Friday, October 1, 2010

Where everybody knows your name...

I've recently attended a wonderful yoga class at a local senior center. Initially, I wandered into the class hoping to pick up a few tips or techniques that I could use in my own classes. But, I found so much more here. The instructor is warm, funny, and very knowledgeable. She makes a point of spending a few minutes with new students. During the hour long class, she mentions just about everyone by name - how's your shoulder today, Marie? - that looks good, Dennis - try to get your arm up a little more, Dorothy - and so on.

Although her class generally has at least 20 people in attendance, you feel as if she knows you. And, don't we all love it when someone remembers our name? And, as your name is used, other people pick up on it and get to know you, too. It's a yoga class, alright, but it kind of reminds me of Cheers...and I think I'm becoming a regular.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another generation of yoginis...

I was scrolling around the web and found these cards. Loved this version of chair pose - in a skirt and heels no less:

And, how about this split! I should be so agile!!!!!

Broken Wing...

Well, it's not exactly broken. Bruised would be more like it. Yes, right now I am suffering through a minor injury sustained in a boating accident about a month ago. Rereading that sentence right now made me realize how melodramatic I can be! The boating accident is a result of me trying to climb into the boat! Slip, slam, boom. My right arm, shoulder hit the side of the metal boat with such force that I'm still - a month later - unable to raise my right arm all the way up.
This presents a slight challenge for me in doing my daily yoga vs osteoporosis exercises. But, as I tell my students, just do what you can do from where you are today. So, I've managed to keep my commitment - albeit with the use of many props, lots of deep breaths and patience with myself.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Easy Yoga for Arthritis

I recently renewed my membership with WGBH (our Public Broadcasting System station) and as a bonus, received this wonderful DVD called Easy Yoga for Arthritis. This is Peggy Cappy's most recent DVD and I have to say I think it's far and away her best! She includes some wonderful warm-ups that not only would be helpful for people with arthritis but would also benefit those who would be looking to maintain more flexibility, particularly in their hands and feet. Her instructions are clear and she has a beautifully modulated voice - which I really enjoyed listening to during the relaxation and meditation sections.

This DVD is currently offered exclusively as a pledge gift through public broadcasting stations nationwide. It's expected to be available from Peggy Cappy's website early November. Keep an eye out for it. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Add a spiritual component to your practice

In Victoria Moran's book, Younger by the Day: 365 Ways to Rejuvenate your Body and Revitalize your Spirit, she offers some great suggestions for improving your spiritual health. I love the fact that these ideas could be applied no matter what your religious background or beliefs.

  • See yourself as part of something greater
  • Spend some time each day in quiet contact with the best that's inside you
  • Promise yourself that you'll come alive every day
  • Empathize so fully with other beings that generosity and kindness, even self-sacrifice when necessary, become second nature

The book is a wonderful inspirational read and full of uplifting advice.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Where to begin...

So much has happened since my last post. As I mentioned then, my mother was in the hospital and we were practicing relaxation techniques. It wasn't a week later that my dear mother died. She was not in pain and I am so grateful that she truly didn't suffer. She remained calm throughout the last stages of her life and exhibited a bravery and a faith that will stay with me forever. As I reflect on these last few weeks, I have come to the conclusion that only by staying in the present moment was I fortunate enough to witness the abundance of love between a mother and child.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mountaintop Visualization

My mother is currently hospitalized and not surprisingly, is somewhat stressed and anxious about what is happening now - and what is happening next. So, I thought I'd try to calm her down with a nice relaxing visualization technique.

It's hot out and has been for days now. Rather than the usual peaceful beach scene, you are heading to the mountains for a short stay in a friend's log cabin. In this cabin, you feel warm and perfectly safe. You walk in and immediately note the crackling fire in the fireplace. Warmth is radiating out to you. You hear the wood making its soft sounds. You begin to feel a little less stressed and start to relax. You put your bag down and begin to take a look around the cabin.

A wonderful aroma is eminating out from the kitchen. You walk in and see a crock pot on the counter. Your friend has left you a note. Dinner will be ready in an hour. You peek in and see that it's your favorite meal - a hearty beef stew. Mmmmmm...that smells so good!

You look around the country kitchen. Your sense of smell is on high alert now. Something has been baking in the oven. The aroma is coming from a counter near the slightly open window. You see that there's an apple pie set out. It's cooling for later.

