Lighten Up | Yoga & Life Coaching Workshop

LIGHTEN UP for Christmas Retreat

Co-hosted by Grace x Strength & She Seeks

20 amazing souls showed up to this God-breathed event. Some for themselves, some to show us support, some for Jesus.  Whatever the motivation behind, we hope that each and every one of our guest walked away with a “lightened up” sprit and renewed heart for the season and new year to come.

Tucked away in the lower north shore suburb of Artarmon, Yoga Pavilion, we felt, was the perfect spot for our mini-retreat.  We divided the group into two sessions and grouped them based on the level of yoga experience that we knew or felt they would prefer. We hoped that each individual walked away with their She Seeks coaching booklet ready to take the world with their 2018 goals and some soulful moments on their mat in their yoga session.

As with all our events, classes and retreats, it is with trust and faith that we believe the day’s events and the people are answered prayers. Prayers from the hosts that:

1.Our hearts are postured humbly to bring Him glory through our passion do what we do.

2. He calls those to show up to show up.

3. He uses our being, our lips, our bodies to be the vessels to bring His message to those who need to hear and to be the heart to those whom He wants to touch.

The event filled our hearts. We are so thankful for the honest feedback, positive and tips for improvement (where there will always be).

Our gratitude goes to our guests who so faithfully stayed with us and practiced “being present”.

We are so pleased to be able to offer 10% of our ticket sales to help Holy Yoga’s Breathe Love Give Campaign, to being trauma-sensitive yoga training to parts of the world that need it. May You All be blessed.

With love and light,

Alyssa, Josephine & Joanne xx

Keeping Warm with Chair Yoga | Wesley Mission

“If I’m still going to yoga classes at 81 years of age, know that it was you Heroes who inspired me.”

Our most dedicated students are not those who can do the headstands and splits. In fact, they’re the ones who show up with a smile every week, even if their arthritis is flaring up, even if it means catching the bus in in 5degrees cold and nursing a frozen shoulder, a bunked knee, a toe injury, a sore back… you name it, we’ve heard it from this community of elderly. 

Teaching yoga and bringing the Gospel to this community of seniors is not about how “good” you can be. It’s learning about grace and courage. To others and to yourself.

To us, this is the richest reward. This warms our heart, mind, soul and body.

Oh how much we love you brave souls and learn from you. 

And of course, thank you always, Wesley Mission for providing us this safe space to serve, to share our stories and to grow. 
Serving in His name ✝️


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Traditional Chinese Medicine for Migraine | Cupping & Acupuncture

I just wanted to share my migraine treatment journey. For those who have been following my blog, you will have no doubt read about my migraine issues and my treatment journey.

For the past 2 years, I have been seeing a neurologist. I’ve been on strong pain relief medication. I’ve also been on migraine preventative medication, which I hated the side effects of and has since stopped. 

I am now trialling a Traditional Chinese Medicinal treatment, which encompasses massage, cupping, acupuncture and Chinese herbs. 

Firstly, there have been some new findings based on the cupping treatment. Interestingly, the findings align with my yoga therapy findings. 

And that is my kidney area or “hormonal function” is malfunctioning. TCM based this off the cupping markings and yoga therapy is based of the fact that my backbends are stuck around the same area. Obviously there are other diagnostic questions that lead to this hypothesis, such as my menstruation cycle, whether I had migraines during my pregnancy etc. 

So the latest is that I should consider seeing an endocrinologist to rule out any hormonal dysfunctions that may be triggering these migraines. 

So far, since starting the TCM treatment, I haven’t had any major migraine attacks. Praise God for finding me some relief through this. At the same time though, it’s as if my body is washing out all the toxins from inside, my immune systems seems to be undergoing some cleansing. I’ve been struck with the flu and feeling a little weak lately. On saying that, I’m pleased with the TCM treatment. It has only been 2 months. I hear that after 6 months, the body should start settling into ‘balanced’ health. 

Here are some progress pics of my cupping!

First time – notice the stagnation (deep red) in the lower back, kidney area. 

