Back Pain

In House: Healing Back Pain with the Feldenkrais Mehod

By Lavinia Plonka
June 18, 2018

Back Pain

 

Are you in the 80%? 

80% is the alarming number of Americans who will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Besides the huge economic cost of lost work hours, medical treatment and drugs (as high as $240 billion a year!), it means there is an awful lot of unhappiness in our country right now. Can you be happy if you are in pain? Surely, this is not the result of some design flaw in the human body. Why would Mother Nature create a body that doesn’t function properly? Is it possible that something about the modern lifestyle is responsible?

 

Office chairs, cars, laptops, cellphones, TV and video games all have one thing in common. Minimal movement of the big muscles of the back. Yet Americans spend an average 10 hours a day involved with at least one if not all these forms of modern technology. Coincidence? I think not! Truth is, our biology has not caught up with our technology.

 

So until humanity evolves into some other cyborgian form, we need to return to the function that we were designed for: movement. If you stand still for a few moments with your eyes closed, you’ll notice that your body starts to sway, and if you stay long enough, you might even fall over unless you tense up. Our systems need to move. But once you’re in pain, movement seems to make things worse. How can we move from pain to pleasure?

 

The Feldenkrais Method for healing back pain

There are many approaches to healing back pain, and exercise is certainly one of them. But often there is an emphasis on “core strength” and stability at the expense of mobility and flexibility. Dr. Timothy Sobie of Saybrook University compared a Core Strengthening Program with A Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® Program in an 8 week study with participants who had back pain. The results “demonstrated greater effectiveness across all relevant outcome measures for:
1) decreasing pain,
2) decreasing perceived disability,
3) increasing function,
4) increasing endurance, and
5) optimizing performance ratios for sustained holding of torso positions in comparison to more commonly accepted, medically endorsed, and popular Rx protocols for ‘Core Stabilization’ isolated recruitment of ‘core muscle groups’ and the usual performance of ‘Motor Control’ fitness-based exercises for a population of patients diagnosed with persistently chronic Low Back Pain problems.” Read his article here.

But Awareness Through Movement lessons do so much more than relieve pain. Moshe Feldenkrais said, “What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity.” Using the subtle, sophisticated movement sequences he developed, you will find that not just your back pain, but your whole life improves. As he so eloquently put it, “Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself.” Wouldn’t you love that for yourself?

Join Lavinia Plonka at the Art of Living Retreat Center for the From Pain to Pleasure healing and teaching retreat and free yourself from back pain for good.

More information on The Feldenkrais Method

Sample lessons

 

Lavinia Plonka healed her own back pain using The Feldenkrais Method®. This inspired her to become a certified practitioner. Lavinia is considered a master teacher, as well as an internationally recognized expert in body language, offering workshops around the world. She is also the author of several bestselling books, including What Are You Afraid Of? A Body/Mind Approach to Courageous Living. Lavinia is director of Asheville Movement Center in NC, former Vice President of The North American Feldenkrais Guild and loves every opportunity to awaken people’s potential for joy. Lavinia lives by Moshe Feldenkrais’ maxim, “Movement is life. Without movement, life is unthinkable.”


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: alignment , back pain , Feldenkrais Method , healing , Lavinia Plonka , strength
Reiki - Art of Living Retreat Center

In House: Neil Kagan on his Reiki Journey

By Neil Kagan
June 7, 2018

Reiki - Art of Living Retreat Center

Why might somebody feel called to take a Reiki class? In my experience, there are generally four categories:

  1. You have a need for yourself
  2. You have a need for someone else
  3. You are in the Healing business (massage therapy, chiropractic, etc)
  4. You love the subject of energy work and other similar modalities

Taking healing into your own hands

The common theme through all of these is that you can learn how to take healing into your own hands — literally — with Reiki. By tapping into the unlimited supply of universal or Reiki energy, you can administer the energy to yourself, a loved one, an animal, or even a situation.

