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You Could Be Pain Free in 75 Minutes for Less than 20 Bucks

Seriously, you can be.  I am and no I am not going to one of those crappy big chain massage places.

While I have been a yoga teacher for over 1o years I have not always taken the best care of my personal yoga practice.  Running a fitness studio, being a doula and parenting three children did not leave me enough time for my own personal effective yoga practice.  Well, that is a little bit of an untruth.  The real reason I am in pain is because I had not yet let go of ego.

Yes, I said it.  I have in the past had a larger ego than I currently do. Not the healthy type of ego either that keeps us alive and choosing the path of self preservation.  I indulged in the type of unhealthy ego that many individuals with body image disorders do – that ego that compares you and your self worth with everyone else around you.  My ego in particular liked to prey on my feelings of insecurity around my weight and being in an industry fraught with lean, toned, almost impossible to attain bodies bending into ridiculously compressed positions.  So for me, the more I pushed myself into poses, the harder I worked my muscles, the more I ached after a class, or the further I went into a pose the less I worried about people perceiving me as “less than” because of my fuller figure.

I also ran my own business which required me to teach until 40 weeks pregnant, and go back to work less than 2 weeks postpartum in order to pay rent, instructor’s salaries and for groceries.  I wasn’t the type of newly liberated woman who could make the statement  “I’m skipping maternity leave because my job is important” – I would have loved to stay home and relax with my newborns for even a full six weeks, I can’t imagine saying no to a paid maternity leave of any type.

The stage was set for pain.  Ten pound babies, 40 classes a week teaching aerobics and power yoga with hundreds of planks takes a toll on the pregnant and postpartum body.  Sixteen months after my daughter was born I was still experiencing searing pain in my SI Joint (posterior near the hip) and buttocks, my inner groin (I suffered through diastasis symphysis pubis, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone) and my lower back.  I made old man sounds every time I got off the couch, so many that my little sponge of a daughter started to grunt when she would stand up in solidarity with me.

What changed? I started teaching a prenatal yoga class at Yoga-Rhythms in Lisle, IL.  Years ago I used to take Svaroopa yoga with the same owner at a different location, many pounds, children and years ago when I was youthfully flexible and in class just to relax after a workout.  Now I attend classes every two days to manage my pain and release anxiety. And it works. Really works. If you let go.

Letting go is supposed to be a big part of yoga – letting go can’t truly occur if you are getting dressed up with $150 yoga pants to go to class for whatever the reason – because you can, because everyone else does, because your butt looks great, because you saw an ad for them – you are possessed by your possession still. You haven’t let go if you intensely stare at yourself in a mirror while instructed to push yourself as far as possible while your body goes through the stages of heat stroke – and shocker – the teacher leading you isn’t teaching yoga. I’m sorry to say this and I know some people will disagree ardently with me on these points but there is nothing to argue about.  If you care how you look in a pose, if you care about being seen in class, if you care about how far you can go or if you are addicted, drawn to a certain name on the marquee, only feel like you get something out of the practice if you look like you escaped from somewhere, are drenched, red faced, sore – you get the picture – you aren’t practicing true yoga. You are stagnant, stuck within the Annamaya kosha. I was once there too so I know it can seem as though you are truly practicing yoga and you may be going through the motions, making a good show, even living a very yogic life – I was but I wasn’t truly practicing.

blnk Yoga is about “removing the root cause of suffering and pain.” The first sign that my yoga practice wasn’t authentic were anxiety and panic attacks.  Then came pain. I could also say then came some medical conditions (tumors, gallstones, questionable skin tags, etc) but that may not be a fair assumption.  To those on the outside I had a steady yoga practice and taught daily but to me I was missing something – missing that feeling of bliss.  Sure, I took classes where I felt good at the end, felt like I stretched or got a workout, learned something new – but the bliss was missing.

Then I started taking Svaroopa classes again and the bliss blew back into my being it rode in on a stack of blankets.  I left the first class a little sore and if you saw the class from the outside looking in you would have a “What the? How could that be?” expression on your face.  The style is beyond gentle, it involves lots of blankets and propping – lots of letting go and even more self awareness.  You can’t get through more than 5 minutes of a class without hearing “Do you notice the difference?” or “Does it feel different?” or “How do you feel now?” you get the idea, teachers want you to contemplate your practice, something that is missing in many of the fly by night certifications out there. Teachers in this lineage receive a great deal of training I can attest as a yoga instructor with a great deal of training behind me that I had to let go of.  It isn’t that Svaroopa Yoga (now in its 21st year) is that far removed from “ normal yoga” – it is truly ingrained in the heart of yoga – it just isn’t as capitalized or commercialized and that may be why you haven’t heard of this amazing answer to pain problems.

