Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day and it's raining and gray. I am in the middle of a two week break from teaching. Of course, being on vacation from work means house projects! Dave and I are fixing up our entry way hall/stairs. Everything needs to be redone. Stripping, re-staining, varnish, plaster repair, cleaning, priming, painting, sand the floor, refinish the floor. Ugh!

Well, there is no work to be done today. The rain and damp have invaded the house, creating a non-drying effect on the Polyurethane. We have one more coat to go on the woodwork but are in forced relaxation today instead. It is just as well. It is a national holiday after all. So here I am, thinking and remembering.

Over the winter, Dave methodically stripped all the layers and layers of paint and varnish off of the woodwork. Our house is over 100 years old so there is plenty of build up. I'm thinking that we (people) are just like our house, layering on shells, building a thicker and thicker armor over time, obscuring our true beauty underneath.

Yoga is the antidote. Yoga helps us remove this deadening coating. With our breath and our awareness, we delve deep into our thoughts, our habits, our patterns and we see them for what they are: constructs of the mind and the ego. With mindfulness and loving kindness we remember who we are, we accept what we see, we forgive ourselves, we move on.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti. Peace.

Monday, May 23, 2011

DVD Review ~ Yoga for Your Pregnancy

Yoga for Your Pregnancy featuring Kristin Eykel and published by Yoga Journal & Lamaze is a well designed, well presented, and well thought out production. The lighting, color and photography is superb.

The DVD offers two main practices for prenatal (30 minute Rejuvenating and 15 min Relaxation) plus an additional 16 minute postnatal practice. Other bonus tracks include Pranayama (7 min), Guided Meditation (5 min), Yoga in the Birthing Room (5 min), Lamaze philosophy overview plus interview with Carol Penn-Erskine (5 min) and a meet the teacher section (5 min).

The two prenatal practices showed variations for propping including using a chair but did not always offer alternatives if a pose was impossible in the body. For example, one of the poses offered was Camel. Now, as a therapeutic yoga teacher, I can say that maybe 1 or 2 of my 100+ students can do this pose without pain in the knees or the sacrum. Most of the folks I teach do not have the flexibility required for propless, high-test poses like Camel.

If an option for setting up blocks by the feet were presented, or an option for sitting on the chair and clasping the hands behind the back or at the chair-back while back-bending over the chair were presented, I would feel more comfortable recommending the DVD. But as a therapeutic teacher,  I felt very uncomfortable with a few of the omissions.

On the other hand, I know that the focus was on yoga for pregnancy and not every option can be covered in one DVD. The teacher seemed very knowledgeable about pregnancy, had been through a pregnancy herself and the other demonstrators on the DVD were pregnant themselves. I enjoyed learning more about Lamaze and since the teacher has a Kundalini background, I enjoyed the Kundalini-Hatha hybrid she presented.

One other curiosity: not once was Mula Bandha or the pelvic floor mentioned - not even in the postnatal practice. After birthing, I know pelvic floor exercises are a must-do to regain the tone required to avoid incontinence and to keep all the organs in place. I don't know a lot about pregnancy yoga so maybe someone can help me out here. Shouldn't a prenatal yogi practice Mula Bandha (kegel exercises)? Or is that too much upward energy before giving birth?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Are You a Bad Napper?

My partner is a bad napper. He hates to take naps because he always wakes up feeling grumpy, groggy and slightly nauseous. Of course sometimes taking a nap is the only thing your mind and body are going to let you do. Forget about focusing on a project or getting any work done - the eyes just won't stay open.

So I suggested that a little bit of Yoga Nidra might be just the ticket. Normally Dave is not overly enthused about yoga but last week after not getting enough sleep on Monday night and a guarantee of another night of not enough sleep on Tuesday night, on Tuesday afternoon he was willing to try anything.

I set him up in supported Savasana in my calm room (yoga room) with  Yoga Nidra & Meditation by Katie Meehan and Kimberley Roberts. I thought about only playing the short Yoga Nidra practice but then I decided to just start the CD from the beginning and let Dave do (or not do) the whole thing. The CD includes:
Pranayama - Abdominal Breathing
Heart Meditation
Short Yoga Nidra
Long Yoga Nidra

Dave ended up listening to the whole thing (about 70 minutes) and "woke up" totally refreshed, cheerful, and not nauseous. He says he doesn't remember anything, that he thinks he was asleep though the whole thing. But something was different for him. This was not a regular nap. This was a yogi nap.

Go Yoga Nidra!

ps - Yes, Petra did Yoga Nidra with him. She loves Yoga Nidra and the calm room.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Complementary Success ~ Yoga and Cancer

The article below was written by Krista Peterson, a recent college graduate who has a strong interest in spreading awareness of such issues as cancer and chronic illness.

More and more people are seemingly taking up yoga these days. The benefits from an exercising and physical health standpoint are second to none. The benefits of yoga are also being taken advantage of by patients of cancer and other terminal illnesses. While yoga may not cure diseases, it’s commonly being used as a complementary option in the therapy process.

