Ultimate Blog Challenge

Pilates Kneeling Side Kicks

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Pilates Kneeling Side Kicks - an advanced Pilates mat exercise to strengthen torso stability and sides of the body.

If I hear Pilates Plus and SLT described one more time as "Pilates on steroids" I am going to pull out what little, short hair I have on my head.

Why does this make me so angry?

Pilates in and of itself is so hard! Most people never experience the advanced exercises, and these are where the rest of the work comes together into some crazy hard, good strength exercises.

One of those is the Kneeling Side Kicks. Basically, this is a longer lever side plank with added hip flexion and extension. You balance on one knee one hand as you kick your straight leg without moving anything but your leg. It is challenging and really good for you.

Here is my Real Pilates colleague Emily Hoffman demonstrating the Pilates Kneeling Side Kicks.

Try it and let me know what you think!

httpv://youtu.be/ASNgPXd2vnc

 

Sharing Reiki Love

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I love sharing Reiki, and especially with people I know well.

Yesterday I had the honor of sharing Reiki with my co-worker Liz Torres, who did the book covers and other graphics for our fiction stories, Zombie Killing Stoners.

Since she is a budding graphic artist and had never done a book cover before, she offered to trade for a treatment with me. She had the choice of anything I do, and she chose Reiki since it was something she had never tried before.

I hadn't shared Reiki with anyone outside of my house in a while, which made this treatment a little more intense.

At the end Liz was profoundly relaxed and said she felt "like she was floating." I will assume she had a great sleep last night.

Do you need to relax? Have a little less stress? Sleep better?

Try Reiki.

Now, when I first came to NYC I was offering Reiki routinely at Real Pilates, and every client who took a treatment loved it. People who suffered with headaches were pain free for a few days. People who couldn't sleep more than three hours straight managed to sleep through the night.

And they never rebooked, even though they would tell me every time they saw me how much better they felt after the treatment.

Two years later, I realize that many people have a problem doing things they don't completely understand. And Reiki is hard to understand.

See, I tend to be very literal-minded, but from years of experience I know that Reiki works.

I know that after Reiki I will sleep better, think better, feel better. And I don't question this anymore.

To use an analogy I've used before, I don't know exactly how many medications work, but I take them because they do produce the desired effect.

As does Reiki.

Practicing Pilates

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Practicing Pilates is like practicing anything. The more you do it, the better it gets!

The word practice is an interesting one. Somehow in our culture we tend to think of practicing as something that comes before, to get you ready for the real thing.

You practice until you get it right.

But we use the word for some pretty important things.

Doctors practice medicine, dentists practice dentistry, and engineers practice engineering. Do they ever get it right? Does the practice ever end?

I would say no, practice should never end. There is always more to feel, find, understand, and practice.

Practicing Pilates is similar. Some days Pilates is easy and some days not so much.

Some days I can find a nuance of an exercise that changes everything, and then I am off practicing again.

Some days the workout flows and I feel like practicing Pilates has paid off, and other days not so much.

How about you? Do you have any things that you practice? And are you happy practicing, or do you feel the need to get it right?

 

Control Back Pain with Pelvic Stability

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Control back pain with pelvic stability exercises.

While it is important to have a supple lower back that can move when needed, to control back pain it is equally (and I would argue, more) important to have a stable pelvis.

Why?

Glad you asked!

When you look at the structure of the human spine, it is pretty obvious that the spine has the most movement at the top and the least at the bottom. This makes sense in terms of engineering, since the bottom of the spine bears the most weight and should be expected to stay stable as the legs move below it and the ribs and shoulders move above it.

For most people, the pelvis and lower back moves every time they move their hips and ribs, leading to lower back pain and sometimes injury.

Control back pain by controlling the pelvis.

Basically, the old adage that we should "lift with our legs" and not our backs is very true! Our pelvis' should stay stable as we bend our hips and knees to engage the lower body during heavy lifting, or any lifting.

This skill can be taught with squats, neutral bridging, knee folds, knee ups, etc.

