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Exercise for Fibromyalgia

Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to manage Fibromyalgia. Exercise can help reduce stress, improve serotonin levels, soothe muscles, and increase strength.

Careful attention, however, should be paid when creating an exercise routine if you’re suffering from FMS. Strenuous activity and high intensity exercise can actually be counterproductive and create more pain and inflammation. But, beginning slowly, finding your own personal limits and working with a fitness professional can dramatically reduce FMS symptoms and is highly recommended.

[themedy_media type=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLZD2c_yooY”]

Meditative-based exercises like Yoga and Tai-chi have proven quite effective in reducing FMS associated pain.

Yoga is an excellent way to increase muscle endurance, flexibility and deliver much needed oxygen to sore muscles. Gentle yoga and restorative practices also offer myofacial release and relieve FMS pain.

The gentle Chinese energy practice of Tai-chi is another great way to remove blockages and unwanted toxins in muscles and blood. Studies show that patients who practiced just 12 weeks of tai-chi slept better, felt better, had less pain, more energy, and better physical and mental health.
Lastly, Muscle Resistance Training can be beneficial to FMS patients. Using low weight and low repetitions, begin exploring your limits by exercising to the initial point of mild fatigue and then stop. Be sure to consult your physician and a fitness professional for an optimal and safe exercise routine.

In addition to these meditative-based exercises, working with a holistically trained professional may help you regain muscle mobility and flexibility. This includes seeing a structural integration specialist, chiropractor or a specialist in osteopathic manipulation.

For more information on Exercise and Fibromyalgia, visit Natural Holistic Therapies for Fibromyalgia.

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Juvenile Fibromyalgia: Identifying and Managing Fibromyalgia in Children

What is Juvenile Fibromyalgia?

Juvenile Primary Fibromyalgia Syndrome (JPFS) is part of a group of conditions collectively known as Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome. Juvenile Primary Fibromyalgia Syndrome, or JPFS, is a condition that results in symptoms of overall musculoskeletal and joint pain and fatigue. Data is sparse in the area of prevalence, but it is thought that up to 7% of children under 18 have JPFS or similar condition. It is more common in females and the diagnosis in children usually occurs between the ages of 13 and 15.

Along with joint pain and fatigue, other symptoms include disturbed sleep, morning stiffness, headaches, abdominal pain, irritable bowel, tight muscles and periods of swelling. Depression and anxiety are often present. JPFS is frequently triggered by an injury, illness or stress. Many patients with JPFS also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

How Is Juvenile Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

Diagnosing JPFS starts with a medical exam which includes a family history, physical exam and a tender point test of all 18 sites. Diagnostic tests should be conducted to rule out all rheumatic diseases and arthritis. To meet diagnostic criteria there must be patient report of pain in three or more body areas over a minimum of three months. In addition, at least five painful tender points must be experienced upon palpation during the exam. Additional symptoms such as difficulty with sleep, irritable bowels, fatigue and headache are often present and these symptoms tend to worsen with stress and/or anxiety.

JPFS can have severe effects on a child’s physical and emotional functioning. School attendance, socialization, and general quality of life are all impacted by this condition.

Managing Juvenile Fibromyalgia Holistically

JPFS is incurable but its symptoms can be controlled by understanding and preventing triggers, maintaining a focus on physical and psychosocial wellness,  and effective management of pain symptoms. As with the treatment of any minor, family involvement is a critical part of the treatment plan.

A traditional therapeutic treatment approach involves a team. This team consists of a combination of collaborating professionals to include at minimum: a pediatric  rheumatologist, physical therapist, and psychologist along with the identified patient and his or her family. The traditional treatment course utilizes a combination of medication, exercise, physical therapy and a form of psychotherapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

A holistic treatment approach is meant to be “in addition to,” not necessarily “instead of a” traditional treatment approach. In general, holistic treatments focus on addressing all aspects of an individual, not just the physical. The overarching philosophy is to live a more balanced lifestyle and understand that physical illnesses are the symptoms of a greater imbalance that may or may not have a root cause in the physical. Holistic treatment of JPFS may include the traditional therapies discussed above in concert with non-traditional medicine.

