Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sun Salutation That’s for Every-Body

We’ve all seen the pictures of people doing Yoga—super thin models, wearing expensive outfits, doing extreme yoga poses.  Not very encouraging to the average American woman who is 5’4” and wears a size 14 or larger.  Meera Patricia Kerr, author of Big Yoga, gives us step by step instructions on a yoga pose that has been reinvented for the plus size woman. No more excuses!
"I had been teaching Yoga for over 25 years when I began to adapt my own poses to accommodate my bigger, older body.  My experiments with my own body give rise to Big Yoga-- an adapted practice that is accessible to anyone challenged by extra weight, stiffness, injury or even couch-potato-ism.  The Big Yoga book offers over 40 poses that are adapted to various body types, to help get the body in good shape.  Other, more meditative, practices are also offered to help calm the mind.  The overall effect is to harmonize all the systems of the body, creating more vitality, less stress, and jois de vivre!"
Here is a simple vinyasa or flow practice, the Salute to the Sun, that we can do at the wall.  Traditionally, it’s done on the yoga mat, and it can be quite strenuous.  This adapted version is a great way to tone and strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility. 




 Begin standing, feet parallel and about a foot apart.  Bring the palms together at the heart center to help get the mind focused.


  
Next, bring the arms out to sides and raise them up overhead on an inhalation. 



  Interlace the fingers as you stretch upwards.


Exhale as you take a gentle back bend, feeling the squeeze across the shoulder blades.  Stretch up again on an inhale, and begin to bend from the hips as you exhale--



  Bending forward and down until you come into a comfortable forward bend.  Keep the knees soft if you like, and don’t go beyond your capacity.  Soften the back of the neck and relax.



  Inhale as you come up into Wall Dog, and continue to feel the breath expanding and contracting the side ribs as you hold the pose.
  On an inhalation, bring the left knee to the wall, with the toes touching the wall also.  Support yourself with the knee, and place the forearms on the wall with the elbows in line with the shoulders or a bit lower.  As you continue to breathe, sink the pelvis toward the earth.  Repeat on the other side:  Step the left leg back, bringing the right foot and knee to the wall.


   Step back with the right foot and walk the hands down the wall to hip level, coming back into the Wall Dog.  Breathe.





  Push away from the wall on an exhale and hang like a rag doll.



  To come up out of the forward bend, begin with a squat. Let the arms come alongside the ears, palms facing each other.  Have the eyes gazing toward the floor, softening the back of the neck.



  Push off with strong legs, inhaling, until you’re all the way up, clasping hands overhead


  Have a gentle back bend, exhaling as you go.



Inhale out of your backbend and bring the palms together at the heart center.  Pause here, closing eyes, adjusting feet, and finally dropping the arms to the sides of the body.  Take a moment to feel the effect of your practice.

Give yourself a little pat on the back for practicing Yoga!  Do it again!

This sequence is online at my website, www.bigyoga.net.  Under “Sample Pose”.  Let me know how it works for you—I’d love to hear from you!

Meera Patricia Kerr
Author: BigYoga:  A Simple Guide for Bigger Bodies



Thursday, June 12, 2014

JunoActive Wear Test While HulaHooping


At JunoActive we think it’s important to personally wear test any new fabrics we consider.  We do this to not only check the feel and function of a fabric, but to make sure that it still looks good after repeated washes and wears. 
Recently I decided to do a wear test to answer two questions:
  1.  Does this great feeling new SoftWik™ fabric we are testing perform as nicely as fabrics we are already using?
  2. If I hula hoop in front of our office building, will I get chased away by geese?

I went outside the front office door to do my wear test.  Just outside the door, there were two geese.  We sized each other up for a few moments to assess the situation. When I finally felt safe, I started hula hooping.  I’ll admit to feeling awkward, but the geese just looked confused.  After watching me for a few tense minutes, they slowly wandered away. Although I came out the victor in this battle of wills, I would not try this if I saw baby geese around.
As for the SoftWik™fabric, I was very impressed with how comfortable it felt when worn and how well it wicked my sweat away.  Although I’m happy with the fabric so far, I will need to do more wear and wash testing to make sure it meets our high quality standards. 

What will be my next test?  Maybe I’ll go running with the bulls…then again, maybe I’ll just go for a brisk walk with the squirrels.

