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|Yoga Therapy or Yoga Instruction?
YOGA THERAPY OR YOGA INSTRUCTION?
by Luna Jordan, ERYT500, LMT
Often new students ask, “What is the difference between yoga therapy and a general yoga class?” Both offer the opportunity for improving health and well-being, yet there are some important differences.
Regular yoga classes offer general yoga instruction and often have a focus or goal. This goal could be preparing for a particular pose or achieving a desired effect, such as increasing energy or calming stress.
These choices almost always include movement and may also include conscious breathing, chanting, meditation and more. Although some adjustments can be made to the class plan and the yoga practices chosen, the teacher must make choices appropriate to the majority of the students in attendance. In this way, a more general yoga practice is offered to the students without specific choices given to any one student.
Yoga therapy, on the other hand, is very specific to the needs of each student. It is so specific that it can only take place one-on-one with the yoga therapist in a private class. In yoga therapy, the practice of yoga is tailored to the individual to foster optimal health and well-being in their physical, mental and emotional functioning.
Students come to private yoga therapy sessions for many reasons, usually relating to health and well-being. They may be experiencing physical symptoms such as low back pain, insomnia, or COPD. They may also want help with emotional symptoms such as depression, anger or sadness. Sometimes the yoga therapist provides support for someone such as a cancer patient who is undergoing chemotherapy to help them cope with the treatment and the stress of their diagnosis. Yoga students, who normally attend group classes, may also decide to come to a yoga therapist to work on a specific aspect of their yoga practice that is either not being offered in group classes or is not being taught in a way that the student can experience.
In a private yoga therapy session, the yoga therapist assesses many aspects of the student including physical condition, age, career, family history, personal interests and lifestyle looking for other contributors to the initial problem. For example, low back pain is often not simply a problem with the back, but may also stem from sitting for long periods of time at work, or from a lack of tone in the core muscles of the abdomen. All of these aspects of the student contain important information that help the yoga therapist develop a yoga program for the student that can be done at home. In follow-up appointments, the program is changed as the student progresses and their needs change.
To learn more about yoga therapy or yoga classes, please contact me.
Published Jan 24, 2011 - 10:04 PM
|What is Yoga Therapy?
WHAT IS YOGA THERAPY?
by Luna Jordan, ERYT500, LMT
In the United States, most people are not aware of the diversity yoga has to offer. Yoga is often viewed as nothing more than stretching. In actuality, yoga contains a vast body of knowledge for balancing the human system. Within this knowledge are models of the human system showing how the physical body, the breath, the mind, the personality and our emotions are all intertwined. Imbalance or illness in one of these areas may show up in another. Today, this knowledge is often referred to as a “holistic” approach to well-being.
For example, disruption in the breath and heart rate may actually have their roots in anxiety, or our emotions. Similarly, with physical pain such as muscle spasms in the neck, stress patterns and lifestyle may also need to be addressed. When a person experiences illness or imbalance in their system, the aim of yoga therapy is to assist the student with their concerns, keeping in mind the individual as a whole.
Yoga therapy offers many different choices of activities, or practices, to increase both physical and mental health. These activities include movement (postures), breathwork, sound, visualization, meditation and more. The yoga therapist chooses one or more of these activities and designs a program that is both helpful for the student’s needs and can also hold the student’s interest. For the best result, the student practices their program consistently and then returns to the therapist with their observations noting any changes they have observed. With those observations, a modified or completely new yoga program may be offered to help the student meet their next goal.
Let’s look at how a yoga therapist might design a yoga program. A man came to yoga therapy seeking help for high blood pressure. His medication was not lowering his blood pressure enough and his doctor suggested that yoga therapy combined with his medication might help. He worked more than 40 hours per week in a high-stress job. He also had two kids in college and a loving wife at home. He said he ‘never met a meal he didn’t like’ demonstrating a sense of humor while also explaining one of the reasons he was overweight. He had heard that yoga offered more than just poses and said he was hoping to learn more. After the yoga therapist explained the different activities of yoga therapy, he was interested in learning more about the breathwork and meditation. He admitted that he did not have a lot of time to practice, maybe fifteen minutes a day. A program was developed including three postures, calming breathwork, and a three-minute meditation involving focusing his attention on something he found calming—he chose to focus on a calm mountain lake.
