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A Quiet Mind, A Balanced Life: The Widening Influence of Yoga & Meditation

yoga mats Slow Down Already! Quieting Our Minds, Beating Bad Habits

We live in a time of uncontested availability. Through our cell phones, laptops, and social media networks, we volunteer ourselves to friends, foes and colleagues regardless of time change or desire. It has become increasingly difficult to shut out the world and concentrate in a culture where speed and productivity are valued over mindfulness. More and more children are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder each year and SAT scores are at the lowest level in the last decade. Children and adults are having a hard time staying focused, alert and entertained, and the need for meditation has never been this palpable.

 Yin Yoga: When the Tortoise Wins the Race

The resurgence of Yin Yoga exemplifies the desire for a meditative practice in our daily lives. Based on a series of passive floor-poses, Yin Yoga allows the practitioner to access connective tissue to stimulate moisture, new growth and energy through the meridians embedded in the fascia. The poses, held up to ten minutes or more, can feel uncomfortable- even painful- at first. The practitioner must relax fully in order to fall into the pose and abandon herself to gravity. Believed to be one of the oldest forms of Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga is an ideal way to quiet the mind and condition oneself for deep, prolonged meditation. You can find a Yin Yoga studio in your area through the teacher directory on www.yinyoga.com

 Anger Management Heads to the Mat

The meditative side of yoga is proving increasingly beneficial to those in need of mental escape and a positive alternative to destructive habits. Founded in 2000 by independent filmmaker Isaiah Seret, The Mind Body Awareness Project introduces incarcerated and at-risk youth in California to meditation as a tool to help them control and understand their impulses. Before becoming Director of California Department of Corrections in 2004, Jeanne Woodford was head warden at San Quentin State Prison where she implemented gardening, meditation, and yoga as rehabilative tools- a trend that is garnering support across the country.

 Yoga vs Generation Whatever

In addition to its growing role in prison reform, yoga is gradually being recognized as a therapeutic tool to combat sickness, trauma and the aimlessness that qualifies “Generation Whatever”. In the Fall of 2009, the world-renowned Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health will launch its Semester Intensive, a 4 month-long “evolutionary education” program inviting 18-22 year olds to focus on physical, emotional and spiritual self-study. The aim of the Semester Intensive is to initiate positive change within and outside of oneself, and “to learn and embody essential life skills”. For application guidelines, visit www.kripalu.org/semesterintensive

 Yoga as a Cure

The outrageous success of the documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer, by cancer survivor and yogi, Kris Carr, inspired Carr to create a well-being advocacy site where women can connect with a spiritual community while they grapple with their fears and frustrations along the path back to wellness. Because yoga has shown to lower cortisol levels in patients, doctors are beginning to prescribe yoga and meditation to lessen the discomfort, anxiety, nausea and depression that often accompanies cancer treatment. As more and more cancer patients discover the therapeutic benefits of yoga, the need for licensed holistic therapists is becoming more pronounced.

 Yoga for Peace

To this end, the recently founded Urban Zen Foundation, created by designers Donna Karan and Sonja Nuttal, will launch their Urban Zen Integrative Therapist & Teacher Training Programs in 2009 to promote eastern healing techniques in conjunction with western medicine. The Urban Zen Foundation recently partnered with the grassroots organization, Africa Yoga Project, to help them provide impoverished youth and women with free access to yoga. Founded by Paige Elenson, The Africa Yoga Project also promotes the “Aswami Circus”, a performance group created by AcroYoga activists in 2008 after electoral violence left 300,000 Kenyans homeless. The “Peace Circus” travels across Africa to at-risk areas to promote the balance that can be found between chaos and stillness.

 The Final Shavasana

 External noise, internal noise- the constant competition for our mind/body attention. Just as the body needs a rest, so does the mind. There has never been a better time to embrace one of the oldest gifts in the universe, given to us thousands of years ago by the masters of the East. The time for meditation- and yoga– is now. [social_buttons]

Photo Credit: Rodrigo Quinones under a Creative Commons License

Written by Courtney Maum

Courtney is a freelance copywriter based out of the beautiful Berkshires and the equally beautiful Paris. A curious arrangement, to be sure, but one that allows Courtney to achieve an inspiring balance between her outer cosmopolite and her inner greenie.

Courtney has been working as a freelance writer for quite a while, specializing most recently in brand identity development for eco-luxury clients like Jurlique, Sephora, and SpaRitual. With her filmmaker husband, she also writes screenplays and translates films and documentaries in and out of French. Her short stories and poetry have appeared online and in literary magazines like the Susquehanna Review, In Other Words, and Defenestration. She is currently working on a series of humorous essays about gainful employment.

An active member of the online community, Courtney writes a weekly food column for the cultural networking site, KadmusArts.com, maintains a lifestyle blog with Parisian shopping and dining tips, and posts current fiction projects on Writings on a Log. You can view examples of her copywriting at http://brightwords.blogspot.com/

Courtney enjoys ashtanga yoga, real hot chocolate, heady films and organic cotton. Merci for your interest!

She enjoys ashtanga yoga, real hot chocolate, heady films and organic cotton. Merci for your interest!

One Comment

  1. love the blog/article/commentary… such a needed practice, yoga and specifically Yin Yoga.. finding that path of least resistance as well as giving our snow globe minds the chance to settle down as we return to the “sunday drive” pace.. taking in all the subtle details instead of moving through life at 75 mph.

    love for you to write more on yoga Courtney.

    Peace,

    mark

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