The “food-attitude” connection

I took this photo last Wednesday. I’m not big into selfies but I was trying to capture a moment: I’m sitting on a bench outside a bodywork clinic owned by one of my very best childhood friends, across the street from my childhood dance studio watching the older, advanced class progress through a jazz warm up. I’ve done that warm up a zillion times myself.
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I’m waiting for my son to finish his dance class and, as I sit, I realize how things come full circle. How am I this “grown up” version of me and why don’t I feel much different? I contemplate how weird this seems, watching these dancers in a place that I spent most of my formative years, a place that sparked my passion for body movement and teaching others. I’m listening to an IIN lecture by health guru Victoria Moran on how to live a charmed life. She says this:”The stories of our lives are not about what actually happened. It’s about what you FEEL about what happened.” And so it is. It matters less about what you do than what you feel about what you do.

So how do I feel? In general, I’m prone to worry. I worry a lot about upsetting people, not making the right choice, not making any choice, not taking action, taking action hastily…you get the picture. My worry is my biggest personal health ailment. But in this moment, I do feel charmed. Life is sweet.

I’ve learned so much through my studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition so far (I’m not even half done yet!) about dietary theories, coaching techniques and holistic wellness practices but my biggest takeaway is the realization that, for me, food changes my attitude. When I eat better, I feel better. When I feel better, I think better. When I think positively, I know I’m attracting more ‘good’ into my life. Perhaps you, too, find yourself wanting to change your attitude. Have you thought about first changing how and what you eat?
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Choose happiness

What are six things in your life that you are happy about right now? I was asked this question today during practice coaching session with one of my fellow IIN students. I know it’s probably easier thinking of six things that AREN’T going well. Are there things in my life that I’d like to be different? Hell, yes! I think I’m naturally more of a glass-half-empty kind of person. But I know mindset is everything.  The more I focus on the negative, the more I’ll draw negativity to me. When I think positive, I’m convinced good and amazing things will happen in my life.

So here are my six. What are yours?

  1. I’m in the best physical condition of my life.
  2. I’m listening to my body doing more workouts that I not only LOVE but make me feel amazing (see this and this).
  3. I’m enrolled in a life-changing school studying to become a holistic health coach (something I’m seriously passionate about).
  4. I’m actually taking action steps to reach my goals (rather than just thinking about it) for my life and for my health.
  5. My family and I just moved to a beautiful slice of heaven.
  6. My son is strong, healthy and smart – it must mean I’m doing something right as a mom.

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Early morning coffee alternatives

They say moving is in the top three life stresses, just under death of a loved one and divorce. I’m feeling it. As a creature of habit, it’s hard being some place new. I say this is the reason I started drinking coffee again. Earlier this year, I gave up caffeine as an experiment to see if I would, in fact, feel better for it (I did). I’m now finding it’s become a habit again. With the fall season approaching (pumpkin spice latte or chai tea, anyone?), I want to make sure I scale back enough that a coffee is an indulgence, something to savor, rather than a necessity or a lifeline. I don’t think coffee is bad for you – it’s not (it all boils down to individuality). But if you are looking to cut caffeine, reduce acidity or just try something new, here are three coffee alternatives that have worked for me before:

To initially wean myself from coffee, I tried this: Teeccino Caramel Dandilion Herbal Coffee Tee Bags.  It’s sweetened with dates, this smells and tastes really good. For a stronger brew, use two tea bags. This coffee-like tea contains dandelion and chicory root, carob, dates, almonds and figs (75 percent organic). It smells amazing (very much like caramel!) and tastes pretty good, too. If you like a big cup, make sure you use two bags so you aren’t left with a weaker brew. You still get antioxidants plus potassium and soluble fiber, without the acidity of regular coffee.

Dandy Blend is more like an instant coffee—it’s a powder that dissolves in water and you can drink it hot or cold. It’s more cost effective than the Teeccino and you can easily control how strong you want it and feels and tastes more like regular cup of coffee. It tastes better than it smells. This semi-sweet herbal blend is made from the extracts of dandelion, chicory and beet root plus barely and rye. It’s gluten free and non-gmo.

With immune-boosting, digestive-soothing properties, my current favorite early morning wake up is ginger lemon “tea.” I’ve tried it three ways: Simmering ginger in a pot and adding fresh squeezed lemon juice (a more traditional method of making ginger tea); Blending the ginger and lemon in a VitaMix (or other high-powered blender) with water and strain with a cheese cloth; Juicing the ginger and lemon into a concentrate to which boiling water is added (my preferred method).

