Category Archives: Your Health Structure

Legs Up the Wall

If you attend Pilates Mat on Tuesday evening at The Pilates Studio, Then you’re very familiar with Legs Up the Wall. This posture is calming and grounding especially at times when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or just plain tired.

What is it?

To put it simply, this inverted action reverses the forward motions of doing, acting, and accomplishing, allowing your brain and body to settle into a state of pure being. This then conditions the mind for deeper meditation, serenity, and self-awareness.

Do it!

Sitting with your left side against the wall, gently turn your body to the left and bring your legs up onto the wall. Use your hands for balance as you shift your weight.

Lower your back to the floor and lie down. Rest your shoulders and head on the floor.

Shift your weight from side-to-side and scoot your buttocks close to the wall. Let your arms rest open at your sides, palms facing up.

Let the heads of your thigh bones (the part of the bone that connects in the hip socket) release and relax, dropping toward the back of your pelvis.

Close your eyes. Relax into the pose for 5-10 minutes, breathing with awareness.

When you’re done, pull your knees into your chest and turn to your side.

Benefits

  • It reduces edema in the legs and feet.
  • It relieves tired leg muscles.
  • It gives you all the benefits of inversion, without the effort.
  • It is super calming for the nervous system.
  • It helps quiet the mind.
  • It can help with Anxiety, Headaches, Insomnia and Mild depression
  • Improves Digestion

Yogi’s say that 5 minutes is equivalent to a 20-30 minute cat nap! Give it a try and see if it doesn’t help you rejuvenate.

Pilates is Addictive – 5 Reasons why You Should be doing Pilates

PilatesAddictionWhen I started practicing Pilates over 16 years ago, I was not a person who liked to exercise, I was the person who knew you should, but hated it. Yep! I tried everything. Going it on my own at the weight bench, hiring a personal trainer, taking classes, nothing seemed to stick for very long. I was hopelessly uncoordinated when it came to fast moving choreographed exercise (kickboxing or step classes), Boot camps left me feeling too sore for days and my discipline wavered when left to my own devices (weight machines etc.) I didn’t feel at home anywhere, then I unknowingly walked into a Pilates Mat class and I was stunned. I could do it. I could follow along without feeling clumsy. I felt a good sore in all the right places, and there was no intimidation. I found my exercise. I was no longer the girl who was bored easily and felt lost in a gym. I was home. If you’re on the fence about whether or not Pilates is for you, here’s 5 reasons why Pilates is for everyone serious about not only their strength but there overall health:

  1. One of the 6 Principles of Pilates is ‘Concentration’. This has given Pilates the title of the “thinking person’s exercise.” Pilates not only challenges your body it challenges your brain.  Efficiency of movement and quality over quantity are key in your Pilates practice. You need to be 100% present to get the full benefit of your workout; tapping into muscles you didn’t even know you had. Challenging you with moves that stimulate your coordination as well as your physical body.
  2. You use Pilates in every aspect of your physical life. From putting groceries into the car to picking up your toddler, it brings a mindfulness and balance to your movement that will have you standing taller and walking straighter. Athletic activities are performed with more ease. Runners run faster, cyclists feel more endurance and balance, golfers improve their swing. Even cleaning the house feels like less effort.
  3. Pilates assists in therapeutic healing from an injury and strengthens muscles around joints to prevent injuries from happening. It’s used in Physical Therapy offices across the nation for rehab and used by professional athletes to reduce the incidents of injury.
  4. Pilates protects the back! 9 out of 10 adults experience back pain at some point in their life and 5 of those 10 experience it regularly. Pilates strengthens the core muscles surrounding the spine, protecting it from common rotation injuries. Many of the exercises are focused on articulation of the spine, lengthening the space between the vertebrae and counteracting the compression caused by sitting or standing for long periods of time.
  5. When you stop doing it, your body will miss it. I’ve stopped my Pilates practice twice over the past 16 years due to injury. Both times I was in so much pain, the mere thought of doing a simple roll-up brought tears to my eyes. During the first few weeks of rehabilitation when I couldn’t practice my Pilates, I missed it, not only mentally, but physically. When I returned to my practice after healing it was like coming home. This is a very common feeling among my clients as well. Your body will love Pilates and when you return to it, it will thank you with that Rock Star strength that only Pilates can provide.

I’ve found that fitness trends come and go, but having a common thread of Pilates throughout your life will give you strength, endurance and longevity in your body that you will not experience through other forms of trend exercise. In fact, continuing your Pilates practice along side whatever fitness craze has caught your attention will only enhance that experience as well. Love Pilates.

