I’m a Real Person

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You know those “I am not a robot” situations that you have to fill out to prove that you’re a human? A few weeks ago I was attempting to prove I was human by selecting all the cars/traffic signs/storefronts I could see in a group of pictures. The form kept refreshing and asking me to find more items. I guess I wasn’t acting human enough. I finally got frustrated and said, “I’m a real person”, and gave up. I had reached my limit. A few days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about all the stuff I’ve been up to, and how I get sad and tired sometimes. I told her that I feel bad when I can’t keep up or when I’m not always happy. She said, “Well, you’re not a robot.” And I said, “No, you’re right. I’m a real person.” She goes on to tell me that I have a right to feel sad and tired sometimes. It’s human. Sometimes you reach your limit. That I shouldn’t beat myself up about it. I have nothing to prove to anyone... I had a similar conversation with my sister a week before that. “Cut yourself some slack”, she said. All of this sounds reasonable and obvious in hindsight. I hadn’t even considered cutting myself any slack. The concept of competing with myself, the “me vs. me” thing, has been borderline toxic. I’m one person. One whole person. Not a dual identity. Not a robot that can go on and on without rest. I’m a real person that deserves love and rest and compassion. I have nothing to prove.

How to Adapt Yoga for Seniors

Photo from  Pexels

Photo from Pexels

Submitted by: Harry Cline, Author of The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers.

One of the best things about yoga and meditation is that they work for such a wide variety of people. Health, flexibility and calmness are not ideals that are restricted by age, size or gender, so as a senior, you have just as much potential with yoga as anyone. Here are a few tips on how to claim the benefits of yoga and meditation for yourself:

Start in the Right Place 

As yoga’s popularity has increased dramatically in the United States in recent years, the injury rate has increased as well, especially among seniors age 65 and over. Some of this is natural, but many injuries take place because seniors are in classes too advanced for them or their instructor may not be educated in the safety considerations that are necessary when working with senior adults because they train primarily younger people.

If you’ve never done yoga before, start with a beginner’s class even if you’re already active and in good shape. Give yourself time to ease into the patterns and routines of yoga, especially when trying new poses and new classes.

Choose the Right Instructor and Class

You’ll get much more benefit from yoga if you attend the right kind of class with a certified instructor. Visit a couple of classes before you start to see various types of yoga in action. Look for class names such as “Yoga for Seniors,” “Adaptive Yoga,” or “Gentle Yoga.” Also talk to the instructor to find out their experience in teaching seniors. There are various ways to obtain a yoga training certification, so don’t get hung up on specific credentials - just make sure they have the right kind of experience. If you have significant or limiting health challenges, you may want to consider working one-on-one with a yoga teacher or therapist.

Alternatively, you might want to try yoga at home. All you really need is a mat and a calming, meditative space to practice. This way, you can go at your own pace. Choose a few basic yoga sequences to memorize, turn on some relaxing music, and start. You can do it whenever your schedule allows, at no cost, with no driving required. 

Adapt for Medical Conditions

As a senior, make sure you adapt your yoga practice to accommodate whatever medical conditions you may have. While the activity may help treat some conditions, it can exacerbate others. If you have a heart condition, for example, don’t try hot yoga, which can elevate your heart rate and increase your cardiac workload. If you have glaucoma, don’t do positions where your head will be down, which can increase the pressure in your eyes. If you have any questions about limitations because of your medical conditions, visit your doctor and ask what you can and cannot do.

Help With Pain

If you are living with chronic pain as a senior, yoga can be a fantastic tool for managing that pain and bringing you a better quality of life. The suffering you are facing because of your physical pain can also bring emotional pain, so while yoga helps relieve the physical pain, meditation can help you deal with the spiritual side of the issue. To get the most benefit, look for a class or a therapist that focuses specifically on pain management.

Yoga is so popular in part because it works well for such a wide variety of people. It’s easily adaptable to various physical conditions and ages, so even seniors with medical conditions can find both physical and spiritual help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you search out the best class and instructor. 

