Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All the best people do it in the office!

Hands up if you sit at a desk all day! 
I bet of all those hands that shot up then, most of you will be unaware of your posture while sitting and yet most of you will leave the office with a stiff neck and shoulders, an achy back and tight hips. 
I sat in my friends' office today and it was quite an eye opener - I am not really an office person, having always worked in a physical job. I think the only time I was in an office at a desk, actually working, was when I was about 18 and during my summer holidays I took a temping position. I was only there for one day because I was so rubbish on the switch board they never asked me back! Anyway, back to the point, lovely office; clean, light, smelt good...all the essentials, but I got all stressed! Everyone was hunched over their desks staring into brightly lit computer screens, madly typing away and then intermittently sitting up and tossing their shoulders back in an exaggerated stretch. The bodies were aware that something was uncomfortable but the minds were only allowing the minimum of respite before it was back to the task at hand.
Come on people! 
We only get one body it is our duty to look after it the best we can. 
Now I know that this is the age of computers and lots of you out there have a job that requires you spend a certain number of days a week at a desk and that's just the way it is, but how about spending a few minutes tomorrow morning between drinking your cup of tea and discussing whether it really is possible to make one of Jamie's 30 minute meals in 30 minutes, reassessing your seating situation?
Is your chair at the right height? Your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees should be sloping down at a slight angle. Your bum and lower back should be firmly at the back of the chair and your arms should be preferably resting on your chair's armrests so that your wrists are straight at the keyboard. 
Better already right?!
Now of course I am a yoga blogger so here goes with the lecture! When you get up to go to the loo or fill up your coffee cup or sneak off for a bar of chocolate and a quick read of heat magazine, (I know someone who does that, not mentioning any names...) take a few minutes to check in with your body. Place your feet hip width apart and do a few sideways bends and heart opening back bends (you know, discretely so nobody thinks you've gone mental!). Maybe roll your shoulders backwards and forwards a couple of times and take a stretch in your neck by dropping your ear to your shoulder on each side. The brave and confident among you could even fire up a quick sun salute or two, but then again, they may start getting your P45 ready if you do that! Don't say I didn't warn you!
When you've got a bit of oxygenated blood rushing back round your system take 2 or 3 deep inhales and exhales and finally rub your hands together quickly for 30 seconds or so (your boss will take this as a sign that you can't wait to get stuck back into work!) and then place your palms over your eyes for another 30 seconds. This will help to refresh your poor tired eyes and get you focused and ready to take on the rest of the day.

So do yourself a favour and give a bit of thought to your poor bod at the office. 
How about getting everyone to join in too. 
Tell your boss that the 5 minute yoga break will make you more productive, happier, healthier humans. Before you know it you'll be getting a yoga class going in the lunch hour...I have very reasonable corporate rates!!!

Namaste Office peeps!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oxygen rocks!

Everyone I talk to is on a bloody diet!
You see, I told you January is a depressing month! We all seem to be obsessed with becoming healthy and thin in January, then probably again in June when we realise that we have put all the weight back on since dropping off the diet in early Feb but there is less than a month until we have to squeeze ourselves into some kind of swimwear and brave the beach! I must say I hate the word diet. I am constantly on one but like to think that the phrase "living a healthier lifestyle" is so much more user friendly, so much happier and embracing of all things good. "Diet" is a horrible spiky word with connotations of deprivation and misery.
And of course yoga practice features heavily in my new healthy lifestyle. Shocker!
The thing with yoga is that it can be whatever you want it to be. It can be powering through a hot flow class and sweating your little butt off, it can be a rejuvenating half hour meditation session to calm your mind, it can even be sitting at your desk, taking a few good deep breaths to wake up after a long business lunch.
Yoga encompasses so many things and there is something for everyone.
Yoga can help with weight loss and  not only because you are up off the couch, the ice cream tub is in the freezer and you are doing something physical! Certain poses actually aid in the the melting away of hip and abdomen fat... which some of us struggle with more than others! And every yoga pose works the core so you have to tone up your middle from a regular practice if nothing else.
Yoga can also help to boost your immune system. With good breathing techniques and regular asana practice, your nervous system gets a chance to relax and in turn allows your immune system to work more efficiently. And the better our bodies are at fighting off infection, the happier and more able we are to keep up with our fitness regime. Its a win, win!
I saved the best until last!
Yoga can actually help with slowing down the ageing process! I know I sound like one of those infomercials for dodgy cream made from the placenta of the female gibbon that will not only make you look younger, but also get you a higher paying job and a sexy new boyfriend! Believe me when I tell you, it is all in the breath! We can live for a while without water and even longer without food but a few moments without oxygen can mean death. Oxygen is the most vital nutrient for our bodies and critical to our well being. It nourishes the blood flowing through us and one of the major secrets of vitality and rejuvenation is a purified blood stream. Oxygen burns up toxins in our bodies and recharges the bodies batteries. Great breathing technique, where we are bringing in maximum amounts of oxygen can benefit all parts of our body and mind. It can help to clear up our complexion, reduce wrinkles, increase efficiency of digestion, lung capacity, heart health.
It really is a miracle worker!
So come on arm chair yogis, get up and get to a yoga class. Learn how to nourish your body, to make it more efficient and to keep you looking and feeling amazing well into your old age!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Scents and sensibility

I am happy to say, that I AM BACK.
And with a vengeance! 
I have been a bit rubbish on the blogging front...a bit rubbish on the everything front come to think of it for the last few weeks. I have only run once since the New Year, I have been lax on the returning of emails, I have eaten so much chocolate that the share prices in Cadbury must be through the roof and I have not done a yoga class in....well I am too ashamed to even say! Here is where that all changes.  After a shaky and massively busy start to 2011 I finally feel, 17 days in, that I have my head above water. I am planning and getting organised and making changes and it feels great. 2010 was both the greatest and the worst year that I can remember for various reasons and I am not planning on repeating any of the "worst" any time soon, so look out  2011 I am here to kick some serious butt. I shall do it with love and respect and a generous measure of human kindness but a butt kicking it shall be!

