Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Remembering the Mannikin

Trying to get back to my graphic novel.  The first assignment is about the mannequin/mannikin

After Andy Fish's lecture I pulled out my Drawing the Marvel Way and looked at these drawings:

Then I pulled at Loomis' Figure Drawing for All It's Worth and looked at these

Then I started trying my best with the mannikin

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Yoga Nidra for the 5th Chakra - Visuddhaa


Fifth chakra meditation focuses on the Vishuddha or throat chakra - first of the three spiritual chakras in our body.

Vishuddha in Sanskrit means "pure." It is the seat of our truth.

Who we are and what we say is located in this chakra. 

Blue is the color of this chakra. Imagine the mat is a blanket and you are lying outdoors.  The weather is perfect and the sky is a brilliant blue. Visualize a clear, blue sky.

Take a few deep breaths and focus attention on every inhalation and exhalation picturing this clear blue sky.

Say to yourself mentally “I am practicing Yoga Nidra”

Say to yourself mentally “I will stay awake for Yoga Nidra”

With every inhalation, expand your boundaries of your body

With each exhale dissolve the physical boundaries and  feel  connected to everyone and everything
Imagine sky  blue purifying light entering your mouth  filling your throat, mouth and chest

This blue light is bringing you back into a place integrity aligning your words with your thoughts, hopes and dreams

This blue light is cleansing negative expression, gossip or any hurtful speech that is self- directed or directed towards others.

This blue light is finding and multiplying the self-respect in your body.

Self-respect means respecting yourself by valuing your own truths.

It means trusting yourself to do what you believe is right even when this means disappointing other people.

Even when other people don’t understand

When you respect yourself , the approval of others is not important.

Remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity just as everyone else does.

We are all equals.
We are all important.
We are all worthy of respect.

Cultivating self-respect gives you the ability to love yourself for who you truly are.

Without self- respect we can feel regret, shame, loathing and blame

Remember, we are respected by others according to how much we respect ourselves.

If we do not respect ourselves, we cannot expect others to treat us with respect?

Get to know and appreciate who you truly are and respect yourself.

Free yourself from the expectations of others and hear your inner voice.

The inner voice will guide you to a free and happy life filled with integrity and self-respect.

Listen in all directions for sounds. . .

And in the heartbeat hear the sound on the universe often manisfested in the mantra om.

 Now come back to the breath and hear the whisper of the Sankalpa


………………… If you don’t have a sankalpa for today simple say “I respect others and I am respected by others”


See yourself lying on the mat
Riverside and Vineland
Los Angeles
North America
Solar System
Imagine the body is a constellation in the galaxy and resting on each body part is a star

(do the body rotation placing  stars)


Part 1 – Breath in and out of the throat to tail bone tail bone to throat

HAM Meditation


Dishonest -


Now you are going to travel into your past

In the same way you have travelled from the past into the present

Retracing the steps of your memory and consciousness backward from this time

The past in part of time and time is part of your mind

Normally you walk forward in time

I am asking you to walk backward in time

By remembering your past you are going into the deep recesses of your consciousness

Scan your life.  Remember the timeline of your life. 

Notice within last year something you were involved in, a project or program that made you feel good, where you felt respected.

Or perhaps something you are always involved in that brings you respect, pleasure and fulfillment.

And as you are scanning yourself participating in this program event

Notice what you bring or brought to this particular specific event

Notice when you felt respected. 

Notice when you gave respect to others.

What did you bring to this event?

Was it true creativity?

Was it a sense of organization?

Was it an awareness of deep encouragement?

Was it bringing about a sense of order and harmony?

When you work on this project do you feel like you are working from integrity?

Focus and notice the main qualities that you brought to this program, event, to this special project

Without censorship or judgement

What your proclivities are

What did you or do you bring

And mentally record it and be aware of it

And go back a few more years continuing to scan your life on this time line of possibilities

And notice yourself feeling respected as you are involved in particular projects goals

What are you giving?

How are you sharing?

How are you expressing yourself?

Why are you happy?

Are you acting in integrity?

Are you being respectful?

Are you being respected?

As you are noticing this

Begin to notice

Notice your unique way of being in the world

Notice the respect and integrity you bring.  Notice the way you treat others and the respect you bring them.

Notice the small ways that self –respect and respect to others fills your life with joy.

As you are noticing and becoming aware of the respect realize that . .

