Sunflower Mandala

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Alive on Arrival


When does yoga class truly begin?

Eleven am, Sunday morning at Yoga Haven in Scarsdale. That’s the start time for my Restorative yoga class, which I have been teaching at the studio for over a decade. The photos shown were taken minutes before class began, with me standing at the back of the room to get a sweeping view of the peaceful, pre-class atmosphere. Most of the students are reclining on their mats, creating comfort in various ways with props, such as a blanket or two beneath the head or a bolster under the knees. (In a Restorative yoga practice, we use blankets, blocks, and bolsters to support our poses.)

Some students have bent their knees to give more support to their low backs. One student sits cross-legged in a variation of Sukhasasa (Easy pose); another is stretching her legs to the sky, a no-frills (and no-wall!) version of the Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall) inversion pose. Another student (in the photo below), still gathering props, reaches for a bolster.

Students stretching, students in stillness. Before a yoga class begins, you’ll see this and much more. When students arrive at a studio (or wherever class is held), some speed into the classroom to get their favorite spot and dive onto their mats. Others linger outside the room to chat with yoga buddies or check and turn off cell phones. In the room, you’ll see students in various stages of preparation, individualized and familiar routines that range from resting quietly to warm-up movements and asana.

Students stretching, students in stillness . . . 

Because yoga offers a strong community atmosphere, some students use pre-class time to visit with the yogi on the next-door mat. (On the down side, this can interfere with the quiet time that many students yearn, so leaving the chat outside the classroom is usually best!) I’ve seen students reading on the mat before class; others fall asleep.

Yoga classes begin at a specific time, but when does your practice begin? This is a question I sometimes ask my students. Did your practice begin when you walked into the studio, after you unrolled your mat, or when you placed your belongings and props just so? After a Down Dog or two, or some catting and cowing?  When you closed your eyes? Or did the practice begin much earlier—well before your arrival time at the studio—at the moment when you decided to take the class in the first place? Did that commitment, that yogic spark, begin your practice? 

Did your practice begin when you walked into the studio, after you unrolled your mat, or when you placed your belongings and props . . . ?

Your yoga practice is much more than the 75 minutes or so spent with your teacher. Next time you go to yoga, remain mindful even before class begins: stay alive on arrival, and notice and savor your pre-class routines and rituals. Consider switching them up: if you typically bound to your mat, try taking it slowly. If you prefer to mat-sleep, perhaps try to do so some pranayama or simple stretches first. Or stick to your familiar routine. There are no bad choices!

Likewise, after class ends, know your practice continues, alive and well. As I often remind my students, continue to explore the qualities you cultivated in class after you leave the studio. The classroom door closes, but your yoga practice is never ending. Namaste.

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Sunshower Power!


Was it raindrops that I felt against my skin? This morning, walking to my car after teaching my seniors yoga class at Sinai Free Synagogue in Mt. Vernon, I felt a few wet drops tap my arm. With the sunshine burning bright overhead, my first thought (typical New Yorker) was that I had been christened by a bird. But, no, as more refreshingly cool drops dotted my skin, I knew it was a sun shower (or, more accurately in this case, a sun sprinkle).

A long-ago favorite refrain singsonged in my head: “Sunshower just the sign of the power, of loving you, oh baby!” (An old classic 70s disco tune from the innovative Bronx-born group Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band.) On the drive home, with crystal drops dotting my windshield, I sang the tune (“Ooh, my whole life through, I’ve been walking in the rain; until that day, I chanced on you. And the sun came pouring down too …”), filling in forgotten lyrics with hums. There’s something a bit magical, and musical, about the contrast of a sunny sky and light cool touches of raindrops.

Our yoga practice offers magical contrasts of its own: stretching long and firming taut; expanding and condensing; steady, strong effort and deep-down delicious relaxation. All companion opposites, joining together in a beautiful and powerful dance. 

