STRETCH & REST CARE for the wellness warrior
I’ve known what I wanted to share with you this month, but it’s been delayed because you know life…
I’ve had to focus on family and taking care of my energy to celebrate my dad’s life as he passed away peacefully with my brother’s and I by his side at the end of July.
The more I look at pictures and have memories pop up, it’s becoming clear that dad was a big influence on my love of nature & water which ties into what I wanted to share with you.
I grew up on South Florida beaches and lakes just like dad. My dad was a Bass fisherman his whole life. He later became a hunter after we lived in Louisiana, and he spent time with our Cajun relatives.
Thinking of when I was younger, it feels like the longest periods of time I spent with dad was fishing on his Bass boat. He even taught us to water ski behind it. So embarrassing!
Dad also loved to sit outside in the morning with his coffee and just watch nature. OK, so he was also known to get his BB gun out to scare away squirrels and raccoons from the pecans or bird feeders.
But this Vietnam Army vet, who called yoga therapy “yogurt” while at one of his inpatient rehab stays, had his own way of meditating by calming and grounding himself through nature or on the water. He just didn’t know that’s what he was doing.
Here are 3 ways you can easily tap into the healing power of water and nature yourself:
1. CALM YOUR BRAIN: visualize or sit in nature or near water and do some Cooling Breathwork.
2. CALM YOUR BODY: try this Qi Gong "Fountain" exercise. It’s a moving meditation to help you get in the flow and “just be water.” It can be done in sitting or standing. Kids love it. It’s a fun one to do when you need a quick break to clear your mind, calm your body, or recharge. Just 7 reps can make a difference and help you find your flow. Watch this short video to learn how simple it is to do.
3. CHALLENGE YOUR BODY & BRAIN: go Stand Up Paddle Boarding to get the benefits of the calming meditative powers of nature AND the core challenge to your balance & coordination from stabilizing on the water.
Hopefully this will inspire you to spend more time in nature or near the water. If you’re not able to get outside, you can do the first two inside. And if you’ve never SUP, well what are you waiting for? It’s so much fun and a great thing to try over Labor Day weekend.
Go try some "yogurt" :)
P.S. Summer Savings Alert. It’s time to Roll. Our favorite foam roller is on sale until 9/30/22. It’s like having a PT, Chiro, Massage Therapist in one and the closest we can get to sending our hands home with you. You can find it here*.
Then let us show you our favorite massage & stretch moves with the Rollga in one of our online camps.
*denotes affiliate link
Do you know how to get your brain and body in flow?
In sports we call it being in the zone. When a baseball pitcher is throwing a no hitter, he’s in the zone or flow.
It’s that state where you are fully present, focused and at ease. There is no effort involved. You loose track of time.
Writers and artists are in that state when their creative juices are flowing.
As you get to know your body, you can do activities to help trigger a flow state.
Here are some ways to help you get in flow.
Do any of those pop out at you as a clue to how you can get into flow each day or before tasks you need to be at your most focused or creative self?
For me, it’s movement especially for writing tasks. I typically have to move my body before I can write. Sometimes journaling will get my creative juices flowing but I get my best ideas when or right after I move my body. You know I love stretching and Pilates, but dance has always been a part of my life as well.
Is there something you do to get in flow that isn’t on this list? I’d love for you to share it with me.
And if you have no idea what helps you get in flow, pick one and experiment for a few days and track how your mind and body feel. Then compare to a different one.
Have fun with it. The more you practice, the more you can get in flow. It’ll boost your mood, energy, and add more ease to your day.
Find Your Flow!
P.S. Download this Daily Planner for more mini moves to help you get in flow each day.
If you're worn out, burned out, or just in need of a time out, our free 3 Day Rest Adventure is for you. Say Yes To Rest!
It’s time… to give yourself the gift of rest. I know how foreign rest is to so many of us especially women, caregivers, and health professionals.
We've got a 3 Day Rest Adventure to share with you - it's free so no excuses!
