Tag Archives: new habits

Thinking About Furniture…

Furniture is everywhere, in a multitude of styles, materials, colors, but is most of it really even necessary? Is it smart? Healthy? There is the status of having the latest or fashionable furniture all over the house, Another consumer thing.  Does Modern Furniture Design  promote healthy posture and body? NO, not most of it and not the constant use of it, the dependence on it because it limits how we move.

It is only on rare occasions that many western people move to the ground and up- picnics are about the only exception and more and more people are bringing chairs out to nature, picnics and soccer games too! 

There seems to be  ideas about ease and comfort,  as if moving up and down from the ground is a chore rather than a natural or joyful part of life.

Sitting all day in a chair at a desk causes all kinds of problems.  These modern conventions for “comfort “actually  cause weak muscles in the back and legs inevitably disrupting alignment, core strength and health.

If we rarely move down to the floor and back up those muscles become weak, the whole sequence of muscular movement, and balance used to sit on the floor are important for our continued  physical health.  Just consider your hips and the range of motion used to get to the floor and back up again.

Many of our elderly people, here in the west  have weak hips and legs and poor balance; this is in part, directly related to how we don’t use our bodies through mid-life. In the west we start limiting the range of motion beginning  with 1st grade, we sit for longer and longer periods on chairs and couches.

Two very good solutions for this:  Cutting off the legs off the dining room table and sitting on pillows, and putting your mattress on the floor. Doing these two things will assure you are going down and up from  the floor 4 or more times a day.  Also your ceilings will appear higher  (o; and room more spacious! 

 I always remember seeing elder people when I was in Tunisia; They would  move with so much  more agility and grace, lowering and raising from the floor with ease, and such great posture. Then returning to America, I noticed  people  strain to sit on the ground and middle aged and older people avoid it like it is dangerous!  What is more dangerous is not doing it and losing that strength and range of motion!

Happy New Year of Yoga Together!

Wishing Everyone everywere a peaceful New Year.

This time of year it is common to set new goals, start new habits. We often do this in isolation, which  sabotages us from the start.  Share your goal, recruit a buddy and support each other weekly or more often. Togetherness is why yoga classes, especially small community classes, are the best place to start and continue because you are not isolated.

True yoga is a non-competitive process!  The inner wiser self knows what is best and that health, energy and peace come from mindfulness in movement over time.  The wiser self knows that like life itself yoga is a process, a journey. The wiser self knows we are meant to be connected together with other humans.

The ego doesn’t want you to feel better, be connected or close with others, or to find peace.  The Ego says,  “I  have to be good immediately” “I have to already be flexible to start” and “I should do this on my own”. Below are excuses, direct from ego-  Excuses for not getting to  yoga are actually the true reasons to start and continue growing your yoga practice!

“I’m not flexible”— yoga helps you become more flexible over time!

“I’m out of shape-“– yoga helps you get in shape, and if you can breathe, you can do yoga!

“I’m too overweight”  regular yoga helps with weight loss!, so love yourself now as you are and begin.

“I’m too old”— You are never too old to reap the benefits of yoga!

“I don’t have the energy”– Yoga gives you energy! You may feel tired after classes or practice in the beginning but stick with it and you will begin to have more energy.

” I have this condition or injury..”  You are more than your conditions and injuries.  Talk with instructor, focus on all that you can do and grow your practice from there!

“I tried it once ….”  Try a different class or teacher give it a few weeks or months before giving up.– look for a class that is right for you – e.g. if your over 50 look for a teacher over 50, if your beginning go to beginner classes!

 For persons who have suffered accident injury or severe illness, be smart:  choose to do therapeutic ,senior, or gentle yoga to start.  A daily walking program can be an excellent starting point.  If you want success, do not be secretive or isolated in whatever you chose.  You do not have to do it alone.

To avoid  movement  is choosing to age faster, is limiting your future joy in:  dancing, playing with children, easily getting up from and down to the ground, or picnicking in the grass on a sunny day. 

The less you move the less energy you have, the less you move the less you are able to move and the more likely you are to become injured when you do move. The more strength and flexibility you have the less likely you will be injured and the faster you heal and recover from injury. Moving mindfully after injury is the best way to heal and regain flexibility.

The biggest mistake people make in yoga  is to forget to tune-in and honor your own limits- where you are at, today.

The second biggest mistake is to forget you are more than a mechanical body, that the mind, spirit and emotions all are involved. Yoga is more about training the mind than anything else.The physical moves or postures are just the tip of the iceberg, what is underneath is: discipline, practice,  change of attitudes, watching the mind, breath, concentration,  meditation.

Peace, Christina

Consider having an individual session to set and begin your next goal- reach higher!

Walking is the most underrated exercise!

Walking is the most under-rated exercise!!!

I was fortunate to grow up in a small town where we walked: to friends, to the park, to ice skate, for picnics on the grass.  I also walked several blocks to school.  Walking is great for many reasons, such as; focusing the eyes on sights at various distances, (vestibular functioning & eyesight) enjoying nature, trees, the sky,  fresh air, and using systems of muscular integration to propel the body forward and remain balanced.

Even if you are very active, if you are not walking regularly, you may not be resetting the body in an important natural way.

Humans were meant to walk. Walking is one way our body resets its natural alignment.  It is weight bearing exercise. Walking is natural movement that involves moving all of your muscles and tissue, increasing metabolism, lubricating the joints, increasing blood flow and oxygen to all the cells of the body, nourishing our physical being.

