Tag Archives: mindfulness

Re-iGnite Your Senses

March26_2017.jpg

Point to Ponder:
Are you taking time to be rejuvenated by the spring season?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Just the other day I took a morning walk with a friend throughout the canyon trails in our neighborhood. Due to incredible winter rainfall that San Diego received, from start to finish the hike was bright green with proud and perky yellow and purple flowers raising tall towards the sun. At one point, a little white-tailed bunny hopped in front of us and the birds flying all around were singing loudly. Everything was happy, but after all, it’s spring, the season of opportunity.

As we walked, talked, and commented on the sights, sounds and smells of spring, she suggested that at some point I take the opportunity to close my eyes and let the senses of hearing, smelling and touching become stimulated.

Since receiving her wisdom, twice and at the end of our San Diego iGnite classes and after stretching, everyone has laid down, closes their eyes and become completely quiet. As you would expect and have experienced, laying still, closing our eyes and quietening our minds and bodies is a challenge, but when we did, real magic occurred.

For starters, at our San Diego classes, babies, toddler and preschool aged children come with their mom. We have a babysitter and most often the children play together, however as all children do, they will creep over and want to hang with mom. But on that day all of the children stayed with the babysitter and complete quiet fell over us (the actual real magic), except for a few sweet birds who sang. Then, the cool spring breeze blanketed our bodies. Two, maybe even three minutes passed and upon everyone opening their eyes, I witnessed mental and physical rejuvenation and peace.

The outdoor community exercise was absolutely rejuvenating. Rather than dash onto the next thing, we simply took a few extra still minutes to breathe, reset our body, mind and spirit, reignite our senses and truly tune into the joy of the spring season. Our ability to be renewed and present for what’s next is enhanced and heightened. This is one of the many opportunities of spring!

Throughout this week, I encourage you to take full advantage of the sights, sounds, and smells of spring and let your senses be reignited. Spend some quiet sunny time outside (even three minutes is great), alone and/or after your iGnite class, close your eyes and take a deep breath, exhale and hear, feel and smell the wonders of this season. Rejuvenation, peace, inspiration, clarity, mindfulness and tranquility are among a few guaranteed gifts this season will deliver you.


Action Item:
Spend some quiet sunny time outside (even three minutes is great), alone and/or after your iGnite class, close your eyes and take a deep breath, exhale and hear, feel and smell the wonders of this season.


 

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Be a Novice, Keep Moving & Stay Young

How to Stay Energized, Renewed and Balanced Throughout Your Summer, Part III

iGnite - June26_2016 2

Point to Ponder:
How often do you practice being a beginner?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

This weekend I attended a portion of the Yoga Journal Conference in San Diego with iGnite Leader and friend, Amy Younkman. Amy leads our yoga and Power Pilates classes, has attended the Yoga Journal Conference for many years and always returns with excellent information. While we attended different classes, the one class that we took together was led by Bo Forbes and titled “Body Maps: The Road to Healthy Aging, Pain Modulation and Emotional Balance.”  Bo teaches yoga throughout the world, and, interestingly, she is also a psychologist. She is a yogi-brainiac, and she specializes in integrating yoga, mindfulness, neuroscience, psychology and movement studies and she has worked with professional sports teams, corporations, healthcare professionals worldwide. Obviously, she is a wealth of fascinating knowledge, all of which I am so eager to share with you because as Amy and I did, you are going to love it!

First, in regard to the physical aging portion of her class, what science is finding out is that unlike what we may have once thought or been told, aging is NOT what causes the loss of muscle mass or connective tissue. Instead, the loss of connective tissue and muscle mass is what causes aging! EUREKA!

As a refresher, the reason why connective tissue is important is because it connects, supports, binds, or separates all other tissues. And, muscles are necessary because muscles are the only tissue in the body that have the ability to contract and therefore move the other parts of the body. The muscular system’s second function is the maintenance of posture and body composition. Healthy connective tissue and muscle mass is what keeps us moving and physically thriving.

Next, as it relates to mental aging, emotional balance, memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety and depression–neuroplasticity is the key. According to Dr. David Hellerstein in Psychology Today, neuroplasticity is the ongoing remodeling of brain structure (or the re-wiring of our brain map) and function that occurs throughout life. And, our day to day behavior and activity can have measurable effects on brain structure, function and health.

The key ingredient to healthy connective tissue is daily stretching and movement in every and all directions. The main ingredient for having muscle mass is strength, body weight and resistance training; and the primary ingredient for neuroplasticity is becoming an “expert beginner” and striving to participate in new movements and new experiences every day. As Bo reminded us, “The body and brain do not learn and grow from repetitive movement. Instead, they learn and grow from new experiences.” Therefore, the more we participate in life as a novice, feel incompetent and even engage in awkward and uncomfortable experiences, the healthier we are mentally and physically. BRILLIANT!

