Meditation, while not a tool used by most people, can help a variety of health problems such as chronic pain, anxiety, stress, heart health, boost mood and immunity, and pregnancy problems. These are all connected because they are impacted by stress.
Meditation can have a direct and positive correlation to stress levels. Relaxation during meditation helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves. Mentally, it can produce changes in attention, working memory, learning, and conscious perception. It is recommended that you take time to meditate about 15 minutes twice a day, as repetition is needed to produce these positive changes.
Pilates is a century old form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates. Its’ purpose is to build strength and endurance in the core(abdominals, low back, hips, and glutes) allowing for stability, control, and flexibility. It can be done on a mat on the floor or with equipment such as the reformer machine. Pilates aims to work on breathing, alignment, control, core or powerhouse, balance, and coordination. People who perform Pilates regularly note increased posture, endurance, smaller waist lines, and less pain.
Sun Salutations are the traditional way to begin yoga in increase internal heat and warm up the body. Sun Salutations can be practiced at any time during the day but the morning is a great time to loosen up stiff muscles from sleeping all night. Move through the following poses and then repeat 3-4 times.
- Mountain pose: Begin standing tall with your feet at your side, heels apart and your arms by your side
- Inhale, Lift your arms overhead, press your palms together, and draw the shoulders down.
- Exhale to hallow the belly, fold forward from the hips, and lengthen through the front of the torso.
- Inhale and lengthen your spine lifting your gaze and extending the spine
- Exhale and step your feet back bringing your torso parallel to the floor. With the arms perpendicular to the floor, align the shoulders over the wrists. Press your outer arms inward and spread your shoulder blades wide. Spread the chest open, draw the tailbone down, lift the thighs, and reach back through the legs. Reach the head forward and gaze softly toward the floor .
- From Plank Pose, exhale and slowly lower your torso and legs a few inches above the floor. Keep the elbows aligned over the wrists. There is a tendency for the low back to sway toward the floor and the tailbone to lift up toward the sky. Keep the tailbone firmly in place and the legs activated. Keep the chest slightly lifted and the shoulder blades wide. Elbows remain close to torso, not splayed out to the sides. Make sure your head is straight gazing slightly forward on the floor.
- Inhale and press into the hands, lift the torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor. Firm your thighs and turn them slightly in. Engage your arms and turn them slightly out. Tip the head back, gazing upward. Breathe steadily, lifting the chest and dropping the shoulders down and back. Relax the glutes.
- Spread your fingers and turn your toes under. Exhale; press the floor away, lift from your belly, and raise your knees away from the floor bringing your hips toward the sky. Start by keeping the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted. If possible, slowly begin to straighten knees and draw the heels down toward the floor. Draw the tailbone down and spread the shoulders wide. Release the head down, gazing between the thighs. Stay in this pose for five breath cycles.