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Simple Poses to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress, and Add Joy
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 10, 2015. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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“Highly recommended as a way to create healthy habits for a more peaceful, happy life.” — New York Journal of Books
Sold globally in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada and More
Translated and sold in Russia
Advice from the book and author featured in: Fox Health News, HLN/CNN, Todayshow.com, USA Today, AARP Life Reimagined, Costco Connection, Real Simple, Health.com and more!
Yoga isn’t about becoming a human pretzel, being vegan, or wearing trendy workout clothes to a green juice bar. Based on her own healing journey, instructor Christine Chen presents a fun, easy way to do yoga at home, in the office, during a commute, and more–no matter your fitness level, yoga experience, age or gender.
A #1 National Bestseller on Amazon in Exercise & Fitness and Injury Prevention
A #1 New Release on Amazon (2015)
Table of Contents
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author's intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support of the author's rights.
Paul J. Christo, MD
Host of Aches and Gains and Associate Professor,
Division of Pain Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
When Christine decided to embark on writing a book on yoga that would encourage body movement for good health, stress reduction, and pain relief, I was excited. Our modern lifestyle has significantly reduced natural movement and replaced it with inaction. We sit in front of computers for hours each day. We sit in cars, trains, buses, or airplanes en route to meetings, our job, or even leisure activities. At night, we sit in plush chairs or lie on comfortable couches to watch our favorite reality TV shows.
Unfortunately, all of this sedentary time has led to unfavorable health outcomes. More of us are obese, have heart disease, suffer from diabetes, and constantly strain the joints of our spines and limbs. We're designed to move, yet we're mostly immobile. The benefits of exercise are numerous, but most important, it's the fundamental step toward feeling better.
Evidence of the growing value of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and therapies like yoga for reaching optimal health and healing is steadily increasing. A 2007 National Health Interview Survey reported that more than 38 percent of American adults and almost 12 percent of children used some type of CAM therapy during the previous year. In fact, pain is among the most common reasons for seeking CAM treatments and specifically for easing lower-back pain.
It's easy to understand why more of my own pain patients are feeling the positive effects of CAM treatments, and especially yoga. As a form of exercise and moving meditation, yoga offers them pain relief, improves their mood and body mass index, and helps them reduce risk factors associated with chronic diseases. Patients tell me that the deep stretching combined with relaxation and the deep and rhythmic breathing of yoga promotes well-being and comfort. It makes them feel better, more alive, and more able to withstand the stresses of daily life.
Today, we're learning more about the effects on the body of slow and deep breathing. Interestingly, some studies tell us that slow breathing reduces pain, and some experts feel that slow, deep breathing suppresses the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response), which in turn influences how pain is processed in the nervous system.
If you look at the evidence for yoga's effects on pain, you'll see that the practice allows patients to better cope with the biological, psychological, and social dimensions of having persistent pain. This is critical because pain can take over your life and make you feel like you're a prisoner. Yoga offers a way out through gentle exercise and a refreshing relaxation. I've seen benefits in patients with arthritis in easing tender and swollen joints. And I've seen yoga help patients with fibromyalgia lessen their pain and fatigue and elevate their mood and ability to cope. And I've heard from patients that they feel less stressed, more resilient, and less injury-prone.
Yoga is low risk, low cost, and well tolerated. This is a perfect trio for my own patients who may be afraid of worsening their pain or who may have limited finances. Yoga can be practiced in class or even at home. Even simple exercises can be taught in the doctor's office for those too injured or otherwise unable to take classes. Researchers are currently studying the effects of yoga on older adults specifically because of its global benefit to health and balance.
I mentioned initially that I was excited, and now you can understand the reason. Happy-Go-Yoga helps you take that first step toward mobilizing your body and mind. As an experienced yoga instructor, Christine Chen has written a smart, fun, and easy guide for healthy living. Yoga offers you the potential to improve your life, feel better, and regain a sense of wellness.
As a pain specialist who's seen many patients freed from their discomfort, I'm enthusiastic about the promise of CAM treatments, and especially yoga. I hope that in reading Christine's book, you're able to awaken a new potential to take care of yourself, overcome any medical limitations, and achieve what you want in life.
