Saturday, December 31, 2011

Maintaining Control? Yeah, Right!

The end of the year is a terrific time to evaluate all that has happened during the year. The times spent mourning what I don't have rather than being grateful for what I do have seems to be precious time wasted. Hindsight is 20/20, isn't it? I would love to say that I will be grateful for every experience that is thrown my way, good or bad, but I know that I will unfortunately slip into the mourning phase yet again. How do I know I've slipped into this phase? I start picking away at my budget, trying to eke out one last dollar to cover expenses, I try to fix my friends or students' problems--basically focusing on other things rather than myself. See? I'm trying to maintain control over my life. Ha!

My plan of action, I've decided, is to witness and be aware of when this happens. I will then take stock of all that I have to be grateful for: two beautiful boys, a wonderfully supportive husband, A JOB! (Not all can say that, for sure!) a fulfilling and sustaining yoga practice, an old, but functional home (built in 1895), 4 fluffy cats--one who's ornery, two Toyotas (one of them a Prius), and of course, food and clothing.

I'm sure there are many that would trade their woes for what we have, and I need to make sure that I do not fall into complacency. I need to allow life to happen and welcome the difficult, because truthfully, that is what really makes us grow. Happy New Year to all! Namaste.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yoga and Fibromyalgia

I started doing yoga to relieve my pain due to fibromyalgia. It has helped greatly, but not completely. I recently visited a new rheumatologist last week who I found to be highly informed and compassionate.

I told him I did not like the diagnosis of fibromyalgia (FMS) because it seemed like it was a catch-all diagnosis or a diagnosis of exclusion. He stated that they have actually done brain scans on people with FMS and pain vs. people with pain due to other factors. The scans showed that people with FMS had differences in their brains than the other group. He also explained that people with FMS have more nerve activity than other people. When we (people with FMS) do normal activities, we ache all over. When other people without FMS do the same thing, they are fine.

My goal after retirement is to become a certified yoga instructor and work with people who have chronic pain. Who better to teach them than someone who has experienced chronic pain?!

I have included this link for further information on FMS: Symptoms of FMS. But remember, it is important to stay active and NOT let FMS rule your life. You will be in pain whether you stay home or not. But I guarantee that you will feel better after exercise; but please make sure you check with your doctor about the most appropriate exercise for you.  Happy holidays, everyone!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Neti Pot Recipe for Killing Amoebas!

Hi All,
With the recent scare of the infected solutions using Neti pots, I thought I'd post a recipe that should kill those darned amoebas.

1 cup distilled water
1/4 tsp each of sugar, baking soda, salt
Stir and nuke for 2 minutes.

Let sit on counter for about one hour then use. It should still be a bit warm. Enjoy! Remember: The neti pot needs to be cleaned as well!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homemade Ice Packs and Heat Wraps

You do not have to go out and buy expensive hot pads or work with a bag of ice to try and comfort your aching muscles. I have used these over the years and they work perfectly...even better than the store bought kinds!

Let's start with the hot packs. You need two hand towels, a gallon-size ziplock baggie, and some king of a belt or sash to hold the prepared hot pack in place. First wet one of the hand towels thoroughly. Squeeze out the excess water. Place the towel in the ziplock baggie and close until you have one inch left. LEAVE THAT OPEN or the bag will explode. Now, put the baggie in the microwave and nuke for 2 minutes. In the meantime, lay out your other hand towel on the counter. Make sure it is flat and all the way open. When your towel in the microwave is finished, REMOVE CAREFULLY! You may want to use oven mitts. Open the bag away from you so you do not get steam burned. Place the heated towel on the other towel. Now take the two ends and fold toward the middle (meet the edges in the middle). Now fold the opposite sides in, but this time overlap them so you do not have any hot towel poking through. Place on your skin where it hurts. You may need to put it over a shirt or on top of your pants if the heat is too intense. If you don't want to hold it there, grab a belt or sash and wrap around you to hold it into place. This take a bit of practice, but in the end, it is definitely worth it!

