It's Monday's Move of the Day! Thanksgiving is over and it's time to remember where those core muscles are! No worries, in this 12 min. video I'm showing you several variations of this amazing core move, plus some insight into a successful practice! Lets get ready! GO!
We all have 20 minutes right? Well join me for a detailed instruction series in favor of table top. Get on all fours and experience gravity and your deep core muscles in yet another plane of motion. I just love combing Core Functional Fitness with the goodness of yoga in a new age anatomy functional way.
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Flat Back….But My Back Isn’t Flat….Or is It?
“Exhale flat back fold forward” or “wide arms flat back rise up” are common cure in the fitness industry and one deceptive and very misleading on many levels. A cue I teach all my teacher trainers not to use and for many reasons.
We don’t have a flat spine, and why would you ever imply such a possibility? Our spine is curvy, and has four curves to be exact; curves that have been strategically placed in our body for several viable reasons. First, being they help with impact, without them jumping and landing would kill our disc, vertebrae and giggle our head right off our bodies. They assist in shock absorption, ever jump on a bed, the springs allow the sock to be absorbed, now imagine a bed with nails and take jump, ouch is right.
The curves help our organs stack properly and create pockets for larger organs to sit and push other organs into position. Those much needed curves should be cued properly rather than ignorantly overlooked. Nothing against any form of exercise or any one training, but lack of real knowledge of the body and a mimicking of one teacher to the next on top of never really understanding the body, instead mirroring movements, leads us to cues like the one above. Another cue in disrespect to the spine which I hear quite often is “press your back into the floor”, like a loss of our lumbar curve isn’t already an issue, lack of proper back muscle and misuse of hip flexors, especially in core work needs more encouragement, stacked right on top of our eight to twelve hours a day we sit in ill supporting chairs, couches and even on fitness equipment, isn’t a cause for concern.
A quick review:
· We have 33 interlocking bones that make up the vertebrae, the top 24 are moveable and the lower nine are fused together.
· Our cervical column (or neck) has seven vertebrae (C1-C7), and the neck is unique because the top two vertebrae allow the head to nod, due to the fact that C1 and C2 are like a peg in a round hole, allowing the head to look in most all directions.
· The thoracic column in the mid torso/chest region, spanning 12 vertebrae (T1-T12), here the spine helps hold the rib cage in place to protect the heart and lungs, there is limited mobility for a very good reason here.
· Our lumbar region spans five vertebrae (L1-L5) and its main function is to bear weight, the vertebrae are larger in size allowing them to carry more weight and deal with heavier loads as needed.
· The main function of our 5 fused sacral bones called the sacrum, is to connect the spine to the iliac or hip bones, this is a fused area, and together the iliac and sacrum create one oscillating ring called the pelvis.
· Finally our coccyx, which is made up of four fused bones creating a place for ligaments and muscles to attach to, helping to create the pelvic floor.
· Keeping in mind that when our spine curves one way it then curves back the other to help support the body with gravity and every day movement’s.
So if you are a teacher and are reading this, ask yourself “why are you using such cues”? “What are you trying to imply or convey to your students”? What if simply by learning better cueing you could end the misleading guidance and offer more functionally based cueing? And then you say to me as you read this, “but my students get what I’m saying, or I don’t really mean flatten your spine”. So then why are you saying it? Why even suggest such a possibility, why not take a stand and educate your class and use cues that reinforce just that. The goal of every fitness class is to live a better life, is to feel better, number one hands down. But if it’s just uneducated cues, fun choreography and feel the burn moves, your students are not gaining much more than what they started with and among all of that the spine surely suffers.
So what do I do?
Learn neutral, from the ground up, start with the feet and learn proper placement of the pelvis, ribcage, shoulders, base of the skull, chin, and head.
Change your language, throw to the wolves cues like: flat back, navel to spine, press your back into the floor, straight spine; and trade them in for things: like elongate your spine, find or keep neutral, extend, make space in your vertebrae, honor the curves of your spine.
Try rolling down into forward fold or at a minimum making sure the deep pelvic-core is turned on and if your mind will allow it bend your knees so the back has a fighting chance.
Experiment with things like rolling up in the spine using your inner core power or what I like to call core pump, where the core is used like a trampoline and the spine can float up from the rebounding of the deep core.
Reflect on the poor postures of society and question if your teachings or practice is feeding into those issues, or helping to lessen them.
