BECOME ELASTIC! STRETCHING TIPS

310284_10150832345100515_319634631_n

Here are four key themes to integrate into your daily stretches to help your tissues stay open, springy and elasticated  – just as they love and deserve!

KEY POINTS

1) Keep stretches dynamic and not static 

Moving gently in and out of a stretch helps to keep the nervous system attentive to what changes are being made through the connective tissue. It can be dangerous, especially for athletes, to hold a stretch statically for more than 60 seconds, as the length-tension relationship of the muscle has changed, but the brain has no memory of it. It is therefore best to keep the stretch moving, or perform more repetitions that are held for a shorter length of time.

2) Never EVER stretch into pain, aim for 6/10 pain level

Any more than 6/10 and your muscles will contract through fear of tearing. When the muscle tissue is being pulled at an uncomfortable length it sends a message to the brain saying it’s in trouble, the brain then tells the muscle to contract and protect. So even though you’re feeling a stretch there is no lengthening happening – which basically means you’re wasting your time.

3) Breathe and relax into the stretch

At the beginning of an exhale there is a 1/4 of a second of nervous system inhibition –  in other words there is a moment at the start of the exhale where you can sink deeper into the stretch. Take a deep breath in, and on the long exhale relax deeper into the stretch – let go.

4) Keep focussed on what you’re trying to achieve

There are many scientific reasons why the brain must have a clear objective if it is to achieve any lasting results. Don’t forget how chemistry affects structure and interweaves with our emotions and state of mind – stretch with aggression while thinking about your workload and your muscles will never gain length or elasticity. Focus your mind into the area you’re wanting to open – notice how it feels and gently coax your nervous system into allowing the muscle tissues to release and find space. Be patient and gentle.

Other tips to help find space and elasticity during a workout:

  • Always warm up before you work out – about 5 mins or so of gentle jogging / running on the spot / brisk walking / star jumps / jumping rope. If you feel the need to stretch do a very mild version of each stretch or move through lengthened positions without holding them statically.
  • Warming up helps to increase your body temperature, gets your tissues and joints feeling  nice and fluid, and increases your range of movement so your muscles will stay safer during your more intense work out.
  • Always save your deep stretching for AFTER exercise and NEVER before – if you lengthen a muscle during a stretch then ask it to contract quickly under load you may end up causing yourself an injury.
  • Deep stretching brings better blood flow to your muscles and helps lubricate your joints by simulating more synovial fluid. It also helps remove lactic acid which builds up from the minor muscle tearing that happens while working out. Deep open-and-release work will also help flush your body with fresh blood and nutrients to help build new muscle fibres and get rid of old ones. This speeds up the recovery process and means your muscles won’t be as sore the following day.

(IMGS: Noah Wilcox)

PRE AND POST RUN TIPS & EXERCISES

 

IMG_7297

There are a lot of contradicting views regarding stretching out there, especially stretches associated with running. In my opinion, what will assist you most seriously, as always, is enjoying and connecting with what you’re trying to achieve. There is no point in making yourself run if you hate running and there is no point in racing through your stretches if you’re not paying attention to what you’re trying to feel and achieve during them.

In an ideal world, our bodies would be balanced and able to move easily and freely through movements because everything is correctly aligned, flexible and stable. However, the majority of us have dysfunction around our bodies: the muscles around our pelvis are weak due to the amount of time we spend sitting,  our feet are stiff and lack bounce from squashing them into shoes and pounding around on hard concrete pavements, our ribs are tight from not breathing fully…and so on. So this means we need to spend a little time un-doing our poor postural patterns, and re-learning how to move with ease.

Continue reading

TUNE IN TO WHAT EXERCISE SUITS YOU

IMG_9638

On my previous blog I illustrated the importance of cultivating a way of living that best connects you with your own individual needs. In this post I will outline three ways that help you choose what form of movement best serves you. The ultimate aim is that every day you can instantly tune in to yourself and hear what it is that your body really needs – rest, strength work, a long walk, an aerobic class, and so on.

TIP 1: WHAT IS YOUR INTENTION?

Whether you’ve worked this out or not, here it is – the motivation behind your chosen exercise has to come from a nourishing place. You cannot expect to feel truly content and have long-lasting results in life if you focus on working out to: lose weight / be different / escape thoughts / control your life, and so on. Because these motivations come from a place of fear and lack, you will always struggle and never feel truly satisfied. It is nature’s law to give you what you put out so watch your thoughts.

This is easily remedied!