Second time – 2 weeks after 1st treatment: improvement 

Third time – 5 weeks after 1st treatment:  significant improvement

Photo source below : CuppingTherapy.org


[UPDATE : I’ve brought my TCM’s recommendation to see an endocrinologist to my Western GP. He isn’t in agreement with it but is happy to put a referral through to a gynaecologist. His basis was that ‘hormonal issues’ is too generic a diagnosis. Everything that controls are body has to do with hormones so he didn’t buy into my TCM’s prognosis. The conclusion? I have an appointment with my neurologist coming up and my GP has asked me to get a second opinion from him. After all, my GP says, “THEY are the migraine specialists!”  Let’s see… ]

[SECOND UPDATE : And after seeing my neurologist and bringing to him my TCM’s findings, he was grateful that I was seeing a practitioner who had genuine interest in the root cause and lateral thinking. At the same time, the suggestion of migraine being a “hormonal” and hence treating this dysfunction with “hormone” therapy is not new. It is also well-documented. Research suggests that hormone therapy yields the same results in the long run. I.e. No long term cure. There have been extensive studies carried out in this area. Essentially, my neurologist was not in agreement with going down this angle. However, he was very pleased to hear that my body seems to be in agreement with the acupuncture. Now, that [sic acupuncture], has seen a lot of proven success for migraine sufferers and I’m glad you are one of them. Keep that going and hopefully, it will provide good relief for a couple of years until the body gets used to it (and migraines return again, as can happen sometimes). And we can assess then. I guess by then, I might be more comfortable with finally trying the Botox treatment that was originally recommended. 

That’s it, folks! I hope this gave you some well-rounded information or at least, you may relate to this!] 

Yoga for Asthma | Yoga Therapy

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Image: The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne – www.rch.org.au

I’m not asthmatic but this topic interests me because my elder son is.  My son loves his cardio and team sports.  He plays tennis. He’s an avid soccer player and swims.  He also loves to dance and practices Karate, too.  It’s heartbreaking to see his performance being limited by his asthma, especially in his younger years.  He is now 7 and the asthmas seems to have progressively improved but during the winter months, especially during his sleep, the coughing spells occasionally makes their way back.  Yoga isn’t something that my son likes to do at this point in his life but I’m certainly hoping to help his asthma by encouraging him to do 10-15 minutes of a tailored program like this in the coming season, especially as we enter into winter.  I hope this piece is interesting and helpful to you.  Feel free to leave me comments.

SPECIFIC ISSUE

Asthma is a chronic lung dysfunction where the sufferer will experience difficulty in breathing resulting from the airways narrowing and swelling/inflammed, with more mucus.  People with asthma experience periods of ‘flare-ups’, which  brings on symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, difficulty in breathing and chest tightness.
There are various triggers for asthma flare-ups that range from slow development to the more acute, sudden onset of an asthma attack. The lung likes warm, moist and clean air so when one of these 3 components are disturbed is commonly when it triggers an asthma attack, such as cold air, exposure to allergen in the air (tobacco, pets, dust).  Things that put pressure on the respiratory system can also trigger an attack, such as a cold or even exercise.

Research is inconclusive of the exact causes of asthma but shows family history, eczema, hay fever sufferers and babies exposed to tobacco smoke have a higher risk of developing or having asthma.

THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR THIS ISSUE (SYMPTOM CONTROL)

There are various pieces of research carried out on the benefits of yoga, with some showing beneficial and others being inclusive.  One 8-week study of 57 adult asthmatics revealed that those who did yoga showed a significant improvement in lung function and reduction in asthma symptoms than those who did not do yoga in the control group^.  However, another recent study published by Annals of Allergy* http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(14)00198-7/abstract concludes that yoga can only be considered ‘ancillary intervention’ or alternative therapy and not ‘routine intervention’.  More importantly,  yoga was not associated with adverse effects.
Both studies, though, are congruent to GxS Yoga Therapy’s principles in that it is not ‘medical invention’ but a complementary program with the aim of relieving symptoms.

For the purposes of this project, we look into yoga therapy as a form of gentle exercise for asthmatics in light of the fact that more strenuous physical activity may bring on asthma attacks.  Breath work techniques can help asthma sufferers learn to cope with episodes of attack.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

1. When having respiratory system inflammations of any sort, e.g. bronchitis, cold, pneumonia, nasal congestion
2. Avoid poses which require ‘flexion’ of the torso and ‘closing in’ of the chest such as Boat pose, Head to Knee, Plow Pose and Seated Forward Fold.

