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How to reshape your movement practice during the winter months

15271885_10154778028474776_6318546513650062579_oIt’s winter here in California – as it is for the rest of the hemisphere. With winter, many of us feel challenged to move enough. And yes, we don’t have “real” winter here, but it’s “real” enough when I see my students spending less and less time outside walking and more and more time still and at home. Roland and I are also magnetically drawn to the fireplace, cup of tea in hand and no intention to go out after dinner….So if it’s bad for us down here, what about our students in colder place, like Canada?

What used to be a sunny and easy walk on the beach is now a wet trot in the rain. You can see me in the picture above, squatting in full winter gear, base layers and all, taking some pictures of birds in the rain just last week. So whether you are here in warmer climate or somewhere else, winter is asking for a few adjustments to routine.

Here are 5 ways to make your movement practice more winter friendly, or um, make your winter more movement friendly:

  1. Choose appropriate clothing for your outdoor activities. Yes, it’s cold out. But you can get your wool socks and shirts out and warm up. As soon as you get out the door and start walking, running, biking, your own heat will provide all you need to feel comfortable. It may be worth investing in a pair of fleece or wool leggings and undershirts, so you can enjoy freedom of movement without being weighted down. When you have the right gear, it’s easy to say yes to your morning walk. I cannot tell you what a huge difference my rain boots have made to my beach walks. They almost motivate me to get out there and play! The same goes for your indoor practice. If the ice cold floor of your studio is repelling your single leg balance – get those sticky toe-socks on and get moving.
  2. Change your focus. While walking, hanging, running, hiking and water sports may be the meat and potatoes of your summer movement routine, winter gives an invitation to go inside and see what’s to explore there. This is the perfect time for an indoor climbing gym, a new dance class, or a membership to movement classes, such as the ones offered by Katy Bowman at Nutritious Movement. Maybe you have been waiting a long time to start arial yoga, or indoor swim lessons….use this colder time to do it.
  3. Don’t be all black and white. Just because you aren’t getting the same amount of quality of walking ( I know for sure the slippery sidewalks of my homeland are no place to be walking in winter), that doesn’t mean some walking won’t be possible. Maybe a shorter walk in the city, yet a longer hike on the weekend through the snow, with all the trimmings – sledding, snowshoeing, snowman building, the cool forts only people who live in the snow can boast – there is so much to explore out that isn’t about covering the same distance that you do in the summer. You body loves variability and seasons unmistakably provide the circumstances where you can go with the flow.
  4. All day movement is all day movement, rain or shine. We talk about this in our sessions, and even in our latest book all the time – it’s not the small amount of time we spend exercising, it’s the all day movement that makes the biggest difference to our health! How you inhabit your daily environment makes all the difference. Are you in an office all day? Plan your movement breaks every 30 minutes – take a short stretch break or walk to get a glass of water or to connect with a colleague. If you are at home trade the couch for the floor, play with pets and kids and do more housework and home improvement projects. The winter months are perfect to clean out clutter from the garage, reorganize closets and cupboards, finish small paint projects…when you make it about movement the work load is suddenly lighter! Win-win!
  5. Catch up on quiet practices. Mindfulness practice, also known as meditation is becoming more and more popular and accepted throughout schools, companies and organizations. What was once a strange practice reserved for a few members of certain groups or beliefs is now widely accessible through books, apps, classes and retreats. Winter time is naturally a time to go in, move on the inside and store reserves and inspiration for the spring when you are ready to come out and carry out the new ideas and intentions with fresh insight and ample energy. Check out Headspace and Insight Timer for a way to start your practice today.

How do you mold your movement practice to fit the winter months? Comment below and let me know!

p.s. If you have been considering working with me in private, I have 2 spots for new students open in December and January. Shoot me an email at movewellstudio@gmail.com and grab 50$ off your initial assessment when you mention this blog post!


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The art of sitting differently

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of sitting differently – finding a variety of positions which allow you to find peace and productivity not only in your chair, but also in your body.

I received a lot of emails where people shared their frustration with their chair, desk, new computer screen, even their new expensive stand up desk option that the company supplied. Then, fortunately, most of them also agreed that they had never thought of sitting differently, taking movement breaks, getting up regularly and breaking up the work day with movement.

To read the whole article I wrote on Eat Well Move Well, head over here…and as always, sit differently, and move well!

Galina


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Upcoming free classes …

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 24 is the first of a series of three free classes encompassing the most common themes that show up at my office. Many people come in after injuries or with a chronic condition only to discover that there is a whole-body factor involved.

Breathe better and suddenly your torso is more stable and your traps relax for the first time in a decade; start being more aware of how you hold your posture – your pelvis and your knees – and oh wow, your feet hurt much less often now.

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I wanted to share the information I teach in a free class format, so anyone interested can hop in and see for themselves if my work has a new key to health and function, a factor they were missing before, or plain simple: “no one told me”.

Whether you are dealing with a health challenge of your own or helping a loved one on the path of becoming whole and well again, these three topics are for you.

