Yoga’s stress relief: an aid for infertility?

Kimberley Soranno, a 39-year-old Brooklynite undergoing an in vitro fertilization cycle as part of her quest to become pregnant, had gone to her share of yoga classes, but never one like that held on a recent Tuesday night in a reception area of the New York University Fertility Center. There were no deep twists or headstands; just easy “restorative” poses as the teacher, Tracy Toon Spencer, guided the participants — most of them women struggling to conceive — to let go of their worries.

“Verbally, she brings you to a relaxation place in your mind,” Mrs. Soranno said, adding, “It’s great to do the poses, get energy out and feel strong. But the most important part for me was the connection to the other women.”

Besides taxing the mind, body and wallet, infertility can be lonely. Support groups have long existed for infertile couples, but in recent years, so-called “yoga for fertility” classes have become increasingly popular. They are the latest in a succession of holistic approaches to fertility treatment that have included acupuncture and mind-body programs (whose effectiveness for infertility patients is backed by research); massage (which doesn’t have specific data to support it); and Chinese herbs (which some say may be detrimental).

No study has proved that yoga has increased pregnancy rates in infertility patients. But students of yoga-for-fertility classes say that the coping skills they learn help reduce…

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stress on and off the mat. For many, it’s a support group in motion (or lotus).

“As important as the yoga postures was the idea that women could come out of the closet with their infertility and be supported in a group,” said Tami Quinn, the founder, with Beth Heller, of Pulling Down the Moon, a company with holistic fertility centers in Chicago and the Washington area. “If you say come to my support group, women going through infertility are like, ‘I don’t need some hokey support group’ or ‘I’m not that bad.’ But with yoga they are getting support and they don’t even realize it.”

Holly Dougherty, 42, didn’t want to talk about her drug-infused slog through fertility treatment that began seven years ago. “I didn’t tell anyone,” said Ms. Dougherty, with the exception of her parents.

This changed after she started going to yoga-for-fertility classes taught by Ms. Spencer at World Yoga Center in Manhattan in 2005. The gentle poses helped take her mind off her setbacks, and each week, she found the community that she hadn’t realized she needed.

“Being able to open up in a safe environment with support and encouragement of others on the journey, everyone became each other’s cheerleader,” said Ms. Dougherty, now a mother of two who still socializes with students from Ms. Spencer’s class. “I learned to become so open about it.”

SMOKING, alcohol, caffeine and some medications can hurt fertility, as can being overweight or underweight, said Dr. William Schoolcraft, a medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, whose main branch is in Lone Tree. As for improving one’s chances with massage, diet or yoga? “That’s where the data gets murkier,” he said.

“We will never promise that you will get pregnant by doing yoga,” Ms. Quinn said. “We can tell you many women who have done yoga have gotten pregnant. But there’s no clinical data supporting the fact that yoga increases conception rates. The last thing we would want to do is give false hope.”

Stress, however, has been shown to reduce the probability of conception. Alice Domar, who has a Ph.D. in health psychology and is the director of mind-body services at the Harvard-affiliated center Boston IVF, said of yoga: “It’s a very effective relaxation technique, and a great way to get women in the door to get support. It’s a way to get them to like their bodies again.”

A handful of prominent medical centers have partnered with yoga teachers to offer classes. Pulling Down the Moon now holds its $210 six-week Yoga for Fertility programs at Fertility Centers of Illinois in Chicago (since 2002), and Shady Grove Fertility in the Washington area (since 2008.)

Recently, Dr. Domar, a psychologist whose research has shown that participation in a mind-body program can positively affect fertility, joined with Ms. Quinn and Ms. Heller to take wellness programs, including yoga and acupuncture, to infertility clinics nationwide. They have formed a new company, Integrative Care for Fertility: A Domar Center, and plan to open seven branches this year.

In 2009, the New York University Fertility Center in Manhattan brought in two yoga instructors to help patients. “We really do push it,” Dr. Frederick Licciardi, a founding partner of the center, said of its wellness programs that include mind-body work and acupuncture along with yoga. “We put it up front. We know they are doing it anyway. We want to show we are supportive that they are doing it.”

Some infertility clinics advise patients not to do vigorous exercise like running for fear of twisting their drug-stimulated enlarged ovaries. (This excruciating condition, called torsion, is rare, but surgery is often required if it happens with the possibility of losing the ovary, said Dr. Brian Kaplan, a partner at the Fertility Centers of Illinois, who advises his patients to limit exercise while taking stimulating drugs.)

