Category Archives for "Yoga 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 yogajournal.com (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

Namaste

Peace-KPD

 

 

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! 

Namaste

Peace-KPD

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.

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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!

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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

 

*Yoga:

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: 

yoga-for-shoulders-eagle-arms-sm

Thread the Needle:

yoga-for-shoulders-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

Pigeon:

                                                                        

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

Another great article on Sciatic pain yoga stretches here

sciatica-yoga-treatment

 

Wishing you wellness today!

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Sep 30

Have a great day!


My yoga teacher passed these little cards out at class the other day.  I thought it was a perfect way to kick off the week! Wishing you a happy Monday!

Little-Pumpkin

 

Feb 23

Inspiration: What I’m loving at the moment …

I haven’t been very good at blogging this past week but I’m happy to say it’s because I’ve been really busy ~ and busy is always good. My picture book illustrations are coming along nicely and I’ve got some fun new projects in the works for licensing (getting art ready for my agent to show at Surtex in May). Add on the busy-ness of daily life, track starting for my younger son, and the hustle and bustle of final decisions and trips to colleges for my older son (he needs to commit for football in the next month and it’s going to be a hard decision). Phewww – it’s crazy around here, but I’m enjoying the ride.

To keep my mind clear, my creativity flowing, and my sanity in place, I’ve been finding a lot of joy and inspiration from various places.  Here is a peek at what’s been in my world and on my mind lately:

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1.  TRAVEL (vicariously through my niece’s blog):  _Sam

My husband and I are dreaming of travel these days.  We can’t seem to get enough of our favorite shows (lately it’s Anthony Bourdain’s NO RESERVATIONS and THE LAYOVER , on the Travel Channel). Another place I love to go to get my ‘travel-fix’ is my niece, Sam’s, travel blog called THE WANDERLUST ADVOCATE. If I could redo my early years of my life I’d follow in her footsteps.  Sam is amazing and she’s traveled all over the world already (in her 22 years) studying and experiencing all that this amazing planet has to offer.  Currently she’s in Laos teaching english to novice buddhist monks. She posts stories, pictures, and fun short videos about her travels and experiences. Check it out – my travel bucket-list is growing every time I read her blog!

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2.  OUTER SPACE – The Hubble:

_outer-space-hubble

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3.  GOOD READ:  THE FOUR AGREEMENTS by Don Miguel Ruiz _4-agreements*

4.  The ACADEMY AWARDS!
_-the-oscars

Academy Awards Day is a major holiday for me!  It means my husband cooks for me (love that) while I park it in my favorite chair at 3:00-ish and watch the Red Carpet coverage while giving myself a luxurious pedi-mani! I can’t wait!  I must confess I haven’t seen all the nominated films, but I have some faves:  I’m partial to Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook (especially Sally Field, Jennifer Lawrence, Daniel Day Lewis).  I wanted desperately to see Argo but never made it to the theater for that one, however everyone is raving about it and I’m guessing it’ll be a big winner. Others I’m rooting for are:  Life of Pi and Beasts of the Southern Wild.  Should be a great show ~ I can’t wait to see Seth MacFarlane as host, too!

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5.  Neck Scarves  _Neck-Scarf

 

Oh my GOSH – how did I not know about these before?!  My amazing and talented friend, Janice, stopped by the other night and delivered this gorgeous and oh-so-warm and snuggly neck scarf she crocheted for me!  I am LOVING it so much.  My house is super cold in the winter, especially in my studio, and I seem to never be able to get warm. Now that I have my new neck scarf I am a happy camper!  If you are talented like Janice, and can crochet or knit, click HERE for some fun neck scarf pattern ideas! Seriously – these things are the BEST!

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6.  My absolute favorite TEA

_Good-Earth-Tea

Every afternoon around 3:00 I have “tea time” and I make myself a huge mug of this awesome herbal tea! There’s nothing better on these cold late winter days!

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7.  Daily walks with my dog

(this particular morning the sun was shining just right and I had to take a picture to lock in the image!)
_Morning-Walks

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8.  YOGA Move of the week:  DOLPHIN POSE

_yoga-dolphin

I love this yoga pose.  It’s a wonderful exercise for an aching artist (or anyone who sits for long periods of time). Click HERE to learn more about it.

Oh, side note – re:  MUSIC – for a while every day I tune into my “The Buddhist Monks” Channel on Pandora. It’s wonderful music to work to and/or to do yoga to and I find it really clears my “monkey mind” (as Eckhart Tolle calls it). 

