The perks of a persistent yoga practice. PROVEN Yoga Benefits.

 Photo of Young Yo, a recent Jiva Studio training graduate from Suzanne Vian Yoga for Wellness., a Worldwide Yoga Alliance approved school which trains and certifies teachers to instruct classes for Children’s and Adult’s yoga.

Photo of Young Yo, a recent Jiva Studio training graduate from Suzanne Vian Yoga for Wellness., a Worldwide Yoga Alliance approved school which trains and certifies teachers to instruct classes for Children’s and Adult’s yoga.

My name is Suzanne Vian. I am from California and am the owner of a yoga teacher training school and yoga studio in Thao Dien, Saigon, Vietnam, called Jiva Yoga. I set up the mindfulness program at one of the top international schools in the country and have worked with a United Nations school in training their teachers to share yoga and mindfulness with children. I am a firm believer in the practices based on personal experience and what I have observed in my students.

I am writing at the request of a student at your school who is looking for a way to describe what this whole yoga thing is about. I have my own perspective and see the practice as a practical tool for physical health and mental wellness.

I thought I would share this article I found in Huffington Post. Yoga is scientifically proven to be great for our health. Yoga helps in calming our brains down, for helping us to focus and decrease stress levels, for preventing and treating things like back pain and headaches and and for breathing better. If you are curious about this practical practice, feel free to read on.

The perks of a persistent yoga practice.

By: Cristina Goyanes

There were no signs that a heart attack was imminent. Dilip Sarkar was not overweight. Nor did he have high blood pressure or high blood sugar. In fact, the 51-year-old vascular surgeon from Virginia swears he had never been sick a day in his life. But in 2001, Sarkar found himself clutching his chest and eventually getting wheeled into the operating room for emergency by-pass surgery. Shortly after the life-threatening ordeal, which he later attributed to a hyperarousal state, Sarkar became fascinated by Ayurvedic medicine and yoga therapy as a way to improve his health and prevent this near-fatal event from happening again.

Today, Sarkar practices one hour (25 minutes of asanas, 25 minutes of pranayama and 10 minutes of mediation) every morning and, at age 65, is feeling better than ever without any medication. Retired from his private medical practice, Sarkar is now a yoga teacher and clinical researcher focusing on yoga’s many health rewards. To help deliver his findings to his physician friends, he founded a course called Yoga Therapy for Medical Professionals in 2010 that he teaches three or more times a year.

“What I’ve found through studying yoga therapy is that people who have a daily practice have effortlessly and automatically changed their lifestyle. They eat better, sleep better, their lifestyle is more regulated,” says Sarkar, who also serves as chairman of the School of Integrative Medicine at Taksha University in Hampton, Virginia. Don’t just take his word for it. Hundreds and thousands of scientific studies support his beliefs. As further proof, we dug up some of the most recently published works (all in 2015) on the perks of a persistent yoga practice.

Improves cardiovascular health.

Sarkar, the poster child for this one, explains how: “Hypertension is due to a constriction of blood vessels, and heart disease is due to blockage in the coronary arteries. When relaxation sets in, yoga therapy relaxes blood vessels and reduces blood pressure while increasing the blood flow to the heart muscle.” A study published in the April issue of the journal Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome backs this: Researchers followed 182 middle-aged Chinese adults who suffered from metabolic syndrome who practiced yoga for a year. The activity proved to not only lower their blood pressure, but also help them significantly slim them down, too.

Curbs chronic neck and low-back pain.

Postures are the backbone of yoga, so it’s no wonder a regular practice is good for your stance. Besides straightening your slouch, it may also ease pain. In the January issue of Israel’s Medical Association journal, Harefuah, researchers reported that yoga may be a valuable tool to treat chronic neck and low-back pain. “Herniated discs and spinal stenosis don’t cause pain. They cause an irritation of a nerve which cause a contraction of the muscle. The muscle tightness or spasm then causes the pain,” explains Sarkar, who did not work on this study. This is why doctors tend to prescribe a muscle relaxant to relieve low back pain. “In yoga therapy, when you hold a pose, your muscles contract and then slowly relax as you breath in and out. When relaxation sets in, back pain starts to go away.”

Sharpens the brain.

An asana practice doesn’t just make your body more flexible, but also your brain too. In a recent study of 133 older adults, ages 53 to 96, those who practiced 30 minutes of yoga performed twice a week for more than a month saw an improvement in their cognitive function. “Focused breath equals maximizing oxygenation and movement increases blood flow to brain and body,” says registered nurse Graham McDougall Jr., Ph.D., the lead researcher of the report published in the June issue of the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing. Participants of the study saw significant gains memory performance and had fewer depressive symptoms as well.

