Opportunities to learn

Opportunities to learn are everywhere, and they have a tendency to appear when you least expect them. I had one of those opportunities myself a few weeks ago when my husband and I went up to our favorite getaway, Estes Park. It’s located right at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park and is a fabulous place to hit the refresh button, relax, and to commune with nature. Or as I like to say, just to hang out with moose and squirrel.

The first morning we were there, I pulled the curtains open to let the glorious Colorado sunshine fill our cabin. I was greeted with the breathtaking sight of a small herd of elk milling about and grazing in the grass directly in front of our picture window. I’m still enough of a city girl to go a little crazy when I see wildlife, and I couldn’t contain the squeal of excitement that involuntarily escaped my lips.

I took a few moments to compose myself, made frantic hand gestures to my husband to signal the appearance of the elk, and together we quietly slipped out of the front door to get a closer look at these gentle giants. Of course, they wouldn’t have been quite so gentle if we got too close to them or threatened them in any way. But, while we stood still, they moved closer and closer to us.

They kept a casual but careful eye on the two of us as we watched them. I tried not to hold my breath as they came so close I could smell them. The elk moved in an elegant and effortless manner, with an ease and grace that belied their size. It seems like every time I come across these magnificent beasts they always have a major “take home” message for me. This time was no different.

Recently I had been struggling with several challenges in my life which were interfering with my goals and aspirations. I ended up exhausted, frustrated, and incapable of overcoming these road blocks that were preventing me from moving forward. However, as I watched the elk, I had one of those head-smacking moments. I realized that I had gone back into my old pattern of trying to force my way through obstacles in my path rather than accepting the challenges as opportunities to learn from them.

The elk reminded me that natural movement is always better than trying to force yourself into doing something that you think you should do rather than discovering what you could do. The result is effortless movement without stress, strain, or frustration. They silently told me that it is possible to move quietly through your changing environment with strength, grace, and confidence, as long as you are attentive to your surroundings and not allow anyone or anything to distract you. 

They also reminded me that it’s important to eat your greens. After all, there is always a blade of grass with your name on it, as long as you remember to keep your eyes open. Finally, they assured me that it’s okay to let people get a little closer to you, as long as they mind their manners and respect your boundaries–otherwise, there will be consequences. Like I said, opportunities to learn are everywhere. It was a powerful learning experience, and one I hope to remember for a very long time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artichokes, Feldenkrais, & Peeling Produce

I love Feldenkrais, and I love being a Feldenkrais practitioner. I also love artichokes, although I never even knew they existed until I was a young adult. I certainly had my doubts about artichokes, because they were so different from anything I had ever experienced up until that point in my life. 

Then I met a guy who was absolutely crazy about artichokes. Not only did he order them as an appetizer every time we went out to dinner, he insisted on preparing them for me whenever we made dinner together. I could easily have done without them, because they just seemed like a lot of trouble for very little reward.

However, I was fascinated by his excitement and almost childlike enthusiasm as he boiled the artichokes, made the sauces for dipping, and then meticulously peeled back the tough outer layers. The further he got into the artichoke, the more excited and animated he became. He would say, “Look! See how the leaves are getting softer and more delicate the closer we get to the center?” Then the magic moment would finally arrive–with reverence in his voice he would declare, “Here it is, the heart! It’s the best part, because it’s so tender.” 

He was right about that. I certainly learned to appreciate artichokes along the way, but it wasn’t until I went through my Feldenkrais training that I realized how similar we are to artichokes. We develop thick, protective outer layers as we mature. These layers are hard to get through, and often have sharp, pointed edges as an additional line of defense to protect us. Feldenkrais gently and carefully peels away these outer layers, just one layer at a time, gently coaxing us to bring us back to our true self, to find our center, and to open our heart.

I have heard some people say that Feldenkrais is like peeling an onion, but I disagree. Because when you peel an onion, each layer is just more of the same, you never quite get to the end, and every layer makes you cry. But when you peel an artichoke, the layers become softer, more tender, and more flexible. Until you get to the best part, the heart.

That’s what Feldenkrais does for you. It peels back the protective layers created by self-doubt and untruths about ourselves. It brings us back to our true self and teaches us the art of self-compassion and self-respect. It brings us back to the best and most tender part or ourselves–our heart. It is a process that awakens a sense of excitement and childlike enthusiasm as we get rid of each layer to discover the tenderness inside ourselves.