For me it has been a journey of letting go not just of pain but of that evil ego.  Every time I mention this in class a teacher will say “Why do you have an ego about this?” or “why wouldn’t you want to use more blankets, don’t you want to feel bliss?” I do, I do! But my ego has a hard time admitting that all of these years I have been over stretching ligaments and tendons, listening to instructors tell me to go “more straight” or “deeper” into a pose and all the time piling on more pain for myself.  Its hard to look around a class and see “normal students”, average sized men and women of all ages not pushing themselves.  There is no-one to be “more flexible than” no-one to compare myself to and that was the hardest part – realizing my self worth isn’t tied to anyone else’s.

This revelation couldn’t have come at a better time – I’m ready to move on from teaching yoga and start a new/old career in academic teaching.  I have been practicing Vipassana meditation more seriously and learning to wish peace and loving kindness to others in situation where I once may have compared/judged myself. I’ve taken it a step further into wishing happiness to others in their situation instead of feeling jealous or dejected and it is very liberating to be detached. 

Four, maybe five weeks have passed and each class I attend I find new areas to release, I come up against new blocks now that I am getting into the muscles instead of stretching superficial tissues and I am pain-free. The potential to be pain free in one class really does exist, but the more you go – the more you let go. 

Cycle into Spring and Bike Safety

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It’s springtime and even though no-one alerted the weather yet that it is spring but we have had a few good days for bike riding.  With warmer weather we have the ability to get the family outside more and one of my family’s favorite activities is bicycling. We have a membership to our local arboretum and love to take the kids there to tool around.  Cycling is the second most popular outdoor activity right after running for Americans.  Last year my husband and I splurged and bought ourselves new bikes, bike car seats for the kids, water bottle holders and even a bike rack.  What we did not buy were bicycle locks. But we are not alone, statistics show that 33 % of individuals do not lock their bikes up, and an unattended, unlocked bike is an easy target for thieves. 

So why don’t we lock up our bikes? Maybe we still like to believe that we live in a world where we can leave our front doors open to catch a breeze and kids can leave their bikes in front of the store to grab a cool drink on a summer day.  Sadly with 48% of people having had their bike stolen, or knowing someone who has, it just isn’t the case anymore.  Our bikes weren’t cheap, they weren’t racing bike expensive, but they were a little more expensive than the grocery store variety – enough to warrant protecting them from theft with a $26 bike lock.  Enter the

image 8195D Force Series ULock:

  • Force 3 standard U-lock
  • $1000 anti-theft guarantee
  • Sliding dust cover protects keyway from dirt and moisture.
  • Hardened steel body resists cutting, sawing and prying.
  • Double locking shackle withstands 3 tons (2.72 metric tons) of pull force.
  • Disc key for superior pick resistance.
  • Soft grip for comfortable use, weather and scratch resistance.
  • Carrier bracket included for convenient storage.

I have used this lock and it is quick simple, comes with a carrying bracket that mounts to your bike so there is no excuse to not have a lock with you.  You are more likely to lose your lock key than lose your bike to a thief with this lock.  The $1000 anti-theft guarantee assures you that these locks will provide security and peace of mind through many years of use. They have been engineered to provide you the highest level and most economical means possible to secure your property. It’s just another reason why Master Lock products offer street smart security.

Now that you are armed with your lock and your bike you are ready to set out, right? Well don’t forget basic bike safety.  Riding while wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85%, so be sure to cover your noggin before you mount up and know that 3 hours of cycling a week can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke by 50% so get pedaling.

As for your bike be sure to check:

 imageDon’t own your own bike? No problem there are options for those who don’t own to simply rent, including a new online site Spinlistera marketplace that lets bike owners rent their bikes to travelers, cyclists, and locals looking to explore over 300 cities in 50 countries.

How it works:

-For bike owners, it’s easy to list a bike and earn cash. After filling out a few details, and submitting photos of your sweet chariot, within 24 to 48 hours (after we check for quality, price, and accuracy), your bike will be ready for rent.

-For bike renters, you have it easy too! Simply search by location, bike size, and type to get a list of available bikes near you. From there, you can request a rental from the bike’s owner and ask questions. Once the Lister approves your request, it’s a match made in bicycle heaven.

 

I was provided a sample bike lock for review and use of graphics, I was not compensated in any way and all opinions are my own, given freely.

The Vegan Athlete Its Not a Myth You Can Do It

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I was contacted to review this book, I received no compensation and opinions expressed are given freely and are my own.

