Category Archives: Uncategorized

HOW TO TAKE YOUR BRAIN WITH YOU ON VACATION!!

I am currently in Puerto Vallarta on my way to Sayulita for a yoga retreat. I decided to come a day early so I didn’t feel rushed.

I woke up and walked in search of coffee. Low and behold, I found myself at a Starbucks. I purchased my USUAL grande black coffee and immediately logged onto wifi. (My coffee addiction does not hold a candle to my wifi addiction.)

As I started reading my non imperative emails I realized what I was doing. The Starbucks I was sitting in looked exactly like every other Starbucks. If I was going to have my brain partake in the same exact activities in the same place why on earth did I bother leaving home? Although my physical body was in a different country, my brain was not coming along for the ride!!!

I love studying the brain. UC Berkely professor Marion Diamond, whose lectures can be watched on YouTube for free, taught me that the brain requires 5 things for optimum health.
1) Nutrition
2) Movement
3) Challenge
4) Love
5) NEWNESS!!!!

Traveling is an amazing way to get your newness in. It allows me to step away and look at my life more objectively because I am not in it but, if I am sitting in Starbucks reading my emails,my brain is still entrenched in my life no matter where in the world my body is.

I AM RIPPING MYSELF OFF!!!

I have decided right after I post this (ahem), I am going to disconnect so I can connect fully with the sights of Mexico instead of the sight of my IPhone screen, the sounds of Mexico instead of the sound of my audio book and the tastes of Mexico instead of the tastes of a chain business all while making my brain happy and healthy with novelty!!! That, my friends is how to take your brain with you on vacation.

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WELCOME TO THE PARTY!! (And to Innervation Nation!)

Welcome to Innervation Nation! The whole basis of this blog is to educate people about their bodies in a fun simple way in order for all of us to see our bodies differently so we can make better choices about movement so we don’t sacrifice health for fitness.

With that said, I guess I should start with the word innervate.

in·ner·vate
1. To supply (an organ or a body part) with nerves.
2. To stimulate (a nerve, muscle, or body part) to action.

The human body has approximately six hundred muscles. Yep,we are all different and have a differing amount! For instance, the psoas minor is present in about 40% of us. As a culture, many of us move in the same ways day in and day out. For instance, we drive ourselves to our desk jobs. At the end of the day we are ready to get some movement in so we go to the gym to the spin class. Phew! What a day! It is time to plop ourselves on the couch to watch So You Think You Can Dance. (The best reality tv show EVER!!). It seems the spin class was healthy for us but taking a closer look you will find the same joint configuration throughout the day. The hips and knees were flexed and arms were in front of the torso ALL DAY LONG. Yes the spin class was a good workout but we just moved the same body parts more.

The human body is just a bunch of cells and just like us, our cells need to eat. They feed on oxygen which is delivered via blood. In order to get blood flowing we need to move, so we need to move in order for our cells to get nourished. If we move in the same ways where only the same parts are moving then those are the areas that get fed the most while the other parts we don’t move get underfed. Injuries happen when there are well fed tissue next to starving tissues.

My goal is to try to get myself and my students not only to move more but to move more of us. Doing so will increase flow which will optimise cellular health. Remember, we are comprised of cells so whatever is happening on the cellular level is happening in turn to us.

When I first started on my Restorative Exercise™ path, I could not lift my big toe independently of the others. On the other side of the spectrum, I could not turn off the muscles in the front of my thighs (quadriceps). Just because the quadriceps are bigger does not mean they are more important. (You can’t convince this five foot girl that bigger is better.) The big toe has a huge roll. The nerves that innervate the toes start in the sacrum. Innervation means electricity and blood flow follows!! Also it is the last guy to leave in the gait cycle. What I am saying that all of you has a purpose in your well being! That is where the party starts. Let’s move better so we can finally invite those dormant areas to the party while just maybe those overused areas that are tension riddled can finally be sent to rehab. I don’t know about your thighs but mine are quadraholics.

So, you wanna party with me? I hope so!!!

A SHAME FREE START

The start of a new year means so much. It is the time a lot of people make a fresh start. I am all for it. I want to support anybody who is working on bettering their self just as I would want them to support me in my quest for badassery. Unfortunately, some people can frustrated because they feel their space has been encroached upon.

Although, I have been moving a long time, I actually was the receiver of shame recently. I went to a new yoga studio to support my long time teacher teaching in a new space. (I also went to get a restorative ass kicking in the most loving way). As I laid out my mat a woman snickered at me and muttered under her breath that in three weeks I will be gone. Yikes!!

I let go of the fact that I have actually been with my teacher for a long time and tried to put myself in a new person’s shoes. With that kind of welcoming, it is no wonder people feel intimidated and don’t stick with their movement practice. (Well, that and the epidemic of sacrificing health for fitness but more on that on another time.)