When I pulled into my driveway, the rain still dotted my windshield and the sun still shone. Then, as magically as the sunshower began, it ceased. I hope that you find some magic today in your yoga practice and beyond, whether you are walking in the rain, in sunshine, or both. 

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Rainy Days and Glorious Grays



Rainy days can be dreary and make us feel weary, but I often find solace in the muted gray calm and the rhythmic sound of raindrops tap dancing on windows. A lazy rolling rumble of thunder in the distance only adds another tune to nature’s soundtrack of serenity.

For the earth and its habitants, regular rainfall offers a bounty of benefits. The water nurtures plants, trees, and crops; nourishes the soil; and combats drought. In addition, the rain gives us the gift of rainbows, and even cleans our cars for free!

Rainy day yoga . . . go with the flow

Rainy days offer a backdrop of soothing sound that lets us tune in to the tasks at hand. With our focus fixed, the workday slips by seamlessly. Creativity flows. Rainy days are perfect days to write in a journal, read a book, clean out a closet, sip some soup. Walking in the rain–with or without the one you love–can feel peaceful or exhilarating, depending on your mood. No wonder rain shower strolls have been immortalized in music and art. rain days

I love to hear the rhythmic voice of rainfall when I am on my yoga mat. As the water flows, so does the body, moving fluidly from posture to posture, as natural as the rain. I might begin with Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), some simple stretches, and a reclining twist on my mat, followed by Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) with heart-opening Crescent Lunges (Anjaneyasana). A series of strengthening standing postures such as Tree (Vrksasana), Warrior I and II (Virabhadrasana), Triangle (Trikonasana, shown at right), and Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) might follow, all the better if the rain is flowing fiercely.

After more mat work, my rainy day yoga routine would end with deep relaxation (Savasana) in a reclining restorative pose, soothed into stillness by the sweet murmur of raindrops whispering at my window.

Soothing shades of gray

On Tuesday evenings I teach a yoga class near my home in Yonkers, and the students and I joke that if it’s dreamstime_xs_45416275raining, it must be Tuesday, because rain showers and gray skies seem to favor our practice time. I recently reminded my students that there are many delightful shades of gray that are not the least bit dreary. The vast Benjamin Moore gray color palette includes some yummy-sounding ones: Full Moon, Mineral Ice, Deep Space. To these I would add my own “custom” favorites: Fluffy Bunny Gray and Wolf Pup Gray.

One of the friendliest visitors to our backyard, the Gray Catbird (shown at left), offers a soothing spectrum of gray shades, from powder to slate, in its feathers. And our cat IMG_1309Selene, the sweetest cat I have ever known, is fur-coated in her own personalized shade, Loving Kitty Gray. We named Selene after the Greek goddess of the moon (hence all those e’s) when we adopted her because our son Harrison (then eleven years old) said that the irregular pattern of her silky gray and white fur reminded him of the dimpled silvery surface of the moon. (Her full name is Selene Moonbeam.) Selene is shown at right in one of her favorite yoga poses, Donut-Shaped Kitty Savasana. She is an expert at it!

What say you: yeah or nay for rain? When it’s raining, do you prefer to play indoors or outside? Do you have a favorite rainy day yoga pose or pranayama? And what are your favorite shades of gray?


Photo credits: Rain Pouring Off Roof ©Peshkova|; Louise in Triangle ©YogaBright; Gray Catbird ©Brian Kushner|; Selene in Savasana ©YogaBright.

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Ironing: a Pathway to Mindfulness?

Stay present as you press


Sophie cropped

You want ironin’? Ask Norma Rae. I’m terrible at it, even though I learned from an ironing guru, my grandmother Sophie Pottok. With hands made strong by years in the millinery trade, she would power-iron my father’s shirts, slamming the iron down like a boss while keeping the fabric stretched taught with her free hand. “You have to press hard,” she told me as I watched her work.  