Learn about the spine, on a very basic level there is not much too it:
· 4 curves
· 33 vertebrae, broken into several sections: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, coccyx
· The disc are much like jelly donuts between each vertebrae that should not be abused continuously in only one direction, but rather brought to more space and moved in all directions mindfully.
· Just because our spine goes there doesn’t mean it belongs there. Many peoples alignment is skewed, meaning it’s out of balance, learn how to recognize these imbalances by observing people walk, stand, sit, and yes exercise.
· And once people learn neutral their ability to move in and out of neutral will be more balanced and supportive.
· When our spine is out of alignment the shock absorption abilities of it are reduced, and pain is most likely a result.
These tips are just a starting block to better spinal health and better spinal cueing for a lifelong success of health and happiness and you are only as healthy as your spine is (healthy, flexible, stable, supportive take your pick).
Get ready to heat up your core with step-by-step details on how to practice a better Chaturanga or Push-Up in no time! Feel like your up-down method to Chaturanga looks more like a wet spaghetti noodle thrown at a wall? You are not alone. Gain a better more core induced yoga practice in no time!
It has become apparent in my life over the past several months as too many things that I need to do. Well, that is maybe a not totally true statement; I have known for over a year or so of the next steps in my life, but have continually found myself drumming up reasons (well really they are excuses, right) as to why I should not do them. Why I should not put myself on the priority list and follow through, I have noticed, and it has become more and more apparent to me, that unless you change your thinking and change your ways of living they will never really change. Unless you step outside that little tiny box of yours (or mine), things will never go the direction you either intended or the direction they potentially could and better.
Knowing the next steps is both a wonderful, amazing and exciting thing as well as a frustrating, fearful hole of road blocks and no’s if you allow it to be like that and if you allow yourself to only see it that way; if you continually only see what is in front of you and not the bigger picture.
And in knowing the next steps to my life it has given me great vision and with that vision I have also realized that change must occur, you must let go of things and also let others help you more and trust others besides yourself.
We are missing out because we are juggling too many things. Don’t you agree? Isn’t that mostly all of us? We think that the more we do the more successful we are, that the more we take on the more money we will make, the more we keep everything under only our wing, the better off we will be.
This is my old thinking. I grew up with a wonderful father, he worked hard, did not have an easy life, and for what it’s worth now, he did the best he could. But as I got older I realized that he had many, many opportunities to be more successful, make more money and live an even better life, but he repeatedly chose not to, due to fear, having to let people in and taking a chance at something he may have to do different and learn something new and having to ask for help.
As an adult and almost 30 years old, with a business, a house, a husband, two kids, 20 chickens, three goats a barn cat and a dog, plus a community of people who trust, follow and believe in me; I several years ago refused to take on the attributes of my father. But in his defense, what I did take from him was his drive, determination, dedication, work ethic, and never-give-up and do it yourself attitude. However what I did change from those great attributes was that at some point you cannot do it all yourself, you need to let go and step back from something’s in order to allow other things in and other areas of your life to flow.
So I want to ask you the same question a wonderful person asked me about a year and a half ago and the same question I continually each week and quite possibly each day ask myself: “What do you need to let go of, what is now allowing you to use your time to the best of your ability and is that an area that others can do for you?”. Now no one is like you exactly, but they are probably a good match to compliment you to the best of their ability.
10 Vital Questions to Ask Yourself if You Really Want to Move Towards Success and the Bigger Picture:
1. What am I currently doing in my life to move me towards my big goals?
2. Is what I am doing right now hindering those big goals, deterring me from making real progress or is what I am doing moving me forward?
3. Is change present? Without change everything just stays the same.
4. Are you letting go? Letting go is not a bad thing, it is not a sign of something ending, but rather the beginning of something better.
5. Where do you need help? Where can you let someone in to help? You really can’t do it all and when you do you not only miss out on vital things in your life but you actually hinder your progress to the future.
6. Whose foot steps are you walking in? What I mean is whose patterns are you repeating that never worked, we typically become our parents, but you can choose to become the good qualities of your parents and harness the down falls and make them your power hitters, why because you know firsthand how they play out.
7. Drop the things that do not fuel your fire. Old thinking is doing things only for the money, just to pay the bills, and with the laws of attraction and abundance in place if you keep doing things that no longer bring you joy who will you ever attain your joy and your bigger picture.
8. Listen to your gut and others. Get clear with your vision and then consult the crap out of others. You don’t have to do everything they say but they see usually what you do not. It can’t hurt right?