Photo from Pexels

Yoga in Scrubs: 5 Ways that Nurses Can Benefit from Yoga at Work

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Yoga in Scrubs: 5 Ways that Nurses Can Benefit from Yoga at Work

What mental picture do you get when you hear the word “yoga”? If it’s headstands, fancy yoga pants and pristine yoga studios, then I have news for you. Yoga is more than just a difficult looking pose and expensive yoga mats. You don’t have to be a certain size or have any degree of flexibility either. Everyone’s yoga practice is personal, and most importantly, we are all beginners at some point. 

For those of you that already practice yoga, it is also important to remember that many of the phrases that you hear in a yoga class can used in your professional, and everyday life. And for those of you who haven’t started practicing yoga yet, here’s 5 examples of why you should consider including yoga in your self-care regimen.

5 ways you can practice yoga in scrubs!

  1. Set an intention. Each yoga class usually starts with setting an intention for your practice. This is simply thinking about what you would like to gain from this particular yoga session. Would you like to come away with more clarity? A sense of calm and relaxation? Less pain in a certain area? Setting an intention helps to guide your yoga practice. You can also set an intention for your workday. What would you like to gain from this shift? A feeling of purpose? Productivity? Organization? Letting go of office drama? Setting an intention helps you to focus on the personal and professional aspects of yourself that you would like to improve.
  2. Pay attention to your breath. Much of yoga is centered around the breath. During your yoga class your teacher may lead you in controlled breathing, taking a deep breath in, paying attention to where the breath is in the body, and releasing the air slowly. You can imagine yourself inhaling all that is good, and exhaling all that is bad. Think of a time when you were nervous or upset. How were you breathing? Were you breathing at all? Many people do not realize how often we hold our breath when we are in a stressful situation. Remembering to breathe is a great way to refocus on the present moment, and calm down. The next time you’re in a stressful situation at work, try taking a deep breath in, filling the lungs as much as you can, holding the breath for a few seconds, and exhaling slowing. 
  3. Honor your body. Yoga can be challenging, especially if you’re trying a new pose or you’ve recently suffered a strain somewhere in the body. You should always listen to your body and not do more than you’re physically able or that cause more harm than good. This is what is meant by honoring your body. At work, how often do you remember to honor your body? Do you stop to eat? Use the restroom? It is a well known fact that nurses do not take time to use the restroom or eat during their shift. We often work while hurt or exhausted as well, potentially causing harm to our patients and ourselves. Just as you would honor your body in a yoga class, you should honor your body in scrubs too. If you need a break, take it. If you need help lifting, ask. If you’re hungry, go eat. If you have to pee, go! 
  4. This is a judgement-free zone. Another phrase you may hear your yoga instructor say is that you are in a judgement-free zone. If you haven’t mastered the tree pose, and your mat neighbor has, so be it. Nobody is going to point and laugh. Most anyone practicing yoga knows that everyone moves forward at their own pace. And one thing we know for sure is that you didn’t roll out your mat to get laughed at or judged, right? Well, you didn’t put on scrubs for that reason either. Work should be a judgment-free zone. This includes any judgement of self. In a yoga class, if you find you’re unable to achieve a pose, you make modifications. You breathe. You honor your body. You remember your intention for your practice. And most importantly, you don’t admonish yourself for not being able to master the pose. You’re in a judgement-free zone, and remember take your judgement-free zone with you to work as well. 
  5. Express gratitude. At the end of each yoga session, your yoga instructor may remind you to thank yourself for doing something good. Thank your body. Thank your breath. Thank the universe, and whatever or whoever you worship. Remember to bring that sense of gratitude with you wherever you go. Nursing is a stressful profession that requires a lot of us emotionally and physically. So remember to thank yourself for doing an awesome job! Thank your body for getting the job done. Thank your mind for remaining sharp and allowing you to think on your toes. Thank your bed for the awesome sleep you’re about to get when you go home. No matter how small the blessing, remember to be grateful. Showing gratitude helps you remember and appreciate the many blessings in your life. 