Sophie turned a chore into an art form as she glided, wiggled, and punched iron to fabric. The iron was her paint brush, the board her canvas. I loved to watch as she expertly turned a shirt this way and that with a flourish to better nudge the iron tip into hard-to-reach places. “Don’t forget to use the whole board,” she would remind me as she eased a shirt sleeve over the tapered edge to press the shoulder clean and crisp.

Besides doing most of our family’s ironing, Sophie kept busy at her basement worktable while my sister and I grew up, mending and hemming; sewing curtains and Halloween costumes; embroidering dresser scarves, pillows, and guest towels; and crafting Christmas duck pillow closeupdecorations out of felt that she embellished with sequins and fancy stitches. 

Sometimes Sophie would reminisce about her job at Loeser’s, a luxury Brooklyn department store founded in the late 19th century. At Loeser’s, Sophie copied designer hats that were brought back from Paris by the store’s buyer. She spoke lovingly of those hats, their fine details and their beauty, and I could tell that Sophie would have loved to go to Paris, too.

I never had my grandmother’s skill, didn’t cultivate the patience to iron a perfect button placket. And I never, ever pressed hard enough.

Sophie’s creations are in my home and on my tree at Christmastime, but others recently resurfaced, polishing faded memories to chrome. I was packing my parents’ belongings for their move to assisted living, and during the purge, forgotten treasures emerged, closet-buried, wrinkled, and stained. There was an old favorite of mine, a white linen dresser scarf embroidered at each end with a dainty lady holding a parasol. And pieces that I didn’t recognize, including a plain pink dresser scarf that Sophie appliquéd with a smaller, fancier one, probably to make it look prettier.

Ironing: a pathway to mindfulness

Once my parents were settled, I washed batches of dresser scarves, doilies, and curtains. But the iron loomed. I hadn’t ironed in a couple of years, and dreaded it. I procrastinated (won’t the hot iron damage the old fabrics?) and almost talked myself out of the task (I’ll do a lousy job anyway). Reluctantly, I dragged the ironing board from the bedroom closet and filled the iron with water.

I didn’t get off to a good start. I fumbled to get the board up and set to the right height, and nearly sprayed starch into my eye. But after I struggled through the warmup, the practice became smooth—and surprisingly familiar—as if I’d just stepped onto my yoga mat. 

This wasn’t ironing as I remembered it. My hands were stronger, more capable. From determination? From years of yoga practice? From years of opening jars of tomato sauce? Maybe all of the above, I don’t know. But I never ironed like this in my life. I was mindful, content, rooted in the moment, enjoying it even. 

And, for the first time, I pressed hard enough. I crashed iron to board—smash!—as if banging a gong. In concert, the steaming iron made its own music, hissing the heated breath of ujjayi. 

Did Sophie’s spirit guide me that day? Was it the childhood memories that drove me? Or have I just grown up, and now better understand that no matter how sweet the memories, the best place to be is in the present, where we can find both peace and strength.

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Breathe, Then Breathe Again

Never underestimate the healing power of your breath

pranayama illustration

In a late July issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Elizabeth Levin shared a transformative journey, both personal and professional, that speaks directly to the heart of the yogi.

In her fourth year of medical school, in a subinternship at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Dr. Levin worked with a 36-year-old woman, a mom, with metastatic breast cancer. On the final day of her rotation, Dr. Levin visited the patient for the last time. During their conversation, the patient talked about her plans for her young son’s care after her death. As the women spoke, Dr. Levin began to cry. “I could not stop myself,” she wrote in her JAMA article, “Learning to Breath.”

Dr. Levin continued, “As I continued to cry, she cried as well. I knew she was upset with herself, and me, because she felt crying was a sign of weakness. Despite my best efforts, I cried and, in the process, upset my patient even more.”

As part of her medical training, Dr. Levin was taking a course in mindfulness-based stress heart in handsreduction (MBSR). On the same day as that painful goodbye, the MBSR class focused on coping with stress encountered during clinical practice. During a meditation segment, the instructor asked the medical students to talk about a difficult time they’d had with a patient. While her classmates shared their experiences, Dr. Levin struggled to relax and breathe. She was losing her focus, her presence in the moment, and she dreaded sharing her experience with her colleagues.

