Jun 12

Ki energy techniques for men include drinking tea after doing yoga

In the Dahn Yoga community, there have been plenty of recommendations flying around lately about how men can best supplement their yoga routines. This is mainly because, last week, we celebrated Men's Health Week, a time to get together and reflect on the unique wellness challenges facing American men.

One of the suggestions that we've heard repeatedly is that male yoga practitioners may want to try drinking hot tea after a long, relaxing class. This isn't a bad idea at all, as Yahoo! Sports recently explained.

The news source noted that drinking tea – specifically, a hot brewed green or black herbal tea from a small, handle-less mug – is an excellent way to reinforce the relaxation brought on by a yoga session.

It added that studies have indicated that antioxidants, like the ones found in a piping hot cup of green tea, may help reduce the risk of arthritis, memory problems and heart disease, all of which become bigger problems for men as they age.

So if you're ready to have a post-Father's Day bliss-out session at Dahn Yoga, consider supplementing our ki energy techniques with a warm, steaming cup of tea.

Jan 12

In Chicago yoga classes, being limber isn’t a prerequisite

People who are considering joining their local Dahn Yoga community often have a few questions about the mind-body system before they begin. One of the most common is: "Do I have to be flexible in order to do the basic Dahn Yoga poses?"

The answer is quite simple. No, you don't!

Sure, plenty of Chicago yoga classes seem to revolve around the ability to do the splits, bend yourself into a pretzel or even touch your toes. But in general, limberness is not a prerequisite for making the most of yoga.

One Chicago-based holistic health expert agrees.

"The biggest misconception is that one must be 'naturally' flexible to practice yoga," instructor and studio owner Ingrid Yang told Shape Magazine. "That is why there are so many different varieties of yoga."

She added that the best regimens focus on relaxation, breathing, meditation and tai chi, which are all what characterize Dahn Yoga as a cut above the rest.

"The beauty of yoga is that the aim is not to meet an end goal, but to set the intention to simply show up, get on your mat and be there – aware, awake and present," Yang concluded, as quoted by the news source.

If you're searching for a soothing mind-body system, look no further than your local Dahn Yoga community center.

Jan 12

With yoga, physical and personal development goals are within reach

Yoga is good for the body and the soul, and it's hard to argue otherwise. Some of the nation's leading health organizations say that the holistic healing regimen is good for reaching physical and personal development goals – a sentiment that most yoga experts agree with.

Recently, Lee Renfroe, an assistant professor in health promotion at the University of North Alabama, told the Alabama Times-Daily that doing yoga is something that more healthcare professionals are recommending, especially since the mind-body routine has been found to supplement wellness in so many ways.

"Yoga and meditation and those types of things are evolving," he told the news source. "Part of it has to do with healthcare costs and healthcare issues, and the fact that more people are going to be looking for more ways to impact their health outside of seeing a doctor."

The beauty of yoga is that it is an effective, all-natural way to soothe the body while restoring equilibrium to the mind. No wonder the Mayo Clinic says that yoga is an effective method for reducing stress and anxiety.

By joining the Dahn Yoga community, you're putting your personal wellness first!

May 11

The Benefits of Self-Compassion

In an article on msnbc.com, Robin Nixon reviews new scientific evidence indicating a link between what is being called ‘self-compassion’ and success.

While high self-esteem is often mentioned as a factor in success, research shows that self-compassion is more closely linked with success than is self esteem.  In fact, an overemphasis on self- esteem is sometimes linked with negative traits like narcissism, anxiety and depression.

What is it about self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, that makes us more sucessful?  In the article mentioned above Nixon writes, “Self-compassion, as defined by Neff in the academic literature, has three aspects: mindfulness, common humanity and kindness.” It is these aspects, rather than having high self esteem, that seem to make us more likely to succeed.

In reading this I was immediately reminded of a Dahn Yoga workshop known as “Shim Sung.”  Fundamentally, Shim Sung develops self compassion by strengthening the conviction that inside each of us there exists a “true self.”  The true self is the essential part of the mind unaffected by prejudices and preconceptions, wherein we find a fundamental love and compassion that transcends the boundaries of myself and others.  It is this part of the mind that can allow for a greater sense of self-compassion, and ultimately, outward compassion as well.

Compassion cannot be the result of philosophy alone.  True compassion comes from recognizing ourselves as fundamentally positive and interconnected beings and as such, allowing ourselves the flexibility to change without losing a basic sense of purpose and passion.

In the end, self esteem can be a fragile power, built upon judgments or wishes that often come into conflict with our real, unpredictable experience of daily life.  Self compassion, however, is a more robust system of watching oneself, learning from results, and trying to do better, all with acceptance and love.  When we truly see that we are not our thoughts, emotions, and preconceptions, we naturally become more compassionate to ourselves, knowing that at the core we are perfect and beautiful, and that everything else is simply a work in progress.

May 11

Healing the healer

Are you a caretaker?  Are you at least partially responsible for someone else’s health, happiness, and peace on a daily basis?  Chances are the answer is yes.