How I Got Happy: The Author's Story
I went to my first yoga class in 1999 to tackle stress and back pain. At the time I was a news anchor and reporter, and I was unable to sit at the news desk or stand for a live report without experiencing shooting and/or throbbing pain. My high-octane life of constant deadlines, odd hours, lack of sleep, and weird working conditions manifested in two different spine conditions and high anxiety—bad news for a newsperson. Sometimes I would lie on the floor during commercial breaks just so I could feel enough relief to get up and muster a smile for the cameras despite the pain.
Every minute at work was filled with talk of disaster, crisis, controversy, and violence, all of which had taken a toll on my heart and my personal life. I had few coping skills for this level and type of stress, so, like many others in the industry, I became jaded, turned to cocktails, and held it all in—a recipe for toxicity. Three of my friends/coworkers with similar lifestyles were diagnosed with cancer in their mid-thirties, and one passed away a few years ago. Gratefully, I never got so sick that I was on life support, but certainly, I was not supporting my own health very well.
Because of my spine, my doctors banned me from nearly all the activities that helped me cope with stress, including the super-sweaty cardio workouts that also kept me slim and camera-ready. Doctors even instructed me to get in and out of a car a special way. Most nights I couldn't sleep without medication. Every part of my life was compromised by my health, and my health was being compromised by every part of my life—a terrible cycle that kept eroding my mind, body, and spirit. I felt like I was in a physical and emotional storm cloud every day. A single gal at the time, I was not a fun date. My soul was suffering, and I feared I would never find my soul mate. In a word, I was unhappy.
In the midst of an array of medical treatments for my spine problems, including anti-inflammatory spine injections, electro-stimulus, prescription drugs, acupuncture, and months of physical therapy, I tried yoga. I felt better physically, at first, just for short periods of time. I was skeptical about whether yoga would help me. Let's be honest; before, I had been stress busting by kickboxing, and this was the total opposite. But I found I was challenged physically by the poses and measurably calmer after each class. I was curious to know more. Doctors said that to "fix" my spine they would have to cut through the front of my neck for surgery. Even so, they could not guarantee total pain relief. Faced with that reality, I kept going to yoga.
I wavered between skeptic and willing student. I fit in as many classes as my schedule allowed and was fortunate to have knowledgeable and caring teachers. When I couldn't make it to class, I did pieces of the poses from class, and I did them everywhere. I stretched at the news desk during commercial breaks. I twisted in the corners of airports. I breathed deeply in traffic jams to relax. I meditated to cope with one chaotic situation after another. I can't recall exactly when things shifted, but yoga became part of my everyday life.
My spine specialists were skeptical, worried that yoga would hurt me rather than help me. They saw actual physical improvement, though, and they gave me a green light for more yoga. My body got stronger. My mind became calmer. I slept better, which gave my body a better shot at resting and repairing itself. Some modern medicine was needed to help treat me, but a pattern became clear to me: I could insert some kind of yoga in various moments of my day, and I would feel better. Guess what? I never had the spine surgery, and more than a decade after all these problems, I'm pretty much pain-free.
Today, an increasing number of medical studies support what I had discovered during my journey out of pain and stress: My mind helped my body feel better, and my body helped my mind feel better. What the yogis had experienced for thousands of years, I experienced in modern life. Without a doubt, I can say yoga was a major factor in transforming my health, and really, my life. Literally, my yoga practice was my medicine; it saved me—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In my mid-forties now, I feel I am the healthiest version of me that's ever existed.
In a word, I got happy.
Deeply passionate about yoga's ability to transform, or at least just help people feel a little better each day, I decided to learn how to teach it. My students were delighted learning even the smallest things that made them feel better, and they wanted more for the times they couldn't come to class.
I spent the first twenty years of my career in the media, delivering news and information about the world via television and Web. Now, in this book, I feel I am broadcasting the most vital information I could possibly offer: an easy-to-understand, accessible way to help people feel better and be happier—regardless of level, age, gender, ethnicity, or life circumstances.