There is always something to try to happen through you through your own unique patterns

Not someone else’s pattern although it may be similar there may be similar qualities

Notice as you go back a little further

Go back to being a young girl or boy

What were your proclivities?

What was the gift?

What did you bring?

How do you interact with others?

Were  you respectful of them?

Were they respectful of you?

See if you can see a connection between the little boy and girl, the young man or woman, and the most recent experience?

What has always been with you?

What has always been there trying to express itself?

What makes you feel like you are acting in integrity?

What makes you feel respected?

Are you respectful to others?


(as usual)


(as usual)


Allopathic  View/Western Medicine
Causes of Lower Back Pain


Most commonly, mechanical issues and soft-tissue injuries are the cause of low back pain. These injuries can include damage to the intervertebral discs, compression of nerve roots, and improper movement of the spinal joints. The single most common cause of lower back pain is a torn or pulled muscle and/or ligament.

A low back sprain or strain can happen suddenly, or can develop slowly over time from repetitive movements. Strains occur when a muscle is stretched too far and tears, damaging the muscle itself. Sprains happen when over-stretching and tearing affects ligaments, which connect the bones together. For practical purposes, it does not matter whether the muscle or ligament is damaged, as the symptoms and treatment are the same.

Common causes of sprain and strain include:
a) Lifting a heavy object, or twisting the spine while lifting
b) Sudden movements that place too much stress on the low back, such as a fall
c) Poor posture over time
d) Sports injuries, especially in sports that involve twisting or large forces of impact

While sprains and strains do not sound serious and do not typically cause long-lasting pain, the acute pain can be quite severe. Pain is considered chronic once it lasts for more than three months and exceeds the body’s natural healing process. Chronic pain in the low back often involves a disc problem, a joint problem, and/or an irritated nerve root.

Common causes include:

a) Lumbar herniated disc. The jelly-like center of a lumbar disc can break through the tough outer
layer and irritate a nearby nerve root. The herniated portion of the disc is full of proteins that
cause inflammation when they reach a nerve root, and inflammation as well as nerve compression
cause nerve root pain. The disc wall is also richly supplied by nerve fibers, and a tear through the
wall can cause severe pain.

b) Degenerative disc disease. At birth, intervertebral discs are full of water and at their healthiest.
As people age over time, discs lose hydration and wear down. As the disc loses hydration, it cannot resist forces as well, and transfers force to the disc wall that may develop tears and cause pain or weakening that can lead to a herniation. The disc can also collapse and contribute to stenosis.

c) Facet joint dysfunction. There are two facet joints behind each disc at each motion segment in
the lumbar spine. These joints have cartilage between the bones and are surrounded by a capsular
ligament, which is richly innervated by nerves. These joints can be painful by themselves, or in
conjunction with disc pain.

d) Sacroiliac joint dysfunction. The sacroiliac joint connects the sacrum at the bottom of the spine
to each side of the pelvis. It is a strong, low-motion joint that primarily absorbs shock and tension
between the upper body and the lower body. The sacroiliac joint can become painful if it becomes
inflamed (sacroiliitis) or if there is too much or too little motion of the joint.

e) Spinal stenosis. This condition causes pain through narrowing of the spinal canal where the nerve
roots are located. The narrowing can be central, forminal, or both, and can be at a single level or
multiple levels in the lower back.

f) Spondylolisthesis. This condition occurs when one vertebra slips over the adjacent one. There are

5 types of spondylolisthesis but the most common are secondary to a defect or fracture of the pars
(between the facet joints) or mechanical instability of the facet joints (degenerative). The pain can
be caused by instability (back) or compression of the nerves (leg).

g) Osteoarthritis. This condition results from wear and tear of the disc and facet joints. It causes
pain, inflammation, instability, and stenosis to a variable degree, and can occur at a single level or
multiple levels of the lower spine. Spinal osteoarthritis is associated with aging and is slowly
progressive. It is also referred to as spondylosis or degenerative joint disease.

h) Curvature of the spine can include scoliosis or kyphosis. The deformity may be
associated with lower back pain if it leads to the breakdown of the discs, facet joints, sacroiliac
joints or stenosis.

i) Trauma. Acute fractures or dislocations of the spine can lead to pain. Lower back pain that
develops after a trauma, such as a motor vehicle accident or a fall, should be medically evaluated.
Compression fracture. A fracture that occurs in the cylindrical vertebra, in which the bone
essentially caves in on itself, can cause sudden pain. This type of fracture is most common due to
weak bones, such as from osteoporosis, and is more common in older people.

