Movement of the Month: Aerial Yoga

What is Aerial Yoga? Aerial Yoga uses a hammock sling to help you feel a different type of stretch in your yoga! Afraid of inversions? No need to have to go upside down. By using the hammock as a suspension system, you can add more body weighted exercises to your yoga program to build strength and stamina, improving your posture, your balance and your well-being.

Feel free to check out my new Aerial Yoga Flow class at www. http://aerialartsrochester.com/

(Fit2bWell tip: Talk with your doctor about your desire to do aerial yoga. Inversions are not recommended if you have uncontrolled blood pressure. Be careful about rapid changes in your posture from going upside down to right side up. Your body needs time to adjust from the shifts in blood flow.)

Vegan Spicy Spaghetti Squash 2014

It used to be very difficult to eat or cook vegan. A vegan is one who does not eat or use animal products. Many think that a tasty vegan dish is limited to some salads or cooked vegetables. I was challenged by one of my health coach clients to help find dishes that have roots of being vegan but can have animal protein added simply in a pinch. This time of the year, when fall splashes cold and the trees are robust in colors, I like to look for squash dishes that can often spice up our palettes and warm our bellies.

I love Mexican food flavors, and I just love the color of spaghetti squash, so this recipe adopted from wholefoodsmarket.com was a treat to taste test.

(Fit2bWell Tip: There is vegan protein such as seitan and tofu that would be good additional “toppings.” But be mindful, seitan is not gluten free. Feel free to also explore many type of vegan cheese on the market and sprinkle it on last minute for a nice finish to this tasty meal)

Vegan Spicy Spaghetti Squash (serves 2 for dinner)

Ingredients:

• 1 medium spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

• 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/2 onion, chopped (any type)

• 1 jalapeño pepper (can be more if want more spicy)

• 2 cloves of garlic diced

• 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped

• 1 cup of tomatoes, chopped

• 1 cup cooked black beans

• 1 cup corn

• 1 teaspoon chili powder

• 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

• 1 tablespoon lime juice

• 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange squash in a large baking dish, cut-sides down. Pour 1/2 cup water into the dish and bake until just tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Rake with a fork to remove flesh in strands. Yes, it looks like spaghetti! Don’t rake too deep as to puncture your squash as that will now serve as a dish for your meal.

For the filling, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, jalapeño and bell pepper and cook until soft. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add beans, corn and chili powder; cook, stirring frequently. Add cooked squash, cilantro, lime juice and salt, cook a few minutes until heated through. Try using tongs to fill squash halves with filling, mounding mixture in the center. Tongs will help protect the fragile root vegetable, while maintaining its integrity as you lay it into the “bowl.”

(spaghetti squash photo credit: www.skinnymom.com)

Balance: Steadiness through Dynamic Play

Another birthday recently passed as I celebrate being a Libra. This astrological sign is marked by the constellation of scales. The cosmic image often symbolizes harmony, balance and equality. I am inspired by this gathering of stars to explore the definition of balance and why we all seek it but never seem to ever truly feel it or find it.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary:

Balance (– noun –)
: the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall
: the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling
: a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance

I think we often try to have equality in our lives when it comes time to work and play. I used to have a mantra of “work hard, play hard.” The problem with that is: I become exhausted. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy working hard to earn my recreational leisure, but I have learned the importance of not necessary having the two be equal, or the same. I become less rigid about retaining control and have more fun with the concept of free falling into relaxation. Often, we strive to hold on to all the balls that we juggle in our lives and feel bad when we put one down. But when we continue to steady the plates by gripping tightly, we lose the sense of fun of being able to have the ability to play with so many different things going on it lives. The fear of falling and the concept of failure end in our burnout.

Work-life balance is one that often feels impossible. Burnout and stress has been often cited by many corporate wellness surveys to be the number one health issue for the last couple years. There is no “perfect” formula to achieving this task. It is one that constantly evolves and revolves around embracing power in the present moment, being flexible to change, understanding one’s values, and respecting boundaries.

