Friday, March 30, 2012

Yoga for Beginners

The Yoga Alliance, an organization that aims to increase awareness of yoga in the United States, claims that yoga can reduce stress and pain and increase the strength of your body from head to toe.

Yoga is also a weight loss tool and a therapeutic aide that can assist with carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and heart disease prevention, according to Dr. Tim McCall, author of Yoga as Medicine.

You can learn yoga by following along with an exercise video or online course, but there's no substitute for face-to-face instruction.

Performing a pose incorrectly or pushing your body into advanced poses before its ready can cause injury. A yoga instructor can advise you on your technique to ensure that you're exercise routine is as safe and effective as possible.

Yoga Studios in Western New York

Yoga studios that offer programs tailored to beginners include:

Buffalo Yoga

Address: 2495 Main Street, Suite 418, Buffalo
Cost: 2 week unlimited pass - $40 (new students), Single class - $15
  • Intro to Yoga - Thursday: 7:30 p.m.

East Meets West Yoga

Address: 758 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo & 4444 Main Street, Amherst
Cost: 1 week unlimited pass (new students) - $25, Single class - $18, Intro to Yoga (1x week for 6 weeks) - $70, Intro to Yoga (2x week for 6 weeks) - $130
  • Intro to Yoga - Monday: 7:45 p.m., Thursday: 6 p.m., Sunday: 12 p.m. (Buffalo)
  • Intro to Yoga - Monday: 7:30 p.m. (Amherst)

Shakti Yoga

Address: 133 Grant Street, Buffalo
Cost: Single class - $15
  • Beginner’s Vinyasa - Tuesday: 8 p.m., Saturday: 11:30 a.m.

Blue Sky Yoga

Address: 2582 Delaware Avenue, Kenmore & 1862 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo
Cost: 6 weeks, $60 (Kenmore), 7 weeks, $70 (Buffalo)
  • Beginner’s Yoga - Monday: 6 p.m., Wednesday: 6 p.m. (Kenmore)
  • Beginner’s Yoga - Monday: 6:15 p.m., Saturday: 8:30 a.m. (Buffalo)

The Fit Physique

Address: 2827 Delaware Avenue, Kenmore
Cost: 3 months, $87
  • Yoga I - Thursday: 7:05 p.m.

Rising Sun Yoga

Address: 5225 Sheridan Drive, Williamsville
Cost: Single class - $16, 3-week Intro to Yoga - $50
  • Beginner’s Yoga - Thursday: 6 p.m., Saturday: 11 a.m., Wednesday: 4:15 p.m.
  • Intro to Yoga Course - Saturday: 9:30 a.m., Tuesday: 6 p.m.

Yoga by Design Studio

Address: 5550 Main Street, Williamsville
Cost: 1 class per week for 8 weeks - $120
  • Level 1 Yoga - Tuesday: 5:45 p.m., Wednesday: 9 a.m., 5:45 p.m., Saturday: 8 a.m.

Many local gyms also offer yoga classes, so if you have a gym membership, you may want to check if yoga is among their program offerings.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lonely No More: Making Friends as an Adult

Friendships can keep us physically active and healthy, according to neuroscientist John Cacioppo. His findings – that having a social network is important to our well-being – are featured in the new book MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche.

I stumbled on MWF Seeking BFF just before Ben left for a week-long business trip in Austin, TX. Without Ben at home, I realized that I depended on just a few people for company, and that I'd probably let some friendships lapse that I shouldn't have.

MWF Seeking BFF reassures readers that it's not uncommon to find yourself in search of friends as an adult. People change throughout their lifetimes, and as they do, they can grow apart. Filling that void isn't always easy. "People want friends, they’re just embarrassed to ask for them," she writes.

To fill her friendship quota, Rachel vowed to go on one "friend date" each week. In between recounting her dates, some of which resulted in close friendships, she shares what she learned about making a connection with other women.

