AVIVA SHELTER - “A small good thing” and Women’s yoga How literature, life and yoga intertwine

“A small good thing” and Women’s yoga

How literature, life and yoga intertwine.



“A small good thing” is a short story by Raymond Carver which, on the one hand, describes great sorrow and difficulties and yet on the other shows us how something small, in this case a warm cinnamon bun, experienced in the moment can have a positive effect during trying times.


As women we know how to give generously, comfort, hold, caress, solve problems, be proactive, empathic and in general contain those around us as their needs arise. We are good daughters, great mothers, wonderful friends and siblings. Putting ourselves on the back burner we continue to be what we need to be for those around. These attributes may well be genetically inherited, they may even have been imprinted at birth through our mother role models or they may have been nurtured through social conditioning. The fact is that the cause may well be any one of these or any combination or permutation thereof. The truth is that I don’t know and what is important for me in this piece is not why we are who we are, but rather how it is reflected in our daily life.

I have found that as a result of being who I am, it is easier to give, to do and to be for others. What I have learned over the years is that allowing one’s self to receive does not seem to be one of those inherited, imprinted or conditioned traits. This seems to be one trait that we have to teach ourselves. Allowing others to do for us, to help and hold and comfort us, to let go and just be, knowing that there is someone there who will contain our needs, is hard. Yet by taking small steps, listening to our inner voice and using the tools acquired through practicing Women’s Yoga it is possible to nourish ourselves without changing the essence of who we are and even more surprisingly finding that this results in enhancing our abilities to fulfill ourselves.

Women’s yoga

Women’s yoga is a combination of a traditional yoga practice with emphasis on the pelvis and pelvic floor (mulha banda), which are critical to the health of women of all ages and stages in life. Women’s yoga creates an anchor, centered in the pelvis, which women can count on, to deal with daily issues. It enhances the physical connection between the body and the breath, allows women to explore their emotional and mental states interlinked to those physical reactions and find ways to change those reactions.  By strengthening the core physically, emotionally and mentally as women we regain control over our bodies and therefore over our lives.

Women’s yoga also provides a platform to examine ourselves, what sustains us and what drains us. We are able to acknowledge that not all we do nor all the people we have contact with have a positive influence on our life. We learn to understand that we can choose to let go of those draining influences and enhance those sustaining ones.



So by doing some small good things, by acknowledging the need to nourish ourselves we can use the tools acquired in yoga to maintain and improve our physical, emotional and mental health. Thereby creating a reciprocal cycle of giving and receiving.

So here are some suggestions for small good things:

  1. Stop and breathe: at the peak of activity when you feel that you are about to explode – stop what you are doing where ever you are, sit quietly and breathe. Planting your feet firmly to root and connect to the ground, inhale through your nose and exhale while activating the Mula Bandha and Udiyna Bandha. Examine the quality of the breath, follow it’s path into and out of your body. Slow its pace and feel your body relax.
  2. Vipariti Karani: when you get home after a grueling day and before you begin your second job – find a quiet place, lie on your back and put you legs up the wall. Place your hands in the diamond mudra on your lower belly and breathe. Inhale to the pelvic floor and exhale from it. Let the veinous blood flow from your feet and enhance the blood flow to the thyroid gland. Let the day melt away.
  3. Take a mindful walk, be aware of how you hold your body and by activating the Bandhas experience how that encourages a better posture. Then look around you, feel the wind, look at the flowers, trees, sky even the people around and become aware of how you are a part of whole.
  4. Make some seemingly difficult decisions: examine what drains you and decide what you can let go of. It is surprising how light and free you can feel and how much more you have to give, when you let go of something that no longer sustains you.
  5. Find a community within a yoga practice that suits you. One where you feel accepted and held. Where you can rest and let go, flowing with the practice.
  6. Of course the best is this quote by Oscar Wilde:  “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken…”



Aviva Shelter

I teach women’s yoga and yoga therapy. I have studied both in Israel and in Australia with a number of great teachers, experts in their fields, who have enriched my knowledge immeasurably.

I teach privately or in small groups, up to 4, in my home studio, which is an oasis of calm and great energy, where each woman gets personal attention and lessons are geared to where you are at that moment on that day.