Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Batty about Books

I have been a teacher, library lady and now serve as a school counselor.  I am a mom of four:  16 year old, 13 year old, 11 year old and 7 year old—2 boys, 2 girls!  I love to share a good story!  My favorite way to share a story is to move and breath while you tell the tale!  It’s time to FALL into a GOOD BOOK.  “Tis the season” to enjoy one of these:

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
This is my absolute favorite this season.  It’s better to “tell” the story and move.  The witch and her cat are riding on her broom.  Warm up with Cat/Cow except have a “happy cat” and an “angry cat” in October.  Try out Warrior 3 for “Witch on a Broom” (thank you, Mira) and when the witch’s hat drops, do triangle.  It’s awesome how many postures and breathing patterns you can incorporate.  I especially appreciate “dragon’s breath” or Breath of Fire for the brief appearance of the dragon.  This delightful tale is also fun for encouraging working together or synergizing.  You can make a connection to The Bremen Town Musicians, a traditional story where animals cooperate to scare away the “bad guy” too.

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
Another great for story synergy!  I love the way the little guy’s idea is the BEST idea.  Sometimes the shortest person in the room has the most to contribute .  .  . this is a seasonal story much like the traditional story, The Enormous Turnip.  Partner yoga works great with this story to encourage cooperation and working together!

I explored fear and courage with some of my kiddos this month and found Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley, My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck, and The Monster at the End of the Book by Jon Stone great fits for these experiences.  When considering our circle of control (I’m in charge of what I think, where I look, what I say, how I feel, and what I do), we are also in charge of our imaginations!  Sometimes with fear we need to reign in an overactive imagination.  We’re anticipating something bigger and more beastly than what’s before us.  So we MASHED the MONSTERS with a game of Musical Mats to the “Monster Mash” song by Bobby "Boris " Pickett.  This was SO MUCH FUN.  Put the yoga cards on the mats, crank up the tune and when the music stops--MASH the monsters!  We used quiet music as we mashed or held our yoga postures.  A free Apple app for iPad, iPod, or iPhone-Relax Melodies Seasons Premium--is awesome for some autumn sounds.

Yoga is so great for your bone health.  The weight resistance opportunity strengthens bones and the calming effects of practice helps with managing the stress hormone cortisol.  Cortisol has been linked to decreasing bone formation and increasing its breakdown.  Have fun improving all 206 of “dem bones!”

Shake Dem Halloween Bones by W. Nikola-Lisa
I have a wonderful Jack ‘O Lantern Hat I enjoy with this story!  We walked around in a circle like in “Monster Mash Musical Mats” and during the chorus of “shake, shake dem bones now” we held a posture.  I think it would be fun to hold the posture while reading the “verses” and then do the Milkshake (dynamic twist) on the “chorus.”

Dem Bones, Dem Bones by Bob Barner
“Untie the Knots” from YogaKids Silly to Calm Video:  Untying the knot: alternate opening & closing mouth while hands mime pulling (untying) a string from the mouth> stick out tongue> move jaw around> untie neck muscles> head rolls, both directions> untie shoulders> move shoulders up & down> shoulder rolls, back & forth> untie ribs, hips move side to side w/ arms> untie hips, hip circles, both directions> Untie thighs, knees & ankles> shake body out.  http://www.videofitness.com/reviewsdb/disp_review.php?id=3875

Also, new in the world of children literature this month is (1) Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly and  James Dean and (2) Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie star in I’m a Frog!  If you don’t know these book characters, prepare to FALL in love with them!  The lessons learned are absolutely priceless.  You can have fun exploring postures with each, but I particularly love how I’m a Frog! opens the door to “pretending” to be animals with your body.  Pete the Cat and the Magic Sunglasses would be great to partner with a gratitude journal and “alligator breath,”

FALL into a GOOD BOOK!  No BONES about it—it will add COLOR and SPICE to your season!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ridin' the Waves

Hope y'all enjoyed tonight's class -- "ridin' the waves!"

Wanted to give you a little more info about some of the fun we shared!

In the Waves of Mercy song, "Breathing Wings" stretch the muscles between the ribs (the intercostals) and pull the lungs open.  This invites deep breathing and a relaxation response.  Coordinating the breath with movement also soothes the nervous system.  In "Milkshake," the twists are soothing to the nervous system as well.  This dynamic standing twist also creates movement in the spine.  

The story was Surfer Chick by Kristy Dempsey.

The water facts were from the following websites:



The meditation I read part of was "Waves of Resistance."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Keep MOOOving!

