The seconds seemed to tick by slowly. The wait was unbearable as we sat patiently until the teacher dismissed us for recess. Then we’d race to the playground - soar on the swings, climb on the monkey bars, and play tag in the field. Playing is fun. But somewhere along our journey, we’ve taken recess out of our daily routine. The good news is that recess is what we make of it.
Just because we grow older doesn’t mean we have to grow up (all the way anyway). Being a kid was fun because we were expected to play. Our parents would encourage us to “go play outside” and ”go play with friends”. We colored, danced, sang, imagined, ran, laughed. What’s stopping you today from playing?
Be a big kid and pretend…
A yoga mat is a grassy hill to roll down…
The Pilates cadillac is your jungle gym…
A morning run is a game of tag…
A hike is a climb to the castle to save a princess…
Break for recess and let yourself play.
Jen Healy (pictured) plays everyday on geometric bar structures that form a modern “playground”. The Quantum Playground strengthens and stretches the body. Jen wears grip gloves so it’s all fun and never a slip.
We planted a garden. Now, several months of patience, love and nurturing…we have food! Having and taking care of a garden is a daily reminder of how nature knows best. It’s a reciprocal relationship – when we love it, it loves us back. Next step… enjoying the delectable fruits of our labor. Here are some fun, summer recipes we can make from the food we’ve grown:
Our feet are superbly designed with 10 toes, 52 bones (26 in each foot), 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors. One fourth of all the bones in the human body are down in your feet. These two planks bear the weight of our entire bodies. They receive a lot of stress and are often neglected. Imagine having a headache every day. You would probably seek medical attention for the pain. However, we are more apt to ignore symptoms of foot pain…we just “get over it”. But as Socrates said: “When our feet hurt, we hurt all over”.
Why is it that we take off our shoes right when we get home? Because it feels good. We cram our feet into shoes, forcing the toes together and making them act as a hoof. When the toes are drawn together, abductor muscles on the outer and inner foot can’t activate, and can atrophy due to lack of use.
Each part of our body is designed for a purpose. Our legs to walk. Our eyes to see. Our thumbs to grab. And our toes to balance. Our toes, each significant, separate to allow us to grip the ground, spring our bodies into motion, and help us stand still and straight. Toes are an important part of the push-off action humans use while walking, running, and climbing stairs.
If toes are stiff, the smoothness and efficiency of our gait will be affected, and other joints and muscles will have to compensate for the disturbance in the chain of actions. As these compensations continue, they may contribute to pain elsewhere in the body. Two-thirds of those with chronic foot pain say their foot issue has created some sort of disability elsewhere – decreasing balance, increasing soreness in the knees and hips, or preventing them from starting or maintaining a healthy exercise routine.
As often as you can, let your toes wiggle with their five toe natural movement. Wearing toe socks not only supports the anatomical structure of the foot, but they provide gentle space between each toe which encourages the toes to spread, circulation to increase and muscles to engage. Strong feet result in enhanced agility, balance, posture, and overall body wellness.
Are all advancements improvements? For instance, science and technology have progressed tremendously to heal, cure, and connect. I am thankful for these advancements. On the other hand, there are some advancements that have set us back – culturally, physically and mentally. Just because something is made bigger, faster, smaller, cheaper…doesn’t make it better. Advancements in the food industry, for example, have lead to supermarket shelves filled with overly processed that will last for decades. As Dr. Alejandro Junger says in the documenty film Hungry for Change, “We are not eating food anymore, we are eating food-like products.”
So how did our pre-agricultural ancestors survive before DVR and GMOs? How do we get primal in our technological era? Mark Sisson, American fitness author, offers “10 Get Primal Tips” to help us advance our own health without science and technology. Tips include:
1. Hike – get outside
2. Lift Hard – strength for real-life situations
3. Ditch Grains and Sugar – stay away from processed foods
4. Sleep Smart – remove electronics from the room and make it dark and quiet
5. Relax – find an activity that will clear the mind AND recharge you. (we recommend yoga)
And…Mark Sisson says “Going barefoot is one of the most primal things we can do.”
Warrior series has always frustrated me during my asana practice…until recently. My legs shake and I don’t like to hold the pose. I want to flow…not only to feel graceful, but to get the heck out of that lunge! Warrior II works the hips and the thighs to a place that doesn’t seem natural when done correctly. Even Yoga Journal confesses the intensity of the pose:
Few poses beat Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) at strengthening your hips and thighs. As you might guess from the way your legs burn in a long Warrior II, the pose strongly works your quadriceps muscles, which make up the front of your thighs.
