CD Cover

Practices for Beginners CD

This audio CD was created for students who want help with their practice at home. Included on the CD are three practices for beginners. Janice leads the listener through the sequences that are 20 minutes long including a sitting meditation to start and a relaxation at the end. The routines are easy to follow.

Here is the link for free access to these audio-only yoga practices:

A 14 minute guided relaxation is now on our Facebook page:

Spring #1 Readings: All quotes are from Kelly McGonigal’s book The Upside of Stress.

Week 1
  • “If you had to sum up how you feel about stress, which statements would be more accurate?
    1. Stress is harmful and should be avoided, reduced, and managed.
    2. Stress is helpful and should be accepted, utilized, and embraced.
    I’m a health psychologist, and through all my training in psychology and medicine, I got one message loud and clear: Stress is toxic. But I changed my mind about stress and now I want to change yours. The new science also shows that changing your mind about stress can make you healthier and happier. The best way to manage your stress isn’t to reduce or avoid it, but rather rethink and even embrace it.”

Week 2
  • “The advice in this book isn’t based on one shocking study. The strategies you’ll learn are based on hundreds of studies and the insights of dozens of scientists I’ve spoken with. I offer this conception of stress: Stress is what arises when something you care about is at stake.”

Week 3
  • “So, this book includes a crash course in the new science of stress and what psychologists call mindsets. Every time you experience stress, your beliefs about it come to mind. Think about how many moments of your day you would describe as stressful. How often do you say, ‘This is so stressful’ or ‘I’m so stressed’? In each of these moments, how you think about stress can alter your biochemistry and, ultimately, how you respond to whatever has triggered the stress. This is the mindset effect, a belief with this kind of power goes beyond the placebo effect. A mindset is a belief that biases how you think, feel, and act. It’s a filter that you see everything through.
    Mindset 1: Stress is harmful or Mindset 2: Stress is Enhancing”

Week 4
  • “People who believe stress can be helpful are more likely to say they cope with stress proactively. For example, the are more likely to:
  • Accept the fact the stressful event has occurred and is real.
  • Plan a strategy for dealing with the source of stress.
  • Seek information, help, or advice.
  • Take steps to overcome, remove, or change the source of stress.
  • Try to make the best of the situation by viewing it in a more positive way or by using it as an opportunity for growth.”

Week 5
  • “When your survival is on the line, you may find yourself having a classic fight or flight response. But when a stressful situation is less threatening, the brain and body shift into a different state: the challenge response. Like a fight or flight response, a challenge response gives you energy and helps you perform under pressure. Your heart rate still rises, your adrenaline spikes, your muscle and brain get more fuel, and the feeling good chemicals surge. But it differs from a fight or flight response in a few important ways: You feel more focused but not fearful. You also release a different ratio of stress hormones, including higher levels of DHEA, which helps you recover and lean from stress. People in a flow state, a highly enjoyable state of being completely absorbed in what you are doing- display clear signs of a challenge response. Artists, athletes, surgeons, video gamers, and musicians all show this kind of stress response when they’re engaged in their craft or skill. The stress response gives them access to their mental and physical resources, and the result is increased confidence, enhanced concertation, and peak performance.”

Week 6
  • “Your stress response doesn’t just give you energy. In many circumstances, it also motivates you to connect to others. This side of stress is primarily driven by the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin’s primary function is to build and strengthen social bonds. Elevated levels of oxytocin make you want to connect to others. It’s also the chemical of courage. Scientists refer to this as the tend and befriend response. Unlike the fight or flight response, the tend and befriend response motivates you to protect the people and communities you care about. Oxytocin is actually good for cardiovascular health. Your heart has special receptors for oxytocin, which helps heart cells regenerate and repair from any micro-damage. This is quite different from the message we usually hear- that stress will give you a heart attack.”

Week 7
  • “Viewing the stress response as a resource can transform the physiology of fear into the biology of courage. When you feel your heart pounding or your breath quickening, realize that it is your body’s way of trying to give you more energy. If you notice tension in your body, remind yourself that the stress response gives access to your strength. Sweaty palms? Remember what it felt like to go on your first date- palms sweat when you’ve close to something you want. If you have butterflies in your stomach, know they are a sign of meaning. Your digestive tract is lined with hundreds of millions of nerve cells that respond to your thoughts and emotions. Butterflies in your stomach are your gut’s way of saying, ‘this matters.’ Let yourself remember why this particular moment matters to you.”

Week 8
  • “Whatever the sensations of stress are, worry less about trying to make them go away, and focus more on what you are going to do with the energy, strength, and drive that stress gives you. Your body is providing you assess to all your resources to help rise to this challenge. Instead of taking a deep breath to calm down, take a deep breath to sense the energy available to you, then put the energy to use, and ask yourself, ‘What action can I take, or what choice can I make, that is consistent with my goal in this moment?’”

Week 9
  • “When you are feeling overwhelmed, look for a way to do something for someone else that goes beyond your daily responsibilities. Your brain might tell you that you don’t have the time or energy, but that is exactly why you should do it. You can make this a daily practice- set a goal of finding an opportunity to support someone else. By doing so, you prime your body and brain to take positive action and to experience courage, hope and connection. Two strategies can amplify the benefit of this practice. First, your brain’s reward system will get a bigger boast from doing something new and unexpected that if you do the same act every day. Second, small acts can be just as powerful as grand gestures, so look for little things you can do instead of waiting for the perfect moment to be magnanimous. I encourage students to be creative in what they decide to be generous with. You can give others appreciation, your full attention, or even the benefit of the doubt. Like other mindset resets like rethinking your racing heart- it’s a small choice that can have unexpectedly large effects on how you experience stress.”

More Help with Home Practice

The Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York has created excellent level I and Level II sequences for practice at home. Download the sequences here.