May I add to the Top Pick lists that abound during this season of shopping and baking? In addition to the most popular games, the best books, the much-loved cookies, I’m including three yoga fav’s: Game: I’ll be wrapping Parcheesi (don’t tell my son) for under the tree. Books: Many novels to ship (okay, yes, I’m keeping one or two for myself). Cookies: definitely cutouts, frosted. Yoga: Enter stress-free into the holidays by practicing these each day: 1. Go outside. Seriously, step outside. Feel the breeze. Listen for birds. Notice the moon, which has already been full this month and is waning. Before the New Year, it will wax right into a blue moon. At a time filled with malls and heated halls, a gift we can give ourselves is to bring our awareness to our natural surroundings. 2. Get exercise. Go for a walk. Do a sun salutation on […]
Is this night’s blue moon an uncommon year-ending or a rare new start The weather here calls for clear skies on December 31, all the more reason that I’ll step outside and take a look. Breathe in the night air and simply observe. On this last night, this first night, the moon waxes to its extreme, the second time this month. It occurs once, well, in a blue moon. That calculates out to about once every three years on the calendar. I will bear witness to it, perhaps even honor it with the moon series inserted into my daily flow of asanas. Oh, it’ll happen again. But it may be cloudy next time. And it’ll certainly be another lifetime before this lunar phenomenon appears in the space between toasting the old and ringing the new.
. . . don’t simply make lemonade. Bake. Baking is about creation. It’s about changing a list from flour to nuts into a dessert or breakfast treat. Whether it’s melding butter with chocolate or combining raspberries with ground almonds, the result enhances the finest flavors of each ingredient. Yoga. like baking, is about transformation. This shift can happen in my body when I’m molding myself into into hero pose, or in my mind when I’m gazing at the flicker of a candle. The rigidity in my Parkinson’s muscles lets go of some tension, and the chatter – from fears of future symptoms to frustration with the current ones – empties from my thoughts. This change, this shift, maintains the essence of who I am – my list of ingredients – drawing out what’s most flavorful. Sometimes, a cool glass of lemonade can be refreshing. But, making it is less a […]
The more I dip into my paints and, more recently, mark curves and shadows in charcoal, I’m learning that art is about observation. In the class I’m taking, I and five other students are sketching nude models. But actually, what we’re doing is observing, noticing light and curves and how parts of the body relate to each other in space. It’s like yoga on paper. And, like yoga, I’m learning that it is in the interpretation that beauty emerges. I came across an article about Leonardo da Vinci. The great artist and observer of anatomy watched people and wrote his perceptions in notebooks. In one entry, da Vinci’s words describe people with what is considered today to be symptoms of Parkinson’s: “Those who . . . move their trembling parts, such as their heads or hands . . . without permission of the soul.” Leave it to da Vinci to […]
For years, I’ve been a fan of Gary Kraftsow’s work with therapeutic yoga. I borrow from his books to share poses with students in my classes. His workshops sound so appealing, so targeted to my personal practice as well as to my teaching. Unfortunately, they tend to take place on the other coast. Imagine my delight when I discovered he’ll be on this side of the country, offering a three-day intensive for teachers at the Yoga Journal Conference. I pored over the description for the course. While every joint in my body knew this would be a good match for me, those same joints reminded me that three full days would be too much for them. How ironic that an intensive on the healthy benefits of yoga would be too intense for my PD body, putting my health at risk. Ahimsa, I thought. Be compassionate toward that PD body and […]
I’m a Facebook junkie. I post. I read recent posts. I send messages, upload photos, visit walls. I like how I can keep up-to-date with my nieces or college friends, logging in at any time of day, even at the insomnia hour between 3:00 and 4:00 am. Something yogic exists in the in-the-moment aspect of reading and writing FB posts. I feel I’ve been invited to share where someone goes, what his or her current status is, what’s going on. A letter from my niece, Kate, however, is shedding light on my view. A letter, yes. The kind written by hand with a pen on sheets of paper, folded into an envelope that carries a stamp and gets delivered by actual post to a real mailbox with a hinged metal door. The difference between posts and the letter I received by post, besides the tactile feel of holding the words […]
April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. Any of us with Parkinson’s are already well aware of the disease. That must mean that April is our stretch of thirty days to publicly whine and curse and . . . Oh, wait. No. I’m thinking that this month might be better spent finding ways to: – share treatment and support information with those who are newly diagnosed. – focus on exercise, nutrition and well-being for ourselves and our families. – educate others about the disease to help dissuade misconceptions and fears. – learn about the latest research: knowledge is power. – consider taking part in a clinical trial. – maintain a sense of humor. – keep practicing your yoga. – stay connected to one another. An occasional whine is okay, too. Namaste.
If, a year ago, someone told me that I’d be spending my Wednesday mornings sketching nudes, I’d have pleaded to mow the lawn instead. Maybe take out the trash. I’ve never been a student behind an easel, never even stood at an easel for that matter. The mention of a charcoal pencil sent my mind into a chatter fest of excuses not to draw or, heavens, paint. I remember I trembled. And worried. How could I possibly produce something that wouldn’t be clumsy and inept? When my first symptoms of PD grew too strong to hide, I became that frightened student again, wishing for another diagnosis the way I’d preferred to have done chores. Again, I trembled and felt clumsy and inept. Four years later, something magical has happened. I picked up a paintbrush and it felt good. I now grin the entire time at an art store replenishing yellow […]
Additions to my gratitude list: – crickets at night – gum – charcoal pencils – fiddlehead ferns – the sparkle of last night’s raindrops in early morning sun – the clusters of four-petaled white-flowered weeds sprouting up in my yard, and how they’re always surrounded by others, never just one out there alone.