International Day of Yoga: A Reading List for Students and Teachers

International Day of Yoga takes place across the globe on the 21st of June 2019. Many yoga teachers and studios will be offering free classes and events to help raise awareness worldwide of the benefits of practicing yoga. To celebrate, we have collated a reading list to support students and teachers in their practice, as well as those looking to incorporate yoga into their day-to-day lives.

Did we miss anything? What topics would you like to see on our lists? Let us know in the comments below!

The Complete Yoga Anatomy Coloring Book
Katie Lynch

This practical and engaging coloring book helps yoga teachers and students develop their knowledge of the human body. Featuring 100+ illustrations and backed by rigorous scientific knowledge, it is the ultimate tool for all those interested in practising yoga effectively and safely. Learn more

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Meet The Singing Dragon Author: Karla Helbert

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Karla Helbert, author of The Chakras in Grief and Trauma: A Tantric Guide to Energetic Wholeness

How did you become interested in yoga therapy and aromatherapy?
I became interested in aromatherapy in the early 90’s and have studied it ever since. I have long been drawn to essential oils for therapeutic, emotional and spiritual uses. I began taking yoga classes around 1999 and after a year, decided to take a teacher training and it was life changing. It brought together all the aspects of spiritual life that I had been seeking for years, one that addresses humans as whole beings—physically, emotionally, energetically, spiritually. As a psychotherapist, I was able to bring the principles and teachings of yoga into my practice with clients and can see the effectiveness not only of asana (poses), meditation and breathwork, but also how the philosophy and ethical underpinnings of yoga support and create change. The essential teaching of yoga is wholeness and that our true nature is and has always been whole, that we can be no other way. Life, pain, grief, heartbreak, challenges, cause us to forget our essential wholeness, but all the teachings and branches of yoga remind us of this truth. Continue reading

Meet the Singing Dragon Author: Ilkay Zihni Chirali

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Ilkay Zihni Chirali, author of Cupping Therapy for Bodyworkers

How did you become interested in cupping therapy? Were there any challenges in entering this field?
I would not be exaggerating if I said that I was born into the cupping therapy world! My grandmother, who at the time was living with us in Lemba in Cyprus, was a renowned midwife and herbalist. She would often use this technique to treat the expectant mothers for their various complaints, including colds and muscular aches and pains. It was my mother’s duty – and, much later, mine – to wash and clean up the cups after each use. Later on in 1982, when I studied traditional Chinese medicine in Melbourne, Australia, to my surprise I discovered that cupping therapy is also part of the traditional Chinese medicine treatment tools. Needless to say I was so familiar with the techniques that our professor, Dr Wang, asked if I could assist him during the sessions!
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Meet The Singing Dragon Author: Dr. Steffany Moonaz

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Dr. Steffany Moonaz, author of Yoga Therapy for Arthritis

How did you become interested in yoga therapy? Were there any challenges you faced in entering this industry?
I started working as a yoga therapist before I knew what yoga therapy was. After my 200-hour training, I was hired by Johns Hopkins University to help develop a yoga program for people with arthritis. My training was essentially safe, but largely inadequate to meet their needs, so we learned from each other. I brought the fullness of my yoga training and they brought the fullness of their arthritis, and together we figured out what worked, what was most helpful, what needed further adaptation. Since then, with additional training as both a yoga therapist and a scientist focusing exclusively on this population, I’ve come a long way. I’m proud to say that since learning about yoga therapy, I’ve been actively involved in the professionalization of the field and its representation in the broader movement of integrative health. There was so little work being done specifically in arthritis when I got my start, despite how prevalent it is. I was basically handed my dharma and have been following it ever since.

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Meet The Singing Dragon Author: Lydia Bosson

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Lydia Bosson, author of Hydrosol Therapy

How did you become interested in aromatherapy?
I discovered aromatherapy about thirty years ago. A friend had given me an essential oil of lavender and one of neroli. As the effect of these two essences impressed me so much, I decided to deepen this knowledge. Subsequently, I tried many essential oils and hydrosols on myself and those around me. The rest is history – and fortunately, the collective spirit has opened up to alternative medicine in recent years. Continue reading

Yoga poses to help prepare the body for sleep

Yoga therapy offers a truly holistic approach to solving the growing problem of insomnia. In her new book, Yoga Therapy for Insomnia & Sleep Recovery, expert yoga therapist Lisa Sanfilippo explains how yoga practices can be used to target the underlying issues that inhibit good quality sleep, with immediate results that build over time.

