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Meditation and Mindfulness – Why You Should Start

Meditation. When you hear the word, does it bring up imagery of tie-dye, long hair, and questionable hygiene?  How about cross-legged practitioners wearing flowing robes and chanting with eyes closed for hours on end.  This may be what comes to mind when you think of meditation, or what media has led you to believe, but there are plenty of reasons to change that perception.

Meditation is a practice that’s been around for thousands of years, and has been present in nearly every civilization around the world.  It has has substantial health benefits, and is something anyone can practice.  Scientists at Harvard studied the affects of meditation over a two week time frame, and found it to measurably increase the amount of grey matter in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is closely associated with learning and memory.

The Benefits of Regular Meditation and Mindfulness

In addition to improving the capacity for learning and memory, meditation has a whole host of benefits; they’re right at your fingertips.  It’s been known to decrease depression, pain, and stress.  Meditation benefits practitioners by instilling a greater sense of life satisfaction.  It fosters a peaceful and calm demeanor that’s noticeable throughout the day, and can help you with more control, presence, and awareness with all of your thoughts and emotions.

What is Meditation Anyways?

There are plenty of ways to go about it, but at the very core, meditation is the act of sitting calmly and quietly, clearing your mind, and focusing on your breathing.  When thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them, then slowly let them pass.  Some folks like to chant a mantra over and over to stay focused, others prefer to pay close attention to their breathing.  Some meditators sit cross legged on the floor, others sit comfortably on their beds or in their desk chairs.

The great news is there’s no right or wrong way to meditate, it’s a very personal and subjective experience.  There’s no need to worry about posture, position, or what you’re wearing.  Try to find a method that is enjoyable, and is easy to build into your schedule for the day.   

Start Small

small ladybug

Commit to dedicating just two minutes per day.  Within the first hour of waking in the morning is a great time to do it, and so is in the evening before bed.  How about right now.  Let’s silently meditate for two minutes together right this very moment.  Sit back in your chair so you’re in a comfortable position.  Take a few deep breaths, and let your eyes slowly close.  Focus on your breathing, and just contently sit in place for two minutes.  Do it now.  Breath in deeply through your nose, and out slowly through your mouth.  Count your breaths slowly up to ten, then count back down.  Pay attention to any aches and pains in your body, any signals that might be getting sent, signals that you may be ignoring in your day to day life.  Relax and clear your mind, and just sit contently in place.

Am I Doing it Right?  Don’t Worry!

One of the easiest pitfalls is when practitioners worry whether or not they’re meditating correctly.  Don’t get caught up in this trap, because there really is no right or wrong answer.  Just go through the motions, and focus on the process and the journey, rather than a specific outcome.  The benefits of meditation come through consistent practice over a longer time frame, so learn to appreciate the couple minutes of peace and calm.  Focus on your breathing, try to quiet the voices in your mind, and pay attention to how your body feels as you relax and meditate.

Come Back to Your Center

When you’re meditating, it’s inevitable that your mind will start to wander.  Learn to be aware of these tangential thoughts, and come back to your peace and calm.  Think of each time your mind starts to wander as a chance to practice self awareness.  Acknowledge the thoughts as they come up, then let them slowly pass.  Each time you are able to become aware of your wandering thoughts, and refocus on breathing and clearing your mind, it gives your brain more control and awareness.

ocean
Be the Observer of Your Thoughts

You are not your thoughts, you are merely the observer.  A metaphor that’s always helped me, is to think of your mind as a vast ocean.  Envision it as you meditate.  The ripples and waves on the top level of the water are your thoughts, but you go much deeper than that.  You are not your thoughts.  You are the vast body of water, that goes seemingly infinitely deep, and spans for miles and miles, farther than the eye can see.  Sometimes there’s a quiet peace and calm, and the water may be still as glass.  Other times, there may be a torrential downpour with tidal waves that could capsize an ocean freighter.  Quietly observe, and come back to your center each and every time.

Smile and Be Grateful for the Moments of Calm

smiling man

Whether you set an alarm each time you meditate, or you end your practice when it feels right, take a few moments to reflect on the experience.  Smile.  Breathe deeply.  Say something you’re grateful for, it can be big or small.  Today you woke up happy and healthy.  You have a community of family and loved one that care about you.  You dog was excited to see you in the morning.  There is so much to be grateful for all around us.  Meditation helps us focus on the blessings we have all around us, and helps us live with more appreciation and gratitude throughout the day.  Learn to appreciate the time that you dedicate for your practice, because it’s a time that’s truly yours, and will help your mind and body become more aware and present throughout your waking life.

