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Nicole Howard
December 7, 2018

Holiday of Self Care

Screen Shot 2018-12-07 at 6.42.35 AM  

Well, it’s that time of year again. The wild and crazy holiday season

is here. Yes, things can get hectic, but whatever you do, don’t

forget to make your mind and body a priority this holiday season.

With everything that’s going on with all of the events, shopping, dinners, parties and obligations, it’s so easy to let your normal health regimen take a back seat, but if you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of everything else. Caring for the physical body allows for the cultivation of strength, endurance, and most importantly, energy.

 

Regular, mindful movement opens up the ability for us to access our ability to enjoy the gratitude, confidence and love that this season of giving can offer. A practice like Pilates or yoga, which connects body, mind, and spirit, is the perfect anecdote to the stresses, bang-ups and hang-ups that may unexpectedly get thrown your way during the holidays.

 

 The therapeutic effects of movement and breath, when combined skillfully with purposeful placement of the muscles and skeletal system, can create a unique experience in the body. It’s one of the most efficient ways to care for one’s self. In just an hour, the entire body is nourished, strengthened and relieved.

 

 “Rest and self-care are so important,” said Eleanor Brown. “When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”  

 

By committing to a “mindful movement” practice at least twice a week throughout the holidays your days are sure to be more joyous for you and those around you. Here are four things to keep in my when it comes to staying active during the holidays:

 

1.    Stress Reduction: It’s no big secret that the act of exercising helps alleviates stress. So, when the holiday pressure is on, pause, breath and schedule a workout. Afterwards, you will feel recharged and ready to tackle that to do list with ease.

2.    Host a Holiday Mindful Movement Party: Instead of having the traditional holiday party, consider having friends and family join you in a Pilates or yoga session. Or better yet, have Align host your holiday event. We can create a class just for you and your friends on the Pilates equipment, yoga mat, or in the aerial hammocks.

3.    Hold Yourself Accountable: Create goals that will help you stay on top of your health. Challenge yourself to complete eight Pilates or yoga classes for the month of December. Invite your friends and family members to participate, this way you all are held accountable to show up. The more the merrier!

 4.    Plan Ahead and Make Schedule: At the beginning of the month, sit down and look at the calendar, see if you can make time to move every day. Alternate between walks, bike rides, pilates or yoga classes.

The Align Team wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season!


Nicole Howard
October 6, 2018

Pilates and Yoga for the Neck

NeckPainCollage  

 

 

 

 

There is no shortage of reason people suffer from neck pain, but primarily, the root cause is due to an improper posture of the spine. The lack of strength from core muscles not supporting the head correctly overtime wreaks havoc on the neck.

 

You probably guessed it, improper posture is no doubt an outcome of today’s reliance on technology. With the constant checking of smartphones, typing on computers, and driving, plus, the stressful pace of life, people’s posture have suffered and become what is known as a “forward leading head” syndrome. This leads to postures like rounded shoulders, or a kyphotic posture. These actions put way too much stress on the structure of the neck, consequentially leading to many issues like headaches, muscle soreness, pinched nerves and degenerating spinal discs. These issues quickly become debilitating with pain, making everyday life very miserable.

If you suffer from neck pain, there can be a holistic answer to alleviating the symptoms. At Align, we believe that pilates and yoga can help prevent all of this from happening.

 

Both modalities of movement are grounded on the premise of correct spinal alignment and achieving a balanced posture. Joseph Pilates, the inventor of the Pilates practice, believed that the spine was the key to physical and emotional well-being. He once said,

“Neutral spine alignment is everything. If your spine is stiff at 30, you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.”

Starting with their first pilates session, one is taught how to put their spine into a neutral posture. From this point forward, the exercises are designed to strengthen and enhance correct posture. The belief is that when the stresses of everyday life are occurring, muscles have the strength and stamina to carry one’s head properly on the shoulders.

Also, many yoga postures help align and strengthen the back to aid in correct posture.

“Without the accurate spine movement, one can’t exist dynamically,” said BKS Iyengar, the founder of the style of yoga known as “Iyengar Yoga”. He was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world before his passing in 2014.