She writes, “ . . . the time came for my turn and I began my story of the day. Crying, I felt the pit in my stomach. I became aware of my breath, the short inspirations and the tightness in my throat. But I felt relief as I told my story to the group.”

Over the following weeks, the doctors-in-training observed and documented how challenging patient interactions affected their own bodies and breath. Dr. Levin noticed that she often held her breath when confronted with sadness or suffering. With practice, she learned to stay present and not be swept away by the rising tide of emotion during stressful encounters. 

A year later, working as a resident in internal medicine, Dr. Levin used the tools of mindfulness, particularly deep breathing, to help support another critically ill patient and her family. She remained compassionate, but in control. She wrote that this pivotal experience, and others that followed, would not have been possible had she not learned how to breathe.

I came across Dr. Levin’s piece while looking for articles about yoga research, and was touched by her experiences and her honesty. Her article reminds us that yoga is not only practiced on the mat, or in a pose. This young doctor is practicing yoga when she uses her breath to steady herself in difficult situations; she’s using yoga when she shows her patients compassion.

Never underestimate the healing power of your breath. As I regularly tell students, observe your breath. Observe it when you rest and as you move. Let your breath calm you, cool you, warm you, serve you. Breathe, then breathe again, before you scream harsh words at a loved one, when someone cuts you off on the road, when you’re pissed at your boss, when you feel like you’re losing your mind. And cherish your breath, because it keeps you strong and alive.

To learn simple yogic breathing techniques, click on the Pranayama tab.  

Lotus Mind illustration: © Antaratma Images |; Your heart in my hands photo: © Mitar Gavric | 

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

Fly, Robin, Fly!


Over the past month, our human family has watched a family of robins grow, beginning mid-May with a mated pair building a nest on a support beam beneath our deck. From
stolen peaks at the birds’ precious blue eggs (Mike peered down between the floor DSC02732boards to see them) to the first appearance of a pointy, gaping beak eager for food, we observed the birds whenever we could. It was a privilege, really, to see their story unfold.

As their four nestlings grew, mom and dad robin tolerated my presence near their nest (I babysat while they hunted for worms), occasionally accepting offers of chopped blueberries. One week we could barely see the nestlings’ heads pop up for feedings (it took us a while to count all four); the next week the baby birds had grown so much that they were jostling for nest space. Two were noticeably larger than their siblings. I half-dreaded the soon-to-come empty nest. 


By early Sunday morning, one of the larger fledglings had gone. The two smaller ones were still in the nest, and the fourth fledgling was perched on the cap rail of our deck, reluctant to move. Mom chirped at him from a branch overhead. I imagined her encouraging him, coaxing him, telling him the world awaited. A few times I saw her land next to him. He would open his beak, eager to receive food, but she didn’t make a deposit. She would linger beside him for a few companionable moments, then duck under the deck to feed the littler ones.


Later, I went outside to offer deck robin some verbal encouragement. He ignored me.  As the youngster surveyed the world around him, I considered my own reluctance to leave the safety nests of my life. Home, jobs, daily routines, repetitive behaviors: these are the nests that human lives are made of. I don’t make changes easily, often retreating into familiar, and not always beneficial, comfort zones. Silly human, who am I to coax a robin to fly off my deck, when I am still afraid to drive on highways and perform handstands?

Late in the afternoon, deck robin flew, gracelessly and noisily, up to a tree branch. Within ten minutes, the two remaining babies left the nest as well, one after the other, struggling to stay aloft and awkwardly landing in our yard. Both hopped off into hedges, peeping frantically all the way.

How do we fly? By growing up, making hard decisions, taking chances, falling in love? Running in marathons, riding roller coasters, going upside down?

