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Archive for the ‘Motivational’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Why Run, Walk or Dance against Cancer

I never thought supporting the American Cancer society and Stand Up To Cancer would be such an amazing experience. Last month I participated in The Rugged Maniac obstacle course run, and the Night Nation Run (which was really an unbelievable music festival).
I want to share my experiences because I think everyone should do this at least once. If you don’t like running or obstacle courses, the Night Nation Run is more of a dance party than anything. Really, anyone could do it. Here’s why:

These Events are super inexpensive:

Early registration or groupon registration is as low as $29. I’ve seen other races that go for over $100. If you want to donate to the fight against cancer, you have the option of paying more or starting a fundraiser page to get sponsors, but all of that is optional and isn’t pushed on anyone. Plus, they are fully refundable, unlike other events.

It Appeals to all Fitness Levels:

If you’re a crazy athletic type who likes to get rugged, you can participate in the Rugged Maniac Run. If you’re not competitive at all and just want to have a workout or an all around good time, the Night Nation Run is for you. If you’re a night person, do the Night Nation Run. If you’re a day person, do the Rugged Maniac Run. You even get to choose the time you run. If you are a serious competitor, then there’s a special run for you but you can also run for fun.

The experience is thrilling and amazing:

At the Rugged Maniac Run, I got to participate in 25 obstacle courses on a 5k course. You can also do a 10k if you like. Some of the obstacle courses are akin to what you would see in the military, like climbing over walls and crawling under wire but there were also inflatable water slides and a warped wall like in the show Ninja Warrior. Everyone was super supportive. It was a hot day, but the course had lots of water and mud so it kept me cool. There’s also a festival with contests and prizes involving a mechanical bull, a pull up contest and a plank contest. I won a free t-shirt from winning the pull up contest and one for almost winning the plank contest. I participated with my son and we both received a ton of free stuff. Here I am leaping over a fire pit!

The experience is awesome and inspiring:

At the Night Nation Run, I felt like I was a part of something larger than myself. It was humungous! There was a huge stage and a dance party. It took place at Angel Stadium. Everyone got free neon necklaces and other glow in the dark paraphernalia. There were selfie stations everywhere. They riled you up before you ran, DJs and entertainers were everywhere, making it fun and throwing out free gifts. You don’t even have to do the run. You can enjoy the atmosphere, people watch or participate in the huge dance party. The run took us on an amazing tour of Angel’s Stadium. Some people walked, some jogged, some ran. There were dance stations and music everywhere which was motivationg. You could just stop and dance anytime you liked. We got to see the enormous stadium and go into the dug out, feeling what it must be like to be a professional base ball player. After the run, the party continued. Famous DJs kept us dancing. I probably burned more calories from dancing than I did from doing the 5k. Free glow in the dark toys were tossed everywhere. I did this run with  my husband and it was one of the best dates we have been on. This is also a family event. Unfortunately, all my pictures were accidentally erased. :( But here’s one from the website:

Life’s too short not to:

We’ve all had friends and family who either survived or passed from cancer. As hard as it is on all of us, I’ve learned that life is just too short. We get caught up in our ruts and routines and we forget to truly live. Remember to take the time to do something different, even if its not one of these events. Sometimes its hard to break from routine, but once I do something like this, I feel so much better. Life becomes more meaningful and I’m glad to have spent quality time with my loved ones and fellow human beings. Isn’t that what life is really all about?

It Fight’s Cancer:

While all the proceeds from these events goes to fighting cancer, it fights cancer in other ways. First, it brings people together. Evidence has shown that people who have a strong support group are more likely to survive the disease. Secondly, it forces us to get exercise. Numerous studies have shown that exercise helps prevent many kinds of cancer. Third, it gets us out which means we’re not inside getting depressed as depression can lead to more chronic health ailments.

It’s Fun:

I don’t like to think of exercise as a work out. I like to think of it as play, a way to move, to get out and to connect with others. I also think of it as a meditation and as an experience that teaches us to overcome our many  obstacles. People who suffer from cancer also need to overcome many obstacles. Let’s lift them up by being there for them and doing something that makes us positive about living.

Here’s a link to the Night Nation Run website, where there are events all over the World. There’s also a virtual event:

NightNationRun.com

Here’s a link to the Rugged Maniac website, where there are events all over the US and Canada:

RuggedManiac.com

I’ll be participating in the Night Nation run in LA in July 21 and in the Rugged Maniac run in SoCal, Temecula on November 17. Let me know if you’d like to join us. :D

PostHeaderIcon Does Your Time Perspective Affect Your Health?

How we view reality is subjective. Just ask your parents or siblings how they remember certain events in the past. You will find that everyone remembers these events very differently. Studies on eye witness testimonies have shown that most memories are false. This is why lawyers are not allowed to “lead the witness” while questioning them. Hinting or suggesting certain view points can lead someone to remember something completely differently, greatly skewing the real truth.

For more information on how our beliefs control our reality, click here:

Voodoo, Beliefs, Health and Society

We all wear tinted colored glasses that shade our world in a way only we can see. Modern psychology has examined how these attitudes can promote success or lead to failure. Experts on Time psychology (such as, Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D and John Boyd, Ph.D, authors of “The Time Paradox”) study and break down our relationship with time. They say that time is money as we are often paid for our time but I think that time is priceless and have always struggled with my relationship with it. We all only have a limited amount of time in a day and how we spend that time is so crucial. Yet no one really knows how much time we have in a life. I could die tomorrow in an accident or many years from now. This mystery just makes time even more valuable. I think that’s why I enjoyed reading “The Time Paradox” so much.  Much can be said about how we view the Past, Present and Future.

