Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pilates and Yoga Certifications in Utah

If you're interested in Stott Pilates certification in Utah, then visit Intermountain Pilates Training Center in Salt Lake City. They have trainings scheduled for April of this year and they not only offer extensive mat training, but they delve into Pilates for injuries and prenatal participants.

FiTour is another organization offering Pilates certifications (which is where I received my Mat training) for very reasonable prices. The textbook is a great resource to have and I refer to mine often for my classes. FiTour also does Yoga certs so be sure to check them out for that as well.

Powder Blue Productions is another great organization (where I received my PiYo training) and they have a lot of certs available in Utah. Certifications are held in Tremonton, Taylorsville and St. George, so it's a pretty good spread. I loved training with Michelle and still use cues that she taught us during that workshop.

I trained for Yoga via YogaFit, which has an aerobic approach to Yoga instruction. It was a two-day cert when I participated and even 4 months pregnant I had a great time. They have a lot of trainings scheduled for 2011 that you should definitely consider. Like Stott Pilates, YogaFit offers certs with specific concentrations, such as for seniors or those with back concerns.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What is Savasana?

In Yoga, Savasana can be one of the hardest postures to perform. It's a posture for our minds rather than our bodies. While it's refreshing to physically rest after a hard practice, it can be just as rewarding to mentally rest as well. A lot of peace can be found if Savasana if you choose to use it as a time for meditation.

To prepare for Savasana, allow yourself to relax on the mat, feeling heavy and comfortable in any position you can enjoy for a few minutes. You're welcome to focus on your breathing in order to keep your mind present, or you can repeat a mantra. It's completely up to you how you spend your final relaxation posture.

The point is to relax. It may be helpful to first purposefully tense your entire body and then exhale to release. Let your eyes feel heavy, let your jaw feel heavy, let your shoulders relax and continue down your entire body until you feel your feet naturally splaying open.

Stay focused on your breath or mantra for as long as you need to feel refreshed. Once you're ready to release Savasana, begin organically moving the body, starting with whatever feels natural. It can be slight movement in the fingers and toes, or a slow nod with the head from side to side.

When you're ready, help yourself onto one side into the fetal position. This signifies a willingness to start anew, and prepares you to come to a seated posture on your mat. After a few deep breaths on your side, allow yourself to find a comfortable posture, sitting tall.

Once seated, you're welcome to rest your hands wherever comfortable- at heart center, on the knees, or at your sides. Recognize your divine worth. Appreciate the practice you completed.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Ten minute tone-up

Work your buns with Bonnie!

Child's Pose to Rabbit Pose

Child's Pose is a resting posture in both Yoga and Pilates. It gives the participant an opportunity to refocus on proper breathing techniques as well as any intention that was set for the practice.

To perform, you can keep the knees together or spread while folding the torso over the thighs. It's meant to be a comfortable resting posture, so let those hips sink as low as you'd like, and extend your arms either overhead or along-side the body.

From Child's Pose you can easily stretch the neck in Rabbit Pose. Placing the crown of the head on the mat, roll the hips skyward and interlace the fingers behind the back. You can stretch the arms skyward as well or let them rest along the torso wherever comfortable. Although Rabbit is a semi-resting posture, it is important to keep the core engaged to protect the neck.

Another pose to which you can easily transition is downward dog. Honor your body and let your practice flow.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Baby - Ananda Balasana

What a wonderful stretch this is for the hips, back and hamstrings. I almost always include this as an option when I instruct a Yoga practice because it helps get the body ready for Savasana by relaxing the low back into the mat and allowing the spine to enjoy a little massage.

To perform this posture, lay back on the mat one vertebrae at a time. Feel the spine pressing into the mat as you slowly lower to a supine position on the mat.

To prepare, gently pull the knees up over the belly and roll on the back if it's comfortable. You can stir the knees around in small circles as well, loosening the hips. When you feel ready, open the legs, keeping knees bent and showing your footprints to the sky.

Depending on your flexibility, you can reach for the feet and hold them while rocking on your back. You can also hold the calves, or the backs of your thighs in Happy Baby. It may be helpful to imagine a child whose just discovered her feet. What does she do? She hold onto her toes and rocks in glee!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Free Yoga and Pilates

Don't miss out on a chance for free Yoga and Pilates classes at Farr West Tumblers for the month of March!

