Sunday, October 25, 2009

Starting Over

We've just returned from an action-packed week travelling to New York City and Washington, D.C. We saw several shows, did lots of sightseeing, had fabulous dinners out, and walked, walked, walked!!!! Of course, I had every good intention of keeping up my daily yoga practice on this vacation...but this was not to be! I could tell you that I was busy - or tired - or pressed for time -and that would all be the truth. Regardless, I didn't practice and now I must start over.

So, today, I began with warm-ups and gently urged my body to open and respond. From there, I practiced standing and balancing poses. I can balance for a few moments now and realize that I'm not where I used to be...and that's ok. From here, I practiced sun salutations - slowly, deliberately, mindfully. At times my body would "creak" and I felt like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz needing oil!

But, gradually, showing myself a little compassion, the stiffness dissolved and I felt at ease. Starting over, in fact, is probably a good thing for yoga practitioners. It puts you in a position to take things slow, to breathe, to notice, observe.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yoga and Osteoporosis

Once I was diagnosed with osteoporosis (May, 1999), I developed an almost borderline obsession with my posture. Even now as I write this, I consciously just brought my shoulders back and sat up straighter. It was the "dowager's hump" that had me in a state. But a recent article published by Reuters News Service indicates that yoga may decrease this age-related curve of the upper spine. A small study was conducted by Dr. Gail Greendale (UCLA) where a group of elderly study participants did yoga for 6 months and the results were compared to a group who did no yoga. The yoga group saw their upper spine curve lowered by about 5 percent. The yoga group met 3 days a week for 6 months. During their yoga classes, they used breathing techniques and did poses to increase flexibility and strength in their back muscles. Granted, this was a very small study with only about 120 participants in all. However, it is just one example of the benefits of a regular yoga practice...and another reason to spread the word to our senior population.