Interested in reasons why you might want to consider cutting coffee? Check out this article from Mark Hyman, MD. Mark Hyman is a physician, educator, Founder and Director of the UltraWellness Center, Leader in Functional Medicine—and a guest lecturer for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition!

What’s your favorite non-coffee morning drink?

 

Photo Credit

YOU are the authority of your own body

Hey, guess what? You are an authority. Yep, that’s right. YOU are the authority of your own body. There is no one else that knows your body in the way that you do and guess what? No one ever will.

Your body can (and does!) tell you exactly what it needs regarding food, exercise and rest. Cravings? Exhaustion? Digestive issues? Skin problems? These are all ways your body communicates with you. All you have to do is listen!

It’s my job as a future health coach to help you figure out what your body is telling you and guide you in taking action steps to achieve and maintain your wellness goals.

View yourself as an authority and you’ll be more inclined to care for yourself with respect. Be empowered and practice being an advocate for your own body and wellbeing. But just like any new skill, it takes time before it becomes second nature.

Speak up and ask questions whether at the doctor’s office, at the gym or with your health coach. I personally love to get questions from training clients as it’s much more valuable for them to understand the “whys” rather than the “how tos.”

If there is one thing I wish to teach people (and hope I already do in my Pilates and Booty Barre classes) is that it’s on you to make the change. No one else can do it for you. But you don’t have to do it alone. I’m thrilled to start working with health coaching clients soon! I’d love to help you change your body and more importantly how you FEEL about your body both internally and externally.

So go on, be that authority today. Act as if your life depends on it…because it does!Relaxing Exercises On Beach At Sunset

Liebster Award

Of course things work out this way: I write about finding oil cleansing, (my new holy grail of skin care) and I break out the next day. After a post about recovering from a post-sugar binge, I dream of donuts. Blog about the importance of green vegetables?  I find myself asking, “Did I eat ANYTHING green today?”

This week, I’m trying something different—the Liebster Award. This is an honor given by bloggers to bloggers to promote and highlight smaller, lesser known blogs (under 200 followers). It’s accepted with the intention of paying it forward, meaning each honoree shall nominate other small blogs.  The translation of the German word “liebster” is dearest, sweetheart or beloved.

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My nomination came from Nicole LaBonde over at Nicole Labonde – Mind/Body Journaling. While I’ve never met Nicole in person, we connect over Facebook. She’s another barre instructor, the creator of CABARRET, a combo of barre work and burlesque. I want to have Nicole visit the Pacific Northwest for teacher training and/or a master class. Nicole, you have been supportive and encouraging of my blog before it was a blog and I thank you for the nomination.

Here are the rules:

1. You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you.

2. You must pick 10 bloggers with a small following to be nominated for the award (other versions of the rules give you the range of 5-10).

3. You must create 10 questions for the nominees to answer on their blog.

4. Then link back to the person who nominated you.

5.  And then go to each new nominee’s blog and notify them of the nomination.

My questions from Nicole:

1. Why did you decide to start a blog?

It’s a long time coming. I enjoy writing (majored in Communications with an emphasis on professional writing) but after college, it wasn’t a big part of my jobs and I just stopped. I have a passion to learn and explore what it means to be holistically fit and make sense of the always changing, often contradictory information regarding exercise and nutrition. In January of this year, I set an intention to do hard things. Giving myself a deadline of my son’s third birthday, I finally started this blog in April.

2. What has been your biggest blogging milestone? ie: 100th post, comment from someone you respect, getting a bajillion retweets, etc.

My Food Changes Everything post received a comment from a person I don’t know and a pingback. Not exactly sure what that means yet, but it sounds cool.

3. Which blog post are you most proud of?

My first post: as I said it was a long time coming and I believe as a culture we are drugged with sugar on a consistent basis. Some people may call me a strict mom, but I want to set my son up successfully to make positive choices in his life—food and otherwise.

4. Sweet or salty?

Sweet!

5. Red or white?

Red. We’re talking wine, right? I guess it doesn’t matter since I have a three-year-old. I can’t do white ANYTHING.

6. What do you want MORE of in your life?

The first answer that popped into my head—abundance!