Recently published studies suggest that the use of Yoga, Tai Chi, and/or Acupuncture may reduce pain, fatigue and stiffness and improve quality of life in patients with Fibromyalgia. Many living with Fibromyalgia manage their diet and nutrition to alleviate symptoms and also utilize therapeutic massage to ease muscle soreness. However, there has not been enough scientific evidence supporting the use of vitamins, nutrition or massage to date.

Many alternative treatments can assist with pain management in Fibromyalgia.  Though patients report positive outcomes in using these alternative treatments, scientific support has not been substantially rigorous enough to make any hard effectiveness claims. Nonetheless, so many are searching for holistic treatments and will consider these minimally-invasive treatments to avoid medication side-effects and to adopt a balanced approach to health and wellness.

The following alternative treatments have been used in the treatment of Fibromyalgia:

No child need be robbed of a full life following a diagnosis of JPFS. Incorporating a holistic approach to the treatment of JPFS most often includes the traditional route of coping strategies, physical exercise, physical therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and perhaps medication with any of the alternative treatments that help reduce or alleviate the associated symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

By Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Resources

  • fibromyalgia-treatment.com
  • Treating Juvenile Fibromyalgia by Jennifer Cerbasi, (2012) FoxNews.com
  • webmd.com – Fibromyalgia Guide
  • KidsHealth.org – Fibromyalgia.

 

Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. is a freelance writer with a doctorate in psychology. Her personal essays and parenting articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four girls, one of whom has extensive special needs. She can be found writing about her adventures in parenting at her blog, Lost In Holland.

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Yoga for Children – A Natural and Fun Way to Reduce Stress

Children are expected to take increasing responsibility for their actions once school starts. They have to begin heeding boundaries in another place with other people, which may be new and unfamiliar to them. This can be a recipe for intense stress, so let’s set them up for a successful academic and social experience. By teaching them how to be familiar with the sensations they feel in their physical bodies and how they react to those sensations, yoga may be just the answer.

Ugh, another article telling you how your child would benefit from yet another activity. At this point, yoga and kids together may sound cliché. But let me ask you parents another question:

Does your child suffer from migraines, fibromyalgia or other chronic pain issues?

It is not unheard of for young children to suffer from the aforementioned chronicity’s. If they do how are they supposed to handle the normal everyday demands of the school environment that children find stressful without making themselves feel worse? Chances are, if your little one is not prepared for this kind of stress it is making her/his symptoms worse. (Note: not a criticism, most children aren’t prepared even with the most well-intentioned and educated parents. Some stress management is learning as you go.) We know that the poor management of responses to stress, in any situation, can lead to a plethora of negative physical experiences. As adults, who are supposedly more familiar with stress, we still suffer from tension induced headaches, inflammation, allergies, insomnia, weight gain…blah blah blah.

So, empower your young ones, especially if they are already dealing with chronic pain issues. Stress can trigger migraines and worsen the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia as well as increase the inflammation response found in osteoarthritis. A surprising amount of young people are being diagnosed with osteoarthritis, which can often be found to accompany a diagnosis of migraines and fibromyalgia. A mindfulness practice, like yoga, can teach them to be in touch with how their bodies manifest tension. Through this awareness, children can begin the process of taking charge of their reactions, physical, emotional and mental. Empowering them to do so can in turn empower them to prevent a migraine attack or other stress induced condition. They learn to control their experiences with pain associated with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Being in control of the physical body while encountering stress might even reduce the inflammation that worsens symptoms, which can limit range of motion and cause more unnecessary stress in a child’s body.

Sounds so good you might start doing yoga as a family!

By Melissa Gutierrez


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Recognizing the Symptoms of Migraines in Children and How to Provide Relief

Migraines are more than just terrible headaches; they are extreme pains with nausea along with other symptoms. Aside from the pain in the head, migraines are often connected with many other disorders such as depression, fibromyalgia, and even obesity. Sometimes, however, migraines can show symptoms that don’t present as the typical symptoms – especially in children.

