Barbara H. McNeely

Author, Coach & Publisher

Category: Cartwheels On the Beach

What Have I Been Up To?

What has Barbara been up to?

What has Barbara been up to?

I know I haven’t written here for a while. I had every intention to, but I’ve been working on getting myself organized. Each week there was a reminder to write here. And each week it would get pushed off until the next week. Until, one day I realize it has been over 2 months since I’ve posted anything. So…

Here I am.


With an update on some of what I’ve been doing. First the yoga:
I am now in my fourth month of doing yoga. I can tell in many ways that I am building strength. I’ve also seen improvement in various pains. Most notable is something that my orthopod called trochanteric bursitis. The trochanter is the part of the femur that connects to the hip bone. This was good news to me. I was convinced that the hip pain I’ve been experiencing was caused by osteoarthritis. My orthopod gave me exercises to do. And it turns out that the therapeutic yoga that I am doing is the same exercise. And the pain is diminished. It has been many weeks since it kept me up at night. So I continue the yoga at least 3 times a week.

The List Junkies List Journal Cover

The List Junkies List Journal Cover

Creating Journals

I have also been learning how to create journals that can be put on sale at Amazon! How cool is that? Or are you wondering what a journal is? Journals can be many different things. If you’re curious, you can check them out on Amazon by entering “journals in the search box. Basically, a journal can be like a blank or lined journal but it might have additional prompts or information. There are gratitude journals, tracking journals, journals for grief, and many more. I have created one journal already titled “The List Junkie’s List Journal.” If you’re someone who’d makes all sorts of lists, this journal is a good resource. It lets you keep all of your lists together in one book! It was mostly done for practice. Because I have bigger plans for journals! You’ll be hearing about them soon.

The List Junkies List Journal Back Cover

The List Junkies List Journal Back Cover


In addition, I have been writing a book. I’ve been working on it for more than a year. The reality is that it should have been finished long ago. But it has been very hard to write this first book. The good news is that I have made a commitment to have the first draft completed by November 17th! So I decided to make that commitment public. Will I make that deadline? That is my intention. I’m going away this week on a private retreat. I plan to do a lot of writing while I’m going. I’ll report back later on my progress.

What’s that? You want to know what the book is about? I’ll give you a hint. The working title is “Lessons of an Opening Heart.”

Keep me in your thoughts. I’ll report back here soon on my progress!

Re-Learning How To Stand

Relearning How To Stand

Relearning How To Stand

My intention with yoga is to do some yoga movement every single day. Of course, reality and intention don’t always work well together. Which is just another way of saying that I can rationalize just about anything if I want to. This week is a prime example.

I made it to yoga on Monday, to the more intense Therapeutic Astanga Method Yoga (TAM) that I talked about last week. In that class I have to remind myself to do only what I can do. I have no idea how long the others in that class have been doing yoga. Longer than me, for certain. Some, I know, are yoga teachers themselves. Nydia was helpful in showing me the how to modify the movements for my level.

Did I mention that this class is heated? I could definitely feel that, too. Near the end of class, when Nydia turned off the heat, she told use that the temperature had gotten to 85 degrees!

Could Your Posture be Hurting You?

Any class that I have joined and stayed in for very long – yoga, aerobics, Jazzercise, Pilates – has been one that stressed doing movements properly. I’m sure that most classes do, but not all as I’ve been in some that did not. It’s important because if you do movements wrong, you can hurt yourself. In yoga, I have learned that I have been standing wrong for a good portion of my life. Perhaps you have too?

When I stand for long periods of time, I tend to shift my weight to one leg and then lock the knee, also known as hyper-extending the knee. Since I started yoga I have learned that this is a bad idea. Here’s why: You’re not using muscles to stand. Instead you’re relying on the skeletal structure to hold you up. This puts extra stress on your knees and results in joint compression. Over time, this can result in damage to the cartilage – osteoarthritis. In class, we are always reminded to have just a very slight bend at the knees. This reduces the joint compression and forces you to use the muscles of the leg.

Knowing that I have serious arthritis issues in both knees confirms everything I hear in yoga class. In fact, I recall no too long ago when I was standing with most of my weight on one leg. When I needed to shift the weight, my knee hurt when I first bent it. Should be listening to my body, right?

The same is also true when you’re using your arms to support your body. If you’re arms are super-straight, you are not building muscle and are just putting extra pressure on your joints. Yikes! So be careful when you see that meme running around Facebook about 30 days of planks!

Three Weeks of Yoga – Getting Stronger

Week Three of Yoga - My Goals

Week Three of Yoga – My Goals

This is my third week of yoga classes and I am finding that I am stronger already. Due to schedule conflicts, I have only been able to go to class two days per week. I’m working on a way to do three per week. During class on Wednesday, Nydia took us through her “Therapeutic Astanga Method Yoga” or TAM. Our class is usually “Progressive Mellow Yoga” which is less intense than TAM. Wednesday’s class was definitely a workout. So much so that I had no energy the rest of the day. The TAM class is offered at 8 AM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And I’m just crazy enough to consider switching to it. Why? I know some of you are thinking it’s because I’m crazy. And, you may be right. But my whole purpose in taking up yoga is to build up my strength. And I have some goals of what I want from my yoga.

