Posts Tagged by yoga
|September 27, 2013||Posted by Jean Hoiland under Jean Hoiland, Uncategorized||
If you have ever attended my 9:30am classes you have most likely met my mom. She is wonderful, though not always excited about the things we do in class. Her shoulders have been her biggest obstacle in regard to yoga. She holds all her tension in them…and she is not nor ever been very physically active…unless you count chasing 5 kids around holding a wooden spoon. She never caught us to meet out any punishment. At 5’1″ she usually resorted to the age old fall back of mom’s everywhere “you just wait until your father gets home”.
Anyway the 9:30am class has had the most attendance ever since opening the studio in 2006. I would like to take all of the credit for that accomplishment but I think my mom has played a huge roll in keeping people coming in. She is adorable, likeable and fun to have in class and other than me she is the one person who has attended consistently since May 1st, 2006.
The age range for this class, which has been promoted as gentle therapeutic, has been anywhere from 19 to 86 years of age. Many have had some physical ailments from whiplash to knee replacement, depression to anxiety, you name it. The classes are always different. Some days we lay around luxuriating in restorative yoga and on others there are grumblings about breaking a sweat and audible huffing and puffing with effort.
The main focus is always good form and mastering the basics. We work a lot on proper alignment and from time to time work with partners. Earlier this year I commented that everyone should at least attempt standing on their hands at some point in their practice no matter what age they are. This remark was met with some doubt and a little fear.
Since making that statement I have slowly challenged the 9:30 class to do a little more than they think they can. We have been working diligently on finding ease and comfort in downward facing dog, holding the pose longer and longer, partnering up once in a while with the straps in order to achieve a more relaxed pose. More recently progressing to taking one leg up the wall at a time to feel the added weight through the hands, arms and shoulders.
It can be a scary thing to turn ourselves upside down. Previously this class has worked with partners and chairs against the wall in a modified version of headstand (bearing the weight on the tops of the shoulders rather than the head and neck). A lot of fear had to be overcome for many not to mention developing trust in the person standing ready to help.
Going upside down so far has not been one of my mom’s favorite things. Just the idea fills her with anxiety and a bit of terror. My mom is 77, she began practicing yoga about 10 years ago. Every year she is stronger and feeling younger and more importantly her form and alignment are improving.
Today we worked on focusing on good balance and posture (requirements for standing on the hands). The class progressed to working on getting the feet up the wall and practicing modified versions of handstand. My mom simply and quietly worked her down dog and taking one leg up at a time. Honestly I really did not pay much attention to her today because I know she is not to keen on the idea of handstand. She did, however, achieve a huge milestone. Not once did I hear her say “I cant'”, her effort was focused and she seemed to have found greater ease in her practice.
At one point I looked over and was amazed at her beautiful form, strength and total ease in a challenging posture. Everyone was doing a wall assisted modified shoulder stand…and not to offend anyone else in the class (ages 30 and up) but my mom’s pose was the most beautiful to behold. I am still in awe by it.
To top it off, she said “I may yet get myself into a handstand before I am 80. I feel like I have finally learned how to relax.”
Those were the most beautiful words I have heard in a long time. We are never too old to learn new things. Muscles may atrophy without use but they respond to continued effort at any age. Mom you are truly amazing.
|January 25, 2013||Posted by Jean Hoiland under Anatomy, Jean Hoiland, Uncategorized||
This morning my mom shared her “aha” moment from the previous weeks yoga class. Once she mentioned it I realized she had been standing a little taller and practicing tadasana at home. Turned out she finally found her lumbar curve, after decades of it being MIA… and low and behold when I turned her sideways there it was.
A well aligned spine is a beautiful sight, each curve properly in place and in balance. The heart centered over the pelvis.
You may be wondering what the big deal is….well…let me tell you…it is a really big deal. Proper alignment, posture and form are essential for spaciousness, ease and freedom in our bodies. It can be oh so elusive to attain, but once we feel it, we want to shout from the roof top “eureka, I’ve got it”.
It’s kind of like mastering a stick shift. When our gears are out of alignment we are stiff and jerky, sometimes stalling out. Once mastered the ride becomes smooth and exhilarating.
Regaining homeostasis is a liberating feeling. My mom succeeded in undoing decades of patterns and habits and in doing so she looks taller (not easy at 5′ 1″) and younger (she already looks at least 10 years younger than her real age). She no longer appears to be perpetually practicing first position, toes out heels in, clenching her butte-cheeks, locking up her pelvis and reducing her lumbar curve.
She has found space and freedom for movement. Her pelvis has begun to release and her practice is unfolding.
As her daughter I am elated and greedily anticipating at least two more decades of her presence in my life. As a teacher I feel relief that my efforts and persistence are not in vain.
I am hopeful that perhaps my mom’s propensity to fall on her face (literally) has ended. I asked her if she felt more balanced and she responded yes. There is still a long way to go but with this new found freedom she will no doubt feel more confident to pursue more challenging postures.
There may still be hope to free her shoulders and see her in a handstand in the next few years 😉
Do not burst my bubble…I can hope.
|January 15, 2013||Posted by Jean Hoiland under Jean Hoiland, Uncategorized, Updates||
The topic of age related shrinking popped up after the 8am Slow Stretch class this morning. It was a small class with an age range of 65 to 79 and height range from 5’ 11” to 5’ tall. Everyone in the class said they had indeed noticed diminishing height with age; the range from 1″-2″.
