Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Yoga Lounge

For the past eight years I have been honored to provide volunteer yoga services to the participants of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Pacific Coast Chapter 50 Mile Challenge Walk. Prior to being their yoga provider I actually walked the challenge from 2004 through 2011. (Full disclosure, in 2009 I did all the fundraising but my OB didn't think it advisable that I walk at 8 months pregnant. Turns out I left the event early to give birth to my son).

The Yoga Lounge, 2019
As the yoga provider I help kick-start the event Friday morning with (humorous) stretching/warm-up during Opening Ceremonies, and Saturday and Sunday mornings I greet the walkers in the breakfast room with foam rollers and tennis balls for self massage and suggestions on chair yoga poses to stretch the quadriceps, hamstrings, back muscles, hips, or whatever else needs a morning wake-up.

Friday and Saturday afternoons I host the BYOM Yoga Lounge, a quiet, prop-equipped room that includes:
  • Yoga mats and blankets
  • Multiple sized bolsters
  • Blocks and straps
  • Stretch bands
  • Chilled golf balls and smaller rubber balls for foot massages
  • Tennis balls and lacrosse balls for larger muscle massage
  • Small foam rollers
  • Aromatherapy mist
  • Quiet music and ambient lighting 
  • Chairs for those not able to get onto the floor
I like to think of the service as yoga "triage." Walkers (and staff and volunteers who have spent up to 12 hours on their feet supporting walkers) come in, let me know what body part/s need soothing, and I try to set them up with yoga poses, restorative or otherwise, that will help to stretch, ease, strengthen, and soothe their body stresses. They can also do their own thing, using the props as needed in a quiet space. I supply aromatherapy mists, body lotions, as well as handmade magnesium chloride muscle rub for soothing aching body parts (watch this website for Mg Muscle Rub on sale soon!).
Mg Muscle Rub
For some, just taking off shoes and socks and rubbing the soles of the feet on iced golf balls (spiked with a little essential oil) can be delightful. For others the act of lying horizontal, on a blanket, or a supported bolster with feet down, knees up, can be the low back release that does the trick after pounding the pavement for 20 miles.

Walking 20 miles (or even just being upright all day) can create postural challenges (hunching over). Simply lying supine, with arms overhead and resting on blocks can open the shoulders without causing wear and tear on the shoulder joints (see Constructive Savasana below).

Hips, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps also take a beating on long walks, so I have a variety of supported floor based yoga poses I introduce, encouraging everyone to hold for at least three minutes, utilizing long slow breaths to maximize the calming effort for muscle and nervous system relaxation.

Some of my time-tested favorites:

Deer Pose/Lazy Pigeon: Prone, legs bent, bottom leg knee closer to body. Torso can be supported on a bolster. perform on both sides. Similar to Pigeon but far less intense on the lower knee and less stretch on the back leg quad/psoas.

Prone Dancing Shiva/Prone Pavritta Hasta Padagusthasana: Prone extended leg and arm twist. hand and big toe do not have to touch. lower leg extends, body working to "fold" on top of lower leg, pushing through lower heel. bottom hip can be supported (as shown) on block or bolster. restorative version has torso on bolster (not hip). perform on both sides.

Supta Pavritta Hasta Padaghustasana (with props): Supine Twisting Hand to Big Toe Pose has a strap between the hand and top leg that cross over the body, pushing through the heel. upper leg can rest on a bolster/block. Restorative version does not use a strap, or has strap around top thigh and looped around upper arm (see pic). perform on both sides.

Broken Wing/Figure 4: Prone, one leg hiked up to the side at 90 degree like hugging a pillow, ankle below knee. Head turned to one side. release for glutes and outer hip and low bag. Torso can be supported on a bolster. perform on both sides.

Constructive Savasana: Supine, on floor or supported by bolster esp. with low back support. if on bolsters, use additional blocks/blankets under length of arms to prevent hyper-extension of shoulders.

Legs up the Wall/Vipariti Karani: Supine, sit bones at or near wall. bolster under length of body including pelvis and head, or on floor. legs can be gently bound at upper this with strap to support adductors. arms overhead for shoulder stretch or by side, palms open. eye pillow optional. gentle weight/blanket over body or on hips for grounding/low back release optional. gentle weight/blanket on/over feet optional.

