Yoga for Athletes

Growing up an athlete, I always struggled with flexibility. Basketball, Soccer, Track, and even Gymnastics – my body always felt stiff and limited. For anyone who has ever played sports or exercised, lack of flexibility seems to be a pretty common theme. And while you don’t need to be bendy like a gymnast, there are many, many benefits to stretching, which I have personally found through yoga.

While there are many other ways to stretch on your own, Yoga has been a go-to not just for improving flexibility, but also for core strength, balance, increasing strength, alignment, body awareness, and focus!

Yoga for Athletes

It’s easy to write off stretching before or after a workout, but I am here to tell you… don’t! Before I began consistently stretching, I was always stiff, prone to injuries, and struggled to progress in my workouts. Below are just a few reasons that I became a huge advocate for stretching/yoga:

  • Compliments strength by creating more space and movement surrounding your joints
  • Improvement of endurance by holding yoga poses and using all muscles in your body to move through yoga sequences
  • Improves body awareness by focusing on alignment, muscles, and joints
  • Certain types of yoga (Yin, Deep Stretch) can be relaxing and meditative, and it releases stress
  • Everyone deals with stress differently by holding it in different areas of the body – yoga helps release tension & built up stress through the combination of movement and stretching
  • During the Industrial revolution, there were many more jobs that involved moving and standing, and there were no lower back issues. Now, many of us have lower back issues due to tight hips, psoas, quad muscles, all from sitting at a desk all day. The unique movements of yoga help increasea mobility in the body, leading to less pain & more freedom of movement
  • Stretching the muscles surrounding your joints gives them more flexibility and mobility

So when is the best time to stretch?

Sometimes muscles are so tight that just stretching won’t work. Like a Chinese finger trap – the muscles must be shortened, then stretched to release. So working out the muscle first, then stretching right after is key to releasing tight muscles.

My favorite time to stretch is through Vinyasa yoga, where the technique of Dynamic Stretching is used, or immediately after a long run or workout when my muscles are warmed up and have a lot of blood flowing to them. As long as you are getting a stretch in, it doesn’t matter when – just find what works best for YOU!

So if you are completely new to stretching/yoga, where the heck do you begin?

 

Just 5 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week. I swear by this – I committed to 5 minutes of stretching a day, and noticed results within just 1 month of being consistent. I picked a few poses, then held them while watching TV or reading. Super easy, and it wasn’t something that added much time to my already-busy days. The more you stretch, the more your body gets used to it, and it starts to feel GOOD (I promise!). Trust me, forward folds used to be my least favorite thing to do in the world!

After a month of consistent stretching/yoga, I noticed my workouts were changing – I was running faster, had less pain/tightness in my hips, and my legs didn’t feel like bricks when I went on runs! My body started to feel like it moved with more ease, and my lower back pain started to decrease.

**Please note that consistency is key. When you stretch, you are creating a new set-length for your muscles. If you only stretch once a week, your muscles will not stay at that new length. Think of it like working out – if you don’t work out, you’ll lose muscle, endurance, etc. Same with stretching – keep up with it, and you’ll notice results over time. 

So what poses can be done if you just stretch for 5 minutes a day?

 

Below are a handful of yoga stretches that can be done every day, or every other day. I’ve included poses for every area of the body, depending on what you are looking to focus on. Pick a few for each day, and watch the magic of your body opening up after just 1 month!

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Down Dog
Stretches:
Hamstrings, Calves, Upper back, Shoulders, Pecs
Strengthens: Shoulders, arms, and engages the core while pushing the hips up
Misc:
Lengthens the spine, releasing compression from poor posture or running
Time: Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat 2-3 times

Paschimottanasana: Standing Forward Fold
Stretches: Hamstrings, Calves, Lower back
Strengthens: Mental strengthener 😉
Misc:
Contract your quads in order to relax your hamstrings
Time: Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times

Toes Pose
Stretches: Shins, arches of feet
Strengthens: N/A
Misc:
Modify if the first option is too intense
Time: Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2 times each side

Option 1:

Option 2 (Modification):