When dealing with neck issues, strength is important but so is range of motion. Gentle yoga stretches and poses will help achieve suppleness throughout the torso and achieve correct posture. It’s not uncommon for the muscles surrounding the neck and shoulders to take on stress and tighten up. Fortunately, many studies have found that doing mindful breathing and meditation can dramatically reduce stress and tension in muscles. Both Pilates and yoga method address breathing and how it relates to posture. Yoga not only stretches muscles, but also contains a huge meditative component. Again, helping the neck, shoulders, and the mind to work with ease.

Pilates and yoga for the neck is a win-win. Come into Align today and get your head on straight.


Nicole Howard
May 17, 2018

Meditation Does a Body Good!

 

meditation     In the medical and science field, research is finding the act of meditating contains a multitude of health benefits. These studies are discovering that the many forms of meditation drastically offset the effects of stress and aging at a cellular level. So much so that some doctors and scientist are proclaiming meditation could be the future of medicine.

 

For example, a study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, looked at 201 people with coronary heart disease and asked them to either take a health education class promoting better diet and exercise or one on Transcendental Meditation. Researchers followed up with participants for the next five years and found that those who took the meditation class had a 48 percent reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.

Many more studies like these are being conducted and continue to prove the benefits of meditation. The best part is that mediation is easy! Anyone can do it. Any preconceived ideas about meditation should be forgotten. Meditation is a practice that helps us take a break from the hectic pace of everyday life. It doesn’t require a specific spiritual belief, even a few minutes of meditation helps, and you don’t even have to be sitting in an awkward lotus position to start soaking in the positive vibes.

There are many different forms of mediation backed by doctors and scientists like “Mindful Meditation” and “Transcendental Meditation”. These same doctors and scientists also recognize “mindful” movement like tai chi, Pilates, and yoga as a form of meditation. In the end, all types of mediation result in taking us beyond the noisy chatter of the mind into a place of stillness and silence. Meditation is where the brain and the body can connect and begin to heal to create a better quality of life. Here are 3 simple ways to start meditating today...

 

1.     Breathe! - At any point in the day, pause what you are doing, and notice how you are breathing. Focus on how your body reacts to inhaling and exhaling. Then go just a little dipper and start to breathe bigger. Take a full inhale, pause, then exhale all the air out and repeat this for a minute or so. Notice the difference and go on with your day.

 

2.     Start the Day Slowly- Before jumping out of bed to frantically get on with your busy life, just a take a few minutes to calmly say or write 3 positive things that are happening in your life. Let this positivity guide you through the rest of your day.

 

 

3.     Join a Class- Find a studio that offers meditation classes. An instructor will be able to help you learn techniques in meditation. Plus, you are dedicating time to learn the practice. The more you do it, the easier and healthier you will be. So, come and combat aging, release stress and mediate with us at Align Pilates and Yoga Center.


Nicole Howard
May 3, 2018

Pilates Day 2018!

Joseph Pilates Collage   Sunday, May 5th is International Pilates Day. Pilates Day is an annual, international community event, celebrated on the first Saturday of May every year. The Pilates Day mission is to foster the public’s appreciation and awareness to the Pilates Method. Through a network of varied, innovative, and high-quality grassroots Pilates events, that are taking place around the world and accessible and affordable for all.

 

Align Pilates and Yoga is excited to be participating in this world-recognized event. To be part of this exciting day, it’s paramount for Align to explain what the hoopla with Pilates is all about. Pilates is truly for any and everybody! In its simplest form, it’s a resistance-based method of exercise that focuses on stability of the core, and mobility of the joints, all the while achieving a full body workout. Of course, like many other types of movement Pilates goes beyond just moving for movement sake, and is more complex with its own philosophy of breath to movement.

 

 

It all started in the late 1800’s with German-born man, Joseph Pilates. He created a form of exercise he dubbed “Contrology.”  As a child, he was afflicted with asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. He quickly became determined to overcome his physical disadvantages. Therefore Joseph began to self-educate himself in anatomy, bodybuilding, wrestling, yoga, gymnastics, and martial arts. He was inspired by the classical Greek ideal of a man- who is balanced equally in body, mind, and spirit. Pilates believed that everyone should strive for this ideal and that our modern lifestyle, bad posture, and inefficient breathing were the roots of society’s poor health.

 

His answer to these problems was to design a unique series of physical exercises to correct muscular imbalances and improve posture, coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility, as well as to increase breathing capacity and organ function. He invented two separate ways to his method. First the mat portion, which uses body weight and gravity to help create resistance while doing exercises on the floor. The second, he invented a variety of machines based on spring-resistance, which could be used to perform these exercises. And the method also centered on the concept of mindfulness. The combination of all these qualities is what gives Pilates its depth and complexity.