My Yoga Goals

  • Build up strength in the muscles that support the knee. So that I can either avoid or postpone knee replacement.
  • Build up strength throughout the body. This is important for all of us as we progress in life. It helps to limit the effects of arthritis.
  • Better Balance – The primary reason for many falls is a lack of balance. I want to avoid those falls.
  • More flexibility – I have a friend that can be seated cross-legged on the floor and come to standing without using her hands or arms. I want to be able to do that!
  • Turn cartwheels – I love to turn cartwheels, even though I have not done so in many years. I have a goal of turning cartwheels on the beach!

Benefits of Yoga

I am learning that yoga is much more than body strength and flexibility. It is beneficial to us in many other ways. It can actually be considered a form of meditation and mindfulness. When you’re doing yoga, you are definitely only in the present moment. It’s hard to think of anything else when you’re thinking about the muscles in your feet, your thigh muscles, you pelvic floor, your abdominal muscles, your shoulder girdle, AND your breathing.

I’ll be talking more about benefits as I continue on my yoga journey.

Beginning My Yoga Journey

Beginning My Yoga Journey

Beginning My Yoga Journey – Cats know how to yoga!

It was last December when my friend Sherrie, the Naturopathic Doctor, suggested water, bone broth, and yoga for the osteoarthritis in my knees. I immediately added bone broth to my diet. I re-introduced the yoga from my iPad app. And I always strive to drink more water. Strive being the operative word.
I have always known that the iPad app was not sufficient for my yoga needs, for at least three reasons:

  1. It presents a limited selection of yoga poses.
  2. There is no one with me to tell me I’m doing things wrong.
  3. It’s more difficult to motivate myself alone.

Someone suggested that I go see Nydia at Nydia’s Yoga Therapy. That was in January and it took me until July to actually do it. Now, less than a month later, I’m kicking myself for having put it off for so long. But it’s all good and everything happens when it happens for a reason.

I signed up for a therapeutic assessment with Nydia as the first step. I wanted her to know about my issues and more importantly I wanted to know if yoga would really help me. So I told her all about my various health issues: my fairly recent surgery, my osteoarthritis in my knees, hips, and thumbs. And I told her some of the things that I wanted to do but could not at this time. Such as playing guitar. The arthritis in my thumbs makes this difficult. And turning cartwheels. I used to love to do turn cartwheels, but have not had the nerve to try one for years. Which brought up something else I needed – strength. In every area – hands, arms, shoulders, knees, hips, feet, legs, you name it. Basically, I want to be able to run and jump and play like normal kids.

Yoga Assessment

That assessment was one long, private yoga session. Breath and breathing is a major part of yoga. And it’s much more than the Inhale/Exhale I got from my iPad app. We spent a lot of time on that. So much that I had abdominal muscles that I didn’t even know I had hurting the next day. But it was hurting in a good way.
The good news is that I learned that my yoga practice can benefit all of my joints and help to protect me from the degeneration that is osteoarthritis. I also learned that it is about doing it right. I’m pretty good at following directions. And I know that when it comes to physical activity, you need to do it the right way. And I know that even I can benefit from this yoga practice.
Nydia sent me home after that assessment with a booklet and links to her website. So I went home and practiced at home. Concentrating on breathing and on feet exercises.

My First Yoga Class

It was nearly two weeks later when I took my first class with Nydia. I wound up in the front of the classroom, facing a huge mirrored wall. I have to tell you I was not prepared for that. I am overweight and out of shape and have lingering edema in my feet, ankles, and legs. I wanted to be far away from the mirror. (I thought about posting a before picture of myself, but I have yet to have the nerve to take that one.) Suffice it to say that I resemble the roundness of this image:

This is how I look now

This is how I look now

In my mind, though, I am seeing myself in excellent physical condition.

I enjoyed that first class enough to sign up for a total of ten classes. That first class was on a Monday and I went back on Wednesday. This time I chose to have a spot right in front of the mirror. That way I’ll get to watch my progress. I am pleased to tell you that I felt a little stronger and had better balance after just one class. Combined, of course, with the work I have been doing at home.

My Yoga Commitment

I have now been to yoga class four times, but this is only the beginning for me. I have long wanted to get into yoga and now is the time. I know I have limitations now. I just laugh whenever someone says “Sit comfortably on the floor in a cross-legged position.”
I’ll be writing here every week reporting my progress. And talking about all of the benefits of yoga. There are many. So follow me on my journey to see where all it leads!

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