 

THE PAST:

As stated before, we can’t always trust our memories to give us an objective reality about what really happened in the past. There are many sides to one story and our side is highly influenced by our attitudes. Some people believe in a golden age, when life was innocent and simpler. Other people say our history is full of horrors and we are living in the best times ever. Yet, how we see the past can directly affect our success in the future. if we are constantly focusing on our failures and disappointments, we have created a general attitude that we are losers. If this is so, we will go about our lives with a chip on our shoulder, not expecting success and always expecting failure. We could be sabotaging ourselves without even knowing it.

In contrast, if we focus on our little successes, we have proven to ourselves that we are capable and will have a more positive attitude towards our endeavors.

Studies have shown that the act of rumination, of constantly thinking about the negative aspects of the past can lead to depression and other chronic diseases that stem from emotional stress such as heart disease. Being depressed will cause us to try less, to take less risks and to attract more disappointments and failures. If we don’t change how we think about our past, we become trapped in this cycle.

Past negative attitude: I shouldn’t have eaten that cookie! This is why I never reach my fitness goals. What’s the point of trying? I’m just gonna stay fat and die early. I’m gonna wallow in my sorrow, stay home and eat a gallon of ice cream

Past positive approach: I didn’t reach my goal of losing 10 lbs in one month but that’s because I cheated by eating a few cookies. I did lose 7 lbs. That’s a huge success! I’ve never lost 7 lbs before. I just have to keep at it and I’m certain to reach my goals soon. Better not miss my muscle pump class.

These examples show two different ways of looking at the same exact situation. Which mindset do you think will lead to success? We can find happiness focusing on all the good times, or we can wallow in depression by ruminating over the bad.

For more information on using awareness to influence our free will, click here:

Science, Yoga, and Free Will

THE PRESENT:

There are three major ways of viewing our present situation; Present Fatalistic, Present Hedonistic and Holistic present.

Present Fatalistic people have a deterministic attitude towards life. They don’t believe anything they do now could change future outcomes. This is common in people who come from backgrounds of poverty, little opportunity and insecurity. The attitude goes something like this: “What’s the point of trying? I’m going to die anyway,” or “I’ve always been poor. That will never change.” Such attitudes sabotage us from making pro active decisions in our lives. So if you are overweight or come from a family of overweight people with chronic health conditions, there is little you will do to change this situation because you have little belief in your ability to make a difference.

Present Hedonistic people love to live in the moment and think little of future consequences. They are usually the life of the party, encouraging everyone to give in to their indulgences, which can be great for you’re health if your enjoying a Zumba class or a nice outdoor run. But this attitude may also lead to more drinking alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs or emotional eating with little thought of how this behavior will effect the future. Present hedonists tend to gamble more and be more promiscuous. The positive of this approach to time is that present hedonists tend to have more fun. The negative is that their inability to consider future consequences can still lead to health problems, addiction and failure to commit and follow through due to lack of planning.

The Holistic Present approach is living in the utmost present, the way we do when meditating or writing poetry. Buddhism and many other philosophies have preached the beauty, peace and serenity of living in this state. It’s also known as “mindfulness”. Many who reach this state even say that time becomes an illusion and the mental disorders that come with negative viewpoints of time drift away. This is the state we are in when we are meditating, enjoying a sunset, painting or writing a poem or completely focusing our mind on the task at hand. We see time as one holistic whole and live in one-ness with our place in the grand scheme of things. We let go of the pain of the past, the addictions of the present and the demands of the future. It’s a very clear and calming place to be. If we take the time to reach this state on a regular basis, it can have many positive affects on our mental and physical well being.

If you’d like to learn more about meditation and focusing on the present, click here:

Meditation (A Running Into Reality)

THE FUTURE:

Do you plan for the future? People who create goals for themselves are more likely to do well in school, be on time, succeed in losing weight and be financially well off. They save their money, plan their meals and workouts, do the work needed to finish future projects and tend to be more successful in all aspects of life. They know how to delay gratification, often choosing to make present sacrifices so they can be more successful in the future.

The negative of always living for the future is becoming so engrossed in what needs to be done tomorrow that we forget to enjoy today. Relationships might struggle due to lack of spending that quality time with those we love. This perspective can also lead to a type A personality, someone who is always worried about getting things done, always planning to fill the calendar and finding that we never have free time to live in the moment. This can lead to fear of not living up to expectations and such stress contributes significantly to cardiovascular disease. Feelings of anger and fear have been known to harden the arteries more than a high fat diet. So one must strike a balance between planning for the future and living in the present.

Since people who plan for the future, are good problem solvers, they can easily fix the negatives by planning their schedules to include fun time for themselves and their loved ones.

For more instructions on how to plan out your fitness goals, click here:

How to Make Your New Year’s Resolution

In Conclusion, we all have very different relationships with time and taking a moment to examine how we relate to it can help us with our health, our finances and relationships. Do you dwell on negative memories of the past and find it hard to forgive? If so, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Try taking some time to focus on fond memories and past successes and see how this can shift your attitude and positively change your outlook.

Do you believe that the choices you make in the present have some sway over your future? If not, then you are probably letting your environment decide the life you should be living rather than living the life you choose to live. Do you over indulge in the present moment, giving little thought of what you say or do can effect your future? Such impulsive behavior could interfere with future success.

