6 Simple Yoga Poses You Can Use Right Now to Fight Fatigue

Written by: Lucy Wyndham

Your eyelids are getting heavy. Your brain is moving at a snail’s pace. Whether you are sitting in your office chair on a boring afternoon or trying to wrangle your children after work, the struggle with fatigue is real. Fortunately, these yoga poses will help reinvigorate you.

Savasana

Savasana improves mental concentration, offers total relaxation, and is a fantastic way to relieve fatigue at home. You start by lying on your back with your legs stretched in front of you. Your feet will fall to either side. Close your eyes and place your arms on the sides of your body with palms up. You can hold this pose for five to ten minutes or for however long you want. Breathe into your belly. Keep the focus on your inhales and exhales or engage in breathing exercises and meditations.

Supine Twist

The supine twist releases the lower back, opens the shoulders, quiets the mind, and improves digestion. You start by lying on your back with your feet on the ground and your knees bent. Keeping your left shoulder and the sides of your feet on the ground, let both of your knees fall to the right side of your body. Lastly, look over your left shoulder and put your arms out to make a T.

Legs Up the Wall

You can do this with a chair or against the wall. Begin parallel to the wall. Lean backward as you twist your legs toward the wall. In a comfortable position, let your legs rest on the wall. If you find the floor uncomfortable, you can use a blanket or pillow for your hips or head. Notice your breathing as you place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.

Cat/Cow

Start with your hands shoulder distance apart and knees hip distance as you are on your hands and knees. Roll the shoulders back, lift up your hips, look forward, and let your belly lower as you inhale. Round the spine, let the head drop, and tuck the hips as you exhale. This improves digestion, relieves back pain, and opens up the spine.

Child’s

With your knees a few inches wider than your hips and your feet together, sit on the floor. Rest your forehead on the floor by walking your hands forward. Use a blanket or pillow under your forehead if it does not reach the floor. Take deep, slow breaths.

Butterfly

Relieve fatigue by sitting on the floor with the soles of your feet together. Open the feet like a book and round the spine. Then, fold forward towards your feet.

 

Fight fatigue with us by practicing with PYR 7 days a week at our pay-what-you-can studio!

4 Benefits of Yoga for Senior Citizens

In addition to the physical and mental benefits, yoga provides a sense of belonging and community. One of the populations where we have seen these benefits is when offer Yoga for Seniors. 

“This particular site started as a residence for Russian seniors. One of the first things I noticed was that all of my students, regardless of nationality, began to look out for each other. They took interest in what was going on with their fellow yogis, despite nationality. I have called it my mini-UN because the population is so diverse!” – Sarah Humphries (PYR Ambassador at Marywood)

Project Yoga Richmond has offered Yoga for Seniors since 2012, and we currently offer programs at Marywood Senior Apartments with Sarah Humphries (PYR Ambassador) and Senior Center East at Peter Paul Development Center with Twylah Ekko (PYR Ambassador).

 

Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
  1. Sense of belonging and community
  2. Improvements in mobility, overall health, and emotional well-being
  3. Increased confidence, independence, agency, and creativity
  4. Increased mobility, strength, and balance
What are some elements of our Yoga for Seniors classes?
  • Similar sequences each week
  • Low impact, gentle movement using the support of the chair; balancing poses using the support of the chair (if needed);
  • Breathing techniques and meditation
  • Physical sequences are similar from week to week 
  • Senior Center EAST has a devotional at the end of class

Unroll your mat with us at our pay-what-you-can studio and Saturday Salutations at the VMFA on August 5 as we highlight Yoga for Seniors.Support our outreach programs by paying-what-you-can when you sign up for this event! And know that anytime you pay-what-you-can for class at our studio 7-days a week, you are supporting outreach like this!

If you would like to learn more about how to support Yoga for youth or to sponsor one of our outreach programs, you can make a donation by clicking here 365 days a year or contact holly@projectyogarichmond.org for more information!

How can Yoga help Arthritis and Chronic Pain?

How can Yoga help Arthritis and Chronic Pain?