But Warrior II is not just about strength: It can also correct a common misalignment that can lead to many knee problems. To see if you have this misalignment, stand barelegged in front of a mirror. If your alignment is healthy, your kneecaps will point straight out over the midline of your feet. But you may find that your thighbone rotates inward in relation to your shinbone and that your kneecap points slightly inward, too. This position is bad news: It torques your knee, putting uneven pressure on the cartilage and straining the supporting ligaments and tendons every time you bend it.
I continued to practice the pose, and more often than not, I would release from the lunge and straighten my front leg. I couldn’t bear the burn. What kind of warrior am I?! But as with everything in life, there came a shift. Perhaps it was my frustrated and constant internal dialogue – “to get stronger you have to stay here”. Or perhaps, just like in the alignment of the pose, I was finally aligned mentally, physically and emotionally to recognize the warrior I have always been.
Pictured above: Yoga Instructor Jen Pinto deepens her yoga practice and her Warrior II by wearing yoga socks with grip.
A local elementary school is teaching their 6th graders about business, finance, goals, and marketing by following the format of a popular reality TV show, Shark Tank. The students are to use their imaginations to harvest an entrepreneurial concept. They have one month to develop their plan and then present it to a panel of judges, just like on the show. ToeSox was asked to be part of the experience. Vice President Christina Patterson presented the ToeSox story and showed them how an Ah-Ha moment can lead to a big idea.
After a year of R&D, ToeSox was ready to launch with it Full ToeSox with Grip. Soon after, they started getting feedback from customers, especially dancers, telling them how ToeSox are rehabilitating their feet. From there, the idea grew. Nearly eight years later, ToeSox is a health and wellness company specializing in five toe footwear.
Three companies presented their business stories. The main message was this: Believe in your idea. Get excited about it. And others will too.
It seems there’s a divide – those that do yoga and those that do Pilates. I’ve always been peacefully on the yoga side. Yoga gets me through my week , helps me through my hard days, challenges me to handle life with grace and patience, and reminds me to respect my body. Until two months ago, I had never experienced a Pilates class. I knew it was about the core, but had no idea past that. Jumping in with both feet, I signed up for a month unlimited of Pilates classes and I carefully placed my yoga practice on hold. The Gemini in me apparently can’t balance two practices at once – one extreme to the other…or so I thought. Turns out the two go hand in hand quite nicely. A brief summary of how I feel when practicing:
Yoga – I feel free… enjoying the flow, the energy in the room, the way my body can fold and open. I like to listen to the words the teachers speak. And I like the practice beyond physical movement.
Pilates - I realize how much our bodies can strengthen, how our muscles are designed to function. I also learned how to shake really well. With my muscles fully exerted I’m still shaky during planks and…well, pretty much everything. But I’ve learned that I really am stronger than my mind gives me credit for.
Now that my month package of Pilates has come to an end, I am back into yoga. I can see a difference in my yoga practice. I am stronger, my core is engaged and it makes a world of difference in my backbends, side planks, and sun salutations.
Today’s Yoga Journal Daily Insight introduces this subject of the two practices in The Other Mat:
Many yogis are beginning to recognize that Pilates—an 85-year-old system of body conditioning designed by German émigré Joseph Pilates—is a rewarding complement to asana practice. And some are finding that Pilates’ focus on building and engaging a strong core can propel their yoga practice into new realms.
While yogis are instructed to either hold poses or flow quickly through them in vinyasas, Pilates is a rhythmic practice of precise movements repeated five to 10 times for each exercise. The aim is to engage and strengthen the transversus abdominis (the deepest layer of abs that wrap around the torso horizontally), the obliques, the lower back muscles, and the pelvic floor during complex movements. By doing so, you develop a strong, corset-like support system that protects your back from injury.
Yoga and Pilates are, of course, distinct practices, but there might be times—perhaps when you’ve hit a plateau in your asana practice or are in an experimental mood—when playing with some Pilates techniques on your mat might enhance your yoga practice.
When someone asks, “How are you?”, do you:
a. Reply with a stock answer “Good, and you?” but never really hear their answer
b. Reply “I’ve been crazy busy!”
c. Ignore it, you are in a rush and didn’t even hear the question.
Seems like more and more of us are multi-tasking, but are we multi-doing? Are we staying focused and completing our goals? In a recent Huffington Post article, Yes is the New No, Ira Israel notes that, “The problem is that busyness has become part of personal identity, how we get our sense of self.”
My challenge to you is to slow down. Avoid telling people how busy you are – that doesn’t define you and it shouldn’t answer the question “How are YOU?”. The moments you are connecting with people are special and we should never be too CRAZYBUSY to experience them.