22 May

Links for a Sunday Morning

Why did Greek statues have such small penises? – Quartz

Greeks associated small and non-erect penises with moderation, which was one of the key virtues that formed their view of ideal masculinity

China is buying Canada: Inside the new real estate frenzy – Maclean’s (long read)

In the past five years, the flow of money from mainland China into Canadian real estate has reached what many consider dangerous levels, contributing to a gold-rush atmosphere in the nation’s leading cities, while stirring anger among young, middle-class Canadians who feel shut out of their hometown markets.

Why Self-Compassion Works Better Than Self-Esteem – The Atlantic

In order to have high self-esteem, you have to feel special and above-average. If someone said, “Oh, your performance was average,” you would feel hurt by that, almost insulted. When we fail, self-esteem deserts us which is exactly when we need it most.

Forest-bathing is latest fitness trend to hit U.S. — ‘Where yoga was 30 years ago’ – Washington Post

Shinrin-yoku literally translates to “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing” and refers to the process of soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of a natural setting to promote physiological and psychological health.

30 years of research prove couples with children really do have worse marriages – Quartz

Comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples.

The Massive Fitness Trend That’s Not Actually Healthy at All – Greatist

Being chronically exhausted is not the key to success. It’s a race toward disease and dysfunction. And in most cases, it causes suffering that is 100 percent preventable.

Getting people to move more – NY Times

Many people think of exercise as something that is planned and high-intensity and a lot of work. Physical activity is a more inclusive term. Any movement can be considered physically active and beneficial, even if you just walk around the house instead of sitting on the couch. We want to convey the idea that you don’t have to exercise, just move more.

Ontario setting new rules to end era of suburban sprawl across GTA – Toronto Star

We need to make the changes for the development of rapid transit, walkable communities, for the reduction on the reliance of the automobile. . . without such measures to govern out-of-control land consumption, sprawl will continue unchecked. Valuable green space and agricultural land across southern Ontario would continue to be turned over for unsustainable home construction.

No More Joiners: Why Kids are Dropping Out of Sports – CBC

Children’s sports have become too focused on winning at the exclusion of fun and fair play and yet, our continued obsession with rooting out the “best” players at an early age is having a devastating effect.

05 May

Your Knee is a Hinge- Part 2

In Your Knee is a Hinge Part 1 I started discussing how to keep the knee safe when bearing weight in standing lunges where the hips are open (a la Warrior II).
The trick is to not let your knee roll inward because, as the title suggests, your knee is a hinge. It’s not a ball and socket joint like your shoulder or hip. It’s only meant to move in one direction. Check out the post for the tip I gave to help you do that.

This follow-up is another really quick and easy cue to keep in mind when you’re in your lunge.

Try This:

In your warrior II, create a circle of energy starting where the inner thigh meets the groin and moving clockwise around the entire thigh of your bent knee.

That is, pull the inner thigh up to and around the kneecap, then pull the outer knee along the outer thigh to the hip socket. Did your knee re-align itself? I thought so.

Check out the video for more detail (plus a fun singing solo by your truly).

01 May

Links for a Sunday Morning

Why So Many Smart People Aren’t Happy – The Atlantic

So if you get a huge raise this month, you might be happy for a month, two months, maybe six months. But after that, you’re going to get used to it and you’re going to want another big bump. And you’ll want to keep getting those in order to sustain your happiness levels. In most people you can see that that’s not a very sustainable source of happiness.

1 question is all you need to judge someone’s personality – Inc.

A team led by psychologist Dustin Wood asked study subjects (in this case that typical psychological guinea pig, the undergrad) to rate the personalities of several acquaintances. Their responses said much more about themselves than they probably intended.

Men read terrible tweets to female sportswriters in eye-opening PSA – USA Today

“One of the players should beat you to death with their hockey stick.”
“I hope your dog gets hit by a car, [expletive].”
“Hopefully this [expletive] Julie DiCaro is Bill Cosby’s next victim. That would be classic.”

