Wellness Travel: My Relaxing Visit To Le Monastère Des Augustines

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“If you like “wellness travel,” you’ll want to book a personal or girls’ getaway to Le Monastère Des Augustines, located in the historic wings of the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec monastery.  I had an opportunity to visit this 17th century cloister during the Women In Travel Summit (WITS18) in Quebec City in early May.

Women of Head and Heart
The monastery, which offers retreat packages and holistic health programs, follows in the heritage of the Augustinian Sisters who devoted themselves to caring for the body and soul. The Sisters founded the first hospital in Quebec City.

Le Monastère Des Augustines; wellness travel

Le Monastère Des Augustines is all about wellness for the body and soul.

Tourisme Manager Marie-Eve Perron told us about the Augustine Sisters as we toured the monastery’s museum. “The Augustine Sisters arrived in 1639. This was their home. They cared for the sick and were always dedicated to healing,” said Marie-Eve. “While there were 250 sisters in 1950, today there are only 10 to 12 sisters here. They gave all their artifacts to Quebec City and many volunteers helped curate the materials for display,”

Le Monastère Des Augustines; wellness travel

The Augustine Sisters were dedicated to healing.

Le Monastère Des Augustines; wellness travel

The Museum includes artifacts from the old apothecary.

A Sacred Place To Stay
In the back of the restored building is the lodging, where the focus is on enjoying peace and quiet. The stairway leading up to the rooms dates back to 1757. There are  just 64 rooms – half are authentic cells where the sisters lived. The furniture is from the 19th century – it’s like staying in a museum. There are single beds in the rooms and bathrooms are shared. The rooms are very reasonably priced from $84 – $104 per person double occupancy. Continue reading

Stay Healthy and Happy This Holiday Season

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“It’s December and the holiday season is in full swing. As your jolly CVS Pharmacy Ambassador*, I’m here to remind you about ways to stay healthy and happy so you can enjoy this month’s festivities and celebrations.

Did You Get Your Flu Shot?
My boyfriend L and I got our flu shots back in October at our local CVS MinuteClinic. According to the experts at CVS, “Getting a flu shot is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from catching the flu.”

If you didn’t get your vaccine, you can still get one at CVS’ 9,600 retail pharmacy locations and more than 1,100 walk-in MinuteClinics. The MinuteClinics are open every day, including evenings and weekends, with no appointment needed.

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You can get your flu shot at CVS MinuteClinics across the country.

If you do happen to catch the flu, CVS can be a helpful resource. For example, with the CVS Pharmacy mobile app, you can shop via the app, place an order and have it delivered right to your car door with CVS Curbside pickup! This is especially nice when you’re not feeling well.

What About Other Immunizations?
In addition to the flu vaccine, it is important to make sure all your common immunizations are up to date before heading off to a crowded gathering. The CDC says to get the pneumonia vaccine if you are 65+ and the shingles vaccine for those 60+.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, that will include me, me, me next month! I’m going to check out the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix®, that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) says it prefers for healthy adults aged 50 years and older to prevent shingles and related complications.

Take Care When You Travel
Are you traveling overseas during the holidays? I went to the MinuteClinic before I left for my Viking Ocean Cruise last month. The Nurse Practitioner Karen prescribed medicine for motion sickness, which luckily neither L nor I needed on our voyage. (Stay tuned for my posts about my travels coming soon.) 

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Before going on an ocean cruise, I went to the MinuteClinic to get medicine for motion sickness.

Are you traveling out of town during the holidays? With the CVS Pharmacy App you’re able to quickly and easily transfer prescriptions to a CVS location nearest you if you forgot your medication.

Health Tips For The Holiday Season
The experts at CVS provided some additional suggestions for staying healthy when your world gets fast-paced: Continue reading

These New Books Will Help You Reinvent Yourself

aboomerslifeafter50.com; boomer women; life after 50It’s been many years since I’ve had kids at home who are starting a new school year, yet come September I always think about new beginnings.

The past month, my mailbox has been filled with new books that can help you reinvent yourself and make positive change. Since it’s September (can you believe it), I thought I’d share a few of the titles that resonated with me, in the hope that they may resonate with you too.

(Note: I’m giving away a copy of Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy, so read on and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below!)