If a baby bird can fly, so can I. Sometimes gracelessly, peeping frantically all the way.

Monday, June 15th, 2015

There’s One More Yogi in Heaven

Saying goodbye to a special lady

Yesterday, we said goodbye to Mollie Vogel: yogi, friend, wife, mother, teacher, role model. Nicknamed “the mayor of Mount Vernon,” by the many people whose lives she gently touched, Mollie passed away on Tuesday, a little more than one month after the celebration of her 95th birthday.Yogini Mollie Vogel

I was lucky to know her, luckier still to be one of her  yoga instructors. I was the last teacher she worked with during her 50+ years of dedicated yoga practice. I’m sure I learned more from her than she did from me.

Mollie’s memorial service was held at Riverside Memorial Chapel in Mount Vernon. The rabbi who lead the service described Mollie as “a woman of excellence,” or “eshet chayil” in Hebrew. Loving, smart, and stubborn, she raised four children with her husband, Seymour Vogel. In her 40s, after the couple’s children were grown, Mollie obtained a driver’s license so that she could return to school to earn a college degree.

Mollie worked as a nursery school teacher for many years. Following her retirement in her late 70s, Mollie remained active in every sense of the word: politically, intellectually, spiritually, physically.

While I can tell you tidbits about Mollie–that she volunteered in a local soup kitchen; that, as a yoga ambassador, she accompanied me to a senior home to encourage the residents to practice yoga; that she had an amazing om (click here to read an article about Mollie)–I am not adept enough with words to express all that she meant to me. I see Mollie as a spiritual warrior, a woman who walked a path of peace with strength and dignity.

I hope I can walk a similar path to Mollie’s, and that I can keep up with her. Because I think that somewhere, perhaps on a yoga mat in heaven, she’s doing one awesome downward-facing dog.

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Sleep Fat, Walk Thin

Cats do it, so can we


Cats are born yogis. Acrobatic and agile, they can gracefully and gleefully eclipse the dazzling moves of a seasoned vinyasa practitioner. Restorative yoga? Cats invented it. Savasana?  Cats live it.

To me, what is more impressive than the cat’s innate physical yogic talent is her curly-clawed grasp of the importance of deep relaxation, a key benefit of yoga practice.  Kitty is the master of pure, peaceful, bony-heavy rest. Unlike many of her two-legged friends, the cat does not need planning, preparation, or convincing to settle down and relax. The four-legged yogi shifts from bristling activity to total stillness in mere minutes, maybe with a bit of kneading foreplay to set the mood. Instant Maui.

Cats “jump in a streak” and “walk thin,” wrote American poet Rosalie Moore in her poem Catalogue, but 

Cats sleep fat.

They spread out comfort underneath them 

Like a good mat . . . 

I frequently share an excerpt from Moore’s poem at the beginning of class as a reminder that our bodies and minds benefit from the balance of movement and stillness. We regularly hear about the importance of physical fitness, but the benefits of mental stillness are not as widely touted. Studies have suggested that yoga, particularly the practice’s breathing, meditative, and restorative aspects, can help support our emotional well-being in many ways: 

Unlike humans, cats are naturally skilled at remaining present, or “in the moment,” an important tool for mental health. Recently, I was talking on the phone with my sweet cat Selene dozing nearby. As I chatted, I gently stroked Selene’s silky tail between my fingers. In conversation, I began recounting the details of a minor car accident I’d had the previous day. (Memo to self: shift to lower gear when driving down Leewood Drive in a snowstorm.) The fear I felt during the event fresh in my mind, I unknowingly tensed my body. A loud hiss from Selene, followed by a sharp-toothed nip, brought me back to the moment.

Inadvertently, I realized, my soft touch on Selene’s tail had hardened to a pinch while I was in the grip of anxiety. I looked sheepishly at Selene, expecting an accusatory scowl, but was met with the face of serenity.  Selene did not haughtily rescind her tail or move away. She had shifted from “fight or flight” to “lie down and light” with flip-a-switch ease, while I, although safe in my armchair, was physically and emotionally reliving my slippery slide down a busy snowy street.

