Thursday, February 28, 2008

To Do Lists

What's worse than throwing up? Worse than diarrhea that feels like Niagara Falls of the colon? How about both at the same time?

That pretty much describes my weekend a couple of weeks ago. After spending 48+ hours in bed (and in the bathroom), I was 5 pounds lighter and had a "to do" list that had grown to monstrous proportions.

Not only were there emails, phone calls, and bills coming in, but ideas constantly floated in my head as I lay on my bed in this half-dream state. I found myself jotting these thoughts down on dozens of post-its which are now all over my desk and bedroom floor.

So, what do you do when your inbox is overwhelming? My first impulse is to go out for a walk, coffee, tea, or anywhere but having to deal with the daunting task of an impossibly large inbox. This doesn't get anything done, but at least my mind can relax.

Can you help with this? What do you do when snail mail, email, phone calls, requests or ideas from friends, and inspirations from your own mind pour in at a rate much too fast for you to keep up with? When there are literally a hundred plus ideas to be carried out, how do you determine which ones to pursue and scarier which ones to let go?

I find that frequently there are so many ideas or suggestions that instead of letting them go, I become paralyzed and unable to fully follow through on any of them.

This is not how I want to live my life and I turn to you for ideas on handling ideas. Ironic, I know.

Any suggestions regarding shortening that inbox so that the real gems can become reality are much appreciated.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Exercises for carpel tunnel syndrome

If you suffer from carpel tunnel in the wrists, Yoga can be a blessing or a curse. Avoid hand balances and keep the base of the wrist lifted in poses such as downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana). If it's not possible to lift the wrist base, then just keep the hands off the floor--no, not a down dog with no hands! Rather, no down dogs at all until you build the strength to lift the wrists.

Following are some great poses to help with this syndrome. Remember, I am not a doctor and don't claim to be one, please verify with your doctor prior to any exercise program.

1. Take a comfortable seat and bring the hands into anjali mudra. Keeping the fingers together, slowly draw the base of the wrists slightly away from one another. Hold for at least 6 long steady breaths.

2. Come into staff (dandasana) with the palms on the ground. If your arms are shorter, then place the palms on blocks. Stay about 6 breaths.

3. Stand in mountain (tadasana). On inhale lift the arms overhead, as if your arms are hands on a clock and they are pointing at the 11 and the 1. On exhale, bring the arms back down to your sides. Do this 6 times.

4. Standing or sitting bring the arms out straight in front of you. Palms facing down, widen the fingers as if you are wrapping your hand around a basketball. Hold for 6 breaths. Keep the shoulders relaxed.

5. With the arms still in front of you, inhale and bring the fingers together and point them at the sky; exhale making gentle fists and face the knuckles downward. Repeat 6 times. On the 6th time, pause in each of these positions for a couple of breaths.

6. Rise the arms over head and interlock the fingers; palms facing away from you. Hold for about 6 breaths.

7. Come into eagle pose (garudasana). If balance is preventing the arm position, then skip the legs and focus on the arms today. Hold each side for 2-3 breaths.

8. Take half forward fold (ardha uttanasana) at the wall for 6 breaths. Keep the fingers, especially the root of the index finger and thumb, against the wall as the center of the wrist base is lifted.

9. With or without the legs move the arms with relaxation into warrior I and then warrior II (virabhadrasana I & II). Move back and forth with your breath about 6 times. Pause the last time in each position for 2-3 breaths.

10. Downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) on a chair for 2-6 breaths. As before, keep a lift in the carpel tunnel (the center of the wrist base).

11. Sit on a chair and twist from side to side. Twist as you exhale and release the twist on inhale. Repeat on one side 6 times and then 6 times on the other side.

12. Take anjali mudra behind your back.

13. Relax in a supine position (savasana) for at least 10 minutes.

Note that some of these postures may be difficult. Instead of forcing or frustrating yourself to do them, take your time and start with a just a few that you find simple. As you gain flexibility, awareness, and strength, the others will come easier.

Enjoy and the best of luck to you!

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Relieve Neck Tension

A lovely neck release that your puppy might love as well!