Resources

There are tons of resources out there that can help you get started, or refine your practice and take it the next level.  A few of them which I personally recommend because I’ve used them consistently, are:

ZenHabits

Headspace

10 Motivational Tips For When the Weather Outside is Frightful

Our lovely fall weather seems to be wasting away quickly into plain ol’ yucky rain and pre-winter crud. There is a good reason bears and other creatures go into hibernation during this kind of weather. To help you not fall into hibernation mode and to make the most of even the dreariest weather, we have come up with some great motivational tips to stick with your fitness regimen in the months to come.

  • Getting up out of your warm flannel sheets can be a bear when the house is cold. Set your programmable thermostat to heat up the house 15 minutes before you wake up so that you can get up and get going with one less excuse to hold you back. If your thermostat isn’t programmable, investing in a new one is just a few dollars and could just be the thing to keep you going through the winter…in addition to the energy savings you will see!
  • Set out all of your workout clothes, water bottle, and gear the night before. Pack your gym bag, set up your yoga mat, dumbbells, kettle balls, or Bosu ball so everything is ready to go and calling your name.
  • Write up a variety of messages on colorful slips of paper with reminders of how good your feel after a workout, pics of yourself at your fitness best, motivational quotes, or the many health benefits of working out. Whatever you know are YOUR greatest reasons for working out, jot those down. In the morning, pull one slip out at random and surprise yourself with your “Workout Inspiration of the Day”
  • If it is the cold weather that is keeping you inside, have your coziest hoodie waiting to go in the dryer and warm it up just before leaving the house for the gym.
  • Re-create morning sunlight with a Wake-up-light to help set your inner clock to get moving even when it is still dark these winter mornings. Setting your body clock to get going these dark mornings is a huge help.
  • Plan your workout breakfast the night before so you are less likely to cast about for something to eat in the morning. When you start off your day in “healthy mode” you are more likely to continue it by not skipping out on your workout.
  • The night before, check out a few workout videos on YouTube for some fresh inspiration. Just one new idea is all it takes to get you excited to try it out the next morning.
  • Get a workout buddy. Even if some days your schedules prevent you from working out together, just agreeing to a text check in and knowing your partner will be counting on you to also check in, will keep you both going strong.
  • Set up a fresh, new workout music playlist so that the next day you have new tunes to get you jazzed.
  • Print up a pic of a great holiday outfit you will reward yourself with, that awesome new bike, or the entry form for that spring triathlon or Tough Mudder race you have been meaning to enter. Keeping your eyes on the goal (literally) can keep up your motivation and focus

Whatever floats your boat (especially for you kayakers); learn to adopt the tricks and motivational tips that keep you in the game and on top of your workouts these dark, cold months ahead. Let us know what motivational tricks work for you!

Featured photo credit Wikipedia Commons.

5 Ways Fitness Improves your Relationships

Unless you have been living under a rock, all the health benefits, disease fighting, and mental sharpness as reasons to stay fit are pretty clear to most of you.  Those are pretty motivating factors in themselves.  But just in case those are not quite enough, how about considering the ways that fitness improves your relationships.

  • Improves your sex life! A more fit body tends to make people feel sexier and gives increased confidence.  As we increase in our fitness, we are becoming more in tune with our bodies and more focused. Both of these benefits will help our ability for sexual arousal. We also have more energy, stamina flexibility, strength, and endurance.  We’ll let you connect the dots on those benefits and specifically how they improve your sex life 😉

  • Buddy system bonds together with friends: Team bonding is not just for pro athletes. Not only does having a workout partner help you to keep accountable and on track, opportunities to connect and talk, share in a friends’ life will deepen those friendships.
  • Playing with grandchildren: Studies have long confirmed that families that play together form deeper bonds and learn better communication. When you stay active and share in those activities with your grandchildren, it opens up opportunities to talk and listen, getting a deeper connection into their lives.  Your grandchildren will view you with different eyes when they see you venturing out and having fun in their world.
  • Staying active with your adult children keeps you relevant in their lives. Often times during your children’s high school and college years, they pull more into their social circles of their friends more than their families.  As your relationships with your adult children change, working out together can bring closeness and communication back into your relationships on a different level than when they were younger.  Simply going on walks or hikes and connecting is all it can take. Taking on a new, challenging activity together, like training for a cancer fund raising run can help you bond with common goals.
  • Fitness with your spouse improves your marriage: Beyond the benefits found in the bedroom, Opportunities to make time with each other in your busy week is crucial to a strong marriage, why not spend that time getting and staying healthy together? Teaming up to encourage each other will offer not only more opportunities to communicate, but deepen your connection on many levels.