3. Avoid long, deep breathing or ‘ujayi’ breath if new to yoga and at the beginning of the practise.  Let the body ease into deep breathing if comfortable.

15-30 MINUTE FLOW

In all poses, try to breathe in AND OUT through the nose to retain heat in the body.  By doing so, it promotes correct diaphragm behaviour and persisting can often clear a chronic blocked nose.
1. Easy Seated -> Relaxed and even belly breathing (2 minutes)
2. Butterfly Pose -> Relaxed and even belly breathing for (2 minutes)
3. Seated Twist
4. Staff Pose
5. Sage Pose
6. Bridge Pose/Fish Pose
7. Knees to chest
8. Bow Pose/Cobra Pose
9. Extended Childs Pose
10. Downward Dog
11. Hero Pose

12. Corpse pose

SOURCES & RESEARCH

  1. ^http://www.everydayhealth.com/asthma-pictures/great-yoga-poses-for-asthma-relief.aspx
  2. http://www.artofliving.org/yoga/health-and-wellness/Overpowering-asthma-with-yoga
  3. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/asthma-answers/
  4. http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/top-8-yoga-asanas-to-beat-asthma/
  5. http://www.medicaldaily.com/yoga-doesnt-help-asthma-sufferers-control-their-breathing-any-better-other-breathing-exercises
  6. https://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/national/about-asthma/what-is-asthma
  7. http://www.aihw.gov.au/asthma/what-is-asthma/
  8. http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/contraindications-modifications/asthma-contraindications-modifications/
  9. *http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(14)00198-7/abstract

*Disclaimer:
These suggestions offered in the Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine yoga classes or therapy programs on www.lovejosephine.com are not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional.The suggestions and educational resource offered by Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine on www.lovejosephine.com are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment. Neither the therapy programs nor yoga classes are designed nor recommended to replace medical treatment.

The resources offered here are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient.

Yoga for Urinary Incontinence | Yoga Therapy

The reason I chose to cover this issue is precisely because I am no stranger to this.  I know how it feels and how embarrassing it is, especially when it prevents
SPECIFIC ISSUE
Urinary Incontinence
Urinary-incontinence
Urinary Incontinence (UI) is the loss of bladder control, resulting in urine leakage or heightened frequency in urge to urinate. There are 4 types of UI:
  1. Urge incontinence – small leakage triggering a sudden urge to urinate
  2. Stress incontinence –  small amounts of urine with exertion, e.g. exercise, sneezing, coughing
  3. Overflow incontinence – leakage because bladder does not empty well or blockage of the urethra
    1. Functional incontinence – leakage resulting from medication/physical disability or memory problem,  making it difficult to reach a bathroom
The following yoga therapy program focusses on ‘Stress Urinary Incontinence’.
Most commonly affecting post-birth women, the main causes of SUI are:
  1. Poor alignment
  2. Weak Transversus Abdominis muscles
  3. Childbirth/Episiotomies
  4. Overweight
  5. Chronic constipation /bearing down and straining pelvic floor muscles
  6. Age
  7. Vitamin C deficiency

THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR THIS ISSUE (SYMPTOM CONTROL)
For this particular project, the tailored yoga therapy program is not the typical yoga poses/flow series. Applying a yoga therapists knowledge of the human anatomy, this program is designed to help improve the symptoms of stress incontinence by focussing on bringing the body back into alignment and strengthening pelvic floor muscles.
GxS Yoga Therapy combines mind, body and spirit aspects to develop a healthy recipe for UI, including:
  1. training the mind  to minimise the ‘just in case’ mentality
  2. exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and bringing whole body alignment (which brings organs and systems into alignment)
  3. relieving emotional baggage, finding courage and healing of UI through spiritual growth

CONTRAINDICATIONS
1. Hypertonic -> if overly tight pelvic floor muscles. avoid Kegel exercises
2. Post-natal, especially after an episiotomy or perineal tear -> seek clearance from obstetrician on whether you can can exercise (beyond the pelvic floor exercises).
3. Urinary Tract Infection -> whilst finding alignment and yoga can help prevent UTI, it does not cure the infection or inflammation.  Get clearance from medical practitioner before engaging in this type of program during a UTI infection.

4. Functional Incontinence -> this tailored program focusses on those suffering from stress urinary incontinence and may not see any particular benefit for those suffering from incontinence resulting from medication or health issues.

