Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Season 4 at The Pars


Our 4th season of yoga will wrap up at the end of March.  Students range in age from 55 to 90-somethings!  Many of the yoga students have been attending classes since that first class in 2010 – and regularly practicing yoga has made a huge difference to them.  And, many students have commented about the improvements in their balance.  Some who were not able to stand on one foot are now doing “tree” pose with ease.   

I have not been able to stand on one foot for quite some time.  Thanks to you and your yoga class, I can now stand on one foot – maybe not for long, but I CAN DO IT!!!”

    ~Barbara Keane 

“I have improved my balance 100% since I have been doing yoga.” ~ Joan Brolin 

Our class routinely starts with breathing exercises and warm-ups.  Here is where we begin to stretch our muscles and work on our flexibility.  Stiff neck, shoulders, hips and legs all benefit by gentle, deliberate movements.  We start slowly and gradually our range of motion increases. 

“I found that yoga released the stress in the muscles of my back and neck.  When I left each class, the pain was gone.”  ~ Susan Sullivan 

“I have seen much improvement in my ability to stretch and pain in my hips has lessened.”  ~ Ginny MacDonald 

“…my residual neck and shoulder pain from an earlier car accident really improves after gentle yoga.”  ~ Trish Flint 

In addition to balance and flexibility, yoga offers poses to improve posture and increase strength.  Paying attention to how we sit or stand can yield tremendous benefits.  We feel better; we look better.  And, poses that help strengthen the hips and leg muscles can make it easier for us to “get around” or to climb stairs. 

I feel stronger and more able to do things that I wasn’t able to do before.”  ~ Name withheld by request 

By far, the “relaxation exercise” at the end of the class is probably what keeps people coming back week after week.  While most of us are retired and spending the winter months here in “paradise”, we live in a society that is noisy and busy.  To some extent, we all have things that worry us or present some stress.  But, if we can find an island of peace in the midst of all this, it can have a calming effect on our lives.  

The best part is leaving your troubles at the door while you practice.”  ~Jane Goreham 

We practice yoga in a classroom setting.  But, the class also follows the simple practice of “karma” yoga – which is based on giving without any expectation of receiving.  The class makes generous contributions to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.  Last year, we held a very successful “Diaper Drive”.  We learned that there was a severe shortage of diapers for needy babies.  We collected enough money to buy 8 cartons of diapers and 8 boxes of baby wipes.  In February, we held a PB & J Drive.  In all, we collected over 30 jars each of peanut butter and jelly.  And, for the month of March, a cereal drive is underway.  

It’s been especially gratifying to me to meet, get to know, and share the practice of yoga with such a wonderful community.  See you next year! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The 3 R's

Well, sure, you know your 3 R's...reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic.  But, this...obviously has to do with yoga.  I attended a yoga seminar featuring Lilias Folan last week.  Lilias is pretty well know in the public broadcasting system and has been referred to as the "Julia Child of Yoga".  Quite impressive!!!

Lilias has devised a system using the 3 R's - known as Resist, Relax, and Restretch.  It's unique and has been proven effective.  Here's a little rundown on how it works:  In any type of stretch, you first need to become aware of how far you can actually stretch.  You try the stretch and see where you are.  Next, you try to same stretch but this time put some resistance in the move.  It's the opposing forces of resistance that will bring strength to the stretch.  After the resistance, relax.  Yes, it's that easy.  Take a few breaths...relax.  Then, do the same move - restretch - and notice the difference .  It's a remarkable observation where the resistance has increased the range of motion. 

Check out Lilias:  http://www.amazon.com/Lilias-Yoga-Gets-Better-Age/dp/159486070X/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345680362&sr=1-4&keywords=lilias+yoga+and+you for a copy of her latest book. 

Salute the Sun - and put on sunscreen

I love being able to walk the boardwalk along the beach.  There's a spot near Red Rock Park where I can take a little break and do a few sun salutes before continuing on.  It's here that I can observe the ocean, watch the waves gently roll in and out.  I love the warmth of the sun - the energy that it represents.

Things have changed for me, though.  I have recently had surgery for skin cancer.  This means taking more precautions when spending time outdoors.  It's ironic that I just moved to the beach where I could simply skip outside and go for a walk and do some yoga.  Not so anymore!  I must now lather myself in sunscreen - and wear a wide-brimmed hat.  I'm not complaining, though.  It could have been so much worse.  And, thankfully, I can still get the benefits of spending time in the sunshine.  But, I need to be more mindful about my surroundings.  I really don't like to be "preachy" but please, take heed.  The sun is powerful - as we know.  Respect it - honor it - but do the same and respect and honor yourself. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I arrived at my yoga class this morning and noticed a beautiful azalea plant on a table.  Beside the plant was a card and a box of chocolates.  The only way I know how to describe the feeling upon seeing this gift from my students is:  heartfelt.  I volunteer to teach this class twice a week; but, I have to say that I get as much - if not more - as I give.  Thank you, wonderful yoga students.  You made my day!!!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

There's a moon out tonight....

Yes, there will be a full moon tonight!  In recognition of this occasion - and I love recognizing "the moon" in all its glory - our yoga class today had several moon references. 

We open our class with gentle breathing exercises.  Today we began by imagining a pristine lake reflecting the rise of the moon as we inhale.  Then, with Michael Buble singing "Moondance" in the background, we completed a seated version of "moon series" movements.  This wonderful moon series can be found in the book Yoga for Movement Disorders by Renee LeVerrier.  We begin and close the series with a seated crescent moon pose. 

Our closing visualization brought us to a beautiful cabin on a lake.  It's dusk and the moonlight is reflecting off the lake.  As we sit on our porch rocker gazing out at the lake, we acknowledge that the rocking movements and the night sky fill us with peace and contentment.  So relaxing!  Ahh, it's a marvelous night for a moondance...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All about balance...

My yoga class in Florida is in an "over 55" community.  Some members of the class are in the lower age range and some are not.  All of them, though, have expressed some interest in maintaining their "balance".  I always have a balance pose or two towards the end of the class.  They're fully warmed up at this point - and by the time the balance sequence is finished, they are more than ready for relaxation.

Yesterday, though, I decided to have a "balance workshop" where we focused on how there is balance in all our poses.  Using a strap for arm stretches, we brought our awareness to both sides of the body - noticing the difference between the arms/shoulders, etc., after spending time on the right - and prior to moving to the left.  We then moved to practicing several standing balance poses.  Although there is the tendency to worry about being able to stand on one foot, I like to suggest that instead they focus on what part of the pose they "can" do.  Can you reach your arms up in a sun salute?  Can you bring your right foot back just a little keeping your toes on the ground?  Do you feel steady?  Are you able to gently move forward?  Can you lean on the back of the chair?  Breaking down poses step by step seems to be less intimidating and promotes encouragement. 

The class as a whole looked beautiful in their balance poses.  But, I did suggest a little homework for "practice" and, of course, this brought gales of laughter.  "When you're brushing your teeth tonight, try placing your other hand on the vanity and see if you can stand on one foot." 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

N.Y. Times article - How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body

First off, let me say that I think the title of this article was purely intended for "shock" value - and probably for a little self-promotion.  The writer has a book coming out next month on the science of yoga - risks and rewards. 

To be sure, there are some yoga classes that are truly not suitable for every body.  And, yes, there are some teachers who may be encouraging/urging students to go beyond their current capabilities.  With that in mind, the student must be diligent about her own safety.  Many poses pose danger for someone not in the best condition - or someone with an injury or other limitation.   In my yoga classes, safety is paramount to any posture we do.  I talk "safety" throughout the class.  "No pain...no pain".  "Only go as far as comfortable for you today."  "Listen to your body."  Unfortunately, we, as a society, put so much emphasis on comparing ourselves to the next guy, winning at all costs, pushing the envelope, etc., that we potentially set ourselves up for failure...or in the case of yoga, a physical injury. 

Ultimately, in my view, it is the student's responsibility to tune in to her body - recognize where you are, become aware of what you can do, pay attention and notice what's happening.  And, then begin the search for the teacher who recognizes that in you and works with you in that honoring process.

Here's a link to the article in question: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?pagewanted=all