During my training at Kripalu I was introduced to the acronym BRFWA and I’ve practiced it ever since.

  • Breathe
  • Relax
  • Feel
  • Watch
  • Allow

On the yoga mat it means:

  • Come back to your breath. Watch it moving in and out.
  • Let go of the physical and emotional grip. Relax.
  • Be mindful of how what you are doing makes you feel.
  • Watch what happens as you practice. How does your body move or react? How does yoga affect your mood? Watch without judgment.
  • Allow the pose to unfold, to open up, to expand.
  • Come back to breath.

And it means the same thing off the mat.

Invite mindfulness into every thing you do.

Notice your life.

Loving your Psoas


Image courtesy, a biological science picture library.

Loving and caring for your psoas (pronounced so-az) is a worthwhile intention in your yoga practice.

The psoas muscle lies deep within, connecting to the spine and leg bone. It is a large and intensely important muscle that connects the top half of your body to the bottom half, and the back of the body to the front.

A healthy, flexible psoas has much to do with ease of movement; alleviating lower back pain, including sciatica; and healthy breathing.

One of the best illustrations of the psoas and how it works is a post by Todd Norian, linked below. I have taken a number of workshops with Todd. He is terrific, and I thank him for sharing his knowledge.

See Todd’s post here.

Judy Gudmestad shows us how to locate, strengthen and stretch the psoas in this article.

“How to Stretch and Strengthen the Psoas”

Parkinson’s Disease and Movement

Kripalu Center for Health and Yoga in Stockbridge, Mass., partners with the National Parkinson Foundation to offer programs specifically for Parkinson’s patients. You can see scheduled 2015 programs at Parkinson’s and Yoga.

Insights found from NPR regarding various movement therapies to address Parkinson’s disease: Fight Parkinson’s: Exercise May Be The Best Therapy

Parkinson’s disease afflicts about a million Americans — more than multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and ALS combined. Every year 50,000 more get the diagnosis, a number that’s going up as the population ages. They face a gradual loss of control over their muscles, leading to tremors, loss of balance and difficulty walking or speaking.

And boxing, it turns out, is only one of an expanding array of movement therapies gaining in popularity as antidotes to Parkinson’s. Other Parkinson’s patients are drumming, dancing to a Latin beat, practicing the ancient Chinese art of tai chi or golfing.

Dr. Daniel Tarsy, director of the Parkinson’s disease program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston sees meaningful change in a lot of patients who go into these exercise programs.

“I’m a believer,” Tarsy says. “Patients look a lot different walking out an hour later than they did walking in. They literally have a bounce to their step.”

Tarsy says patients often report that their movements become more fluid. That’s the opposite of the rigid, jerky movements typical of Parkinson’s.

“There is a growing consensus among researchers about the short- and long-term benefits of exercise for people with Parkinson’s disease,” the National Parkinson Foundation says on its website. “Research has shown that exercise can improve gait, balance tremor, flexibility, grip strength and motor coordination.”

Movement is Medicine

National Public Radio (NPR) ran a story recently, “A YouTube Video Is Doctor’s Secret Weapon Against Back Pain.” For most yoga practitioners, teachers, and students, that secret was not very well kept.

Mindful movement is what yoga brings to healthcare.

Doc Mike Evans approaches medicine for the sake of wellness and he presents his insights, findings, and recommendations with simplicity and humor.

The Gentle Stretch yoga that Chris and others teach can be a very effective path to dealing with and even reducing back pain and the emotional pain that often accompanies it.

I first experienced these benefits from taking classes with Peggy Cappy and still use what I learned from her.

If you are studying/practicing yoga already, Doc Evans’s work should be more encouragement and reassurance. If you’re not, but having back pain or want to avoid it, Doc Evans has the right prescription: movement done with proper awareness and respect for your body.

Feel better. Live well.

How Yoga Changes Our Experience of Pain

To me, yoga is about mindfulness. And mindfulness is transformational.

A study reported in 2011 [PDF] by York University in Toronto, considers the effects of yoga on women who suffer from fibromyalgia.  But it’s interesting for the rest of us too.

The point I most want to share is this:

“We saw their levels of mindfulness increase – they were better able to detach from their psychological experience of pain,” Curtis says. Mindfulness is a form of active mental awareness rooted in Buddhist traditions; it is achieved by paying total attention to the present moment with a non-judgmental awareness of inner and outer experiences.

“Yoga promotes this concept – that we are not our bodies, our experiences, or our pain. This is extremely useful in the management of pain,” she says. “Moreover, our findings strongly suggest that psychological changes in turn affect our experience of physical pain.”

Many thanks to York University for sharing this information.