Be Open to Changes

Yoga Class at a GymMy 2013 is off to a great start when it comes to getting back to consistent exercise.  I’ve been very pleased with the Yoga Flow class offered on Thursday mornings at our nearby rec center and I do my best to regularly attend.  Karen is the regular instructor and is a great teacher who progresses the flow so there is time to warm up the muscles (and in CO winter, it is essential!) and she challenges everyone in many poses that encourage stability and strength.

Even in a flow class like Karen’s where she has the freedom to change things up a bit, there is a pattern that develops and a comfort in the familiar teaching style.  This happens in all aspects of fitness and especially group classes.  We are so happy to be consistent with our exercise routine that we don’t realize the stagnation that develops.  So sometimes, it’s really nice to have a different instructor.  Like this morning when there was a substitute instructor for our yoga class and she was great!

Are you open to a change in your routine?  Here’s a test:  ask yourself, what is your first thought when a substitute teacher walks in to teach your habitual exercise class?  Do you groan silently and try and figure out a graceful exit?  Are you grumpy that no one told you about the instructor change?  Yes?  I used to be that way.  It drove me crazy to have to adjust my routine, and even more so, my mental adjustment to a new voice, new pattern, new pace, etc.

I used to be that way until I let go.  I let go of the control and opened up to what new things I might learn from a new instructor.  I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.  Great things come from changing your perspective, even in a small change of a group exercise instructor.  Granted, there are those times when the new instructor isn’t that great or the different style pushes you too far or not enough.  It is important to see these times as when you learned what you DON’T like.  But you still learned something right?

So next time you get an unexpected change in your exercise routine, take a moment and be open to what you might learn about yourself.

Learn Proper Warm Up from your Dog

Have youever seen a dog jump right up from a nap without stretching? With the exception of the doorbell or a not-so-sneaky bunny or squirrel all 3 of my dogs go through their stretches after being lazy for any period of time.
What can we as two-legged, sit-in-front-of-the-computer-too-much humans learn from this?  That if you have been stationary for a length of time it goes a long way towards proper posture and movement to stretch a bit before transitioning to walking, bending or exercising.
Stretching promotes circulation which begins to warm up the muscles.  Active stretching, where you are flexing some muscles as you stretch others (as demonstrated so perfectly in these dog photos), is best before activity or exercise.  Active stretching not only increases circulation but it unifomrly fires the motor neurons that control your muscles and is similar to starting up an airplane where so many switches need to be flipped.
A simple standing stretch reaching to the ceiling helps counter act stagnant desk posture just as a lunge stretch with your foot on your car’s bumper helps to counter act tight hips after a long drive.  When awaking in the morning before I even leave the bed I do a long full body stretch along with a few ankle rolls and then sit up to reach up and stretch my sides and chest.
Take a few moments to enjoy how good this feels and know that you are doing good for your body!

Yoga for Runners – part I

**This post contains photos from the amazing book, “The Key Poses of Hatha Yoga” by Ray Long MD FRCSC and can be purchased here.**

In general, a regular yoga practice is very beneficial for runners in order to prevent injuries and maintain their ability to endure years of continual running.  There are also specific yoga poses that work in a corrective manner for runners experiencing chronic pain.  The biggest emphasis for a runners body should be balance, symmetry, and alignment.
For a start, here are 3 yoga poses I recommend for runners:
Muscles shown in BLUE are Synergizing or Activating (Contracting)
Muscles shown in RED are Stretching
Triangle Pose
Triangle pose for runners is more about lengthening the muscles that get tight from regular running.  Extending the muscles on the sides of the torso will help create a more fluid running gate and allow a more natural torso rotation.  The stretch to the front leg hamstring and rear leg calf will provide length and therefore work to lessen lower back tension and/or inflammation in the feet.
 Revolving Lunge Pose
Revolving Lunge pose additionally helps to develop torso flexibility and counters the 2-dimensionality of running with a progressive torso twist.  The front leg gains strength while holding and stabilizing this pose.  The rear leg also gains strength from stabilization along with encouraging an opening of the front of the rear leg hip and pelvis that are often tight on runners from over use.
 Warrior III Pose
Warrior III pose is an excellent strengthener for the muscles that stabilize the hips, knees, and ankles.  This pose works the muscles (high hamstrings and glutes) that help to propel the body over and through the planted foot while running.  This is a difficult pose and should be modified when needed by bringing the arms out to the sides like an airplane.
Creating body awareness through regular yoga practice makes it possible to prevent injuries from sneaking up on you.  If you are aware that you can’t sink into a pose as easily on one side than the other, then you learn that running with that type of imbalance is like driving your car with the wheels out of alignment…eventually, something is going to give. 
If you know you have an imbalance, or are already experiencing chronic pain, give me a call and through a thorough assessment, corrective exercises and/or massage therapy I can help you get to the source of the imbalance and get you back on the road pain-free.