So, why is this the best and most exciting news ever?! You can access all of this goodness through iGnite! As it relates to our summer theme of staying energized, renewed and balanced, when constantly re-wiring and expanding our brain map by means of being a beginner and trying new things, the scientific proven outcome is that we are energized and experience a boost in mood. Therefore, our emotional capacity is expanded and our spirit stays uplifted!

With July 1st only a few days away, the timing of our fun summer contest to Give It a Try In July, could not be more perfect. Throughout the entire month of July, we encourage you to try all of our 28 weekly classes led by our passionate, talented and amazing Leaders. This is the ideal opportunity to re-wire your brain and body map by mixing up your exercise routine, which includes driving to new areas of town, iGniting with new members and creating new relationships.

There has never been a better time to stretch beyond your comfort zones and get good at becoming a beginner. After all, it’s in the spirit of anti-aging and health, which is TOTALLY WORTH IT!


Action Item:
Try one new thing this week.


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Finding Mindfulness…on the Mat

Finding Mindfulness…on the Mat

iGnite leader Amy Younkman

by Amy Younkman

In the day and age of quick fixes, constant fads and “7 minute workouts,” it can be hard to slow down and ask ourselves, Is this really what’s best for my body?   In our American culture, there seems to be an ongoing obsession with ‘new forms’ of exercise; for example, the latest, greatest form of functional fitness, performed in an efficient, short period of time, giving you the most “bang for your buck,” and relying on external sources to guide and motivate you.

While these forms of exercise are effective and do lead to a fit, strong body, they are only part of the picture if we are truly seeking a healthy lifestyle.  By relying solely on these forms of fitness, we risk creating a vicious cycle of continually striving to be faster, stronger, look younger, be more ripped, track more daily steps…etc.  We never actually “arrive”, because there’s always that next level to strive for.  And that can get exhausting!

iGnite Yogalates on Lady Bird Lake

Yogalates on Lady Bird Lake

It’s important to balance these forms of exercise with what I like to call “mindfulness on the mat” so that we can continue to enjoy a variety of activities and pursuits, and most importantly, so we can prevent injuries and be more mindful of our existing ones.  When we step onto our yoga or Pilates mat, our first priority is tuning into our body and tuning out our goals, expectations, what we did yesterday, and what we need to do tomorrow.  If we pay attention, our body will tell us what it needs.  The ego is not invited onto our mat.  With time, practice, and patience we begin to notice imbalances and places we hold tension and resistance.  We learn to practice compassionate observation and tolerance for ourself so we are in a better place to extend it to others once off the mat.

Yoga and Pilates are two wonderful practices that teach mindfulness on the mat so that we can be more self-aware in our over-stimulated, consumer-driven world.  Yoga is over 5000 years old.  Pilates is nearly 100 years old.  These time-honored practices have much to teach us!

Pilates is a form of strength training with little to no impact.  It emphasizes alignment, core strength, muscular rebalancing and joint strength.  It is a very safe way to stay fit, prevent injury, and rehabilitate from injury, while increasing balance, body awareness, confidence and better posture.  While we use props during class to keep it interesting and fun, the classical Mat Pilates series is a total body workout using your own body as your guide.

Yoga has become so westernized that it’s hard to define what yoga is today.  In its truest form, yoga teaches us about ourselves and our relationship to the world.  It ignites awareness about how we respond to difficulty and ease, to consistency and change, to the way we face our universal human struggles of avoiding difficult situations (hard yoga postures, tough life issues), or the way we cling to the familiar and comfortable (postures that we can do, habits we grow accustomed to).

iGnite Power Pilates at Rollingwood Park

Power Pilates

Besides reducing stress, yoga also teaches us balance between sthira (effort) and sukha (ease) both in our yoga practice and in life.  It teaches us to balance stability with mobility, and strength with flexibility, so that we can balance setting boundaries in our relationships with creating the space we need.  Yoga teaches us to feel the poses rather than force them.  The postures are questions, not answers.  We ask ourselves, “How can I create more ease in this pose?”  which then translates off the mat to “How can I create more ease in my life?”  Yoga is not about doing the poses; it’s about undoing what gets in the way of the poses.

In a Vinyasa Yoga class, we become aware of our breath, the life force that pulsates through our body.  From there we let the breath guide us and connect us with movement.  While we get stronger and more flexible practicing weight-bearing and balancing exercises, twists, backbends, forward folds and inversions, we also become stronger and more flexible in our mind.  We tune into the subtle energy body and discover what we have always heard to be true: that the body and mind cannot act separately from one another.  Yoga is a practice because, rather that striving to accomplish something, we continually return to the bottomless well of wisdom and guidance from within.  As Judith Lasater, veteran yogi, says: “Slowing down is the same thing as waking up.”

So, as you plan your fitness program, be sure and schedule time to consistently practice “mindfulness on the mat”  through Pilates and yoga.  With regular practice, you will not only become more mindful and body-aware, you will find more ease and inner strength in your body and in your life.  Best of all, you will bring your newfound insights into everything you do, which will add to your enjoyment and keep you safe and injury-free!


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