Today over fifteen million Americans regularly practice yoga. It is easy to find a yoga class to fit your needs and your schedule. Why go an extra mile and see a yoga therapist? Who might benefit from that?
Yoga therapy is the application of yogic tools such as physical postures, breathing, chanting and meditation to the specific needs of an individual. In our minds yoga is firmly connected to the class format, but a yoga class is, in fact, a fairly recent phenomenon, dating back to the early 20th century. During that time the yoga of the physical postures (asanas) was gaining popularity in India, partly under the influence of emerging western interest in physical fitness. From India, Yoga was transported to the West, where the class format became the most popular way of practicing yoga.
Before yoga classes gained popularity, yoga was often transmitted one-on-one, from teacher to student. The practice was adapted to the individual, made to address whatever issues the student was dealing with. With most yoga classes around nowadays being highly athletic and physically demanding, there is a movement towards making yoga more accessible. Yoga therapy is part of this movement to make yoga responsive to the needs of the individual, and bring it into the field of integrative healthcare. Here are some of the reasons you may want to see a yoga therapist:
Listen to our "Ask The Expert" Interview with Asya Haikin
Even if you are just dealing with everyday stresses and with life cycle events like pregnancy, or natural effects of aging, yoga therapy can be a great way to support yourself through those life transitions. To find a qualified yoga therapist near you go to: www.yogatherapy.health
About the Author
Asya Haikin is the Owner of Peaceful Mind Yoga Therapy in Falls Church, Virginia. She is a Certified Yoga Therapist working with people with persistent pain to improve wellbeing and quality of life. Her mission is to make yoga safe and accessible, and to raise awareness about the benefits of yoga therapy. Asya has been using mindful movement, breath and body awareness to help individuals move beyond pain for over fifteen years. She has a private yoga therapy practice in Falls Church, VA, and also teaches several public yoga classes in Arlington and Falls Church. Asya is also a Reiki Master, a Tibetan Tones (vibrational sound healing) practitioner, and has an MA from University of Pennsylvania.
To learn more about Asya, visit her website at www.peacefulmindyogatherapy.com
If you’ve ever had an injury or aches and pains that just wouldn’t go away, (and who hasn’t, really?!), you know how much that can affect your life. You’re trying to be healthy, you’re eating better, and trying to go out for a run or to that yoga class you love, but the pain is so distracting and makes it hard to be present with what you’re doing. You used to love tying your shoes to go for a run or stepping into class, or even just getting down on the floor and playing with your kids. But now it’s not even fun anymore because all you’re thinking about is how to get into a position that doesn’t hurt.
You don’t have anything ‘major’ going on. It’s just the nagging knee pain or the pain in your heel every time you put your foot down. You feel like it’s not so serious that you need to go see someone for it. And really, who would you even see for such a thing? It’s just something you have to live with, right? I mean, you are getting older and that just goes along with it, doesn’t it?
As a holistic health physical therapist, I can tell you that the answer is No. More than likely, you don’t have to "just live with it!" These types of things are what we specialize in. If you are having a problem that has lasted more than a couple days, that isn’t going away on its own with rest, ice, heat, or exercises that you may have learned on Google, then you should schedule an appointment with a physical therapist.
(Pain) You don't have to "just live with it!"
More than likely, you have some soft tissue or joint restrictions going on that require specific manual therapy to fix the issue and start the healing process. You probably also need some help figuring out better ways to move your body or little tweaks to improve your posture. You could also benefit from a program of the right exercises for your specific problem, instead of just basic ones found on the internet. It’s commendable that you’ve tried so many things to help yourself, but sometimes those things just aren’t enough and require a little more specialized treatment.
When you work with a holistic physical therapist, no problem is too small. If it is bothering you and keeping you from doing what you love to do or causing pain or discomfort while you do it, then it’s worth looking into. We will do a comprehensive evaluation to look at what’s going on, see how your joints are moving, what the muscles, tendons, and ligaments feel like. We will check your strength, your range-of-motion, and see how you do with specialized movement tests. We’ll chat about how long it has been going on, if you’ve had other problems before, and what other areas of your body are feeling like. We’ll talk about what else is going on in your life, such as are there any stressful events or are you having trouble falling and/or staying asleep? We’ll figure out how this problem has been affecting your life and what it has been keeping you from doing and why it is causing you to feel pain while you do it. Together we’ll create a treatment plan that takes all of those things into account, with a goal of getting back to doing whatever it is that you need or want to do as quickly as possible.
Listen to our "Ask The Expert" Interview with Dr. Snow
Going to physical therapy doesn’t have to be a big event! It’s just something you do when something isn’t feeling quite right and you know you just need a little assistance with feeling better and getting back to the important things in your life. An expert physical therapist can show you how to take your health back, put the pain behind you, and learn ways to prevent it from happening again in the future!