Simply reframe and change your language. The aim beyond wanting to lose weight, be different and so on is surely to be happy, to feel good, to be content. So why not focus on these words and outcomes over those heavy, negative ones? This simple reframe of language comes from a place of love and abundance, and as such is a much easier long-term motivator.

So get really clear about why you want to move and use encouraging language. Day-to-day you might feel the need for different types of movement, so without judgement or ego make your decision based on what supports your intention.

TIP 2: WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO DO?

To actualise your intention you need to find what it is you love to do. No point saying you want to work out to be happy then make yourself go for an hour long run when you hate running!

So, sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, breathe. Ask yourself: “if I could be anywhere doing any exercise or movement practise, what would I choose? What kind if movement excites and motivates me?”

There is no one perfect movement practise that suits us all, we all have varied needs, just as there is no “one” way of eating, no ideal job, lifestyle, and so on. So opt out of what you think you should be doing and tune in to what it is you love to do – following what feels good will help you move towards the body, relationship, hobby, job that brings you most happiness.

Some things you could ask yourself when finding out what you most love… do you like being outdoors? Do you like taking risks? Are you someone who has steady energy and a lot of physical strength (favouring running, rowing, aerobics)? Are you someone who has bursts of energy but tires easily (favouring yoga, dancing, easy walking)? Do you like to break a sweat? Do you like to train in a hot or cold environment?

After pursuing what you love you should be left feeling invigorated and happy (certainly not utterly spent and in need of pain relief).

TIP 3: DIP INTO YOUR TOOL BOX REGULARLY

There are some fundamental movements that are always good to do as they act like a reset button for when you feel a little off-kilter or are struggling to connect with what it is you need.

RESET NO.1 – BREATHE

Spend at least one minute each day where you sit in a quiet place and pay attention to your breath. You can simply watch your breath or choose from one of the following guided breath patterns:

  • Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, pause for 1 count, exhale through your mouth for 4 counts. This is great for everything!
  • Before you eat, breathe slowly and calmly in and out through your nose – great for digestion
  • Breathe in and out through your mouth – great energy booster
  • Close off right nostril, inhale through left nostril. Pause. Close left nostril, release right nostril. Exhale through right nostril, inhale through right nostril. Pause. Close right nostril, breathe out left nostril. Repeat. Great to calm down.

RESET NO.2 – STRETCH

Stretching helps us find space in the body which chemically transfers into helping us find space and perspective in our minds. Think of stretching like a full body yawn, an internal massage for your organs and way to connect back to source. If you know what kind of stretches you love to do then go for it! If not, I have outlined below some of my favourite stretches. If you want to learn more about how to most productively find space in your body please read my previous blog Become Elastic here.

  • Get into your feet –  roll the souls of your feet on a tennis ball, sit on your heels, sit on the front of your feet. Find more foot opening tips here.
  • Standing roll downs – Start standing with your arms hanging losly by your sides, inhale fully and on your exhale scoop your belly gently back towards your spine, nod your chin towards your chest and begin to roll down through your spine until you are folded over looking towards your thighs or knees or feet (depending on your flexibility), your arms will hang loosely with your hands gently dropping towards the floor. The aim here is not to touch the floor with your hands but to simply hang and gently allow your tissues to stretch, relax and open. Relax your feet into the floor, bring your weight into your toes, soften your knees, relax your hips, neck, jaw and eyes. Stay here for 5 calm breaths. Take a full inhale and on your next exhale gently bend your knees deeper and tuck your bottom underneath you in order to rely on your legs to help you roll back up again vertebrae at a time unil you are back up to standing. Now turn your palms to face forward then take your arms up the sides of your body, hold your hands together above your head and gently sway your torsos from side to side stretching through your arms, side ribs and waistline. Release your arms down and stand still for 10 breaths.
  • Twist your spine to energise your system and cleanse your organs  – explained here

RESET NO.3 – MOVE QUICKLY!

Sometimes our nervous and lymphatic systems can becomes a bit sluggish or locked into fear and anxiety patterns that interfere with our natural healthy functioning. Our lymphatic system is the fluid system that runs throughout our body – seeking out, fighting off and detoxing any foreign bodies that may cause harm. Without movement this fluid becomes sluggish and less effective at battling off viruses, toxins and disease (imagine murky swamp water) – this can manifest in anything from cellulite, allergies,  fatigue, or hormonal imbalances. Because the lymphatic system runs linearly, when we bounce up and down it affects change in the fluid super effectively. As you move around quickly, imagine the “swamp water” getting diluted and flushed clean with fresh spring water.

