Posts Tagged ‘Yoga’:

Holiday season is quickly approaching. That means it’s time to pull out those cocktail dresses and festive tops. This 10-minute workout will help you get those cocktail party arms that you’ve always wanted, while also working your abs, butt, and legs. You only need a mat or towel and 3-5 pound hand weights. If you don’t have hand weights, grab some canned vegetables or bottled water. Go through the series two times, aiming for 3 non-consecutive days, a week.

forearm-corrected

1. Forearm Plank

To do:

a. Start by getting onto your forearms and knees

b. Make a fist with one hand, and clasp the other hand around it

c. Extend your legs back to get yourself into a plank, keep legs together, shoulders over elbows, and heels over toes (as shown in photo)

Hold 30 seconds to 1 minute

Tips:

Press into your forearms to prevent yourself from sinking towards the floor, and simultaneously pull your heart towards the wall in front of you

Work your pubic bone towards your forehead to engage your abs and protect your lower back

Press backs of thighs together, and make sure they don’t sink to the floor

Think of your body being pulled in two directions with your head going one way and your heels the other

Modification:

Do with your knees down

Challenge:

Hover one leg off mat for 15 seconds, then switch to other leg for 15 seconds

bridge-tricep

2. Bridge with tricep extension

To do:

a. Lie on mat, knees bent, legs shoulder-width apart and feet flat

b. With a weight in each hand and palms facing one another, extend your arms to the ceiling

c. Lift hips to create a straight line from knees to chest (as shown in photo)

d. Bend and straighten elbows

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Keep chest open

Imagine holding a little beach ball between the inner thighs to keep energy there

Make sure elbows are reaching up to the ceiling when the arms are bent

Reach the tailbone towards the heels and pubic bone towards the head to keep the core active

Modification:

Keep butt down

Challenge:

After last rep bend elbows to 90 degrees (forearms parallel to ceiling), with butt still lifted, hold for 30 seconds

bicep-corrected

3. Bicep curl

To do:

a. Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, while holding a weight in each hand, arms long by your side, shoulders down and back, and palms facing out (as shown in photo)

b. Bend elbows to bring the weights to your shoulders, then slowly lower to start position

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Keep elbows glued into ribs

Keep shoulders on your back to isolate the biceps

Imagine a corset around your waist to engage the abs

Gaze forward and stand tall

Challenge:

After you complete your reps, hold the forearms parallel to the floor for 10 seconds

tricep-swing

4. Tricep and shoulder swing

To do:

a. Stand with legs together, a weight in each hand, raise arms to shoulder height, palms face one another

b. Bend knees in to a squat, hinge forward, and press arms back so that palms face the ceiling, pulse arms up 3 times (as shown in photo)

c. Return to standing bringing arms to start position

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Keep shoulders down and back

Keep spine long when you hinge forward

Picture a corset around your waist to keep your abs engaged

Make sure palms face up to ceiling when pulsing

Challenge:

As you return to standing bringing your arms to start position, as draw one knee into your chest

lunge-twist

5. Lunge with twist and bicep curl

To do:

a. Stand tall with a weight in each hand, raise arms to shoulder height, palms face one another

b. Lunge forward with right leg, twist torso to the right, bend elbows (as shown in photo without the bent elbows)

c. Extend arms, untwist torso, step back to meet left leg while keeping arms raised

Repeat 8-10 times, switch sides and repeat

Tips:

Keep shoulders down and back

Press through the heel of the forward lunging leg to step back

Twist from ribcage, making sure to keep arms in line with shoulders

Modifications:

Lower arms a little if shoulders are tight

Take out the twist

flye-26. Bent Over Flye

To do:

a. Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and a weight in each hand

b. Bend knees and hinge torso forward from the hips, keeping weight in heels

c. With a slight bend in your arms, lift them up to shoulder height, lower with control (as shown in photo)

Repeat 8-10 times

Tips:

Focus on the back-side of arms and mid-upper back when doing the work

Keep shoulders on back

Picture a corset around your waist to remind you to keep

abs engaged

Make sure you can see your toes and watch that the knees track over second toe

Challenge:

Add an extra set of 10 pulses at the top of the last repetition before you lower arms back down

 

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I love January, the beginning of a new year, and a time for reflection. While I’ll forever live in the world of semesters where September is the start of a new year, January is always the time I look at my life, make resolutions, and feel excited about it all. I’ve learned to make my resolutions very specific, and I try to cover different areas of my life like work, health, and relationships. However, even with all my good intentions, I let life get in the way. One day goes by then another, and all of a sudden months have passed without me working towards most of my goals. It happens every year.

In my quest to break this pattern, a friend suggested I check out Livifi, an i-phone app (also available on the web) that helps people set and track goals related to mind, body, and relationships. My curiosity was peaked, first because it sounded exactly like something that could help me, and second because the CEO & Co-founder Lowell Winer, came up with the idea while fighting cancer. I’m always motivated by inspirational stories. With endless questions bouncing around in my head, I decided to call up Lowell and get the 411, not only about the company, but also about his story

In 2006 Lowell was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, a type of blood cancer. Treatments like chemo, stem cell transplants, radiation, and multiple drug trials failed to show positive results. When told he may have only 2 years to live he made the decision that he wasn’t going to accept the status quo, and wanted to be proactive about how he chose to live, which was as healthy and happy as possible. This path helped him discover yoga, become a vegetarian, start meditating, and stop drinking, and also to eat better, get more sleep, and spend more time with family and friends.