Nurses tend to have hectic schedules, so finding a yoga class that works for you may be difficult. You may want to take advantage of an online yoga class if that is more suitable. There’s even yoga apps! All you need to get started a space the size of your body and something comfortable to wear. Happy practicing!  - YNP

beBatonRouge hosted Meditate with the Moon: A Rooftop Yoga Experience

Meditate with the Moon @ 440 on 3rd Street, Baton Rouge, 4/29/2018

Meditate with the Moon @ 440 on 3rd Street, Baton Rouge, 4/29/2018

We had a wonderful time Practicing yoga with all of you! A special thanks to Kahrisma for leading a wonderful yoga session, beBatonRouge for making this event possible, and the Urban Brothers for coming out to support us by giving away juice and talking to the yogis about juicing! See you all at the next event! - YNP

LSU Minority Women's Movement tries Yoga!

The Yoga Noir Project had a wonderful time with the LSU Minority Women's Movement! Many of these ladies had not tried yoga before, so we were honored to be able to introduce yoga to them. Kahrisma of Charismatic Yoga, LLC. did a wonderful job (per usual) leading our class. We hope to see you all at future events! Thanks so much for letting us share our light with you!

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Challenging Intersectionality

Nikky Definitely Inc. launched The Yoga Noir Project in April of 2017. It has grown and changed so much since it’s conception. When I first started this project, it was simply because I was tired of being the only Black woman in any yoga class that I decided to attend. I didn’t realize that this project would take off the way it did. Over and over I hear stories from other Black women that are similar to mine. Some of them are instructors themselves, who also feel the frustration of being the only women of color in their own classes. When I finally got up the nerve to talk to White women in these classes about the Yoga Noir Project, I was met with responses like, “I didn’t even realize that Black People weren’t coming”, and “I don’t see color.” These statements have left me grappling for answers for why it is acceptable, not only in the yoga studio, but throughout life, for Black women to be so ignored that people don’t even notice that we are missing from certain arenas. 

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And then I discovered Intersectionality. “The term was coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in a 1989 essay that asserts that antidiscrimination law, feminist theory, and antiracist politics all fail to address the experiences of black women because of how they each focus on only a single factor. Crenshaw writes that "[b]ecause the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated."

I’ve gotten all sorts of reactions to The Yoga Noir Project. Mostly positive, but some not so positive. I absolutely hate conflict, but interestingly enough, I’ve chosen to stand by my choice to move this project forward. This project has pivoted from a somewhat selfish need to be in an atmosphere that represents my culture with like-minded people, to a broader desire to provide women of color a comfortable place to experience yoga, without bias and without feeling like they need to assimilate as we so often do in most areas of our life. Welcome to the Yoga Noir Project, 2018.

 

Yoga Noir Update

It's been an interesting 8 or 9 months of building and growing. I've certainly learned a lot and many changes have taken place. One thing that's never wavered is my commitment to this project. I've learned which days you guys like best (Sundays) and that no matter how much you love your yoga instructor, sometimes they move away. At least 5 times a week I utter the words, "I need my own studio", so that's in the works for 2019. By the end of this year, I hope to have several yoga instructors that I can work with on a regular basis, a solid tribe of women, and a better understanding of what the community needs in regards to education around the topic of health benefits of yoga. 

Yoga Noir Event at Winter Dance Co. Baton Rouge, LA

Yoga Noir Event at Winter Dance Co. Baton Rouge, LA

Why Yoga was Right for Me

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I had to find something that was for me. Mine. I was a runner by nature. Running was how I got away. Running was my escape. But things started to get in the way of running. Pregnancy, and the subsequent mommy duties often threw a monkey wrench in my daily running routine. My knees stopped tolerating running on concrete as well.  Soon I was running less and less, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to replace that feeling of release and freedom.