Common Yoga Form Mistakes – Are You Doing it Right?

For those of you who have gotten on the ‘yoga wagon’ and felt the amazing results of regular practice, here is a post to make sure you are getting all you can out of your practice. 
We all can’t have our own personal yoga instructor, but I had my favorite instructor, Claire Petretti, help me explain some common form mistakes.
WARRIOR 2 Pose -Virabhadrasana II
 
This is a very challenging pose, thus the name Warrior, but you want to make sure you check your form.
  • wide leg stance and front knee tracking straight forward to prevent front knee strain
  • Hips AND shoulders open square to the side (parallel to mirror here)
  • tall torso posture with an extended spine
Some common mistakes:
  • rear foot pointed backward
  • front knee & thigh shifting into mid line (away from mirror)
  • shoulders rotated inward
  • torso leaning forward
 TRIANGLE Pose – Trikonasana
This is a great pose for lengthening the psoas muscle which will help prevent back pain.
Claire and I are showing this angle to give you a visualization when you perform triangle pose in a class.  The idea is to line up your body as if it were parallel to a wall.
  • stack the hips & shoulders
  • wide comfortable stance (not as wide as Warrior poses)
  • arms in a T position
  • USE A BLOCK if you find yourself slouching your torso 

Some common mistakes:
  • torso leaning forward
  • hips facing downward
  • front foot turning inward
  • trying to go too far with lower hand (again USE A BLOCK)
So next time you are flowing through, or deepening into your yoga practice, keep these tips in mind.  You will find that by progressing at your own pace with proper form you will build a better foundation for which to extend and balance into new and more challenging poses.
Any other poses you need tips on?  Please share!

It’s All Relative

STRESS

We all have some degree of it, and how you deal with it is vital to your health.  My favorite quote on the reusable shopper bags from Lululemon is “stress is related to 99% of all illness”.  It’s one of the reasons I choose to use things like Splenda and drink diet soda rather than freak out about how much sugar I ingest.  And why I also choose to  do my best to look at the brighter side of life rather than wallow in complaining about every small bump in the road.

BUT IT’S ALL RELATIVE

This last Friday morning I got myself into quite a funk for no real apparant reason (but isn’t that how it always is?).  Granted, I could pull the “hormonal” card because I’m nursing, but it was just one of those mornings.  It was cleaning day so I wanted to pre-clean/pick up (my husband still thinks I’m crazy for that ritual), the kids were acting up, and I really wanted to get to Claire’s 10:30 yoga class.  I was running behind and started getting huffy.  I snapped at my husband who was only trying to help (sorry love) and I barely got breakfast in me before leaving.  But I made it!