I have been a vegan for over 25 years now and I am a fitness professional, but I am still far from a Vegan Athlete.  What I appreciated most about this book was that if I had a dozen copies I would simply shove them in the hands of each and every person who ever asked me a stupid question such as these:

“Don’t you feel guilty that your kids will never get to try McNuggets??”

“How can you possibly get enough protein?”

“Aren’t you tired all the time, I couldn’t give up meat because I would be tired all the time.”

But my favorite was the “You can’t be a vegan, you’re so fat.” That I received at a yoga teacher training.  To that statement I would have used this hand book to slap the offender across the face because honestly, the meal plan given in here would not have helped my case.  I appreciate the meal suggestions given but there are no portion sizes listed so I know mine would be FAR larger than what the author intended.  Chocolate covered banana slices for dessert sound delicious and very easy to make (I have been doing these and other dipped desserts for years) but if lunch is supposed to be a baked sweet potato with maple syrup and a pinch of nutmeg – that’s all – you’ve lost my vegan vote.

Let me point out, the meals outline will have you in awesome shape, but right now I am still breastfeeding a toddler and infant (4 & 1) almost exclusively – meaning I provide the majority of their calories in addition to those needed for teaching fitness classes – this meal plan just isn’t right for me at the moment personally.

What about the rest of the book? Thank You! Thank you for taking the time to calmly write out answers to all of the questions vegans receive because after almost 3 decades I feel like a broken record and sometimes lose my patience when well meaning individuals question my eating choices. Succinctly and smartly answered questions that focus on the physical benefits of being a vegan.  Yes, I love animals. Yes, I care about animals. Yes, I wear leather at times.  I’m not perfect and I am not a vegan 100% because it is a political stance against animal cruelty.  To be honest I find PETA hypocritical since exploiting animals is heinous they should refrain from exploiting mammals such as women in their half nude ads, but I have digressed.  My point was that the authors approach this work not from the far left animal products are murder, but from the middle of the road that eating plant based is healthier.

I should receive some sort of award for reviewing Brett Stewart books, he is a co-author on this title with Ben Greene and as with all of his books I was very pleased with the exercise section.  No, I still can’t do 50 Pullups but I probably could if I stuck with his program.  The man knows how to get results, he provides clear and concise, simple exercises that I do with my clients as a personal trainer and gives the reader great reference photos.

“The Vegan Athlete,” a fitness guide combining dietary know-how with a full body workout program that will build muscle and maximize energy is perfect for someone transitioning into veganism, as well as vegans who want to integrate a fitness program into their lives, as it covers the benefits of plant-based diet, nutritional needs (i.e. amino acids, vitamins), strength-building workouts, and two dozen protein-packed recipes.
“The Vegan Athlete” will help you nourish your body from head to toe with good food and exercise and ends with a wonderful reference section to find more vegan support.

If you are trying to get yourself or your family healthier this summer, this is a great place to start!

Kid Friendly Chocolate Covered Bananas

  • banana
  • chocolate chips / bar
  • optional chopped nuts, crushed cookies
  • optional cake pop or popsicle stick

I own an electric chocolate melter so I dump a bag of vegan chips into, but you can use a double boiler (if you avoid the microwave), or melt in the microwave.

Make it fancy by inserting a stick lengthwise in the banana, then dip in chocolate, roll in optional topping. For finger food, dip sliced banana “circles” in chocolate.  Be sure to set aside on plastic wrap or wax paper and place in the fridge to set, otherwise the chocolate will stick to the plate and be hard to get up without breaking. On plastic or paper, it simply peels off.

Childcare Workers, Parents, Teachers Creative Yoga for Children can Help get Kids Active

image Ever wondered what to do with your kids during a rainy day or, even more fitting, a snowy day? Have you ever wondered what a Montessori class experience is like or how your children would respond to teaching in a different, more integrative way?

Q. In Creative Yoga for Children you mention that part of your inspiration for writing the book came from your own teaching experience at a Montessori school. How does Montessori education complement yoga? What are the challenges in bringing yoga into non-Montessori schools?

A. I observed so many similarities between yoga and Montessori that I incorporated it into my classroom curriculum as
soon as I had finished my yoga training. Both are completely noncompetitive and concern themselves with an ever
evolving process, and not any end product. Both are personal, and are there to further the development of the person,
and not for “producing” something for someone else. Also they are both philosophies that increase self-esteem,
concentration, and self-awareness. It is easy to add yoga to a Montessori classroom, as it just becomes a piece of
material that the child can choose to do when they prefer, but adding it to the routine of a traditional classroom does not have to be difficult. Yoga can simply be a three- or four-minute activity added on to the day, practiced in between subjects, as a sort of “warm down,” or “warm up” to the next activity. Guided meditations and relaxations can be added into a class just before tests, in order to further focus the children’s minds. Teachers can use yoga as a tool throughout their daily routines.

