Yoga Video from Mula

Over the last year I have really started to appreciate the benefits of yoga and mobility training in my workouts. It is nice to counter the pounding of running and weight training with something totally different. I have loved the new challenges yoga demands and the alternative perspectives on anatomy and cueing. I am stronger all around now, it turns out it takes a lot of strength to stretch properly! 

Outdoor yoga season is coming up!! My favourite, there is nothing like looking up at the sky during a yoga class, I love it! Last year I went to lululemon's yoga in the park just a few times because I broke my foot. Near the end of the season when I could jump back in I was lucky enough to catch one of Hana Lukac's classes. She was awesome. Amazing voice, creative flow and just a beautiful creature! Last week I found a youtube video by Hana that I absolutely love - I've done it twice now! 40 minutes is the perfect amount of at home yoga for me, and there are moves in here that I've never seen before! And I've seen a few! Thank you for the great flow Hana!

Enjoy this free flow and if you're in Toronto go check Hana out at her studio - Mula!

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Manduka the Maserati of Mats

For the longest time I practiced yoga and Pilates at home on a mat that cost $9.99. I was slipping and sliding all over the place - I did not know the difference a great mat could make!

Manduka sent me their eKO mat last year and I have absolutely LOVED it. The grippy surface has lasted well through almost daily use and the foam feels like a mini mattress. After switching my mat up I now know what I was missing! 

This year I got the chance to try out their PRO mat and it is great also. This mat is massive, which I love at home but it's just a little bit too big to lug around from class to class. This mat also needs a towel to stop me from slipping. I love the yogitoes waterfall version, it makes me feel like I'm working out right on water! 

If I HAD to choose between the two mats I would pick the eKO mat. I think it's the most versatile of the two and it is nice to know that it's eco friendly! You really can't go wrong though, if you're looking for a bigger mat then the PRO is the way to go. This company is known in the yoga world as being the Maserati of the yoga mat and I can totally see why. Thank you Manduka for upping my mat game ... now if I could only find a mat that automatically did all the work for me!

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Foam Roller Truths

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I developed IT band syndrome in University when I was on the triathlon team at Western. I went to three 2-hour long spin classes a week and ran almost everyday. After about three months of this routine with no stretching to speak of my legs finally gave out. They physically stopped me from running. I could not move them, it was the weirdest thing ever. 

I went to see physios and got ultrasounds but nothing was working. I finally was told to start foam rolling and it KILLED. Like beyond bad killed. I would sweat just looking at a roller for months. But I was determined to give my legs some relief and after a few awful sessions I did start to notice a big difference so I kept going.

Now I foam roll about once a week, usually after a tough workout and 99% of the time I feel zero pain. Like absolutely no discomfort whatsoever could do this all day kind of feeling. If you had told me that when I first started rolling I would not have believed you but it's true.

I think of it like cracking the spine on a book, once you open it up a few times it's not going to crack again. If you've been a dedicated roller for a few months now there should come a time when rolling does not consistently cause you pain. If it still does there are two main reasons for this:

1. You're not rolling enough

Especially if you are an endurance athlete you need to be foam rolling after every single workout for at least a minute per body part, longer if you can stand it! Fascia is tough, get in there.

2. When you are rolling you're not actually rolling

It is VERY tempting to skirt around the painful areas but that's where the magic happens. There is a fine line on the roller and ideally you're just tip toeing over it. Focus in and get the job done. 

Foam rolling can and will change your athletic life. It made a WORLD of a difference for me when I was a triathlete and I'm confident it can do the same for you. 

Let's get cracking!

Need ideas? See my guide for my foam roller favourites. 

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Beat Blue Monday

So apparently today is the most depressing day of the year.

How depressing of a thought is that?! Now is when most resolutions start to dwindle and it seems like summer is miles and miles away.

So what can we do to combat this?! Get moving!! Endorphins are AWESOME to help beat the blues. Try to focus on the fun in your workouts - meet your friends for a class, do a chill yoga video at home beside a great candle, just commit to getting something in and you will feel 100% better today!

Lately my life has been insanely fun/crazy/non-stop. I know the best thing for me this week is to breathe, get my workouts in and just relax. I won't have a ton of time to get to a class so at home is my next best option.

I'll be doing a yoga class with Fiji today! This lady is an absolutely beautiful mover with great cueing. I love her classes. 

Take it easy today everyone and STAY HAPPY!

