Hug your mom

Patty loves her beautiful mom, Rose Ann. Here they are at the Soul of Creativity event held recently at Breezeway.


One class and one jog

Just one yoga class and one jogging session a week can HALVE your risk of heart disease

  • Researchers from HG SMS Hospital in Jaipur, India, studied how a combination of yoga and aerobic exercise can impact the health 
  • They tested 750 patients who already had cardiovascular disease 
  • The combination of yoga and aerobic exercise lowered patients’ blood pressure, BMI and cholesterol levels 

girl meditating and doing yoga at sunsetsResearchers from HG SMS Hospital in Jaipur, India, presented the study at the 8th Emirates Cardiac Society Congress in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology Middle East Conference.

The study looked at 750 patients who had previously been diagnosed with coronary heart disease.

One group of 225 patients participated in aerobic exercise, another group of 240 patients participated in yoga, and a third group of 285 participated in both yoga and aerobic exercise.

Each group did three, six-month sessions of their assigned exercises.

Yoga was picked as one the the forms of exercise because of its practice of strengthening the body, mind and soul.

The exercise focuses on connecting the mind to the body through poses and deep breathing, which has found to alleviate heart pressure and stress.

Researchers wanted to see if yoga and aerobic exercise would have an effect on coronary risk factors of obese patients with type 2 diabetes.

The findings showed that aerobic exercise only and yoga only groups showed similar reductions in blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, weight and waist circumference.

However, the combined yoga and aerobic exercise group showed a two times greater reduction compared to the other groups.

They also showed significant improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction, diastolic function and exercise capacity.

‘Combined Indian yoga and aerobic exercise reduce mental, physical and vascular stress and can lead to decreased cardiovascular mortality and morbidity,’ said co-authors Dr Sonal Tanwar, a scholar in preventative cardiology, and Dr Naresh Sen, a consultant cardiologist, both with HG SMS Hospital.

‘Heart disease patients could benefit from learning Indian yoga and making it a routine part of daily life.’

Unlocking the Hidden Power of Yoga

If you think Downward Dog is a canine training command, perhaps it’s time for a basic primer on yoga — and its many health benefits.

For centuries yoga has been used to increase strength and flexibility, as well as improve mind/body alignment and reduce stress. Solid benefits all, but they’re just a sampling of how yoga can improve everyday living. Here’s a breakdown:

Injury prevention

Whether you’re 8 years old or 80, a diehard gym-every-day athlete or a weekend warrior looking to up your exercise game, yoga can help. Regular yoga practice gets you in touch with your entire body as you move through the poses and flows. And when you’re more in touch with areas that are tight or sore, it’s more likely you’ll pay attention to what’s hurting before a potential injury becomes a real one.

Gateway back to fitness

In the same way yoga helps prevent injuries, it also can serve as a safe way to get back into a fitness program following time away. For example, if you’ve had to step away from exercise due to injury and aren’t ready for high-impact activity yet or are recovering from illness or surgery — or even just living a busy life — yoga can serve as a fun, low-impact way to ease back into movement.

In particular, look into restorative yoga. There all many types and levels of yoga classes, and restorative is great for beginners and longtime practitioners alike. The focus here is working on basic poses and holding them for enough time to help joints and muscles relax and loosen. It also increases blood flow and improves flexibility.

Age is just a number

At age 89, Dean Stevens credits weekly yoga classesYoga is also a fantastic fitness option as we age. As a low-impact exercise, it’s good for anyone dealing with sore hips, knees or other joints. At the same time, yoga lets you work up enough of a sweat to help ditch those hard-to-shed pounds and build flexibility and strength that we often lose with age.

For 89-year-old Dean Stevens, the free yoga class she attends weekly at the Nashville Public Library, run by Small World Yoga and part of Be Well at NPL, has given her a newfound stability she says her peers are often lacking.

“So many of my friends are falling,” she explains. “I almost fell in the strawberry patch the other day, but because I have better flexibility and control over my body, I was able to recover. And that’s because of yoga.”

There are sound psychological and emotional benefits to yoga as well. This is good news for anyone battling depression, anxiety and other mental-health issues. A low-key, dependable exercise regimen such as yoga can:

• Improve balance and stability
• Strengthen muscles
• Increase flexibility
• Improve joint health
• Support better respiration
• Reduce high blood pressure
• Lower anxiety

Yoga brings all those benefits to anyone who rolls out a mat and starts building a personal practice.

And that’s another beauty of yoga: It’s called “practice” because it’s about being quiet, calm and focused rather than accomplishing a set-lifting goal or number of reps. In that way, yoga encourages mindfulness, so you can connect with your body as you flow your way to better health.

The intent of yoga is to link the body and mind. Yoga instructors cultivate the idea of directing our attention and intention to the body, to its movement in the present moment, and to our breathing. Yoga is also a good way to strengthen attention through mindfulness.