Children’s symptoms from migraines feel similar to those of their adult counterparts, however because children translate pain differently than adults it’s important to recognize the symptoms early to give children the best possible options for relief. For children, especially boys, migraines occur in about 10% of those under the age of 10. Oftentimes, pain in the head is not the most dominating symptom for children. Symptoms to look for are:

  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Dizziness

Other indicators can come in the form of behavior changes during the onset of a migraine. These include:

  • Irritability
  • Food cravings or loss of appetite
  • Sensitivity to touch, smell, or sound

Once diagnosed, treating migraines in children can come from a variety of resources. One of the main triggers for migraines and the associated symptoms is lack of sleep or deprivation of sleep. The best treatment for juvenile migraines begins with structured sleep patterns and routines. Most children need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep for proper function, however many need even more than that to really reduce migraine symptoms.

Another option for treating migraines in children is to incorporate a balanced diet without skipping meals that includes healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, riboflavin, and magnesium. Proper hydration will also help prevent major migraine onset. 6 to 8 glasses of water a day will greatly reduce both the onset and the severity of a migraine for a child. Avoid processed sugar that is often found in sugary drinks and common kids snacks as this can sometimes bring on some migraine symptoms.

While there are a number of medications that can be used once a child is diagnosed with migraines, there are also a number of natural and herbal supplements that may provide as much relief as medication. Some herbal remedies to include are butterbur, magnesium, riboflavin, CoQ10, and feverfew. Finally, adding some basic relaxation routines for children like kid-based yoga or quiet time breathing can provide substantial relief for children that are willing to slow down long enough to employ them. Avoiding long term eye strain from computer screens, TVs, and mobile devices are also a good starting point to ending migraine symptoms for children.

Children feel pain differently than adults, they translate pain differently, and most importantly they explain pain differently. Diagnosing migraines may be tricky for a parent, but looking for notable symptoms and trusting instincts, parents can be the best medication for their children’s migraine symptoms.

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Using Yoga to Get the Most Out of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a fantastic healing modality that can address many physical and emotional issues, as well as mental stress. Your acupuncturist works to balance your energy by clearing the meridians, or specific channels, through which your energy runs. You can help your acupuncturist out by doing yoga before your session.

An intelligently designed yoga practice can help to clear out some of those blocked channels allowing your acupuncturist’s work to go deeper without having to pay attention to superficial issues that you could be taking care of yourself.

If you don’t have time to do a full hour or even 30 minutes of yoga try this short yoga routine:

  • Get centered by breathing with a rhythm that helps you to feel a little more relaxed and helps you connect to a deeper (physically, mentally, whatever) sense of yourself. Once you’ve connected to that place use your breath to help you take an internal inventory of where you are able to relax and where you are tense.
  • See if you can release the detected tension by feeling the movement of your breath ripple throughout the body and particularly into that place. Be patient and don’t push. Try moving through that area by stretching or making circles with surrounding joints. If you can’t feel release stop, give yourself a break and try again a little later.
  • After your quickie practice feel if you can detect any differences in your body. Have you been able to make a difference in your own sense of balance? Were you able to get a better idea of what your body might need to relax? Don’t underestimate the benefits of this short practice!

Connecting to your breath in this way can help you to align joints and release tension in muscles that will allow your acupuncturist to focus on addressing the root cause of your issue as opposed to having to spend time on any symptoms that may be a result of an underlying cause. Help her to do her best work! Doing this before you get needled could be the most cost effective technique to help you get the most from your session.

By: Melissa Gutierrez

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/83905817

Holistic Health Resources for Acupuncture

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How Dorothy Hamill Stays Active with Osteoarthritis

In 1976 Dorothy Hamill took a gold medal in figure skating at the green age of 19, now in her 50’s Hamill still manages to keep active despite having the chronic pain and discomfort of osteoarthritis. While exercising has always been seen as a chore for Hamill, she has found many other ways to stay active, keep skating, and maintain her pain management with Osteoarthritis.

