David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD talks to CBS News about lifestyle and cancer.
Alignment, breath and movement. Matt Giordano is passionate about these fundamentals. His discipline from an early age has enabled him to teach people about body, mind and soul.
Known as a dynamic teacher, Matt is a certified yoga instructor through the Pure Yoga teacher training program. He is also a certified AcroYoga, and YogaTuneUp instructor. As Matt travels up and down the East Coast to workshops, he teaches and connects with people and incorporates techniques for mind and body.
On his Facebook page, Matt says: “Something I have noticed in my life is the more I challenge myself, the easier it is to face the challenges that life provides.”
Matt, can you tell us what drove you to learn martial arts at the early age of 7?
Mostly the ninja turtles, karate kid, and all the other karate movies at that time. I literally rented every movie that existed in the local video store.
You are creating a growing audience who appreciates your yoga style. Why do you think that is?
I wouldn’t call it a yoga style as much as a way of transmitting information from my body to someone else’s. The difference is you can apply anything I offer to any style of yoga simply because I teach the how behind body mechanics. In other words while I offer my opinions on how specific poses “should” be, my main focus is less about my opinion and mostly about getting students to tap into the options that they have within their physical body.
What that means is they gain an awareness of their muscles and bones that gives them the power to choose what alignment would best support their particular strengths and weaknesses. This, in my mind, is why people come. My opinions can only go so far in helping a group of people because my opinion is based on what I see in the majority.
But what if you are not in the majority? That would mean you might be doing the exact opposite alignment of what could help you grow stronger. I am a lover of telling people something one day and the next telling them the exact opposite- there is no one way. So in short, I give people the tools they need to decide for themselves what is best.
For people with illnesses, like cancer, can you tell us how they would start using yoga?
Yoga is a practice that helps funnel the mind’s energy into the body. Illnesses like cancer challenge all levels of energy from physical, to mental, to emotional, to spiritual.
While some face a downward spiral when diagnosed with cancer, others use it as inspiration to turn their life around. They look at everything from how they eat, to how they exercise, to how they interact with others, to what emotional blocks they might have been avoiding for years and so on.
Because yoga addresses the breathe, movement, muscles, organs, bones it can serve as cleanse of all the blockages in our system that when cleared, can increase the bodies capacity to heal. The cleansing process starts to permeate all aspects of our life, it catches on like an virus in reverse, it pulls life back into us.
The two points we are most connected to spirituality are when we are fully elated with joy, and when we hit rock bottom. Many of us are scared of the extremes so we don’t allow ourselves to ever get to either point, and instead we become numb. I have found that yoga doesn’t allow for numbness, just by focusing your mind on breath and body we are forced into being awake enough to experience the roller coaster ride of life.
Being open to the experience is what breaks through our resistance and blockages, and what ultimately invites healing in. One thing is certain though, nothing will bring you life if you are closed off to experiencing it fully from the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs, and everything in between.
Alignment, breath and movement are the foundations of yoga. How could these factor into someone’s daily activities, i.e., range of motion and flexibility particularly if they are either on or will be on chemotherapy and radiation treatments?
Keeping the body strong and the bones in optimal alignment can definitely help the healing process. Chiropractors have been saying this for years- the central path of your nervousness system relies on the alignment of your spine.
Your nervous system is basically your brain branching off throughout every area of your body. If you hurt your toe, you hurt your brain, your emotions are effected, your energy levels change and so on. It works in the opposite way as well, If your muscles become healthy and happy, your brain, mind, organs are effected by that relief.
Same is true with your breath, if you are not breathing properly all day long every day your mind is in a minor or major state of panic all day long. Just think about how that could effect everything in your body.
In contrast if the muscles, bones and organs are working together as a team to bring in the appropriate amount of breath for your body to be at ease, then all of your energy can be placed where it is needed. Yoga practices help heal, or maintain the health of all the muscles, bones, and organs of your body. Simply put the practices can help you bring your body into a state of joy that will bring about tremendous healing on all levels including your mind.
What message would you like to convey to someone who is thinking of taking up yoga and perhaps taking it to the next level as in your workshops?
I think the most important thing about trying anything new -be it something you have never done before or taking the next leap in something you’ve been doing for some time- is to be completely honest with yourself. Taking the leap into something new always will bring up resistance inside of us, even if its something we know is good for us, and something we truly want to do.
I believe resistance is there to slow us down so we proceed mindfully, but the downside is some of us never proceed at all. Resistance will show up in all forms like fear of failure, or fear of making a fool out of ourselves in front of others, not being good enough, not being strong or flexible enough, not wanting to be a burden to someone else, not being willing to accept help, and so on.
To be honest with yourself would be to say out loud and affirmatively that you want to do it, and that you recognize that you have resistance to it and you may or may not know why but its time to stand up for yourself and move forward. Take the giant leap and make things happen for yourself!
Yoga helps people focus on the moment, not on their disabilities.
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