 

A holistic approach with Reiki

In my case, I fit into the second category. My firstborn son was getting ready to have a liver transplant at the age of 10 months. While I knew he had to undergo major surgery, I was still searching for ways and modalities that I could do to help facilitate his healing.

 

Approximately one month before his transplant, I took my first Reiki class. I still remember the energy I felt the first time I put my hands over him, just hours after his transplant. The energy I felt in my hand was very powerful, but yet I was not aware of just how powerful.

 

The beginning of a lifelong practice

The doctors told us that he would be in the hospital for a month — he was out in two weeks. His mother, his donor, also being treated with Reiki, had one of the fastest returns back to normal liver functions that they had seen from a donor. We couldn’t believe how well he was doing.

 

As he continued to recover extremely well from his transplant, I thought my days of using Reiki would soon be over. But as fate would have it, and as time went on, I would get sick with colds and later with a knee energy. I found myself using Reiki for myself, moving over to the first category.

 

A powerful tool for healing

I have been in this category for over 22 years, and have seen thousands of people using Reiki for all sorts of ailments, illnesses, and various other concerns. Reiki is very powerful on healing the physical body, it it is equally effective on the other parts of our being — mental, emotional, spiritual, etc. Still, to this day, I am amazed at how powerful and effective this energy is and how it can literally change peoples lives for the better.

   

Reiki Master Neil Kagan’s diverse background started with martial arts in 1981. This prompted a life-long study and practice of various martial and healing arts, including Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Kung. In 1995, he earned the title of Kung Fu Master (8th degree black belt). He has been teaching classes since 1997.

 

Learn how to support yourself and your loved ones with energetic healing with Neil and Tobi Gold at the Art of Living Retreat Center from July 13th to July 15th, 2018 at their retreat, Become a Reiki Master. 

     

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: energy , healing , in house , neil kagan , reiki
Art of Living Retreat Center - Get Organized

Exploring Wisdom: Loving Yourself by Getting Organized

By Margaret Paul
May 9, 2018

Art of Living Retreat Center - Get Organized

 

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone” – Pablo Picasso

 

Do you struggle with:

  • Procrastination
  • Clutter
  • Overwhelm
  • Disorganization
  • Being late
  • Guilt over not getting things done or not following through with commitments
  • Anxiety over things like taxes and bills being late
 

While some personality types have an easier time being organized than others, everyone has the capacity to learn to be organized and get important things done.

 

Why, then, do so many people have a problem with it?

 

It has to do with your intent.

 

Which part of you is in charge of time and organization?

Do you have a part of you that tells you what you HAVE to get done, and another part of you that goes into resistance? If you identify with this, then the part of you in charge of your time and organization is your wounded self, and your intent is to control and avoid being controlled.

 

One part of your wounded self tells you what you have to do – likely in a judgmental, harsh, critical, parental voice (does this sound like your mother or father or another caregiver?), while another, perhaps younger aspect of your wounded self goes into resistance to being controlled. An inner power struggle ensues, essentially immobilizing you. The critical voice might get more critical and the resistant aspect, who is determined not to be controlled – even if it’s by yourself and even if what the critical part says to do is in your highest good – digs in his or her heels.

 

As long as your intent is to control and not be controlled, you will be stuck in the resistance of your wounded self.

 

Shifting your intent

Our intent is the essence of our free will. At any given moment you can choose the intent to control and not be controlled – stuck in the inner power struggle – or you can change your mind and decide that loving yourself and learning about what is loving to you and others is your primary intent. And that determines everything, because all your behavior follows from your intent.

 

When you shift from the intent to control and resist being controlled, into the intent to learn about loving yourself, and you open to learning with your higher self about what actions are in your highest good, then your loving adult is in charge rather than your wounded self.

 

The loving adult doesn’t procrastinate, doesn’t clutter, is organized, is on time, keeps commitments and gets done what needs to be done. When we are operating as a spiritually connected loving adult, it’s easy to be organized. It’s not about exerting will power – it’s about allowing Spirit to flow through us, giving us the guidance and energy to take loving care of ourselves.

