Words matter

In my training for working with people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), I’ve learned a lot about the disease and how yoga can help.  Since there is no known cause or cure for PD, it’s essential for individuals with this disease to find alternative, holistic ways to help them navigate their challenges.

One very interesting thing I learned is that symptoms include individuals feeling like they can’t move their feet; like they are “stuck” to the floor.  The answer to this is – instead of encouraging them to move their foot, simply ask them to lift their knee.  Obviously the foot comes right up.  By simply adjusting the wording, small accomplishments may be achieved, adding up to a big boost in self confidence.

I’ll share more practical suggestions as I come across them.  In the meantime, when assisting individuals with PD, remember that simply stating something in a different way may present a solution to an issue.  Words really do matter.

Light to all as we enter this holiday season.

Always look for training opportunities

In the latest Yoga Therapy Today magazine, a publication put out by the International Association of Yoga Therapists, I came across information regarding a four-month course to become certified to use yoga techniques to help individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.  These techniques which are thousands of years old are being proven effective by modern medical scientific studies for so many different physical, mental and emotional issues.  My class has already started, and I’m already using some of the methods demonstrated with my current students/clients.  No matter your career choice, always look for training opportunities and ways to buttress and expand your knowledge – the best investment you can make is in yourself.

I’m also enrolled in a training program to obtain my 500-hour teaching certificate.  I feel so fortunate to have found where I should be in this life.  Gaining all this additional knowledge will help me help even more individuals life a longer, more connected life.

As a reminder, feel free to contact me through my contact page if you have any questions or would like any additional information about what yoga might do for you.

Be well, and keep striving to move forward in your life – if we all do what we can, our collective efforts can make this world a better place.


Article by Harry Cline on yoga and meditation benefits

I was contacted by Harry Cline, the creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers, about writing an article for this blog. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

Harry’s article below contains some great information.  He and I are definitely on the same page that individuals need to take steps to nurture their physical, mental and emotional health sooner rather than later.  Please enjoy, and be sure to check out Harry’s website:



This ancient exercise, which dates back over 5,000 years isn’t just for younger folks with the flexibility to twist and fold their bodies into 3D origami. Older people benefit just as much—some experts say even more—from practicing yoga.


Better flexibility and joint health: Yoga’s gentle, low-impact poses gradually loosen and tone muscles and increase flexibility and range of motion even in bodies made stiff and achy with arthritis or age.

Better stability and balance: As the muscles become stronger and more toned, balance and stability improve — a definite benefit among an elderly population for whom falls are the leading cause of injury.

Better breathing: People who practice Pranayama, a type of breathing that pairs with yoga and increases the metabolic rate of respiratory function and anaerobic capacity, improve their lung and cardiovascular functions.

Less anxiety and stress: Regular yoga practice reduces your body’s sympathetic nervous system and flight-or-fight response and activates the parasympathetic system and relaxation response. This system lowers breathing and heart rates, cortisol levels, decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow to vital organs.

Lower blood pressure: A study on yoga’s effect on oxidative stress in older people with hypertension concluded that this exercise effectively improves antioxidant defenses among elderly patients (age 60 – 80) with high blood pressure.

More mindfulness: Yoga practitioners become more in tune with their bodies, thoughts and emotions. Increased mindfulness helps people to maintain good mental health.


Alas, it’s a biological fact that as we age, our mental functions decrease and the likelihood of developing a neurodegenerative disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, increases. However, research has shown that meditation can slow mental decline.

People who meditate regularly have better memory and cognitive function because the grey matter of their brains is thicker. Why does that matter? The brain’s thick, outer layer stores the functions of memory, reasoning, attention span and cognition. Meditation keeps it healthier.

Have trouble focusing without your brain hopping from one thought to the next? Meditation helps with that, too, by slowing down your mind and keeping it from over-stimulated multitasking. An ancillary benefit to a slower, focused mind? Better sleep!

Have you laid in bed at night listening to your mind race from topic to topic, rehashing conversations from weeks or months ago, generating lists—and lists of lists? Do you think, “I can’t shut my brain off?” Meditating before bedtime helps to relax and prepare your mind for sleeping. Like Pranayama, or deep breathing, meditation also kicks your parasympathetic nervous system into gear, activating the “relaxation” mode and turning off the fight-or-flight mode.

