This year has been one in which my health has been my primary focus. In 2015, it felt like I fell apart and in 2016 I have rebuilt myself. A lifetime of movement patterns to compensate for some interesting skeletal anomalies, coupled with hyper-laxity in some key joints in my body, led to a significant back injury.
My focus of the past year has been to Thrive. Here is a short list of things that helped me do just that!
- Walks: I took up walking in a way that I have not done since I had to walk to school as a kid. Almost every day, I slip on my minimalist footwear and go out for at least an hour. While some of the walking is through my neighbourhood, I try to walk â€œoff roadâ€ as much as possible. I get into the green spaces, walk hills and narrow paths. Walking feeds my body and soul!
- Early morning quiet time: I learned long ago that the part of me that is introverted really thrives on starting my day in quiet solitude. I might label it meditation, contemplation or sitting in silence. This alone-time really helps me feel grounded and connected.
- Podcasts: This year I dove into the world of podcasts and audio books. I listen while I walk, fold laundry, clean the floors, etc. I love to learn, and this is a great way for me to do that while I move about my day. Plus, it helps reduce my screen time!
- New Food Map: In June, I made some radical changes to my diet. I finally acknowledged that I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It seems that I have always had something going on in my gut. So I adopted a diet designed for people with IBS issues and I also began exploring the world of Paleo eating. While my diet choices may not be for everyone, they have made a world of difference for me.
- Yoga + Movement: Here are a few of my favourite yoga poses and stretches that helped me thrive in 2016!
- Calf Stretch – Holding onto something if necessary, place the ball of your right foot on the apex of a half-foam roller or a rolled-up blanket. Drop your right heel all the way to the ground and straighten your knee. Hold here for a few breaths, then try to step forward with your left foot. Keep your weight stacked vertically over the heel of your right foot. Here a link to a short video on the Calf Stretch.
- Top of the Foot Stretch – Holding on to something if necessary, stand on your left leg and reach your right foot behind you, tucking the toes of your right foot under and placing the top of your foot on the floor. If your body is leaning forward, bring yourself upright and possibly shorten the distance you’ve reached the leg back. A gentler version of the stretch is to sit down in a chair and stretch the top of your foot. Here’s a link to a short video on the Top of the Foot Stretch.
- Pelvic Listing – Standing in Tadasana, feet forward, ankles hip-width apart, weight in your right heel, place your right hand on your right hip and pull the right side of the pelvis down toward the floor, bringing the left side up. With both knees straight, balance on your right foot which should be hovering a couple of inches above the ground. Hold for up to a minute on each side. Here’s a link to a short video on Pelvic Listing.
- Redwood Tree Pose – Take your pelvic list to the next level as you mobilize your hips! Set up in a pelvic list, balancing on your right leg, bend at your left knee and hip so that your left thigh is in front of you and level with the ground. Using the strength of your hip muscles, turn your left thigh to the left, bend your knee a bit more and, without using your hands, place your left foot on the inseam of your right leg. With the same degree of control and awareness, bring your left leg in front before placing your foot back on the floor. Repeat on the other side. Here’s a link to a short video on Redwood Tree Pose.
- Strappy Hamstring Stretch – You will need a long yoga belt for this stretch, and I think it’s worth it! Make a loop with the belt and place one end of the loop around your rib cage and lower shoulder blades. Lie back and place the other end of the loop around your right foot. Straighten your right leg and point it up towards the sky. Your left leg is lying on the floor. Make sure that the back of your pelvis is on the floor and you are maintaining a normal curve in your low back. Adjust the size of the loop so that you are getting a hamstring stretch. Hold the leg in the vertical position for about one minute. Then, move your right leg to the right, keeping your left hip on the floor. Hold for a minute and then move your leg slowly across your body to get a stretch for your IT band. Here’s a link to a short video on the Strappy Hamstring Stretch.