imageDuring the first 6 weeks of the year, yogis practice as many sets of Surya Namaskar as they are able. Beginning with 3-5 rounds per day, working up to 12 rounds per day by the end of week one. Then continue adding rounds as able. 12 rounds daily – every day all year – is a great gift to yourself. There are many variations of Surya Namaskar, and to be honest, I never enjoyed it much until I practiced this version. I’m practicing it daily, in sync with this mantra music . It’s fantastic! It works on all the muscles and joints. I start with 1 minute of twists, which help loosen my low back, (because there are no twists,) and this is the one twist I can do without injuring my back – I start slowly, and only increase my speed gradually as my back loosens up.



Yoga Modifications for Harrington Rod


Image by CarynNL via Flickr

Monday, June

Today I did the Ultimate Stretch Workout. The modifications I made were in Ultimate Stretch Series Part Two.

Halasana – Plow pose – while I was able to do plow pose when I was younger; it took some practice to be able to do it and my rod made it difficult to come out of the pose. Currently, I will not attempt it until I am stronger, and have a spotter to help me get out of the pose. I don’t want any injuries.  🙂

In place of plow I am doing lunges. Not a substitute for plow, but I need to incoprporate them into my daily practice.

Here is a great review of Halasana in Yoga Journal, complete with photo, beginners’ tips, modifications, etc.

Urdhva Dhanurasana – The other modification I make for myself in the second series is – I do not do Wheel pose, instead I do the modification in the video.


I did the Sa Re Sa Sa meditation (practicing daily until the June 15 Full Moon), instead of the Guru Ram Das meditation on the DVD.

A mother plays the guitar while her two daught...
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Memorial Day – I practiced  The Kundalini Yoga Warrior Workout with Elder Daughter. That was fun!

June 1, 2011 – Today I found my old CD of the mantra Aap Sahai Hoa Sachay Daa Sacha Doa, Har Har Har and listened to it while practicing the Meditation For Prosperity which uses that manta. The CD I used is called Aap Sahai Hoa by Singh Kaur. I love Singh Kaur’s music. If you haven’t heard her, take a listen, you’ll be glad you did. If you have heard her, take a listen anyway, she is so Divine! You can listen to her  at the following link,  Spirit Voyage, which happens to be my favorite music and yoga online shopping bliss!

Although you can listen to a wide varity of Singh Kaur’s music at, I have not been able to find a copy of her version of Aap Sahai Hoa there or elsewhere on-line. I was hoping to find a new copy for my ipod because the CD I have skips after 21 minutes. When I find one, I will post it here.  Today I practiced The Kundalini Yoga Set New Lungs & Circulation (twice); in addition to Pranayam for Emotional Balance and New Perspective – which is inhaling left, exhaling right with long deep breathing. This was a great combo. I enjoyed it, my low back enjoyed it, and my spirit felt exalted.

Extreme Knitting

Julia Hopson of Knit Wits, Penzance, Cornwall ...

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A week or so ago I posted a photo of a woman who knitted with the world’s largest knitting needles (posting again today, just because I love it so much!)

Today I saw a woman knitting with big needles, but not nearly as long as the world’s largest needles! I remember seeing some fantastic things by a gentleman named  Ivano Vitali. Mr. Vitali knits on huge needles, with yarn he makes from paper. I think he is form Firenze (one of my favorite places in the world!), beautiful photos of Ivano and his work here, check out his website and here is a newsclip from Italy

My other big news is today is my sister in law and nephew’s birthday! This morning there was a Crazy Hail Storm. There has not been another storm like this one in ten years – exactly ten years ago today when my nephew was born! Such a special guy, and he has a very special mom, who share’s his birthday! Happy Birthday You Two!!!

Yoga Challenge – Today

Day 23 – Thursday, May 26, 2011 – This morning I completed the Kundalini Yoga Series for the Pituitary Gland. My back definitely is improving. I think I am walking somewhat more ‘straight up’. My energy level is better, less pain, and improved range of motion. I am feeling very grateful. I am curious if the key will be doing two extra hours of yoga, or if one extra hour a day will be enough. The shape of my back certainly is improving.

Movers and Ma Rollers

A grasp of fresh air

Image by Bindaas Madhavi via Flickr

I’ved miss a few days logging my progress in my 100 Day Yoga Challenge, and then I missed a few days of the Challenge all together! So, I am going to forget the more distant-recent past, and start with yesterday.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011 – I completed the entire Kundalini Yoga Ultimate Stretch Workout DVD, and wore a pedometer all day at work.