When I first started yoga, I could probably do only 20 percent of any class, if that. I had the following reactions: 1) I don't like this; 2) This isn't doing anything; 3) I don't feel anything; 4) This is a waste of my time; 5) I can't do these poses; 6) I don't like this teacher; and 7) I want to leave class. I hear a mix of those things from a lot of people who are new, have injuries, or have doubts. Believe me, I understand. I see people who are stressed, hurting, or struggling in some way, and it quickly takes me back to how I felt back then. Because I have been there, I can say with total authenticity to you and anyone, "You can feel better too! It'll take time. Try this. Keep doing it. It works."
While yoga was definitely my medicine, Happy-Go-Yoga is not a medical book, and I am not a doctor. This book is a collection of poses based on real yoga and real health information with a big dose of real life and a dash of whimsy. I have used these poses—fully or in pieces—again and again. I realize yoga can seem intimidating and mysterious, so I wanted to show that yoga can be very humble, simple, and fun! Back hurt from standing in line for so long? There's a pose for that. Frustrated with your coworker? There's a pose for that. Emotionally drained from a family get-together? There's a pose for that. Hoping you can improve the communication in your relationship? There's a pose for that, too.
Yoga isn't about becoming a human pretzel, being vegan, or wearing trendy workout clothes to a green juice bar. It's a way of living and creating habits to live a life of less suffering and more peace and happiness. Happy-Go-Yoga is for all of us, even those who don't really "do yoga." It's the result of revelations in my own healing journey, hundreds of hours of teacher trainings, years of teaching students of all kinds, and my own ever-changing self-practice.
Back in the day, I had a go-to version of Pigeon Pose at the news desk for quick relief. A few years ago, when I moved to New York, the intensity of my new city had me spontaneously doing a version of Standing Half Moon on the subway to relieve my weary body from pounding the pavement. Intrigued, a woman standing on the subway next to me asked what I was doing. I explained; she started copying me and then started smiling right away. "This feels so good!" she said. Another woman, seated right next to us, was watching and listening to the whole thing. She stated, with the total conviction of a New Yorker, "You should write a book." And so I did. That moment became "Reach for the Moon" (here).
I hope Happy-Go-Yoga helps you the way it helped me, my students, and the woman on the subway. You can feel better and be happier, too. It'll take time, but try this and keep doing it. It works.
Who, Why, and How to Happy-Go-Yoga
Stress is being called the next big health crisis. More people today get back surgery than coronary bypasses or hip replacements. Study after study shows that a little bit of yoga goes a long way, and our efforts add up over time. UCLA researchers found that yoga helps alleviate pain and anxiety. At the University of Illinois, researchers found that yoga helps the brain work better, while Duke scientists concluded that yoga helps people sleep better. Ohio State researchers found that yoga reduces inflammation, and Taiwanese researchers found that yoga teachers have healthier spines.
Happy-Go-Yoga is my playful, witty take on traditional yoga, designed for people who don't have time for—or simply don't do—yoga. Even the biggest skeptics (and I was one of them) can do just a little at a time and start to experience the benefits. Our lives are more amped than ever before. We can't rely on just pills, doctor's visits, cocktails, or watching television to relax!
All you have to do is start with one Happy-Go-Yoga pose, just one, and see where that takes you. Do it to feel good, or do it to shift your mood. I'm telling you, it's fun, and you'll feel better.
How to Use Happy-Go-Yoga
If you're new to yoga, I recommend chatting with your doctor to sort out your own personal health situation first. Yoga is not a panacea or cure-all, but if you believe my story and many years' worth of stories, it helps on many levels.
You'll find that you can do just about every pose in Happy-Go-Yoga, and so can your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, sister, brother, daughter, son, aunt, uncle, boss, coworker, BFF, bus driver, and neighbor. You might do Happy-Go-Yoga together. You might share a tip or two with someone you don't quite know as well (it's good karma)!
In the book's pages, each Happy-Go-Yoga pose is a mix of some very useful things: a potential situation in our daily lives, traditional yoga teachings, and brief nuggets of health knowledge gathered from my own experience, my studies, my teachers, many doctors, medical research, and health experts.
I suggest two easy ways to work Happy-Go-Yoga into your life:
Put Poses into Your Everyday Life
A bit of lower-back relief can make you a little less cranky toward everyone in the office (especially when the boss seems to be cranky for unknown reasons). A specific way of breathing can keep you from going crazy when there are just too many people around (story of my life in New York City). A type of hand gesture (not what you think) can help you invite a little more love into your life. A certain way of standing can inspire you to feel more confident when it counts (like right before a job interview). If you can relate to the real-life scenarios on each page, just follow the directions and illustrations.
