I recently posed for several pictures for a new book that's coming out soon--Take a Deep Breath, from Square One Publishers, co-written by me and my friend Dr. Sandra McLanahan. The book offers information on how to deal with breathing disorders, such as asthma, and COPD. Also, there are several yoga-based exercises that can be done by folks with lung disease, and it got me thinking about chair yoga.
If you have a chair and you can breathe, you can do yoga at the chair. It's easier than getting up and down off the floor as you do in a regular yoga class, but you can still improve flexibility, build your strength, and expand your breathing capacity when you do the simple exercises that are provided in the book. The best thing is building your vitality!
From our new book--
Laughing can be a kind of nutrient in its own right.
Have a five-minute hearty laugh break, taking a longer class or internet session, choosing comedies, or whatever makes you laugh regularly can help you take adeep breath! It can be an important and joyful addition to a healthy lifestyle that helps to prevent and treat lung disorders. You may not feel at all like laughing, but once you get started, even fake laughter can act very quickly
to help you feel better. (It’s hard to sustain fake laughing for very long before you are really chuckling and then guffawing at yourself.)
Laughing uses the same muscles as exercise; strengthens your core
and lower back muscles. Laughing can get you breathing more deeply,strengthening your respiratory muscles; helping prepare you for the breathing exercises program given in this book, and bring a quick form of stress management into your life.
SAVE THE DATE!
March 21, 2020 FROM
10AM TO 3PM
$35.00 per person or
bring a friend for only $55.00
The dys are getting longer, and the lake and the sky are a constant source of delight. I love to share the experience of the majesty of our beautiful Lake Michigan, so I'm offering mini retreats here at the lake once a month, on the third Saturday, until June. The main focus will be on meditation and relaxation, and will include.
Gentle stretching exercises
Guided progressive relaxation
Light vegetarian lunch
Walking meditation on the beach if weather permits
Chanting and healing sound bath
Don't worry if you've never done yoga before. This will be a great introduction, because everything is based on relaxing and tuning in to your own peaceful self. We're not working on a six pack. My motto has always been YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE THIN AND FLEXIBLE TO DO YOGA!
There will be another mini retreat April 18, so save the date. Space is limited so sign up early by sending me an email (check the CONTACT button at the top of the page) and I'll send you all the details. It will be a perfect antidote to the crazyness of the Corona Virus!
I've been eating a lot of sugar. At Holiday time, I love to bake Christmas cookies, and this year I really overdid it. After a while, I began to notice my teeth hurting, my bones aching. Sugar is known to leach calcium out of teeth and bones, and I certainly don't want to run the risk of having osteoporosis, so I've been taking my calcium tablets and hoping for the best.
If you're a woman "of a certain age", you may also be concerned about bone health. But before you are told by your doctor to start taking a pharmaceutical--Fosamax or Boniva--here's what the latest research is proving:
YOGA IS BETTER THAN DRUGS FOR BONE HEALTH!
Some of the side effects of taking these drugs are:
On the other hand, Yoga has been proven to improve
My mom was prescribed Fosamax when she was about 80 years old. Over time, her jaw definitely shrank, to the degree that she couldn't wear her dentures anymore, they were way too big. And she developed compression fractures that were extremely painful. She also complained about losing her appetite, from upset stomach. Finally, she fell, breaking her hip. Did she fall and then break her hip? Or did her hip break and then she fell as a result of a compression fracture in her weakened bones? She never recovered her ability to walk again, yet, because of her great constitution, she lived another 2 years, in misery. It broke my heart to see my once vibrant, feisty mom turn into a helpless, depressed vegetable.
So do your Yoga! Stay vibrant and feisty!
This is the time of year we are more likely to overeat, which can bring on the hiccups. And once they start--even if we can stop them, they often come back shortly. It's caused by an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm that repeats several times a minute. It can be very unpleasant, and not a little embarrassing.
You can look up hiccups on Wikipedia and find out lots of theories about how we get them, but if you have hiccups, you probably just want them to stop. Being a yogi and especially fond of the breathing practices we call pranayama , I stumbled upon a cure that has never failed me, though I admit I occasionally have had to do it twice to get rid of the dreaded hiccups. Here's how:
Resume normal breathing
That's basically all there is to it. Try again if it doesn't work the first time. I never had much luck with the "startling" technique, although my brothers tried like to devil to scare the hiccups out of me. Drinking water from the back of the glass never worked for me either.
Let me know if this technique works for you! You can make a comment under the post.