 

Putting your loving adult in charge relieves stress

Just as actual children feel safe when their parents are reliable and do what they say they will do, our inner child feels safe when we do what we commit to doing for ourselves and for others. If you say you will be on time but you are late, your inner child feels anxious and unsafe. If you say you will get your taxes done on time and you don’t, your inner child feels stressed. If you say you will get up early and exercise and you don’t, your inner child may feel depressed.

 

Inner peace and a sense of safety come from operating as a trustworthy, organized and reliable loving adult. When loving yourself is more important to you then trying to have control over getting yourself to do things ‘right’ and then going into resistance to being controlled, you will start to feel much more inner peace and safety.

 

Since you are in charge of your intent, you can make this shift any time you want!

   

Dr. Margaret Paul is a bestselling author and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, and the related SelfQuest® self-healing online program – recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. She has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including Oprah. Margaret holds a PhD in psychology, is a relationship expert, public speaker, consultant and artist. She has successfully worked with thousands and taught classes and seminars for over 50 years.

 

Join Margaret at the Art of Living Retreat Center from May 18th to 20th to heal the cycle of shame and self-abandonment, learn to love yourself, and move into a healthy pattern of decision making at her retreat, Inner Bonding.

 

This article is reposted from margaretpaul.com with permission from the author.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: control , healing , Love , organization , organized , peace , stress
Reiki - Art of Living Retreat Center

In House: How Tobi Gold Discovered Reiki

By Tobi Gold
May 3, 2018

Reiki - Art of Living Retreat Center

I came to Reiki through teaching Yoga. For years, as I ended a class and people were resting in Savasana, I would place my pointer fingers in the center of my student’s foreheads and spread a little oil. Student’s would often remark, “I really liked the energy I felt from your hands!” I was not a Reiki practitioner then, but hearing those words led me to pursue it.

 

Finding the right Reiki teacher

In May of 2016, I took Reiki Level I at a lovely Holistic Center in Florida. I’d heard many stories about finding the right teacher, and didn’t understand why that was important. But that was before I had Neil Kagan as my teacher — I knew right away that he was the right teacher for me. In addition to making us feel comfortable with his relaxed approach and great stories, he was not “woo-woo” at all. In fact, he was very grounded, organized, and clear in his communication. I ended up taking all three Levels with him.

 

Healing from a distance

At Level I, I could practice Reiki on myself. At Level II, I could use Reiki for distance healing. I was telling my old friends from New England all about my newly acquired skill, and as they talked about their various illnesses, I offered to send Reiki to them long-distance. They would “recieve” this energy in a variety of ways, some with relief from pain, some with relaxation and better sleep.

I was so happy that I could help.

 

Now, as a Level III practitioner, I often use Reiki when I work with clients one-on-one. Reiki, the ability to use universal energy as it comes through my palms, is simple and effective.

 

Experiences with Reiki

I have one client who experiences chronic pain in his hips and lower back. All I have to do is bring in the Reiki energy and rest my hands in those areas, and he feels relief. Sometimes he falls alseep — a sign of complete relaxation and the absence of pain.

 

Another client experiences occasional pain from anxiety and tension. For her, I combine Reiki with restorative Yoga. I simply help her get into a comfortable, supported pose and apply the Reiki energy where she is feeling distress. She does experience the heat from my hands, and a deep relaxation with the treatment, which leads to reducing pain: a great gift.

 

Tobi Gold has been practicing Yoga and Meditation since 2001. She completed her first certification at Kripalu in 2007, and has been teaching Hatha and Vinyasa Flow ever since. In 2016, she took a Reiki Master Program in Florida, taught by Neil Kagan.

 

Learn how to support yourself and your loved ones with energetic healing with Tobi and Neil Kagan at the Art of Living Retreat Center from July 13th to July 15th, 2018 at their retreat, Become a Reiki Master. 

