Yoga for Backache

posture is key to alleviate backache

balance posture can help backache

Lower Backache

Many people complain of backache despite no structural issues.  The figure above, for example, as a stick figure, has no lower back problems, and excellent posture, which either means it does lots of yoga or is just an illustration. Whether you have poor biomechanics and posture during the day, sit, stand or drive a lot, or are just very active, accumulated stress and tension can accumulate in the lower back and cause a feeling of dullness and tightness. Some of the muscle groups involved include tight hip flexors, tight hamstrings, inflamed Si joint, mid back rigidity. Note that each person is unique and may need to explore their own back issues, and sometimes a practitioner needs complete rest rather than any type of movement. Yoga is not a magic pill. It is a practice. 

Restorative Yoga for Backache

Some of the key ingredients to a healthy back might include balancing your active yoga practice with:

  • Traction
  • Mobility
  • Stability
  • Flexibility

or a combination of all of these to eliminate the compression. Healthy postural habits must also be learned otherwise the ease you gain will be easily lost when you go back to daily living. Use your yoga practice to learn new skills and tools.

lower backache and pain relief

lower back pain relief

The emotions and backache

Emotional overload and stress can also create discomfort in the lower back, because the mind is in the body! We also need:

What a Restorative Class Can Do 

Restorative yoga involves a series of prop-supported asanas held for prolonged periods. This may facilitate the transition from lower back discomfort to comfort and well-being. Come explore this themed class and reap the benefits!

Breathing and the Art of Relaxation

Rana Waxman yoga

The Modern Yogini in Savasana

Breathing and the Art of Relaxation: The photo itself is full of life and energy. There is a vibrant stillness and you can almost hear the sound of the babbling brook. Your breathing is naturally going to reflect the slower pace that your eyes are taking in. If you live a stressful, city life, the concrete and hustle and bustle, sirens, cars and general noise probably affect your breath tempo and quality in quite the opposite way.

It doesn’t have to be this way if you learn how to consciously relax, how to consciously monitor and pace your breathing. That is what the art of pranayama is about. Using techniques that can effect changes to heart rate, digestion, cellular function. To disengage the mind through your breath can induce a more calm feeling throughout. You certainly will have a harder time clenching your jaw or stiffening your shoulders when you are using relaxed, and conscious breathing. This will signal the nervous system that you are safe, in ‘control’, calm and prepared.

In the restorative yoga class I often teach passive chest openers to soften the restrictions in this area, in the shoulders, and upper back. Tight muscles often reflect in a tight and short breath. There are certainly some easy and fulfilling set ups with props that can do the trick, so if you want to learn, book a private or come to class

breathing for relaxation

breathing for relaxation



Supported Pranayama Practice

Supported Pranayama Practice

Supported Pranayama Practice can be used as an alternative to classical Savasana, and has many benefits, especially when the right props are used

Using props to support the torso in Savasana has many benefits:

  1. Especially with beginner students who tend to fall asleep during relaxation, this variation keeps students more alert than in classical Savasana
  2. Due to the elevation of the torso, it reduces nasal congestion
  3. The props help to support the shoulders and neck as well as open the chest
  4. The strategic placement of yoga props will aid students in feeling the alignment of their back ribs and the different components of breathing
  5. The support will help to roll the tops of the shoulder blades back, whereas many people suffer from the postural imbalances of rounding shoulders and forward head
  6. Improves breath awareness and helps to teach proper breathing patterns
  7. Is a lovely alternative to seated mindfulness, as the student can relax the lower body.

 How to use props in supported pranayama practice

supported reclining pose for pranayama

supported reclining pose for pranayama

In the photo above, please note that we used what we had at hand. In lieu of an eye bag, we used the student’s soft sweatshirt. We also had one yoga mat, 4 of the 3 Minute Eggs and one standard bolster. For my favorite yoga props, click here. You can make substitutions or additions as needed. I will give you the directions for what is pictured.

