Back to School!
It’s that time again! It’s a bit cooler, there’s that freshness to the air, and…are the leaves already turning? It’s back to school for our kids, back to school if we are teachers, and for some of us it’s also back to school taking a class or changing the direction of our lives. I’ve just celebrated the finish of year one of the Yoga Therapy program at LMU, and will be right back at it for year two in a few weeks. Even if you don’t have children, or aren’t a student or teacher yourself, you can sense the change in the atmosphere, as morning drivers are more hectic, as college towns fill up with parents and traffic. Stress levels go up and everyone is busy busy busy! How can you maintain calm, an exercise routine, and good health once everyone’s schedules fill up?
Plan ahead! Buy lots of healthy snacks to have on hand to grab while quickly out the door, some that can keep without refrigeration, like healthy bars, but also lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Always pack a bottle of water too, but please use refillable bottles so we don’t continue to pollute with millions of plastics!!
Be efficient! Shop once a week while doing other trips to save time and gas. Shop earlier in the day or late at night when stores are less crowded.
Keep up your exercise routine! Your body loves and deserves the healthy routine you’ve worked so hard to create. Make it a priority! Keep it up! On those busiest of days, park your car farther away, walk stairs instead of taking the elevator, combine your own workout with your dogs, combine reading that report or doing homework with the stationary bike. Keep workouts fun — they shouldn’t be an obligation! And make them shorter and more frequent if you need to in order to fit them into a busy schedule. Research studies show that 3 ten minute workouts during the day are every bit as beneficial as one 30-minute routine!
Make time for family fun! During chores, make time to stop off at a park and run around with a frisbee, walk the dog together, watch a movie broken up into shorter segments, or plan fun mini-vacations on the weekend!
Breathe, meditate, sleep, laugh, relax! Studies show that muscles need sleep and adequate rest to regenerate and strengthen. Same goes for our minds! Your concentration will be better if you get that extra ten minutes of sleep, find time to meditate daily, or just be still, quiet, consciously breathing for a moment each day. Research also tells us that laughter is one of the greatest medicines! So take time every day to laugh. And here’s something really funny: faking laughter is actually every bit as good as the real thing!
Spring Has Sprung
Is Your Garden Killing you?
I’ve been noticing that ever since the weather got a little nicer, clients are coming to classes complaining of sore backs, hamstrings, wrists and elbows from all their yard work. Weeding, squatting, hauling, you name it, is just kinda hard on a body, especially if the body hasn’t been doing this particular activity all winter. Now you might say, “But I’m fit, I go to yoga and pilates and work out at the gym!! Why am I still so sore???” Like anything else, gardening is a specific activity that uses specific muscles. If you’re not accustomed to doing this activity, you’re going to be a bit sore, or even injured if you go at it all weekend nonstop. Think about it, if you hadn’t run all winter and then suddenly went out to run a marathon, you’d feel it, wouldn’t you?
Suggestions? As soon as the weather turns nice, start going out to do your thing in your wild backyard for 15 to 30 minutes a day, then, after a week, increase to 30 to 60 minutes. By then, you’ll probably have a lot of your work already done and shouldn’t feel the soreness as much, because you gradually worked your way into it. By the time you’ve done an hour a day for a week, you could probably manage a two hour stint on Saturday. If you really can’t find the time to do a little during the weekdays, then be sure to take frequent breaks during those weekend warrior days. Stop every half hour to stretch and have some water. Also: why not make it a group activity and invite friends and family to do some of the heavy lifting with you. More bodies makes a job easier and more fun! Sound good? Go out and pull some weeds, and when you’re done, come over to my place and rake leaves!
Less is More
I sometimes think I can get more done at those times in my life when I’m super busy. But that usually only works up to a point before one feels overwhelmed with those to-do lists. Our work becomes habit, we go on auto-pilot, and when that happens, we become more prone to stress, illness, and injuries. How many times have you become injured or sick during your busiest season, or just before a vacation? Sound familiar? Our bodies have a way of giving us hints to slow down, and if we don’t listen, they will do something drastic to force us into a slower mode. So what’s a mindful person to do?
Well, if you do become ill or injured, try not to get too upset or angry about it. Take those deep breathes and do what you need to clear your schedule, take time for healing, get the appropriate medical attention and enjoy the time for rest and meditation.
To prevent injury or illness, renew yourself during busy times with yoga and exercise, outdoor hobbies, great nutrition, plenty of water, massages, alone time, and introspection. Even 5 minutes added to your daily routine can make such a difference. You might get one less thing accomplished from your to-do list but you’ll have better quality of life and enjoyment of all your activities: that is true health. Everyday, take a look at what your health needs are and always give yourself more time to slow down.
Slow Down and Less Becomes More!