Monday, October 22, 2012

Yoga Help for Shoulder Injuries

I've been doing a little research on how yoga can help heal shoulder injuries (I've had issues with mine before). Here are some great sites that I've found:

Most sites seem to recommend seeing a doctor if your pain has gone on for several weeks.

These next links are from a yoga anatomy teacher that I love - Julie Gudmestad. I studied with her in Colorado a few weeks ago. Great articles:

Hope these help shed some light.
I'm Susan Reeves, E-RYT 500. I offer yoga classes in Highland Village, Flower Mound, and Lewisville areas. Please sign up in the right-hand column for e-mail updates on yoga articles, current classes and workshops. 

I'm one of the co-founders of Yoga Bridge. Yoga Bridge is a non-profit that addresses the needs of people in any stage of cancer diagnosis/ recovery through the healing practice of yoga in a supportive and nurturing environment.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Malas for Charity in September - Where the Money Goes

Buy a Mala, Help a Cause

Every September since 2008, Moondog Treasures has been donating 54% of the sales of all mala bracelets to charity in honor of The Global Mala, a world-wide yoga event that goes on across the world in late September and raises money for charity

Where the money has gone

2008 Trees for the Future
2009 Yoga-Recess in Schools
2010 Gayla's favorite charity to help kids in Peru
2011 American Brain Tumor Association

The first couple of years, I donated to the charities that supported. The next couple of years, it got personal.

In 2010, my dear friend/co-worker/pregnant-at-the-same-time-as-me sister, Gayla, lost her battle with liposarcoma, a very rare form of cancer. She spent her last year volunteering in Peru. My money went there.

Last year my sister's husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. He lost his battle 8 months later. My money went to fund research for brain tumors.

Where the money goes this year

This year is full of hope. 54% of the sales of all mala bracelets from my shop will be donated to an effort that I am personally involved in - Yoga Bridge. Yoga Bridge offers free support for cancer survivors through the practice of yoga, breathwork and meditation. 


A colleague and I co-founded this organization last August and have been working at it ever since. We co-teach a free Breast Cancer Yoga class weekly at a local hospital, thanks to the support of Foundation 56. We also run a program of classes and workshops where part of the money collected goes back into a fund to keep the cancer yoga classes free.

54% of all mala bracelets purchased during the week of September 7-14 this year will help pay for free yoga classes for cancer survivors and buy props that we will use in class.

How did this all begin?

I donate in honor of my friends, and in honor of the Global Mala. My yoga teacher, Shiva Rea, is the original coordinator of this event. I've gone to California many times to study yoga with her, so this event is very close to my heart.

Click on the pictures below to see more malas (for women and men) from my store or to purchase a mala bracelet.

Malas for Women
Malas for Men

Thank you
A sincere thank you to all who have purchased malas throughout the years and have helped all of these wonderful causes.
I'm Susan Reeves, E-RYT 500. I offer yoga classes in Highland Village, Flower Mound, and Lewisville areas. Please click here to sign up for e-mail updates on yoga articles, current classes and workshops.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

DFW Free Day of Yoga

Highland Village Yoga will be celebrating Yoga Month by offering a Free yoga class on September 3rd. 

Here's some information about it:

Highland Village Yoga
2225 Highland Village Road
Highland Village, TX 75077

Class Title: Hatha + Restorative Blend
Skill Level: All
Start time: 9:00 a.m.
End time: 10:15 a.m.
What to Bring: Yoga mat

Summary: Join us for an enlivening practice of classical hatha yoga, then stay and receive the soothing benefits of a restorative practice. Qualified, experienced E-RYT 500 instructors will lead you through a non-competitive, friendly-on-the-body practice.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Yoga, Cancer, and MD Anderson

I am a yoga teacher. Many of my students have cancer and are survivors of cancer.

Last month I attended an ocology training at MD Anderson in Houston. I'm not a doctor, and this wasn't an actual medical conference. It was the 4th Annual Oncology Training for Yoga Teachers. 

The major presenters are some of the giants in the research of the benefits of yoga asana, pranayama and meditation for patients undergoing treatment for cancer. Alejandro Chaoul, PhD, Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, and Dr. Richard T. Lee, MD are among several doctors and scientists in the Integrative Medicine arena who have been involved in recent clinical studies about yoga and cancer.