Yoga is a wonderful tool to dial down, tune inward, and figure out what matters to you, what is going on around you, and what you can realistically do to impact change. I have learned with time that my yoga practice is one that always grounds me during times of stress, when I feel slightly out of control in a situation where I don’t have control, and remind me of the deeper purpose of my being. It reminds me the importance of acknowledging the role that I play not just at my work, but also in my home, in my family, and in my community. So next time you feel a bit off in your work-life balance, learn it from this Libra yogini, “two feet, one breath.” Feel the earth, inhale, exhale – it’s what defines living.

Three Stretches You Can Do during a Conference Call

Hi, I’m Dr. Joanne Wu and I am here to inspire movement in your healthful living, starting right at work.

Today, we will review three simple stretches you can do during a conference call while on a headset telephone.

1.)   Wall Squat

Strengthen your quads, practice posture, engage your core with wall squats

Stand in front of a wall about 2 feet in front of it. Bend your knees to lean against it. Tighten your abdominals; support your back as you slide down until your knees are approximately 90 degrees angle. Don’t worry if you do not hit 90 deg, Go where you feel comfortable. Do not go past 90 degrees for this exercise. Make sure your knee does not drift beyond the ball of your feet. If it is, you are too close to the wall. Reset.  Breathe comfortably as you stay connected to your call. Find a focal point in front of you or if you are focusing on reading off your notes, that is another great target to relax your thoughts. Hold for 20-60 seconds depending on your endurance level.

2.)   Front Lunge (high or low)

Static lunges not only tone your legs, but allows for opportunity to stretch your hips

Stand up straight with your legs hip width apart. Take one foot approximately 2 feet in front of the other. The taller you are, the further away you step. Relax your chin and shoulders. If you are not looking at notes and you r hands are free, you can hold your hips. Keep your chest tall as you find a focal point to let your thoughts settle on. Lift your back heel slightly as you find softness of the back knee and a bend in the front leg. To deepen your hip stretch, you can pad the back knee with a towel and place your back thigh bone near the knee on the ground. Breathe intention forward. Step back the front foot to reset after 15-30 seconds depending on your practice. Repeat the other side.

3.)   Cactus stretch

Lift your heart, open your chest with this great upper body stretch. Combine it with above to save time.

Sit in your chair with parallel feet fully supported. Relax your chin and settle your crown of the head over your spine. Raise your arms to the side and bend elbows to L shape. Extend your fingers and engage your forearms. Press your inhales to the ground and as you exhale release your shoulders, send your elbows behind you. Your shoulder blades will roll back further if you further engage your abdominals and find power in your core. Hold for 15-30s.

 Thank you for joining me today to help you find wellness in your life!

Feel free to check out my other Fit2bWell Health tips and videos to help you in your journey towards a better you.

Posture Tips – Sit or Stand, Relax and Restore

Hi, I’m Dr. Joanne Wu and I am here to inspire movement in your healthful living, starting right at work.

Today, we will review three simple posture tips that can apply to sitting or standing. Relax, rejuvenate, restore.

1.)   When Standing:

Distribute body weight evenly to the front, back and side of your body. Soften your knees to avoid hyperextension. Engage your leg muscles. Tilt your pelvis slightly forward to find your core. Support your chest and find side bodies long. Settle your crown of the head over the spine and you relax your shoulders from your ears.

 2.)   When Sitting:

Place both feet on the ground or on a stepping stool / footstep so your thighs are resting close to parallel to the ground and knees are placed over the ankle or ball of foot. Be mindful of your toes. The back of the chair should rest against your low back in a neutral position. You can try a pillow if you don’t have a lumbar support and find a level of firmness that suits you. The back of the chair should be locked. Make sure that you are close enough to the work station to avoid leaning forward. Engage your core muscles and relax your shoulders whenever you remember in between tasks. Try not to fidget or sway.

It is difficult to sit and stand properly, but remind yourself several times a day, and it will get easier with practice. The best way to keep your energy circulating is to alternate from sit to stand  through out the day.

Thank you for joining me today to help you find wellness in your life!

Feel free to check out my other Fit2bWell Health tips and videos to help you in your journey towards a better you.