Renae R.
Technical Designer
www.junoactive.com

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Place Where The Light Enters - Big Yoga


Welcome to the Big Yoga/JunoActive blog!  I’m excited to share with you the big-ness of Yoga—from the physical practice of Hatha Yoga to the more subtle practices such as meditation, self-inquiry, and devotion.  Yoga is an ancient tradition. The physical postures--Hatha yoga--were developed to enhance flexibility and comfort in the body, allowing the yogi to sit undistracted for long periods of meditation.  The ultimate goal was to realize the true nature of the Self, which is peace and supreme bliss.

You may have had a taste of that connection during a yoga class, or in a simple yet profound moment watching an exquisite sunset or a baby sleeping.  Suddenly, the mind is quiet and we feel suspended in time, peaceful and content.  That’s the sweet feeling that has kept me coming back to Yoga for over 40 years!

I want to share a little bit of my personal story.  I started studying Yoga back in the late 60’s, took a teacher training in 1978, and have been teaching ever since.  Recently,I moved to Yogaville, an Ashram community, after the devastating loss of my son, Sam.  At age 31, he was much too young to leave this earthly plane, but God had other ideas.  I came to Yogaville to spend time among old friends, meditating, chanting, and deepening my practice and enjoying the healing energy of the ashram.   Often we come to a spiritual practice because we are hurting.  In the words of poet and mystic, Rumi, “The wound is the place where the Light enters”.


If you’re interested in Yoga simply because you want to stay in shape, you won’t be disappointed!  There is a wide variety of poses, vinyasa flows, breathing techniques, chants, meditations, and guided relaxations that can be used as a way to firm up, settle down, expand your consciousness and minimize stress.  I look forward to sharing the wisdom of Yoga to improve the quality of your life, and the lives of all you love.

Meera Patricia Kerr
Author of BigYoga: A Simple Guide for Bigger Bodies

Monday, April 14, 2014

Springtime Renewal


Am I the only woman out there that has the hardest time with spring? While all my friends are enjoying the sunshine and planning trips to the beach, I find myself in the midst of an existential organizational crisis. The beautiful weather fills me with the overwhelming need to clean, organize, purge, dust, and all in all, make things fresh. I cannot sit still for the urge to renovate and renew.

It is for this reason that each spring, I have to remind myself that in the midst of all of this energy, I need to remember to focus some of that energy inwards. In other words, these beautiful days are also the perfect time to dust off spiritually. What is the best way to do that?

Walking meditation.

In Trail Dames, we have several leaders that host Meditation Hikes. These are hikes in which we walk quietly, focusing on being present with the sights, sounds and smells of growth. Often we will gather for a guided group meditation, focusing on a particular thought, like gratitude, acceptance or joy.
Often, however, I will find myself doing walking meditations all by myself. Sometimes I chose to concentrate on my breath….inhaling and exhaling with purpose and intent, while other times I will chose a mantra to repeat over and over as I walk. I am open to love, and opportunity is one of my favorites, along with 'I am enough.' That one always resonates with me. Finally, when I need to just clear my mind, I rely on the simplicity of rhythm and numbers. Counting to four with each step, over and over, can work wonders with stilling the chatter and movement of the mind. Spring brings with it such a sense of energy and rebirth that it can be easy to get swept away with it, stepping outside of ourselves and dancing with abandon. Enjoy this dance and joy of the season, but remember to stay connected to what is within. What better way to do that then hiking with purpose, surrounded by the smell of wisteria and the sound of birdsong?

Go for a walk……and enjoy your spring!

Anna Huthmaker
www.traildames.com

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Where There's a Will...


Earlier this week, someone asked me to write about ‘getting back up on the horse again after you have fallen’.  I thought back to one of the greatest personal disappointments that I have gone through….a time when I was disappointed and let down by myself.  Not another person, friend or family member, not a life circumstance or the conflicting belief system of someone I respect.  Just me….letting down me. 

I have always believed that a person can do anything on pure will alone and it was this will that led me to try hiking the 2,173 mile long Appalachian Trail.   Dressed in my finest JunoActive clothing, I left home and started hauling my five foot tall, 262 pound body up and down the mountains of the A.T.  
After six months and 600 miles, I found myself in New Hampshire. As the trail became steeper and harder, I never doubted myself once. I knew that I could do this!! So when I hit the White Mountains, you can imagine my surprise to find that I slowed to a snail’s pace, rocks and boulders forcing my short legs to take one giant step after another. Finally, the day came when I hiked for over 8 hours, only traveling 2.4 miles.  I realized that I could not move fast enough.  I did not have enough food to last me to the next resupply point. The strength of my will could not overcome the short fallings of my body. My will had failed me.

