Magic in the Micro Bend!

mommyom- benefits of microbend in the knees I am a huge fan of the micro bend!  There isn’t a forward bending posture, including ol’ Down Dog, where I don’t revel in the enhanced stretch and flexibility I enjoy as a result of this small tweak.

Even in the standing postures, adding just a little bit of flex to the knees, ensures proper form, drawing your joints away from the converse, hyper-extending.

When you take consideration of your knees, allowing for just the slightest bend, it’s amazing how your consciousness is brought to the stretch; your torso better able to skim the tops of your thighs.

I understand that some of you who follow the practice of Bikram will likely balk at such encouragement as hyper-extension is part and parcel of any Bikram standing or bending posture, with micro bending strongly, and often, vehemently discouraged.  Bully for you!  It’s true that so much more is possible at 110 degrees, including warming the joints to the point of bending unnaturally backwards, overstretching the soft tissue of ligaments and tendons… which really sounds kind of bad.

The beauty in the micro bend is the room you find to expand the stretch along with your consciousness within the stretch.  In a micro bend I can feel and gently, gracefully, urge the hamstrings into lengthening rather than yanking them into submission.

It’s one of my favourite sensations… one that truly aids in my feeling of uncoiling and truly coming undone.. in the best possible way.

AcroYoga- A Thing of Beauty

I’m always ready to goof on a new trend in yoga as it evolves, particularly here in the west as we monitize/commercialize/bastardize and co-opt just about every tradition known to human kind… but you know what?  This one I can only watch in awe.

There’s a few things:  the sheer athleticism; the flexibility and balance; but mainly, the intimacy and coordination between the partners.  The unspoken communication between the two participants, in almost every example I’ve seen, has been really quite riveting.

The result is the beautiful concert of movement and relationship- trust and communication- that leaves me in quiet admiration, unable to take my eyes away.

I loved this one- a gorgeous couple, wonderfully in synch… and music perfectly chosen- Ben Howard, Depth Over Distance.

The New Weight Loss Cure- Meditation

Weight Loss Cure- Meditation

I’m not one to buy into quick fixes and weight loss cures, but I am always open to finding real, healthy solutions to issues surrounding weight and fitness.  Particularly after long, dry spells that include a lot of stress and, not only the development of , but more accurately, the reliance on, bad habits.  If meditation can influence how I manage stress and, even better, losing weight, I’m in!

I am absolutely the picture of the effects of stress on weight gain.  Stress effects how much I eat, and unfortunately, how much- or really, how little- I exercise.  Under times of increased duress, tension and frustration, good, healthy choices regarding food and fitness hit the road.

I’ve flirted and tried to motivate myself towards regular meditation several times before. I’ve even written about it here and here and elsewhere on MommyOm.  It’s tough.  But the fact is, unless I do something to handle the way I’m dealing with my stress I’m going to be welcoming another 30 lbs and then some.  Bottom line… I’m going to harness the power of meditation to lose weight.

A little about the effects of stress….

As a matter of survival, your brain and body are designed to work in concert to prepare you to handle any threat by making you feel alert, ready for action and able to withstand an injury. In the immediate, as you’re facing down that sabre tooth tiger or rattle snake, the adrenaline helps you forget about basic needs such as food, as your blood flows away from the internal organs and to your large muscles to prepare for “fight or flight.” Once the effects of adrenaline wear off, however, cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” lingers so as to signal the body to replenish your food supply- after bravely strangling that deadly rattler, it’s time to fire up the barby!  Our ancestral battles for survival used up a lot of energy and our bodies needed more stores of fat and glucose. Today’s human, however, with our 21st Century battles, fights them glued to a screen, working long sedentary hours or worrying about how to pay the bills, and doesn’t employ much energy dealing with the stressor!  

Unfortunately a looming deadline doesn’t require the same amount of calorie burn as out-running a hyena and we are stuck with a neuroendocrine system that didn’t get the update, so your brain is still going to demand you replenish so you’ll reach for that bag of Doritos all the same.

There was a time that our belly fat was a necessity.  We were grateful for it, in fact.  A nice roll around the middle meant, 1. We were fed, and; 2. We had something to get us through the inevitable tough times that we knew were right around the corner.  In modern times, however, that well-fed, ever-expanding tire that circles your middle doesn’t enjoy the same esteem and lack of permanence of our ancestors.  It’s packed on due to stress, lack of activity and poor food choices and tends not only to stay, but to grow. Ugh.

Belly fat is REALLY unhealthy.  It packs around and strangles our organs… not to mention lops over our belts.  Double “Ugh”.