There is still some space for the event tomorrow, and only one spot left for the Foot Pain class. All classes start at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

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Email me at movewellstudio@gmail.com or call me with any questions at 949 429 9800 🙂


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Resolutions work, but maybe not how you think

There is nothing wrong with resolutions. I feel like there are two camps out there – the one screaming their resolutions out loud – life is short, get in that dress, or follow your passion…and the other one, which says resolutions fail; heck, most people stop dieting by January 7th and forget about the gym by February 1st…so why bother…if you want to change something just do it now…why wait for the start of a new year. (there is actually research that points out the new year or a new week is the best time to start…)

Yet, each year we “resolve” to do something that improves how we are in our bodies or in our lives. We just started a 90 day online reboot – supporting people to eat more mindfully, move with purpose, and recover effectively from stress. We wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t believe resolutions worked. They do. But maybe not in the way you think.

Here’s how it goes. Starting tomorrow I will eat less bread, walk more, sign up for a dance class, learn Spanish…whatever. But what happens when I stop learning with the Spanish app, and even the app starts to say: “I see these reminders aren’t working, we will stop sending them.” I actually laugh at the message the language app sends me. You know what I wouldn’t laugh at: not being able to greet my spanish friend in her native language! Now that sucks and that has consequences. Each time I see Rosa, it’s a reminder I don’t speak Spanish well enough to have a conversation. No Rosa, no reminder, no app, no Spanish.

Here’s another way it goes. Starting tomorrow, I will go to the gym. But then work hits and the kids need me at night. In a month, I am back to square one as if I never went in the first place. Why bother. But my husband says he misses me during his workouts. And that he really liked being with me and sharing about our day while we walked home from the gym. OK, here’s something that matters to me more than how my buns defy gravity. My time with him.

In each resolution that you make, there is a deep yearning and deep longing. Find that thing and make it speak to you. Then listen.

I want to get in my jeans. What I actually want is to be reminded of how it feels to be young and move freely in those jeans that I love. I wore those during our honeymoon. I danced in them after my best friends wedding. I will do more things that make me feel young and free, and little by little feeling young and free will get me close to those jeans.

I will eat more veggies. What I actually want is for my digestion to work well again, so I can feel light and energetic and so I can get more done during my day. When I skip veggies, I am hungry and distracted all the time. Nothing gets done. My skin looks better, too. Energy, skin…sold.

I will go to bed on time. What I actually want is to have some reading time before I crash. If I go to bed a bit before I am totally exhausted, this lets me read and catch up on the books that pile up on my nightstand. Books and reading make me feel fully alive – and going to bed on time will both let me enjoy books and help me have energy for my day ahead. I also really like sharing coffee with Roland when I wake up early. It would let me do that instead of snoozing away while he gets ready for work.

I will clean up my closet. What I actually want is frustration free getting ready time. I want to be excited when I dress in the morning. Instead of trying something on that doesn’t fit perfectly, then having to fold that and try on something else, everything in my closet will fit and will be my first choice – both comfortable and flattering. And this will save me time. It will probably cost me a couple of hundred dollars to replace some pieces that don’t fit me well anymore. But it’s worth it.

So with these four: feeling more free to be myself, more energetic to get work done, more alive through reading, more excited to get ready for work I resolve to go to the gym, eat veggies, get to bed on time and clean up my closet.

In a few months if  going to the gym, eating veggies, getting to bed on time and cleaning up my closet to do not get me closer to feeling young and free, energetic, alive and excited I will find some other way to get more of those in my life. In the meantime the gym, the veggies, the sleep and the closet would have done something else positive in my life. Who ever regretted moving more, eating better, sleeping more and cleaning up their space?

It’s not about the resolutions, it’s not about the things we do. It’s about who we become in the process and the choice of changing the course anytime we want.

With this, Happy new 2016 to all of you readers and students – I am excited to support you this year.

In the calf stretch – because it gives you the ability to walk with your loved ones and share stories.

In relaxing your shoulders – because that tension is there to inform you of something, and once you know what that is, we can set it free and you can lift up your arms – free to do what you want to do

In your core strength – because you are already strong, you just need to remember how to harness that strength

In your growth – because frustration and celebration are both a part of learning about the body

Support and community are a huge part of taking care of your body – I hope that you stay connected in 2016 both in exercise sessions and workshops and in our walks and events.

If you are considering working with me, but keep putting it off, come in for just one session. Use the magic word – resolution – to get 50$ off your first session. It’s my gift to you for a new beginning in 2016. Sometimes one session is all you need to jump start your health journey!

move well:

Galina

 


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Move your DNA workshop

flyermydna

I am super excited to announce that I will be teaching a two day immersion workshop, based on the paradigm shifting book Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman, my mentor and teacher.

The book is an extremely rich resource, but as you know information does not equal transformation. Oftentimes, readers and students need the benefit of a teacher seeing how they embody the information – from correctives to bigger movements, such as walking or hanging, which the book is all about.

The only prerequisite for attending is having read the book, which also comes in audio format for you to take on your long walks and road trips.

To sign up for the class, please click here!


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Merry Christmas

I wanted to take some time this Christmas Eve Morning to share about things that deeply moved me today and it’s barely 10 in the morning.