According to Rachel, here's what you can do to foster friendship:
  1. Accept all invitations. “The more you say yes, the more invites you’ll get. You have to follow up with all those meetings where you say ‘We should totally get together!’ instead of just saying it to sound nice."
  2. Look for opportunities to meet new people. Ask your friends if they know of anyone who might want to get together, and sign up for group activities that you enjoy. 
  3. Interact face-to-face. Twitter and other social networks can introduce you to new people, but on their own, they won't bring about lasting friendships. To create intimacy, face-to-face is better than phone, phone is better than email, and email is better than Facebook.
  4. Find similarities. "You need to find people with similar values, attitudes, and outlooks,” says John Cacioppo. “Think about what’s important to you, then find others in the same boat. Join those activities, troll those sites." When you're meeting a potential new friend, call attention to your similarities, no matter how small they might seem. It will make the two of you feel closer.
  5. Tell a story. When you meet someone new, don't switch into what Cacioppo calls "interview-mode." The year that you graduated from college or what you majored in isn't interesting. These facts don't create intimacy like a good story does. 
  6. Share your secrets. To deepen the bond, share personal information that you wouldn’t tell just anyone. To be friend material, she has to do the same, and be expressive and supportive when you're spilling the beans.
  7. Break out of your routine. Stepping outside your comfort zone is where you bond and make memories. If you typically meet at a cafe, try dancing or go to an arcade.
  8. Chat up your co-workers. People with three or more friends at work are 96% more likely to be satisfied with their lives.
  9. Keep in touch. The more you see someone, the more you’ll like her. Most of us need to meet with someone twice a month for three months before we will consider them a friend.
  10. Don't be afraid to follow up. If you want to see someone again, but she hasn't called or emailed, reach out to her. Take the initiative. Just make sure that the relationship isn't one-sided. If she doesn't return your messages after a few tries, she's probably not interested.
  11. If you're part of a couple, don't shut out the outside world. Isolating yourself from the outside world makes your marriage more fragile and increases the likelihood of divorce. Depending on each other for all of your social support is too much pressure for one marriage to handle. Double date. Spend time with friends as a couple; when you have couple-friends you're more likely to have a happier and longer relationship. 
As I read MWF Seeking BFF, I made plans with friends I hadn't seen in awhile (some in more than six months) and took the opportunity to meet new people. A thread on a message board led me to Debbie, who shares my interest in sewing. Since our lunch together, we've exchanged online messages and are planning to meet once a month.

Meeting new people is nerve wracking, but Rachel's experience has given me hope that I'll get better at it with practice. When her journey began, she was shy and afraid to approach strangers. Now she can't order at a restaurant without having a twenty-minute conversation with the server. Everyone is a potential friend.

MWF Seeking BFF is available as an e-book from the Buffalo & Erie County Library. Printed copies are available at the Central Library (downtown), Clarence Library, Hamburg Library and Julia Boyer Reinstein Library (Cheektowaga). Click here to search the library catalog.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ask Us Anything: Can Women Over 40 Have a Tubal Reversal?

"Is it possible for women over the age of 40 to have tubal reversal? What is the success rate?"

Dr. Ali Ghomi Responds:

Tubal ligation reversal or tubal reanastomosis can be performed at any age.

The procedure reverses tubal ligation, or having one’s tubes tied, so that pregnancy is possible.

The success rate mainly depends on a number of factors, including ovarian function or reserve (the number of eggs remaining), the technique by which the tubes were originally ligated and the patient's age.

The success of the tubal reversal procedure is inversely proportional to the length of the tube removed at the time of ligation. During tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are burned shut or clamped off with a clip or ring to prevent eggs from reaching the uterus.

Tubal ligation via electrocautery or the burning method seems to have a less favorable outcome when compared to the rings (Falope Rings) application. According to one large study, pregnancy rates after tubal ligation reversal among women aged 15 to 30 years, 30 to 33 years, and 34 to 49 years were 73, 64, and 46 percent, respectively. Most pregnancies occurred within two years after reversal.

In summary, the success of tubal ligation reversal is dependent upon a number of variables, including the patient's age, the length of the tube available for reversal, and the method by which the tubes were originally ligated.