Controls diabetes. “The practice of yoga increases your digestive fire called agni,” Sarkar says. “So the yogic way of looking at diabetes is that the body cannot digest sugar, which is why blood-sugar levels are high. If you can improve your digestion, you can improve your blood sugar, which is great for both diabetes prevention and control,” he says. A new study published in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research supports this: Thirty men with Type 2 diabetes who practiced yoga for six months saw a significant decrease in their blood glucose levels.

Staves off stress and anxiety.

It’s no secret that yoga is a great way to calm down. You can feel a soothing wave wash over you immediately during and after practice—and it’s not just a placebo effect. A new report presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) Conference 2015 in April linked yoga to lowering levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, especially in women at risk for mental health problems. In the study of 52 women, ages 25 to 45, who had mildly elevated anxiety, moderate depression or high stress, those who performed Bikram (a 90-minute heated form of Hatha yoga) twice a week felt better (mood improved), looked better (pounds came off), and had better control over their anxiety.

Decreases depression.

Keeping a cool head can keep you from getting down, too. In the May issue of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, researchers found that women experiencing postpartum depression saw a significant improvement in their anxiety, depression, and health-related quality of life after just eight week of yoga (twice a week) compared to their counterparts who did not practice yoga. In another unrelated study in theIndian Journal of Palliative Care, breast cancer patients who practiced 60 minutes of yoga daily over a 24-week period, which included surgery and radiotherapy or chemotherapy (some heavy stuff!), reported a big drop in depressive symptoms compared to the non-yoga group. Nothing like a good Warrior Pose to help you put up a good fight.

Lowers cancer risk.

If cancer runs in your family, you may want to pick up a regular yoga practice, which has shown to prevent the genetic mutation from expressing, Sarkar suggests. Cancer patients could also use yoga as a fierce weapon to battle the effects of the disease. A study published last January in Journal of Clinical Oncology found that performing yoga twice a week for as little as three months could lower inflammation, boost energy, and lift the mood of female cancer patients.

Promotes positive self-perception.

Your yoga teacher isn’t the only one oozing optimism. In a pilot study from Brazil published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in May, university students reported feeling good after their yoga practice, especially pertaining to self-control, self-perception, well-being, body awareness, balance, mind-body and reflexivity. “The word yoga itself means union. It unites your mind, body and spirit. During yoga practice, we inhale positive emotions and exhale negative emotions,” explains Sarkar, who did not work on this study. “Yoga also helps quiet the mind chatter [like endless to-do lists].”

Lengthens lifespan and youth.

Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine this May analyzed the effects that 90 days of yoga had on an obese 31-year-old man who had a history of fatigue, difficulty losing weight, and lack of motivation. Not only did adopting a yoga or meditation-based lifestyle help erase some signs of aging, but also prevented several lifestyle-related diseases of which oxidative stress and inflammation are the chief cause.

Reduces PMS.

While Savasanah sounds great during that time of the month, other poses may alleviate period symptoms as well. In a new study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine this May, researchers found that 11 women who practiced yoga in the follicular phase (from first day of period until ovulation) and luteal phase (during ovulation) of a menstrual cycle felt more relaxed or were in a more peaceful mental state immediately afterward compared to the control group.

(This article originally appeared on Sonima.com)

To view Jiva Studio schedule, please visit www.suzannevian.com

All my best and may you and your families be well!

Suzanne Vian

Stingray Challenge

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This photo is so befitting. How calm is this girl floating above the sting rays? I am not going to lie. This is a stressful time in my life. But when I see this woman floating above a bunch of stingrays it seems a perfect metaphor for staying as calm as possible even when things are edgy. 

Namaste 

Ahimsa: Non-Harming

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Whether you're experienced in yoga or just starting out, integrating the practice of ahimsa in everyday life can lead to wonderful strides. Ahimsa is one of the five yamas, which are the ethical, moral and societal guidelines for yogis. Ahimsa can be distilled into a practice of non-violence in all aspects of life, from the physical to the mental and emotional.

I Teach Yoga.

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"I teach yoga. I call it Hatha as it gives me some flexibility when I teach but I really approach it from a "middle of the road" kind of place so it is applicable to everyone I work with. To me, yoga is for wellness and for learning to let go and also learning to focus and get into the intricacies of the body with full, complete presence on the mat. 

