HOW TO SIT WELL!

IMG_3377

I have written time and time again about how we have not yet evolved to cope with the demands of modern living. There simply hasn’t been sufficient time and evolutionary pressure for us to manage the radical changes we have made to our diet, movement patterns, stress responses and living environments in the last few hundred years.

It is sad that in the Western world we are made to sit at desks from the moment our schooling years begin. The scientific research supporting just how important movement is for children’s development alone is astounding. I believe it is the lack of movement that causes humans to age far too quickly and lose their gross and fine motor skills. Movement not only gives us confidence, but is also a form of creativity and expression – all of which are being stifled by the fear-based human need to create order and control.

WHY SITTING IS BAD FOR US

Continue reading

Advertisements

3 WAYS TO HELP HEAL BACK PAIN NATURALLY

IMG_8984

Back pain, particularly in the lower back, is one of the most common physical complaints. There are a number of factors specific to the individual, however there are some common threads running through each case that can be managed with my three-part protocol.

First and foremost it is important to recognise that your pain is there for a reason and is something that will not be remedied by long-term use of painkillers or other numbing agents. It is also important to note that most back pain is caused by muscle tension and imbalance rather than spinal problems. Thus, we need to bring awareness and understanding to the postural habits as well as emotional tensions that lie beneath the physical tension and be proactive in heeding our bodies needs.

____________________

THREE PART PROTOCOL

Continue reading

READING YOUR BODY’S POSTURE

tashabe25

I recently wrote an Instagram post about how being super physically flexible isn’t necessarily always a good thing. In it, I wanted to express how there is an absolute connection and continuity between your physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual and environmental worlds.

Bringing awareness to our posture or physicality can tell us a lot about our approach to life – the way we respond to stress or threats, what kind of company we keep, how our upbringing was, why we experience certain illnesses, what habits we have, and so on. Thus, decoding and making positive changes to our posture will help optimize our quality of life and ability to thrive.

CUES YOU CAN GLEAN FROM YOUR BODY:

Continue reading

FEELING WIRED OR ANXIOUS POST-EXERCISE?

12999473_10153420425556286_1449677120_o

Have you ever experienced post-work out panicking or an inability to wind down? Or have you ever connected the two? Unfortunately it can be one possible side effect of overworking your upper body or working with incorrect alignment.

Overstimulating your upper back and neck muscles, particularly for stressed people, can send the body into panic mode as these are the same muscles that activate when we sense danger. The brain takes this tension as an indication that you’re about to go into some kind of battle, and floods the body with stress chemicals such as adrenaline.

Increasing the blood flow, and thus relaxation around these tissues, helps reset the nervous system back into cruise-control by flooding the body with relaxation chemicals and endorphins.

Try the following to help keep you strong but calm:

Continue reading

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

THE GYROTONIC METHOD

IMG_1064

This is a piece I wrote for Nourished Journal Edition 2 December 2014 (Made Publishers)

What is the Gyrotonic expansion system?

The Gyrotonic expansion system is an exercise system whose movement principles are similar to yoga, dance, swimming and t’ai chi, but whose main inspiration comes from nature and living things. As such, the repertoire includes every range of movement you can imagine. Your body curves, arches, twists, spirals, undulates, circles, stretches, contracts, relaxes and is fluidly and rhythmically guided by the ever present breath. It feels incredible.

The Gyrotonic expansion system is made up of the Gyrokinesis method, where exercises are performed on a mat and chair only, and the Gyrotonic method where the exercises are performed on custom designed Gyrotonic equipment. Both methods were developed by Juliu Horvath, an ethnic Hungarian whose professional dance career left him with a series of debilitating injuries that he later healed through his movement practise. Thankfully he has gifted his knowledge with the world, helping people of all ages and abilities to fulfill their potential through using their bodies as nature intended.

The philosophy

For Juliu, life is movement – the more movement the more life is expressed, this belief is something I fiercely support. No matter what your situation you want to always breathe life into every cell of your body by tapping into whatever natural movement patterns you can express. Never push through pain or blocks but instead find space and move gently through. Having its roots steeped in nature means the Gyrotonic expansion system can easily access life-giving and healing movement potential. Exercises, for example, mimic how cats’ spines move as they stretch, how tigers run, how seaweed sways, how snakes ripple across the ground, and so on. Gyrotonic takes us away from controlled linear exercise modalities, that are often motivated by fear and control, and into a more holistic space whereby the body, mind and spirit are all aligned and given respect and nourishment.

My experience

As someone who does various forms of movement practice, I can highly recommend gyrotonic and gyrokinesis classes. The repertoire appeals to all manner of intrinsic and forgotten movement patterns, and the smooth gliding machines help facilitate this even more so. I leave a class feeling emotionally, mentally and physically cleansed and strengthened. A body that performs the Gyrotonic expansion system regularly is strong, flexible, agile, aware, able to react with speed and able to deeply relax.

What to expect from a Gyrotonic or Gyrokinesis class

Expect to move with fluidity, with focus on your breath whilst sitting / standing / lying on your front, back and side. You will explore how the spine moves by being guided to arch and curl, or ripple with a wave-like motion. You will feel how the arms and legs connect into this rhythm and how to move and coordinate your body as a whole.

The Gyrotonic expansion system is a complete system of exercising: it builds stamina, flexibility, strength, articulates all joints, gets your heart rate up and improves energy and fluid flow through the body. I promise you will love it.

MINDFUL EATING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

IMG_0432

Not only are the holidays a lovely time to celebrate and have a change of scenery, they also provide the opportunity to have a shift in gear. As I outlined in my previous post, this is a time of year when emotions run high, so it really is worth taking a moment to decide how you’d like things to unfold. Make sure you look after and nourish your body, as well as your mind along the way.

