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When people find out I teach fitness classes, they often exclaim, “I wish I had time to exercise!” Parents often feel guilty about taking time to work out when we have so much to do between taking care of home, family and career. Fortunately, we have everything we need for a full-body workout right here at home.
This vlog begins a five-part series of exercises you can do on the stairs. One reason these moves are so great is that you only need a minute to do each one. This is doable between loads of laundry, picking up the living room or putting away groceries. If you have more time, spend more time, but even grabbing one minute of each of these moves a couple times a day will help you get strong, firm and healthy.
We start with lunges. This move targets butt & legs and burns a lot of calories. If you can keep it up for 20 minutes, you’ll gain cardiovascular benefits as well. Next time you pass by the stairs, take the opportunity to strengthen your legs and burn some calories.
Our Kid’s Yoga Pose Series ends with Snake Pose. This backbend feels great to kids and adults alike, but you need to follow good form to avoid compressing the discs in your spine. Many people immediately straighten their arms because the abdominal stretch feels so good, but then they experience sharp pain in the lower back. To do this pose correctly, follow these steps:
- Lie belly down, and place your hands beside your chest.
- Lift your kneecaps off the ground slightly.
- Pull your hands back towards your feet to create length in the front of the body.
- As you pull your hands back, shimmy side to side and slowly lift your chest off the ground.
- Come up as high as is comfortable without straightening your arms.
Snake Pose offers many benefits:
- improves posture
- increases spinal mobility
- stretches chest, lungs, shoulders and abdominals
- firms glutes and back muscles
- soothes digestive organs
Sitting at a desk at school most of the day can result in tight hip flexors and rounded shoulders. This can lead to poor posture, muscular imbalance and lower back pain. Luckily, Unicorn Pose is very effective in stretching the hip flexors along with the whole front of the body, and it’s fun for kids (and adults) to do. Try this pose once a day with your kids. If it bothers your back knee, try doing the pose on a thick blanket or towel.
Unicorn Pose offers many benefits:
- improves postures
- relieves back pain
- opens front of body
- develops focus
- increases balance
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 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:
- Sit on the floor, lean against your partner, and stretch your legs out in front of you.
- Cross one ankle above the opposite knee to make a Figure Four shape.
- If you can stretch further, pull the bottom leg into a bent position.
- Take turns gently pressing your back against your partner for a deeper stretch.
- 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.)
Whether you’re walking on an icy driveway or holding onto several objects while climbing stairs, you need good balance. But if you have a tough time of it, you’re not alone. Most of my yoga students and clients tell me that balancing postures are the most difficult. Try balancing right now. How was that? Harder than expected?
Because balance is so important to safety, I always include these postures in my classes, but you don’t have to attend a yoga class to develop your equilibrium. One minute of practice a day is all you need. So when your phone rings, stand up and hold the conversation on your toes or one leg. Next time you have to stand on your tiptoes to reach the highest shelf, dust the top of the refrigerator or decorate the tree, you’ll feel the difference.