Friday, October 24, 2014

October in Chicago

I’m in Chicago again. The last time I was here the trees were full of leaves and the days were still long. The funny thing was the weather didn’t go with the time of year. Who could imagine needing a jacket during the day in August in August?

Now I look out the window at the tree stripped down to a skeleton. Naked, nude, not even a single leaf hanging on. I can see the birds landing on the branches. In the spring when the buds were just bursting, the tree was full of fragile gold finches. Now there are just hardy looking sparrows. Across the street the tree still has some dry golden leaves, but they look like they are going to crumble before they fall.

It’s noisy here. The sounds seem to amplify as they come up to the third floor. The rumble of the recycling truck and the clash of glass bottles rolling around as they make a pick up.

I catch a whiff of the scent of dry leaves coming in from outside and it awakens memories from long ago. Being here is like being inside a scrapbook of my life from fourteen on. Everywhere I look there is something that takes me back to another time. It is like flipping through my past and then I see a moment in my mind’s eye a moment in clear detail.

Looking at the window in my old bedroom brings me back to the night I got home from Israel. I had gone as a volunteer to work on a kibbutz just after the six day war. My time there was fraught with danger, but I’d made it home filled with stories, but pretty much unscathed.

That night I awoke and didn’t know where I was and had a dark feeling that I was trapped in some kind of detention camp and would never get back. Then the light outside my window came into focus and I saw that I was in my own bed. A huge wave of relief washed over me as I realized I was home, safe and sound.

And instead of being something that happened a lot of years ago, it feels as fresh as yesterday.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Proper Form and Adaptations of Child’s Pose—Response to a Student Question

I look forward to answering your questions in this blog. Please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail your questions to

A Whole Life Yoga teacher training graduate writes: When I teach child’s pose, I have noticed that some of my students keep their back straight and hips hiked up in the air, almost downward dog-like. I’m not sure if this is a flexibility issue, or if they just don’t understand my instructions. Do you see this in your students, and if so, how do you address it?

I do see that pattern occasionally, and it can have several causes. Most yoga teachers think that child’s pose is a comfortable, forward-bended resting position—and it usually is. For some students, however, child’s pose isn’t restful at all; it’s confusing, uncomfortable, and frustrating.

The photo below shows a student doing child’s pose correctly. Note that her hips rest toward her heels, and her elbows and forehead relax comfortably toward the floor.

Yoga Pose -- Child's Pose

Sometimes, however, students touch their heads to the floor while pointing their hips to the sky. This places the spine in a subtle backbend, and usually isn’t the slightest bit comfortable.

Yoga Pose -- Adapted Child's Pose

A student usually does this for one of three reasons:
  1. Her knees are unable to acutely bend or are uncomfortable when deeply bent.
  2. She can’t breathe comfortably when her chest, belly, or breasts are pressed against her thighs.
  3. She doesn't understand how to do the pose.
The solution, of course, depends on the cause. Two adaptations are useful for students with knee issues:

Place a bolster or folded blanket on top of the student’s calves. This allows her to rest with her knees at a less acute angle

Yoga Pose -- Adapted Child's Pose

Place a bolster under the student’s chest and belly. This has the effect of raising the floor, so her knees don’t have to bend as much when she lowers her body.

Yoga Pose -- Adapted Child's Pose

If, on the other hand, the student has difficulty breathing in child’s pose, coach her to widen her knees to make more room for the breath.

Yoga Pose -- Adapted Child's Pose

You can also have the student place a bolster, forearms or fists underneath her forehead to maintain space for the breath.

Yoga Pose -- Adapted Child's Pose

If the student doesn’t understand how to do the pose, then some individualized coaching is in order. Ask her if she is choosing to modify child’s pose for comfort. If the answer is no, she’s likely confused. Work with her to better understand the form and intention of the pose. If the answer is yes, find out specifically why she’s uncomfortable and work with her to adapt the post to get both function and ease.

Thanks for asking!


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dental Chair Ideas

Blogging rocks!