Then one day I attended a yoga class. I remember sitting in the class, on a borrowed mat, thinking, “I have no idea what I’m doing”. And I didn’t. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The next day I was sore in places that I’d forgotten or didn’t even know had muscles. I could barely walk. Was this yoga? Maybe I had done something wrong. I stopped going to yoga for a while after that.

My husband deployed to Afghanistan shortly after the birth of my 3rd child. I remember feeling lost, and like I had been left alone. I decided that I would try working out again as a way to take my mind off of things.  I was able to take my kids to the gym while I worked out, and I would walk past the yoga classes and wonder if I should give it another shot. The class was full of older women, and I thought that surely I could do whatever it was they were doing. So I attended another class. This yoga class was much gentler, and I left feeling like I could make yoga part of my workout routine.  I was sore, but not in pain like before, and truly learned the meaning of what a beginner yoga class should be. I wasn’t regular in my practice, however. I didn’t practice at home in my free time, and I didn’t have an accountability partner, or anyone that I could relate to in the classes. Again, these were all older ladies, and most of them were white. This made me feel like I had no personal connection to yoga. It was just something that I was doing to take the place of running, which was still my first love.

Several years went by, and I still kept up my yoga practice. I downloaded apps so that I could practice at home, and I would go to classes at the local gym when time allowed. My practice still wasn't consistent, but it was regular enough that I knew what I was doing. I appreciated the mindfulness aspect of yoga more, and I had gotten to where I knew yoga was about much more than flexibility. I still didn't have anyone I could relate to, however, I had discovered a podcast called "Black Girl in Om". This is when I realized there were more women of color who practiced yoga, which drove my curiosity to find more yogis of color. Also around this time I became more interested in social media, and began to "follow" yogis of color on different social media sites. I was inspired to get on my mat more often, and also to attend more pop up yoga sessions around town.

Then, a year ago, my house flooded. I felt like I had lost everything I had worked so hard for, and I just couldn’t shake the notion that it was entirely my fault that the house had flooded in the first place. I fell into a deep depression, and I dropped out of school. I stayed in bed a lot and quit eating. And then, I decided I’d better go talk to someone. I found a counselor and nutritionist, and started working on myself. I started ND Inc. and began practicing yoga more often. In the picture, you can see that my house was in the middle of being remodeled. I felt like both my home and personal being were under construction at the time. It made sence for me to work on myself at the same time as I began working on rebuilding my home. Yoga was cathartic. It just worked.

There’s a lot that I have learned from practicing yoga more regularly. The yoga mat is a drama free zone. I start each practice by sitting quietly and setting my intention for my practice. I decide if I need more core work, or if I need to work on balance, or relaxation. I thank my creator for giving me peace and comfort. I practice alone, or with my accountability partner. I don’t judge myself when I make mistakes; I correct them. I celebrate my achievements. I smile when I fumble, knowing that I will get better with practice. I end each practice feeling stronger and grateful for my strength. These feelings are so similar to those that I would get with running, that I now feel like I have something that I can adequately substitute for running. Not only that, but yoga in and of itself has been a rewarding practice. Like running, yoga can be practiced at home, free of charge. And I enjoy the company of the yoga community, and those who are into wellness and spiritual healing. Best of all, I get that feeling of release and freedom, especially with inversion and balance poses.

The one thing I felt like I was missing in my practice was representation. I started looking for Black yoga instructors in the Spring of 2017, and began planning yoga events that catered to women of color. The sole purpose started out of a selfish need for me to be able to practice yoga in the locations that I loved, and with women that looked like me. After the first event, though, I realized that this feeling of togetherness is just something us women of color needed all along. Yoga has proven to be a obtainable and sustainable healthy lifestyle choice for me, and I am so glad that I get to bring women of color together to practice. I hope that more women find that yoga can be a great way to maintain a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

Namaste –

Nikky