Arthritis is a joint disorder that involves inflammation of the joints.  The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, and it's caused by natural wear and tear, injury or infection.  Mrs. Connie reminded us the best thing to do is KEEP MOVING.  We moved for healthy joints tonight.  We're seeing a pattern in that postures that are great for knee health are the same ones for core strength, healthy backs and arthritis!  YEA for YOGA!

Thanks to Shannon for sharing that a favorite hymn was "This is My Father's World."  We did a neat meditation including it and a story about listening for God's voice (thanks to Mrs. Julie, a housekeeper at PHES, for sharing it with me today)!

Here's the tips I was trying to remember!  When feeling:
overexcited, nervous, antsy--folds (1) forward fold (2) monkey (halfway lift and lengthen)
tired, sad, heavy--back bending poses (1) snake (2) table (3) superhero
scattered, unstable, overwhelmed--standing poses (1) tree (2) mountain

I liked using the wall and chair as props to help you yoga.  In October we'll concentrate on bones, moon salutations and other SPOOKY FUN.

Don't be scared!  Meet you on the mat,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Guess What Day It Is?"

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7ZUh/geico-camel-on-hump-day  AND .  .  .

It's a Pisgah Yoga Day!  Tonight, 5:30-6:30, we'll explore "humor" and how laughter strengthens your core and lengthens your life!

Tomorrow Mrs. Connie will lead the class, 6:00-7:00, as my family celebrates my husband's birthday!

Be happier than a camel on Wednesday!

I am--http://vitamindb.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Remembering . . .

Thank you for having fun or maybe just considering having fun at Pisgah Yoga?!  Last week we talked about how relationships are the secret to happiness.   "The Grant Study" is the research project which followed 237 male subjects for 68 years.  Supportive relationships were found to be key, "in particular the giving of support to others had the biggest impact on longevity and life happiness."

Thursday we zeroed in on the "it band."  This is the illiotibial band which is fascia or stiff connective tissue like tendons and ligaments that surrounds muscles, bones, and joints.  The it band connects hips to knees and can shorten when walking, running or cycling and then cause faulty alignment.  Foam rollers are great to stretch the it band. We also tried postures to strengthen ankles, knee, and hip joints to take care of this part of you!  

We will not have class this Thursday.  Mrs. Connie is out of town on September 12, but she is available to lead class on Thursday, September 19.  

Our Wednesday class on September 11 will be a fun adventure with "Memory."  We will play with Greek Mythology a bit and check out the Goddess of Memory, Mnemosyne.  Here are some tips to improve your memory:  http://www.helpguide.org/life/improving_memory.htm

Some of these good ideas keep cropping up over and over again--proper rest, healthy food choices, MOOOve your body .  .  . 

Let me know if you have any topics YOU would like to explore!

Meet you on the Mat!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teaching Yoga

"Yoga is for those who have discipline, tenacity and devotion .  .  . the teacher can lead the student only as far as she has gone herself." (p.10)  I like how practicing and teaching yoga is a direct experience.  I appreciate how my practice, even though I am physically not as accomplished as many teachers, is "enough" to share with others.  My spirit is strong and "experienced."  I am accomplished at praise and focusing on "light."  I can lead others to "be still and know."  I can share "peace."

I am excited about sharing yamas and niyamas through story with young people:
ahimsa (nonharming)--"Teddy Bear Friends"
satya and asteya (truthfulness and nonstealing)--Being FrankRuthie and the Not-So-Teeny-Tiny Lie
aparigraha (greedlessness)--King Midas
I am happy to accept the challenge of and model incorporation of these relationships to the world and self in my life.

"All people can and will make mistakes .  .  .  If the teacher presents a glittering rendition of himself that does not accurately reflect his faults and foibles .  .  . the student may experience alienation from her own shortcomings."  (p.14) By not wearing a mask, I naturally put people at ease.  I think I do not intimidate when "keeping it real."

I found the exploration of boundaries interesting.  Frankly, I was surprised by some ideas presented because I couldn't fathom it not being a boundary .  .  . highlighting my naivete and lack of experience. I liked turning around some questions "That is an excellent question, and I believe you are in the process of answering it yourself.  Please let me know what you discover." (p. 39)  Already, I am a teacher who believes in "empowerment" -- I believe in the handing the spoon to the student instead of the spoon-fed, more co-dependent approach.

"I notice that teachers who act unethically often do so not because they are bad people but because they simply are not aware of the issues at stake." (p. 52)  I think this is why we continue the learning process and maintain connections--to avoid "unawareness."  I plan to keep on reading, studying, asking questions of experienced yogis to facilitate growth and minimize "poor" choices.