     

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: energy , healing , in house , neil kagan , reiki , Tobi Gold , yoga
Chronic Pain - Art of Living

Exploring Wisdom: Chronic Pain & Yoga – A Physician’s Perspective

By Dr. Bharti Verma, MD
February 20, 2018

Chronic Pain - Art of LivingPain is something we all feel at some time in our lives. If we are fortunate, the source of the pain is treated properly, and the pain goes away relatively quickly.

 

But sometimes, with pain that is difficult to manage, the discomfort can persist for months at a time. In those circumstances, pain comes to be seen as a disease in its own right. And often it can only be managed, not cured.

 

The true cost of chronic pain

Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined, according to a fact sheet from the US National Institutes of Health. It is the most common reason Americans access the health care system. Pain is the leading cause of disability, and the most common cause of long term disability. It is a major contributor to health care costs.

 

The National Academy of Medicine estimates that pain affects more than 100 million people and costs $600 billion a year.

 

Taking all of this information into account, we can guess at the impact pain has on individuals. As French Physician Dr. Albert Schweitzer described it, back in 1931, “Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself.”

 

We know the scale of the problem: the numbers of people involved, and the cost of managing their discomfort.

 

The question is – can we reduce that terrible toll? Can we, the health provider and the patient, work together to find and deliver a better way of managing chronic pain? I believe we can.

 

Exploring solutions for chronic pain

In my practice as a family physician, I’ve discovered some low-cost, highly-effective remedies that can improve the lives of people living with chronic pain. These are solutions that I, as a family physician, am happy to share with my patients, and these remedies can be used in addition to the conventional strategies for managing chronic pain.

 

One of those conventional strategies is the prescription of opioids. Of course,we are all keen to see a reduction in the death toll from the overuse of opioids, but I’m getting ahead of myself. There are also non-opiod medications for chronic pain. First, let’s go back to the root of the problem: pain.

 

How do we define and manage pain?

Acute pain is the body’s reaction to physical injury, infection or inflammation due to tissue damage. The International Association for Study of Pain, in 1994, defined pain as “unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage”.

 

In medicine we talk about pathophysiology, a term used to explain the processes within the body that result in the signs and symptoms of a disease.

 

The pathophysiology of chronic pain is not well understood; nor is the significant impact of pain on the patient, and his or her physical, emotional, social and occupational wellbeing.

 

These factors, in turn, can have a significant impact on a patient’s ability to overcome chronic pain. The prognosis, the course and probable outcome of the condition, is influenced by many environmental factors: nutrition, social supports, socio-economic status, exposure to drugs and substances, the patient’s state of physical and mental health before the onset of the condition, the patient’s attitude, and even genetics.

 

The opiod issue

Traditionally, chronic pain is managed by the use of analgesics, physiotherapy, massage therapy, occupational therapy, and psychotherapy.

 

Opioids have become the mainstay of drug-oriented treatment. Unfortunately, in Canada in 2016, there were 2,800 apparent opioid-related deaths. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, if this trend were to continue, up to 4,000 lives were expected to be lost for the same reason in 2017.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the US 63,600 deaths were related to opioid overuse in 2016, and the estimate is 66,000 in 2017.

 

As society, and health providers, we have to do a better job.

 

And, as health care providers, we are trying. The 2017 Canadian guidelines for managing non-cancer pain lists its number one recommendation as “optimization of non-opioid pharmacotherapy and non-pharmacological therapy, rather than a trial of opioids.”

 

It is well accepted that conventional management of chronic pain has limited success.

So, let’s explore an option that I know to be highly effective – which can help reduce pain and reliance on pain medications.

 

How yoga and meditation can help

Yoga and meditation can be helpful in managing not just pain, but also the associated depression and anxiety that comes along with chronic pain. More than that, it can improve cognitive function deficits associated with chronic pain. A recent research done at Stanford University suggests that meditation and breathing practices could be the solution to overcome the opioid crisis.

 

According to an official of the National Institutes of health, “There is compelling evidence that practicing mind-body techniques such as yoga and meditation can counteract the brain anatomy effects of chronic pain.”

