All entries tagged with “workout”
Be mindful. Every day, you can catch eudaimonia. There is no cure for it. In fact, once you’re infected, your brain feeds upon it, your body reacts to it, your actions change from it, and you become more of who you were made to be because of it. Literally brace yourself! Once you catch it, you begin to foster its continued growth, and spread it amongst your family, friends and associates too. You’ll find life is better with “eudaimonic” symptoms and manifestations. WT… is she talking about?
Let’s get philosophical before we get physical, shall we? Put some thought into our action. Let’s exercise the gray matter between our ears and then pump the heart muscle before we tone the over 600 other muscles in our bodies. Let’s live FITosophically!
Aristotle used the Greek word eudaimonia to describe “the state of having a good indwelling spirit, a good genius.” He taught of an ethical, practical way to live that fosters self-realization and well-being. Achieving eudaimonia is a practice that creates a better way of being. How do we enhance our well-being? Discover something new every day. When we learn something new, our brains thrive upon the stronger synaptic connections we make. We are literally super-charging ourselves and fine-tuning our body’s drive mechanism. As fellow philosopher Socrates said, “The beginning of wisdom is wonder.” One of my common FITosophical refrains: Always remain in a state of wonder about what you can do, and keep creating and discovering more about YOU in the process.
On May 16, 2013 I turned 51derful. Humor me. I have been a committed yogi for a number of years and have been dedicating my time to training and teaching various traditions of the practice I love. Yesterday I broke out of the studio setting for a personal training session with John Bowie, an extraordinary athlete/trainer whose NFL career includes the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Oakland Raiders. In a smiling state of wonder, I looked at contraptions I had never used before as my fitness protocol was revealed. Long, heavy braided ropes for my arms to create wave patterns with, TRX hooked me at the ankles, a mountainous platform to leap over and more than J-Lo squat down to(!!), 5lb dumbbells in hand for the journey, and some elliptical, lunge-stepping patterns to complete along the way. Happily, or rather, “eudaimonically,” I feel all of my 51derful years BEHIND me! I absolutely loved every new challenge presented to me and feel the hunger for more discoveries of all that I can do begin to grow – again.
Learning a new word with age-old meaning, understanding etymologies or even making words up to describe, encourage, and affirm yourself creates revitalization and motivation for your physical work-out. We are masters of ourselves. We can empower ourselves more effectively than anyone else can. Choose good words for yourself and create a philosophy to not just live by, but become more YOU by! We are physical beings. We are made for action and mobilization. We are driven by our hearts and our heads both physiologically, intellectually, and esoterically. Create your own FITosophical way of being and rediscover all you can be every day. Catch eudaimonia, and infectiously grow younger, stronger, happier and more wonder-full every day!
By: Karen Cutrona, ERYT-500/RYS Founding owner of Blue Moon Yoga and Fitness,Inc., FITosopher, and Self-proclaimed Age Retardation Specialist
In 2013, let’s feel good about wearing our bodies out! When committing your body to a physical fitness activity, let the idea of “wearing your body out” have new meaning. Build a relationship with your body that integrates physical challenge with ease, so you can wear your newly toned and revitalized body out tonight looking better in those jeans! Each time you commit to challenging your body, commit to discovering what your body can do today that doesn’t aggravate and deplete it, but rather challenges and stimulates it to crave more of the good revitalizing activities you’re submitting it to.
While we require a degree of challenge to create changes in our body, we also require moments of ease to build body confidence and awareness. Relationships fall apart if they are pushed, prodded and nagged too much. Avoid this kind of relationship with your body when it comes to your fitness practices. Mutual respect and honor builds up a relationship.
Begin to build a healthy mind-spirit-body relationship by being grateful that you woke up today, and then even more grateful that you’re able-bodied and capable of performing physical activities. Then honor the fact that you were made for action with the over 200 bones, most of them connected as joints for mobility, and the over 600 muscles in your body, most of them made for performance and power. Neglecting to honor your amazingly equipped-for-action body is choosing to let it rot away! Think about your body as your best friend and lover. Treat your body with consideration, respect, compassion and care, and a healthy relationship within your mind and spirit toward your body, begins to grow stronger. Get in sync with yourself for success.