If you refer a friend (by passing along a voucher) you'll stock up on a free class for each one who comes. Share the love and invite as many friends as you'd like. We've been having great classes at Tumblers and I love meeting new people.

The kids are welcome if you'd like to bring them; Annette will keep them busy with books, puzzles, movies and all sorts of toys. I bring Aspen and she has a blast. It's a great way for her to get used to making new friends, even at only 7 months old.

Classes are 8pm Tuesdays and 10am Fridays. Take advantage of a free class and while you're at Tumblers you can pay in advance for future classes, making them only $5 each.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ten minute tone-up

I like Bonnie's brief but effective routines that can be found on YouTube. Try doing some of these exercises today at your own level- she includes modifications. They're a lot of fun and they make you feel great!

Downward Facing Dog

I have seen a lot of bad Down Dogs in my day. Although it seems simple to plant hands and feet on the mat and stick the butt in the air, it's tough to do it correctly!

A strong base is important; if you feel off balance, or fatigued in the wrists, you're going to compromise your form. Additionally, the core needs to be tucked in to eliminate a back bend, which is a common problem in Down Dog.

Imagine you are trying to get your entire hand print on the mat. Not just the heels of your hands (by your wrists). You need each fingertip to leave an impression on the mat, so stretch those hands wide and press through all of your fingers while in Down Dog.

Moving up the arms towards the shoulders, envision your biceps rounding in to the ears. Turn those muscles inward as if you were going to touch your ears with them. While doing so, you can feel your shoulder blades getting a little wider across your back, which is a good thing! It's also important to "push" the shoulders down the back away from the ears.

Follow your arms through your shoulders and focus on your back. Find length from the crown of your head (which is dropped loose toward the mat) all the way to your tailbone, which is reaching skyward. Squeeze your gluts together and tuck in that tummy.

The legs can be bent in Down Dog (if your hamstrings are tight like mine) or you can straighten the legs with soft knees. The "goal" is to reach the heels to the floor, even if your body is never able to get to that point. The legs should be about hip width apart, with those toes gripping the mat as your heels stretch toward the mat.

It may also be helpful to imagine that your chest is pressing toward your thighs. Try bending your knees so that you can actually touch the belly to the thighs. Once you find stability there, slowly lengthen the legs and you'll find your posture improved.

Down Dog is technically a resting posture, but if you're not doing it correctly it sure doesn't feel that way. And since this is a posture done frequently in Yoga it's important to do it to the best of your ability.

When all else fails, watch your dog stretch! You'll get a better feel for what your body should like that when you watch the animal for which this posture is named.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bird of Paradise

This is a posture I love. I have a fond memory of performing it poolside at a resort in Zion National Park on a beautiful day in July. Now, even when I'm attempting it in my bedroom in the middle of winter, I can think of that wonderful experience.

Bird of Paradise is set up in a side angle pose. If you cannot bind in side angle, you should not attempt Bird of Paradise just yet. First work on opening up your side angle posture in order to allow your hands to bind, as pictured below.
Once you are able to bind your side angle, you can work on shifting your weight and eventually lifting your bound leg as you stand.

In order to transition from bound side angle, bring your back foot forward to meet the front while holding your bind. From this posture, shift your weight into your unbound leg so you can lift the bound leg as you stand. Take your time and find balance with a strong core. You may keep your bound leg bent or extend it as your hamstrings allow.

When performing Bird of Paradise, be sure that you are working on squaring your shoulders and hips to the front of the room. If you find your posture is compromised, meaning, your spine is curved or your shoulders are hunched, then you are not yet ready for this pose. Staying open is key to success.

Ogden Yoga & Pilates

This week I get to be all over the place in classes at Weber State University. I'm really excited and I hope you'll take advantage of all the classes they offer this semester.

You're welcome to join me at the following times, along with other students, faculty and community members (free with an ID card, $6 to drop in).