 

Neuro-imaging studies have shown that chronic pain can reduce gray matter in the brain. Decreased gray matter can lead to memory impairment, emotional problems, and decreased cognitive functioning. The practice of yoga can actually increase gray matter in brain. If we can increase our gray matter, we increase our ability to handle pain.

 

Yoga practice may provide a protective effect in reducing the burden of depression and anxiety in these patients living with chronic pain.Yoga and meditation practice can also reduce pain sensitivity, leading to patients requiring less pain medication.

 

Bridging the gap to yoga

Often when I say ‘yoga’, many shy away. They worry that they need to be flexible, agile, and fit to practice yoga. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Yoga practice can be tailored to an individual’s needs. Meditation practice can be taught to anyone willing to learn.

 

All you need to start yoga or meditation is the willingness to begin; a willingness to try something new. And let’s face it, if you’ve lived with chronic pain for any length of time, you probably know that conventional pain management is not always effective. So, what do you have to lose?

 

I believe we should be offering to teach yoga and meditation to our chronic pain patients, to improve their quality of life.

 

These practices are effective, and they can give us a low cost, highly effective way of improving the lives of people living with chronic pain and its associated problems.

 

A new option for health care providers

What is more heart warming than that now yoga, breathing and meditation practices are widely accepted by the medical community? There are courses where health care providers can learn these powerful ancient healing techniques and earn the Continuous Education Credits too.

 

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

Bharti Verma, MA, MD, FCFP

Dr. Bharti Verma is the President of Duffus Health Centre, and has varied experience in all aspects of family medicine, including long-term care, obstetrics, geriatrics, pediatrics, psychotherapy, and counselling. She is also a senior instructor in yoga and meditation with Art of Living Canada, and was Vice-President of AOLF Canada from 2010-2017.

 

This article first appeared on artofliving.org. 

     

The world needs your voice! Join Dr. Verma and Medha Garud for their upcoming Women’s Wellness Retreat, where you’ll learn to identify and overcome the barriers for reaching your full potential, and approach health, wellness, and womanhood from an Ayurvedic perspective. Learn More Here!

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: chronic pain , healing , health , meditation , pain , yoga
Art of Living - Articles We Love February

Articles We Love: A Love-Filled February

By Paige Reist
February 14, 2018

Art of Living - Articles We Love February

 

Ah, love. It’s one of the most powerful forces in the world, and something we all crave at a cellular level. Connecting with others and feeling loved and cherished nourishes our soul and gives us purpose. But love is so much more than something that you receive from others. It’s something that you can actively put into the world, and something that you can use to heal and grow within yourself.

 

As much as we adore love in all forms, we think that self-love is perhaps one of the most important and revolutionary practices you can cultivate. Which is why our favourite articles this month focus on how to make the choice to love yourself.

 

The Beautiful Truth About What Happens When You Choose to Fall in Love With Yourself

Kelly Douglas for Thought Catalog

Kelly Douglas shares her thoughts on learning to loving herself, and how this journey has transformed her life from a painful existence full of self-deception to one that is brimming with light.

“Amid the thick fog of my self-deception, I could vaguely make out a glimmer of the truth. I chased that spark of unconditional self-love with a sense of reckless abandon, steadfastly determined to capture it and forever hold it close. The light slowly grew more powerful, stripping my soul of self-imposed deception and filling my heart with truth. As I basked in the warmth of self-love, I resolved to never again habitually deprive myself of the love I deserve. At long last, I discovered I am always enough, despite the feverishly conniving taunts of my mind attempting to convince me otherwise.”

 

4 Yoga Practices for Self Love

Samantha Lahonen for Sivana East

Yoga isn’t just a physical practice, but a mental and emotional one as well. Samantha Lahonen guides us through four transformative yoga poses that foster self-love.

“Sometimes, it doesn’t feel so easy to love yourself, yet having a negative self-image sets you up for illnesses such as anxiety and depression. You may notice that you put the needs of others before yourself; as the “people pleaser,” you often compare yourself to others, or you avoid certain situations or opportunities for fear of failure. This is where yoga comes in. Yoga puts you in a state of meditation, helping you to let go of the thoughts that whisper you are not good enough and keep you in a state of low self-esteem. Yoga replaces them with positive thoughts such as the feelings of strength, stability, and energy that come with practicing yoga.”

