Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Change in Perspective

Life changes. We change. All human beings are built with the capacity to change their perspective. A change in your perspective can mean a change in life experience and interpretation as well as life goals.

In my Kinesiology class we spent the first few lectures and homework assignments learning about the brain, imagery, and neuro-pathways. Can I just say that I never appreciated the brain until these lectures. It is an incredible organ in the body and we can use it to change how we perceive and approach our daily life or even movement.

I'd like to spend this post just mentioning that attitude is a powerful thing. Just like our body retains 'muscle memory' and actual memories, it can also retain what I can only think to refer to as 'thought habits' or 'attitude memory'. Now, I'm no neuro-scientist, and I only just learned this last week, but I thought it was so incredible that I had to share my thoughts. It has already changed how I approach everything and I hope this knowledge will help you accomplish whatever it is that you desire to accomplish.

Brain Science as Understood by Me (You should do your own research before quoting me on any of this): Each brain contains different sections of matter that delegate or manage different functions that are necessary to daily life. Apparently research involving the Hippocampus and the Amygdala have shown that you can 'exercise' different parts of the brain. Well, duh, Kathryn. But for real, your brain will create more dendritic pathways and other such neuron related highways for your functions and thoughts to follow where you use them most. This is why it isn't practice that makes perfect, but perfect practice that makes perfect. This is where bad habits come from, or other habitual practices like defaulting to a specific posture when you aren't thinking about actively lifting through your core and cervical vertebrae. Doing a specific action with the wrong technique even though you know it is bad technique, or going into 'auto-pilot' so to speak. The hippocampus apparently is a section of the brain that you will want to exercise from here on out. It handles some of the feelings of empowerment and positivity; while the Amygdala handles more of the anxious, fearful and 'tired' feelings that we habitually turn to. Supposedly you can literally exercise one or the other. If you are faced with a choice to react positively and react negatively then you just formed a pathway. If you repeat that reaction to another circumstance you just solidified that pathway even more or created a new one with a similar result. The same should also apply for the positive emotions and attitudes. If you are faced with the choice to be optimistic or depressed and choose optimistic then your brain remembers this and creates that pathway. Do it again and it can become a habit.

I have also found an article that discusses the result of 'positive affect' on creativity and perspective. Or in other words flexibility in thought processes and having a more positive perspective. Here is a quote that I liked from this article: "This research suggests that positive affect increases a person's ability to organize ideas in multiple ways and to access alternative cognitive perspectives." (Ashby, Turken, Isen, pg. 2)

What I gather from this information is that we have the power to change our outlook, creativity level, and perspective in order to help us to achieve our goals and have a more positive life experience regardless of our situation.

Here are some fun articles to get you started if you are interested in researching more on this topic:
"A Neuropsychological Theory of Positive Affect and its Influence on Cognition" by F. Gregory Ashby, Alice M. Isen, and U. Turken

"Neuroimaging Studies of Amygdala Function in Anxiety Disorders" by Scott L. Rauch, Lisa M. Shin, and Christopher I. Wright

Have a wonderful rest of your day, and happy thinking. :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What an ADVENTURE! China & Taiwan 2013

So, now that I'm officially over jet lag, altitude change, and that initial slump after a vacation going into real life....phew! I'M BACK

I just spent almost my entire summer having adventures in Asia. I learned some new stretches, dance steps, and other great lessons. Something that helped me get over my jet lag, surprisingly was going to yoga! The key is going in the morning, because you are so excited to go that you have to wake up and get going. Then you are so energized and motivated following class that it gives you an extra boost to get through the day. Or, at least that is how my logic worked.

Hopefully this massive picture post will redeem my lack of posts over the last few months!
Happy Training! à bientôt!

Just for kicks and giggles I'd like to include some fun pictures from my adventures:

 Epic fail at dress rehearsal=gash to the shin and massive bruising

 One of my favorite meals, and I found it at a restaurant: Spaghetti and Marinara

 Red Panda's are soft

 And don't forget the instant noodles at 1:00 AM!!

 Garden at the hot springs in Xi'an, China

 Afternoon bike ride around the old Xi'an city wall, China. Great workout!

 Large Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an, China

 Gotta love those antique shops and their giant cauldrons!

 Got to fill some of my archaeology cravings...

 Torrential rain in Xi'an at the Terra-cotta warriors site, China

 No, the sun didn't explode, we were just so high up on the Great Wall that we were in the clouds. :)

 Inside an alcove in the Badaling section of the Great Wall, Beijing, China
 Jumping around, literally...Great Wall Turret

 They have some delicious yogurt drinks in both China and Taiwan

 I was able to see quite a few ancient pagodas in China. This one was in Beijing on the campus of a university.