  • Run on the spot as fast as you can for 20 seconds
  • Dance
  • Skip
  • Jump on a trampoline (more info here)
  • Stand and simply hake out your whole body!

BONUS TIP: GET OUT IN NATURE

Whenever I am feeling a little lost or out of tune with things I always trust in mother nature to pave the way to better health, happiness, vitality, strength and well-being. She is of course the reigning force which embraces and connects all life-cycles – humans, plants, animals, water, the sun, the moon, genetic expression, evolution, and so on. When we are all tuned and synchronized everything moves and thrives with the least amount of effort. Unfortunately modern lifestyles result in negative brain patterns then wreak havoc on a number of things including our ability to gauge what kind of exercise we should be taking and when. Sadly we have taken it to both extremes with people who train far too hard, fast and frequently, and people who sit all day and still fail to take the stairs on their way home.

This too is easily remedied by getting out in nature – take a slow walk around  your nearest park or green space taking in everything you can see, smell, hear, sense, touch, taste and so on.

THE BENEFITS OF BOUNCING

IMG_2351

Ever since I can remember I have loved jumping on trampolines – I’d spend hours flying up and down and trying my best to ‘double-bounce’ siblings. Little did I know at the time that this fun, dynamic movement was also super physically beneficial. As I’ll outline below, jumping / bouncing flushes stagnant liquid out of the body, strengthens bones, and improves posture, heart and lung capacity. I truly believe that nearly everyone can benefit from investing in a trampoline or mini-trampoline/rebounder. Old or young, fit or unfit, strong or weak a little bit of bouncing each day will bring health and well-being to so many of our systems.

THE BENEFITS OF BOUNCING:

Cleans the lymphatic system and boosts immunity

Our lymphatic system is the fluid system that runs throughout our body – seeking out, fighting off and detoxing any foreign bodies that may cause harm. Without movement this fluid becomes sluggish and less effective at battling off viruses, toxins and disease (imagine murky swamp water) – this can manifest in anything from cellulite, allergies,  fatigue, or hormonal imbalances. Because the lymphatic system runs linearly, when we bounce up and down it affects change in the fluid super effectively. As you jump, imagine the “swamp water” getting diluted and flushed clean with fresh spring water.

Strengthens bones 

As you travel down from your upwards bounce  there is an increase in ‘g-force’ (gravitational force), so when you land there’s a greater weight and impact that travels through your bones. This impact helps remineralise and strengthen your bones. The same principle is practiced by astronauts who use rebounders to help rebuild the bone density lost while being in space with zero gravity. Rebounder bouncing also helps build stability and flexibility around your joints, as landing on the elasticated surface limits any jarring and compression which is normally experienced when exercising on hard surfaces.

Improves muscle tone, posture and balance

It is impossible to bounce and not use your abdominal, leg, hip and thigh muscles. Because the rebounder creates an unstable environment we are forced to engage and challenge our deep skeletal and superficial muscles. This instability also stimulates the vestibule in the middle ear (responsible for balance) and is thus great for challenging nervous system function. While bouncing you’re working on reaction speed, core strength, posture, balance and control. It also requires a lot of concentration and focus – great brain gym!

Increases heart and lung capacity – improves cardio fitness!

This one is obvious, but often bouncing is so much fun you don’t actually realise that you’re out of breath! As you’re bouncing your heart is working harder to help circulate blood around at a greater rate and your lungs are pumping harder helping to feed cells with fresh oxygen so they have the energy to keep you going. All this extra blood and oxygen flow is also extremely beneficial in detoxing excess hormones and toxins stored in your body, but to also increase red bone marrow and stimulate tissue repair.

TIPS:

  • Wear loose clothing so you can really get everything jiggling and moving!
  • Go barefoot
  • Start slow but increase each session
  • Avoid eating or drinking an hour either side of bouncing (ideally eat afterwards as your metabolism will be increased so can deal more efficiently with what you’re eating)
  • Use it as a warm up, cool down or full work out
  • Try to keep your vision at eye line
  • Start with hands on hips then play with clapping hands above / behind your head

WORKOUTS

Beginner

  • Stand parallel and simply bounce up and down without taking your feet off the rebounder – keep knees soft and just connect with the up and down elastic nature of the rebounder’s material
  • Bounce for 3 minutes 3 times a week; increase the bouncing by one minute each week
  • Play with foot positioning – make feet wider /more narrow / shift the weight from side to side

Intermediate

  • Stand parallel and bounce up and down catching air each time you bounce
  • Bounce for 10 minutes 3 times a week increase the bouncing by one minute each week
  • Play with star jumps and jumping from one foot to the other

Advanced 

  • Stand parallel and jump high with little down time / then try slow deep jumps with a long down time
  • Bounce for 20 minutes 3 times a week
  • Play with kicking the legs out in front, to the sides and behind. Bounce on one foot

ROUTINE REMINDER!

tashabe10.jpg

The past few months have been a little crazy for me – buying and moving house, planning and executing various collaborations, studying, all on top of seeing my clients, has really threatened to impede on my daily routine. As expounded in this previous post, my routine centres around enabling my three most important daily habits – meditation, exercise and healthy eating – all of which play such an important role in keeping me grounded.

