Archive for January, 2010

Yoga: A Cure for Insomnia

In previous posts, I’ve talked about insomnia and have recommended cherries and walking to solve sleep problems. I was recently at a meeting where someone mentioned yoga as a panacea to sleep problems. So I visited Gus, who owns and teaches at Cosmos Yoga and Healing in Alexandria, Virginia.

Cosmos Yoga and Healing

Cosmos Yoga and Healing is especially designed for his students to walk into a calming environment. The color, music, and smell of the room will leave a person relaxed by the end of the session. Gus teaches the Iyengar school of yoga which stresses body alignment and aims to unite the body, mind and spirit for health and well-being.

How can yoga be a cure for insomnia? Gus tells me that it’s through correct breathing, stretches, and alignment of the body. Additionally, about 10 to 15 minutes is spent in meditation where one “centers” oneself as well as removes toxins from the mind. He says we have too many things in our mind and the correct environment will bring a different mood. Stresses such as driving in traffic, a bad day at work, kids to care for — yoga removes the stresses, balances the body, and helps you to see clearly. With your body balanced and your mind cleared — it will help you fall asleep.


Gus’s definition of yoga … “Forever Young.” He says that the most positive energy we can get is from the sun’s rays so he encourages his students to get fresh air. If you live or work in the Alexandria, Virginia area, plan to check out this studio and try a class. Click here for a schedule.

Downsize Before You Need to Get Rid of Stuff

It’s amazing how easy it is to accumulate stuff – clothes, toys, electronics, kitchen gadgets, books, garden pots, children’s artwork, articles you’ve cut out of magazines, and papers of all kinds.

Do you remember the very first time you moved as an adult? I was just out of college and moved to Washington DC taking everything with me on the train. That was many years and many purchases ago. My last two moves involved hiring professional movers (who moved 55 boxes of just books in one of those moves).

Recently I spent a couple of weeks in Wisconsin helping my dad move into assisted living. Neither he nor my mother had accumulated a lot of stuff. When I was growing up, our home was never cluttered, and as Dad got older, he still kept the house clutter-free. Even so, there was a lot of stuff to go through (there were many, many closets).

When I returned home, I resolved to revert to my every-five-years habit of pretending I was moving and getting rid of things. Things I haven’t used in years, that I wouldn’t want to have to pack, and to pay to have moved, and to make room for if I were moving to a smaller space.

I have a few clients who live simply in 600 sq foot spaces. I envy them. Wouldn’t life be a lot simpler without all this stuff? The more we have, the more we have to take care of, the more we have to dust (or move out of the way so the cleaning people can clean), the more we have to push aside to get to stuff we need.

January is Get Organized month. This is a great time of year to get rid of things you no longer use or love. Gather those unused items and donate them now! If you itemize deductions on your tax return, make sure you get a receipt.

Go through your winter clothes. Someone out there could really use that winter coat, or nice warm sweater or business suit you no longer wear.

I’ve already started working on my downsizing. (I downsized those 55 boxes of books many years ago.) I took a dozen items to a consignment shop last month. I’ve got three bags of clothing ready to donate, two boxes of papers ready to go to the shredder, and four boxes to go to recycling. I feel great!

There’s a side benefit of downsizing – you make room for new things to come into your life that are important to you now, rather than giving space to things that were important to you 20 years ago. Just don’t go overboard and bring in more than you got rid of! If you have things to donate and don’t know where you can take them, call or e-mail me at 703-742-9179 or and I’ll give you some ideas.

Downsize your schedule too. Don’t overbook your social calendar. Leave some time for yourself – to just relax.

© 2009-10 Susan Kousek

Susan KousekThis article was written by senior Susan Kousek, Certified Professional Organizer (CPO), who works with clients in their office and home to declutter their space and set up systems to stay organized. She also offers workshops on organizing and time management. You can sign up for her mailing list to receive organizing tips like this by e-mailing her at

Susan Kousek, CPO®
Balanced Spaces®, LLC
Reston, VA

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Exercise is a 4 letter word

Sonia Gow leading a group of seniors

This is the time of year when you’ll see and hear a lot in the media about exercise. There are lots of reasons why it’s good for you:

  • lose weight
  • improved strength and flexibility
  • stronger bones
  • better sleep
  • help prevent diseases
  • more energy
  • alleviate pain

These are all valid reasons, but what if you don’t like the word exercise? What if it sounds like a really dreary, boring thing to do even when you know it’s good for you? When you’d much rather curl up with a book or be like my friend who says when she hears the word exercise she washes her mouth out with chocolate?

How about instead of using the word exercise we use the word movement? There are lots of ways to move our bodies:

  • dancing
  • gardening
  • walking
  • bowling
  • playing in a pool (walking, classes)
  • playing with grandchildren
  • mowing the lawn,
  • shoveling snow
  • and even cleaning the house!

I have a friend who puts on happy music and dances around the house. Another one bounces on a stability ball while she watches her favorite TV show. Whatever you do, it will work best if you enjoy what you’re doing, and you do it every day.

“If you rest, you rust.” Actress Helen Hayes.

I love this quote – for me it says it all. Maintain and increase your independence and control over your life. Forget about exercise and get moving!

This post was written by Sonia Gow.  She is a certified fitness instructor with special certifications in older adult fitness and aquatic exercise. Her focus is on balance and fall prevention through her Flamingos in Training program. The exercises she uses are also suitable for those with chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s, MS and arthritis, as well as post-rehab. Many are the same as those recommended by physical and occupational therapists. Sonia is a member of the International Council on Active Aging and volunteers with the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area. She was previously featured in another blog post. Click here.

She calls her exercise program, Flamingos in Training, because flamingos have good balance and so can you! She works primarily with older adults, and offers classes specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers, both land and aquatic, in the home and in retirement communities. For more information on her program, click here.

Discovering “Enough” in 2010 and Beyond

Dianne Eppler Adams

Dianne Eppler Adams

As we launch not only a new year but a new decade in 2010, it is clear many things are changing in our world. Fear of loss and deprivation as a result of the economic crisis, healthcare issues, government and corporate corruption, climate change, global epidemics and more could prevent us from living a happy life. But fear is not the best response to these threats.

I suggest that one powerful survival response is to recognize what is enough. It is an antidote to fear and the answer to finding satisfaction in living. Most of us are warmly clothed, living in comfortable homes surrounded by people we care about. The vast majority of Americans have far more than enough of what they need. Witness our trash piles.

What is enough must be answered by each person individually. A really good definition is “as little as possible and as much as necessary.”

Those who have lived long enough to remember the Great Depression of the 1930s will have no trouble understanding that definition. My mother-in-law still saves aluminum foil and washes out plastic bags for reuse.

Somehow, we lost sight of proportion and the last couple decades have been lived like unlimited growth and expansion could go on forever. Irrational exuberance took over and money and what it could buy became the measure of happiness…or did it?

Yet, just as you cannot breathe out without eventually breathing in, we have arrived at the need to restore the value of non-monetized things like a walk in the Sun, a hug from a loved one, or kind words from a neighbor.

As you begin a new decade, why not begin by first acknowledging what you already have. Before worrying about the future, if you start from appreciating what you have, you might realize that…you already have enough.

May you always have enough of what is really valuable in your life!

Senior guest blogger, Dianne Eppler Adams, is a certified astrologer and has offered life-affirming insights since 1995. Visit her Web site,, to sign up for her monthly newsletter.