Can You Do Yoga Over 50? You Bet!

Please welcome Sheryl Stich back to the Whole Life Yoga blog today.  Sheryl teaches four (!) classes each week specifically designed for students over 50.  Continue reading to discover what makes so many students come back week after week.  It’s never too late to start a consistent yoga practice!

As students were chatting and stacking their mats and blankets after the Monday Yoga for Over 50 class, I started to reminisce about how the class began seven years ago with three dedicated students. After a few months, attendance began to flourish and in response we added a class on Wednesdays and Fridays. The classes have continued to grow, so we recently introduced a 4:30 PM class on Wednesdays.

Why is this class so popular? The Yoga for Over 50 class is very similar to an All-Levels class with modifications to accommodate the over 50 body. There are countless benefits of yoga for people over 50, including staying active, improving quality of life and slowing down the aging process. I teach a variety of strengthening postures, always include a balance posture and exclude postures that could possibly compromise bodies with arthritis, osteoporosis and other issues we may face.

When I asked my students what specifically draws them to the class, one student approached me immediately, saying the class matches her energy level, and that Viniyoga is great for the body, and just feels right – this class is perfect for people over 50.

Several students shared that they appreciate working around any physical limitations but still getting benefits from the postures. They recognize the importance of the individual modifications and they feel safe because they are not pressured into positions. One student proclaimed that the practice and postures helped her recover from breast cancer!

One recurring theme was that the class helps with every day things like increasing strength, flexibility, balance, body awareness and a sense of serenity. And the practice helps students be more confident and have an increased ease of movement throughout the day. Stress management, minimizing physical discomfort and preventing accidents also came up several times.

The class has helped one student feel stronger when skiing and another said it has increased her time in the garden from one to three hours. One student shared that she couldn’t walk very far because her hips hurt – this class has helped her be more flexible and strong and has taught how to move so she can spend more time walking.

The Yoga for Over 50 class also has a great sense of community. Catherine Williford has coordinated monthly luncheons for students in all the Over 50 classes, and this is what she had to say:

I love Over 50 Yoga at Whole Life Yoga because Sheryl is a gifted teacher who teaches with clear language and she keeps the pace perfect for those of us who might need a little more time. The poses seem to always be just what my body needed that day. I also love the community that is being created with monthly luncheons for whomever wants to join. I highly recommend this class!

Sheryl Stich is a certified yoga instructor through Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program and is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 500. Sheryl came to Viniyoga after recovering from disc hernia surgery in 2002. She also had hip replacement surgery, and found that yoga and breath work not only helped retain her health physically, but also helped mentally and emotionally. She finds much joy and happiness in sharing this “calm awakening” connecting the mind, body and breath with her students.

Benefits of Yoga for Chronic Pain: A Practice of Conscious Movement, Breath, and Meditation

Please welcome Whole Life Yoga instructor Katie West to the blog today!  Katie is such an inspiration to me and her students. Yoga is an incredible tool to help manage chronic pain, and I’m delighted to offer a new drop-in Yoga for Chronic Pain class by Katie on Thursdays at noon starting May 4.  Please join us!

The Body (movement/asana):

When living with chronic pain, one often develops a negative relationship with the body. If the body is limited and causing distress, frustrations, depression, or anxiety, the natural reaction is to disconnect from it. Many people want to suppress those emotions that are provoked by a chronic condition, so one might try to silence it, when all that is needed is to listen and respond with compassion.

Self-compassion is paramount when it comes to yoga and chronic pain. To be able to look at our own dysfunctional body, feel and nourish it, takes great courage and persistence. Our normal is a different kind of normal from those who do not have physical limitations. It is more delicate and special in that way. It is important to see this, to create a baseline for yourself and adapt from there. What differentiates Viniyoga from other lineages is its adaptability for different bodies and conditions. Correct movement for your body helps manage and minimize chronic pains, change old movement patterns, and build a more positive connection to your body. Viniyoga practices breath-centric movement where the breath is the core of conscious movement and builds a deeper connection to the body.

