Yoga for the New Year

Happy 2014! To start off a healthy new year, Shayan, yoga instructor and acupuncturist, shares some thoughts about ways to incorporate a yoga practice into your routine for this year.

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Welcoming the new year, we often make lists of resolutions, committing ourselves to positive changes. We may resolve to be better people, take better care of ourselves, eat healthier, exercise more, work less, visit more with family and friends, and overall do the things that make life rich and meaningful. While these are all wonderful aspirations, we tend to be grand when we resolve to do something. We think in the big picture and work towards large goals. In the end, however, it is the small, micro-changes that help us evolve. As we change one small thing in our lives, it plants a seed of a healthy habit that we repeat. By repeating it, we reinforce it and it grows until it holds an important place in our lives. Not surprisingly, these seeds are contagious and usually impact other aspects of our lives, creating a rippling effect.

Adding yoga to a regular regimen is an excellent resolution that can positively impact every aspect of our lives. When we practice yoga, we slow down our minds, breathe deeply, and move our bodies with more awareness. As we integrate our mind, breath, and body, a calmness settles over us and our stress responses diminish. Finishing a yoga class, most of us feel refreshed, relaxed, and more alert. This is an excellent place from which to face the challenges of daily life. Renewed from yoga practice, we are more likely to make other positive decisions in our lives, such as improving eating habits and avoiding undue stress.

Yoga gives us an opportunity, even in the midst of a busy week, to carve out moments of peace and quiet, and to recall what it is like to feel at ease. As such, yoga is an excellent habit to cultivate, as it can keep us in a healthier state of mind to create other healthy habits.

Yoga is for everyone. The ability to breathe, move gently with the breath within our own limits, become aware of our mind-body connection is available to all of us. In a hospital setting, yoga has a place in helping patients cope with illness and as a tool for providers to become grounded, centered, and to let go of stress. Yoga reminds us all to slow down, take one breath at a time. That process reinforces within us the understanding and belief that right now, in this very moment, everything is okay. In our busy lives, this message is easy to forget.

At the Center for Integrative Medicine, we currently offer Yoga for Back and Neck Health and Yoga for the Heart. Both classes are gentle and students are encouraged to use props and modifications to find comfort and stability as they practice. We are also in the process of expanding our yoga services to offer more classes to both patients and providers at Good Samaritan.

Make a resolution this year to incorporate yoga into your life, and watch the benefits expand into helping you maintain other positive healthy changes throughout 2014. Happy New Year!

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