Here is my video explaining pelvic stability, why it is important, and how to strengthen your pelvis and lower back for greater stability. Control back pain with pelvic stability.

httpv://youtu.be/bHHhT_nSdbk

Happy Birthday Mom

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Happy birthday Mom - My mother would have turned 83 today.

I have been slowly getting better since my parents died. But today I am sad.

This would have been my mother's 83rd birthday. She spent the last 20 years institutionalized, first due to untreatable bipolar disorder compounded by dementia, and then spent her final 3 years in the nursing home in hospice acre for her failing physical body.

The last time I saw my mother, she was dying. She passed less than 24 hours from our visit.

Happy birthday Mom. I know you are in a better place.

5 Pilates Tips to Improve your Workout

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Here are 5 Pilates tips that will improve your workout.

It's almost the end of January, and we are still seeing a steady stream of new clients coming into Real Pilates. Since I see so many newbies taking classes and privates, I thought I would give everybody five easy ways to improve your Pilates workout.

1. Don't press your lower back down constantly.

I know, you hear the words "scoop your belly" or "navel to spine" and it seems like you should be flattening your lower back all of the time.

Not true!

Your spine has a natural curve, and the lumbar vertebrae are built to curve slightly forward, towards your navel. So when we Pilates teachers say "pull you navel to your spine," we mean for you to keep that natural curve and just pull your abs closer to your spine - not flatten your curves!

2. Breathe consciously and often.

Most people I know tend hold their breath when exercising. This actually makes things harder instead of easier, and can put you more at risk for injury. Your ribs, which comprise a full half of your spine, move along with your breath. Your abdominal muscles help move the diaphragm and ribs to take full breaths, and I view breathing as a primary, basic abdominal exercise.

Since Pilates helps with spine mobility and abdominal strength, the breathing part is crucially important to the system as a whole.

If the prescribed breathing pattern doesn't work for you, ignore it and just breathe.

3. Keep it simple.

Most good Pilates teachers will offer several versions of an exercise, each a little more complex than the last. If the basic exercise is ridiculously hard, don't move on until the basic version feels do-able. Doing too much too soon can cause injury.

4. Work your back.

If you went by how people tend to characterize Pilates, you would think it is all abs and no back work.

Not so!

Joseph Pilates knew that all of the muscles in the body need strength. A weak back is just as bad as a weak front, and puts you at risk for injury.

5. Work your butt.

I see so many folks who have extremely weak gluteal muscles (butt muscles). Our glutes help to extend our hips (so important for proper gait in walking), support our legs, and keep our lower backs stable.

Use them! If your hamstrings always cramp when you bridge, for example, I guarantee that you are using your legs too much and not your glutes.

Keep these tips in mind during your next Pilates class, and you will have a more efficient and effective workout.

Healthy Banana Bread Recipe

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Here is my Healthy Banana Bread Recipe that I have used for years.

I love banana bread, so a few years ago when hubby and I decided to overhaul how we were eating I went through and updated my banana bread recipe to make it healthier.

It is still very moist, sweet, and delicious. Full of good fats, lots of fiber, and anti-oxidants (from the chocolate chips).

  • Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease a standard loaf pan (I use spray oil).
  • Beat 2 large eggs in a small bowl with 1-3t of vanilla to taste.
  • Mash 2-3 mushy sweet bananas in a separate small bowl.
  • In a separate bowl mix 2/3 cup whole wheat flour with 2/3 cup ground flax seeds, 1/2 tbsp baking soda, 1/2 tbsp salt, 1/2 tbsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tbsp baking powder.

Place 1/2 cup raw sugar in a large bowl and mix with 5 tbsp cold pressed walnut oil (I have also used peanut and coconut oils) - about a minute with hand mixer.

Using hand mixer, blend flour mixture into sugar mixture in 2-3 parts, and then add eggs along with vanilla extract to taste (1-3 tbsp) and take a spatula and fold in the mashed bananas.

And here's where I stir in 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. They are optional.

Put in loaf pan and bake for approximately one hour on middle rack of oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it sit in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a rack. Slices should be about 1/2" - no thicker!

I also make this with pumpkin instead of bananas, adding nutmeg with the cinnamon.

Enjoy!

  • Banana bread
  • Banana Bread
  • Banana Nut Bread