Monday YOGA 8:45p Swenson Gym
Tuesday YOGA 4:30p Student Union
Wednesday YOGA 8:45p Swenson Gym
Thursday STRENGTH & TONE 7:30p Swenson Gym
Thursday PILATES 8:45p Swenson Gym

I'm really excited to be doing so much with WSU on top of my usual schedule:

Monday PILATES 4:30p Wasatch Therapy
Tuesday YOGA 8p Farr West Tumblers
Friday YOGA 10a Farr West Tumblers

This is why all my summer clothes fit, people! I got my pre-baby body weight and shape back by doing Pilates and Yoga every week (plus a teeny bit of cardio walking the Ogden River Parkway with a baby and a dog in tow).

Hope to see you at some of the classes before the semester is over. The summer schedule at WSU will offer fewer classes due to budgeting, but I'll let you know what's available as soon as the times are set.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Frog

This exercise may be done with or without an exercise band to increase resistance. It's completely up to you.

The Frog works the core as well as the legs. It encourages you to utilize the major muscle groups in the legs (calves and quads) and to engage the core for stability.

To start, find your neutral spine; your shoulders and tailbone should be connected to the mat. Each vertebrae should be nestled into your mat as you prep. Legs lift with knees bent, whether or not you're placing the band across the balls of your feet. The heels should be touching and the toes should be turned out, NOT touching. Knees should be about shoulder-width apart when they are over the torso.

If you're using the band, keep your elbows planted at your sides while pressing the legs long. These photos depict the model lifting her elbows off the mat; I find this may hinder your ability to maintain proper posture. While extending those legs, be sure your tailbone does NOT come off the mat. You can choose whether or not the head is lifted in this exercise.

Your legs can extend at any degree of difficulty that you'd like depending on the challenge you need. As you extend, the knees come together while you maintain turnout in your feet. Use your exhale to extend and your inhale to pull the legs back into the chest.

Repeat 6-8 times, building up your stamina and challenging yourself to eventually extend the legs closer to the floor in the future.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pilates and Yoga in Ogden this week:

Monday: 4:30p Pilates at Wasatch Therapy
$10 drop in

Tuesday: 8pm Yoga at Farr West Tumblers
$5 pre-pay (24 hours in advance)
$10 drop in
*check out the March special!

Thursday: 5:30p Pilates at Wasatch Therapy
$10 drop in
8:45p Pilates at Weber State University
FREE with active ID card
$6 drop in

Friday: 10a Pilates at Farr West Tumblers
$5 pre-pay (24 hours in advance)
$10 drop in

See-Food diet... see food, eat it!

One of my personal theories is that there is no such thing as "bad" food. There is, however, such as thing as too much food.

I've never dieted because I simply don't have the willpower to deny myself certain foods. So in order to maintain a healthy body weight, I've had to work on portion control. It's a great way to enjoy things I love like ice cream and cookies and carbs and yeah... everything that people claim is "bad."

A friend created a support group on Facebook for those trying to lose weight, and from it I learned about a couple of online programs that can track your calorie intake, helping you stay on track to either lose or maintain your weight. I've signed up for and have successfully logged about a week of meals. Woo! The only problem with the site is that I can't figure out how to factor in the extra calories I burn as a nursing mother. To contemplate, I mentally allot 500 extra calories for my daily intake.

My goal is to maintain my current weight so my summer clothes fit like they did before pregnancy. I have so many great pairs of shorts and summery tops that I'm looking forward to wearing again (since I was pregnant to the max last summer).

Have you used a calorie tracking system? Or do you keep a food diary on paper? What has worked for you as you've tried to get and stay healthy? So far I'm finding it annoying. I knew before signing up that I wasn't consuming enough calories based on how much I exercise, so it's frustrating to see those numbers on "paper." With that in mind, I'm going to go have a snack!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tummy Toners - Scissor Kick

Scissor kicks are a great way to tone not only the core, but the legs. Throughout this movement, you're reaching long through the balls of your feet, keeping length in each leg the entire time.

While on your back, you have the option of lifting the head or keeping it lowered on the mat. Tucking in the abs, extend both legs long to the sky. With the exhale, allow one leg to lower to the mat as much as you'd like while the other is pulled gently to the torso. With each exhale, you switch those legs.