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Daily December Yoga Challenge

This time of year it is realllly easy to get tight, stressed out, burnt out etc.

It's time to bring a little zen time back to the schedule. 

I've made it one of my goals this year to increase my overall mobility and flexibility. I've come a long way and have been really proud of my progress. What I have noticed - like any exercise - is that if you don't move it you lose it! In the last few weeks I've let yoga go and I'm really feeling it. The hips don't lie.

This week my goal is to do 30 minutes of yoga every day. I'll be posting my workouts with the #beautybodyoga on instagram. If you're with me follow along!

One of my barriers to yoga in the past was how LONGGGGG the process is... I guess that's part of the whole relax and zen thing but a 90 minute class just makes me want to run away. I've turned to yoga online to cut down on my to and from time and in the process I've learned to absolutely love at home yoga.

For this challenge i'll be predominately using yogaglo for my yoga inspiration. This is the BEST yoga website ever. Amazing teachers (Kathryn Budig and Dice) and I love that you can pick just the right class for you - time, style, level - even body part focus. It's just perfect. It is great to come home light a candle, roll my mat out and just do a quick practice in my living room. 

I'll also be going to some of my favourite studios in Toronto too.

Can't wait to meet you on the mat #beautybodyoga

Foam Favourites

The roller and I have a SERIOUSLY complicated relationship.

Whenever we are together I'm in so much pain I just want to cry sometimes … and I'm pretty sure I've actually teared up once or twice! But whenever we are apart all I want to do is get back it again. It's just nuts. 

My favourite (#notfavourite) bits to roll are my "lateral seams" – the IT bands and my lats.

In the past I've had major IT band trouble. When I was doing triathlons in University my IT bands hated me. It got so bad I couldn't run for more than 5 minutes without feeling like my knee caps were going to snap right off. It's the strangest feeling ever – you literally can't run no matter how much you try your body just says no way, not today. I went to three different physios who poked, ultra-sounded and pressed my leg but nothing was working. I noticed this guy in the gym who was always on the roller so I went up to him and asked exactly why he was rolling so much and if he could show me how to do it. He was a huge help and showed me what to do. The first time I got on the roller I thought there was absolutely NO way I could have been doing it right because the pain was ridiculous. What I imagine child birth to be like bad. But I stuck with it and noticed an immediate difference after a few 20 minute sessions. The roller seriously works. If you're an endurance athlete or even if you're a once/twice a week spinner/runner/repetitive mover (spinning is so so so tough on the IT band because of the fast cadence and turn over) you HAVE to roll. It will save your life like it has mine many times.

It's amazing how much more in tune with your body rolling makes you. I know that it has helped me recover much faster and eventually you start to crave the pain!

Here's exactly what you do:

1. Buy a roller – I love the GRID or any foam roller except it has to be black. Blue and white are not dense enough and they will loose their umph quickly and not be as effective.

2. Keep your roller in your kitchen, family room, bed (seriously I've actually done this!) – any place that you will see it and use it. Out of sight out of mind so keep it in mind! 

3. Follow these instructions:

IT BANDS

You will know when you're on the spot! Place the roller just below your hip bone and work down from there. Do not roll over your knee cap – try to stay at least two inches above your knee. You can roll up and down and side to side. Be aggressive. Get in there.

OPTION ONE:

If you are SUPER tight you can keep one foot down and glide across your roller. Try to gradually increase your weight on to the roller leg.

OPTION TWO:

The fully monty. Pick both of those legs up and really giver. This is my fav.

LATS

Thanks to Fuel training club for teaching me about this one! Such a goodie. Right underneath your armpit there is a LOT going on. Our lats, serratus and triceps all grab on under here and they can get pretty tight! 

OPTION ONE:

Keep your hips down and bend your elbow.

OPTION TWO:

Extend your arm straight and lift your hips high to the sky. YES … YAWOOZERS! YES!

Add Some Yin To Your Yang

Historically I have scoffed at the idea of taking a "YIN" or restore yoga class … why would I pay someone $20 to take a nap?

:: Just shavasanaing with my ambassador loves Shannon and Garnet ::

After sitting on my bum for two months due to a broken foot I was shocked at how tight I had become. My muscles were used to sitting and did not like it when I tried to stretch them at all!

