Connect with us

creating healthy habits

BREAK IT DOWN: The Cat-Cow

Published

on

Cat–cow is a two-part yoga flow that stretches the front and back of the body while mobilizing the spine. It’s commonly included in yoga classes and in broader fitness sessions, often as part of a warm-up or mobility sequence.

By all appearances, it’s as easy as getting down on hands and knees, arching the back to lower the belly and point head and tailbone to the sky, and then reversing the move to round the back, tucking the chin and pelvis.

But it’s common for people to move quickly and aggressively between the cow (bitilasana) and cat (marjaryasana) poses. Often, limited mobility causes them to flex and extend well only in some segments of their spines. Moving fast and forcing deep flexion and extension can exaggerate these imbalances and lead to neck and lower-back pain.

To avoid these troubles, the first thing to do is slow down. Move through your range of motion painlessly, focusing on finding movement throughout your entire spine. Inhale as you drop your belly and move into cow; exhale as you round your spine for cat. Feel free to practice each pose individually, returning to a tabletop position instead of flowing between cat and cow.

Once you gain comfort flowing with control, explore ways to have fun with cat–cow or further adapt it to your needs. Try adding lateral movement by shifting your hips from side to side with each breath, or try rolling your shoulders back each time you exhale.

Challenge yourself to try to move extra slowly; imagine articulating through the spine vertebra by vertebra.

See what happens if you initiate the movement from your tailbone, especially if you tend to lead with your head and neck.

Practice the move in a chair or other seated position for a more upright variation of the pose.

  1. Start on your hands and knees in an active tabletop position; keep your neck in a neutral position, with your eyes looking down.
  2. Move first into cow: Inhale and lift your tailbone and chest toward the ceiling, as you allow your belly to relax downward. Lift your head to look forward.
  3. Round into cat: Exhale and draw your spine toward the ceiling. Relax the top of your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
  4. Reverse the motion on an inhale to move back into cow, and repeat the sequence. Stay active through your hands and feet, but take care not to shift your shoulders and hips forward or back by pushing hard into the floor.

WEBEXTRA

Seated Cat–Cow

  • Sit upright on a chair, stool, or bench with your hands in your lap or hanging loosely at your sides, your feet parallel and hip width apart. If your chair has a back, don’t lean into it; sit on the front edge of the seat.
  • Slowly roll the tops of your hips backward, rounding your lower back and allowing your head to tip forward so you are looking down at your lap.
  • Slowly roll the tops of your hips forward, arching your lower back and allowing your head to tip backward so you can look at the ceiling.
  • Repeat the sequence slowly and with control; focus on the breath and quality of movement rather than pushing or forcing your body to stretch. Draw your shoulders downward, away from your ears, while you perform the movement, and focus on the movement in the hip joints.

This article originally appeared as “The Cat-Cow” in the May 2021 issue of Experience Life.

The post BREAK IT DOWN: The Cat-Cow appeared first on Experience Life.

Have you tried this NEW workout plan that everyone is talking about?

Unlock Your Hip Flexors

Continue Reading

creating healthy habits

Buff Bombshell Show Special Guest: Rachel Daniels

Published

on

In this week’s episode, the ladies – Emma Hyndman, The Posing Pro and Bikini Amateur Lauren Lotter – talk to the incredible Rachel Daniels. In a short but well-earned competitive career, Rachel has gone from IFBB Bikini amateur to Women's Physique pro and also made her Olympia debut in 2020. We have no doubt that Rachel is here to conquer all her goals, one being The New Era Poser.

We will be catching up with Rachel later this year to find out how she has progressed in her bodybuilding career and hear more about her continuing passion for the sport.

–Lauren & Emma

#FitnessRXforWomen #Olympia #WomensBodyBuilding #RachelDaniels

 

The post Buff Bombshell Show Special Guest: Rachel Daniels first appeared on FitnessRX for Women.

Have you tried this NEW workout plan that everyone is talking about?

Unlock Your Glutes

Continue Reading

creating healthy habits

STRONG BODY, STRONG MIND: Let’s Go Streaking

Published

on

I completed my 96th consecutive day of running today. In the past three months, I’ve logged about 185 miles.

This may or may not sound impressive to you. But for me, the part of this story that is the most bewildering is that for 96 days straight — no matter the weather (it’s been a hot and steamy summer; it’s August as I write) and no matter my mood (overwhelmingly anxious) — I have run at least one mile every day.

As someone who doesn’t identify as a “runner,” this is just wild.

The idea came to me last May. I’d spent the previous two months going on long daily walks, which was one way I coped with the early days of the pandemic. Turning one mile out of my four-mile loop into a run seemed like a good way to pick up the pace while increasing the difficulty.

This commitment lasted a couple of weeks, until a stormy day gave me an excuse to skip running and walking altogether. After 16 days of running, I patted myself on the back, lay back on the couch, and opened Instagram.

That’s when I saw one of a series of articles by my friend (and Experience Life contributor) Elizabeth Millard about the Runner’s World Run Streak, for which she profiled people who ran daily for weeks, months, even years! I was blown away. It turned out my little running experiment was nothing novel — and it even had a name.

A “run streak,” I discovered, refers to the number of consecutive days you go for a run. According to the United States Running Streak Association, all it takes is one mile per calendar day. As I dug deeper, I was inspired by seasoned streakers, including one woman who was working toward a 1,000-day streak.