Now the cold pack. This is waaaaaay to easy. I have upper back and shoulder pain, and I always had trouble positioning the pack so it would stay there. Well, I had inspiration when I was going through some old clothes and found some leg warmers I had from the '80s! Well, I took the leg warmer and shoved a freezer pack into it. I placed the pack directly into the middle of the leg warmer. I then positioned the pack on the sore part of my shoulder or upper back, and used the two ends to tie it into place. Viola! Heaven on Earth, I tell you!

Please let me know if you need further explanation, and I'll be happy to oblige!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Yoga Everywhere

I've been thinking of all the different ways that I bring yoga into my life, and it amazes me that every movement can be yoga. Here are my top ten ways that happen almost daily:

10. At the kitchen sink in a modified downward dog
9. Stretching long and lovingly to reach the top shelf in my cabinet
8. Deep forward bend to pick up kitty plates after breakfast
7. Lunge to pick up kids' toys scattered about
6. Squat when playing with my kitties on the floor
5. Deep relaxation throughout every part of my body during my evening bath in my clawfoot tub
4. Yoga Nidra in bed at night right before I go to sleep
3. Grabbing onto my headrest while driving to give my shoulders a deep stretch
2. Supporting my lower back by engaging my abdominal, pelvic, and back muscles when I pick up my 57 lb. 6-year-old and my 62 lb. 10-year-old
1. My morning asana practice

I used to get hung up on how long I did my morning practice which usually comes in about 15-20 minutes, but now, I've seen yoga in all my movements and make each movement count. AAAAHHHHH!!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Working Through the Burn

Have you ever read about a new way of doing things, and although it was interesting you didn't give it much thought?  Then days, weeks, or months later you are replaying this bit of information through your mind and you find that this information is just perfect for you? Well, yesterday I was in the kitchen becoming more irritated about my upper back and shoulders burning, when I remembered what I read in Fierce Medicine by Ana T. Forrest. She talked about the difference between pain and burning in your muscles. Pain is that sudden OUCH! you get when you move into a pose. Your body is telling you STOP what your are doing. But when you get burning, your muscles are about to release so you need to hold the position longer until they do.

So excited now, I grabbed onto the kitchen sink and went into a modified downward dog. The burn increased, but I held the pose, sinking deeper into it. About one minute later I noticed the endorphins kicking in. AAAAAHHHHH! NO MORE BURN! I about ran outside and screamed, IT WORKED!

Thank you Ana, for planting that seed in my brain so it could germinate and be plucked just when I needed it most! Namaste.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Space Orville

OK, folks. My hubby has now published his book on Lulu. It can be downloaded now in many formats. Here's a message directly from him:

 Okay, so if you don't have a Kindle but you do have a device that supports and reads "epub" files (that seems to include iPads, iPhones, Nooks, etc. You can check a list here: and, if you are at all interested, my humble wares are now also available through at
    If you have trouble with that link, you can always try which not only will hook you up with Lulu but also offer up a really goofy picture of the author.
    Another great free download I've discovered for folks with any sort of reader is Calibre at A terrific resource for storing, reading, converting and uploading all sorts of file types. Handy and very user-friendly.
    'kay, my friends. That's all I've got for now. Thanks so much for all of your support!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yoga and Science Fiction

Yoga and science fiction? I know these two topics seem to go together like fire and water, but actually, for me, there is a huge connection between the two.

You see, as of today, my husband is a published author! I couldn't be more thrilled for him (and, yeah, ok, for me, too!) The title of his book is Space Orville. It is an young adult, humorous science fiction novel that is just fantastic. It is available only on Kindle right now, but as I'm writing this, he is looking into other publishing formats.

So please, take a look! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pain: What I Can Learn From It

It seems that I constantly struggle with this four-letter word: Pain. To call it an enemy would seem wrong, but to call it a friend doesn't seem right either.  So I have decided to call pain my teacher.

It has taken me many years to get to this place in my life. I have looked for the sources of pain by visiting many different types of doctors (most currently my orthopedist) to get relief from this ever-present being in my life.

In Krista Tippett's 2008 interview with Seane Corn, Seane made a comment that I've mentioned before in this blog. She said we as a society are addicted to tension. I have been around this in my head so many times, and I think it's finally starting to sink in. I do notice when I'm stressed my breath rate increases and my muscles begin to spasm. So this pain is telling me: Be careful, you're storing tension...relax...breathe. But for my long-held tension, I believe what Seane said is true. By putting blocks of energy around our emotions (held in the body), we deny its existance so that we don't have to deal with the bigger picture.