 

 

Joseph Pilates died on October 9 1967, in New York City at the age of 84. But his method still lives strong today. One can find Pilates studios all over the world, DVD’s, books and websites just dedicated to the method. Today, many famous athletes, dancers, models, and actors — as well as business professionals, housewives, and retirees have participated to only improve their lives with Pilates.


Nicole Howard
April 12, 2018

5 Reason to do Aerial Yoga...

treeaerialyoga   To most, the idea of doing an aerial yoga class sounds a little scary, but in all honesty, it’s for anyone that enjoys a fun workout, a good stretch, and a calming meditation. If you partake in a yoga practice already, then you can do aerial yoga. It doesn’t require you to be an acrobat and on the contrary, it can be easier than a traditional yoga class.

 

Here is how it works— You sit on a soft, fabric hammock that looks kind of like a long scarf. The hammock is kept close to the ground, generally no higher than one’s own hipbones.  At any point, your hands or feet will be able to touch the floor. It becomes a swing that supports and takes gravity out of the equation. 

 

These hammocks are made out of special, high-density nylon material that can support over 2,000 pounds. Throughout the class, you do adaptations of traditional yoga poses using the hammock for support. For many people, yoga postures that are difficult on the ground can be performed easier and with less strain on the body in mid-air. So, that handstand you have been trying to nail on your mat, not a problem in the hammock.

 

Aerial yoga has many benefits like strengthening and stretching the whole body, decompressing the spine, improving circulation, boosting digestion and lifting one's mood. Here are 5 good reasons to try aerial yoga today...

 

1.   Total body workout: Due to the nature of aerial yoga movements, almost all the body parts are forced to move and stretch. Muscles are toned and redefined, and joints are decompressed and strengthened due to these movements.

 

2.   Improves flexibility: Aerial yoga helps you to move more freely, with less effort, by counteracting gravity. Suspension in the air releases tension on the bones and muscles, increasing flexibility and deepening your practice.

 

3.   Psychologically beneficial: Just like other mindful movement modalities, aerial yoga helps clear the mind, and releases stress due to its meditative qualities. Most aerial yoga classes end with you lying in the hammock for a peaceful rest.

 

4.   Mood changer: Another key benefit of doing aerial yoga is that it gets your adrenaline going while defying gravity. Releasing “happy” hormones like serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine, all boosting your mood and helping you feel more energetic. After class, you will feel like a kid again.

 

5.   Improves balance: Going against gravity is exciting for the body, consequently strengthening muscles that aid in balance and stability. With the addition of the mood benefits, an aerial practice will create a whole body balance inside and out.

 

Try an aerial yoga class today at Align Pilates And Yoga!


Nicole Howard
March 8, 2018

Yoga & Pilates for our Youth

stretching-4   According to the America Academy of Pediatrics, all children ages two and older should participate in at least 60 minutes every day of enjoyable, moderate to intense physical activities, that are developmentally appropriate and varied. As adults, we understand exercise is an important part of our health and well-being. Unfortunately, our understanding does nothing for school budgets that are forced to cut physical education from curriculums. 

An addition, the over-reliance on technology is truly placing kids motionless in front of screens for hours at a time. This lack of exercise in our youth is creating a steady decline in physical health and a rise in self-confidence issues. YIKES!  Thus, creating the inspiration behind Align’s Teen and Kid Core program. The heart of the program is based on the principles of Pilates and yoga, to inspire and teach children about compassion for one’s self, and others. All the while being a fun, inviting, and positive environment.

 

Regular movement and exercise will help counter the current negative trends of self-confidence and health issues. Studies have proven exercise helps improve mood, reduces stress, increases blood flow to the brain, boost the immune system, and reduces the symptoms of depression.  Physical exercise combined with a mindful practice, like yoga or Pilates is known to also have profound effects on one’s well being. Yoga and Pilates go beyond the basic physical aspect of exercise, and apply an element of mental awareness to how we stand, walk, and move in daily life. This builds strength, flexibility, balance, and teaches compassion and confidence for the whole self. Making both modalities amazing opportunities for our youth.