Are you so focused on ambition and future outcomes, that you have become a big ball of stress and have forgotten how to relax, smell the flowers and make time with your loved ones? This can lead to frustration which can greatly affect your health. Therefore, taking the time to contemplate your time perspectives and learning to balance how you view your past, present and future can help you positively change your life and your health.
“You can choose how to reconstruct the past, interpret the present, and construct the future. You can choose to remember a wonderful glass of wine that you had yesterday, and forget the special bottle of wine that you spilled last week. Today you can choose to see the glass as half full and savor its flavor. And you can choose to expect the glass to be completely full tomorrow. In so doing , you make the most of your time by choosing happiness over despair, joy over heartbreak, and pleasure over pain.
The greatest gift that you can give to others and yourself is time. Embrace the gift of time whether you give it or receive it. Allow yourself to be fully present and to choose happiness. The past is gone, and the future will never arrive. The present is all that you have. Give yourself permission to enjoy the present and to pursue happiness in the future.”
–From “The Time Paradox” by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd

 

PostHeaderIcon With Loving Kindness

It’s December of 2017 and what a crazy year this has been throughout the world! Earlier today, I asked one of my clients how she was feeling. Instead of telling me she felt stressed or frazzled, which is a typical response, she said, “I’d say I’m stressed, but there are so many people far worse off than I am.” The fires here in Southern California are finally dying down. While I experienced a bad power outage and had to be evacuated from one of my jobs, this is nothing compared with those who have lost there homes; it’s nothing compared to the hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and most of the southern states, the devastating earthquakes that hit Mexico, Iran and other parts of the world, the tragedy of the worst mass shooting in history, and just the general social unrest regarding race, assault and harassment.

You’d think we’d all be bitter and cynical, but what I saw, especially in the fitness community, was a lot of gratitude for what we do have, as many of us have looked for ways to raise money and help those who are not as lucky as we are. Suddenly, our own problems become miniscule and money becomes less important.

At this time of year, I try to take some time to contemplate my new years resolutions. Sometimes I just take some time to reflect on what’s important. In the past I’ve focused more on gratitude and character, but this year, I’d like to raise my glass to compassion, pure, selfless compassion, also referred to as love.

I noticed, this year, that whenever there was a tragedy, not only did we become more grateful for what we have, we become suddenly aware of what is really important. Our heart goes out to people, whether we know them or not. We sympathize and automatically want to help. We become aware of the fact that we aren’t alone. We are all in this together.

People often ask me how I have the energy to teach and train so many people. Looking back over my career, I honestly think its because I receive just as much as I give. My clients and students have taught me so much. You have shared your lives with me, and I realize I’m not alone. No matter what is happening in my life, I can go teach a class or train a client, and for the time I’m doing it, I forget about me. I’m there for you, and there is something truly healing about that. You’ve all been through so much. Many of my students and clients had to be re-located due to the gas leak a couple of years ago. Some have been affected by the fires. Many suffer from chronic illness or take care of loved ones, but you still show up and live your life. Some of you might have taken some time off to deal with your own lives right now. Maybe I haven’t seen you for a while but it doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking of you and wishing you well. I’m so moved by stories and I have listened to so many stories of you living life, overcoming adversity and still showing up to train, and to greet me with your bright faces.

So, this holiday I’d just like to say Namaste. I just want to bow to you and send out my love and kindness as you have all done for me, whether you realize it or not. My life has truly been touched by your beauty.

 

christmas 2017

PostHeaderIcon My Experiment: Applying Yoga breath/Pranayama to Running and Athletics

I like to do hill sprints occasionally to really get my heart rate up. I consider it power and strength training for my heart. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with how changing the manner in which I breath effects my performance.
What truly inspired me was a study I read about in the book “Body Mind and Sport” by John Doullard.
This study consisted of teaching athletes classic yoga pranayma breathing and having them apply it to their sport. This usually took a few months to teach because the athletes had to learn to exert themselves while only breathing through the nose and with very deep diaphramatic breaths.
This study was inspired by top athletes like Roger Bannister who broke the four minute mile. He described his experience as euphoric and not at all torturous. He didn’t feel as though he was working hard, but as if he had found a perfect flow.
I observed this once while watching Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt competing. His sprint looked effortless. His mouth was closed. There was no sign that he was over exerting himself. When it was over, he had so much joy, he ran more laps, waving to fans and celebrating. There was no sign of exhaustion, and yet he beat a world record. Most people in the world couldn’t run that fast if they killed themselves doing it.
What John Doullard’s studies showed was that those who mastered yoga breathing even while performing a seemingly intense, athletic feat felt less stress. Everyone who participated in the study could still perform with high skill. They just didn’t feel like they were working hard. The recovery rate was faster. In fact, many felt they could keep going and they didn’t feel tired after the training if they applied yoga breathing.
So I tried this for myself. First I did the smaller hill which usually takes me between 27 to 30 seconds to complete. I stood at the bottom of the hill and cleared my mind. I started breathing the way I do in yoga class until I felt I had the long, slow and deep breaths down. Then I bolted up the hill. I found that if I could keep the long breaths going, I brought my time down to 26 seconds which is an amazing improvement for a runner. I also realized that it didn’t feel like I was running fast at all. Perhaps it was because I was breathing slow and not panting. The slowness of my breath made me feel as if I were running at a more even keeled pace.
I tried this on the longer hill as well. This hill usually takes me 50 seconds to 1 minute to complete. When I focused on the yoga breathing, I was able to complete it in 46 seconds!

