Fibromyalgia & Restorative Yoga

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013
Legs Up The Wall
Rest in ‘Legs Up The Wall’ gives relaxation & vibrancy to the body.

Fibromyalgia is an arthritis-related condition characterized by chronic muscle pain and stiffness, aches, soft tissue tenderness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, disordered sleep and more. Because the causes for it are unknown it is referred to as a syndrome rather than a disease. Approximately 11 million people in the U.S. are affected by it. Most are women ages 30 – 50.

If you or someone you know well suffers from fibromyalgia, you are more than likely aware of how debilitating it is. I have seen many women- loved ones and friends, suffer so badly from it that they can barely walk or prepare meals, let alone participate in any kind of joyful activity.

Often physicians or health practitioners will suggest yoga to fibromyalgia patients. Vigorous styles of yoga are obviously out of the question for those in the depths of chronic fatigue and muscle pain. More appropriate is restorative yoga, which is passive, yet vibrant,  and adaptable to any individual including those with special conditions and needs like fibromyalgia.

Restorative yoga poses are supported by props such as bolsters, blocks, straps, blankets, and chairs. They emphasize relaxation of the muscles. The support helps the body let go of deeply held tension. By letting go of that tense energy, the inner body is spacious, more vibrant, and energized. The props also encourage good alignment which facilitates  energy distribution throughout the whole body. By practicing good alignment, posture and balance improve.

Restorative Poses in the chair encourage good alignment and posture for optimal energy flow in the body
Restorative Poses in the chair encourage good alignment and posture for optimal energy flow in the body.

I  work with several students suffering from fibromyalgia. Some days conscious breathing in savasana is all they can do. Other days they have more energy to work in various poses. Across the board, those suffering who have made the practice a consistent part of their wellness regime have had major improvements in the quality of their lives. It is amazing and utterly gratifying to see this kind of healing happen.

Restorative yoga is not only wonderful for those in critical need of relief from the constellation of negative symptoms of chronic pain and fatigue. Everyone needs to recharge their energy batteries regularly.

We are a stressed out nation! What a wonderful world it would be if we all allowed ourselves to rest and restore as regularly as we truly need it.

Rest thee on a yoga bolster today! If you are interested in private or semi-private restorative yoga sessions in your home or mine, please click here to see my offerings.

 

Best Yoga Practice For Weight Loss

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
Legs Up The Wall
Legs Up The Wall

When asked “what is the best yoga to do?” by people who have weight loss goals, my first response is usually Restorative yoga. Considering the scientific fact of the matter that weight loss is brought about by creating a negative calorie balance through decreasing energy intake (eating fewer calories) and increasing energy expenditure (burning calories, i.e. moving and sweating), it seems counter intuitive that to practice rest and stillness would be my answer to the question.

There is almost nothing more frustrating to the overweight person than to be told….”it’s simply a matter of eating less and exercising more”. Well, no shit Sherlock! Thanks for the info. Pardon my angst.

Supported Forward Fold
Supported Forward Fold

My personal experience with being overweight was that I was completely mentally consumed with a negative body image and gripped by food obsession issues. I KNEW what needed to happen, I just couldn’t mentally get there.

Restorative yoga helps to bring calm not just to the body, but to the nervous system and mental state as well. This is integral to changing the behaviors of compulsive and mindless eating that so many of us are prone to.

In the very first yoga class that I ever attended (which is a whole other blog post), when we were led into savasana (the final rest pose, which is a restorative pose) I was able to completely let go. I let go of the grip that I had been unconsciously holding in my belly for Lord knows how long. My shoulders which had also been holding unconscious tension, softened to the floor. And my consistently clenched jaw gave way to its natural supple state. These were no small feats.

Reclined Bound Cobblers Pose
Reclined Bound Cobblers Pose

I had not experienced this kind of peace in my body EVER. I didn’t even know that this kind of clarity and lightness of body existed. Afterwards, when I was alone, I wept.  I knew I was carrying excess weight around, but I had no idea how much stress, and anxiety I was carrying in my body.  I knew I had to release this pain out of my mind, body and Spirit just to live.  Yoga simultaneously illuminated that I needed to release the suffering and gave me tools to do it.

There was literally no turning back.

That is how yoga, and specifically Restorative yoga saved my life.

After my first class, slightly desperate to find that same savasana experience again, I eventually and quite accidentally found an Iyengar Yoga class wholly dedicated to restorative postures. I was a dedicated student of that method for 10 years and still incorporate much of the philosophy into my daily practice and my own teaching style.

Supported Front Body Opener
Supported Front Body Opener

Ever since these early experiences I have been an advocate for the restorative practice for myself and others,  no matter what the health aspirations are.

Restorative yoga (in addition to active yoga practices and cardiovascular workouts) has been a vital component in my wellness regime and healthy weight management for the last 15 years. It is and was THE answer for me.

Please check my Teaching Schedule for Restorative Yoga Offerings. Or contact me if you have any questions or are interested in Private Sessions.

I wish you Peace on your journey to balance and the life you are meant to live.

Love,

Melanie

 

It’s Official. I am Cooper Trained™

Friday, March 1st, 2013
Yoga For Weight Loss Specialist
Yoga For Weight Loss Specialist

Yay! I am now officially a Cooper Trained™ Fitness Professional!

Last night I received my certificate of completion in education and testing in the Weight Management Leadership course from The Cooper Institute. Founded in 1970 by Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, the “Father of Aerobics,” The Cooper Institute, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated globally to preventative medicine and to helping people live longer, healthier lives. The Cooper Institute is an esteemed organization recognized for customized training and courses for health and fitness leaders, including law enforcement, the military, and firefighters, and now, me!

My personal history with successful weight loss (and healthy weight management) through yoga has been a 17 year ‘one day at a time’ journey into a deeper relationship with myself,  my behaviors, and my environment. The completion of this CI training has provided me with even more tools, methods, and vocabulary to help others tackle overweight and obesity and the behaviors and choices that contribute to it.

And just like with yoga, there is not one right way for everybody. Successful weight management – which is a trinity of not gaining weight, losing weight, and keeping lost weight off – is a blending of the three keys in a combination that is unique for each person.

I feel blessed and called to offer client-oriented, customized, one-on-one sessions  that combine yoga with weight loss leadership skills learned at the Cooper Institute.

Super Happy Day!