Yoga Brings the Floor Up to More and More of Us #in

   It’s so simple. We sit in a chair. We may have a “bad” back, or really sore shoulders. We may have just had knee or hip surgery, chemo. Or perhaps it’s the chronic pain of Lyme Disease or Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Next thing we know, we are graceful dancers in mid-air, grounded on our folding chair seats in compassion — for ourselves — gently supporting and reaching. We’re doing what those folks who can get on the floor for yoga do. We’re doing what those who can stand, balanced and strong, can do. The floor has come to us, bolster upon bolster, and we are open and letting go of our fear, taking care to support ourselves all around with breath, intent, focused energy, joy (and a well-placed arm or prop).

We, like the hot yogis, the vinyasa yogis, the acro-yogis and even the naked yogis, are exploring our edges — all of them, mind and body — and allowing ourselves to safely release the strain, the effort,  into new lengths and strengths. We may be 55, 85 or 32, but later, we too who have come to yoga hurting, hearing it’s what we need for our pain, our stress, will slip as the hand-standing pretzel-shaped yogis do too, if they’re lucky, into the peace and freedom of deep relaxation and meditation. We have come to yoga to heal, to try to live a little longer, to calm (and maybe cure?) our hearts and bodies, for some health care we can practice for ourselves.

For us, it has been quite a week! — Hospital for Special Surgery, long a provider of integrative health care, with yoga and meditation classes onsite, was picked by U.S. News the No. 1 hospital, No. 3 in Rheumatology (I’m thrilled to be associated with them, with a two-week workshop on sleep & relaxation in Oct.); the Samueli Foundation and the Benson Herbert Center in Mass. are making incredible, evidence-based headway in bringing yoga’s benefits throughout the military (of course, not far or fast enough), especially but not only for those with PTSD; and here in NYC, Integral Yoga Institute announced it is beginning a pioneering health initiative in the fall with weekly Yoga for Arthritis and Chronic Pain, Yoga for Cancer and Yoga for MS classes, opening therapeutic, restorative yoga outside a medical setting. This has been a dream of Integral Yoga NYC’s visionary leadership (and of mine) for years. All in all, we — who need that floor to come to us — are very happy.

It’s “manifesting,” as we say in yoga. The way is being lit for yoga to become a sustainable component of patient care, and those of us who know yoga’s healing power can just be humbly grateful.


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