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]