Yoga for Health...

by Alana Shaffer

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Some people may not think of Yoga as a true "exercise" because it is often viewed as more of a relaxation and stretching technique. That is, until they feel the incredible empowerment, flexibility and peace they experience after a few challenging sessions.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, throughout the Indian Continent and most of Asia, and currently, close to 11 million Americans are enjoying its health benefits.


As yoga has become more popular in the West, medical researchers have begun studying the benefits of therapeutic yoga. This is also called integrative yoga therapy or IYT.  It's used as an adjunct treatment for specific medical conditions, from clinical depression to heart disease. Yoga benefits other chronic medical conditions, relieving symptoms of asthma, back pain, and arthritis. Most worldwide clinical studies are happening outside of the U.S. But even the NIH has funded clinical trials on yoga and its health benefits for insomnia and multiple sclerosis.

Hatha is considered the foundation of all other yoga practices since you learn the ground level poses which the more advanced dynamic poses are built upon. Breathing is emphasized, and slow, easy movements help prime the body and ease the joints, muscles and more importantly the mind into the practice.

Kundalini yoga is a bit more involved, with movements and breathing focusing on the spine as the center. There is also quite a bit of chanting and meditation that occurs, making it more of a peace-inducing practice for those looking to ground themselves in serenity in peace. This is a great choice for those that feel they can never "quiet" their mind and live in the moment.

Ashtanga yoga is one that is very dynamic and a good choice for those seeking more of an aerobically challenging workout. It involves almost constant movement, flowing in and out of yoga poses that range from basic to challenging. Those that don't think of yoga as true exercise would almost certainly change that mind after trying this style.  Ashtanga builds up the lung's ability to process oxygen, increases physical endurance, tones muscles and is great for building a strong, lean physique.


I have created Stretch Strengthen and Tone classes,(SST) within the “IYT” scope, based on the Yoga Asana principles of proper Breath, Alignment, Pause (or brief rest); SST incorporates Ashtanga style flow of Asanas and concludes with Savasana relaxation. 

These stretches not only strengthen your muscles but all of the soft tissues of your body. That includes ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath that surrounds your muscles. And no matter your level of yoga, you most likely will see benefits in a very short period of time. In one study, participants had up to 35% improvement in flexibility after only eight weeks of yoga. The greatest gains were in shoulder and trunk flexibility.

Many of the poses, such as downward dog, upward dog, and the plank pose, build upper-body strength. This becomes crucial as people age. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles. Poses that strengthen the lower back include upward dog and the chair pose. When practiced correctly, nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles.

 


With increased flexibility and strength comes better posture. Most standing and sitting poses develop core strength. That's because you're counting on your deep abdominals to support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, you're more likely to sit and stand "tall." Another benefit of yoga is the increased body awareness. This heightened awareness tells you more quickly when you're slouching or slumping so you can adjust your posture.

Because of the deep, mindful breathing that yoga involves, lung capacity often improves. This in turn can improve sports performance and endurance.


 

Alana Shaffer

Yoga student 45 years,

Cert.Teacher, training with many renown instructors.

Cert. Nutrition Consultant, Cert. Colon Therapist, Aromatherapist, ad al.

About My Classes...

Also included in the SST Class are some Aerobic, Cross crawl, western style Stretching, Strengthening, Toning, and other fun movements. The class is approximately 1 ½ hrs long, recommended to do 3 times per week.

The only rule of SST class is: Take CARE OF YOURSELF.  Do what your body is willing to do; challenge yourself, and do not go beyond your (personal) edge! There is no reason to hurt yourself, require chiropractic or medical care, or go home miserable.

Here in the tropics, we have a natural Bikram (Hot Yoga) type situation, which allows the student lots of leeway without much if any soreness. A little muscle soreness is OK, but joint pain, NOT OK.

My main purpose of teaching and doing the SST Class is to have fun, feel good, maintain flexibility and enjoy overall good health.

Most SST sessions start with movements to get the heart rate up, and incite us to challenging ourselves. Then we intersperse some stretches to slowly bring our bodies into its natural desire to stretch, rest, and then go to our own deeper level (specific to the individual’s ability). The later part of our class, we incorporate strengthening and toning specific muscles and areas of the body that we all seem to need to give attention.

Our SST, Yoga Asana based stretch session, ends with Savasana, or Sponge pose (reclining and relaxing) often including a guided relaxation session.

 

Location:

Ladera Welcome Center - 100 meters before the intersection of the Coco and Hermosa Road, between Coco and Sardinal

Upstairs left of cafe - located on the West side of the road

2011 Class Schedule:

Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays

8:30 am to 10:00 am

 

Class fees:

  • Drop In $10.

  • 4 classes = $32

  • 6 classes - = $47

  • 8 classes = $60

  • 12 classes - = $84

  • 13 classes = $85

  • 26 classes = $130.

 

Bring your mat, towel, water, latest joke, friends,  joy and enthusiasm.  For more information, email alanashaffer@yahoo.com or phone 2697-1707



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