The Breath (pranayama)

One evening, I was on my side in the middle of the living room floor in crippling pain. Just a typical Friday evening. I began to focus my awareness on the expansion and release of my breath. I felt the warmth and vibrations of my breath within my body and the subtle contraction and relaxation of my muscles as I directed gentle awareness to achy areas. My exhale made my body feel at ease, and the control I had over the expansion in my body through my inhales left me feeling empowered. I slowly breathed life back into my body and realized I have the power to change my responses to what I had been labeling as negative physical sensations. Rather than wallowing in pity and complaining about my physical problems, I just breathed with intention and control, easing my achy joints and busy mind.

To breathe is to live. To consciously breathe is a persistent practice and affects our systems and energy on different levels based on the conscious control of the lengths, segments, pauses, and accentuation of the breath.

The Mind (meditation):

The mind is the control room, reigning over breath and body. Meditation can provide tools to change your thoughts, emotions, behavior, and habitual patterns allowing you to control your mind’s process.  If you choose to focus your attention fully on something, and catch your mind as it is wandering, the act of bringing your attention back to that original focal point is the practice of meditation. If you choose to focus on more positive things such as building a more positive relationship with your body, it will begin to become a habitual pattern. The same goes for negative habitual thought. Meditation teaches us how to listen and respond to the patterns in our mind and change them if desired.

The combination of correct gentle movement, conscious breathing, and focused intention or visualization creates an empowering practice for those with chronic pain.

Katie West has completed 500 hours of yoga teacher training via Whole Life Yoga (WLY) and continued as a TA for WLY’s 200 hour training. She believes yoga is a gift to share with all, having found Viniyoga after years of chronic conditions stemming from structural and muscular issues.The lineage’s teachings yielded the tools to begin her journey of reintegrating body, breath, and mind. This exploration of connection helped minimize and manage her chronic pain and revealed a constant practice of balance to life as a whole. Her teaching style highlights the accessibility, therapeutic, and rehabilitative aspects of yoga. Katie honors the Viniyoga lineage as an instructor and finds any way for students to integrate yoga into their daily lives. She holds that yoga is for everybody and adaptable to all.

 

3 Tips for Staying Centered through Trauma

Hi all!  Please welcome Nadine Kenney Johnstone, author of a powerful memoir,  Of This Much I’m Sure, to the Whole Life Blog today.  In preparation for my next book, I’ve been researching the physical and emotional impacts of infertility and infertility treatments. When I learned of Nadine’s work, I asked her to join us and talk about her experiences as a yogi trying to conceive. Her tips are relevant for individuals living through any kind of trauma.

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I was taking a lot of heated vinyasa flow yoga classes before I started infertility treatments, and I always walked out of the studio feeling detoxed, strong, and calm. One of my favorite instructors was always there to adjust and support me into a deeper extension of a pose. At the time, I was living in Massachusetts, 800 miles away from my mother, sister, and friends in Chicago. So, this nurturing yoga environment was incredibly important to me.

When I started my fertility injections, my doctor stressed the importance of a stable core temperature, so heated yoga was off-limits. My studio didn’t offer non-heated classes, so I replaced my practice with solo walks around the neighborhood. This only furthered my isolation and gave me too much time to mentally obsess about all of the things I couldn’t control–if the injections were working, if the procedures would be successful, if I’d get pregnant.

Unexpectedly, after my egg retrieval procedure, my left ovary never clotted, and I had severe internal bleeding. I was rushed to the hospital and into emergency surgery. The recovery was even worse than that of a c-section. I was out of work and couldn’t drive for weeks. It was the loneliest time in my life. Though what had gotten me into this situation was the longing to be a mother, it left me wanting to be mothered.

On the first day I could drive, I knew exactly where I needed to go. I went to my favorite yoga studio, and though I couldn’t do 90 percent of the poses, the instructor gave me such healing support that I nearly wept. She felt like the mom, sister, and friend I didn’t have in Massachusetts.

When I did finally get pregnant–naturally, by some miracle–I found unheated classes and did yoga throughout my entire pregnancy, which might be why our son is a natural yogi!

I wrote about my experiences in my new memoir: Of This Much I’m Sure.  While reflecting, I learned that trauma, in any form, can be incredibly isolating, and as I look back, here are the things I wish I had done more of to help me stay centered:

Keep up with your yoga practice.