Imagine them moving close together like a pair of scissors, almost touching but not quite. This posture is a great segue to many others- The Bicycle, Single-Leg Extension, Criss Cross, and many others we'll get to.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tummy Toners - The Hundred

Oh how I love the Hundred. Doesn't it sound fun? In Pilates, the Hundred is a posture that requires you to do 100 repetitions of breath- 5 counts in and 5 counts out. Too bad it's not just about the breathing though.

Level 1 is to keep the back on the mat with the legs in the air at any angle you want. The tailbone needs to stay connected to the mat though, so if it lifts, the legs are too low. While in this position with your back on the mat, lift the head and shoulders slightly while the arms are elevated at your sides. The arms will pump with each breath, like you're slapping water.

Level 2 is to lift the torso to a V posture with the legs, balancing on the tailbone. The knees are bent, and the arms are still at your sides, moving with each breath.

Level 3 involves lengthening the legs while the torso is lifted.

Work your way into the posture that works best for you on any given day. Some days your hips might feel too tight to elevate the legs, other days you may just feel too tired to straighten the legs. It's completely up to you. Just remember to breathe in and out for 5 counts each, forcing those abs to MOVE with each breath.

In any of the levels, imagine you have a string connected to the top of your head, allowing you to pull and lengthen the neck. The spine must be straight if your torso is lifted. If you find that your back is curling, you're not yet ready to be in that posture. Take it down a level until you have full control over your posture.

Once you've counted 10 sets of inhales and exhales (100 total beats) you're done! Relax that body back on the mat and stretch.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gym discounts

For the month of March, Farr West Tumblers is offering an awesome incentive- bring a friend to any class and receive a $10 credit on your account.

This can be used any way you'd like. Bring a friend to one of the Yoga classes and get the $10 credit! Bring a friend to your child's tumbling class and get a $10 credit!

$10 will get you TWO free Yoga classes, so it's totally worth talking your friends into coming. There isn't a limit on how many times you can redeem this credit, so get all your friends together and work out! Yoga is Tuesday at 8pm and Friday at 10am.

Included in the Yoga classes is free child care if you need to bring the kids with you.

Health tips for nursing mothers

I've realized there is a lot of confusion regarding good health when nursing a baby. The information I've gathered is based on what I've experienced, and what I've read on websites like,,, and

A common misconception is that you can't exercise while nursing because you'll "lose" your milk, or "dry up." I'm here to tell you from personal experience THAT AIN'T HAPPENIN'.

I found myself teaching fitness classes 6 weeks post-partum after receiving the okay from my doctor. I didn't teach at 100% because, let's be honest, my lady parts still needed some TLC. So I taught classes at my own level, and encouraged participants to do what they needed in order to feel challenged. I also did a lot of walking right after my daughter was born. Now that I'm 7 months post-partum, I'm still nursing, and I'm teaching at least 4 classes each week on top of my own personal exercise. I never once experienced a loss of milk because I ATE AND DRANK TO MY HEART'S CONTENT.

I can't stress that part enough. You must eat and you must drink like it's going out of style when you're nursing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating non-stop, especially if it's good food. Just avoid empty calories; go for filling snacks like apples with nut butter, or tuna fish mixed with tasty mustard on a piece of toast with avocado. Greek yogurt with your favorite fruit and honey. Find what fills you up and enjoy it. And drink water like it's going out of style.

If anything, working out was helpful to my nursing schedule. Since I sometimes missed a feeding, it gave me a chance to pump the milk that was building up so it could be used later. As long as you stay hydrated and well-fed, exercising will not adversely affect your milk supply.

An average nursing woman will burn 500 calories each day. That amount will differ based on your nursing routine. It's safe to say that if your baby nurses for 30 minutes at a time, each time, you're probably burning more than 500 calories per day.

Numbers don't really matter though. If you're hungry, eat. You do the same for your baby, right? I haven't paid attention to calories since my daughter was born. I eat when I'm hungry and I exercise 5 days a week. I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight and shape, and I have a lot of energy.

The point is, find what works. Do what feels good for your body and for your baby. If it means you track calories coming in and being burned, so be it. If it means you eat willy-nilly and don't exercise for a while, so be it. If it means you find a happy medium, so be it.