Lay out some pillows or blankets at least 4 inches high and lie on them. Let the shoulders and head come off the support. Place a rolled up hand towel under the neck for support and enjoy the inversion. Stay for 5 to 15 minutes. A little Mozart in the back ground and an eye pillow do wonders for this restorative.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Great Blogs

A great post at Just Breath reminds us that it takes courage to make decisions that bring us closer to our "real" Self. Sometimes what appears to be running away is really finding what we need in order to return to our true nature and share that with others. I salute Nadine's courage to move across the globe and to spread the news about South Africa. Here is the comment I left on her post:

"Very touching post. Your comment "I am in some ways less than I thought, and in other ways more."It is commendable to make efforts to help the world as a whole; one thing Yoga teaches us over and over is that we must feel inside what we strive to bring to the world. So to safety and faith; only then can you truly offer them."

Nadine's issues are global and something we can all take concern with, but this same principle applies in all of life. I maintained a friendship once because I thought this lady "needed me." It was very draining and took almost six months, before I realized that I wasn't helping anyone by staying in it. After breaking the ties, my energy returned and not only did I feel better, but my ability to share these great feelings with those around me spread.

Do what brings you closer to God/Self/True Nature;
not what you think you are obligated to do.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, February 18, 2008

What is this ?

What is this a picture of? Could it be anything else? Is it too hard to tell?

Over the weekend I was reading The Healing Path of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi. In her introduction she says,

"In the space and aeronautics field as a spaceship goes up it gains altitude. If you look out of the window you may not see the moon. If the ship rotates it is called changing attitude. With an attitude change you can now see the moon."

This is so perfectly said, I don't think I can add more to it. If you'd like a change in attitude and see the picture above from a different viewpoint, click here.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

And now for something completely different.....

WARNING: Swearing and an unusual tone for me follows!

I wrote this last summer while sitting on my back porch after being hearing a group of people talk about how hopeless life is; how there are no real choices. As you can tell, this got my goat.

Why take over six months to post this? Because it was a rant: an out-of-control rant. Sometimes I find it healthy to just get all my frustration out on paper (instead of in someone's face) and then go to exploring my feelings and finding compassion.

I debated on posting this, but I remember once how a student was amazed when I talked about losing it with my dog one day. She commented what a relief it was to see her Yoga teacher had bad days too.

So, here's my very human and angry rant. Anger at my own fears, hesitations, and uncertainties. Anger at those around me that encourage or justify these limitations. I don't expect you'll see a lot of these as fortunately meditation has helped them to become fewer and fewer.

Belief, Man, that’s where it’s at.

Forget the crap about hard work and nose to the grindstone. What were these guys thinking? If you don’t have faith, if you don’t believe in yourself and what you’re doing, you don’t stand a chance. Why bother to pour your sweat and tears into something that you don’t even have believe in? It’s insane. The way we’re raised is insane. What the hell is going on here?

Life is more than working for the Man. It’s being the Man! You heard me, being the Man. Wrap you’re brain around that one for a minute. You. The Man. One in the same.

Don’t bail on me just yet. Think about it. You have the power. You make the decisions. You create the plans. You show your creative genius!

It’s there, trust me. I know you’re a creative genius. You know you’re a creative genius. So, what’s stopping you?

Fear, I tell you. Fear that you’re not good enough. Fear that you don’t have any new ideas. Fear that it’s all been done before.

Bull shit!

There are new ideas and discoveries cropping up every day. Just this year a whole new breed of shark was discovered off the coast of New Zealand. Scientists thought they had it all figured out and then quantum physics came in and questioned everything. Literally, everything! Even the way we think.

How’s that for new shit?

Pretty powerful stuff and here you are sitting on your ass saying there’s nothing new to be said.

Again, bullshit!

Take a chance. Follow an impulse. Do what makes your heart sing.

And don’t you dare tell me, you can’t. Family to support, not enough time, pension, whatever.

Stop the excuses now. Grab life by the balls and go for it!


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yoga Therapy

Yoga Therapy by AG Mohan and Indra Mohan is a truly wonderful book. It describes a "true" Yoga; not one that forces and demands. A Yoga rooted in breath and honor of the body and mind.

The style is Viniyoga, one of my personal favorites. This style emphasizes a therapeutic approach and stressed the need for individual classes. As popular as group classes are in the West, a personalized class becomes even more important when dealing with specific therapies.