The institution I work for is hosting a fitness initiative  this month, encouraging folks to increase their walking. We’ve had the opportunity to join groups, by department, have been given pedometers, and are tracking our steps daily for four weeks. The idea is to double the distance you walk during the last two weeks.

I joined my department’s team, “The Movers and Rolllers” (I don’t know what that means!) and I must admit I thought this was an interesting activity – partly becasue I thought it kind of discourages folks from walking too much the first two weeks. This notion was reinforeced by my first day of wearing the pedometer.

By the way – It is a relatively cool digital pedometer which will convert my steps into miles, kilometers, and even calories burned. Yesterday, without doing any extra intentional walking, I walked 5.6 miles while at work. However, today I just walked 2.1 miles, so, I am kind of relieved. I don’t think I will be up all night long those last two weeks pacing the floors!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 – I walked up 4 flights of stairs and back down again with a couple members of The Movers and Rollers. I did the “Pituitary Gland Series“, along with the Meditation for Perspective & Emotional Balance this morning and again tonight. I love this set. I think it is a perfect combination for helping my flatback.

Another technique I have been using is lying on top of two tennis balls which are tied inside a tube sock; this is similar to using a Ma Roller.

I place the device on a soft surface and lie down with one ball on either side of the spine. Then I place my feet flat on the surface I am on to help control the amount of pressure exerted onto the device. I don’t practice this on the floor because the floor is just too hard and produces too much pressure on my rod. This technique seems helpful with the constant state of spasm my paraspinal musculature is in.

Frank Davis' home-made guitanjo

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I just finished watching Suits: The Art Guys a “Cool Film”. If you haven’t seen it – click on the link above  and enjoy. You can read The Art Guys final say about the Suit Controversy here.

I haven’t posted an update on how my yoga challenge is going the past few days. I have been working on a template for my Yoga Challenge daily log. However, I will say that the day after the day my back had no pain or stiffness, things digressed. I know it is all part of the reconditioning of my back and I am still excited. Today I did Charan Jap for 3 miles in 43 minutes. Then Frank & I went out for Watermelon Gazpacho, Vegan Breakfast Tacos and Fresh Apple, Celery, Ginger, Mint Juice at Heights Ashbury Coffeehouse.

We were both thrilled to have fresh and tasty food.

Yesterday I walked 2 3/5 miles and did the Ultimate Stretch. On Friday I did the Ultimate Stretch too.

Personal Training Outdoors - Lunges Category:F...

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I am thrilled! This morning, after I arrived at work I noticed I was walking with more ease than I have in years. That alone was very exciting. What is even more exciting is the increased low back/hip flexibility and ease in walking lasted throughout the entire day. That has not happened in years. I have also been able to stand up easily after prolonged periods of sitting. I went to the grocery store after work, carried around a grocery basket, and have cooked dinner – my low back still feels good! This is extreme motivation to continue and see how good can it get!

I did my normal routine this morning, but have not done anything extra – yet – except this afternoon one of my coworkers and I practiced a few lunges. It was serendipitous because as I was sharing my new joy in ease of movement and telling him about my 100 day yoga challenge – in particular about the psoas stretches I have been doing he said, “Do you mean these?” and proceeded to demonstate the exact same lunges I found online last night, the ones I posted about yesterday and decided I could easily fit a few in during the day at work. Well, there I was with my co worker showing me those great stretches at work. 🙂 You don’t have to look far for and answer, once you start to look.

My master always said, “The unknown is known to me.”

Photo by

Liver Lovers

Estonian Roerich Society

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I must admit that yesterday I did not meet my yoga challenge; I did not do an extra hour of yoga or walk 3 miles. I did do my regular yoga practice and walked at work. There is a lot of walking to do at work. 🙂

Today is –

Day Eight: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 – I taught two yoga and meditation classes today. For my yoga challenge I did this set twice: CLEANSING & PURIFYING THE LIVER and also The CREATIVITY Series.

I have done the Liver set a few times this week and it is already getting easier. My hips have been tight ever since my surgery in 1976. At first I thought the problem was related to the having worn a heavy, plaster body cast for 9 months. When the cast came off, my hips felt like they were tight from being in the cast. After years of earnest stretching I finally realized I had lost my natural lordosis and now my body would not be in alignment.