There's a sense of peace and contentment around you right now. You slowly return to the living room. In front of the fireplace is an overstuffed chair with matching ottoman. You sit down and sink into the chair where the comfortable cushions wrap around you. You are completely relaxed now. You are in a special place - you are safe and cared for - and all of your troubles are far, far away.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Making Progress

It's been just over a month now that I've been a member of the Yoga vs Osteoporosis study. Members have a list of 12 exercises to perform and we keep track with a two-week scorecard. I can honestly say that I've been diligent in completing this assignment - haven't missed a day yet. But, here's what I've learned so far: You can do the exercises each day. However, when you do the exercises and stay focused, in the moment, and fully put all of your energy and desire in what you are doing, you really notice the difference. I'll give you an example.

Let's say you are performing tree pose. You've been doing tree pose for years now. You can do it in your sleep. But...when you are doing tree pose with the intention of improving your bone health, when you squeeze the muscles in your upper legs, lengthen your pelvis down and lift your abdomen up, push your raised foot and inner leg against each other, when you reach your arms up and stretch out in all directions, when you hold that pose, you then become that strong, majestic tree. And, that's the difference.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Yoga - off the mat - in the car

After a minor mishap with my car earlier this week (I ran over a "blob" of tar and my tire was covered in it!), I realized that I need to pay closer attention when I'm driving. Awareness, noticing, breathing - are all vital parts of my yoga practice on the mat. So, as I was en route to my gentle yoga class this morning, I thought "why not bring your yoga to your driving"? I put my seat belt on, turned the radio off, elongated my spine, steadied my gaze, and began driving. All is well, I thought, and I gently inhaled and exhaled.

Then, I glanced in my rearview mirror and allofasudden, there is a huge trailer truck practically in my back seat!!!! Breathe, I thought, stay calm, notice what you are doing. I glance again and he's still on my tail. Nearing my exit, I put my directional signal on and bear off the ramp. The truck zooms past me. I slowly exhale.

In the past, this type of incident would have brought on some anxiety for me. But now, I realize that becoming aware of my breathing truly helps to calm my mind. Toot! Toot!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yoga for the Rest of Us - Teacher Training

Last week I had the good fortune to attend Peggy Cappy's "Yoga for the Rest of Us" teacher training. This was the second time around for me as I was a student in the 2009 class. I joked with Peggy when I arrived that I was there for remedial training - and in a way, I was. I learned so much last year and was able to put that training to good use with my class in Topsfield as well as the class in Naples, Florida. But, there's always room for improvement. I was eager to meet new yogis/yoginis and to observe different styles of teaching. We had a super group this year - all warm and welcoming - and highly motivated. It was wonderful for me to reconnect with Carol, Pat, and Linda from the class of 2009. They've all been so helpful and supportive to me this past year.

Peggy, as always, was an absolute delight and just so inspring. See for yourself - there's a photo of her on the right doing a very elegant split!!!!

It was a full week of activities, student teachings, observations, etc. One of the highlights of the week for me was watching an iMovie that was created by Ellie, our class photographer. I know I won't be able to do it justice with my description, but suffice to say this movie summed up just what yoga for the rest of us is all about. She had photos of a number of people from her yoga class - all shapes and sizes. Accompanied by music, smiles, and beautiful captions, I found it very moving.

I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this training. Once again, I am re-motivated to be the best yoga teacher I can be.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Progress Report - Yoga vs Osteoporosis Study

It's only been a couple of weeks but I just wanted to post my progress.

Study participants are required to perform a set of exercises daily - or at least most days of the week. I joined the study on June 10 and can report that I have completed the routine each day for the last 17 days. We have a scorecard and that really helps to keep record. I'm really psyched about being a part of this study and have every confidence that it will be successful!!!!

It's a Marvelous Night for a Moon Dance...

It's the full moon tonight and in appreciation for this event, I used "moon" references in my yoga class yesterday.

