- Starting Position — Standing with the upper body against a wall or door jamb; arms in cactus position
- Action — Inhale (hold); Exhale (gently bring the arms to parallel in line with chest while humming)
- Reps — 5 - 8
Mind + Body Movement
This is a promise, not a slogan. From equipment to learning to listening, we are with you every step of your journey. Welcome to all that moves you.
Looking out for #1 doesn’t make you selfish - it keeps you alive. This is a difficult lesson to process, as we are conditioned by society to believe that our only value is in our productivity, and there’s often an unspoken correlation between self-care and vanity. Yet, no one would say that maintaining your car, or your houseplants, or taking a shower is vain; in fact, without proper maintenance, none of the aforementioned items can survive without proper care. Having a strategy that works best for the way you adapt to change is key - here are some suggestions for prioritizing new health and wellness habits.
Reclaim Your Aaah - Five Easy Moves to Reduce Stress
The start of a new year brings new hopes and possibilities, but the accompanying uncertainty can also bring stress and tension that may destabilize our plans for progress. Here are five simple movements to be performed individually or as a series to calm both mind and body.
Benefits: Humming can calm the nervous system and regulate the heart rate, chest opening allows for improved breathing
Benefits: Releases tension in the back and neck, brings focus to breath for improved breathing
- Starting Position — Standing with upper body against a wall; feet one full step ahead of hips; arms by sides
- Action — Inhale: roll down to a comfortable spot while keeping low back supported on the wall. Exhale: sway the torso to one side, allowing arms and head to tag along tension-free. Inhale: sway to other side, repeat
- Reps — 4 - 6 sways
Benefits: Humming can calm the nervous system and regulate the heart rate. Releases tightness in shoulders and neck, stretches chest and thoracic spine
- Starting Position — Prone with arms in cactus and forehead resting on a towel
- Action — Inhale: Shrug shoulders tight to ears. Exhale: Widen shoulders away from ears as gaze travels along the mat and up to the wall, keeping forearms and palms heavy
- Reps — 3 - 5
Benefits: Reduces tightness, increases circulation, brings focus to breath for improved breathing
- Starting Position — Supine with arms and legs extended to the four corners of the room
- Action — Inhale; extend the opposite arm and leg away from the midline of the body, allowing the back to arch and the throat to open.Exhale; to release to center, allowing the body to “melt” back to a neutral supine position; Repeat on other side
- Reps — 3 - 6
Benefits: Grounding, stress release
- Starting Position — Supine with knees to chest, holding on to knees
- Action — Inhale; while holding on, let one arm and knee open to one side Exhale; return to center Repeat on other side
- Progression — Inhale; while holding on, let one arm and open to one side and allow the body to roll along with it; head is last to arrive Exhale; open top side of body to other side, allowing the body to roll along with it; head is last to arrive
- Reps — 2 - 4
Sweat the Small Stuff: Strategizing Self-Care
Whether your intention is to embark on a new wellness journey or revisit an old one, the best way to succeed is to first demonstrate the importance of self-care to yourself, determine which aspects you want to change or enhance, then create a strategy to reinforce those aspects by creating habits that make your pursuits enriching and rewarding. In the end, your self-care strategy will allow you to enjoy a better life experience overall - and you’re worth it.
Appointments have value and seeing an appointment on the schedule is apt to make us jump to action! By creating an appointment for self-care, we’re telling ourselves that this action deserves prioritization, and we’re much more likely to keep that appointment if we see it visually.
Even with the best scheduling strategy, sometimes a full 60-minute workout isn’t impossible. Post-Its to the rescue! Jot down your favorite (and perhaps your nemesis) exercises onto sticky notes and place them around the high traffic areas in your home or office space, for a quick and easy remedy to your scheduling woes. When you walk past a note, pause, and do the exercise listed. It may seem like nothing, but research shows that shorter bouts of exercise can help create long term habits and can be much more fun!
Fun With Friends
Having a buddy to encourage, motivate, and commiserate with can help you stay focused on your goals - especially when you’re striving to create new habits. From accountability (no one wants to let their friends down) to comfort (trying new things can be hard), having a friend you can trust to support your goals can be a critical part of your self-care strategy.