I got a comment from a friend of mine in Yogaville that doing the stomach lift when you're really full from overindulging is not comfortable or even do-able. So, it doesn't have to be a full stomach lift, rather a gentle lift of the belly. The main thing is the exhale. Begin by exhaling all the air out of the body, then gently lift the low belly--as if you're doing Uddiyana Bhanda, but without straining. Then hold the breath as long as you can, and gently inhale slowly, using ujjai. I hope this clarifies this.
The Winter solstice is coming!
You are invited to my studio at the G-Raj for a sacred evening of chanting, restorative yoga, guided relaxation, singing bowl sound bath, and cookies and hot cocoa. We'll also do an arati to the Light as we celebrate the shortening of the long nights of winter. Please RSVP at my facbook page, Meera's Big Yoga.
Well, yes, I am getting older. You can see it in my eyes. But, that means I'm getting wiser too. I'm getting smarter about what I spend my time doing. Someone I admired once told me "Whatever you say 'yes' to, you're saying 'no' to something else. And recently I decided to say "yes" to writing a new book.
My publisher, Rudy Shur at Square One Publishers, approached me about writing a book about breathing techniques to help people with breathing challenges. I hesitated initially, because I didn't have any first hand experience with the various lung diseases. I spent some time reading about COPD, asthma, emphysema and other challenges, and realized I needed a co-author to help me with the medical information that I wanted--and--needed to include in the new book. Enter. Dr. McLanahan!
My family has a summer cottage in Southwest Michigan, right on the lake, where I’ve been spending summers since I was a child. It’s an idyllic site, private and serene, and I think I started meditating on the beach when I was very young. Swimming was my saving grace back then, being a sport that I could excel in, even though I had what my father euphemistically called “baby fat”. (Boy did I hope he was right!) I wasn’t a fast runner, and was nearsighted to boot, so ball sports were not my forte. But I could swim!
I had never taken swimming lessons as a kid, and never really considered it it to be “exercise”. I had no absolutely technique. Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, is really tremendous. It has waves and currents and undertow similar to that of an ocean. I usually swam with my head above water, to avoid getting a mouthful when the waves came crashing at me, because really, I was just playing.
When I first moved to New York, my boyfriend had a membership in a classy upper East side sports club, and he invited me for a swim. I had never done a lap in my life, and knew nothing about kick boards, goggles, fins, or any of the swimming gear. I just jumped in and started playing as if I were in the lake, swimming under water, diving and doing my thing, back and forth. When we got out of the water, my friend looked at me curiously and said ”What were you doing?”
It didn’t take me long to get the hang of doing laps, once I put my mind to it, because I was motivated by the fact that I could swim all winter long. My boyfriend bought me some terrific fins, which I still use, and believe me, it’s not “cheating”. You can really get a great workout using pool parafinalia, and it makes doing the laps more fun.
Often when I go swimming alone in Lake Michigan, I’ll take a kick board, rubber raft or inner tube with me out into the water. It becomes almost like a playmate, sort of like when Tim Hanks bonds with the basketball in the movie, CAST AWAY, and I find I will stay in the water much longer, and therefore get more exercise.
Swimming has many of the same benefits as yoga, including the stretching, and the deep breathing. At the end of my laps I would always take time out to just float, and relax totally in the water before getting out, which gives a similar benefit to a deep relaxation.
I love to swim! The reason I bring this up is because we all need to find a sport that gives some good cardiovascular workout, but it has to be something that doesn’t feel like work, or a punishment! You have to love your sport. You want to get into a place in your head where you’re playing like a child, with enthusiasm and abandon. Every day, we should all go out and play. Our bodies are designed to move, our hearts are muscles that need to be strengthened by exercise. Our lungs need to breathe deeply so we can throw out the stale carbon dioxide that drops to the bottom of our lungs. Out with the old, in with the new! Next time you need to say “no” to a chore that your boss wants to talk you into doing, just say, “I’m sorry I have to go out and play now”.
If you find you really aren’t ready for exercise, start with the easy asanas, especially the ones that tone and strengthen the inner organs. The viscera! I love that word! Because we are made up of all this slimy goo that stagnates and gets funky when we sit around too much. I remember after I had my second child, I could feel how the insides of my body were soft and sloshing around inside me! Before I started to do any vigorous exercise, I toned up by using the yoga asanas. It didn’t take long before I felt things shaping up, and I felt so much better. I maybe didn’t look that much better, because I had really plumped up during my pregnancy, and as a nursing mother, my boobs had become like big water balloons! But the asanas helped get my innards back into place after nine months of pregnancy had squished and shoved my organs into new and unexpected places and shapes. As my neighbor said “You’ve expanded the room”, as if talking about the renovation of a condo.
The body is extremely forgiving. Swami Satchidananda said “health is your birthright”, and I’ve seen time and again, making some small changes, a little bit every day, can bring about great healing.
Meera Kerr B.A., E-RYT