Dorothy Hamill spends a lot of time on the ice still to this day, but she does admit that with her Osteoarthritis it takes more time to stretch, warm up, and get moving. Even with a vigorous warm up and stretching routine, Hamill says there is still stiffness in her neck, hip, and knees which renders her less flexible. While for many this would stop them from doing something like skating, for Hamill it motivated her to keep moving and to work through her symptoms. It’s not without purpose, however, she does follow some simple techniques to stay active and on the ice.

Walking everyday has been a big help for Dorothy Hamill. While she claims daily exercise routines is a chore for her, walking her dogs through her Baltimore neighborhood is something she actually enjoys and looks forward to. It keeps her loose and physically active while maintaining a low impact cardio routine that is essential for treatment in Osteoarthritis. She also spends more time warming up on the ice to really utilize the temperature differences on the rink from cold and hot to keep her muscles loose. Hamill spends more time using stretching and relaxation techniques while doing some yoga to keep as much flexibility as possible.

Dorothy Hamill uses skating as her motivation. It is her passion, income, and a way of life for her. Focusing on the goal of continuing that, Hamill has found a way to work through her symptoms and continue to skate. Keeping active, making healthy food choices, and add simple yoga to her daily routine have allowed Hamill to continue to be a driving force in the Olympic world and an inspiration for all.

Reference:

  • arthritistoday.org/what-you-can-do/arthritis-stories/athletes/dorothy-hamill.php
  • lef.org/magazine/mag2012/nov2012_Dorothy_Hammill_01.htm

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/aapd418/8382749298/

Natural Treatments for Osteoarthritis

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Using Yoga to Treat Your Migraines: What You Should Know

The reasons or “triggers” that cause migraine headaches are many, varied, and complicated. The severe pain that characterizes a migraine can often be made worse with physical activity. Often times, migraine sufferers are told to include yoga as part of alternative treatments. Here are 2 ways to use the physical aspects of yoga safely to help you deal with migraines.

 

1. Have a consistent practice that you can use to manage stress levels and improve your aptitude with different breathing techniques. Do this before you have a migraine! Yoga can help relieve the tension that sometimes leads to any kind of headache, so you can possibly prevent one. Also, focused breathing might relieve tension and evidence suggests that breathing (with focused intention) can help you to control pain. But trying to figure out how to do that while in the midst of dealing with a migraine is not really an option. Learn the tools and practice before it happens. Use yoga as a preventative, not as an in the moment treatment.

2. Know what feels good and what doesn’t for you specifically. There is a problem when folks try to use yoga postures, asana, as prescriptions for any issue. Be wary of teachers who want to “prescribe” poses as cures. Use yoga to help you get know yourself; what helps you to feel better and what does not. For example, I’ve heard the horrible advice that doing Downward Dog can help increase blood flow to brain and relieve the migraine. WRONG!!! Inversions do not increase blood flow to the brain. The blood brain barrier prevents that exactly (or should). Also, being upside down can exacerbate pain and feelings of nausea that often accompany migraines, so have fun vomitting on the yoga teacher who told you to do that

That being said, if for some reason being upside down helps you. Great! But don’t expect yoga to come with a complete prescription sequence that works for everybody. We are all unique individuals who experience yoga and headaches differently. What works for one does not necessarily work for the other. What worked for you one day may not work the next. The practice is mainly there to increase your body awareness so you can make better choices that help you to prevent and manage your migraine symptoms. Yoga can be an extremely effective part of you migraine treatment plan, as long as you know how to use it.

By: Melissa Gutierrez

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Yoga Growth in The US

While we’re unsure about the exact origins of yoga, we do know that it has been readily accepted in the U.S. and that its popularity continues to grow. “I think it’s fair to say that yoga is now its own, bona-fide industry,” said Melissa Gutierrez, yoga teacher and co-founder of SMARTer Bodies in New York. “It’s more than a fad now.”

Yoga has numerous benefits and a growing industry suggests more and more people are reaping those benefits. There are ups and downs to that expansion, though, and a big industry means that consumers need to be smarter about identifying true yoga. “Quality is a concern with yoga instructors,” Melissa said. Instructors need only 200 hours of education to teach and the weak job market is encouraging more people to become instructors. “While 200 hours might be enough time to teach a class, it isn’t enough time to work with the human body,” Melissa said.

