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Monday, March 30, 2009

***New Class Time***

My open level STRETCH CLASS at the Park Slope Fitness Collective is now at 7pm instead of 6:30pm!!

Come this Thursday, April 2nd, @ 7pm to try out the new Stretch of the Month!!!

Stretch of the Month: Downward Facing Donkey

Downward Facing Donkey is a variation of the traditional yoga pose Downward Facing Dog. You get all the benefits of Downward Facing Dog, plus even more! You'll stretch the back of your legs, lengthen the muscles around the spine, and strengthen the shoulders and arms. This pose will also help combat depression, reduce headaches, relieve menstrual pain, and calm the nervous system. Proper alignment is essential in Downward Facing Donkey to achieve an additional stretch in the calf and achilles tendon.

-Start on all 4's with your shoulders over your wrists and hips directly over your knees. Tuck your toes, press down through the palms and lift your hips up to the ceiling to form a Downward Facing Dog (your body should form a triangle shape).
-Lift the right leg up so that it is parallel to the line of your torso. Extend energy through the right heel as if you were going to step on a wall behind you. Make sure to keep the right hip in line with the left (don't allow the hips to stack). Roll the right inner thigh up to the ceiling so that the right leg is internally rotating and the toes are pointing straight down to the floor.
-Bend at the right knee without changing the position of your hips. Now the sole of your foot will be facing up to the ceiling.
-Move the foot up toward the ceiling a few inches. Make sure to keep the right hip in line with the left and the right leg internally rotated.
-Send the left heel down toward the floor.

Modifications: "What if...?"

"My wrists hurt..." Press down through the index finger, thumb, and all 10 knuckles. You can also elevate the palms of the hands by placing them on a rolled up mat. Or try the pose from the forearms.

"My back in over-twisting..." Make sure your right hip is level with the left and the right leg is internally rotated. Support this position by engaging your abdominals and keeping your shoulders square.

"My left knee is hyper-extended..." Keep the left knee soft and slightly bent, while maintaining the lengthening from sit bone to heel.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Living RIGHT NOW! With A Buddha Body

As some of you know, death has been on my mind lately as a loved one of mine is in the process of dying. To help myself cope with this I have been reading books on spirituality, life, and death (I admit, I'm a self-help book junkie).

In his book, Mind of Clear Light Advice on Living Well and Dying Consciously, The Dalai Lama interprets, analyzes, and expands upon a poem that the Buddha wrote about death and dying. This week I read this quote:

"Understand that this body, which you sustain at any cost, will someday desert you."

I'm not trying to be morbid or suggest that we all become Buddhists, but after reading this I immediately felt differently about my body. Instead of being so critical of myself I felt like I wanted to be kind, generous, and show love to my body starting RIGHT NOW!

To me this quote raises the question, "If I were to lose my physical body tomorrow, how would I treat it today?"

I'm willing to bet you would chose to make it feel good. Your body feels and functions its best when you give it enough exercise with movement, strengthening, and stretching; when you allow your body sufficient rest and recuperation time; when you sustain it with healthful foods; and when you respect it via the mind and soul. Here are some examples/suggestions:

Sitting on the couch watching reality TV might be tempting, but how do you feel after an hour of channel surfing compared to an hour of hardcore personal training session or a relaxing stretch session? Just getting up and taking a walk around the block will help keep your body functioning for the rest of your life!

Comfort foods like ice cream, pasta, cookies & cakes, or anything you've ever restricted from your diet might be the first thing you want to eat when you give yourself 'permission' to indulge. Take a moment to examine and visualize how you really feel after you've eaten them...probably not as fulfilled and satisfied as you feel after you've eaten a balanced meal made from all whole foods!

Taking 5 minutes for meditation or getting an extra hour of sleep could be of more value to your body than cramming in a few more emails or checking your facebook every night. Tune in to the true needs of your body and allow yourself to rest when you need. Or treat yourself to a massage ;)

"I'm fat" or "I hate my thighs" could be the exact thoughts that are keeping you from your goals. What if you substituted those thoughts with "I love my body" or "I'm healthy and fit"? Your mind is powerful and pretty soon your body will adjust to align with your thoughts!

My intention is to uplift you with these thoughts and encourage you to engage in activities that make you feel great at this very moment. Feel Good Right Now!
The Dalai Lama...Buddha...regardless of your political/religious affiliations, you've got to admit these guys are awfully wise!

I'm interested to hear your feedback...make comments or email me your thoughts.