 

 

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4 Foods That Will Help You Sleep

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? If you’re up to try anything to get your 40 winks, here are some ideas you can use as an alternative to pharmaceutically induced sleep.

Be sure and let me know if they work. I would test them myself, but I don’t have trouble falling asleep. My problem is waking up an hour before my alarm. Still looking for something to help with that.

Pumpkin Seed Powder: More tryptophan than a glass of milk. Mix with applesauce (or any carb) which allows tryptophan to enter the brain more efficiently.

Tart Cherry Juice. Tart cherries are particularly high in melatonin, the hormone released by your brain that helps you fall asleep. Tart cherries have 6x more melatonin than a regular cherry and the Juice has 10x more. Drink it an hour before bed. 

Scottish Oatmeal: Oatmeal helps the nervous system relax and release tension. Scottish Oatmeal is high in tryptophan and melatonin. 1/2 cup an hour before bedtime. Throw some blueberries in it. Yum!

Dandelion Greens: The liver metabolizes your hormones. Insomnia can be related to a hormonal imbalance. Dandelions clean out the liver. Are you following this?

Get Your Health in Rhythm: Tip #1

Make it easy on yourself.

Are you always forgetting something that interrupts the Rhythm of your day? Did you leave your planned meals at home as you rushed out the door?

Always have an MRFK (Mobile Readiness Food Kit) & Water with you. Keep 1 in your car, at work in your desk, or in your purse. Getting stuck in an endlessly busy day without water or food will not only cause your blood sugar levels to crash, igniting sugar/carb cravings, but your stress amplifies when your body is starving, and you become too cranky to deal with it. Even if it’s a Power Crunch bar in your purse, remember to have something to carry you through to your next meal.

**Here’s a hint to make it super easy, get 3-4 of the Camelbak type water bottles, they’re easy for on the go, just flip the top and drink.

a Why for Change

Diets, Eating Plans, Supplements, Surgery. When it comes to losing weight our mindset is to drop it quick because ‘I have a _______________ in 6 weeks‘. This is a goal for an event, a moment in time. A Why is different. A Why is a decision to change and it’s much more powerful than a goal.

For some of you, reaching a goal is as easy as adding extra workouts to fit into the dress you bought for a wedding before you gained those pesky 5 pounds. For others, it’s not that simple. Losing weight feels like a life sentence and for every failure, you become more defeated. A quick fix may work for a moment, but true change comes with success and it is driven by your Why.

So your first step is to know your Why. What things are important to you in your life? Your Spouse? Your children? Do you want to be able to go out on a beautiful day like today and hike for 2 hours? Or ride a bike? Or go to the beach? Everyone’s Why is different.

Once you become clear on where you want to take your health and Why? Then everything you do from that point becomes a step to getting there, a journey.

What’s your Why?

Pilates vs. Yoga – Similarities & Differences – which one is right for you?

Pilates vs. Yoga: What are the similarities and differences and which one is right for you? As a Pilates Instructor, I hear all the time, “oh yeah, it’s like yoga right?” Since I practice both, I know the differences and in my opinion, they should both be on your repertoire. Oftentimes someone will tell me, I only do Yoga, or I only do Pilates. You know my philosophy, you should never do just one thing. Mixing it up keeps your interest in your health fresh. Too much of a good thing can be, well, boring. So let’s break them down:

Similarities
  • Both will tone your body, with a focus on abdominals.
  • Have a mind / body focus which requires concentration on movement.
  • Will increase your flexibility and range of motion
  • Help your body’s alignment.
  • Encourage you to focus on breath.
Differences
  • Yoga is typically practiced on a mat or on a comfortable surrounding e.g., the beach.
    Pilates can be practiced on a Pilates machine or a mat.
  • Yoga classes are typically 60-90 minutes.
    Pilates classes are typically 60 minutes.
  • Yoga has a more of a body / spiritual focus.
    Pilates has more of a body / physical health focus.
  • Yoga will increase your sense of well-being, and can meditationally reduce stress.
    Pilates will strengthen your “core”, e.g., your abs, torso, lower spine, and will help you develop long and lean muscles and will physically reduce stress.
  • Yoga will help you learn to control your breath.
    Pilates will help you learn to better control your posture.

The true difference is in the time spent doing them. I suggest strongly you try both. I mix a little yoga into everyone of my Pilates and TRX classes. You probably already like them both and don’t even know it.

