Effort and Ease

Musings On Body and Mind

My yoga practice, over many years, has brought me many benefits.

I first came to yoga as part of a journey to soothe an aching spine. First, the physical discipline certainly helped me heal. There was benefit there, and that was good. Having brought a strong athletic drive and a long held competitive spirit to my early learning, my practice was full of the kind of striving that is just one aspect of yoga. As I studied the history and meaning of yoga as a practice of the mind and the body, I learned the value of turning my attention inward. I found myself in yoga class after yoga class and little by little I learned to let go of the urge to compare my physical abilities to those of my classmates. I began to learn about the benefits of finding a balance between effort and ease.

This is an age old journey. It is part the very earliest thoughts and writings on yoga.

In an interview, my teacher, Natasha Rizopoulos says this:

 Q.How does your Asana practice help you focus and make decision from your gut without wavering?

A.A consistent Asana practice teaches the powerful principles of Abhyasa and Vairagya, persistent effort and non-attachment to results. If you believe that you’ve given your best, then you trust the outcome whatever it is.

Click here to see the entire interview.


Yoga and Bone Health, Encouraging News!


Jane Brody, science writer for the New York Times, has been writing the "Personal Health" column for the paper since 1976. Her informative pieces appear weekly in the Science Times section of the paper.

This recent piece "12 Minutes of Yoga for Bone Health," published on December 21, 2015, presents a discussion of studies done on the benefits of yoga and bone health. Click on the link to read this interesting and encouraging article.

And click this link, to literally see more. 



By Ashley Oerman, January 5, 2015 "Womens Health"


A "Flexible" Approach to Yoga

I share with you here a recent story printed in The Boston Globe. The article offers a glimpse at some trending variations of yoga. The writer, Kara Baskin, reports on her travels around town experimenting with some of these practices.

It's got me thinking.

One does not have to look far to find yoga "combos" in many shapes. One can discover, for example, yoga plus arial acrobatics, yoga plus pilates, yoga in the water on a paddle board or even yoga plus boxing.  

I fight the urge to roll my eyes as I hear of some of these "hybrids."  

Yoga is the linking of breath and movement with intention--on a paddleboard? Why not?

Interest in yoga is booming. It is wonderful that the awareness of a mind/body practice is reaching more and more and more people.





I have been traveling  and visiting and preparing and packing and unpacking. Nearly finishing laundry from one adventure, before heading off on the next. Yes, sitting on the floor of my bedroom, the last bag is still unpacked. And off I go again this weekend. I am traveling to Maine, to a lovely little island in a big beautiful lake, to witness the wedding of a young man I met when he was 8 days old. 

I am fortunate to be hopping from place to place with pleasant purposes. Even in the disorganization of coming and going, I am happy to see relatives, have reunions with great friends and celebrate the cycles of life.


And I am remembering the yoga.

It is balance that is at the heart of the practice, as it is in life.


Visiting the ocean for the first time. 

Visiting the ocean for the first time. 

A Glance Back

I am looking over my shoulder at my beginnings in Yoga.

I was first drawn to the physical challenge of yoga practice.

Then, it was simply a new arena for exertion, for my body.

I was active, with a busy family life and also a habit of taking on athletic challenges.

A distinction of my pusuits was that they were solitary. 

Historically, I was not drawn to teams or games, but to the challenge of besting myself. Running, riding, skiing, swimming--faster longer. I was a true believer in the "endorphin-high." And I enjoyed the solitary nature of it. Though alone in the efforts, I always watched the others around me. With determination, I asked myself, could I pass them?

As I think about my many pre-yoga years, I can discern what was a yoga-like nature in my sports. Even as I looked to get ahead of another on the course, I also enjoyed the meditative quality of being alone with it.

And then came yoga.

It took time, years, for me to come to understand and appreciate the "mind' part of the mind/body nature of yoga. It took time, years, for me to let go of the competetive piece as I came to my mat. At first, I looked around. Could I balance as well?  Could I reach as far?  Could I hold as long? 

With study and time and seasoning, I began to close my eyes and open my experience. I began to find balance.

A Doctor's musings on mindfulness.


On Taking Notice — Learning Mindfulness from (Boston) Brahmins

Michael W. Kahn, M.D.

N Engl J Med 2015; 372:901-903March 5, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1410397

A young resident sees the value of mindfulness as he learns about communication between a seasoned Doctor and his patient. 

Click here to read  this story  published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  It is a sweet example of one doctor's experience, learning to appreciate the importance of paying attention in ways that may not be taught in medical school.

Mindfulness means, very simply, paying attention. It is sensitivity and awareness. And add to that, the intention to slow down. It is something we cultivate in yoga practice. It is something to apply as we travel the world.



March. March. March.

Tulips on my table. They are yellow and lovely.

But, here's my small gripe:

Nowadays, I feel like I can pretty much get any flower at any time of the year. I remember, not too long ago, that to see the first tulips in big bunches for sale at the market in late February when we were just beginning to hope for Spring--that was something amazing. It was like the surprise and delight of fireworks. That experience has become diluted and a little bit, I feel robbed. The modern engineering of light and soil and seasons, has brought us all tulips, all the time.

That said, no matter what, I love tulips.

The yellow bunch on my kitchen table is some nice tonic to the persistence of snow, snow, snow outside.

About to break the ALL TIME RECORD in a winter for snowfall up here in New England.



"It's just being."

Did you see the segment on "mindfullness" on 60 Minutes? (12/14/2014.)

