Apologies to those who sought a post last week. My time in Boston wiped me out so badly, I was terribly sick (with morning sickness) for the three days following my return. It was the return flight, not the YogaFit training itself, that did me in. I’ve never been on such a long flight in my life!

 

But onward…

 

The final two days of my conference I spent in Anatomy and Alignment. Now, I’ve studied the bones and muscles that comprise the body before. It’s a part of every fitness certification you’ll take: study and memorize the major muscles and bones that move the body in its various directions and orientations.

 

A lot of people find anatomy boring. Frankly, I don’t blame them. When you’re sitting at a desk slogging through pages of bones and structures, trying to remember every term thrown at you, it is boring.

 

But this course wasn’t. We were up and moving and talking about how things like tight fascia in the sole of your foot can give you headaches. Yes, it’s true! A sore hip will cause back and shoulder problems. Tight muscles in your chest can contribute to carpel tunnel syndrome.

 

It was a fascinating class that finally put the puzzle together for me into one solid, complete picture. Finally I saw how a dorsiflexed foot stabilized the knee and even hip. Finally I realized how root lock, or mula bandha, actually originated–from the arch of the foot all the way up the inner thigh to the pelvic floor region. So often, as fitness instructors, we focus on one general area and forget that it’s connected to something else, which is connected to something else, which is connected to everything in the body. Here are a few wonderful examples:

 

  • The breath is essential to life. It is also essential to oxygenating the blood and moving the lymph through the body (with repetitive motions) in order to cleanse the lymphatic system.
  • Kyphotic, or forward rounded, shoulders inhibit breathing, tighten the chest muscles that stabilize the arms, loosen the upper/middle back muscles that stabilize the scapula and arms, and load the lower back. Hence, in addition to lower back pain, people working at office desks have higher rates of anxiety, panic attacks, headaches (tight neck muscles from deviations in the cervical spine) and lower self-esteem.
  • A posterior pelvic tilt from constant or continuous sitting lengthens out lower back muscles, tightens hip flexors and abdominals. This tilt brings the low back into flexion, and increases the likelihood of a kyphotic upper back. Over time, the region can destabilize from lack of use, creating joint instability through both the hip and back, which is why something as simple as walking can cause back strain or even herniated vertebral discs.
  • Gentle movement in all directions of the spine, particularly those that combat forward flexion of the spine, stimulate the synovial fluid in the joint capsules, reducing friction and increasing range of motion. Over time, opening up the chest (heart’s center) and building strength in the core muscles (abdominals, back, gluts–those muscles that stabilize the low back and pelvis) corrects postural deviation and improves the alignment of the entire skeletal structure. Movement with breathing ensures that this is done safely.

 

Amazing, isn’t it? And there is so much more. Sometimes, in fitness, we get swept up by thoughts of go, go, go. I encourage everyone to take a little time to study how the body integrates together. You’ll have a better understanding of how the mechanics in the body work so that you end up with a safer, smarter, more challenging workout regimen and diet that promotes strong, nourished bodies.

 

Go and learn something new today 🙂

This month I thought I’d share a few favorite recipes that I personally enjoy. They aren’t necessarily in line with “March Madness” at all, but by March, we’re all feeling somewhat squirrelly for spring, particularly those who are still caught in snow. So here are a couple great, tasty recipes for you to try, and adapt at will.

Simple Fruit Smoothie

You don’t have to go to a juice bar to get one. My favorite includes a combination of fruit (a banana + citrus/pineapple/berries), milk or juice (depending on what you’re tossing in it), flaxseed meal (for fiber), and even some light protein shake powder. (The husband also likes adding ice.) Toss it all into a blender and blend until it reaches the consistency you desire. This is a do-it-as-you-like-it quick snack or meal without added sugar!

Spinach Lasagna

This one isn’t necessarily the healthiest meal on the planet, perhaps, but lasagna is traditionally comfort food for Americans. I found this recipe recently online. It’s quicker than my meat-based one, and can be altered to make it healthier or vegan with substitutions like tofu cheeses, gluten-free noodles, and more vegetables. NOTE: noodle layer numbers are recommendations; I ended up using more per layer, and doubled the recipe.

1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

2 (10 oz) pkg. frozen chopped spinach

1/2 onion, choped

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried basil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 (32 oz) jar spaghetti sauce

1.5 c. water

2 c. non-fat cottage cheese

1 (8 oz) pkg. part skim mozzarella cheese shredded

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1 egg

8 oz. lasagna noodles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a large pt over medium heat, saute spinach, onion oregano, basil, and garlic in the olive oil. Pour in spaghetti sauce and water; simmer 20 minutes. In a large bowl, mix cheeses, parsley, salt, pepper, and egg.

3. Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the lasagna pan. Place 4 uncooked noodles on top of sauce and layer with sauce. Add 4 more noodles and layer with 1/2 of both the sauce and cheese mixture; repeat layering until finished, topping with noodles.

4. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven for 55 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Bean Dip

This one I got from a friend, and love it so well, I eat it by the dish when I want it. It’s easy to make. The original recipe calls for canellini beans, but I cannot find those where I live so I use pinto. Everything is to taste. In addition to the beans, you need garlic cloves, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and feta cheese.

1. Soak dried sun-dried tomatoes in warm water for about 5 minutes.

2. Drain beans and rinse. In a food processor, chop 2+ cloves of garlic with olive oil. Add beans, salt and pepper, and process, adding lemon juice a little at a time for taste and consistency. Scrap bowl and blend again to ensure a creamy texture. Transfer to a dish.

3. Chop rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes and add to beans. Then add feta cheese as desired. Stir together with spatula. Eat fresh (for milder taste), or refrigerate for 2+ hours.

4. Serve with corn chips, pita chips, crackers, fresh bread, etc.

With spring right around the corner (or at least the Easter bunny, it seems, judging by the chocolate lining store shelves), many are thinking about “getting healthier” now that it’s becoming nice outside. Here are some great articles to help guide your way as you prepare to clean up your diet, change your exercise regimen, or just plain boost your confidence in continuing on in what you’re doing. Keep up the great work! Only you can make the difference you want to see in your life!

 

Detox Diets: Myths vs. Reality

Can Your Vegan Athletes Match Their Meat-eating Competitors?

Study: A Calorie is Just a Calorie, but When You Eat it is Important Too

5 More Fitness Myths that Won’t Go Away

Kettlebell Research: What Science Says

Yoga and Posture

Health Benefits of Meditation

9 Inspirational Quotes for Loving Your Body