 

The philosophy of nurturing ones physical, emotional, and spiritual self through mindful movement is one of the core values at Align. This combined with our passion for the youth, the Teen/Kid Core program uses these principles to empower children, and improve their self-worth. Align’s Kid Core is a mat style class, encompassing both Pilates and yoga for ages 5-11. Teaching children the foundations of core strength, body awareness, and the power of linking breath to movement. The Teen Core class for ages 12 to 18 incorporates the concepts of yoga, the strength of the Pilates equipment, and Pilates mat principles to help inspire adolescent to be confident in their everyday activities. Both programs use movement to help children to realize their individuality, strength, and compassion to help build self-esteem. The program believes every child can define who they want to be, rise above any challenge, and change the world for the better with mindful movement. This is a powerful message to give the youth...especially in our image, and overly techno-driven society.

 

Help your child to be strong, confident, and independent. Give them the tools they need for a healthy and successful future, by encouraging them to participate in mindful movement classes today.

 


Nicole Howard
February 15, 2018

Pilates and Yoga for a Health Heart

 

yogaheart_copy  

February is nation Heart Health Awareness month and at Align we are excited to participate. According to the American Heart Association, someone dies from heart disease, stroke or another type of cardiovascular disease every 43 seconds in this country!  Making heart disease the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. But the good news is, it’s one of the most preventable diseases. With a nutrient-dense diet, exercise, and meditation a healthy heart is easy to achieve.

 

Heart Disease is actually a generic term for a variety of issues that take place within the Cardiovascular System. The Cardiovascular System is comprised of our blood, the blood vessels, and the heart. The intricate coordination of these three components is truly the life force of the human body. A properly functioning cardiovascular system delivers oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body like the organs, muscles, and bones. Making the health of this system crucial to the overall function of the human body, and its wellness.

 

 Defects of the heart present at birth are known as congenital heart defects. Coronary artery disease, also called coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease, is a condition in which plaque that is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood, builds up inside the coronary arteries. This plaque build-up is called “atherosclerosis”. Plaque can grow large enough to reduce, or completely block blood flow through an artery. This plaque may rupture causing a “blood clot” to form. When the blockage takes place in a blood vessel that feeds the heart, the result is a “heart attack” or depending on the severity, Sudden Cardiac Death. If the plaque build-up or blood clot rupture occurs in the carotid arteries on either side of the neck, this is called Carotid Artery Disease and can result in a “stroke”. Peripheral Arterial Disease is when the major arteries that supply blood to the legs, arms or pelvis are obstructed. If blood flow to any of these areas of the body is reduced or blocked, numbness, pain and sometimes dangerous, infections such as gangrene can occur. 

 

Rest assured! By choosing a heart-healthy lifestyle your chances of heart disease are greatly reduced. According to The Heart Foundation, engaging in moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Pilates and yoga fit that prescription perfectly. Both Pilates and yoga are systems of exercises designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness. Also, chronic stress has been strongly linked as a contributor to heart disease. The enhanced mental awareness, mindfulness, and meditative qualities of Pilates and yoga have proven to offset the negative effects of stress. Thus making both forms of movement a great choice for a healthy heart.

 

Come and experience Pilates and yoga this month at Align and fill your heart not only with love but with wellness too.


Nicole Howard
January 11, 2018

Addressing Scoliosis with Pilates & Yoga

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 6.55.29 PM   According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Scoliosis affects nearly six million people in the U.S. alone. Making it the most common spinal deformity in our society. Scoliosis is a generic term that refers to any imbalanced curvature in the spine due to a genetic predisposition, or habitual muscle patterning. Either way, exercising has shown to be extremely beneficial in addressing issues associated with Scoliosis. Especially, exercise modalities known to emphasize core strength like Pilates and yoga.

 

Scoliosis in its simplest terms is a problem of asymmetry. Ideally, the right and left sides of the body should be balanced equally with strength, flexibility, and alignment. Scoliosis is classified in two ways, structural or functional. Structural scoliosis is a genetic disturbance in the normal growth pattern of a healthy child. Approximately 70% of those afflicted are girls, and higher rates of occurrence are evident in young athletes. The highest rates are among female dancers, gymnasts, and swimmers. Nonstructural or functional scoliosis is due to imbalanced muscular loading on the spine. It is a reversible curvature that appears in a structurally normal spine. The causes for functional scoliosis can be due to lower limb discrepancy, poor posture, and chronic repetitive motion.