But Dr. Domar, the executive director of a namesake center for mind-body health in Waltham, Mass., has found that some women are loath to give up their daily anxiety-relieving run during infertility treatments, or are “freaked out about gaining weight on fertility drugs.” In some cases, yoga is her bargaining chip. She tells those patients, “you can do hatha yoga and stay fit and toned, and give up your run.”

Ms. Spencer explained in an e-mail that for many patients, “There is a feeling of walking on eggshells and also that one false move may throw off the chances of success.” A class like hers lets them move and blow off steam, students said. “It’s like a can of worms,” she said in an interview. “You can’t stop women from talking to one another.”

But the relief can be quiet as well. Elaine Keating-Brown, 38, an elementary-school teacher in Manhattan who is in her last trimester after in vitro fertilization, found the yoga classes she took with Laura O’Brien, then at N.Y.U., helped her silence a tireless negative voice in her head. Her fertility-related worries felt endless, from “What happens if it doesn’t work?” to “financially, it’s not exactly cheap,” Mrs. Keating-Brown said.

But “once you’re in the yoga room, you haven’t got all that anymore,” she said, “you’re concentrating on you, and put those thoughts aside, put your body in a good place, and come out of class feeling a real feeling of relaxation and it’s going to be O.K. If it isn’t, it isn’t.”

Lori, a 32-year-old management consultant who asked that only her first name be used for privacy, lived with “the chatter in the back of her mind” so constantly after losing twins and suffering two miscarriages that she named that voice Constance in a yoga class she took at Pulling Down the Moon. After learning meditation techniques in class, Lori, the mother of a newborn, said she could observe, but not succumb to her negative thoughts. “I’m aware I feel that way,” she can tell herself when an anxious thought surfaces, “but I’m not going to let it overwhelm me right now.”

Ms. O’Brien summed up the infertility roller coaster this way: “You have to get screened all the time. You have to take certain drugs. You’re at the mercy of everyone telling you what to do and when to do it.” Now teaching $72 four-week fertility and flexibility workshops at Devotion Yoga in Hoboken, N.J., Ms. O’Brien added that loss of control is challenging, “especially for people in this part of the country, if they have a goal and work hard, they get it.”

“This throws that whole mentality out of whack,” she said. But yoga, she contended, helps type-A’s to learn that “you cannot control what’s happening to your body, but you can control how you feel about it.”

In 1998, when Brenda Strong first starting teaching fertility-focused yoga at the Mind Body Institute in Southern California, she said, “people were so ashamed and so isolated because no one else was talking about it.” In her classes, she facilitates conversation among yogis. “In yoga, suffering is caused by attachment to a result or by resistance,” said Ms. Strong, the actress who is the narrator on “Desperate Housewives” and herself has struggled with infertility. “There’s nothing that brings up these two things more: you’re attached to wanting to get pregnant and you’re resistant to the fact that you can’t.”

Medical acceptance of yoga as a stress reliever for infertility patients is slowly growing. In 1990, when Dr. Domar first published research advocating a role for stress reduction in infertility treatment, “I wasn’t just laughed at by physicians,” she said. “I was laughed at by Resolve, the national infertility organization. They all said I was perpetuating a myth of ‘Just relax, and you’ll get pregnant.’ ” At the last meeting for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Dr. Domar, now on the national board of Resolve, gave multiple talks, including one about how to help the mind and body work together in infertile couples.

On March 17, Resolve will host a tele-seminar on “Yoga for Fertility” led by Jill Petigara, who teaches in the Philadelphia area. “A lot of people want to boil it down to ‘If you relax, it will happen,’ ” Ms. Petigara, a former in vitro fertilization patient who adopted a son, wrote in an e-mail. “I absolutely feel that yoga can have a very positive impact on infertility, but infertility is a lot more than ‘just relaxing.’ ”

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YogaHub’s second annual Virtual World Yoga Conference

From Tuesday, Feb. 8th to Saturday, Feb. 12th, 2011, YogaHub will be hosting its second annual Virtual World Yoga Conference. This year’s theme, “Yoga, Meditation, and the Philosopher’s Stone” is dedicated to improving an individual’s inner practice through a variety of workshop topics focusing on yoga, health, and happiness.