Too Many Elite American Men Are Obsessed With Work and Wealth – The Atlantic

A new study of several hundred NYU undergrads found that young men and women with similar SAT scores express starkly diverging visions of their ideal job. Young female students, on average, say they prefer jobs with more stability and flexibility—“lower risk of job loss, lower hours, and part-time option availability”—while male students, on average, say they prefer more earnings growth

‘Forest bath’ is way to let nature cleanse away stress – LA Times

Shinrin-yoku is the name given to the Japanese art of “forest bathing,” contemplative walks through the woods that reconnect the individual with nature and can lead to decreased stress, natural mood elevation and even a stronger immune system.

In an Age of Privilege, Not Everyone Is in the Same Boat – NY TImes

While choices for the rich are expanding, poorer Americans are benefiting less from product innovation, according to new research by Xavier Jaravel, a graduate student in economics at Harvard. Whether they are selling fancy cookware, natural cheeses or single malt Scotch, purveyors of goods aimed at the wealthy are competing more and offering new products. Downscale items like canned meat or tobacco aren’t drawing as many new entrants into the market.

Samantha Bee takes down the Harriet Tubman haters – Full Frontal

25 Apr

Your Knee Is a Hinge–Part 1

knee hinge joint

I’ve been posting some Asana Quick Fix videos on my Facebook page and YouTube lately to address some really easy ways to make your yoga poses better for you body. Check them out, if you haven’t already!

Let’s Talk Standing Lunges

In standing lunges with an open pelvis, like warrior II and side angle the front knee happens to be bearing the weight of most of your body. So it’s critical that you keep it safe as possible.

What can damage the knee? When the front knee is rolling inward. This happens a lot and is primarily because of poor range of motion in the inner thighs. If you are trying to open your hips and your flexibility is poor in the inner thighs then you just happen to drag your front knee in the same direction as the hips are going.

This is bad.

Maybe not once or twice or thrice but if you keep practicing yoga like this you won’t be practicing forever.

knee hinge joint

The knee is a very simple joint. It’s a hinge. It opens and closes in one direction like a door. Imagine you had a door that moved up and down as you opened and closed it. You’d be like “this door is fucked up”. Feel free to say that to yourself every time your knee caves in in warrior II. “This knee is fucked up”.  Because it definitely is not safe for it to be moving that way.

So how do I fix it?

How can you keep your front knee from caving in and getting all wonky and out of alignment and fucked up? Don’t sacrifice the knee for open hips!

Try this:

Come into warrior II or side angle. Look down at your front femur. If it is not parallel to the edges of the mat and the knees is caving in here’s what you do:

Turn the front of your back hip down toward the floor and watch the front knee realign, like magic!

Check out the video below for a little more explanation and stay tuned for part two!

16 Apr

Links for a Sunday Morning

Muscle Cramps: How To Handle Them (And Why They Aren’t So Bad) - Fit for Real Life

Cramps often happen because your nervous system doesn’t know how to use the tissue in whatever position you’ve put it in, and so it sends lots of signal to the tissue, and the cramp occurs. Frequently, this happens when your muscle is already in its shortened position, and you then ask it to fire in that position.

A Detailed Look At How Complex Equal Pay Day Really Is – Fast Company

Hired found that on average, companies were offering women between 3% and 30% less than men for the same roles. Hired’s lead product data scientist Jessica Kirkpatrick writes, “Our data—which spans technology, sales, and marketing roles—shows that 69% of the time, men receive higher salary offers than women for the same job title at the same company.”

Dozens Suspected of Cheating to Enter Boston Marathon – Runner’s World

In the past two years, you’ve had to be a good bit faster than your qualifier in order to gain entry to Boston. But exactly how much is a moving target. For the 2015 race, athletes had to run at least 1:02 faster than their qualifying time to earn a bib, leaving out 1,947 runners who met the posted standards. It got more selective for the 2016 race. Successful entrants had to be at least 2:28 faster than their time standards, and 4,562 runners were not accepted.