 The Forbidden City, Beijing, China

 I was able to eat some incredible things. Ignore the look on my face, the deep-fried scorpion was actually quite tasty! What does it taste like? Potato chips. :)

 I was able to attend an incredible ballet performance guessed it, the incredible egg theatre in Beijing! (a.k.a. National Centre for the Performing Arts)

 Lots and lots of beautiful rain...on the only day set aside to finding monkeys. Luckily we got to see a few before the storm drove them into the trees. But we also got to enjoy an incredible storm! Kaohsiung, Taiwan

 Lots of night markets, lots of yummy food. above: Sushi in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

 Here's the trick to getting fruit in China and Taiwan....fruit stands. We bought this watermelon and peanut butter roll then ate our dumplings and drank soymilk. Made for a great meal! Hualien, Taiwan

 Lots of crazy ice desserts that I had never had before. One of these flavors tasted like a candle scent... Ice dessert shop in Hualien, Taiwan

 Be one with the gorilla. Taipei Zoo, Taipei, Taiwan inner child?

 Yes. I tried it. Stinky Tofu (fried version). Not bad in texture, but the smell was difficult. Kaohsiung, Taiwan night market on the island.

 Yes! made it almost to the top of the mountain... Dali-Datung trail, Taroko Gorge, Taiwan


 Still the Dali-Datung trail, we needed to get a permit to hike this trail. Not five minutes into the trail I could see why a permit was necessary. Great day full of 7 hours of hiking (mostly Dali trail). We climbed up the steep side of the trail from the visitor's center trail head and later came back down the same way. Definitely a workout. 

 Tianxiang stop in Taroko Gorge. Close to the start of the trail to the waterfall cave. Easier hike, totally worth doing! Bring a rain-jacket.

 Good morning sunshine! After a sticky night camping in Kenting, Taiwan.

 I was determined to make it to at least one yoga class while we were in Taiwan. Space Yoga, Taipei, Taiwan. Great yoga studio with great facilities and the instructor that we had for hot yoga was awesome!

 On the southern tip of Taiwan, in Kenting near the lighthouse. There is an awesome boardwalk that takes you along the southern tip with a great view of the protected coral beach on the one hand and mosquito infested jungle on the right. Bring mosquito repellent.

 Feel the itch, love the itch! In the jungle in Kenting after a morning run...being eaten alive by giant striped mosquitos and lovin' it!

Yes, I did show up to church with all my stuff on my back. And riding on the metro in dresses and packs was definitely epic. On the LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) temple ground in Taipei, Taiwan, where there is also a chapel in a building used for LDS church meetings.

More incredible Taiwan dessert....jelly, beans, corn, ice, syrup, muaji/mochi, etc.It tastes incredible! At a restaurant in a Taipei night market.

 I was able to meet some incredible dancers in China and add more dancers to the list of "dancers I look up to."

Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China. If you go make sure you get up close, it is worth the stair-climb to see all the detailed painting and architectural details.

Yay!! You made it to the bottom. I bet you can guess what my favorite hairstyle is at this point. o:)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tips n' Tricks: Dance Conditioning

Improve your ballet turnout and strengthen your feet!

One of my ballet instructors took a day to show the class some theraband exercises that we can implement into our conditioning program if we aren't already. These exercises are intended to improve strength, turnout and foot bevels specifically for ballet. During a weekend sometime I'll put together a video demonstration of each of these exercises.

Each exercise is intended to work towards 6 reps ea. and holding for about 8 SLOW counts of music...or in otherwords what feels like forever. ;) The foot exercises can be done before or after class, but the leg exercises should be saved for after class or an activity that warms up your body to avoid injury. Start by doing these exercises about 3x a week (every other day).

Sitting up straight: One foot at a time
  • Wrap the theraband around the ball and toes of the foot, pulling back towards your torso for resistence. Press through the ankle, progress to spreading the toes and pressing to an extended pointed foot.
  • Point your foot, have a partner wrap the theraband over the top of the metatarsal and toes. Keeping a straight leg, lift the toes then continue to flex the foot. The partner should add resistance but not keep you from being able to lift the toes.

Sitting up straight: Both feet with one theraband
-Wrap from the bottom of your feet around and tie in a lose knot. Hold onto the theraband ends and sit up straight.
  • Keep the legs in parallel with the ankles together and bevel the foot from the ankle. Do this with a flexed and a pointed foot.
  • Keep the legs in parallel and separate them from the hips without losing the alignment of the legs and feet. Do this with flexed and pointed feet.
  • Keep the legs straight. Begin in Parallel then rotating the legs outward from the hips keep the legs together but try to hold a first position with the legs. You will probably feel this in the rotators below the butt.
  • This is an extra one, but in that turned out first you could try separating the legs. You may need to move the theraband to the ankles to avoid hurting the feet.