And that is only just a small part of the magic of Feldenkrais and what it can do for you. It truly is a gift, a gift of the heart, and the gift that keeps on giving. Feldenkrais helped me in more ways I could possibly explain, but the best thing it did was open my heart. I would like nothing more than to share it with you.

 

Feet Fit for Health

Putting your best foot forward.

Too often we forget that our feet are an important part of our fitness, health and well-being. At least, we forget until we develop foot pain and deformities. Foot pain can lead to serious health problems, including abnormal gait, decreased balance, and pain in our knees, hips, and back.

However, with the proper attention including exercises and stretches, you can keep your feet strong, healthy, flexible and pain free. Good health starts from the bottom up, so remember to make foot care a vital part of your daily routine. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Treat your feet.

1). Stimulate the bottom of your feet. Sit on the edge of a chair with your bare feet against the carpet, lightly and briskly rub them back and forth against the carpet for 10-15 seconds. Stop, and notice the sensations coming from the bottom of your feet. This “wakes up” the nerve endings and improves circulation.

2). Massage your feet. Don’t wait for your feet to hurt to give them a good rub down. Instead, massage them on a regular basis using a good moisturizer or foot cream. Use a firm but gentle pressure and give a little extra attention to the areas that are tender or sore.

You can also use a tennis ball. Stand, place your foot on the ball and firmly and gently press into it, concentrating on the areas of your foot that is tender or feels tight.

3). Get a pedicure. Even if you’re a guy, because real men do get pedicures. It’s a rare treat for your feet and no, it does not include nail polish. At least, not unless you want it to.

Stretch your legs.

1). Stretch your calves. Stand with both hands against a wall for support. Place one foot forward and the other one back. Bend the front knee, straighten the back knee and press the heel into the floor. Breathe and relax into the stretch. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then switch legs.

2). Mobilize your ankles. Repeat the above stretch starting with the first side again. This time, slightly bend the back knee as you stretch. This will get deeper into the calf muscles, the Achilles tendon, and will gently mobilize the ankle joint. Tight calf muscles contribute to decrease mobility of your feet and is related to foot problems such as plantar fasciitis.

Strengthen the muscles in your feet.

1). “Walk” your feet. Sit on the edge of a firm chair with your bare feet resting on a towel. Slowly extend and flex your toes down into the floor and toward your heel to “walk” the towel in toward you. Continue until the towel is completely pulled toward you, then reverse the movement of your toes to move the towel away from you.

2). “Play the piano” with your toes. Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and work one foot at a time. Lift all off your toes off of the floor. Slowly and meticulously lower one toe to the floor at a time, starting with your pinkie toe and working your way to your big toe. This takes some practice, but you will feel the muscles in your feet getting stronger and more flexible.

3). Standing toe lifts. Stand with your knees soft (slightly bent rather than locked). Lift all ten toes off of the floor and try to splay them apart. Hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat ten times.

4). Standing toe press. Stand with your knees soft. Press all ten toes into the floor as you lift your arches off of the floor. Hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat ten times. These exercises will strengthen the muscles that support proper foot mechanics and improve flexibility.

These simple tips will keep you on your toes, help you step out into the world and put your best foot forward. Make sure you give them the love and attention they deserve! 

Lunch Time, Brown Bags, and April Fools

When I was growing up, I never ate lunch in the school cafeteria. The first time I did eat in a school cafeteria was on my first day of college. It was pretty awful, and I had an even greater appreciation for the brown bag lunches that my Mom packed for me and my sisters every single morning.

In elementary school we walked home for lunch every day. But once we entered junior high, my sisters and I brought our lunch from home. Our mother would pack a sandwich, piece of fruit and a cookie and put them in the classic brown bag. Sometimes she would put a hard-boiled egg, left-over chicken, or anything else that was handy. Lunch was always predictable and reliable.

However, one day each year, our mother took a few liberties with our lunches. She had a great sense of humor, and loved a good joke. Every April Fool’s Day, the joke was on us. And in our lunch bags. Peanut butter sandwiches were laced with rubber bands. Two pieces of bread would hold a hand written note that said “April Fool’s!” On one occasion the note read, “This is not a piece of jumbo.” (Western Pennsylvania slang for bologna). One time the sandwich was a picture of a slice of jumbo. If there was an egg, we weren’t sure if it was hard-boiled or raw, until we cracked the shell.