Supported Prone Savasana: Prone, bolster/rolled blankets under belly, legs extended at end of bolster or separated to allow knees to descend off sides (similar to frog). arms crossed under head on bolster or floor. rolled blanket under shins for low back support. flesh can be distributed over edge of bottom bolster/between two bolsters for comfort rather than struggle with compression.

Savasana (Restorative): Supine, with bolsters under torso/hips, head, and additional rolled blanket or bolster beneath knees to release low back. arms supports. option to cover eyes, gentle weights/blanket on bellow/hips.

Deer Pose/Lazy Pigeon Prone Dancing Shiva Variation

Revolved Hand to Big Toe Variation Revolved Hand to Big Toe Variation

Legs up the Wall Broken Wing

Prone Savasana Variation 1 Prone Savasana Variation 2

Constructive Savasana

Restorative Savasana Variation Traditional Savasana
If you are looking for a Yoga Lounge provider for your charity event keep BYOMyoga in mind! The NMSS is near and dear to my heart and you'll see me here every year I'm able to provide service. Check the About Me page to see other events at which I volunteer this type of service, or teach Adaptive/Chair yoga classes. Namaste!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Quick Schedule Update for November 8-11

This weekend I'll be hosting the Yoga Lounge at the MS Challenge Walk where brave souls will traverse the byways of San Diego County for 50 miles to raise money and awareness for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Honk if you see the walkers (better yet, volunteer or make a donation here)!

The lovely and talented Marisela will teach Friday's Chair Yoga at the Lemon Grove library, and the equally lovely and equally talented Judith will teach Saturday at La Mesa Library. Sunday's 9:30 active Yoga at the Copley YMCA has the privilege of Marguerite leading the mat work. I hope everyone enjoys the variety and skill these awesome teachers bring to our classes and I look forward to rejoining the groups next week.

Monday is the US day for honoring Veteran's, so all public libraries will be closed. Therefore, the El Cajon Library class will not be meeting. The Water Conservation Garden Yoga class has been cancelled for the same reason (a little scheduling error).

However, the Monday morning Copley YMCA Chair Yoga class will meet at 11:00AM as usual, and all county YMCAs are open to the general public admission free! Please consider taking advantage of this great opportunity at your local branch to try out the best of what your community YMCA has to offer.

Reminder that the Tuesday Adaptive Yoga classes at Casa de Oro only meet at 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM now (starting in January we will add Friday at 10:00 AM too).

Have a healthy, happy weekend. Remember to breathe and be safe.


Friday, November 1, 2019

New Adaptive Yoga Class starting January 3, 2020

Every Tuesday the Casa de Oro library hosts three Adaptive Yoga classes for Adults with Special Needs at 10am, 11am and noon. The class is open to everyone in the county, whether a client of Regional Center or not. We have regular attendees from St. Madeleine Sophie's Center (who co-sponsors the class), and often have consumers from privte and public programs like Living Independently is for Everyone (LIFE), Stein Education Center, Monte Vista High School, Elite Academy, Unyeway, the ARC, TRACE, and Cool Options to name a few.

I am thrilled to announce that we are starting another class, on Fridays at 10am, to accomodate the enthusiastic attendance, starting January 3. 

The Tuesday 12-12:45 class will no longer meet as of 11/5/2019; we are confident our new Friday class will provide a better opportunity for more people to attend.

As always the class is free, but seats fill up fast so please arrive on time. We have to cap attendance at 25 to ensure the safety and security of everyone; this includes coaches and aides.

The program will be added to the library's calendar by the end of the year. For questions reach out to me at the website email or phone.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Childhood Anxiety - personal share and advice from friends, therapists, and therapist friends

The Story:

My son had an anxiety meltdown this morning because we had an orthodontist appointment and he was an hour late to school. He didn’t like the idea of coming into class late. We tried soft talking but he absolutely refused to do deep breathing with me; I tried quiet reasoning & I tried to tell him to imagine how happy his friends would be to see him and I told him I’d walk him into Class. He curled himself into a ball in the school office and wouldn’t relax and regressed into a little boy reaching for the door and whimpering to be taken home.

He wasn’t in any pain he did say that he was a little bit tired I had given him children’s Advil because his teeth hurt a little bit. He hates to be late anywhere & we do our best to make sure that he’s on time but whenever he’s even two minutes late he throws his hands in the air and says it’s not even worth going, so this morning’s hour behind schedule really threw him for a loop.