I think this book is a wonderful collection of suggestions that can be applied to any practice or style. The first chapter is an introduction followed by the second chapter detailing breath and asana. Here's a quick example demonstrating how your breathing affects posture:

Start your inhales from the top of the chest and then continue inhaling all the way down to the navel. Emphasize the chest expansion. This helps to straighten out rounding in the upper back. As you exhale, begin in the belly and then work your way up to the collarbones. Focusing most of the exhale in the belly brings length to the low back and prevents sway back or over-arching the lumbar area.

Chapter 3 suggests methods of assessing a body. When developing a personal practice, assessment guides you away from what you just "like" and into what will provide you with the most benefits. This is key is creating a successful practice and injury prevention.

Next comes sequencing, which is a whole topic unto itself. I've worked in a Iyengar, Anusara, and Ashtanga--all with differing opinions on sequencing. What I've learned is that no one really knows for sure the best route. Some things, like ending with a symmetrical posture, make sense; but each situation is different. One thing unique to Viniyoga, and paramount in my opinion, is to rest periodically between postures. Take mini-savasanas ever so often to release tension before moving on.

Chapter 5 is about personalizing the practice and taking into account someone's fitness level, age, and condition. Next comes pranayama followed by Ayurveda, covering diet, doshas, and the mind.

Chapter 8 is a collection of case studies. Personally, I prefer the case studies in Gary Kraftsow's book, Yoga for Wellness; because Gary outlines why each and every posture/movement is chosen. Mohan's do this to some extent, but not as thoroughly.

Overall a great reference to gaining a deeper and practical understanding of breath and movement.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Change the World - Commit Random Acts of Kindness

I ran into a couple of great quotes the other day:

"You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can't, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world.... The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way .... people look at reality, then you can change it." ~ James Baldwin

"I feel the vacuum, the loneliness, the silence, the dehydration of the soul as people who want desperately to save our constitution, country and planet still wander the streets without knowing how to say hi to one another." ~ Sam Smith

Every time we perform a random act of kindness to a stranger, we have the potential to shift their view of the world as a more loving and kind place.

In the last year or so, I heard a story of a family that had a bicycle stolen from their front lawn. The police were unable to find the thief and the family was told there was nothing that could be done. So, they posted a sign on in front of their house expressing their disappointment with the person(s) that took the bike and asking for its return.

The bike was never returned. However, an anonymous envelope with money for a new bike and a note was left at the front door. The note said something like this:

"Please don't think the world is just made up of thieves and criminals. There are many more open-hearted and kind people all around you."

What can you do to shift someone's experience and see the beauty all around us? Buy the checkout gal at the grocery store a bag of apples? Pay for the person behind you at a toll booth? Give flowers to a neighbor? Hand out $5 bills to strangers?

Go ahead; Change the world!

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Healthy Brownie Recipe - Garbanzo Beans

It's true, you didn't misread the title of this post! Brownies that use garbanzo beans and are actually relatively healthy! A student and friend, Kathy G, made these brownies over the weekend and they were spectacular. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did, and thanks Kathy!

Best Ever Brownies

Preheat oven 350 degrees

1 and 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

15oz. can garbanzo beans (drained & rinsed)

4 eggs

2T coffee powder (optional)

2T canola (or vegetable) oil

1t vanilla

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

1/2 c chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans optional)

Melt the chocolate. Combine eggs, coffee powder and beans in food processor until very smooth. Add remaining ingredients - oil, vanilla, sugar, baking powder and salt, process until well blended.
Add melted chocolate and process briefly to mix, add nuts (if using).
Place batter in greased 9 in. square baking pan. Bake 350 for 35 to 40 min.

Kathy used Hazelnut Nutella as a frosting. Super yum!

Enjoy the best darn brownies ever!

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Yes We Can! - Hope for Peace

This reminds me of Martin Luther King's speech, I Had A Dream. Hope still reigns, keep it strong!

Video Clip Here.

UPDATE: Just found the story and source behind this video. I believe many of us feel the same as Mr. Will.I.Am. Be inspired!

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Inspiring Story

My younger son (age 13) shared with me The Sniper by Liam O'Flaherty. I'm grateful to his teacher for exposing him to this short story as it touched his heart and mine.

In the interest of not spoiling the story, I will not comment directly on it here. Instead check out The Sniper by clicking here.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!