“The response to our first Virtual World Yoga Conference on yoga, health and happiness, held last year, was far more than we had hoped for”, says YogaHub founder Christina Souza-Ma. “We had participants from over 30 different countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Since our intent is to establish a global community, this year’s goal is to have participants represented from every country in the world.”

For those who did not participate last year and are not sure what a virtual world conference is or how you can practice yoga online, Segovia Smith, YogaHub’s high-tech visionary, offers the following explanation. “A virtual conference enables individuals to participate in workshops from the comfort of their own homes or anywhere else you choose to be, without having to worry about travel, hotel, food, and other expenses usually associated with a conference. Participation is by phone or internet access and, once registered, participants will officially have a “seat” in all classrooms. This is an ideal opportunity for like-minded people to share their knowledge and expertise of yoga and other health modalities online. Participating in an event where travel costs are non-existent makes this yoga conference easy to afford and available to all”.

For $297, individuals will be given private phone and web access to this year’s Conference, which will offer five full days of exciting and innovative workshops presented by over 60 experienced teachers who are enthusiastically looking forward to sharing their wisdom and expertise. Their workshops will focus on guiding individuals toward transmuting life’s difficulties, challenges and tragedies into peace, happiness, and well-being.

Participants can take the Conference workshops at their own pace. Each session will be recorded so that participants have up to two weeks after the live conference has ended to listen to any or all of the workshops again and ask the presenter questions on the forum.

Christina also said “In addition to nearly doubling the size of this years conference, we’re grateful to all of our sponsors including Massage Magazine and LA Yoga Magazine who have both come on board as media partners.”

For more information on the Virtual World Yoga Conference, check out or call 1-888-YOGA-HUB.

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Join Bodhipaksa and 60 other teachers on an online yoga conference.

YogaHub's Sneak Peek Preview EventFive days. Sixty teachers. 75 workshops. All available online!

This is the conference where you don’t have to leave home, spend hours in a cramped plane, or pay for a hotel room.

Bodhipaksa will be teaching a workshop on this exceptionally rich and innovative online conference that runs from Feb. 8–12. His course is called “Transforming Hurt and Anger Through Self-Compassion,” and it’s about a powerful method for catching anger before it has a chance to get going, and for compassionately healing the hurt that leads to angry outbursts.

But there are many more teachers presenting on the conference, and we urge you to check out the PDF conference brochure for more information.

300 people have already signed up, and 1,000 are expected. Make sure to use coupon code (BOD219) during checkout at and you’ll save $50 off the registration fee.

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Yoga for the very young in Burnaby, British Columbia

While it may be difficult to get the little ones sit still, Ryoko Donald is teaching students at Kitchener Elementary yoga and meditation.

“I just love helping children. They’re amazing,” Donald said. “It’s such a pleasure to work with the little kids.”

Every Wednesday, Donald holds a drop-in yoga session at Kitchener where her two children attend school.

Usually about 30 to 40 students show up for the half-hour sessions in the gym. Donald said the meditation part can be difficult with kids.

“They smile, they laugh, they try to talk, but I think we just have to keep it short,” she said.

The sessions help the students strengthen their muscles while calming their minds, which helps them concentrate better, she added.

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Principal Dennis Taylor said the program was important for the kids.”It provides them with a chance to have a mindful moment and to stop and reflect,” he said.

Teacher-librarian Kae Solomon first started the yoga sessions at the school and then Donald offered to take over.

Donald is a certified yoga fitness teacher who teaches at Dance Express, at 4247 Lougheed Hwy. She’s offering free classes on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. For more information, see the website at

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Yoga has avatars in America (Times of India)

Yoga seems to have been “reincarnated” in America and some other parts of the world.

Various organizations are promoting “Christian Yoga”, claiming to provide a Christian approach to yoga. There are DVDs like “Christoga: Yoga Filled Body – Christ Filled Soul” (60 minutes of Yoga with bible scriptures recited by Janine. Yoga with Christ as the meditation focus!). There is a “Christian Yoga Magazine”. There are books like “Yoga for Christians: A Christ-Centered Approach to Physical and Spiritual Health through Yoga”,” Holy Yoga: Exercise for the Christian Body and Soul”, etc.

Welcoming the widespread interest in yoga, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. One could still practice one”s respective faith and do yoga. Yoga would rather help one in achieving one”s spiritual goals in whatever religion one believed in.

“Yoga DVD” search on January nine at amazon yielded 4,828 results.

Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago ( Illinois) is teaching “Catholic Yoga” whose announcement says…

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: “explore the multiple spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice while explicitly integrating prayers and spiritual themes of our Catholic faith”. At the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue (Washington), “Traditional yoga postures and Biblical meditations are accompanied by Christian music”. Morristown United Methodist Church in New Jersey conducts “Christian Yoga” classes.

Talking about “Yoga and Meditation”, “The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod” says: “from our theological perspective, techniques of relaxation and/or exercise (mental as well as physical) are not, of course, problematic in and of themselves. But it is the religious aspects of a practice such as Yoga that raises concerns for Christians.”

There is “Gentle Jewish Yoga”, while “Torah Yoga” “offers an experience of Jewish Wisdom through Iyengar yoga instruction together with the study of traditional and mystical Jewish texts.”

“Yoga Buddhist pursues an interdisciplinary approach that merges the insights and practices of yoga with Buddhist mindfulness and meditation”. A paperback is available on “Yantra Yoga: The Tibetan Yoga of Movement”. And then there is “Shinto Yoga”, which “incorporates Hatha Yoga practices as well as the various exercises of Japanese Shinto”, besides a paperback on “Shinto Bouddhisme Yoga”. Of course, there is “Zen Yoga”.

“Tao Yoga” in New York teaches Taoist Yoga. Yogi Bhajan taught Kundalini Yoga and “3HO Foundation” founded by him calls itself “A Global Community of Living Yoga”. A blog on Zarathushtrian Mysticism talks about Zoroastrian Yoga and states: “The essence of Zoroastrian yoga is the purification of the Aipi”. There is “Ageless Yoga” in Australia.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that yoga, referred as “a living fossil” whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, was a mental and physical discipline handed down from one guru to next, for everybody to share and benefit from. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical. Yoga was based on an eightfold path to direct the practitioner from awareness of the external world to a focus on the inner, Zed added.

Zed argued that yoga, which never had any formal organization, was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche.

According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. Swami Vivekananda reportedly brought yoga to USA in 1893. According to an estimate, about 16 million Americans, including many celebrities, now practice yoga.

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Yoga by prescription: Doctors treat back pain with yoga

After months of agonizing back pain, Suellen Rinker was at a loss.

A surgeon suggested a range of options: painkillers, medication injected into the spine, back surgery. An MRI scan revealed a herniated spinal disk, and the pain, like a stabbing ice pick, filled her days with misery and robbed her nights of sleep.

“I was taking massive amounts of ibuprofen,” the 51-year-old Portland woman says. “I did have one of the spinal shots. It wasn’t particularly effective.”

Suspicious of surgery, Rinker decided to try a therapy her surgeon hadn’t offered but her primary care physician enthusiastically endorsed: yoga. Working one-on-one with a physical therapist yoga instructor, Rinker learned to practice three simple stretching positions along with breathing exercises and meditation. After about a month of daily practice, Rinker no longer felt crippled by back pain.

“Now I’m back to hiking. I went snowshoeing this winter,” she says.

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Her back pain isn’t gone, but she’s gained the upper hand. “I still feel it. I can usually go home, do one of these stretches and I don’t seem to have a problem.”

With clinical trials now backing up many uses of yoga as therapy, physicians and other mainstream health professionals are giving serious consideration to the 5,000-year-old practice. In the latest national survey by the magazine Yoga Journal, 6.1 percent of U.S. adults said a doctor or therapist had recommended yoga to them. It’s part of a broader acceptance of non-Western healing traditions by U.S. medical schools and health systems. Oregon Health & Science University and Providence Health & Services offer yoga in addition to standard medical care for cancer and other diseases, and both health systems employ physicians who are also yoga teachers.

“I’ve started recommending it to patients pretty regularly for a large number of issues,” says Dr. Meg Hayes, an avid yoga practitioner and an associate professor of family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. Hayes recently co-authored a journal article reviewing results of clinical trials with yoga and offering advice to physicians interested in prescribing it.

Time, cost pose problems

In Hayes’ experience, most patients are happy to try yoga. The biggest barrier she’s found is the cost and time commitment needed to learn and practice yoga. Group classes range from $10 to $25 a session, less for a package of classes. Private instruction ranges from $50 to hundreds of dollars an hour. And health insurance generally won’t pay for yoga classes.

