Category Archives: sweat

training necessity: take a break

one of the best and most fulfilling feelings in the world is pushing, as hard as you can, to crush a physical goal – race training, competition preparation, whatever it may be. There’s just something so nice about seeing a very concrete goal, and working day-by-day towards it. That being said, one of the most important parts of training is knowing when to slow it down and take a break. Coming to you as the biggest former skeptic of the “rest day,” I’m here now to say that it is, without a doubt, one of the most crucial elements to your training, and even just to your living. I used to do literally everything I could think of to avoid complete and total rest, opting for “light training” days when my body felt fatigued… or even just not, and pushing through what I now see as my body’s desperate cry for a break. The idea of going a full 24 hours without doing something intensely physical seemed to simply not be an option. Little did I realize that, in addition to severely setting back my training with this mindset, I was also putting my body and mind at serious risk.

To understand the importance of rest days, it’s crucial to first understand what exactly is happening when we are working out. What we’re doing during a really hard workout is actually applying a stimulus to our bodies that is elevating our heart rate, breaking down our muscle fibers, and causing our adrenal gland to secrete adrenaline and cortisol – essentially, we’re telling out body that it’s going to need to get stronger to survive. The “getting fitter” part of working out actually comes after the work – while you’re eating (!) and resting post-workout, your body is working to repair tissue damage, strengthen the heart and muscles, restore all of the fuel you just used, and better circulate oxygen through your body. Post-workout recovery is when your body starts to become all-around stronger and more efficient. By engaging in this cycle regularly, little by little, you’re getting more muscular and more fit.

However, the problem comes when we keep stacking up these little changes consistently, without ever truly giving our bodies a chance to completely catch up to all of the work that we’ve been doing. Since post-workout recovery isn’t really true recovery as much as it is just giving our bodies the time and space to implement the changes that we just made, it doesn’t actually count as resting. As important as it is to maintain a regular schedule of activities and workouts, it is equally important to allow your body regular rest, so that it can keep up (healthily) with everything that you’re wanting it to do. The frequency and duration of your rest days is entirely dependent on what activities you’re regularly doing, but for people who engage in fairly intense physical training pretty frequently, maybe consider taking one day a week where you do nothing – actually nothing – intensely physical. Take a full 24 hours to get ample sleep, eat plenty of vegetables and lean proteins, and allow your body to completely recover.

Rest days might look a little different during training for a race – it’s recommended on almost every training plan that you should absolutely take one day off per week, to recover from the build-up and intensity of training. Optimal performance in an event, say a race, is actually achieved by allowing your training to peak a few weeks before your race, and then allowing the next two weeks for your body to shed any signs of the fatigue, so that you’re ready to perform at your absolute best when it counts. It takes a little bit of time for your body to completely get rid of all of the built up tension and fatigue that comes from training, which is a necessary process when you’re going to be asking it to perform maximally. During these slightly longer rest periods that proceed (and definitely follow) a race, you have an awesome opportunity to do a lot of yoga and pilates, which will supplement all of the strength and endurance work you’ve been putting in, and allow your body to strengthen and develop those tiny, crucial stabilizer muscles that usually get ignored in higher impact strength work. AND you also have a great chance to shake up your sweat – maybe you don’t want to be running max distance right before your big race, and you definitely won’t want to be right afterwards, so instead take the time to go hiking or paddleboarding, getting creative and unconventional with the way that you’re getting your endorphins.

However you want to tailor it to fit your lifestyle and sweat schedule, it’s so, so unbelievably crucial to be very mindful of scheduling in some days of savasana.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under sweat

yoga spotlight: dancer’s pose

or, as it’s more formally known, Lord of the Dance Pose. I mean, that just sounds graceful. Excuse me, while I slip causally into Lord of the Dance Pose. I feel much more balanced just typing that… but beyond sounding impressive, why is it that we love Dancer’s Pose so much? Part of the reason is that there is certainly an inherent grace built into the pose – you can’t just flop into Dancer, like you can with some yoga poses. The transition into Dancer is requires mindfulness and focus, and the nature of the pose demands a very precise level of balance. It is a physical form put to total balance – balance on the standing leg, but also balance between the two different outstretching sides of the body, balance in the core, and balance in the gaze, breath, and mind.