Anderson Cooper does a story on the teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor of medicine and developer of a program that teaches stress reduction through meditation. It is simply called, "Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction."

Anderson Cooper confesses to "drinking the Kool-Aid." See him discuss his experience. 

Click the following link to watch.





I respect the beautiful and complex seasoning of long life. I welcome opportunities to celebrate longevity.

Please read this article by David Brooks of the New York Times. It offers interesting thoughts on some of what may be lost as we age, but also what is gained over the years 


Autumn, again.


As I look out my window in New England, I see the beautiful palette of fall colors. It is the turning of the leaves, again. The annual evolution from green to every variation of gold to red and purple and beyond. 

And most likely, in a few months I will be looking out of this very same window remarking in awe-struck terms, of the return of the ubiquity of green.

I love the change of the seasons. I love the trasitions. I love that I am reminded that nothing lasts forever, and also that renewal can be right around the corner.

So, this is a kind of appreciation that is all wrapped up in yoga, too. It is as simple as the inhale and the exhale. It is celebrated in the strength we build and the calm we accept.





Stall falls.

It is not new for me to say that yoga done seated in a chair or on a mat on the floor, can help build strength and balance. 

Of course I recommend yoga practice. And also be aware; be careful and be smart.

I recommend the following article:

Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation


Please read this important article.

And consider the following study too!

Yoga for Prevention of Fall
 by Kathleen K Kelley*
Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, Quinnipiac University, USA

Shells supported in the sand

Shells supported in the sand


More soon.


One of my most dedicated yoga students is a beautiful woman, well into her nineties. During class, she sits in a chair right in front of me, insistlng on following every word and movement. Her regular attendance is with determination. The strength of her intention to keep to a yoga practice is doubtless. Recently, at the start of class she mentioned to me that a hip felt a little sore. 

"Well, take it easy." I told her. " You know what to do."

After class she smiled broadly, eyes twinkiing, "You cured me!" She laughed.

Well, I think we did that together.

Sometimes she leaves class a minute or two early, and she always apologizes in advance for this.

"I have to get to my bridge game," she says.


Mr. Iyengar

B. K. S. Iyengar died yesterday at the age of 95.

The Iyengar style of yoga practice is in his name. 

As I began a dedicated study of yoga, my teachers were those who came from the Iyengar tradition. They were students of Mr. Iyengar.

He was always referrred to as Mr. Iyengar, always with the utmost respect.

I learned the great value of the precision of alignment in  yoga asana, posture.  I learned about this precision as the foundation of strength that comes from the practice.

I learned about breath.

Coming from ancient writings,  and as taught by Mr. Iyengar, I came to appreciate a most important lesson.

Yoga is the quieting of the fluctuations of the mind.




Chair yoga celebrated.

Just a reminder: We can sit with yoga!

The chair is support. The chair is a tool. The chair offers us assistance to experience yoga and to breathe and move into the yoga postures in ways that are most beneficial to us.

In an online article published on About.com YOGA, Ann Pizer discusses the benefits of yoga for seniors.

Go to the link! Nice to see the kind of work I do discussed here.

Chair yoga is gaining more and more recognition.

Turn to it!

Find support!


Yoga. Exercise.

We are our minds and our bodies.

An inspiring story of teaching and learning and love.

A Chiseled Bodybuilder, Frail Clients and a Fitness Story for the Ages

By LOUIE LAZAR JUNE 20, 2014 New York Times

Click to read this.  Here.

And please view the video.   Video.


"Yoga, on a chair?"


Yoga, on a chair? Yes.

We often see images of yoga postures done by those with the luck of great flexibilty, or great strength. We may imagine that yoga is an unattainable, extreme physical practice.

Strength and flexibility can be gained over time,  with benefit to our bodies. But it is important to remember that yoga, as defined as breath in partnership with movement, is most valuable as a method for quieting the chatter of our minds.

What does that mean? In a moment with breath, the chin is level with the floor; the top of the head is called gently up to the sky lengthening the upper body; the chest is open; arms are long at our sides; our palms face forward softly opening our shoulders; our feet press into the earth. We inhale here to lengthen the spine, gently pulling the naval in.

Exhale.  Strength in tadasana,  mountain pose. We are seated on a chair.

The yoga is attention to these directions. And in that moment, the details of everything else soften.

Yoga,  on a chair.   


"Chair Yoga at Work"


Long days sitting at work?

Try this wise direction from my teacher, Lakshmi Voelker, founder of "Get Fit Where You Sit."

Lakshmi says:


It is common to spend hours upon hours on your chair at your desk doing your job, especially with the popularity of the computer.  The time just slips by as your body fills with stress and fatigue.  Only when you finally get up to get something to eat, to go to the bathroom, or to attend a meeting, do you realize that your body has become a tight rubber band and your mind is dull.  If, every few hours, you do the spinal movements and focus on our inhaling and exhaling breath for just a few minutes, your body/mind stays alert and flexible.

While in the office you can incorporate chair yoga poses throughout the day without anyone even noticing.  A few simple spinal movements, a lower back circle, facial and eye movements, wrist and ankle rotations, deep breathing techniques–replacing things like coffee and sugar.  Production goes up, self-esteem goes up, and weight goes down.  (Chair yoga at the office has positive effects on carpal-tunnel syndrome.)  All this benefits you and makes your employer smile.


For more,  please visit Lakshmi Voelker's "Get Fit Where You Sit" website.  Click here.