It is important to note that the presence of one or more of these conditions does not necessarily mean that is the cause of pain. For example, osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease could appear on an imaging study but the person may not report pain.

Less Common Causes of Low Back Pain

While considerably less common, low back pain may also be caused by:

a) Infection. Also called osteomyelitis, a spinal infection is rare but can cause severe pain and is life
threatening if untreated. It can be caused by surgical procedures, injections, or spread through the
blood stream. Patients with a compromised immune system are more susceptible to developing an
infection in the spine.

b) Tumor. Most spinal tumors start in another part of the body and metastasize to the spine. The
most common tumors that spread to the spine start from cancer in the breast, prostate, kidney,
thyroid, or lung. Any new symptoms of back pain in a patient with a known diagnosis of cancer
should be evaluated for possible spinal metastasis.

c) Autoimmune disease. Back pain is a possible symptom associated with autoimmune conditions,
such as ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, and


- Yoga means union. Pain is a sign of separation.
- Everything we need to heal is inside of us.  Our goal is to remember our unity and wholeness.

Back pain is an epidemic in our country.  Here are some ways yoga can contribute to back health:

a) Yoga asanas correct posture, release areas of chronically contracted muscles, strengthen areas of weakness, increase supply of nutrients such as oxygen, remove metabolic waste, lengthen the vertebral column, and create space between the vertebrae.

b) Pranayama relaxes the musculature of the back, brings awareness and energy into the back, massages the back and spine, and increases the supply of nutrients.

c) Body awareness is perhaps the greatest ally in back care. Most people are not aware of the postural habits and areas of chronic tension that contribute to back pain. 

d) Guided imagery can be used to relieve and heal back problems.

e) Meditation can release the unconscious beliefs and holding patterns that may be at the root of back tension.

f) Relaxation allows the healing process to function optimally.

g) The following postures focus on overall wellness for the back and spine. Use only postures that are comfortable for you. Remember that your own body is the best guide to what is most beneficial.


“Abdominal tension and stress are frequently at the root of lower back pain, for as the muscles in the belly tighten and contract, the begin to tug on the muscles that surround the spine, forcing them too become contracted and rigid.  The armoring and dis-ease can accumulate until chronic pain and recurring back injuries take control of the health potentials for this region.

Most people with lower back trouble report that they first experienced difficulty with their backs as a result of some injury or back-straining activity, such as lifting heavy weights, sitting in uncomfortable furniture, or sleeping on too soft a bed.  Yet it seems to me that the back disturbance does not begin at the time of the acute injury occurred because the muscles and emotions of the back had been chronically held and contracted for some time, thereby predisposing the area to injury.

Why do so many people have tension and stress in this portion of the body mind?  I believe the answer lies in the fact that this region, in addition to being directly connected to the feeling and power center, the belly, also acts as a mediator between the psychosomatic aspects of the top and bottom halves of the bodymind.” – Ken Dychtwald, The BodyMind


1) Annamayakosha: Imbalance of muscular and or skeletal system (front/back split, top/bottom split). Top/Bottom split is characterized by a small top and large bottom physically or large top and small bottom. Front/Back split. Injury, strain, or trauma.  Postural Problem. Structural Issue (leg length, high hip)

2) Pranamayakosha: Imbalance of energetic body (root, sacral and/or solar plexus chakra imbalances. front/back split, top/bottom split).  The bottom half of the bodymind is concerned with stabilizing, moving, balancing, supporting, rooting and grounding.  The top half of the bodymind has to do with seeing, hearing, speaking, thinking, expressing, stroking, hitting, holding, communicating and breathing. Inability to breathe diaphragmatically. Paradoxical Breathing.

3) Manomayakosha:  Top/Bottom Split where bottom half is oriented toward privacy, support, introspection, emotional stability, dependency and motion/stasis.  The top half of the body is concerned with outward expression, socializing, interpersonal communication/manipulation, self-assertion, action and aspirations. Front/Back split.  The front side represents the social self and the conscious self. It is what we knowingly present to the world.  The back side is the private and unconscious elements of the self.  It sometimes becomes the storehouse of all the things in life we don’t want to deal with.  Back of the body is where a lot of “negative” emotion is stored.