 

In structural scoliosis, there is generally a predominant C or S curve and several secondary or compensatory curves. The most common curve occurs in the upper part of the thoracic spine. The compensatory curves often develop in the opposite direction either above or below the major curve. The body compensates for these structural misalignments by creating a concave side of the trunk and a convex side of the trunk. The spine is not only curved to the right and left but usually has rotation or a spiral also. Scoliosis is measured in degrees and is categorized as being mild under 20 degrees, moderate 20–40 degrees, and severe is over 40 degrees. Surgery may be recommended for severe scoliosis, but only a very small percentage of cases are in this category.

 

       “For the non-operative scoliosis patient there is nothing better than exercise,” says Dr. Ramin Bagheri of the San Diego Center for Spinal Disorders. “My main goal is to the have my patients keep their back muscles, core abdominal muscles and spinal musculature in tip-top shape.” He highly recommends Pilates, Yoga, and swimming to his scoliosis patients regularly. 

 

The principles and repertoire found in Pilates and yoga are very detailed in spinal alignment, balance, strength, and flexibility. Making them the perfect option to help overcome issues associated with scoliosis. At Align, we strongly advise anyone who has scoliosis to attend private sessions first. Eventually joining classes once they have a clearer understanding of their curvature and the method of movement. Everyone is unique, and so too are the curves in scoliosis.  Private sessions will allow one to learn and understand their own body’s curves and imbalances. Giving them the proper tools to combat scoliosis with movement, and produce the best results possible.

 


Nicole Howard
December 14, 2017

The “Mindful Mover’s” Wish List

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 11.32.39 AM   The holiday season has arrived! But what to do about that perfect gift? Well, if there’s a special someone in your life that loves mindful movement, why not give them the gift of yoga or pilates? It’s functional. It improves quality of life. It’s a pathway to healthy living. It’s perfect! Here are a few ideas from the folks at Align:

·      A Mat

Anyone who practices yoga or Pilates will need a mat, but with so many different types and price ranges on the market these days it’s hard to know what to get. And trust us, not all mats are created equal. Quality matters. For exercises that involve lying, rolling on the spine, arm balances and headstands, a good mat goes a long way. Go for one that is made of real rubber or eco-friendly materials, and thickness of at least ¾ of an inch. Our top pick at Align is the Manduka Pro Mat

·      Props

The joy of a prop! Props can either make or break your practice. Some moves are so difficult one may need the assistance of a bolster or block. On the other hand, one may like to make the exercise more challenging and use a ball or a magic circle. Props make great stocking stuffers or fun gifts under the tree. Blocks, bolsters, blankets, therabands, magic circle, yamuna ball or a foam roller are all great choices for the mindful mover. 

·      Athletic Wear

Style points count, but when it comes to moving, function’s the most important when it comes to what to wear. Look for quality clothing that does not have many seams, high waistband, hugs the body and has NO zippers. One of our favorite brands at Align is Gylder Apparel.

·      Essential Oils

Most mindful movers are also very mindful of what goes in and on the body. Essential oils are natural plant compounds that are both fragrant and contain therapeutic properties that promote physical and mental well-being. With a ride range of use from achy joints to calming the mind, essential oils are a must for your mindful mover. We love the Deep Blue essential oil from doTerra after a good work-out.

·      Gift Card

Sometimes choosing the right size, color or prop can be overwhelming, but a simple gift card to a favorite studio, prop brand or athletic wear is always a win

May the gift giving begin, and we wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.

–Team Align


Nicole Howard
November 7, 2017

Debunking the “Core”

alignad-1    Everyday we are inundated with the buzzword “the core.” It’s used everywhere: articles in fitness magazines, segments on the Dr. Oz show, to the coolest personal trainers blasting out core-strengthening exercises. But let’s be honest, you may have a vague notion that your core is somewhere in the middle of your body. Around your abs perhaps?
Everyday we are inundated with the buzzword “the core.” It’s used everywhere: articles in fitness magazines, segments on the Dr. Oz show, to the coolest personal trainers blasting out core-strengthening exercises. But let’s be honest, you may have a vague notion that your core is somewhere in the middle of your body. Around your abs perhaps? Close, but it’s more complex than that. From your back, hips, ribs and shoulders, your core muscles make up your entire torso. It’s definitely more than another buzzword.