I opened the class with a reading of a moon story where it was noted that it is difficult to imagine the night sky without the moon. And, people have always believed that the moon is something mysterious and magical. I downloaded Van Morrison's "It's a Marvelous Night for a Moon Dance" (actually used the Michael Buble version) on my iPod for background music. We did a moon series of poses from Yoga for Movement Disorders. This was one time where I wish I had my camera with me. The class looked like synchronized swimmers - beautiful!!!! And, the theme was a big hit.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yoga in Somerville

As a part of their "Commit to be Fit" campaign, I was invited to Brendan's office to share some yoga with the staff. Having worked in a Social Security office for many years, I can certainly empathize with the stresses these workers deal with on a daily basis. And, I had forgotten how stressful the morning commute could be! That being said, I was welcomed ever so graciously by everyone and enjoyed this mini yoga session.

We began with the Lion Pose - a stress-reliever if I ever saw one! This pose "broke the ice" so to speak and we proceeded with some breathing techniques. From there, we warmed up the body. Working hunched over at a desk and staring at a computer screen for hours at a time can wreak havoc on a body. The class responded well to the warm-ups and can do these at their desk in just a few short minutes.

As the folks were dressed for work - and not working out - I geared the poses to standing only. We practiced Mountain, Chair, and then Downward Dog using the chair for support.

We closed with a nice relaxation exercise. One of the women in the class is from Barbados and is getting married there next month. I used the beach in Barbados theme for the relaxation and played some steel band music.

As with all new experiences, I was a little nervous at the start. But, that soon disappeared when I looked at the relaxed smiling faces around me. Especially Brendan's.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I'm preparing a class for some office workers and so, last night I spent some time reading from a delightful book called Desktop Yoga by Julie Lusk. This book was printed about 12 years ago but it is still a timely resource. It offers some clear, easy explanations of various yoga poses that can be done while seated at a desk.

In one chapter, entitled Twelve Yoga Secrets for Managing Stress, I found a message that seemed to be meant for me! Regarding self-acceptance, Lusk says "It is not helpful to be either critical or complimentary toward your ability to do yoga. It is much more important to accept yourself for who and how you are. Being yourself is enough. It is a lot less stressful if you are able to stop putting yourself down all the time..." (See yesterday's post) It really doesn't matter that I'm not as flexible as Gumby. What is much more important is that I accept myself - as is!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Coordination Conundrum

Take a look at the pose on the left. Looks relatively easy to do, doesn't it? But, for some reason or other, I'm having difficulty with my coordination - or lack of it.

First, my left arm doesn't quite reach the floor. I tried using 2 blocks and this seems to help. I may need the chair for this one.

Second, I think I'm just a little nervous. Sure looks like you could twist and shout if you're not paying close attention!!!!

The funny thing is that I know once I get the hang of it, I will come to like - no, maybe even love it!!!! At least that's been my experience with poses that just seemed too confusing for me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Motivated...and accountable!

Not too long ago, Pat from the Yoga Librarian Blog posted a hearty recommendation for the book shown on the left. I have osteoporosis and I practice yoga. And so, of course, I bought the book and have been studying it ever since. This book is chock full of solid medical information, detailed descriptions of poses, and promise.

At, I learned that there was a study in place which "attempts to prove that properly chosen yoga poses can reverse osteoporosis without having negative effects on the joints." Participants in the study received a DVD which demonstrated these poses. I sent an email to the organization with the hope of being able to purchase the DVD - and received a reply inviting me to join the study! And so, this is where the motivation kicks in...

The folks involved with the study are most responsive and helpful. Using the book as my guide, I began the exercises on June 10. I just received the DVD and this has helped me to fine-tune a couple of the poses. As a member of the study, I am making a commitment to do these exercises daily. I am keeping a log and have just completed week 1. I'll try to post regularly now so that I can keep track of my progress here. All about accountability!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

"If you build it, they will come"

Here's a photo of the entrance to the condo complex called "The Pars" where we're renting a unit for January and February. It really is that beautiful - maybe even more so. Anyway, we arrived here on January 2 and it's felt like "home" ever since. We were welcomed from day one by so many friendly people! And, there are lots of activities ~ bocce, exercise, book club, line dancing, parties, dinners, etc. I noticed something missing, though, and that was YOGA!!!!! So, I found out the name of the woman in charge and promptly called her to offer my services. She agreed to introduce me at the next exercise group and see if there would be any interest in yoga classes. Any interest????? Wow!!!! People were excited about this and the first class that I taught had over 30 people in attendance. I guess they like it because it's been packed ever since. It kind of reminds me of the famous saying in that movie, Field of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come."