During office visits, Hayes routinely teaches yoga moves to patients who aren’t familiar with the ancient practice. “If they have low back pain, I might show them a half-pigeon pose,” she says. “Often if we do a little bit of that stretching they start to see right away that they feel better, that there is a move or posture that is available to them and will give them some pain relief right away.”

Unlike medical therapies aimed at fixing one problem, yoga works on many levels at the same time. “You get stronger muscles, you get more flexible joints, you get joints that are better lubricated, the spine lengthens, you breath more deeply,” Hayes says. “All of those benefits combined really help you to be strong, function better and have a sense of emotional well-being.”

In recent clinical trials, yoga improved symptoms of asthma and obstructive pulmonary disease when added to conventional care. Yoga breathing can help lower blood pressure. There’s some evidence that yoga practice during pregnancy can reduce the risk of pre-term labor and low birth weight.

Helping people cope with chronic pain that defies conventional treatment may be yoga’s most significant medical benefit.

Fibromyalgia trial

Bobbie Wethern, who’s lived with fibromyalgia for 20 years, reached a low in 2008. Physical activity became so exhausting she couldn’t climb stairs, clean house or carry laundry. “There were days I couldn’t get dressed,” says the 57-year-old. Wethern, who grew up in South Dakota, never considered yoga a good fit.

“I thought it was for really pretzel-like people,” she says. “I thought it was kind of weird.”

But a trusted therapist suggested she enroll in a clinical trial offering a yoga program tailored for people with fibromyalgia. Wethern volunteered.

Kimberly Carson and her husband James Carson, a clinical health psychologist at OHSU, eliminated some potentially stressful yoga movements and adapted standing poses so they could be performed sitting or lying down. Weekly sessions also included extensive instruction on applying yoga principles to cope with illness. The Carsons and their research colleagues published the clinical trial results earlier this year in the journal Pain.

After eight weeks, women in the yoga group showed significant improvement in measures of pain, fatigue, stiffness, sleep quality, depression, memory, anxiety and balance, while the control group showed none. Wethern cut her pain medicine doses by half. Pain interfered less with sleep. She regained enough stamina to walk five miles and to resume gardening.

“The poses are very, very important and have helped me become more flexible and have more strength, but it’s much more than that,” she says. Yoga breathing techniques help her relax rather than tense up during bouts of pain. While her pain, fatigue and other symptoms are far from cured, meditation has changed her response.

“Yoga teaches you to work through it or allow it to take place rather than resist it,” she says. “That experience was very foreign to me. It felt like years of pressure being removed from my body.

“It’s taken the power of pain away.”

-– Joe Rojas-Burke

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Feeling some agitation? Students try meditation

wildmind meditation news

Des Moines Register: Students at Waukee South Middle School are learning the sources of stress.

They’re also learning how to break it.

Students in sixth through eighth grade in the school’s health class are working on a stress unit.

During class, students in Traci Havlik’s health class work on ways to identify stress and address it.

“They have a lot on their plates,” Havlik said.

Like parents, homework and friends, said Sarah Chicken, 13, of Waukee.

“It’s fun to learn about stress and ways to be stress-free,” Sarah said.

So, how?

During the class, Havlik puts students through a variety of activities – including meditation and yoga – to help relieve stress.

“It gives them the tools to better deal with their stress,” Havlik said.

And it appears to be working. Sarah said it’s a class she has started looking forward to … without stress.

“I like it,” she said.

Havlik said teaching the kids those skills is something she hopes they’ll carry with them forever and use when stressful situations arise.

“I think it’s very important for them to at least get an idea of what their stresses are,” Havlik said.

Original article no longer available.


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Meditation opens path to inner peace

Every day, almost without fail, Connie Tellman escapes to the solitude of her grown daughter’s former room to meditate.

After doing yoga postures to relieve body tension, she sits cross-legged on a pillow, hands resting on her knees, eyes closed. For 15 minutes or so, she silently repeats her personal mantra, breathes rhythmically from her diaphragm and methodically touches the 108 small wooden beads of her mala necklace.

“Your mind concentrates on the breath,” said the 52-year-old Indianapolis woman. “You go within and close out the distractions of the world, so you can focus on your inner self.”

Local people who meditate agree on how it makes them feel: peaceful, calm, centered.

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At a time when financial and job stresses are high and we’re bombarded with constant information, local instructors and practitioners say meditation can ease tension, produce mental clarity and create a climate of tranquility in your life. Some use the practice to help relieve anxiety, pain, depression, stress, insomnia or physical or emotional symptoms of chronic illnesses.

