Tag Archives: exercise

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Yoga and Living Your Best – part three

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Yoga and Living Your Best – part three

Yoga and Living Your Best - part threePart three of this great three part blog post written by my former occupational therapist and friend:
Jennifer Greene-Gillooley, MS/Occupational Therapist


Now that consciousness, breath and positive intention are in place we can finally talk about the postures or “Asana.”


Through Yoga you can achieve flexibility, balance, strength and improved cardiovascular health.


This will allow you to breath easier and be more present.

Beginning with “easy pose” or sitting cross-legged on the floor on a cushion is one of the most important postures in Yoga.

The process of getting on and off the floor alone can be preventative in terms of reducing falls in the aging population.

Forward folds can help us draw inward and shut out some of the unnecessary distractions of life. Standing posture such as tree can improve balance.


None of the postures in Yoga are absolute, if you are unable to get into a certain posture it shouldn’t be seen as a failure, do as best you can. Learning to use appropriate supports around you becomes a method to achieving more difficult goals.


Yoga is not solely done to become more flexible and a lack of flexibility doesn’t mean you have to avoid it, work at your level, don’t push too hard, and do your best.


The goals of Yoga are intertwined to achieve peace and grace in the body and in the mind, to have one without the other is not true Yoga.


Through this thing called Yoga you can begin to bring together physical, mental and spiritual aspects of yourself.  The outcome and health benefits will amaze you!

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Yoga and Living Your Best – part two

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Yoga and Living Your Best – part two

Part two of a three part blog post written by my former occupational therapist and friend:
Jennifer Greene-Gillooley, MS/Occupational Therapist

Yoga and Living Your Best - part twoYoga is bringing the physical body and the mind together. When Yoga is mentioned, many think of the physical practice of the poses or “asana.” As my teacher always reminds her students, breath precedes movement.  Pranayama is breathing practices that give “prana” or energy to the physical action of Yoga.

Through our breath we deliver life-giving oxygen to our muscles, but there is another layer. This is energy or life force. It can’t be physically seen but is absorbed by the body.  To understand the breath we need to actually become aware or conscious of it.  This is done with breath intention.

A Yoga session, class, program or practice will include an intention or theme to reflect greater and highest good, consciousness sometimes in the form of a basic meditation practice, and a series of thoughtfully placed physical postures that include coordinating breath with movement. Becoming aware of breath is to become conscious of it.

To be conscious means literally to be awake. Consciousness is also relative depending on where you are at in your life. In general, children and young adults are all about being in the here and now. As we move towards the middle years of our lives it is common to become overwhelmed with our many roles, duties and responsibilities.

This causes us to often focus on the future or what is to be versus what is now. It becomes difficult to focus on what is in front of us because we are worrying about what is ahead. In the later years reflection on the past or “what was” can also get in the way of being fully available to enjoy the present.  With Yoga we can learn by breathing, movement and simple meditative practices to focus on the present.


Stay tuned for part three which will conclude this great post!

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Yoga and Living Your Best, Part one

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Yoga and Living Your Best

Great post written by my former occupational therapist and friend:
Jennifer Greene-Gillooley, MS/Occupational Therapist

This is part one of a two part post

Mature woman doing yogaA year and a half ago I took a beginners yoga class again. I had taken yoga classes on and off for years. I credited yoga for helping me naturally birth my first son 13 years prior, but presently I did not have a regular practice. 


I entered the studio after a lengthy absence the day after Christmas 2013. I felt physically and mentally exhausted. As an occupational therapist, I embrace teaching people to care for themselves, to live life fully, to engage in daily living skills that are both fulfilling and functional.


From the outside I probably appeared to be fully functioning. Inside my mind and stomach were constantly churning. I was struggling with a list of physical and emotional symptoms. I began to attend classes regularly, and with this began making slow, conscious and unconscious changes. 

Wanting more knowledge, I enrolled in a 200 hour Yoga teacher training. I graduated from Yoga Vidya Teacher Training this past April2015 and I am now certified to teach Yoga to children and adults. 


Just as I rediscovered Yoga it seems to be everywhere!


I believe that the popularity of Yoga is not fad or trend. The collective ”we” needs it.  Trends towards people seeking wellness and well- being are on the rise while simultaneously as a community we struggle to connect to our own inner wisdom and to each other.


Yoga is a modality that can and should be used across all ages, cultures, physical and mental abilities. It can be applied to all people and the benefits are life changing.  There is a growing body of research in mainstream medicine and psychology proving that Yoga works.

In the next post (part two), I will define Yoga, outline some of the benefits of Yoga as well explore some of the practical applications of Yoga in relation to aging and ability.


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The Amount of Exercise That Can Boost The Aging Brain

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The Amount of Exercise That Can Boost The Aging Brain

Todays post I’m sharing from one of my personal favorites, PsyBlog

The right amount of exercise to help boost the older brain

Active Senior Drinks WaterA relatively small increase in exercise is enough to boost brain function in older adults, a new study finds. The amount of exercise that’s beneficial is equivalent to a brisk 25-minute walk several times a week. Healthy over-65s who exercised more had better attention and ability to focus, the research found.