Mike Maple/The Commercial Appeal

Being a caretaker can be part of your career—as a nurse, teacher, or social worker to name just a few—or part of your lifestyle—as a spouse, parent, and increasingly as a son or daughter—or even be a part of your personality.

While being a caretaker is wonderful, all too often the last thing that gets accounted for is the condition of the caretaker him or herself.

Many of the individuals who find their way to Dahn Yoga Centers are caretakers.  Oftentimes they have come with the realization that after years of trying to help their families, friends, coworkers or clients, they themselves are somehow lacking in health, happiness or peace.

Often these individuals have noticed mental and emotional symptoms such as  anxiety and depression, or they have been diagnosed with what are still mysterious conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, or they simply have the sense that, despite their sincere efforts to love and care for those around them, something is missing.

When you start taking class at Dahn Yoga one of the first things you will notice is the emphasis to ‘focus on yourself.’

Focussing on yourself is an essential part of Brain Education—the process of awakening greater mastery of the brain and all its functions, including those for self-healing.  At first it may seem unnatural or even ‘selfish’ to focus on yourself, but soon you will appreciate the class as a time to reflect on, relax and rejuvenate your mind and body.

Have you noticed the instructions on an airplane, “In the event of an emergency please secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to help those around you who may need assistance,”?

Or have you ever heard the saying “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he’ll be able to eat for a lifetime,”?

Or how about Mohandas Ghandi’s famous quote, “Be the change that you want to see in the world,”?

These three different pieces of wisdom relate to the truth that it is through ourselves that we help others.  First we need to make sure our own health and happiness is sustainable.  Beyond that, we need to help others become self-sustaining rather than dependent on our help.  Finally, in order to honestly communicate what it is that we truly want, we need to become the very change that we want to share.

This ‘win-win’ principle becomes fundamental to sustaining (or surviving!) the energetic responsibilities of taking care of others.  Some people say all healing is self-healing.  So if you find yourself feeling burnt-out or your condition compromised please take a deeper look at what you need in order to be happy, healthy, and peaceful.   Because healing, like life, is a marathon rather than a sprint!

Apr 11

Saving money starts with your good health.

Many of us have heard the saying “Health is Wealth.”  But have you ever been guilty of putting aside the things that you know are good for your health because of not enough time and money?

In an online article entitled “Five of the Worst Ways to Save Money”  on Moneyning.com, the number 1 worst way to save money is Neglecting Your Health.

Obviously, most of the time we don’t think about it as ‘neglecting our health.’  We often say… “I’ll do it when I have more time,” or “I want to take care of myself but I have bills to pay,” or ”My condition is not THAT bad, I’ll be ok.”

In a sense, all of these are true.  We are often limited in terms of time and money, and it may seem that doing something to ‘feel better’ is a luxury rather than a necessity.

But the above article points out that discounting the value of our health in the long run can cost a great deal more time and money than what it takes to stay healthy through good diet and exercise.  Lower working productivity, increased pain, fatigue or depression are just some of the possible long-term effects that come from ‘putting off’ doing something to feel better.  And the longer these symptoms persist, the harder they may be to correct.

When someone decides to try a class at the Dahn Yoga center, they often come after some signal or event in their life.  It can be as dramatic as being fired from a job, ending a relationship or losing a loved one, or as mundane as noticing a few more aches and pains in the body.  Whatever the reason, the impulse to do something to feel better is an important one, and it’s worth listening to that voice in your head that says “I should really do something about this.”

If your time or your money are limited, try to find the way to balance your ‘outside’ responsibilities with your ‘inside’ ones- specifically your health and peace of mind.  Treating health and happiness as responsibilities rather than luxuries is an important part of moving in a positive direction, and ultimately, maintaining your quality and length of life.

So the next time you’re faced with the decision of whether or not to spend time and money for your health, make your condition a priority.  Find a way to take at least a small step forward, even while you manage the other responsibilities in your life.  The choice between a small step and no step can make all the difference in the world!

Apr 11

Choosing sunshine on a cloudy day…

According to meteorologist Tom Skilling of WGN in Chicago, we are on pace to have the cloudiest April in 118 years.  With that comes a couple of things- rain, cooler temperatures, and for many people, an increased sense of fatigue and depression.

Of course, everyone can react differently to the weather.  Some people seem to love nothing more than a rainy day.  I myself enjoy thunderstorms, especially on a hot summer night.  But extended grey cloud cover and rainy weather seems to get many people down.

This brings up the question, ’just how much depends on the weather?’  Or more generally, are we predominately influenced by outside factors—environmental and social—or can we choose our own feelings and outlooks?  And how can we better create our state of mind the way we want?

Dahn Yoga classes incorporate exercises like stretching, breathing, core strengthening, and energy meditation to develop more ‘energy’ connection.  Energy is the thing that connects the physical body with the non-physical mind.  In fact, ’Dahn’ can literally be translated to mean ‘Energy,’ so the whole Dahn Yoga practice is in a sense designed to strengthen the energy, or mind-body, connection.

