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Kids learn so much about us by what we take time to do. Do we show them how we appreciate and take care of our wonderful bodies? Spend just one minute a day on the floor with your child doing a yoga pose, and not only will you both will receive healthful benefits, but you’ll be setting a powerful example.

Here’s the second post in a series to help you and your child find more strength, flexibility, balance and focus. This week, we look at Slide, also known as Reverse Plank. When performed regularly, this posture offers many benefits:

    • increases strength in the back, glutes, hamstrings, calves and triceps
    • improves core strength
    • promotes discipline
    • develops balance and focus
    • opens and stretches chest and shoulders

 

If you’re looking for one simple move to increase your core strength, this is it. Boat Pose, a staple both in yoga and Pilates classes, is a great alternative to performing dozens of crunches which can be hard on the neck or planks which can stress the wrists. Do this posture with your child and try to maintain it for a minute, but listen to your back. If you feel any strain, bend your knees or lower both feet to the floor. This go-to core move has many benefits:

  • builds core strength
  • improves balance
  • develops focus
  • cultivates discipline

Finally, many people find this pose more comfortable when performed on a mat or blanket to cushion the tailbone. Give it a try!

If you’re frugal like I am, you’re always looking for ways to cut costs on household bills. We want to feed our families good, healthful meals, but organic food can be costly. Starting a garden is a great way to save money, but not everyone has the space. Fortunately, you can grow many vegetables indoors. Better yet, you can regrow them from organic veggies you already bought. Regrowing vegetables is incredibly easy and a wonderful project to undertake with your children.

In this video, I’ll show you some celery, scallions and romaine lettuce I’m regrowing. Here’s how:

  1. Slice off the vegetable base.
  2. Place the base in water in a transparent container where it will get sunlight. Don’t submerge it.
  3. Change the water at least every other day.
  4. After you see significant root growth in about 3-4 weeks, transfer to soil in a pot.

Good luck growing your indoor garden!

If your back aches after standing, you are among many who turn to pain relievers, muscles relaxers and other means to soothe tired muscles. Many back conditions require medical attention, but if your back just hurts, you can definitely ease that pain with stretches and exercise. Standing pelvic tilts not only stretch tight back muscles, they engage your core and develop abdominal strength at the same time. If you incorporate this one move into your daily home life, you will find relief from backaches. And you’ll look taller and slimmer in the process! Stand up and give this a try.

Do you find it hard to carve out time to get to the gym or take a class? You’re like many of us juggling work, home responsibilities, parenting and a myriad of other tasks. Fortunately, you do not need to leave your home to get a good workout. Body-weight only exercises are the rage. Not only are they challenging and effective, they can be done anywhere in the house. Even if you only have 5 minutes to spare while you’re cleaning, you can make it work with an intense, focused move like this Dip & Lift that targets your chest, arms, butt and hamstrings. Start off with a few, work your way up to 3 sets of 10 reps, and come summertime sleeveless weather, you’ll be glad you did.

The biggest complaint I hear from my yoga students is tight hips. Hours of driving, sitting behind a desk or lounging on the couch makes for shortened, overworked hip muscles. These muscles in turn pull on your pelvis and lower back causing aches, pains and stiffness. Fortunately, you can reverse the effects of tight hips with focused stretches. Although you can do this posture alone, when done with a partner or against  wall, Seated Pigeon pose is even more effective in loosening your hips and bringing relief to overly tight pelvic muscles:

  1. Sit on the floor, lean against your partner, and stretch your legs out in front of you.
  2. Cross one ankle above the opposite knee to make a Figure Four shape.
  3. If you can stretch further, pull the bottom leg into a bent position.
  4. Take turns gently pressing your back against your partner for a deeper stretch.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.

You will experience immediate relief in your hips after performing this pose. Get your children involved to prevent hip pain later and help them move freely.

Even though we may be happy about shopping for loved ones, it can still take a toll on your body. Standing in long lines, carrying heavy bags and navigating through crowds can result in tight shoulders, aching back and leg cramps. Grab a bench at the mall, and take one minute to unwind with these three stretches:

  • Shoulders: roll shoulders forward and up on an inhale, back and down on the exhale, then reverse.
  • Back: sit tall and bring one hand to the outside of the opposite knee. Inhale and lengthen the spine, exhale and twist. Repeat on the other side.
  • Hamstrings and Calves: Sit on the edge of the bench. Straighten one leg and flex the foot. On an exhale, come forward with a flat back. Tuck the chin as you inhale and roll back up. Repeat on the other leg.

Give these a try, and you might actually feel better after a shopping trip! (Sorry for the shaky video; Jenny got a little distracted while we were filming at the mall.)

During my years as a personal trainer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with all kinds of people. For the most part, they share two dilemmas: not knowing what exercises to do and not having enough time to do them. Fortunately, when you correctly perform the best exercises to meet your goal, it doesn’t take nearly as much time as you might think. I’ve chosen three movements to effectively work your core right on your kitchen chair. Work up to three sets of ten of each, then cycle through them again if you have the time.

  • Seated Elbow-to-Knee: works obliques
  • Bicycle: tones every muscle in the abdominal group
  • Pendulum: strengthens upper body in conjunction with abs and hip flexors

Next time you finish your morning coffee, push back from the table and give these a try!

Thanksgiving is a much-beloved holiday in our home. My guy likes to cook massive amounts for food for just the three of us, and his stuffing is legendary. This year, he is on standby, so the cooking falls to me. I’m up for the challenge, especially since I’m armed with a few good stretches to relieve back tension from standing at the stove. This standing forward bend will benefit you on many levels:

  • elongates spinal muscles
  • decompresses neck
  • stretches hamstrings
  • improves circulation
  • energizes

Take a minute for this stretch, and your body will also be thankful this holiday.

In our fast-paced lives, it can be hard to settle easily into sleep. Electronics stimulate the nervous system and keep our minds racing. Busy after-school schedules can prevent deep relaxation as we prepare for bed. Yoga can combat these challenges and prepare the body for restful sleep so needed for healthy children and adults in several ways:

  • Deep breathing: the yogic technique of focusing on breath helps the nervous system to relax.
  • Stretches: Knee/Chest Pose and Reclining One-Leg Twist stretch and unwind back, hip and abdominal muscles that work all day to maintain posture.
  • Restorative Poses: Reclining Cobbler’s Pose and Constructive Rest Pose relax and calm the entire body.

It only takes a few minutes to help your children unwind and get ready for deep, restful sleep, and it may start them on a life-long journey of wellness and good health.

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