Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December Yoga

I had set a December goal for myself that I would make sure I practiced yoga every day this month. It's day 6 and I've only completed 2 yoga "sessions". That being said, I decided not to beat myself up about not following through...but rather, to view my yoga practice as just that. It is a practice after all - and sometimes it's not just about the asanas (poses). Judith Lasater had written a book called Living Your Yoga and in this small beautiful volume, she guides the reader with practical suggestions and mantras to enhance your spiritual life. There's a section in the book on discipline and her advice is spot-on: do what you can, go for quality vs quantity, be merciful with yourself. Wow! How many times have we beat ourselves up for something or some perceived shortcoming? And, yet we'd never pass that judgment on to someone else.
So, with that in mind, I am revising my December goal (and taking a passage from the book mentioned above) as follows:
"Inhale quietly and exhale gently, extending the very same kindness to yourself that you would extend to another in the same situation. Begin again."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Season 3 at The Pars

Wow - hard to believe but I'm starting my third season teaching yoga here at The Pars. It's such a lovely group of women - all of whom are interested in improving their health by taking yoga classes. Classes began last week and as the snow birds drift in, the numbers will surely increase. But, even with a small group, it is so gratifying to be able to share this wonderful yoga program with them. And, it was great to be welcomed back with enthusiasm. Namaste~

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yoga - it's good for your back!

Two good friends of mine are experiencing serious back issues. Currently, they are seeing doctors and trying to determine exactly what the problem is with the back. They are going through examinations and MRI's. They've been prescribed medications and there's talk of potential surgeries. Now, I'm not a doctor. And, I'm not a Physical Therapist. But, I do know that yoga has been found to be beneficial for some people with low back pain. A recent article in the New York Times discusses the latest study that shows practicing yoga on a regular basis can help to relieve the symptoms of low back pain. You can read the full article here.

Now I want to give a "plug" to Peggy Cappy's Yoga for the Rest of Us - Back Care Basics DVD. I ordered two copies of this wonderful DVD for gifts and previewed it today. As with all of Peggy's DVD's, her explanations are clear and easy to follow. The program has six segments which include leg and back stretches for strengthening back muscles. As a bonus, she added restorative poses to help relax and bring comfort to the body. The total time for the DVD is 123 minutes but you can easily choose to do a short session by selecting a specific "scene" from the menu. This is a terrific DVD and if you have back issues - and your doctor has suggested exercises - this may be just what you need!

Friday, October 21, 2011

What I love about October

I follow several "yoga" blogs and get lots of yogic inspiration and ideas there. I'm borrowing a topic from Nadine today. She prepares a list of her favorite things called the "love" list. I'll give you my love list for October - and then you'll want to check out Nadine's list - and her lovely blog: http://nadinesyoga.blogspot.com/.

We recently moved from a house to a condo, so much of what I love about October is unique to this year. For the most part, though, the fall is such a beautiful season...what's not to love?

  1. My birthday

  2. Celebrating with a family dinner

  3. Crisp, bright blue weather

  4. Continuing to "down size" and declutter

  5. Fixing up the new condo

  6. The variety of apples that are available

  7. The smell of zucchini bread baking in the oven

  8. The season's first pot roast in the crock pot

  9. Butternut squash with cinnamon

  10. Wearing sweaters

  11. My wedding anniversary - still going strong after 42 years!

  12. Celebrating my daughter's birthday

  13. Baking birthday cakes

  14. Leaves starting to change colors

  15. Discovering dried plums (prunes) are good for your bones

  16. Ordering books online (Chair Yoga: Seated Exercises for Health & Well Being and on my Kindle, Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah)

  17. Walks along the boardwalk

  18. Watching the sunrise each morning and noticing the different colors

  19. Checking out new restaurants and stores where I now live

  20. Meeting new friends and neighbors

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's a start!

Our new place has a balcony overlooking Lynn Beach. From this perch, I can see Egg Rock which is named for the birds that nest and lay eggs there. It's an egg-shaped rock island in Nahant Bay. The ocean was calm and the weather fairly warm this morning. So, I was able to start my daily practice right on the balcony with a beautiful scene in front of me. A few sun salutations, warrior II, side angle stretch, triangle, chair and eagle poses - in no time at all, I felt renewed and refreshed. It's a start!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Daily Practice...

