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Category Archives: life & wellness coaching
“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…)
There are a few things new moms want to be mindful of when returning to a fitness routine after having a baby, particularly after consecutive pregnancies. 30-40% of mothers still experience symptoms of pelvic dysfunction one or more years after giving birth (i.e. diastasis recti AKA abdominal separation, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, etc). This a significant chunk of the maternal population to be experiencing a sub-optimal recovery experience, the symptoms of which are not inconsequential.
I am one of these mothers. For me, my postnatal pelvic dysfunction was characterized by severe difficulty regenerating core strength, which as a woman who prides herself and relies upon my physical strength to live life effectively, has been devastating. I’ve also experienced stubborn knock-on effects from inadequate postnatal care that are very hard to undo. Don’t make the same mistakes I have!
Statistically I am not alone, but the sad thing is that many women suffer in silence because there is not much support or information that is readily available. Our capability, wellbeing, self-esteem and long-term health as mothers becomes compromised because we haven’t had the opportunity to recover as fully as we might have.
Pregnancy took my belly for a big, bumpy, RIP roaring ride. It never occurred to me that as the baby (and your belly) grows, the chances of tearing your abdominal muscles grow as well. With each pregnancy (there were 3) my #DiastasisRecti (DR) expanded and 6 fingers deep to be precise! For those of you who haven’t heard of the DR, it is defined as a separation of your rectus abdominis, AKA your six-pack! When the abdominal muscles move aside, your uterus, bowels and other organs have only a thin band of connective tissue in front to hold them ALL in place. After baby, this condition causes your belly to stick out (yes, just like it did when I was about 5 months pregnant). I was so excited to feel good in my own body again, however, this unfortunate symptom has been quite hard at times on this mama’s soul. People (mostly women) constantly ask me if I am pregnant again. “So…you are going for the fourth?” and “When are you due?” are the most frequent questions that I get. Being a fitness instructor and wearing spandex for a living doesn’t allow me to wear “looser” attire!