Due to the holistic nature of yoga therapy, changes are often seen in areas beyond those of the problem for which the student sought help. This man with high blood pressure experienced not only a lower blood pressure, but also the added benefits of sleeping more soundly at night and reacting more calmly with co-workers. This illustrates how yoga works not only on the immediate complaint, but other related areas creating more balance in the individual and their daily activities.
It’s very important to note that not all yoga practices are appropriate for all concerns and conditions and some may even make a condition worse. It is very important to seek the counsel of a well-trained yoga therapist when practicing yoga to alleviate health concerns.
To learn how yoga therapy can bring a greater sense of balance to your life, please contact me.
Published Jan 24, 2011 - 09:23 PM
PREVENT THE SPREAD VIRUSES, INCLUDING H1N1 VIRUS
Dr. Vinay Goyal is an MBBS,DRM,DNB (Intensivist and Thyroid specialist) with clinical experience of over 20 years. He has worked in institutions like Hinduja Hospital, Bombay Hospital, Saifee Hospital, and Tata Memorial. Presently, he is heading the Nuclear Medicine Department and Thyroid clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and Critical Centre, Malad (W).
He offers the following message regarding the prevention of spreading viruses, including H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu).
The portals of entry for many viruses are the nostrils and mouth/throat. In the case of widespread viruses, it's almost impossible to avoid coming into contact with them in spite of all precautions. Contact with viruses is not so much of a problem as is proliferation.
While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):
1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of the face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).
3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). Viruses take a few days, typically, after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
4. Similar to number 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water . Nasal Irrigation (known as Jala Neti in Ayurveda) using a neti pot is best. If you are unable to use a neti pot, try blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton swabs dipped in warm salt water. These techniques can be very effective in bringing down viral population.
Neti pots and sinus rinse kits are available at the drug store and are relatively inexpensive….under $15.
Luna Jordan would like to add that a drop of oil can be placed in each nostril following nasal irrigation to prevent the nasal membranes from drying out (especially in dry climates). Dr. Vasant Lad says to “Dip the tip of your clean little finger into the appropriate oil and insert into each nostril as deeply as possible.” Make sure your fingernails are trimmed. As long as the sinuses are not overly congested, brahmi oil (which is made from gotu kola or bacopa in a sesame oil base or ghee can be used.)
5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (such as citrus and broccoli). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
6. Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.
Here are a few more suggestions from yoga therapy for the prevention of viruses:
7. Keep warm with warm clothes and warm food, and if possible even the air you breathe should be warm. Viruses do not proliferate as well in heat as they do in cold.
8. Be sure to get plenty of rest.
9. One more suggestion for yoga practitioners in particular, if you practice pranayama (conscious breathing), you should not breathe as deeply, especially if you begin to show any symptoms. Also avoid Bhastrika (Bellows Breath).
STAY HEALTHY THIS WINTER!
Published Oct 22, 2009 - 04:23 PM
|Healthy Hips and Knees
HEALTHY HIPS AND KNEES
By Luna Jordan, ERYT-500, LMT
What causes joint dysfunction?
Imbalanced use of muscles is the major cause of joint dysfunction. The dysfunction may manifest as pain or limitations in movement, or both. If these symptoms are ignored, the dysfunction can result in deterioration of the cartilage in that joint. Joint dysfunction can be further exacerbated in the hips and knees due to the consistent weight-bearing on the legs while standing or walking. Without intervention, the cartilage will eventually become so worn away that the result will be “bone-on-bone” where there is virtually no cartilage left in the joint. At this point, joint movement is usually severely restricted. What movement is left becomes quite painful and joint replacement surgery may become necessary.
The good news is that there are many years between when the joint first becomes dysfunctional and the need for joint replacement. In that time, yoga therapy can be a useful practice in restoring healthy movement and balance to the muscles around the joint preventing a progression of deterioration. Luna Jordan, RYT-500 is a registered yoga therapist and offers individualized instruction to address your specific needs. Click here to contact her today and set-up your appointment.
What is healthy movement?
Healthy movement in the hip is six-fold. There is internal rotation, external rotation, extension (the leg moves behind the torso), flexion (the leg moves forward of the torso), adduction (drawing the leg toward the opposite leg) and abduction (drawing the leg away from the opposite leg). If any of these actions is restricted, it can cause uneven wearing of the cartilage in the hip joint.