Minimally invasive alternatives to conventional open-incision tubal reversal surgery, such as laparoscopic-assisted or robotic-assisted approaches, may also be considered to provide faster postoperative recovery and less pain without compromising the final outcome.

— Dr. Ali Ghomi

Dr. Ghomi is the Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery and Chair of The Robotic Surgical Committee at Sisters of Charity Hospital. In September 2011, Dr. Ghomi performed the area’s first tubal reversal surgery using the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System.

Dr. Ghomi sees patients at the M. Steven Piver, M.D. Center for Women’s Health & Wellness in Buffalo.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ask Us Anything: Why Do I Still Have Pain after a Knee Replacement?

"I had total knee replacement almost three years ago and am still having discomfort and difficulty getting up from chairs and using stairs. I was recently told that the medial gastroc muscle in that knee has atrophied. Could this be a result of the surgery, and how can I rebuild it?"

Physical Therapist Richard Szabala Responds:

A total knee replacement is an extensive surgical procedure in which a metal prosthesis is placed in the knee to take the place of the worn down joint surfaces. Although there is a lot of cutting in bone and soft tissue, often times, the main muscles surrounding the knee are merely moved out of the way during the surgery.

Although it is rare to continue to have surgical soreness three years after surgery, it is not totally unheard of to have soft tissue and other joint pain.

Generally, it takes a full year for muscle strength to return to 100%.

When patients are discharged from our physical therapy clinic AthletiCare at the MACC Center, we educate them that the exercise program they were provided with is a lifelong commitment and should be continued at least every other day. Not following these instructions can cause all of the muscles to atophy and become weaker, thus making it difficult to climb stairs and rise from a sitting position. If this is the case, I would recommend making an appointment for physical therapy (click here for locations) so that you can receive a refresher course on your exercises.

Another factor that can cause difficulty climbing stairs and rising from a sitting position is the condition of the other joints in your body. If you have extensive arthritis in your hips or other knee, then climbing stairs and rising from sitting can agitate the other joints. Once again, stregthening can help in those cases.

The moral of the story is that you should continue exercising long after any surgery of the joints, as motion is lotion and keeps the joints healthy.

– Richard Szabala PT, OCS

Richard Szabala is the senior physical therapist at AthletiCare Orchard Park.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New and Expectant Moms: Get Free Text Messages about Childcare

text4babyDid you know that eating crackers or dry cereal can help with morning sickness? Or that your baby should have a doctor's visit one or two days after leaving the hospital?

When you sign up for Text4Baby, you'll get this and other helpful information delivered by text message for free.

You can sign up for the service by texting BABY to 511411 (or BEBE for Spanish).

As a subscriber, you'll receive three free SMS text messages each week timed to your due date or your baby’s date of birth. These messages focus on a variety of topics critical to maternal and child health, including birth defects prevention, nutrition, safe sleep and more.

Text4baby messages also connect you to prenatal and infant care services and other resources.

To spread the word about this valuable service, Catholic Health has partnered with Text4Baby, the first free texting service to provide health information to pregnant women and new moms from pregnancy through a baby’s first year.

“Catholic Health is excited to extend this service to our busy moms-to-be,” said Aimee Gomlak, Vice President of Women’s Services at Catholic Health.

“Texting is a great way to reach many of our younger moms to remind them of the importance prenatal care and caring for themselves and their baby. We know women are busy, and we respect their schedules and try to reach them in every way we can.”

Visit Text4Baby online to sign up today.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ask Us Anything: How Can I Reduce My Risk of Heart Problems?

"I'm 56 years old, overweight and working diligently to lose it. My father had bypass surgery 25 years ago and is still going strong. Is there any way to find out if I have heart problems before it is too late? I don't have health insurance."

Dr. Mrinalini Meesala, Cardiologist, Responds:

The best treatment for heart disease is prevention.

The common risk factors for heart disease include hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight and a family history of heart disease.

Since you have a family history of heart disease / bypass surgery, it is important to recognize and treat these modifiable risk factors.

The first step would be to follow a heart-healthy diet that is rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, beans, seeds, nuts, fish and poultry. Heart-healthy diets also include minimizing the intake of red meats, sugars, added sugars, cholesterol, saturated fats and high sodium foods.