Their findings have been published in medical journals and within the yoga community around the world. Here is a summary of what they are discovering based upon their current research:

1) Chronic stress shortens the telomeres in cells and causes aging, leaving the cells susceptible to a host of conditions and diseases, especially cancer.

2) MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) techniques, such as yoga asana, breathwork, and meditation, help mood, depression, anger, sleep quality, and fatigue.

3) Secondary Lymphedema (a result of the removal of lymph nodes during surgery) can be relieved through movement, isometric exercises, and breathwork - [the major components of a yoga practice, my observation].

I'll be expanding on these studies in future writings, along with other topics including guidelines for safety, communication with medical staff, laughter yoga, teacher ethics, yoga postures and breathing techniques, meditation techniques, and the Indian model for cancer care.

For now, I'll leave you with these quotes from two of the presenters:

Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, Professor and Program Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson: "Cancer patients need yoga more than any person on this planet."

Dr. Ki Shin, MD, Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, says "We'll all be doing yoga in the future".

I'm Susan Reeves, E-RYT 500. I offer yoga classes in Highland Village, Flower Mound, and Lewisville areas. Please sign up in the right-hand column for e-mail updates on yoga articles, current classes and workshops.  

I'm one of the co-founders of Yoga Bridge. Yoga Bridge addresses the needs of people in any stage of cancer diagnosis/ recovery through the healing practice of yoga in a supportive and nurturing environment.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What is a Mantra?

Om.  What is a mantra?  In the yoga classes that I teach, I usually define it as a meaningful sound, word, or phrase that, when repeated, can bring about a sense of devotion, calmness, and peace.  Throughout the past few years, I have had various meaningful mantras. 

"Love from a distance".
When one of my children goes through a difficult time, this is my mantra.  As a mother, my first instinct is to run in and rescue. However, I realize that in order for my children to grow and mature, I need to step back and let them solve some of their own problems.  This one is tough. The mantra helps.

"Drop everything and go".  I've lost several friends and a close relative to cancer in the past two years.  It has been a sad time.  Instead of focusing on the past, this mantra has helped me to focus on the present. 

These people gave me a gift - the realization that life is precious, and so very short.  Because of their untimely passing, I'm all the more aware of the importance of family and friendships. 

When my son asks me to join him for lunch at his school, I can think of several things I'd rather be doing than eating a happy meal in a noisy cafeteria.  Then I remember this mantra.  He won't be my sweet little guy who wants to spend time with his mom forever.  Drop it.  Go.

"Stand up".  This is my current mantra. In the yoga world where my career resides, I've noticed so many changes.  It seems to have become a world where superficiality reigns over substance. This is not the yoga I signed up for.

So what is?  A yoga that brings peace of mind and has integrity of purpose.  A yoga where people can learn at their own pace and feel good about themselves.  A yoga where people don't feel that they have to dress a certain way, look a certain way, pose a certain way.

So, here is where I landed.  A little gym in a little suburb.  And a hospital where women who are surviving cancer can come and practice their yoga among a system of support and non-judgment.

Here is where I stand up.  Here is where I find meaning.  Many have questioned my decision to leave the studio world of yoga.  This mantra reminds me that I am doing the right thing.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Cure for the Post-Vacation Blues

After such a relaxing week, it feels great to get back to work!  Planning a Shanti Prana Flow class with a special Yoga Nidra to celebrate the upcoming Summer Solstice.
Here's my schedule for this week 6/18-6/22:

5:30-6:45 p.m.
Yoga for Cancer Survivors, Denton Regional Medical Center,
3535 South Interstate 35; Denton, TX
Open to the public.  $10 donation to Foundation 56. 
FREE for Breast Cancer Survivors
Contact me here for more information.

9-10 a.m.  
Prana Flow at Excite in Highland Village
2225 Highland Village Rd., Highland Village, TX
More info here.

9-10 a.m.  
Prana Flow Special Class at Excite in Highland Village,
2225 Highland Village Rd., Highland Village, TX
More info here.

9-10 a.m.
Restorative Yoga at Excite in Highland Village,
2225 Highland Village Rd., Highland Village, TX
More info here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thai Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga - An Inherent Connection

I recently taught a Prana Flow class as part of a Thai Yoga Workshop, led by Pamela Ryan.  During this workshop, the students learned and practiced various body-work techniques to enhance the yoga classes that they teach.  Thai Yoga is a type of massage that involves yogasana-like stretching and deep massage.

