Graceful Warrior: It’s National Yoga Month

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You’ve been thinking about and talking about starting a yoga practice for a while, now here is your chance. September is National Yoga Month, meaning lots of studios around the U.S. offer a free week of classes to new students. If you listen to the media and/or any (progressive) doctor, you’d think that yoga was a cure-all for with injuries, stress, disease and relationships…It definitely can be, but it’s a process. It doesn’t necessarily “cure” whatever issue you have, instead it heals the way you view the issue which in-turn “cures” it many times. Whatever it is in your life that brings you to yoga: Better posture and balance Lower blood pressure Reduced stress and anxiety levels Increased vitality and immunity Greater flexibility, strength and range of motion Enhanced lung capacity You will continue to practice simply because it makes you feel better, more connected to your true self and those around you, and giving you more gratitude for all parts of your life. Yoga focuses on being instead of doing. It’s funny, new prescription drugs are constantly being introduced and many doctors/patients just accept the side effects. I’m not saying drugs are bad – they save many people’s lives. However many times we turn to drugs that actually make our lives worse – like some anti-depressants that then give you insomnia, then you get on drugs to help you sleep and it’s a vicious cycle. On the flip side there is yoga, which may take longer (or may not) to create change in your condition and it only has positive side effects. My favorite benefits of yoga: Helps you sleep like a baby: Levels of melatonin, the brain’s natural nighttime sedative, decrease with age, but yoga has been shown to increase levels of melatonin. Enhances creative thinking: Moving inside and breathing allows the brain to gain a new perspective, to approach a project from a new viewpoint. Yoga increases alpha waves in the brain which are the source of creative inspiration.

Provides clarity and a positive outlook: Researchers at Jefferson Medical College discovered that just one yoga class helps keep the stress hormone cortisol in line. Elevated amounts may contribute to memory problems. Yoga also causes the brain to release endorphins into the body, thereby positively affecting your mood. Builds better relationships: Yoga teaches you first to accept yourself, then to love yourself. You must love who you are before you can truly love someone else. The practice of yoga allows you to fill up your own tank, thereby allowing you to give, or say no when necessary, more freely to others. No more excuses. Be kinder to yourself this month and try some yoga!  Click here to find a studio near you offering free classes

About Gina Shelton

We live in a dualistic world, or really a multi-istic one. As a woman, you are expected to be smart, caring, creative, and dedicated at your job, with your significant other and your family, plus you are supposed to make time for yourself in order to stay healthy and sane. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you start thinking of all the aspects of your life that you are constantly juggling.

For me, this is where yoga comes in. In the West, we mostly view yoga as a physical practice and that is definitely how I got into it. But what I’ve realized in my 10+ years of practicing yoga, is that it has become more than just something I do to stay in shape, it has changed the way I view myself and the world and consequently how I interact with others.

Over the years, yoga has helped me meal my crumbling marriage, my low back and hip pain deemed chronic by my insurance company, and is now supporting me through my next ventures: trying to start a business and a family.

My love of yoga (I knew it was for me in my very first class), led me to begin training to teach after a year. I took my time learning all I could and finally became a YOGA ALLIANCE registered teacher in 2005. Since then, I have become a certified yoga therapist through Loyola Marymount University’s Yoga Therapy program and will soon have my Yoga Alliance 500-hour teacher certification.

This blog will cover topics related to yoga poses and breath awareness that will help you to find the graceful warrior hidden inside you: Strength to manage the everyday stresses in your life as you gracefully create new habits and patterns that allow you to find comfort, health and hope in all areas of your life.

Gina Shelton is a Yoga Alliance registered teacher and Loyola Marymount University certified yoga therapist. She lives in Venice, CA with her husband and weimeraner puppy Fleur. You can read more about creating a healthy lifestyle on her blog