My focus for January is getting my hamstring back in top form and strengthen my body so this doesn’t happen again. I’ll slowly get back into running and will be focusing on yoga and stretching with some more intense workouts in 2015 (guess that’s a new year’s resolution).
So for January, I’m going to give this Posture Challenge by Jodi Higgs a go!
Anyone starting off 2015 with a monthly Challenge?
What’s your number one New Year’s Resolution/Goal for 2015? (I’m still planning mine)
New Year’s plans?
Notes from Jodi Higgs:
Posture….the intricacies, importance, and benefits of good posture is where we’re going this month. The truth about good posture is that it involves a lot more than just standing up straighter, pulling those shoulders back, and tilting up your chin. The muscles engaged in finding and maintaining good posture involve muscles throughout the entire body: strong flexible abdominals, back, glutes, pelvis, legs, hips, shoulders and neck. The need for a powerful core, and a lengthened and strengthened back from neck down to the butt is necessary for the body’s natural positioning to all fall into perfect place.
The importance of good posture is evident when you consider the plentiful benefits:
1) The most obvious benefit involves avoiding overall health complications! Many painful difficulties with back aches, slipped discs, back pain, sciatica, shoulder pains, pelvis and hip misalignment, pressure inside our chest, poor blood circulation, compromised digestion issues and neck pain and headache are caused by poor posture.
2) Good posture facilitates breathing; enables us to breathe properly by opening up our ribs and lungs. Healthy lungs equal a healthy body.
3) This increases our ability to concentrate and think. The more air we provide our brain, the more oxygen it gets, and the more brain food it receives.
4) Good posture improves our image. It helps us to look thinner and taller. Research has stated that people with good posture appear smarter and are more attractive than those who don’t.
5) Having good posture makes us feel better about how we look. We know that good posture increases our self-confidence.
6) And finally…most importantly, a very recent study found that good posture even increases our sex drives and improves our sex lives, which just proves how interconnected this body of ours is! When we’re feeling stronger, looking better, and exuding confidence, it makes all kind of sense that our sexuality and sex appeal would also increase. Not only that though, this same study showed that good posture even changes our hormones, specifically a decrease in cortisol and an increase in testosterone. There’s actual science behind this sex drive claim.
And, if you still need convincing……http://www.medicaldaily.com/better-posture-better-sex-life-lower-energy-levels-slouching-may-lead-low-sex-drive-304488
So, really… this is the 30-Day Sexual Libido Challenge. Has a nice ring to it. Aren’t you glad you stopped by? I could have chosen a hundred exercises for us this month. Instead I chose 4. And together they form a very well-rounded and complete posture workout that should supplement nicely any other daily exercise routine you are already doing.
As always, please watch the videos I’ve linked to before getting started. Be conscious of proper form and listen closely to your bodies. Adapt and modify the Challenge as you please in order to find your own personal success.
Here we go:
Cat & Cow Sequence
This is the perfect place to start each day… warming up with a light flow movement, working to stretch and lengthen the entire spine, finding some nice rhythmic deep breathing, opening the hips, abdomen, shoulders, back and neck, and calming the mind, finding focus and emotional balance. It IS as good as it sounds. One of my absolute and ultimate favourites….one that everyone can do (even perfect for pregnancies!).
Inhale as you raise your head up into cow and exhale slowly and deeply as you fold in to cat.
Cat & Cow video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqnua4rHVVA
The Pilates Roll-Up
It is said that each pilates roll-up is equal to at least 6 regular sit-ups and will not come easily or naturally to some folks who may have been relying on the larger leg muscles, instead of the entire range of abdominal muscles. This is a highly effective core exercise that involves completely rolling up and down into a sit-up, vertebrae by vertebrae. The video link below demonstrates an early modification for you if you are not ready for a full roll-up with straightened legs. Bend your knees and use your arms to help you up, while focusing on that spinal curvature and engagement of the abdominal core. You’ll get it eventually!!
Video for the Pilates Roll-Up:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1pWz27ln-U
The Half and Full Locust Pose
This may be a weird one for you, if you’ve never practised Bikram yoga before. There are a number of variations of Locust pose that look a lot like Supermans, with both arms and legs raised while lying on your stomach. This incredible back strengthening exercise is odd for some because it actually is a mini backbend and most folks are not accustomed to bending any which way but forward. I like this variation of locust pose because it focuses on the legs only, while still benefiting the shoulders and upper back. The benefits are numerous: aside from strengthening the muscles of the middle and lower back, and increasing flexibility through the spine, this exercise also massages the internal organs, improves digestion, firms the buttocks and hips, increases circulation, may help cure tennis elbow issues, stimulates the endocrine, nervous and reproductive systems, and improves concentration. It is especially recommended therapeutically for lower back pain, sciatica, and even slipped discs..
Check out the video if you’re not familiar with this one. Be very aware of the set up of your arms and hands. They are placed palms down with pinkies together and fingers spread out wide almost gripping the floor. It’s a rather unusual set-up if you’re new to this one. We are going to do one leg, then the other leg, then both legs together. Also note in the video that your head position changes when you do a single leg (head looking up with chin on the floor) and when you lift both legs together (face must look straight down here with nose on the floor, in order to have safe spinal alignment as the legs rise up.)
Here’s the video. Watch it for sure:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uga4Cpn9aig
Primarily, this exercise focuses big time on the quad muscles in your upper leg, but the wall sits truly do work the entire muscular system of the lower body. The quadriceps and butt work to hold the body in place, and this is necessary for overall body posture. Since this is an isometric exercise, the endurance in the lower body muscles improves the longer you hold the position. This is a safer version of squats for those with poor knees or hips, as the support of the wall helps take the pressure off those areas. Pay attention too to your upper body on the wall, making sure your shoulders are even and solid. Focus also on your lower back and slightly curve your tummy inward towards your spine, in order to decrease or eliminate any large gap that exists between your lower back and the wall. This is crucial to good posture; one where the pelvis is slightly tilted inward and the spine is lengthy and straight.
Our Challenge this month has us practising wall sits in a few different ways: sometimes higher repetitions but short 5 second holds, or fewer reps with longer holds. We also use a ALAYC approach – where you sit yourself down and hold the pose for “As Long As You Can”. (might be nice to record these times in order to see your improvement over the month).
If these don’t get your legs shaking, nothing will!!!
Here is the video demonstrating the wall sits:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-wV4Venusw
Note from Piper’s Run: I’m not a fitness instructor, Doctor or certified personal trainer – just simply sharing a challenge I am doing.