#YOGA with the wonderful Rachel from @TricoCentre

I love yoga.

‎”I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love.” ~ Gandhi 

Tonight I attended all level yoga class at Trico and as usual, it didn’t disappoint. My favourite instructor led us – Rachel. She’s incredibly patient, thorough and really takes the time to explain each pose so that people (like me) don’t injure themselves. Her encouragement never ceases and I can truthfully say I’ve never felt self-conscious or intimidated when she helps out.  She’s also ridiculously fit and always has good tips/advice.

We did some balancing and learned how to separate our toes to give us better posture. I can’t remember what she was calling it (I am terrible with yoga names) but basically you mentally envision your big toe moving away from your baby toe and finally (miraculously) some day it will happen (or so she says). I enjoyed tonights class because it wasn’t as vigorous as it sometimes can be and truth be told, I just didn’t have it in me (as I type this, my eyes are struggling to focus). Mind you, I do enjoy getting my sweat on at yoga, but tonight was not the night! I felt really strong when we did our chaturanga’s (which I did full ones). And in my research I learned about SUP Yoga – does anyone know anything about this? I guess it’s when you do Yoga on a paddle board. Check it out! 

Anyhow, I borrowed the below from Yoga Channel about spreading your toes – have a read, I feel like it’s going to help!

Why should you spread your toes?

  • Improved postural alignment; spreading your toes assists in lifting the arches of your feet. (To very briefly summarize,) this action lifts the ankle, the knee caps, and finally sends the energy upwards to properly support and symmetrically align the pelvis, spine, neck, and head. This is called pada bandha, one of the energy locks in yoga.
  • A smarter foundation; with “awakened” toes, they become smarter in detecting the subtle weight shifts in your body, thereby better abling to communicate to your brain and body in how to stabilize (Hello balancing postures!). And P.S. – Better communication also means less tripping over your feet/ ankle sprains (for you clumsy ones).

How do we spread our toes? 

  • Warm up by manually massaging your feet and wiggling your toes with your fingers. You can also roll your arches on a squash ball or tennis ball (or any ball really).
  • Use your fingers to separate the toes apart by placing them in between each one – this shows your unfamiliar brain what the action of abduction feels like. If you are really ambitious, you can also use toe separators.
  • In hero pose, lift your heels off the ground and hold for a nice stretch along the backs of your toes and feet.
  • Have a seat, extend your legs out in front of you and look at your toes. Look at each toe one at a time and attempt to abduct it. You’ll have to be patient – this will take a while to achieve. Doing this while watching TV, on your lap top, reading, etc may make it easier.
  • Standing tall, practice lifting your toes, and spreading them apart as wide as you can. Once again, take advantage of idle time (ie. Waiting for water to boil, food to be microwaved).
  • During your yoga practice, use mountain pose or equal standing pose to lift your toes, spread them wide, and set them on your mat.
  • Finally, you can incorporate this into other asanas – balancing, seated, even in arm balance. We could always use a little more pada bandha in our practice!

Another interesting fact is that you can actually BUY these things called “Yoga Toes” and they’re basically like the rubber things you use to separate your toes while putting nail polish on them. They basically train your toes to separate, without all the mental work. They run anywhere from $20 – 30 (so I’ve seen) OR you could just go to the drug store (as Rachel advised) and buy the toe separator from Sally Hansen.

Work your core muscles, stomach & back with plank: knee to elbow

You may have noticed that in my September 3 workout I didn’t include this gem (I forgot) but I generally do this every work out now and sometimes randomly through the day to wake myself up. Now, bare with me because I used Photobooth and iTunes to get this smashing home vid made (stop laughing). I know, I know the thermal glow is a bit much, but I like it! And realistically, the only explanations I could find were on Mens Health (literally a description, no pictures) and some skinny chick (like, please.) I wanted to show you that ANYONE can do this. And what is more fun than seeing it with a thermal glow? You must know by now that I like to do things differently?

So essentially, you go through your regular stretching; you can jump or step back onto the mat, get into plank position and go! The point is to keep your core straight with as minimal shifting as possible (with the exception of your knee to your elbow, duh). And that’s really it. Knee to elbow. Knee to elbow. Knee to elbow. I try to do it for 1 min straight, but I figured that after about 30 + seconds you get the point.

Warning: there is a ton of awesomeness in this exercise. You may sweat, but you’ll feel great.

Thanks for checking it out! And if you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it!

Stroller advice: how to entertain a toddler while you run

Anyone who knows me would say it’s karma. A child that is busy 24/7 and throws down temper tantrums more often than Naomi Campbell and Mel Gibson combined. However, knowing that I have a kid who would rather be busy and on the go, I make darn sure I’ve got the necessary supplies to endure our running adventures. Plus, I love how independent and dramatic my kid is!

