Yoga? Yes! Yoga! 

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I was a sick kid, so in my early twenties when a friend introduced me to healthy eating and working out, I immediately protested that those things most certainly would be of no help to me because I was born with this faulty body that was prone to pain and sickness...

Thankfully, my friend wasn't buying my bullshit and insisted that if I was human, I was capable of eating healthy food, exercising and that yes, even my lame ass body would respond favorably in some way.

During my twenties, thirties and forties, cardio, weight training and various aggressive workouts kept my body lean and strong, but something happened as I began to approach fifty... things began to HURT! I'm not talkin' workout pain like from the lactic acid build up that is so common in post workout recovery, I'm talking pain, like, "oh my God, I think I may have broken myself!"

X-rays and MRIs would reveal that indeed a life of living boldly, taking some falls, having some car wrecks, doing a lot of hard core work outs had begun to take its toll on my body.

But what to do? I wasn't going to become some squishy old lady who couldn't carry her own groceries, or stop going on all of the adventures that life surely still has in store for me.

So, what to do? Yoga that's what!

Conditions Addressed By Yoga:

  • Sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteopenia (bone loss)- The weight bearing aspect of yoga as well as the increased balance and flexibility can really give aging a run for its runner's lunge.
  • Core Strength- Back pain, bulging- herniated and slipped discs are helped by building core strength so that the back is more supported thereby reducing further injury and helping to reduce pain.
  • Compromised Ligaments- Hips, shoulders, knees and ankles are particularly vulnerable. Yoga helps to strengthen the muscles that surround those areas giving them much needed support (always be sure to select a yoga practice that honors any previous injuries).
  • Tendonapathy/tendonitis- inflammation of the joints is very uncomfortable This condition requires a very eclectic approach to your daily yoga practice in order to avoid over taxing tendons and days of rest may also be required, but the good news is that in time, the condition may subside due to these time tested postures!
  • Neuropathy and nerve issues- you know that numb tingling feeling? That is the result of lack of circulation. Yoga addresses all of the systems of the body beautifully to help promote healthy blood flow.
  • Blood Pressure- some studies have shown yoga to be helpful in reducing blood pressure.
  • Insomnia- the deep breathing that is promoted during yoga helps you to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly! WHOO HOO! I mean... whoo hoo :-)
  • Chronic Bronchitis, Asthma & Emphysema- again, it's all about the breath here. Deep breathing is very helpful to these conditions and yoga is chock full o' deep breathing.
  • Hormone Changes- HELLOOOOOO!?! Oh yes, this is a biggie! By addressing ALL of the systems of the body, hormone issues such as menopause can become much more bearable!
  • Chronic Illness & Pain- although some adaptations may be required to do yoga if you suffer from diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, it can still prove to be very helpful and give hope for a much brighter future.

So this all sounds pretty good huh? It almost sounds too good to be true, but there is a reason yoga has been around for thousands of years!

So, how to start a practice?

I had done plenty of yoga previously in my life but never as my primary work out. I knew by my chronic pain that I really had no choice, so I began to investigate how I could get the best possible yoga work out. Here is the dilemma, I am kinda competitive, so getting into a room with other people might lead to further injuries, AND, I was really feeling like having some me time that would be contemplative rather than social, might be just what the doctor ordered since I live a very social lifestyle.

Where I went next brought a gift to me that I couldn't have predicted. You see there is a LOT of content on the web. Did you know that? It's TRUE! If you haven't already done so, go to YouTube some time and put in "yoga" and you will be astonished at how many results you get, and so many of these would be yoga instructors just were NOT a fit for me. I needed a yogi that I could respect and who would give instructions that would be very specific to keep me from making all of the common mistakes in the postures, someone who would encourage me to listen to my body and accept where I am at each and every day without pushing to the point of injury. I needed... Adriene!

Yoga with Adriene is an online community lead by Adriene Mishler.  She has so many videos for all different levels of practitioners and she gives SPOT ON instructions. Best of all, she feels like a real pal. It almost feels like she's just hanging out in the room with you!

Here is a link to a little video I did to show you my goofy morning yoga with Adriene.

Happy body. Happy life!

Love, Kelly

 

Embracing EVERYTHING About Your Truth! 