On May 18, after my single day off, I recommenced with Day 1.

In doing so, I didn’t have a plan. I still just wanted to aim for a mile a day, at whatever pace felt right. I didn’t have an end date in mind: I figured my body would let me know when it was done. I promised myself that I’d listen.

Through the rest of May, June, and July, I ran my mile. At the beginning of August, on a whim, I signed up for the Twin Cities in Motion’s Looniacs Challenge to run 100 miles that month.

Now I was upping the ante by committing to increasing my daily distance from one mile to about three. It seemed like a big jump, but I was tempted — and still committed to listening to my body and stopping when it said enough.

Recovery — through proper nutrition, sleep, stress management, mobility work, and true rest — is always critical, no matter my activity. But over the years I’ve learned that recovering from runs is more challenging for me than recovering from other workouts. Although my mind loves running, my body isn’t always a fan.

So I doubled down on my recovery routine and focused on varying my running routes, distances, and intensity as much as I could.

I continued to cross-train, strength-training three times a week and doing brief yoga sessions almost daily. I’m convinced that my long history of strength, conditioning, and mobility work has supported me in my run-streak experience.

As occasional discomfort cropped up, I paid attention and took action. I invested in new running shoes and professional bodywork that I could maintain on my own. I listened to my body, yes, but I heeded my mind, too. My mind wanted to run. It wanted to know how far and how long I could go.

To date, the answer is 96 days and 185 miles. A part of me hopes that when you read this, I’ll still be streaking and feeling amazing. Perhaps I’ll be running my miles through snowdrifts, perhaps on a treadmill. Or perhaps my mind and body will have agreed to stop well before the season turned.

Either way, I’m grateful for the consistency that streaking has given me these last few months.

Each day, I’m guaranteed a workout, even if it’s just a 12-minute jog around my neighborhood. Each day, I find success by completing something hard, no matter how small or insignificant a mile might seem in the grand scheme.

And each day has been a reminder that small, hard things done consistently can amount to something huge — something that once might have been impossible.

This originally appeared as “Let’s Go Streaking” in the January/February 2021 print issue of Experience Life.

Have you tried this NEW workout plan that everyone is talking about?

Unlock Your Glutes

Continue Reading

creating healthy habits

In Training, Consistency Is the Key to Your Fitness Goals

Published

on

Consistency is arguably the most important component when working to accomplish goals, in or out of the gym. Without consistency, programs are unorganized, the body has a harder time adapting, and forming habits may be more challenging.

Build and Follow Workout Programming

Whatever your goals may be, they require a consistent level of training for you to reach them. One way to ensure consistency within the scope of your goals is to build a program. Programs make it much easier to stay on track because you won’t have to think about what you’re going to do at the gym today—it’s already written out. Most programs are designed to be followed for a set amount of time, typically about 4 weeks. Depending on the desired goal, the program will have a different focus—hypertrophy, endurance, strength, and so on. Each day is designed with the goal in mind, while ensuring that you are training in a way that minimizes imbalances within the body. If you aren’t following the program consistently, the chance of it working is reduced.

Theoretically, if you have a program and you don’t follow it, the body is not going to be able to adapt to the program because there isn’t an opportunity for progressive overload, which is when the amount of stress on the body is gradually increased over time, leading to increased strength and performance.

Work Toward Adaptations

Biologically, a lot of things happen in the body during exercise. Over time these reactions change the body to become stronger, grow, or run more efficiently. Different factors affect adaptations in everyone, so it’s impossible to predict when these changes will occur. But being consistent with training will increase the likelihood of seeing adaptations sooner.

Different modes of exercise elicit different adaptations. Endurance training will produce different changes than resistance training. While there are far too many adaptations to discuss in this blog, a few examples reported by the CDC include the following:

Improved ability of muscles to use fat as energy Stronger ligaments and tendons Increased VO2 max and lactate threshold Increased number of capillaries in muscles Cardiac muscle hypertrophy Increased force production

Each of these changes is beneficial for different scenarios. The body is either becoming more efficient or stronger, or performance is enhanced. However, these long-term benefits are seen only after consistent training over a period of time.

Create Habits

We are creatures of habit. The more we practice something, the more natural it becomes. We experience this when we learn to walk as babies, when we learn to drive, and when we exercise. It’s normal to feel out of your element when you try something new, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you feel.

Current research suggests that to make a habit stick it must be performed for 68 consecutive days. The idea of sticking with something brand new for 68 days may feel overwhelming for some people. When taking on a new challenge, focusing on taking it day by day might be a helpful mindset. Yes, we might be aiming to create a lifelong habit; however, thinking about just starting a habit to last for years could seem daunting. Start by doing it for one day, and then two, and then three, and so on.

Once you feel comfortable with one small change, add another small change, and so on. Small changes are more sustainable over the long term and add up to form new habits. There will likely be days that your plan doesn’t work out how it was supposed to, but that doesn’t mean all progress is lost.

The Takeaway

Our bodies adapt gradually to exercise. In the end, consistency will help you reach your goals. Without it, you might not have enough structure to allow for growth. Work first on figuring out your goals, determine the best route to achieve them, and get started with one step. If you’re not sure how to get started, the trainers at NIFS can help you set goals and develop programs tailored to those goals.

This blog was written by Hannah Peters, BS, CPT, Health Fitness Instructor. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Continue Reading

Trending