160917_001Another book that inspired me to experiment, not just on how hard I exercise but on what my mindset is when I exercise is “Power vs. Force” by David R. Hawkings M.D. Ph.D. This book is based on thousands of studies using applied kinesthiology to test strength. The book breaks down which mindsets give us the most strength. For example, the mindset of shame makes us weak. If we were to push on a person’s arm who feels shame, their arm would fall right away, but if you were to push on a person’s arm who feels joy, that arm is full of strength and energy. This book concludes that after testing thousands of people, that joy and universal love (that stems from compassion not infatuation) has the greatest energy.
I decided to test this theory on a whim as it was a very stressful week for me and I had so much on my mind. I was running my usual pace when I decided to try clearing my mind and focus on something more expansive than my every day worries.
I managed to quiet all the noise in my head. I don’t remember how I did it. Perhaps my own curiosity motivated me, for I wanted to see if my sprint time would improve if I achieved a  higher state. I think I connected with the spirit of the hawks that built a nest in that area to lift me up. Focusing on the beauty of nature, put me in a different state, and I swear my time improved by at least 3 or 5 seconds! Some things came to mind. I recalled that my kung fu instructor who said that everything happens for a reason and I was able to rise above my worries and realize that its all happening the way its supposed to.

I invite all of my readers who have experience with yoga and pranayma to take what you learned inside the yoga studio and start applying it to your workouts and your life. After all, what use is practicing meditation if we can’t use it to improve all aspects of our lives? Instead of seeing exercise as torture, see it as a meditation, an opportunity to tap into your higher power. Then see if you can apply these breathing and focusing strategies to career and relationships. Lately, I’ve been training more clients and teaching more classes than ever but I’m learning to breath through my work, to focus on the moment and to start applying my practice to my life.

To read more about the benefits of meditation, click here:

Meditation (A running into reality)

To read more about the benefits of breath control, click here:

Don’t hold your breath

For more on applying a positive mindset to fitness, click here:

Yoga, Joy, Gratitude and Prana

 

PostHeaderIcon The Limitless Pill

I once heard of a culture where a preventative medical practitioner is paid a wage by the patient in order to keep the patient healthy. When the patient gets sick, the practitioner doesn’t get paid. So the idea is not to save a patient once they are already ill, but to simply prevent illness. I thought this was an interesting take on health until I realized that this is what I do.

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As a fitness/yoga instructor and personal trainer, I am paid to keep my clients and students healthy. When they are too ill to train with me, I am not paid, at least in most cases. While there are medicines and surgical procedures that can cure many illnesses, they don’t always work.

Yet the proper exercise and nutrition regimen has been clinically proven, time and time again to prevent and sometimes cure most of the deadliest illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and certain cancers. Being fit lowers the risk of many diseases such as Alzheimer’s, depression, erectile dysfunction, fatigue and chronic pain. This fact is backed by countless of scientific studies. People who exercise have been cited in many studies to have a greater chance of being in a good mood, doing better on the job, and being more intelligent and alert.

It would take pages of citations for me to list all of these studies so here is a reference summarizing many of these studies from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. You can click this link:

Lack of Exercise is a Major Cause of Chronic Diseases

Our society is fascinated by the idea of a magic pill, such as the one found in the movie and TV Show “Limitless” that makes us smarter or that cures all things. There is no panacea for all illnesses yet exercise and nutrition has been proven to work for most illnesses without any side effects.

Of course some exercises work better for some ailments than others. For example, I wouldn’t have someone who suffers from herniated discs in their lower back to take up parkour. Still, there are other types of movement that have proven to help ease the pain of people who do suffer from herniated discs. There seems to be a stereotype that fitness specialists are just here to torture you and make you puke. Yet, if you look at my class schedule you’ll see that on top of training, I also teach chair classes for people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease and water arthritis classes which is full of people who not only have arthritis but who also depend on wheelchairs and walkers.

The medical community has stated that exercise is important for general health, as important as brushing your teeth to avoid getting cavities. Yet, why do people not do it? In fact, why do people spend so much money on medication, surgery and the sheer cost of suffering from a disease due to inactivity when they should be devoting their efforts to getting on an exercise program? It is no secret that exercise is the best thing that most of us could possibly do for our health. In fact I’ve helped many clients get healthy enough to stop depending on drugs which has saved them thousands of dollars.

I’d like to end my blog with a question posed by Dr. Mike Evans in the video I cited below, “Can you limit your sitting and sleeping to just 23 and a half hours a day?” Just taking 30 minutes out of each day to move can not only save your life, but increase your standard of living significantly. He also states that of all preventative measures, movement is the one that will give you the biggest return on your investment. Make a commitment to your health with a disease preventing exercise regimen if you haven’t already.

23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

for more motivation on how to make that change check out this post:

If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for Anything

Also, click this link to view some motivational posts Motivational posts

PostHeaderIcon What Pain Has Taught Me

I was able to move through my childhood unscathed. Maybe a scratch or bruise here and there, shin splints or a pulled groin muscle that healed eventually. There was that minor concussion after full contact sparring when I used to do kung fu. Actually, maybe I did get injured more than I thought I did but when we’re young, you bounce back and tend to forget. Then we get our first chronic injury, the one that keeps coming back to haunt us. That happened the first time I hurt my lower back. I didn’t even know why or how it happened. These days, I have a good idea but I had to experience chronic pain before I could understand some of the underlying causes that we often overlook. I was barely 21 or 22 when the chronic back pain started and I remember thinking that I had finally gotten old and that it might be down hill from then on. At the age of 22, I thought that I had reached old age. These days, I see teenagers who look like they had already reached the end of their lives, backs hunched over from texting and video games and I now know that injuries have nothing to do with age. It could happen anytime to anyone.

The first thing I learned about injuries and pain is that it doesn’t have to be caused by specific trauma like a car accident. The pain can just start unbeknownst to us. We have no idea where it came from or why its there. It could have been caused by mental or emotional stress, a lack of sleep or recovery, overuse; or it may have been there for months but we were too pent up on adrenaline, caffeine or pain killers to notice. Then one day, we can’t hide from it anymore and the pain makes itself known.