Getting fit and healthy improves your physical, emotional, psychological outlook.  When your stress is reduced, all your relationships are affected in positive ways just because your view on things can be different due to reduction of stress in your life. Get fit, reduce stress, and relate better with all you come in contact with.

We would love to hear from you some ways that you have seen positive changes in your relationships due to fitness in your life.

Safely Intensify Your Workout Routine

You may have found yourself at a place in your workouts where you are not feeling as challenged as you once were, or perhaps you just want to turbo-charge things and see more results faster.  If this is the case, then increasing the intensity and method in your workouts is for you.  The trick is to intensify your workout routine safely so that you don’t risk injury that would side line you and defeat the whole purpose of increasing your workouts.

Combo Training: Combo training is when you combine an assortment of aerobic exercises and resistance training. This a very demanding form of intensity training and can lead to over training and/or injury, so use caution and even a personal trainer to coach you through until you gain a safe understanding of how to proceed.

You will perform a resistance training set and follow it with a short burst on moderate intensity aerobics for 30 seconds.  You then repeat for another two sets. For example, perform a set of squats, and then do a 30 second burst of burpees, and then back to a set of squats/burpees. This cycle should be done in three “sets” (squats/burpees as one set). Combo training really torches fat and whips you into great cardio conditioning quickly. Here is a sample You Tube workout to get you started.

Supersets: If you are weight training, one method to increase intensity and strength results is known as Super Sets.  A superset is when two exercises are completed in sequence without a break in between them.  It is important to pair up two agonist/antagonist muscle groups in the set pairs.  For example: quads/hamstrings or back/chest.  This technique will noticeably increase muscle strength and result in your ability to train at higher intensity levels.

You will be more efficient if you set up agonist/antagonist stations before you begin so that once starting, you can go from pair sets to the next station with only a 30 second rest in between.  Here is a great YouTube superset workout to get an idea of what is involved.

 

Photo source, Wikipedia Commons.

Photo source, Wikipedia Commons.

HIIT Training for runners: Runners who desire to increase both speed and endurance, do so with interval or HIIT training.  It is important to already have solid base of mileage as well as speed work before starting this type of training.

Run nearly full out for 10 to 60 seconds, followed by a rest/walk (or jog) period. The rest period should be one to four times the length of the high intensity burst.  Essentially, your rest period is just enough so that you are recovered to do the next repeat at the same speed with good form.  This challenges your cardio system to get stronger and pushes oxygenated blood through your body, making it available for you muscles. Be sure you are warmed up and flexible before starting these workouts.

This same idea of HIIT training can be applied to cyclists, rowers, and even hiking.

Mixing it up challenges your body and can jump start you out of that plateau or even boredom you may have hit in your workouts.  At the very least, you will find yourself in better conditioning! Do you have a tried-and-true method to intensify your workout routine safely? Please share it in the comments area below! We’d love to hear from you and share your experience with the Fit After Fifty community.

Happy training!

Personal Trainer vs. Independent Fitness Regimen

When starting a new fitness program or even going for a change in your current plan, oftentimes people wonder the benefits/drawbacks to doing a fitness regimen on your own. There really are pluses to both approaches, but it helps if you consider who you are, what motivates you, and where you have already been in your history of working out.

Before you decide if you would benefit from a personal trainer or an independent plan on your own, it is important to ask yourself some questions to determine the best fit for you.

Considerations:

  • Are you not a self starter and need a certain level of motivation that you have a hard time finding on your own?
  • Are finances a factor?
  • Is your schedule such that you can adhere to the schedule offered in a gym or with a private trainer?
  • Do you belong to a gym where personal training is either included in your membership or offered at a discounted rate for members?
  • Do you work well on your own, but want fresh, new idea and challenges that you typically don’t have the time to search for and implement?
  • Are you training for a specialized event (Tri, Iron man, Cross fit competition) and could benefit from a trainer with that specialization in their professional certification/experience?

