Good Times at Yoga Teacher Training 200

Yoga teacher training 200 for an over 50 group proves to be more challenging and rewarding than expected

It’s recommended that we never stop learning and we can keep our brains from turning to mush after retirement by learning something new. I’ve tried courses available online including the history of Egypt and some writing courses. I attempted knitting but did not get very far on that venture. Pete is teaching me how to golf and I do enjoy getting outside on the course in our golf cart, but I needed something more.

One day an advertisement showed up on my Facebook feed, which I admittedly spend too much time scrolling through, for an over 50 yoga teacher training program. The yoga institute is located six miles from my house in Florida so that was a positive. I never imagined myself as a yoga instructor. Aren’t those people super flexible and skinny? Don’t they emit vibes of pure Zen and light to all who meet them? And they speak a foreign language with all those Sanskrit terms? Who do I think I am – ha ha!

So I took out my credit card and signed up for the program. All I knew was that the class would meet on Tuesdays for about six months and I would take a weekend class in my choice of aerial or chair yoga certification. I’d probably opt for chair I figured as I hit enter on the application.

I arrived for our first class in October well-rested and excited to learn. Entering the grounds of Heartwood Yoga Institute and Retreat Center is like driving into a hidden rain forest filled with oversized palm trees and Live Oak trees covered in Spanish moss. The buildings blend in nicely with the landscape. I parked and immediately was welcomed by two friendly border collies hoping I’d toss them a ball, which I did. I followed another older woman as we walked towards an elevated porch-type room with all windows looking onto the grounds.

Chakra garden at Heartwood

Denver taught us our first ninety-minute gentle yoga class and I felt pleased that I could do all the movements, especially that last resting pose called Shavasana. Her mother and owner Ginny Shaddock met us after class and gave us a tour of the property which includes a labyrinth, a chakra garden, an indoor yoga studio, a firepit area, meditation pavilion, a library, a small gift store, and enough rooms to house people who sign up for intensive classes and live on the property for up to three weeks.

The 14 classmates and I ate lunch together at picnic tables under the shade trees and then started the lectures and learning that would take up much of our time during the program.

Posture Focus:

We diligently opened our binders and took notes as the instructors broke each pose that many of us knew from classes, into bits and pieces. The most difficult for me then and now is remembering the Sanskrit term for each pose: so much easier to say “extended hand to big toe pose” than “Utthita Hasta Padangustasana” – in my opinion anyway.

We learned what parts to straighten and which parts to press into. Keeping the spine long and shoulders back, lifting the belly and dropping your tailbone are just some phrases we could use to help people do the pose correctly, if we did teach. Learning how to provide modifications for each pose or variations were given as well as how to use props. We asked to know the benefits for each pose which are plentiful and may eventually sink in as we teach. After the lecture, the opportunity to teach each pose to a small group of classmates was interesting and we began to bond as a group in our attempts at sounding like a yoga teacher.

Continue reading “Good Times at Yoga Teacher Training 200”

How to cope with the loss of a spouse – Year One

Healing from the loss of a spouse is difficult. Learning which strategies help you is important. Yoga, acupuncture, therapy, exercise and even a puppy may be what is needed.

 My mom passed away 2 weeks ago and now all the grief from the death of my husband are coming back.  Lots of familiar anxieties and feelings of regret and sadness are resurfacing.  It’s been 4 years since my husband passed, but getting through year one is filled with many challenges.  It helps to know we are not doing this alone and that one day, it will be better.

My bereavement group provided us with handouts on ways to deal with our grief.  We met one evening each week for an hour and a half.  The group was made up of 12 women who have lost their husbands in the past year.  We are all similar in age which is helpful and there is one facilitator.  The first week everyone tells their story and there are lots of tears.  Some deaths were sudden and some were long sicknesses.  However, we are all similar in so many ways dealing with coping after this loss.

Successful ways that I deal with anxiety and grief are listed below. 

  1. Yoga – that’s been helpful at times for centering my thoughts and feeling good. The stretching and movement is important. Doing an online class or joining a studio are great options.  Of course the time I was the only one in the class, and the male teacher had me close my eyes, and then sang to me while playing the guitar was a bit weird, but most of the time I like yoga. Healing with weekenders and yoga ladies.

 2. Meditation – I’m not that “good” at it so I find guided meditations on the you tube app of my phone and listen to them. The benefits of spending even two minutes a day sitting quietly and focusing on the present, following your breath, include less stress, better sleep, and can even lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  I especially like listening to Jason Stevenson’s guided imagery available on YouTube.

3. Acupuncture – This has really helped me with relaxing and relieving stress. Health reports state acupuncture can help alleviate physical pain as well as anxiety. Read more here:  Acupuncture – Healing for physical pain to depression to infertility. Worth a try?

Continue reading “How to cope with the loss of a spouse – Year One”

Goat Yoga or Paddleboard?