Physically, the pose offers some truly incredible benefits – it provides an intense stretch for the thighs, groin, and abdomen, as well as the shoulders, chest, and legs. It tones the thigh and calf muscles, while increases ankle strength and stretching your hip flexors. It is an incredible chest and lung opener, while also strengthening the back body. But most importantly, Dancer is a pose that calls upon a steady breath and steady balance. It is a pose that harmonizes every aspect of the body  and the mind.

A crucial element to maintaining Dancer’s Pose is to have strong and stretched hip adductors, the muscles in the inner groin and inner thighs. These are what help keep the pelvis steady and balanced in poses like this, and weak hip adductors can result in too much strain on the lower back. A great way to strengthen your hip adductors, and therefore get a more balanced and beautiful Dancer Pose is t0 fold regularly into Baddha Konasana, or Bound Angle Pose.

Suzie - PN

thanks to the lovely Suzie Blackman, the latest and greatest on the Winston-Salem yoga scene, for this beautiful Dancer’s Pose.

1 Comment

Filed under sweat

the low down on the low shoe

statisticians would have an absolute field day observing the evolution of fitness fads over the years – when we think back to the ’80s with its tight pink shorts and workout videos (hey – some of us still rock the tight pink shorts, Boogie style!) and contrast it to our modern day sweat, it’s pretty hilarious. But within those decades of growth and change, there are smaller trends that are more easily pinpointed as the result of a certain cultural event or experience, and the perfect example of this is minimalist running. Minimalist running shoes were around well before they started being produced in a full range of highlighter rainbows; however, with the 2009 drop of Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run,” minimalism became a buzzword in running, and simple quickly got a whole lot more complicated. Now, there are hundreds of different styles of minimalist running shoes, and as tends to be the case with any trend, not always enough education surrounding how to best use them – which, in this case, can lead to some pretty serious injury.

So, what is minimalist running? Minimalist running refers to running either barefoot, or nearly barefoot, with a running shoe that functions solely as protection from sharp objects on the ground. It is thought to both strengthen your legs and improve your stride, since the extreme padding and cushioning that has become so customary in running shoes these days does unquestionably alter the natural-born human running posture, and has been shown to encourage the ever-dreaded heel strike. Great in theory… so why does it seem that every other person you talk to has some devastating injury from their experience with minimalist running? Simple – there is a pretty high likelyhood that they either didn’t transition properly to this new style of shoe, or they maintained the exact same running posture and engagement in a zero padding shoe as they had in the heavily padded one. When the minimalist running trend hit, everyone and their run-loving mothers went out to the nearest shoe store and said defiantly “give me your most minimal shoe,” absolutely declining anything other than the lowest of the low, and instantly went home and pounded the pavement with these trendy new kicks… logging the exact same number of miles as they had been before the switch. Oops. Ouch.

These fleets of baby barefoot runners soon started getting all kinds of injuries – shin splits, IT band issues, hip pain. You name it, it happened. So why? Because, like with anything in the world, growth is a process. The transition from a lifetime in a heavily supportive shoe that has literally shaped the way that you run to something that offers you nothing other than protection from sharp objects is a huge one, and one that should be made in a slow, mindful, and well-educated way. Ideally, you would probably go from a heavily supportive shoe to a lower drop, but not quite barefoot shoe (low drop simply means that there is a smaller “drop” distance between the height of the heel and the height of the toe), and spend some time training in that before switching all the way to a no-drop barefoot shoe. Understandably, many people don’t want to fork out the cash required for a multi-shoe transition, in which case you should just be extra, extra mindful of a slow posture and strength transition. Modern day running shoes make it much easier to run lazy – bad posture, core not engaged, little to no attention given to the way that the foot is striking the ground. Minimalist shoes don’t  allow for these leisures, so give your body time to adjust. Even if you’re a happy marathoner, dial it wayyy down to one or two miles a day, until you really get used to all of the new muscles you’re using. Walk around barefoot when possible (so summer is an awesome time to start on this transition), which will strengthen your feet and make for a much easier shift, since most runners actually have surprisingly weak feet. Here is an awesome breakdown of the detailed process of switching between these two different styles of shoes, and I would also recommend doing a little bit more research on it before you dive in. It’s a wonderful transition to make, but like with anything, the more you know the better.