It’s only been 3 years since I started my own rest adventure using the rest tool of Yoga Nidra.
I found it when I was completely worn out from helping my dad through his 3rd cancer surgery in a year while he lived 6 hours away from me.
A podcast during my last commute before I moved him back to my area caught my attention and that led me on a 40 day Yoga Nidra challenge.
One nidra nap and I was hooked.
I'll never forget the way it refreshed and energized my worn-out body (and soul).
I've stuck with it almost daily since then and when I find something that is this powerful for my mind and body I always want to share it with everyone which leads me to taking another certification (i.e. Pilates, Fascial Stretching, Trigger Point Therapy).
Ironically, I found myself doing my Yoga Nidra Daring To Rest™ facilitator training during the first few months of the pandemic.
I was rapidly approaching burnout due to having to coordinate care of my complex neuro patients (and my dad) in an upside down medical system while we all were dealing with the stressors of living through a global pandemic.
Having Yoga Nidra in my rest toolbox kept me from crashing into my typical burnout cycle. I saw the signs and added as much nidra rest when I needed it as best I could to get me through it.
What I love about Yoga Nidra is that it addresses 3 layers of exhaustion- physical, mental/emotional, and soul exhaustion. Most rest tools address physical or only one area but the deep rest of Yoga Nidra using the Daring To Rest™ method addresses all three.
The best part is you don’t have to do anything except lie down and listen to a recorded meditation. You’ll get the rest medicine you need at the time.
For me, the pandemic brought on intense mental/emotional exhaustion I had only felt on that level a few times in my life- after a divorce and the death of my mom. Lots of brain fog. I couldn’t even focus on reading books which I love to do. I definitely didn’t have any creative juices flowing until about the middle of 2021.
As much as I’ve wanted to share what I’d learned in my training with our community, I had to listen to my body. The message until recently was "not yet Mollie, just rest."
Honestly before I knew about this rest tool, I wouldn’t have listened. I would have pushed through to get it out there as I know how much it helps and is needed.
Even though the message I’m getting now is “let’s go” and the brain fog has lifted, the plan is to ease our way into sharing this new rest tool with you.
I’m inviting you on a 3 Day Yoga Nidra Rest Adventure. It’s free and only takes 15 minutes each day.
All you have to do is lie down and listen to a recorded Yoga Nidra meditation at a time that works best for you.
You’ll want to commit to the 3 days in a row to get the most benefit.
JOIN US ON A 3 DAY REST ADVENTURE
PREP WORK: MAKE SPACE FOR REST
Your homework is to tune into your body and figure out what time of day you want to block off to rest for 15 minutes for your 3 day adventure. This will help you actually do it.
It can be in the morning, midday when you have low energy, at the end of your workday before you transition to your evening home activities, or just before bed to help with sleep.
The time doesn’t really matter. What matters is you commit to 15 minutes of rest for the 3 days by picking a time and blocking it off on your calendar as soon as possible. You can then schedule other activities around it.
Trust that your mind and body will get what it needs no matter the time you pick.
It’s OK if you aren’t normally a napper. This is deep rest and relaxation for your nervous system. You might just have the most nourishing nap you've ever had. Be open to testing it out. You have to feel it in your body to truly understand the benefits.
It’s also OK if you're resisting because you’re telling yourself that you’re too busy. It’s normal for there to be resistance when trying something new and rest is not something that is encouraged by our society. Let the resistance pop up, notice it, but do it anyway. You deserve to rest no matter what your brain is telling you.
SIGN UP NOW FOR 3 DAYS OF REST
Say Yes To Rest!
P.S. If you’re worn out, burned out or just in need of a time out, the free 3 Day Rest Adventure is for you. All you have to do is lie down and listen for 15 minutes. And we’ll give you 2 simple prep steps to help you actually slow down enough to do it. We’ve got you so…
COME REST WITH US!
How's your stretching going?