Healthy movement in the knee primarily involves flexion, or bending the knee, and extension, or straightening the knee. The knee has minimal ability to rotate internally (10 degrees) and can rotate a bit further externally (30-40 degrees). This helps explain why most often knee injuries happen during internal rotation.
What is balanced use of muscles?
Around the joint, there are muscles whose actions compliment each other. Put simply, one muscle engages while its antagonist stretches and vice versa. If the ability of one muscle to stretch is restricted by tightness, that will restrict the ability of its complimentary muscle to contract and strengthen. The tight muscle will also restrict its own ability to contract and is usually weak, as a result. The agonist and antagonist muscles around the joint lose tone and are unable to provide the necessary support to the joint.
Similarly, if the joint is hyper-mobile, movement comes easily but the surrounding muscles are not encouraged to develop the tone needed to support the joint. Without that support, this extra mobility leaves the joint vulnerable to injury.
Stretching and toning the muscles around a joint will bring more balance in the use of the joint. This balance will help to stabilize and support that joint.
What is the relationship between hip and knee?
In leg movement, the hip and knee must work together for normal activities such as walking and standing. Restriction of movement in one of these joints will invariably cause problems for the other joint.
Restriction in the movement of the hip may cause pain in the knee. The hip’s normal range of internal and external rotation is 35-50 degrees internally and 50 degrees externally in a healthy hip. Remember, the knee can only perform this internal and external rotation minimally. When rotating the entire leg, most of the motion should be coming from the hip so as not to place too much torsion on the knee joint. If the hips are tight and range of motion is restricted, excess movement may be required of the knee and could account for pain felt in the knee joint.
Likewise, restriction of movement in the knee can result in pain in the hip. The knee’s normal range of motion during flexion is 150 degrees and 180 degrees during extension. Although the hip can flex up to 135 degrees, it can only extend 30 degrees in a normal hip. So, compromised movement in the knee can require the hip to extend beyond its normal range of motion and reveal itself as hip pain.
Balanced movement in the hip and knee as well as BETWEEN the hip and knee is the best prevention against deterioration and pain in these joints. Furthermore, mild to moderate deterioration may also be helped by restoring range of motion and balancing the actions of the muscles around the joint.
Yoga and Balance
Yoga is often translated as “union.” Uniting the actions of body, mind and spirit is the foundation of the yoga practice. This union brings balance to our human experience. Most yoga practitioners in the West begin their yoga practice in the physical body—with good reason. Properly applied asana (yoga poses) provide the opportunity to bring balance and restore health to the physical body. So let’s look at how certain yoga poses might be used to restore balance in the hips and knees.
Strengthening the legs is imperative to stabilizing the hip and knee joints. Standing poses are the key to this stabilization:
Samasthiti (Even-Standing Pose), as known as Tadasana (Mountain Pose) is useful for the reasons its name implies—it can teach how to stand evenly on both feet and the actions of the muscles of the leg that this requires.
Lunging Poses such as Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) and Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose) are excellent for increasing range of motion in the hips while also stabilizing the knee. Remember to keep the front leg at a 90 degree angle with the knee directly over the ankle. Placing the knee forward of the ankle can increase stress in the knee joint.
Straight-leg standing poses and Balancing poses can also be beneficial if proper understanding of how to engage the leg muscles to support the hip and knee is present. It is recommended that you work with a knowledgeable yoga therapist when trying to incorporate these poses into your practice if you have hip or knee dysfunction.
Encouraging healthy range of motion will allow for proper movement in the hip and knee to reduce stress on these joints while also allowing the stabilizing muscles to function optimally. Poses which stretch the muscles around the hip and knee can increase mobility and reduce torsion in the opposite joint:
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclined Leg Raises) and its variations will stretch the muscles of the back of the leg and the inner and outer hip.
Anjeyasana (Kneeling Lunge) will provide a deeper stretch of the hip flexor muscles on the kneeling leg and open the external hip rotators on the front leg.
These are just some examples of yoga poses that can bring greater balance to the hips and knees. There are many others which could be beneficial. Contact me to schedule an appointment today.