" .   .  .  when you work with a teacher who has very high standards, you tend to reach for a higher goal yourself." (p. 56)  Iron sharpens iron.  How ironic when a teacher is successful there is the danger to "rest one's laurels." (p.64)  Again, the need to continue to grow, advance, push for the next goal is necessary for maintenance of "success."

"Our culture makes it shameful and not okay to not know .  .  . her honesty gave her integrity and credibility." (pp. 73-74)  I am thankful for this particular pearl.  I do not know SO MUCH and it's okay, more than okay.  It is encouraging to others to be "real."  It also provides an opportunity for me to learn and find out how to answer the question by asking a question!

Amplification (p.79)
I have always enjoyed using mics in the classroom.  I think I would appreciate having a headset when teaching.  I can appreciate how others can more clearly hear your voice.  In general, having your own equipment is very helpful when you take your show on the road.

"I discourage drop-in attendance because even someone observing a class can cause members of a group to feel uncomfortable" (p.82).  I am wondering if this is what Mallory has been running into while trying to observe classes in New York?  I also thought this interesting because a local studio recently divided because one owner wanted more drop-in attendance opportunities and the other partner preferred more commitment-oriented classes.  The "drop-in" oriented studio is less financially stable .  .  . "Money is the exchange of energy." (p.110)

"When a teacher or center fails to make its terms clear, students are given no guidance and so form their own ideas about what is permissible" (p.83).  WOW.  This explains the power of having a game plan.

Yoga Research and Education Center (YREC) Ethical Guidelines seem like a great place to get started when setting expectations and developing the game plan.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Assisting BEEginings

Four Ways to "Assist"
cues, props, assists, demo

BEE Brave and reach out and TOUCH SOMEONE!

This month I tried assisting:

Warriors 1 & 2--placing hands on the shoulders lightly to suggest they slide down the back, hands on sides to encourage growing tall through the core, place hand on back foot to invite weight in the outside of foot, stretching arms to encourage reaching/lengthening

Triangle--stretching the reaching hand higher, placing my hand just beyond to encourage reach, opening the chest--I did not get this quite right .  .  . should "Stand behind your yogi and your body aligns with his/her midline/pelvis.  Stabilizing with your hip, one hand at yogi hip and one hand to the inside of the shoulder, lightly press forward with the hip as you roll shoulder open."

Downward Dog--standing at the yogi's head, place hands on the sacrum and press up and away from you using your body weight.

During relaxation, I pressed on shoulders and pulled and wobbled legs.  I tried hand and head massages too. 

Preparing for Peaking in Paradise

5 postures to prepare your body for "flying" in "bird of paradise"--

downward dog
standing splits

Heart Openers--ready your chest & arms:
crescent lunge
extended side angle

Hamstrings and Chest Opener:  triangle with bind

Now, how do you land the "bird?"  I have some questions about these ideas .  .  . ?

supported forward fold--chest resting on thighs, mountain

Counter Pose:
seated child's pose

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dynamics of the Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle separating the chest and stomach cavities.  It contracts and relaxes with breathing.

The diaphragm pulls down when it contracts that lowers the pressure in your chest, causing air from the outside to rush into the lungs (inhalation).  When it relaxes, it increases pressure in the chest, forcing air out (exhalation).

This muscle attaches to ribs, sternum, vertebrae.  The esophagus, aorta, and inferior vena cava travel through the diaphragm.

The diaphragm is also involved in coughling, sneezing, crying, vomiting, and expelling waste.

The diaphragm sometimes contracts involuntarily because when the controlling nerves get irritated (or for some other reason). If air is inhaled at this time, the space between the vocal cords at the back of the throat close suddenly and produce the clicking noise we call hiccups (epiglottis snapping shut). http://www.innerbody.com/image/musc06.html#full-description

Healthy Hamstrings

10 Ways to Stretch Your Hammies
Forward Fold
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Down Dog
Standing Splits
Seated Forward Fold
Seated Straddle
Seated Tree
Reclining Big Toe Stretch

Sunday, March 3, 2013

How Yoga Works for Me

About five years ago, a teacher in my school began teaching yoga classes after school.  I didn't have the strength to hold a plank or dolphin, but I really enjoyed trying.  I was intrigued with how this "exercise" was "me, the mat and gravity."  I didn't need a lot of equipment or special shoes and clothes.  It was an honest, no frills experience.  Not being the type to wear a mask, this was the first way yoga worked for me.