Here are some things to keep in mind if you plan to run with a toddler:

  1. If your kid is prone to tantrums, make sure you don’t go just before nap or prior to meal time. Always try to organize runs around a well-rested and fed child. Trust me. Learned the hard way.
  2. Make sure you have plenty of snacks. Even if your toddler isn’t hungry, bring snacks along for the run. I know you shouldn’t encourage kids to play with their food but if s/he isn’t screaming, who cares?
  3. Bring toys. Think about this for a minute. We don’t go ANYWHERE without our phones, iPods, iPads etc., so imagine that you have to sit through the most boring 1-hour lecture of your life; maybe something along the lines of public health policy. Now, imagine you have to sit through it without some form of entertainment. EXACTLY!
  4. Engage your child throughout the run. Now, I’m definitely not saying you try to carry-on a conversation, but point things out along the way. “Wow – look at the pretty trees. What colour are the trees?” etc. Nothing is more boring than hanging out with someone who (a) pretends you aren’t there, and (b) won’t talk to you
  5. Keep your stroller activity to an hour or less. Seriously people. Your child is definitely not interested in running with you for longer than an hour. Let’s remember that at this young age, their attention span is that of a hummingbird.
  6. If you want to listen to music, put it on so you can both hear. In my case, I put my iPhone in the cup holder and crank the volume. Yeah, I know it’s a little disrespectful to the people around me but it’s better than being disrespectful to my little running buddy. Plus, I NEVER listen to 50 cent in mixed company!
  7. Make sure you praise them for good behaviour throughout the running adventure; and treating where appropriate.
  8. Finally, be respectful of their age and development. Your four/five year old does not want to be pushed around in a stroller anymore. They want to run WITH you.

Now, I can’t speak to #7 from experience, but I was at Sobey’s grocery shopping one day when a woman strolled in with what appeared to be a kid of AT LEAST six, maybe seven. He wanted to get out and walk; she wouldn’t let him. It was weird and creepy. At that point, I’m sure the kid could’ve kept up during the run anyway…

Anyway, hope this helps on your running journeys. It has helped me! Happy Trails!

Water is the driving force of all nature – Leonardo da Vinci

Yesterday I wrote a blog about running in the heat, so I thought I’d follow up by blogging about the importance of water and what it does for our bodies.We all know that water is the most important nutrient for your body; it makes up 3/4 of your total body weight and if we don’t get enough of it, we can get ourselves into trouble. So…

(From Mangosteen Natural Remedies)

What does water do?

Water helps maintain body temperature, carry nutrients, flushes toxins from vital organs, metabolize fats, aids in digestion and lubricates and cushions organs.

How much water should you drink a day?

The amount of water you need a day depends on a few things: where you live, your health and how active you are. However, the Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake of liquids for a healthy male is 3 litres (13 cups) of fluids per day. For a healthy woman, around 2.2 litres (9 cups).

What happens if you don’t drink enough water (or other fluids)?

If you don’t consume enough water, your body will pull fluids from other sources (including your own blood). It can cause closing of smaller vessels, thickening of blood, increase susceptibility to clotting and become harder to pump. This can all lead to hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease – YIKES!  Also, being dehydrated promotes the increase of body fat stores; it affects your ability to burn fat and can slow down your metabolism.

If you weren’t already aware, water can actually help you lose weight.

First, it has zero calories. Secondly, it’s a natural appetite suppressant. In some studies on mature adults, the results showed that they consumed less calories per day when they increased water intake.

Did you know that drinking water can prevent cramps, spasms and sprains?

That’s right. As noted before, water lubricates joints and muscles, lessoning your chances of cramps, spasms and sprains.

Having a difficult time in the bathroom?

Water helps with digestion and constipation. YAHOO!

Prone to headaches?

Drink more water. Most doctors will agree that if you’re experiencing headaches, before you reach for the Tylenol, reach for a glass of water. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, you may want to cut your consumption down.

Signs of Dehydration:

  1. Dark Urine
  2. Dry skin
  3. Headache
  4. Fatigue
  5. Thirst
  6. Hunger

Did you also know that if you drink too much of it, you can also have problems?

According to the Mayo Clinic, when your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, who drink large amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who eat an average American diet.

If you find it difficult to drink plenty of water a day, try adding lemon or cucumber.

  1. Adds flavour
  2. Adds silica, important nutrient for connective tissues
  3. Adds Vitamin C
  4. Adds Potassium

I have been drinking water with lemon and cucumber. I definitely find it a lot easier to consume more water  – give it a try!