 

Radical Self-Love as a Spiritual Practice

Kelly Ann Matuskiewicz for Absolute Awareness
Kelly Ann Matuskiewicz shares her thoughts on self-love as a spiritual practice, and how she incorporated self-love techniques into her own life to bring forth a more meaningful, fulfilling way of existing in the world.

“When I started to practice radical self love, my entire life experience shifted to more positive interactions and outcomes. I felt more confident, self assured, I trusted myself. Who and what I attracted into my life felt better and I was more in the flow. Unfortunately, not many of us know how to truly love ourselves. This is a key piece preventing us from manifesting our dreams and creating the lives we desire.”

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

 
TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , healing , Love , self love , wellness , wisdom , yoga
Art of Living Journeys

Art of Living Journeys: How Denise Re-framed Her Life

By AOLRC
October 25, 2017

Art of Living Journeys

 

Before joining us at the Art of Living Retreat Center for our weekly Happiness Retreat, Denise felt as though she was stuck – in an unhappy marriage, in unhealthy patterns, in the darkness. But after a weekend of lessons, love, and light, she found her own light at the end of the tunnel. We recently sat down with Denise to speak about her experiences, what she would tell her former self, and how she is living in her light. 

 

Prioritize Your Wellness

Before Art of Living came into my life, I was in a place of hopelessness. I yearned to find joy and happiness, but I was at the point where I didn’t feel like I was meant to in this lifetime. I was dealing with some emotional trauma, and I was also in an unhappy marriage. It wasn’t only affecting me, but my children as well. My unconditional love and acceptance for this person had turned a corner to enabling. Through Art of Living and the Happiness Retreat, I was able to realize that I could still love this person while prioritizing my own wellness and taking myself out of an unhealthy situation.

 

The tools and techniques taught in the Happiness Retreat took away the guilt of that decision. I was able to move forward and live the life I’d always wanted to live. I found a joy and a peace that I’d never felt before.

 

A Way Out of Darkness

If I could speak to my former self, I would apologize to her, for letting her feel for even one moment that there wasn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. That she would be unhappy forever. I would tell her that the darkness is not a place she had to stay, that there was a way out. And the Happiness Course is the very essence of the first step towards finding a way out of that place.

 

The Happiness Retreat brought a knowledge and confirmation to me that there was something better out there. It’s not just someone telling you that you can be happy. The tools and techniques of the program transformed all of my negative thoughts and patterns into something positive. It allowed me to move forward, and to find the light, even in my darkest moments.

 

Paying it Forward

The Art of Living Retreat Center is such a wonderful, accepting place. It feels as though you are coming together as a family, connecting with anyone and everyone. We all matter – each person does have something to give to someone else. If I had not come here and seen the people around me, and felt the love and peace and happiness, then I would have never been able to conceive of that happiness being possible within myself.

 

My desire now is to share my story with others. There are women out there who are exactly where I was, and I want to show anyone who’s been where I am how I got through it, and how I ended up in this amazing place of peace and joy. I want women to know that there is hope to live a life of joy, peace, and happiness.

 

Make the choice to truly thrive in life. The Happiness Retreat runs weekly. 

 
 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

 
TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , happiness , Happiness Program , healing , wellness
Art of Living - Faith in What

Exploring Wisdom: How to Cultivate Faith

By AOLRC
September 25, 2017

Art of Living - Faith in What

Faith. We hear this word so often in a spiritual context that we’ve begun to take the meaning for granted. What is faith, exactly? And on our own individual  journeys, what do we put our faith in? Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke about the role of faith in the path of spirituality during his last visit to Boone; what it is, how to develop it, and how to develop trust in yourself and your journey. 

