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Happy New Year resolutions

January 1st, 2014

This has been a whirlwind year for me with both good and bad things, such as dealing with a broken ankle to losing my beloved granny. It was also year of great accomplishments, with the first being that I am in good health after fully recovering from heart surgery. The biggest highlight of the year was fulfilling my goal to become a yoga teacher. Being a long time yogini I have always wanted to share my passion for yoga since it’s such a big part of my life. Over the past years I have shared my yoga experiences through my column and blog but now I have a new avenue to share my yoga experience with those with physical limitations like myself.

This is the time to recommit and make new goals to lead to new adventures. One of my commitments is to stay fit with eating healthy and my daily yoga and Pilates practice. I also vow to continue empowering people through my column and blog talking about disability issues and my life.

As for my goals I will be working to build my new venture of teaching chair yoga. I began this journey in October when I was a faculty assistant for teaching a seminar at Kripalu for the students to become certified to teach chair yoga. I very much look forward to helping others enjoy the benefits of yoga.

I have also decided its time to start writing a book about living with disabilities with the hopes of inspiring people with my experiences. I am excited to see what this New Year brings.

I am a LV chair yoga teacher

June 19th, 2013

My Carrie Writes Column printed in the Republican 6/19/13

I’m very excited to announce that I’m officially a chair yoga teacher, one of my greatest accomplishments. I was certified by the Lakshmi Voelker chair yoga program. I took the certification class over Skype from my living room. It consisted of six video classes, along with self-study. I learned chair asanas such as salutations, warrior series, balance poses. I also learned breathing techniques, meditations and yoga philosophy.

Chair yoga is the adaption of yoga poses to be used in a chair to help minimize limitations and inflexibility for those facing physical challenges. Chair yoga also incorporates breathing techniques to calm and heal the mind and body. Chair yoga is perfect for those with disabilities and health challenges. The belief is that any pose any pose can be adapted to each individuals’ needs, bringing the full benefit of yoga practice while creating a safe haven for their minds and bodies.

Lakshmi created the chair yoga program in 1982. She is dedicated to creating a yoga practice for anyone to use with modifications. She has brought a way of exercise to those who are unable to do physical exercises. In 1999, she created a Sitting Mountain Series CD, and in 2007 she produced her own chair yoga DVD. Lakshmi has been studying, practicing and teaching yoga since 1969. She is a certified instructor at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge and is a member of the Yoga Alliance. She has certified many individuals across the United States and Canada.

In conclusion, it is my goal to bring Lakshmi’s teachings to individuals across Western Massachusetts to help spread the joy of yoga to individuals with physical limitations like myself. I am beyond overjoyed to be able to share my passion in a teaching manner. I will be combining my roles as a teacher, columnist and activist with the same purpose of helping and inspiring people with disabilities. Please visit my chair yoga page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carriechairyoga , and Lakshmi’s web page is http://www.getfitwhereyousit.com .

Self Advocacy

May 22nd, 2013

This week I am giving a presentation on my favorite topics the self-advocacy age where people with disabilities are becoming independent participants in their communities. Having a disability doesn’t limit our understanding, but in fact empowers us to be involved in issues that affect us and make changes through voting. It is important for people with disabilities to be aware of issues that directly affect them while getting an opportunity to be part of the process and discussion. Nothing is more empowering then using your voice to advocate change. The first step is to know what the disability issues are and what is needed. The second one is to educate your self on disability laws and protected rights. A good advocate has excellent communication and listening skill. Also keeping good records while becoming a master at negotationing will also help. In order to promote positive change through activism we must work together while respecting one another. There is no better feeling than being able to speak up for your self or others to make a positive impact

Peace Boston Strong

May 8th, 2013

On April 15th, just before the finish line at the Boston Marathon two explosions took place, causing widespread despair and destruction. The bombing claimed three lives including that of an innocent child and causing many injuries. In the aftermath many professionals, volunteers and bystanders rushed to help the victims. In one of the largest manhunts in history, law enforcement officials tirelessly worked around the clock to bring those responsible to justice. The manhunt brought the Boston area to a standstill, from events being cancelled, stopping transportation to putting several cities on lockdown.

In a short time victory was achieved in catching the responsible party, causing a collective sigh of relief. During through the whole ordeal Boston stayed strong and determined.

As a pacifist I have been opposed to violence and believe in finding peaceful resolutions to problems. Sadly there is much anger and hate in this world. We need more love, understanding and forgiveness. As individuals we need to think, feel and see with our hearts, the key to our true power. We are all equals and united through spirit. Patanjali is reffered to as the father of yoga, who wrote his thoughts and ideas on how a yogi should live in his book, The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. This book is considered a sacred text for the yoga practice. There are eight parts to the way of living the yoga lifestyle. The first one is yama, which refers to how you socially interact with others around you, such as practicing non-violence against any living creature.

As avid Red Sox fans my husband and I watched the game on April 20. During the opening ceremony the PA announcer reminded us in part to “never quit and persevere. We will always prevail. We are Boston Strong.”

mindful communication

March 21st, 2013

In our vocabulary, there are many words that can be offensive when describing people with disabilities, such as retarded and handicapped. Even statements that are made can just as hurtful and damaging such as “deaf and dumb.” These types of statements can lead to stereotyping, misperceptions and discrimination. It can lead to feelings of anger and belittlement. These feelings can lead to low self-esteem, discouragement and in some cases, depression.
We as a society must remember how powerful the spoken word carries in our language. We must consider others’ feelings and not to judge them on the basis of their disability. The key lesson is to put the person first rather than their disability. Since the disability is a characteristic that is a part of them and that they have many more qualities that outweigh their disabilities.
Words can be very powerful and meaningful but they can also be hurtful and offensive to others. Yoga philosophy teaches us to speak the truth with love. The first thing to do is to be couscous about what we are saying. Then we must ask yourself what is making us say this and how will it affect others. Before speaking ask your self three questions
Such as is this the truth? Is this kind? And is it necessary? Most importantly always speak with your heart that symbolizes your loving self.
In one of my favorite books The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz . One agreement is to be impeccable with our words that have the power to affect others. They also reflect who we are. Yoga teaches us to be conscious of our words and actions while speaking from the heart with love and truth.