Walking energizes the body, as well as relaxes the mind: walking can even be a meditation. Walking can also be calming for the emotions, through appreciating beauty, nature, fresh air, sunshine, rain, seeing the people of your neighborhood; all this can lift your spirits.

Recently, I overheard a conversation between young people (mid 20’s) talking about numerous ailments, medications, and procedures, which hadn’t brought relief.  One young woman said “I wish I was in shape to exercise”, another responded “me too”.  I wondered if they considered a walking as a possibility.

I work with older people (up to 102 years old) some who don’t spend any time talking about ailments and medicine; because they are busy living life! They stayed active, they do daily walking.

In the past, (and for many people currently), our bodies are the primary tool of transportation, used with care and awareness for survival and longevity. Sedentary wasn’t an option! Now, the many conveniences of modern life: cars, furniture, chair-toilets, and media are enabling many people to be less mobile, less flexible, less connected and less aware.

Walking is enough to change the whole paradigm of the sedentary lifestyle.

A brisk daily walk, 30-45 minutes, is sound, healthy, preventative medicine.  It is that simple, yet not easy; breaking habits & starting new habits requires determination, commitment and an open, flexible mind).  Who knows, after this is a habit, you might find yourself enjoying yoga, dance, or a long hike!

It can be a real challenge to begin! Creating time may mean letting some things go…let them go!!! Invest the time to nurture personal health and peace of mind.  How does your self-talk, activity and lifestyle affect starting and continuing your walking routine??? Notice who are your allies for healthy Living??? Having walking buddies increases success! Who could be your walking buddy

 

Your Yoga, a home practice

Yoga is an art.   As a kid I wanted to play guitar. I went to lessons. I didn’t practice between lessons.  My teacher kept saying “you can’t really learn without practicing at home”.   He told me this every week.  He could tell I wasn’t practicing. I think he got tired of going over the same bits over and over, which was all he could do because I didn’t practice. I didn’t progress much at playing guitar either; I lost interest and quit after less than a year of lessons.

Just as a musician must practice their musical instrument daily, or a dancer practice every day, yoga students who want to make progress will have to find the self-discipline to start a daily practice on their own.

The most important reasons to begin and continue a home practice

  • You get to know your own body , your own strengths and weaknesses.
  • You gain the mental and psychological benefits that are the whole original purpose of yoga, and will not come without daily home practice. You will learn more about yourself than  any books or workshops can ever show you, because you will be taking that inward journey every day.
  • You will have this touchstone, this place of anchoring every day, A true blessing in this ever-changing, fast paced and imperfect, sometimes crazy world we live in.

What is a daily “home” or “individual” practice?

Daily – Honestly, 5 to 7 times a week is GREAT!!!

Home – in your home, have a place for doing yoga, a place you like, it can be in any room, outside on nice days… Have a time for yoga; most people who don’t chose a specific time for yoga have trouble doing it 5 to 7 times a week.  I carved out time in the early morning, because too much can happen once my day is started.

Individual – Just you with yourself.  It can be done with or around others, but you are doing your yoga, no chatting, no interruptions, no TV, phone, no distractions!

Practice – is not a competition, not an exhibition, not a performance and not a race! Let it be stress-free. Cultivate a patient mind. Some days you’ll be slow and other days you will feel like being fierce. You will learn to honor where you are at.

 

How do you begin a home practice?  To start, you do what you can remember from class (so yes, do attend classes.) Take your time getting into and out of postures, and hold postures longer, to make discoveries and build strength.

  • Take some time, five minutes is good, to become aware of and deepen your breath.
  • Begin moving easily and repeat 3 to 10 sun salutations, to warm up the body.
  • Do standing poses – warriors, triangles, tree or others; switching it up is good.
  • Do child’s pose when you need a rest.
  • Do a few seated postures and one or two laying down.
  • Include one inversion.  Legs up a wall counts.
  • Always do savasana for a minimum of 8 minutes.

It is a great idea to get an individual session to design and refine your daily practice, after a few weeks, then at least once a year.

BUT...   “I don’t have time for it every day.” By making time for a daily practice the rest of your day will be more productive.  The rest of your day will be less stressful. These blogs discus how yoga does this in more detail;   yoga for beating stress      yoga as tool against fatigue

“I don’t care if I make progress I’m just doing yoga for maintenance.”  There is no such thing as maintaining, unless you are making progress.   Unless you are strengthening muscles in your body, and moving in your full range of motion 4-6 times a week.  Exercise is stimulus.  The changes to body tissue happens in the 24 to 48 hours afterwards.  You become weaker and more rigid after 48 hours.  This is even truer as you get older.  After the 48 hours… if there is no stimulus again your hard work begins to get undone.  Period, that’s it. (After months and years of daily yoga you maintain better flexibility if you do miss some days or weeks, your base-line has gotten higher).

“I do enough other exercise.” Great! But, by doing a home practice of yoga, you’re less likely to get injured doing other exercises and be able to do them longer as you age.

“I’m active  in my daily work (or life).”  Most often, in our daily routine, we do many repetitive movements, with the focus on what we are doing rather than the body and mind doing it.  We use limited amount of the many muscles, less range of motion and less systematic use of many muscles.  If your work is hard physical labor, less and/or “restorative” yoga might be what you need to practice at home.