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5 Tips for Effective Stretching

When I go and exercise, I often see some who rush out right after without stretching and releasing tensions that comes with exercising. This is not healthy for your muscles.  Many do not understand that lengthening back out has tremendous value.

When you work out, play golf or any other activity, your muscles are contracting and tightening, which decreases the blood flow into the muscles.

Doing some simple stretches will lengthen your muscles, allowing more blood and oxygen to move through.  They will be elongated and heather.

I cannot give you stretches in a short post, but when you stretch out be mindful of this:

  1. Treat stretching back out as part of your workout and budget the extra time it will take into your practice.
  2. Direct your breath into the area that is tight.
  3. Have something to support you while stretching so you do not have to effort.
  4. Do not overstretch where you feel pain- you cannot relax into pain and you will intensify the tension.
  5. Stay with the stretch for a few breaths and allow the muscles stretching to release.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked.  Did you find yourself being able to relax into the stretch?  Did you breathe while stretching?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Feel Stiff From Sitting? 1 Technique to Help

Most of us spend a lot of time sitting at home or the office and when we stand up, we are achy.

The seated position creates a forward bend at the hip crease which shortens that area of your body, creating tension in the low back.

There are also those who are ill and must sit most of the day and cannot walk on their own.  A gentle unraveling of the spine will help, but often we do not have the time or ability.

Try this simple technique to help stretch out your hip crease.  It can even be even be done with a walker.

  • Stand up and hold onto something on either side, with your hands under your shoulders.
  • Stand with your feet a bit narrower than hip width apart.
  • Step your left foot forward and your right foot back the same amount (if this hurts your low back, take a smaller step).
  • While holding onto either side, slowly bring your left knee over your left ankle, keeping your right heel pressed into the floor.
  • Stand erect, keeping your ribs over your hips (rather than forward of your hips).  Lightly pull your navel in.
  • You will feel a stretch in your back hip crease and maybe into your calf.
  • Take a few breaths and come back to center and notice the difference.
  • Do the other side.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked.  Did you feel more open in your hip crease?  How did your back feel?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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It’s Just a Thought…

There are times that our thoughts take over and our mind gets out of control.  We end up obsessing about people, places and things with no way to stop.  Not only does this take us out of the moment, but it is absolutely exhausts us.

Sometimes we feel guilty about our thoughts.  Remember, a thought is not the same as an action. 

When the mind complicates things, we need a simple antidote to help us. 

Next time your mind gets out of control, try this:

Say to yourself:  It’s just a thought” or “Thinking

This will help bring you back to the moment so you can get centered. You might find you need to remind yourself of this often throughout the day!

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  If it did not help, what do you think got in your way?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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1 Solution to Caregiving Challanges

Lately I have spoken with many who are caring for a sick loved one or aging parent.  There is one thing that they all have in common:  They deeply care and love the one who is struggling.

We want to fix the situation or make them see how they can help themselves, with no avail.  We wonder why they will not do what they need to do- we know if they did, they would feel some relief.  We get frustrated, angry, depleted and sad and try again and again to get them to do what is needed.

The one thing we need to remember is that we are absolutely Powerless over the other person.

It is their life and their path and nothing we do or say will change them.  The only thing we can do is to remember that we are powerless and once we know this, we can let go of what we want them to do, lighten up and meet them where they are at.  Your shift in attitude will empower you and your relationships.

Let me know in the comments below how realizing you are powerlessness can help you.

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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New Year, New Habits

Have you ever fully realized that life is, after all, merely a series of habits, and that it lies entirely within one’s own power to determine just what that series shall be?– Ralph W. Trine

At the beginning of the year we resolve to make changes at home and work and before we know it, we are back to the same behaviors and habits.

What I find is helpful is structure and making it approachable and inviting.

 If you are trying to begin a meditation and centering practice, try this:

  1. Find a space in your home or office and make it inviting and comfortable.
  2. Create a ritual:  It only takes s short time to create a habit.  Do your practice every day, even if you don’t want to.  Set up a time each day, the same time would be preferable but not necessary.
  3. As prep before meditation and centering practice, take a moment to prepare.  Do something to calm and quiet your mind. Some examples are: Breathing, yoga, listening to music, lighting incense, walking, etc.
  4. If this is a new practice, start at no more than 5 minutes a day and slowly increase to up to 30 minutes each day.
  5. Leave your watch and cell phone in another room. If time is a concern use a timer with a soft alarm.   