7. When and where was your last vacation?

February of 2014 to Minneapolis (yes, it was cold) to see my sister Mirabai Miller, in her first professional performance with the dance company Contempo Physical.  Yeah, she’s that awesome.

8. Favorite inspirational quote?

Lyrics from Changes by TuPac:

 “You gotta make a change. It’s time for us as a people to start making some changes, lets change the way we eat, lets change the way we live, and let’s change the way we treat each other. You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us, to do what we gotta do to survive.”

Another one:

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9. Do you have a morning ritual? If so, can you share it (or part) with us?

Waking up early (sometimes 4am), boiling water for ginger lemon “tea” (trying to eliminate coffee/caffeine to see if I feel better without—I do, unfortunately), eating two or three hardboiled eggs (with the yolks, of course – the best and most nutritious part of the egg) and heading to the gym. If I get to sleep in to 6 or 7, I still get to do all of those things but also get a three-year-old ready for the day. I want to try some morning reflections, journaling or meditating, but at 4 a.m. ain’t nobody got time for that!

10. What is your superpower? ie: inspiring your students, taking amazing pictures, whipping up an organic gourmet meal in 30 minutes or less.

Baking treats (cookies especially). It’s a gift and a curse depending on how you look at it.

My nominees:

Most of the blogs I read don’t meet the Leibster requirements and even after web research, asking friends/family for suggestions and hitting up Facebook, I only have three completely deserving blogs to nominate. I don’t want to disrupt the laws of the blogiverse so, when I find other worthy bloggers, I will revise this post.

My Self Improvement Kick:  Jessie is my running buddy turned dear friend. Her blog chronicles an experiment in which she gives up a bad, annoying or unproductive habit one month at a time.

This One Healthy Life – Jasmine and I are from the same small town but only connected recently when we discovered we are both studying with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become certified health coaches. Her recent post answers many questions about what exactly a health coach does.

Pathways To Wellness – Katie Rablin is an amazing acupuncturist, holistic pelvic care practitioner and yogi. I’m hoping this nomination encourages her to blog more!

Jessie, Jasmine, Katie – here are you questions:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What’s your dream guest-blog gig?
  3. If you could have any talent, what would it be?
  4. What does your perfect day look like?
  5. Were you named after anyone? If so, who?
  6. What is your favorite smell?
  7. Kindle or book?
  8. What’s a normal breakfast for you?
  9. If you had to choose only one form of exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  10. Go to the store or shop on the internet?

It’s time to spread that blog love, baby!

 

Cabbage, kohlrabi and choi…oh my!

My hope in participating in a CSA program this year was to try vegetables I normally wouldn’t buy from the grocery store and farmer’s market. Mission accomplished. Case in point, my latest delivery: choi, romaine lettuce, Napa cabbage, sugar snap peas and kohlrabi. Peas and romaine lettuce, I know what to do with. Swiss chard sometimes appears in a green smoothie. But choi? Kohlrabi? What the heck do you do with those?

Here are two recipes—one raw, one cooked— that we tweaked to get the most out of these glorious greens. I say “we” because my husband is the chef of the household. If he ever reads these posts, I want to make sure I’m not passing off his culinary skills as my own!

Thai Crunch Salad – I love Danielle Walker and her recipes (she makes amazing deserts) so I had to give this one a try. This salad calls for Napa cabbage, peas, jicama, carrot and mango. We added the kohlrabi which tastes very similarly to a radish. Don’t skip the dressing.

Pak Choi with Smoked Bacon – Mix bacon with any green and you have it made. Instead of just choi, we added the swiss chard. This was delicious alone but would have been equally yummy on a bed of romaine.

Why eat greens?

  • Green veggies are alkaline. Meaning, they help to neutralize acidic conditions in the body brought on by emotional stress, the Standard American Diet and environmental toxins (having an excess acidity in the body may result in health problems such as cancer, chronic fatigue, depression, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis, osteoporosis, viruses, weight gain, skin conditions and more).
  • Greens, especially the leafy kind, support the respiratory system.
  • In ancient Indian teachings, green vegetables feed the heart chakra which is home to love, joy and inner peace.
  • In traditional Chinese medicine, greens promote liver health plus emotional stability and creativity.
  • Greens also aid in blood purification, cancer prevention, circulation, immune function, and gut health.
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An example of my weekly crop share haul from the week before! I was in too much of a hurry last week to wash and store all the greens to snap a photo.

What’s your favorite green and way to prepare it? Leave me a comment!