I often have yoga teachers as well as newbies in my classes. I teach at a steady pace and love taking students deep into asana and meditation (body and mind). I share what I can with my trainees to hopefully help them to develop a more meaningful way of practicing and living. For me in the end, life is about love. Yoga is for feeling good and exploring to whatever degree you feel ready to. There is no pressure. Just stay humble, keep a good attitude and enjoy learning. It truly is a life long journey, why not savor instead of rush...."

Namaste, 

Suzanne 

ON FRIENDSHIP

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Poem by Khalil Gibran "The Prophet"

And a youth said, "Speak to us of Friendship." 

"Your friend is your needs answered. 
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. 
And he is your board and your fireside. 

For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace. 
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay." 
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart; For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed. 

When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain. And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. 

For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught. 

And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. 
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live. For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness. 

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. 

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."

Song to friends and family

"HUG YOUR PEOPLE. THEY ARE WHAT REALLY MATTERS IN THIS WORLD."  

Namaste

Suzanne 

TEACHING YOGA

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"August"

adjective

  1. respected and impressive.
    "she was in august company"

synonyms

distinguished, respected, eminent, venerable, hallowed, illustrious, prestigious, celebrated, honored, esteemed, exalted; 
great, important, noble; 
impressive, awe-inspiring, stately, grand, dignified
"our august guests"

This word "August" is SO befitting for the inner reflections on my mind of the last month, of my summer spent here in Saigon. 

I run Yoga Teacher Trainings. This summer training marked #8. The more I run this course, the deeper my curiosity for learning grows, and the greater my respect is for the process attendees go through to take part in this course and the better teacher I want to be. This course I run is rigorous on a few levels (we cover foundational asana but really pick the practice apart and yes, anyone can partake in this course).

As much as the course is for getting VERY steady in the asana side of things, perhaps the most fascinating part of the training is observing our minds as we develop. We delve deep into meditation and self inquiry.

ON "EDUCATION"

The other night I was questioning myself as a teacher, questioning the subject of education and Universities - what it means to be "educated" and I came accross an interesting article that really resonated with me. I have always gone against the grain in ways in regards to traditional education, what teachers share, content. 

The gist of this poignant article from Psychology Today was this: 

Real learning. 

What is real learning? No, it is not simply memorizing facts or mastering course content. No, it’s not just critical thinking although that is an important element. It’s not graduating with honors with high grades.

A real education that is first rate should transform the student so that she never experiences the world the same way again; especially in areas of their major concentration. 

(Well said)

In other words, an art student should never walk into a room and perceived and experience it in the same way that they did before their education. An English major should never read a piece of literature and respond to it the same way they did before. Psychology majors should experience people’s behavior in a whole new light; in a way in which they have never done previous to their college education.

Their perception and experiences of the world should change for the rest of their lives.

Secondly, a real education should change the character. Gains from studies should not just be mental in nature; but should impact upon a student’s very nature.

True education doesn’t just transform the mind; it transforms the soul.

YES! In reflecting on my education, my time spent with my toughest teachers like Anna Forest and my poetry teacher Mrs. Hart, at this stage I really do agree that there is something to be said for expertise, devotion, dedication and years of experience in a teacher. Everyone complained about her being so "strict". But none of us ever forgot her! She pushed us to be excellent. I appreciate and remember to this day and reflect often on her impact on me as a student.

Where would we be without teachers who care enough to challenge our views, our ways of being, our current knowledge? 

TEACHERS

Do not always teach to please (parents and students, for those of you who are teaching school kids!) and don't teach for the pat on the back. Teach what you see students can really benefit from, be it better mental focus, a stronger body or more flexible attitude. Let go of fear and trust your instincts. Teach your students to devote themselves, especially in the early years of their yoga practice - this is so important. The best benefits come with a dedicated practice. 

In the coming weeks, I will be moving deeper into my own heart, body and mind as I prepare for my students to come and as i keep preparing my mind for life's challenges. These practices I speak of are powerful medicine and anyone who takes their leaning seriously, will grow and develop in ways words can not describe. 

Namaste.
Suzanne

CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH

 Click image for interesting brain facts to share with kids 

Click image for interesting brain facts to share with kids 

YOGA AND MINDFULNESS FOR KIDS

There is a growing body of research to back up yoga’s mental health benefits. Yoga increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms and centers the nervous system.

Yoga’s positive benefits on mental health have made it an important practice tool of psychotherapy (American Psychological Association).     

Deep Breaths

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Benefits of Deep Breathing

Most people unconsciously breathe from their chests, resulting in short, shallow and inefficient breaths. Chest breathing causes reduced oxygen and nutrient delivery, increased feelings of anxiety and stress, and muscle tension. Unlike chest breathing, deep breathing involves breathing from your abdomen, which enables you to draw air all the way down into the deepest pockets of your lungs. Deep breathing can provide a number of benefits to your physical and mental well-being.