“People who need to slow down, who are very stressed and overworked, can benefit a lot,” said Carol Crenshaw, co-director of the Inner Peace Yoga Center on the Northeastside, where meditation is routinely practiced with yoga. Those looking for something in life they haven’t found — a spiritual experience — also are drawn to meditation, said Crenshaw, long-time meditation and yoga instructor.

“It’s a practice that helps you during personal difficulties to keep yourself centered, focused and grounded,” said Tellman. She practices alone, but she also takes yoga classes with meditation at Inner Peace Yoga Center.

“After a good session, my mind is not focused on past or future concerns but the present moment,” she said. “I’m ready to face the day with a new awareness of what’s before me.”

While Inner Peace includes meditation in nearly all its yoga classes and teaches meditation workshops, many yoga studios don’t teach meditation.

“The heart of yoga is meditation, not postures,” said Crenshaw. “It’s something most people don’t realize.”

Many types of meditation exist, but most originated in ancient Eastern religious and spiritual traditions. Yet you don’t need to practice those religions to meditate.

A 2007 national government survey of nearly 24,000 adults found that 9.4 percent had used meditation in the past year, compared with 7.6 percent in 2002. While local numbers are hard to find, people have a variety of options to learn the practice. They include the Indiana Buddhist Center, Indianapolis Zen Center, Dromtonpa Kadampa Buddhist Center and a few yoga studios.

Considered a mind-body practice, meditation generally uses certain techniques — a specific posture, regulated breathing and focused attention.

At the Indiana Buddhist Center on the Far-Eastside, meditation sessions are open to anyone, not just practicing Buddhists. Techniques focus on Buddhist teachings and generally involve a mantra — a word, sound or phrase designed to block out distracting thoughts — and sometimes chanting. But people can meditate the way they are most comfortable.

“The main objective of our meditation is to help them reduce their level of mental negativities and emotions,” said Tibetan monk Geshe Jinpa Sonam through his translator, Tenzin Namgyal. “We want to help them as much as we can, regardless of their religion.”

More than 400 U.S. instructors teach Transcendental Meditation, derived from Hindu traditions, which also involves silently repeating a mantra. The practice is known for its stress-releasing properties.

“It’s not a panacea and doesn’t prevent you from experiencing the ups and downs of life,” said Diane Patton, who practices TM with local instructors Rich and Lois Neate. “But you can recover from them more completely.”

Meditation, like physical exercise, requires dedication and produces the best benefits when done regularly — daily, if possible, or even twice a day, for 10 to 20 minutes. To sit still and learn to meditate deeply is challenging, yet worth the time and effort, say practitioners.

“If it didn’t help me every day, I wouldn’t do it,” said Patton, 52, an Indianapolis nurse who first learned TM at age 16. She practiced different types of meditation over the years, but now does TM each morning and evening.

“It mellows me out,” she said. “It gives me a sense of being in control of my life and my emotions and less reactive to things around me, like work stress. I’m more kind and patient.”

Rich Neate, a 20-year TM instructor with a home-based practice here, teaches people to practice TM on four consecutive days, two hours each day.

“You meditate to make your daily activity better,” said Neate, director of TM teachers east of the Mississippi River. “The whole idea of TM is for you to be successful at what you do.”

When practicing TM, Neate said, as you dive deeper into the mind while repeating a mantra, the body becomes extremely settled, the breath is softer and shallower. You experience a decrease in oxygen greater than during deep sleep. Eventually, your mind talks to itself less and less.

“Calmness, clarity of mind and energy of the body — if you practice for a while, those effects stay with you,” said Neate.

Another longtime local meditation teacher, Rose Getz, said the longer someone experiences that peaceful feeling that comes with meditation, the more they can bring that feeling into their consciousness during the day.

Getz, director of the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Center of Indiana, said meditators are better prepared to handle daily stress and aggravation. The center is in Indianapolis.

“You take a breath, relax the body, and pull yourself back from the situation,” she said. “You feel that stillness within.”

Common elements of meditation

A quiet location: Practice is usually done in a quiet place with few distractions and noises, either alone or in a class setting.

A comfortable posture: Depending on the type being practiced, meditation is usually done while sitting (usually cross-legged) on the floor or in a chair, lying down, standing, walking or in other positions.

A focus of attention: Concentrating attention on a mantra (a word or phrase not spoken aloud), an object or the sensations of breathing.