Reward Good Behavior
If it works for children and pets, it can work for us too! Rewarding ourselves for achieving our goals is a great way to reinforce habit formation - it allows us to see our growth, serves as a physical manifestation of our change, and helps us develop our intrinsic motivation “muscles” through extrinsic rewards. With time, it will become easier for us to continue to support our new habits (or break bad ones). Be sure to choose a reward that’s relevant to the habit you’re trying to create, so you’re able to readily associate the habit with the joy of success!
Tis the Season for 12 Days Of
Feel Good Mind + Body Movements
NCPT, ACE, BBMI
Standing roll down sway side-to-side
Benefits: This movement sequence brings awareness to the lower back so take your time and let is release.
Stand tall with your feet firmly pressed into the ground. Start to roll your spine down and let your upper body hand low with your knees slightly bent. Start to sway your upper body over to one heel then to the other.
Ear to shoulder with chin circles
Benefits: This is an amazing way to release tension that might be held in the upper traps and neck muscles.
Standing or seated bring one ear to the same side shoulder and turn your head slightly towards the floor. With your opposite arm slightly behind you start to make little chin circles with your head. Perform 3-4 in each direction.
Benefits: What a wonderful way to increase circulation, bring clarity, and improve mobility of the body.
Standing with your feet hip width apart start to twist your entire body side to side.
Supine knee sways
Benefits: This is a great way to release tension in your lower back and increase mobility in your hips.
Start on the floor completely on your back with your feet on the floor knees bent. Start to rock the knees and hips side to side. Allow your lower back to move as well.
Paint the wall stretch
Benefits: This is a great way to stretch the front of the chest and shoulder.
Standing facing the wall like you are going to do a push up against the wall. As you bring your body closer to the wall slide one hand out to the side along the wall and bend the other arm’s elbow to support you.
Standing knee circles
Benefits: Feeling a little tight in your hips? Feeling sluggish by sitting down too long? Try these standing knee circles to bring circulation into your entire body!
Start standing and bring one knee up and around in a circle before returning back to the floor. Alternate legs.
Standing heel lifts
Benefits: This is a wonderful way to bring oxygen into the body mindfully.
Begin in the standing position with your knees and toes pointed forward. Place your hands on the ribs. Start to lift your heels off the floor on an inhale and lower the heels back to the ground on the exhale. Breathe deeply so that your ribs move out on the inhale and in during the exhale.
Side breathing (one lung)
Benefits: Truly a great movement to lengthen the side of body, lower back, and bring awareness to your breathing.
Start seated or standing with one hand on the opposite side of your torso along the ribs. Place one hand behind your head and start to side bend away from the hands that are holding your ribs. Start the movement with a small side bend and inhale, then go deeper with another inhale, and finally to your best side bend on your third inhale before returning to the standing position.
Turn the dial shoulder release
Benefits: Feeling stressed in your neck and shoulders? Get some circulation going in that area with this movement pattern. Allowing the neck and shoulder muscles move through upward and downward rotation truly brings circulation and mobility into that area.
Start seated or standing with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders, elbows pointed down and relaxed. Imagine your shoulder blades as dials on the clock. As you start to twist your hands inward your shoulders will start to upwardly rotate - take an inhale here. Return the fingers to point up as you downwardly rotate the shoulders - exhale here.
One Leg Holiday Dance
Benefits: Use this leg twist move to bring mobility and circulation to the hips.
Who doesn’t want to get in the holiday spirit with a little dance? Start standing and place more weight into your supporting leg. The other leg will start to twist in and out. Turn the knees and toes inward (internal rotation) then turn out (external rotation).
Back Bend Stretch
Benefits: This movement can help counter the effects of sitting for long periods of time.
Sit at a desk all day? Tight muscles in the front of your body? Try this back bend stretch on for size. Start standing with your hands on the side or back of your hips. As you inhale start to press your hips forward and beam your chest up towards the ceiling. Exhale to return to the start position.