There is no substitute for working with a knowledgeable yoga therapist. Prevent injury and receive maximum benefit.
Published Jul 16, 2008 - 09:25 AM
|Stabilizing the Sacrum
STABILIZING THE SACRUM
By Luna Jordan, ERYT-500, LMT
Destabilization of the sacroiliac joint (SI joint) can occur when the pelvis and sacrum move in different directions relative to one another. Twisting and forward bending can exacerbate this problem especially in seated positions. When the muscles surrounding the pelvis do not work together to stabilize the sacrum within the pelvis, the result can be strain in the ligaments surrounding the SI joint.
The sacroiliac joint is where the auricular surface of the ilium (pelvis) and the auricular surface of the sacrum join. The ilium and sacrum are held together by many ligaments around the joint. When standing, the two sides of the pelvis move toward one another “locking” the sacrum into place. While seated, on the other hand, the two sides of the pelvis move away from one another leaving the SI joint vulnerable to strain.
Many times SI joint pain is felt over one of the SI joints in an area about the size of a quarter. The cause of this pain is due to the sacrum moving either forward or backward relative to the pelvis. This usually occurs on one side of the sacrum, but the pain felt may actually be on the other side of the sacrum. Pain may also be felt in the hip area, buttock, outer leg or deep in the belly close to the anterior side of the SI joint. Even if you have these common symptoms, it’s a good idea to confirm that you have SI dysfunction with a health care professional, such as a chiropractor or other musculoskeletal expert.
The health of the sacroiliac joint is improved with stabilization around the area. Overstretching the muscles around the SI joint can cause further strain. Becoming aware of the contraction of muscles around the sacrum, and balancing those contractions with each other, will help you achieve more support for the sacrum.
Now to bring your attention to a few muscles which are important in understanding sacroiliac strain:
1. Piriformis is one of six muscles known as the lateral hip rotators. It is the only one of these muscles which attaches to the sacrum. If your knees are higher than your waist when you sit cross-legged on the floor, your hip rotators could be tight.
2. Iliopsoas is actually two muscles, psoas major and iliacus. Their action is flexion at the hip joint, as when bending forward or lifting your leg at the hip joint. Simultaneous tightness and weakness are not uncommon in these muscles.
3. Adductors are the muscles of the inner thigh responsible for drawing the thighs toward one another. They attach to the ilium (pelvis) and contribute to the stability of the pelvis. To feel these muscles engage, place a block in between your thighs while standing and press your thighs into the block.
4. Quadratus Lumborum is one of the muscles of the low back. It’s located toward the outer edge of the back and attaches to the lumbar spine and the iliac crest of the ilium. It contracts when you side-bend your trunk or raise your hip.
When these muscles are working in relative balance, the SI joint is stable. If one of these muscles overpowers the action of another, then stabilization will be lost. This can occur with overdevelopment of a muscle, excessive tightness, laxity, weakness or any combination. An overdeveloped muscle will pull the SI joint toward its contraction while an antagonist muscle which is weaker will not be able to resist the contraction of this overdeveloped muscle. Safely increasing range of motion as well as toning these muscles will help balance movement in the pelvis and may help reduce strain in the sacral region.
Yoga offers many poses from very gentle to strenuous for students seeking to balance the actions of the muscles attaching to the pelvic area. Strengthening in standing poses and backbends are the foundation for stability in the sacrum and low back. During times of acute pain, twisting and forward bending should be limited.
One of the most valuable resources a student brings to their practice is focused attention. This attention can result in increased awareness of the activation of the muscles of the legs, hips, abdominals and back to support and protect the SI joint.
To begin to cultivate awareness of the activation of these muscles, lie down in Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Butterfly Pose).
Notice the stretch in the adductors of the inner thigh while the knees are open. Bringing the knees slowly together as you exhale will increase awareness of the contraction of the adductors. Then inhale and open the knees again.
To increase awareness of the stretch of the piriformis, try lying on your back with both feet on a wall and your legs making a right angle.
Now cross one leg so that the ankle is on the opposite knee. Place your hand on the knee of the crossed leg and gently press that knee away from the torso as you inhale and then release the pressure are you exhale. Repeat a few times and see if you notice a stretch close to the center of your buttock of the crossed leg. (You may notice tightness in the inner thigh of the crossed leg indicating a different imbalance still related to an unstable sacrum.)