My back pain recurred many times in my life, before I made the choice to commit myself to fitness and keep my core healthy for good. It came back again after I worked in an office. Maybe it was sitting in a chair all day that did it. The lower back would get so swollen and I would need to see a therapist or chiropractor but I had no idea why it would become inflamed and lock up on me. It occurred again after giving birth to  my son and that was the worst because it actually took me a few years to recover from that. The pain went away in a few months but my back would still bother me if I sat for too long or witness most forms of stressed. Training myself to be strong and athletic again, despite my weak link was an experimental journey that involved fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of being too weak, fear of resting it and not making it stronger, fear that making it stronger would be too much and finally the faith that came with believing that it will get better. I also hurt my knees and that took about a year or more to recover. This happened when I was teaching over 30 classes a week. My knees became worn down and I finally stopped teaching Zumba.

So I know what its like to be teetering on the edge of wanting to do something and wanting to not do something about our pain. We don’t know when we should be resting or when we should be building. Some people heal up after finally finding the right regimen, some never do and just accept their chronic pain. Some of us rest too much and allow ourselves to atrophy, others pound away at the injury, doing everything they can to strengthen their bodies when they should have just rested that area all along. We all heal at different levels and, unfortunately all the technology we have can’t always detect exactly what we should be doing. A lot of times it has more to do with how we stand, sit, sleep, think and eat.

Despite all the suffering I felt, I have to admit that being injured is one of the best things that has happened to me (knock on wood). I’m grateful because it taught me mindfulness. It made me realize that healing is not as easy as some people make it out to be. I also learned that healing modalities such as yoga, tai chi, pilates etc. may work or may worsen an injury and you have to figure out what is best for you. It also made me realize the true meaning of mind body. It isn’t taking a power yoga class because you want to look like a hot, new age chick in a bikini. The initiation of yoga and pilates into conventional gyms have changed the original mind body approach of these modalities. Yoga is meditation. It’s learning the body’s limits and strengths. We breath and move with awareness so we can learn what works and what doesn’t. Bringing conscious awareness into how we move helps us understand ourselves. It helps us to gauge if we are doing too much or too little, if our soreness is healthy or a sign that we are doing something incorrectly or abusively. This kind of awareness is priceless.

Injuries have taught me to be deeper, to make my work outs an internal art, to meditate, to incorporate mindfulness, mental illumination and emotional reflection into my healthy lifestyle. I have learned to consciously engage smaller muscles that I never knew were there before. My search for a pain free life has opened me up to many ways of thinking and moving and has empowered me to share with others. No one’s body is the same. We all have different sized limbs and muscles but the more we understand, the more empowered we become.

Pain has taught me that I’m not immortal and has driven in me the lesson that I am no better than anyone else. This, I believe, is a good thing because it is the ego that creates judgment, hostility, dictatorships and oppressiveness. Pain has taught me compassion and empathy and these traits are the heart of love.

If you find yourself having to deal with pain, please read my post on the steps you should take in case of an injury:

What To Do In Case of an Injury

Do understand that there is no one panacea for pain. The best advice I can give in our quest for a cure is to be mindful. Pain is just a loud message your brain is sending you that something is not right. It may take you a while to understand the message but the search for an answer will help you in all aspects of your life. The pain may be a call to solve a problem you have been ignoring for far too long. Often, its a bad relationship, job or situation. Sometimes its just the way we have been treating body. Pay attention.  It may be a call to learn more about your body and mind so you can live a fuller or deeper life. Humble yourself and listen.

Here I am with my son turning 40 years old, and feeling less pain now than I did when I was in my 20s.

 

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PostHeaderIcon Yoga, Joy, Gratitude and Prana

It was Friday morning yoga class, the day after Thanksgiving. We were doing some poses on the wall when someone started to laugh. The woman next to her laughed. I don’t know what the joke was about but the more they tried to suppress their laughter, the harder it was for them to stop. Eventually, the whole class start bursting into spontaneous laughter. Looking back, it reminded me of the time I was taking a hip opening class and we all started bursting into tears.

The deep, yoga breathing makes our emotions more intense because we are connecting with ourselves on a deeper level. We are not blocking what comes out. Yoga breathing makes us laugh hardier and sob harder. It makes us tune into who we are, where we are blocked, where we are hurt, where we are strong and where we are happy. Our emotions are a sign of us dealing with it and letting go.

That Friday, the joy of yoga filled the room. Is it a coincidence that this happened the day after Thanksgiving? During Wenesday’s class, the day before Thanksgiving, we practiced breathing in everything we were grateful for and breathing out all of our gratitude. This positive meditation recycled the feeling of joy deep within us which positively charged our energy. It is practically impossible to be unhappy while breathing in everything we are grateful for.

Often, people approach their health from a place of poverty. We tell ourselves we must eat right and exercise because we are not enough. We are not skinny enough, strong enough or beautiful enough. We approach our practice from a place of desperation rather than a place of gratitude. We make our practice into a chore that we must push through. However, when we approach our practice from a place of gratitude, we find a great rush of positive energy that moves us effortlessly. If we approach our practice with appreciation that we can move at all–that we have the resources to even get on a mat and do something–that joy creates passionate momentum but it can’t be done until we accept and love who we are.

I have written a couple of posts about the yoga of letting go, regarding the suffering that sometimes comes with facing our pain. You can read them here:

  Yoga and the Art of Letting Go  

Be Kind, for Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle

Joy is a letting go as well. It is a letting go of our obsession with what we don’t have. It is a letting go of an attitude that focuses on emptiness and depression. The sheer act of standing straight and thinking of something we enjoy creates energy and confidence. Bring your hands close together, close enough to feel the biolelecctric energy emanating from your palms. The yogis call this energy “prana”. Practitioners of chi kung and kung fu call it “chi” but it is spelled different ways. You may find that if you think of something that saddens you, the energy diminishes. If you think of something you love, something you are grateful for, you will feel a surge of heat or electricity. Joyful and healing hormones fill the body with life supporting energy.