I have a favor of all of you. If you are just starting out, don’t let someone else’s opinion derail your quest for wellness. One of my favorite teachers, Judith Lasater once told me, “People are going to judge you no matter what so do it anyway”

If you have a long time movement practice would you be willing to reach out, give some warmth and make someone feel welcome and supported? It is hard to make a change and your encouragement could be just the thing that keeps them coming back.

Together we just might make the world a little healthier.

In wellness,
Macala

QUIT SPAMMING YOURSELF

I am so excited because I am on my way to Toronto to study with Judith Lasater. Judith is not only an amazing yoga teacher but also physical therapist which means I get to feed my nerd on everything body related!

The workshop is on Restorative Yoga (not to be mistaken with my other love of Restorative Exercise) Restorative Yoga is like adult nap time using props to support the body to bring the body into a restful state by turning down the sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight) and turning up the parasympathetic nervous system.

It seems as if our culture is in a constant sympathetic state and we are suffering for it. Have you noticed how so many people are easily agitated, impatient, anxious and depressed these days. It seems to be becoming an epidemic. A lot can be attributed to stress but what is stress really and what simple steps can be done about it right now?

Most people think they know what stresses them out whether it be your teenage daughter or your job but biologically stress happens within us not to us. I will try to make this simple so you don’t blame for stressing you out.

The biological definition of stress is not responding appropriately to a biological signal your body is giving you. For instance, you wake up and you’re hungry but you want to lose a few pounds so you skip breakfast (Please don’t be that person..with health comes beauty..The end) or you have tons of homework, you ignore fatigue, drink a cup of coffee and pull an all nighter. I have been guilty of this. I am trying to treat my body like my best friend (cuz it is) and I don’t want to ignore my best friend anymore.

Ok, let’s say I decided to ignore my best friend. What happens next? A cascading biological shit storm called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis known as the stress response system is activated. When activated, a small area in the brain called the hypothalamus sends a chemical message to the pituitary gland which is also in the brain. From there another chemical message is sent from the brain, through the blood to the adrenal glands (which are above the kidneys) to start producing cortisol. Wow that sounds like a lot of work. (My hands are tired from just writing it!)
This system is amazing when you are getting chased by a bear! Not so great if you decided to skip breakfast!

Our bodies have an extensive to do list. They are constantly regulating, delegating and regenerating 24/7. By not listening to biological cues, an extra chore is put on the to do list which could have been averted simply by responding appropriately.

I will give you an analogy. Let’s say you have one hour to get through all of your emails and each one has to be read entirely, including junk mail and spam. But there is a clincher!! For some reason you keep sending yourself spam which is shoved on your reading list. All emails have to be read no matter what and now you you are on an uphill battle. You know some of those important emails won’t be read and you have done it needlessly to yourself. You’re lucky because there is a hierarchy within your body so the most crucial things will get done but I think regenerating all of me is crucial and I don’t want to put needless tasks like clearing up the cortisol I didn’t really need out of my blood! (I hate extra chores)

These are the things that I am working on not to activated my stress response needlessly:

1. Eat when I am hungry
2. Sleep when I am tired
3. Thanks to my teacher, Sarah Robinette, I have a no rushing policy. This has been seriously life changing
4. I limit screen time after dark. For a while the last thing I did before bed was get an internet fix and the first thing I did in the morning was get an internet fix. Is your Ipad your lover too? Spending time with actual humans is way better than spending time with aluminum, glass and a battery that makes up a mobile device.. Just sayin

What steps are you making?

In wellness,
Macala

BABY STEPS

Lately, I have been feeling a bit stuck as a result of being overwhelmed. Sometimes I think I have bitten off more than I can chew. I am a full time flight attendant, a part time yoga instructor and a student taking two separate courses at the same time to feed my inner body nerd’s quest for knowledge all while trying to keep up with my movement practices to keep me healthy and happy.

When I feel overwhelmed I love to walk. Not only does it get my whole body moving, the fresh air instantly changes my mood. I am currently working on my gait. I am always working on something with my body whether it be external rotation of my femurs or a new aerial move. Today I was attempting a posterior push off as I walked. (WAY more on this in future posts) In a nutshell most of us (me included) lift our leg in front of us and fall to walk instead of pushing back with the standing leg to move forward. Our culture is constantly in hip flexion (sit much?) and we have very underused glute and hamstring muscles which are the muscles that are activated by the posterior push off. I don’t know about you but I would much rather hear nice ass than feel back pain and pelvic floor disorders which can result from shortened psoas muscles which are over fried in today’s movement patterns. It is going to take some time but I am starting with baby steps.

I have decided to take my baby step approach to the other things in my life that I am currently working on. If I just start small I will get there. What are you working on? Have you started yet? Could you take a baby step or two to get started? If we all start somewhere with baby steps we might just get some stuff done!

In wellness,
Macala
Flight attendant, teacher and student
(Oh, and now blogger)