The muscles involved in the core are there to protect, stabilize and move the torso. The core is an intricate puzzle that gives one the ability to do everyday task like breathing, standing, sitting, twisting and transferring force. And when the entire core is strong and coordinated it allows one to do unbelievable tasks like dancing, surfing or slam dunking a basketball. This is why core strength is so important and has become such a buzzword within the athletic community.

                 “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60 you are young.” –Joseph Pilates 

With a firm understanding of what encompasses the core, and how it works, you can stay forever young. The main job of the core is to protect. The number one priority is to protect all of the vital organs within the body. The muscles help cushion the organs from getting bruised or damaged when met with force. They also help hold all the organs in place, providing a sound structural body.

The second main purpose of the core is stability. Without stability it would be very hard for one to stand or sit still. Stability aids in proper posture. When posture is jeopardized and deviations are produced major spinal problems like back pain, stenosis and herniation of the disk arise. The core “stabilizers” are designed to hold and put pressure on the spine and organs to keep the body from collapsing in on its self, making the body a sound structure.

The third major role of the core is to produce spinal movement. The muscles allow the spine to move in a three-dimension plane. They let the body bend forwards (flexion), backwards (extension), twist (looking right and left) and side bending (lateral flexion). If the core muscles are not doing their job equally, movement in the body and daily activates will be limited.

Knowing these three major rolls of the core offers a clearer picture of why it’s much more than your abs and belly button. Doing a bunch of sit-ups and crunches isn’t the answer for true core strength. For true core strength—and to reap the benefits of a youthful spine—exercises designed to move the body in all dimensions, create stability and a range of motion is required. Pilates and yoga are the perfect answer. A good quality session in both modalities will address the entire core and ultimately provide one with a long, fitful, happy, youthful life.

Nicole Howard
October 10, 2017

CROSS TRAINING FOR LIFE

alignad-2 copy   Let’s face it life can be pretty repetitive. People tend to be major creatures of habit. From the moment we wake to the time we go to bed, our bodies perform well over 1,000 receptive motions in a day. Think about typing on the computer, walking the dog, carrying a purse, holding the phone, driving a car, physical labor at work, the list goes on and on. Add to this the fact that most of us do the same workout day in and day out.

Over time these actions add up, generating habitual patterns within our muscles and joints leading to chronic pain, over use injuries and poor posture. All of this can make everyday life seem difficult. But the answer is easy: cross-train! The concept behind cross training is simple. By doing different forms of modalities to counteract the repetitive actions of life. Thus strengthen and stretching the body to prevent injury and improve task performance.

At ALIGN we strongly believe Pilates and yoga is one of the best ways to cross train. Both forms of modalities are smart choices in address overuse injury, spinal deviations and burnout. Here are a few examples how cross training equates to a better quality of life…

· Combat muscle/joint imbalances
When repetitive actions are done without cross training, certain muscle groups become overly develop and others become week and undeveloped. This places undue strain on the skeletal system, generating spinal and joint deviations. Thus opening the door for a gambit of back and joint dysfunction, like Kyphosis (hunchback), Lordosis (swayback) and Scoliosis (sideways curve in the spine).   

 The concepts of both yoga and Pilates strongly focus on gaining and maintaining a strong core and balanced posture. “The core-strengthening perks of Pilates/yoga can ease pain, improve daily life for people suffering from chronic low-back pain, and offset major postural deviations,” says Cherie Wells, a senior lecturer in physical therapy at Australia’s Griffith University.

· Reduces the risk of injury
Overuse injuries happen when the same action is done repetitively putting major stressors on joints and muscles. Over time muscles and joints can’t sustain and thus leading to inflammation, wear and tear issues like arthritis, tendonitis and other osteopathic problems.

Coincidently with Pilates and yoga, by concentrating on overall symmetry and a balanced posture in the body the risk of overuse injury is minimized as well. Equally balanced muscles surrounding a joint are able to support a body easier. The body is then able to resist chronic issues that arise from repetitive joint motion like arthritis. Over-worked muscles that become tight and hold tension can cause injury as well. Pilates and yoga consists of therapeutic stretching and breathing, which is known to release tension and produce a greater range of motion within joints. Making body move with ease and avoiding inflammation.

