Daily Archives: January 3, 2011

Last and First

My last class of 2010 was with Caroline on Friday morning, December 31. She led us through a wonderful sequence of poses and I left feeling exhilarated! Before we began, as folks were laying out their mats and settling in, a number of us were discussing having a personal practice outside of class. 

I lamented that my attempts at a home practice often wound up being about 40 minutes, much less than our usual 75 minute class sessions. Caroline shared that her private lessons always take less time than a group class. It turns out that without the verbal guidance a class teacher provides, personal practice time becomes shorter in duration. 

We also talked about remembering sequences of poses. Not too long after taking a class, if I make a conscious attempt to visualize the session, I can recall most of the poses and the sequence in which we did them. Putting this into practice, I returned home from my last class of the year and visualized myself doing the poses; then I wrote them down to be my guide for my first middle school yoga class of 2011, which will be this coming Thursday.

Destroy your script. Relentlessly become a beginner again, for the rest of your teaching years. Question every word. Everything. Establish a system for receiving honest feedback on a regular basis. Without this, you are adrift in fear.

I had one other revelation during my last class of the year. As Caroline talked about change and trusting ourselves, it occurred to me that I have not been trusting myself when guiding my middle school students in their yoga class. I spend too much energy trying to follow my script of poses (just like the one below!) and too little energy trusting myself to guide them without a piece of paper nearby. So while I’ve written down the poses, this Thursday I will put the paper aside and trust both my memory and my ability as a guide. (7 Yoga Disconnects, posted by Philip Urso on elephant and shared with me by Deb, my friend and first yoga teacher, greatly influenced my thinking on the idea of tossing the script and trusting myself. Above is a quote from Philip’s post, and below is the URL for his article though if you view it too often from the same computer, it appears to redirect to a ‘become a member’ page.)


Happy New Year! 


sit crossed legged – FD bend – switch crossed legs & REPEAT


sit on knees – raise toes & sit on toes


old dog 


mountain – half moon to the RT – half moon to the LT


sun breaths:  mountain – upward prayer – swan dive – prepare – reverse swan dive – REPEAT 3x


sun salutations – REPEAT 3x


mountain – step back to Warrior I


• side-angle stretch  (keep knee bent, arms aligned one angled overhead, other straight to floor)


• wide-let standing FD bend – reposition to Warrior I on the other side


• side-angle stretch


• legs together for standing FD bend


reverse swan dive to mountain – step back to Warrior II


• extended triangle (straighten front leg, arms aligned one straight up, other straight to floor)


• wide-leg standing FD bend – reposition to Warrior II on the other side


• extended triangle


• legs together for standing FD bend


bend at knees, body upright for awkward chair


awkward chair twist to the right – return to center – twist to the left – return to center


prepare – reverse swan dive


eagle pose – repeat on other side


tree – both sides


find you way to your back – bridge


knees to chest – windshield wip
er your knees 


dead bug


savasana – hands on tummy if you do not want a massage


I’m Still Here

I’m Still Here is the name of a book by John Zeisel. I’ve twice written about the book and author, but what brings them to mind again is a recent article in The New York Times: Giving Alzheimer’s Patients Their Way, Even Chocolate. Posted on the last day of 2010, the article seems a fitting way to close out the “old way” of looking at Alzheimer’s care and ushering in a “new way”, more in line with Zeisel’s approach.

This “new” approach, which seems so common sense based, strives to bring out the best in Alzheimer’s patients by nurturing their desires, likes and personalities. This approach guides how caretakers at Beatitudes manage the care of their Alzheimer’s residents, and the results have been formidable. There are other care facilities, both in the States and in Europe, as well as research programs, that implement similar approaches.

In all cases, the results show that the lives of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are measurably improved when they are cared for with their (the patient’s) best interests at heart. This translates to finding out more about the individual and assisting the individual in being more themselves โ€“ the person they were before the illness attacked. Furthermore, it turns out that most of the drugs for behavior modification and control can be stopped because patients become calm when they are able to revisit portions of themselves. This then allows doctors to hone in on treating depression, which often besets dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.

If you know of anyone who has a relative with dementia or Alzheimer’s, I urge you to share the Times article with them, as well as Zeisel’s book. What a way to truly start a “new year”!

Postscript โ€“ Apropos of one of the comments on this post, the January 13, 2011 New York Times contains the article China, in a Shift, Takes On Its Alzheimer’s Problem.