I hope they touch you as well.

HOME

Home is where the heart is. My heart has grown in the last few years, stretching to love deeply in two places – my home with my husband in Southern California and the home I grew up in – Bulgaria.

This morning I woke up and called my family who were already fussing around the holiday table – 9 vegan dishes on the last day of fasting before the Savior arrives. It was lovely to call and have the whole family pass the tablet around – from my little cousins to grandma and grandpa.

Then my husband came home from his morning walk.

“Welcome home” – I said.

ORNAMENTS

This ornament below. There used to be a store in Sofia which sold beautiful hand made ornaments. Made by children’s hands. My friend Daniela gifted me with this one. I cherish it deeply. The nativity, nature, the touch of small fingers, fitting it all in a walnut shell.

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A CHOIR FROM HEAVEN

This piece really got to me. “Sounds like Ave Maria” – Roland said. This choir is actually crickets singing with the sounds slowed down. One of the most beautiful and poetic moments I have ever experienced. Listen with me here.

THE PEACE OF GOD

I woke up to pray and journal. Then I realized today, even before praying and journaling, there was a peace covering me from the top of my head to the toes on my feet. It’s an interesting season between October and December, I always notice that people start to rush and feel oppressed. But with Christmas, that rushing spirit is lifted. And even I, who doesn’t go crazy rushing (worry is my way to rush), enjoyed the coming of this deep peace as soon as I opened my eyes. Read more.

Merry Christmas to all of you! I am thankful for you reading and blessed to work with many of you daily!

 


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Squatty Potty for beginners

I clearly remember the day the squatty potty became a part of our lives. I went to the bathroom, only to see a strange plastic piece in front of the toilet, with a note: “How about that for a sh**ty gift?”

My husband, a man of humor and love for health, had made the purchase for me. I tried to pretend no feedback was expected over the next few days. There isn’t much poop talk in our home – we have good poops and we aren’t obsessing with impoving them. How about sleep? Or productivity? Let’s talk about something that really needs improving.

Enough poop bragging. I was already sold on the squatty potty – I will take up any chance to move more! A couple extra squats per day – I was in. What I found in the next few days was that my time in the toilet became even faster and elimination felt even easier. I also enjoyed the nice workout for my hip joints. As my legs went up I also got an unexpected massage for my belly. See, when you are “squatting” instead of “sitting” to poo, the mechanics of it all look and feel very different. On the inside, muscles and organs are churning in a new, closer to their natural way.

Check out this fast-gone-viral video from Squatty Potty, which beautifully explains the action of the puborectalis muscle – one responsible for the anchoring of your poo pipes (picture here). You squat – you free up the pipes, you sit – you pinch them. Let the unicorn show you below…

Of course, I was excited we owned a squatty potty and that we were eliminating paleo style, so I was eager to share with my clients and friends. Many of them purchased one, only to come back and complain that they were uncomfortable getting in the “feet up” or “squat position”.

See, our bodies are shaped by the way we move, and if you haven’t been squatting multiple times a day, your squatting parts may be rusty. Doing some basic biomechanics observations, I found that most of my squatty potty averse clients were the ones with limited ankle dorsiflexion (the ability to flex the foot) and quite limited hip flexion (the ability to bring the knee to your chest). Add general lack of mobility through the spine, and you have a never-squat-to-poop scenario.

Here’s the pickle. The average person, pressed by urgency, won’t even stop to think about why they can’t get comfortable on the squatty potty. We live in a culture which has conditioned us to think like that. Today, people plan to get higher toilets as they get older, assuming their ability to squat will keep decreasing. We have it all backwards.

Want the truth?

  1. You can restore your ability to move at the ankles and hips in order to take a human poop. Your organ health depends on it. How about that for motivation?
  2. In order to restore your ability to squat, you need to first start mobilizing your ankles, hips and pelvis.
  3. In order for those small corrective exercises to work, you need to do them daily. You know, just like water works for you when you drink it daily.
  4. Exercises won’t work unless you also start to change the positions you habitually find yourself in (sitting in chair, sitting on couch, sitting in car).

 
 
Like anything simple, it takes some diligence and time, but every time you practice you will get a degree closer to your squat to poop natural design.

Here is the program that I put my aspiring squatty potty athletes on:

  1. They learn the calf stretch, kneeling hip flexion, and strap stretch to improve the mobility of the ankles, hips and knees. Then they use the baby squat and roll to stabilize the new positions.
  2. They sit on the floor – try the V sit, the indian style sit, the cross knee sit. That allows them to take time off chairs and couches – improving their hip mobility as they rest.
  3. I teach them to bolster the squatty potty. We find a comfortable height that their body is willing to bend to and start to use props to allow their body to adapt. See – between squatty potty and floor there are many levels that most people are already able to bend to. Little by little they are able to move their feet higher and get deeper hip flexion.

 

THE CORRECTIVES

 

THE FLOOR SITTING POSITIONS

 

BOLSTERING THE SQUATTY POTTY

Hooked yet? Start on your program to become a Squatty Potty athlete today 🙂 And let me know how you do!

To get a full introduction to this life changing tool, check out this video: