Monday, November 30, 2009

Keeping track...

Earlier this month I decided to set a goal regarding my yoga practice and study. I've been keeping a log where I list the amount of time I practice yoga along with a short description of postures. This can be either at home, my personal practice, or in a class. I'm also logging the amount of time I spend reading or studying yoga, and including any special training or seminars that I complete as well. They say that goals are usually more effective when they are specific. And I find that if I write something down, and I can see it in black and white, I'm more apt to stick to it. Keeping track of your progress allows you to give yourself a pat on the back and, in turn, helps to keep you motivated.

So, my initial goal is to reach 200 hours of practice/self study in one year. As much as I try to do something along these lines every day, it doesn't always happen. Regardless, I am pretty faithful to my practice and here are the results:

Personal practice: 12 1/2 hours
Self-study: 10 hours
Seminar/training: 5 hours
Total for November: 27 1/2 hours

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Partner Assisted Yoga

At a recent yoga class, the instructor had the students pair up to do some partner assisted stretching of the hamstring muscles. While I have no problem - and actually welcome - "assists" from the teacher, I am a little nervous about having another student work on me...and vice versa. My partner was a tall, young woman who was probably somewhat stronger than me. While I was in the reclining position, my partner was to take my outstretched leg and gently guide it towards my head. Which she did - and by no means am I faulting her. But, my leg was shaking (no, make that trembling) and although it didn't hurt, I'm always concerned about going "over my edge" and injuring myself.

Anyway, I'm just wondering here how other yoginis feel about working with partners.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Moonbeam - a ray of light from the moon...

What, you ask, does the title of this post have to do with yoga? Well, actually, a lot. I used a "Moon Series" of poses taken from Yoga for Movement Disorders in my class this week. Moon poses are similar to the seated sun salutations that we have been doing in that the poses are done in a continuous flowing sequence. Although there are many variations on the moon series, this particular version suited our class well.

Moon series - seated variation:
1. Seated mountain pose
2. Crescent moon
3. Goddess
4. Seated Forward Bend with Twist
5. Seated Hamstring Stretch
6. Goddess
7. Crescent moon

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yoga Teacher Training - Students w/Parkinson's Disease

On Saturday, I had the privilege of attending a program sponsored by the Mass Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association. This was a training class for yoga teachers who may have students with Parkinson's Disease. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to educate myself about this particular disease - as well as to learn about some strategies for modifying my yoga class to help guide students who may have this or other movement disorders.

The training began with a yoga practice led by Renee LeVerrier, RYT, and author of Yoga for Movement Disorders. We began the class with some breathing exercises and Renee later explained that she spends a lot of time in her classes "cueing" and "counting" so that movement is coordinated with the breath. We "warmed-up" and proceeded to several seated poses for stretching. The standing segment included a lot of movement with music. In a pose called "willow" you begin by standing and then twisting from side to side keeping your arms loose by your sides. You are shifting your weight from left to right - when moving to the right, you lift your left heel off the ground - and then do the same on the opposite side. You could have a lot of fun with this pose by varying your arm and hand movements.

In Renee's classes, relaxation is a treat not to be missed! She says that she uses every prop available which would include pillows for your head, eye pillows, blankets, bolsters, you name it! Having attended one of her classes, I can attest to the fact that I was comfy, cozy in a "nest" of blankets and utterly relaxed.

After the yoga practice, we were given an overview of Parkinson's Disease by Cathi Thomas, MS, RN. She had an excellent slide presentation called "Sharing Hope in Parkinson's Disease". She also emphasized that patients have found yoga quite helpful in improving their quality of life. Tami DeAngelis, PT, MSPT, GCS, outlined the links between physical therapy, yoga and activities of daily living for those with the disease. Tami also provided some practical considerations for teachers. Consider the time of day when classes are scheduled. Early in the day may be difficult. Students could be stiff and medications may not have taken effect yet. Try to involve care partners in the program.

Included in the training packet was a DVD title "Exercise Ideas for People Living with Parkinson's Disease. This DVD featured a 77 year old, Bill Hillman, with the disease. Mr. Hillman devised a personal exercise program using items commonly found at home. We also received a book called Be Active which is an exercise manual put out by the American Parkinson Disease Association and a book titled Parkinson's Disease and the Art of Moving by John Argue.

This was a wonderful seminar!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Let's Make A Deal!

Today, one of my students asked me if she should be doing yoga every day. We got to talking and I explained to her that it is my goal to have a daily practice - but, sometimes "life" gets in the way and I don't always practice what I preach. On our way out from class, we discussed the benefits of a daily practice and decided to make a pact. We would each practice 2 poses - just 2 to start - daily for the next 2 weeks. We decided to do Mountain Pose and Downward Dog every day. Just spending part of each day doing these 2 poses is certainly doable - and now we're "accountable", too. Thanks, Fran! This was just the motivation I needed today.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Easy Does It Yoga Class

On Friday I had a little daytrip for myself and it all began in Rose Russo's "Easy Does It" yoga class in Newburyport. Rose is a kind and gentle teacher and a Reika master as well. After spending a few minutes with her, you could almost sense that she was a healer. She made me feel welcome from the start. Although the class is called "easy does it", it's not as easy as you think. It's important to remember that your body may not be in the "easy" place today. But, no start where you are and go from there. We did several standing poses using the wall as an assist. The wall provides a lot of stability and acts like a security blanket if you're feeling shaky. This was a timely experience for me as I've been neglecting my practice of late. Sometimes you just need a little (gentle) push in the right direction and that's just what I found in this class. :)