How can you tell if a goal is Achievable & Realistic? – Fast Company

On one end of the spectrum, some goals are in the delusional zone. That would be me deciding I want to play in the NBA. Those are just demoralizing. On the other hand, easy goals do little for you, either. There has to be some element that you might not achieve it. Otherwise it’s not compelling.

Fewer Americans Are Visiting the Local Library and Technology Isn’t to Blame – The Atlantic

In other words, there’s empirical evidence that usage tracks investment. If libraries receive more public funds, more people use them. And if governments invest less in its libraries (as they have since 2009), fewer people visit—though the drop in visits from disinvestment isn’t as strong as the rise from investment would be.

Being an overweight teen could come back to haunt your health – Vox

The association between a higher body mass index in youth and cardiovascular death later is very robust and it didn’t change in light of a very extensive sensitivity analysis.

Michael Pollan and the Luxury of Time – The Atlantic

Europeans fought for shorter workdays, more vacation time, family leave, and all these kinds of things. Those haven’t been priorities in America, it’s been about money. You see in the countries that fought for time, they cook more often, they have less obesity. There are real benefits to having time. There’s often a trade-off between time and money.

12 Apr

More Stability with Less Work

Core Strength Meridian

From a weight lifter’s perspective, bracing the core is super important to get you to lift the load at hand without injuring yourself. It helps you stabilize when you are moving a lot of weight in one plane.

But what if you’re not moving a lot of weight? What if you’re just holding a Warrior pose? Or walking your dog? Or playing shinny? Is all that effort to brace your core really necessary?

Core stability is all about control, coordination, and agility.

I recently took a workshop that really intrigued me. It was with Suzi Hately at the Yoga Conference in Toronto about how to find more stability in the core with less work. She spoke from a therapeutic perspective about how core stability means control, coordination, and agility.

Agility is key. Firm bracing of the core muscles is great for something like weightlifting but can be limiting when your body needs to be responsive and to change direction quickly (ie. be agile).

So how do you evoke the core without actively engaging it?

Try this:
Lay on your back with the knees over the hips and the shins parallel to the floor. Press your hands into your knees and knees back into your hands. This requires the core to work, but we want it to work naturally, without forcing it.

Can you evoke the core rather than forcing the core muscles to engage? Can you breathe smoothly and easily? Can you do this exercise with less effort?

Then notice if other muscles in the body are engaging or firming up. Are you holding tension in your shoulders? Chest? Hip flexors?

Your body is so smart that it will do what it needs to do to get the job done. In this case, if there is some weakness in the core muscles then other muscles will compensate in order for you to make this exercise happen. Cool, right?

If you find these compensatory muscles working, can you really soften them without forcing relaxation? Like butter melting in a pan, like a foot sinking into wet sand.

When you have completely softened all your compensatory muscles and you’ve stopped forcing your core to engage then you will find the point of stability for your body. It may be weaker than you think!

For me, when I do this exercise, I find it damn near impossible to stop my hip flexors from doing all the work once I stop bracing my abs. It’s as if it is harder to do less work and to find ease in the exercise.

And that’s what the core should core provide. A sense of lightness and ease.

So see for yourself what happens when you work your core less and tap into your true stability.

10 Apr

Links for a Sunday Morning

My Stomach Is All Over the Internet. Here’s Why. – Runner’s World

When I see my stomach, I sense a disconnect between how it looks and how I feel, which is strong, powerful, and fast. And I’m so psyched to be a mom and have my husband and my boys alongside me.

Sit yo’ a** down! The importance of sitting on the toilet – Pelvic Health & Rehab

The sphincters cannot fully relax, which means that the bladder and/or rectum could not fully empty, meaning that now we are getting a backup of residual waste left in the body. If this becomes a regular occurrence we can begin to see issues arise within the bowel/bladder systems.

