July 2020 News and Updates

I am not able to restart classes in our little front room with King County in Phase 2 of the restart. My hope is that we will begin again when King County enters Phase 3.

Most of you know that my day job, a metal fabricator repairing vehicles for the City of Seattle, has been essential, and that I am daily exposed to a myriad of people. 98% of my co-workers are not wearing facemasks when in proximity of others. What if I were to get the virus during the day and pass it on to you in class? I could not live with the harm I had caused. I am guessing that for some of you that comes as frustrating news, that others of you might not return when I do re-open classes, but that many of you will understand that the risk of contagion from this potentially killer virus is real.

“Our country is like a really old house. I love old houses. I’ve always lived in old houses. But old houses need a lot of work. And the work is never done.

"And that’s what our country is like. And you may not want to go into that basement, but if you really don’t go into that basement, it’s at your own peril. And I think that whatever you are ignoring is not going to go away. Whatever you’re ignoring is only going to get worse. Whatever you’re ignoring will be there to be reckoned with until you reckon with it. And I think that that’s what we’re called upon to do where we are right now.” Isabel Wilkerson

“Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.” Dhammapada: The Buddha’s Path of Wisdom

May we all do our part to be kind to one another and to ourselves

This is a continuation of last month’s newsletter, "Motivation". I am not sure whether Action precedes motivation, or motivation precedes action. I don’t really care. What I do care about is after motivation, then what? As Tom Robbins wrote in Still Life with Woodpecker, “How to make love stay”? So, you tried some yoga at home or following an exercise video a couple of times. What are you doing now?


The other day I had a very hard time doing my planned workout. It was a supreme mental, emotional and physical effort for me that did not let up the entire time. I thought of those of you who have shared with me your challenges of practice with out a class to attend as I talked myself through my workout plan. I wanted most to tell you that there are sometimes days when I really, really do not want to work out or do yoga. And yet, I carry through, the best I am able. Here’s why and how.

  1. I don’t want to live with the physical and mental pain my mother did.
  2. It took me 6 years of trying to be able to ride a motorcycle and another couple of years after that to pass the licensing test. What if I had given up? I did learn to ride, and eventually went on to ride solo cross country several times. Same with that hope that someday I will do real push-ups, really do the vinyasa from chaturanga to urdhva mukha svanasana. I remember a yogi who taught herself to roll up into handstand for her 50th birthday.
  3. I am 10 years older than my husband, which compounds the female- male strength differential between us when we go hiking or work in the garden together. I find an overwhelming amount of pleasure doing both of these with him and want to be able to keep up as best as I am able.
  4. I have consistently noticed that my shoulders and hips and knees don’t hurt like they used to with the steady workout routine I took on.
  5. I also tend to notice I feel emotionally more “even” after I move. The depression and anger I am prone to visit me less frequently.
  6. I believe the science that consistently finds bodies that move experience less pain as they age. My life expectancy gives me about another 20-35 years, and I want to enjoy them.

Scapular and wrist mobility is a struggle that I used to take for granted.

Okay, that was a bunch of whys. Here now for some hows:

 1. I have to set an appointment for the day and time, just as if it were a vet appointment or a doctor's appointment or a time to take a crucial dose of medicine. This appointment was not always a thrill for or supported by my sweetie. But I stuck to by my appointment as non-negotiable and he became accustomed to it. He certainly would not be able to sidetrack me from taking other life-supporting medicine. Which, by the way, exercise is.

2. I also create a limit to it- say 20 minutes long was what I started with, as I wrote last month. These days I’ve worked up to 60-75 minutes, max.

3. I keep in mind it takes about 16 weeks of change to change, so I need to be understanding of that. There are different theories on how long habit setting takes, but I found 16 weeks pretty accurate.

4. Many, many days I repeat to myself, ‘This will pay off’, or ‘This will be worth it’, ‘I can do this’, ‘Don’t quit!’. For real- I say that stuff to myself. It helps. A lot.

5. I have a plan or a list for what I will be doing and what day I will be doing it. Actually, I have a week’s or a month’s plan. If it’s 5 days of different sequences for my hips, I rotate through them, on after another. I get to the end and flip it back to the beginning. Same with my shoulders, chest and upper back sequence. For my yoga days I have a book that has a section of sequences in it. I just follow them. I don’t have to come up with anything. I only have to carry it out. Yes, this takes some preparation, but once I got it set up, now it rolls on its own momentum.


The stuff that tries to get in the way:

1. Doubt, second guessing, indecision, lack of confidence. So many times my husband will reinforce me with “At least you’re doing something!”. I have to admit that’s true, especially on the days that sucked.

2. Thinking of stuff I need to do or remember in the middle of doing my sequence. I keep a pen and a piece of paper or tell my phone to take a note. What ever it is, it can wait 20 minutes.

3. Pain- if what I’m doing hurts, I take the movement back to the degree of difficulty (or lack thereof) where I am moving without pain. I recommit to focusing on engaging torso muscles that I know are reluctant to kick in, even when it means a smaller move.

4. I can’t do the moves on the list. I Google: “push up regression”, or “Warrior 3 modification”. I find the beginner’s equivalent.

5. Getting bored. Music is a big help for me. I’ve found anything from Bob Marley to Sheryl Crow, Beatles to Joan Osborne can help smooth me through. Changing up the count or timings for the list keeps my interest, too. Maybe I’ll do 7 moves, 7 times through, 7 rounds. (I use 7 pennies that I move from one pile to another to keep track.) You all know how much I love my interval timer app, too. Those timer apps are free for the basic functions.

6. Most of all, at the age of 54, I by now know I am capable of sticking out anything for a short period of time- just like telling a kid they will survive until it’s over.

I have never once finished a workout or yoga practice and thought, “Well I should have just stayed on the couch”. I usually come away with feeling better, if not telling myself, “Good job, Michelle, you did it.” Being able to move is a blessing too easily lost.

Please take good care of yourself

and your fellow beings.

Happy July Birthday!

Basil Grieco


(Sign of the zodiac: Cancer, or al-Saraṭān. Page from a manuscript known as Kitab al-bulhan or "Book of Wonders" held at the Bodelian Library.)