Wednesday
Aug312011

Here's the Deal:

I'm writing over here now:

http://gratificationdeferred.blogspot.com/

about my experiences with going back to school. Since I'm in school, I pretty much only have time for the one blog, and since I decided it needed its own page, you can think of it as a continuation of this stream of consciousness, only over somewhere else. Just click through as if nothing has happened.

Thursday
Nov252010

Giving Thanks

This time of year I hear myself and other yoga teachers talking in class about the “added stress of parties and family gatherings” and “feeling tired and overstretched” and reminding students to “make sure you take care of yourself.” All this is well and true, but we can also take this period of time as we move towards the end of another year to reflect on where we are, and more specifically, to give thanks for what we have.

 

This time of year I also hear myself and other yoga teachers talking in class about taking the time to feel grateful for all the blessings in our lives. This is also both well and true. Whenever I have the first inklings that I want to throw myself a little pity party, I list the first five things that come to my mind that I am grateful for in my life.

 

But to be honest, sometimes it’s easy to breeze right through thoughts like “I’m grateful for my health” or “I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head and food to eat.” Of course I am grateful for all of those things, but when it comes to soothing my soul, they aren’t always the most effective.

 

On the other hand, something that works every single time for me, that stops any doldrums or envy dead in its tracks, is celebrating the success or joy of those around me, and being grateful that I get to witness it.

 

For example, look at these two people:

 

 

Look how happy they are. They took this picture right after getting engaged to each other. Just looking at this picture makes me happy, because I get to witness what joy they bring to each other. Celebrating with them puts all self-centered thoughts well out of reach and replaces them with a straight shot of pure joy. Even if you don’t know them – aren’t you happier now for seeing this picture of people in love?

 

So when you’re making your list of things you’re grateful for this year – see what happens if you shift it up a little and look at the people around you. Find something positive, or affirming, or even simply a learning experience that has happened for a loved one and let yourself feel grateful that they had this experience. I bet you anything it will send your pity party packing.

 

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday
Nov212010

Sound Asleep

Ever since I first started writing a yoga blog, I’ve had some interesting online interactions. I suppose it’s inevitable when you put yourself out there publicly that you are somewhat vulnerable to anyone that comes your way. The first interesting interaction my friends and I refer to as ‘the Swiss Family Robinson incident’: I received an email from a Swiss man who was apparently “traveling to your area” with his family over the summer and wanted to book 10 private sessions for his family with me. He also felt very, very strongly that he needed to pay me in advance for all 10 sessions. I played along for a few emails, on the off chance that this highly unusual request in somewhat poor English was actually real, but I refused to take the payment bait, which caused his English to become increasingly erratic and oddly full of blessings. Needless to say, Swiss Family Robinson didn’t exist. Neither did the Japanese man who emailed a few weeks later who was also “traveling to your area” and – what a coincidence – wanted to book 10 private sessions in advance.

[I know of at least one other yoga teacher this has happened to, and all I can say to these scammers is: dudes, we’re generally not the wealthiest. You might want to finesse your target.]

So I was primed to be suspicious when I received this email the other day:

Subject: Just following up: the Sound Asleep pillow STILL rocks

[I have to interject here to note that this was the first email I had received on the subject.]

Hi Sarah,

Just wanted to touch base with you on my email from last week regarding the Sound Asleep Comfort pillow. We’d really love to send a free product sample your way for review consideration on your health blog, Sarah Court yoga.
In case we weren’t clear on our first email, the Sound Asleep comfort pillow comes with a built-in speaker that will play sound from your portable music device – but feels just as comfortable as any other pillow you have on the bed already!

 

[Something about that entire sentence cracks me up. Like it says, “It may sound uncomfortable to try and fall asleep with a speaker under your head, but it’s really delightful, if you didn’t get that from our first email – which we didn’t actually send to you!”]

 

This is going to be a very popular new product that will make bedtimes easier for kids and also for adults who might have trouble sleeping. We know, it’s hard to believe something like this exists but that’s why we can’t wait for you to test-nap it for yourself. Please let me know if I can send one your way today! 

As it turns out, this email was neither Swiss nor Japanese but in fact real. To be on the safe side, I gave them the address of a studio where I teach to send me the pillow. I also said very, very clearly that although they were free to send me a pillow, I doubted that I would review it. That was apparently fine with them, as I am now in possession of said pillow.