The Worst Thing That Could Happen to Facebook Is Already Happening – Inc

According to confidential data obtained by The Information, more than 60 percent of users share no personal content in a given week, while the remaining 39 percent share an average of five posts.

Doing Exercise You Hate Is Bad for Body and Mind – Daily Beast

As long as we’re using exercise for weight-loss—as an exchange for our dietary transgressions, we risk missing out on the amazing benefits that come from incorporating physical activity into our lives—for the rest of our lives. 

Call A Random Swede? We Tried It Out – NPR

As a way to “spark people’s curiosity about Sweden” and foster communication between people from different countries, Sweden’s tourism association launched “The Swedish Number,” a project that connects anyone in the world with a phone to a random Swede.

The Five-Minute Meditation That Will Stress-Proof Your Mind – Huffington Post

Begin to question whether this internal stress or tension is appropriate to the situation. (In other words: No, you aren’t in mortal danger because your apartment is messy and your to-do list is long.) And with a mindful perspective comes peace.

A Workplace, an Ashram, or a Cult? – Slate

Her lawsuit claims that Jivamukti’s teachings about the student-guru relationship are “more akin to a cult” than a yoga school and that its leadership exploits “Eastern philosophy and beliefs, as superseding western sexual harassment and anti-discrimination laws.”

Should you walk or run for exercise? Here’s what the science says. – Vox

Running improves your health more efficiently than walking does and has greater health benefits per time invested. But even a small amount of running carries more injury risk than walking. And a lot of running (i.e., ultramarathon training) can well be harmful, while the same is never true for walking.

07 Apr

3 Ways to Bring Calmness to Your Power Yoga Flow

yinyangYin Yang Decal from CaymanHillDesigns

If you’ve been to a yoga class taught by me you’ll notice (rather quickly, I might add) that the class is challenging. It’s high energy, fast paced, and it gets your heart rate pumping and sweat dripping.

It is the definition of yang, through and through: hot, active, muscular, powerful, exhilarating, go-go-go.

And we need go-go-go in our lives. We need to be physically active in this energy-generating way. It’s how we stoke our internal fire. It’s how we get stronger. It’s how we gain power. It’s how we practice resiliency in the face of adversity. It’s how we grow.

But we also need to create balance in our fitness regime, just like in our lives. You can’t thrive forever on a continuous stream of high intensity stimuli from intense bootcamp classes to rigorous hockey practices to long endurance runs to workplace stress. Your internal fire will burn out.

Can we bring relaxation to our stress? Yin to our yang? Can we balance our nervous system so we’re not all fight or flight and no chill & still?

Well, that’s kind of the point of yoga.

Actually, the best time to connect to the stillness in your mind is when your body is moving. When you become so immersed in your movement that your mind stops, time stops, you are IN THE ZONE, my friend.

Sitting still leads to all sorts of thoughts you never knew you had. Sitting still and trying to connect to the stillness in your mind is, like, way more advanced, amiright?

3 Ways to Bring Calmness to Your Power Yoga Flow

1) Breathe

Constrict the throat in your “ujjayi” breath. It stimulates your vagus nerve to activate your parasympathetic nervous system making your body want to chill & be still. Also, making your exhales longer than inhales helps slow the heart rate and calm you down.

2) Be Curious

Approach your body like it’s something to be explored and not something that needs to be better, slimmer, stronger, taller, bendier, and on and on. When is curiosity ever stressful? Tap into your innate sense of curiosity you give yourself the opportunity to get out of your judgment zone and just feel something.

3) Get your jam on

Some might argue that music distracts the mind rather than helps you tap into it. Maybe when you’re sitting still, but when you are moving through a power yoga flow music is a great way to get out of your head and into your body. It silences your thoughts and encourages your awareness to be with your body as it moves in space to the sound of the music. Just you, your body, and the beat.