A basic principle in an effective yoga practice involves understanding how to meet challenges with ease in your body, as well as understanding that “surrender” is one of the most difficult challenges of all to master. When challenge cannot be met with ease, surrender is necessary to honor your body. Surrender is an act of your will. Giving up is the absence of it. When you challenge your body, practice this act of your will and get good at it, just as you practice, as an act of your will, to submit your body to strenuous physical activities. Surrender, in this context, builds confidence, not defeat. Surrender signals to your body that you know when enough is enough so that the next time you meet challenges in your fitness regime; your body trusts you and knows when it’s time to take it to the next level. You begin to look forward to the next challenge, and you build upon a pattern of challenge meeting ease so that you begin to not only manage, but crave a greater level of activity.
Many yoga practices end with the popular “Corpse” pose, aka Savasana. The challenge of this pose is to surrender your body to your mat and to release all of your muscles from your bones. You take time in a few final moments to bring ease in equal measure to the challenges you’ve just put your body through in the previous 60 or 90 minutes of class. This allows your body to embrace and embody all of your hard work. Ease and surrender are also integrated throughout an active yoga practice by maintaining a steady breathing pattern through a flowing, challenging sequence of movements where your muscles are throbbing, and your heart rate is rising. Diminishing the quality of your breathing pattern, or holding your breath, through challenging physical activity only produces stress. Practice bringing a relaxation response that maintains the steady fuel of oxygen throughout your bloodstream, and your body translates this to “all is well,” rather than “WTFreak!” You reinforce that healthy, trusting relationship with your body so that the integration of challenge meeting ease builds your hard work right into the fabric of your being. You create a new norm to your level of fitness from which to build new challenges.
I often say in my classes, “You want to wear this in your body when you walk out the door - don’t just do this on your mat in class.” If you create hardship within your body, your body rejects it and reacts adversely. When it comes to physical activity, too much of a good thing, truly can be too much for your body to embrace if you go at it with too much intensity. This will set you back in creating an optimal sustainable fitness level, and keep you from wearing your work in the shape of tighter, toner arms, legs, hips, and abdominals. Practice the integration of ease to your fitness regime and you will enjoy incorporating more and more challenges each time you participate. Remember - synchronize yourself, mind-spirit-body, for success.
A grateful mindset, a mutual respect for challenge and ease, the will to surrender, together with your spirit of wonder and surprise for what you can accomplish through physical activities, will produce your best body. Enjoy the way you look wearing your body out every day and night!
By: Karen Cutrona, Better body inhabiter and Owner/ Instructor/Trainer - E-RYT500,
Blue Moon Yoga and Fitness, Inc.
Change Creates Balance.
Find balance through change. Reinvent yourself. Do something new. Stand on one foot while brushing your teeth, combing your hair, talking on the phone. Stretch out your arms. Move your hips. Bend forward. Get your head below your heart. Reverse the blood flow and revitalize your brain. Mix it up. In our car-driven, quick-fix, technologically-oriented society, we have endangered the mobility and muscularity of the human species. To avoid stagnation, building balance into your life is necessary.
When you move in unconventional ways, your body understands balance better. When you work-out and become “weak” from the challenge, your muscles and endurance grow stronger. Without temporary break-down, there is no build-up. Without movement, atrophy occurs. Without motivation, achievement wanes. Without inspiration, spirits drop. Without challenge, there can be no change. Without change, imbalances exist.
Move it, stimulate it, challenge it or lose it. This is true of our lung tissue, our ability to balance our bodies, our flexibility, muscle strength, brain function, heart health and emotional equanimity. In order to be well, we must provoke and arouse all of these areas with activity.
If given the choice, would you choose diminished lung function or full capacity of the wind bags you’ve been given? Every day this choice is ours to make. Underutilizing our lung capacity by not fully inflating and deflating our lungs on a regular basis causes atrophy in our lung tissues. BREATHE people! We are fully equipped to revitalize our bodies simply by taking some time to breathe, with awareness, deeply into our lungs by expanding and contracting our ribcages, like fireplace billows. By doing so, we ignite the internal flame of revitalization within us. This is one way to create balance in our lives. Breathing deeply calms our minds, as well as rejuvenates our bodies with greater oxygenated blood flow.