Melissa completed 200 hours of instruction at the Karuna Center for Yoga & Healing Arts in Northampton, Massachusetts but then decided she wanted to work in the fashion industry with her sister. While she enjoyed that job, she was restless and unsure about where she wanted to be. She eventually left the fashion industry and turned to the Breathing Project, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote the highest possible standards in yoga education. After completing an additional 200 hours there, she said she had a better understanding of the anatomy, breathing therapy and how they relate to yoga.

Today’s yoga market comprises all ages, but Melissa believes the fastest growing group is professionals in their 20s and 30s. She said yoga has helped some people learn how to calm down amid a culture that doesn’t know how to relax. In some cases, yoga has saved the quality of their lives. Industry growth has encouraged the establishment of organizations like Yoga Foster, a nonprofit initiative that brings free yoga classes to kids in New York City communities.

Another benefit of yoga‘s expansion is its increasing availability for children, Melissa said. “With kids, it’s sort of go go go from the start. Kids have their own pressure.” She said most activities today bring with them a performance aspect and expectations that the child will be able to produce something. Yoga, on the other hand, is just for the child to feel good. “It teaches kids that you can control your quality if you can control your breath.”

Yoga’s popularity also means that people can get caught up in the wrong kind of yoga. “Telling people that they will burn calories during a yoga class is the wrong message. Take another class like kick-boxing if you’re looking to burn calories. It’s ok if that’s what you want, but when you add other goals to yoga besides self-exploration, it becomes something else,” Melissa said.

This expansion means that students need to take their yoga practice into their own hands. They need to be able to identify quality teachers who will help them maximize all that yoga has to offer.  If a teacher leads the class into a pose, such as Warrior I, and then tells those students who are unable to complete the pose to just go into Child’s Pose and doesn’t offer modifications and progressions, that instructor might be less experienced, Melissa said. Other red flags include an instructor who doesn’t reference real anatomy during the class or appears afraid of or unsure about a student’s injury.

“Be in a class that’s more about feeling and less about stretching as much as you can,” Melissa said. She emphasized the importance of breathing, saying that during every pose you should be able to focus on your breath. You can use your breath as a measurement of whether you’re taking a pose too far. “The second your breath changes you’re going to a place I can no longer advocate,” she said.

Melissa predicts that the trendiness of yoga will continue for the next decade or so. Then, the demand for higher-quality teachers will move to the forefront. “Consumers will be savvier and it will boil down to those teachers who really make a difference.”

– By Jessica Braun
Jessica Braun is a writer and an editor at WholesomeOne. She can be reached at jessica.braun[at]wholesomeone[dot]com.

Top Rated Yoga Products on Amazon.com

 



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Yoga – A New Way to Treat Irregular Heartbeat

Yoga has long been known to help alleviate stress, improve balance, build strength, and tone muscles, but there is new information that could put yoga at the forefront of treatment for irregular heartbeat.

According to the American Heart Association about 2.7 million people suffer from atrial fibrillation or irregular heartbeat and are in treatment programs to combat it. New studies by W. Todd Cade, a physical therapy researcher from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found that patients in the study that participated in group yoga for a period of 3 months showed nearly half as many quivering heartbeat episodes as those that did not participate in yoga. Additionally, their heart rate also decreased from an average of 67 BPM (beats per minute) to between 61 and 62 BPM.

Another benefit to patients incorporating yoga into their treatment plan was the notable lower levels of anxiety that they felt. There is clearly defined link between anxiety and patients with atrial fibrillation and with the integration of yoga – a proven stress and anxiety release – patients can increase their treatment success by utilizing it to reduce their own anxiety and stress.

It is important to note that any person suffering from atrial fibrillation should consult with a physician before introducing any new physical programs to their treatment to ensure that they are healthy enough for the activity. With a doctor’s permission, however, a yoga program could help patients successfully treat irregular heartbeat with less medication and with more long term results with lifestyle change.