About the Author
Dr. Stacy Snow is the Owner of Tranquil Place Physical Therapy & Wellness in Falls Church, Virginia. She holds a Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy and is a holistic health physical therapist who focuses on helping her clients feel better and get back to doing what they love to do. To schedule a complimentary 30-minute in-office Discovery Session to see if physical therapy is the right solution for you, you can reach Stacy at Dr.Snow@tranquilplacept.com or by scheduling here. Your health is your greatest asset. Stacy can help you create a plan to take the best care of it, and you!
A whole note is, according to the almighty Google, "a note having the time value of two half notes or four quarter notes, represented by a ring with no stem. It is the longest note now in common use."
For those of you who don't know me that well, I have a strong music background. I've played numerous instruments, written music, and practically made it my life by deciding to go to college and play piano professionally. During that last one though, my life took a sharp turn in a different direction, and to this day, I wonder what my life would have been like had I continued on that musical journey. Would I have become a professional musician? Would I have become a famous artist? Would I have become a music and song-writer like I had once dreamed of at a young age? Frequently, I ponder this alternate universe that I chose to leave behind nearly 20 years ago.
This does not mean though that my fingers don't hunger for the smooth glide across the steel strings of a guitar or yearn to fly up and down the ivory steps of a piano in an emotionally-driven whirlwind. I could not survive without immersing myself in the freeing experiences that music has blessed me with. It is an escape from all sense of time. Perhaps, even, it might be why I enjoy using my fingers to type this very blog; because my fingers yearn to dance again on the musical instruments they befriended many years ago.
Music has always been the easiest metaphor for understanding my life.
Regardless of where I once was though, I understand my life is here and now. My life is just as magnificent as it could have ever been had I continued my journey with music two decades ago. I firmly believe that. Just as I have always believed that life will guide you through your choices and will leave breadcrumbs along the way to remind you of where you came from. My life in music has defined who I am as an individual. Every person has experienced the joys of music at one time or another. For music is an opportunity to step beyond the boundaries of a confined lifestyle and live freely once again, even if it's only for the length of a short song playing through your headphones.
I find it interesting that the whole note is partially defined as "the longest note now in common use". It seems synonymous with life itself. Our lives are meant to be whole, just as this particular note is meant to be whole. It is the longest note in common use just as life should be lived as a continuous process following the rhythm of everything that has come before it. And the whole note is what leads and flows into the rhythm of the entire piece after it.
A whole life does just the same. It is complete; it is filled; it is never-ending; it is whole. The rhythm of your life is set by all of the experiences that come from the moment you are created. The rhythm you set in your life will also determine the rhythm that is set for the lives that follow yours. So your life is meant to be played like one glorious song. One WHOLE glorious song, to be exact.
Music has always been the easiest metaphor for understanding my life. Anytime I struggle or meet a new challenge, music frees me. It empties my mind by stirring my emotions and preventing them from stagnating inside of me ultimately leading me away from pain and towards movement, towards freedom, towards wholeness. A whole note to some may simply be the addition to all the other notes and viewed as a part of music that can be broken down into parts or counted as a sum of a particular number of beats. To me though, a whole note is not just a black empty circle hanging randomly from a line on a funny looking sheet of paper. It is an extended moment filled with a magnificent story driven by emotion, driven by the past that carries onward for as long as one chooses. This whole note becomes a whole vibration once the hammers strike the metal strings within signaling a whole resonance that invades and heals every space of your whole body. The only question left is, are you living whole enough to hear it?
In the wake of another tragic moment in history where innocent lives have been lost, we find ourselves again in the same position; on our knees both mourning and pleading for answers and change. Knees bloodied, voices strained, we feel lost and confused as to why we constantly find ourselves again and again in this submissive posture. We seek answers. We seek change. We seek safety.
The recent and horrific event at a Florida school has called us all to action. Consider this my small drop in the ocean moved by emotional waves of fear, confusion, and loss of life. This offering of a small drop is hopefully enough to temporarily quench our thirst for change. And within this drop is a small reminder of an ancient practice that will hopefully nourish an internal state of ease we all yearn for at this moment.
This unimaginable event in Florida has re-ignited an ongoing debate, which I will not continue here as my specialty is health rather than school safety or gun legislation. However, it reminds me of an important ancient practice that can begin to heal our society and potentially prevent events such as these from happening again by focusing internally on the one person we truly have the ability to change; ourselves.
The students of this school of thought were able to transform their ways of life and contributions to society in a way that sculpted their culture into a living work of art.
You might recall from ancient Chinese society a school of thought called Confucianism. Now, I am not an expert in this school of thought, but I am certainly curious about one specific objective that was the overarching goal in this ancient and wise way of life that has been practiced for more than two millenia. This practice is referred to that of being a Hao Ren (好人) or "good person". By regularly practicing the ethical and humanistic beliefs of Confucianism, the students of this school of thought were able to transform their ways of life and contributions to society in a way that sculpted their culture into a living work of art. In other words, they learned to become good people. Sadly though, these beliefs have slowly disappeared over time and are virtually absent altogether in modern society erasing away our overall sense of humanity.