Did you practice calming your body with gentle stretching vs overstretching like we went over in the last Fit Blog?
Hope so because it's time to kick your stretch skills up a notch with the 3-IN-1 Hip Stretch!
It's an active recovery stretch for cyclists and spin lovers that takes less than 2 minutes.
TBH we’ve held back on sharing this one for a while. We really need you to listen to your body so you don’t injure your knee doing it. Ease into this one especially if you have tight hips, IT Band or knee issues.
Before you try these moves, please read through everything below so you get the most out of it and stay safe.
THE 3 STRETCH MOVES:
This 3-IN-1 Hip Stretch sequence is primarily a hip flexor stretch (unlocks the front of the hip) that moves into the fascia above (in your core muscles) and below (in your quad muscles) to work the front fascial line.
For each stretch move, breathe and pull your belly up and in. Pace yourself and pause the video if you need more time to focus on your form. Listen to the cues in the video but the overall sequence and flow is:
HOW TO INTENSIFY:
HOW TO MODIFY the Quad Stretch (video at 0:47 and 1:50):
Change the position entirely if needed for the quad stretch so it’s less intense and less fascia stretching at the same time:
OVER TO YOU:
The 3-IN-1 Hip Stretch helps open up the front of your hips for better posture and less tension on your back and knees.
Once you get these 3 moves down, you can do the flow in less than 2 minutes for active recovery after riding or workouts to release the front of your hips, core and quad’s.
You may notice one foot is harder to reach due to hip tightness and that one side is harder to balance due to hip weakness. That's normal but you can balance out and improve overtime with practice.
There are a lot of ways you can progress yourself with the 3-IN-1 Hip Stretch as you bring the spring back to your tissue especially if you sit a lot for work or exercise.
Team Core Power
P.S. Want more stretch moves & massage tools to release your tight & tender hip & core spots? Join us in HIP Camp™.
Do you feel pain when you stretch? If so, it’s a sign you’ve gone too far.
Remember healthy tissue isn’t stiff. It’s elastic. Bungee cord like versus rope like.
You can bring the spring back to your body with stretching no matter your age but there is an art to stretching.
Just like we've evolved from flip phones to smart phones, we've made advances in stretching that can help you have better results.
First you have to learn to stop over-stretching.
If you experience pain with stretching, your body will tighten up more.
Why? The body’s response to pain is to protect, tighten up, guard.
Gentle stretching is key to stop over-stretching.
Stop stretching as far as you can go.
Start stretching at about 90% of your pain-free range of motion.
The goal is to calm the body so the tissue will lengthen and let go.
Here are some basic stretch principles to practice that'll help improve your elasticity:
Don’t force the motion or your body will tighten up. Check in with your face and neck. Are you tensing up because the movement is uncomfortable? That’s a sign you’re stretching too far.
Always breathe while stretching to help hydrate the tissue and increase the circulation to the area. Slow, deep breaths are calming.
Be mindful while stretching and focus on what you are feeling in your body as you stretch. Imagine restoring the spring in the tissue vs. pushing to your limits to get taller or more flexible.
Stretching the fascia can feel like a burning sensation, but it should go away as soon as you stop stretching. Feel for the tissue to let go, releasing before you stretch farther into the movement.
CHANGE THE TEMPO
Stretching with proper breathing prepares your nervous system for your next activity. Fast, shallow breaths will turn on your nervous system. Slow, deep breaths will calm your nervous system.
Breathe and stretch faster before exercise. Breathe and stretch slower after exercise for recovery.
CHECK YOUR FORM
Stretch with good form and control. Hold positions for 2-3 breaths before your workouts and a little longer after workouts.
Take mini movement breaks throughout the day to help your fascia be healthy and elastic. It all adds up whether it’s 3 breaths, 3 reps, or 3 minutes of movement.
Become more mindful of these principles as you stretch each day to help you feel and move better.