LEGS (continued in a future post)....

Monday, February 11, 2013

Baby Om: Yoga for Mothers and Babies

Krysta strikes again with another awesome review for postnatal yoga! This is for a book, that is actually quite "user friendly". I liked it enough that I got myself one for when I have a little baby of my own.
"This is for the overall book but specifically for the 0-3mo routine since I haven't done the later ones yet.
I love this book. Rarely is a book able to describe yoga poses without being confusing or vague about the technique, which is why I tend to stick to DVDs. I feel like the authors do a great job with this and the included photos and sketches are helpful to reinforce the poses. I also like the concise way information is organized for the poses. There will be a photo, instructions for the pose, helpful tips on technique or problems you might need variations for, how the baby can be involved and cool facts about the benefits of the pose. The 0-3 month routine is just the right amount of stretching and mild strengthening poses to leave you energized for the day but not overwork the muscles that are still healing from pregnancy and childbirth. Baby will enjoy the changing poses and interacting with you as you move through the asanas. It is hard to describe, but everything about the approach and the way the authors give instructions is very encouraging and empowering. I feel ok with where I am and at peace with whatever progress I make that day. I highly recommend this book. One thing that would be helpful though is to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the routine or make a summary of the poses so you don't have to worry about looking at the book and turning pages while you are doing the routine."

Thanks again, Krysta!

If you are interested in finding a copy of this book, you might start looking on

You might also enjoy the Baby Om website.

Happy Training! à bientôt!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Element: Postnatal Yoga Routine

In order to get a more accurate review on the Element Postnatal yoga routine I asked my sister (who now has an adorable baby) to try it out after waiting at least 6 weeks after birth. Below you can see her thoughts, as well as a link to where you can purchase the DVD if you are interested. This DVD also includes a prenatal routine which has also been reviewed on my blog.

"The pace is good and the instructor's voice is soothing and informative.

The routine is a little punishing to start with after months of no/low-activity; I was shaking by the end. The routine is also a little long at 36 minutes; I had to skip the ending shavasana because the baby woke up. A 20-minute routine would have been preferable, though the length probably isn't an issue for most people. I noticed that the narration was opposite from the demonstration sometimes - ie, the narration would say to step your right foot back but the visual demonstration showed the left foot back instead. I don't know if they were going for a mirror-effect, but it put me off a few times. Just a little thing, but it bothered my OCD mind. Overall a good routine that will build strength over time. However, I might opt for something gentler until my muscles get back into the swing of things."

Thank you Krysta for your thoughts on this workout!

If you are interested in purchasing this DVD you can start by looking on here.

Happy Training! à bientôt!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Top 10 Workout DVDs 2012

This is a list of my top 10 workout DVDs that I tried during 2012. I'm obviously a fan of yoga, so you will see a lot of yoga and and dance instructional workout DVDs in this list. These DVDs are the ones that I am currently incorporating into my workout regime most frequently. Each item on the list will have a link back to my original post on the DVD. The closer to the top of the list the DVD is, the more I use it in my own conditioning. 

  1. Aim True Yoga with Kathryn Budig Blog Post  Level: Intermediate/Advanced
  2. Shiva Rea: Fluid Power, Vinyasa Flow Yoga Blog Post Level: Intermediate/Advanced
  3. Ballet Beautiful Blast Series Blog Post Level: Anybody, it burns regardless
  4. Bryan Kest's Power Yoga Blog Post Level: Beg-Advanced
  5. Radiant Flow with Janet Stone Blog Post Level: Advanced
  6. Yoga Transformation: Weight Loss and Balance with Tara Stiles Blog Post Level: Intermediate
  7. Fat Free Yoga Blog Post Level: Anybody
  8. Flow Yoga: Strength & Flexibility Blog Post Level: Beg-Advanced
  9. New York City Ballet Workout: I Blog Post   Level: Anybody, it burns regardless (might be helpful to have some ballet experience for some exercises)
  10. Ballet Boot Camp 2 with Jessica Sherwood Blog Post Level: Anybody, it burns regardless (might be helpful to have some ballet experience for some exercises)
Happy Training! à bientôt!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Staying off my feet: A Tough Routine

School starts Monday, I'm super excited! But I'm also trying to stay off my feet so that I can dance in my classes. I've been fighting an infection in my toe and my hope is that it will be well enough to dance for my next performance and for classes this semester! Just because I'm off my feet doesn't mean I can't workout, though. In my frustration I created an intense, 20 minute routine done almost completely on the floor. Check it out if you are looking to sweat!

Happy Training! à bientôt!