If you were not aware, a recent study by California State University, Los Angeles found that yoga improves students’ behavior, physical health, academic performance, and attitudes toward themselves. A perfect resource for schools seeking to incorporate yoga and mindfulness programs into their curriculum, or for parents to encourage body-mind awareness at home, Creative Yoga for Children promotes physical, emotional, and social development through stress reduction, movement, and free exploration.
Montessori and registered yoga teacher Adrienne Rawlinson presents forty one-hour lessons in a fun, accessible fashion to allow children ages 4–12 to learn at their own pace and in a cross-curriculum fashion. Activities are broken down by age categories, and each includes setting an intention, physical warm-ups, breath work, specific yoga poses, meditation and gratitude exercises, and more.

This book is a cornucopia of ideas and I love the variety of lesson plans given.  I especially appreciate the objectives (intention) and educational elements sections as a teacher.  Although many of my classes are taught without these, when I teach in environments that receive federal money for education programming many of them require objectives and educational elements to be outlined.  Truly, even with my decade of experience teaching yoga I could not have written a more complete book.  Many of the lessons were similar to ones I myself already teach, but there were definitely some new ones I had not thought of and elements added in that I have not explored, such as using “cardboard letters” in a 4-6 year old lesson on words and sounds.  This book would be ideal for homeschooling families and starts with lessons for children as young as four.

Q. Your book is broken down into three age groups (4–6, 7–9, 10–12). What is the significance of starting at age 4? Is there a benefit to starting earlier or is this the earliest age for kids to become actively engaged with yoga?

A. The program offered in my book is quite structured and I have observed that children under the age of four benefit more from a yoga routine that is more playful, and they are developmentally often not ready for a structured one hour class. However, they are not too young to be introduced to the world of yoga. I have two and a half year olds in my Montessori class who love to do a few minutes of yoga every day, choosing pose cards from a basket to do on a mat by themselves or with a friend. Babies and toddlers can reap the benefits of yoga and there are many age appropriate
programs out there. Setting the stage for a lifetime of yoga benefits really starts at birth.

Rawlinson provides a wonderful backdrop for teachers and parents to create their own fun and integrative yoga practice for the children in their lives.  But what if you are afraid of the chaos that could ensue after starting this undertaking? The author provides a great bit of sound advice, so now there is no reason to fail to introduce the children in your life to yoga!

Q. How do you bring focus back when kids get distracted in class?

A. The children sometimes get very boisterous and silly when doing some of the group activities and games, so it is important that I have an effective way of bringing them back to center and calm them, so they are ready for the next part of the class. I usually introduce chimes, a Tibetan singing bowl, or a special gong of some sort at the beginning of class. I ring it to let them know that they should come back to their mats, sit in their favorite sitting pose, and get ready to listen. They are generally wonderful at responding to this.

 

About the Author:
A graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Adrienne Rawlinson is a certified Montessori teacher and registered
yoga teacher. She studied yoga under Maureen Rae in Toronto and Erich Schiffmann in Chicago. Knowing that she wanted to
offer the gift of yoga to children, she put together her program, drawing from her yoga and Montessori teaching experience, and
she began offering afterschool and weekend workshops to children in her area. She currently teaches Montessori and yoga in
Oakville, Ontario.

I received no compensation for this post, the opinions expressed are my own, some material was provided by a third party.

Toxins in Your Environment May Effect Your Thyroid and Weight Loss, Learn More

I have long been a proponent for safe and sane weight loss.  I believe the research that a calorie deficit is required to lose weight which means you have to expend more calories than you put in, 3500 calorie deficit per week to lose a pound to be exact. However, in my decade in the fitness industry helping thousands of people stay healthy I have met individuals who, for some reason, no matter how much the exercise and how much they cut their calories, can not seem to lose weight.

This is one reason I was intrigued to receive, read and review THE THYROID SOLUTION DIET Boost Your Sluggish Metabolism to Lose Weight by Ridha Arem, MD. The opinions expressed about this book are my own,I received no compensation for this review.  You should always check with your medical professional before starting any health or fitness program.

For a book about dieting there was a large proportion of chapters dedicated to information, a ton of information, almost too much information.  There are some pretty long discussions about hormones, nothing so in depth that you need a degree to understand the concepts, they just were a little dry to read. That being said, I was impressed with the knowledge presented and I do enjoy expanding my mind.