An open attitude: This means letting distractions come and go without judging them. If your mind wanders, gently bring attention back into focus.

Indianapolis resources for learning and practicing meditation:

Inner Peace Yoga Center: Yoga/meditation classes and weekend seminars, 5038 E. 56th St., (317) 257-9642 or

Indianapolis Zen Center: Meditation instruction, 3703 Washington Blvd., (317) 921-9902 or www.indy

Indiana Buddhist Center: Meditation instruction, 9260 E. 10th St., (317) 225-5499 or

Dromtonpa Kadampa Buddhist Center: Meditation instruction, 6018 N. Keystone Ave., (317) 374-5281 or

Transcendental Meditation Program of Indianapolis: Meditation instruction, 9465 Tanhurst Drive, (317) 225-4386 or

Himalayan Yoga Meditation Center of Indiana: Private meditation lessons and yoga/meditation study group, (317) 363-7885 or www.hym

Open Heart, Quiet Mind: Yoga, meditation and wellness programs, 429 E. Vermont St., Suite 002, (317) 840-8393 or www.openheartquietmind .com.

Sahaja Meditation: Group meditation, two sites, 4805 E. 96th St. and 5550 S. Franklin Road (Franklin Road Branch Public Library), (317) 300-4560, or

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Study: Yoga helps with fibromyalgia pain

Yoga that includes gentle stretching exercises combined with meditation can lessen the symptoms of fibromyalgia, a U.S. study found.

Twenty-five women diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome, took part in a 2-hour weekly yoga class for eight weeks.

At the end of the study, the group reported improvements in both physical and psychological aspects of fibromyalgia, including decreased pain, fatigue, tenderness, anxiety and better sleep and mood, HealthDay reported Thursday.

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Face Time: Ed Gabrielsen: Finding peace

wildmind meditation news

Dan Hartill, Lewiston Sun Journal, Maine: Ed Gabrielsen has spent his life trying to marry the body and the mind, first as a singer and later as an instructor of yoga and meditation. He has worked with people touched by cancer at the Dempsey Center, teaching a class titled “Music and Meditation.”

He currently teaches at Healthy for Life Wellness Center in Norway, where his wife, pediatric doctor Jill Gabrielsen, also has a medical practice.

Name: Ed Gabrielsen

Age: 47

Hometown: Norway

Single, relationship or married? Married

Children? We have two children.

You’ve been a musician for a long time. What does music do for you? Music is an art that expresses thoughts and emotions in a way that goes beyond words. I feel very fortunate to be a musician because my life is filled with this wonderful form of communication. Music brings me experiences of joy, solace, beauty and peace.

How is music and meditation part of your daily life? Every day I find time to sing and play the piano. I also find time every day to sit quietly in stillness. These are my two basic daily practices.

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When did you discover meditation? I was in my 20s, and I was miserably unhappy. My unhappiness drove me into meditation practice. Sometimes suffering does that.When you work with people struggling with cancer, either in themselves or a loved one, how do you handle their individual needs? I am not an expert on cancer or bereavement. I am just a meditation practitioner, which means I am continually striving to dwell in mindfulness, in other words, to be completely present in this moment. This turns out to be beneficial in many situations. Just be present. Be here now. Listen. Maybe say a word or two, but mostly listen.

How can someone begin learning about meditation? It’s good to sit with a group that meets weekly. Sometimes yoga centers offer meditation classes. I sometimes teach classes. There are several Buddhist groups in Maine now.

Do you see your work as bridging the mind and body? I guess you could say that. Meditation begins with the mind. We are training the mind.

Are there folks who are immune to music or meditation? There are people who are too impatient, who are looking for a quick fix. These people give up before they see any benefit. Meditation practice requires patience and persistence, just like learning to play the piano.

How do you respond to skeptics? I encourage them to be skeptical. We need to ask questions. We need to find out for ourselves what is really true. As he was dying, the Buddha said to his disciples, “Don’t just believe me. Be a lamp unto yourselves.”

Are there universal pieces of music that make everyone feel better? Listen to your breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. You are alive. Appreciate your life. Be grateful. Be content. This is the most beautiful music. Just breathing in and out.

Can music or meditation heal you? Peace is our true home. Peace is our true nature. Love, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, letting go, wisdom: these are the things that heal us. Music and meditation are simply vehicles that lead the way home.


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