What am I blogging about here today?  I'm still not entirely sure, but thinking about it yesterday really helped me get through an unpleasant dental procedure.  Instead of focusing on what was happening to me, I brainstormed about what I'd blog about. 

And it wouldn't be that dental procedure. 

I thought about what I should be doing that day: continuing my final edits on the manuscript for my second Superstition Mystery, which is due on November 1. 

I thought about the promotion I've been doing for my first Superstition Mystery, which will include my Orange County, California, launch party this Saturday at 11 AM at Mystery Ink, in Huntington Beach.  And the article on superstitions that I just sent to Fresh Fiction, although I'm not sure when it'll be up on their website.  And the remaining blogs and articles that I've committed to write, although nothing like the volume I undertook for my wonderful Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. 

I thought about last weekend, when I attended the Birthday Bash of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America on Saturday, and the regular meeting of the Los Angeles Chapter on Sunday. 

I thought of my upcoming fun at Bouchercon, which will be in Long Beach next month and the wonderful questions I just received from the moderators of the panel I'll be on at 8:30 on that Saturday morning, "Must Love Dogs and Cats."  Very appropriate, don't you think? 

I told myself I should check to see if there were any superstitions about dentists when I got home, which I did.  I didn't find any, but there are quite a few about teeth.  For example, you can make a baby's teething process easier if you put bag of others' teeth around his neck.  And of course there's the tooth fairy, who leaves money under the pillows of a child in exchange for the baby teeth that fall out.   Oh, and it's good luck to have a gap between your front teeth.  I wonder if orthodontists know they could be ruining their patients' futures.  

Anyway, my procedure was soon over and I was able to leave--to head home and start writing this post! 

How about you--do you find ways to distract yourself in a dentist's chair?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shed Not the Bitter Tear

Here’s a pretty epitaph that was set above a number of young women’s graves, this one over Patience Holmes, age 24, of Plymouth, Mass.:

Shed not for her the bitter tear
Nor give the heart to vain regret,
‘Tis but the casket that lies here,
The gem that filled it sparkles yet.

Had a busy, fun weekend.  Friday Ellen and I went to a matinee performance of “Life Could Be A Dream,” which was performed at The Old Log Theater in Excelsior.  I am going to set the next Betsy Devonshire mystery there, and wanted a look at how the new owners revived and restored it.  It’s really nice – and what’s more, the performers were very talented, and the show was great fun.  All those wonderful old “doo-wop” songs had the audience, heavily senior, applauding and cheering. "Who Put the Bomp," “Unchained Melody,” “Stay,” many others, the whole show performed by just four men and one woman, full of energy and feeling.  I’m going to have to dial it down some for my version of a play put on out there.

Saturday I had a friend over in the morning to carve pumpkins.  They aren’t the real kind, but the artificial ones you can buy in places like Michael’s.  I like to do elaborate patterns, and doing it on a real pumpkin is such a waste!  All those hours of work, and in a week or less, you throw it away.  I’ve started a gargoyle’s face and will have to work hard to finish it by Halloween. 

Then we went to a writer’s group meeting, where my synopsis of Ebenezer’s Christmas Yarn was praised – with a strong suggestion that I don’t have enough suspects and need to revise it.  Unfortunately, they’re right.  *sigh*

Then we went to see a movie, “The Book of Life.”  I really liked it, it’s brilliant and colorful and made me understand the Mexican tradition of visiting the graves of their departed relatives on the Day of the Dead.

Sunday I rode with my producer to take a look at the site the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) holds its annual Warriors and Warlords camping event.  It’s in Osseo, Wisconsin, a few hours from the Cities.  We are thinking of filming my book Knight Fall there.  I wasn’t wild about it, the site is a work in progress and the woods are mostly white pine, but it’s close to us compared to the site in the book (a campground in western Pennsylvania) and the owner is very excited at the idea of a movie being made on his property. 

This coming weekend we will be in Indianapolis for the grand mystery convention, Magna cum Murder.  I’m going to be on two panels.  I’m excited and hope I can hold up my part – the moderator of one of the panels is Parnell Hall, a wild and crazy and hilarious man.  Wish me luck!