Yoga You Can Do Anywhere
Yoga is a practice that connects mind, body and breath. The power of yoga to transform health is subtle and deep, and more than about improving strength and flexibility, as suggested by fancy poses on glossy magazine covers. Yoga is a practice of kindness and comfort, a moving meditation.
To begin to understand the power of yoga, start by considering how emotions affect our breath and how breath affects our emotions.
Yoga Breathing to Calm and Energize
There are two parts to the breath:
- The INHALE - which is ENERGIZING
- The EXHALE - which is CALMING
Think of what happens automatically when you hear exciting news. You might gasp, or inhale a breath, (energizing). Now, imagine returning home after a long, hard day and you finally can sit down. Perhaps you release a sigh, an exhalation of breath, (calming).
So, if how you feel affects how you breathe, can how you breathe affect how you feel? YES!
If you’re feeling stressed
- To feel more balanced, you want to CALM
- Action: focus on breathing out, lengthening the EXHALE, and allow your muscles to relax
- Thought: Breathing out, I am calm
If you’re feeling lethargic
- To feel more balanced, you want to ENERGIZE
- Action: focus on the INHALE, imagine you are sending fresh oxygen through your whole body
- Thought: I am breathing in the energy of life
Simple Yoga Pose You Can Do Anywhere
To complement the power of the breath, our yoga poses also have messages for the mind and body. Mountain Pose can be practiced any time - on or off a mat - to bring balance and calm, to center ourselves.
- Stand with your toes pointing forward, hip distance apart.
- Balance on the ball and heel of each foot, lift your toes and let them rest on the floor, balancing on the four corners of the feet.
- Stand with a dignified but not rigid torso, maintain the normal curves of the spine.
- Shoulders are over hips; the hips are over the knees and ankles.
- Draw in your belly just enough to support the lower back and let it lengthen.
- Relax your shoulders down away from your ears.
- Arms are by your sides, hands facing forward or towards your legs.
- Your chin is parallel to the floor, ears over your shoulders.
- Relax the muscles of your face, your jaw.
- Breathe through your nose and imagine your breath entering through your nose, traveling up into your head and down into your chest, opening your chest and down into the earth through your feet, rooting you to the earth.
- Stand with eyes open, gazing at a fixed non-moving point or close your eyes, looking within.
- Keep your breath even and slow, with long exhalations, about the same length as your inhalations.
This pose is one of strength and stability, like the central core of the mountain that is anchored into the earth. Standing in mountain pose when we find ourselves feeling stressed by life, centers the mind and body. Standing in this pose and breathing slowly allows us to respond to each new challenge without anger and with kindness to self and others.
Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!
Johanna Goldfarb, MD, RYT-200 and Paula Brown, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500
Johanna Goldfarb, MD, RYT-200
Yoga Specialist, Faculty of Cleveland Clinic School of Yoga – Center for Integrative Medicine
Johanna Goldfarb, MD, is Professor Emerita at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, a physician in clinical practice for over 40 years, she is now contract staff at the medical school.
She trained as a yoga instructor at the Cleveland Clinic School of Yoga (CCSOY), YA-200, completing training in 2018. Since then, she has taught yoga anatomy at CCSOY. Other yoga experience includes teaching in the community at the JCC in Beachwood and online virtually for a non-profit organization, NCJW Cleveland.
She joined the Wellness Institute in 2021 to teach yoga, to help develop wellness programs and to study the effect of yoga on health and wellbeing. This work is important to her, as she is passionate about wanting to share the benefits of a yoga practice for wellbeing, both for patients and the medical staff.
Paula Brown, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500
Yoga Therapist, Faculty of Cleveland Clinic School of Yoga – Center for Integrative Medicine
Paula is a valued senior member of the Cleveland Clinic Yoga Therapy staff and is one of the founders of the Cleveland Clinic School of Yoga. She is also certified through the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
With a background in psychology and years of research experience in the business world, Paula has a rich and varied background to support her role as a yoga therapist. Her interest in critical thinking and the motivations that drive individual decision-making processes provides her with a unique set of skills to work with patients and caregivers alike. She strongly believes a heart-centered approach in yoga therapy is critical for success.
Paula has had many roles as part of the Cleveland Clinic Yoga Therapy team. She has taught employee wellness and community yoga classes; trained students to become certified yoga teachers; demonstrated yoga as part of overall wellness programs for the community, businesses, and schools; developed protocol for yoga therapy pilot programs for inpatients, and; worked with patients and families in Cleveland Clinic hospitals and medical facilities throughout the Cleveland area.
In addition to utilizing yoga techniques for stress reduction, Paula has an interest in bringing yoga therapy to survivors of trauma/abuse and helping those experiencing anxiety and/or depression to find balance and a sense of peace. She is a firm believer that physical and mental health are inexorably linked. She believes wellness and personal growth through yoga translates into better understanding, connection, and esteem of self which, ultimately, results in a general sense of contentment and overall improved quality of life.
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