Then in 2010 he began taking a drug that on average was giving people 6-7 months of remission. 18 months later he is still in remission himself, and contributes this greatly to the lifestyle changes he made along the way. While Lowell is slowly recovering from his treatments, he has learned to live with the uncertainty about whether the cancer will return, however he says, “I’m not sure I would change anything—cancer has been my guru.”

On Lowell’s path to become a healthier and happier person it wasn’t enough for him to accept that all he had done was good for him. He wanted to know the how and why. And he wanted other people to as well. What came from all his research was the idea of a science based life coach in your hands, to help you take strides to healthy living. Something to keep you accountable, help to create healthy habits, and improve your health and well-being. In his quest to help himself and other people, Livifi was born.

If you’re an i-phone user you can get the app for $4.99. I recommend checking out the reviews on i-tunes. For such a new company, they’re very impressive. The web version is in beta (for the computer illiterate like me that means it’s new and still in testing, and free for now). The site is easy to use with plenty of instructions. There are 40 plus science-based healthy behaviors to choose from for your body, mind, and relationships. Each behavior has a summary of how to achieve your goal, why it’s important, and references. The goals will default to daily or weekly based on scientific research, however you have the ability to change them depending on your needs.

Remember to set realistic goals for yourself so as not to get too overwhelmed or feel defeated. Livifi has plans to add a social feature down the road because according to Lowell, we are social creatures and enjoy the encouragement and support of others as well as the ability to collaborate with one another. While I don’t have an i-phone yet, I’m excited to use the web version to help me track my goals. This is my first step in breaking my pattern of giving up. I highly recommend getting online to read more about Lowell, the company, and all it has to offer. Make yourself a priority this year.

 

Arabesque

Do you know the difference between Yoga and Pilates?  If your answer is no, you aren’t alone.  Over the years as a Pilates Instructor I’ve been asked by friends “how’s yoga going.”   Today that question makes sense as I’m in the middle of a yoga certification.  However, for the past 7 years while I’ve only been teaching Pilates, the question would make me laugh.  Then I sometimes get “what’s the difference between the two”?  My go to answer for years was “think of yoga as mind/body and Pilates as body/mind.”  It seems a little simplistic to me today, but until recently I didn’t really know how to give a more in depth answer.  Now many years into teaching Pilates, practicing yoga, and being immersed in a yoga certification, I feel I can answer with more substance.   Happily I’ve also come to realize that the two compliment one another quite nicely.

While there might be a few similarities between Pilates and yoga, like the obvious increased strength and flexibility, at the core they are quite different.  Pilates has only been around for about 100 years, while yoga with much more spiritual and meditative aspects dates back at least 5,000 years.  Pilates uses apparatus with springs to give bodies the resistance they are unable to find on their own when doing the mat work.  Yoga is all done on a mat, with props and walls used when needed.  I’m so grateful to those walls as they’ve saved me with my inversions on a number of occasions.  Peter Fiasca wrote in his book, Discovering Pure Classical Pilates, “Although some of the postures of yoga may resemble those found in Pure Classical Pilates, it is in the emphasis and execution that one discovers their distinct differences.”  The classical approach to Pilates keeps bodies moving from one exercise to the next with breath being important and core always a constant focus.   Where as yoga poses might be held for many minutes at a time while perfecting the alignment and focusing on breath.  The breath is also linked to movement.  Many  yoga teachers like to have students set an intention in a yoga class and carry that through until the end of class.  Pilates is an all over workout, but the strength starts at the core.  While yoga touches on the core in some of its poses, it definitely isn’t the main focus.

When I started doing Pilates it was because I thought it was similar to yoga but better.  I tried yoga when I was in college and I have the distinct memory of laughing my way through the class with my friends.  It’s funny to think about that now as yoga has become just as important to me as Pilates is.  Honestly I can’t imagine not having either modality in my life.  Pilates might have helped me get to yoga, but I wouldn’t be able to practice yoga the way I do without my Pilates background.  Anyone with experience in Pilates knows the core is the primary focus, but this is not the case with yoga.  Although, recently I have had some yoga teachers do ab work in their classes.  It seems they are beginning to realize the importance of core strength.  I’m convinced that my inversions, which at times are still tricky, haven’t been as hard for me in my yoga training as they have been for my fellow trainees, because of my core strength and understanding.  This goes both ways though.  My mid-back and shoulders tend to get tight and standing over people all day teaching doesn’t help.  I look forward to that first moment in yoga when I get to extend and twist my spine.  I can’t say I love the deep shoulder stretches we do, but I can completely appreciate what they’re doing for me.  There is plenty of extension work in Pilates, but yoga just goes that much deeper.

So for all you yogi’s out there wanting to move your practice forward, why not try Pilates.  And for all you hard core Pilates fanatics, take a stab at yoga and see if you can increase your extension or twists.  If you haven’t tried either, I hope you now have a better understanding of the differences between the two and will pick at least one to add into your workout routine.   I’m a firm believer of cross-training as muscles can be like people and get bored.  Mix it up and have fun!  Take note that there are many styles of yoga and Pilates out there  (another topic for another time) and finding the right style for you is important.

Kristen is currently going through Yogaposer’s 200-hour yoga certification.  You can follow Kristen on twitter or become a fan on facebook.