Your daily routine should be informed by, and in sync with, your short and long-term goals (outlined in this blog here). In spite of all the chaos going on, I made sure that each night I planned the following day’s routine. It’s important to stick to it as closely as you can, but also important to allow flexibility. Some days things might really get out of your hands and you’re not be able to meet goals exactly as planned, but adapt as best you can. Over the past few weeks I have meditated at different times throughout the day and in many different settings, I’ve taken a range of new exercise classes, and (as I’ve been without a kitchen) have discovered many new healthy places to eat around London – so there have been some upsides!

A daily routine is absolutely essential to:

  • Stay grounded, clear-headed and aligned with your goals
  • Creating good habits
  • Help get tasks done more efficiently and with less fuss
  • Give you the ability to measure progress and to see that success is achievable
  • Encourage commitment and perseverance
  • Providing a sense of security and familiarity

Of course you can create any type of routine that works for you, be it one that covers just the morning and/or evening, just your work day, the full day – whatever!

I am a fan of a good solid morning routine, as I find waking up early and aligning your biorhythms with the rhythms of nature can be a very powerful and uplifting experience. Racing against the clock from the moment the alarm sounds can be very jarring on your nervous system, and can set a pretty stressful tone for the day ahead.

____________________

Simple tips to help set up a morning routine:

  • Get to bed before by 11pm
  • Clear your bed and bedroom space of all electrical devices such as phones, laptops and televisions
  • Make your bedroom your sanctuary, a place that is relaxing, calm and inviting
  • Get really clear about your perfect way to wake up and start the day – what would you be doing, seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing…
  • Be aware that routine can change over time, just know that what you choose, you will mentally adhere and commit to

Morning routine ideas:

  • Meditate
  • Practise some breathing exercises
  • Mentally recite or write a list of everything you are grateful for
  • Make a to-do list
  • Work out what your peak working hours will be, and prioritize accordingly
  • Drink a large glass of warm water with lemon
  • Read
  • Stretch
  • Exercise
  • Sing
  • Shower
  • Oil pull

If you want more inspiration, check out this article that outlines the daily routines of some of the greatest minds in literature and science. It’s a fantastic read and hopefully another incentive to help motivate you into setting up your own self-fulfilling daily routine.

____________________

“How you begin your morning often sets the tone and your attitude for the day. It can also derail or direct your focus. If you remain committed to good morning work habits, you won’t fall prey to feeling unproductive and distracted at the end of the day or week.” – Lynn Taylor

PRIMAL MOVEMENT 3: LUNGE

Push, squat, pull, lunge, bend, twist and gait are all movements intrinsically encoded into our bodies and contribute to our overall health and well-being. They demand strength and control and we MUST keep performing them despite the many modern conveniences that have us avoiding them. Unfortunately most of us can no longer execute these movements in a healthy way due to tension patterns, weakness, old injuries, poor co-ordination and a host of other factors. So it is of utmost importance that you not only understand why these movements are so important but also how to perform them in a safe and effective manner. There is no point in just battling through blindly. Take time to read this post, put yourself in front of a mirror and use these images to guide you.

In this post I will illustrate the third primal movement pattern: LUNGE(Click here to read Part 1 – PUSH and  here for Part 2 – SQUAT)

LUNGING

Lunges are another essential movement pattern that contributed to our successful nomadic roaming and evolutionary dominance thousands of years ago. Lunges are fundamental to everyday movement – they directly improve the performance of walking, running and climbing. With the amount of time we spend sitting in modern life (which creates weakness, illness and low energy levels) the lunge is one of the most effective movements to restore flexibility and strength in our hips, thighs and lower back – so get up and get moving!