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you and if you were able to create your space. If you did not, what do you think got in your way?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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How to follow through on your New Year’s resolution? With Devotion

Many of you have made resolutions for change in 2011 and already frustrated and ready to quit trying.

A change in perspective will make a big difference.

Consider this yoga teaching:  Practice becomes firmly established by being continued for a long time, without interruption and with devotion.  

We hear the term devoted partner, parent, friend, teacher….  What does that bring to mind?  Perhaps loving, always willing to be there and dedicated.

What would happen if you gave this same devotion to your own wellbeing and resolutions?

If keeping your New Year’s resolutions seems difficult, treat yourself with the same kindness and patience that you would a child learning something new.

How do you treat people you are devoted to?  Can you bring that to your resolutions?  

 
 

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Whatever You Do, Know That You are Doing it

Much of the time we are not present with what we are doing, whether it is a task or a conversation.

In our activities we our body is with us, but that is about it. Our mind is either in the past or future, taking us away from experiencing what is in front of us.  At times it is out of habit and other times it is our choice.  Either way, we are not where our feet are planted. 

Try this:

  • Take a breath
  • Feel your feet on the floor
  • Use your senses:  Focus your eyes on what you are looking at or focus your hearing on your conversation.
  • Truly be with what is happening in the moment and when you drift from the task at hand, take a breath and use your senses to bring you back.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  Were you able to bring yourself to the moment?  If not, what do you think happened?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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A Thought or Reality?

Definitions of the word think:

  • To have or formulate in the mind.
  •  To reason about or reflect on; ponder.
  • To decide by reasoning, reflection, or pondering.
  •  To judge or regard; look upon.
  •  To believe; suppose.

All of these definitions have one thing in common: They are all filtered through our minds and are layered with our perceptions.

Our thoughts create reactions. Sometimes we feel guilty about our thought, obsess on our thought or believe strongly that our thought is the only way to see things.  No matter which it is, our inner peace is disturbed. 

Our thoughts are not reality.  They come and at some point they pass.

One of my teachers had such a simple solution to help us get beyond taking our thoughts so seriously.

Try this the next time you are obsessing on a thought:   

  • Notice the thought, take a breath and say:  It’s just a thought…

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  Did it help shift you thinking?  If not, what do you think got in your way?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Back Relief from Sitting in 6 Steps

We spend a lot of time sitting, particularly when we are on the computer.  We get lost in our work until the discomfort in our back gets our attention. Sitting  for long periods of time strains your back, neck and shoulders.

It is important to take a break and stretch out with your spine going in a different direction from how you were sitting. 

A gentle yoga stretch, rather than using force and effort will allow your muscles to release.  There are many stretches and this one is convenient, easy to do and quite effective.

Try this:

  1. Sit sideways on your chair with your feet under your knees.  An armless chair or one with low arms works the best.
  2. Bring your hands on either side of the chair back or sides.
  3.  Lengthen you spine using your arms and allow it to relax. Level your shoulders and use your arms to twist.  
  4. You will twist in the direction of the chair back
  5. Twist from the bottom up.  First, twist your stomach and waist, then your ribs, then shoulders, and finally your neck and head (do not strain).
  6.  Use your arms to twist and allow your spine to relax.  Take a few breaths and then come out slowly.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked for you.  Were you able to do it without force?  How did your body feel after?

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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2 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Holidays

Holiday parties, eating, shopping, travel, visitors, end of year work are a few of the activities we participate in.

We socialize while holding our drink and food, really not tasting anything or hearing what is being said.  The stores are busy, with decorations adorning the windows, walls and ceilings, yet we rush right by them.

These are mostly positive experiences, yet we end up stressed and tired.

Slowing down does not mean not going shopping or to parties.  What it means is that while you are participating, be present.  

Try this:

  1. When at a party before biting into your food take a moment to look at the color and texture, smell the aroma, and then take one bite and savor it. You will probably eat less!
  2. While shopping, take a moment to stand still and look at the decorations, colors and designs.  Take it all in before going on with your shopping.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked.  Were you able to stop for a few moments and be present?  If not, what do you think got in your way?

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