...is practically non-existent right now!!!! And, although I truly had lots going on these past few weeks, stepping on to my mat for even 5 minutes would no doubt have helped with the stress level. Yes, moving is stressful. We sold our home of 24 years and moved to a condo. We had boxes and milk crates filled with our "stuff" and frankly, I'm not sure where my yoga mat was! I did unearth it, though, and from this point forward, I intend to bring my practice back to where it should be...and will be more faithful to the "blog" as well. Namaste~

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Little Prop Work

Although my yoga classes are geared specifically for the senior set, there's no reason why they can't be fun, too! Today I brought an assortment of ties with me to help with our warm-ups and stretches. We used the ties to begin the warming of our arms and shoulders. Once they were well stretched, we did the cow-face pose. Of course, the image of the cow-face brought lots of laughter into the class.

Using the ties for props enabled the class to go just a little bit further in the poses but I could tell that, for some, this was a bit of a challenge. So, once we put the ties away, I suggested "partner" massage. The timing seemed to be just right and it was obvious from the murmured sounds of oohs and aahs, that this was indeed welcome. Loved the feedback!!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An Oldie but a Goodie

A friend had recommended The American Yoga Association's books to me and I purchased Easy Does It Yoga and the Beginner's Manual by Alice Christensen. Although the books were originally published over 30 years ago, there is some valuable information for the practicing yogi and/or teacher.

The author provides a step-by-step yoga "warm-up" sequence that I have found particular helpful with my "seniors" class. For example, in the section on neck stretches, she gives 3 bullets describing the benefits (limbers neck and improves circulation throughout neck region; reduces tension in neck muscles; and limbers cervical spine). She then lists several options for arm positions while doing the exercise. She shows 7 pictures of each neck position and offers several variations of the pose. She completes the instruction with suggested reminders: breathe normally; do not lift your shoulders; move slowly, etc.

The attention to details and the emphasis on being safe and careful make this book a great addition to my yoga library.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ask and you shall receive...

Since completing my yoga training with Peggy Cappy, I have been volunteering my yoga practice at a local senior center. I've been fortunate to have found a really nice location with wonderful students who come to class on a regular basis. The only problem for me is that it is quite a distance from home. And, this year with skyrocketing gas prices, I considered dropping this class and looking for something a little closer. But, then I thought I would approach the council on aging about being reimbursed for my gas costs. I just asked. And, lo and behold, they have a "friends" group who graciously offered to reimburse me.

The universe provides. I have heard this before...but now was witness to it first-hand.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Did I mention my dental surgery in my last post???? Oh, of course I did!!!! Anyway, I am feeling fine and doing well...but do have a swollen right cheek and am a little black and blue around the mouth and chin area. Eeek!

But, I managed to soldier on and taught my Take it Easy Yoga class today in Topsfield. In spite of not being 100%, I could pretty much do everything today...with the exception of that one last "pose". We finished our warm-ups, completed the standing sequence, did a couple of balance postures, and then enjoyed a nice long relaxation. We're seated and our hands are in the "namaste" position. And, now I turn to each one and say..."turn up the corners of your mouth..."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Whoops....June is almost over...

...and I haven't posted anything here yet! Well, I have been busy attending yoga classes and teaching my regular class at the Little Brook Village complex to seniors. Classes are going well and although I am not practicing daily, I am practicing regularly.

But today's post is all about taking it easy. Yes, that's the theme of this blog but there are times when I find myself pushing the envelope. Not today! I had some dental surgery yesterday that left me a little bit weary and a lot swollen. So I decided to put "take it easy yoga" to the test.

My screened-in porch looks out to a beautiful garden. I began by taking a few deep breaths in and out while looking at the flowers in bloom, the small fish pond, and then noticing the squirrels and chipmunks at play. In a few short moments, I was completely relaxed. With hands at the heart, I began to synchronize my breath with movement. The hands push out on inhale, release and open wide on exhale. Close the hands on the next inhale and bring hands to heart on the exhale. From here, I moved into "namaste" circles...going very slowly...noticing my breathing. After a few minutes, I returned to my living room and sat in my little "recliner" for some relaxation/meditation.

Yes, it was just a few hand and arm movements, a little breathing, observing, awareness...but to me, that is what yoga is all about. It's something you can always do - if you have an hour or a few minutes - if you are feeling fit as a fiddle or a little under the weather. Remember, take it easy!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tim Thomas Does Yoga

Oustanding goalie for the Boston Bruins, Tim Thomas is noted for his flexibility at the net. And, I learned today that he practices yoga to stay on top of his game!!!!

In the summer of 2007, Tim began a yoga-based conditioning program to increase his flexibility and strength. He has said that it "helps balance out your body" - and looking at his recent performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs, we surely agree!