Try this the next time you come to workout, do yoga or when you have a moment to yourself. Think of everything you are grateful for as you inhale. Recycle that joy inside you and breath out all the gratitude. Notice how this changes your energy or mood.

Happy Holidays everyone. Thank you for your stories and for sharing your journey with me. Thank you for the magic of your presence. Thank you for being amazing and inspirational.

For more outpouring of gratitude, click here:

You Inspire Me

Namaste

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PostHeaderIcon My Interview with Raj Kumar, Author of “Create your Own Future Through Body Mind Programming”

I’d like to introduce you to my friend and colleague, Raj Kumar, who has helped to write a fascinating book which uses classic yoga and body mind programming principles in order to teach the reader how to take charge of his/her future. Raj has worked as a professional engineer and research scholar. After experiencing how holistic medicine changed his health, he became a yoga and meditation instructor in India. I am excited to announce that he and his colleague, Professor K.N.Krishnaswamy, have recently released “Create Your Own Future Through Body Mind Programming.” This post is my interview with Raj about how and why he came to write this fascinating book which I have had the pleasure of reading.

Rhea: In your book called “Create Your Own Future Through Body Mind Programming”- Can you give some example of how a person can create their own future?

Raj: BMP is a tool of ‘Self Transformation’(ST) which means bringing about desired changes in the behaviour – habits , attitudes, belief, perceptions and learning. In BMP we also make use of the inbuilt ‘Goal Striving Mechanism’(GSM) by conveying our goals by BMP vehicles developed by us. The programming is done at deeper levels of consciousness. A person can create their own future by changing their habits, attitudes, beliefs and acquiring knowledge and skills etc. In our book we have given real cases where people could become what they wanted to be.

Rhea: What is BMP ?

Raj: BMP stands for Body Mind Programming and it is about tuning the resources we possess – body and mind – to create a new way of living. In this new way of living we accomplish our goals whatever they may be. The path of BMP has a basic rule: know what you want and have the conviction that you need only to transform yourself  to get what you want. Normal changes take a long time. BMP speeds up the process of change. The systematic seven step procedure is highly effective and efficient and takes a fast track to the desired changes by changing the impressions or programmes. BMP is coupling of Yoga and Science and is a new paradigm for self transformation. BMP is also a scientific way of prayer to our inner divinity which has infinite knowledge and capability. Our studies and research in the art and science of self – improvement led to the concept of programming the ‘Inner Human Computer’ and we named it Body Mind Programming

Rhea: How does BMP relate to Yoga/ NLP ?

Raj: In BMP we have used the tools of Yoga like Pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation for reaching the deeper levels of consciousness and to convey the goals through affirmations and visualization to the supraconscious mind. We have developed four vehicles – Rhythmic Balance, Pacific Harmony, Implantation and Synthetic Nurturing.  These vehicles make use of relaxation methods, breathing, affirmations and creative visualization for accessing the ‘Inner Computer’ and conveying our goals and burning desires to it. BMP is a whole brain approach and uses both the hemispheres of the brain for programming our inbuilt inner computer. The methodology is systematic and consists of well defined seven steps. Through repeated ‘Synthetic Experience’ over a period of time the existing programmes or impressions stored as engrams are changed to the desired one enabling self transformation resulting into changes in behaviour- habits and attitudes.

BMP is quite different from NLP in basic approach however both BMP and NLP uses anchoring (mudras), neuro associative conditioning and pain and pleasure principle. Further BMP makes use of the inbuilt Goal Striving Mechanism of our brain. In BMP mind cleansing to overcome negative attitudes and habits is inbuilt.  BMP also helps in making the goals more clear if the goals are not clear and visible

Rhea: What kind of studies have been done on this method?

Raj: Our experiences are deeply embedded in our brain similar to the stored programmes in the computer. This aspect is well established by the neuro sciences. The central issue when applying BMP is that the human nervous system cannot distinguish between a real experience and a vividly imagined experience and the stimulus passed to the body – mind complex from the brain will be the same in both cases. In the application of BMP for every aspect of living, this basic characteristic is exploited in bringing about the desired changes. The research studies on this aspects have given rise to ‘psycho motor activities’ and ‘psycho neuro immune system’. In BMP we have developed the methodology of creating the desired synthetic experience to make use the above researches. Many of the tools and aspects used in BMP have a scientific basis and we are also planning to have scientific studies on the effect of BMP. At present one of the leading chain of hospitals in Bangalore has invited us to train their people and patients referred to Integrative Oncology department. We are regularly going to the hospital and there is good response from the patients and doctors. In collaboration with them a research study on the effect of BMP on Health and Wellness is also planned.

Rhea: Can you give me some examples of BMP practices? What are their stories?

Raj: Gita (name changed) who had passed engineering with distinction could not get any job for a long time. She used to pass the written examination but due to her getting nervous during the interview failed to get selected for the job. BMP helped her to overcome the interview fear and succeeded in getting the job. There are many success stories for overcoming depression, anxiety, fears, back pain, respiratory and cardiovascular problems. It has helped people in becoming what they wanted to be like engineers, doctors, chartered accountants and lovable teachers. Our book gives number of real stories.

Rhea: What motivated you to create the system?