15-30 MINUTE FLOW

1. Modified Cat/Cow
2. Modified Childs Pose
3. Easy seated and abdominal breathing [5 breaths]
3. Differentiated Pelvic Floor Exercise (Start with holding for 8 seconds and build up to 20 seconds over the course of practice)
     a. Engage muscles as if holding in urine (muscles around urethra)
     b. [For women] Squeeze vaginal wall muscles as if sucking from straw
     c. Squeeze anus as if preventing bowel movement
4. Chair pose, hold of 3 breaths [Repeat 2 sets]
5. Yogi Squat/Garland pose -> don’t tuck tail bone [5 breaths]
6. Lying on back,  bent leg lifts (Lift one leg at a time, not both) [Repeat 5 sets]

7. Corpse pose -> Meditation on ‘release’ and ‘God’s love for you just as your are’

SOURCES & RESEARCH

  1. http://www.continence.org.au/pages/what-is-incontinence.html
  2. https://nutritiousmovement.com/utis/
  3. http://www.yogamag.net/archives/1980/joct80/urodis.shtml
  4. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/incontinence-and-continence-problems
*Disclaimer:
These suggestions offered in the Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine yoga classes or therapy programs on www.lovejosephine.com are not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional. The suggestions and educational resource offered by Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine on www.lovejosephine.com are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment. Neither the therapy programs nor yoga classes are designed nor recommended to replace medical treatment.

The resources offered here are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient.

Yoga for Diastasis Recti | Yoga Therapy

As I start to cover all these yoga therapy topics and programs on my blog, I’ve realised I’m uncovering quite a few issues that I face in my body!  I’ve never realised that there were so many issues, if I had to break them down, that I am working through, too.  And more importantly, that I am finding resolve with yoga therapy.  You’ll find in my social media posts that I love my back-bends and boats and planking.  Behind the scenes, I often struggle with ‘stopping’ the practice of backbends to allow for the recovery of my diastasis recti.  Whilst I can’t say I have a complete recovery (closed gap), yoga therapy has certainly helped me bring awareness of my need to ‘strive’.  Take this for example..I know that I need to rest and stop the back-bends to help with my DR.  At the same time, as soon as I feel like the gap is closing a little, I’m in my wheel pose.  And I wonder why I don’t have that strong core I want for my handstands…..All part of the learning.  I totally do not recommend doing what I’m doing.  At the same time, if you’re anything like me, give me a high five.  I know how you feel.
SPECIFIC ISSUE
Diastasis Recti
Diastasic Recti is the thinning of the tissue, linea alba, that connects the two rectus abdominis muscles in the core of the body.  More commonly known as the ‘separation’ or ‘gap’ (typically diagnosed with a gap of around 2.7cm or more) between the abs, occurring more frequently in women who have been through pregnancy although men and babies can also have this.
diastasis_V2_watermark
Diastasis Recti 2

Photo source: http://www.belliesinc.com/mummy-tummy-2/

THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR THIS ISSUE (SYMPTOM CONTROL)

For this particular project, there are a number of commonly taught yoga poses that should be avoided to avoid worsening Diastasis Recti (DR).   For the purposes of this project, it isn’t so much about how yoga is beneficial to DR because there exercises discussed in this project are not typical yoga poses.  More importantly, it is the understanding  of the biomechanics of the body that will help us realise which yoga poses or body movements to refrain from doing.
Modern research shows that exercises that activate the transversus abdominis (TVA) muscles is of most benefit to ‘closing of the gap’.  However, in more severe cases of DR, medical practitioners may advise surgery to prevent or treat other more serious forms of dysfunctions resulting from the DR, such as hernia.  When translating this into a yoga therapy program, it would consist of deep breathing with targeted TVA-focussed exercise while drawing awareness to the navel and body’s midline.
Yoga poses to avoid are the ones which stretches of places stress on the rectus abdominis muscles.  Generally speaking, they are poses that require:
  1. back-bending which stretches the midline, e.g. bow, cobra, up dog, camel, wheel and bridge
  2. the head and shoulders lifted off the ground in a back lying position which prevents engagement of the TVA and with increased intensity, causes the belly to protrude, e.g. boat pose
  3. being on all fours with the navel and knees lifted off the ground, which causes the organs to press down into weak abdominal muscles and slows down healing, e.g. downward dog, plank pose, and bear pose
  4. rotating and forward/laterally stretching the upper body and having the arms extended away from midline, which makes it impossible to engage the TVA, e.g. revolved side angle, triangle, low-lunge, half-moon.