She did it every year. We knew it was coming, although a few times we did forget about her favorite holiday. At least, until we opened our lunch bags. Oh, yes, it’s April Fool’s Day. I can imagine her at home, watching the clock so she knew which child was in lunch period, opening her special brown bag. As much as she loved her little joke, she would never let us go hungry. She always had an extra lunch for us sent with one of our friends. So, by the time we were in high school, our friends knew about Mom’s joke, and eagerly anticipated April Fool’s Day to see what she came up with this time.

So, on this April Fool’s Day, I celebrate my mother and her sense of humor. I raise a slice of bread slathered with peanut butter and laced with rubber bands to my mother’s memory. And to further honor her, I share with you the lessons I learned from her and those lunches. First of all, it’s important to have a sense of humor. It’s good for your health. It’s important to laugh often, and laugh hard. A good belly laugh is good for your spirit and has the added benefit of working your abs without doing crunches. It’s important to go along with a joke, even if you already know it’s coming, and you are on the receiving end. It’s even better to share the joke with friends. It teaches you not to take yourself too seriously.

One last thing…always have a back up plan, just in case your brown bag is full of rubber bands, raw eggs and April Fool’s. It’s good to be prepared for the unexpected.

 

Mummy’s Funny Easter Bunny

Growing up in Western Pennsylvania was pretty special. All of the holidays were celebrated with great enthusiasm. It didn’t matter if it was a national holiday, state holiday, school holiday, personal holiday, birthday, or religious holiday. We celebrated them all.

Being of Eastern European descent, our family celebrated Easter with the ethnic and cultural traditions of our religion and our heritage. However, we also got to experience the other part of the Easter holiday, the Easter Bunny. And we enjoyed the decadence of all the chocolate Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, jelly beans and marshmallow peeps.

Of course, the Easter Bunny is famous for leaving baskets for each child at every house he visits. But, he never left baskets for me and my sisters. We must have been last on his “to do” list, and by the time he got to our house at the end of the street and at the top of the hill,  things began to go awry.

Every year he developed a small hole in the bottom of his bag, probably from dragging it around all night as he went from house to house. As a result, he left a small trail of jelly beans on the walk leading up to the door of our house. The trail became bigger the closer he got to our front door. By the time he used his magic key to unlock the door to our house, jelly beans and brightly colored chocolate eggs began to litter the floor.

At that point he must have given up. Since candy was already falling out of his bag, he must have decided to go with the flow. So he did. And he made an incredible mess. He threw candy all over the dining room and living room floor. At least he neatly lined up the packages of colored peeps, large chocolate bunnies and big eggs on the fireplace. Maybe he stole that idea from Santa Claus.

Every Easter morning, we woke up to that beautiful, colorful mess. My sisters and I crawled around, gathered up the candy, and put it in the bowls and baskets that our mother pulled out of the cabinets. Yes, indeed, once a year we ate candy right off of the floor! Good thing our mother was a meticulous housekeeper. And, we rarely used the living room and dining room anyway. It was only for company.

Every year, our mother would  complain about that darned Easter Bunny for messing up her house. And, every year she would plot how to stop him from doing the same thing the following year. We always hoped the Easter Bunny didn’t hear her. That rascally rabbit was one funny bunny. It would sure be a bummer if we started getting boring baskets like the other kids. Where’s the sport in that?

Fortunately, our Mom never did stop him in his tracks. And every Easter Sunday we were treated with the sight of all that candy thrown all over the floor. Although, it wasn’t as much fun picking up candy off of the floor as I got older, especially since my two older sisters and I got to help our Easter Bunny throw the candy around for our younger sisters when it was their turn to enjoy the magic. But, it was still okay to eat candy right off of the floor.

The truth is, I still believe in the Easter Bunny. And Santa Claus. I believe in the magic of childhood, and I believe in the power of healing and comfort that sweet memories provide. I believe in the mystery and the reality of things that cannot be explained, but that we know in our hearts exist. And, I learned a few important things along the way. It’s important to keep your floors clean. You never know when something sweet might land on them. Second, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You may want to throw them around a bit, and share them with others. At least, that’s what our Easter Bunny would recommend.

 

Robins and the signs of spring

It’s a sure sign of spring when robins start building their nests. When I was a little girl, a sassy little robin built her nest on the window sill of the bedroom that I shared with my two older sisters. My sisters and I watched her build her nest, lay her eggs, hatch her chicks and feed them. Through the window, we watched her and she watched us. That robin must have found the comings and goings of three little girls equally as fascinating as we found her. Perhaps that’s why she chose that spot to build her nest.