9. Are you surrounding yourself with people that support you or drain you? This is a no brainer, and there is nothing worse than that (take it from me).
10. Finally, what does your big picture look like and what is your current map look like to get there? If you are too busy to map or dream this up than you are probably far too busy to get there, distracted by little things just continually getting you by.
Siting on the floor with our knees bent and the foam roller behind you, place your hands onto the foam roller slightly wider than shoulders width, finger tops facing you.
Inhale and lift your bottom off the floor and press your feet into the mat, big toes next to each other (do not sit on the outer edges of the feet).
Exhale draw upward on the pelvic floor and activate the inner thighs and glutes.
Lift your heart and keep your eye line forward.
Taking a nice rib cage inhale; exhale and bend the elbows allowing the foam roller to rock a bit.
Keep the elbows pulling together towards each other and do not let your seat drop (like a gym version of this)
The challenging part is to do the move with your elbows bending, not your hips hinging.
Breath Review: Inhale at reverse plank à Exhale to lower only as far as you can keep “reverse plank body” à Inhale hold and hover à Exhale and return back to center being mindful of using your torso or pelvic-core to return back to center.
Repeat 3-10, only doing as many as you can successfully practice each one.
For beginners focus on just holding Reverse Plank or even Reverse Table with knees bent, heels under hips.
Every day I do a Facebook post of the day and today the post turned into a much longer inspiration, enjoy my friends!
When we are faced with challenges we HAVE to remember that we are being fine tuned to a better version of ourselves, it's life trying to show us what needs to be addressed so that we can live a better life.
We all have stress, we all have loads of things on our plate, and we all make decisions each and every day, the question becomes are you going to finally stop making the same choices and start making different ones so the results you are getting will finally change.
Getting angry solves nothing, I repeat nothing (well maybe comforts the ego).
But stepping aside yourself and truly deciding to actually do some work, get out the duster an start addressing old issues, and resolving lingering concerns, you find that the freedoms: financially, socially, materially, and personally, and even spiritually may start to be resolved, or solutions begin to arise.
I look out around me and see many (myself included) banging at the same doors over and over again hoping for different results, and after a while you notice the patterns of them not getting what they want and the unwillingness to listen for guidance and help weather from you, a wise elder or even God.
We often think that we are working hard, doing all we can, but maybe we are working too hard in areas that are not necessary for us to work in, our efforts are actually being wasted. And what I have noticed is we often throw ourselves into projects as distractions from the situations that need real attention. We will ridicule others and their choices as we continually make poor ones as well.
I like to think to myself that if I knew so much better, and that my plan and process were so much better, that then I would not be in the predicament, or have the worry, fear, or anger I have right now then. Right?
So today I am inspired to pose to you the question "can you stop for a moment today and see what the real concern is"? "Can you take a moment and look out and look in and see that the only person that can make things better is you".
We can blame our boss, our spouse, our X-boyfriend, or X-wife, our lawyer, our banker, our babysitter, sister, mother, father, senator, governor, church, or even God for that matter. But how will putting all your energy into them help you? How will "they" really solve your problems without your support, with out you actually doing something? On a larger scale I believe this is part of America's problem today, and that those changes really do need to start with us.
Our attitude, our outlook, our beliefs, our efforts, our self-responsibility all come back to one very important thing. US....or....YOU!
Namaste my friends and be well and most important be yourself!
Join me for a new version of flex ion and extension, one that does not involve killing your spine and avoiding your tight hips. I welcome you to feel space, freedom and flexibility they way every body is intended too! And when we incorporate our deep core muscles it becomes a killer total body boost!
Here's the skinny!
-Plane of Motion: Sagittal
-Keep the pelvic floor strong
-Move from the hips not from the mid body, we do this when we do not have the transversus abdominis strength to stabilize.
-when moving forward draw the ribs up and in and keep the ASIS landmarks tipped up and in (this will keep you in neutral)
-When moving into extension make sure the hip socket of the back leg is leading not the mid belly, when the hips are tight we usually back bend only in the spine. This is not good; we will end up with too much compression in our vertebrae, wearing down the disc and joints. Shorten up the stride so the movement can be achieved.
-To have more assistance in the extension use the same arm as the back leg to rotate the hip forward when you back bend to help emphasize the hip leading forward and the spine will naturally follow.
