Renee

March 7, 2013

When I Grow Up

As a kid, whenever an adult asked me what I wanted to be, I answered – much to my mother’s dismay – A jockey. I, with Secretariat’s victories taped to every inch of my bedroom walls, envisioned my future filled with checkered silk jerseys atop a thoroughbred. My mother, an avid reader, had a more literary career in mind for me, snug in a button-down sweater surrounded by books. Neither of us would have pictured the grown-up me in leggings on a yoga mat. Could they be any more different: racetrack, library, studio?  Plot them out and they’d be separate points on a triangle, equally distant from each other in every way. There are, however, similarities: None are get-rich-quick life choices. Each means no need for expensive suits or uncomfortable shoes. All can be done during regular hours without ever having to be on call. The three derive from one common […]
December 8, 2012

Yoga Mudra Plus One

Move over Mudras, there’s another to add to your list. In yoga, Asanas are poses we move our bodies into to energize or trigger relaxation. The Mudras are gestures that, in unison with the breath, also balance our energy.  Mudras are like yoga with our hands. From Anjali Mudra to Varaha Mudra, the gestures each involve touch. Whether it’s the tips of fingers pressed into one another, knuckles making contact or the back of the hand against a palm, each has a positive effect on our mood and on clearing our minds. For those of us with movement disorders, the full-body experience of yoga may be daunting at times when meds are waning or fatigue takes over. Or, it’s simply one of those off days. That’s when the Mudras can be particularly beneficial.  We need only to breathe and place our fingers in various positions to reap the calming or […]
November 23, 2012

It’s a Miracle

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” – A. Einstein In this season of lists, must-do’s, purchases, I listen for bells. From the Salvation Army ringers to the sh-shing of a cash register, these familiar sounds can be our guides to stop for a moment. To take a breath. How yogic. How necessary when living with PD. In “Peace Is Every Step,” Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we use the sound of bells to remind us to notice. To stop for a moment, take a breath and notice all the little miracles. Let the microwave beep, an elevator ding, someone’s car-locking beep all feed into this pool of reminders. Tis the season of bells and miracles.    
October 31, 2012

Family Cobra

The New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story features an entire family yoga-ing together. I’m usually a word nerd, reading and digesting the write-up and glancing at supporting graphics. The accompanying glossy picture, however, spoke volumes more to me than the article itself. In it, four siblings and their parents are in dfferent yoga poses, each pose a unique combination of bend and reach. But the image is not one of a collection of internally focused individuals. The photographer captured what unifies them: the synchronicity of that focus. The children aren’t adjusting or re-angling or falling out of position — in the yogic sense nor in the literal sense. Ditto with the parents, who aren’t trying to maintain balance. They’re all fully there, in the same space. Holy cow (pose), when does that happen in a family? No one is waiting for someone else to finish in the bathroom. No […]
September 7, 2012

Yielding on My Way to Yoga

On my way to morning class, I stopped to move a turtle out of the middle of the street, swerved to avoid a swooping hawk, and drove past a couple out walking who appeared not to be enjoying each other’s company. A witness to these moments of exploration and resistance seemed so related to yoga.  A haiku formed in time write it down and share with the class: Turtle, hawk, human One crosses road, one a field The other, his arms    
August 24, 2012

Sir Thomas

Check out the new guy in town: http://www.limyoga.com/service_dog_parkinsons/
August 21, 2012

I Dis-Agree

When disease gets defined by playing on the two parts of the word — dis and ease — I cringe.  A word nerd, myself, I often enjoy the nuance of language. But dis-ease feels forced, the meaning stretched to fit into an attitude. Dis-ease implies that the facility with which the body moves and operates lies waiting for us to diss the dis part and get back to a healthy state of being.  As though we have all the control.  As though it was likely our stressful existence that placed the dis- in front of our ease in the first place. This may hold some truth in relation high blood pressure or forms of insomnia. To apply this to all sickness, chronic conditions,  life-threatening illnesses is dis-comforting. Not only does it label a person as being out of whack, it implies that consuming fewer donuts and practicing some balance poses will put everything back in order. Explain […]
August 8, 2012

Gratitude Additions

I fell asleep before making my nightly gratitude list. For that, I am thankful. (The sleep part, not the missed list part.) Recalling three of the day’s aaah moments — which is what my gratitude list consists of — is a pleasant few minutes at day’s end. The quick drop into restfulness, however, was a pleasant surprise. A good night’s sleep, so rare among Parkinson’s patients, carries many reasons to be thankful. Symptoms lessen, meds work better, mid-day fatigue disappears. I decided that if I made the list before getting out of bed in the morning, it would still count. Item number one: the extra shut-eye. Next: it’s peach season.  ‘Nough said.  Third came when the fog lifted. Literally.  While on vacation,  the  bike path I’d been riding the day before turned damp and gray. But the view had been there all along. As the weather cleared, the beauty emerged. […]
July 29, 2012

Yoga and Stroke Recovery

A student in a class of stroke survivors answered honestly when I asked how everyone was feeling. “Good days and bad,” he said. “Bad ones can get pretty bad.” He explained that certain unexpected losses occurred after his stroke. I listened. I encouraged. I responded in a way I thought was empathetic. In the middle of saying that despite my left-side stroke deficits and right-side Parkinson’s losses, I still — “Wow,” he interrupted. I was about to say that I still have — “You really got nailed!” No, no, I continued. I still have my insides, I said. “Total whammy.” I realized at that very moment how very fortunate I am that despite running out of sides,  I still do have my inside. Some strokes leave a person physically capable while wreaking havoc on thought processes, personalities. But yoga can still help. It engages. It allows. It brings focus, awareness, […]
July 25, 2012

Shame, Shame

At the risk of shameless self-promotion, I am shamelessly self-promoting the new, just-off-the-press, expanded book: Revised Edition of Yoga for Movement Disorders. When the first edition released in 2008, very few books — one by my count, and that covered exercise in general — existed on applying yoga practice to the specific needs of those of us with Parkinson’s, dystonia, the effects of a stroke. I struggled to find a guide for my practice that explained what to do to ease rigidity and move more fluidly. I searched for pointers for my teaching on how, when and why to modify poses. I wanted such a book so much so that I filled the void by writing and publishing one. In the time since the original was published, research supports the benefits of yoga for movement disorders. I’ve included reference to some of these studies. In addition, through certificate programs, work […]