Let pain be your guide at first as a sign that you need to back off. Go slow, breathe, and let the tissue let go before you stretch deeper.
If you want to make lasting changes in your flexibility and posture, you’ll want to learn how to use fascial stretching and trigger point massage tools. We show you how in our online HIP Camp™.
HIP Camp™ routines are designed to help you release your most glued down stuck spots (whether they’re from chronic injuries or intense workouts) so you can move & perform pain-free.
Let’s get you stretching with (lasting) benefits!
Team Core Power
P.S. Ready to reshape your body in less than 10 minutes a day? Join us for HIP Camp™: Stretch & Rest Posture Moves & Tools to help you have a strong, confident, pain-free body.
I'm sure you've heard about how to exercise your core muscles in your trunk area but did you know you’ve got a foot core too?
We’ve got 4 layers of muscles in feet- i.e. the intrinsic muscles. 4 layers!!! Doesn’t seem like there is enough room, does it?
Most of the time you only hear about the plantar fascia (connective tissue) as it gets all the attention when it’s flared up, i.e. plantar fasciitis.
They may not be as vocal when you’ve got a foot injury, but the foot intrinsic muscles are important too. They make up your foot core and help provide stability of the arch and control toe movements. They play a huge role in functional movements and by helping with your balance and posture.
It's very easy for them to be weak or even turned off due to tight spots in your calf and foot fascia. They LOVE to be lazy when you’re wearing cushy shoes (all that cushion in our shoes helps with impact on our joints but encourages our foot core to not work very hard).
So how about we give them some love in honor of Valentine’s day?
1. DO A FOOT CORE CHECKUP.
You probably know if you have a high arch, low arch or no arch but let’s see how your foot core muscles are doing. This might be easiest to do in front of a mirror where you can see your foot vs trying to look down at your foot. Or you could video and look at it after you do the moves.
Stand on one leg. Hold onto a counter, wall or chair if needed to but with as little support as possible. Don’t lock out your knee- keep a soft knee.
What do you see going on in the foot your standing on?
Is there any flickering going on in the top of your foot tendons or any movement side to side from trying to keep from falling over?
Or is your foot like a flat pancake on the floor with no arch? Or maybe it’s like a dead fish- limp, no life?
Are your toes holding on for dear life to the floor, so you don’t fall over?
How does it feel?
Does it hurt to stand on one foot?
Are you wondering where the floor is?
Is it hard to balance? Are your hips working hard moving side to side to keep you upright?
No judgment just look and feel what’s going on or not going on.
What happens if you bend your knee slightly? Any changes?
Now check out the other foot. Go through same questions and then compare to other foot.
Flat arches, no signs of muscle activity on top of your foot, difficulty balancing and/or your toes flexed and trying to grip on the floor are signs your foot core muscles need some attention.
One foot core may be having more issues than the other one. It'll depend on which hand you are dominant and what kind of activities you do each day. Also if you've had any injuries on one side. It doesn't matter, both sides probably need attention.
2. GIVE YOUR FOOT CORE SOME LOVE.
Massage your foot core:
Self-Massage on the bottom of your feet with your hands or massage tools will help release trigger points (tender spots). Keep it simple and use a tennis ball, racket ball or even dog toy if you don’t want to buy a massage tool. Roll back and forth from the ball of your foot to the heel or find tender spots to hold pressure on for a few breaths then move to another tender spot.
You can do foot massage in sitting or standing. Sitting is less intense than standing. Massage the bottom of your foot as described to get to the foot core muscles. You can gently massage the top of your foot with your hands but the top (dorsum) of your foot is more sensitive and more bony.
If your foot is flared up, you can do ice massage by rolling back and forth on the bottom of your with a frozen water bottle for several minutes.
An added bonus to massaging your feet is that the bottom of your foot has acupressure spots for every organ in your body. When you massage your foot, you’re sending calming signals to your whole body.
Stretch your foot core:
Stretching the tight spots in your toes, ankles, and calves in sitting or standing can help your foot core turn on.