Six tips for recovering after a sugar binge

I’ve written about my relationship with sugar before and while I feel like I have the upper hand most of the time, once in a while (during a birthday celebration weekend, perhaps) I may find that one dessert can easily turn into three and the “why not?” careless attitude takes over and overshadows what I know to be true— that sugar gives me headaches, makes my belly hurt and my skin break out. I’m less present as a wife and mother. Fortunately, I know that getting back on track—while a little challenging—is totally doable. Regardless of if this is something you’ll put into practice right away (after Independence Day BBQs) or if you’ll bookmark it for a later date, here are six tried-and-true tips I personally use to recover after a period of over-indulging on sweets.

Tip #1 Drink water

Why it works: Extra H20 will help eliminate water weight, flush body of toxins and ward off cravings as we often mistake thirst for hunger. Besides, who doesn’t feel better sufficiently hydrated?

Tip #2 Move your body

Why it works: You know the feeling of pleasure you get from eating sugar? That’s dopamine being released in the brain. Exercise can stimulate dopamine release and produce that same feel-good sensation. I find intense exercise can temporarily suppress my appetite (great for keeping the sugar monster in check) and I’m more likely to refuel with something healthy if I’ve just worked out.

Tip #3 Support digestion

Why it works: After consuming high levels of sugar, the body’s gut bacteria are most likely out of whack. A probiotic supplement can aid in rebalancing the good bacteria. Get similar benefits from eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir. Soothe an upset tummy with one of my current favorite beverages—a homemade lemon ginger concentrate with immune-boosting and digestive-soothing properties added to boiling water.

Tip #4 Have a plan (and know your triggers)

Why it works: If you have non-sugary snacks and meals on hand, you are less likely to succumb to a treat craving. Nuts, eggs and sweet potatoes are a few of my favorite foods post sugar binge (or any time, really). Also, know your triggers. If eating bread makes you crazy for cookies, steer clear of those refined carbs for a few days. Likewise, if any area of the grocery store temps you (bakery aisle or bulk candy), be honest with yourself and try to avoid those when shopping.

Tip #5 Fill up on the double F’s (fat and fiber)

Why it works: Fiber and healthy fat can both help you feel fuller, longer. They also help stabilize blood sugar levels, especially helpful when eating fruit. Grab a small handful of nuts with berries (naturally high in fiber) or blend a banana with an avocado and raw cacao powder for a not-to-sweet chocolate pudding.

Tip #6 Avoid the double A’s (alcohol & artificial sweeteners)

Why it works: Not only does drinking alcohol put strain on the liver, your body’s detoxifying organ, lots of drinks are high in sugar themselves. Plus temporarily abstaining will make sure no bad choices (food and otherwise) are made under the influence! As for artificial, no-calorie sweeteners—your body can’t tell the difference between that and the real stuff.  You’ll keep perpetuating the cycle.

Keep in mind, a few days of unhealthy eating won’t derail all of your previous efforts so don’t be too hard on yourself. It means you’re human—we are biologically adapted to crave sugar. It happens to everyone (even fitness instructors and health coaches-in-training) so take it as a learning experience, bringing you one step closer to figuring out what works and what doesn’t in your personal journey to optimum health.

The words "too much sugar" written in sugar grains.  Overhead vi

Adventures in Oil Cleansing

I love oils. If a package arrives for me, my husband jokes that it’s either oils or boots. And while J cooks with his oils, I mostly use mine topically. I’ve tried jojoba, argan, sea buckthorn, tea tree, coconut, olive, sesame, sunflower, avocado, castor, emu, fermented cod liver – the list goes on and on.

But I also love (loved?) my Clarisonic skin brush and I never thought two inexpensive oils would pretty much replace the pricey Clarisonic and fancy cleanser. Details of the oil cleansing method (or OCM) can be found here or here, however, this is the basic rundown:

You’ll need two different oils: castor oil and a nourishing carrier oil (popular choices include jojoba, sweet almond, avocado, olive, sunflower and coconut). Coconut oil is thought to be one of the more comedogenic or acne causing oils but I haven’t had any issues. I’ve tried avocado and sunflower and keep coming back to coconut it has anti-microbial properties and a more pleasing texture to me.

