Category Archives for "Wellness for Artists"

Apr 22

Practicing Ahimsa in Art & Life

Ahimsa is one of the yamas of the Yoga Sutra and it is most recognizably translated to mean “non-violence”.  If you practice yoga you will often hear your teacher reminding you throughout the practice to work through your positions with ahimsa.  Not that anyone would become violent per say in a yoga class, but we all know that if our thoughts could be heard aloud it would be mind blowing how horrendous and vitriolic we can be to ourselves and to others.  Whether it is psychological violence or physical violence, injury occurs, which is why ahimsa is a foundation to not only yoga but to life.

So here’s my story about this…  

In addition to some new branches of my art business I’m super excited about and setting into motion, I’m also starting what will end up being a year long intensive yoga training.  I’m excited and scared by it all, but mostly excited.  I’ve been running on adrenaline, caffeine, and yoga, and it’s been awesome! Until the last two days when my body decided it was done and needed a rest …….. enter ahimsa.

I guess somewhere along the way I stopped remembering to treat myself with love and kindness.  I forgot to embrace the journey I was starting, and just plain started to regress into nasty self hate talk.  It started with some art I was inspired to create but just couldn’t get to look right while sketching.  The hate talk came on with a vengeance :  “You suck! Can’t you sketch better then that?  Seriously you’ve been working on the computer too long – you can’t even sketch anymore!  You should just quit!”.  This then moved on to a computer glitch (I’ve had many lately) and I lost some work that had taken 3 hours to do.  More hate talk :  “You should know by now to save your file!  How lame are you?  I can’t believe you didn’t save the file and now you have to start all over again! You’re so stupid!”.   Next up was yoga class where I watched my limber and amazing teacher blissfully glide into full lotus position (Padmasana).  I don’t know what I was thinking because I’ve never been able to do this pose as of yet, but in my ego-mind I guess because I knew I had been working so hard on my training I felt that this particular pose would suddenly be available to me.  Well, as you might guess it wasn’t, and I felt like a fool.  Here’s how that hate talk went :  “You look like such an idiot trying to force your foot like that!  Who do you think you are? Ouch – you are going to tear something! I can’t believe you ever thought you could do this!  You should just quit now and save yourself a whole lot of pain!”.  

It was at that moment, when all I wanted to do was crawl into a fetal position and cry, that I finally remembered ahimsa.  Ahimsa to be patient with my art, knowing that practice and patience will bring forth the art I’m envisioning in my minds eye.  Ahimsa to know that technology is not full proof and that I am human and sometimes forget to take steps (like saving my file).  There also might be a greater reason for the need to start over again.  Finally Ahimsa to know that my yoga journey is just that … a journey / a life practice … and that even though today my body may not be able to enter into all the poses I wish to enter I will get there eventually with practice, and I WILL SIT FULL LOTUS one day!  

Today I am enjoying some play time, some rest time, and some unwind time ….  I’m helping a friend out by painting on wine glasses and vases that she will be giving to her students at her upcoming yoga retreats, and as I paint they are making me smile because on the vase is a lotus flower and on the wine glass is the sanskrit symbol for OM.  You’ve got to love how the Universe comes full circle in times of growth!

Wishing you Peace & Love


Nov 20

Feeling Stressed?

I absolutely love this week before Thanksgiving. Anytime we can eat good food and be with family and friends is the best, however the raw reality is that it can also be a very stress inducing time. There is so much going on … whether you are meeting deadlines before the holiday break, participating in school and work functions, preparing for visiting family and friends, adjusting to the weather change, or just plain feeling a knot of stress that you should have started your Holiday shopping weeks ago and now all the ads are out and the frenzy has begun.  Whatever it is for you I know that when I’m feeling this way I turn to yoga. 

My favorite online yoga teacher, Colleen Saidman Yee, has a wonderful series of blog posts on stress management, finding inner peace, and all over well-being advice through yoga. Check out her website HERE to see more.  One in particular is a stress reducing series she did for (when you open the link just scroll down to see the photo slides with instructions – you will need 2 blocks). I am in love with this series and like all of her teachings this one hits right at home with easy inversions, back bends, side stretches, and chakra focused savasana. I highly recommend it.  

Wishing you peace, love, and light this Thanksgiving





Apr 18

Yoga for the aching artist …

Colleen-Saidman-Yee-Backbend-Video--Facing-FearsMy favorite yoga teacher, Colleen Saidman Yee, wrote yet another amazing blog post – this time about the Asana Sequence for Facing your Fears – AND – lucky us, she included a wonderful video! For all my artist friends out there, and anyone who sits a lot for work and finds their neck, shoulders, and lower back are aching, please check out this video. Colleen has the most amazing way of instructing and her flow is beautiful, you will feel like a million bucks after this short 10 minute instruction. 

Wishing you a flexible and fabulous week! 



Oh, and also, if you haven’t done so already check out her book YOGA FOR LIFE. I absolutely love it and have given it as a gift to many friends! It is great for people of all ages and all yoga skill levels with easy to follow instruction.


Aug 14

Two Books to transform an Aching Artist’s Body

I know that the summer reads are coming to an end and the kids are getting back to school, however, these two books are good for anyone at anytime of the year and I can’t say enough how much I loved reading both of them these past couple of months. For my Artist friends out there who sit or stand in their studios for long periods of time, these two books will definitely help you find that balance you are needing in your days.