Raj: I would like to share with you one incident which motivated us to start thinking, working and researching which gave the birth to BMP. In one of the International Conference on Holistic Medicine a leading neuro surgeon during his key note address narrated an incident. A fairly young lady had a brain tumor which was tested malignant. The neuro surgeon opened up her skull for the operation and found multiple tumors spread over a large area. In a distracted state if mind, he told the lady the operation had been performed. Later the doctor told his juniors that the chances of her survival were very low whether or not she was operated upon. After a few months a bright and healthy lady met the surgeon with a bouquet of flowers and thanked  the doctor as she was perfectly feeling well. The doctor did the scanning and was amazed to find all the tumors have just vanished.

As he narrated this, I got lost in the thoughts – what made the tumors vanish?  What was it that was better than the great surgeon? After a couple of days of contemplation and sleepless nights, I met my Prof. K.N.Krishnaswmy and discussed this case. He had a similar information to share. He recounted how he had come across a case of miraculous self cure of cancer (Leukaemia), which he had read about in Reader’s Digest. Both the authors started enquiring into these issues and started researching which consisted of going through lot of literature particularly the cases of great and unexplained phenomenal, achievements in various fields psychology, parapsychology, physics and  medicine. We read about Yoga and Vedantha ( both the authors being Yoga Practitioners and students of Vedantha for decades). This finally resulted in the development of the concept of programming the inner computer and gave birth to BMP.

Rhea: Tell me a little about your background. How you became a self help advocate and a Yoga Practitioner?

Raj: Professor K.N.Krishnaswamy has several years of executive experience in defense and has done masters in Aeronautics Engineering and Ph.D in Operations Management and has been teaching as Professor of Management Studies at I.I.Sc, He has keen interest in Yoga and Spirituality and has studied Gita and other Upanishads deeply and practiced Yoga. He has interest in creativity and research in general. Taught privately Yoga and meditation to a number of people.

I (Raj Kumar Dham) am from a middle class family. My early years were spent in refugee camp. Through sincere hard work and by winning scholarship I did schooling and college education. I completed my bachelor in mechanical engineering and post graduation in Industrial Management by securing first rank. For sometime I was a research scholar at Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore and also published papers in national and International journals. I started my professional career as an Industrial Engineer at Bharat Electronics Ltd. In 1982 I became an entrepreneur and started small scale Industrial Unit. In 1986 due to some business problems my health deteriorated very much and through a ‘Holistic Healer’ I got the quantum relief. I got associated with him, learned and started helping others through free sessions, camps, lectures etc. I found Yoga having a great potential in healing and Self transformation. I started conducting free Yoga and Meditation classes at my Atamabodh Canter. Thousands of people have benefited and the most encouraging thing is doctors have also started recommending people to do yoga.

Rhea: Are you working on any future projects?

Raj: A leading group of Hospitals have shown interest in our BMP based on Holistic Health for the patients especially Cancer and Cardiology. We have developed “Heal Your Heart” – A Cellular Level System based on BMP. We are teaching this to patients in the hospital itself. The main objective is to provide deep relaxation of body and mind, to reduce anxiety levels, to improve quality of sleep and quality of life with a view to enhance the inbuilt defence immune system. We are also training their staff consisting of psychologists, counsellors, social workers, physiotherapists and staff nurses etc with a view that they can help the patients with this. The initial response to this is very positive and encouraging. This project will continue and the research study to evaluate the impact of this is also planned. We also plan to start a scientific study in a school to study the impact of BMP on their personality and performance.

We are also working on BMP for executives, managerial staff and IT industry, for increasing their work, performance and improving their quality of life . We intend to motivate researchers from various walks of life to do research in BMP and we are ready to provide them guidance. We have developed a basic frame work of programming the Inner Computer but a lot is to be done now and we call upon interested people to join us in this endeavor for taking it further.

You Can Order Raj’s book at lifepositivebooks.com or click here

PostHeaderIcon Voodoo, Beliefs, Health and Society

One of my favorite English teacher’s in high school once shared that her grandmother was a voodoo witch doctor who apprenticed her in the art but she walked away from it. When we asked her why, my teacher said she couldn’t stand to watch people get sick and die because of a voodoo curse. “Do voodoo curses really work?” we asked and she said that they did through the power of suggestion.

There are many documented cases of people dying of curses from all over the world and a few more studies to back them, which I will site below. These studies have been used to explain the nacebo effect which happens when people are told about the harmful effects of a drug or disease, and this causes them to experience those effects. We know that if we believe that something will make us better, even if it is only water or a sugar pill, there is a much greater chance that it will. This is known as the placebo effect. The nacebo effect is the belief that something that is harmless will harm you and that placebo effect is the belief that something that has no healing properties will help you. Nacebo creates negative consequences and placebo positive ones. Basically, our beliefs are a huge indicator of how well we heal or how ill we become.

Another example of the nacebo effect was an incident at a ball game where someone got horribly ill and everyone believed it was the food. The whole audience started feeling nausea and even vomited, believing that the food had poisoned them. When the news spread that the cause of illness was not the food, everyone felt better.

Clifton Meador, a doctor at Vanerbilt School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, documented many cases of the nacebo effect including the one of Sam Shoeman who was diagnosed with end stage liver cancer in the 1970s and was given only months to live. When he died exactly at his allotted time, an autopsy showed that the tumor never spread. “He didn’t die from cancer, but from believing he was dying of cancer,” Meador stated. “If everyone treats you as if you are dying, you buy into it. Everything in your whole being becomes about dying.”

There was a study published in 2007 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine by Irving Kirsch and Giuliana Mazzoni of the University of Hull in the UK. They asked a group of students to inhale some air that they were told contained a “suspected environmental toxin,” linked to headache, nausea, itchy skin and drowsiness. Half the students watched a woman inhale the air and supposedly develop the symptoms. The results showed that the students who inhaled the normal air and were told that it was a toxin were more likely to get symptoms. The ones who watched the woman get symptoms were even more likely to get symptoms themselves. This result has been compared to many mass psychogenic illnesses in which word of a virus gets out and people get sick without being exposed to it.

