Pain and the Other Voices In My Head

natalieThis thoughtful post was written by Natalie Barrales-Hall, a member of our 2015-2016 Yoga Teacher Training (YTT).  Natalie has worked as a community and youth worker, and in February she began teaching Queer & Trans Yoga at Queen Street Yoga. Natalie strives to facilitate safer spaces for students who may not see themselves represented in mainstream yoga spaces or those who may be questioning whether yoga is really for them. Her approach is gentle and permissive, and she invites students to consider a practice of gratitude and self-compassion.

Whether emotional, physical or traumatic, I’ve been thinking a lot about pain. Maybe that is because of the injuries and losses I experienced during the course of the training program (don’t worry, it wasn’t the yoga asanas!), or maybe it’s informed by my work and holding space for people who are hurting, or maybe it’s simply because pain is an inevitable part of being human. Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about it and in all my thinking, I’ve started to wonder about the stories we are told and tell ourselves about pain – pain as the cause of loss and disconnection, pain as a source of growth and healing, and what pain says about us and how we show up in the world.

In early 2015, I was struggling to understand and manage increasingly severe knee pain which had, for all intents and purposes, come from “nowhere”. In my efforts to alleviate the pain and restore full range of movement, I was encouraged to pursue further testing to rule out any underlying injury. Thus ensued a 4-month long process which concluded with a visit to an orthopedic clinic, where upon reviewing my MRI, I was reminded of one of the first stories I can remember being told about pain: this is your fault. As the weeks passed, I would be offered many more stories by practitioners who suggested that the pain could be the result of a meniscal tear, pelvic alignment and related biomechanical concerns or energy stagnation.   Continue reading

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3 Reasons Our Restorative Immersion Is for You

Restorative yoga is a powerful healing tool that helps to reduce stress and support the body’s innate responses toward balance and health. As a very gentle form of yoga, restorative yoga integrates resting postures, breath techniques, and meditative relaxation. Read on to discover more about our upcoming immersion into this practice.

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Here are three reasons why our immersion into Restorative Yoga is for you.

After this immersion you will be able to:

CUSTOMIZE a restorative yoga sequence to meet your specific needs

MEDITATE in a restorative pose

GIFT this practice to friends and family Continue reading

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Free Your Feet

Here’s a quick video with Leena on a great way to stretch your toes and bring some more mobility to the joints for your feet.

Each foot and ankle has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments! One quarter of all bones in the human body are in the feet. This means our feet are exquisitely designed for weight-bearing and movement, and they are the foundation for whole body alignment and healthy movement patterns. Unfortunately, due lack of movement and poor footwear choices many folks have lost healthy mobility in their feet and have related pain in the ankles, knees, hips, and back. Continue reading

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Yoga Tips from QSY- Hip Flexor Stretch

hip flexor musclesThe hip flexors (the group of muscles that bring your leg towards your torso) often have decreased range of motion from all the sitting we do. Simultaneously, your lower back, bum and core muscles get weak from sitting and slumping. This quick video with Leena demonstrates an effective way to gently stretch and regain range of motion in the hip flexors, and emphasizes important actions to engage the core and keep your lower back safe and well aligned. Building the muscles in the back (ie your butt and hamstrings) will also often help correct imbalances around the hips and pelvis that cause the hip flexors to feel “tight”. Couple this stretch with a few sets of well-aligned squats to build your glutes, and also lots of walking with arms swinging and a full stride.

Easing the Burden you Shoulder: The Yoga Tune Up® Shoulder Series

By Tara Kachroo, Certified Yoga Tune Up® Instructor

Many of you know that shoulder and neck pain (and the tension headaches that they lead to) can be debilitating. But even if you aren’t suffering pain, the effects of poor posture can be insidious.  

You might be familiar with the TED talk in which the scientist Amy Cuddy discusses the link between physical posture and emotional state.  Her conclusion was that assuming a “power posture” (for example, upright, chest thrusted out or arms raised), can have a significant and positive impact on behavior and state of mind. Even just two minutes can result in better results in a stressful job interview. Click here for a link to this video.

But what if posture is restricted by pain? Or the ability to assume a power posture is limited by range of movement in one’s shoulders?

If one’s body is permanently in a defensive or hunched position from years spent at a desk or writing a PhD Thesis, will this affect the ability to confidently ask for a raise? Or present the results of a Thesis during the Defense? Poor posture does not just wear at your body; it wears at your mind. Continue reading

Going Beyond After Feeling Defeated – An Update from Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell has been regularly practicing at Queen Street Yoga for the past two years and has written some wonderful blog posts for the QSY blog about his yoga journey. In this most recent post, Glen shares more about his personal transformation and how he sees yoga as a major part of his learning and growth. We deeply appreciate hearing from students about what the impact of yoga has been on their lives, and we celebrate Glen’s effort and openness to the insights that have come as a result of engaging with the practices of yoga and meditation. We hope you enjoy reading this. Glen told us ,“It comes straight from my heart”.

Every spring, summer and fall my life is filled with many camping trips to my favorite Provincial Parks located throughout Ontario. One of which is Killarney located at the top end of Georgian Bay. Killarney is truly the jewel of the Ontario Provincial Parks. The turquoise colored lakes and two billion year old rock face spread out far and wide can leave you in awe! I get very excited and can feel my heart getting warm whenever I come back. There are many trails and lakes to explore by hiking, biking or canoe/kayaking. One hike I love to do is called the Crack. It is a bit of a hike and climb getting to the top but the view is amazing! Also there is a 26km canoe/kayaking day trip I have come close by canoe but never completed which includes 3 portages with the longest portage of about 500 meters. This will take you into four different lakes from George Lake into OSA lake and from pictures I had seen is spectacular. I thought that this hike and kayaking trip would no longer be available to me due to my heart issues. I was very disheartened to think that some of the things I love to do had possibly come to an end.

Stepping back to the fall of 2014, that was when I decided to really take control of my life. My doctors had advised me of my condition 8 months earlier, and I started seeing positive results from about six months of yoga practice. I decided to dedicate myself to practicing yoga as much as possible. I would get my mind in a very positive place. I would get rid of the extra weight I was caring. I would eat even healthier by educating myself and keep fine tuning the quality of my food intake. I would exercise at least once a day. I would find more ways to be more active like riding my bike to yoga or picking up my favorite tea. I would taper back my business hours. I would do all I can to reduce and manage stress. I was very motivated to avoid a risky surgery and to keep at a minimum or even reduce the medication prescribed to me. Continue reading

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Yoga Tips from QSY- Low Squat

A low squat is a basic natural movement that’s great for your hips, knees, and ankles. If you watch an average toddler, they squat often with total ease and beautiful alignment. However, due to the amount of chair/couch/car sitting we do, many people have lost the mobility to properly squat. This video with QSY Director Leena shows a simple modification to help you get more comfortable in a low squat, and eventually you can reduce the support over time as you regain mobility. See if you can incorporate this position throughout your day- send a few emails, answer a phone call, chop some veggies, weed your garden, play with a kid or pet… all possible from a squat!

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