It could be said that haiku is the yoga of poetry. The art of this traditionally seventeen-syllable piece rests in words that flow into a focused, present, meditative form. The beauty of yoga lies in the mind-body that flow into a focused, present, meditative form. I like to read poetry in yoga class, weaving the heart of the quotation or stanza through our asana practice. Today in class, we created our own words to move by. At the start of class, we took turns around the circle. Each of us listed one word that, to us, represents yoga. We moved through the warm-ups and poses, the adjectives and verbs in the air around us. Following savasana, they were turned into pure poetry: Council on Aging Yoga Class Haiku #1: Fun concentration focuses on opening, stretching attitude Council on Aging Yoga Class Haiku #2: Relax into peace, movement brings serenity pleasure, […]
A beautiful yoga studio sign! It stands, however, on the brick sidewalk outside the door of local clothing boutique. The bottom of it offers holiday gift cards for the shop. The sign struck me more, though, for the true gift it offers during this rushed holiday season: Breathe. Be present. Enjoy. Perhaps we all need a joyous reminder to keep from getting caught up in the next several weeks of To Dos and To Buys. As a person with PD, the sign’s living and being approach helps reduce the stresses that come with this time of year, stresses that can exacerbate my symptoms. It’s a yogic reminder that brings me back into the moment and out of past and future worries. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, may many eyes rest on this sign. Enjoy the beauty, moment to moment.
Dear Yoga Teachers, If he or she hasn’t already, someone with Parkinson’s will attend your class. Or it may be someone recovering from a stroke. Or living with MS. Not only are there more and more yoga students living with a movement disorder, the number under the age of 60 with these diagnoses is increasing. And this growing population is turning to yoga. Ahimsa leads us to approach with compassion, which, considering the yoga teachers I’ve met over the years, is a given. Satya and asteya also influence that approach. With satya in mind, its truth dictates that meeting the special needs of a student with a movement disorder requires more than compassion. Considering asteya, we’d be stealing from our students’ time and effort if we didn’t try to meet those special needs with specialized training. Please consider learning more about strategies for managing rigidity, tremor, dystonia and balance and safety […]
The holiday season brings together unlikely pairings: red and green, giving and receiving, Parkinson’s and beauty. Yes, beauty. Although it seems improbable, Parkinson’s has not simply taken but has added beauty to my days. One of the forms of that beauty manifests in the music of Greg Rice. Greg is a composer. He is also a father, businessman, active community volunteer and a person living with Parkinson’s. A law degree plus years of working in the corporate world added to a PD diagnosis wouldn’t typically total up to Musician. But Greg’s symphonies represent the sum of these aspects of him. The music – varied and original – surprises and delights. Performed by various city symphony orchestras, the sound is sometimes grand and sweeping, sometimes a simple dance. Each a pleasure. I play his music in my yoga classes. I play it in my car. I play it to fill the […]
Despite the challenges that accompany travel when living with Parkinson’s, I still enjoy it. Visiting new places or old friends outweighs the excess baggage that goes with going away. Wacky schedules throw off my meds cycle. My slow-mo body becomes an obstacle that others slalom around. A tremor appears (not typically among my list of symptoms). Worth it, worth it, worth it because the adventure’s good evens out the not-so-good. Except for one hassle that throws off this balancing act: the airline fee for checking rather than carrying on my bag. For most of the travel stressors, yoga brings some relief. I can ease back down from the security line’s rush of disrobing and shoe removal (which we know is a lengthy process with PD) and although I’m crammed into a seat that restricts my movement, I manage to stretch a bit. While waiting at the gate, I find a […]
My class calls this the Chaise Lounge Pose. Fully supported, students relax into it, allowing tension to release. They say that the only thing missing is a drink holder. When to Practice the Pose Supta baddha konasana, or reclined bound angle pose, ranks high on their list for savasana. Mine, too. It’s also my top pick for a mid-day break. For five to ten minutes, I lie in repose with props tucked under my head, torso, legs and arms Benefits of the Pose What’s not to like? Gravity does the work loosening what the Parkinson’s squeezes tight. A restful, passive expansion across the chest opens my heart while flexing the vertebrae behind it. The curve in my lumbar spine relaxes on the bolster and the rubber-band muscles of my inner thighs lengthen without effort. These shifts help my posture, gait and sleep. Yum. There’s also a surprise bonus: Facial muscles […]
Friends see us one morning at the gym cruising along on the treadmill. The next afternoon, they might witness us shuffling the aisles of the grocery store barely able to reach for the spaghetti sauce. The “You Look Great” comment morphs into no comment. Is it possible to describe how days — hours — vary widely when living with Parkinson’s? Consider making a comparison to a classic board game. The dice, like our meds — can determine so much. Who hasn’t wished for doubles to slip by landing on that hotel on Boardwalk? But, just as passing Go holds no guarantee that we’ll collect our $200 again the next time around, simply getting through today with no “off” time is no sure sign that same will hold true for tomorrow. On the good rolls, like on good days when symptoms wane, we […]
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” -Pablo Picasso If someone told me my Parkinson’s was all in my head, I just might agree. Because not only does the dopamine-producing mix-up/miscommunication/mishap reside there, so too does my 24/7 symptom awareness factor. For the first, I take meds. (I also exercise and stay positive. For the times when ‘positive’ can’t be found in my vocabulary, there are brownies. With ice cream.) For the second, life offers attractions that cut through the haze of perpetual mental check-ins, such as: When did I take my last dose of meds? Will I need to run any errands (or otherwise be required to function in public) during off times? If so, might I encounter someone who views me as walking like a drunk? More importantly, will there be a bathroom nearby? Does that bagel/sandwich/dinner entree have protein in it? Did I replenish […]
Topping my Gratitude List these days: Electricity. I wouldn’t be typing this without it. I certainly wouldn’t be typing at this hour (3:12 am) without it. Ultra aware of the nanosecond we lose power in a storm, I rarely appreciate the immediacy of light when I flip the switch, the ease of warm water streaming from the shower, the simplicity of a cup of hot tea. Tap the keyboard: internet. Turn a knob: music. Press a button: the garage door opens. Even my toothbrush plugs in. Do I need all these conveniences? Not likely. But living with Parkinson’s in this age of power makes me thankful that I’m not of an earlier time. PD carries with it enough challenges, imagine adding late night wanderings by candlelight or stoking the stove to boil water. My tremor triggers just thinking about constipation and outhouses. (Another listing under Gratitude: Indoor plumbing.) The yogi […]
Asana practice involves focused awareness. The smiles and hellos that came from others also out on Easter kept me focused and aware during a woods walk. Sometimes yoga modifications happen off the mat.