This story is provided and presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.


Ennegram Workshop – October 27-28

Join Sandra Smith, M.Div., and Annie Wills, Ed.D, for a two day workshop starting Friday October 27th at 1:00 – 4:00 PM and continuing on Saturday, October 28th, 9:00AM – 4:30PM. Breakfast and lunch provided on Saturday. $75.00 per participant.

The workshop will be held at Bridgewater Place, 205 Bridgewater Road, Knoxville, TN 37923.

To register, call UT Internal Medicine and Integrative Health: 865-971-3539.

Little ones know

Pilates with paws: Core exercises mix with adorable, adoptable kittens

Holding the proper pose for a plank in Pilates gets tough when a 2-month-old calico kitten named Blondi races under your arms.

Proper breath control easily dissolves into giggles when a pair of gray and white kittens called Angela and Pam race across a yoga studio floor.

This is Pilates with kittens at Breezeway Studios in Knoxville on a Sunday morning. Instructor Susie Kaplar gives her 18 students instructions in stretching, twisting, breathing – and animal contact.

“When a kitten plops on your stomach, you are going to stop and pet a kitten,” she says.

The hourlong session was the fifth in Young-Williams’ summer “Kitten Yoga” series. Held at different exercise studios, the classes teach yoga or Pilates while kittens run, prance, stalk and sit among the exercise mats.

This Pilates class is a combination of stretching your spine and petting a kitten or twisting your torso and cuddling a cat. The humans, including myself, paid $15 each to perform core-strengthening exercises among the free-roaming felines.

Young-Williams volunteer Azura Miller made two trips to the center to bring the agile, adoptable kittens to the studio. The 2- to 3-months-old cats were a silver tabby named Dexter, three nearly identical gray kittens called Pudge, Angela and Pam and the calico trio of Blondi, Yakko and Wakko.

Young-Williams began Kitten Yoga after Development Coordinator Sophie Nguyen heard about a similar class in Louisville, Ky. When the first class sold out quickly, more were added.

Planks, bridges, and kittens

For Sunday’s Pilates, we humans began stretched out on rubber mats on the studio floor, putting us at kitten level. Miller and Young-Williams volunteers Allison Murray and Grace Malone removed the kittens from plastic or cardboard carriers. They scattered ping pong balls and catnip-stuffed mice in the middle of the floor, instantly drawing the cats’ attention.

We humans raised our spines slowly into a Pilates bridge. The felines chased the ping pong balls and batted the toy mice, often more interested in each other and their toys than the humans moving around them.

We humans pushed up on their hands to perform planks. The cats jumped over our outstretched legs and dashed under our raised abdomens. As a row of women bicycled their legs in the air, tiny calico Blondi sat quietly to watch wide eyed.

Mandi Bergeron’s pink sneakers were a kitty magnet. As she exercised, Bergeron sometimes jangled one shoe’s laces in the air as Blondi and gray kitty Pudge took turns swatting at the swinging strings.

Miller, Murphy and Malone got their own cardio workouts as they repeatedly retrieved the kittens when the cats ran into a small back room of the studio.

Kittens ‘extra perk’

Most class participants were familiar with yoga or Pilates, and many were pet owners. “Kittens are the extra perk,” sad Maddie Holtzclaw.

“I love animals and I like to exercise,” said South College student Allie Smith, who owns three dogs. “Put the two together and it’s irresistible.”

‘Kitten Yoga’ raises funds, awareness

Since the classes don’t include on-site adoptions, all the kittens returned at least temporarily to Young-Williams on Sunday. At least two class participants expressed interest in adopting kittens. Cats who participated in the past four sessions have been adopted but Nyugen didn’t know if yoga or Pilates participants adopted the animals.

The next Kitten Yoga sessions are 11:30 a.m. June 17, and Sunday, June 18 at Bullman’s Kickboxing & Krav Maga, 4589 Kingston Pike. Cost is $20. The series also includes two July sessions; those dates aren’t set.

Young-Williams has raised more than $1,000 from the classes, Nguyen said. The classes also raise awareness for the shelter. “They let people know about kitten season in general and that we need supplies and we need people to come and adopt,” she said.








Summer Retreat with Jillian Pransky

Yoga, meditation and nature.
Everything you need for the perfect summer retreat. 

Kripalu Summer Retreat Weekend – Friday, July 14 – Sunday, July 16 2017

Learning to Pause: Relax into Your Life

Summer offers us time to pause, reignite our own glow, and connect more deeply with the life-giving force within and around us. It’s a powerful time for clearing obstacles from the body and mind, a time to move beyond our habitual way of doing things and expand into new space and energy.

Through the practices of yoga, relaxation, meditation, and synchronizing the body and mind with nature, we grow more open and relaxed. Energy flows more easily. As our own energy reserve expands within us, we naturally grow more boundless and bright.

