Friday, December 31, 2010

Next Fitness Craze

While in Kentucky this past week, I stumbled on the next great fitness craze!   It's a total body work out and an amazing cardiovascular event.   As an added bonus, it's perfect for those with wheat sensitivities!   As many calories as you'll consume in a year, you will burn off with this workout!

I really think if I can market this right, I am going to be able to easily fund my children's college accounts!   Here it is...


I know.   It doesn't sound very sexy, does it?   Have you ever tried it?   It's amazing!   If you're not convinced, give me a chance in the next paragraph and follow my logic.

The actual grinding combines the disciplines of Yoga & Pilates (movement radiating from center as well as a moving meditation) with a phenomenal upper and lower body workout.   Imagine repetitive squats while your arms work through a 360 degree circle (think martial arts).   Now this circular motion has a lot of resistance, especially when a kernel gets jammed in the chute.   The resistance helps increase your heart rate.   Within seconds, you are well beyond your target heart rate and exceeding your maximum rate for your age (beats any wild Spin class!).

You just gotta try it!   I swear you will be impressed!

Now, if we could get the whole country grinding... WOW!   Even better, what if we started from seed?   What if we tilled the soil by hand?   Planted kernels.   Protected the corn from crows while it grew.  Harvested the corn by hand.   Dried it for several months.   And then, ground it?   Imagine.

I think we'd eat less because we'd appreciate the source more.

Well, in Kentucky this week, I was reminded that this is what my mother-in-law has done for over 70 years.   For the past 2 years, we've made a road trip and ground the corn for her - a year's supply of corn meal.

In 2011, may we all be more connected to our food, where it comes from, and know whose hands have touched it.   May they be loving hands.   And most of all, may the hands not be interested in a "get rich" scheme that jeopardizes the well-being of all.

Giving thanks to those who work with the Earth and bring food to my table with honesty and integrity.

Now, get grinding!

Grinding Corn Meal

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blank Sign

I've been staring at a blank sign.   The past few days, as I've sat at the traffic light for my neighborhood, there it stands - a flimsy wire frame sunk into the Earth with no message - just a plain white plastic coated piece of paper.

Hard to believe.   I kept thinking maybe the message faded off.  Yet, it's a new arrival on a corner piece of real estate firmly governed by an established community's covenants and restrictions.   Some one should remove it, soon.  

Maybe it's still standing because it's not breaking any rules.   It's not advertising anything.   Nothing to buy.   Nothing to sell.   Nothing lost.   Nothing found.   Nothing to give or receive.

How refreshing!   It's not telling me anything.  Or is it?

In November, one of my students sent me a touching email quoting from Kahlil Gibran's book, The Prophet.  I've been re-reading his words this week.

"Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced."



I now find myself looking at all the blank signs at the beach.   There's so much space available - so many empty places.

I've been waiting for a sign.

Another student told me that when we are waiting, it's an opportunity for meditation.

I wait a lot - especially for my children who are full of life and actively engaged in the world.

So this is my gift to me.   A blank sign.   An opportunity to connect with the space between.    The space between everything that demands my focus: my children, my husband, my work, my breath.   I inhale and exhale finding the space between....

"Time is the space between you and me."

It's here in this space that Peace resides.   Peace be with you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yoga Therapy - Principles

I was just reading the December 2010 issue of The International Association of Yoga Therapist's (IAYT) "Yoga Therapy Today."   This journal presents research and ideas for practicing Yoga therapists.   A common theme of recent issues is definitive standards for Yoga Therapy especially as it continues to emerge as an accepted practice in our Western culture.

I can affirm that Yoga as Therapy works.  Large binders filled with detailed notes on my private students are the formal documentation of postures, movement, and breath.   Yet, heartfelt moments witnessing another person understand, accept, and emerge is something that I can never quite fully articulate.   It's one of life's "you gotta be there moments" to understand -- goose bump moments that are deeply humbling when I recognize that the Divine is connected to this work.

It's been an honor to work with a wide range of students from athletes to individuals living with conditions including - multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, post-stroke,  Parkinson's, fibromyalgia, chronic pain (back, neck, hip, leg), migraines, dystonia... the list of conditions is long and the students I work with are a spectrum.   And these students' stories don't scare me - thanks to extensive Therapy Training with Jenny Otto's Body Balance Yoga, Anusara Yoga's Universal Principles of Alignment & Philosophy, and Pilates continuing education as well as teachers from many other lineages and disciplines that I study with each year.

I look forward to 2011 and who shows up in my life - both students and teachers.   They will arrive when I am ready to receive what they have to teach me.

Thinking of receiving, I receive a lot of invitations to study more.   One group that direct markets heavily is Duke Integrative Medicine's Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors Professional Training Program.  This month's IAYT's "Yoga Therapy Today" listed Carson-Crucoff Principles of Practice.   Carson and Crucoff are the two Yoga teachers who lead the Duke program.    Read an abstract of their work here.   I like their Principles, a lot.   Here they are...

1.   First, Do No Harm.   Join with our physician colleagues in making this our primary intention.
2.  Create a Safe Environment.   Cultivate ahimsa (non-harming) by encouraging students to honor their own personal journey and explore their full potential, with compassion and integrity.
3.  Encourage Yogic Balance.  Sthra sukham asanam - A yoga pose is, by Patanjali's definition, stable and comfortable.   Invite students to challenge themselves, but never strain.
4.  Meet People Where They Are.  Honor individual abilities and limitations by offering accessible and appropriate modifications that reflect the intention and function of traditional postures.
5.  Emphasize Feeling Over Form.   Let go of ideas of how a pose should look.   Focus instead on how a pose feels.   Teach students to discriminate between discomfort, which may be welcomed as an inherent  part of the growth process, and pain, which is to be avoided.
6.  Honor the Inner Teacher.  Don't assume you know what's going on with someone, even if you've asked.  Consider yourself a guide, helping students to explore what works best for them.
7.  Encourage Gratitude and Joy.   Create an environment that celebrates what students can do.
8.  Emphasize Fluidity.   The Tao's teaching that "those who are soft and supple are disciples of life" is particularly important as the body becomes rigid with age.   Minimize static "holdings."
9.  Use Skillful Language.  Encourage and invite rather than direct and demand.
10.  Respect Our Scope of Practice.  Recognize what we do as Yoga teachers is only part of the integrative health landscape.   Do only what we are trained to do and refer to other practitioners when necessary.
11.   Be a Guardian of Safety.   Get CPR/AED training and keep your certification current.
12.   Teach People, Not Poses or Conditions.   While acknowledging the inevitable changes inherent in life, it is essential to recognize the unchanging spirit at the heart of all beings.

May we remember.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pumpkin Soup & Pilates

A creamy, full of depth, pumpkin soup simmers on my stove.   A homemade gift from one of my long-time students. I love M.G.'s soups!   She arrives at my door with soup on the days I need it most!   I have been studying for my Comprehensive Pilates test -- a significant milestone.  Balancing family life, work, and studying has taken its toll on my ability to care for me.

M.G.'s soup is a reminder to me that the people who I support on their wellness path, support me as well.   I have always recognized that my students are my foremost teachers.   Everything I learn in my trainings or discover in my personal practice, I explore with them.   I'm honored to witness their bodies & lives unfold as we work together.

And as I observe their bodies move through space, I often wonder, "Who is really teaching who?"