For the first time ever I started considering incorporating a yin practice into my weekly schedule. My beautiful yoga friend Shannon explained the importance of yin to me perfectly. She saids that in our modern workout world today we are all so focused on the yang, the masculine energy – SPRINT until your legs burn, SPIN until your knee caps break off, go faster faster faster – chaturanga until your wings falls off, CONTRACT; and often we forget or completely neglect the yin, the feminine energy of fitness – be soft, stretch, breathe LENGTHEN. 

I decided to try this Yin class online. It took every single ounce of my mental fortitude not to shut the computer right off. I came up with at least 15 reasons in the 33 minute practice for why I could possibly stop. I was in pain … 99.9% mentally but physically I must admit did feel a deep release afterwards. Don't worry at points the audio cuts out because she has a mic on and presses it into the mat – it is still working don't turn it off!!

My hips don't lie … they love yin.

My head on the other hand might take a little longer to wrap around the idea but I'm slowly getting there. Unless you're born a flexible monkey, or you had years of professional ballet training you, like me, will probably also benefit from a little focused release. I'd start online – 30 minutes was plenty as a first timer – and see if you can recruit a friend to do this with you β€¦ one of you will be in charge of just keeping the computer open!

You can also find great classes here in Toronto at 889 YogaMoksha YogaSpirit Loft and YYoga. Going to a class is great for peaceful energy and they force us to stay put!

Neck Release - SO Good

This is the best thing ever…

Add this simple neck release after your workout and feel tension through your shoulders and neck start to let go.

1. Take a towel (standard size or even a gym towel will do) and wrap it around your neck.

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2. Then twist it twice and pull down on the ends.

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3. Roll your neck around – 10x right then 10x left

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4. Take the towel off and enjoy your new stress free neck!

Foam Rollers 101

If there is one thing I do consistantly every single week it's foam rolling. It is easily the most essential piece of my workout recovery, I don't think I would still be running today without a foam roller.

In university I suffered with severe IT band pain. I was really into Triathlon at the time and spinning wreaked havoc on my ITs. It was so bad I couldn't run for three months without having to stop completely after 5-10 minutes. It was soooooooooo frusterating. I went to physio after physio, learnt different exercises to strengthen my hips and had several ultrasounds but not once did they ever mention foam rolling as a cure. 

After mentioning my pain to a running friend he insisted I foam roll and actually went out and bought me one. I'd only seen the rollers a few times at the gym but I'd never tried. Once the roller arrived I hooped on expecting a massage-like feeling but instead felt intense pain all across my knee and hip I couldn't believe how tight my legs were. I was sweating after just two minutes of rolling.

After about a week of religious rolling (20 minutes each day, 2-3x per day) I felt like a new woman. I couldn't believe after months of physio and zero improvement something as simple as rolling my legs out could make all the difference. I swear by the roller now.

I explain to all my clients that we have fascia all over our bodies. The easiest way to think of fascia is like that thin transparent layer that covers a chicken breast – or the skin of an orange. When fascia gets thight it bunches up like a pizza dough and the only way to loosen the fascia is to roll it out. Fascia doesn't stretch like muscles – muscles have a muscle belly that will contract and relax where fascia is just a sheath that will bunch up. 

Rolling will loosen your fascia which will greatly decrease risk of injury in your joints and it will improve your range of motion.

Which Roller is Right for You?

Deciding what foam roller is right for you is almost as important as a wizard selecting the correct wand … it can make all the difference.

White foam rollers: really only meant for people under 150 lbs. The foam will compress quickly and it won't be as effective once this happens.

Black foam rollers: the most dense pure foam roller. Durable and great value. My personal favourite.

The GRID: made with a hardcore centre with a foam coating. I like the GRID but I don't like it's size – too small to roll other parts of your body. They have a larger model which is better but honestly I think the black foam rollers are just as good if not better than this.

Accuball: Great for pinpointing specific areas of pain (hips, bum, back, etc.). This can work really well but it's also super painful!!

The Rumble Roller: The spikes on this roller are meant to penetrate deeper into your muscle tissue. In my opinon this is just a little bit too much and unnessecary. The pain you will have to put yourself through on this is just too intense and you won't want to do it ever!

The Stick: I carry this everywhere I go. It's an amazing tool for myofascial release and my clients all have a love-hate relationship with it. It's good to use because sometimes it's hard to put yourself through the pain of rolling

Check out more posts from Beauty and the Bod:

The UnBLOK

Last week my favourite yoga mat company sent me their latest and greatest toy to try: UnBLOK

My verdict: amazing!!