21st Century Yoga book review

January 24th, 2013

Two yogini bloggers Carol Horton of http://www.thinkbodyelectric.com/ and Roseanne Harvey
Of http://www.itsallyogababy.com/came together to compile, edit and publish a book of essays. The topics range from yoga, cultural, politics. It was a fascinating read personally I always enjoyed hearing about some one own yoga experience because each one is unique and beautiful like the person and practice. In fact my favorite question to ask a yogi I just met is how did you find yoga. I feel we often get so caught up in what is yoga and the right way to do it that we forget journey and what we can learn from each other. Yoga has influenced my life personally to professionally. It has help create me as a woman, soon to be teacher writer and activist. Yoga is plain and simple an everlasting amazing journey. Check out the book at http://www.amazon.com/21st-Century-Yoga-Politics-Practice/dp/0615617603/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359075678&sr=1-1&keywords=21st+century+yoga

my new year resolution

January 2nd, 2013

I would define the year 2012 as a whirlwind – it just went by so fast. Many events took place in my life from turning forty, to attending a yoga retreat at Omega in New York to having heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Now that I have healed and recovered from the surgery it is time to look forward to the New Year with my resolutions in hand. As a devoted yogini, I have loved sharing my practice through writing about my experiences. I decided to find another way to share my yoga passion by becoming a chair yoga teacher. It is my goal to help people with physical limitations such as myself enjoy the many benefits of a yoga practice. I have enrolled in an online course conducted over Skype to receive my certification as a
Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga teacher. The course will teach me how to adapt yoga poses to be done in a chair. I will also be learning how teach meditation, and breathing techniques and exercises.
In my view, yoga is a very worthwhile practice for the mind and body, as it can truly enrich your life. My goal is to share this gift with everyone and help enjoy the benefits that I have received from my own yoga practice. I wish everyone a very Happy New Year filled with love, peace and happiness.

Parayama

May 1st, 2012

I attended a Saturday workshop taught by well-known yoga and spiritual teacher Beryl Bender Birch. I was so excited to be meeting a famous yoga “rock star.” Beryl has been teaching ashtanga yoga since the seventies along with conducting teacher trainings. In 2000 Yoga Journal named her one of seven American women who helped shape the yoga culture. Beryl also wrote two best sellers titled Power Yoga and Beyond Power Yoga along with other books, CDs and DVDs.
The workshop was about the topic of Parayama, the art of yoga breathing. By breathing we can learn to control the life force called the prana. These exercise help prepare the mind for meditation to be followed by our yoga practice. We practiced Nadi Sodhana, which is breathing through alternating nostrils. Beryl also walked us through the exercise of Jalandara Bandaha, which is a combination of breathing and nodding. I found that the workshop enhanced both my meditation and yoga practice.
Breathing exercises can be very beneficial in several ways. The mind and body connection is controlled through breathing. It is also very relaxing and a great stress release. Breathing exercises have also been shown to help with concentration, creativity and cognitive brain function.

a good yogi activist

April 25th, 2012

As an individual with disabilities one the most important skill I learned was how to be an advocate. This means the ability to stand up for your self and others to protect our equal rights. It is an important lesson to learn because we are the guardians of our own rights. I am a huge supporter of self-advocacy something I have done for years from school to adult life it is second nature to me. The first step is to know what the disability issues are and what is needed. The second one is to educate your self on disability laws and protected rights. A good advocate has excellent communication and listening skill. Also keeping good records while becoming a master at negotationing will also help. In order to promote positive change through activism we must work together while respecting one another. There is no better feeling than being able to speak up for your self or others to make a positive impact. My yoga practice helps keep me focus and grounded in my activism work. Yoga activism will always be the center of my life defining my self as a warrior.

words

March 21st, 2012

George Clooney’s latest movie “The Descendants” caught my eye. Many disability advocates, including myself were disappointed when the word “retarded” was used during a scene where the actor’s character Matt is in a heated discussion with his daughter’s boyfriend, in which he used the word in a derogatory fashion. Many feel the use of this word in media exacerbates the negative stigma and stereotypes faced by people with developmental disabilities. This isn’t the first time a movie has been criticized for using the word. One example is that last summer’s movie “The Change Up” was called out for the use of the R word. Another instance happened three years ago, where a protest of the same issue led to changes in how the comedy show “Tropic Thunder” was being promoted.

The R word originated from the phrase mental retardation that at one time was used to describe a medical condition in earlier times. Today the R word typically means stupid or implies that someone is a loser. It also drives the stereotype that people with developmental disabilities have less value then others. Personally, I find the word degrading and disrespectful to people with disabilities. We are all equal and should be treated that way.

As of this month the website http://www.r-word.org/ has received over 250,000 pledges from individuals vowing not to use the R word. This campaigned is spearheaded by the Special Olympics campaign called Spread the Word to End the Word. It is very important to remember the negative impact this word has on people. As advocates it’s our job to educate and reinforce the importance of this campaign.