Malasana/Garland Pose
Stretches: Ankles, achilles heels, groin, back, and opens up the hips
Strengthens: N/A
Misc:
Use elbows to push knees out for a more intense stretch on the inner thighs
Time: Hold for 1 minute

Option 1:

Option 2 (Modification):

Supta Gomukhasana/ Reclined Cow-Face Pose
Stretches:
Glutes/Outer hips, Piriformis
Strengthens: arms, if you are pulling legs towards you
Misc:
Pull feet towards you for a more intense stretch
Time: Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on other side

To enter: lay on back – cross one leg over the other, bending both. Reach hands to grab outer edges of feet, ankles, shins, or knees. 

Anjaneyasana/Low Lunge
Stretches:
Psoas, Quads/Hip flexors, Groin, Hip joint
Strengthens: Quads and glutes
Misc:
Roll to outer edge of front foot to stretch inner thigh & open hip joint. Slightly squeeze glute to allow your quad muscle to relax.
Time: Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on other side

Low Lunge w/Quad Stretch
Stretches:
Psoas, Quads/Hip flexors, Groin, Hip joint
Strengthens: Quads and glutes
Misc:
Modify – place towel under knee if experiencing pressure/pain
Time: Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on other side

Parsva Balasana/Thread the Needle
Stretches:
Shoulders, Chest, Arms, Upper back, Neck
Strengthens: N/A
Misc:
Modify – place towel under knees if experiencing pressure/pain
Time: Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Repeat on other side

Janu Sirsasana/Head-to-knee Forward Bend
Stretches: Shoulders, Spine, Upper back, Hamstrings, Groin
Strengthens: Back
Misc:
Modify – wrap a towel or strap around your foot if you cannot reach
Time: Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on other side

Reclined Twisted Figure-4
Stretches: Glutes/Outer hips, Piriformis, IT band, TFL, Spine
Strengthens: N/A
Misc:
Pull knee closer towards you for a deeper stretch
Time: Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on other side

To enter: lay on back withbent knees. Place your nakle on the opposite knee, creating a “4” with your legs. Drop your legs to the side so that your foot is flat on the ground.

And that’s it! No need to do every single stretch in one sitting – just choose a few and call it a night 🙂 If you are new to yoga and are interested in taking a class, I recommend going to a yin or deep stretch yoga class – both are slower-paced, perfect for beginners, and offer many variations + props. **If you are in the South Florida area, pop-in to my Deep Stretch class on Wednesday’s at 6:30 pm!

Any other good stretches that you have done to compliment your workout as an athlete? Leave a comment below!

6 Types of Stretching

stretchHave you ever looked at gymnasts, dancers, or people who practice yoga and think… how the heck are they so flexible?? Yah, me too! Obviously there are hours, days, and years of stretching and practice that go into creating a body that moves like gumby, but did you know there are different ways to stretch in order to reduce the amount of time needed to reach higher levels of flexibility?

It wasn’t until after I became a certified yoga teacher and personal trainer that I really began to connect the dots – with a combination of different types of stretching + knowledge of anatomy, it became easier to deepen my stretches. This exploration and knowledge has spilled over into my yoga classes and personal training clients, and can be done before, during, or after any workout – yoga, gym, workout class, etc!

 

So what’s the secret?

 

While you can’t become gumby overnight, there are many ways to work with your body and go deeper in every stretch you do. I’ve compiled a list of different tricks, tips, and techniques used by athletes, performers in Cirque de Soleil, and yoga superstars below – take a look, try a few of them, and watch how quickly your body changes with consistent stretching!

Pre-Stretching:

Take a tennis ball, foam roller, or stick, and roll out your muscles! By doing this, you activate trigger points in your muscles, increase blood flow & allow them to release before you begin stretching.

Foam rolling: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/foam-roller-exercises

Tennis Ball: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenn-zerling/tennis-ball-therapy_b_9369586.html

Stick: https://www.thestick.com/instructions
 

The 6 different types of Stretching:

 

After rolling out your muscles, they are ready to be stretched! Below are 6 different ways to stretch – all work efficiently, and all can be done before, during, and/or after workouts.

