It has been ages since my last post and I’m happy to be back. The teen years were a challenge for my daughter and it is turning out to be true for my son as well. Yoga and teaching goals had to be put on hold for a bit and focus shifted full time to family. All is going well now and we have been learning a growing together as a family. Also, we’ve moved back to the US!
Calm is not a word I would normally associate with the teenage years and believe me, it doesn’t always win out. However, thanks to the journey we’ve been on with our kids, calm has a more prominent presence. One of my son’s mentors pointed us in the direction of Eckhart Tolle’s, The Power of Now. If ever there was a book that speaks to me, this is the one! A big take away for me has been how I view my thoughts and the effect they can have. Thinking is obviously a vital part of life, but when I started to really focus on what I was thinking, a lot of it was repetitive and not helpful. Tolle points out that compulsive thinking is actually a form of addiction that keeps us living in the past and future instead of in the present. Tolle talks a lot about the ego and how it takes away our ability to live in the moment. In order for the ego to survive it has to live in the past (look how great I was when…) or in the future (if only I was taller… had more money… then I will be happy), but seldom in the present. My favorite thing to do now when I find myself laying in bed at night worrying or obsessing about something is to try to observe my thoughts as if they are not a part of me. To realize they are not facts and will pass. It doesn’t always work, but the more I practice the better I get at quieting the mind and living in the moment.
Sorry for the ramble. Don’t know if it made a ton of sense, but it is a good book and has improved my sleep and lowered my anxiety levels. Moving is never easy and thanks to the techniques I’ve been able to implement from The Power of Now, it was relatively stress free. I would also highly recommend his second book, A New Earth.
I’m in the Harrison/Rye area of Westchester and I am looking forward to getting my yoga practice and nutrition goals back on track.
“Why does the mind habitually deny or resist the Now? Because it cannot function and remain in control without time, which is past and future, so it perceives the timeless Now as threatening. Time and mind are in fact inseparable.” Eckhart Tolle
It’s official! I now have a certificate from Cornell University in Plant Based Nutrition. I have been following the diet (officially called, whole food plant based diet – WFPBD) for the past few months and feel great. I have a lot more energy and feel lighter. Also, at the risk of too much information, my digestive system is working like clockwork.
My next goal is to start a WFPBD and yoga/exercise program for women going through menopause. It can be a tricky time of life and my program aims to make it as painless as possible. I went through menopause early due to breast cancer treatment. As a result I have become slightly obsessed with figuring out how to reduce symptoms, such as weight gain, fatigue and hot flashes. Thanks to the WFPBD and yoga/exercise, I have never been better. By using my own body to test different food combinations and exercise regimes I have been able to come up with the optimal plan. I really dislike the word “diet” as it seems to carry many negative connotations with it. I like to think of WFPBD as a lifestyle. I will offers all kinds of information, like recipes, exercise/yoga videos and useful tips, which make it a way of life instead of a short term fix.
I realize that everyone is different, but I believe diet and exercise are the common denominator for all. I have found a way to feel great and not put on a ton of extra weight. I am running a test pilot this fall and will launch the official program in the spring of 2019. Stick with me and we’ll get through this together!
My husband is an amazing cook and loves getting creative in the kitchen. I have been the reliable day to day cook which can be kind of boring. I’m currently in the middle of a plant based nutrition course and have suddenly become incredibly inspired! This is a picture of a recipe I like from Julie Montagu’s Super Foods cookbook. It takes about 45 minutes to make and is not only delicious, it’s incredibly filling.
Mung Bean, Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Casserole. I’d say it’s more like a stew than a casserole, but the bottom line is, it’s yummy and my whole family loved it.
If you’d like the recipe, pm me and I’ll send it to you!
Over the past weekend I attended a two-day seminar with the amazing Robin Monro. He is one of the leading experts in the U.K. on how to treat lower back pain (LBP) with yoga and has pioneered a new way to help teachers along with their students to assess LBP via his website. It was interesting to learn about how back pain is treated by the medical community and how little research has been done to show how yoga can help.
We covered the many different types of back pain, how to asses the differences through a variety of tests and how to teach specific poses to help strengthen and eventually heal some of these injuries. Twelve hours over two days wasn’t enough, but it has definitely started me on an interesting path with further study to come. If you have lower back problems and are interested in how yoga can help, please send me an email. There is so much we can do to help and I’m excited to share my knowledge! I’m just hoping when and if I’m Robin’s age that I’ll still sitting on the floor showing poses and teaching cool stuff like him. What an absolute inspiration!