My part of the workshop was to teach a yoga practice that served to remind the students of their own postural alignment in the asanas - specifically pelvic alignment in such  poses as Tadasana, Plank, and various lunges.  With these techniques in mind, the students would be able to safely approach practicing Thai Yoga on others without injuring themselves.
Pamela demonstrating Thai Yoga with Susan.

As I was teaching the class, I realized I was emphasizing another technique that was equally important, a technique that forms the basis of vinyasa yoga - movement with the breath. I found myself reminding them to slow down, to feel the flowing movement between the asanas, to move in rhythm with their own breath.

Pamela's portion of the workshop began.  She demonstrated several techniques, using me as her *model*.  Pure bliss.  There was a methodic, rhythmic movement to many of the techniques.

As the students began practicing this technique w/ each other, something became abundantly clear - they were rushing through it. Their movements were stiff.  They were nervous, afraid of hurting the partner they were assisting.  To get them to relax a bit, I reminded themof the natural flow of the vinyasa practice they just finished.  Pamela nodded and smiled.  They needed to slow down, to breathe, to move in connection with their own breath. 

Something interesting happened. As the student became aware and rested inside of her own breath, she became more in sync with her partner. The movement was organic, natural.  You could see the pleasure on the face of the person receiving. 

Vinyasa and Thai Yoga - a nice blend. 

We'll be offering another segment of this workshop in mid-August. Click here for more info.

This workshop was offered as part of a series of Feel Good Twice Workshops.  A part of the proceeds are donated to Bradie James' Foundation 56, an organization that provides services to women with breast cancer.

Pamela and Susan formed Yoga Bridge to address the needs of people in any stage of cancer diagnosis/ recovery through the healing practice of yoga in a supportive and nurturing environment. Serving the areas of Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denton, Flower Mound, Lewisville, and Highland Village. Our goal is to offer FREE yoga to breast cancer patients and survivors. 

Susan Reeves, E-RYT 500. I offer yoga classes in Highland Village, Flower Mound, and Lewisville areas. Please sign up in the side-bar (right) for e-mail updates on current classes and workshops.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yoga to the rescue for allergy sufferers

It's that time of year again!  Sunny days, cool breezes, flowers everywhere, and...sneezing, wheezing, and watering eyes.  How can yoga help?
Yoga is all about being practical, finding balance.  Krishnamacharya, the founder of modern yoga, taught his students to adjust their practice according to the season. So, after the sluggishness of winter, it would make sense for our practice to experience an awakening, an opening to the sun.

One of the best ways to get the blood (and the sinuses) flowing is with a few rounds of Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutations.  Click this link on Yoga Journal for the how-to.  The words "Surya Namaskar" mean "to bow to the sun". 

Energetically, in the springtime, we feel like moving, like getting outdoors.  So our yoga practice should reflect that vitality:  standing poses, warrior poses; anything that opens the heart, such as Standing Anahatasana (Heart-Opening Pose with hands at lower back), Bhujangasana (Cobra), and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog).  Inversions, such as Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) and Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Straddle Fold)  are also good poses to consider because they encourage the flow of mucous.

One of my favorite poses to help open the chest for deep breathing is a restorative one.  Recline on a bolster (or large cushion), supporting the head with a small towel or blanket.  Arms can also be supported with rolled up towels/blankets.

For more information on yoga for allergies, see this link from Yoga Journal. 

Susan Reeves, E-RYT 500.  I offer yoga classes in Highland Village, Flower Mound, and Lewisville areas. Please sign up in the side-bar (right) for e-mail updates on current classes and workshops.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Can yoga wreck your body?

     Yes, if you're not mindful.  There was an article recently in the New York Times about the "dangers" of practicing yoga.  While I've taught yoga for several years and have praised its benefits, I have seen my share of people who have been hurt practicing it.  I've had my own injuries ranging from shoulder to hamstrings to knee.  I now work regularly with a qualified teacher, in a small class setting, to find proper alignment in these poses to hopefully prevent further injury.  It's important to me as a yoga student, and teacher, to constantly be learning.
      And no.  The NY Times article goes on to discourage a yoga practice for most people.  Here is where I completely disagree.  I believe yoga can be a healing practice for anyone who seeks it.  Once again, mindfulness is key.  There are so many styles of yoga, from therapeutic to gentle to hot and sweaty power yoga.  If you find you are hurting yourself in your practice, something needs to change. 