Lunges are great for the whole body but are particularly beneficial for the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abs and spine. Thus said they improve:

  • Posture
  • Metabolism
  • Control
  • Balance
  • Co-ordination
  • Symmetry between both sides of the body
  • Fat burning and muscle tone

HOW TO LUNGE

Start off simple with my first step below – static lunges. Move with mindful intention and attention: understand and allow your body to relearn how to lunge correctly. Once you have set the blueprint of a healthy lunge into your neuromuscular system then move onto the next steps.

_________________________________

KEEPING READING UNTIL THE END FOR THE ALIGNMENT CUES

STEP 1: Static lunge

Begin standing with your hands on your hips or loose beside your body, take a big step forward and hold.

Point both feet, knees, hips and shoulders straight ahead. Have your spine absolutely upright as if you were standing. Eyes looking straight ahead. This is your beginning position:

IMG_5778

Bend your back leg aiming your knee straight down to the floor, straighten up the back leg a bit, bend again to the floor. Repeat x10, then repeat with the other leg in front.

_________________________________

STEP 2: Walking lunges

Step one leg forward, bending both legs – push from the back foot and bring the back leg forward stepping straight into your next lunge. Repeat x10 on each side (you may need to walk around the room if you don’t have the space to walk in one long line)

_________________________________

STEP 3: Swing-through lunges

Stepping forward and backward lunges. Step one leg forward into a lunge, take that same leg backwards and bend into a lunge, take the same leg forward and bend into a lunge. Repeat x10 then swap sides.

_________________________________

STEP 4: Deep stretch lunges

Begin in a squat position with arms forward:

x19

Step one leg back, shooting the arms backwards and stretching the back leg. Bend the back leg and step it forward into the squat position again. Repeat alternating to each side x5.

x15

_________________________________

CUES:

  • Connect your front foot firmly to the floor but have slightly more weight in the heel.
  • Spread the toes of your back foot and press through the floor to help bring you up and down (step 1) or forward and back (steps 2-5).
  • Point your knees over your second or third toes – never ever let the knee knock inwards/point over the big toe.
  • If your knees feel uncomfortable make the angle of your front leg be 90 degrees / have your heel under your knee as opposed to your toes
  • Keep your head on top of and in line with your pelvis – whether you’re upright (step 1-4) or on a diagonal forward (step 5)
  • Draw your abs into your spine and draw your head up towards the sky.
  • Keep your collarbones wide and shoulders wide.
  • Find the opposition between pressing your feet to the floor vs drawing your head to the sky – this contrast will help to maintain healthy space around all joints while also building strength throughout your body.
  • As you move think of being light, fluid and elastic – never heavy footed or compressing / sitting into your joints
  • If you want an added challenge perform all steps while holding light hand weights then advance to heavier weights or kettle bells.

GET YOUR SLEEP ON

IMG_8714

This post has been a long time coming, as put simply, I really loved staying up late. Like most of us, I knew about the importance of a “good night’s sleep” but it never stopped my habit of coming alive at night, or my desire to squeeze a few more hours out of the day. After a firm chat with a good friend just over a year ago the verdict was in: I was balanced in all major areas except sleep – where I was majorly out of sync! So, it took a lot of motivation, but I decided to start researching and experimenting with my beloved late night sleep pattern.

For the past year or so I’ve played with the time of night I went to bed, how long I slept for, various rituals pre- and post-bedtime, and took note of the possible effects of various foods, drinks and supplements consumed that day in order to find the most affective approach to sleep. As my inner night-owl had feared, the number one most effective factor has been getting to bed early – i.e. before 11pm, every night. Not only did an early bedtime provide top quality sleep, but on waking I felt well-rested and clear-headed, which was followed by my most productive, energy-filled days. Two other factors which beautifully complement this are early morning meditations and avoiding caffeine post 1pm.

So I’m most happy to report I now LOVE getting to bed early as the way I feel when I do so just feels SO good – I promise you it really does all turn out well in the end!

_________

THE BACKGROUND INFO

Once again we are inextricably connected to nature:

We have evolved with the rhythms and patterns of day and night – we take our cues of when to wake and when to sleep by the rising and falling of the sun. These built-in self sustained patterns, or circadian rhythms are inextricably linked to our local environment.

In the morning when the light enters our eyes it signals to the brain that it’s time to wake up and to start preparing the body for action. Our brain then makes sure certain hormones and neurochemicals (such as cortisol) are produced so we have the energy, correct temperature and brain function to wake up and go about our days effectively and efficiently.

As the sun begins to drop and night closes in, our eyes register the low light which signals that we swap our wakeful chemistry for our restorative, sleep-inducing mix (such as melatonin). Around 9pm our pineal gland switches on and if the light continues to stay low melatonin leaks into our bloodstream inviting us to slow down and a prepare for sleep.