4) Vijnanamayakosha: Acceptance of Self, Presence, Understanding the situation as a witness

5) Anandamayakosha:  Connecting to the things that bring you joy


a) What the nature of you back pain or injury.

b)  When did you first began to experience this pain /discomfort.

c) What medical care or treatment have you received for it.

d) Is the pain constant or intermittent?

e) On a scale from 1 to 10, what is the intensity of the pain?

f) What kinds of activities / situations seem to aggravate it?

If the injury is recent or if there is any swelling, inflammation, redness, numbness or tingling, difficulty with bowel or bladder functioning, or radiating pain, yoga therapy will begin with minimal movements as a way of directing awareness to the area and focus on pranayama, mudra, meditation and yoga nidra. Contact Nya 310/420-1682 or nyapatrinos@yahoo.com if you want to work on your back in a Yoga Therapy Setting.




Breath is one of the keys to optimal health and wellbeing, and the foundation of all the breathing techniques is abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing.


Anudandi Mudra

Back Pain Relief

• Releasing tension from the back.
• Supporting optimal posture.
• Providing a massaging effect for the area of the kidneys and adrenal glands.
• Reducing stress.

1.       Make the hands into fists, with the thumbs inside and the palms facing the body.
2.       Extend the little fingers and touch them firmly together at their tips.
3.       Hold the gesture below the navel or rest the hands on the lap.
4.       If there is discomfort in the seated position, use the restorative position, lying on your back.
5.       Relax the shoulders back and down, with the elbows held slightly away from the body and the spine naturally

Kanishtha Sharira Mudra

Lower Body Breathing

• Connecting to the lower body.
• Activating the diaphragm, the main muscle of respiration, supporting fuller abdominal breathing. • Optimizing digestion.
• Releasing tension from the low back. • Instilling equanimity
• Building a sense of confidence.

1.       Place the web between your thumbs and index fingers on either side of your waist, just below the ribs, with the thumbs facing backward and the fingers pointing forward.
2.       Keep the fingers together with the palms and forearms parallel to the earth.
3.       Hold the elbows out and away from the body, with the shoulders relaxed back and down and the spine naturally

Vittam Mudra


Free Flow of Vital Energy

• Reestablishing the free flow of subtle energy.
• Nourishing the reproductive and urinary systems.
• Relaxing the lower back.
• Awakening vitality.

1.       Hold the hands slightly cupped in front of the lower abdomen with the palms facing each other about twelve inches apart.
2.       Allow the hands to naturally expand away from each other on the inhalation and to rest gently back toward each other on the exhalation.
3.       Relax the shoulders back and down, with the spine naturally aligned.


We’ll now begin to stretch, relax, and bring awareness to every part of the body.
[The shoulder and neck movements can be done standing, seated in a chair, or seated on the floor. Allow all the initial movements to be exercises in awareness rather than physical exercise.

What to bring Awareness to
a) Notice all the sensations in the back and spine
b) Feel the spine lengthening and feel the space being created between the vertebrae.
c) Feel the spinal discs alive with fluid and filled with energy.
d) Sense the spinal cord being bathed in healing nurturing fluid.
e) Feel the blood filling the spine and back, bringing nutrients to every cell.
f) Notice the ability of each muscle to fully contract and then to completely let go.
(Work with specific tight muscle groups in this way).

Series 1: Gentle Postures for Back Care – Integrative Yoga Therapy

1. Tadasana (standing or supine): Lengthening the spine
2. Shoulder Girdle Movements: shoulder and spine flexibility
3. Neck Movements: Neck Flexibility
4. Cat Movements: Spinal flexibility and strength
5. Hip Circles: hip and low back flexibility
6. Child’s Pose: Back flexibility and Length
7. Cobra for Back strength
8. Sphinx for Spinal flexibility
9. Half Locust for Low back strength
10. Abdominal Strengthening
11. Constructive Rest
12. Pelvic Lifts: Spinal flexibility and strength
13. Knee to Chest: Hip, quadriceps, and psoas
14. Hamstring Stretch:
15. Supine Spinal Twist or Standing w/ Chair:  Flexibility in rotation
16. Half Shoulder Stand
17. Savasana