-To have more assistance in the forward reach use the same arm as the front leg and draw your hip back as you reach forward, making sure you keep the front keep stable.
-Work with this movement up to 10 times on each side, go back and work the weaker or tighter side with the 2:1 ratio.
Greetings to all my yogi friends!
I always need to be in the right frame of mind when I write each monthly newsletter, and sometimes it takes me longer that others to “feel” what needs to be said, or what I would like to share at that time. Currently in my life I have been poised with much change and transition, something that the old me would have had a panic attach over the person I am now handles it much differently, especially in the last several months.
This current transitional state has allowed me to stay on my toes and not get comfortable, a state we often strive to attain, but my practice has taught me that “comfort” is cloud, a lack of clarity that we are in fact stuck again, repeating the same old patterns, just in a different color. So I ask you, where are you comfortable right now in life. Where are you just sitting around on easy street?
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a little TLC, a little comfort, but when it inhibits us from striving for our goals and becoming the best authentic version of ourselves, then, I see it as something that needs to be addressed.
Ever wonder why things in your life aren’t working out, why everything seems so difficult? Ever consider that maybe your words do not match your actions? That what you say you want are in fact only words and not acted out in real everyday life? Or maybe it’s all caught in your head swimming like a fish unable to be set free through right words and action?
I have gained great observation skills from my yoga practice and as being a teacher, and one thing I have observed is the need to explain ourselves, the excuses we have and the need for approval for our actions. Like somewhere along in the way into our adult lives, we have been taught that the choices we make need another’s stamp for approval in order for them to be good or right. Nevertheless, the interesting thing I have come to notice is we either need these approvals, or we have these little white lies, excuses and explanations when we do not in-fact trust that the choices we made were the best ones.
Take a moment and reflect on the past day so far, what have you spoken of truth and honesty? What have you taught but not spoken at all, have your actions matched your intentions? If not, then why? What’s the problem? And the old me would blame, blame, blame everyone and anyone under the sun, my parents, my partner, my friends, the weather, the community whatever was within reach, but the hard truth is most of what we need to change, accept, alter, forgive is usually within ourselves. We don’t trust because we lie, cheat and steal, not just things but others time, affection, trust. We struggle to forgive often because we have not been willing to accept forgiveness ourselves or have not yet forgiven ourselves. We struggle to love, be faithful or honesty because somewhere inside we have not yet done that to ourselves.
Don’t agree, that is just fine, but know this, we reject that which we cannot accept, we deny that which is most in need, and we get angered when we have in fact somewhere been hurt or mistreated or misunderstood.
So I want to ask you again, what are you pretending doesn’t need attention in your life, what is angering you or are you lying to yourself and others about, and what would happen if you brought a bit more rawness to your life, a bit more honesty, a bit more compassion, a bit more forgiveness and understanding?
So just for today, pick a few of these to work on each day and see what happens:
1. Wake up in a good mood, even if you are normally a cranky morning person (then maybe you need to go to bed earlier) smile right away and thank God or the Universe for all the gifts you have been given.
2. Take each moment as it comes, do not think too far ahead and just take things in this day as they come, knowing that it is only an allusion that you can control much of anything other than your actions and reactions.
3. Be yourself, have you been hiding behind others, not speaking up; let your voice be heard in a non-harming way?
4. No more lies, for just one day, or at least a few moments of your day, stop the show, the stories, the lies, the excuses, the ego boosting and just be as you are, what is the worst that could happen, people see the real you?
5. Take responsibility for your life in this moment. Have stuff hanging over your head? Well only you can change that, how are you spending your time, could it be spent better?
6. Listen more talk less, we all have a story and maybe today it’s not your turn to tell it, but rather to just listen. When is the last time you just listened without any personal motives?
7. Stop reacting and start acting, do people keep telling you the same things over and over? Well maybe it’s telling you something.
8. Not like what you see in others, check in to see if it’s really a mirror for yourself? And if it is, you know what to do.
9. Finally, reclaim yourself as a person of power for your life, speak highly of yourself and stop wasting so much time on things, people and situations that truly bring no value to your being. Now sure we all have thing we have to do in life but at least see the why and do it with a smile.
Remember we all have to start somewhere and it first starts with awareness!
I have had a few requests for more details on my one-armed side push-up that I feature in my Core Functional Fitness (TM) Pilates Style DVD. This video is in tribute to this move. Here I'm offering some warm-up moves to help you cultivate the proper balance of muscles along side our kicker move at the end.