I tried rubbing his back and softly reminding him that going home wasn’t an option, so he needed to take some deep slow breath‘s until the part of his brain that was worried could let the calm 10 year old part of his brain take over. But I could see in his face that he absolutely wanted to stick with being upset.

As much as I understand that he wanted to be rescued from the situation I also knew that he needed to find a way out of it on his own. the woman in the office eventually came to get him and took him to the nurses station where he could gather his thoughts; he clung to my arms as she walked him away and he started to cry so with my heart breaking I told him I was proud of him and I knew he could be do it and he’d be OK and I’d see him at pick up time.

This happens once in a while when he’s tired and somehow gets it in his mind that he’s going to have a meltdown and I’m going to give in and let him stay home from school. I told him at the beginning of the year that we were going to work really hard to not have days like that because we did it quite a few times last year and he was a little bit older now and we were going to work on him getting through that anxiety. he uses language about it that shows he understands what’s going on and I’m not sure if he’s exploiting it or simply putting words to help explain it to me.

I’m looking for some suggestions to help me find a way to help him work through it so I don’t have to take him off campus? he can always take some time for himself there. I believe in mental health days but I think it’s important that he finds ways to work through this kind of anxiety then just always collapse into a heap and expect mom to rescue him. in the past as soon as I’ve said OK we stay home from school he’s back to normal and wants to play on the computer, Run and jump and socialize so I know it’s just that walking to class and getting through the door that creates the stress.

Short story long maybe I need an appointment with the child psychologist for some skilled advice? 

The (amazing) responses:

1) I’m sorry that happened for both of you. Your instincts and intuition sound right on the mark to me. Some training specifically for emotion regulation for him, when his brain is getting hijacked would be helpful, in addition to the breathing that you wisely suggested. I’m not sure whether Lorraine Hobbs is in San Diego right now, but if she is, I’d recommend giving her a call. She was one of the therapists that adapted the Mindful Self Compassion course curriculum for the teenage brain. She also has expertise with younger kids. From my general common experience, I imagine trying different objects, like a favorite stone, or something to hold, to ground him in his body. Then the soles of his feet, then his breathing. Poor sweetheart, anxiety is a bitch. But the resilience he is building by figuring out he can let it move through him and function where he is supposed to be is invaluable. You don’t want the pattern of anxiety to getting out of the situation by going home to get repeated and repeated, laying down that neural path. All your yoga training is a gift for both of you. I hope you give yourself a lot of love today. It’s so tough being a mom.

2) I have never been a 10 year old boy, but I have had similar anxiety, about being late. For me it was not exactly about the idea of being late, but rather being so conspicuously the center of attention on arrival. It was socially based. There were many times I managed to stay home, play sick and fool my parents starting at an early age. It is in our nature to avoid unpleasant sensations.That being said, I always think it’s a good idea to seek a professional point of view where kids are concerned, as long at it doesn’t just end in a prescription. This also being said by a kidless person.

3)  I can relate to this hard enough to hurt. I had two years of one of my children not being able to get out of the car for school without crying. It was insanely stressful for both of us. I often arrived at work crying. We ended up with two things that helped. (And I realize this isn't the same exactly as the anxiety for being late...ours was a general daily thing). We came up with a routine in the car to look at images on my phone together of the child's choice .... Mt. Everest and lowriders. Lol. Then, I had enlisted the help of the school psychologist and my child was allowed to go to her office first. Sit. Chat. Relax. Focus. Without me. It worked eventually. XO

4) As a school nurse I saw several students over the years with this type of social anxiety. I created a chillax space in my office where kids can come and just “be” until they could relax enough to try some calming down methods. When a person is in the middle of an anxiety attack, it is sometimes impossible to attempt deep breaths etc. I know, because I have an anxiety disorder (which is now controlled through medication, and, no I am not suggesting medicating your son). I didn’t start meds until I was 60.

6)  I suggest a orienting approach, might be able to practice it as a game. It's a little like the post above mine, but in contrast I would say do not coach the breathing. For me and others, trying to focus on breath increases anxiety

7) That's a bummer. In my experience, I would say the best strategy is to have a little check in with the teachers (and if he has one, a school counselor). This would give him the sense of security knowing that there is a team, working together to support emotional regulation issues.