So why is sleep so important?

  • It is the only time when the brain is cleaned – during sleep spinal fluid is pumped around the brain acting like a dishwasher flushing out waste products
  • It helps us sync with nature’s cycles and biological rhythms
  • It keeps our own healing cycle pulses in check
  • It keeps us producing the correct repair hormones and regenerative chemicals that provide overall  physical, mental and emotional health and well-being
  • It regulates DNA repair
  • It builds healthy muscle and connective tissue
  • It stabilises moods and emotions
  • It helps maintain a healthy weight
  • It balances blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood lipid levels

_________

THE BEST SLEEP IS ALL ABOUT QUALITY NOT QUANTITY 

The most effective sleep occurs when you are deeply relaxed –  five hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep is far more healthful than 8 hours of wakeful, disturbed sleep.

If you can manage good quality sleep then you really only need 6.5 hours per night. However, if your sleep quality isn’t optimal then between 7 and 8 hours is preferred.

Unless you are convalescing or healing from an operation you should have no more than 8 hours – any more and the effects can be as detrimental as going with only 3 hours.

_________

HOW TO GET QUALITY SLEEP

  • Make sleep a priority and make a routine of it – get to bed before 11pm and sleep for 6.5 – 8 hours every day. Dave Aspery talks here about the importance of not missing the window between 10:45 and 11pm when you get tired: “… if you miss it, you get a cortisol-driven ‘second wind’ that lets you be productive until 2am, or keeps you awake until then”.
  • Get moving outdoors and soak up the daylight – tips here! Make sure each day you walk around outdoors for at least 30 minutes. Avoid sitting down for long durations whenever you can – a standing work station is ideal.
  • No vigorous exercise after dinner or close to bedtime – this will only excite your system when you’re meant to be winding down. Slow gentle stretches are a better option if you’re wanting to so something before bed.
  • Avoid alcohol before bed – or at the least stop drinking two hours before bed – despite all the old wives tales, alcohol may help you fall to sleep but it absolutely disrupts the quality of your sleep throughout the night.
  • Avoid caffeine after 1pm – drink coffee this way if you do like to have a cuppa
  • Avoid prescription sleeping pills – after long-term use these become even more of a problem in resuming a healthy sleep pattern
  • Let dinner be your biggest meal – eat protein, fats and vegetables. Avoid sugars and grains. Protein helps prepare your body to enter the sleep-cycle; fats help your body manufacture sleep hormones; and vegetables assist hormone production and removal of toxins that can impede sleep. Finish eating at least 2 hours before bed. Dinner ideas here.
  • Finish drinking any liquids 1 hour before bed – make your last drink a warm one
  • Have a bath or shower before bed – this not only helps to “wash the day away” but also raises your core temperature which triggers those sleepy and regenerative chemicals.
  • Stop using your computer, phone or watching TV 1 hour before bed and turn your lights down low – avoid LED lights, screens and bright lights to help tune in with the dark night light that is preparing you for sleep
  • Sleep in darkness – pull your curtains tightly closed, cover any night lights or clock radio screens
  • Sleep in a cool room – better to be too cool than hot in bed if you can!
  • Trouble drifting off? Try these sleep-inducing products before bed – organic grass-fed beef gelatin; coconut oil; fermented cod liver oil; Chamomile tea; MelatoninMagnesium spray

Create a luscious bed-time ritual: bed is a sacred place you want to be! 

  • Talk over your day with a partner/friend or write a journal – acknowledge and release any aspects of your day that upset you. Know you can rest peacefully after this as things will resolve as they should
  • Brew your favourite calming herbal tea while reading a good book/magazine, or listening to your favourite chilled out music
  • Take a bath with epsom/magnesium salts, or your favourite pure essential oils – lavender is a popular calming oil (avoid if you’re pregnant however)
  • Book in a massage or simply massage your own tense spots – rub your feet, massage your shoulders and neck. Here are some good upper back and neck stretches
  • Meditate or practise mindfulness or some calm breathing exercises

_________

Changing your sleeping patterns may seem daunting or even impossible, but I assure you that with a bit of initial discipline it quickly starts to feel natural, easy, and in fact quite exciting! Getting to bed earlier means rising earlier, allowing you quality time to slowly ease into each day physically, mentally and emotionally. I highly recommend an morning meditation which invites an even clearer, calmer, energised you who is less likely to reach for outside stimulants in excess (caffeine, sugar). I’ve also found that after an early start you feel so virtuous that those green smoothies and juices and exercise classes are all the more welcoming – the addictive healthy cycle has begun!