 · Creates life/exercise adherence
Doing the same activity over and over can lead to exercise burnout. The same can be said about life and everyday activities. When life becomes mundane our minds become less stimulated and boredom arises, leading to stress, depression and other mental health problems.

Both systems of movement possess a variety of approaches and repertoire. In most sessions or classes one won’t experience the same exercises twice, making it hard to get bored. The combination of keeping each session fresh and new, plus linking breathe to movement, one is forced to focus when executing an exercise. This mindful approach to movement is highly recognized for reducing exercise burnout, stress, and depression.

To experience all of the advantages of Pilates and yoga, and properly cross-train for life, it’s important to have quality instruction. Positive results come from a well-structured session taught by a highly qualified and certified instructor, and this can be found at ALIGN. We invite you to come cross train with us and beat the everyday repetitiveness of life.

Nicole Howard
August 2, 2017

Breathe!!!

copd-inhale-breath-400x400   “I've got to keep breathing. It’ll be my worst business mistake if I don’t!”
-Steve Martin 

Not to sound too morbid, but if you are not breathing you’re not living—literally.

Now, please take a moment to inhale. Breathe in through the noise. Fill the lungs. Softly exhale through the mouth. Notice that when you inhale your ribs expand. The chest lifts and the muscles in the upper torso are stretched. As you exhale the ribs gently fall and your abdominals engage, bringing you back to your core.

Do you feel lighter, hopefully a little calmer and more aware of your body? With the constant go-go-go mentality these days and the rat race pace we all try and keep up with, most people don’t adequately breathe. Sadly, this starves the body of valuable oxygen. Not taking time to fully breathe can put major stress on the body and contribute to undesired health issues. The simple act of noticing your breath at any point in time can do wonders for your wellbeing

 As humans, our respiratory system separates us from all of the other animals on Earth. We are the only species that can control our breathing independent of our body’s action. This simple fact allows us to be sprinters, long distant runners and swimmers.

For example, a cheetah’s leg muscles are attached to its diaphragm. When it runs faster the lungs pump harder, delivering more oxygen when needed.  Our leg muscles are not attached to our diaphragm or lungs. This gives us the power to hold our breath or breathe faster when needed. Our respiratory system contains both voluntary muscles, like the external and internal intercostal muscles of the ribs and the diaphragm, as well as many involuntary muscles—such as the lungs. All of this means you can consciously control your breathing to point of manipulating it.

Or you can go all through life never think about it and some how still be alive.

 With the complexity of breathing, the pace of life, the stress of our society and the impact it all has on our bodies, learning how to breathe is another tool or secret weapon you can gain to provide yourself a better quality of health and living. Studies have shown stress to be the number one cause of disease, including depression, hypertension and much more. Learning few different ways to breathe can be priceless.

Within all of the various yoga and Pilates practices there are numerous techniques to help you realize the potential of breathing. At ALIGN we know that a good quality Pilates and yoga sessions will get you breathing differently.

Here’s what happens when you take five minutes out of your day and do a few breathing exercises:

  • Your muscles relax—you’ll find it’s difficult to maintain a lot of physical tension when you are breathing properly.
  • Oxygen delivery improves—fresh oxygen is then able to pour into every cell of the body, increasing the functionality of every system in the body.
  • Blood pressure lowers. As your muscles let go of tension your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure can return to a normal level.
  • Endorphins are released helping with feelings of well-being, as well as providing pain relief.
  • Detoxification improves—good breathing habits help the lymphatic system function properly, encouraging the release of harmful toxins, cleansing the body, giving it power to direct its energy to more productive functions.
  • Most of our clients at ALIGN notice that after a breathing session they look ten times younger with more vitality and sparkle in their eyes. 
  • You will also notice improved mental concentration and physical stamina.
Come breathe at ALIGN Pilates and yoga today. Breathe! Reap the benefits and feel alive!

Nicole Howard
July 18, 2017

When Glutes and Abs are Happily Married…

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When the glutes and abs work harmoniously together the body will live happily ever after. In the last few
years the abs have been getting a great deal of credit for a healthy back. But the glutes (a.k.a. your bum) are just as important when it comes to proper posture and back health.  And when the core and glutes coordinate and connect with one another magic truly happens!