In addition to reducing anxiety, stress and excitement when meditation triggers your parasympathetic system, you’ll experience improved digestion. Living in a constant state of survival mode slows your metabolism; relaxation enables your body to assimilate and use the nutrients present in the foods you eat—and your body can excrete waste more easily when it’s relaxed.

The number of prescriptions you need often increases as you age. If you’re working through illness or chronic pain, meditation can relieve some of that discomfort. Meditation and mindfulness teach you how to work with instead of against pain.

Older people—and their caregivers—often experience increased anxiety and depression that result from physical health issues, loss, loneliness, sudden life and lifestyle changes. When used in conjunction with or in lieu of antidepressants and with a practitioner’s guidance, mindfulness meditation can reduce those symptoms and give practitioners better control of their mental health.

Meditation and yoga during addiction recovery

 Addiction drives a wedge between your relationship with your physical, mental and spiritual self, but meditation and yoga help to rebuild that connection. Yoga encourages you to become more comfortable in your own skin; its low-impact moves help gradually restore physical fitness. Meditation teaches you how to manage your emotions and more healthfully deal with stress.

Stress and anxiety that result from chronic illness, disability or stressful life events erode your mental and physical health. Practicing yoga and meditation won’t halt aging’s effects, but they’ll help you manage it and increase feelings of health and well-being. If you’re a caregiver, you’ll reap benefits, too, because self-care enables you to care for others who depend on you.


Yoga therapy

It’s been a while since I’ve posted because I’ve been involved in finalizing the studio and working on coursework for a certification as a yoga therapist.  This certification will allow me to work with individuals seeking relief from pain of many different kinds, including physical and emotional pain.  The sections of study include anatomy, working with the breath, movement of energy in the body, and meditation techniques.  I’m loving the new knowledge.  It’s been a while since I’ve had to turn in homework, so that was an adjustment; but it was one I have settled into.

I feel very comfortable that this is where my life path has led me.  Even the course suggestions on how to set up a studio and work with individuals fits what I’ve already set up.  So intuitively, I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be.  I know many people don’t have this blessing, so I’m definitely not taking it for granted.

More updates as the coursework continues.  Feel free to use my contact form if you have any questions.

Namaste.  Om Shanti, Om Peace.

Merry Christmas

Hello to all –

As many of you know, I started my yoga studio to work with seniors and cancer survivors. You may also know that my plan has been to take half of my gross yoga earnings at year’s end and divide that amount between the American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer’s Association. Thanks to the support of my clients, this year I am able to donate $1,000 to each organization. My studio was only open half of the year, so hopefully next year, the amount the studio can donate will at least double.

A big THANK YOU to everyone’s support including Heather Heights, Brookdale Fairport, Margaret, Sharon and John, Vicki, Jeff and Maria, and Susan. It’s been a great trip, and we’re not done yet.  Have a joyous, peaceful and safe holiday season.


Just do it

I assumed that seniors would be a little skeptical of “yoga”.  And some are – those individuals have a preconception that it’s something weird or difficult.  So at first, I was approaching the practice as a lot of “stretching”.   At the end each class, I give everyone a nice shoulder rub as their seated savasana.  If I can get them into the room once, moving them through a comprehensive seated practice ending with the shoulder rub, they love it and come back as much as they can.

After approaching the practice as “stretching” for a while, I started slowing the practice down and focusing on the breathing and getting in touch with the body more.  At this point, I was the one who was skeptical.  Would they think my talking about “feel your lungs fill up with air” or “feel the support of the chair underneath you” was silly?  I took the plunge, and they were TOTALLY receptive.  They have experienced the practice enough now that they know it’s different from “exercise”.  And they really do look forward to it.

More and more people are practicing yoga.  Each week, I’m now at three different senior living centers, visiting one home, and have three clients coming to the studio.  They all come from different backgrounds and experiences, and they practice yoga for different reasons.  But each leaves their practice with a renewed sense of calm and focus.