Professor Jeffrey Burns, co-director of the Kansas University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, said:

“Basically, the more exercise you did, the more benefit to the brain you saw. Any aerobic exercise was good, and more is better.”


For the study, 101 healthy people over 65 were split into four groups, three of which did some extra exercise. The three groups did 75, 150 and 225 minutes of exercise per week.


They were compared with a group that were relatively sedentary. All the groups saw some benefit, but the more exercise people did, the better they performed in cognitive tests. The extra mental boost from exercise above 75 minutes, though, was only small.


It wasn’t so much the duration of the exercise, the researchers found, it was more about the intensity.


Dr Eric Vidoni, the study’s first author, said:

“For improved brain function, the results suggest that it’s not enough just to exercise more. You have to do it in a way that bumps up your overall fitness level.”


One of the participants in the study, Marjorie Troeh, 80, explained she used the study as a way of motivating herself:

“I love exercising my mind, but I hate exercising my body. I knew about the evidence that said exercise was good for endurance and agility, but I really didn’t make any connection with that and brain health. I’m surrounded by people who face memory problems. I’m really anxious to do anything I can to further knowledge in this area.”




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Breathing and Exercise

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If You Exercise Read This…Even if you don’t give this a read!

This great post is brought to us by About Health, a great website about general wellness for ALL ages and abilities.

Breathing and Exercise

The Many Benefits of Deep Breathing in Pilates Exercise

Learn to breath correctlyDeep breathing is an essential part of Pilates exercise. And not just a big inhale, but also when you make a conscious effort to exhale fully, getting rid of every bit of stale air and allowing fresh, invigorating air to rush in. Joseph Pilates was adamant about deep breathing. Consider this quote from his book Return to Life Through Contrology: “Lazy breathing converts the lungs, literally and figuratively speaking, into a cemetery for the deposition of diseased, dying and dead germs as well as supplying an ideal haven for the multiplication of other harmful germs.” Is that not scary?

Benefits of Deep Breathing

Beyond the frightful implications of not breathing fully, consider some of the many benefits of deep breathing. Oxygen is part of almost every chemical reaction in your body, so you need lots of it. If you want to burn calories, you need oxygen. In fact, if you want to have energy at all, you’ve got to have oxygen. Conversely, carbon dioxide is a waste product and deep breathing helps you get rid of it. Not only that, but deep breathing stimulates the internal organs, including the heart. When the heart gets going, thereby increasing circulation, you get fresh blood coursing through the body, carrying oxygen and nutrients to every cell, as well as removing waste products. Deep breathing is your easiest and most available internal cleansing mechanism.

No discussion of the benefits of conscious deep breathing would be complete without addressing the body/mind integrative aspect. This is particularly true in Pilates where the “complete coordination of body, mind and spirit” (Joseph Pilates, Return to Life) is the ideal that literally inspired the development of the practice.

Breathing fully, with attention and intention, centers us. It clarifies and calms the mind, reduces stress, and paves the way for a greater, holistic experience. Working with the breath also brings a natural rhythm to movement that greatly enhances the efficacy and experience of a workout.

Exercises and Deep Breathing

In Pilates, the breath leads the movement and gives it power. All of Joseph Pilates classical mat exercise instructions are coordinated with the breath and most Six pilates principlesequipment exercises are taught with breath patterns as well. Generally, we exhale on the part of the exercise that requires the most exertion, taking advantage of the natural contraction of the abdominal muscles on the exhale. In Pilates exercises, the breath to help us lengthen and decompress the spine. The contraction of an exhale can be thought of as a gentle, lengthening squeeze of the trunk around the spine. Then, on the inhale, with the support of the extensor muscles, there is an overall expansion in length and width. One might imagine a cylinder getting longer and rounder.

Typically, when people think of deep breathing they fill up their upper chest. In Pilates, however, we want to use all of the breathing space we have available to us. We therefore consciously use two related but slightly different types of breathing:

Diaphragmatic Breathing: This is deep-belly breathing where we bring the breath all the way into the body allowing the belly to expand with the inhale and deflate with the exhale. Diaphragmatic breathing is a “best practices” breath for life in general. Learn diaphragmatic breathing.

Lateral Breathing: Sometimes, in Pilates and other types of exercise, we do focused training with abdominal muscles in a way that makes it impossible to allow the belly to raise up with the inflow of air. Lateral breathing teaches us to expand our ribcage and back to allow for a full intake of air.

Now that you are reminded of the importance of the big, beautiful breath, use it! Don’t be shy about breathing fully in Pilates class. That is what Joseph Pilates intended and is completely true to the work. In fact, breath is one of the Pilates principles — a set of guiding principles for Pilates practice distilled from Joseph Pilates teachings.

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