One day when I came home from school, my mother told me that  “company” was coming to visit. I found that strange. Who comes to visit in the middle of the day in the middle of the week? Especially when my dad was at work, my two older sisters were in school, and during my baby sister’s nap time? Company turned out to be a photographer from our local newspaper, The Beaver County Times.  Apparently our family of baby robins was a feel good human interest story, and an encouraging sign that spring had arrived. If you have ever experienced a Western Pennsylvania winter, you understand why this is reason to celebrate.

The photographer wanted a picture of me feeding the robins. My mother opened the bedroom window and gave me small chunks of bread to give them. I stood on the bed so I could reach out the window while the photographer positioned himself on the porch and started snapping pictures. I didn’t give a rip about having my picture taken, or the possibility that it might be in the paper. All I cared about was the opportunity to feed those little robins and get a closer look at them.

When the photographer was finished, he and my mom engaged in grown up conversation and forgot about me and the birds as they continued to talk. That’s when the real excitement began. One of the baby robins hopped out of the nest, over the window sill, and fell onto the bed. I squealed in delight, my mother screamed in horror, and another baby bird followed his brother out of the nest and onto the bed. My mother and the photographer ran around the bedroom and tried to catch the birds. I continued to squeal, my mother continued to scream, and the poor photographer ran around in circles as the entire nest of robins made their way into the bedroom. And, as birds often do, started dropping birdie bombs everywhere, if you get my drift.

My mom and the photographer kept running into each other as they tried to catch the robins. In all my born days I had never seen so much chaos. Or had so much fun. Just as soon as one of the adults came close to catching a bird, it managed to slip away and poop some more. All four of them made their way out of the bedroom and into the kitchen and dining room. I was only five, but even I saw the wisdom of closing the bedroom door to confine them to one room. I sure was glad the adults didn’t think of that. I could have told them, but where was the sport in that? Besides, who listens to a five year old? Anyway, it wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining or as much fun for me.

Eventually, all of the baby robins were caught and safely placed back in their nest. I can still see the look on my mother’s face. The photographer was sweating, his glasses were crooked, his tie was twisted, and he had stepped in bird poop. The two of them looked at each other and eventually started to laugh. He offered to stay and help my mother clean up the mess, but she pretty much had enough company for one afternoon. By the time my sisters got home from school, my younger sister woke up from her nap, and my dad came home from work, there was no sign of the fiasco that had taken place that afternoon. However, my mom and I had a fine story to tell at dinner that evening.

The picture did make the front page of the local paper. I guess The Beaver County Times felt they owed it to my mother. Soon after that, the robins were gone and all that was left was the empty nest. Eventually, the nest was gone as well. I was left with a splendid memory of a very exciting afternoon, and a story that my mother and I shared and laughed about for the next fifty years.

I learned that it’s a fine thing to celebrate spring. It’s good to have company over, even if it is in the middle of the day in the middle of the week when nobody else is home. It’s important to feed the birds. And if you ever have baby robins in your bedroom, you might want to close the door and confine them to one room. Unless, of course, you have a five year old around. Then it’s fair game. Happy springtime!

 

Beware the Ides of March

“Beware the Ides of March” is a phrase and a date in history that will forever be associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar. Apparently Caesar had received a warning from his soothsayer telling him to “beware the Ides of March.” I’m not a huge fan of soothsayers, but obviously this one knew what he was talking about, because he accurately predicted the demise of Caesar on March 15th, otherwise known as the Ides of March. 

Hmmm, perhaps Caesar should have listened to his soothsayer and implemented a few precautions. I’m not suggesting that he would still be alive today, but it does make you wonder what would have happened and how the course of history may have changed if he used his awareness and paid more attention to both his surroundings and who his friends were, just in case. 

“Beware the Ides of March” has forever instilled a sense of foreboding on March 15th. And since tomorrow is March 15th, I decided to pass along a few simple safety tips so we don’t have to beware, but be aware instead. Not only on March 15th, but the rest of the year as well. 

1). Heads up.

A distracted person is an easy target. Please, please, please put away your cell phones. They belong in your purse, pocket or backpack, not in your hand stealing your attention from your surroundings. So please, I am begging you….put away your cell phones, especially when you are walking in a parking lot or any public place.

2). Expand your world.