CONTRAINDICATIONS
1. Cat pose is one that requires modification to reap benefits for DR and should be carried out with the assistance of a yoga therapist.
2. Lifting and carrying heavy objects is not advisable and applies to yoga with weights.

3. Some practitioners may advise on avoiding abdominal breathing but for the purposes of this project, it is recommended to partake in this breathing technique on the basis that the benefits outweigh the detriments (if any at all).

15-30 MINUTE FLOW

1. Abdominal breathing with each hand placed on respective side of abdominal muscles. Feel the navel expand on an inhale.  Exhale and bring belly button in towards spine on exhale. [Repeat 5 times, drawing awareness to the navel]
2. Seated lateral shifts – In easy seated position, have sitting bones rooted into the ground. Place each hand on respective side of abdominal muscles.  Keeping shoulders and ribcage square and level, shift the upper body laterally to the left on an exhale at the same time pulling belly button into spine.  Inhale and bring upper body back to centre (neutral).  Repeat on the right.  [Repeat for 5 sets]
3. Chair pose – observing spinal alignment and don’t tuck tailbone. Hold for 3 sets of breath and rest.  [Repeat for 3 sets]

4. Belly button pulsing – On inhalation, expand the belly.  Exhale and draw belly button in toward the spine, and then pulse the belly button into spine 5 times.  Rest for 1 belly breath. [Repeat for 3 sets]

SOURCES & RESEARCH

  1. http://breakingmuscle.com/womens-fitness/12-weeks-of-workouts-to-rebuild-after-diastasis-recti
  2. https://fit2b.us/how-to-check-for-diastasis-hd/
  3. http://happyyoganewcastle.com/yoga-for-diastasis-recti-split-abs/
  4. http://www.anadavis.com/ana-davis-blog/entry/postnatal-yoga-and-diastasis-recti
  5. http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/abdominal-separation-diastasis-recti
  6. http://www.befitmom.com/diastasis-recti.php
  7. http://www.mamanurture.ca/diastasis-recti-yoga-for-abdominal-separation/
  8. https://fit2b.us/how-to-check-for-diastasis-hd/
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diastasis_recti
  10. http://inspiredrd.com/2013/11/5-exercises-to-heal-diastasis/
*Disclaimer:
These suggestions offered in the Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine yoga classes or therapy programs on www.lovejosephine.com are not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional. The suggestions and educational resource offered by Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine on www.lovejosephine.com are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment. Neither the therapy programs nor yoga classes are designed nor recommended to replace medical treatment. 

The resources offered here are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient.

Right & Wrong Yoga Poses Series

What started off as an Instagram Challenge to ‘Spring clean’ our yoga poses became a sensation for myself and my Instagram account followers. I think this series was awesome because it’s not just posting up Instragram photos of challenging or contortionist poses (not that I can get into many!) but it encourages ‘learning’ for everyone. For myself and for my students.

I received some great feedback on the benefits of doing a ‘right’ versus ‘wrong’ side by side comparison of yoga poses. Some even requested it for specific poses. With the wide-gained interest, I’m considering making this a regular thing for those who enjoy my content.

Also important to this challenge is the very fact that I learnt so much about my posture and my chronic holding patterns. It came about from looking at the photos I took of myself and making minor adjustments to start feeling the smallest of muscles again. Something that brought memories to my first yoga classes. When I stretched or worked muscles that I didn’t even realise exist!

It was definitely a spring clean for me as I found out that we can be lazy with our basic yoga poses over time.

I have decided to post them all here. I hope you love them as I much as I did.

Please note that the ‘wrong’ poses are not necessarily what everyone does. They are also quite exaggerated. In reality, the notable concerns are far more subtle. I’ve just highlighted concern areas where I’ve observed my students commonly held.

The ‘right’ poses may also differ from other ‘correct’ yoga poses you may see online or have been taught by other teachers. Yoga is as much an art as it is science. So whilst, the fundamentals are similar across different yoga philosophies and practices, it IS really a set of techniques passed on from teacher to student.