Stress can make you feel incredibly isolated. You need the company–the emotional and physical support from others. The poses and the breathing will give your monkey mind a job other than obsessing over things that you can’t control. If you are going through infertility treatments, go to an unheated class and talk to your doctor about any poses that might be off limits.

Train others to be good listeners.

Most people don’t know how to react to stories of other people’s struggles. Some will talk about the silver-lining; many will tell you to just relax. None of this advice will heal your pain. Choose a few trusted people and prep them about how to react. Tell them, “Listen, hug, repeat.”

Journal

Grab a notebook and time yourself: 10 minutes. Make note of your physical, mental, and emotional status that day. Note what’s irritating you. Note what you’re grateful for (both of yourself and the outside world). What have you learned about yourself today? And, finally, Were you able to speak your truth today? If not, why? Unspoken truth becomes a heavy weight that burdens you until you free it.

_Y5A6000(3)Nadine Kenney Johnstone is author of Of This Much I’m Sure (She Writes Press, 2017), a memoir of her experiences struggling with IVF and illness, and the healing power of hope and love. Her work has been featured in Chicago Magazine, The Month, PANK, and various anthologies, including The Magic of Memoir. Nadine, who received her MFA from Columbia College in Chicago, teaches English at Loyola University and doubles as a writing coach, presenting at conferences internationally. She lives near Chicago with her family.

 

 

 

 

 

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Today’s my day to blog at Inkspot, the blog for authors of Midnight Ink.  I discuss book covers, why they’re so important, and some of the challenges I’ve had with mine.

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2017/04/judging-book-by-its-cover.html

Enjoy!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Food, Friendship, and Fun!

We had such a great time (as always) at VegFest this year that I wanted to share some photos with you.  Enjoy, and come see us there next year!

I started the first day staffing the booth with the fabulous Katie West.  Here we are, before sixteen hours of crowd surfing stole all of my beauty.

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Soon the masses descended, filling the space with people ready for food and fun!

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Of course no day would be complete without a visit from Ana Pup.  I couldn’t convince anyone to let her come inside as my service dog, so we took a break and explored the rest of Seattle Center.  Ana enjoyed playing with her stick.  I enjoyed hanging out by the fountain.

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Then I came back and split my time between talking about my mystery series and chatting with potential new yoga students.

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By the second day, I was looking a little more weathered, so you’ll have to take my word for it that I was there.  The fabulous Rene de los Santos can vouch for me.

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Ana Pup came to visit again. This time she took me to the Space Needle. This is her saying, “Hurry up human!  What are you waiting for?”

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I finished the day by checking out the goat rescue booth. I will someday soon own goats myself. The husband unit disagrees.

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After we’d packed up for the weekend, hubby and I went to the season finale of The Walking Dead at the Edmonds Theater.  No photos included, as I resembled a few of the cast members too much for my comfort.

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That’s all for now, but I hope you join us at VegFest next year.  It’s always exhausting, lots of fun, and it offers all of the tasty vegetarian treats you can ask for!

See you next time!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Do You Think He Likes Me? And a CONTEST!

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Hey all!  Today I’m (or rather Tiffany is) blogging at Killer Hobbies.  She’s talking about the cute hot yoga instructor she’s hoping to date and an adventure she’s about to go on with Kate.

There’s also a contest!

il_570xN.118357980[1][1]Check out the article, get to know Tiffany a little better, and enter to win these dog and crossbones notecards, which are created by a Seattle artist!

 

http://www.killercharacters.com/2017/04/do-you-think-he-likes-me.html

Good luck and I’ll see you back here next week!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Research Proves It: Yoga Is Good for Your Heart!

Those of us who practice yoga know first-hand its wide-ranging benefits: from increased mindfulness, to decreased stress, to reduction in pain, to weight loss. Western medical research is finally catching up.

A review of thirty-seven studies appeared in the December 16, 2014 issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. The report was co-authored by Dr. Gloria Yeh, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The effect of yoga practice on heart disease risk factors was impressive. On average, study participants who practiced yoga:

  • Lost five pounds
  • Decreased blood pressure by 5 points
  • Lowered their LDL cholesterol levels 12 points.