I explored yoga at two gyms, with a personal fitness instructor, and workshops/home studies with YogaKids, YogaFit and Global Family Yoga. When I had the opportunity to try yoga with Pink Lotus Yoga Center, I found another way yoga worked for me! Nicole was friendly and welcoming and didn't use flowery language that made me itchy scratchy.  I felt at home in her studio and am thankful  for her tireless efforts to bring yoga to the Lexington community.

I did a lot of praying before enrolling in the Gotta Yoga Teacher Training opportunity.  My goal, beginning with the end in mind, is to bring the strength, balance and calm I feel as a yogi to kiddos.  Students in 2013 have so much stress!  We live with the pedal to the medal and venture infrequently to "rest and digest" mode.  We currently teach children leadership skills, including "Sharpen the Saw--Balance Feels Best."  Kids need to know how to juggle time with friends and time alone, time to read/work and time to move/play.  Development of recognizing when you have done too much of any good thing is essential for health and quality of life.  Yoga works for me as the vehicle to travel down this road with kids.

Most recently, yoga is working as the glue holding my professional life, family, and church responsibilities together.  I have been amazed since beginning the teacher training in January how themes/ideas are popping up in all areas of my life and yoga is the common thread.  The opportunity to begin a meditation practice has been complimentary to the daily devotions I do.  Journaling has always been helpful in my career, personal, and spiritual life, and the opportunities to reflect and fit puzzle pieces together is a much appreciated part of our teacher training program.  Caring communication is what I teach and practice everyday in my job and with my family.

Yoga works for me because yoga reminds me I am perfect just as I am.  To be "steady and comfortable" in the pose, balancing effort and ease, is enough.  "I attempt something difficult, and I appreciate myself for trying."  It's okay to be different.  The light in me honors the light in you.  I can let my little light shine.  It's not a competition.  Ego and pride are checked in at the door!  Yoga provides opportunity for confidence building, telling worry and fear to take a hike, breathing in peace and courage.  Embracing an attitude of gratitude and setting intentions provides that which does not fit the intention a way out and no way to sap precious energy.

My Yoga at Work:  Today I shared a temple talk at church.  I shared about making the world a better place in the way only YOU can do it.  I lead the whole congregation in BREATHING.  I have been invited to assist in a yoga class at our church.  I have permission to offer yoga for our school faculty and staff.  I am able to incorporate stress hardiness techniques with my counseling efforts.  I'll get to try some Partner Yoga and Brain Gym activities with kiddos in the next couple weeks.  I HAVE THE OKAY TO COORDINATE A YOGA CAMP FOR KIDS THIS SUMMER!  I'm hoping to share a Family Yoga Vacation class before the end of the school year.  I have been able to observe a variety of yoga classes this month and even assist in Kids Yoga Class at PLYC.  Global Family Yoga has asked me to be a guest blogger and share how I incorporate books with instruction!  Everything's coming up YOGA, and I feel good.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Broamlette Yoga--30 minutes

Breath of Joy -- Orchestra Style -- inhale, inhale, inhale, exhale (take a bow)

shoulder rolls
neck rolls

Kneel with your heels under your chicken cheeks.  Grasp a strap widely in front of you.  Inhale and raise both arms overhead.  Exhale and move your arms in a arc, to take them behind your back.  Inhale and raise your hands once again then exhale as you bring them in front of you.  Continue the movements with your breath.

Put the strap aside and reach your right arm over head, reaching down your back with elbow to the sky
gently pull the elbow back, breathe

Keep your right arm in place, drop your left hand by your side.  Rotating from your shoulder joint turn your left thumb behind you  Bend your elbows to catch hands or use a strap to extend your arms. breathe.

Repeat stretching left arm.

Table top for a tea party
inhale cow
exhale cat

down dog

inhale right heel to the sky, exhale kick between your hands
right knee behind right hand for a pigeon stretch.
move your right foot toward your left hand (parallel to the short side of your mat), okay to have right foot at left hip joint.  Place your fingertips on the floor in front of you.  Use the muscles of your spine to arch into a long, even backbend and gaze straight ahead for slow breaths.  Keep hips square.

repeat on left

transition--Partly Cloudy, Sun A
bring feet together for plank, tailbone to sky for down dog.  Look between your hands, walk or jump to forward fold.
inhale halfway lift and lengthen
exhale dive to the floor for a forward fold
inhale arms overhead for extended mountain
exhale thumbs to heart


dead bug

corpse--story of walking in the woods, Worry Woman, bubbling brook, clouds

3 part body blessing

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wrapping My Brain around . . . Samkhya

Graduation Cap
Radical Metaphysical School
400-200 B.C.E.

