Thinking about Thanksgiving prompted me to write this blog. I saved it to my computer, planning to post it online as soon as I got a chance. Then coincidentally I heard a radio interview with psychologist Robert Emmons, author of a book called Thanks. Emmons has spent years studying positive psychology, and in the interview he pointed out that gratitude is more than a tool for self-improvement. “Gratitude is a way of life,” he said, noting how being grateful can improve your health physically as well as mentally.
In my youth, I had terrible experiences with my shoulders separating and dislocating at various times during sports. I had my first reconstructive surgery at 18 years old on my right shoulder. This was the result of a year’s worth of extreme snowboarding accidents. Three years later, I was back on the operating table — this time for my left shoulder. After the second surgery, my upper body was extremely tight. Over the years, I had developed major issues with larger muscle groups in my upper body trying to overcompensate for the smaller, weaker muscles surrounding both of my shoulder joints. Even after months of physical therapy, I was worried I might have complications with my shoulders for the rest of my life.
Push-ups are a great all-over upper-body exercise. But they can be intimidating!
Doing push-ups on your knees is a perfectly appropriate modification for anyone who struggles with the move. These modified push-ups target the chest, shoulders, arms and core very well.
The yoga practice is a glorious dance of the physical possibilities in the human body. An advanced practice can take your breath away as easily as it can expand your ujjayi. It can twist and turn in directions that make an artist quiver with creative jealousy and inspire even the heaviest of sloths to entertain a change of mind.
That being said — it can also be intimidating as hell.
I learned, trained, teach and practice in Santa Monica, California. It is the mecca of yoga these days and the cream of the crop when it comes to beautiful practices. It’s hard to find a level 2-3 class that doesn’t have at least one yogi soaring through the air in-between asanas or adding what appears to be a level-X variation to every pose. It can often be inspiring and mind-blowing but it can also be, in a word, daunting.
My husband’s shoulder started hurting him a few months ago. At first it would come and go. Then it started aching and burning at night, so much that he couldn’t sleep on his side. I suggested lots of exercises to help strengthen his shoulder (which, to my dismay, he did not practice), and he regularly used his Yoga Tune Up® Balls for self-massage, but he was still in pain.
We live in a world that stresses convenience and instant gratification. The emphasis on protecting our health is declining as our waistbands expand. It can be difficult to lead a truly healthy life in these times of fast food and artificial sweeteners, but there are some ways we can strive to be truly healthy in the 21st century. Taking a big-picture perspective, here are the three basic elements to living a healthy life:
It’s not uncommon to hear people bemoan their inability to get to the gym, or more specifically, to get to their favorite group fitness class. Even worse, not making it to class means they probably won’t work out at all. But missing your regular class doesn’t mean you have to skip exercise altogether. You can get a great workout anytime, anywhere with the right workout plan in place. And it’s much simpler than you think to create one yourself!
If it weren’t for my dog, there would be many days I wouldn’t get outside. As my kids have grown into busy teenagers, it has gotten harder to convince them to walk with me due to their busy social lives. But my darling dog never denies my invite for exercise!
By The FIRM Master Instructor Annie Lee
Do you remember having to do the mile-run fitness test in school? Holy cow! I don’t know about you, but those were some of the worst times in my life. Not only did I hate the little-bitty PE shorts they gave you, but I also hated having to complete the test in front of everyone. I don’t know if it was because it was timed — or because I had those little shorts that would ride up with every step I took — or because I had to do it in front of everyone that made it all so traumatic for me, but it has taken me a long time to get over running that timed mile.
But at this point in my life I am finally over it and actually look forward to challenging myself. So, at the risk of sounding like my old PE teacher, let’s talk about how you can go about improving your mile time, whether you’re walking, jogging or running.
We all know the answer to this one: Because it will improve your cardiovascular fitness. When we set guidelines or goals for exercise, it helps us know where we are starting, what we need to do to improve, and how far we have come in the process. By challenging yourself, you feel good about what you have accomplished and you WILL get fitter!
Gaiam staffers have been smitten with Yuzen ever since the company started shipping its “boxes of Zen” earlier this year. (Not familiar with Yuzen? Read my review of it here.)