THE THYROID SOLUTION DIET book includes:

· More than 50 recipes and meal plans

· A list of favorite foods to eat for weight loss that make this diet unique

· Detailed exercise programs with 100 step-by-step photos

· The 15 common causes of metabolic problems that lead to weight gain

· The hidden factors and toxins in your environment that lead to weight gain and how to eliminate them

· Techniques to control cravings

· Mind-body relaxation methods for counteracting stress and reasons why stress makes you gain weight

· Success stories from Dr. Arem’s patients

· Information on why organic foods do minimize damage to metabolism and are integral to a successful diet and optimal health—which contradicts recent studies that diminish the importance of organic foods

Who is Dr. Arem and why should you take note of what he has to say? Ridha Arem, M.D., is an endocrinologist, clinical professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and director of the Texas Thyroid Institute in Houston, Texas. He served as chief of endocrinology and metabolism at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston for many years. You can visit www.aremwellness.com for more information or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm2NlIc_XEo to watch a video of Dr. Arem.

What do I personally think of the diet? There were a few places in the book where certain foods were to be avoided because they cause a unwanted reaction “x” and then other sections where that same food were to be eaten because the caused a wanted reaction “y’”.  I always find these situations confusing and they never seem to be addressed by any authors.  A simple explanation of why and when you would eat them should suffice.  I am also not a big fan of diets offered in “Phases”. The weekly shopping list can help simplify meal planning for many and so can the 10 Tips for long-term weight loss which include “pay close attention to sleep and stress” two of the biggest hindrances to weight loss in my mind and experience.

There are photos of exercises but they are black and white and about 1 inch in size – I would suggest to those who are new to working out, overweight, or obese – do yourself a favor and meet with a trainer at least once to get some good tips and an honest eye to watch your form.  The exercises are really good ones but the Common Errors listed “starting out with a range of motion that is too deep” can be vague for someone new to lunges and unaware of what an appropriate range looks like.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is suggested, which I definitely agree with.  Zumba in the Circuit and Butts N Gutts are two classes that I teach that use this method of training and I can attest to the quick results clients have seen, and I myself have had after pregnancy.  “People who exercise in intense spurts have about a 15 percent higher resting metabolic rate” (meaning they burn more calories when they aren’t working out).

Here is a quick guide to jump start eliminating toxins in your environment from Dr. Paul Thompson. He is a nationally renowned surgeon, Age Management practitioner with the Cenegenics Medical Institute. He has helped patients around the country reverse diabetes, combat obesity, fights off genetic health risks, and has guided them to living longer and healthier lives. Dr. Thompson’s Tips (www.drthompsonstips.com / Twitter: @drthompsonstips).

Dr. Thompson says “we are bombarded with toxins every day, even though we think we are being healthy”. These toxins can affect endocrine systems resulting in children experiencing earlier puberty and irregular hormone levels, diabetes, depression, and thyroid in adults.

The most common sources of these neuro-endocrine toxins are:

· Plastics, including storage containers, wraps, can linings and water bottles

· Pesticides & fertilizers- which affects many of the foods you feed your family everyday.

· Common Cosmetics

· Common Cleaning products

Here are Dr. Thompson’s Tips to avoid these toxins to protect you and your family from A Toxic Takeover

1) Plastics: Avoid Them!

Whether it is plastic water bottles, wraps or food containers.

Use a water filtration system, it avoids the use of plastic water bottles and saves a bunch of money

Use glass food containers to store those leftovers.

2) GO Organic, Organic, Organic.

By going organic you can avoid the whole toxin trap. It may be a little more expensive on the front end but what is your health worth? You will SAVE MONEY in the long run in the healthcare you and your child will may need.

3) Cosmetics and cleaning products.

Look for the natural products. Companies realize this is becoming more and more important to the healthy and educated consumers so the products perform well and there are plenty on the market. Once again there is a bit more of a cost…but lots of visits to the doctor do as well.

4) Parents:   Stay Away from BPA!

Look for BPA and BPS free toys. These are often found in the plastics and are a potent Neuro endocrine toxin.

Dr. Thompson’s Final Prescription

Good luck, a little extra time and money spent selecting food, cleaning and storing products, and toys will keep your family happier and safer. But for many it is the transition that is the tough part. Once you do, your long term health will change as you age.

Further Bio

Dr. Thompson is currently the CMO and CEO of Cenegenics Texas Medical Institute in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. (www.Cengenicstexas.com ). He is a cofounder and board member of USMD a Medical Development Company. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons & the Chief of Surgery (20 years), Chief of Staff, and head of the Credential Committee at Southeast Missouri Hospital.