If you answered yes to many of the questions above, then maybe a personal trainer is a good option for you at this time.  Keep in mind, people can rotate in and out of scheduled time with trainers and can employ them on a weekly basis, to even just once quarterly.  When I was working out with a trainer regularly, I contracted with her on a weekly basis with a specific event in mind.  Once I got through that event, I then continued with her once a quarter to shake up my routine and clean up any bad habits.

Some people know that meeting with a trainer once a week or month is needed to keep them on goal and moving forward.

Benefits of working with a trainer:

  • Certification and current training, especially in your area of focus (training for Triathlons, etc.)
  • Fresh ideas and approaches to get you out of that workout rut so you can continue to see results.
  • Motivation and accountability much like a coach to push your butt when you need to be pushed
  • A trainer who is an independent contractor can have the flexibility of schedule and location to meet you when and where it works best for the both of you.

Benefits of working out independently:

  • Set your schedule and workout locations as is best for you, no coordinating with another person’s calendar required.
  • Save considerably on costs paying for a trainer.
  • You are a self starter and love looking into new workout ideas and starting new plans on your own.
  • You have a specific event or training method in mind and it is difficult to find a trainer who is skilled and advanced enough for your needs. You can fit that bill yourself.

Regardless of whether you decide to work with a trainer or plan and execute your workouts on your own, the important thing is to find an approach that works for you and keeps you in the  game and active, living life with passion and health!

Which method do you find more effective for your fitness? VOTE on our Facebook page!

5 ways to age better than your father did

By Kia Zarezadeh, Sponsor contributor from HealthwaysFIT.com (Silver Sneakers)

Most of us grew up idolizing our fathers. It wasn’t just in our nature; Dad was stronger, smarter and had more know-how than we ever did. It might seem like sacrilege to suggest you  can live better than dad did. But one way to top pop is by living a longer and healthier life. Here’s five ways to age better than your father did…

Ditch diabetes

About 25 percent of Americans 60 or older live with type 2 diabetes, so there’s a good chance your father has or had diabetes. The good news is you can eliminate most risk factors by taking better care of your body. Most people with type 2 diabetes are obese, so aim to keep your body fat lower than dear old dad’s. Focus on eating nutritious, low-fat, minimally processed foods that are moderate in calories. This is especially important if you’re a woman: Weight gained after menopause can put you at even higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

Avoid arthritis

Like diabetes, arthritis carries a hereditary risk. But that doesn’t mean you have to grin and bear it like Dad. Rest, combined with a healthy weight and a nutritious diet, can help reduce the severity of arthritis symptoms. And, though it might sound contradictory to dad’s advice, exercise is great for reducing joint pain associated with arthritis. That’s because building muscles around your aching joints takes the pressure off those joints.

Photo source: Wikipedia Commons.

Photo source: Wikipedia Commons.

Take care of your ticker

Heart attacks unfortunately cost many of us a few extra years with our fathers. But heart health has come a long way in the past few decades. Now we know exercise and the types of food you eat can greatly reduce heart disease risk. When it comes to food, do better than dad and look for recipes designed to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. As for working that heart muscle into an invincible piston, try aerobic exercises that raise your heart rate while helping you burn fat.

Defeat dementia

Dementia is a bit trickier than other health problems that may have impacted your father as he aged. Not much is known about diseases like Alzheimer’s, but what we do know is leagues beyond the information available just a few decades ago. The latest research suggests everyday activities, such as walking, can help protect your memory. Of course, in addition to working your body, you should work your brain. From crossword puzzles to online games, people today intentionally are working their minds  stay sharp.

Prevent falls

How many times have you seen an accidental fall devastate the life of an otherwise strong and capable father? Of course, you can’t stop accidents from happening. But powerful core muscles and good balance can cut your chances of taking a spill. Plus, they actually can reduce the severity of injuries you suffer when you do fall. Recovery time is greatly improved in people with fitter bodies. And here’s something we’re pretty sure your dad never dreamed of doing to help prevent falls: video games. New research suggests video games can boost your balance, rejuvenate the brain and even lift your mood.

Starting to Exercise: Steps to Take After Years of Inactivity

Perhaps you found yourself here because now you are retired and have more time on your hands and you spent a few too many years on the career path without making time for good health and fitness practices.  Your family and doctor are all saying you need to make some changes. That time is now.

Are you hesitant to start this late in the game after years of relative inactivity? Many recent studies are showing that seniors who start exercising show improvements in all major physical areas and report an improved quality of life.  Not to mention that they are just having more fun!

