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Category Archives: life & wellness coaching
By Dana Chapman
Many parents and teachers find that their entry point into mindfulness is to explore simple practices with their children or students. Pausing for breathing breaks is one easy way to start this exploration, to bring some calm into the space, and to feel the effects of deep breaths on the body and mind.
Below are three examples of breathing practices that have worked well for the children I spend time with. You can tweak them to suit the age of your child/students. For example, if I’m working with young children I give them a square and have them trace each edge to match the four components of the square breath (rather than counting the breath as outlined below).
Ask the children to sit up nice and tall, making themselves as comfortable as they can. Point out that it’s much easier to take deep breaths when our posture is good! Explain that you will try a couple of different breath counts together and then everyone can choose which one feels best for them…
Inhale for a count of 3
Pause for a count of 3
Exhale for a count of 3
by: Tanya Carinci – Founder of Girls In Fitness Training (GiFT)
“Are you pregnant?”
A simple one-liner of a question asked my 12 year old niece, Alana, one spring morning in 2010. Nothing wrong with the question except for the fact, I had given birth one year prior.
I remember the heat level in my body rising, my face turning the brightest shade of red from embarrassment and the feeling of absolute mortification.
What had happened to me? Prior to giving birth to my three wonderful children, I was a beacon of health, I worked out and loved my body. Where had the old Tanya gone?
“Anxiety is extremely contagious. But so is calm.”
I have spent my professional life working with children as both an elementary school teacher and now as a yoga teacher and yoga therapist. I am constantly amazed at how much my ability to be connected to my practice, to be present and grounded, impacts my time with kids. These days, when I teach parents and teachers about sharing yoga and mindfulness with children, the heart of my message is simple but profound: Connection is what makes all the difference.
My observation is that yoga and mindfulness go hand in hand with connection. When we become more mindful, we connect deeply with ourselves and develop a capacity to connect more genuinely with others. Likewise, when we consciously foster connection with ourselves and with others, we naturally slow down and become more present.
This idea of connection is worthy of deep exploration. It seems ironic that we are living in the most connected world in history, and yet symptoms of disconnection are all around us: loneliness, sadness, anxiety, anger, frustration. According to ancient teachings, disconnection is at the root of suffering. To move out of suffering we must develop present moment awareness and a capacity to attune to ourselves and to attune to others. Attunement has been defined in the following way:
I am often asked by new students how many times a week should they practice to “nail” their chaturanga, arm balance or inversion. My answer is always the same. Be safe and start slow. Practice once or twice a week, see how the body feels and increase the days of practice from there. The benefits of a regular practice go far beyond perfecting a plank, crow or handstand.
You exercise hard you, take care of your body but you are still stuck with what the heck to eat after your spin class, yoga class or strength training session. All that hard work won’t pay off if you just throw back a macchiato and an energy bar. This is not how you “get in shape”. Your results will only surface if you eat what your body actually needs and what it will thrive on after your workouts.
With an impressive Instagram following, Toronto’s Greta Epstein and Jamie Milne — the girls behind Cleaneatz — are quickly becoming the go-to source for healthy inspiration online.
Long before “juicing” became a verb and health gurus with strong hashtag games took over our Insta feeds, Ruth Tal had a novel idea: create a travelling juice bar. That was back in 1990—a time when the Atkins diet was considered cool and vegans were considered extreme. But clearly Tal was onto something. Her juice-bar concept was so well received, it quickly became a Queen Street fixture, eventually evolving into a full-blown vegetarian restaurant—replete with juice bar—now called Fresh.
Remember when step classes were the workout-du-jour? “A-step! Grapevine! Around the world!” the perky instructor would yell into her mic (I’d finally get the hang of ‘basic left’ as the rest of the class cooled down). Thankfully, those torturous days are over with. We’ve seen dozens of fitness trends come and go since: Jazzercise, Zumba, Tae Bo a la Billy Blanks. And who could forget Suzanne Somers’ ThighMaster? (Oh, that Chrissy Snow.)
These days, we’re working out smarter. Gone are the days of marathon treadmill sessions. Now it’s all about science-based evidence—in other words, what gives you the most bang for your gym-membership buck. The latest buzz term on everyone’s radar? Functional fitness ((a.k.a. functional training). Think of it as exercises that mimic everyday, real-life activities such as carrying groceries or shoveling snow. Unlike some trends of yesteryear, functional fitness is here to stay. Here’s everything you need to know about the popular workout technique.
I was in the best shape of my life when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had spent the previous two years getting “fit for 40”. My plan was to spin, sculpt and sweat my way into the next decade. My birthday came and I never felt better. I had achieved my goal! I was fit at 40!
However, a few months later my world would be turned upside down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At my annual physical my doctor found a lump and a biopsy was done the next day. Five days later I received my diagnosis and I was in complete shock. I was scheduled for surgery and was told that I would be undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I couldn’t understand how a fit person that has a healthy diet and feels great can be diagnosed with breast cancer. My oncologist told me that because I was younger than the average patient and because I was physically fit I would have an easier recovery.
I would soon come to realize that achieving my “fit for 40” goal would mean much more than looking good in a pair of skinny jeans. Being fit provided me with the foundation for a quick recovery from major surgery and the ability to tolerate months of cancer treatments.
Moms are heroes. Remember those pesky little things called pregnancy and labour? Remember how much reading and preparing we did for those things? Well, creating a human inside you then pushing it out through a tiny hole is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of something harder, something you can’t prepare for, something that requires on-the-job, minute by minute training. Oh, and also, it starts right after you create a human inside you and then push it out through a tiny hole. You’re freakin’ tired, your body aches, your abs are torn apart, you might have staples in places a stapler should NEVER be and it starts whether you’re ready or not. Looking back, this is the easy part. Soon they’re walking, then talking (probably talking back) and the next thing you know they want nothing to do with you, and they leave to go to a party where you’re worried they’ll get pregnant because you probably gave them self esteem issues. (Just a little glimpse in to my scary mommy brain…)