Being only human after all, my instincts and abilities are very different from Selene’s. But through a yoga practice that soothes body, breath, and mind, I continually work to overcome my innate two-legged foolishness. On my yoga mat, I can sleep fat, spread out the comfort, and bask in it. 

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

If Cinderella Practiced Yoga

In her own little corner, on her own little mat . . .

What is your favorite Cinderella story? I really enjoyed Russell Crowe’s Cinderella Man from 2005, but when I was kid, I was crazy about the 1965 television version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which introduced a swan-necked Lesley Ann Warren as the title wench.

I was reminded of my childhood favorite last weekend, when my husband attended the Chiller Theatre Expo in Parsippany, New Jersey. The biannual Chiller event is ComicCon-like geekfest that celebrates B horror films, sci-fi legends, classic 70s television, punk rock, and porn stars with equal zeal. For Mike and his college buddies, it’s a chance to hang out, reminisce, and get pictures and autographs from an eclectic group of celebrities. 

Lesley Ann Warren at Chiller Expo with her charming prince.


Also a child of the sixties (and a romantic), Mike was psyched that Lesley Ann Warren (sans glass slippers) was in the Chiller house this year. He had his picture taken with her, posted the shot on his Facebook page, and told me several times how dainty and lovely Ms. Warren was in person. When I joked that the actress “looks a lot like me, only way prettier,” Mike didn’t even notice my bid for false flattery: he was completely enchanted by Cinderella, even when dressed in her modern-day civvies.

From the moment our home was infused with Cinderella’s magic, I began thinking about the vintage Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, particularly its brilliant score. I remembered the start of my favorite tune, “In My Own Little Chair,” by heart: 


In my own little corner, in my own little chair, 

I can be whatever I want to be. 

On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere,

and the world will open its arms to me.

Cinderella sings this number while resigned to her dingy place by the hearth. To escape the reality of her sad existence, she imagines herself a grand lady, beautifully dressed.  For days I kept mind-singing the lyrics I remembered, finding comfort in sharing Cinderella’s peaceful little chair, and because all things relate to yoga, I contemplated her idea of “being”.  

Cinderella uses her quiet place as a launch pad from the present into fantasy. (I remembered her imagining grand adventures, like fighting dragons, but when I checked the lyrics prior to writing this blog, I was disappointed to see that her daydreams were all stereotypically girly, but that’s another story.) Cinderella wants more than she has, and who can blame her? Having to deal with a meanie stepmother and jerk stepsisters, even without the tedious chores, can ruin anyone’s day. 

In our yoga practice, we sing a different song. With our days brimming with the adventure of living even an ordinary life, we long to eschew the more, and welcome the less. In our own little corner, on our own little mat, we can be . . . forget about the rest of lyric. Simply be. Let go of the desire to do anything, go anywhere, or wish for something different. Particularly during Savasana, our final pose of rest, we can be content with nothing but the reality of our unique self.

All week long, I reminded my yoga students of this key learning of yoga. That we are complete just as we are. We don’t need fairy godmothers or bejeweled ball gowns to experience beauty. In our own little corner, on our own little mat, we can find a few moments of paradise. And what can be more magical than that?

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Vacation Fever

If you feel the burn, it could be catching

I heard the coyotes our first night in Montauk. It was more of a thin, reedy whine than a full-on howl, but I have no idea what a coyote call sounds like, so it seemed a good guess. I thought the sound was coming from the trees behind the yard of our rented house in Hither Hills. I shifted position: perhaps my ear, which was hurting, was causing the sound? Nope, I heard the cry again, except perhaps from a different direction. Was there more than one critter calling? 

Mike was softly sleep-breathing beside me. I was tempted to poke him awake so he could hear the coyotes too. Assuming there really was a sound at all: Albus and Selene, deadweight donuts against my feet, were deep asleep, not an ear was twitching. I’d had fever a few days before we left home: was I now delirious?