Technique

To practice a basic deep, abdominal breathing technique, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting comfortably in your lap. Keep your spine extended tall and relax your shoulders. Observe your current breathing patterns for a few moments. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Inhale as deeply as you can, drawing the air into your abdomen. Focus on raising your lower hand, then your upper hand, as your body fills with air. Pause for a moment and exhale completely, contracting your abdominal muscles to expel the last bits of air from your lungs.

Physiological Changes

Deep breathing helps quiet your mind and body, which can result in a number of significant physical and psychological benefits. Deep breathing reduces your need for oxygen, leading to decreased firing activity in the nerve cells in your brain. Additionally, deep breathing slows down the activity of your parasympathetic nervous system by increasing oxygen delivery and promoting the activation of your sympathetic nervous system's relaxation response.

Physical Benefits

Deep breathing results in greater oxygen and nutrient delivery because you draw air down into the deep pockets of your lungs, which is where the greatest amount of blood flow occurs, according to the American Medical Student Association. This may help increase your energy levels and can result in improved stamina in athletics and other physical activities. Deep breathing also increases your body's production of endorphins, your body's natural pain-killing chemicals. Endorphins are the chemicals responsible for the feeling of euphoria known as "runner's high." According to the Pain Center of Arizona, endorphins may help block your nerve cells from releasing pain signals to your brain, which can provide benefits during times of acute and chronic pain.

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Mental Benefits

Deep breathing is a powerful tool for stress relief and relaxation. It teaches you to be more conscious and mindful of your everyday activities and promotes your body's relaxation response. The relaxation response involves a deactivation of your stress response, also known as the "fight-or-flight" response. Deep breathing helps return your body to a state of equilibrium after an anxiety-provoking or fearful event. By tuning in to your breath, you refocus your attention on the internal, rather than the external, world.

A Short, Easy Daily Practice 

Take 10 deep breaths (as in the described technique above) before each meal. 

Take care of your self and enjoy!

Suzanne 

Love to my teachers

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I feel extremely blessed for the time and care my teachers have touched my soul over the years. Without their guidance and sharing of their knowledge, I would not be who I am. 

Teachers are so important and as a teacher myself, one who comes from a lineage of teachers (2 of my Grandparents were teachers and both of my parents are, as well) I value those who spend their life sharing the gift of knowledge, one of the greatest gifts there is. However this comes for each of us is different. Some take a more academic, traditional road and others are self taught, or taught in less formal, less traditional ways. Life has so much to teach us and if we are open, there are so many ways to learn, so many chances in a day. My love for learning is big. I love the feeling of understanding, experiencing and knowing based on experience. Yoga is such a stimulating subject (experience) and there is just so much to learn. Whatever path we decide to take, it is ours to chose so following our hearts as we learn and make our way forward seems a wise way to go. 

Question: Can yoga be studied? 

Namaste

Suzanne 

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Peace

Do what it takes. Give yourself what you need. Self care, self inquiry, quality time with quality people, practice honesty, avoid gossip, serve others and forgive. Take a trip alone to soul search. Rest up or get up, whatever you need. 

Have patience. Minding our own business and focusing on how we as one person can be better simplifies things. And this is all part of yoga practice. 

Practice is the key word. We are all learning until the day we die. Patience with ourselves is a good thing to focus on because we are all going to have moments we falter. Yet each day we start over again and each day we can try again to be as understanding as possible. 

When on a soulful path it can be extra challenging and there will always be situations that knock us off balance. We will not always hit the mark but peace within is the best place to focus our efforts. 

Do what feels right and do what feels good to you. Respect and love yourself and then it doesn't matter what others think about you. Being right within ourselves means being at peace with where and who we are. We can forget this and I do too at times but bring my mind back to this ASAP. 

When stressful times hit we can go within. Sometimes it takes a little time to calm down but in just sitting, breathing and connecting with our inner self as best we can, can bring relief and peace in minutes. 

Today is another new day. 

Namaste & love,
Yoga for Wellness with Suzanne Via

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Souping is the New Jucing

If you’re a fan of juicing, you’ll definitely be on board with souping, the latest detox trend. Why drink cold juice in the winter? Go for warming soups this time of year! A soup-only cleanse offers a number of nutritional benefits while keeping you satisfied. Packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, soups are filled with superfoods that can help you battle inflammation, cleanse your colon and reduce oxidative stress. Plus, most soup recipes are versatile, allowing you to swap in different ingredients and seasonings according to your taste.