We are dedicated to making yoga accessible to everyone. To address the needs for those who experience arthritis and other kinds of chronic pain, we are hosting a second session of Yoga for Arthritis and Chronic Pain with Nitika Achalam, one of PYR’s Board Members and one of our newest Ambassadors.

Nitika has experienced chronic pain throughout her life. Despite her pain, she has been able sustain a healthy lifestyle and experienced healing through yoga. Not only has Nitika found yoga to be a powerful way to enhance her quality of life, but she is able to share these tools with others.  Nitika has her RYT-500 hr, been teaching yoga for over 16 years and has a background in Yoga for Arthritis. Hear what she has to say about yoga and chronic pain and the ways it can enhance your quality of life. We hope you leave with some tools that are useful to you!

How and when did you first begin practicing yoga?

From a young age I was learning principles that would support me in developing a yoga practice as an adult. I remember rolling around on the floor and making animal shapes with my body in the first grade. It all seemed like play and exploration at the time, but I later realized that I was mirroring what my mom had learned in her yoga classes and own personal study.

How has yoga impacted your life?

Yoga extends beyond the mat and impacts my life by providing core tenets to support daily living. The study of the science is the basis by which I choose to live. In times of stress or pain the most fundamental thing I ask is if my thoughts will help me to: Do Good and Be Good? Will my actions assist me to Serve All and Love All?

What is chronic pain?

Chronic Pain is a physical limitation, which causes damage and disrupts a person’s quality of life. In my personal experience and that of people I’ve worked with, chronic pain makes it challenging to carry out simple daily tasks, earn a living, and even maintain healthy physical movement.

How has chronic pain impacted your life?

Both of my parents suffer from Arthritis, as do many family members. I’ve watched them navigate life with these aches and pains as they struggle to keep going. I’ve been involved in car accidents and sports injuries, which have resulted in severe lower back pain and limited range of motion in some joints. In addition, I’ve suffered from Endometriosis all of my life. Until recently, I’ve kept from telling many people about what I experience for a number of reasons. Sometimes I’ve refrained from sharing because I have not wanted to appear weak, out of wanting to feel like “normal” people my age, and wondering how effective of a health care professional can I be if I can’t manage my own health. People don’t understand unless they deal with something similar, others tend to downplay my reality by saying “it could always be worse”.

Chronic Pain has kept me from social engagements and away from work for extended periods of time. In the past, I’d kept the truth about my chronic pain a secret from employers. Holding those secrets led to a loss of work, which in turn led to isolation and depression. Being honest with myself and then with others about how I feel is far more beneficial. It’s ok for me to feel poorly, it’s ok to listen to my body and back off, it’s ok to say no to social engagements or accepting more work than I can reasonably handle, it’s okay to be honest that I am not perfect.

What methods have you tried for coping with chronic pain?

Like so many others, I’ve tried prescription medications to help relieve severe symptoms of pain. While the meds can help, I’ve found that they are not always the complete answer. Yoga for Arthritis (YFA) has been a big help to me and many of my clients by imparting physical and psychological benefits. Through the research of Dr. Steffany Moonaz, creator of YFA, we know that yoga is a safe and effective way for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis to discover freedom of movement and empowerment. These principles extend to those suffering from other types of chronic pain as well.

The food and drink I choose to put in my body plays a big role in overall health so I stay away from things that trigger. The conditions I experience personally are not curable but they are manageable. I’ve found that even when we are doing “all the right things” our bodies have flair ups and at times feel out of control. Yoga has helped tremendously with managing expectations around having a perfect life at all times. I am now able to find a source of strength in the adversity and use it to assist others in experiencing life beyond pain.

What changes did you notice when you first started practicing Yoga for Arthritis?

When I met Dr. Steffany Moonaz, the creator of Yoga for Arthritis, my understanding of empathy in supporting those living with chronic disease was redefined. People of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds suffer in very similar ways. The yoga community creates a space, free from shame and judgment, to unify all people as we share our experiences and learn how to adapt to the ever-changing demands of our lives.

Did you ever find it challenging to be in yoga classes while dealing with chronic pain?

