Thursday, October 8, 2015

Yoga for your Power and Peace, Medical Yoga 

Maureen Mason MSPT WCS, CCI, PYT-C                    

Part two of nine. October 2015, Yoga mind beyond muscles.
 Celebrate PT Month with Medical Yoga!

Yoga can be useful as a philosophy and a lifestyle. Not a religion, but having tenants or sutras that are similar to religious disciplines. One may cultivate religious practices and use yoga derived strategies to augment and enhance the religious affiliation. Or use yoga as your guide to optimize your human potential. If the ultimate goal (of yoga) is enlightenment, no small topic, we see strategies to attain bliss, enlightenment, as the spiritual and energetic goal of yoga. The spiritual and energetic aspects of yoga are often overlooked in "yoga workout" classes. In my first post I referenced the 8 limbs of yoga, and today we are looking more deeply into the spiritual /energetic aspects of yoga, limbs 5, 6, 7, 8.

In Physical Therapy we use  yoga postures, or Asanas, to attain flexibility, balance, strength, and power. Yoga postures can help our clients meet their goals. Also we address the mind, and the ability of our clients to attain a sense of peace or calm, to tune down or turn off pain, as well as improve relaxation and self care. This brings us into the steps and strategies for meditation.

We must tame our dragons, our gremlins, and learn to focus our mind with uninterrupted awareness. We must withdraw from the senses, Pratyahara, and then develop our single pointed concentration Dharana. Next, Dhyana is the term for the practice of meditation that cultivates supreme focus. Ultimate calm control and letting go of the busy brain. And finally Samadhi, bliss. No dragons, gremlins, or buzzing hummingbirds.

Honestly, I am simply working on sitting up tall, un-supported, and breathing and keeping my mind on the mantras I use. I also use Christian prayers I have memorized. I am partly a hummingbird busy brain, and a dragon viewer, but some days I attain the peace and tranquility I seek in this busy life. It is amazing how much more I can perceive and sense in life, when I withdraw from the sensory realm for 5 to 30 minutes with meditation. I usually use a monotonous sound track of flute and ocean waves to cover up neighborhood and household sounds that distract me.I occasionally listen to podcasts or guided meditations as well, see links.

Many of my clients say they simply cannot concentrate to meditate, and it truly is a practice. Here are some things that may come into your mind during morning meditation; "I am hungry, my neck hurts, I need to adjust my posture, I am not breathing right, I want coffee, I feel sexy, that airplane is loud, that dog is annoying, what will I wear today, what time is it now, I am thirsty, the school shootings are horrid, the middle east seems always unsettled, the presidential race is wild, the weather is too hot for now, work will be busy today, I must call so and so for their birthday, I need to use the bathroom"…and so on. This may be in the course of 1-2 minutes! Have a sense of humor and go easy on yourself. You can keep going back to your mantra and breathing, and strive to allow yourself positive thoughts and intentions for your time there and now, your day, your family, your community, the world. 

 Here I am sitting up on a folded blanket due to tight hamstrings, and using pillows to support my knees. Take the time to get comfortable to sit upright without straining.

This is a nice site with free offerings of guided 10 minute sessions, great for mini sessions, and more extensive options for those who want to study as a free course.

Guided breath training, creating a supportive “yoga couch” if needing to lie down, and guided meditation options. Ginger is a PT, founder of Professional Yoga Therapy, and pioneer in bringing complementary evidence based methods into physical therapy practice. The associated website home page has extensive education on breath control and the diaphragm.(I am studying her methods for certification and will also be a teaching assistant at upcoming seminars. She rocks! A scholar and a humanist and a wise PT.)

The mantra:
A great text is Strength in the Storm, by Easwaren, founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in Berkeley Ca. Easwaren provides examples of how individuals of various faiths can use a mantra specific to their faith for meditation.
He advises half an hour in the morning, and evening if possible for meditation and spiritual reading. You may use his guide for selecting a mantra at