You Can Get Fit!

Posts Tagged ‘yoga

OK. You caught me.

I was a bit absent last week. Mea culpa! But I orchestrated a big event, for me: I rented a neighbors’ cabin out at a lake, invited 6 friends (one of them being a yoga instructor), and we held our very own yoga and hiking retreat. I planned and cooked all of the food. I’d say it was a success–and everyone else has been saying the same! I was thoroughly swamped last week, and I’m still catching up, but I can cross the “host a yoga retreat” goal off of my “40 things before 40” list.

Or… maybe now, I could try to create retreats for strangers… hmmm… ???

Anyway, I’m back! I was inspired by a recent post at Carrots and Cake to start listing, in each of my posts, a few things that just make me feel happy. (The idea being… that you, as readers, do the same thing–whether it’s on paper or in your head!) So, here are a few things that make me happy today:

  • My dwarf Japanese maple just starting to change color–he is gorgeous!
  • Satsuma lotion from the Body Shop (it smells like summer)
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice after a run

Think about the little things that make you happy… I’d love to hear about ’em!

And now, for a few more things to make you happy…

1. Cute teapot.

2. ‘Tis the season for pumpkin recipes! But what do you do if you’re left with only a tiny bit in the can? Ideas for that last bit of leftover pumpkin.

3. The artist’s/creative’s credo…

4. You are what you eat…

5. One last Halloween food idea to decorate your cheeseburgers (or garden burgers, or whatever burger you choose…)

Have a great rest of the week, and remember to think about the the little things that make you happy! Report back here! 🙂

As practitioners and teachers of bodywork (Pilates, yoga, massage—it doesn’t matter which modality) we frequently remind our clients to enjoy the present moment, to let go of the stresses of the day (can’t change the past) and not to worry about what lies ahead. Though I often speak of this, do I really walk the walk?

Just a few hours ago, I realized how much tension I was holding about the supposed future, about data I don’t yet have. My mind was spinning stories. I was doing everything I tell my clients not to do.

If you just joined in: in the beginning of July, after a bad bout with flu and sinus infection, I completely lost my voice, which has still not improved. In theory, it’s a temporary (on the order of months to maybe a year) nerve injury. My otolaryngologist has sent me for several tests to rule out other problems before pursuing a potential temporary semi-fix. (Yes, lots of qualifiers there. I’m staying hopeful.)

Yet, yesterday, rather than simply scheduling the consult appointment for the procedure to fix me (in theory), which was the original plan, the new plan is apparently to send me for more consultations with another ENT, a neurologist, perhaps someone who specializes in larynx problems……

It suddenly hit me: why the change in plans? Is there something the first round of tests found that I wasn’t told about? Should I be worried? I know the body all too well, and started going through the mental checklist of deadly diseases…..

And then I reminded myself of what I tell my clients: live in the present moment. Right now is the only guaranteed time we have.

The tendrils of worry started to release their grasp from around my brain. If there is a serious problem, I’ll find out in my appointment next week with the doctor. Until then, I’m not going to let the unknown ruin my precious days.

Happy Sunnnnnnday! What’s going on?

(I see you, lying there on the couch in your pajamas, trying to muster the motivation to do anything other than hit the button on the remote. And I’m not saying that I don’t have many, many days like that–I’m human, too!)

feeling laaazzzy

So if you’ve hit a Sunday–or any other day–where you’re having a case of the blahs but really want to do a little bit of good for yourself… what to do?

In no particular order…

  • Get outside. Sometimes, just getting some Vitamin D on the skin and feeling the sun’s rays (yeah…. I live in Seattle… we feel rays of overcast) is enough to perk us up. Don’t commit to going for a “30 minute walk” when you set out–just go outside and start walking with no time goal, and see what happens. You may surprise yourself. 🙂
  • Bottoms up. Dehydration can cause fatigue–have you been getting enough water? Often, just a few glasses of water can perk us up.
  • What if it’s icky outside? Yeah, I’ve heard this one a lot. No excuses–we have our ways around this! There are plenty of great online options for gentle, energizing exercise:
    • My favorite is Pilates Anytime, with videos from 10 to 75 minutes long taught at a variety of levels. The instruction is top-notch.
    • Yoga Journal has a 21-Day Challenge consisting of a daily yoga practice of varying length and focus (morning practice, challenging vinyasa flow, shoulder openers, etc etc). You can repeat days in the challenge as many times as you want.
    • And I posted on this a few weeks back, but for a quick pick-me-up, Amber at Epic Self has a 3-minute video involving breath and core muscles to immediately boost our energy. It only takes 3 minutes, folks!

So if you’ve hit a slump, I hope these ideas get you going again! And if you go for your walk or your 3-minute posture break… and you still feel ICK… remember: these times will pass! You will feel like a ROCKSTAR in due time!

What do you guys do when your body feels in a slump? How do you get going again?

We made it through the first week! How are your goals holding up? I’ve been doing great eating my 5-a-day!

Here are a few great posts I’ve found over the course of my surfing this week…

Benny The Irish Polyglot writes a great guest post at Location 180 about Sticking To New Year’s Resolutions. I especially love this: have something that you can feel proud of TODAY. Set a goal for yourself that you can accomplish soon! (What’s yours? I have a semi-secret business I’m working on… launching with a client before the end of the month!)

If you want to get started with yoga but don’t know how or where, More Than A Stretch offers a link with 10 free yoga videos for beginners.

Kate from Eat The Damn Cake talks about guilt.

A brilliant idea from Pride and Vegudice: if you use your blender or food processor to make homemade nut butter, don’tcha hate leaving the dregs behind that you can’t scrape out? Well… here’s a solution: add some yummy stuff and turn it into a shake! Waste no more!