 

1. Passive Static Stretching

Static stretching is probably everyone’s least favorite way to stretch – it is basically just holding a stretch, no movement. Either you are stretching as far as you can go, or there is an outside force (like someone else) pushing you deeper into a stretch. Passive stretching is the most common way to stretch – holding for 15-30 seconds, 1-2 times, will be the most effective.

 

2. Active Static Stretching

Active static stretching is *almost* the same as passive, except it requires a little more knowledge on the anatomy of the body. The *Active* in static stretching refers to contracting an agonist muscle, which in turn allows your antagonist muscles to relax. So what the heck does this mean? Agonist? Antagonist? It’s pretty simple – for every muscle you engage, there is a corresponding muscle (or muscles) that automatically relax, and vice versa. For example:

 

 

Agonist muscle: Quad muscle (rectus femoris) (contract)

Antagonist muscle: Hamstring muscles (relax)

Example Pose: Forward fold. Contract quadriceps, and your hamstrings relax

If you aren’t a doctor or know the entire anatomy of the body and want to know how to relax & stretch a muscle deeper, just google like I do – “Antagonist muscle to_________” – and the resulting answer will show at the top of your search results!

 

3. Isometric Stretching

This type of stretching is a little more demanding on the joints & muscle tendons, so if using this method of stretching, limit it to once every day or 2. However, it provides a deep stretch & is not as uncomfortable as static stretching 🙂

To do an isometric stretch:

First, contract the muscle you want to stretch for 10-15 seconds. By doing this, it produces tension in your muscle and activates your golgi tendon (a nerve sensor). When your golgi tendon is activated, it sends a message to the brain. The brain then taps the nervous system, who is the mediator, which sends a relaxation response back to the contracted muscle. Release the contraction, then relax the muscle for 20 seconds. Repeat one more time.

In doing this, you stretch the muscle and create a new “set length”.

**When creating a new set length, you are actually creating muscle memory – which means it is easier to regain flexibility if you’ve taken time off from stretching!

Example: in Heros pose, contract your quads. Then, relax into the stretch. Repeat. That’s it!

 

 

4. Facilitated/PNF Stretching

stretch

PC credit: StretchCoach.com

PNF stretching – proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation – is a combination of Isometric and Passive Active Stretching (as explained in 1& 3). It is thought to be the most advanced and effective way to stretch, as it was originally developed as a form of rehabilitation.

First, passively stretch the muscle – stretch as far as you can, or have an outside force stretch you as much as possible for 3-8 seconds.

Second, contract the muscle you want to stretch, and push into the stretch a little deeper (without moving) for about 6-10 seconds.

Third, Relax for one breath, then push into the stretch a little deeper for 20-30 seconds.

Relax, then repeat 2-4 times

**Be sure to warm up the body & muscles before performing this type of stretch – there is an increased risk for injuring soft tissue due to the contract/relax technique.

Check out this article for a little more detail on PNF stretching.

 

 5. Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is controlled, repetitive movements that increase flexibility. Meaning, Stretching with controlled movement. Example: Vinyasa Yoga!

It is best to do in the morning, as this type of movement resets your resting muscle length for the day.

 

6. Ballistic Stretching

Ballistic Stretching is the most dangerous out of all 6 stretches – since you are stretching while actively moving, it is not a controlled movement – it is the use of momentum of a body part to force the muscle to stretch beyond its normal range. So swinging your arms and legs forwards or backwards, or any type of bouncing movement. Think old-school workout videos 😉

 

ballistic stretch

 

Example: Swinging leg forwards and backwards with force

 

And that’s it! If you are starting from scratch and looking for ways to increase flexibility (like I was 3 years ago post-knee surgery!), this is a great place to start. Try out the different ways to stretch, and find one that is the most effective for you. I started out 3 years ago and committed to 5 minutes of passive static stretching a day. Consistency is key here, so make sure you are stretching at least 3-4 times a week in order to notice a difference in your flexibility. Practice patience, and before you know it, you will be well on your way to touch your toes… and possibly even a close cousin to gumby 😉 

Thoughts? Comments? Did I miss any good ways to stretch? Comment below!