Yes it can be a challenge to attend “regular” yoga classes at times. Most teachers ask if anyone is working through an injury, but I’ve had many clients feel nervous about disclosing their ailments or health status in a room full of “able-bodied” yogis. Some clients express embarrassment about the lack of support around modifications or adaptations so that they too can participate fully in a yoga class. Transitioning from pose to pose swiftly and feeling the need to keep up a certain pace can be a source of discomfort. The purpose of this 8-week series is to address these concerns and more. We explore topics on how to build a home practice appropriate for all ranges of motion and levels of pain as well as how to safely attend general focus group classes.

Has yoga helped ease your chronic pain?

Yoga has had life changing impact on minds and bodies for thousands of years. The 8-week series I will be teaching addresses chronic pain physically and mentally. The physical stretches of the program are a great relief for tension and assist in building strength, stamina, and flexibility. The breathing and guided meditation practices are effective in stress relief and for the psychological trials of living with pain. I’ve learned that it may not be possible to feel 100% relief from pain at all times but I can use the tools in my yoga kit to shift my perception and attitude in dealing with it.

What is one thing you recommend to someone experiencing chronic pain?

Often times it may seem impossible to even get out of the bed when dealing with Arthritis and Chronic Pain flare ups, much less think about manipulating those parts of the body in any way. The breath is a tool that we all can use no matter the level of pain.

Begin by exhaling slowly and deeply, followed by a long, slow inhalation.
Use the exhale to soften the tension around the joints.
Use the inhale to replace that feeling with a sense of ease.

Breathing in a deliberate way has the power to transform our feelings around a sensation and offers relief by reducing stress. Almost as importantly as breath is seeking out things that make you smile. I like comedy, plants, and creating things from found objects. Even pasting on an artificial smile can be a springboard to real happiness.

What is one of your favorite yoga postures for chronic pain?

It’s tough to make a general statement about what works for all people with chronic pain since that looks different for everyone. A pose that feels good for one person’s neck may hurt another’s back or knees.

My favorite pose is one that does not cause any strain or pain. YFA advocates the use of props to support the physical body to execute poses with ease. Yoga for Arthritis supports practitioners in finding as much comfort as possible in a pose and shifting the focus away from the symptoms to an easeful peaceful experience. My personal favorite relaxation pose is laying on my back with a cushion under my hips while resting my legs up the wall. Then drawing a blanket across my torso and arms. After 10 minutes of deep breathing in this position my back feels a lot less pressure.

Join Nitika every Monday from 6-7:30 pm from April 24- May 15 for this special 4-week series that will facilitate a space and provide tools for you to find ease within your chronic pain. Space is limited to 8 participants and pre-registration is required, so be sure to save your spot. And remember, when you practice at Project Yoga Richmond, you help make yoga accessible to your community!

Special thank you to Mc Abbott Photography for sharing the talents with us!

How I became a Yoga Teacher with M.S.

How I became a Yoga Teacher with M.S.

Written by PYR Ambassador Sarah Humphries

Featured by National MS Society Virginia-West Virginia Chapter

Last week we came across this amazing testimonial from one of our wonderful Ambassadors since 2012, Sarah Humphries. Yoga has been an outlet for Sarah to overcome many of the challenges of Multiple Sclerosis. Her practice makes her stronger, and she shares her strength through teaching. Join Sarah at our Pay-What-You-Can-Studio on Saturdays at 10:30am for EnJOYoga!

How Yoga Impacted Sarah’s Life:

I received my Registered Yoga Teacher 200 (RYT200) certification after leaving my corporate job due to cognitive difficulties brought on by Multiple Sclerosis. I was diagnosed with M.S. More than 20 years ago. I began practicing yoga sometime after my diagnosis with CDs and DVDs. I don’t remember how long it has been since I began this home practice. Very quickly my balance, coordination, and strength began to improve. These changes brought on a confidence that I hadn’t seen since learning that I have M.S. Because I saw this improvement I was hooked!! With my renewed self-confidence I wanted to share what the practice of yoga had done for me with anyone who would listen.

unspecified-1

Photo by: McAbbott Studios

The next phase of this journey began when the company that I had worked for 18 years went out of business. I had been working from home for 14 of the 18 years that I was with them. When that job ended and I had to get a more conventional job, it quickly became evident that I wasn’t performing as I had been in the quiet of my own home. The outside noise and various other distractions made it hard to concentrate. My bosses began having talks with me about ending my employment. I spoke to my neurologist and after some testing and it was determined that I did, in fact, have some cognitive loss and would need to apply for disability.