When I make up my mind to do something, I do it. And I think my body knows that. So when I feel threatened, unsafe, sad, angry, etc...that pain protects me and refocuses my thoughts away from the issue giving me problems.

So I ask myself again (and again, and again) what are you going to do about it? What I have learned is that I do not need to jump down someone's throat to get relief or distance myself from another person. I can re-evaluate my behavior in the interactions and change myself. Because let's face it people, that is really the only person we can change. My change might be to not bring up certain topics around sensative areas, smile instead of averting my eyes, or offering myself the time needed to process pain and to be gentle with myself.

If you enjoyed the interview with Seane Corn, you may also find listening to Matthew Sanford (also interviewed by Krista Tippett) inspiring. His interview on dealing with pain and coping with his disability is so very touching and healing. I really hope you check this one out, too. It's definitely worth it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My First REAL Yoga Teacher

I was blessed a few years ago to meet a beautiful woman who would forever change my life. I work as an itinerant teacher (I travel from school-to-school). And every time I would head to one of my schools, I saw this woman who I would always wave to. Never met her before, but our paths seemed to cross often.

One day as I was in the library of the school where I'd see this woman, she approached me and started talking to me like we'd been old friends. It felt so very comfortable--like our souls knew each other, even though we, as people, had never met. She said her name was Hansa, and asked if I would like to join her yoga class after school on Wednesdays. Heck yeah!   Though my journey through yoga began before that, she was the inspiration I needed to continue. (She didn't even know I practiced yoga! Albeit a hodge-podge style to be sure!) How she knew I'd be a perfect fit for her class, I'll never know. It was one of those chance meetings that wasn't so chance.

I felt my blog was lacking something, when yesterday I decided I needed to interview my first yoga teacher. Though she no longer teaches at the school, she remains my teacher in my heart. Here are a couple of my interview questions and her responses: (More will be shared in later posts.  Most importantly: How has yoga changed your life?)

Where (specifically) and when did you study?
I started the practice of yoga at 18 years of age.
It started off with an interest in yoga just to stay fit. However it soon transitioned into a much deeper interest and grew and blossomed into a search for more intense practices.
I visited several ashrams throughout India, and eventually settled to study to be a teacher at 2 schools, which were quite diverse in their beliefs and vision.
One was Vivekananda Kendra, Headquartered at Kanyakumari located on the southernmost tip of India, and Bihar school of yoga, Headquartered at Munger,Bihar, located in the state of Bihar. Both schools philosophies were different. BSY was a research based highly scientific system of the practice of yoga, almost entirely backed by data. VK was again a research based school, more emphasis being laid out on the spiritual aspect of the practice. I was lucky I had a fusion of the best of both philosophies. Fortunately both of these school had branches in Bangalore, which is the city of my birth. And it was easy for me to gain entry into their teacher's training program, where along with the study I was an in-house teacher.
What style of yoga did you study?
Over the years that I taught I adapted the best practices from each school,and came up with and individualized practice that I call adaptive yoga. The style is called Viniyasa yoga, which is more a practice based on slow movements, breath awareness and focusing on energy flow. It can also be called meditation or mindful awareness.

There is so much more I will cover in later posts when Hansa and I have more time to uncover her personal journey. Namaste.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Blond Moment

This was just too priceless not to share.Yesterday during my Study Skills class, I was getting my cell phone ready to time the kids for our reading exercise. I was explaining to the students what we would be doing, when I looked down and my cell phone was gone. I asked the kids if they had seen it, and they said no. My students can be pranksters so I wasn't sure I believed them.

So I called another staff member into the room and asked if she would call my cell so we could find it. Well, we heard it ring, and my students and I are looking for the phone, but none of us could find it. It was like the phone was locked in another dimension just to annoy us.

Well, this gal had to call my phone four times! just so we could find it. I finally found it in the teacher's manual that I had just closed prior to this exercise and put it on my shelf. Ugh!!!! We laughed so hard at my foible!

Then the kids convinced me to give them some of my chocolate since I was basically accusing them of taking it. So it all ended in a light-hearted, chocolate-filled morning. Sheesh!