Change How You Want to Feel—Anywhere, Anytime
Many of the poses do not need to be location- or situation-specific. If you know you need to feel less stressed quickly, you can look for the "De-stress" label throughout the book to find the right poses for you. Need relief from aches? Look for "Relieve" labels; there are poses for that. Need to be focused? Find the "Focus" label.
Take your pick:
■ De-stress: Quickly reduce your anxiety, frustration, or fear
■ Relieve: Give your brain and body relief from pain or discomfort
■ Relax: Soothe, unwind, and feel comforted
■ Strengthen: Firm and tone parts of the body
■ Empower: Feel more confident and self-assured
■ Balance: Feel steady physically, mentally, and spiritually
■ Calm: Be mellow and unruffled by challenge
■ Love: Be more affectionate and intimate with yourself and others
■ Brighten: Get uplifted and more positive
■ Connect: Link more authentically with yourself and others
■ Refresh: Energize your body and awaken your mind
■ Focus: Be less distracted and more present and productive
■ Inspire: Encourage yourself and motivate others with your spirit
You can do all of the poses or some of them. You can share them with others and be the mini health hero in someone else's day. Some of the poses are not obvious body shapes, but things you do intentionally to cultivate a yogi state of mind. Remember: Some of the more subtle shifts are the most powerful.
And look for these on every pose page, too:
■ Tip: An extra little bit of information that might help you in the pose
■ Bonus: Another version that adds variety or a degree of difficulty to the pose
■ Note: An FYI about things that could come up during the pose
■ Extra Karma: Small things you can do to share your Happy-Go-Yoga moment
You'll get the most out of Happy-Go-Yoga if you're optimistic and open to the possibility that you can change your life by learning how to move and breathe consciously, one day at a time. Even if you're a skeptic, try being just a tiny bit open to the possibility. Happy-Go-Yoga might surprise you! If you're open to anything, put Happy-Go-Yoga in your bag right now and use it everywhere. We made it small, light, and portable for that reason.
So go—do some yoga your way, anywhere, anytime. Feel better more often. Devote yourself to you. Each day, you might be a little more happy-go-lucky with Happy-Go-Yoga in your life!
Very rarely do I finish a flight or a train ride, emerge, and say, "OMG, I feel amazing!" Mass-transit travel is one of the hardest things on your body and soul.
For a national health blog, I interviewed a White House doctor, Connie Mariano, MD, who had been the presidential physician during three administrations (George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush). She gave high marks to President Clinton for power napping, because, she told me, the more you sleep, the more you let your body restore itself. I couldn't agree more!
I say, use transit and flight time to give yourself that little health nap. On a train, close your eyes (but obviously don't miss your stop).
When you're not napping, make the most of your transit time with Happy-Go-Yoga Travel Buddies—poses that are good for the mind and body, from point A to point B.
In this chapter:
Stuck in a middle seat, your neck and shoulders are already tight, and you just started the flight. Two armrest hogs are making you feel worse. A few minutes start to feel like hours, and the dread is building for the journey ahead. Assume the perch of an eagle about to take flight and let your spirits soar (a little more).
1. Strap yourself in. Scoot your tailbone into the seat back so you can sit taller and be supported.
2. Don't arch your back to sit up, but lift the top of your head as if it could reach the ceiling of the plane.
3. Bend your arms at the elbows and raise your elbows to the height of your shoulders (stay within your space, please).
4. Choose one of the options below:
Option A: Stack one elbow inside the other and connect the backs of your hands.
Option B: Double wrap your arms and connect your palms.
Option C: Press your arms together, elbows to palms.
5. In all options, feel the tops of your shoulders dropping away from your ears. Move just your elbows forward slightly toward the seat in front of you without changing the height of the arms.
6. Feel the stretch in your shoulders, upper arms, neck, and back.
7. Breathe easily and evenly. Count to ten slowly.
8. Switch sides (for option C, release and repeat).
- On Sale
- Mar 10, 2015
- Page Count
- 224 pages
- Grand Central Life & Style