The buttock area consists of muscles called the Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus, as well as a group of six smaller but very important deeper hip muscles. Together they are known as the glutes and they have a number of import roles in the body. Gluteus Maximus, the largest, has a primary role to extend your leg backwards as your walk, run, climb stairs and get up from sitting. The Glutius Medius and Minimus work to stabilize the pelvis and femur, and aid in rotation of the leg.

The combination of both strong glutes and abs is what gives them their power. It also plays an enormous role in joint health. If the glutes and abs are not strong and working correctly with one another, other muscles in the body will take over whenever you walk, run or pick up something heavy. Muscles at the front of the leg, like the quadriceps and your psoas, which runs from the spine to top of the femur, may compensate and overwork. In turn this creates compression and tightness in your lower back. Your hamstrings may try to assist and shorten. The surface muscles along your spine may also try to pull the leg back to propel you forward, as this is not their primary job, these back muscles will tighten and fatigue. Leading to many problems within the ankles, shins, knees and spine. But when working together, these muscles produce a powerhouse body that is stable and strong.

The Pilates and yoga method have a firm understanding of the glutes and abs, with exercises and poses designed specifically to strengthen them. Unite your glutes and abs today at Align and experience this loving relationship.

 

Nicole Howard
June 9, 2017

The Power of Meditation

images_copy   In the medical and science field, research is finding the act of meditating contains a multitude of health benefits. These studies are discovering that the many forms of meditation drastically offset the effects of stress and aging at a cellular level. So much so that some doctors and scientist are proclaiming meditation could be the future of medicine.

For example, a study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, looked at 201 people with coronary heart disease and asked them to either take a health education class promoting better diet and exercise or one on Transcendental Meditation. Researchers followed up with participants for the next five years and found that those who took the meditation class had a 48 percent reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.

Another landmark study led by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital found in as little as eight weeks of meditation people experience decreased anxiety and greater feelings of calm; it also produced growth in the areas of the brain associated with memory, empathy, sense of self and stress regulation.

Many more studies like these are being conducted and continue to prove the benefits of meditation. The best part is that mediation is easy! Anyone can do it. Any preconceived ideas about meditation should be forgotten. Meditation is a practice that helps us take a break from the hectic pace of everyday life. It doesn’t require a specific spiritual belief, even a few minutes of meditation helps, and you don’t even have to be sitting in an awkward lotus position to start soaking in the positive vibes.

There are many different forms of mediation backed by doctors and scientists, including Mindful Meditation and Transcendental Meditation. These same doctors and scientists also recognize mindful movement like tai chi, Pilates and yoga as meditation. In the end, all types of mediation result in taking us beyond the noisy chatter of the mind into a place of stillness and silence. It is here where the brain and the body can begin to heal and create a better quality of life. Come and combat aging, release stress and mediate with us at Align Pilates and Yoga Center.

Nicole Howard
February 6, 2017

Self Love

yogaheart_copy        “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection”
― Sharon Salzberg

A great way to connect inwards to the emotional and spiritual self, the highest self, is to start first with the physical self — the body. As your vessel, your physical body carries the rest of you around each day. Your thoughts, your feelings, your desires, your experiences, your pain, and your joy, are all housed in your tissues and cells.  

It makes sense then that caring for your body would be of utmost priority. Yet often it is not. Our bodies, by the most incredible design, can operate at high levels with minimal care for long periods of time. We are able to sustain energy, produce results, and meet the needs of those around us while offering ourselves very little. Eventually though, without attention and restoration we become depleted. Things start to break and become painful, disease sets in, we feel run down and weak, and our ability to care for others diminish.

The solution is self love through the form of self care; to fill up so we can offer more of ourselves to ourselves, and to the world. Caring for the physical body allows for the cultivation of strength, endurance, energy within, and offers us access to forgiveness, gratitude, confidence and love for others.

A practice like Pilates or yoga, which connects body, mind, and spirit, is not only a beautiful way to experience growth it is a powerful way! Movement to breath, done skillfully with purposeful placement of the muscles and skeletal system, creates a unique experience in the body, and offers benefits unlike those found in other forms of movement. And on a more practical level, it’s one of the most efficient ways to care for your self. In just an hour, the entire body is nourished, strengthened, and expressed.

Start loving your self with your foundation — the body. Caring for your body is essential, and loving yourself first, is most essential to a healthy and happy life. So, this Valentine’s Day take care of you, give yourself a little love, and join us at Align Pilates and Yoga Center.