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Jan 07

Aide for an aching Artist

Over the years I’ve struggled with some aches and pains that certainly are a result of my work; hunched over at my drafting table, working on the computer, holding a paintbrush or pen for hours on end all can make for an aching body. I know that I need to start taking breaks more often throughout my work day – giving myself time to stretch and move, but I don’t do it enough (it’s a New Year’s goal).

Whether you’re an artist or not, during our work day we spend way too much time sitting in the same place and holding the same position.  Here are some items I’ve found and tips I’ve accumulated over the years that help me not look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I hope they help you too.

(I’m not getting anything for endorsing these items, only the satisfaction of knowing they might help you)

xoxo

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1.  The BED BUDDY by  Carex Health Brands

I LOVE this thing!  It’s wonderful for an aching neck or to just plain get warm. It can be chilled or heated, but I tend to only use it for the heat. They also make wrist wraps that work really well if you’re having some carpal tunnel issues.

Deep Soothing Hot and Cold Pack

2.  The SPORTS PRO PLUS GYRO WRIST EXERCISER by Dynaflex

My husband bought this for me a couple of years ago when I was complaining that my wrist was starting to hurt and I was worried that I was getting carpal tunnel syndrome. At first I didn’t really like it (it takes a few tries, or for me about a day of cursing and getting frustrated at it before I got the hang of it), however, once you get the idea how to use it this is an amazing little tool that helps so much with wrist strength. I love it now.

Dynaflex Sports Pro Plus Gyro Wrist Exerciser

3.  Wear a WRIST BRACE at night when you sleep

I learned this tip from Tara Reed’s blog many years ago and it works!  I am able to manage my wrist health throughout the day without needing to wear it as I work, but at night I must do some weird wrist acrobatics while I sleep because if I don’t wear one I really feel it in the morning. This little trick is a life-saver!

Product Image

4.  The BACKNOBBER II by The Pressure Positive Company

Yes, this is a weird looking contraption, but I swear it absolutely works wonders on getting to those hard to reach muscle knots and pressure points in your back and shoulder area! This is another find my husband made, he discovered it when he saw a co-worker using one. I was skeptical at first, but now I’m sold on it.

The backnobber

5.  The PRODRAFT ADJUSTABLE DRAWING BOARD by Martin Universal Design

I have to admit something very foolish – for years and years I used to draw on a flat surface. It started in college and I kept it up in my career. I don’t know why I didn’t adopt the elevated work surface, but it was what I knew and what worked for me, that was until I started to develop neck and spinal issues and suffered never-ending headaches. I went to chiropractors and acupuncturists, but nothing helped. Finally my dentist told me how he had had the same problem, for him his job requires him to hunch over people as he works, but for me I had options and needed to start working on a different plane. Seriously, I don’t know why it took my dentist telling me something so obvious, but I finally got this amazing little adjustable drawing board for my drafting table and now my life is SO much better. I didn’t want to buy a full desk that elevates because I like having books and reference materials around me while I work, I also like having the option of taking it off all together when I need to work on a flat surface. This offers all that flexibility and more.

6.  YOGA, YOGA, YOGA!!!

Last, but certainly not least, doing yoga has drastically altered my life. There are more pros than I can mention here to the advantages of doing yoga, but in a quick nutshell I have a couple of poses that I use that I can’t imagine myself going a a day without. Here they are:

Eagle Pose: (this picture shows “standing eagle”, but you can do just the arms part for an awesome upper shoulder/back/and neck stretch. 

(Image Link)

Standing Forward Fold:  This may seem like a pretty simple stretch, but when done correctly and with intent it takes on a new meaning. There are a lot of advantages in doing inverted poses, especially midday when you’re getting tired and you need a little quick blood flow rush to your brain, standing forward fold is the ticket. Try doing this pose in conjunction with a half sun salutation or full sun salutation for even more benefits.

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Pigeon Pose:  This pose is so wonderful, but it can also take some getting use to at first. Stress and stressful emotions such as anger, frustration, etc.. can get locked in our body – especially the hips.  Hip opener poses like Pigeon are wonderful for releasing that stress, but they also can be a little harder to get comfortable with when you start out your practice, or are going through a time in your life when you’re experiencing a lot of anxiety. This article has some wonderful pros and cons to the pose (as well as other poses if you scroll down).

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Wishing you a stress-free & ache-free day!