You’ll mix the two oils depending on your skin type. Castor oil has the deep cleansing properties that make this method effective so the more oily your completion the more castor oil you can use. In my own experience, I’ve been successful with 4 parts coconut oil to one part castor oil or with the summer weather, 3 parts coconut to one part castor. You can mix up a batch each time you wash your face or keep a small amount pre-made in a resalable jar. There’s lots of wiggle room to play with different carrier oils and different ratios. It’s encouraged to make individual or tiny batches when you first start out so you can find the formula that works best for you before you mix a big jar. I find even just quarter cup of oil mixture (that’s roughly one tablespoon castor oil) lasts me a long time.

After you have your oil blend, take a small amount in your hands, rub your palms together and start massaging your face, focusing on areas like your nose and chin. You’d think rubbing oil on your skin would feel gross—it actually feels super-luxurious, something I imagine Cleopatra doing. It’s recommended that you massage the oil into your skin for about a minute. Depending on the night, I like to go a little longer.

Now the cool part happens—things start to get grainy as you can actually feel the dried sebum of your pores coming out of your skin. It’s the rule that like dissolves like: the oil of the cleanser dissolves the hardened oil in your pores. There is something very satisfying about a super successful oil cleansing experience! Once you’ve massaged for a couple minutes or more, take a wet, hot washcloth, squeeze out the excess water and place over your face for about 30 seconds or so for a quick steam. You can do that again once the washcloth cools or you can start wiping the oil off your face. Don’t skip this step as it helps open up the pores and softens the oil so it’s easier to remove. You’ll likely have a little oil still on your face (it’s not going to feel squeaky clean) but you still want to end with a tiny amount of another nourishing oil or moisturizer (I like this argan oil). That’s it!

Right away, I saw that my skin was smoother and plumper and after continuous use I still think it looks slightly better (definitely not any worse) than with my Clarisonic and traditional, chemical-laden product regimen. Sometimes I do breakout and think I should try my old way of cleansing again. When I do, I break out MORE and my face feels raw. I never thought I’d retire my Clarisonic skin brush and I can’t say I’ll never use it again. For right now, I’ll stick with the natural and gentle chemical-free oil cleansing.

Drop falling from dropper of essential oil, aromatherapy essence

My experience with a 3-day juice cleanse

I’m a sucker for freebies, BOGO offers and gifts with purchase. I used to buy things from Sephora just to get the free samples. I love trading Booty Barre® classes for massages, haircuts, acupuncture—if don’t have to pay for it, who cares if I need it or not? I want it!

A perk for enrolling in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition school this spring was a gift certificate for a Pressed Juicery cleanse. Located in California, Pressed Juicery was created by an IIN graduate and is popular with the celebrity set. While I’m no celeb, I’m no stranger to juicing. I’ve owned several juicers and worked at a juice and smoothie stand in high school. Over the last years, the juicer has taken a backseat to my VitaMix as I’ve wanted the benefits of the fiber of the whole vegetable or fruit rather than just the juice (plus it’s so easy to clean). But, since this was essentially free (and a $200 value), I decided to give it a try.

The Pressed Juicery cleanse comes with six juices (well, really five plus one almond milk) and I splurged on the extra chlorophyll and aloe vera waters. Hey, if I’m going to make a commitment, I go for it. I ordered level two, their most popular and balanced cleanse and scheduled delivery for last Tuesday. All 24 bottles were shipped overnight in a big box with a disposable cooler lining and ice packs. The raw, unpasteurized juice can last up to three days refrigerated.

Day one: Not too bad…hungry at times but I get hungry when I eat real food, too. I noticed the juice was very clean tasting with a smooth mouth feel, not gritty like at-home juices I’ve made before. The PJ website talks about the difference between their juicing process and others. I like it.

I had a green juice to start my day, a pineapple-based juice, another green juice (this time with ginger—yum), a beet ginger lemon concoction (tasted like lemonade), a pineapple coconut water and to end the day, a delicious almond milk with dates and vanilla. Throughout the day, I sipped the chlorophyll water and before bed, I drank the aloe vera water. While it’s recommended you listen to your body and ease up on your normal exercise routine if need be, I had energy to teach a few classes and go on a shorter run.

Day two: I miss fat. I crave roasted root vegetables cooked in butter or coconut oil. Or nuts—lots of nuts. The juices, even the green ones, taste so sweet to me. I have energy as I’m still consuming enough calories but I feel as if I’m vibrating at a difference frequency (not sure if that’s a good or bad thing). I think I’m craving foods to ground me.