  1. Position your bolster parallel to the mat with 2 eggs underneath the top end.
  2. Recline over the bolster, keeping the small of your back against the bottom end of your bolster.
  3. Allow your arms to rest, here we used the eggs to alleviate the pull and meet the students needs.
  4. Allow your legs to stretch out , and separate, and relax.
  5. Breathe

mindfulness training

mindfulness training…

Last night I babysat for a three and a half year old, lovely bubbly little girl, full of energy. SO much energy that she was running up and down the halls, climbing on furniture, playing with my neighbour’s dog, etc. She finally cuddled in front of the tv but kept on rolling around. I took my eye off her to look at the older child next to me for a sec, and the cutie patootie had rolled around and ended up bumping her head, ouch it hurts. Woooaah I thought. please no concussions on my watch! so I said hey come snuggle on my lap and watch for a bit. She couldn’t sit still.

There is a certain fascination that little children have with their experiences. They go up to the TV to touch it, thinking it is real. Imagination and exploration are key components of their day and waking life is fun, they go from activity to activity with novelty. And, every moment has the potential for huge joy.

mindfulness training

mindfulness training

Fast forward to the adult mind where the more wandering there is, the more stress, anxiety, drama, sadness. We tend to fall out of love with the present moment and lose a connection with gratitude and our authentic peaceful, wonderful self.  A moment gets lost in phrases like “I have no time” or “there isn’t enough time” and “I don’t have a minute to breathe”.

Well it may be true that you live with time constraints and a full schedule. Sometimes though, we waste our time and energy by making non-nourishing choices. If you want to change those habits moving forward, train yourself..Just momentarily checking in with yourself, with your breath, not your thoughts, is what mindfulness training begins with. If you want a five minute practice, check out my Yoga Mind Cd or just give yourself permission to check in and let go right now with your breath and heartbeat, slowing them down, and giving up the need to evaluate yourself…how do you feel?

Restore Your Calm

Restore Your Calm

PeaceFULL : A Restorative Yoga Workshop to Combat Holiday Stress and Help you Reconnect With Your Calm Centre

Holiday Season is upon us, yet with all the extra festivities, so many people are stressed-out, with huge ‘to-do’ lists and “get-it-done” momentum, leaving them feeling exhausted, pressured and with no ability to recover. As the workload increases, and our social calendars fill, our digestive system becomes overloaded and sluggish, and our nervous system can feel more frazzled than filled with joy.

Restorative yoga is the antidote and will benefit and balance out the more active practices that Yoga offers. This specially themed class is a practice of BEING poses, postures held with strategic placement of props for an extended period of time, where the practitioner can detoxify, replenish and recover from fatigue, overtraining, and anxiety. We will also include breathing practices and deep relaxation to help regulate, repair, and allow your body to naturally release tension, elongate chronically tight musculature, and help you access your inner core of joy and peace, light and love.

Come and celebrate the season by immersing yourself, in this peaceFULL practice that will give you the gift of relaxation and rejuvenation so that you can enter into 2015 with a calm and centered approach. It is appropriate for all levels and all are welcome.

$25 in advance call 201-993-1110

$30 at the door

Sunday, November 23, 5:00 – 7:00 P.M.

Jivamukti Yoga Center Jersey City

restorative yoga for calm

Calm and PeaceFULL

yoga and pain management

yoga and pain management: “A lot of the pain that we are dealing with are really only thoughts” hmmm….

There is a growing body of evidence that yoga can help with chronic pain. Now, if you are actually in pain then hearing that your thoughts are causing it will probably frustrate you. However, you will be among an estimated 50 to 75 million Americans who are living with chronic pain, and to know that your mind is involved, may actually help move you to a better place. This does not mean that your experience of pain is not real, but, what it does involve is that the source of pain is not limited to where you think it starts from or where you are feeling it.

Chronic pain is a complex issue. Fortunately, when you think of it as a mind,body,spirit ‘issue’, then you can treat it from the toolbox of the yoga system, which will include restorative yoga, breathing practices, relaxation, and meditation.

The body basically detects pain through a sensing of incoming threat- which then stimulates and stresses certain nerves in the spinal column and then travels to the brain and becomes a message of suffering/anger/fear/ and other reactions. When pain becomes chronic, our nervous system has been taught already what will trigger pain, and it may be so sensitized and protective that it is like dialing 911 all the time. It can be exhausting on all levels.

There is more to it, but certainly, since our brains can learn, yoga does steer us to train the brain to turn on healing responses – for example, slowing down the exhale, watching thoughts, being poses that offer a chance for the nervous system to recuperate..