I had an email forward last week. Now I usually hate forwards, who doesn't, but I was intrigued by the title so I broke that promise to myself about wasting time on junky email and I threw caution to the wind and clicked. 
The title was "Four". A list of four questions complete with four answers to each question about the sender. Now the first 3 were as you are guessing pointless and just a bit more than dull, but the fourth was so wonderful: Four favourite smells. 
My anonymous forwarder replied thus
  • Jo Malone Grapefruit cologne, 
  • tomato plants (in the grow bag)
  • Johnsons babies (all of them) 
  • the sweaty smell of my leather watch strap which reminds me that I've exercised (freak)

I immediately had a wave of warmth wash over me as I smelt in my minds nose (well if you can have a minds eye...) the chemical whiff of magic markers, the gorgeous fragrance of sweet peas, the wonderful aroma of freshly percolated coffee and the scent of my Mum's incredible turkey stew.
We all tend to have very strong reactions to smells, we either like or dislike them and as you know, smells are also really evocative of certain times in our lives. 
Did you know that our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than our sense of taste? Amazing huh?!
The reason why smells very often give us an emotional reaction starts at the olfactory receptors - the hairy mucusy bits. Once excited by an odour,they transmit their impulses to the brain along a pathway that is connected to your limbic system. This is the section of our fantastically complex head that deals with emotional reaction as well as memory storage, hence the strong feelings of happiness when I smell freshly mown grass, taking  me back to long summer days in my Mum and Dad's back garden when I was a child. Likewise the vomit inducing smell of Peach schnapps which reminds me of a hideously drunken afternoon in the park on my last ever day of school. 
"So what are you getting at Fee?" I hear you ask
Yoga simultaneously stimulates, relaxes, energizes and calms the entire body, allowing it to work more efficiently as well as be more open. This includes your sense of smell. I don't know about you but I have lost count of the amount of times I have been half way through a class and thought, "You know what, that candle smells hideous" or "Wow that guy next to me smells great!" 
The other day after a really invigorating session I sprang out of the studio and immediately could smell the scent of the rain about to drench me as I wandered to my car. I had never smelt the impending rain before! 
In conclusion, shower before you go to class and don't  get all perfumed up, the people around you may not have the desired olfactory reaction to your favourite scent. If you run a studio, think long and hard about the smell of your space. Does everyone like a strong whiff of sandalwood by means of a 10 year old joss stick or even a faint aroma of fresh cotton form a modest candle? And finally, if you have had sprouts for lunch, give everyone's limbic system  break and take a rain check on yoga!

Namaste Freedom sniffers!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I bloody hate January!

2011 huh?!
January is one of those odd months isn't it? First of all we have the post Christmas blues. All the hard work, organisation and excitement over far too quickly...and was it really all worth it? For all the planning and stress in early December, did it all really live up to expectations?
Why did we debate long and hard over the colour of the thermal scarf when it has just been spotted gathering dust behind the kitchen chair, label still in place?
For how many more weeks will we be dragging the oversized smoked salmon and huge wheel of stinky cheese out of the fridge for lunch?
And what if the family cannot recover from the cross words blurted out over a heated Christmas contretemps?
Then of course January would not be January without a few New Years resolutions in the mix. Naturally, New Years day doesn't count because who wants to start a fitness regime with the mother of all hangovers, or get stuck into spring cleaning their lives when the fire is alight and there is a half a tin of Quality Street to finish? Then undoubtedly there comes the guilt when it is now the 5th January and you still haven't started the clear out, no run has been completed, and you have had three rather large arguments with various people after promising that this year was to be the most serene, calm, grown up version of you of all time!
So by the time January ends you have most likely thrown out the bloody resolutions along with the salmon. You have decided for the tenth year running that they serve no purpose other than to make you ridden with guilt when you cannot stick to them. You are cranky and annoyed and disillusioned with life!
Or maybe that's just me?

So this year, I am going to pretend its February already! I will skip the days of feeling bad at the already broken promises to myself, I am going to ignore the lingering doubts about the merits of Christmas and I am going to jump straight into looking forward to spring. To the daffodils poking their heads through the soil, to new buds on the tree branches, to longer days and warmer weather. With this attitude I am hoping will come a glow of positivity. The idea is that with no January to depress me, I will get excited about pulling on my Nike's and trotting out for a run, I will relish the thought of de-cluttering my junk, I will only want to put healthful goodies into my post Christmas body and I will be a happier, calmer, nicer, more patient member of the human race.

My 39 years on this planet have finally made me realise that you are always going to be you. No matter how hard you try to change, your character and personality are always going to be the same. So instead of trying to change, just be you, but be the best version of you there is. And how you do that is not by beating yourself up about all the bad stuff but buoying up all the good.

Happy New Year Freedom Lovers!