First is: Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run

This book is truly transformative! I’ve been wanting to get in to running for years. My only experience with it was from my high school tennis team and swim team days when I was in training and forced to run ridiculous numbers of laps around a very boring track. Needless to say I hated it, but over the years many runner friends of mine have exclaimed their love of running and their achieved zen-mindset while trekking along the running paths and trails in our area. I’ve been jealous of them, wishing I could love running like they do but my memories of hamster-like track running kept me from diving in. Finally, my uber fitness friend Julia recommended I read Born to Run, and that was it …. I’m now hooked. Of course it took helpful tips from my other runner friends to let me know that: 1) it’s normal to feel like you’re going to throw up and your lungs might burst those first few runs, and that you need to kindly sequence a run/walk/run/walk rhythm until you no longer need to add in the walking times. And 2) go to a running store and buy proper shoes. I had to learn the hard way on that last one when I got a wicked bout of plantar faciitis in my right heel. I also watched a lot of ‘how to run’ videos to learn proper form, particularly the idea of the barefoot/trail running style talked about in the book. I ended up buying some amazing Brooks trail running shoes, good for both street and trail, that have a low padding on the heel and good arch support. It’s made all the difference in the world. I’m working my way to a 5k. I’m taking my time in this journey because I know that this is a life-long practice I want to nurture and I don’t want to burn out or injure myself. My goal is to keep feeling good. If you’re on the fence at all about trying to run, read Born to Run. It’s not a ‘how to run’ book,  but rather a book about the human love of running, the history and origins of running, and the personal journey of growth and enlightenment this activity can lead you on. 

With enlightenment in mind, that brings me to my second book recommendation:  Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom, by Colleen Saidman Yee.

Yoga for lifeI can’t say enough about this book. I am such a fan of Colleen Saidman Yee (my goal is to make it to one of her yoga retreats). Whether you’ve done yoga for years or are wanting to learn now, this book is for you. Colleen sets up wonderful and easy to follow themed sequences mingled alongside chapters of personal memoirs to help you see how yoga can transform your life as it did hers. It is truly my belief that there is no other form of fitness (including my now love of running, or my guilty pleasure of Zumba), that will benefit both your mind and body more than yoga. It has absolutely been my saving grace over the past 18 years of doing it, and even so I still happily view myself as a beginner. I know that I will be doing yoga well into my senior years and 100% of the fun in yoga is the journey of it. Please check this book out and also check out Colleen’s blog if you want daily reads from her #yogaforlife; #mantramondays, and #focusfridays insights. She’s amazing!

Wishing you a fabulously fun and fit week!


Nov 21

Wellness for Artists: Dealing with TMD

TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder) is a pretty common condition for artists and I’ve struggled with it on and off for years. TMD rears its ugly head in the form of jaw pain, ear pain, headaches,  neck stiffness, and more, and can be caused by stress, poor posture (especially when working), jaw or neck/shoulder injury, and/or dental problems. Basically it can be caused by a variety of situations and come on at any time. Sometimes it is referred to as TMJ, which is the acronym for the temporomandibular joint, but no matter what you call it, living with TMD or TMJ is horrible.

TMJ - Illustration of Temporomandibular JointMy TMD came on recently and it has really knocked me down these last few days.  I know why I got it.  For the past few weeks I’ve been working really long days, sitting either at my drawing table hunched over painting or at my computer sitting in my desk chair that I know I need to replace with a better ergonomic one. Couple that with squeezing in hours at night painting ornaments and it’s a recipe for TMD disaster. I’ve learned about myself that I clench my jaw when I work. I don’t know I’m doing it, but when I take notice and intentionally release my jaw it is amazing how rigid I am holding my face.  I know a lot of artists who say they hold their breath when they paint and that can also cause you to hold your face or neck in a rigid manner that can cause TMD. It’s hard to avoid this nasty pain when your line of work dictates these mannerisms. 

I’ve been focusing on my recovery and taking the steps and behavioral modifications needed to start feeling better and I thought I’d share with you some of the info I’ve found, and resources and techniques that are working for me in case you find yourself in a similar situation.  

*Heat Pad for your Neck:

The Original Bed Buddy

The Mind and Body Neck and Shoulder Wrap  (I just ordered this, I think it looks amazing)

*Jaw Exercises:

I started doing these exercises daily.  WARNING: You look really weird when you are doing them, but they work.  There are many websites with tips and exercises, but these two are my favorite ones:  HERE   and   HERE


*Back and Shoulder Massage:

The AMAZING Backnobber.  I was skeptical when I first saw this “s” shaped piece of plastic, but holy cow it works wonders!  Mostly because you can reach pressure points, muscle knots, and tight areas of your neck and back all on your own and anytime you need.  This thing is probably the best secret I’ve come across in years (thanks to my husband’s friend who recommended it). If your TMD is brought on by work and posture then you need the Backnobber.

The Original Backnobber II



I’ve sung the praises of yoga for years, but it goes without saying that if there’s a pain there’s a yoga move to help.  Here are my favorites for the neck, shoulders, back, and yes – sciatic area because a lot of our posture problems stem from there.

(Website and Photos Reference: Walk Jog Run)

Eagle Arms: 


Thread the Needle:



(Website and Photo Reference:  Yoga International)

BTW – this whole POST on yoga for Sciatic pain is amazing with a ton of awesome stretches



(Website and Photo Reference:  Pain Behind the Knee Cure)

Another great article on Sciatic pain yoga stretches here



Wishing you wellness today!




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