Next, stand in Samasthiti (Even-Standing Pose. Without twisting, bend the torso from side to side and see if you can notice quadratus lumborum engage on the side you are bending toward and stretch on the opposite side.
Now, from Samasthiti, lift one leg with the knee bent and bring your awareness into the contraction of your psoas on that side.
Once you can consciously engage and stretch these muscles, they can assist you in keeping the SI joints stable in seated forward bends and twists. In seated poses, it is important to come forward on your sitting bones (engaging the psoas). And in seated twists, allow the pelvis to move in the direction of the twist to prevent strain in the SI joints. Advanced twisting where the pelvis and sacrum are held steady through muscle contraction alone (not allowing the pelvis to move with the twist) is beyond the scope of this article and is NOT recommended without proper instruction by a knowledgeable teacher.
Seated Twists and Forward Bends:
Seated forward bends and twists are not recommended during periods of acute pain in the SI joint.
Let’s try-out some of these actions in the seated pose, Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose). Extend your left leg in front of you and bend the right knee out to the side with its foot pressing into the left thigh. With your torso erect, sit to the forward edge of your sitting bones. This will contract the psoas on your front body and your low back muscles of your back body. Sit on a folded blanket if you cannot bring your torso erect.
Next, press the right foot and left thigh together and feel the adductors of both thighs engage. Exhale as you forward bend over your left leg. Allow the right-side of your pelvis (the bent-leg side) to move forward with this action. Feel the right side of your back (quadratus lumborum) begin to stretch.
If there is any discomfort in either SI joint, stop. It’s likely that the actions of the muscles surrounding the pelvis are still unbalanced. In this case, try the pose without the forward bend and simply twist your torso very gently to the left seeing if you can maintain awareness of the actions mentioned without feeling any strain.
Now let’s try Maricyasana III. From seated, extend your left leg and bend your right knee bringing it toward your chest with the right foot on the mat in-line with its own sit bone. Your right knee should be lined up with its own ankle which will engage the right adductors of the inner thigh. With your torso erect, sit to the forward edge of your sitting bones. Exhale and twist your torso to the right and allow the left leg to inch forward as the pelvis turns with the twist. Keep the right inner thigh engaged and DO NOT use your left arm to pull you deeper into the twist. Using the arms in this way during seated twists creates torque on the SI joint. Instead become more conscious of the deepening effect of your conscious exhale.
Keep in mind, a balanced asana practice (yoga poses) involves addressing the entire musculoskeletal system. This article addresses certain key areas which may help to stabilize the sacrum. However, these are not the only areas of the body which play a role in an unstable sacroiliac joint. Further, during acute pain, working with a knowledgeable yoga therapist along with a health care professional, such as a chiropractor, is well- advised.
Published Apr 27, 2008 - 07:24 PM
Finding Relief with Yoga and Ayurveda
Luna Jordan, ERYT-500, LMT
Medical Understanding of Sinusitis
According Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, the nasal sinuses include any of the paired cavities, designated frontal, sphenoidal, maxillary, and ethmoidal, located in the bones of the face and lined by a mucous membrane continuous with that of the nasal cavity.1
Generally speaking, they are located on either side of the nose before above and below the eye.