Yoga Support for Cancer Survivors Class

     There is an article I saw recently that really spoke to me.  Arturo Galvez, a yoga teacher in the San Diego area, replies on this same topic:  '“I don’t recommend to them, ‘don’t do yoga.’ I recommend to them to go find a smaller class and a teacher who has the experience to handle their problem,” Galvez said. “Find someone who can give you the attention and that has the experience, and if that happens then it can be great.”  Galvez suggests the way yoga is currently marketed to Americans and the way it is increasingly practiced is the source of such risk and injury. The problem lies not in the practice of yoga itself, but in the increase of large classes taught by inadequate teachers to a constantly changing group of practitioners with the main focus of yoga as an exercise."  To read more of this article, click here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tias Little Yoga Workshop on Yoga for the Lower Back

I just attended a yoga workshop at the Dallas Yoga Center about Yoga and the Sacrum, led by Tias Little, from Santa Fe.  I had taken from him before and found his style to be subtle, yet profound.  He has a quiet demeanor and possesses a vast knowledge of yoga alignment, Chinese medicine, and Buddhist philosphy.

The segment that I enrolled in was all about fluidity in the sacrum.  I decided to take this particular class because so many of the yoga students that I teach have stuggles with back problems.  I learned a great deal.

Tias began the class with a discussion (followed by asana practice) which focused on the importance of fluidity in a person's body, reminding us that the human body is 87% water.  He spoke about the "tidal rhythm" that is in all of us:  in our breath, our heart, spleen, stomach, liver..., that there is constantly an expansion and a narrowing within our bodies.  He called yoga the "art of hydration", focusing specifically on the large intestine, which he said is the home of the water element.  When there is little movement in our bodies, it can create problems of stagnation, especially in the process of elimination.

So, drink lots of water, eat foods with a high water content, and practice lots of movement in the body through yoga, dance, and anything else that you love.

A poem that Tias read:
"Be soft in your practice,
think of the method as a fine silvery stream,
not a raging waterfall.
Follow the stream, have faith in its course.
It will go on its way, meandering here, trickling there. 
It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices.
Just follow it.  Never let it out of your sight.
It will take you there."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Yoga for Breast Cancer

I'm excited about the new Yoga for Breast Cancer program starting January 31 at the Denton Regional Medical Center.  A colleague and I will be teaching a variety of types of yoga, depending on the students' needs:  restorative yoga, meditation, and yoga for energy.  See for details about the classes we teach.

Classes are free to those with breast cancer/survivors of breast cancer. $10 for friends and caregivers. Entire program is funded by Bradie James' Foundation 56.  Bradie James’ Foundation 56 is helping fight breast cancer by offering complimentary therapy classes such as yoga, cooking, art, Zumba, dance and more for breast cancer patients and survivors.   

Contact: Judy Jeanes, (940) 384-3990, to reserve a spot

Most of us have friends and family who have been affected by cancer. We see what they are going through and often feel helpless to do anything. Hopefully this program can be a support on a physical, mental, and emotional level to people who really need it.

Here is a link to a previous blog post that refers to the benefits of yoga during and after cancer treatment.

I'm Susan Reeves, E-RYT 500. I offer yoga classes in Highland Village, Flower Mound, and Lewisville areas. Please sign up in the right-hand column for e-mail updates on yoga articles, current classes and workshops.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What is pranayama?

Pranayama is the combination of the Sanskrit words prana (lifeforce) and ayama (control).  It is oftentimes loosely translated to be a set "breathing techniques".  In the practice of yoga, pranayama plays an important part. 