This is not going to be a pillow review piece, in large part because the pillow is still sitting unopened in my living room. Somehow I can’t bring myself to try it, not because I think it’s necessarily a bad product (although I do wonder why the speaker needs to be IN your ear and not just next to the bed). It’s just that I find it odd to be in a position of product review. I know it’s not unusual for bloggers, and it makes me feel like I should play along and be more mercenary-minded and see what else I could get. But that’s not what this space is for, and I don’t think it’s why any of you read this.

 

So here we go:

Dear Sound Asleep people,

Thank you for sending me one of your pillows, even though I was very ornery about whether or not I would even review it. Your willingness to give me one anyway is lovely. After a certain amount of wrestling with the idea, I’m choosing not to review it on my site, because I don’t feel that product reviews of anything are in line with my goals for my blog. Perhaps this is foolish and I should get with the program and start accumulating free stuff. But as my teacher Sharon Gannon used to say, “You get more stuff, and then you just have more stuff you need to clean.” I’m giving the pillow to my brother: if he gives me any sort of review, I’ll let you know.

Sincerely,

Sarah

Wednesday
Nov172010

Mea Culpa

This is what happens when you edit and write for one blog, and then agree to submit twice monthly articles to another blog. The blog that you started more than a year ago when you didn't know if anyone was listening and you just had to get some stuff out - i.e., this blog here that you're reading right now, gets relegated to the status of the once loved family dog that is now an afterthought ever since proper children arrived.

This blog is not an afterthought. This blog is my firstborn. Well, technically, this blog is my firstborn, but let's not split hairs. Suffice to say: I am writing things. They will go up. On this blog here. When will that happen? That is an excellent question. In the meantime: I have not forgotten you, my three blog readers. Funny things have happened. You will be reading about them soon. If you would rather not be checking the blog to see if I've done it, you can subscribe over on the right and you'll get an email from me when it's happened.

Thank you for reading along. There are more of you than I ever thought there would be. I haven't forgotten you!!

 

Saturday
Sep042010

What a Nerve!

When you start watching cadaver dissection videos, you learn some surprising things. One of the things you learn is that people are, more often than not, moved to revulsion by the fact that you watch cadaver dissection videos. But aside from that, you learn things about the body that you never would have known from the two dimensional pictures in a basic anatomy textbook.

For me, a huge revelation has been the nervous system, the fascinating tangle of fibers that run through the human body and telegraph messages to and from the brain. In my mind, all nerves were small, thin strands that were barely perceivable to the naked eye – but the reality is completely different. Watching Gil Hedley move the piriformis (one of the external rotator muscles located in your butt) to reveal the sciatic nerve beneath, I literally gasped. The nerve was as thick as your pinkie finger, and there was nothing delicate about it. I saw it again a few weeks ago at the Bodies exhibit in Las Vegas (and tried to have a bonding moment with the lab-coated woman standing nearby, who refused to be drawn into my excitement about the size of the sciatic nerve and merely replied, “yes, sometimes nerves are large.”). For those of you who have suffered some form of sciatica, in which the nerve has been impinged upon by an inflamed muscle fiber, and thus find it intolerable to sit or stand or walk, well, no wonder: that nerve is huge, and it’s been hurt.

PT extraordinare Sean Hampton told us in YTU training a year ago that it’s not just the muscles that need stretching, the nerves need it too. It makes total sense: the tissues of the body do not exist in distinct, separate vacuums from each other, but affect and impact each other directly. Constant, passive contraction in a muscle leads to adaptive shortening, and it only follows that the nerves running through that area would also have shortened and suffered as a result.

One of my favorite stretches that I do almost daily is to combat a new environmental stress that I never had to deal with in New York: driving! All that gripping of the steering wheel is creating tension in my forearms and hands. Yuck. Here’s what I do now (of course, courtesy of Yoga Tune Up®):

 

If you want to try this, make sure your scapula stays down – don’t let it hike up into your ear. For bonus points, attempt to drag your hand along the wall without actually moving – you’ll engage the forearm flexors, anterior deltoid, and pecs for a deeper stretch. You will probably feel this as a tingling in your palms, inner elbows, and/or across the chest. It’s a delicious awakening for the brachial plexus (the nerves that run from your neck down into your chest and arms).