By strengthening this energy connection it becomes easier to connect our thoughts and intentions with a corresponding feeling.  For example, let’s say I have had conflicts with coworkers in the past.  I know that getting upset does not help the situation, it only makes things worse and it actually puts me in danger of getting fired!  Intellectually, I know I should try to remain calm and in control, but my ability to do this in a moment of conflict depends on whether I can watch my feelings and choose the one that I want, even when the external situation would otherwise make me upset.  It is this watching power, or awareness, that is developed through the Dahn Yoga energy practice.

So if you’re looking for more power to choose a positive frame of mind, try a class at the Dahn Yoga Center.  Because in life, as we know all too well in Chicago, we may be waiting a long time before we finally get that sunny day!

Apr 11

Finding common ground from the inside out.

In an article entitled “The Science of why we don’t believe Science” Chris Mooney explains some of the social and psychological reasons why people seem to hold onto their thinking about the world even in the face of ‘damning’ scientific evidence to the contrary.

I found this an interesting discussion of the controversy around a wide range of topics, from global warming to President Obama’s religion and birthplace.

Briefly, the article points out that in the face of contrary opinions or evidence people often become even more entrenched in their point of view because reasoning is closely tied to emotional reactions.  Having one’s beliefs threatened, or seemingly threatened, by new evidence elicits a fight-or-flight response not just in the physical body but also in thoughts and emotions.     The result?  Increasingly polarized opinions and arguments such as those that surround most of today’s hot-button topics.

I believe the abovementioned article provides some insight into the difficulty of reaching concensus on any controversial topic, wherein individuals or groups become increasingly irrational or defensive in their arguments.

How, then, can we go about making more peace and understanding so that we can move forward to greater prosperity?

In thinking about this question I was reminded of Dahn Yoga’s Shim Sung workshop (also known as Finding True Self or Self-Discovery Workshop).

An essential part of the Shim Sung workshop is the realization that “I am not my thinking, I am not my emotion, but they are mine.”  This taking-ownership of our thoughts and emotions, as opposed to reacting without awareness, is an essential first step in being able to find common ground with those who think or feel differently from ourselves.

Often times  our own unconscious judgments make us feel stressed even when intellectually we see no reason to be upset.  This unconscious stress influences our emotions and reasoning, making patience and understanding increasingly difficult.

One of the key aspects of the Shim Sung workshop and all Dahn Yoga programs is awakening to the information that is contained within our bodies.  By calming the mind and using the body, we gain greater awareness of our feelings and thoughts, and with that greater power to choose which ones to act on.

These days we have a world of information literally at our fingertips, but utilizing and sharing this information for positive purposes will require the ability to control our thoughts and emotions.  As mentioned in the article above, merely presenting evidence to counter someone else’s opinion usually doesn’t change that person’s mind.  Only by finding the common ground, the “True Self” that we all share, can we begin to understand and trust each other enough to overcome our own doubts about all things new and different.  That, I believe, is a great skill to practice.

Apr 11

Breast cancer survivor takes on triathlons

Dahn yoga aims to provide followers with a means of self exploration and self development. At the same time, yoga has been known to increase positive mood in cancer survivors. Karen Newman, a 50-year-old triathlon winner, was recently featured in the Daily New Canaan.

Newman was chosen to compete on Team USA for the World Triathlon Championships. What is even more amazing is that Newman is a breast cancer survivor whose doctors told her she had no chance at the triathlons.

“Cancer entered our family, and we’ve turned it into love. I get to go and speak to cancer patients. I’m able to do things I’ve never been able to do. Your greatest challenges are your greatest lessons. I am truly blessed,” Newman told the news source.

Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in the U.S. each year. Some like Newman have embraced their survival and taken on new opportunities and activities. Recent research has shown that maintaining a healthy active lifestyle may be one of the key preventative measures against developing breast cancer. All women over the age of 40 are recommended by the American Cancer Society to receive annual mammograms.

Apr 11

Woman overcomes dyslexia and deafness to write book

Dahn yoga can be a means of overcoming a painful experience and seeking personal healing as well as growth. Vee Extance is one person who embodies this notion.

Extance is 38-years-old and planning to write a book about her childhood. What makes is unique is that she was born deaf and is dyslexic as well, according to the Doncaster Free Press.

Extance says that the impetus for her memoir-writing came from her participation in a community learning employment champion (CLEC) project.
“I thought of myself as a victim and I felt useless. When I heard about the CLEC project, it really struck a chord with me. Helping people get their lives back on track by getting them into work and training was a positive thing to do,” Extance told the news source.

Extance, a mother of two teenage boys, says that she never expected to be a source of inspiration for others. However, she received numerous positive feedback comments from other students and lecturers at the CLEC and thus felt confident enough to write her own book.

“Simply by helping and inspiring others we can all achieve what may seem like the impossible,” says Extance. “I’m proof of that.”

The CLEC program in Doncaster offers people a way to participate in their community, support one another and develop confidence as well as new skills, according to their website.