We all understand the idea of “balance” to be necessary to live stable lives. Do we practice this? Balance doesn’t just happen. Our bodies seek equilibrium physically, mentally, and spiritually. One area may be satisfied at the expense of another until we find it. I propose by building balance physically into your body one foot at a time, you will create balance, energetically, in your life as well.
The physical practice of building balance into your body keeps your central nervous system stimulated, and maintains clear lines of communication between the tendons and ligaments regarding muscle tension and joint position to your brain. Stand on one foot, and produce color in the gray matter between your ears! I daresay, get smarter, calmer, and become more focused by lifting one foot off the ground! Let your body calibrate and generate balance by the communication of your spinal column to your brain. Then calmly, deeply breathe. Standing on one foot, focusing on one point, known as a drishte in yoga, for a minute or so, neurologically creates a baseline for your center of balance. This evokes a parasympathetic relaxation response - meeting challenge with ease in your body, It strengthens your core, creates equanimity in your spirit and acuity in your mind. Build balance into your body. Gain stability in your life.
All of creation, both in nature and in the human body, shows us that balance is a force to be reckoned with. Change disrupts balance, but change creates the quest for it as well. Sometimes we integrate something into our lives by managing its opposite. We become better at maintaing balance for having fallen over and over again. Balance is achieved though constant challenge, that produces change, that allows for calibration and recalibration to become centered. Life is dynamic. Life is edgy. Balance is our sure-footed response to it. Live a balanced life, and take yours to the edge.
Be happy. Live healthy - one foot at a time.
Karen Cutrona Underwood, Owner of Blue Moon Yoga and Fitness, Inc. Studio and Training Center, Ormond Beach, FL
It’s time to change the way we think about fitness, diet and exercise. The words often imply “work” or “restriction” of some sort to many. Let’s consider movement, fuel, and activity as replacement words – ok, euphemisms, for these concepts. Let your blogging yogi here introduce you to an ancient word/concept that encompasses the very idea of being alive, let alone, fit. It’s called prana. Four thousand years ago or more, when the practice of yoga was invented, it was created around the ancients’ awareness of movement and activity that produced life force.
Prana is a Sanskrit word meaning life force, or vital energy, particularly referring to the breath. Pranayama is the act of practicing or extending this vital energy – as in breathing deeply in and out to fan or fuel the force of life within the body.
We all have this vital force within us. With lungs that can expand, when fully inflated, from our collar bones to our hip bones, and with upwards of 600 voluntary muscles in our bodies, the prana potential in each of us is divinely woven right into the fabric of our beings! We were made for movement, and active movement requires fuel.
We all know we can’t drive our cars on “empty.” We are careful to check the gas tank before a journey to avoid running out of gas. Our bodies, the most precious equipment we own, should be thought of in the same way. Since I’m using an automobile analogy for the body, with the cost of gas these days, it’s nice to know a good portion of our body’s fuel is absolutely free! Don’t stick with Regular gas (common sit-at-your-desk breathing) don’t always settle for the Mid-grade (you walked the dog today,) but fill up with the Premium stuff (I worked myself into a great sweat today,) as much as possible! Think about it. If you had your choice at the pump - it’s all free, would you choose Regular or Premium gas for your most prized machine? Premium fuel comes out of the same pump as the Regular stuff, simply by adding movement. The more active the movement, the higher quality gas becomes automatically available. Awesome machines we own!
The quality of our breathing will directly correlate to the quality of our life! You want to gain vitality? Breathe effectively and efficiently. What makes us breathe this way? Our movement and activity. The more muscles we engage in our movement and activity, the more fuel is required, the more our metabolic rate raises, the more calories are burned, the more toning and control you gain over the muscle groups, and on and on go the benefits. Stay mobile. Stay active. Inadvertently “exercise” or “work-out,” in the process!
Prana also applies to a way of eating. And so, again, pranayama is the act of extending life force through fueling our bodies with vital energy. Food is another source of energy for our bodies. Simply, put, whatever is alive, not preserved, will serve to raise your level of vitality and give you the proper fuel to achieve a higher level of fitness.
Apples, skin and all, have more life than applesauce made of apples that have been peeled, cooked and often sugared. Spinach that’s fresh and uncooked has more life than spinach in a can or a frozen block of spinach in the freezer. Think a bit deeper into this prana concept and the apple from the tree, for example, allows you to also take in the vital force from the sun, the rain, and the earth that created the fruit. We, just as the ancients’ thought of it, ingest the forces of creation. Now, that’s lively eating!
