Flexibility Made Easy: 5 Secrets to Your Success

Alison Miller Flexibility Stretching1.  Set Goals. Define your goals. Why does being flexible matter to you? Whether you’re looking to improve your golf swing, relieve back pain, or touch your toes referencing your goals will help you stay on track.

2.  Pick a Time of Day. When will you focus on your flexibility?   Make a plan for your stretching routine.  Morning, midday, or evening, prioritize your practice and stick to it!

 3. Invite a Friend to Join You. The more the merrier.  Ask one of your friends, family members, roommates, or co-workers to join you.  Make a date to stretch or attend a yoga class together.

 4. Take Action. The time is now.  Act on your flexibility goals.  It’s not enough to simply think about your flexibility. If your goals are to become pain free, prevent injury, and increase range of motion you must practice to get results.

5.  Reward Yourself.  Celebrate!  Reward yourself with simple celebrations.  Take a bubble bath, blend a delicious smoothie, or give yourself some quiet time to relax.  Find a way to acknowledge your success.

 

 

 

Flexibility First: A Health Secret You Must Know

Flexibility Stretching Alison MillerAs some of you may know, I am a big fan of flexibility. My fanaticism is not unfounded. I have seen the benefits of flexibility practices first hand.  Clients who were once back-surgery bound have become upright, pain-free, and mobile machines. Through steady, consistent, and targeted stretch routines you can change the face of your health. Continuing with our monthly theme of flexibility, today’s feature highlights an essential health secret you must know.  Put your flexibility first!

By putting your flexibility first you will dramatically improve a range of health concerns such as back pain, knee pain, neck pain, hip pain, and/or shoulder pain.

If you have ever sworn off activities because of muscular pain, or surrendered to living in pain daily, make a mental note of this health secret.  Print it out, put it on your frig, and pay attention.  When you put flexibility first you create a foundation for health success.

Take for example, one of my recent clients, Jenny. Jenny was all geared up to run her first marathon.  Unfortunately, she never made it to the starting line.  A week before the race she strained her back and was unable to run. A month later, when I saw her, she was still in pain. When I asked her about her training program she shared she only stretched for about an hour a week. Had Jenny been stretching regularly it is likely she would have made it across the starting and the finishing line.  Luckily, Jenny’s was a recreational pursuit and she will have more opportunities to race.

Jon, a professional guitar player, has a different situation.  His successful career keeps him strumming almost 3 hours daily.  Without stretching his muscles became tight.  His tight muscles then trapped his nerves relaying numbness and tingling down his arm making playing painfully impossible.  Finally, after experiencing enough pain and taking off time from work, Jon reprioritized and put his flexibility first.  Practicing targeted stretches Jon restored his muscle length relieving the numbness and tingling in his arms. Now, Jon is back on the job.

Last week, I sent you a simple hamstring stretch to help you relieve low back tension. Did you practice it? If not, why?  Take a moment to reflect on how flexibility can help you improve your life.  This week take action.  Make a commitment to stretch a minimum of ten minutes a day.

This week’s stretch is a pain-relieving posture. It will help you to release the hamstrings, relieve low back pain, and prevent hip pain. Personally, I love to end the day with this stretch.   It is simple, rejuvenating, and effective.  Give it a try. If you are a parent consider including your kids in your end of the day stretch. Kids love to participate. Or you can make it a couples event. Invite your spouse or significant other to join you. Share in the bliss of stretching.  :-)

StretchingLying Hamstring Stretch: Legs up the Wall

1. Sit next to a wall.

2. Place the side of your body flush to the wall and bend your knees into your chest.

3. Bring your lower back onto the floor while bringing the legs up the wall, support yourself with your elbows as you do this.

4. Lower the whole back down to the floor.

5. Straighten your arms next to your body.

6. If you are comfortable, stay here several minutes or more (15 to 20 minutes recommended).

7. To come out, bring the knees into your chest and roll to your side.

You may wish to support the low back with pillows or folded blankets. Place pillows or blankets right at and parallel to the wall under your low back.

Put flexibility first! Share the secret with your friends, families and loved ones. They will thank-you.

Make a Fresh Start: Choose Flexibility

Flexibility is like the fountain of youth.  It is crucial to your fitness and health foundation.  Without flexibility all your motions become limited, stress accumulates, and tension builds.  Take a minute to be mindful of your flexibility.  Here is a simple to stretch you can implement morning, midday, and evening. Whether you are just waking up, working through a busy day or ending your evening this hamstring stretch can help you to relieve low back tension and stress.

 

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Instructions: To start, choose a wall, back of a chair, or railing to support your forward fold. Next, step your feet hip distance apart. Keeping your back straight fold forward at the hips. Place your hands shoulder distance apart on the wall in front of you. Keep your hands at the same height as your shoulders. Press your palms into the wall. Keep the legs strong by contracting front upper thigh muscles lifting the kneecap up towards the hips. If this is stressful on your back bend your knees slightly until you feel relief.

Be Still & Know: 5 Ways Meditation Empowers Your Success

At the heart of many successful artists, entertainers and entrepreneurs lives the ability to make great choices, follow inspiration and take risks. Each of these skills relies on the practicality of participating in day-to-day life with a high level of involvement. There are phone calls to be made, bills to be paid and people to answer to, at any hour, of every day.

However, if a busy life is not coupled with the compliments of detachment, discernment and discipline burnout, then fatigue and addictions are likely to ensue. How often have national celebrities been exploited on the evening news for suffering from these issues? They appear, to their fans, to be at the top of their careers but are truthfully masking a world of pain on the inside. It is a common story.