Now that you know how to have a proper and pain-free transition into a minimalist running shoe, there is still the question of “why?” Why would you make this transition, especially when it is so much easier (and cheaper) to stick with what you know? Is it necessary? The answer to that is:  it’s totally up to you. Obviously, it’s not necessary at all. There are benefits to any kind of running shoe – stability, low-drop, minimal, or anything in between. The distinct benefits of a minimalist running shoe are that it offers increased strength, flexibility, and a more refined technique. Strength-wise, running with a less padded shoe will force your body to compensate for that loss of padding by developing even stronger legs, feet, and even core – which is awesome, as long as you honor the six-eight week transition period your body needs to build up that strength. Flexibility is increased because to run in this type of shoe, your body will need to develop much better ankle and calf mobility, which will be helpful for pretty much any athletic endeavor that you pursue… yoga balances, anyone? Finally, with regards to technique, minimalist running discourages heel-striking, since there is no padding to encourage the heel towards the ground before the middle of the foot, which can definitely help in long-term injury prevention. It will also encourage you towards a more aligned and upright style of running, which will be much less painful and much more efficient in the long run. That being said, a lot of these benefits are ones that I have found in a low drop, but not minimalist, shoe – so, it really has a lot more to do with the level of awareness you have surrounding your run than it does with your preferred style of shoe. But, now that you have a little bit more information under your belt, consider giving minimalist running a try!

IMG_3812

Leave a comment

Filed under sweat

adventures off the mat: yoga & stress

it’s too easy to contain yoga to a yoga studio – this is what I do on my mat. This is how I breath on my mat. This is who I am, how I am, what I believe, on my mat. But there’s so, so much more – the asanas and the studio time are only the very surface of a yoga practice, and in a lot of modern yoga culture, there is not nearly enough focus given to yoga off the mat. To using your breathing, that gentle, powerful ujjai breath in your daily life, to bringing that flow and awareness to everything that you do. Recently, in an incredibly stressful situation, I recognized that everything is yoga. Everything can be yoga. If we can just bring that mindfulness, that awareness, that breath and that power to our every day lives, we can truly live a yoga practice. I can think of nothing more powerful. So, here are a few ways that I found to breath yoga into my stress, and to truly bring my practice to life.

1. First of all, recognize that, just like in your yoga practice, everything that is present in your world right now is a result of choice. Just like you have the choice, always, to skip a vinyasa, or to step out of a challenging pose, you also have the choice to remove yourself from whatever is causing you stress. No matter how persistently you would argue that, no, in this case, there really is no choice, yes – there is always choice. If work is what’s stressing you out, remember that YOU are choosing to make that deadline, or even to show up at all. Yes, that choice is resulting in the status of your employment… but recognize that staying employed is also your choice. It truly is all up to you – and how freeing is that? Just as you could arrive on your mat and simply spend the entire practice in savasana, so you can also chose to step away or be absent from any elements of your life. So, step one is to recognize each element as a choice, and take a moment to decide if it is truly a choice you want to be making. Remember that, like poses, some choices are hard, or even uncomfortable. But you make them, because you love yourself, you love your body, and you love the world. So, once you’ve decided to grow to fullness within those choices you make, you can move on to another element of yoga:

2. Your breathing. Maintaining that calm, steady, deep, and full breath is just as important in your daily life as it is in your yoga practice, and even more important in moments of high stress. So much anxiety and worry could be easily avoided if we just took an extra moment to focus on our breathing, to really balance that deep, full in-breath, and completely clear ourselves with an even, measured out-breath. It’s amazing, what space will open up in your life with no effort except to simply center yourself in your breathing. And just as you try to send breath to the areas of your body that are tense or hurting in a pose, send your breath to your stress. Breath in peace, balance, stillness, and certainty that you are enough. Breath out doubt, worry, uncertainty, exhaling them completely and resting in what remains – you.

3. Once your breathing is centered, turn your attention to your balance. This is a huge element of yoga, both on and off the mat, and while a large part of maintaining balance is breath, there is also so much strength and presence required in a balancing pose, and in a balanced life. Just as you can’t stay in a challenging balance if your mind is anywhere external to your practice, and you really can’t maintain that posture with integrity if you don’t have a fixed, strong focus, so it is with a balanced life. I find that, a lot of the times that I’m the most stressed, it’s simply because I’m actually very absent from what’s going on. I’m not grounded, not rooted, I’m simply letting my body and mind react negatively to vague, undefined stressors, instead of taking that moment to truly get rooted within myself, identify the exact nature of the situation, and focus my gaze with stillness and strength on fixing it. Get present, get focused, get balanced. It’s amazing how quickly and effectively you’ll be able to work towards a solution for your stress once you’re truly balanced.