Seated knee rocks with torso twist
Benefits: This is a great sequence when you need a little bit of hip and low back movement. Maybe you have been sitting for a long time or feeling stiff around your hips? Doing these knee rocks will definitely loosen you up and getting you going for the rest of your day.
Begin seated and support your upper body with your hands slightly behind you on the floor. Knees are bent and feet are flat the floor. Rock your knees and hips side to side but try to keep your upper body steady throughout the movement sequence. Let your hips go with the movement to release the back.
Give the "Gift of LOVE" this holiday season
NCPT, ACE, BBMI
We all have a preferred method of communicating and expressing love. I am a big fan of “love languages,” based on the concepts in Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. Here are some great “love-themed” gift ideas that don’t necessarily drain the wallet. The wonderful part of these concepts is that these gift ideas are timeless and can be given throughout the entire year. Here are my favorites:
Acts of Service
This love language centers on doing activities that make life easier or more enjoyable for other people. Examples include running errands or doing chores. Could you give someone the gift of time? Know someone who is swamped with daily tasks? How about you give them the gift of time by performing some of their duties? An example would be a busy parent driving their kids around for multiple after school activities. Give the gift of your time to perform this task while the parent takes the evening off.
This love language centers around togetherness. Can you give someone your undivided attention? Could you give someone the gift of your company? How many times have we told a friend or family member that we need to “get together” soon? Make a date, confirm it, and meet.
This love language centers around receiving tangible and intangible gifts. Could you give someone the gift of gratitude? We are surrounded by so much immediate gratification. Make a list of all the little things that bring a smile to your face. Can you send a hand written note of thanks to those friends and family?
Words of Affirmation
This love language centers around words spoken or written that confirm, support, uplift another person in a positive manner. Could you give someone the gift of affirmation? Bring positivity into the workplace or next gathering. Pick 2-3 people and intentionally focus on their positive traits and tell them.
This love language centers around the physical touch. Ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love through hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and other thoughtful touches. Could you give someone the gift of contact (of course, everything within reason and consent)? Do you know someone who tends to offer physical connection when communicating with you? Maybe close the communication loop by offering some type of physical contact you are comfortable with, including a pat on the shoulder, handshake, fist pump, etc.
Six Practices and Habits of Daily Gratitude
Balanced Body Master Instructor
Say “THANKFUL” first thing in the morning as you awake
Benefits: This morning connection and verbalizing of the word “GRATEFUL” allows the mind and body to start the day with harmony and positive connection. Try and do this every morning to create a new morning ritual and habit that starts your day off with positive thinking.
As your eyes open and you step out of bed, place one foot on the floor and say “Thank”. Place the other foot on the floor and say “Full.” It can be said out loud, whispered, or in your mind.
Mantra “I am Enough”
Benefits: This simple act of self-love allows us to remember our worth, connect to our heart chakra, and begin a rippling effect of gratitude to ourselves. This practice is essential for connecting back to our Divine Inner Self.
This Mantra can be done either sitting or lying down. Place your right hand over your heart and your left hand over your right. Inhale deeply. As you Exhale say “I am Enough,” and repeat 4-6 times.
Journal three things that you are grateful for
Benefits: This practice allows us to tap in to the good that is currently in our life. During difficult times, there is always something positive we can reflect on and be thankful for. Placing the words on paper allows us to connect with our heart to the good we have. These sentiments are powerful to refer to and read when we need to recalibrate and shift our focus.
Keep a journal and pen nearby wherever you spend your morning. As your day begins and before you start any tasks, open your journal and write three things you are Grateful for. This can be simple statements or a few sentences of gratitude for what is currently going well in your world.
Noticing the world around you
Benefits: Taking time to stop and notice our surroundings with our whole being helps us to connect to all things in our environment. When we take time to stop and feel, connect to ourselves, and notice all the beauty we sometimes take for granted, this daily pause can feel like a mini break and be rejuvenating for the soul.
Step outside for a few minutes every day and take a moment to look around: Look down, look up, and from side-to-side and notice with all your senses what you see, hear, smell, and feel in nature. Focus on the colors, sounds, and feel the temperature and climate.