The Power of Positive Energy by Tanaaz Chubb
This paperback includes “everything you need to awaken your soul, raise your vibration, and manifest an inspired life.”

Being a yogi, I really like this book. It’s an easy read with techniques to invite positive energy and gratitude into your life. Tanaaz is the founder of ForeverConscious,com, a site that promotes spiritual well-being.

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According to Tanaaz, “Positive energy is anything that makes you feel good, and feeling good happens when a vibration resonates with your soul.” She says that your energetic vibration dictates how you see the world: “People who are vibrating on a higher frequency tend to be able to see the positive side to any situation, whereas people operating on a lower frequency tend to only be able to focus on negatives.”

How are your vibrations today? Most days I’m more positive.

By following her exercises Tanaaz says “readers can adjust their auras to emit calm, peaceful, and positive energy instead of unhappiness or stress.” Know wonder I like Tanaaz’s book! BTW, this topic is SO TRENDY, with nearly 1 million #positiveenergy hashtags on Instagram.

Writing For Bliss by Diana Raab, PhD
If you like to use writing as a creative outlet or have thought about writing a memoir during your life after 50, Diana’s book is for you. Diana is an award-winning memoirist, poet, speaker, educator and survivor.

The subhead for her book is “A Seven-Step Plan For Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.” To master this plan, she provides prompts in each chapter for both the seasoned writer and novice writer and she does it in a mindful way. As you follow the prompts you may feel like you are going through a therapy session with the written word. Continue reading

Mindfulness, Happiness, and More Trends From the 2017 Book Expo

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer womenWhen I was growing up in the Bronx, NY, I loved going to the public library. My mom and I would walk across Mosholu Parkway from our home. Mom would go food shopping – which took a long time since she had to go to the butcher, the bakery and the supermarket. I went to the library, where I headed straight for the new book section, opening the crisp covers, reading the flaps, flipping the printed pages. I’d stack the books – six was the limit – check them out one at a time – and carry the pile in my arms to meet up with mom.

To this day, new books still excite me. That’s why I so enjoyed attending the 2017 Book Expo at the New York Javits Center earlier this month. The Expo is an annual event where publishers showcase new books. From Simon & Schuster to Hachette, Workman, Penguin and more, I walked every aisle to see each publisher’s offerings.

What’s Hot In The World of Books?
Now that I’ve finally finished combing through my notes and all the catalogs I collected, it’s time to share the themes and trends that caught my attention. Are you ready for what’s hot in the world of books? Note that some of these books may not be available until later in the year.

Here’s the scoop:

Mindfulness and Yoga With A Dosage of Happiness 
If you’re not being mindful or you’re not happy, not to worry because there are hundreds of books (or maybe more) to bring you into the present and make you joyful. As a yogi, I was pleased to see that these topics are trending, yet not sure how I would find time to practice if I spent all my time reading. Here are some titles to choose from:

Mindfulness On the Go – “a set of 52 cards and a 64-page illustrated book, all in a flip-top box with an easel to display your mindfulness cards.”

The Yoga Healer by Christine Burke – with “remedies for the body, mind, and spirit, from easing back pain and headaches to managing anxiety and finding joy and peace within.”
Beyond Mindfulness by Stephen Bodian – says it’s “the direct approach to lasting peace, happiness, and love.
Relax into Yoga for Seniors by Kimberly Carson, MPH, E-RYT and Carol Krucoff, E-RYT –  including a six-week program for strength, balance, flexibility and pain relief. Continue reading

My Yoga Journey: Celebrating One Year As A Teacher

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness

Last month, marked one year since I completed my Yoga Teacher Training 200 Hour Program at Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies.

Since graduation, I’ve taught 70+ hours of yoga to mature adults and seniors as old (or should I say as young) as 100. I’ve taught newbies and experienced yogis. I’ve taught Chair Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Aqua Yoga in the water and even Power Yoga (if there is such a thing). I’ve led Meditation and Mindfulness sessions too. Wow-o-wow! 

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I remember my first few classes. I was very nervous. Would my voice project? Could I memorize a sequence of poses? What would happen if my sequence ran past the hour? What about the music, the mantras, the mudras, the Sanskrit names and directions for each pose? It was all so overwhelming. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to teach.

yoga training, yoga mat

Learning From My Students
Transitioning from a teacher in training to an instructor in the studio has been an incredible learning experience. Now my students are my best educators.