4. Recognizing the flow is another crucial element to yoga, both in the asanas and in your life. It’s all flowing, fluidly and constantly. The Warrior series you’re in the middle of now, it won’t be here forever. Soon, you’ll be back bending or forward folding, maybe even arm balancing. You don’t know, and you can’t know… all that you can know is that it won’t last forever. No matter how long you’ve been holding chair, you know that it won’t be all that there is. Something came before this, and there is something following this. It is not permanent. So it is with whatever is going on in your life right now, be it good or bad. It’s not forever. And that’s incredible. If the Right Now is not your ideal, that’s okay – it’s all a part of a flow. Not everything will be Child’s Pose. But not everything will be handstand either.It’s a constant balance between the rest and the work, and it is in that flux that we find the true and deep beauty of life.

5. And finally, a crucial element of both yoga and life, please remember to take Savasana. Do as much as you can, give as much as you can, shine and be truly amazing. But rest. Recover. Come back to your breath, to your body, to the now. Remember that you don’t always have to find the solution this second. Give yourself some grace, and make space for yourself to rest. Just as there is a very definite space carved out at the end of a yoga practice for rest and breath, so there should be in your life. Make space for you, especially when you’re so stressed out that you can’t see straight. Doing more isn’t always the answer. Sometimes, your heart is crying out for a Savasana. Don’t be afraid to take it.

IMG_4932

Leave a comment

Filed under musings, sweat

fitness fusion: yoga for runners

in the wonderful world of fitness, there tends to be at least some symbiosis between different activities, for which I am totally grateful. Once you start loving certain things, they all seem to flow together effortlessly, and  maybe in some cases it’s only because you are pursuing these things so wholeheartedly that they cannot help but fuse; but in other cases, the connection is incredibly and undeniably clear (paddleboard yoga, for example). Either way, it makes everything so much more exciting when all of the ways that you love to be active can blend together to make one awesome, incredible life. Someone asked me the other day what my favorite way to sweat was, and my immediate response was “runningbutclimbingandabsolutelyyogaplusnowpaddleboarding.” Definitely all one word.

With that being said, and in honor of yesterday’s Boston Marathon, I wanted to take a moment to explore the fusion between yoga and running by looking at some of the best yoga poses for runners! So if you were one of the incredible 26.2-ers from yesterday, or if you spent your sunny Monday getting in some milage of your own, here are a few great ways to work it all out on your mat:

1. Crescent Lunge – I know this one is always a little bit of a struggle for me, because everything in my legs usually hurts a little bit from running, but stick with this beauty even through the pain, because  it is  truly a wonderful hip, calf, and hamstring stretch.

2. Downward Dog – my post-run paradise. This pose helps to stretch out and strengthen everything in your leg that gets so tight from running, which will actually help prevent common running injuries later on (shin splints, IT band issues, etc.)

3. Pigeon Pose – a lot of the time, runners will suffer from overuse injuries, because of the repetition of one type of movement for a long period of time. If you’re doing this constant motion with tight hip flexors, your body will look to other joints to balance the load, even when they were not meant to do so. SO. If you put in a little extra time on your mat really focusing on opening your hips, it will help train your body to put the pressure where it was meant to be when you’re running, and ultimately lead to a much better run, and much fewer injuries!

4. Pyramid Pose – this is a phenomenal hamstring stretch, which is  such a necessary undertaking for active runners. When your hamstrings are too tight, it changes the angle in which your pelvis tilts, which in turn adds a lot more stress on your back. Well-stretched hamstrings will not only keep your legs flexible, but will help keep your back aligned and strong.

5. Triangle Pose – two words: hamstring. stretch. Get on it.

6. Chair Pose – big ow, especially for runners. I can feel my glutes burn even as I type the words. But such a helpful pose, as it’s working to strengthen not only those leg muscles we need for a solid run, but the core muscles to help us run properly, and therefore avoid injury.

7. Hero Pose – the motion and bending of running puts a lot of stretch and strain on your psoas muscle, which tightens it up and allows for poor posture. Hero pose stretches out your psoas muscle, working to counteract this tightness.

8. Forward Fold – don’t have the time or space for any of these other fancy moves? That’s fine. Sometimes, a simple forward fold is all you need to stretch everything out, and to heal and re-center your body and your breath.