Benefits: Throughout the day you will be focusing on the good. This practice can have a great impact on our mood, sleep, and relationships. It allows us to face the day from a place of serenity and calm and makes space for the good to come in and be felt. It’s the gentle nudge of gratefulness that can have a rippling effect on our daily experiences.
Choose an object like a rock or crystal and carry it with you throughout the day. Place it where you can see it and keep it nearby. When you see it, think of something in the moment that you are grateful for. Keep this simple and organic--the first thought that comes to your mind.
Move with Gratitude
Benefits: Going inward during physical movement allows us to appreciate the capacity of our bodies in the moment. We become more focused on the experience and do not take for granted the gift of being able to move in that moment. Going inward, seeking connection, and feeling fortunate in our abilities within our bodies is one of the greatest acts of self-love.
While you are moving, focus your mind specifically on all the body parts that are moving well. Notice how breathing feels while you are running. Notice the parts of your body connected to the reformer during footwork. Notice how the ground feels beneath your feet while in a yoga pose.
Gratitude Everyday Workout
8 Movements to Boost Your Mental Health
By Lindy Royer, PT, NCPT, Balanced Body Master Instructor
Supine Rotation on Spinefitter
Body+Mind Connection: Spinal and trunk mobility, whole body integration, parasympathetic activation
Benefits: During times of stress and anxiety, the breath, spine, and trunk tend to be held in a protective pattern of tension. Rotation helps to keep the spine, trunk muscles, lungs, shoulders, and hips mobile, creating a sense of freedom in the body. Twisting the body allows the organs to move more freely
- Starting Position — Lie on your back on the Spinefitter, a towel rolled and placed lengthwise, or flat on your mat with the feet wider than shoulder width apart, arms comfortably out to the side.
- Action — Focus on taking deep, slow breaths in and out through the nose. Gently take the knees to the right, allowing the pelvis and feet to follow the legs. Simultaneously turn the head gently in the opposite direction. Alternate side to side 8-10x each direction
Body+Mind Connection: Breath, Concentration, Memory
Benefits: Enhanced mental acuity and focus, stimulates release of endorphins and contributes to a sense of relaxation
- Starting Position — Lie on the back in a comfortable position with the knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip distance apart
- Action — Focus on taking deep, even breaths of approximately 4 counts in/4 counts out. Create the cadence that is most comfortable for you. As you inhale, simultaneously lift one arm to a 90° shoulder angle (vertical) and the opposite leg to a 90° angle at the thigh with the knee bent. As you exhale, lower the arm and leg to the floor. Coordinate the breath and movement. Alternate 5-8x each side
- Progress this exercise: Add another challenge by turning the head in the direction of the moving arm.
All 4’s Crawling and Child’s Pose
Body+Mind Connection: Trunk and limb coordination, natural movement in the body
Benefits: Helps to “reset” the nervous system,restores the cross-body connections we need for efficientwalking, creates a sense of fun and play
- Starting Position — All 4’s position on the floor, with hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips
- Action — Crawl forward 5–10 feet and reverse by crawling backwards. Allow the body to move in whatever fashion is comfortable and notice the timing and coordination of crawling. Could you make this movement easier, freer, or more relaxed? Simply play with the movement. Change directions as if you’re a child exploring your world. 2–4 mins. Relax by pressing the hips back over the feet to rest in child’s pose. Breathe deeply 60-90 secs
- Progress this exercise: Do these crawling activities in a bear-crawl position by lifting the knees off the floor—keep the knees as low as possible so the trunk stays parallel to the floor
Half Kneeling Rotation
Body+Mind Connection: Balance, coordination, spine and rib mobility, breath
Benefits: Opens the ribs, thorax, and shoulder girdle, increases spinal mobility, facilitates improved breathing to provide more oxygen to the body and brain; improves creative and critical thinking
- Starting Position — On floor or mat with one knee on floor and the other forward in a ½ kneel position. The front shin and back thigh are at a 90° angle to the floor. The hands are interlaced behind the head (not the neck) with elbows wide. Torso/chest/head face front
- Action — Breathe deeply and slowly. Exhale fully and turn the ribs, shoulder girdle and head as far as you can toward the front leg. Pause and inhale fully. Exhale fully as you return to the start position. Exhale fully as you turn the ribs, shoulder girdle, head, and hips/pelvis as far as possible toward the back leg. Pause and inhale fully. Exhale fully as you return to the start position. Repeat 5x and switch legs.