Sources:

https://people.bath.ac.uk/masrjb/Stretch/stretching_4.html

http://www.dailybandha.com/2015/03/

http://stretchcoach.com/articles/pnf-stretching/

Metabolic, V02 & Nutritional Testing

How I figured out my food intolerances

For my entire 20’s, I’ve struggled with food allergies, digestive issues, sinus issues, and brain fog. After trying different supplements, getting allergy tests at an ENT office, and trying different diets (paleo, vegan, vegetarian, etc), nothing was helping.

After a little more research, I stumbled upon a business that had just opened in Columbus, Ohio – Rock N Shock Fitness. Rock N Shock is an all-female community focused on getting you in the best shape of your life. The owner, Danielle Miranda, spent years developing a system that encompasses the entire body, internally and externally, to get you to your healthiest self. This is done with initial testing to find out what is really going on with your body – food & non-food intolerance tests, nutritional deficiencies, metal toxicity, V02, and RMR testing. There are other tests that can be done, like DNA testing, and oxygen therapy + infrared saunas for detoxification. After getting your results, you can choose to work with someone on your diet + begin a workout plan based on your fitness level.
**The intolerance testing (without metal toxicity) was $250, and the V02/RMR test (membership pricing included) was another $125.

To get started, I made an initial appointment with Rock N Shock to discuss my fitness/nutrition goals, and what I was looking to get out of working with them. After speaking with the owner, she gave me a tour of the facilities and explained my options based on what we talked about.

I chose the below services:

V02 testing – to measure my physical fitness level
RMR – to find my resting metabolic rate (how many calories am I burning just sitting here?)
Intolerance testing – what foods am I eating that are causing issues?
Nutritional deficiencies – what does my body need more of?
**I fully intended to begin the workout program after receiving my results, but ended up moving to Florida.

I booked a second appointment to get all of the testing done, and it took less than an hour – a few strands of hair were taken for the intolerance testing & nutritional deficiencies, and the RMR & V02 test took about 30 minutes. I also couldn’t eat 2 hours before the test, and minimal to no exercise is recommended the day before so your body is fully rested & ready for the test. (I went on a 16 mile hike the day before, so don’t be like me!)

To begin, I had to breathe into a tube hooked to a computer for 10-15 minutes for my RMR test.

You can only blow through the tube, so you have to wear a clip on your nose – see above :p

You can watch the screen while you are blowing to make sure that everything is being recorded properly – I am not sure exactly how it all works, but after blowing for 10-15 minutes, I was relieved to be done!

RMR testing screen

After the RMR test, I was hooked up to a mask, attached to a hose – think Bane from Batman. The hose was hooked up to a computer, and I had to run with the mask on. It looks a little scary, but you can breathe just fine.

v02 test with mask

The person running the test started the treadmill low, with a little incline. Over time, she did timed intervals for increasing my pace & the incline, then back down again. At any time, when you feel like you cannot go any farther, you can tell them to stop the treadmill. Depending on how in-shape you are, it can be anywhere from 4 minutes to 20 minutes before you throw in the towel. I lasted about 11-12 minutes, which was the point where I felt like my muscles had no juice left in them (I could still breathe ok!). Below was about the halfway point for me – I was up to 6 or 7 on the treadmill, and things were really starting to get tough!

Normally when you throw in the towel, it’s not because you can’t breathe – it’s because your muscles are being deprived of oxygen, and the V02 test basically measures how well your body uses oxygen. The RNS site describes what exactly the test measures:

…how effectively your body consumes and uses oxygen, your breathing patterns, recovery of heart and lungs, calorie expenditure at various heart rates, your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. We will be able to identify the exact heartbeat your body turns anaerobic and exact heart rate zones for you to train and compete at in order to stop you from “hitting the wall “and then allow you to maximise every minute of every session and race.