Strengthen your foot core:
Full body and barefoot workouts like Yoga or Pilates will help strengthen your foot core.
Challenge your foot core:
Pilates Reformer work, unstable surfaces (like Bosu ball or foam surfaces) and doing band work resistance exercises barefoot are some of my favorite ways to challenge the foot core.
Support your foot core:
Good arch support will help keep your foot in good alignment which helps your foot core turn on properly. You might need some extra arch support if you have very flat feet or high arches, stand a lot each day, or do an impact sport like running. It could be a simple over the counter foam insert to a custom orthotic.
Typically, the liner that comes in your shoe is crap. You’re not looking for a huge build up under the arch. Just a little arch support so it’s not completely collapsed, and you aren’t getting pain in your feet or knees with activities. You can learn from a health professional how to use kinesiotape to calm down foot pain if you get flare ups and support your arch but it’s important to also strengthen your foot core to help avoid foot injuries.
3. DO A RECHECK.
If you try any of the above foot care tips, recheck to see how your foot core is doing. Stand again on one leg and see what’s going on down there.
Do you see more activity on the top of your foot, have better balance and/or a little bit of arch activity where there is some space between your foot and the floor?
How does it feel? Hopefully you’ll feel more contact with the floor and more grounded or stable overall.
Even though your feet are at the end of the line, they’re the first body part in contact with the ground which then causes a chain reaction up the leg and into your trunk muscles. They need just as much love as the rest of your body. Just a few mini moves for the foot core make a big difference in your posture and balance.
Give your foot core some love each day!
Want more tips on how to check your form? Here's a Fit Blog that'll help.
Want more massage tools & stretch routines to support and challenge your foot core (and hip core) We’ll show you how in HIP Camp™.
How are your feet doing? If they aren't feeling healthy & happy, it’s always good to check in on any shoes that you use regularly or that have foam soles. Whether you wear them or not, the foam in your shoes gets more dense and compresses over time.
Don’t wait until your feet hurt to do a shoe checkup.
Have they lived their best life? Are the soles worn out? Is the fabric stretched out? Are your feet hurting at the end of the day or after workouts? Do your knees or back hurt more lately?
If so, they're all signs it might be time to get a new pair.
Before you pick out a pair because of the color or cuteness, here are some shoe shopping tips to consider that’ll help prevent injury and give your foot muscles the love they deserve.
What’s your first impression after putting on the shoes? Don’t play mind games with yourself by telling yourself that you need to wear them in for that seam cutting into your pinky toe to go away.
It doesn’t matter how cute they are, if anything feels uncomfortable or off when you first put them on... you need to move on.
If they pass the first impression test, move around in them to double check your foot and heel stay in place. Stand on one leg. Jump. Walk or run a few steps. Turn and stop quickly.
Still feel good without any slipping or sliding going on? You may have a keeper.
You're aiming for just enough support for your arch and the activity you will be doing. The more impact your activity, the more cushion you will likely need from your shoe.
Caution: Be careful with the barefoot or minimal arch shoe styles, especially if you run. I love to workout barefoot to help turn on all my foot muscles but it’s super easy to injure yourself if you run or lift weights with shoes that have minimal arch support. I’ve done it a few times and it can take months to heal foot injuries. If you have a pair, you must wean into them and they aren’t meant to be worn all day. Change it up and/or take a break if you feel your foot muscles getting tired or cramping when using a minimal arch support style shoe.
Make sure you’ve got the right tread on the bottom for what you’ll be doing. Rocky terrain requires a different level of traction than smooth pavement.
If you’re committed to a green lifestyle, take the time to investigate where your shoe parts and packaging come from and whether the shipping does or does not support the planet. Here are two companies to consider:
- Upper in Alveomesh (100% recycled plastic bottles). Alveomesh is a technical fabric made exclusively from recycled plastic bottles. It brings breathability, flexibility and lightness to the shoe.