When it came time for me to leave my job I knew that I wanted to take my newly found “free” time to speak to M.S. Support groups about the benefits of yoga. I also knew I wanted to have my RYT certification before I started to do that. At this time I had only taken a few yoga classes in a studio. I was too concerned about what people would think when I would begin to wobble and not look like what I thought a real yogi looked like. Now I help people understand that yoga is for everyone.

I was also intimidated by going back into a school environment and was afraid of not being able to retain the information. I found a studio that had a summer long intensive course and enrolled right away. I am proud to say I was to first one to complete the course which included many hours of different styles of yoga classes. Upon graduation I had one person ask me to help her with yoga. She lives with M.S. like I do and wanted to enjoy the benefits. I began teaching her weekly.

How Sarah and PYR Connected:

Shortly after that, I learned about Project Yoga Richmond and they asked if I would be interested in teaching chair yoga to a group of seniors. I have been with that group for four years now and so enjoy watching their practice grow. This fall I will have 15 classes a week on my calendar. I teach a group of mentally and physically challenged adults twice a week, additional classes for seniors, those who live with chronic disease and even yoga in the pool! I also teach a gentle beginner level class once a week at Project Yoga Richmond. As the community began to hear about the chair yoga classes that I was offering more requests for classes came in. I have private clients where we can personally adapt yoga to their individual needs.

 

I am now an ERYT 200 that means I have taught over 1000 hours.

Take THAT M.S.!!

The Story of Joy!

FB_IMG_1452522040284

by Sarah Humphries

I first met Joy at work. She was transferred to work at the same location with me because she and I both were living with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S). and Joy was struggling to keep up. The thought was  I could help her succeed as I understood more about M.S. and the everyday struggles.

On her second day at work with us, I went to her and shared with her that I too had M.S. and we became fast friends, almost immediately. I was her supervisor and we worked together to support each other, in every way.

Joy went out on disability and I missed her. I was not far behind her, finding myself on disability as well. The cognitive losses from M.S. were making it hard for me to keep up.

When I stopped working, I began to explore the idea of becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher and going to various M.S. support groups to speak on the benefits of yoga and how the practice had helped me. I decided to get my certification over that summer and began to speak to small groups. Joy asked me to share with her what I had learned. I began visiting her at her home once a week and eventually these visits became yoga classes!

Joy’s M.S. was progressive and over time she began to use a wheelchair and I learned how to adapt poses so that Joy could continue the yoga practice she had come to enjoy and rely on. We even were able to incorporate some of her exercises from her physical therapy sessions.

Incidentally, my private sessions with Joy led me to venture out and begin teaching at other places, in addition to adding a couple of other private students. My talks about M.S. and yoga helped get my name out into the community and I loved sharing.  Dana, the Co-Founder of Project Yoga Richmond, came to one of my chair classes at a nearby studio and she invited me to teach a class at Project Yoga Richmond. The rest is history!

I named my class at Project Yoga Richmond EnJOYoga after Joy because that is what she taught me. She taught me that everyone can enjoy yoga and benefit from what yoga offers no matter their ability. Joy’s memory lives on each time I teach this class.

We invite you to join Ambassador Sarah Humphries every Saturday at the studio for EnJOYoga from 10:30-11:30am.  Whether you are a genuine beginner who needs a little extra guidance, an experienced yogi who wants to get back to the basics, or someone who wants to try practicing in a chair, then this class is for you. The focus is on making yoga available to anyone who wants to practice.  We will use a variety of props to help you find your JOY in Yoga!

The latest on classes and special events, plus an inside look at how practicing with PYR helps our community. Sign up here.