Made from recycled material and totally eco friendly! The rounded edges of the yoga block make it so much more versatile. My favourite thing to do on it is to back bend over the rounded edge at the end of a long day and release my spine, it feels amazing. 

I had a chance to test out the UnBLOK at my friend and amazing Pilates instructor Garnet's free class at lululemon on Sunday. I'm a convert. If there's one yoga product besides a mat that can be useful it's a block for sure, they are a great tool for moving further into more challenging positions.

The best part?

It matches my toe nails perfectly!!

You can get your own UnBLOK here at Manduka.com.

Girl Crush

I have major respect for this lady!

Like 5.5 million other people I was in total awww of her "Contortionist" video by Equinox.

I'm currently in between Bod Squad sessions so I'm on a mini vacation up at my cottage, a perfect chance to get back into yoga! On Friday I subscribed to a one week trial on Bri's website – Yogi's Anonymous. Her classes are AMAZING! They are unique and creative, probably the best yoga class I've ever done!

Bri and her husband Dice (an equally amazing yogi) have a yoga teacher training in Thailand this July, I would LOVE to attend but I'll be at Bod Squad! If you can make it this would be the trip of a lifetime! 

I've made it my summer goal to learn how to properly do a handstand and re-learn how to do the splits. Often times most yoga classes I've been to veer away from teaching splits and handstands because they are a little dangerous and advanced but these classes are perfect for where I am right now with yoga. I highly recommend them if you're looking for a more advanced class that you can do at home. I also really like how you can't fast forward them and you have to go with their flow, makes it more like a real class.

:: The class wasn't quite this advanced! But still amazing! ::

Yoga this weekend has helped me relax, which for me is almost impossible! I love what I do so I miss it but I also appreciate the rest and I know I'll be coming back with tons of energy (and new moves!) for our first week back at class!  

Ready Set Goal: Splits

I think I can … I know I can … I think I can!

:: Top: lululemon, old (but similar here), Pants: lululemon, Groove ::

When I was little, before I broke my left leg twice … long story, I could do the splits standing up while holding a playground ball on top of my head with one foot. Now, not so much but I'm bound and determined to try!

When I used to think about my fitness goals the last thing that came to mind was flexibility, I just didn't really see much of a need for it beyond the basic toe touch and you're done. Now after observing my clients and my own body more carefully I can really see how being mobile can really make you stronger. If you have super tight muscles that will cause you to fatigue faster in a strength workout. Being bendy can help improve your overall strength and conditioning in so many ways. Not to mention it just feels good to stretch it out!

Doing the splits again is on my summer fitness bucket list. Here's hoping once I get there I can get back up!

Shake your Asana

Let me start today's post with this photo:


Yes, that's my Dad on the left tobogganing down a sandy slope in New Zealand right now! And on the right is the view from their bedroom at our friend's home that they are staying in right now.

WOW! I'm so happy that my parents are celebrating 30 years together there and it looks like they are having a BLAST!! They totally deserve it! I've never been to New Zealand but after only seeing a few of their photos I must admit I've started searching plane tickets … now I just need to find a way to bring Bod Squad with me!

Meanwhile, back on the home front, I'm stretching/doing yoga pretending I'm there.

I try to get to a yoga class once a week but with my schedule being completely A-typical I can't make a lot of regular classes. Instead I'll do youtube classes or lately I'm loving just doing my own thing. The only problem with that though is I get bored/antsy quickly, I know, I know, I should learn to be more in the moment and I'm working on that! To help give me some structure around my own free flow practice I've added music to the mix. I find pre-selecting a yoga playlist it helps me set a clear beginning, middle and end. I use Grooveshark to make this playlist and up-down-all-around dogging I go, no not quite as fun as tobogganing, but it is a close second!

My Top Five Stretch/Yoga/Chill Favourites

1. Snow Patrol: Chasing Cars

Love this song, there is a peaceful flow about it that always gets me moving.

2. Prem Joshua: Mangalam

Perfect upbeat song without lyrics. Whenever I ever teach a restorative type of class this song is always number one on the list.

3. Yppah: Never Mess with Sunday

Equinox yoga sensation, Briohny Smith's favourites, I feel like I'm somehow channeling her amazingness whenever this song comes on.

4. Alanis Morissette: Crazy

Fast tempo but still relaxing.

5. Brothers on a Hotel Bed: Death Cab for Cutie

I'd love to know, what are some of your favourite chill songs?