When I speak softly, my students tell me to talk louder or turn down the music.

When I mention “inhale your left arm up” instead of “inhale your right arm up,” my students remind me and I quickly correct.

“We don’t say pain,” said my Chair Yoga student. “We say discomfort.”  “Discomfort it is,” I replied. The word “pain” has left my vocabulary.

“Can we look in the mirror?” asked my Yoga 101 student. “Yoga is a practice, there’s no perfect pose, no judgement,” I said. “The mirror won’t tell you anything and may even bring you off balance.” The student found his focal point (or drishti as we say in Sanskrit) away from the mirror and attempted to balance in Tree Pose, first on his left foot and then his right. Continue reading

My Post 50 Yoga Journey: Time To Celebrate Accomplishments

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“How do you feel?” asked my teacher B after I concluded my final one hour practice teach to become a yoga instructor. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all that I had accomplished during the past 16 months of YTT200 training at Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies in Camden, NJ.

There was a bond among the five of us who went through the journey together. We were forever changed in mind, body, and spirit. During our closing ceremonies we surrounded each other in a circle with a special blessing and chant of “om”. We were encouraged to observe and give positive feedback after each practice teach. “Leave the teacher open to new possibilities, alternatives, and choices rather than the idea that there is a right or wrong way,” B said.

As new teachers, we each created an affirmation about ourselves and our teaching. “I, Judi, am grateful for having completed my YTT 200 teacher training and look forward to sharing the benefits of yoga with others,” I chanted the sentence three times and then my classmates and teachers repeated it in unison to reconfirm.

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As new yoga teachers, we each created an affirmation.

Becoming A Teacher, But Always A Student
Gerald Marzorati, a former editor of The New York Times Magazine, wrote an essay last month called “Practicing for a Better Old Age.” In his writing Gerald recommends that during your life after 50 that you “Find something — something new, something difficult — to immerse yourself in and improve at.” He says that “What brings us to the the beauty of a disciplined effort at improvement and, I think, the only guaranteed benefit of finding something, as I found in tennis, to learn and commit to: You see time and make it yours. You counter the narrative of diminishment and loss with one of progress and bettering.” Continue reading

My Post 50 Yoga Journey: A New Perspective on the Body and Mind

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellnessIt’s been a while since I shared progress on my post 50 journey to become a yoga instructor. Through my education at Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies, I’m gaining a new perspective on the union between the body and the mind.

Our Amazing Bodies
In prior posts, I told you about my deepening knowledge of anatomy and physiology. This spring, I decided to re-audit A+P. Our bodies are very complex with so many muscles, bones, limbs, joints, and organs – it’s truly amazing how everything works together, or sometimes doesn’t work together when you don’t take care of yourself. It’s been said that a consistent yoga practice can help resolve “the issues in the tissues.”

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I learned a lot from yoga instructor N and her companion Raja.

The Power of Prana
I introduced you to prana, the Sanskrit word for “life force” and demonstrated different breathing techniques – Dirgha and Nadi Shodhana – to move prana through the body. Over the past several months, I’ve learned additional ways to use breath to calm and focus the mind, build lung capacity, and activate energy in the body.  From Ujjayi, great sound breath, to  Kapalabhati, skull shining breath, Sama Vritti to Vishama Vritti, both with a counting rhythm (Sama is equal counts with inhale and exhale and Vishama has a longer exhale) – I’ve witnessed how marrying breath with movement can bring greater benefits to the body and mind.

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I practice meditation with Nadi Shodhana breathing, alternate nostril breath, to help lower my blood pressure and relax.

The Artistry of A Yoga Sequence
My artistry of asanas has multiplied with a broad portfolio of poses to choose from as I enhance my own practice and craft sequences to teach others. There are joint-freeing series, reclining poses, seated poses, standing poses, backbends, forward bends, twists, and inversions. There are the three-dimensional aspects of poses, their Sanskrit names, and proper alignments. There are key benefits, precautions, and contraindications for poses, plus modifications and assists for those who may need help.

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Our instructors L and M show us the correct alignment and assists for poses.