Day three: My most hungry-feeling, lowest energy day. I tried to scrape every last ounce of almond “paste” at the bottom of the bottle. But my tongue looks so pink and clean! I And while I don’t think I lost any weight my body feels lighter. Giving your digestive system a bit of a break is one of the main benefits of doing a juice cleanse.

I actually miss how I felt after drinking the juice. Was it the sugar rush (although natural—still a lot!) or the flood of nutrients? Surprisingly, I still haven’t eaten meat as I’m more inclined to go for veggies and nuts. I’m even eating less eggs than normal as they don’t sound as good. If you have ever heard me talk about my hard boiled eggs, you know this is a big statement.

Bottom line: although this was quite different to my current way of eating (loosely Paleo-inspired—veggies, limited fruits, healthy fats, eggs and meat) I could almost feel the surge of nutrients from the juice. I’m always open to experimenting as there is no one perfect diet. Plus it was nice not to have to think about my meals or snacks for three days. I want to make this recipe and next time I’m at Studio Blue, the host location of my Pilates teacher training, I’ll try Portland Juice Company. I wonder if they give out free samples.

Vegetable juice, tomato, carrot, cucumber and beetroot

Disclaimer: This is just my personal experience and does not qualify as medical advice. Please discuss any diets with your doctor or healthcare professional.

Pilates and yoga breathing: why is it different?

“Why are Pilates and yoga breath patterns different?”

I’m slightly jealous Bridget, the yoga instructor at Silverton Fitness, is asked all the cool questions. I get why no one asks me personally: I’ll answer while teaching class, during an exercise – right after I tell you two more reps; you end up doing 10 more. I get it. But I still want to answer the question, so here goes.

In Pilates, we strive for lateral or intercostal breathing—expanding and contracting the rib cage (imagine an accordion). It’s how dancers breathe, keeping the constant inward pull of the abdominals. Generally, exhalation facilitates flexion while inhalation facilitates extension. You can also think of exhaling during the phase of the exercise that requires most effort or where the emphasis of the movement takes place. We inhale through the nose (using the natural filtration system nature gave us—our nose hairs!) and exhale through the mouth. Think about coughing and laughing and how, during both, the abdominals brace and flatten. I encourage students practice this at home (or even in class but no one takes me up on the offer) by fake coughing or laughing. Our focus is on the inward pull of the abdominals, specifically the deep muscles of the transverse abdominus (our deep, lower abs) to create stability along with the pelvic floor, internal obliques and diaphragm.

Yoga, on the other hand, encourages deep, diaphragm breaths—or belly breaths as they are often called—where the tummy rises during the inhale and falls during the exhale. This way of breathing is calming and helps lower cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) levels. This is more in line of natural, everyday breathing.

In neither discipline do you want to inhale while pulling the belly in and exhaling while letting the belly press out. It’s a huge pet-peeve of mine hearing even the most knowledgeable and well-intended instructors cue “sucking” in the belly. To me, that describes the action of holding your breath. In both Pilates and Yoga, any instructor will (or should!) tell you that it is more important to simply breathe rather than follow any specific breath pattern. And that’s another thing—don’t be shy. It’s okay (even encouraged) to have your breath heard by the person next to you. While your breath shouldn’t be heard across the room or by everyone, if your inhales and exhales are silent, you aren’t breathing deep or full enough. Avoid inhaling and exhaling through the mouth, activating the body’s “flight or fight” stress response.

You might be thinking, “It’s just breathing. Why make it complicated?” Breathing, by nature, is a complex function. During exhalation the diaphragm relaxes and the pressure inside the lungs is greater than the pressure outside. We inhale and the pressure drops, as does our diaphragm—think of it as making room for all of that air to come in.

Breath is one of the 10 principles of the Pilates method. In my BASI training, we learn it not only oxygenates the blood, improves circulation, promotes concentration and a sense of calm, it helps you focus on the correct muscles and use them in the correct order, crucial for supporting the body and making the exercises effective. Breathing also provides us with an inner rhythm, something to sync our movements to.

In Pilates or yoga, we are syncing our breath to movement. Off of the mat, our breath can be seen as our energy for life. Check in with yourself – how are you breathing right now? Notice how you breathe as you go about your day. Are you breathing deep and full, allowing the belly to rise and fall. Or do you breathe shallow, in and out through your mouth.

Think of your ideal inner rhythm, how you want to feel, and breathe to that.Breathe