Set in the amazing natural environment of Kripalu, this retreat is the perfect combination of yoga, meditation, and time in nature to revitalize our deepest energy flow. Jillian Pransky artfully weaves slow-flow vinyasa, restorative poses, mindfulness, and walking meditation under the wide-open sky so we can return home expansive, light, and with a deeper connection to ourselves and the world.

Kripalu Yoga | Stockbridge, MA  •  42.3502, -73.3255 Stockbridge, MA  •  (866) 200-5203

  CE Credits

This program is eligible for:

  • 8.5 credits for Yoga Alliance (YA), $20 additional charge
  • 8.5 credits for Athletic Trainers (BOC), $20 additional charge


The Role of Yoga in Healing Trauma

Originally posted here on

Missy Hart grew up in Redwood City, Calif. — in gangs, on the street, in the foster care system and in institutions.

“Where I’m from,” the 26-year-old says, “you’re constantly in alert mode, like fight or flight.”

But at age 13, when she was incarcerated in juvenile hall for using marijuana, she found herself closing her eyes and letting her guard down in a room full of rival gang members.

Back then, she says, yoga was just another mandatory activity, run by a Bay Area program called The Art of Yoga Project. It offers what it calls “trauma-sensitive yoga” to incarcerated girls.

At first, 13-year-old Hart felt uncomfortable. But, gradually, she learned to use the poses and breathing to relax, and she loved it.

“Most of us [in juvenile hall] come from traumatic childhoods,” she says. “It was the only time you experienced a quiet time, when everything was so chaotic.” She believes the practice helped her cope with symptoms of bipolar disorder.

A new report from the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown University’s law school, says that for young women like Hart, who have been through trauma, there is mounting evidence that yoga can have specific benefits.

The study focuses on girls in the juvenile justice system. It also reviews more than 40 published studies on the mental health benefits of yoga.

“What we’re learning,” says Rebecca Epstein, one of the report’s authors, “is that fights go down on wards after adolescents participate,” in yoga.

Girls, she adds, “are requesting medicine less often. They have fewer physical complaints.”

The findings, Esptein explains, come from speaking to experts in the field, as well as the authors of peer-reviewed articles and some randomized, controlled trials.

Study of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACE, in boys and girls in the juvenile justice system. Courtesy of Georgetown Law

Two Georgetown pilot studies showed girls and young women who did yoga reported better self-esteem and developed skills that they could use in stressful situations — taking care of their own children, for example.

Educators and others who work with youth are, increasingly, paying attention to the science of trauma.

Large studies show that people who have been through one or more “adverse childhood experiences” have not only poor mental health outcomes, but also higher incidence of heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers. Those experiences might include such things as physical abuse, the incarceration of a close family member or mental illness in their household.

Further, statistics show that compared with boys, girls experience different forms of childhood trauma, with an impact that adds up over time. They disproportionately experience sexual violations, for example. And, for girls, this abuse is more likely to occur in the context of a relationship, Epstein says, which interferes with forming intimate and trusting relationships with others.

The new Georgetown Law report argues that, since the effects of trauma can be physical, “body-mind” interventions, like yoga, may be able to uniquely address them. Regulated breathing, for example, calms the parasympathetic nervous system. Practicing staying in the moment counteracts some of the dissociative effects of trauma. And the physical activity of yoga, of course, can directly improve health.

Yoga that is specifically designed for victims of trauma has modifications when compared with traditional yoga teaching.

For example, says Missy Hart, “they always ask you if you want to be touched,” for an adjustment in a pose. “I see now that really helped me. Other girls who have experienced sexual abuse, sexual trauma or are in there for prostitution at the age of 13, 14, they had their body image all mixed up.”

And the institution doesn’t always help, she says.

“Being asked to be touched, it gave us a little power back in a place where all our power is taken,” she explained. “We’re kids and we’re being strip-searched. We can’t even go to the bathroom, take a shower, or brush our teeth without asking.”

Yoga, she said, offered choices. “You can sit and reflect and think about what you want to think about. It helped us feel normal.”

When Hart turned 18, she was out of the foster care system, and became homeless for a time. “I was really searching for myself.”

Today, she is painting and studying to become an art therapist at Foothill College, near San Jose, Calif. She’s going back this summer to one of the institutions where she spent time as a girl, this time as an art teacher.

And, she is beginning her vinyasa yoga teacher training certification. Her ultimate goal, she says, is to open a group home that will offer creative arts and yoga. “When I was doing yoga, that seed was planted. I built my toolbox.”

3rd Annual Charity Yogathon

Spiritual talk, music, Q&A, meditation for world peace

A free public program with Brahmachari Ramanand

Saturday, May 20th  •  1:30 – 3:30PM

Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church

2931 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919