We begin each sequence with centering. “Let your thoughts go. Bring your mind to the mat as well as your body,” said my instructor L. We end with savasana, known as corpse pose, the most important asana of them all. It’s when the body and the mind totally relax lying flat on the mat and the goodness of all the other poses melts into every cell. Continue reading

My Post 50 Yoga Journey: It’s About Mind, Body, and Spirit

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellness“Welcome to yoga training Methods & Techniques I,” said my instructor B as she addressed our first weekend class at Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies in Camden, NJ. “We come together as strangers, but we leave as a tight-knit community. These are your sisters.”

There are five women, or should I say five yoginis (female yoga practitioners are called yogini, male are yogi), in the YTT200 program this year and by May 2016, after 200 hours of training, we will be eligible for our first yoga teacher certificate from Yoga Alliance.

Discovering My True Self
I was excited and anxious to begin training. I started practicing yoga about seven years ago, after my husband passed away. It helped me heal my “mind, body, and spirit” and work through my grief. It continues to provide an outlet for “letting go” and “slowing down” – which is an on-going challenge for me since retiring from my fast-paced full-time job.

“Explore your own creative expression as a yoga teacher, ” said B. “Don’t worry about anything. I’m looking at your growth during this training.”

Om, om, om, I breathed in and began to relax on my mat. This journey I am embarking on for the next nine months is sacred. Am I ready to discover more about my own true self? Am I prepared for what lies deep within?

Yes, yes, yes, it’s a bit scary delving deep, yet at the same time freeing. Plus, I’m eager to improve my own strength, flexibility, and balance during my life after 50 and share all the benefits that yoga has to offer with others,

yoga training, yoga mat

I was ready for my yoga training with my mat, cushion, blanket, strap, and blocks.

The Eight-Fold Path
B explained the “Eight-Fold Path” Of Ashtanga Yoga according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, who lived and wrote a long, long time ago between what is thought to be 200 BC – 200 AD. The guidelines start at the base with Yamas (restraints such as non-violence and truthfulness) and Niyamas (behaviors and observances such as contentment and cleanliness). The path moves up the hierarchy to Asanas (postures), Pranayama (controlling your breath), Pratyahara (where you close your eyes and be with yourself), to Dharana (concentration), to Dhyana (meditation), and finally, to Samadhi (a blissful state of spiritual freedom). Continue reading

My Post 50 Yoga Journey – The First Step

life after 50, baby boomer women, boomer wellnessIn January I started training to become a yoga instructor. I thought I would share my transformative journey as it unfolds. For fellow yogis – my stories will remind you of why you practice. For non-yogis – come along for the ride – maybe I’ll entice you to try a class or two.

Why Do I Love Yoga
I began my yoga practice about seven years ago, shortly after losing my husband. It was a way to physically and mentally focus and relax. Yoga and mindfulness meditation helped me heal through stages of grief. According to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as interpreted by Mukunda Stiles, “Yoga is experienced in that mind which has ceased to identify itself with its vacillating waves of perception. When this happens, then the Seer is revealed resting in its own essential nature, and one realizes the true Self.”

In some ways you could say I lost my soulmate and found my “soulmat”. Yoga was my ticket to wellness after many months of dealing with my husband’s progressive illness and eventual death. It helped me to stop, to breathe, and to be in the moment.

During the past two years since leaving my full-time job, I’ve grown to love going to my weekly yoga classes. Instead of resisting, I am more open to change. Yoga has shown me how to slow down and find greater balance. I have developed a sense of gratitude for all that I can do.

I am growing and improving each day. An inspiring quote touches my heart. A fellow yogi strikes up a conversation. A perfect pose or an imperfect pose invigorates my body.  Plus, I’m starting to take the goodness of yoga off the mat and bring yogic philosophy into my overall lifestyle. (My friend W says I’ve become very “zen.”)

Last fall, I decided to take a big leap. I went to an open house at Lourdes Institute of Wholistic Studies and signed up for their 200 Hour Yoga Training Program.

Welcome to Anatomy + Physiology

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I learned a lot from yoga instructor N and her companion Raja.

I’m proud to say that I just finished my first 20 hours of anatomy and physiology. I learned a whole lot from my amazing instructor N and her skeleton companion Raja. It was much better than any high school or college biology class. Perhaps I am a more eager student during my life after 50. Continue reading