Yoga has been used for more than 3,000 years to help maintain and restore health. Most people associate yoga with exercise and most yoga classes focus entirely on physical movement. But yoga is in many ways opposite of exercise, and some of the non-movement-oriented practices of yoga can have a profound effect on the physical body.
The postures (asanas) and breathing practices (pranayama) together constitute hatha yoga.
In the Sanskrit language of ancient India, "ha" means "sun" and "tha" means "moon." The two together, "ha-tha" indicate the balance of opposites (night and day, yin and yang).
Asana focuses at its core on flexibility of the spine: forward bends balance backward-bending poses, left twists balance twists to the right. There are even inverted positions to counter-balance gravity.
The goal is to keep the muscles relaxed in movement so that muscle fibers elongate. This results in increasing flexibility and a sense of well-being. The yoga practitioner engages the body in a stretch, extending and elongating into a pose as much as comfortable, not as much as possible. The breath is crucial in this work because it both focuses and calms the mind.
While the spine is integral for physical balance, self-awareness, which is developed through yoga, is integral for emotional balance. The attitude one brings to hatha practices is as important as the practice itself.
The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine offers specialized yoga classes to meet the different needs of our participants. These include Gentle Yoga for Cancer Patients, Therapeutic Yoga for Stress and Medically Related Conditions and Continuing Therapeutic Yoga for Stress and Medically Related Conditions.
All classes are located at the Osher center and are taught by Jnani Chapman:
Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
1545 Divisadero St., Fourth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
This class is designed specifically for cancer patients and combines gentle movements, postures, slow deep-breathing, meditation and relaxation.
This rejuvenating and relaxing class encourages clarity, strength and ease of body and mind through the exploration of yoga postures, breath work, meditation and deep relaxation. The class aims to build a strong foundation for newcomers and to deepen the awareness and skill of experienced practitioners.
Participants are given choices so they can express each practice in a way that suits their individual physical circumstancs. Anyone interested in deeper well-being, including those new to yoga or facing health challenges, is welcome.
This class uses gentle seated and, if appropriate, standing poses to increase comfort, strength and flexibility. Deep relaxation, breathing and meditation will help build the skill of relaxation and relieve stress. Chair yoga is appropriate for those who can't comfortably practice on the floor or anyone who prefers a very gentle practice. This class may be suitable for seniors and people with mobility issues.