I was talking to my friend John McCaffrey the other day about our experiences with Yoga– John is Development Director at the Training Institute for Mental Health– and comparing notes about our Yoga experiences and various classes we have been in.

The whole mental health world is opening up more and more to yoga practice not just for stress reduction and “mindfulness” but as a really important adjunct to dealing with PTSD and continuing aggravation for muscle strain that impinges on people’s ability to do their jobs or to enjoy life.
We spoke of course about Firefighting and Yoga– members of John’s extended family are deeply involved in firefighting and I am deeply interested in it too. ( See Fire World stories on Yoga in the Firehouse here on Wavepeg).

Here are some tips about all these Yoga programs

1) The best experience is in a class with a good instructor– and I mean GOOD FOR YOU. It should be someone who is totally accepting of where you are at, supportive, and ready to give you extra help and encouragement with such issues as balance, breathing and alignment.

2) Heat can help Yoga. Working in a warmer room ( can be done just by putting a space heater on for a while) helps the circulation and also seems to encourage muslces to work more smoothly

4) There are all kinds of Yoga videos on YouTube. Check them out and see if you can pick up something useful to you. I experiment with this all the time. One of the main things here is not to push yourself too much past your comfort zone in doing yoga poses, and you made need support of blocks and bolsters or pillow equivalents. You can try working from a chair or from the mat. I want to stress this: don’t hurt yourself by pushing yourself too hard.

Also, one of the key factors in helping yoga work is being relaxed and you are not going to relax being uptight.

I have included a link to a typiclal Yoga class type thing from YouTube. Take from it what you can, and again, recognize your body’;s limitations. Where you are right now is where you are, and you will achieve progress through practice.