After the test was complete, I had to wait a bit for my hair analysis to come back. After about a month, I went back in to take a look at my final results:

intolerance test

nutritional deficiencies

It was honestly a bit of a shock to learn that I had food intolerances to things I ate almost everyday – olives/olive oil, strawberries, sweet potatoes, carrots… basically, all things I thought were healthy, but were really things my body was rejecting! On top of that, I had amino acid and Vitamin B12 deficiencies. After talking over my results, I decided to cut out the foods on the list, as well as begin supplementing with a few vitamins. So, for the past 8 months, I’ve noticed an increase in energy, less brain fog, and less reactions to food after eating (I used to get mini panic attacks after eating sweet potatoes & anything with olive oil in it!).

As for the V02 & RMR test results, they basically just confirmed that I have a high metabolism, and I workout….a lot. If I had stayed in Ohio & started a workout plan with RNS, it would have been to increase strength & speed & make my training more efficient.

v02 test results

RMR test results

Depending on your results & your end goal, everyone will be different! There are no bad results – because once you know where you are physically & nutritionally, you can only improve from there!

If you are in the Columbus, OH area, check out RNS (for women only, sorry guys!)… If not, google intolerance testing/v02 test/RMR test & your city/state… there are places all over the US that can do this type of testing for you. If you are looking to lose weight, get in better shape, get on a food plan, figure out why you are tired, improve your physical performance, or get more energy, I recommend investing in some sort of testing.

Overall, I highly recommend getting some sort of nutritional & physical fitness testing done – it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for my health! We can do what we think is the best for our bodies, but there might always be something that we are missing.

I hope this helps – if anyone has done anything similar, comment below on your experience & if/how it has helped!

**Please note I did not receive anything in return for this blog post – I am writing this from my own personal experience, and I paid for every service received. I am writing this post in hopes that it helps anyone else interested in finding answers for their health, or for improving their physical fitness!

Post-ACL Surgery Yoga Flow

It’s been about 2.5 years since my ACL Surgery… Since then, I’ve fully recovered, trained to become a yoga teacher, and have been instructing for the past 1.5 years. During this time, I have learned a LOT about the anatomy of the body (actually, just the body in general!), and I’ve been getting more technical when creating my classes/YouTube videos.

There was a request from a few of my readers to put together a post-ACL surgery yoga sequence, and I was finally able to record something after returning from my recent travels. Check out the video below and let me know what you think! I can create more based on each person’s timeline recovery & what needs to be strengthened. I hope this helps!! <3

Finding Your Motivation

Have you ever experienced days, weeks, or even MONTHS where you just.aren’t.motivated?? Yep, we’ve all been there. Procrastination sets in, the internet/social media/netflix distractions become the norm, and we seem to lose sight of where we want to be in life.

So WHY do we let this happen?? Because it’s comfortable. Because it’s safe, and change can be scary. The biggest issue of not moving forward in our lives is FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change… These fears control our lives, whether it is conscious or not. So if you find yourself saying things like “I can’t find the motivation”,  or “I’m not motivated”, this is the perfect time to figure out WHY. Why are you not motivated? Why does it seem like others are go-getters & more successful than you?? Guess what.

Motivation isn’t something that some people are just blessed with – it’s a mindset. It’s a state of being.

And at any time, we have a choice to change our mental state. Some days and moments might seem more difficult to get out of our heads & pump ourselves up, but once we begin to practice being aware of our moods/state of being, it gets easier. By working our mental muscles & pushing ourselves to a new mindset, eventually there is less resistance. Whenever you tell yourself you are tired, or you don’t want to do something – take a step back. Evaluate the thoughts that have been running through your mind, and find a different perspective. Just get out of your head.

motivated

It can seem like a never-ending cycle of feeling great, then feeling low… However, if you find something that works for you and stick with it, you will notice an immediate change in your life. I’ve been through this never-ending cycle, and I get it. However, once I began to implement daily changes, my life began to take a turn for the better. Motivation was not something I waited for – it was a state of being that I could talk myself into, no matter how I was feeling.