I don’t know what the weather has been like where you live, but here in London it has been cold, dark and dreary for months now. When I experienced my first winter in London it was a real shock. The sun doesn’t come up until after 8:00 and in December it is dark by 3:30 in the afternoon. I found I was suddenly tired all the time, cranky and as it turns out completely low in vitamin D! Vitamin D deficiency is a real problem in the UK and can affect your health and mood. It can also be a problem if you live in an area with high pollution, spend a lot of time indoors, live in a big city where buildings block sunlight and often use sunscreen. It is best to take a supplement during the cold and dark months and make sure you are eating foods rich in vitamin D. Foods such as salmon, cheese, egg yolks and foods fortified with vitamin D, like milk, orange juice, soy milk and cereals. Proper levels of vitamin D will not only keep you healthy, it can also help with weight loss, fight off disease and boost your mood. Your doctor will be able to give you a simple blood test to see where your levels are at and advise you on how much to supplement.
Another good way to boost your mood is with breathing exercises. This is one of my favorites!
Find a seated position that is comfortable for you and sit up straight. As you inhale and exhale, count your breath. Count silently in your head or use your fingers. Here is a pattern to get you started, but there is no right or wrong so go ahead and experiment to find the right combination for you.
-Inhale 5, exhale 5 (5-6 rounds)
-Inhale 5, exhale 8 (5-6 rounds)
-Inhale 5, hold the breath for 5, exhale for 5 (5-6 rounds)
You may find this puts you in a meditative state and calms the mind. Hopefully leaving you full of energy and with a clear head. Give it a go and see where it takes you!
Going to your first yoga class can be nerve racking and even more so if you are the north side of flexible like me! One of the first poses you’ll encounter is downward dog. Often you will hear the instructor say things like: “press down through your hands, spin your elbows and shoulders away from your ears, pull your hips up, back and down, tighten your leg muscles and let your neck and head relax.” That’s a lot of information for one pose! Below is a simplified version that will make it easier to follow and process the instructions. The only difference between downward dog and this practice pose is the stance. Instead of having your feet hip width apart they will be a in a wide stance. This will keep the weight out of your arms and shoulders and make it easier to concentrate on the instructions. It is a great way to get the correct alignment.
Begin in a wide stance and your toes slightly turned in.
Next, place your hands on the mat and slowly walk them forward.
Place your hands shoulder width apart, arms and back should be straight.
This should feel good and there should not be a lot of pressure on your shoulders. Now you can begin to get the feeling of what it is like to press through your hands and rotate your shoulders away from your ears. Also practice tightening the muscles in your legs and pulling your hips upwards while pressing down with your heals. When you’ve had enough, walk your hands back up to your feet and slowly roll up to standing.
Et voila, that is the beginning to a successful downward dog. Practice this several times before going to class. The instructions for a regular downward dog will make a lot more sense, I promise!
I qualified as a yoga instructor in December 2016 at the young age of 50 and have been teaching ever since. Getting started as a teacher has been fun, challenging and interesting all at the same time. Classes are ashtanga based with good music and plenty of time to reflect and play.
It was a bit of a struggle to come up with a name after my original idea, The Stiff Yogini, didn’t fare so well when I tossed it out to friends and family. Bought the URL and everything, but apparently it brings up visions of DEATH! My hope was that it would encourage more people to try yoga since I am a stiff person myself. Stiffness wasn’t always the case, but I had breast cancer a few years back and the medication I take blocks all hormones and makes touching ones toes a challenge. Sooooo, Yoga with Sig it is! All shapes, sizes and various stages of flexibility are welcome!
I can’t promise that this blog will be only about yoga; there’s so much to explore and I have loads of ideas I’d like to bring you. I’m hoping to cover topics such as cooking, everyday life, how not to be neurotic in a neurotic world, how to say “no” without ruffling too many feathers, kids, family, dogs, the kitchen sink and of course yoga.
Themes will emerge as we go along, but one thing I can promise is humor, quite possibly the most important thing to remember as we try to navigate in this crazy world. It’s a true necessity and helps us to stay positive and to continue forward.
Sig…aka The Stiff Yogini