February 8, 2012
by Robin
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Being on the Winning Team

I thought this was an interesting article about the winners of most recent Super Bowl, the Giants, doing yoga in their training.  Seems that even big, tough guys benefit from yoga.

Notice how much their teacher, Gwen Lawrence, mentions flexibility.  I love her quote:

“Think of it this way,” Lawrence explained.  “You have a bow and arrow, and the bow string is strong and unbreakable, but if it’s too tight, you can only pull it back an inch and the arrow flops down on the ground.  But when the string is flexible, you can pull it far back, and the arrow has more power.”

She also talks about mental toughness and how the breathing techniques help them deal with game stress.  And taking it one step further, one of the players found relief for asthma through specific breathing techniques.

Ms. Lawrence sums it up well:  “It’s not just an athlete thing.”

Nor is yoga just a workout.  It’s about getting to know yourself.  Can you think of better way to spend your time?

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January 8, 2012
by Robin
1 Comment

Despite the NYT, Yoga Can Help Your Body

Judging from the scope of media attention, it seems that yoga popularity is reaching an apex:  time to bring on the naysayers.

The headline for a recent article in the New York Times screams, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body”.  Yeah.  Subtle.  Not trying to sell papers with sensationalism or anything, are they?

In light of all the miracle claims made in the name of yoga, I suppose it is fair to publish an article that takes the opposite stance.  However, the article points out several serious cases of illness/injury that are vaguely linked to yoga.  Yes, vaguely.  I do not see any hard evidence here, despite the fact that the one veteran yoga teacher interviewed for the article feels his surgery is certainly linked to his aggressive practice of yoga.  I am sure my runner and skier friends know that their bad knees can, in large part, be linked to their activities as well.  Get over it.

Funny, you might think, that, as an avid yogini and yoga teacher, I would point out bad press about yoga.  On the contrary, I welcome it, especially from bastions of the media like the New York Times.  It adds such panache to my favorite topic and opens the door for dialogue, something so lacking in our culture of late.   Let’s talk about yoga and exactly what it can do for you.

Is yoga the magic bullet that will cure all that ails you?  Will it make you into super-flexi-Gumby?  Will your body become a lean machine such that no man/woman can resist you?  Sorry but, no.

What you may find, however, with the proper instruction, is gradually increasing flexibility, potentially heightened immunity, a greater sense of peace and mental wellness and increased strength and toning. But, more importantly, good yoga teaches you about yourself: who you are and why you are here.  And no matter what those revelations turn out to be, they are vastly more important that doing a picture-perfect downward-facing dog.

Mr. Broad’s article addresses a really small part of yoga:  asana.  The intention of asana (yoga poses) is to prepare the body to sit still in meditation.  But here in the West, yoga has become asana, and asana has become a competitive sport.  That has opened up a Pandora’s Box leading down the pathway to potential injury because we Americans want the end results right now.

Herein lies the beauty of Viniyoga, the yoga I teach.  There is no competitive edge.  I show you how to gently open up your body as a pathway to your mind.  I emphasize that you should refrain from pushing yourself physically but rather, ask that you honor and listen to your body, each day, right now.  That’s all.

Take the information in the article with a grain of salt like you would any news item, the all-holy New York Times byline notwithstanding.   Yes, there is questionable yoga out there.  There are questionable doctors, lawyers and journalists out there too.  The final message is learn to trust yourself to know what is good for you.

I would be happy to show you safe, effective yoga.  Please contact me at 804.435.5060 or robin@lillywellness.com.

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November 16, 2011
by Robin
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Nature girl

I take for granted that I can walk out the door, leave it unlocked and go do whatever I need to:  shop, walk, garden or just run around doing the silly things I do.  But when you live in a city, in an apartment, going out is a bit more complicated.

There is the security issue.  You have to lock up.  Like Fort Knox.  And make sure that you leave with the right keys.  Or you’re not getting back in.  Ever.

There is the “got everything?” issue.  Take your wallet, your subway card, your credit card but not too many credit cards.  Cash, but not too much cash.  Got an extra bag in case you need something at the store?  God forbid you would ask for a bag in a store.

There is the household chores issue.  Is tonight garbage night?  Is it recycle night?  Do you have to change your plans in order to get all that stuff onto the street at the right time?

It has taken me 10 days to get used to going out the door without a semi-panicky feeling that I’ve forgotten something.  My biggest fear?  That I’ll forget my iPhone, my connection to the world.  Who would I call if I got lost?  I don’t know.  But at least I could use the Yoga Journal app and find the nearest studio.

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September 21, 2010
by Robin
0 comments

Finding Balance

Well, I have been in New York for a week.  I woke up this morning feeling slightly at odds with the world.  It’s loud here.  Really loud.  Today, I worked in the apartment and the sirens never stopped.  Maybe that has happened every day but I’ve just been so star-struck that I didn’t notice.  It’s Monday and nobody’s really happy on Monday.

In the yoga class I went to today, the tiny teacher started off talking about balance.  “Perfect!”, I thought.  Just what I need today.  To find some balance.  After a rather long-winded speech about finding the balance, seeking the balance, looking for the balance (okay, are we concentrating on balance today??), she turned on the music.  I will admit, I don’t like music in a yoga class.  Ever.  I find it distracting and, more importantly, I can’t hear the teacher.  Seems a little counter intuitive to go take a class and then not be able to hear what’s being said by the teacher’s own actions.  So where’s the balance in that?

We rolled through the poses – nothing unusual – and then ended with shoulder stand.  Afterwards, she gave the direction to go to Fish pose.  During one of the last training I had – with a major nationally recognized teacher – he said not to do this classical follow-up position because it strains your neck.  So I did a reasonable facsimile.  I thought I was off the hook but then she appeared, looming over me with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face.  On breath number five, the rest of the class could let the pose go.  “Not you!”, she chastised me.  So in my head, I hear my other teacher telling me not to do Fish after Shoulder Stand.  Yet here is this tiny woman, looking like she might hurt me if I don’t obey her.  So much for ahimsa or non-violence, a basic tenet of yoga.  So much for balance.

It seems that New Yorkers desperately want to have balance or some kind of normalcy in their lives.  But there is no balance in a city that never sleeps.  And normalcy?  No, New York will never be normal.  Do yoga while the sirens scream, take your children to the park on Sunday and stay in your own little neighborhood.  But there will always be an edge that you wouldn’t find in any other city or town in America.

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