Anxieties exacerbate so many physiological symptoms.  Weight gain being at the top of the list along with heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancers.  While anxiety once provided us with an unconscious sign of imminent danger- fight or flight!- it now just sends us jittering and fidgeting our way to the fridge or cabinet in search of some type of relief, no matter how momentary, inhaling a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips for much needed support and comfort.

So… the question for so many is, how to manage the stress, if not the stress-ors?  How to manage our weight when time is so limited and demands so very great?

These are questions I’ve been grappling with, managing the seemingly constant demands of work, kids, relationships, schedules… you all know the routine.  I’ve been meditating for at least 15 mins, I aim for 30, for the better part of two weeks.  I plan to prove that, in fact, meditation can be a tool for managing stress and, ultimately, losing weight.

Meditation is proven to:

  • Improve concentration – A clear mind makes you more productive, better able to handle the demands of your day.
  • Alleviate irritation – Do you sometimes allow yourself to get upset by little things? It is the nature of the mind to magnify small things into serious problems. Meditation helps us detach. We learn to live in the here and now, rather than worrying about the past or future. We do not worry about meaningless things, but see the bigger picture.
  • Promote Improved Health – There have been numerous studies pointing to the health benefits of meditation. The reason is that meditation reduces stress levels and alleviates anxiety. If we can reduce stress, many health benefits follow.
  • Inspire Knowledge of Self – Meditation enables us to have a deeper understanding of our inner self. Through meditation we can gain a better understanding of our life’s purpose.

 

Getting started in meditation can be SO VERY HARD.  For a little extra support, I came across this little resource.  If you’re familiar with Food Matters, then this guy will be pretty familiar. Free guided meditations geared to weight loss.  Check out the Gabriel Method if you need a kick start!  I will incorporate it for sure.

I’ll check in here as I go.  If meditation can help with how I’m dealing with stress AND help me lose weight, I’m all over it!

 

 

 

Yoga & Mindfulness = Weight Loss

Yoga, mindfulness and weight lossA recent study from the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine has put forth more evidence supporting the role of yoga in achieving weight loss.

Out of the gate I have to be clear to state- I don’t need the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine on my case for overstating their findings- while they found support for yoga’s role in promoting healthy lifestyle and that more than 50 conditions are reported to benefit from regular practice, the direct effects on weight loss perhaps are a little less clear.

What seems more conclusive however, is the benefits and effects of the practice of mindfulness during participation in yoga that is probably more important.

Yoga is a mind–body, or meditative movement, practice originating in ancient India that combines physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayamas), and meditation or relaxation. The most common form practiced in the United States is Hatha yoga, which includes the yoga styles Ananda, Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Iyengar, Kripalu, Kundalini, and Viniyoga.

Throughout a session, regardless the style, there is a focus on breathing with an aim to stimulate mental focus and body awareness.

What the research found was that, while there is a physical exertion in yoga and it serves to address manage comorbid conditions, such as low back pain, it is the increased mindfulness that may be the key component to weight loss.

Heightened mindfulness of the body and its behaviors may spill over from the yoga practice to everyday life. This mindfulness in turn may help individuals address emotional eating (eating in response to negative emotions such as boredom, stress, or sadness) and external eating (eating in response to food-related stimuli such as the taste, sight, or smell of palatable foods), both of which have been associated with weight gain, and control of which have been associated with weight loss. In addition, mindfulness may lead to greater positive outcomes expectancies (self-control, self-confidence), which correlate with weight loss in a bidirectional manner.

Mindfulness-training through yoga may also generate the relaxation response outside the yoga session, which can offset the physiological effects caused by perceived stress…

which has been proven to contribute to obesity.

So… while not told anything radically earth-moving in the study, what it confirms is that while your making those important changes to your diet to promote weight loss and good health, the practice of yoga can provide the support to truly achieve your goals while offering a huge boost to your mental and spiritual health as well.

Excavating Etsy: Low Back Yoga Tank from Kaya Yoga Wear

Ohmigoodness… I stumbled upon this today shopping perusing for blog content: the most lurv-ely and flattering of yoga tanks!

Kaya Yoga Wear-low back tankThere’s a few things at the Kaya Yoga Wear Etsy shop that are on my summer yoga shortlist, but this one’s most certainly at the top. This simple, very feminine and flattering tank is so pretty and so unique as I’ve yet to see a tank that so features the back- by far my best feature (… and as my wrinkles appear in multiples and the old ass drops, I am so all over showcasing what’s left of my assets!).

It comes in a range of deep, beautiful colors and is sized S-M thru M-L.

This is probably the first of several purchases I’ll be making from Kaya, but I’m sworn to the promise to maintain a regular practice before any more yoga shopping… so looks like there’s a lot of wonderful yoga in my future!

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good night oscar!

Without a doubt the role model I want for my daughter. She’s the best…