 

IMG_1542

Leave a comment

Filed under sweat

weight training: why and how

bw

with all the classes and cardio we try to jam in to our daily lives, it’s easy to forget about (/ignore) the importance of a good, old-fashioned, sweaty gym sesh… however, in honor of this week’s PN shoot at Green Valley with Kadie, it seemed appropriate to take a moment and highlight the incredible physical benefits of doing time on the weight bench every now and again.So, if you’re one of the many people who hits the gym frequently, but never takes the time to go pump iron, here are a few reasons for why you should maybe reconsider:

1. Intense weight sessions burn calories AND boost up your metabolism, so when lifting hard and heavy, you’re burning calories  at the time, and also putting your body in a position to continuously burn through more later.

2. Additionally, lifting can decrease the natural decline in your metabolism, which generally starts around age 30. So, if you feel like your metabolism is starting to function a little less efficiently than it did when you were 18, some sweaty gym time might just be the cure.

3. BONE STRENGTH – a huge issue for all of us, although one we’re less likely to pay attention to, since it’s not something that shows outwardly… but weight training helps to strengthen your bones and increase bone density, which will significantly decrease your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

4. Cardiovascular benefits… yes, lifting can count as some cardio. Two birds, one stone. Depending on the weight and intensity, lifting can definitely help get the heart pumping, which has great fitness benefits, but also works to keep your heart, and therefore you, active and healthy.

5. Finally, lifting regularly significantly helps in the reduction of body fat. Obviously, it works to keep you strong and to build muscle, but as that lean muscle mass increases, it turns around and helps your body burn the excess fat. So you’re getting more fit AND more lean… no complaints there, right?

IMG_1718

alright, so now that you’re sold on lifting… how? Here are a few tips for maximally efficient time in the weight room:

1. Lift heavy. If you’re not there yet, that’s fine, work towards it. Ladies, don’t avoid heavy weights for fear of getting “unnecessarily bulky” – one, your body doesn’t have the testosterone levels, or take in the calories needed for that, and two, the amount of tiny tears created in your muscles while lifting heavier weights are actually going to be what work to burn more calories after you’re finished lifting. Check this article out for more information on what you should be lifting. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself… that’s half the fun!

2. Change it up – we’ve all heard someone say, “oh man, yesterday was shoulder day, and it was rough,” or something along those lines… but the idea of dividing up certain muscle groups for different gym sessions is actually a really helpful one. Even if you don’t go every day, it’s important to focus on working different muscle groups in each workout, so that you get a fully balanced improvement, but also so that you give the muscles you’re working the proper amount of time to grow and recover.

3. Train with something. Fitness buddies are the best buddies – this way, you have someone to encourage and support you, correct you on your form, and maybe go eat ice cream with afterwards (I mean, hey, if your metabolism is already sped up from all your lifting, why not… right?)

4. Finally, here’s a quick breakdown on what exactly a balanced weight training session looks like: start with some strength training, which means a moderate load with moderate repetitions – whatever muscle group you’re working, if you keep it around 8 reps, and with a comfortable (not easy) load, this is going to help you build the strength endurance you’re looking for. After that, if your goal is to build muscle size, you’re going to want to graduate to lots of different workouts for the same muscle group, all at a manageably hard load, but with moderate reps (6-ish). If your goal is not necessarily huge muscles, but more maximum strength, you’ll get there by doing heavy loads and low reps, so find a weight that really, truly challenges you, and lift it for 1-5 reps, with a longer rest period. If you’re still feeling up for some more work after that, aim for just a little bit of power training to balance it all out, which is simply a light-load exercise, performed as quickly as possible. So things like squat jumps, soccer throws, even medicine ball chest presses… these will help you build up speed and power, to balance out all of the muscle work you just did. And, as always, finish up with some yoga moves, to give your wonderful muscles a break and some much-needed love.

kadie -bw

want to read more? Check these out: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Leave a comment