    Green Cleaning: Tips to Making your House Clean without Chemical Cleansers

    “I hate the smell of bleach!” my friend Mel said crinkling her nose up in response to my comment on how to clean blood off the walls (chill out people, this discussion stemmed from watching Dexter). “My son and I both hate it and we don’t even keep bleach in the house.” It led me to thinking how I use to hold my breath when walking down the aisle with all the cleaning agents at the grocery store. Thinking that just inhaling the air was going to give me some form of cancer. 
    For the last 10 years I’ve been making my own home remedy disinfectants. The concoction I use to clean off the Pilates equipment at my studio is made up of Lavender oil and distilled water; A natural anti-bacterial. Added benefit, the room smells nice and it has aroma therapy qualities. Regular anti-bacterial can break down your own immunities, but that’s a blog for a different day. I prefer the natural way, I prefer to Green Clean.
    Using more natural or ‘Green’ cleansers instead of harsh chemical cleansers can be better for your health and home, especially if you have small children or animals. At the very least they can contain synthetic fragrances which can irritate sensitive allergies, worst case, they can produce indoor pollution by off-gassing toxic fumes.
    So go down to the dollar store and get yourself some spray bottles. Put away your harsh cleansers and try cleaning your home with some of these healthy alternatives:
    Windows & Mirrors: 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with a spray bottle of water. Tip: Use Newspaper instead of paper towels to eliminate streaking.
    Carpet Spot Cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup liquid soap with 1 cup water. Shake well. Spray on the spot, and then rinse with vinegar (I put it in my Little Green Clean Machine and use that to rinse. For immediate spills, club soda works well. Pour on the spot and blot with a rag. The carbonation in the soda brings the spill to the surface.
    Hardwood floors are easily cleaned with ¼ cup white vinegar and 30 ounces of water. Lightly dampen a rag and use it to mop your floors. Also a steam mop works well at gently lifting dirt without getting your floors wet. 
    Natural disinfectants include, as I mentioned above, distilled water and lavender oil. Or instead of bleach, mix 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil.
    Silver tarnish can be removed with toothpaste. For bigger jobs try lining your sink or a bucket with aluminum foil, and drop in tarnished silver. Pour in boiling water, a cup of baking soda and a dash of salt. Let this sit for a few minutes. The tarnish will transfer from the silver to the foil.
                Copper pots and pans brighten up by rubbing ketchup on them. 
    Bathroom and kitchen tiles can be cleaned with baking soda, sprinkle on dry the scrub with a moist sponge. For tougher stains, sprinkle on some kosher salt as an abrasive. 
    For mildew or grease douse with lemon juice or vinegar, let sit then scrub with a stiff brush.
    Clean your stainless steel sink, cutting boards, containers, refrigerator, and oven top with baking soda and water. Mix into a paste. This also helps to kill bacteria so it’s great for the kitchen.

    Fitness Myths: Strength Training with Weights will make me Bulky

    Many people, especially women, avoid weight training because somewhere along the way they heard that it will make their muscles big. This is simply a matter of misinformation. Strength training is a critical element to create muscle tone and burn fat and should not be left out of your well rounded routine.

    Every pound of muscle you have burns ~ 30-50 calories more in a day. The more lean mass you have, the more calories you burn. Without some kind of weight or resistance training, you’re likely to reach a plateau quickly and you won’t achieve those nicely sculpted muscles. 

    Light to moderate weights with between 12-20 repetitions are most effective for toning lean muscle mass. Building large muscles takes a great deal of discipline and a very strict regimen of heavier weights. Body builders work for years to get the muscle mass that they exhibit.

    Stick to the moderate weights, enough to challenge your muscles at the higher reps and your muscles will be sleek and toned without any bulk. If you’re still not sure, hire a personal trainer to help you decide what workout will help to reach your health goals.

    Breathe Deep

    There’s more to breathing then meets the nose!

    Your sitting in Yoga class and you are told to breath deep through your nose, exhale through your mouth. There are a lot of good reasons for this.  Emotionally, deep breathing reduces feelings of stress, aids in achieving a relaxed state, and assists us to put our busy minds to rest by inducing a meditative state, however, one of the most important reasons is purely scientific! According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, it’s because of a gas called nitric oxide that’s made by your nose and sinus mucous membranes. This gas is produced in small amounts, but when inhaled into the lungs, significantly enhances your lung’s capacity to absorb oxygen. Nitric oxide is lethal to bacteria and viruses and is also known to increase oxygen absorption in your lungs from 10-25 percent. This is why it’s important to inhale through your nose, especially when you are exercising.

    Go ahead, take a deep breath!

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