Always notice who (and what) is behind you and on either side of you as well as in front of you at all times, but especially when entering a room or any new environment. If I had a dollar for every woman I have seen stepping onto the elevator in my office building while they were staring down at their phone instead of looking to see who they were getting on an elevator with, I would be a very wealthy woman today. Instead, I am a sad one, because walking into a small enclosed space with no escape route without first seeing who you’re getting on with is not only a bad idea, it’s a dangerous one as well. 

While we’re on the subject of enclosed spaces, always make a mental note of where the exits are; you never know when you might need to make a quick escape, for whatever reason.

3). Make eye contact.

Make eye contact and say hello. Yes, even to strangers. As a matter of fact, especially to strangers. Those are the people you want to let know that you are paying attention. Remember, a distracted person is an easy target, and that’s what the bad guys are looking for. So, look everyone in the eye and smile. Not only is it a great safety practice, you might even make a few new friends along the way.

4). Listen to your inner voice.

If something doesn’t feel right to you, listen to your intuition and remove yourself from the situation immediately. Remember tip number two and know where all of the exits or escape routes are ahead of time so you can make a quick and seamless get-away. I call it the ninja disappearing act. After all, you can’t be harmed if you aren’t there. So, make like a ninja and hide.

5). Play with training awareness.

Turn the practice of training awareness into a game to play with your children and grandchildren. It’s a great way to teach them about personal safety in a safe, non-threatening way as you improve your awareness at the same time. 

6). Educate yourself.

Knowledge is power, and the more you know about personal safety, the more empowered you become.

I just can’t help but wonder how the course of history may have changed if Caesar had taken a few of these simple precautions (except for the part about the cell phones and the elevator). We can all benefit from taking precautions regarding our personal safety without being afraid or paranoid. We don’t have to beware, we just have to pay attention to ourselves, our surroundings, and our relationships. 

So, be aware the Ides of March. Oh, and have a fun, safe and Happy St. Patrick’s Day as well. You might want to use your new-found awareness to be on the lookout for those leprechauns. Be safe, healthy, and aware!

What We Believe is What We Become

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my Feldenkrais Training is that what we tell ourselves really does matter. Our mind (our brain and our nervous system) is constantly listening and processing the information that it receives. What we tell ourselves is what we believe. And what we believe is what we become.

This became quite obvious during ballet class a few days ago when I listened to several of my barre buddies beat themselves down with negative self-talk. Our teacher had just given us a challenging and complex combination. A group of dancers stood around discussing their limitations, their short comings, their injuries, the reasons why they wouldn’t be able to do the combination and what would happen when they tried.

It was fascinating to see all of their dire predictions come true once the music started. It was a stark contrast to the group who quietly watched the teacher, marking the movements with their hands and in their imagination. They moved through the combination with an ease and grace that looked effortless. It wasn’t because they had more talent or technique. It was because they believed in themselves and invested all of their focus and attention on what they could do, rather than what they thought they couldn’t do. Yes….it is that simple.

I must confess, I used to engage in deprecating, negative self-talk myself. I wasn’t only good at it, I was a master at it, and I took it to a high art form. However, this self-defeating practice began to change once I began my Feldenkrais Training. The change was slow and subtle, but it was there. I felt happier, healthier, and more energetic. I even felt younger, and I discovered that I liked myself more. I became my own best friend instead of my own worst enemy. And I learned that life was a lot more fun than it used to be. What a gift!

What we believe is what we become. Be careful what you tell yourself, because your nervous system is always listening. Your mind does matter. And it will believe what you say. Be gentle with yourself, and give yourself positive messages. Soon it will become automatic, and effortless. And you may be surprised how good you’ll feel, and what you can accomplish. The possibilities are endless!

 

Groundhog Day, All Over Again

Here it is, Groundhog Day all over again. When you grow up in Western Pennsylvania like I did, Groundhog Day is very exciting, and a day we looked forward to with eager anticipation. Not only was Groundhog Day a huge event, it was treated like a National Holiday, even though we still had to go to school.

After all, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s were long gone and there really wasn’t anything special to look forward to. But then there was Groundhog Day. Now, that was a something to be excited about! Let’s face it, the days were dark and dreary, the weather was brutally cold, and even the most hearty of us were pretty sick of winter. 