Outdoor yoga is the way to go with COVID – Goat or Stand-up paddle board yoga? The options are awesome!

This summer is so unusual so why not mix up that yoga practice a bit. I’ve participated in on line yoga and followed a few you tube videos since all the studios closed down in March. The pandemic has changed our lives. Maybe I would have finally been able to do a tree pose without holding onto the railing or a pigeon pose with my butt in the right spot but alas, COVID. So here I am. Making an effort. Amusing myself. Travel is limited so I am having whatever small adventures I can manage this summer.

Goat yoga:

Outdoors. We settled onto our mats in a fenced in lawn area at the local park. The trailer opened and the goat owner led five goats and one baby alpaca into the area. As the animals wandered, we waited on our mats for a visit. Soon, a certified yoga instructor began to bring us into a gentle practice. As we did our cat – cow movements, the goat owner walked between our mats, and placed a rather large and gawky looking goat on our backs. The goat was happy to just lay there, so on my next inhale as my head went up, the owner snapped a few photos with my iphone.

The class was more relaxing than I thought it would be. Goats can be so cute, but these were bigger than I expected. Maybe if you attend a class in early spring, you may be lucky and get baby goats! Steppinoutponies was the provider of the rescue goats, and we all did fall in love with the adorable week-old baby alpaca who was just learning how to spit. Still, I love animals and the animal handler and yoga instructor from Buddhabarnyoga worked hard to ensure an enjoyable evening for all.

Paddle board yoga:

It was a sunny, warm morning at 9:30 when we paddled out to the calm harbor spot with 10 other women. The paddle boards had anchors attached which helped to stabilize us and keep us from drifting away. We each found a spot well distanced from each other. Our instructor encouraged us to balance with seated positions or on our knees. I was good at sitting on the board and breathing which is an important part of yoga.

Once we stood up, things were a bit different. Holding a warrior pose was more difficult than a one-legged tree pose on land. Balance was at the mercy of the passing motorboats as the wake approached our boards in this harbor. If you had warning, you might quickly squat onto the board, but since it was so hot, an accidental spill in the salty water was rewarding and refreshing. The instructors and staff at Huntington Stand Up Paddle were friendly and supportive of all yoga levels.

Honestly – I would do both again. I felt safely socially distanced and enjoyed myself one time with a friend and one time on my own. Always up for a new experience. ❤️

Which one would you try?

Socially distanced goat yoga at
Smithtown Historical Society

Making friends at goat yoga
Baby alpaca
Encouraged to pick up the goats after class. This one was heavy.
Arriving in Huntington at paddleboard yoga
Trying our best at balance poses
Warm and sunny. Loving summer!!!

Which one will you try next?

Costa Rica: Retreat for yoga, surfing and writing.

Therapy through travel is a way for widows to connect with themselves and begin to live a new life in a new environment. A spa week in Costa Rica for yoga and writing with monkeys and surfing beaches was perfect.

Sweat dripped off my face after the ninth downward dog done in rapid sequence to Katy Perry’s top hit “Chained to the Rhythm”.

Power yoga is a place I have not visited often but it felt good to move through the poses and challenge myself in the 90 degree heat. Most of the yoga I have enjoyed has been an hour of slow steady strengthening and stretching.  Some teachers focus more on the spiritual aspect of introspection and self growth.  Some are sticklers for correct formation or holding poses for agonizingly long seconds while others are lucky to be able to speak over the chatter box ladies catching up on the latest gossip.

Sean Conley had played in the NFL for 4 years and was my yoga instructor for the week long retreat at Blue Spirit Resort and Spa in Costa Rica. He is an inspirational, friendly father of 4 who lives in Pittsburgh with his family. He and his wife Karen own four yoga studios and plan several retreats each year to Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba.

I arrived to Liberia, Costa Rica airport and took the almost 3 hour shuttle to Blue Spirit Resort in Nosara.  The last one hour of travel was difficult as the road was full of potholes or was simply gravel, so the driver needed to weave around the street to avoid damaging his van.

Continue reading “Costa Rica: Retreat for yoga, surfing and writing.”

Healing with weekenders and yoga ladies.

I made it through the holidays, and it all went pretty well.  I was fortunate to be invited to a few parties that I enjoyed being at with friends and family.  I actually hosted 12 for Christmas dinner at my home. Honestly, my brother-in-law made most of the food but having my in-laws and family here together was far more healing this year.  I had not planned ahead for New Years, but thanks to nice, local friends I was able to ring in the new year with great neighbors.

My sons are home from college and law school. My list of things to do includes returning some gifts by mail and mailing out one Christmas card.  The house is still decorated and the thought of tossing unnecessary decorations and downsizing is compelling. But I will have to stop thinking about it and really pack them up soon.

Back at work and I have plans to make for my students, patterns to cut out, Pinterest sites to browse and behavior plans to modify.  Working full time is very time consuming but it does get me up everyday and I know that if I did not have that, there are many times I would miss the mornings completely. Some days I have energy, but there are still many days when the whole thought of waking up and dealing with the loss of my husband is overwhelming.