Depression and yoga

Depression and yoga, some thoughts today on how to move into a state of possibility…

yoga and depression: an alternative


I am not going to tackle this head on because it is a big subject, rather let you read the following description and see if it is you, or someone you know. Despair or the feeling that there is no hope or possibility is rampant in our culture, and hits people along all socio-economic lines. Doctors consider it biochemical; and there are people who can and do need medication whether long or short term. I have worked with people who want to be strong enough to go off meds, and look to yoga as alternative medicine because it gives you tools to alleviate stress, make different choices, alters brain chemistry in a positive way…and so much more including changing postural habits (like sunken chest), replacing depressive thought patterns with more optimistic ones, accessing your inner peace and strength. This affirmation is a good antidote so word of the day is “possibility”….

For clinical depression, you must have five or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period, most of the day, nearly every day. At least one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty or tearful (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as constant irritability)
  • Significantly reduced interest or feeling no pleasure in all or most activities
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite (in children, failure to gain weight as expected)
  • Insomnia or increased desire to sleep
  • Either restlessness or slowed behavior that can be observed by others
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Trouble making decisions, or trouble thinking or concentrating
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or a suicide attempt


proper breathing

proper breathing: “without proper breathing the yoga postures are nothing more than calisthenics” R. Schaeffer

Asana is a great forum to discover who you are as a breather. You know from past posts of mine that breathing is a vast topic, with many therapeutic uses and applications. I often work with private clients to dive into their breathing persona and uncover the areas that could benefit from specific asana to help them move toward “proper breathing”.

proper breathing

For some, and I think this is what the above quote refers to, the tendency is to hold the breath or use stressed out breathing (short and shallow) while holding a posture, especially in a challenging pose. This creates more stress and tension in the body. In yoga, we want to create a calm and relaxed body, breath and mind through the conscious use of the breath in asana.

In asana, the break is the link between the mind and body, so that as you learn the  coordination of breath and movement, your practice becomes harmonious, and your breath deepens of its own accord, therefore increasing circulation and stimulating metabolism … Also since there is a huge correlation between emotions, thoughts and breathing practices, one can direct the breath to enhance muscle relaxation by concentrating on tense areas of the body and consciously relaxing those parts with each exhalation.


proper breathing

proper breathing

yoga breathing

yoga breathing:

yoga breathing

yoga breathing: try my YOGA MIND cd

“Breathing, the process of taking air into and expelling it from the lungs, is caused by a three-dimensional changing of shape in the thoracic and abdominal cavities” ~ Leslie Kaminoff, Yoga Anatomy

Yoga breathing is three dimensional. Does this sound like you or does your breath feel stuck, shallow, short, or are you not even aware of your breathing at all? I created the YOGA MIND cd with all of you in mind (no pun intended). You are busy, have limited time, you may get to a yoga class but not really get in depth instruction. You want to practice though, and find it easier with guidance. The cd is available for you on ITUNES so that you can put it directly on your ipod or phone. Perfect calming for those moments in the dentist office, before a meeting, after your home yoga practice, or with your significant other.

If you think all breathing practices are the same, click here and stay tuned for my workshops in 2014. You can also take private yoga lessons with me

breathing for well-being

breathing for well-being

It’s pretty obvious if you are breathing, you are alive. The breath animates us. most of the time! This means, that our breathing patterns can either be helpful, distraught, or rather therapeutic. For more on that subject, click HERE and you will find a post on breathing for well-being and balance.

Did you know that the breath is the link between the mind and the emotions? Anxiety is an emotional problem that pretty much hits everyone at some point. For some, it can be more intense than others, from ‘simple’ nervousness to panic attacks. Certainly, if you are anxious about real and imminent danger, this is useful, and your breathing is a powerful thermometer for this.

The advice below, “take it day by day and be grateful for every breath” is a great affirmation. However, I think the first stage is knowing who you are as a breather, undoing any unhelpful tendencies and then re-learning healthy techniques. On my Yoga Mind Cd, you will find a track that teaches, guides you into, the natural and essential breath. Once you can do that, then an affirmation is a positive tool to incorporate.

I have given workshops on the breath so if you want to bring one to your studio or have private yoga lessonscontact me :-)