Consequently, psoas stretches are a challenge, but they make a world of difference in how I feel. I am looking forward to practicing these stretches. Some people believe the psoas can cause scoliosis for various reasons. Stretching the psoas with Flat back Syndrome can be a challenge. In the liver set, I can not do a proper seated on the heel lunge and I am not certain if I ever will be able to or not. But, I am practicing these modified lunges in-between attempts for the full lunge, Kapotasana II. My massage therapist taught me a variation of Kapotasana I, which is practiced while standing. I will have to take a series of photo to help explain it.

Weekly Log

Julia Hopson of Knit Wits, Penzance, Cornwall ...

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Today I drove a friend to the doctor’s office for medical procedures. I brought along a baby blanket that I am knitting for another friend’s ‘soon to be born’ baby grandson. The pattern is called Basket Weave Baby Blanket and someday I will post photos, but for now I am relying on links. I was able to finish it while I was there. I also had the great pleasure of looking through Knitting Art 150 Innovative Works from 18 Contemporary Artists by Karen Searle. YUM! I recommend this book if you are interested in the art knitting movement. Your inspiration will definitely be stoked! I took care of my daily yoga challenge before I left the house this morning …

Day Six: Monday, May 9, 2011 :


This set is said to help “compensate for our lack of simple walking, as well as work directly on the liver to cleanse and purify it.”

1. Sit in Easy Pose with the spine very straight. Inhale for 5 seconds. Exhale for 5 seconds. Hold the air out 15 seconds and pump your navel point up and out in rhythm (really pull it up high, and the push it out). Continue this breath pattern for 5 minutes. Relax.

2. Pavan Sodhan Kriya. Lie on the back with legs straight, ankles together. Inhale and raise legs to 60°, holding in position for 15 seconds. Exhale as you bring your knees to your chest. Hold the breath out for 15 seconds. Inhale and return legs to 60°, hold for 15 seconds. Exhale and lower legs back down to the floor, hold 15 seconds. FEEL GREAT! Do this 8 times. Relax for 5 minutes.

3. Sit on the right heel, with the left leg extended straight out behind. Let your eyes gaze up at the sky, head falling back. Your elbows must press at your sides, and your palms face forward. Long deep breathing, 5-1/2 minutes. Change sides for another 5-1/2 minutes.  I can not sit all the way up straight, due to my spinal fusion, but this posture does feel good and I should incorporate it into my regular practice.

4. Lie on back with feel 3 feet apart, arms at the sides, also approximately 3 feet apart. Keeping your arms and legs straight, raise them 2 feet from the floor. Deep powerful breathing. Hold until you shake. Relax.

5 Either sit on your heels, or in half-lotus, or full lotus. Lie flat on the back, arms at the sides, and relax in position with a long deep breath. After 3 minutes, gracefully stretch your legs out straight and relax. (I sat on the heels in Rock Pose. I have been practicing this posture daily for the past couple weeks. Somedays I can do it, other days I need to bolster my back with pillows. My flexibility changes day-to-day.)


This Week in DVDs

Beagle tan-white

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The Ultimate Stretch

Kundalini Yoga for Beginners & Beyond

Kundalini Yoga Warrior Workout

Note from Day Four: Last night I watched 2 movies on Netflix while I knitted. I paused to get up and let Ms. E Beagle in and out, or to get a drink several times during the evening. Normally after sitting that long, I look like I am decades older than I am, bent over, stiff, hard to walk. Last night I felt very inspired because I could stand up straight with ease and walk normally. It is amazing what a difference an hour of  yoga a day, for just several days can make! I am feeling very inspired and grateful.

Day Five: Mother’s Day – Sunday, May 8, 2011 – Kundalini Yoga for Beginners & Beyond
I did both sets on this DVD:
Set 1: Rise and Spine aka Basic Spinal Series
Set 2: The Five Tibetans
and also the Meditation for Deep Relaxation

I had an enjoyable day. Fabulous breakfast of Chai Rooibos Tea with Organic Soy milk and Daughter Lu’s Ultra Yummy Gluten Free Pistachio Cake. Lovie sent a very touching message. We picked up dinner from Jenni’s Noodle Bowl, which has both vegan and Gluten Free options and spent the afternoon at my folk’s house with the family.

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