In my ‘right’ poses, I merely highlight areas to focus on getting alignment because ALIGNMENT is the foundational principle that I subscribe to in my yoga practice and teaching – whether physical, emotional and spiritual!

Please feel free to leave me your comments or requests!




Bone Matters | Wesley Mission School for Seniors

It was my honour and pleasure to be holding this holiday workshop for the students at Wesley Mission’s School for Seniors.  My heart was so full after today’s workshop as I saw happy souls walk away with courage and confidence in themselves both inside and out! Well done to all the speakers today and also the seniors for showing up! 

It’s a common misunderstanding that bones are like ‘dead matter’. That time is your bones’ worst enemy and that there is NOTHING you can do about it. 

Well, that’s NOT entirely true. In fact, bones are ALIVE and far more than the common misbelief. If they are alive, it means they need care! 

Bones are organs and continue to rebuild until you die. It’s just that their growth slows down as you age. As you age, bones do lose their strength (also measured as Bone Mass Density), which is why older people are more prone to breaking their bones. And even more frequent in female than in males. However, with dedicated care, you can prevent rapid loss of bone mass and even make changes to your (perhap, rigid) posture. Age is no limitation! 

For this workshop today, my audience was senior people all over 55+. The goal of the session was to help them understand that we are not ‘withering’ away with brittle bones. In contrary, the goal is to help them learn how about bone density, techniques to increase bone mass (particularly using yoga) and how correct postural alignment can be achieved over time. 

I’m not going to share the presentation on this blog post but for those who are interested, send me an email for further information. 

Some key takeaways from the session:

1. There are 206 bones in a fully grown adult body, representing 15-20% of body weight. 

2. Our body is continuously removing OLD bone and replacing it with NEW bone through a process called ‘remodelling’, all throughout our lives. 

3. Starting as early as 40 years old, the replacement of new bone becomes SLOWER than the removing. This is when bone mass density (BMD) starts decreasing. 

4. BMD is the highest between 20-45 years old with men having both larger and stronger bones than women. 

5. Women experience more rapid drop in BMD during their menopause years due to hormonal changes that stagnates the the speed of bone remodelling. 

4. Increasing BMD is important all throughout our lives through a healthy diet and exercise.

5. Yoga is a great way to increase bone density for the senior population due to its gentle and weight-bearing nature of the physical activities. ^However, please note that common ageing osteo or rheumatoid dysfunctions can have implications on the types of yoga poses one should avoid or practise. It’s is highly recommended that you work with a trained yoga therapies for a tailored yoga program and get clearance from a certified medical practitioner. 

6.  The recommended calcium intake for women over 45 is 1200mg and for men over 45 is 1000mg. Vitamin D is 1000ug for both groups. A common practise is to “increase” the calcium through taking calcium oral supplements. In a healthy diet for this population should see enough of calcium intake. So, it’s best to check with your doctor (drawing bloods) to see whether supplementation is required. Meanwhile Vitamin D may be the more prominent mineral that is lacking to help with bone growth, seeing the need for supplement intake.

7. Last but not least, we spent much time discussing the important of our anatomical alignment. How our muscles will naturally recruit the correct ones and find balance when we are able to bring ourselves closer to alignment. For most people, perfect alignment is not possible. In fact, I personally believe we all suffer from some sort of chronic holding pattern. But being constantly aware of anatomical alignment properties helps us identify chronic issues we may be experiencing and alleviating symptoms of them. 

8. Final note, we can trust that the bones will dry but the spirit never does. Therefore, remember always:

“A joyful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ” ~ Proverbs 17:22

Resources:

Yoga for Fibromyalgia | Yoga Therapy

I don’t know anyone who suffers from Fibromyalgia but I know this disorder well through research.  There was a stage in life when I was in deep depression and I researched on nights on end on my symptoms associated with depression.  Many of those symptoms pointed towards either Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.   I was so convinced that I was suffering from either from my constant physical pains and ailments that I almost did not believe my doctor’s diagnosis that I was simply suffering from depression and its manifestation into physical ailments.   So, whilst I’m no sufferer, I’ve got a glimpse of what it could look like.  Whilst there’s no cure, I’m hopeful that this piece here can help! Leave me a comment with your feedback.