MY RESET BUTTON

So here I am in my mental “all about me” frenzy when I enter class and see Claire. *Poof* Attitude adjustment. My whining moments of “my joints hurt, why is my house never clean, and my hair is the wrong color” instantly feel completely insignificant (as they should). 
I need to tell you a bit about the wonderful Claire.  We met briefly at a Lululemon design meeting/brainstorming session here in San Diego a few years ago.  For me, Claire is one of those people that I just feel a connection with, without really knowing her that well.  We reconnected as I was moving back from Puerto Rico and I was lucky enough to end up joining a gym where she teaches one of her yoga classes.  Claire found out she had breast cancer and is currently going through treatment (1 more chemo round yay!).  Now this is not a woman to pitty her situation – quite the opposite actually. She has an amazing blog where she has been documenting her journey – Ocean Soul Yoga.  Her bravery in opening herself to the world for others to learn from her experience is inspiring.  It is through her cancer treatment experiences that I appreciate my body more, it is through her stories that I reset my state-of-mind, and through her resiliant spirit that I encourage my own ups and downs (and crabby mornings).

“for in movement there is life, and in change there is power” – Alan Cohen

Thank you Claire.  🙂

Perfect Yoga Podcast

If you are ever in a place where you don’t have access to your favorite yoga studio or the local class schedule doesn’t fit with your schedule, then I have to say that a yoga class by podcast is a very nice substitute.

My podcast of choice to try it out was “The Yoga Practice Show” by yogajournal.com . It was free on itunes which makes it even better. As I am not terribly familiar with downloading and using pocasts, it probably took longer than it should have to get all set up. However, all I had to do was set my computer on my coffee table and roll out my yoga mat. Some of the podcasts, just like studio classes, require props so you should have at least a block and a strap ready.

I was quite happy with the instruction and the level of difficulty. Beginners might want to watch the session all the way through once to get an idea for the poses if they aren’t familiar with the names or specifics. What was the most convenient was the choices of podcast durations. Most are 20-30 min long but could easily be combined to give you a full hour class or longer if desired. I have not yet tried this on my mobile device. I figure it would work sufficiently with just the audio as long as I know all the poses. I suppose I could find a spot to prop the devise in order to follow the video as well.

I would highly recommend trying yoga by podcast, especially for those who don’t conform well to the schedules of studio classes, or to those that travel. This would work fabulous in your hotel room.

I look forward to trying out other podcasts from other sources and I will keep you all posted on what I find out!

BEST Activewear – Lululemon Review

OK, for so many reasons I LOVE this line of clothing! Lululemon has a large yoga following but that is changing quickly. It is great for yoga but also weight training, cardio, fitness classes…AND it looks classy enough to run your errands after the workout.

This company began in Canada so Canadians are saying “Duh, you haven’t heard of lululemon?” But showrooms and stores are popping up all over here in the States. They take great care and do much research in to opening a new location. All the staff are always SUPER helpful and really know their product.

As a trainer, it is so nice to have workout wear that looks professional enough to throw on a Remix Hoodie and go right to a client.  As a frugal mom, their reversible Groove Pants/Capris help me get more bang for my buck$.  And when I was pregnant, I wore the Power Y tanks throughout the whole pregnancy.

The fabric is yummy soft and the craftsmanship is such that your fitness wardrobe will last forever (which also gives you more bang for your buck$).  The added bonus is the company’s commitment to the community and the health and fitness of everyone.  They offer free classes and workshops and partner with yoga instructors and fitness professionals (Ambassadors) in the area in order to give you resources for your personal wellness journey.

CHECK ‘EM OUT!!

Yoga Kids DVD Review

ABC’s for ages 3-6. This is the 2nd Yoga Kids DVD from GAIAM
Review by Lori Frederic CSCS, CMT

I got this for my 4 year old son to introduce him to yoga and meditation. I was happy to find it at our local grocery store for $14.99 (same price as gaiam.com).

The guided poses take the child through the ABC’s with fun poses. In the 30 minute DVD, the child learns about belly breathing, balance, and flexibility. It keeps my 4 year olds attention with the quick flow of poses. The only downfall is that there wasn’t the meditation component that I was hoping for. It goes through a bit of relaxation breathing at the end, but it mostly ends up with laughs for us because it has the child put their head on someones belly, or a toy on their own stomach to feel the belly rise and fall. Once a giggle happens, relaxation is out of the question.

This DVD was also fun for my toddler who liked to watch her brother go through the poses and will even join in on the animal poses.