(more…)

TAGS: art of living , faith , happiness , healing , knowledge , mindfulness , sri sri ravi shankar , wellness

The Practice: The Fishman Method – Yoga for Osteoporosis

By Paige Reist
May 5, 2017

Loren Fishman - Yoga for Osteoporosis

 

Loren Fishman, MD, B. Phil., is one of the few physicians practicing medicine who incorporates yoga into his regular treatment protocols and offers patients individual yoga therapy. This spring, he joins us at the Art of Living Retreat Center to share his unique and effective program with yoga practitioners, yoga teachers and therapists, physical therapists, nurses, physicians and health insurance leaders. Loren shares his journey to developing his unique method. 

Yoga and Osteoporosis

I’d heard from my friends and colleagues that it was extremely dangerous to teach yoga to osteoporotic or even osteopenic people. However, I wanted to explore whether that was accurate or not. So I did DEXA scans (the definitive test of bone mineral density) on a number of patients with osteoporosis and osteopenia, and invited half of them to come to classes I taught in my office after patient hours, and kept the other half as controls. I did this for two years, up to 2008.

 

When we got DEXA scans again, the yoga group had gained quite a bit of bone mineral density. The controls lost a little, and there were no significant injuries of any kind. Not even repetitive stress injuries – if you’re practicing yoga properly, stress injuries are quite uncommon.

It worked well, but I didn’t think these results were publishable yet. My son happened to pass by my desk and said, “Dad, give me the data.” In 5 minutes, he showed me that these results were statistically significant. A few months later, we published “Yoga for Osteoporosis – A pilot study.” Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation 25, No. 3, 2009 pp. 244-250. 

 

Creating the Program

At this point, I really became enthusiastic. It seemed to me that there might be a way that any person could use yoga to improve bone strength, so I hired a camera man from Harvard, a director from Columbia, and a friend who is sometimes a Broadway actor, took two friends and myself as models, and created a DVD of yoga for osteoporosis.

 

We made a thousand copies of the DVD, and gave them away to people willing to do blood tests, a urine test, and give a current DEXA, as well as another one after two years of practice. The tests ruled out nutritional, hormonal, and metabolic reasons for weak bones.

 

I chose poses that I thought would strengthen the most frequent fracture sites; the spine, the hip, and the femur. Happily, those are also the three sites measured by most DEXA scans. We made the DVD with three versions of each pose; a beginner’s version, an intermediate version, and the classical version of each pose.

The difficult part was that we needed an older DEXA scan too, in order to make this into a before-after study. We needed to compare what happened to people in the two years before they started doing this yoga (although many had done some yoga before), with how their bones fared after they did this yoga daily for two years.

 

This was an Internet-recruited study, and the 1000 people that received the DVD were from all over the world. Eight years later, over 240 of the recipients complied, and sent in previous DEXA scans, and many sent before-and-after X-rays, too. All the information went to Bernard Rosner, Professor of Biostatistics at Harvard.

The Results Are In: Yoga Improves Bone Density

It took more than a month to get anything back from him. In the meantime, I was ruminating as to whether I’d just wasted ten years of my life.

 

Eventually, we got the statistical results: .001 significant improvement in the spine and femur, with improvement in the hip as well.

 

We published this study soon after as Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss.” Lu, Yi-Hsueh; Rosner, Bernard; Chang, Gregory; Fishman, Loren M. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: April/June 2016 – Volume 32 – Issue 2 – p 81–87.

 

Over 80% of the people in the study reversed their bone loss and began to gain bone. No fractures or serious injuries of any kind were seen or reported in over 100,000 hours of people doing this yoga daily. Over 80% of them had osteoporosis or osteopenia when we started. Fewer had these conditions when we finished.

The Future of Yoga and Osteoporosis

We are now working on another study which we call a dose-response study,. In these, we have participants see a teacher who is trained in our yoga every two weeks to see what “dose” of yoga the participants are giving themselves. Then we’ll see what happens to their DEXA scans in two years.

We’ve also developed alternative sets to ward off the inevitable ennui of doing the same poses day in and day out. New alternatives also strengthen the bones in the wrist, the fourth most probable fracture site. We have put the first group, the group we’ve already proven to work, online for free on Youtube, offer DVDs on sciatica.org.