The better you take care of yourself the more you will be able to help yourself and others around you. After a good sleep you are more in tune with your true self and therefore have the capacity to hold more and receive more.

_________

STILL STRUGGLING?

If you are still struggling with your sleep after following all of the above tips then I highly recommend finding an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner to help release any emotional holding patterns that may be hindering your ability to heal and balance. Other successful natural techniques are acupuncture, reflexology and cranial osteopathy. As always I whole heartedly endorse natural treatments that work with your body to heal the root cause rather than act to plaster over.

Also check out these tips from Bulletproof Exec and Dr. Joseph Mercola

THE END. SLEEP WELL!

TUNE YOUR TRAINING: MOVE WITH MOTHER NATURE

IMG_4273

When I am feeling a little lost or out of tune with things I always trust in wise old mother nature to pave the way to better health, happiness, vitality, strength and well-being. She is of course the reigning force which embraces and connects all life cycles – humans, plants, animals, water, the sun, the moon, genetic expression, evolution, and so on. When we are all beautifully tuned and schynchronised everything moves and thrives with the least amount of effort. Unfortunately modern mankind confused sleeping and waking times and made poor non nourishing food choices. The resultant negative brain patterns then wreak havoc on a number of things including our ability to gauge what kind of exercise we should be taking and when. Sadly we have taken it to both extremes with people who train far too hard, fast and frequently, and people who sit all day and still fail to walk the escalators en route home.

It’s time to check in – is your exercise plan in sync with your hormonal cycle, the current season, your energy levels, emotional state, sleep patterns, as well as your eating patterns…? Below I have outlined a few of our main cycles to help get you back into mother natures arms.

__________________________

HORMONAL CYCLE which mimics the LUNA/MOON CYCLE

Men and post menopausal women still take note! as you too have hormonal and lunar influenced cycles, they’re just less pronounced.

Week 1: Follicular stage (menstruation has just ended)

Low levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone

Feeling energised

Workout: cardio / try something new

Week 2: Ovulatory phase (most fertile)

Spike in estrogen, testosterone and folicular stimulating hormone

Feeling really energised

Workout: strength training, high intensity/interval training

Week 3: Lutieal Phase (PMS)

Increase in progesteron, estrogen, testosterone in the first half of the week then all drop by the end of the week

Feeling slightly energised in the first half of the week, then decrease by the end of the week (two different feelings in one week)

Exercise: Yoga, Pilates, Gyrotonics – slow, deep, strong elasticated and focussed movements

Week 4: Menstruation

Low testosterone, estrogen and progesterone

Feeling low in energy, contemplative

Exercise: long gentle walks outdoors, gentle yoga, pilates and gyrotonic classes

__________________________

SEASONAL CYCLE which mimics our 24HR/ DAY CYCLE 

Season: Spring  

24hr cycle: it’s morning time! time to wake up and plan a new day! 

Spring is a time when energy rises from the earth, plants are growing upward and heat is rising.

During this season we can start to increase our outdoor activities with long spritely walks which may break into short spontaneous runs! Also add in some gentle dynamic movement classes – look up a primal movement class! or attend a flowing dance, Pilates, yoga or Gyrotonic class.

Season: Summer

24hr cycle: it’s the action part of our day! pay attention and get things done!

Summer is  a time for the sun to warm the the earth, for plants to flower and sprout and for energy to explode and uplift.

During this season we can be outdoors as much as possible! A lot of long distance walking and/or running interspersed with a few explosive interval or high intensity/weight training sessions.

Season: Autumn

24hr cycle: it’s time to cool down, slow our pace and contemplate the day

Autumn is a time for energy to return to the earth, to harvest and celebrate.

During this season we slow down a gear. Long, slow, gentle walks, runs, cycle rides outdoors. Iyenga yoga or choose a class that favours a lot of inward attention and focus.

Season: Winter 

24hr cycle: It’s time to rest! sleep and regenerate

Winter is the time for activity to go below ground level, all is a lot quieter and rested up above

During this season we take longer to warm up and we may feel tense from the cold so breath work becomes even more important when beginning your training. Short brisk walks outdoors and slow gentle runs with plenty of warm clothing layers. Choose classes that are paced evenly, are strong and build on intensity.

__________________________

All in all this post is an invitation to acknowledge the strong natural forces around you: to be aware of them and of how much they act like mirrors – we all have more influence on each others state of health and well-being than we realise!

LOVE YOUR FEET!