I would also recommend a good exercise program that incorporates at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. This includes day-to-day activities such as walking, gardening, raking leaves, house cleaning, dancing or light weightlifting. The goal is to achieve a BMI (body mass index) between 18.5 to 25. (Click here for a BMI calculator.)

Because high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, make sure that you monitor your cholesterol levels. Catholic Health offers free screenings throughout the community. Click here for upcoming dates.

There are tests available to detect heart disease in individuals with underlying risk factors and symptoms. Stress testing involves exercising on a treadmill or a bicycle with simultaneous electrocardiographic or echocardiographic monitoring. However, the appropriate testing would be based on the evaluation and recommendations from a cardiologist.

Because you don't have insurance, you may qualify for Catholic Health's Healthcare Assistance Program, which offers healthcare services at a reduced cost.

– Dr. Mrinalini Meesala

Dr. Meesala specializes in cardiology. She sees patients at 1616 Kensington Ave. in Buffalo. For an appointment, please call (716) 834-3278.

Friday, March 9, 2012

9 Things to Do This Weekend for $15 or Less

Related Articles:

Summer Activities in Buffalo, NY
10 Places to Visit This Winter for $15 or Less
Free or Low-cost Things to Do Year-Round

This weekend, shop locally for food and produce to support Western New York farmers. Sample a slice or two at the South Buffalo Pizzafest or solve a mystery at the Buffalo Museum of Science.

1. Elmwood/Lafayette Winter Farmers' Market

Time: Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Inside the Lafayette Presbyterian Church at 875 Elmwood Avenue, WNY Farmers sell their eggs, heritage meats, poultry, produce, maple syrup, baked goods, breads, and more.

2. South Buffalo Pizzafest

Time: Saturday: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $3
More Information: Website

$3 gets you in the door, and $1 buys a sample slice of pizza. Many of South Buffalo and surrounding area pizzeria's will be on hand featuring their best pizzas. Find all of your favorites in an afternoon!

3. Buffalo Home & Garden Show

Time: Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $10 adults, $3 children ages 6 to 12, Free for children ages 5 and under
More Information: Website

The Buffalo Convention Center hosts the Buffalo Home & Garden Show, where you will learn how to make the most of small spaces. This weekend features instruction on decorating on a budget and a pet fashion show.

4. CSI: The Experience

Time: Daily: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $14 adults, $11 children ages 2-17
More Information: Website

CSI: The Experience invites you to step into the world of cutting-edge forensic science and investigative techniques. Guided by investigators from the television show, along with their real-life forensic science counterparts, you’ll formulate a hypothesis, validate your findings based on forensic evidence, and solve the crime!

5. St. Patrick's Day Children's Craft Workshop

Time: Saturday: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: Free
More Information: Website

Register today to join in on St. Patrick’s Day themed coloring, drawing, and painting at Niagara Hobby. Adults will enjoy a raffle and store discounts.

To register for the day's activities, call (716) 681-1666; or email

6. Chamber Music, a One-Act Play

Time: Saturday: 2 p.m., Sunday: 7 p.m.
Cost: $10 general admission, $5 students and senior citizens, $3 students under 12
More Information: Website

Chamber Music is a one-act play set in 1938 that follows eight famous women in an insane asylum.

The women are, or at least believe they are, author Gertrude Stein, martyr Joan of Arc, activist Susan B. Anthony, politician Queen Isabella I of Spain, Constanze Mozart (wife of the famed composer), pilot Amelia Earhart, silent-film actress Pearl White, and explorer Osa Johnson.

7. War of 1812: Fury, Frenzy and Honor

Time: Saturday: 2 p.m.
Cost: $5 adults, $3 seniors and veterans
More Information: Website

Learn about the significance of the Niagara Campaign, the defeat of Tecumseh, Dolly Madison's heroism during the burning of Washington, D.C and the perseverance of the people of Baltimore and of Fort McHenry, which inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner."

8. Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium: Shorter Nights, Passage into Spring

Time: Friday: 8 p.m., Saturday: 2 p.m.
Cost: $6 general admission, $4 college students, children under 18, and seniors over 65
More Information: Website

During this hour-long event, you'll see changing constellations while the northern hemisphere begins to prepare for the vernal equinox.

9. 2012 WNY Sport & Travel Expo.

Time: Friday: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $9 general admission, Free for kids 10 and under
More Information: Website

On Friday and Saturday, meet Joe LaFont and Tommy Chauvin from the TV show The Swamp People. The WNY Sport & Travel Expo. is a can't-miss event for hunters and fishers.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In the News: Are Daily Deals a Bargain?

I used to think that daily deal sites like Groupon, Seize the Deal, and the locally-owned Sweet Find could become a way of life, providing deep discounts without the hassle of clipping coupons.

In case you're not familiar with these sites, here's how they work: they email you daily with a discount on a product or service, usually 50% off or more. You're given a certain time frame in which to buy (24 hours, although some deals extend into the weekend). Like a coupon, there's an expiration date on your deal, so you have to redeem it before time runs out.

Daily deal sites sound like a great way to save money, but I'm finding them less valuable than I would have expected. Today, Groupon offered smoothies at 59% off, while Seize the Deal advertised unlimited tanning and Sweet Find invited me to purchase tickets to the circus. None of which I'd be likely to buy – deal or no deal.

A Time Magazine article pointed out that many people who purchase daily deals are already customers of the company and probably would have paid full price. So, why are companies offering these deals? For the chance to attract new customers.

And it works. I've purchased deals from companies or organizations that I've intended to visit – train tickets for the Arcade and Attica Railroad and yoga lessons from Hand to Heart Yoga. Unfortunately, both deals expired before I had the opportunity (or motivation) to use them, so in the long run, I ended up losing money instead of saving.

My new strategy is to buy only from businesses where I'm a regular customer. If I don't fit them into my life now, I'm probably not going to later.

There's one exception to this rule: vacations.

If I'm planning to visit a city, I subscribe to its daily deal sites, just in case there's a discount on an attraction or restaurant that catches my eye. Last year, when I spent a weekend in Washington, DC, I saved $40 on tickets to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, thanks to Seize the Deal.

So, while I think that daily deal sites still have value, I'm much more cautious in my approach to them.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ask Us Anything: Can You Help Me Diagnose My Pelvic Pain?

"I have been experiencing pelvic pain since last year and have been seeing my OB/GYN about every month. I have had urine tests and ultrasounds. I did have a D&C in May but I am still having pelvic pain, very badly at times. Is there a test I can have to get to the bottom of this (MRI, X-ray, CT)?"

Dr. Ali Ghomi Responds:

Pelvic pain is a common condition affecting women of all ages. The condition is defined as a pain located to the pelvis lasting for a minimum of 6 months.

There are many potential causes of pelvic pain such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, dense abdominal scar tissue, ovarian cysts, inflammation of the bladder, and muscle and back strain.

Obtaining a detailed and complete medical history is of utmost importance in making an accurate diagnosis.

An ultrasound of the pelvis is also very helpful to exclude gross abnormalities in the pelvis.

Unfortunately, CT scan and MRI are not very informative in working up possible causes of pelvic pain. In most cases, a diagnostic laparoscopy (looking inside the abdomen with a tiny camera through the umbilicus) is performed in order to closely visualize all of the organs and structures in the pelvis and abdomen and address any abnormalities concurrently.

— Dr. Ali Ghomi

Dr. Ghomi is the Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery and Chair of The Robotic Surgical Committee at Sisters of Charity Hospital. He is the only physician in Western New York who performs Sacrocolpopexy Prolapse surgery using the da Vinci® robot. Sacrocolpopexy is a proven “gold standard” procedure worldwide to repair severe pelvic prolapse. Click here to learn more about Catholic Health's OBGYN services.

Dr. Ghomi will be speaking on pelvic pain at a free women's wellness event, Female Pelvic Health, on Wednesday, March 14 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. He will be available for questions following the presentation. Click here for more information and to register.
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