Tag Archives: yoga

Astoria volunteer turns to online fundraiser to release first album of ‘positive music’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ben Trivett

One Astoria singer is hoping her lyrics will fill listeners with enough positive energy that they in turn will contribute to an online campaign to help her release her first album.

Mary Walker has always had a passion and love for music. Growing up in Kansas she would listen to her mother and brother practice musical instruments throughout the house. She sang at her church’s youth choir, and in college she was the lead singer of her own rock band.

“Typically when I was growing up the house would be filled with music. Everyone was practicing their instruments,” Walker said. “I come from a strong gospel and blues background.”

When she made the move to New York in 2001 she started another band. But after the terror attacks on Sept. 11 of that year, she said she felt her life became filled with stress and she needed to find a way to relax.

She then encountered the nonprofit educational and humanitarian organization The Art of Living, which would send teachers to New York City to teach people meditation. Walker began taking classes and attending chanting sessions with the organization.

“It really changed my life,” she said.

Through her experience with the sessions she got together with other members of the meditation group and started a chanting band, which later morphed into the band Butterthief. The band plays “sit-down, traditional chanting music with a pop spin to it,” she said.

Butterthief (Photo by Ben Trivett)

Although she is still rocking out with Butterthief, after the business she owned folded last year, she decided it would be time to focus on her music career and work on her solo album. In order to fund the album release, she started a campaign on gofundme.com.

“My focus is creating a movement. Change starts with the individual,” Walker said. “For people to make a change, it first has to start with you.”

The funds gathered by the campaign will pay for the studio time, recording software, music publishing and other aspects that go into producing the album. She plans to work with guitarist Aram Bajakian, who played on tour with Lou Reed.

The album, which has a release date slated for April, will be filled with rock, alternative and soulful “happy” songs, all written by Walker.

“I want to create a fan base of people who like to listen to positive, uplifting music,” Walker said. “My focus is to have uplifting and passionate music.”

To contribute to Walker’s campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/marywalker.

Along with singing in the band and working on her solo album, Walker also helps to host “Yoga Remix Parties” where partygoers, specifically in colleges and universities, listen to Sanskrit chants set to electronic music and rock beats. The parties are substance free and include organic juices and food.

“People go away feeling free and partying without drugs and alcohol,” Walker said. “You don’t really need anything to have fun and have a good time.”

When she is not singing or hosting the parties, Walker can also be found volunteering for The Art of Living, going to prisons with a colleague where they teach meditation and breathing techniques to groups of teenage boys.

“Not even at home or school are you taught to deal with negative emotions,” Walker said. “They’ve been so grateful.”

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Library yoga aims to relieve stress in Howard Beach


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

JEFF STONE

Queens librarians are encouraging residents at the Howard Beach branch to put aside their books, for at least one hour starting at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, in favor of a yoga mat.

Irene Failenbogen will be on hand to give library members an introduction to chair yoga. A yoga instructor for 30 years, Failenbogen has spent half of that time helping New Yorkers use the ancient method to relieve stress, improve mental clarity, lower blood pressure and realign tired joints.

She advocates using a chair for novice yogis and people with health problems because, while many of the motions are the same, a chair can provide important assistance when it comes to balance and mastering the proper movement techniques.

A native Argentine, Failenbogen teaches a string of classes at each Queens library before traveling to the next branch. She’s attracted a small following in no small part because of her willingness to help her neighbors.

“I’ve just been part of the melting pot, seeing all these people come into the same class with all these backgrounds and languages,” she said. “We learn so much in life about how to be a spectator, but yoga is about putting yourself out there for the experience. … Many people after class will say, ‘I’m so glad I came.’”

 

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Op-Ed: A matter of balance


| oped@queenscourier.com

ROSEMARIE AUGOUSTATOS

The author is a certified yoga and Matter of Balance instructor.

Do you know who is most at risk of falling? If you guessed the older adults, then you are partially correct. Children also have a high risk of falling. However, older people have the highest risk of death or serious injury arising from a fall and the risk increases with age.

One in three seniors aged 65+ falls each year, and this number increases to one in two by the age of 80. Nevertheless, falls are not an inevitable part of aging and are also largely avoidable.  Physical exercise and balance training have shown to be beneficial for fall prevention in older adults.

According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, there are four things you can do:

1. Begin a regular exercise program;

2. Have your health care provider review your medicines

3. Have your vision checked

4. Make your home safer (improve lighting, install handrails and grab bars, keep often used items in easily reachable cabinets, etc.)

Since 6 out of 10 falls occur in the home, making simple changes in the home as well as personal and lifestyle changes can prevent many falls. Selfhelp Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center located in Flushing provides an integrated approach to assist older adults to implement these changes that helps reduce the chance of falling.

Besides daily Tai Chi classes, the center provides gentle chair yoga classes as well as programs geared to fall prevention such as Matter of Balance. The Matter of Balance is an evidence-based program addressing physical, emotional and environmental factors that may cause a fall. In addition to exercise, participants will:

1. Learn fall prevention strategies

2. Develop a personal plan to carry out fall prevention strategies

3. Make step by step changes in their daily lives, which help reduce fear of falling

Julia Harrison, former city councilmember and current participant of the program retrofitted her bathroom to make it more available and safer for her to use as a result of what she learned during the course of the Matter of Balance program.

Elsa Gerus is an avid dancer was diagnosed with stenosis of the spine. There were times when she was unable to stand upright. Since completing the Matter of Balance program, she has incorporated the movement exercises as well as meditation in her daily life. Elsa is now not only able to stand straight but is back to dancing again.

The Matter of Balance program is offered at Selfhelp Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center in Flushing and Peter Cardella Senior Center in Ridgewood.

If you are interested in learning more about the programs available for seniors, contact your local senior center or you may call Selfhelp Benjamin Rosenthal at 718-886-5777 and Peter Cardella Senior Center at 718-497-2908.

For more information on senior health offered by the National Council on Aging, visit www.ncoa.org/improve-health

 

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Seniors keep fit at Atria Kew Gardens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Kind & Gentle Yoga

Who says you need to slow down as you age?

You will find many Atria Kew Gardens residents doing yoga or T’ai Chi, or participating in a fitness program based on dance or mobility. In fact, these and a variety of other health and exercise activities are a regular part of daily “Engage Life” programming at Atria.

Popular programs like “Kind and Gentle Yoga,” T’ai Chi, “Movement for Life” and “Dance for Health” are all presented by skilled professionals who specialize in geriatric exercise. In addition, twice-weekly sessions of “Mobility, Fitness and Fun” are offered by physical therapists from Metropolitan Physical Therapy, Atria’s on-site provider for physical therapy and rehabilitative medicine.

A number of residents have already earned Active Lifestyle Award certificates from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in connection with the President’s Challenge national physical fitness initiative, and more are participating every day.

Residents are also presented with knowledge vital to their well-being in Atria’s ongoing “Your Health” series, which regularly features guest speakers offering important information on a variety of subjects, from fall prevention to diet and nutrition, memory loss, balance, diabetes, chiropractic and more.

Many Atria Kew Gardens residents are living proof of the value of remaining physically and mentally active at all stages of life, and Atria’s “Engage Life” program is dedicated to providing them every opportunity for continued good health and happiness.

Atria Kew Gardens is home to an active and diverse group of accomplished individuals, including a number of Holocaust survivors, and features programming that provides residents with an exceptional senior living experience every day.

Atria Kew Gardens is located at 117- 01 84th Avenue in Kew Gardens, and at www.atriaseniorliving.com. It is kosher under the Vaad of Queens. For any additional information, call 718-441-0300.