Series 2: Postures for Back Care – Integrative Yoga Therapy

1. Cat or Other Warm Ups: Spinal flexibility and strength
2. Tadasana: Spinal alignment
3. Ardha Chandrasana Series:
a) Lateral Bend:
b)  Supported Back Arch (Sphinx):
c) Forward Bend (Uttanasana): Spinal flexibility
4. Triangle (modified): Lateral bending, hip flexibility
5. Lateral Angle (modified):  Hip, spine, and shoulder flexibility
6. Tree: Balance, alignment
7. Chair: Leg strength, hip flexibility
8. Child’s Pose: Flexibility of knees, hips, back
9. Cobra: Spinal strength
10. Half Locust: Lower spinal strength
11. Abdominal Strengthening: Abdominal strength
12. Leg Stretch: Hamstring flexibility
13. Bridge: Gluteal strength, hip and back flexibility
14. Knee to Chest: Hip, knee, and iliopsoas flexibility
15. Knee Down Twist: Hip and low back flexibility
16. Half Forward Bend: Flexibility on one side
17. Forward Bend:  Flexibility of back and backs of legs
18. Half Shoulder Stand: Inner balance
19. Fish: Flexibility of thoracic and cervical spine
20. Savasana: Inner calm



 [Sit 1 to 5 minutes.]



Ankylosing spondylitis: an inflammatory disease involving the spine and sacroiliac joints, and is therefore also a form of spondylarthritis. A combination of spondylitis and inflammation of the intervertebral disc space is termed a spondylodiscitis. Spondylitis is one of the most common causes of back and neck pain, and results from inflammation of the vertebral joints.
- No sukasana  (easy pose), No ardha chandrasana (1/2 moon), No boat, No camel, No bhadrasana (butterfly), No sarvangasana (bridge)
- No warrior 1 or 2, no janusirshasana (seated head to knee), No pawanmuktasana (wind removing pose)

Lumbar spondylosis
- No halasana (plough),  ardha kurmasana (half tortoise),
- Yes Makrasana

Lumbar Spondylosis
- Yes Warrior 1, Yes Locust, Yes Leg pulling lying down
- No sarvangasana (bridge), No Janusirshasana (seated head to knee), No supta vajrasana (saddle), No sasangasana, No vipariti Karani

Back Ache
- Yes Sarvagasana (Bridge), Yes Prone postures

Back Injuries
- No utkatasana (awkard/chair pose)

Back Pain
- Yes lifting of shoulder joints with pulling of shoulder blades, Yes Sarvagasana/Bridge (especially upper back pain), Yes Prone leg press (not supine), Yes Lifting of knee joints pillow under the knee, Yes Knee rolling lying down (upper back pain),Yes Ardha Chandrasana/Ghosh Lineage ½ Moon (upper back pain), Yes Pelvic lateral tilt lying down, Yes Cobra with cross legs, Yes Locust (lower back pain)
- No toulangasana (balancing stick, warrior 3), No SURYA namaskar

Herniated Discs
- no sasangasana (rabbit), No boat

Low back pain/Lumbago
- Yes crocodile
- No paschimottanasana (seated forward fold), no camel

Slipped Discs
- Yes Ardha Matsyendrasana/ ½ Lord of the Fishes but contra-indicated with postural arthritis, pedeledema and spine fractures.
- no sarvangasana, No paschimottanasana, No sasangasana
- Yes Makrasana (crocodile), Yes locust, Yes Knee rolling - lying down

Spine Flexibility
- Yes halasana/plough (if flexibility is there), Yes Marjasana/cat (gently)

Spine Fratures
- No Matsyendrasana (fish), No camel, No trikonasana

Spin detoxification
- Trikonasana (triangle)

Spinal Deformity
- Jastiasana

Spinal Injuiries
- No utkatasana, no halasana , No pashimottanasana, No suptapadagustasana, No toulangasana, No ardha Chandrasana, No locust

Spinal Nourishment
- Yes Brishasana (Ram), Yes Crocodile, Yes Prone postures, Yes halasana, yes Sukasana, Yes Supta padagustasaana, Yes Camel, Yes Cobra

Spine rejuvenation
- Yes bow, Yes paschimottanasana, Yes UTTANAPADASANA (leg raises)

- Yes sukasana

Nephritis is inflammation of the kidneys and may involve the glomeruli, tubules, or interstitial tissue surrounding the glomeruli and tubules.
- no DHANURASANA (bow)

- no vajrasana (hero) , No padmasana (lotus)


Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses such as bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine. Back pain can be a symptom caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
- No utkatasana, No brishasana, No supta bhadrasana, No supta vajrasana No vajrasana No padmasana
No singhasana (lion),  No bhadrasana

Yes Parsa Savasana, Yes Brishasana, Yes Back kicking, Saralbhujangasana (seal pose with curls turned under), Yes Lifting of knee joints pillow under the knee, Yes Makrasana, Yes janu sirshana,

Yes Supta vajrasana, Yes Vajrasana, Yes pelvic lateral tilt, Yes Cobra resting on hands (sphinx) with leg twisting

- Ardha matsyendrasana (contra-indicated with postural arthritis, pedaledema and spine fractures.
- Yes Sukasana, Yes Bhadrasana (butterfly)

Simple Yoga Poses for Back Pain

Here are some simple things for lower and middle back back.  Spend 1 to 5 minutes in each position.

with slow deep breaths concentrating on breath in belly and then 360 degree breathing all in and out of your nose.








Notes on Protecting the Sactoiliac Joints in Forward Bends, Twists and Wide Legged Poses

Movement of the sacroiliac joints can be a source of back pain.

Don’t confuse what we are calling SI pain with other types of back pain, because, in most cases, the explanations and suggestions for back pain caused by the SI can't are not the same for people with
other types of pain.

The cardinal symptom of SI pain is an ache on or around the posterior superior iliac spine (PSIS), on one side of the body only.

The PSIS is the rear-most point of bone on the pelvis. In most students you can palpate it by pressing your fingers into the back of the pelvis above the main mass of the buttock, about two or three inches to the side of the center line of the upper sacrum.

Most students with SI problems will tell you that long periods of sitting and most types of forward bends aggravate their pain, but this is also true for students with sciatica and other back problems.

Those with SI pain are often particularly aggravated by wide-legged (abducted) poses, such as Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend), Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend), Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose), and Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose). They also have trouble with twists, such as Marichyasana III (Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi III), and side-bends, such as Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose). For many, the worst pose is a combination of twisting, abduction, and forward bending, namely Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose).

A joint is where two bones come together. The sacroiliac joint is where the sacrum bone and the ilium bone join one another.

The sacrum and the two ilium bones often merge into a single bone but this is not always the case.

Many health professionals who have worked with yogis believe that the cause of their sacroiliac pain is excessive movement of the joint, leading to misalignment, ligament strain, and, possibly, eventual deterioration of cartilage and bone on the auricular surfaces. Another hypothesis is that the source of SI pain is sprained or torn ligaments, rather than injury to the joint surfaces themselves.
Backbends can be good or bad for the SI joints, while forward bends usually spell trouble. Postures that spread the thighs wide apart (into abduction), like Baddha Konasana, Upavistha Konasana, and Virabhadrasana II are also big time troublemakers.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Strength and Core Plank Series

Bent Knee Push Up (legs are crossed in table top)

- Hold at the top for 3 counts
- Lower for 3 counts
- Hold and hover for 3 counts
- Lift for 3 counts
- Hold at the top and recross the legs with the other leg on top
- 2 to 10 sets

- Hold 10 seconds to 5 minutes depending on your strength

Forearm Plank

- Hold 10 seconds to 5 minutes depending on your strength

Downward Facing Dog

- Hold 10 seconds to 5 minutes


- Hold 10 seconds to 5 minutes depending on your strength

Dolphin Pumps/Push Ups (moving from Forearm plank to dolphin with your fingers interlaced)

- Do as many sets as you can from 1 to 50

Mandala Pose

- Hold 10 seconds to 1 minute

Side Plank Variation

- Hold 10 seconds to 1 minute

Side Plank (if you are strong enough, if not omit)

- Hold 10 seconds to 1 minute

Forearm Side Plank

- Hold 10 seconds to 1 minute

Saturday, February 10, 2018


My sister and her husband had a charter school named Sankofa. I designed an image for them.

It’s a bird looking backward but moving forward.  That’s where I see myself right now in this state of Sankofa.

In yoga we have mystically bird, Garuda.