By early February the fresh white snow that thrilled us a few short months ago was still on the ground, collecting dirt and piled up along the streets as large mounds of gravel-peppered bullet-proof ice. Icicles as big as a grown man’s arm hung perilously from corners of every building, threatening to impale a small child at any moment. The thought of Suzie Snowflake tapping at our windowpane one more time made everyone but the most hardcore skiers want to zap her with a blowtorch.

We were desperate for any sign of spring. So, we all looked toward the most notorious groundhog that ever lived: Punxutawney Phil. We watched and waited with baited breath for Phil to predict the weather for us. Would he predict an early spring, or would he see his shadow and sentence us to another six weeks of winter? Ahh, the power that finicky little rodent had over us and our future! 

As far as I can remember, Phil never once predicted an early spring, but we were always filled with hope that he would.  Every Groundhog Day I still look toward that small town in Western Pennsylvania to pay tribute to Phil, and see if he’ll release us from the clutches of Old Man Winter.  

Yesterday I spent ten minutes scraping snow and ice off of my windshield. I had to put my car in 4-wheel drive just to get out of my driveway. I spent the rest of the day watching Suzie Snowflake (along with all her friends and family) laugh at me through my windowpane as they tap danced their way to land in a soft heap on the ground. This morning, we’re digging our way out from a major snowstorm.  

It’s Groundhog Day, all over again. The snow is still coming down. The wind is howling, schools and businesses are closed for the day, and we are experiencing blizzard conditions. This morning Punxutawney Phil is very much on my mind, and I wonder what he will predict today. I have to admit, I sure hope he sees his shadow and burrows back in his den. Because I just love winter; don’t you?

 

 

February Fit Tips

It’s already the end of January. February is just one short week away, and for many of us, the weather outside is frightful. The cold, dark days combined with the wicked winter weather can wreak havoc on our plans to get fit and stay fit. Besides, swim suit season doesn’t seem quite as threatening when we’re buried under a snow bank, so it might be more tempting to kick back with a cup of hot cocoa rather than leaving the house to go to the gym or fitness class.  

However, you don’t even have to leave the house to stay on track with an exercise program. After all, swim suit season will be here before you know it. So, before you slip into a hot cocoa coma, here are a few simple fit tips that you can easily do at home to help keep you fit and healthy.   

1). Get on the ball. If you don’t have one yet, get a large exercise ball. If you do have one, start using it. Sit and gently bounce on the ball intermittently during the day to improve your posture, balance, stimulate circulation and strengthen your low back and abdominal muscles. You may be surprised to discover that just a few minutes a day on the ball can make a huge improvement in your strength and flexibility.  

2). Why weight? A resistance program will shape and tone your muscles. Invest in a set of light weights to use while sitting on your ball to strengthen the muscles of your arms, chest, upper back, and shoulders. You can use your weights in sitting and/or standing, but sitting on the ball challenges your balance, posture, and strengthens your core muscles even more.     

3). What goes up must come down; make the most of it. You’re going to get up and down multiple times a day anyway, so why not make the most of it? Every time you get up and down from a chair or the couch, slow down and do several repetitions to strengthen your legs, hips and buttocks. Remember to pull your lower abdominals in to further strengthen your core muscles. The slower you move, the more benefit you will get from each repetition. However, it isn’t the number of repetitions that you do, it’s the quality of the movement that builds strength and tones muscles.

4). It’s time to clean up your act. While doing household chores, slow down and really focus on the quality of your movements as you work. The simple act of cleaning the house then turns into an opportunity to improve your gait, balance, strength, flexibility, posture, body awareness and body mechanics. It’s almost like a moving meditation practice.

5). Shake it up and try something new and different to add to your fitness routineNothing kills your enthusiasm for exercise like boredom. Now is the time to try that dance, yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi class you have been always meaning to try. Any of those will help balance your energy as well as your body. It will also add an extra element of interest to your fitness program that will prevent it from turning into a “routine” that becomes boring and tedious. Besides, you will learn movement patterns that you can easily practice at home to keep you fit and healthy.

6). The more the merrier. Recruit a friend so you can encourage and support each other to stay focused on your goals to get fit and stay fit. It also helps to stick with a program if you have someone to be accountable to, and it makes working out a social experience as well as a physical one.

These are just a few suggestions. Just a few minutes of exercise each and every day can have a huge, positive impact on your strength, flexibility, overall health and fitness. Small, simple changes that you can implement at home can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Use your imagination to see if you can find a way to design a program for yourself that is fun, playful, and interesting. That is the key to success, not just during the dark days of winter, but all year long as well. The possibilities are endless!