8) Very common problem with many people and children! CBT is proven to be very effective, but not a quick fix by any means. and

9) Social stories with the support of a social worker or psychologist could help with coping strategies. Hugs

10) Does he see the school psychologist? This can be a big help. Not only can work with him on strategies, recognizing and coping with feelings, but it helps the child to know they have someone safe and supportive at the school when these things come up.

11)  There are a lot of great suggestions in these posts. First, kudos to you for holding your ground but in a supportive way. I’m sure it was hard. I like “How to Prevent Anxiety Attacks” post. Another program or concept is the “Zones of Regulation” by Leah Kuypers. Also, nothing wrong with getting advice from the school psych, social worker or counselor.

12) You did everything right IMO. I think it’s good to reinforce it’s okay to do things even when we are upset or anxious. That it might turn out okay if we don’t retreat, hide, or avoid. That life is about feeling those feelings and still moving forward. The day might get better, stay the same, or sometime get worse. But it’s just a day, just a moment, just a very strong wave of emotion. It’s possible to move forward and completely feel like you dont want to or can’t. This is what I wish I had been taught. That my emotions were a) okay and valid b) that I could still do the hard thing.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Apple Branch Tree Earth Universe L'shana Tova Namaste

I saw the comedic stylings of JP Sears, aka "The Ultraspiritual Guy" aka the "Woke AF" guy, last night. His comedy is one part new age humor, one part mock-new-age humor, one part world-observation, one part self-observation, and a heaping helping of sarcasm (sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet).

This was the third time I've been in the audience for one of his live performances. The jokes and stories ranged from making fun of traditional male and female roles in marriage (men shouldn't put the seat down because doing asserts the misogynistic precept that women are too weak and shy to do it for themselves) to skewering the "success" of homosexual conversation therapy camps (because nothing changes people's innate sexual orientations like putting the fear of electroshock treatment in front of them).

The audience, I'm sure a very socially open-minded group, was game for whatever he was willing to share, though at times audience responses were groans as I feel as if he very much had us questioning our own hidden biases. One of his humor hallmarks is to go on eloquent effusive rants that we first think are rallies against our "enemies" but turn out to be thought provoking diatribes that make us turn inward and question the very nature of our own deepest beliefs. Pause. Laughter. Next subject. It's marvelously disarming if you're game.

He closed the show with an analogy about how we as individual tend to view ourselves as unique, and separate from everything else, using apples on a tree as stand in for us. He waxed poetic about if we open up our minds, we would realize that those apples, as juicy and unique as we are, are connected to something bigger than ourselves - A BRANCH - that provides us with nutrients, life, and support.

For a while, we sit in wonder at the concept of that connectedness and knowledge of the branch, and maybe even the fact that there are OTHER APPLES. We still have our own apple-ness, but there is a network, that branch, and we are actually part of a bigger organism.

Then after a while of chewing on that concept, we realize, that we aren't just an apple on a branch with other apples. That branch is actually connected to an something even bigger: A TREE. A big living vibrant tree with hundreds of branches maybe even hundreds of other apples. Our minds spin at the implications we never before considered: we are connected to a tree that provides lasting support, complex communication, a huge network for growth and prosperity and future beyond our little branch. 

That keeps our minds busy for another long while, but then we realize that tree is also connected to  something even bigger: THE EARTH. The tree roots hold fast into the earth, and one that earth there might be hundreds upon hundreds of trees, or other organisms, all interconnected, all with branches, or smaller parts, all with apples, or fruit, or unique individuals that are both dependent upon and networked together within it.

From the realization of the earth we eventually expand our consciousnesses to the realize the solar system, and the galaxy, maybe even the universe and the dimension beyond time and space.

JP said that's what it's like to take ayuhuasca (laugh track). But, the geometric, exponential, fractal, and Einstein-esque nature of the story doesn't have to lead to a punch line. 

We are all unique individuals. We spend a lot of time just being apples, turning inward and never realizing just how interconnected we are to each other much less someone on the other side of the earth. Too often we focus on what makes the others different from us, or what makes us less or more than something else, or what is wrong with the world.

Our yoga practice can help us find of our own inner "apple," and give it all the nurturing it needs to be beautiful, healthy, strong, flexible, and feeling unique. Then we can recognize, appreciate, and in turn nuture and other apples, branches, trees, etc.

In the spirit of the Jewish New Year I think the apple analogy, is quite appropriate. May you all have a sweet year, may the shiny apple in each of us always acknowledge the other. Namaste.