- Progress this exercise: For an added challenge, add a prop like Balanced Body’s SmartBell®. Hold the SmartBell out in front of you and turn side-to-side slowly while breathing deeply. If you don’t have a SmartBell, you can use a household item like a broomstick, dowel, or simply hold a towel between your hands. Repeat 5x and switch legs.
Floor to Standing
Body+Mind Connection: Whole body natural movement, coordination, balance, control, problem-solving and spatial awareness
Benefits: Integrates the feet, legs, and trunk, improves strength and mobility in the trunk and lower body, increases balance and longevity, and supports a sense of feeling grounded and centered
- Starting Position — sit on the floor in whatever position is accessible to you. If you have multiple options, great! If you find sitting on the floor challenging, use a pillow, cushion, or stack of towels for support
- Action — If possible, sit with the legs crossed. Without using the hands, stand up. With control, lower yourself to the floor. If you can do this, try sitting with the legs crossed the opposite (unfamiliar)way and stand up/sit down with control. If none of this is possible for you right now, explore ways you could move from the floor to standing, including using your hands on a chair for support. For example, you can come up to ½ kneeling as with the previous rotation exercise, hold on to a chair, and stand. Lower yourself to the floor in the same fashion. Start with sit stand 3x and progress to 5x
Standing Balance & Coordination
Body+Mind Connection: Balance, cognition, mental focus, whole body spatial awareness and coordination
Benefits: Training balance and coordination improves cognition and memory in adults, creating better recall and spatial awareness
- Starting Position — stand on your mat or floor, feet approximately hip distance apart
- Action — Shift weight to one leg and lift the other leg as high as you can toward the chest with bent knee. Take the lifted leg out to the side, keeping the thigh as high as you can. Lower slowly to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. 5x each leg. If needed, you can support yourself by holding a chair with one hand
- Progress this exercise: Stand on a variety of surfaces—grass, a thick pad, uneven ground, sand. Finally, can you repeat the pattern with the eyes closed?
Coordination with Music
Body+Mind Connection: Memory, whole body coordination, endurance, and performance
Benefits: Moving to music can reduce anxiety and depression, boost memory, build endurance, reduce fatigue, and improve your response to pain
- Starting Position — find a song you love that plays at approximately 115-120 bpm. A simple internet search will give you the beats per minute. Alternatively, search “songs with 115-120 bpm.” Stand hip width apart on the floor. Press “play”
- Action — In time with the music, step one foot to the side and bend at the hip and knee of the moving leg. Return the leg to start. Alternate side to side. Progress by taking the movement lower and lower, and wider and wider until you are lunging side to side. Add a torso twist and take the opposite elbow towards the inside of the knee. Continue to the end of the song
Breathing on Spinefitter
Body+Mind Connection: Breath, Parasympathetic Nervous System activation
Benefits: Calms the nervous system, slows heart rate, improves oxygen delivery to the brain and body, reduces muscle tension, and creates a sense of well-being
- Starting Position — Lie on the back on a Spinefitter. If heat is beneficial to you, use the heated Linum wrap. Alternatively, lie on a heated rolled-up towel (the dryer works well for this purpose). Knees are bent, feet flatStarting Position — Lie on the back on a Spinefitter. If heat is beneficial to you, use the heated Linum wrap. Alternatively, lie on a heated rolled-up towel (the dryer works well for this purpose). Knees are bent, feet flat
- Action — Breathe slow, deep inhalations and exhalations through the nose, allowing the abdomen to rise and fall with the breath. If the mind wanders, bring your awareness back to the simple act of breathing deeply. Continue for 3 – 5 mins