Below are a few tips that I’ve put together from my own experience to help YOU or anyone else struggling to get motivated. It’s something I’ve struggled with off & on for most of my adult life, and I know I am not the only one. It might seem a little overwhelming at first, so just read through & take a little time to let it digest. Then… take action 🙂

Repetition

The number one thing that has changed my life is repetition. You know that great feeling of reading a good book, or being inspired by something, then nothing coming from it? It’s because you aren’t constantly focused on it. What I mean is this: we all have a certain mindset or base thoughts that we revert back to at any time. For most people, it’s not consciously known because it is the norm. So, when you have moments of motivation, it tends to be short-lived, because it is not your base mindset. Lucky for you, and for anyone, this can be changed.

By constantly barraging your mind with positive, motivating content, you are essentially replacing your own thoughts or your base mindset with NEW thoughts – all different than what is normally going through your mind on a daily basis.

You can change your base mindset by finding every moment you have free time, and then filling it with new content. Over time, your base mind set will eventually change to a new state – or whatever you have been filling your mind with. Below are a few ways you can accomplish this:

  • Podcasts
    • My current faves are Hay House & The Competitive Edge. I also search for people that are inspiring, or topics that I am currently interested in.
  • Books (on audio, kindle, or a regular old paperback)
  • Internet/Social Media
    • Sometimes I like to read success stories on MDA (who doesn’t like a good story where people end up happier/healthier in the end??) or articles on Elephant Journal. If you are on social media, make sure you are following people/accounts that bring you up/are in line with your goals. Meaning, when you read something, do you feel good or bad? Make your decisions based on what makes YOU feel good – you know what’s best.
  • CD’s
    • Every time I enter my car, I either pop in a Tony Robbins CD or my spanish practice CDs. I RARELY listen to music anymore, unless I am in a really great mood or I feel like my mind needs a quick break (or someone else is in the car!).
  • Be Social
    • Hang out with mentors/people that you look up to/inspire you to be a better person. By communicating & interacting with others that have a mindset you strive to achieve, it automatically lifts you up & puts you in a different mindset.

Find your free time

So you might be telling me, NINA. I HAVE NO FREE TIME. And you know what, I used to say the exact. same. thing. Because honestly, I didn’t think I did either. I had to take a big step back and be honest with myself. Our minds like to trick us – it wants to stay comfortable, so it will come up with any excuse to prevent change.

The first thing you can do is track your time. I spent an entire week tracking my days in 15 minute increments to figure out exactly what I was doing with my time. There are different apps that you can plug your information into, but I created my own spreadsheet and customized it based on my lifestyle. You can access the spreadsheet here if you want to customize/edit to your own schedule. Also – different things are important to different people – personal time to create my yoga classes, study, or read is very important to me – same with meditating 2x a day. So, customize to what is important to you & relevant in your life right now. (Please note that you WILL need to be a little savvy in excel to edit the formulas if you change categories. If you need help, shoot me a note/leave a comment and I can help you out 🙂

how to be more efficient with your time - time tracker

The spreadsheet is filled in with exactly how I spent an entire week this summer – and as you can see above, there were several areas where I could have spent less time on my phone & been more productive during my drive time. By doing a self evaluation of your own time, you will find that there are times throughout your day that you really DO have time – While driving, getting ready, doing housework, etc. Yes, you can pop your headphones in while sweeping the floor or putting on your makeup every morning and listen to a motivating podcast. It’s really that simple.
One last side note – not every week will be the same – however, by tracking your time, you become more aware of where you spend your time, and it helps you become a little more creative with how you can spend your time.

What are your Goals

Unless you have a WHY in your life, there will be no growth or change. And if there are no goals to work towards, then what is the point of even being motivated? Insert your WHY. Below are the areas in your life that you MUST take the time to sit down & create goals for. Whether it be as simple as saving for a weekend trip, or as big as getting yourself out of debt, you need to write down a vision to have something to work towards. It’s a LOT easier to get motivated if there is something you REALLY want – so take a look at the areas below, and take a few moments to get clear on your WHY. Once you have a goal, you have something to work towards!

  • Career – what is your ideal career/what is important to you in a job?
  • Mentally – what is your ideal mood/attitude/mindset?
  • Physical/Health – what is your ideal feeling of overall  health/physique?
  • Relationship(s) – what is your ideal partner/marriage/friendships?
  • Finances – what is your ideal financial situation?
  • Personal – something specific you are working towards (college, a race, etc)
  • Overall – ideally, how do you want to feel every day of your life?