Recently, I binge watched one of my favorite shows; Grace & Frankie starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

I love that these two ladies have actually been long time friends in real life and the authenticity of what I see portrayed on screen is so sincere that it is simply a thing of beauty.

I love that the show puts a spotlight on the importance of female friendships; there we are with that friendship theme again right? But this is so powerful because literally these two ladies are holding hands through some really difficult shit and it ain't always pretty and they don't always get it right, but they ALWAYS find their way back to each other.

Season 2 episode 4 contained a particularly vulnerable performance by Jane Fonda. She reveals the reality of what she looks like without all of the help from makeup and more to her considerably younger beau.

The humility with which this moment is portrayed is simply stunning. Grace's unwillingness to continue hiding what she looks like without makeup and the cane she now needs to assist her walking, etc.. become a moment of bare naked truth between her and her lover. The inner struggle that is so apparent as she removes her false eyelashes, makeup, hair extensions and more is initially a combination of sadness and anger until she is finally standing there completely revealed and a brave Grace reemerges to tell him basically this is me baby take it or leave it!

How long must we cling to the idea that only the young visage is beautiful?

There is a new day dawning. I see it all around me. Women "of a certain age" are getting bold. They are saying, "yes, my skin isn't smooth like it was when I was 20 something, but I know things about life that I never could have known at 20 and that has VALUE! Look into my eyes and see my wisdom and compassion. See my ability to see through the bullshit. See ME!"

I applaud the women of the world; the pioneers, who have paved the way for me as I begin to step into the second half of life. My way is being made easier simply because they have stood up to the status quo and said, "enough!"

So, as I navigate new ways to exercise my body because my joints bark at me when I run and when I stop caring about what's in fashion and I wear what makes ME feel sexy, beautiful and fully expressed, these, among so many other things will be the gifts that the bold women of the world have given me.

For a strong dose of inspiration, click here and watch the scene that rocked my world: Grace & Frankie

The Signature of Youth  Podcast

I was a sick kid. I remember being in and out of the hospital a lot when I was young and seeing that pitiful look on the doctor’s faces and the worry in my parents eyes seemed to suggest that I might not be around for much longer. 

Well, clearly that was not the case and I did make it through… Unless this is a hallucination with a hell of a lot of detail! 

One of the great things that came from those years of ill health is that I developed a profound appreciation for my body. 
As I have now been through a few different seasons of life, I’ve begun to notice that there are some signatures of youth that can be present at any age and when they are, not only do I look better, I feel better! 

So I thought a really great place to focus this particular chapter would be on fun! Have you ever noticed how much younger someone looks when they are smiling and laughing? Well, nobody can make you laugh better than a good friend right? 

I found out that the Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging that began in 1992 learned some really interesting things about friendship. 

There were 1500 people in the study who were over 70 years old and they were asked how much contact they had with their friends and family; children, confidants and yes, even their spouses! They monitored the group for the first four years on a yearly basis and then about every three years after that. After a decade,It seems that those who had close contact with their children and relatives experienced little impact on their risk of death. However those who had a robust network of close friends had a significantly reduced risk of death. 

Statistically, the older adults with the strongest network of friends were 22% less likely to die during the study! *

Friends are a wonderful support system when times are challenging and I can definitely attest to that. I don’t know what I would do without my dear friends. But it wasn’t always like that for me. When I was a kid I was very different from other children and I sometimes wonder if that alienation from having fun friendships didn’t contribute to my ill state of health… 

My friends are the ones who remind me to get out and have fun. They put a smile on my face! They give me an excuse to be silly! Most importantly, the remind me that I have value and I am loved.

I tend to be a very busy person, but I always tell my friends to please remember to invite me to anything they think I might enjoy because even if I’m not available it always feels great to get the invite! 

That was a very vulnerable thing for me to ask of them, but it was also a very powerful thing to ask. 

Allowing myself to be vulnerable with my friends, to let them know that their invitation means the world to me has allowed me to be more authentic and also get me a lot more invites to do fun things! 

So if you have not taken the time to cultivate friendships, it’s never too late… your health will thank you for it and you will get a lot more compliments about how youthful you look too!

* Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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  1. Namaste