Any of us, myself included, can lose sight of what’s most important when trying to achieve our goals. Without careful attention, it is easy to lose our mental and emotional footing while trying to climb the ladder of success. Workaholism, insomnia, physical ailments and strained relationships are just a few of the outer symptoms of this inner imbalance.

What then is the answer to living in the world successfully and navigating the terrain of the mundane while maintaining balance? The answer? Meditation.

Meditation is no longer just for monks or bearded men living in the streets of India. Meditation is for you and me. After all, we are each celebrities in our own right. Whether you are a stay-at-home super mom or an out-in-the-world business extraordinaire, the inner needs of clarity and vision are crucial to both. Meditation, with consistent practice, is invaluable, guiding us to live practically and purposefully.

Meditation takes us out of the mind, a complex terrain, and into the heart, which offers a simple knowing.

5 Powerful & Practical Ways Meditation Empowers Your Success

1. Meditation cultivates detachment and discipline.

Detachment, also known as non-attachment, generates a state of being that is essential for success. This quality allows us to take risks without being attached to the outcome.

It signals us to do our best, with what we can control, and let go of the rest. It helps us to let go of issues such as micromanaging and over-control. If one opportunity doesn’t work out, rather than fixating on past failure, detachment frees our vision to see our future next best steps.

Discipline, the act of doing something with regularity and devotion, helps to remind us that steadfast action over a long period of time can bring great reward.

The fast-food mentality of wanting something instantly without making any effort is seductive, but ultimately unproductive. Through regular meditation, we experience – first hand – the power of practice. We can then apply this principle to our lives by taking our meditation skills of steadfastness, concentration and focus into action with our most important goals.

2. Meditation inspires simplicity.

Simplicity may sound unimportant but trust me, if you are lost in a jungle and looking for a clear path home, you’ll note its importance. A simple, clearly designated path could save your life.

The mind can be like a jungle. It is full of complex neural pathways, rutted in past conditioning, swayed by popular opinion and tormented with too many choices. Thoughts and questions such as, “Which way do I go? How do I know? Ought I? Could I?” can be paralyzing and hinder us from living a fruitful and fun life.

Meditation helps us to reconnect with our simple states of being. States of joy and happiness are our most basic states of existence. Our role is to bring our awareness back home to who we truly are as simplicity.

3. Meditation heightens our discernment abilities.

While growing up, we are exposed to thousands upon thousands of unconscious and consciously constructed messages that teach us to be judgmental.

For instance, most major motion pictures polarize their characters into good or bad, such as cowboys vs. Indians or Hogwarts vs. Muggles. While watching these movies we internally judge, take sides and mentally determine who is right and who is wrong.

Then, guess what? We do the same to the people in our lives. We unconsciously make “others” wrong because we’ve been trained to do so; their opinions are different, their customs are foreign, or they simply behave in ways that are unsatisfying for our egos.

The truth is, and I’ve tried it, living in the world as a “judge” is painful, ineffective and alienating.

Meditation helps us to reinvent our perspectives. It guides the mind to see beyond separation, beyond judging the other as good or bad, and, instead, towards discernment.

It teaches us to make healthy distinctions of where, how, what and with whom to spend your energy without making the other wrong or bad.

4. Meditation helps us to reclaim our true self.

If our souls carried business cards, what do you think they would say? School teacher, Internet guru, famous playwright? I doubt it.

While the ego is very concerned with receiving validation through achievement and stature, the soul is not concerned with titles. Where the ego uses identity to gain validation of it’s its own worth, the soul does not define itself through the activities it performs as a vocation.

The soul is concerned with the expression of itself beyond identity and can work through any “identity.” A plumber’s compassion is of no less value than a professor’s compassion.

The true self is inherently valuable. It knows itself as perfect, whole and complete, simply for its sheer existence. There is nothing that needs to be done, nowhere to go, and no one to impress in order for its worthiness to exist.

Meditation illuminates our unconscious attempts to effort our way to worthiness in the name of being a “success.” Meditation helps us determine which activities to release and what actions to take. We are shown which of our goals are ego-motivated rather than soul-directed.

If we are already “it,” the cat’s meow – that is, all the energy that was once directed to “prove” ourselves is now re-claimed. We will experience replenishment and revitalization by receiving all our returned energy. Now, that’s inspiring.

5. Meditation helps us to connect to our own definition of success.

Success doesn’t exist in and of itself. I couldn’t put it in a bowl and serve it to you for breakfast. It can’t be put in a wagon or carted to the doorstep for delivery with the morning milk.

I can guarantee that my definition of success will not match yours. Living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is, to me, enlivening, enriching and profound. Others may experience it as isolating, limiting and uninteresting. Where I love listening to people’s stories and challenges and offering life-changing guidance, you may be bored to tears listening to another’s personal plight. Our different definitions of success, actually, cause the world to work splendidly.

Society attempts to define what success is for us. Mainstream culture shows beauty as perfection, success as a dollar amount, and happiness as something to be bought.

Meditation shows us happiness is freely available. Meditation activates our soul for direction. It is through listening and being present that we can hear our specific callings. Meditation provides space and clarity so that we can redefine success from a deep place of individuality.

Developing a regular meditation practice is powerful step to support your personal success. By understanding the ways meditation empowers you it becomes easier to prioritize your practice. Are you a meditator? What’s been your experience? I look forward to hearing your comments.

If you are new to meditation or looking for ways to start your practice you read: Meditation Made Easy: 10 Tips for Beginners.