Honouring a natural yogic and Ayurvedic approach, and infusing it with modern neuroscience, Lisa addresses the deeper emotional reasons for not sleeping well and looks at how lifestyle changes can help to achieve better quality rest. With the body-mind connection at its core, this book shows how to support better health holistically to restore balance in each layer of the body.

In the below video, Lisa demonstrates her favourite yoga poses from a sleep sequence to help you relax and prepare your body for sleep.

 

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Implications for Pain Guesses to Yoga Therapy

In this extract from Matthew J. Taylor’s latest book, Yoga Therapy as a Creative Response to Pain, Taylor discusses how yoga therapy can be used to decrease pain and the perception of pain. 

How does one teach from the wisdom of pain? And how could yoga therapy be a creative response? My hope is you are starting to see some answers emerge. (Pun intentional and literal.) In this section I will offer some direct implications to make some of this what they used to call “lieutenant-proof” in the army when I was a lieutenant. (Do note later, though, Nora’s caution around giving “direct” instructions.)

We “know,” taken together, the above findings are important because they demonstrate that the neural mechanisms involved in mindfulness- based pain relief are consistent with greater processing of sensory experience and at the same time decreases in pain appraisal (Zeidan et al. 2015). Our familiar practices of paying attention inward and editing narratives. Pain reduction may also occur by fine-tuning the amplification of nociceptive sensory events through top-down control processes of inhibition of incoming nociceptive information and that such pain relief does not reduce pain through one avenue, but rather multiple, unique neural mechanisms. Ah, CDSR. Zeidan and Vago (2016) also cite evidence that mindfulness meditation engages mechanisms that are distinct from placebo to reduce pain and that this could be of critical importance to the millions of chronic pain sufferers seeking a fast-acting non-opioid pain therapy. See the marketing section coming up next for how to use this information. There is a decoupling between “sensory and appraisal-related brain regions,” and similarly, between “sensory and affective pain” to increase coping with the pain that does improve. An alleviation of suffering even if pain is unchanged in intensity? This is the frequently reported decrease in the unpleasantness dimension of pain with respect to pain intensity (Zeidan et al. 2015) plus what we already discussed about yoga also altering the meaning, interpretation, and appraisal of nociceptive information, all of which could be important tools for producing more stable and long-lasting improvements in chronic pain symptoms. Wow! How do we do that?

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Yoga for Dementia – A Q&A with Author Tania Plahay

yoga dementia Following the recent release of Yoga for Dementia, we asked author Tania Plahay a few questions about her work as a yoga teacher for people with dementia. Her book is based on the findings of a pilot therapeutic programme Tania ran for people with dementia in care homes.

 

What led you to become a yoga teacher and how did you become interested in running yoga sessions for older people in care?

Throughout my life I have benefited from the simple practices of yoga, for example, it helped me deal with the death of my father when I was 21 and many other of life’s ups and downs. After practicing for over 10 years I decided to train to be a yoga teacher as I was keen to share these simple techniques with others.

For a while before my father passed away he had lived in a care home. I remember visiting him there and seeing the residents just sitting in their chairs, not really doing anything, or engaging with others. This made me feel very sad and inspired me to work with older people in care.

 

What are the benefits of yoga for people living with dementia?

Dementia is not one condition but rather a collection of symptoms associated with the loss of memory and other thinking skills and will affect people differently. However dementia does have some common symptoms which yoga can help with. I’ve outlined a few of these below:

  • Cognitive decline. Yoga and meditation exercises have been shown to be better than some standard memory exercises in improving mental functioning. For example, meditation can result in improvements in brain grey matter that is involved in learning and memory, regulating emotions, sense of self, and having perspective.
  • Living with dementia can bring with it stress and anxiety. Yogic breathing exercises can help deal with these feelings, by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and the “relaxation response”.
  • It is estimated that up to 40% of people living with Alzheimer’s Disease also have depression, and yoga has been shown to help manage the symptoms of depression.
  • Dementia often results in people loosing a sense of their location in space – known as spatial awareness. Yoga exercises can help improve both spatial awareness, and also our proprioception, which is our sense of the relative position of one’s own body parts and strength of effort being employed in movement.
  • Loneliness and a lack of social relationships has been linked to risk of dementia. Group yoga classes can provide a safe non-judgmental space for people to do activities together and can therefore help form social bonds.
  • Yoga is a holistic practice, in that it helps with the mind, body and emotional life. Many people living with dementia may have other health issues, and therefore practicing yoga can be beneficial on many levels.

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