Researchers also noted the benefits of breath work and meditation, two often-overlooked yoga tools. Participants varied in age and ranged from physically healthy individuals to those with significant health conditions. The styles of yoga practiced were diverse, though researchers recommend styles that allow for modification. Yoga was also found to be a powerful tool in cardiac rehabilitation programs.

More information on the study can be found the February 28, 2017 article in the Harvard Health Publications blog.

Continue practicing, and go yoga!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Creating an Audiobook: the Easy, the Challenging, and the Unknown

MurderStrikesAPose-1200pxToday’s my day to blog at Inkspot, the blog for authors of Midnight Ink.  I’m discussing what I learned when creating the audiobook for my first Downward Dog Mystery, Murder Strikes a Pose.

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2017/03/creating-audiobook-easy-challenging-and.html

Enjoy!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Everyone’s the Hero of Their Own Story

For the past four years, my husband and I have lived in my office. It started out by necessity.  Our German shepherd, Tasha was unable to walk up and down stairs for the last three years of her life. When we got a puppy, moving two flights of stairs from her potty yard seemed, well, unwise.

Now that Ana’s almost eight months old, we’re making the move, so to speak, of living in our entire house. A house that has been a 2400-square-foot storage space for the past four years. Needless to say, I’m sorting through and discarding lots of stuff.

In the process, I came across a handwritten page. I wrote it while I was flying to be by my mother’s side during the last days of her life. It’s over a year old, and I don’t know how much wisdom it offers, but perhaps it will have meaning to some of you.

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Crime writers have a saying: “Everyone’s the hero in their own story.” By this they mean that every character we write—even the most heinous villain—believes that they had valid reasons for their actions. From their point of view (albeit sometimes a skewed one) the murderer “had” to kill. The sleuth “had” to solve the crime. It’s all in perspective.

As it is in families.

My mother and I had a fractured relationship for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure if it was because we were so completely different from each other or because we were so blindingly the same. If you heard our story from her perspective, I’m sure it sounded much different than my version. In fact, I know it did. In the end, the only way we could coexist was to not tell it, at least not to each other. It worked, for the most part.

I’ve spent most of my adult life finding my own way. Healing, if you will, from the past traumas between us.

And now it is time to say goodbye.

The next few weeks will undoubtedly be hard. Well-meaning friends offer advice. Most people tell me to make sure I take care of myself. Others assert that this is a time for my mother and me to finally heal; for us to reconcile the hurts of the past. I’m not sure either is possible.

You see, the cancer she’s fought for the past year has spread to her brain. The soul inside her body is still my mother, but she’s not able to communicate. I’m not sure she fully understands, either. I have no idea what, if anything, she’ll be able to tell me. The only thing I know for sure is this:

Forgiveness has no meaning; anger no place. Hurt remains, though transformed. All I can do is be present, and I will do that with one-hundred-percent of my being.

I hope there’s an afterlife. I hope the conditions for entry are different than I was taught in childhood Sunday school classes, because my mother didn’t share my father’s and my faith. The Yoga Sutras are echoingly silent on the subject, asking instead for us to each find our own way. To be completely honest, I find this both warmly comforting, and chillingly terrifying.

So for now, the best I can say is this: May my mother’s end be graceful, her journey peaceful, her destination filled with love. That is my hope for all of us.

Namaste

Tracy

Research Proves It: Yoga Works to Reduce Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome!

IBS Letter on Brick Wall in the Back

I love learning about new research into the benefits of a consistent yoga practice, so I was delighted when a Whole Life Yoga teacher training graduate (and practicing Medical Doctor) sent me an article from the December 1, 2016 edition Family Practice News  outlining the benefits of yoga for individuals suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  IBS is a sometimes-incapacitating digestive disorder that impacts between twenty-five and forty-five million adults in the United States, nearly two-thirds of which are female.  IBS isn’t believed to be caused by stress, but stress can significantly worsen its symptoms.

Yoga, it would seem, is the perfect tool to help.

A review of six randomized controlled trials published in the December issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology agrees. In the 273 patients with IBS studied, practicing yoga for four to twelve weeks had a similar effect as pharmacological therapies in terms of bowel symptoms, anxiety, and quality of life. More work needs to be done, but these initial results are promising.

Go yoga!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!