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 Yoga & Meditation

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Certified Yoga Therapist &

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Evolving Your Yoga Practice

Posted on November 5, 2018 at 9:30 AM

EVOLVING YOUR YOGA PRACTICE By Ellen Patrick, E-RYT 500 & Certified Yoga Therapist As a teacher of yoga for almost 2 decades, I have seen many students’ practices fluctuate over the years. I, too, am now experiencing a similar fluctuation. Since I began practicing 40 years ago, my now 57-year-old body is not moving as fast and fluidly as it use to. It is tighter and not as strong. And I need a lot more time to warm up and cool down. Old injuries rear their ugly heads and new ones pop up. Giving up my practice is not an option. But neither is pain and discomfort. So I have begun a reevaluation of my approach and relationship to yoga. It is time to recognize the need to adapt and accommodate the aging process. During this contemplation, I was reminded of the classical yoga tradition of Sri T. Krishnamacharya and his philosophy of the stages of life.


Each day, the sun rises, peaks and sets. Our lives can be viewed through this lens of the various phases of the sun. Sunrise is considered a period to cultivate development; Mid-Day, a therapeutic stage; and Sunset, a time for self-reflection/self-realization. With a clearer understanding of the phase in which you dwell, a yoga practice can be designed that will most appropriately meet your needs and disposition.

SUNRISE: Developmental or Siksana We are born into the dawn of our human experience at Sunrise, which begins at birth and ends somewhere around the age of 25. During this period, communication, intellects, and bodies are developing. This is a time when we are bursting with energy, adventure and curiosity. To facilitate this growth and exhilaration, a personal practice designed to cultivate strength and vitality would best contribute to the requirements of a developing young person. Asana practices such as Power Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga and Hot Yoga would be appropriate. In conjunction with asana, the study of yogic texts such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali would be encouraged. These sutras (short, concise pearls of wisdom) were originally passed on from teacher to student through chanting and memorization. In fact, students had to learn how to perfect the Sanskrit chanting before ever learning the meaning behind the sutra. This technique not only helped developed a fierce memory, but also initiated the study and inquiry of the philosophy of yoga. Through this inquiry, students were primed for the challenging ups and downs of a full life.

MID-DAY: Therapeutic or Cikitsa As the sun reaches its peak, Mid-day will begin around age 26 and can last until 70. Also known as the householder phase, an appropriate yoga practice would be one in which an individual is supported in the ability to fulfill obligations and responsibilities within the work environment, to the community and to family. Stability needs to be cultivated at the level of physical structure, physiological health as well as emotional well-being. It is imperative to focus on injury prevention and rehabilitation, energetic replenishment, nervous system regulation and stress management. An asana practice would include adaptations of poses to accommodate anatomical imbalances. Viniyoga and Iyengar Yoga are ideal methodologies for this stage in that they support the individual to achieve maximum benefits without depleting energy or compromising structure. In addition, it is at this phase that a regular practice of pranayama is nurtured. Asana is no longer the focus, but is the vehicle upon which breath travels. Through breath control, vitality is cultivated and maintained.

SUNSET: Self-reflection/self-realization or Adhyatmika As the obligations and responsibilities of the householder start to wane, one begins to contemplate the meaning of life, share wisdom and prepare for a merging of the soul back to source. The Sunset phase starts around 70 until the end of life. It is a time when connection to Spirit is deeply developed and embraced in anticipation of the final moments of life. Yoga practice now moves further away from asana, but grows in refinement of pranayama, meditation, prayer and ritual. Fear of death is conquered and a peaceful mind and heart can be nurtured.


My current yoga practice has been adapted for sustainability. It strengthens and protects my vulnerabilities. The dancer in me enjoys slow, flowing movement that empowers me to remain mindful and present. Meditation is a non-negotiable. Pranayama balances and regulates my nervous system. When practiced daily, I feel grounded, confident and calm.

4 Tips for Incorporating Wellness at Work

Posted on March 3, 2015 at 2:10 PM

  • Take Breathing Breaks You’re thinking, “why take a breathing break when I’m breathing all day long?” The answer is because most of us have shallow breathing patterns. Take 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the afternoon to consciously and fully breathe into your lungs, watching your chest and belly expand and relax. This will calm your nervous system, decrease stress and revive your energy.
  • Eat Healthy Snacks Between Meals Ditch the donuts and chocolate bars and instead grab nuts, carrot sticks or fruit to munch on mid-morning and mid-afternoon. These snacks will inhibit a drop in your blood sugar and prevent energy slumps.
  • Do Simple Yoga Stretches at Your Desk Our posture suffers from sitting all day working at a computer screen. To counteract the muscle tension this creates, simple yoga stretches can release both physical and mental stress. Take a few minutes to stand up and clasp your hands behind your back. Press your hands away from your body and feel the delicious stretch of muscles across your chest. Your body will thank you.
  • Drink Lots of Water Our body is made up of 60% water, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Watering the body will help to flush out the kidneys, combat muscle fatigue and give your skin a healthy glow. Throw some fruit, like lemon or orange, into your water and make it extra tasty.

Yoga vs. Prescription Meds

Posted on October 14, 2014 at 12:20 AM

Recently, the NBC "Today" show produced a segment posing the question, "Are Americans an overprescribed "pill nation'"? Accordng to this report, the government estimates 2.1 million Americans are addicted to prescription medications: 1.4 million are treated annually for overdoses; and the Centers for Disease Control estimates 22,000 Americans die every year from prescription drug overdoses. The most commonly misused prescriptions are for pain, sleep, depression and anxiety.

In many cases, medications are necessary and life-saving, but self-help techniques can reduce or eliminate the continuing need for prescriptions, as well as, trips to the emergency room as a result of misuse. These techniques include yoga and yoga therapy, which can free us from painful, dysfunctionial moverment patterns. Breathing techniques that may release anxiety by relaxing the nervous system and inviting a good night's sleep. And meditation can lift us out of dysfunctional thoughts and feelings. Why not add yoga to your prescription for health and well-being?

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