May you have a happy, healthy beginning of 2011! Keep after those goals!

This time, I mean it literally!

Many of us live in locations which will be lightly or heavily blanketed in snow and ice in the coming months. How many times have you stepped outside, only to find yourself slipping and sliding, trying to regain control? It’s these times that we’re grateful for our sense of balance.

Some of our sense of equilibrium is dependent on the health of our inner ear. But whether or not your ears are up to muster, you can still perform a few exercises to strengthen the muscles which help keep you upright in slippery conditions.

1. Two-legged balance: start simply by placing your feet in one line, one right in front of the other, heel to toe. Try not to let one turn in or out with respect to the other–we’re going for one straight line with both feet. This is harder than it looks! To help keep from wobbling, think of engaging either inner or outer thighs (it can be different for different people, so experiment to see which works for you). Your hands can also help you–you can place them on your hips, or out to the side somewhere, whatever helps with balance. For the ultimate challenge, close your eyes–it can be amazing how much the visual sense contributes to balance! When you’ve had enough (2 minutes, 2 years, or whatever feels good), switch so that the other foot is in front.

2. One-legged balance: start with your low back in a neutral position (tailbone neither sticking out behind you nor tucked underneath). Then, lift one foot off of the floor, bending the same knee. You can lift the knee to hip height, if it feels OK. Hold this position, keeping your hips as level as possible, not letting one jut out to the side. Stay strong through your deep abdominals and pelvis. When you’ve held this a few minutes, lower the raised leg, shake out the standing leg, and move on to the same thing on the other side.

2a. For more excitement, from the one-legged balance position, you can make small circles with your raised leg, rotating your thigh bone in the hip socket. Make about 10 slow, controlled circles one direction, then change directions. Some people say this is easier than holding in place – maybe it’s the mental distraction?

Also, if you have access to a gym, many yoga classes include standing balance work, which is a nice addition to the above repertoire.

You’ll ultimately end up with stronger ankles, which is great for sprain prevention at any time of year! Not to mention fantastic muscular calves to show off in the warmer months…

Since I got good feedback before on this format, why not continue onward? Twice a month, I’ll be bringing you a few recent links that I found and liked, with content relevant to You Can Get Fit. I’m always happy to read your links, too—bring ‘em on if you got ‘em!

Passport to Prana If you live in one of nine major cities, yoga studios participating in Passport to Prana allow you one class each with the purchase of a card. Here in Seattle, over 20 studios are participating, and the card costs $30. What a great deal on a studio class–just over a dollar per class!

Angela of Green Monster Movement shares recipes and inspiration for healthy, tasty (yes!) drinks and smoothies containing leafy greens. (I love putting spinach in my smoothies!)

Chris Guillebeau is a lifestyle blogger, world traveler, and a thousand times the writer that I am. I relate to his post, Ever Feel like Giving Up? , on so many levels. Every time I read it, it’s brand-new to me.

Karen at the Accidental Seeker talks about the losses we experience in life, and how we may be able to reframe them as gains.

Go and enjoy the week! See you soon!

There are still a few days left in summer to expose our arms and shoulders, right? What’s that you say—you’re embarrassed by your Olive Oyl arms? Well, one good way to fix that: Push-ups. Waaahh. We dread them, yet they work. Isn’t it true that the exercises we need the most are the ones that we dislike? Push-ups work your chest, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. Properly done, you’re also working your core muscles as you stabilize your body in a plank position. There’s a reason push-ups are embraced by the fitness community as well as by Pilates instructors and yogis.

To perform a proper push-up, place your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders, then take them about 2 inches wider (this feels more comfortable for most people). You can do a push-up with knees on the floor, or with toes, to make things more advanced. Whatever your choice, you should form a long line from your contact point to the crown of your head, without letting your hips stick up nor droop down. (Hey, did you just feel your abs when you lowered your hips in line with your body? Yeah, I did, too.) This is your plank position. Also, be sure that your ears aren’t jamming into your shoulders. Bend your elbows to lower yourself down as far as you feel comfortable, then push back up. Are you breathing? (Good. You should be!) You don’t have to lower yourself all the way down in a push-up!

I recommend starting out with two sets of 8 push-ups. You can build up by increasing the number of repetitions per set, doing push-ups on your toes (if you had previously done them on your knees), lowering down farther as long as your elbows don’t hurt, and adding more sets.

As you do your push-ups, make sure you’re looking down at the floor and not back toward your knees or toes. It’s a common problem—I did that for a long time! If you look toward the floor, your spine will remain lengthened rather than crunched over at the top.

Do you have the hang of it and want more? Try the Hundred Pushups challenge! And bare those strong arms!

Whenever I practice yoga in a room with mirrors, I plop my mat down as close as I can to the mirror. Lest you, or the others in the class, believe I have vanity issues (ok, I have been known to tuck a stray hair back into place), I’m mostly concerned about my body alignment. Proper body alignment during a workout will help prevent injury, and it also helps you get the most out of every second of your exercise session. No wasted time!

You’ve heard for years to keep your knees behind your toes when you do a squat, right? Like you’re sitting in a chair, but someone took the chair away from you at the last minute? In your mind’s eye, you think you’re doing a proper squat, but how do you really know, unless you see yourself in a mirror?

At first, it’s weird to spend your entire workout staring at yourself, I know. I still get freaked out by it, and I teach entire classes facing a mirror, some days. So, work yourself into the idea by having the mirror at your side. Just don’t crane your neck sideways and give yourself a neck cramp, ok? Take a peek every now and then.

And you know what? You’ll find that after a few months of checking your form in the mirror, your body will automatically know where to go. You won’t have to look in the mirror so often anymore! Progress! Your body and mind getting stronger together!

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