Can Yoga Save The World?

 

image

Recently I was invited to write for The Limestone Post Magazine, a local online magazine celebrating Bloomington, Indiana and the surrounding area.  As any of my friends can tell you, I am in love with Btown and all it has to offer.  Often taken for granted by life-long residents, and not as well-known outside of the mid-west (unless you follow basketball), Bloomington is a hotbed of intellect, music, art, culture, cuisine and comedy.  To my friends back in Denver who asked why in the world I would move away, I described my town as a little less weird than Boulder, CO and without mountains.  But honestly, without a doubt, this is where the deepest part of my heart resides.  Limestone Post gives me an opportunity to share my thoughts and views on the things I love most and introduces me to other perspectives about this place called home.  Click on the photo above to read my first article.

5 Reasons Your Yoga Teacher Won’t Shut Up About Your Pelvic Floor!

kegel-cartoon
illustration from: womenshealthfoundation.org
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles which create a hammock of sorts connecting to each hip bone, sacrum and coccyx (tail bone).  It serves to support our internal organs and plays a role in the function or dysfunction of our posture, continence, sexual function, fertility and much more.
  1. Improve Your Posture
    Pelvic floor muscles help to stabilize our hips, keeping our pelvis, sacrum and low back in proper alignment.  Learning to both engage and release this important muscle structure as part of a whole body approach can help correct improper alignments and relieve pain.
  2. Reduce Risk of Incontinence or Prolapse
    Many of us have experienced temporary incontinence when we have coughed, sneezed or laughed too hard.  If you have had a baby, you are familiar with an often shocking, although usually temporary loss of pelvic floor control and the resulting incontinence.  Strengthening pelvic floor muscles is often recommended to help prevent or treat incontinence.
    Prolapse, or the dropping of pelvic organs can occur in some women often due to weakened pelvic floor muscles.  While genetic factors can explain some cases, others factors including lack of muscle strength also contribute.
    Should we strengthen or release the pelvic floor?  Kegel exercises are often recommended to strengthen the pelvic muscles can help protect against incontinence and prolapse.  It is worth noting however, having ‘weakness’ in your pelvic muscles can also be the result of too much clenching and tightness.  Learning to lengthen and release these muscles is equally important.
  3. Ground Your Yoga and Meditation Practices
    Practicing Mula Bandha or root lock, the upward lift of the pelvic muscles, when engaged in our yoga practice has the benefit of stabilizing the pelvis and giving us a sense of grounding. Explore Mula Bandha throughout your asana and meditation practices.
  4. Improve Your Sex Life
    Both strengthening and learning to control the pelvic floor has been shown to improve sensation and enjoyment of sexual intercourse for both men and women. In addition, research shows pelvic strengthening can aid in the treatment of ED in men.
  5. Aid Relaxation and Stress Reduction
    When we think of our pelvic floor, we often think about the lack of engagement or strength, however we often unconsciously over-engage and tense our pelvic floor muscles.  This can lead to tension and stress throughout the body and mind, poor posture and even painful intercourse.  In yoga it is believed we hold our stress, tension, emotions, fear and anxiety in the pelvic region or ‘root’ of our body.   Developing an awareness of our pelvic floor muscles through yoga, meditation and exercise can have wonderful benefits in terms of our ability to relax both physically and mentally.

Yoga Ruins Your Life. . .

Puja at Hanuman Festival 2014

I have many teachers.  Teachers who have inspired my practice and life.  Not every one of them knows how they have influenced me or even my name.

Not every teacher has taught me asanas.  Some of my teachers even come in the form of my child or my dog.  But I am touched by each one just the same.

One such teacher is Richard Freeman.  He does not know me by name.  Although there was this one time he did point me out as an example of someone NOT doing what he instructed (so embarrassing – I must have been awe-struck)!

That's me in the light blue at my first Hanuman Festival workshop with Richard Freeman.  Photo by the amazingly talented Jim Campbell
That’s me in the light blue at my first Hanuman Festival workshop with Richard Freeman. Photo by the amazingly talented Jim Campbell.  To see Jim’s work visit OmLightPhotography.

I have been blessed to practice with Richard Freeman over several years at                 Hanuman Festival and respect deeply his teachings and sense of humor.

Below is a beautifully made video by Richard Freeman’s Yoga Workshop in which he eloquently and effortlessly describes how yoga grabs hold and ruins your life.

Yoga Ruins Your Life. . .


One last thing. . . many of us are blessed to have the ability to travel to festivals and study with well known teachers. However many of us can barely afford the price of keeping up with a consistent studio practice, much less leave our jobs, children, and other responsibilities to explore our practice. I have been in both situations in my life. Yoga can and should be accessible to everyone. Remember, Yoga Doesn’t Give A Shit! Many of the most inspiring and most studied teachers are available on services like YogaGlo or MyYoga and you can find local teachers in your area through apps and sites like MindBodyConnect and YogaTrail Keep Practicing!

Are you using the asana just to perform daring feats of balance and strength or are you using it to interface with deeper aspects of yourself? ~ David Keil