It is time to resuscitate these practices once again and revisit the basics of humanism and the essentials of life. For in the presence of mass suffering, we are vividly reminded of the emotions that connect us to one another and those that separate us. Hence the reason for people joining together in solidarity aiming and hoping for a similar outcome; in this case, the protection of human life, which will eternally outweigh the desire to protect material belongings, e.g. weapons.
This is not an article of blame, nor is it a conversation leading to more pain or destruction. Think of it as an opportunity to expand our wherewithal by beginning with an internal, personal conversation. One leading to the development of self in a positive direction that will ultimately guide the development of others. By embodying the fundamental values of this ancient practice, we can relearn that which has been forgotten. This does not mean you must adopt a new religion and belief system altogether. It is simply a nudge in the direction of positive change and development starting with ourselves as individuals. The Five Constants and Four Virtues are the essential values needed to become a Hao Ren through the lens of Confucian philosophies. And if we were to instill these values within a modern mindset, we could virtually eradicate the suffering we constantly inflict upon ourselves and others.
The Five Constants are:
The Four Virtues are:
Of course there exist more values than these alone, but these Constants and Virtues are the essence of our humanity. Practice them religiously and your mind and body will transform. Embody them holistically and the people around you will transform. Exhibit them effortlessly and the world we live in will transform, allowing us to achieve an harmonious level of coexistence and that of a Hao Ren. The painful steps taken to achieve progress in difficult times like these are nurtured by nothing other than the quality of our learned beliefs together with our persistent effort towards living the life of a good person. And I pray that by coming together we can, for the sake of the lives that have been lost, discover our potential of becoming good people long enough that we remain as living examples for all the future generations to come.
The anticipated outcome from acupuncture treatment is something that is never guaranteed. In fact, the same is true for every form of medicine, including, and especially, prescription drugs. There are only results that are directly affected by the mind's and the body's openness to receiving the recommended course of action albeit allopathic or alternative. Few can argue, though, the frequent and near-immediate results and consistent efficacy of acupuncture and oriental medicine for those with diagnoses of abstract origins presenting through symptoms of immeasurable bounds.
I can think of two clear and simple examples that fit this description: pain and stress. Although strongly correlated through the progression of disease, the treatment of the former has catalyzed a disastrous and life-threatening epidemic fueled by opioids. Lives have been lost, and many still are being ruined, at the cost of not simply saying "I do not know the cause of your pain and suffering." Humility is the first step in treating these experiential illnesses of the individual, not the collective. Healers must accept the fact that they do not know the origin of one's pain or one's stress. And if, by chance, or by skilled interaction, we arrive closer to the source of suffering, we must at all costs avoid the most cursory of responses, judgment coupled with arrogance. As a health advocate and licensed medical practitioner, I can firmly state that the duty of every healer, doctor, or scholar is not to know the answer to every question of health, the human body, or the human experience. I say experience because these two unfortunate, yet necessary, diagnostic mysteries are exactly that; experiences. And once someone in a healer's position begins to understand and witness the experience of another's pain or stress without distraction by insensitive imperception, then, and only then, can the gate of healing be pushed open.
I also have witnessed acupuncture and oriental medicine having a broader approach to and much longer lasting effect on the transformation of, and occasionally the ending of, one's pain and suffering. Ultimately though, the capability of the practitioner will have the largest impact overall, which could potentially negate my initial comment of how acupuncture and oriental medicine can produce astounding results by simply broadening the perspective that healing is a partnership created via the openness of sharing joined harmoniously with empathic listening. It requires not a specific brand of practitioner, but rather, a unique and compassionate individual with the capacity to listen between the words and look beyond the thick surface of superficial suffering.
You must search for a healer and practitioner whose ears are not clogged and whose eyes are not veiled by the learned behaviors grounded in the need to fix everything.
Almost all pain and stress stems internally and is usually a sure combination of physical manifestations fed upon by emotional disturbances generated by self-made lifestyle patterns. Once the process of categorizing these diagnoses begins, the need for experience ends. Your unique, individual experience is then aligned with another's based on commonalities found in your personal descriptions, which are then confirmed by a professional's analysis of them. At this very moment, the uniqueness of your suffering is ignored, the path to its origin is overlaid, and your living, breathing experience has been slayed by the label of pain and/or stress.
All hope is not lost though. You must search for a healer and practitioner, such as myself, whose ears are not clogged and whose eyes are not veiled by the learned behaviors grounded in the need to fix everything. Instead, I wish to understand your experience. I wish to hear your story of what you and the rest of society call pain or stress. Share with me, if you will, your personal experience and invite me along to learn and explore the landscape of the unique road of health you have been traveling on. I believe your story has purpose and is full of meaning for us both because an experience is a journey that is enjoyed twice as much in the company of another. So, I invite you to allow me to share this journey with you. For I am ready when you are.
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inspirational ideas on healthy living through eastern medicine, optimism, and possibility through empowerment.