We also give workshops such as the one at the Art of Living Retreat center in North Carolina. Additionally, we offer online training to teach yoga teachers to train people to do these poses at their proper level. This is an effective, innocuous, and quite valuable skill for yoga teachers to acquire.

Join Loren Fishman at Yoga vs. Osteoporosis from May 31st to June 4th at the Art of Living Retreat Center!

 

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , Fishman method , healing , loren fishman , osteoporosis , yoga , yoga practice , yoga retreat
Yin Yoga - Art of Living Retreat Center

Exploring Wisdom: Nora Benian on Yin Yoga and the Path to Surrender

By Paige Reist
March 31, 2017

Yin Yoga - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

Yoga, as many practitioners can attest, is so much more than a physical practice. Yin Yoga is a series of restorative and energizing postures that are held for a longer time, healing and opening the soul just as profoundly as the body. We recently spoke with Nora Benian, RYT-500, Yoga Therapist & Instructor, and upcoming retreat host about the transformational power of the practice. 

 

Making Space for the New

We struggle with repeating thought patterns about ourselves and our lives, and the idea of letting that way of being go can be scary. Our thought patterns are what we’ve built our lives around, and they give us security, identity, and power – or so we think. We fear letting go, because we fear what we might be when we are stripped down.

 

But what are we really afraid of? What story about ourselves are we clinging to? The truth is, we must clear out the old to make space for the new. That which no longer serves us has no room anymore, because we need to make room for that which will serve us from here onward. Having a practice of surrender in your life will make space for your growth and personal realizations of who you really are.

 

The Art of Letting Go

Yin Yoga is all about surrendering and practicing the art of letting go. Yin is to accept a shape that is authentic, without forcing your body to change. It is to help one relax into the bones, to be still and give up holding on. The resistance one encounters can be layered, like peeling back the layers of an onion, and we must continually remind ourselves to let go. Just when we think we are in the pose fully, we come across another layer of resistance.

 

But if we keep breathing deeply, eventually a release happens. We then go through the steps of fostering acceptance again with this new, recently uncovered layer of resistance, and find the courage to go through yet another layer with deeper breaths, deeper trust. We must trust that going through these layers of resistance is better than fighting against them. That is when we surrender. That is when give the life force a wider channel to flow through, bringing more life into the body and calming the mind.

 
Our biography is our biology.
 

Heal the Body, Heal the Soul

A regular practice of Yin Yoga also releases muscular pain. Yin Yoga works on the connective tissues, joints, and tendons attached to the bones. It accesses the deep fascial networks that run through every element of our body. This is a continuous connective tissue that exists from head to toe, so that a restriction in one part will affect every other part.

 

Fascia stores all pain from the landscape of our lives – our biography is our biology. Fascia is where our trauma is stored. Physical tension is the manifestation of emotional trauma. Just as a broken bone creates scar tissue, emotional trauma is also ingrained int he history of our body. This is why emotions like anxiety, anger, or grief are all felt at specific locations. Even after the emotion has passed, our bodies hold onto these memories until we let them go.

 

Yin yoga helps to create a space to surrender inhibiting mind patterns. As the fascia is released, so are the psychological traumas it contains. This is why certain poses can bring a surge of emotion as stored energies are unblocked at let go. Without those thought patterns, we can discover the core of who we are. Not who we were, not who we will be, but the ever-changing kaleidoscope of our present and beautiful selves. At this point, we will no longer need to cling to possessions, people, or ways of thinking that do not serve us, because right there, on that mat, in the stillness and peace, we remember that we are enough. We will always be enough.

 

Trust yourself – you are more complete than you know. Within you is a power beyond your wildest dreams, and your true nature is unconditional happiness and peace.

 

Join Nora Benian for her Yin Yoga Immersion Retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center this May. 

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , happiness , healing , wisdom , yin yoga , yoga , yoga practice , yoga retreat

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