Many studies involving control groups where people are told about the side effects of a particular drug resulted in them getting side effects whether they took the drug or a control.

These studies and many more posed some ethical questions in the medical community. “On the one hand people have the right to be informed about what to expect, but this makes it more likely they will experience side effects,” stated Mazzoni.

Reading about the nacebo effect resonates with me because I see it often in my profession. After personal training and teaching fitness/yoga for over a decade, I’ve observed many patterns of belief.  Some people have the strong and unwavering belief that the body is adaptable and that it can heal and get stronger. Others let the fear of exercise lead them to believe that it will hurt them which keeps them from sticking to an effective regimen. Fear of illness or injury can be a self fulfilling prophecy. I’ve also seen people overcome great obstacles and perform skills that were once deemed impossible due to their belief in themselves.

To read my article on beliefs and learn examples on how empowering beliefs can help us accomplish what others deem impossible, you can click here:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=57

I’m tackling this issue again because, at this point in my career, I have been using what I have learned about programming and changing people’s habits to help me change my own beliefs and habits.  I’m realizing, it is my job to prop up the people who don’t believe in themselves and so their new belief in success will lead to just that.

Often, people have thanked me for being the only one who believed that they can change. It helps me to look back at my own life and remember the teachers, friends and family members who put me down or destroyed my drive by telling me that what I wanted to accomplish was impossible. Then I think of all the people who believed in me and how they changed my life.

I asked myself, who do I want to be? Do I want to be the teacher who once told one of my students that her belly fat was a part of age and that she couldn’t get rid of it? Yet, after taking my class for a month, the belly fat came right off. Do I want to be like the trainer who told me that a woman can’t do pull ups especially one who only has two fingers? Yet, I just did 30 pull ups unassisted the other day. Do I want to be like the physical therapist who told a few of my clients that it would take them months and months to heal? Yet, after a few weeks of training with me, they regained their range of motion in a much shorter amount of time.

The truth is there are doctors who won’t perform surgery on people because they can sense that the person’s belief in death will make him less likely to survive. There are teachers who have given up on trying because they think that the children just don’t care. There are trainers who turn down clients just because they feel they don’t have the right mind set. Many of us are taught to do this. But one day, I asked myself, “If I only train people who already have the mindset for it, what good am I? What about the people who really need it?”

There have been times when I have had to be honest with someone and tell them that they can change even if they didn’t believe it. I could tell that what I said hurt them greatly. Then, weeks or months later, they came to me and thanked me for changing their mindset and being the catalyst for them to find the path to health.

What touches me most is seeing new comers come to my class, struggling with the learning curve that often comes with starting up a new fitness regimen. Instead of complaining that they are taking up more space in the class or assuming that they are part of the wave of people who only come for the new year and leave after a month, I have seen my students tell them that they have gone through the same learning curves. I’ve seen my students offer support and encouragement to newcomers overcome with fear and apprehension.

This gives me hope that no one is hopeless. A society’s culture is simply a shared system of beliefs. We are fighting a war against obesity and chronic diseases, fueled by a fast food, inactive and stressful culture. Many of us have won the battle and have created new habits of health and well being. It is up to us to create a new culture, one that embraces positive change, healing and support.

So I ask you, do you want to be a voodoo witch doctor and curse people with your doubt? Or do you want to be the healer that motivates them with hope? What can we do to help change the beliefs of a generation?

For a more studies on how our subconscious fuels our beliefs and habits and how we can change that with awareness, click here:

http://heroestraining.com/?p=700

For a list of my blogs in the category of motivation, click here:

http://heroestraining.com/?cat=5

 

 

PostHeaderIcon Three Characteristics for Happiness and Success

If you have no idea what to ponder for the New Year, I suggest meditating on these three characteristics of success and happiness. They are:

Responsibility

Values

Goals

Responsibility: It is only when we stop blaming everyone else for out troubles and realize that only we have the power to change our own lives that we can embrace success and happiness. This attitude opens us up to solutions because we only see what we want to see. If we are looking for problems and people to blame, that is what we will find. If we look for solutions and strength to change our lives, that is what we will find. I’ve seen people come from the most impoverished circumstances turn their lives around just by shifting their perspectives from one of blame to personal responsibility. Realizing that we have free will also brings happiness and a sense of power and control over our lives. A sense of responsibly gives us power.

Values: When we know what we value in life, we can align our actions to what is truly important to us. We will no longer allow the things we don’t want in our lives. We will choose jobs, people and hobbies that fulfill us. However, if we don’t know what we want, we will allow life to dictate what we do, who we see and what ultimately happens to us. Our values motivate us by always having something fulfilling or positive to strive towards or focus on.

Goals: this is the key to making our values reflect our reality. It is as simple as knowing what you want (values), knowing you have the power to get and keep what you want (responsibility) and finally taking the steps to get it. This also means setting deadlines. Reflect on your values to help motivate you to keep your goals. If you are afraid of failing (something that often gets in the way of goal setting) think of it this way: Even if you don’t make that deadline, you would still have done more than you would have had you not made the goal in the first place. Even if you change your mind and decide that you didn’t want this goal in the first place, taking the actions to get that goal will give you the experience and life lessons you need realize this. In the end, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain from making that goal.

I find that if I constantly re-evaluate these things, my life continues to grow in a positive way and I do not take it for granted or allow my circumstances or general well being to deteriorate.

To learn more, check out my first vlog: I made this youtube video because people have been requesting one. Hope you enjoy it as my holiday gift to you:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im1VvoCwfEc