Take a look at Tim's yoga practice:


Go Bruins!!!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ashtanga Yoga Flow Class

Studion 191 is a very spacious, clean beautiful studio. The music is soft and low. The room is hot!!!! Ceiling fans were on but the room is heated for this particular style of yoga. The instructor, Bill, is very knowledgeable and gave assists where needed.

How did I come to this class, you ask? Well, my son, Brendan and I have taken some yoga classes together and he invited me to this one - along with my daughter, Katie. I believe I was the oldest person in the room!!!!! That being said, I was pretty much able to keep up with the flow but found it really challenging. Because the room is heated, and you are moving quickly, you will sweat. Although I had a towel, I found my hands and my feet slipping so I needed to be really careful.

Yes, this was challenge for me but sometimes you really need to give yourself a little push. I wasn't doing a headstand - Brendan was - but I was pretty darn close. And I can think of no better way to spend a Saturday than with my 2 wonderful kids. We were in the moment - together.

Lakshmi Voelker's Chair Yoga

While at Kripalu, I attended a demo of Lakshmi Voelker's chair yoga class. I have to say at the outset, Lakshmi is an entertainer of the first order! Her class was full of energy - and this woman was a hoot!!!!!

Her contention is that regardless of age, physical ability or current level of activity, your health can be improved by practicing adaptive yoga poses using a chair. During the demo, a student on one side of the stage performed a yoga practice using a mat and no props On the opposite side of the stage, another student did the same practice but she was seated and used modifications. This person represented someone who may have movement disorders or would have some limitations. Lakshmi was in the middle of the stage and demonstrated the full chair practice with no modifications.

I'm always open to new ideas to make my classes fresh and fun. But, this demo was so invigorating - and fast-paced - that I never took a note! Suffice it to say, I had fun and I hope my joy extends to my students as Lakshmi's did for hers. For more info, here's a link to her website: http://http://getfitwhereyousit.com/whatischairyoga.htm.

Aging with Grace: Better Bones and Balance with Yoga

That's the name of the yoga class I recently attended with my friend, Diane, at Kripalu Yoga Center. Hey, when I saw "aging with grace", I knew it was meant for me!!!!!

The class was taught by Betty Eiler and if anyone is a picture of aging with grace, it is Betty. At 76 years old, she has a well cared for body - slim and strong. Besides that, she oozes grace in her manner. As my mother would have said, "she has a nice way about her."

Betty studied with B.K.S. Iyengar and the Iyengar style of yoga uses lots of props - and I mean lots! We had bolsters, blankets, straps, blocks, chairs, etc. While I times I found this cumbersome, it surely is a way to help a student achieve a pose that otherwise might be too much of a challenge. In one session, Betty instructed us in how to fashion a strap into a "harness" of sorts. This particular use of the strap was most helpful in keeping shoulders back and down. It's a great tool for improving one's posture.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yoga with a theme...

Have you heard of Dr. Gott? He's a retired doctor who has an advice column in our local newspaper. Today's question was regarding a new medication for osteoporosis. While he seemed to be on the fence about recommending this new drug, he did have some sage suggestions about making some lifestyle changes to improve your overall bone health. And, of course, regular exercise is highly recommended to prevent bone loss.

What an ideal opening for class today! I brought the newspaper article and Dr. Loren Fishman's book, Yoga for Osteoporosis, with me. First, I gave an overview of Dr. Gott's suggestions. Then I explained that Dr. Fishman suggests 12 daily exercises for improving bone health. We've practiced several of them in the past few months but today we really concentrated on just 4 poses: tree, chair, triangle, downward dog. With emphasis on strengthening our bones, it was amazing how differently we approached the poses. Specifically, tree - which has always been our "go to" balance pose was now a pose for strengthening our legs and arms. The class noticed the difference right away - and I think it brought a new perspective and appreciation for the pose.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Eagle Pose

I was looking at the current issue of Yoga Journal this week and they featured a great in-depth article about the eagle pose. Very cautiously, I decided to introduce it to my class today at The Pars.

We have access to a small library and so, I suggested that we each take a hard-cover book to use as a prop. This piqued the students' curiosity, for sure. What's she going to do with a book? We practiced the arm movements while seated. I told them that later on in the class, we would add the leg movements. So, here's where the book comes in. We placed the book on the floor near our left foot. We then lifted our right leg, crossed at the ankle, and then rested the right toes on top of the book. Voila! This modification made the pose user-friendly for all. I could tell that there was a little anxiety about trying something new - but, what I love about this class, is that they are more than willing to trust and honor their bodies.