Yoga’s major help to these patients often involves its ability to have an impact on lessening the side effects of traditional treatment therapies. A therapy process like chemo can be long and exhausting, while often times bringing on bouts of nausea and diarrhea. Yoga can help to reduce the pain and exhaustion that comes along with chemo and has often been shown to reduce nausea as well.

Yoga’s breathing and stretching exercises have been shown to improve sleep patterns and cut down on the dependency on sedatives. Yoga allows these patients to return to something that may have been common in their everyday lives. A 2010 study by the American Society of Clinical Oncology tested over 400 participants who all showed great benefits from routine yoga time added onto their normal treatment schedule.

Even though evidence has mounted toward the success of yoga as a complementary therapy option, health insurance and government programs still don’t provide financial support for patients looking to take part. Continued research looking for scientific evidence is being invested to further the push towards some kind of support system, even if it’s small at first.

Yoga’s effect has been felt and used by myriad patients with diabetes, arthritis, leukemia, mesothelioma and other cancer types. It has been a help to arthritis patients with their flexibility and total range of motion. Overall it can provide a time of peace that is rare in treatment. This time of tranquility and peace can often be extremely valuable. For some patients, this time of peace can play an extra important role. Because there is no mesothelioma cure, these patients often value yoga as a time to reflect, find peace of mind, relax, and experience tranquility in some of the closing stages of their lives.

The full impact of yoga on terminal illness patients has yet to be felt. Increased studies and research will hopefully signal more support and access to yoga for patients of all diseases. Given its ability to have a positive effect on both the physical and mental scale, yoga is certain to continue to gain popularity as a complementary treatment.

Krista's Bio: Krista Peterson is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer. As a health and safety advocate, she shares a strong passion for the wellness of others in her community. Krista has been practicing yoga for 3 years and loves to encourage others to do so as well. Through her writings, she helps to spread awareness of such issues as cancer and chronic illness and how they can be treated. Contact her at krista.peterson925 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Do Restorative News

Restorative Stations & Deep Relaxation

Join us for this master class!

This 1.5 hour class is designed to get you relaxed for the weekend and beyond. Class begins with restorative stations-- rotating through stations where props are ready to ease the body into restorative poses. Sara sets up the stations ahead of time, and then assists students to find maximum comfort and relaxation. The class will conclude with a guided Deep Relaxation session (body awareness, breath practice, guided imagery and guided meditation) of about 20-30 minutes.

You do not need to bring your own mat or any other props except a personal eye pillow (if desired). Wear warm, stretchy clothing.

Location: Yoga North
Date: Saturday May 7th
Time: 7:30-9:00pm
Price: $15.00 - space is limited - register in advance to secure your spot!

Sequence featured on The Joy of Yoga Blog

Emma from The Joy of Yoga reposted my YMCA Yin sequence. Her blog is a great place find ideas for sequencing classes. In addition, she is looking for class sequence donations for a book she is working on. Visit her blog here: for more information.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Book Review - Radical Healing

When I was asked to review the book Radical Healing (2nd edition) by Rudolph M. Ballentine, M.D., I thought, "Sure, why not? That shouldn't be too hard and it sounds interesting too." Then I received the book and was a bit taken aback by the size and scope of this 600-plus page tome.

Topic covered include: Nature's Medicinals - Herbal Traditions, Homeopathic Remedies and Cell Salts, Flower Remedies; Self-Assessment - The Meaning of Diagnosis, Body Maps, Techniques for Self-Diagnosis, Multilevel Diagnosis and Constitution: What's Your MInd-Body Type (Ayurveda); Foundation Stones - Nutrition, Detox, Movement and Exercise; Energy and Consciousness -  Energy and Breath, Healing as Transformation, Reweaving; and Resources - Self-Help Index and Home Medicine Kit, Guide to Further Study of Holistic Medicine, Products and Services.

The idea behind Radical Healing according to Dr. Ballentine is to present a comprehensive vision of medical care - one that brings together the various holistic modalities (Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Naturopathy) and integrates their insights and skills.

I love the personal tone Dr. Ballentine sets in his intro. We get to learn a bit about his background and hear some patient stories as examples. The reading is easy and interesting. It draws you in. And, as soon as the chapters start, there is practical information: like how to create your own homeopathic remedy for ragweed allergies. Cool!

I found myself wanting to go more in depth with each chapter. My interest was really peaked with each subject. I think each topic could be expanded into a book in its own right.

Although I have not yet read the book cover-to-cover, I am very pleased to have this book in my library. I know it is something I will reference time and time again.

The book is available through the publisher, and other retailers for $19.95 or less.

Published by the Himalayan Institute,, March 2011 by Rudolph Ballentine, M.D.,  a pioneer of the holistic health movement. Drawing on more than 40 years of study, medical practice, and research, Dr. Ballentine presents a comprehensive, practical system of dynamic healing. Our ultimate objective is to expand our self-awareness on all levels, and guides us toward our ultimate objective—a restoration of wholeness. The result is transformation. The result is radical healing.