and stress for a mother-to-be and her partner as they prepare for the birth of their child.

Prenatal yoga classes can be a wonderful way for the expectant mother and her partner to take time out for themselves in a relaxing atmosphere.  Benefits of prenatal yoga for the mother-to-be include:  increased strength, flexibility, lower blood pressure, improved circulation, and better balance.  Yoga during pregnancy can help to alleviate lower back pain and sciatica, aids in digestion, decreases tiredness, headaches, and can help you prepare physically for the birthing process.  Some reports say that it helps to decrease the nausea that often accompanies the first trimester, as well as improves one’s sleep.  Taking yoga classes with your partner can help foster a sense of teamwork which is beneficial during childbirth and into parenting as well.

Meditation can help you to focus which is especially valuable during childbirth.  Meditation also helps to decrease fears and anxiety that may be present at such a time.  Using calm, cleansing breaths during meditation can help you during your labor as well.  The use of mantras and visualization can be used during the prenatal stage right into the childbirth, which helps you to stay focused.  Visualizing a relaxing scene in your mind can help put you into an immediate state of peace.

Meditation, especially combined with yoga can further enhance the wondrous, joyful experience in life and help to prepare you for the miracle to come.  Prenatal yoga and meditation connect your mind, body, and spirit.  These practices can help you to be more ‘in the moment’ which is a beautiful thing during pregnancy, parenting, and beyond!

Class Schedules:

Syracuse
Prenatal Yoga Thursday’s at 5:00PM, Sunday’s 10:30AM