Filed under behind the scenes, sweat

yoga: the many-hatted vixen

I remember very clearly the first time that I was introduced to the idea that yoga could be more than just yoga: I was in an airport, flying down to Florida for the weekend, and had just started a very, very basic home yoga practice, so I brought my mat down with me, hoping to continue exploring my budding love for yoga. While waiting to board the plane, one of the flight attendants saw my mat and came up to me to talk about yoga… I don’t remember much from the conversation, except that she used a lot of words that I had never heard before, and that it ended with her drawling, “well, I myself am very well-practiced in ashtanga” and listing everyone that she had ever studied under. I’m pretty sure that my only contribution to the conversation was a lame, “oh, yeh, I mean, I really like down dog…”  Needless to say, five minutes later I was planted in my airplane seat, frantically googling “different types of yoga” on my phone so as to prepare for that situation, should it ever occur again. Years later, I can safely say that I have a little bit better of a grasp of the various forms that a yoga practice can take, and would probably not run away in fear if sanskrit were ever to be dropped  in a casual conversation, but that experience has always served as a reminder to me that sharing knowledge is only powerful when done out of a space of love!

That being said, here’s a short breakdown of the main, basic styles of yoga practiced, so that all you lovely yogis and aspiring yogis are well-versed if ever cornered by an over-zealous flight attendant. Namaste.

IMG_4458

.

Anusara literally means “to step into the current of divine will,” this is a very spiritually-centered style of yoga, and yet one that maintains a good level of physical challenge. There is as much of a focus placed on the proper alignment of the body as there is on the inner-goodness of the individual. An anusara class will certainly make for a beautiful fusion of mind and body, and will also tend to be fun and lighthearted. awesome for: learning proper alignment and putting you in an incredible mood.

Ashtanga – ashtanga yoga is one of the oldest styles of yoga practiced, but it was popularized and brought over to this side of the pond in the 70’s. An ashtanga class is based on six series of postures, which increase in difficulty as the class progresses. It’s a lot like vinyasa yoga, except that it follows a much more structured pattern – definitely still a super-sweaty workout. awesome for: some pretty serious strength building and body toning.

Bikram – translation: super, super, super sweaty yoga. One of the first yoga classes I ever took was a bikram class, and I honestly did not know that my body was capable of producing as much sweat as it did then. Bikram yoga utilizes a series of 26 traditional yoga poses in a specific sequence, and is practiced in a room that is heated to 105 degrees. Note on this: drink more water than you ever imagined consuming, both before and after class. Otherwise, you’ll experience what I refer to fondly as a “yoga hangover.” awesome for: in-freaking-sane weight loss, and a lovely system reboot.

Hatha – the word “hatha” is actually just used to describe the physical practice of yoga, and could be used as a blanket description for most of the yoga classes available today. A class labeled as “hatha” is probably going to be one that focuses more on the perfect forms of the postures, slowly moving from one to another. These classes tend to be a little more calm and gentle, but still provide a wonderful way to step into yoga, or to deepen your practice. awesome for: calming down and de-stressing.

Iyengar – this style of yoga could be summarized in two words: alignment and precision. In an iyengar yoga class, you’ll find yourself holding poses for a much longer time than in other classes… the idea behind this is to shift the focus of the class away from getting from one pose to another, and instead becoming increasingly aware of your muscular and skeletal alignment in each pose. You will also end up using a lot of yoga props, like blocks, straps, and even the wall. awesome for: learning some yoga fundamentals, and toning some beautiful muscles.

Kundalini – a yoga practiced that, according to Yogi Bahjan, is the path to everyone becoming “happy, healthy, and holy” – this style of yoga is a blend of breath, posture, and chanting spiritual mantras. A large amount of focus is placed on the awakening of the energy at the base of the spine, and spreading that energy through the rest of the chakra systems in the body. awesome for: building a beautiful energy in your body, while still staying grounded and focused.

Vinyasa – fun fact, “vinyasa” is actually the Sanskrit word for “flow,” and with good reason. The primary focus of a vinyasa class is to flow through various postures while connecting to your breath. Although the core of this class is breath and rhythm, don’t expect an easy class – vinyasa yoga can be quite a sweaty and intense mind-body workout! awesome for: a calm, focused energy, and a full-body workout.

Yin– yin yoga is a lot more of a slow and mindful practice, a serious exercise in meditation while also challenging your physical body. Yin poses are held for long periods of time (typically five minutes or more), and are targeted towards stimulating the flow of energy through your body. awesome for: meditation and a better understanding of your own body.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under sweat

yoga spotlight: balance your half moon

ardha chandrasana, or more commonly known as balancing half moon, is one of our favorite poses to pop into during practice, and with good reason! Physically, this pose is a challenging one, as your entire body has to be properly aligned and engaged, but it is also a welcome mental challenge, as is any act of balance, both in yoga and in life. Balancing poses require a perfect harmony of breath and concentration, a very clear sense of presence within your body and a full awareness of what is surrounding and grounding you, and this pose is no exception – in my opinion, it requires a much greater sense of presence than some traditional leg balances, because your body is in an entirely unusual and unfamiliar alignment.