SPECIFIC ISSUE
Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgia-symptom-graphicAffecting about 2-5% of the population; mostly women and tends to develop during middle adulthood, fibromyalgia sufferers experience heightened pain sensations together with some or more symptoms such as chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain, muscle stiffness, fatigue, disturbed sleep and impaired neurocognitive abilities.   The disorder is diagnosed with a series of tests.  A common diagnostic tool used for fibromyalgia is the 18 point test – a check on certain points of the body for pain [11/18 usually signifies the need for further pathological tests such as X’rays or blood tests].  Causes of fibromyalgia are not clear but physical trauma or significant psychological stresses (depression, anxiety) or genetics can all be contributing factors that lead to the body’s ‘change’ in processing ‘pain’ from the spinal cord to the brain.  Researchers believe it to be a result of an abnormal increase in the pain-signalling neurotransmitters together with the brain’s pain receptors developing a memory to the pain threshold and overreacting).

THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR THIS ISSUE (SYMPTOM CONTROL)
There is no cure for fibromyalgia but treatment can provide symptom relief.  Yoga is helpful for fibromyalgia sufferers to help with pain management, relieve muscle stiffness, manage stress and regulate sleep.

  1. Stress aggravates the symptoms of fibromyalgia.  The deep breathing and breath work techniques in yoga calms the mind and allows the body to learn how to cope with anxiety and stress.
  2. Deep breathing also helps with pain management.
  3. The meditation and mindfulness practices can help with impaired concentration or the ‘fibre fog’.
  4. The yoga poses/exercises can help stretch out the muscles and alleviate muscle stiffness, also helping with regulating the sleep.
  5. Lastly, Holy Yoga is much more than just the yoga.  Seeking God and His grace is an important part to receiving healing from Him.  So, prayer and meditation on the Scriptures play a critical role in Holy Yoga’s therapy program to deliver peace and healing.
CONTRAINDICATIONS
  1. If professional medical practitioner has advised against yoga.
  2. If there are any sharp pains while doing yoga poses, stop immediately.  Consult your yoga therapist to ensure the poses have been carried out correctly and if the sharp pain persists every time you get into a pose, stop and seek medical practitioner’s advice.
15-30 MINUTE FLOW
1. Easy seated (Somatic Method -> Listen to your breath, Watch your belly rise and fall, Lengthen and deepen breaths)
2. Neck rolls
3. Lateral neck stretches
4. Seated spinal twist
5. Cow face pose but with Eagle arms
6. Seated Bound Angle/Butterfly pose
7. Extended Childs Pose
8. Son Salutation with Open Side Angle and Triangle Pose
9. Lying on back -> Knees to Chest
10. Happy Baby
10. Reclined pigeon
11. Corpse Pose -> Final Resting Position

SOURCES & RESEARCH

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibromyalgia#Exercise
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/definition/con-20019243
  3. http://www.arthritisvic.org.au/Conditions-and-Symptoms/Fibromyalgia
  4. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/pain-reliever/http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19632546
  5. http://www.wikihow.com/Heal-Fibromyalgia-Naturally
  6. http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2013/october/fibromylagia/
  7. http://www.doyouyoga.com/8-yoga-poses-for-fibromyalgia/
  8. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-art-of-surrender-yoga-fibromyalgia
  9. http://www.fibromyalgiahope.com/fibromyalgia-and-yoga.html

*Disclaimer:

These suggestions offered in the Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine yoga classes or therapy programs on www.lovejosephine.com are not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional. The suggestions and educational resource offered by Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine on www.lovejosephine.com are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment. Neither the therapy programs nor yoga classes are designed nor recommended to replace medical treatment.

The resources offered here are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient.

Yoga for Menopause | Yoga Therapy

Every week, I teach a seniors class and have a class full of mostly women well into or past their menopausal years.  Whilst there are still years away for me, it’s an extremely interesting and topical subject for me as a yoga therapist surrounded by senior women students and interacting daily with my mother who is currently experiencing symptoms.  I hope this is somewhat insightful to you, whether it’s you or a family member going through the unpleasant symptoms of menopause.