Whatever the reason, we are glad you are here and we can help encourage you to a vibrant, healthy lifestyle. There are a few things to keep in mind to help you get a good start and not be sidelined with injuries.

Before you start First and foremost get a complete medical check up that includes blood pressure, cholesterol, joints and back evaluation if you have had pain in these areas. Your weight should be evaluated as well as a bone density scan if osteoporosis may be a concern, skin cancer screening, and a cardiac stress test. You and your doctor may not feel you need all of these, but this is a pretty comprehensive list.

If your doctor detects blood pressure or other heart issues, it may be helpful to get a heart rate monitor to help you to know how much you should or should not push yourself when first starting out.

Depending on what type of activities you plan to go for, make sure you have the right gear, especially shoes.  A poorly fitting shoe or one designed for running when you plan to play court sports can get you off to a painful start or worse, cause injuries.

Check out Silver Sneakers, the nation’s leading exercise program for active older adults. They offer access to more than 11,000 locations nationwide, guidance, encouragement and info to keep you exercising in the years to come.

The Sky is the limit! There are almost endless opportunities to choose from when deciding what to do to be more active.  You can join classes at a gym, join a hiking club, neighborhood walking groups or park and rec sports teams such as softball. Try out some new activities such as kayaking, stand up paddle board, and show shoeing.  Stop and think of the activities over the years that have caught your interest, but you have never tried.  Try one!  Or two, or ten!

Let’s get moving!  Now that you are cleared to go, keep the pressure off yourself and just get out and move.

Consider joining a gym for support and a source of certified instructors and classes to get you started. Many gyms offer senior discount rates as the aging population of boomers is rapidly growing. Personal trainers offer not only motivation, but are an excellent source for guidance in moves, safety, realistic goals.

Check into your local park and rec department for classes and activities that offer not only outlets for challenging yourself physically, but a community of people who are doing the same.

If you are not taking a class or joining a gym, start with some power walks at a pace that is a challenge for you, but won’t leave you in muscle pain and soreness for days after.

  • The American Heart Association recommends that inactive people gradually work up to exercising three to four times a week for 30-60 minutes at 50%-80 % of their maximal heart rate.
  • Increase your activity level gradually over the course of 6 weeks. 20% a week is a recommended.
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily life by taking the stairs instead of elevators, park in the farthest spot. Vacuum more often and do it vigorously! Shovel your own snow and mow your own lawn.
  • Learn good, basic stretching and practice daily whether you workout or not.

Regardless of what you choose, remind yourself that this has been a while.  It may take a bit for you and your body to get used to one another and challenging it to new and strange movements.  Be patient with yourself and remind yourself every day that you are making a difference.  Go for it!

Get Started, Get Fit, No More Roadblocks!

This generation of boomers is the fittest and most health conscious one to hit our 50’s, yet.  Because we are the first generation to hit this season with this level of fitness, we are also the only aging generation to be facing this second half of life with more health to experience the richness life has to offer.  As a result, we are also in a unique position to challenge and change society’s misconceptions of what it means to age.  Sometimes the misconceptions are our own roadblocks and we may need a little help in getting over them.  It starts with identifying your roadblocks to getting fit for 50+:

  • Feeling self conscious around younger, fitter people at the gym. Just remind yourself you are there and making a difference in your health today!
  • Feeling intimidated with gym equipment or classes not yet tried. Keep in mind this is a great opportunity to learn something new, which keeps your brain fit, as well.
  • The “some day” syndrome or better known as procrastination.  I will get to it some day. That day is now, GO FOR IT!!
  • “It takes a lot of hard work to change my fitness level”. It certainly does, but it is well worth it!
Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons.

Don’t let those or any other road blocks hold you back. Consider some of the following people who may inspire you in breaking down those roadblocks:

  • 100 year old Sid Cojac of Atlanta plays pickle ball twice a week and works out the other 5 days of the week.
  • Seniors are starting second careers as personal trainers. The percentage of people over age 55 attending a personal training conference sponsored by IDEA Health & Fitness Association, a worldwide organization of fitness professionals, more than doubled from 2004 to 2011 — up to nearly 11 percent from 5 percent.
  • 71 year old Annette Larkin of Florida has astounded people with her agelessness, looks 40 and credits raw food and a meatless diet with her amazing health.
  • Needing an adventure for her 60thbirthday, Ginny Benware of Portland quit her job and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.