- Pannels in suede & leather
- Side V Logo in Rubber and Rice Waste (23%)
- Organic cotton laces (100%)
- Midsole made from sugar cane (53%)
- Glued outsole made of Amazon rubber (12%) & rice waste (30%)
- Sugarcane insole, Amazon rubber, recycled E.V.A. & organic cotton
- Tech inner lining (100% recycled plastic bottles) developed to acquire a better resistance to friction and provide maximum comfort and flexibility thanks to its mesh structure.
It’s actually fun to see how creative these companies are getting with recycling and athletic gear. The Veja shoe listed above is super cute too.
OK, time to go check your shoes and get to shopping.
To Happy, Healthy Feet!
P.S. Ready to have a calm, strong, well-rested body? Our online bodywork camps will not only help you Move With Ease but every camp sale supports an organization that improves the health & welfare of animals and wild life like the Beagle Freedom Project & Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Woohoo, it’s almost time to ring in 2022! Always an exciting time to push reset and have a fresh start.
We are more committed than ever to helping you move better to feel better and showing you how to rest more so you can heal more. Your body. Others. The Planet.
This poem by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes sums up perfectly the bodywork adventure ahead that we hope you will continue to join us on.
We do not become healers.
Let’s stretch to bring back the spring.
Let’s rest to bring out the bliss.
Let’s remember who we truly are and move forward together on this bodywork adventure to have more energy, ease, and flow each day.
We believe Rested, Healthy Healers, Leaders, & Creators will heal the planet.
Wishing you a Joyful, Playful & Restful New Year!
Mollie & Ender
Team Core Power
P.S. Our online bodywork camps will help you a Calm, Strong, Well-Rested Body (from the comfort of your home). Learn more here.
It’s time to move it. Move your body. Let’s face it, there’s still a ton of chaos going on in our lives. One way to release all that energy you can’t help but absorb is to move your body.
Sometimes we need to move our body to get an energy boost, but the prescription we need right now is to move our body in ways that release energy.
Here are 4 MOVES to release all the anxious energy you’ve got trapped in your body. They will all help you feel more calm, centered, and confident.
Summary: Pick one move or try them all. You may have days when you need to throw everything at it to get back in your body (i.e. more centered and calm) so you can carry on.
All is Well!
How’s it going using the Head To Toe Posture Checklist to turn on your core during workouts?
Are you more aware of how to reset your posture during your day?
One way to feel and get your core stabilizer muscles working is to hold a small ball or towel roll between your inner thighs as you run through the posture checklist or during your core exercises like when doing a basic abdominal crunch, hip bridge, plank or pushup.
If you’re ready for more of a challenge to your core, then it’s time to practice doing these posture cues while doing a mind body workout like Pilates.
Pilates exercises are some of the most powerful for strengthening AND stretching your core to improve your posture and performance.
Done right, you’ll walk out of your Pilates session a different person than going in. You’ll feel taller, calmer, centered... EMPOWERED.
Pilates is an art form like martial arts or dance. Knowing the history and purpose behind the exercises will help you experience the full benefits of it.
Just like dance, the more you practice Pilates, the more you perfect it and it becomes a lifestyle.
The first step is learning the movement pattern for each exercise then you progress to focusing on your form from head to toe while executing each exercise.
The goal is to eventually become your own coach. You can’t do that without having a good instructor to help you learn how each exercise should feel in your body.
Here are some resources to help you make sure you are getting the most out of your Pilates workouts and not just going through the motions:
Getting started and the benefits of Pilates
How to find a great Pilates Studio & Instructor
How to pick your first class & understand the most common Pilates cues
There is no better time than the present to introduce (or reintroduce) your body to the Pilates world.
I love that Pilates can be modified to be more gentle or challenging depending on what your body needs. I’ve used it with all ages and abilities.
When you stick with it, it becomes a lifestyle. It’s addictive 😊 but a healthy one.
Mollie Miller, PT