SPECIFIC ISSUE

Menopause
 menopause-depression-stress
Up to 70% of women experience menopausal symptoms during menopause which can last up to 10 years; although there are outliers which may extend beyond this duration.  Menopause can start as early as 40 years but most commonly experience in mid 40’s or 50’s – with the most commonly sighted average being 51 years.
Menopause occurs because of the sharp decrease of estradiol and progesterone production by the ovaries.   The rapid decrease in circulating estradiol levels at menopause impacts many tissues, from brain to skin.  Whether directly related to the lowered levels of oestrogen or not (contradicting research results), many women claim to experience hot flushes and other common symptoms such as:
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches, dizziness
  • Lower sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin, itchy skin
  • Weight gain
  • Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
  • Mild loss of bladder control, frequent urinary urgency, incontinence
  • Disturbed sleeping, night sweats
  • Psychological symptoms e.g. depression, anxiety, inability to concentrate, mood swings, loss of self-esteem
THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR THIS ISSUE (SYMPTOM CONTROL)
In one study, yoga cut hot flashes by 31% and other research has found that regular yoga practise improved libido, mood   and craving control. [1]
Many menopausal women agree that heat, anxiety, stress and fatigue often bring on or intensify hot flushes.  Gentle yoga poses and practising mindfulness meditation can help sedate the sympathetic nervous system, in turn, allowing the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to take over.  The PNS slows the heart rate and brings the body’s systems back into balance.
Gentle inversion poses can sometimes help with insomnia to alleviate anxiety.  When done with restorative poses, the body can feel at rest.
Heart/Chest opening poses, such as Bridge pose or Supported Reclined Bound Angle, can help with lifting the spirit and opening up the emotional blockages such as depression and mood swings, with the overall effect of rejuvenation and fighting off fatigue.
Root lock (Mula Bandha) helps regain the control of the urinary urgency and frequencies.  Even just the bringing awareness to muscle groups and help manage the symptoms.
The breath work and meditation, particularly in Holy Yoga’s biblical intentions, will help with concentration and centering the mind’s focus,  lifting the ‘fogginess’ often experienced in hormonal fluctuations.

Biblical meditations on what The Word has to say about dealing with each of the menopausal symptoms is the most powerful tools in managing menopause.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

  1. If professional medical practitioner has advised against yoga.
  2. If there are any sharp pains while doing yoga poses, stop immediately.  Consult your yoga therapist to ensure the poses have been carried out correctly and if the sharp pain persists every time you get into a pose, stop and seek medical practitioner’s advice.
  3. If suffering from degenerative bone dysfunctions, such as osteoporosis and/or osteoarthritis, or spinal dysfunctions, such as kyphosis or lordosis, ensure there is physician’s clearance before doing yoga.  Pay kind attention to reclining poses and let yoga instructor know of  any known pains.
  4. If there are any blood pressure issues, take care in getting into poses wear the head is positioned below the heart vertically, e.g. forward fold and downward dog
15-30 MINUTE FLOW
1. Easy seated (10 sets of breaths relaxed, 3 sets of breath in Mula Bandha)
2. Mountain
3. Forward fold
4. Mountain with cactus arms -> Mini back bend
5. Childs Pose
6. Downward Facing Dog
7. Bridge
8. Plow/Shoulder stand/Legs up the wall
9. Happy Baby
10. Spinal Twist

11. Supported Reclined Bound Angle Pose

SOURCES & RESEARCH

  1. http://www.prevention.com/fitness/yoga/10-yoga-poses-to-relieve-menopause-symptoms
  2. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/the-graceful-change/
  3. http://www.replens.com/FAB-Blog/Fighting-Vaginal-Dryness/23/Menopause-FAQs-When-It-Start-How-Long-Does-It-Last.aspx
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menopause#Signs_and_symptoms
  5. http://www.34-menopause-symptoms.com/articles/qa-what-happens-to-my-hormones-during-menopause.htm
  6. http://www.34-menopause-symptoms.com/treatments.htm
  7. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/05/yoga-for-menopause-7-pose_n_2991865.html
  8. http://www.fitnessnetwork.com.au/resources-library/yoga-and-menopause

*Disclaimer:
These suggestions offered in the Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine yoga classes or therapy programs on www.lovejosephine.com are not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional. The suggestions and educational resource offered by Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine on www.lovejosephine.com are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment. Neither the therapy programs nor yoga classes are designed nor recommended to replace medical treatment.

The resources offered here are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient.