Thank you, all of you who braved the weather and the stresses of travel, for the opportunity to share some yoga together at the ST/Dystonia conference in Atlanta. I so enjoyed meeting you and being part of your weekend’s events. Speaking of events, the one going on simultaneously in the meeting rooms before ours displayed racks of gowns, untold wigs, scores of sparkly shoes, mounds of makeup and more. The true beauty, however, emanated from the faces I saw when I stood upon the mini stage with my yoga mat and looked out at all of you.
I need to cut nuts out of my diet. Cheese, too. Sadly, red wine as well. Ditto on the avocados, soy products, vinegar, dried fruit. If I included any of the above in meals or snacks, a monstrous migraine ensued. This recent phenomenon of light-sensitive, eyeball-searing pain was a tag-along side effect of one of my meds. I hadn’t expected such a severe reaction to what was considered beneficial to take. Emerging from a particularly nasty skull-exploding episode, I shuffled into the kitchen, slumped at the counter, hungry, drained, and wondering what I could possibly eat that wouldn’t, quite literally, go to my head. Crackers? No, there are nuts and soy it the ingredients list. PB&J? No, the protein in the peanut butter would battle with my meds, not to mention nut’s place on the anti-migraine list. I boiled a pot of white rice and daringly added a touch of […]
One of the more restful of yoga positions, Balasana, or Child’s Pose, taps into an inner peacefulness. In Balasana, the spine elongates and the shoulder blades broaden, sending messages throughout the nervous system that relay an overall calming. I can recall a great number of times checking on my son when he was younger. There in his crib, he epitomized child’s pose. With bent knees supporting his upper body, his tailbone touched down between both heels, an arm stretched along each side, and he breathed that full, rhythmic breath of a sleeping child. Someone with a movement disorder, however, may find this position not only challenging but counter productive. Bent knees can trigger involuntary dorsal flexion in the feet for someone recovering from a stroke. Pressure on the feet of a person living with Parkinson’s or dystonia can result in painful cramping in the toes or plantar area. That said, those […]
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 […]
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 […]
E. W. Jackson is the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia. According to the Huffington Post, his agenda items include yoga warnings: Yoga may leave unsuspecting people vulnerable to satanic possession…. In a post for the National Review on Wednesday, Betsy Woodruff highlighted some quotes from Jackson’s 2008 book Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life: Making Your Dreams Come True. Among them was one about the hazards of yoga. “When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana,” Jackson wrote in his book, according to Woodruff. “The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself. [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want.” So THAT’S where I got Parkinson’s. Stoopid, […]
It’s snowing. If I noted this in late December, my voice would lilt out ‘snowing,’ like birdsong. The words might even be prefaced by a “Look” or an “Ooh.” Evergreens dusted in white embody the postcard view of holiday time in New England. Were it mid-January, ‘snowing’ would come out as a question. How many inches? Will school be closed? Can we go sledding? A warm weather fan, I admit I shift my stance a bit and suit-up. Nothing quite matches playing in fresh, puffy snow. Come March, the weight of ‘snowing’ is as wet and heavy as a clump sliding off the roof. No more white stuff. I’m done with shoveling. Uncle. From one standpoint, it’s simply cold precipitation. From another, when will spring arrive? Yoga suggests we not only welcome the differing viewpoints, we step back and notice them for what they are: viewpoints. Rather than get caught […]
I live with a teenager. When he speaks, a one-word grunt is typically accompanied by a shrug. On the rare occasion that a full sentence streams out aloud, it’s riddled with middle-school speak. A combination of texting abbreviations and lingo known only to eighth graders streams out with a tone that emits coolness. The word-nerd in me isn’t satisfied with the coolness factor of the delivery and tries but often cannot parse the meaning. Since there is no Teenage Awareness Month and April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, I offer the meaning behind a few PD catch phrases. “I have Parkinson’s, but it doesn’t have me.” “Parkinson’s: Fight back.” “Parkinson’s is a word, not a sentence.” Each seems an upbeat summary of what it takes to live well while living with the disease. I’ve used them. But on closer inspection, they’re much like the language of my son with more meaning […]