So if you are a teacher, put yourself out there!  You’ll be surprised at how receptive people are for this wonderful practice and how many people are looking for the peace it provides.  And if you aren’t a teacher, remember that 90 percent of yoga is lived off the mat.  Take your practice and attitude into the everyday world and spread the peace we are all searching for.


Signs of ratification

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been setting up my studio, but as you can see from the website, I’m set up and ready to go.

There is such a need for yoga today, in these “crazy” times.  Everyone needs time to sit back, refocus, and let the crazy roll by.  The response to my studio has been amazing.  I teach six times a week now (on top of a full time job), and I’ve actually had to start a waiting list – there’s only so much of me to go around!  Hopefully, more instructors will become interested in this type of unhurried yoga structure and will make it more available and accessible to all who seek some peace.

A quick story – the other week, I was working with a gentleman with dementia and his caregiver.  At the end of the session, I told him I thought he was doing great, and I was seeing tremendous improvement.  He took my hand, looked me in the eye and said “It’s people like you that make it better.”  If there was ever any doubt I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do, that erased it.  What a gift he gave to me that day.

So I again encourage everyone to follow their path.  It might not always be fun; it might not always be popular.  But if you are true to yourself and your heart, great things will come to you.


Blooming soon

I found a yoga space at 2132 Five Mile Line Road in Penfield that will be perfect for lotus blossom yoga to bloom.  It will be a small space set up in a casual, boutique style.  Sessions will be scheduled by appointment only so that there isn’t a group rushing in right after Savasana, which can be somewhat jarring.  The space will be completed around the middle of June, so feel free to contact me through the Contact Page if you are interested in discussing how this style of yoga might benefit you and/or a loved one.

In addition to seniors, I’ve decided I want to work with cancer survivors, as cancer has touched my family and friends too many times.  After I open and settle into the space, I will be contacting the American Cancer Society to discuss partnering with them to offer this type of service to individuals struggling with cancer, as well as their family members.

And finally, I have decided that at the end of each year, I will take half of all my income from yoga and make equal charitable donations to the American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer’s Association.  So in addition to helping yourself through the practice of yoga, half of each session’s payment will be paid forward to help others in need.

My path has led me to exactly where I need and want to be.  I’m glad I had the courage to follow it and to follow my heart, which isn’t always easy or popular.  But the heart never lies – have the courage to follow yours as well.  You’ll be glad you did.

Be well.  Namaste.

A little “press”

The May edition of Heather Heights Happenings had a feature about my yoga program:

Beth Cross is a certified yoga instructor, registered with Yoga Alliance and owner of Lotus Blossom Yoga. Beth has thoroughly enjoyed teaching a weekly yoga class here at Heather Heights for over a year now, working with our residents to maintain and improve their balance and flexibility.

“I love working with the individuals at Heather Heights – they are so inspiring” she says. “I would like to do more for the residents, their families and the staff. Yoga provides excellent physical benefits, and gives you a rest from the hectic routines we all face daily. It is said an hour of restorative yoga is equivalent to three hours of sleep. Combine that with some gentle yoga movements, and everyone can benefit.”

Beth is in the process of opening a studio in the Penfield area to provide gentle and restorative yoga to individuals and groups up to six in number. But she is also interested in working with more of our residents’ right here on-site at Heather Heights. Beth can provide guidance for a basic yoga practice, as well as a more advanced practice as may be desired. She can also target areas where individuals want to specifically improve, like balance and core strength – and you won’t even know you are exercising.

If you are interested in discussing yoga classes with Beth, you can call her at 585-737-0579, or use the contact page at her website at www.lotusblossomyoga.net.

I have indeed found a studio space at the Four Corners of Penfield, and as soon as things are finalized, I’ll let you know.  Hopefully everything will work out so that I can begin offering practice in early June.  Check back for more details, and keep sending me those good vibes!!

Expanding horizons

After a year of teaching, I realize how much yoga benefits everyone.  I’m meeting more and more people who want to give it a try for their own personal reasons.

Long story short, I’m going to open my very own small studio space!!  It will be here in the Pittsford area, where I will be able to provide a quiet yoga practice for individuals and groups of up to six people.  Props for the studio are rolling in – it’s like Christmas every day right now.

Exciting times – check back for the location once it is set.  If you have any questions or feedback, please use my contact page.

Be well.  Namaste.