Yoga at Home

My schedule is completely wonky. Most days I wake up at 5 am (5:30 am on a sleep-in morning) then I work straight until 1 – 2 pm then back on again from 5 – 7 pm. It's hectic and wonderful, I wouldn't change it for the world but it does make going to a workout class really difficult since most people aren't free from 2 – 4 pm. I love Do Yoga With Me videos because they are excellent quality classes and easy to pause and come back to if need be.

Yesterday I had particularly tight hamstrings and this class was the perfect way to end the day! Give it a go! It's really hard but really good.

Meditate

I have to be honest with you guys – lately I've been feeling completely overwhelmed with this business. Last night I was at a Christmas party and when someone asked my name I needed to pause and think about it for a second – YIKES! The good news is I eventually got the question right, "my name is Christie Preston", the bad news is a few people in Toronto now think I'm an absolute loon … oh well!

I have decided today that I'm going to start one of my new years resolutions early – mediate. I'm a constant thinker, whenever I walk into a new place I'm immediately going to start thinking about their business model, what their margins are like on their products, what the rent of a certain place is, it's just what I do. When I was traveling in Thailand with my friend Jules I was constantly dreaming up new business models, she made some fun of me but I do think at some point in my life I will start some of those ideas!

Whenever I ask Matt what he's thinking it's usually, "nothing" or some random assortment of thoughts, "rainbow skittles, hockey, NFL drafts…" He's basically in a constant state of meditation. Hence he's calm cool and collected demeanor. And I aspire to be more zen like that.

This video was a really helpful introduction for me. I could barely hold my thoughts in for 10 seconds and then I thought, "gee this is a long time, what will I do after this? Christie FOCUS! Why is this so hard for you?" Gssh, this could be a long process.

My goal is to make it through the full minute by the end of this weekend and go from there!

Piriformus Release aka Bum Massages

Let me preface this post by assuring you this isn't a joke or a spam post. I'm totally serious about this!

I teach 10 Bod Squad classes a week, have a minimum of five hours of personal training clients a day and I like to get my own workouts in 5-6 times a week. Needless to say I've never been more active in my entire life.

Lately I've been suffering with severe lower back pain. It came on gradually, started with all the walking we did in New York and really never fully went away after that. Lower back pain is something I've not had much of before but it seemed like no matter how much I tried to stretch it out nothing was working. I've been waking up in the middle of the night because my discomfort level was so bad I needed to curl up in a ball or child's pose just to get some relief. Wednesday night was particularly bad, I was up for at least three hours and actually fell asleep in child's pose. 

I'm lucky enough to live with the BEST masseuse by night, teacher by day in all of Toronto. Last night I mentioned my back pain to Matt (who could sleep through a super storm and hadn't noticed I'd been up and kicking nights before) and he told me that it might have something to do with a tight glute attachment – the gluteal tuberosity. So he had me get into child's pose and found the spot (it's just above the big pointy bone in your bum, it will feel like a smaller pointy bone above it – pictured here) and he dug in there and YOWZER! On a pain scale of 1-10 this was a solid 9. It was similar to the pain the first time I tried a foam roller. But I had immediate lower back release. I actually can't believe how great it feels right now.

So if you're someone who has chronic low back pain have a partner or physio, or very close friend (you can do this over top of clothing) press as hard as they can around your upper glute area – you will know the right spot when they hit it, a literal massive pain in the ass but I can't tell you the world of a difference it made for me.

I haven't tried this yet but I'm confident that sitting or lying on a tennis ball or fascial release ball would probably have a similar release effect.
Or you could just come over here and have Matt work his magic, he only charges $500 per bum (kidding! Butt seriously I'd have paid about that last night).  

Have a great weekend everyone!

p.s. I have HUGE announcement coming on Monday!

DIY Massage

What a weekend!

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We made it home in one piece from the Big Apple (expect a full review in tomorrow's blog). Our tour guide, my dear friend, Sarah wholehearteldy believes that the best way to explore a city is by walking in a mix of concentric circles and zig-zags, and overlaping many times to make sure you've covered off every single square foot of the city properly. In total we walked enough to circle the island of Manhattan at least three – if not four times. 

Whenever I'm tight from lots of running or walking I find the best thing to do is a little DIY foot massage with a tennis ball (or myofasical release ball). Just roll the tennis ball underneath your foot and apply enough weight to feel a slight pull from the bottom of your foot. Roll for 2 minutes on each side and they will feel a lot better! OR have a boyfriend massage your feet for you – an even better option!! 

Check out this video for a how to.