The coyotes only existed in my middle-of-the-night imagination, Mike gently insisted come morning. Reluctantly, I figured it probably was fever-induced. I’d brought a painful, slightly swollen neck with me to Montauk (diagnosed as thyroiditis, via ultrasound, the day before we left home), and felt depleted. Favorite vacation pastimes–long walks around the quiet neighborhood, practicing yoga at Yoga Lila studio, and cruising the town’s shops–eluded me. I slept late, tired after minimal activity, and took hours-long naps. 

Four nights after our arrival, my fever spiked, bringing chills, severe throat pain, and more coyotes. The next morning we headed to an exciting vacation hot spot, a new one for us: East Hampton Urgent Care. I was given a powerful steroid shot, a prescription for broad-spectrum antibiotics, and advised to buy a big hat to protect my skin from antibiotic-induced sun sensitivity. 

Later that morning, at White’s in Montauk (one of my favorite places to shop for on-sale summer clothes), the friendly pharmacist provided a vivid rundown as he processed my script: “Don’t drink milk or have any milk product two hours before and two hours after taking this medicine. That includes ice cream, the milk in your coffee. Take the medicine with food. Not milk food; food food.”

Glancing at my pale arms, he continued: “Stay out of the sun. Cover yourself–get a shawl–or you will burn. Not a regular sunburn. You’ll feel yourself burning, and you will get blisters.” 

Selene enjoys kitty chair yoga

Clearly, I was turning into a vampire. (Which explained the neck pain and the nighttime howling.) The beach was out, at least during daylight. Sunset beach picnics were fine, though (Mike and Harrison wore garlic around their necks, just in case), as were short late-day walks in the shade (with pals Lestat, Vlad, and the sparkly guy from Twilight). Resting indoors with the comforting sound of the nearby ocean (the ultimate Savasana soundtrack), I enjoyed piecing together the 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle I’d brought with me (a favorite evening vacation pastime that, this time, occupied daytime hours as well).

Sickness can lead to frustration and self-pity, but can also help us remain present in the moment, savoring everyday joys: the chirps of birds and crickets, a breath of fresh air, the velvet-soft paws of a loving cat.

The meds did their job: the fever was banished, and I regained strength. I wasn’t ready for the high-energy class I usually enjoy at Yoga Lila, and so practiced on my own. Below is an outline of my got-no-pep practice, which you might find helpful when you feel depleted but crave some gentle healing movement.

Now at the end of our vacation, I’m done with the antibiotics. I’ve put aside my big hat and am eating cheese with reckless abandon. I kind of miss the mysterious midnight howling, but I spied a deer walking toward me on an evening neighborhood stroll yesterday, and she’s probably pleased that the coyotes have left town.

Got-No-Pep Yoga Practice 

This following routine runs about 30 minutes. Customize to suit your needs, skipping the doggie poses, for example, if you are super pooped, or adding in Plank if you’re up to it. (I added a lot of neck stretches to help soothe aching muscles.) Remember to pause, breathe, and remain present as you shift orientations.

  • Lay on the mat, focus on breath, relax areas of pain/tension (allow 5 min)
  • Apanasana; leg & ankle stretches; full body stretches
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Simple bent-knee twist

Rest on your side, then:

  • Come to all-fours for Table; Cat/Cow
  • Downward Facing Dog; rest in Child’s pose
  • Downward Facing Dog; step to Uttanasana; rise to Tadasana (pause) 
  • Fold to Uttanasana; slide up to flat back (repeat 1-2x)
  • Flow: Downward Facing Dog; Warrior 2 both sides; Downward Facing Dog; Uttanasana; lower to Table and to your belly
  • Cobra (1-3x)
  • Child’s pose with wide knees
  • Seated Twist 
  • Savasana (5 to 10 min)
Friday, August 29th, 2014
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