My curiosity was piqued so I promptly came home and measured my 76 year old mother.
If you have ever attended my 9:30am therapeutic yoga class you are familiar with how much I torture her in this class. My sisters and I have all decided she must stay young because she is far too much fun to leave this world before the age of 100.
Therefore I make her attend yoga classes as often as possible. I have had her do burpees and mountain climbers. I have strapped a heart rate monitor on her and marched her huffing and puffing up steep hills, pushing her along if needed. Most recently she has overcome the fear of going upside down and did a supported headstand in yoga class. I am determined to keep her moving, fit and strong.
This morning when I asked her how tall she was at her tallest, she stated a whopping 5’ 1 ¼”. When I measured her at 10:30am she was 5’ 3/4”, not bad considering most people her age lose up to two inches. I think I may succeed in my mission of keeping her hovering near 5′ 1″.
Now to check in with the tape measure for myself. I am 5’ 4 ¾”, one half inch taller than in my teens, twenties and early thirties. Success, I always wanted to be taller. I began my yoga practice around the age of thirty five, I am now 48, and according to most health statistics I should be getting shorter.
I’m pretty sure I won’t get any taller as I have maintained my current height for more than ten years, but I am grateful my stature has not diminished. So what do I attribute my lack of shrinkage to?
In my opinion there are five contributing factors:
- Jumping off the carport, out of trees and off a moving swing as a kid. Impact is important in bone development. Of course I didn’t know that back then, it was just something fun to do and most likely got a rise out of my mom and dad.
- A healthy diet. Home made, organic and no artificial sweeteners. Don’t get me wrong I grew up during the era of Tang and jello but back then those things were sweetened with pure cane sugar not aspartame or corn syrup.
- Having a mother who nit picks you about posture. Constantly reminding me to get my shoulders back, sit up straight, stand up tall. HA! Now I get to torture her but she just doesn’t seem as irritated by it as I was as a kid.
- I regularly hang from monkey bars. In grade school it was called a cherry drop in which you sat on top of the bar then dropped back and got a good swing going then at the appropriate moment you straightened your legs and landed like an Olympic Gymnast. Now a days I head to the play ground at JJ Smith or the back yard swing and just hang from my arms then my knees. It feels wonderful for the spine.
- Finally there is Yoga. The additional half inch in height occurred only after taking up the practice of yoga and learning how to properly align my body through the release of tension in some areas and increased strength in others.
So there you have it. Impact sports when we are young, a good diet and a relentless mother will set the stage for being tall into old age…and if that doesn’t work, take up yoga with an instructor who gets testy if you don’t follow instructions.
The Iyengar style of yoga with its meticulous emphasis on proper alignment and form in postures is my yoga of choice. I will be forever grateful to the teachers who had me hold poses for what seemed like an eternity while pointing out every miniscule misalignment of my joints for everyone to see.
…and the instruction of how to flow from warrior II to side angle and then into reverse warrior without the slightest movement through the legs or hips, not just once but over and over again until perfection and ease were achieved.
There have been many exceptional teachers who have inspired my practice and teaching style and all of them have been students and teachers of proper alignment in the Iyengar tradition. I have no doubt the practice of yoga has allowed me to grow spiritually, mentally, emotionally and literally physically over the last decade.
From 5’ 4 ¼” to 5’ 4 ¾” ….there will be no shrinking on my watch.
That’s my mom Carol Hoiland in the above picture. I made her go for a beach walk and then practice some yoga on the beach on a cold day. Isn’t she terrific?
|January 10, 2013||Posted by Jean Hoiland under Uncategorized||
As the new year begins you may find yourself struggling with resolutions, goals and a host of other mind stuff that clutters a sincere desire to be healthy, happy and wise. I have found the two books below to be of great help over the years and it is my hope they will help you as you embark on your 2013 odyssey.
In the meantime I’d like to share my daily ritual. I am not always successful but over the years it has become easier.
Rise each morning with the intention to recommit, refocus and surrender the old ways…set an intention to be mindful, aware and loving. At the end of each day reflect, forgive, be humble, persevere and be tolerant of ourselves and others.
I hope these two books will give you new perspective and insight into creating greater health, happiness and freedom.
It is a small book but packed with a healthy dose of very useful wisdom.
- Be impeccable with your word. (Our words have the power to create everything we desire and yet they can also destroy everything around us. Take responsibility for your actions, do not blame nor judge yourself. Speak the truth with kindness and love.)
- Don’t take anything personally. (It’s not about you!)
- Don’t make assumptions. (Clear communication is key. Ask questions, clarify your point and avoid misunderstanding, sadness and drama.)
- Always do your best. (Recognize that each day, each minute is different. Avoid self judgement, self abuse and regret.)
There are plenty of free copies online as well as for purchase on Amazon. A parallel guide to the Sutra’s can be very helpful as each author interprets the verses a little differently. The essence of the Sutra’s is calming the mind through the practice of the eight limbs of yoga.
While neither of these books will describe or explain how to achieve a perfect forward fold or warrior II posture…each will guide your journey towards practicing your postures and asanas with joy, ease and understanding.
Here’s to nurturing 2013 along with some mindful reading and contemplation. Happy New Year!