“Sankofa is a Ghanaian principle meaning “Go back and take it” symbolizing positive reversion and revival.  The proverb signifies “the importance of returning in time to bring to the present useful past cultural values, which are needed today.  It is believed that progress is based on the right use of positive contribution from the past.” - Agbo

According to wikipedia

Sankofa is a word in the Twi language of Ghana that translates to "Go back and get it" (san - to return; ko - to go; fa - to fetch, to seek and take) and also refers to the Asante Adinkra symbol represented either with a stylized heart shape or by a bird with its head turned backwards carrying a precious egg in its mouth.

Sankofa is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi," which translates as: "It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten."

“The keys and secrets which our great ancestors, healers, and Prophets had available to them, and which they use to decipher and reveal the great Spirit of life, are quickly being hidden away for all eternity, as concrete is poured over them, and as they are replaced with new devices using technologies that are deceiving instead of enlightening.” – Project Together

I talked to my uncle for about two hours on Monday.  I have never talked to him before in my life.  He is my father’s half brother, 18 years younger than my dad from my grandfather’s 2nd marriage. 

I never wanted to talk to him before.  I thought he and my grandfather were racists. I thought he didn’t want to know us because we were black.  I met my grandfather only once, I was six or seven and we drove to Omaha, Nebraska to meet him. I don’t know why at that moment we did that.  Why my parents opened up a world and another family to me and then closed it without any explanation,  leaving me to think I had done something wrong.  That I wasn’t good enough for my grandfather and uncle’s love.  I didn’t have any other grandfather.  My mother’s father left to get a pack of cigarettes when she was 5 and never came back.  That man in Omaha was the closest chance I had.

I remember my grandfather, his wife and my uncle speaking Greek all the time.  I didn’t know what was going on. In my memory I didn’t feel welcome – but my mother now assures me I changed that memory.  She swears that my grandfather doted on my brother and me.  That is in fact why I was probably so sad that I never heard from him again. My yoga teacher Maria Mendola once told me that memory is just the memory of the last time you remembered the memory. Can I trust my memory or did I change it to compensate for the loss? 

I wrote my grandfather many letters but I only remember mailing one myself.  I remember getting the address from my mother and putting a stamp on the letter and taking it to the mail box.  My uncle said my grandfather called my dad every couple of months and my dad would yell it him and then hang up. (My mother recently confirmed this – but as I child no one ever told me he called).  My uncle said he didn’t know about many letters from me, he only knew of one letter, and my grandfather kept it in his wallet his whole life along with a picture of me, my mom, dad, sister, and brother.

Maybe my dad never sent my letters, maybe my grandfather’s second wife never gave them to him.  But knowing now that my grandfather kept my letter in his wallet his whole life makes me cry.  Knowing that he wasn’t embarrassed that we were black that he wanted to be in our life is really important to me.  It’s transformational. "Go back and take it."  I am going back and taking the story of my grandfather.

My Sankofa, is learning about my grandfather from my uncle "and making a new relationship together with Nick where we can be friends and maybe one day be uncle and niece.  There was so much pain – mine, my father’s, my grandfather’s and Nicks, but that is the past.  The bird sees the past but moves forward.  Nick and I can define our future and heal this wounds by accepting each other as we are.

My grandfather lived his life for social justice.  He organized unions around the country.  He was a founding member of the CIO before it merged with the AFL.  He worked in steel mills, coal mines, and constructing the railroad, always organizing, trying to make conditions better.  He spoke Italian and some Chinese so he could talk to people better about the unions.  He changed lives, he changed the world, and he was just a short man just about 5’-7” with a 2nd grade education.  He came to the US from Greece when we was 14 years old without a single relative here.  But he was strong, like a bulldog, a learned from neck.  He was a man you didn’t want to mess with.

I will honor his strength and his life campaign for social justice in my own way.  Teaching yoga to everyone who wants it.  Sharing yoga with the underserved and under-represented. Sharing my story through art, yoga and writing.  Hoping my experiences can help someone else with theirs. Healing myself and bringing healing tools to others in the best way I know how.

On Initiation

“It is my conviction that initiation is a life-defining, affirming, and fulfilling rite of passage supporting and celebrating the young person’s membership in the community and unique gifts and potentials; powerful enough to align the individual with her dynamic person in the world.” - Penniman

I feel I never was initiated and it was very confusing to me when I stopped being a girl and became a woman.  For me having my period and then being sexual active were my personal markers toward womanhood.  But they were personal not communal. My period came at 12.  My father, not my mother, came to school with a bag of feminine napkins.  I longed for my mother to help me but she did not come.  She never even mentioned it.  My sister, ten years older, was already far away living in New York City.  I went to the bathroom not sure how to use the pads.  I ended up naively putting the pads sticky side up against my vagina.  Where was my initiation?  Where was my community of female elders? Where was a loving relative to care about me?