Thinking Cap
Dualism (much like how science of the Enlightenment Period competed with religious explanation during the 1600s & 1700s)--Kapila believed the visible world was not a manifestation of the Divine.

Tree and Brain
Nature separate and completely distinct from the universal consciousness, a radio signal we can all tune in.

Cosmology--"study of the origins and eventual fate of the universe" Wikipedia--difference between the seer (purusha) and that which is seen.

So the school failed but .  .  . these ideas were incorporated and carried on as building blocks:

Girl and Boy
separate forms of reality
(1) PURUSHA--Male--all knowing, without beginning and without ending, no features or characteristics, exist without motion or form as pure CONSCIOUSness

(2) PRAKTRITI--Female--UNCONCIOUS--constant motion, active, distinct, creative, formative--qualities assigned to all of nature, material world.  Everything created through the manifestations of her nature (gunas).
Gotta Yoga YTT manual, p. 3-4

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How Yoga Works

Thoughts after reading How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach:

p.284, A pose is perfect only when you are doing the very best you can--gazing steadily, breathing sweetly, and thinking of how it will help someone else.

It's comforting to me when Ajit teaches Busuku's boys.  He is not handicapped, but handicapable!  I cannot do many of the yoga postures but I am doing the best I can and that's "good enough" or even better--that's the goal.  The opportunity to build strength or improve through practice is exciting but where I am today is PERFECT.  I also think I am helping others through my "weaknesses."  If I am comfortable with where I am today, I invite others to feel "good enough" too.

p.284,  instant brilliant faith of the young
p.213, "I love to teach children," I said.  "They are wonderful students.  Very open-minded to new ideas, even very big ones."

I have worked professionally with children for over 20 years, and I am so excited to teach "how yoga works" with kiddos for my next adventure.  This endeavor will build a better world.  Much like the vision of the Crown Prince and Queen Mother in rearing the Prime Minister with the common people, I too believe what kiddos learn in youth they carry into their adulthood, influencing their decision-making and priorities. It is a wonderful opportunity to work at the ground level.  To help establish a strong foundation for future structures.  A school system recently allocated personal handheld devices for high school students and then  middle school students.  I wonder if these devices had been first shared with elementary students if there would be as many issues with the implementation process?  Primary teachers may have laid a foundation for students to incorporate this tool in their learning in a more responsible and productive way.  Building a house from the ground up seems common sense, but sometimes we go for a more glamorous, quick fix, an achievement of a short term goal.  The building process takes perseverance, dedication and commitment   It may be costly in time invested .  .  . but I think it is an investment well worth the effort.

p. 38, You can't rush it, you see.  Fixing your back is not like fixing a broken chair--just pop in a new piece and sit on it.  It's more like straightening out a young tree that's been growing a little crooked.  

I liked this illustration of "cultivating your practice over an extended period of time."  With the advent of the microwave oven, ATMs, fast food restaurants, and other technologies, we are groomed to be impatient and not-so-good at waiting.  We also tend to look at a problem singularly instead of wholistically--I'm not sure if I'm making up words here--but we do not address the connectedness or the worldview.  If I am working with a kindergartner who is having difficulty listening and following directions in class, and then I hear his single parent works before he goes to school and is too tired to do more than put the child to bed when he gets home .  .  . I've got more to work on than helping a child be successful at school  .  .  . I like the idea of starting small, planting seeds, holding steady, watering, weeding, practicing patience and contentment, building and growing over time.

p.247, "These ideas--I can't accept them.  I mean, they go against .  .  . they go against what well, just what everybody knows; and what everybody says.  And of them, they are just, you know, old-fashioned, I mean.  Modern thinking has gone way beyond them."

Now this totally cracks me up since the setting for this story is 1101 A.D. .  .  .

p.366, It is a commitment to be content with what we have .  .  . None of the great ones who followed this path before us--none of them, over the centuries--possessed perfect circumstances either.  And so they just worked hard with what they had available to them, and they reached their ultimate goals."

I remember a Bible song from my childhood, "well, it was different back them .  .  .  remember they were only just men!"  There are no perfect circumstances.  We have to start right where we are, making the world a better place, one seed at a time.  We are each uniquely designed to garden in a way only we can do it.  Finding balance in all parts of us, our physical and emotional states, our work and play.  Cleaning up, moving on, letting go and being content with today.

I appreciated the style of this book because I think we learn best through story.  Although, I don't understand everything I've read, I know the seeds are planted.  I know that continued practice, study and helping others will nurture what's been planted.  I am thankful and contented.  I am sitting on my front porch, breathing, soaking in the sun, enjoying the journey and the miracle of the garden.