IMG_0497

How often do you consider, or even notice your feet? Maybe when they protest after being squashed into uncomfy shoes, or when you’ve been standing at a concert for a long time? Aside from these blaring incidents, most people totally neglect their feet, even though they are there for you always – feeling your way out of bed in the morning, and carrying you around throughout the day. I guarantee they don’t get half as much love as your face or hands… it’s time to give those feet some love!

From the moment you were born your feet have helped you navigate your way from the ground up to standing. It was the feedback you got through your feet that helped the baby you figure out how to roll from your back to your front, and it was your big toes that helped develop the essential communication between the arch of your feet, lower back and neck. Now you’re upright, your feet are your foundation – a ‘moving’ foundation that supports all the structures above – just considering the laws of physics it’s obvious why it’s so important that the feet be flexible, adjustable and strong. They also must be alert and sensitive to allow clear messaging to the brain and rest of the body about what is underfoot – a slippery surface/uneven surface/cold surface and so on…

As we well know, emotions are stored in the body’s tissues. Everything you have experienced in your life is felt through your whole body, they are not just memories in your brain. Think back to a memory when you were really embarrassed, or scared, or really super happy – I bet you have started to feel that emotion all over your body, and perhaps more concentrated in one part. The feet, like the knees, are said to carry the energy of your negative emotions. This is because the vibration of negative emotions is lower, heavier and more dense which causes these feelings to drop to the lowest points of your body. Inflammation here can show you’re nursing hurt feelings, while tension can show resentment. These characteristics aren’t something to fear but something to now be aware of so you can also help to work through and release as you go about your barefoot walking and new massaging techniques, which I will outline later on.

So what does the average adult do with their feet?

  • Shoves them into shoes that bind and restrict and reduce fluid flow throughout our system = blood and lymph stagnation, stiff joints and inelastic muscles.
  • Walks around on hard, unvarying surfaces = denying them the ability to explore their dexterity, potential for rolling, smooth and spring loaded movements
  • Sits them on the floor for the most of the day while staring at a screen = deactivating the nerve endings so dumbing down the communication to the rest of the body
  • Straps them into ‘high tech’ running shoes and runs on hard pavements or machines = impeding our natural gait by making us heel strike instead of forefoot strike (pushing off from the front of your foot makes use of our arch – our natural inbuilt spring). This shortens our Achilles tendons, calf muscles and puts undue pressure through the knees and spine

However: it’s not too late to show your feet some much love and affection!

  • GO BAREFOOT AT HOME  – allow your foot to spread and explore its full range of movement. This alone will help to mobilise and strengthen your whole body.
  • GO BAREFOOT OUTSIDE ON NATURAL TERRAIN  – having the soles of your feet make contact with the earth recharges the body with negatively charged free electrons. This is essentially earth energy which is crucial to the health of every cell in our body!
  • ALTERNATE YOUR SHOES  – so your feet don’t get sit in the same mould day in day out
  • SOAK YOUR FEET IN MAGNESIUM/EPSOM SALTS  – 100% natural muscle relaxant that also takes the acidity out of the body helping you feel way more chilled out, can also help with headaches, respiratory disorders, sluggish digestion and joint pain.
  • MASSAGE YOUR FEET  – with a tennis ball, or spiky massage ball, or with your own hands! Get to know your body and help it yourself! Doing this stimulates all sorts of important pressure points that respond to different parts of the body including organs, bones, muscles, nerves and so on. This is a key tenant of reflexology.


Some other useful exercises:

STRETCH YOUR FEET – alternate between 1 and 2 for 5 mins

1)  Sit on your heels with your toes pointing in the same direction as your nose – this stretches the sole of your feet and will help to open the back line of your body (the back of the legs, butt, spine and head)

2) Sit on your heels and the front of your feet so the toes are pointing backward – this stretches the front of the feet and will help open the front line of your body (front of the legs, belly, chest, neck and face)

USE YOUR FEET – our feet have amazing potential for movement, as much as our hands!

1) Pick things up with your feet – pencils, towels, clothes….

2) Point and flex your feet holding each one for 10 seconds

3) Spread your toes as far apart from each other as possible – try putting your fingers between your toes, right up close so webbing touches webbing!

4) Rise up and down on your toes for 1 minute each day

I promise that when you start moving and freeing up your feet, your whole body and state of being will feel and move in a healthier and happier way. It has taken a long time for your feet to be in the pattern they are now, so respect that good change takes time – go gently and slowly with these tips, and wait for the benefits to rise from the ground up!