What is souping:

From the viewpoint of physical wellbeing, the keyword is: detox. All the beneficial properties of pulses and vegetables, proteins, vitamins and the like are blended together in what is, broadly speaking, an extremely healthy and economical option, and also rich in fibre and cooked to make it more digestible. The sugar content is provided by the complex carbohydrate variety and not simple fruit sugar. And, unlike a juice that is knocked back at the speed of thirst, soups are eaten slowly, resulting in a pleasing sensation of fullness.

The key to success:

On the subject of sensorial pleasure, consistency is vitally important when it comes to soup: it can be more or less creamy and liquid according to the recipe, but never solid enough to prevent the purification process, nor too liquid to make the consumer feel deprived of a proper meal. During the summer, in the northern hemisphere, cocktails underwent a solidification process: mojito, daiquiri, cosmopolitan and margaritas were being served by top barmen and chefs in a foody version, in consistencies that were more or less solid, more or less foamy, in a creative impulse that could even be defined as tending towards “Negroni soup.”

Souping and detoxing:

Authentic “souping,” however, is a soup version of detoxing that offers genuine detox battle plans, whose protagonists are armed with ladles. Starting from The Big Apple, the Splendid Spoon suggests “plant based plans” for detoxing, inviting you to put your trust in its steaming, ready-to-eat bowlfuls. Soupelina in Los Angeles follows a similar concept and at the start of the year, it released a book entitled “Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse,” in which the chef shares her soup detox dietary secrets, lasting from three to five days.

What your options are: 

24-Hour Raw Reset Cleanse: This fiber-heavy one-day cleanse is designed to recharge your body immediately, perfect for anyone who needs a quick jumpstart or lacks the time to commit.

3-Day Boost Cleanse: If you're a beginner and up for a little challenge, a 3-day cleanse is the perfect way to strengthen your digestive system, create healthy tissue and help aid your body's natural ability to get rid of toxins. 

5-Day Soup Cleanse: If you're a cleansing pro, you'll benefit from this most, and will likely see the number on the scale drop as well as experience a reduction in headaches and fatigue.

Why it's better than juicing: 

If you've ever done a juice cleanse, you've probably felt dizzy, weak and hungry. Soup cleanses don't leave you feeling like this, because they're filled with more easily digested nutrients and highly satiating ingredients. They also have a lower glycemic index compared to juices, which helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.

How often you should do it: 

Four times a year. It's best to cleanse seasonally, so that your body can stay in tune with the change in weather. 

How many soups you'll have per day: 

Five. If you're doing a 24-hour reset, you'll have five raw soups. For a three-day and five-day cleanse, you'll have three soups—one during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus two light broths for snacks in between. For optimal results and to keep your metabolism up, you'll eat every three hours.

What you can't eat: 

A cleanse is a chance to give your body a break from working so hard to digest the foods you normally eat. While on a soup cleanse, you should only consume the soups and broths, with exceptions for pumpkin seeds, cucumbers and celery. Soupelina's cleanse calls for avoiding coffee, sugar, fruit, soda, animal protein, dairy, alcohol and nicotine (a given), wheat and processed, dried and canned foods.

What the benefits look like: 

Glowing skin, silkier hair, reduced stress levels and higher energy levels. It also helps rebuild the part of your metabolism that works with burning fat, and aids in building a strong immune system by cleaning your gut. 

Ready to stir the pot? Get souping with this beginner’s 3-day detox meal plan:

DAY 1

Breakfast: Raw Green Soup

Lunch: Easy Chicken Bone Broth

Dinner: Hearty Wholesome Harvest Soup

DAY 2

Breakfast: Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

Lunch: Easy Kale, Mushroom, Quinoa Miso Soup

Dinner: Simple Dairy-Free Mushroom Soup

DAY 3

Breakfast: Cauliflower Corn Chowder

Lunch: Seasonal Veggie and Umeboshi Soup (Macrobiotic) 

Dinner: Vegetable Bean Chili

Note: I am not a certified medical practitioner; please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Forward Head Posture Correction

My bambino is so young and starting to get forward head tilt.

Should be corrected soon with new computer set up, awareness and this technique of pushing back of head into pillow (to lengthen and strengthen back of neck).  

Done with back against wall bent knees strong legs press feet and press back of head into pillow hold for a bit repeat.

If you look at your kids posture don't be surprised to find this issue as many kids now have it (adults too) from looking down at electronics. 

Strengthening the rhomboid muscles (muscles next to upper spine between scapularis also known as shoulder blades) will further help.

Namaste,

Suzanne