Not Optional

Anytime you aren’t feeling motivated to do something, get it in your mind that the task is NOT optional. Sometimes, when I don’t want to work out, or I reallllly don’t want to meditate, I buckle down and don’t take no for an answer. There are literally no other options except to do this one task. To me, I view these things as something that will benefit me. I know I will feel great or accomplished afterwards, so I look at these tasks like brushing my teeth or taking a shower. It’s something I just have to do.

time tracker

Music

Although I mainly only listen to music while in the shower/creating playlists for my yoga classes now, there are times that I will put on some music to get me going. For example: waking up at 4:30 am every Wednesday to teach yoga = loud music is needed to wake my ass up & puts me in a good mood for class! So for some, music is a way to inspire, get your day started, and get you in a better mood. Find what works for you!

Make a list

The next time you are feeling really motivated, take a look at what you have been doing in your life for the past few days or week. You will begin to correlate certain habits or routines with how you feel. And when you begin to identify the specifics, make a list. For example: When I feel my best, I am working out everyday, giving others compliments, meditating daily, and taking cold showers (seriously, science!). Find the things you do when you feel your best – and if you NEVER feel your best – observe other people and find out what they are doing. It can be something as small as meditating or setting aside 20 minutes of “Me” time a day to decompress. Don’t be afraid to try new things, toss what doesn’t work, and keep what does. Literally no one else knows you as well as you – so have fun & take the time to figure out what gets you going 🙂

Move your body

This is probably the quickest way to get motivated, and there are a few ways to do this:

  • Can’t get out of bed? Literally jump out of bed like someone threw a bucket of ice cold water on you. Jump around a little bit, do a few stretches… You’ll be awake and motivated to keep moving
  • Go workout – if you are having trouble getting motivated to workout, the best thing you can do is get moving. As soon as your body begins to warm up, endorphins will be released, blood flow will increase, and you’ll begin to feel better within the first 5-10 minutes of your workout.
  • If you are feeling sluggish at any point in your day, get up and move. Jump up and down a few times, do a few push ups, or maybe a few jumping jacks. Physical movement releases endorphins, and it reduces stress hormones in your body. It literally changes your brain! If you don’t want people seeing you do push ups at your desk, go in a conference room – no one will ever know 🙂
  • Moving Meditation – this is actually one of my favorite things to do! While out on a run, I’ll create a mantra or a saying and repeat it non-stop:
    • “I have unlimited energy”
    • “Every breath & every step, I have more & more energy”
    • “My body is in perfect alignment”
    • “My body is a fucking machine!”
    • “I can do anything!”
  • Sometimes I will repeat a mantra for 20 minutes or more, doing nothing but staring straight in front of me as I run until I start to FEEL whatever statement I am saying is true. When you combine a clear intention with an elevated emotion, it becomes a new belief/memory much quicker. Moving your body elicits an emotional & physical response, so movement works wayyy better than just standing in front of you mirror and saying affirmations over & over again. As silly or crazy or corny as it sounds, just try it. I swear, it is crazy how well this works – I noticed a HUGE increase in energy every day once I started doing this. You can also say statements about other areas about your life, like feeling confident, finances, whatever… It’s all about focusing & repeating until you feel that elevated emotion

will smith dance

Personal Development

I am a firm believer that depression & unhappiness in your life is caused by becoming comfortable. Stagnation happens when we work 9-5, come home, watch tv, and repeat, 5 days a week. Life is easy, but it isn’t challenging. Yet, we aren’t happy, even though we have everything we THINK we want. Insert: Personal development. By continuously learning new things, we are challenging ourselves, stimulating different parts of our brain, and creating new neuro-pathways. By finding ways to push ourselves & get out of our comfort zones, motivation is something that comes very easily – especially when it’s something that is cool or different than what is currently happening in your life. There are a few ways that I pursue personal development:

  • Travel solo around the world (Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it opens your mind to new people, ideas, places, etc. Yes, you should do it)
  • Take various Yoga workshops to become a better yoga teacher
  • Randomly bought a guitar & have been teaching myself to play (literally spend hours banging away on this thing… it is no easy task to learn an instrument!)
  • Go to personal development workshops – I’ve been to a Kyle Cease weekend workshop, and am attending a Tony Robbins event in November
  • Meditation Workshops
  • Cooking classes (Yes, I go alone. No, it’s not awkward)
  • Read. Apply what you’ve read to your life. Repeat.