Normally, sinuses are filled with air. Sinusitis occurs when the tissues lining the sinuses swell, or become inflamed. The sinuses can become blocked and filled with fluid, creating an environment for germs (bacteria, viruses and fungi) to grow and cause infection.2
There are two basic types of sinusitis:
Acute sinusitis: An inflammation of the sinuses marked by a sudden onset of nasal symptoms such as runny nose, stuffy nose and facial pain that does not go away after 7-10 days. Acute sinusitis usually lasts no longer than four weeks. Acute sinusitis may also include the category of sub acute sinusitis if the symptoms persist from four to eight weeks. 2
Chronic sinusitis: An inflammation of the sinuses lasting eight weeks or longer. If the symptoms of chronic sinusitis recur several times within the course of a year, it may be termed recurrent sinusitis. 2
Conditions which put a person at a higher risk for sinusitis include nasal mucous membrane swelling as occurs during the common cold, blockage of drainage ducts, structural differences that narrow the drainage ducts, and increased risk of infections due to immune deficiencies or taking medications that suppress the immune system.2
Signs and Symptoms
The primary symptoms of acute sinusitis include:
1. Facial pain/pressure
2. Nasal stuffiness
3. Nasal discharge
4. Loss of smell
Additional symptoms may include:
7. Bad breat
9. Dental Pain2
Acute sinusitis may be diagnosed by a medical doctor when two or more of these symptoms are present and/or the patient has a thick, green or yellow nasal discharge.2
The following symptoms lasting for eight weeks or longer may be diagnosed as chronic sinusitis:
1. Facial congestion/fullness
2. A nasal obstruction/blockage
3. Pus in the nasal cavity
5. Nasal discharge/discolored postnasal
Additional symptoms may include:
7. Bad breath
9. Dental Pain2
Ayurvedic Understanding of Sinusitis
Ayurveda sees the root of sinus problems in the digestive system, especially the stomach and upper small intestine, which directly receives partially-digested food from the stomach. In many instances, nasal irritants, immune system disturbances and other sinus symptoms occur due to an underlying digestive problem. 3
This digestive problem is described more specifically as a weakness in the digestive fire. Within the body there are many metabolic processes, or agni, and the one that is of particular concern here is called the jathar agni, or the metabolic processes of the stomach and upper small intestine. The hydrochloric acid and other digestive substances in the stomach, as well as the enzymes fed into the jejunum (upper small intestine) by the pancreas are essential components of digestive capability.3
In Ayurvedic Medicine, diagnosis and classification of imbalances is seen in relation to three transporting systems, or doshas. Pitta is the system which transports metabolic nutrients and the energy of metabolism. When the digestive fire, agni, is inadequate, substances that should be separated and removed from the food accumulate. This material, called ama, is unusable for normal physiological processes. The creation of ama may manifest as an increase in phlegm and contribute to sinus problems.3
The dosha known as kapha is the transporting system for certain fluids (other than blood), collectively called phlegm. In a balanced state, this phlegm, or mucus lining in the body, is protective, lubricating and cleansing. The weakened agni of the digestive system, imbalances kapha and creates an overabundance of fluid.3
The fluid has several potential sites of accumulation. The reason it accumulates in the sinuses for some people (and not others) is because of a disturbance there. Beyond exposure to germs, disturbances could arise due to irritation from nasal allergens, cigarette smoke or other substances. Also, a lack of normal movement of air and mucus due to inadequate exercise may contribute to sinus problems.3
Treatment Using Yoga Therapy
Yoga Therapy utilizes many different modalities of healing. Many options are available to the patient. The remedies offered below are some of the ways Ayurveda and Yoga can be utilized to restore balance to the body and allow for healing. It is not an exhaustive list and other resources should be consulted. When an imbalance in the body occurs, sinusitis or other ailment, the exact cause and treatment of the condition will vary from person to person.
Asana: Standing poses are very useful for helping the sinuses drain and increase circulation. 4 In addition, Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend) and Pascimottanasana (Sitting forward bend) can be done with the head supported on a block or folded blanket.5
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) and Halasana (Plow Pose) are invaluable for unblocking the sinuses. Both poses should be done with two or three blankets underneath the shoulders all the way down to the elbows. Both poses need to be held for minutes to receive full benefit.4 If the patient cannot hold the poses for a few minutes, then either repeat the pose after a rest or support the pose with a chair.5 The inversions act as a natural flushing system for the blocked sinuses. The blood circulates with some force into the congested areas, clearing away secretions to clear passageways for freer breathing.4
Pranayama: Chanting “Om” may help keep sinuses healthy. Jon Lundberg and Eddie Weitzberg from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden discovered that humming can help to ventilate and open the sinuses. They defined humming as “exhaling with sound while the mouth is closed;” they say that chanting “Om” produces the same effect. Chanting and humming both create sound vibrations, which encourage air to move back and forth between your sinuses and nasal passages. 6
Ujjayi breathing with retention on exhalation is recommended by B.K.S. Iyengar in Light on Yoga. 7 It could help reduce Kapha symptoms.