Let's take a closer look at the breath.  Most of the information that follows comes from my notes and observations from H. David Coulter's Anatomy of Hatha Yoga:
  • Breathing basics:
Breathing in and out has much more to do with sustaining life than simply getting air into and out of the lungs.  Every cell in our body needs oxygen.  Our cells depend on our breathing to move oxygen from the lungs to the blood to the cells and to also move carbon dioxide from the cells to the blood to the lungs and out into the air.
The lungs are composed mostly of air:  %50 after we exhale and %80 after we inhale.  You can tell this by slapping the chest versus the abdomen.  The chest sounds hollow and the abdomen sounds liquid. 
You can observe the rising and falling of the breath if you lie on your belly.  Breathing through the nose, notice how the upper body rises with the inhalation and falls with the exhalation.  Because you are keeping the back muscles tight as you do this, the movement is coming mostly from the muscles for respiration.  If you breathe smoothly and evenly, you feel a gentle rocking movement.  This is an example of “thoraco-diaphragmatic breathing”.  This is a great exercise for strengthening the diaphragm. 
  • Why Yogis focus on the breath:
We take breathing for granted.  It is usually outside of our awareness, but it is possible to breathe with awareness, “volition and will”.   We can choose to focus on our breathing and we can choose the way in which we breathe.  Most of the time we “run on automatic….  Yogis emphasize choice.” 
  • How breathing affects the autonomic nervous system:
            Abnormal breathing can stimulate the autonomic nervous system and create panic attacks.  This can even cause hyperventilation, which lowers the blood’s lever of carbon dioxide.  Quiet, regular breathing can have the opposite reaction:  it slows the heart beat, reduces blood pressure and can bring a sense of calm.  This ability to choose how we breathe “gives us access to autonomic function that no other system of the body can boast.”      
  • Good breathing (pranayama) techniques:
Calming breath.  A great calming breathing technique is the 2:1 breath where the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation.  Lying supine with a gentle weight (the hand, or even better, a sandbag) on the abdomen and breathing deeply can also be helpful.  “Because the contents of the abdominal cavity have a liquid character, gravity pushes them to a higher than usual position in the torso when you are lying down.”
Relaxed abdomen breathing.  In a seated position, breathe normally with a focus on the transitions between inhaling and exhaling and vice versa.  Notice if there is an uneven quality to the breath.  Imagine the breath is making a circular pattern:  going up is inhaling and coming down is exhaling.  The point is to try to eliminate the jerks in the breath and make the transitions more seamless.
Posture awareness.  Sitting in a chair, try slumping forward slightly and notice the difference:  “inhalation is more labored, exhalation starts with a gasp, and it is impossible to use the abdominal muscles smoothly to aid exhalation.”  Then breathe in a more upright position and notice the improvement.

Most people have bad breathing habits, but the good news is that this can be changed.  “The respiratory motions are entirely controlled by somatic motor neurons – you have the potential of thinking the actions through and controlling them willfully,” says David Coulter.

I love to teach beginner yoga.  I believe that students come into class with many preconceived notions and fears.  I start the class with the students lying on their backs.  I encourage them to become aware of the breath without trying to change it in any way.  Then, I have them follow me through the deep abdominal breathing technique where they have one hand on their belly and one on the outside of the rib cage.
We also do basic yoga poses and move through a sun salutation sequence slowly.  However, I believe that, more than the yoga poses, it is far more important for my students to leave my class learning how to utilize their breath to bring about a calm, meditative state.  This technique they can draw upon whenever they need it.  For more information on yoga classes, click here.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

How to Get Free Content from Guest Posting

By Michele at
As a blogger it is important that you continually add new content to your blog. You need to ensure that you are constantly adding new and interesting content that your readers actually like to visit. One of the top methods to use is to write blog posts yourself. It is your blog so you should be responsible for writing the bulk of the posts on your website. In addition to writing blog posts you can also offer guest posting opportunities.

Guest posting is where another blogger will write a blog post for your blog. You get free content that will bring in more visitors from the search engines. In addition you will also get traffic from the guest posters blog because he or she will often link to it and share it with his or hers regular readers. The guest poster will also benefit because they will be able to gain new readership for their blog from your readers.

Guest posting on blogs and allowing others to guest post on your blog is a great strategy to sue and it works very well as long as you do it properly. You do not want to allow any crappy or spun content on your blog. You are not a content mill offering backlinks for guest posters. You only want to use great articles from reputable writers who are in a similar niche. If you allow spammy guest posts to appear on your blog then you will lose your reputation and a lot of your followers. You have worked hard to build up the number of readers you have on your blog and you do not want to lose them by allowing just anyone to guest post on your blog.