Aside from promoting an excellent awareness, balancing half moon pose has a whole host of other amazing benefits for your body: it strengthens your entire leg, ankles and knees included, as well as your core and buttocks. It also works to open up your chest, shoulders, and torso, and spine WHILE stretching your hamstrings and calves (to all you runners, take note…)! Additionally, because the heart is higher than the head in this pose, you get a little taste of those inversion benefits that we all know and love, such as stress and fatigue relief. Lastly, this is a phenomenal pose to take if your digestive system needs a little bit of love.

Now that you’re all loving good old ardha chandrasana as much as you should be, here are a few final thoughts on the pose, to ensure that you’re not in any way hurting your body while trying to reap all of these fabulous benefits: make sure to keep your core engaged in this pose (as in most poses) and your pelvic floor drawn in, so as to avoid any pain in your lower back. If you’re feeling any neck pain in this pose, make sure to keep your head level and try to look straight forward. As with everything, use a block or other modification to make sure that you’re giving your body all of the love that it deserves!

IMG_6234

many thanks to the beautiful Lindsey from Paz Sudios for rocking a snowy half moon for us! 

Leave a comment

Filed under sweat

trail running vs. road running…

…the great debate amongst runners. Which is better? Everyone seems to have a very distinct opinion on the matter, based on their own personal experience or style of running. But in reality, the two are so different that, arguably, they’re as comparable as baseball and football – sure, both involve teams, a ball, and a lot of running, but apart from that, they’re two entirely separate sports. Similar situation here. Different culture, different community, different challenges and different successes. So if trail running really is that different from road running, what makes it so, and do these changes make it in any way better?

IMG_5061

Trail running has seen a remarkable rise in popularity over recent years, especially as competitive runners are looking towards it as a way to protect their joints and avoid injuries. As one who is currently sitting on some pretty impressive shin splints, I can understand the logic that goes into that one. But, beyond injury prevention, what makes trail running different from road running? Personally, I dig the view – trail running is another great excuse to get out into some green, see the woods, get lost, maybe find yourself somewhere up a mountain. It’s also a little bit more of a sweat, since you’re running on uneven terrain, and working harder to stay balanced on your running surface. This is also strengthening your core, and improving your overall sense of balance. Finally, it gives you some time of peace and focus. There are a lot fewer ipods and fancy run trackers out on the trails, and a lot more silence, solitude, and focus. When else in our daily lives do we allow ourselves to unplug, tune out, turn off, and get out?

That being said, there are a few distinct advantages and disadvantages to both:

Trail Runningpros: softer surface, causing less injury and joint pain; more muscles worked and more effort exerted due to a more difficult terrain; time in green space is proven to improve your mood; your brain engages more when running on an unpredictable surface; and it’s much better for your lungs than running on the side of a busy road. cons: the unevenness of grass or trails leads to a higher risk of ankle injury; it’s not always the safest option, since you are so secluded, and especially at night; also, it requires a lot more time and preparation – you usually have to drive to a trail, while there always tend to be roads nearby.

Road Runningpros: it’s easier to get more mileage under your belt with a paved, steady terrain; most big races are road races, so you’ll be more prepared for those; a road or paved surface is almost always available to run on; and it’s not likely to be as steep, or if it is, it will at least be far more predictable of a course. consconstantly pounding the pavement in the same motion for miles and miles a day will cause injuries much quicker; and roadside fumes of vehicles can do damage to your well-trained runner’s lungs.

In Conclusion: both are awesome. Trail running might be a little better for your joints. But road running is much more accessible, especially for those who are short on time. So rock both options. Keep your 6 am runs around the neighborhood during the week, and maybe schedule some time to get out to Hanging Rock or even a local park with your dog or spouse over the weekend. In this, as with all things, balance is the key.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under sweat

benefits of yoga…

… as if we needed more reasons to practice.

tumblr_mz18njyO4k1s7eycxo1_500

Leave a comment

Filed under inspiration, sweat