Jala Neti: Using a neti pot, irrigate the sinuses with warm salt water8 or a more aromatic mixture using either eucalyptus, menthol, camphor, lavender, or anise added to the salt water.9
Nasya: When accompanied by facial massage, after two applications of oil to the face, nasya oil can be administered to the sinuses by tilting the patients head back and applying a few drops of medicated oil. A typical medicated oil is calamus and ginger extract in sesame oil. For this method Dr. Vasant Lad says “Dip the clean little finger into the appropriate oil and insert into each nostril as deeply as possible.” 8 Make sure your fingernails are trimmed. For stressful situations, where the sinuses are not overly congested, brahmi oil (which is made from gotu kola or bacopa in a sesame oil base or ghee). 3
Head Massage: Head massage (champi) is considered very important in the Ayurvedic system and it is used to prevent fluid from accumulating in the head. For sinusitis, medicated oil is used. An ayurvedic practitioner should be consulted for this.3
Facial Massage: With chronic sinusitis, if the accumulation of phlegm and disruption of air flow continues, it distorts the entire tissue structure of the face. Narayan or mahanarayan oil can be used to soften obstructions in the dhatus (tissues) which occur with long-term doshic imbalances.3
Diet and Spices: Avoid chilled foods and heavy foods that are classified as having a cold nature. Also minimize phlegm producing foods, such as dairy, gluten, yeast, corn, soy, oils and fatty meats. These foods can aggravate fluid conditions in the head.3 Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eat your most substantial meal of the day at noon when the digestive fire is hottest.10
One quarter teaspoon of Trikatu with a teaspoon of honey, followed by sips of hot water in the morning may relieve symptoms.10
Drink hot water. Fill a thermos as your day begins with hot water and sip an ounce or two every 30 minutes all day, between meals, to loosen and cleanse ama.10
1. The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 2nd Edition Copyright 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
2. Webmd Medical Reference (Webmd.com) provided in collaboration with
The Cleveland Clinic. Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
3. Dharmananda, Subhuti, Phd. An Epidemic of Sinus Disorders, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, OR. www.itmonline.org.
4. Lerner, Dean, Certified Advanced Iyengar instructor. Yoga for Sinusitis, YogaJournal.com, September, 2006.
5. Iyengar, B.K.S., The Path to Holistic Health, Dorling Kindersley, London, 2001, ISBN: 0-7894-7165-5.
6. Bauman, Alisa, Sinusitis Survival, YogaJournal.com, January/February 2003.
7. Iyengar, B.K.S. Light on Yoga, Schoken Books, Inc.; distributed by Pantheon Books, ISBN: 0-8052-1031-8.
8. Lad, Vasant, Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, WI, 1984.
9. Verma, Vinod, Ayurveda: A Way of Life, Samuel Weiser Press, York Beach, ME, 1995.
10. Quistgard-DeVivo, Niika, Nip Allergies in the Bud, YogaJournal.com, March/April 2005.
Published Mar 24, 2008 - 09:40 AM
|General: The principles of Yoga
“It is not that I must conform to the yoga practice, but rather the yoga practice must be tailor-made for me.”
Santa Fe Yoga Therapy recognizes that each student’s needs are individual. With this in mind, class sizes are small and private instruction is also available. Allow Luna to guide you into a practice designed especially for you. Whether you are brand-new to yoga or have been practicing yoga for years, we offer individualized attention to help you move beyond perceived restrictions into a fulfilling practice!
We have created a relaxed, friendly environment to explore yoga and its many benefits. Improve your range of motion, stamina, breath volume, concentration, reduce stress and enjoy better overall health. We offer choices to meet your needs.
Private Instruction and Yoga Therapy:
Whether you are an experienced yoga practitioner or someone new to yoga, private instruction can assist you in meeting your goals. Find help for injuries and other health conditions. Or, if you have an established yoga practice and would like to deepen that practice, let's work together to take that next step.
Whether you are looking for a class that is gentle and restorative, or energizing and strengthening, this studio offers a class for you. Click here to view our schedule.
Back Care Workshop:
Gentle and therapeutic, this is a series of 8 classes offered twice weekly over four weeks to assist those with back pain or those seeking a more gentle sequence of yoga poses. Classes meet on Monday and Wednesday evening from 5:45-7:00.
Call or e-mail to learn more and find out when our next four-week session begins.
Published Feb 25, 2008 - 09:16 PM