Looking after yourself does not mean you have to behave like a saint – what it means is avoiding any opportunities to beat yourself up, to feel guilty, anxious, unwell or regretful. Because so many people punish themselves by either over-indulging, or over-restricting during this period, I’ve dedicated this post to helping choose the best way to eat and drink for you.

SIX TIPS

1. Get clear about how and what you want to eat and drink, and if you want to consume alcohol or not. If you adhere to a specific diet for health reasons decide if you want to stick to it, or if you’re happy to deviate. Be honest and make these decisions from a place of love and compassion, rather than fear and control.

2. Commit to your intentions. Once you’re clear about what you want to consume, then commit to that decision. Associate good feelings with your decision and remind yourself of these regularly. If you decide to stick to your dietary needs then the next two points are key:

3. Research and take time to find out what’s on the menu, be it at someone’s house or at a restaurant.

4. Communicate your dietary requirements before the event – I spent years needlessly suffering for fear of upsetting people and being polite. If people make you feel uncomfortable about your needs that is definitely their problem. Do not make your decisions based on what will make other people happy, this will never turn out well – lies, pain, resentment and irritability will likely ensue. You owe it to yourself and to your host to communicate clearly what exactly it is you need so as to not upset any plans on the day.

My food choice suggestions:

  • Fill up on the vegetables and proteins. If you’re a meat eater choose meat close to the bone. Skip the gravy unless it’s gluten-free. If you’re wanting a sweet treat for dessert then choose fresh fruit, dark chocolate or cheese. If you opt to skip dessert then you can go straight to the coffee or green tea to help aid digestion and curb the sugar cravings
  • My beverage suggestions: drink a decent amount of still water with a squeeze of lemon before and after your meal. If you’re not drinking alcohol then honour your decision and stick to it! (any peer pressure to drink comes from insecurity and selfishness). Sparkling water, green tea or freshly brewed black coffee can be good options for a booze free buzz.

5. Avoid the post-booze blues by following my tips on this blog. The main points:

  • Never drink to forget, to hurt, to manipulate, to cope. It’s a better idea to take a sip after you’ve tuned in and found something to smile about and celebrate
  • Choose gluten and sugar-free drink options
  • Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink
  • Eat nutrient dense food before and after

6. Supplement to support your digestive, immune and detoxification systems. Here are my recommendations

Bonus tip: MOVE!

One of the best things we can do for our bodies is to MOVE. When we move we stimulate and pump the fluids around our body that manage, feed and clean our organs, muscles, skin, nerves, hormones and bones. However you are feeling, go for a walk, do a few stretches, put on your favourite music and dance! Choose whatever you most enjoy – sometimes that’s all you need to do to perk up.

To help you along your way here are 5 exercises to help beat the bloat!

And for a daily and weekly movement guide read more here.

__________________________

I hope these tips hold you in good stead over the holiday period. Please take note and put your needs first! Happy holidays! 🙂

 

Photo credit Matthew Valdr

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.

INSTANT MOOD-LIFTERS

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 2.50.04 AM

For whatever reason – be it a busy lifestyle, watching the news, running away from uncomfortable thoughts or having unhealthy relationships – we can lose our sense of who we are and what makes us truly feel good. Unfortunately it’s often tragedy or loss that shocks us into getting perspective on what really matters, but you can be proactive and tune in to your inner voice at any time. The best way to tune in and align is by putting yourself first – all good comes from feeding yourself first – once you do this then you can truly be of assistance to your loved ones and the world.

Below I have outlined three easy things to instantly lift your mood. Making an effort to do things that make you feel good will allow you to shift away from fear-based thoughts and patterns, and make it easier for you to realise that joy is your natural right and state of being. Scientific studies have widely proven that moving, smiling, focussed breathing and singing all stimulate endorphins and hormones associated with stress and anxiety reduction, feelings of pleasure, trust and connection. Test them out for yourself!

 

_____________________

ACTIONS!

  1.  STAR JUMPS
  2.  SMILING MEDITATION 
  3.  SING ALONG TO YOUR FAVOURITE TUNE

1. Start standing with your legs together and arms at your side:

Jump your legs apart and at the same time clap your hands above your head, then jump your legs back together while bringing your arms back down to your side. Repeat for one minute (or more of course if you fancy!)

WHY? Without movement there would be no life! I always recommend that everyone moves their body daily to the best of their ability, as without daily movement your vitality will diminish. Something as ‘sparky’ as star jumps helps push blood, lymph and oxygen around your body which not only stimulates the production of your feel-good chemistry, but also helps these delights be felt all the more quickly!

2. Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably:

Close your eyes and tune into your breath. Breathe in and out through your nose for one minute while either imagining, or actually tracing, a smile across your face and throughout your body. Visualise the smile beginning behind your eyes, then imagine the smile bringing light, warmth and joy to your whole body.

WHY? This one-minute smile meditation is simple yet quite affecting. How often do we smile for ourselves? This is you dedicating and gifting yourself all those lovely messages given out by a genuine smile. Smile at yourself, to yourself and for yourself. “Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself.” -Mantak Chia

3. Find your favourite place to listen to music then choose to sit, stand, or lie:

Take a few deep breaths then hit the play button and sing! (dance if the mood takes you!)

WHY? Singing is an extremely powerful tool in shifting energy and mood. Think of singing like an internal massage where musical vibrations are able to move through you and change your physical and emotional landscape. Even sound itself can be incredibly healing; this quote by Dr M Gaynor explains the power of sound beautifully: “If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes”.

_____________________

There are many other incredibly quick and simple ways to help us feel clear, grounded and aligned with our true selves. I hope these three help you out asap! Enjoy 🙂

‘You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection’ – Buddha