Reference:

  • Newsmax Media, Inc. 2013
    newsmaxhealth.com/Health-News/yoga-atrial-fibrillation-irregular-heartbeat/2013/01/30/id/488179

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/3681654917/

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3 Tips for Home Yoga

Many of us struggle with keeping up a consistent home practice. That’s why group classes are so appealing. Particularly at the end of a long day it’s wonderful to be told what to do, what to look for in a posture and what we should be feeling.

But they can also be hard to commit to when we’re tired. Sometimes the most important voice to connect to is our own. Connecting with ourselves in a home yoga practice helps us better hear the wiser teacher within, our more evolved consciousness.

Here’s 3 easy ways to get into a consistent relationship with your mat at home.

1.) Don’t psych yourself out time wise and set a goal that will feel intimidating.

An hour is great, but if you’ve only got 5 minutes then do just 5 minutes.

Find a time you can commit to consistently. Once you clear the air with yourself about setting aside an honest and manageable time you transform the attitude surrounding your practice from a chore to a treat that you can’t wait to do.

Once things start to feel fun and good you’ll be surprised how quickly 5 minutes flies by and you’ll be easily doing way more. Just keep it pressure free.

2.) Don’t confuse a home yoga practice with exercise. Too much baggage!

Don’t make this about burning calories or getting more fit.

You certainly CAN get stronger doing yoga. You can even get yoga-inspired fitness to help you reach certain physical goals. Make this time about a practice that just helps to reconnect you to a calmer place and feel good in the body.

Frame it this way: You do yoga, so you can do other kinds of movement classes better.

3.) Make it about you. NO RULES

(obviously, except for safety rules)!

That means no rules about the kind of movement you want to explore. If you feel like you need to explore forward bends in all their variations do just that. Do movement that doesn’t even “look like yoga postures, but that feels good.

If you bring conscious awareness, attention to the breath and the intention to sense what’s going on with your body and emotions than you’re doing Yoga. Don’t worry about not being able to think of any poses just start moving.

Inspire yourself with music. If you love your studio/gym classes, but never like the music this is your time to do what feels right for you! Play Jazz, Hip Hop, Metal (I, for one, love Pantera while in Down Dog), or…nothing. Do what what you want. This is what this time is for. Light candles, incense or do it in the dark.

Learn about yourself, what you need to feel restored and give yourself the gift of better well-being.

Written by Melissa GutierrezYoga Instructor

 


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Finding Your Breath

Near the end of many yoga classes a student may hear instructions to perform specific breathing patterns.  This is known as Pranayama.  Pranayama is one of the 8 limbs of what creates a complete yoga practice.  It is often taught as part of a class that emphasizes the postures, known as a hatha yoga class. But there is an underestimated value in spending time to focus solely on practicing pranayama.

Breathing is the basis of all we do. The breath allows us to move and engage with the world.  But it also is a reflection of the quality of our interactions with our external environment and relationships.  Cultivating an awareness of the breath that allows one to have conscious and active control over it can be very useful in a myriad of situations. Remember a time you’ve been in stressful situation or even a stressful conversation.  It’s common for out breath to speed up when the body senses we are being stressed. This the body’s way of preparing us to stand our ground for a fight or to save ourselves and flee.

You can control the quality of your experience in most situations by controlling (or not) the quality of your breath.  Breathing is an autonomic physiological process, but can be consciously manipulated. You can change the physiological messages your breath sends to the physical and emotional body.  The physical practice of yoga can teach you to confront discomfort while staying connected to the breath. Pranayama immerses you in the focus of becoming familiar with and manipulating the breath in a myriad of ways. Doing this will prepare you for the next time you find yourself overwhelmed by sensations or emotions. You can feel more grounded by staying connected to your breath and you will be less likely to be thrown off in challenging situations.  You can show up the way you would like to when dealing with your job, your family and any interpersonal relationships.

But it takes more than a 5 minute savasana with some breath focus at the end of your class. Be open to spending a significant amount of time with this profound part of yourself. Doing so will help you to develop a healthier relationship with yourself and better prepare you for whatever comes along in the future.

Written by Melissa Gutierrez, Yoga Instructor