Then I get distracted.

I still have so much to learn about blogging. I’ve signed up for some on line classes and I spend a lot of time reading blogs from writers whose topics interest me. In other words, I am surfing the internet during a lot of time at home.

If I am not reading blogs about being a widow or traveling, I am searching for places to visit.  Places on my list include Iceland, Norway, Africa, Cuba, St. John, Peru, Italy and France.  But I am flexible.

Then I start to search for budget travel.  My funds are not unlimited.  Maybe a big trip every year if I can swing it. I did have a lot of fun mini trips last year that did not involve a lot of money or travel expenses.  I read someone’s blog who called them “weekenders”.  That is a great title.  Especially working full time.  I can find some weekend escapes and I will.

The important thing is to get out there and have some adventures.  Being around friends, family and fun people is key.  Although doing things on my own can be fun too. Learning something new, experiencing cultural opportunities, engaging in some exercise programs and finding opportunities to give back are just some of my thoughts for this year.

I think I should be able to do some of those things.  I want my blog to be positive and inspiring.  If I can do it, you can too.

So while I did not run away during this holiday break, I am glad I had the free time to visit with family and friends as well as have some serious down time sleeping in late with my puppy, ordering in food, and binge watching T.V. with my sons.

Some women from my yoga class have been doing an annual yoga weekend.  I have gone several times to Montauk with this fun group of gals.  We do some yoga and get spa services.  Happy hour, dinner and sometimes dancing was part of the weekend.

This year, I invited my sister-in-law to join the group in New York City.  One friend has a membership to the New York Athletic Club.  The NYAC was founded in 1868 to support amateur athletes for the Olympics.  The 24 floors include 187 guest rooms as well as restaurants, an olympic size pool, gym and a magnificent dining room. The 2nd floor displayed a collection of trophys, awards and photos from people who placed in Judo, wrestling, water polo and more.  We spent more time on the 4th floor which was the ladies locker room that led to the pool, hot tubs, large steam room with shower and 2 saunas with Adirondack chairs overlooking Central Park.

Saturday morning we took the Long Island Rail Road into Penn Station then a taxi cab to the hotel.  It had just started to snow so we checked in, then walked a block to the Time Warner building.  We had a delicious quiche and salad on the 3rd floor at Bouchon Bakery.

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The snow was falling pretty fast and we shuffled back 2 blocks to L’Institut Sothys New York.  I had looked on TRAVELZOO in the morning and found discounted prices for Aromatherapy massages.  We both agreed it was one of the best massages we have ever had.

Back at the NYAC we met up with some women from the group and had some hot tub time. We wanted to wear our robes up to the hotel room.  Well, this club has a strict dress code. Jeans, leggings, capris, flip flops, short skirts and sneakers are not permitted in public areas.  Dressy or corporate attire is.  The ladies in the gym area did allow us to use a special freight elevator to go to our rooms.  That was an adventure!

We all gathered for Happy Hour in a suite and then ate at Red 58 across the street from our hotel.  Later that night we sat in the cocktail lounge as the snow fell across the street on Central Park.

Of course we also visited the solarium on the 24th floor.  Definitely the most magical view of the weekend.

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The next morning, we slept in then walked through Central Park. It was like living in a postcard.  I couldn’t stop taking photos.  Children sledding down hills, people walking happily with pom pom hats upon their heads, skaters on the rink with the sun trying to shine through fluffy clouds.

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We walked down 5th Avenue which has quite a bit of police activity and barriers due to the Trumps living in Trump tower right there in midtown Manhattan. Store windows still had their decorations up and it was an overall cheery atmosphere.

MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, is located a short walk from Central Park.  One friend had stopped at the public library and shared a free admission pass so we spent a few hours having lunch and touring the museum.  It is always a great pleasure to see my favorites.  The Picasso paintings, Matisse, Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol’s work is inspiring.  One floor brought us through the entire 1960’s in America and had art as well as simple things like phones and ice buckets.  When you see some strange art like sand behind glass, the phallic chair  and 3 dimensional stuff on wood it makes you wonder, and then giggle a bit.

As we left the museum I felt sure I had developed an eye for art so I took this photo.  I call it “frozen bike with helmet”.

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After our visit to the museum I was tired and eager to get home and see my sons.  They will be going back to school soon so I want to spend as much time with them as I can. It was a lot of fun to go on an adventure and I plan to do that throughout 2017.  It was a great weekend but I forgot to do yoga.  Oh well, next time.

I haven’t planned a big trip yet but I will.  Meanwhile I will continue to have new experiences, spend time with my family and friends, play with my puppy,  and keep moving forward.

Read more about days in New York City

A New York City night out on the town.

A Day in New York City – Summer Series

Lunch in Chinatown, New York

Healing after loss in New York City

 

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