The fewer ingredients a food has, the better it is for you. Your body is alive, feed it life! To cook it, when it comes to fruits and vegetables, is to kill it. These foods are far more efficiently burned and utilized in the body than items with an expiration date beyond a few days. Most canned and dry goods have a shelf life of 1 - 2 years with a scientifically engineered extended “freshness” date. Think about how long it sits within you, therefore, as well!
“Best if used by…” Beware! Many times it’s already over being at its “best” long before that date. Oats, raw nuts, buckwheat, and some other dry goods in their single, pure form are excluded. Keep your energy source simple in your refrigerator and your pantry and thereby, set up your meals and snack attacks for success, and you’ll see the benefits in your shape and fitness level.
Keep it simple and get the body you want. By changing our way of thinking, we can change our way of being. I’m 49. I’ve had four children. That’s me in the pink and orange bikini – picture taken last week from my Iphone. Get your prana-body. The simple concept of prana can bring the body you want to life.
Be well. Live well.
By Karen Cutrona-Underood, E-RYT, Owner, Blue Moon Yoga and Fitness, Inc.
One simple rule to gaining the most benefit from your workout is to breathe. Become empowered during your workout routine by bringing your awareness to your breathing pattern. While we are equipped with lungs as part of our autonomic nervous system, meaning we don’t have to do anything to make them work, it would benefit any fitness enthusiast to become aware of ways to make their lungs work better. A breathing pattern that matches your movements, for example, will give you greater endurance and allow your body to embrace, if you will, or embody that movement or exertion, with an element of acceptance. “All is well” is the message you want your body to reverberate as you physically challenge it. Breathing effectively can do this for you. Nothing “good” is retained within your body when you’re in a state of stress. So, get the most out of your workout by getting the most out of your lungs. Breathe efficiently and absorb, retain, embody your workout.
Include the practice of breathing deeply before engaging in any exercise routine as an excellent way to warm-up your body – fuel your internal fire, and prepare yourself for action. With your mouth closed, inhale fully through your nose, as if you’re drawing the air down the back of your throat. Become aware of the movement of your lungs as they fill your ribcage cavity. Exhale fully by forcing the air all the way out through contracting your diaphragm and ribcage - keeping your mouth closed. Your exhalations are just as important as your inhalations. The more toxins you can expel by way of carbon dioxide, the more oxygen you can take in to supply your bloodstream and fuel your body.
Try this breathing warm-up routine in Downward Facing Dog and add the benefits of a full body stretch. With your hands and feet on the ground, create an inverted "V" shape. Extend your arms shoulder-width distance apart, and your legs, hip distance apart. Take up as much distance as you can so that your heels become slightly raised off the ground or mat. Draw your body weight away from your wrists by pressing your hips back. This position will extend your spine and expand your ribcage to enhance the full movement of your lungs. Let your head hang down, gaze at your feet, then inhale and exhale fully.
By breathing this way, whether seated, standing or in Down Dog, on a regular basis, such as before and after each workout, you train your body to work with your lungs more effectively. The lungs are not involuntary organs. They require the diaphragm and ribcage to make them expand and contract. Simply bringing your awareness to your diaphragm and intercostal muscles between your ribs while breathing in and out, will give you the vital edge to fuel your body more efficiently, engage your systems more fully, and ensure your muscles are getting oxygenated blood flow throughout your workout. An added bonus to fully expanding and contracting the lungs is that the movement extends the tissue from collar bone to hip bone. This naturally massages internal organs and releases tension along the spine as well.
So, the next time you get ready to put your own piece of equipment to a physical test, take time to breathe. Make it a point to create a conscious breathing pattern that matches your movements. Inhale deeply when you extend, exhale fully when you crunch. Inhale when you release, then exhale when you press, and so on. Maintain rhythmic breathing throughout your activity. Not only will you see a noticeable difference in your endurance, but you will meet the challenges you put your body through with a sense of ease.
This combination, meeting challenge with ease, allows your body to retain greater muscle memory. When you finish your workout, you don’t want to walk away from it, you want to carry it with you – wear it proudly! Embody your workout, absorb all the benefits from your hard work – breathe.