If you are just getting started or contemplating getting started with a workout plan, keep it simple and manageable and focus on the four building blocks of fitness to get you over those roadblocks:

  • Breathe! Take just 30 minutes a day to participate in an activity that makes you breathe hard.  This increases your endurance and cardio levels.  It just has to be intense enough to raise your heart rate, but not so intense that you can’t hold a conversation while doing it.
  • Build muscles! Any kind of strength training with weights, exercise bands, kettle balls, or suspension training with your won body weight will build muscle. This also builds bone density and balance; all of which reduces your risk of falls.
  • Get Balanced!  Core fitness is a phrase all of us have heard about.  This popular fitness approach revolves around exercises that challenge your balance and core stability.  No gym is needed to do balance training activities. Brush your teeth standing on one leg, raising the other slowly and you will increase your balance and core stability.
  • Stretch and Flexibility!  As each year passes, we are all losing flexibility unless we are actively doing something about it.  Flexibility and balance are closely related.  Your balance is helped as you gain flexibility.  Regular stretching gives you more freedom of movement and reduces muscle soreness and possible injuries from exercise.

Once your fitness plan includes the four basics, the sky is the limit to what you want to do and where you want your new life of fitness to take you.

A Perspective on Yoga from Live Love Flow

By Jaime Scates Schmitz from LiveLoveFlowYoga.com

When Tony first asked me to do a piece for FitAfterFifty.com I was reticent: #1, I’m not 50 or even that close and #2, I cringe a bit whenever someone refers to me as a fitness guru . . . I am not.

In response to #1, I thought ‘What the heck do I know about being fit after fifty?’ And in response to #2, barring a car falling on my child, you will probably never see me lift a heavy thing.

I pushed through resistance item #1 when I thought of my amazing parents and my cute mom, who while still vital, attractive and lovely, is seeing her body wear down. Then I thought of my friend, student and current teacher-trainee, Nancy Richards, who at 64 moves like a 30-year-old in yoga, crushes it on the spin bike, hikes, bikes and skis. WOW. I’ll take that.

I pushed through resistance item #2 because I LOVE yoga (yes it’s a work out, but at its core it’s a spiritual practice of which the work-out is a tiny portion). I’m also happy to ride indoors to stay conditioned for mountain biking (my second greatest love behind yoga) and I believe all of the research about intense cardiovascular exercise increasing HGH, endorphins, serotonin etc. – I’ll take all of that because there’s nothing that I love more than feeling AMAZING.

As soon as Tony and I started the interview I knew it was a great idea. It was an opportunity to talk about my passions to a new audience.

Watch the interview here:

Yoga

Yoga is amazing for EVERYBODY. It’s especially amazing for bodies that want to age gracefully. In yoga, we move through our entire range of motion and all of our little accessory (rarely used) muscles. We also work tremendously hard on the core, which protects and lengthens the spine. Flexibility and balance are two of the first pieces of athleticism and health that people lose as they age, and yoga helps to improve those areas as well.

We spend a lot of time upside down in down-dog, forward-folds and inversions. These poses have amazing benefits to calming the parasympathetic nervous system and they are officially working against gravity – take that sagging skin! We do work incredibly hard, doing a lot of lunges, chattaranga pushups, side planks etc. We are using our own body weight to build bone density, which is another must for people over fifty!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Photo credit: Pixabay

So that’s just a tiny list of the health benefits of yoga. But my favorite thing about yoga in its ability to invite people to age gracefully is simply the fluidity and grace we introduce.

We hold so much tension and density in our bodies because it gives us the illusion of control. We also hold all of our pain, failure, drama and trauma as little energy nodules in the body called samskaras.

Everything in the universe, including humans, flows in an energetic pattern called a tube torus. When the tube torus is open and flowing freely we are clean, clear, bright, free and alive. In nature we can see examples of clean energy patterns flowing together. Nature balances, syncs, synergizes and coalesces with itself. We are intended to synergize in the same way and our tube torus is supposed to flow freely.

Sadly, due to all of the density, tension and samskaras we hold in our bodies (as well as a lot of external influences from the electromagnetic soup we swim in and the SAD – standard American diet) our energetic patterns are generally not flowing properly. We can see in the high rates of addiction that are currently in existence (I just read that while only 10 percent of Americans are truly addicted to alcohol, a full 30 percent are alcohol-dependent). Other examples include depression, numbing with the dumbing of American TV, the acceptance of hard-core violence and soft-core porn into our living rooms every night (not mine!), environmental degradation, poverty, famine, the sex trade of children, war, genetically modified food, disease etc. By all of these things, we see that we are clearly NOT syncing with nature in the way that was our birthright, in the way spirit intended for us.