I left the AT on an unmarked trail and later found myself in a sterile hotel room. I lay on the bed, unable to even take a shower, immersed in a cloud of failure. It took me three days to get up the courage to get back out on the trail and three years of traveling, and hiking to chase most of the self-doubt and fear away.  In the end, I decided to take my experience and create an organization to inspire women to get outdoors.  That was seven years, ten chapters, 3,000+ members and three National conferences ago.  So maybe it turns out that my will was enough after all. :)

As winter is drawing to a close and you feel the pull of spring to get out there and do something, keep these things in mind.  Your body has limits, but your will is what will carry you on. And if you let it, that spark might just lead you down a completely unexpected path. 


Anna Huthmaker
www.traildames.com

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gina Climbing For A Cause


Gina Parsley took on Mt. Kilimanjaro as part of Team Fox, a Michael J Fox Foundation fundraiser. Last year she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. She felt inspired to fulfill a lifelong dream, climb to the top of the mountain, saying "While I'm still healthy and able, I may not always be." Hearing about her adventure we at JunoActive asked Gina all about her climb.

What happened that was unexpected?
"Oh, I have so many stories. I did not make it all the way to the summit, but I made it as far as the snow and ice, and that was my goal. One morning, I forgot sunscreen and got full-on sun poisoning and massive blisters in 30 minutes. The equator is a scary place that way!! The weather is 90 degrees at the bottom and 0 at the top. You go through 5 ecosystems. It's an experience of a lifetime."

Would you recommend climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to just anyone or should the climber be physically fit?
"Depends on the route you take, and if you are determined to summit. To summit, you need to be in decent shape and be able to climb quickly. I was a slower climber, and the phrase they use is "Pole Pole" which means 'slowly slowly'."
"Your gear means everything. Bring the best, top of the line gear you can, including clothing, because you won't be able to change every day. Chafing is a huge issue on multi-day climbs, the JunoActive double-layer shorts were great, and the Danskin leggings I've had for years worked great for layering underneath sweats when it would get below 0 at night."

What would you do differently next time you climb a mountain?
"I think with every trip, prep more. I'd take the slower, less ambitious route up to the summit. I'd add several days to my trip to be able to do a multi-day safari."

We heard you have a 3-in-1 Alpine ski jacket from JunoActive.com Did you use it on your climb?
"I did! I wore the inner fleece almost every day and night (including sleeping in it) and wore the outer shell as needed (it did get very windy on the mountain). Buff headwear? EVERY outdoor shop should carry. a fresh one every day, fresh underwear and fresh socks were the key to not feeling icky without a shower for so long."
Way to go Gina! Your ambitious climb may not have ended at the top of a mountain but your journey is inspiring to all women of any size to be active. Keep on embracing your active life.

To see more pictures and hear all about Gina's climb visit her blog at http://www.ginaclimbskili.blogspot.com/

Friday, February 14, 2014

Puerto Rico Just Say Yes!


Last August my traveling buddy called and said, cheap flights to Puerto Rico in February—want to go?  “Sure!”  She’s one of my role models, because her philosophy of life it to just say “Yes!”

My Puerto Rican dream was to test-drive a Paso Fino horse.  The Island of Vieques has many descendents of these famous Spanish horses grazing freely.   The women at the Espenanza Riding Company took me on a great little ride; through town, up to the highlands for an amazing view, along a dry arroyo, and finally along a secluded beach fringed with coconut trees.  My steed, Zorro, was very sweet.  I loved his natural Paso gait!  It was so smooth, like a little sewing machine.  Their short stride makes these strong little guys amazingly sure-footed.  We let the two horses run up the last hill – and he was fast! 

I really loved Puerto Rico.  There are so many environments, rain forests, desert forests, coffee highlands, and of course, amazing beaches.  Beatiful Art Museums, and wonderful history and architecture.  We heard unprompted from many people we spoke with that they are concerned about the schools. Families are forced to send their high schoolers off the island so they can get ready for college.  The economy is struggling, so many well-educated people are leaving to find jobs off the island.    

The people we met were uniformly wonderful.  We drove a lot on the twisty roads, and when we got lost we received friendly help from everyone we asked, even with our limited Spanish.  And the food is amazing! 


If you are thinking about Puerto Rico, my recommendation?  Just say “Yes!”