Personal development can mean different things to different people – it can be changing how you think, going to seminars, going back to school, learning a new skill, etc. If you don’t know what you want to work on, try anything. Seriously – you could take a class on how to cook with different cheeses, or even learning how to juggle! As long as you are getting out of your everyday mindset, you are stimulating your brain in new ways.

So that’s it! (for right now!) There are so many more ways to get motivated, but these are the ways that are most influential in my life at the moment. I’ve spent my entire 20’s reading, learning, searching for ways to change my life, get motivated, and better myself. However, it’s been a struggle being able to translate & communicate everything I have learned in a way that makes sense to me and to others. Teaching yoga for the past 1.5 years has helped boost my confidence, and has challenged me to learn how to express myself more openly so others can understand me.

I want to be able share my journey with others, in the hopes that it helps anyone who comes across my blog.

Just like anyone else, I’ve been through a lot of struggles in my life, and I know what that feels like.

So if I can make life a little bit easier for just one person, or my writings can get someone to think a little differently about themselves/their life, then my goal is complete 🙂

As always, thanks for making it all the way to the bottom… If there are any other really great tips for getting motivated that I missed, leave a comment below!

-Nina Elise

Learning how to Trapeze in NYC

While I spent the last weekend in NYC cramming 12 back-to-back fitness classes in 3 days, I decided to stay an extra day to actually enjoy the city. Which means, planning MORE things to do, because that’s what I do 🙂

I’ve been wanting to try a trapeze class for the past year or so, but unfortunately, there isn’t anything in Ohio that is remotely close to it. I googled “New York City Trapeze Class,” and I found the most amazing place to learn how to trapeze. Outside. Along the Hudson River. On a rooftop. What could possibly be more cooler than that?!

NYC trapeze nina elise

So, I convinced my friend to go with me, and we spent 2 hours on a Monday morning/afternoon learning how to fly. Since I have an irrational fear of heights, I thought this would be a lot scarier than it was. However, as I clipped myself into the rigging & walked up the ladder to jump off the Trapeze platform, I told myself nothing could be more scarier than bungee jumping. Besides, you are strapped in, and if your hands slip while swinging, you fall into a bouncy net. Pretty impossible to get hurt or die!

New york trapeze

Ready to Trapeze!

To start off, we signed in, and the instructor strapped a belt around us with 2 hooks on each side. There was someone on the ground instructing us when to jump, hook our legs, swing, etc… and was also holding onto a chord that would slow us down/catch us from even hitting the net if we did fall! I’m telling you, this was a really great, super safe to practice. The staff was so energizing & so helpful, and I highly recommend going to this location specifically to learn from them! (Mario, Annie, and Travis)

nyc trapeze lessons

After explaining to the group (there was about 10 of us) what to do, we went up for 2 rounds to get the hang of it.

For the 3rd & 4th round, we could add a backflip as a dismount (see the video below!). This as a lot of fun, just like dismounting off bars in gymnastics 🙂

The 5th & 6th round, we were instructed on how to catch someone swinging on another trapeze! This looks WAY more complicated than it was… The timing had to be perfect, but it was so easy because you were queued exactly when to jump and let go! Almost everyone did it right the first time they tried.

Overall, it was a ton of fun, and I recommend everyone to try it! Only $60 for 2 hours, and you get to go up & swing 6 times. (also, don’t forget sunscreen – I got a little burnt that afternoon!) The more you go, the more skills you can learn. There is also an indoor facility in the case that you don’t want to be outside. However, I recommend the rooftop, as the views are amazing!

Have you ever taken a trapeze lesson? What other fun things are there to do in NYC that i missed?

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