A special guest post from
Heleen Couvrette, Founder of Montreal’s H-OM Yoga Center
When we do yoga, more than our physical body strengthens. Often our innate soul strength also emerges. Yoga is not just exercise, but a complete spiritual and emotional work out. I discovered the true depth of this practice after experiencing three profoundly personal losses.
When I was 22 years old, my 21 year old brother died in a fatal motor accident. Then at 41, I birthed a full-term stillborn baby boy. A year later my dad – who was also one of my best friends – had a fatal heart attack. Three generations buried, yet I have come to perceive all of this as three gifts from which I draw upon to keep connected to my deep inner strength. The fact is we all have the natural capacity to shine strong through darkness.
I believe we are all innately resilient and it is only when we stay attached to grief that our burdens become too heavy to bear and disconnects us from our potential. While yoga impacts all of us in unique ways, I have found certain poses alleviate my suffering and give me the momentum to stay positive.
These poses in particular have provided me comfort during sad times:
Backbends such as Crescent Moon, Camel, and One Legged King Pigeon (see photo below) all lift and open the heart which helps release any grief we hold inside us. Of course certain poses are more challenging to do than others, but anything that opens up places of tension can be soothing and beneficial.
You can also try a restorative chest opener like Supported Fish (see photo at left) to ease anxiety and stress.
Yoga is a practice designed to shed painful layers we hold within ourselves
It offers a space to reconnect to our potential for happiness, health and peace of body and mind so we will be able to embrace all the challenges life offers us.
One thing is certain: there will be painful and intense moments in our lives. The question is how will we breathe through the intensity and see the gifts that come with difficulty instead of being buried by fear and sorrow.
Since 2002 Heleen has taught yoga for more than 3,000 hours. She founded H~OM in 2007, and since 2010 has been providing mentorship for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program. In 2011, she co-founded MISTYwhich has quickly established itself as a groundbreaking Canadian event bringing together the medical and yoga community to share knowledge and the science of yoga as a therapy. Heleen believes her path is “To Touch As Many People In As Positive A Way As Possible”.
Everyday activities like sitting at a desk, staring at a computer, hunching over a cell phone or even holding a bag consistently on one side can cause stagnancy, stiffness and fatigue in the body. As habits build, poor posture can easily become second nature, causing back and neck pain and even damaging spinal structures.
However, the main factors that affect posture are totally within our control, and aren’t difficult to change with consistent awareness. If you’re sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, the following tips will help support you in maintaining a better posture.