My first “sexual experience” may not even been sex.  I am not sure even now if we did it or not.  I was fourteen years old  - high and drunk and I went to bed with an ugly red head guy just because he asked me.  Not because I liked him. I didn’t get to like him.  I didn’t know him.  I wasn’t attracted to him but since my self-esteem was so low, I thought if he wanted me I should oblige.  I remember him pumping against my leg, and that is where I still am confused - I never quite remembered if he went inside of me or not.  I talked to my cousin a couple of days later and she assured me if I had had sex I would known it.  I was hopeful we didn’t do it but I watched my stomach carefully for many months hoping a baby was not going to appear.

This boy and I never really talked after.  I remember him having to leave school because of drug problems.  I even heared he had gone psychotic because of too much LSD.  We loved LSD and mushrooms my friends and I.  We loved the hallucinations, the visions and the insights.  But we all had this little fear if we did too many we too could “go psychotic.”

Going to college was also a marker.  I traveled to Providence, Rhode Island to be an artist.  Everyone was so disappointed in me.  I had gotten into one of the best art schools in the country and my parents were annoyed, disappointed and angry.  The weight of their disapproval was too heavy on me and by my sophmore year I was back home at an Ivy League school learning to be an architect.  I was even rowing on the women’s crew team.  Every felt better except me.

And somewhere in all that I didn’t worry anymore if I was a woman.  I knew I was a woman.  I had survived a rape at 15 and a sexual assault at 17.  I had given up on my dream of being an artist before I was twenty.  I had compromised my mind, body and spirit.  It wasn’t a question anymore of if I was a woman but what kind of woman I was going to be.

commentary on the Article: What Can Be Learned From Rwanda About Battling Depression

I really enjoyed this article.  It made a big impression on me.

For the key paragraph of the whole article is:

“We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave. They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again. Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave."

~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.  From The Moth podcast, 'Notes on an Exorcism'.

Why was so transformative me?   I have been to talk therapy many times:  once my parents put me in therapy as a teenager, twice in graduate school trying two different therapists in my 3 year tenure, a few sessions with my husband in my thirties, and twice as a woman in my 40s.   Accept for one special therapist in graduate school where I had two sessions at a time of huge crisis I never felt like therapy was working.  Now I have words why.  The environment was sterile, forced, controlled and did not bring me joy.  I thank this article for bringing me language to express what I could not express before. 

Yoga is my therapy now.  Maybe it is not the modality for everyone but for me it has been a game changer in my life.

This statement is also very important from the article.

“western mental health workers,” however well-intentioned, are not significantly different from the “Christian missionaries” who beheld “the white man’s burden” in Africa and attempted to “enlighten” them into Western ways. Less generously, it’s a form of cultural imperialism based on a spurious notion of Western cultural superiority that can be seen in every area of our culture.”
We have to be careful that we are not coming from a place of imperialism and privilege when we reach out to help individuals or communities. I even I (especially I) have to check myself with my volunteer work with at risk youth and Latino elders.  A higher degree doesn’t mean I/we have the answers and know what’s right for everyone.  Expensive education and/or skin color doesn’t justify paternalism.

As I understand it, research is moving toward explaining that trauma does not store in the pre-frontal cortex which is the verbal part of the brain.  This explains why movement modalities that do not deal with language are so effective in treating depression.  Bessel Van der Kolk author of The Body Keeps the Score will not treat patients with talk therapy unless they are doing yoga or some other form of contemplative movement.   I believe this too.  I believe in the healing power of the body.  Everything we need is already within us.  Let’s move!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s get outside! Let’s heal in community!

In addition, I related to this statement:
“. . . you can only get Obamacare for western mental health care; they don’t cover “body workers” such as cranial sacral, chiropractors, and masseuses, who have done more good for me personally (and many others) than pharmaceuticals have.”

I come against this all the time as a Yoga Therapist.  People want to be able to bill my care to insurance but they can’t.  I often think of getting a degree in Social work or Marriage and Family Therapy so I can bill my yoga services.  Why with so much evidence behind these non-western modalities can we not change the paradigm and cover these services?