In yoga, we move through our entire energetic sphere with grace and fluidity. When we do this with a burning desire to connect to consciousness, to cleanse our habits and our patterns, to free ourselves from our rigidity, to move higher, we just might make a little progress in that 60 – 75 minutes on our mats.

There’s something about moving with fluidity and grace, the way we do in yoga that also breaks down linear thinking. It helps us confuse the mind, move in a circle, play. Einstein said, “Confusion is the brink of discovery.” When we’re confused, doing something new, and pushing our edges we create new neural pathways (we’re pretty addicted to the ones we always use, and most of those stories aren’t so pleasant). So get a little lost, get a little confused, try something new, change your brain and explore that brink of discovery!

If we all work hard on cleaning up our own energy, elevating our own vibration, bringing ourselves into greater alignment and higher consciousness, then sooner or later that nasty list from above will start to shrink and lose it’s hold over humanity.

Vacation Fitness: Maintain Your Fitness Regimen on the Vacay!

You have been working hard during your workouts, making good choices with nutrition and work-life balance, and you have seen improvements in your health over the last year. But then vacation and summer months arrive… with that comes schedule changes, opportunities to eat out, celebrations and gatherings. All of that is good and important, but can oftentimes make it difficult to keep up your normal healthy routine. It takes some advance planning and determination to succeed, but you CAN go on vacay and keep your commitment to fitness alive with a vacation fitness regimen.

First of all, don’t just give up and tell yourself you will pick things up once vacation is over. The summer months can be a series of mini-vacations, and that can mean a couple of months of no workouts if you just throw in the towel. You have worked so hard to get to where you are and backward slides can be discouraging. Be realistic and accept that it may be difficult to maintain your regular routine; but promise yourself to allow for an “adjusted program”. As with most things worthwhile, it is a mindset.

Tour vacations can mean schedules from morning to evening, but there are ways to sneak in more activities than you think. Here are some tips to make your vacation successful from a fitness point of view, as well as the sight-seeing side of things:

  • Do some checking around online before leaving home. You may be surprised to find a wide variety of workout facilities beyond just the hotel’s bare bones treadmill. Many fitness clubs, studios, and even personal trainers offer special arrangements for out of town travelers. Local parks have jogging trails and some lakeside facilities offer stand up paddle board yoga!
  • Your home gym may have sister gyms in other cities and for a nominal fee, you can take advantage of the services.
  • Photo credit Flickr user mikebaird

    Photo credit Flickr user mikebaird

    Think like an adventurer! Make sure one or more days of your vacay include a bike, kayak, scuba, or surfboard rental. Consider trying a totally new physical sport or experience since livin’ it up is what vacation is all about.

  • Pack along resistance bands in your suitcase. You can get an amazing full body workout with these things! Add a killer ab session, a jump rope and you are covered!
  • Don’t forget your workout togs and shoe options. This way you have removed any reasons to avoid workouts.
  • Make a diversion! As you are seeing the sights, take the long way around, or get off the tour bus completely and do it on foot. Find the closest hills or stair climb and make that a part of your route.
  • Paddle in the pond! Most hotels have at least a small pool. Even if you are not on a beach vacation, take along your suit and get some laps in or a full body water workout.
  • YouTube-it! The sky is the limit with just about every type of workout video for you to follow along with in your hotel room.
  • Ditch the rollers. Roller suitcases, that is. Pack all your essentials in two cases and carry balanced weight to and from your flight, hotel room, etc. This makes for a great upper body workout in the same time you would spend in transit, anyway!
  • Pedometer-it! Get a pedometer and/or fitness tracker to keep yourself aware of steps and activity level. This awareness will likely cause you to choose more active options and make better meal choices.
  • It’s all in the family. If your vacation involves visiting family and friends, instead of always gathering over food and drink, make walking dates to catch up and get some movement at the same time. Even casual hikes at nearby scenic destinations will make your visit that much more treasured.

The options are endless and the change of pace may just make you adopt some of these as a part of your fitness plan even once you return from vacation-land. It’s not an obligation, but an opportunity for adventure!