In honor of American Heart Month, we’re highlighting some of the yoga poses known as heart openers. This category of poses, which stretch the chest and the front of the shoulders, are thought to enhance compassion and our ability to connect to others. Why? They are literally opening the heart to the world around us, a stark contrast from the inward-facing, hunched position many of us spend hours in while sitting at a desk each day (they also feel amazing for this reason). Below you’ll find four heart-opening poses that will help you open your heart Chakra, releasing tension in your chest, shoulders and upper back, plus make you feel more compassionate and loving.
Kneel on a mat or soft surface with your knees hip-width apart. Roll your shoulders back and down, lift your chest and your gaze to the ceiling and reach for your heels with your hands. If you can reach your heels, hold onto them, if not just extend your hands toward the ground. Hold for three deep breaths.
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Press your heels into the ground and your hips up to the ceiling. Reach for your heels with your hands, scooting your shoulder blades together to lift and open your heart. Hold for three deep breaths.
Come onto all fours with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Keeping your hips aligned over your knees and your tailbone pointed at the sky, walk your hands forward until you can rest your forehead, chin or chest on the floor. Hold for three deep breaths.
Lift your arms to the sides, at shoulder height, and bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Keep your upper arms horizontal, your forearms vertical, then spin your palms to face your head. Press your elbows back, but don’t let your belly or head pop forward. Inhale to extend your arms to the sky, and on your exhale, lower them to cactus. Staying for a full inhale and exhale before repeating.
To open your heart with our team of fabulous instructors, join us for one of our virtual yoga classes taking place Monday’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s! In the meantime, to stay up-to-date with us, follow us Instagram or Facebook.
With 2021 right around the corner, we’re ready to put 2020 behind us and look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead in the new year. One way we’re anchoring our focus on the future is by setting resolutions that will help us make positive changes and spark joy in the coming year. Here, three tips for how to make resolutions that are constructive, attainable and will help you make 2021 a year of hope and inspiration.
Have an Action Plan
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when it comes to setting attainable resolutions, you should have actionable steps in place that you intend to take that will help you meet your goals. Your goal itself can be general or vague, such as “spread kindness,” but then you should come up with a few specific ways you intend to do that, such as holding more doors open for others or always telling the barista at your local coffee shop to have a nice day. It’s also best for these actions to be small, like cooking a homemade dinner once a week, even if your goal is big, like to eat healthier and more naturally. When you stick to them, taking small steps is often the best way to achieve big changes.
While your action plan should be specific, the breadth of your goals can be broad—in fact, this may help you achieve them faster. The reason: If you set too many resolutions around getting healthier, such as eating better and exercising more and meditating once a day, you may start to feel overwhelmed and as if you won’t achieve any lasting change if you don’t meet every single goal. Instead, spread your goals out into different categories. For example, choose one specific strategy you are going to focus on for getting healthier, another that focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and another centered on personal growth. Since these are less likely to interfere with one another, it will be easier to pursue them all simultaneously—and then after a few months perhaps you change them up.
Spread Them Out
Not every resolution you make for the new year needs to go into effect on January 1. You may set a resolution that’s tied to specific dates throughout the year, like sending everyone in your family a birthday card in the mail, or one tied to a specific season, like signing up for a CSA box in the spring to help you cook with more fresh produce. In fact, choosing resolutions that vary in breadth or time of year in this way, so that you don’t feel like you’ve created a lengthy to-do list for yourself that you need to start on the first of the year, will make them feel easier to achieve and your whole batch of resolutions more attainable overall.
Are you setting resolutions this year? Is there anything you’re doing differently than you have in years past? Share your strategies with us on Facebook or Instagram @powerforlifefitness—it may even take you one step closer to winning our December challenge!
With many states recommending smaller gatherings this holiday season and traveling long distances to see family up in the air, Friendsgiving is a great way for apartment dwellers to spend time with people they care about and spread some festive cheer. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a safe, fun and delicious Friendsgiving.
First, if you’re concerned with passing dishes around the table from one person to the other, you can eliminate this from your gathering entirely. Have each household attending Friendsgiving bring their own mini meal that they can eat in the company of their friends. If you’d prefer to go the more traditional route, with some guests supplying the turkey, others the stuffing, and others still the dessert, you could ask for each dish to be portioned out by household ahead of time so that dishes and serving cutlery are not being passed back and forth across the table.
Speaking of the table, bigger is always better. If your apartment building has a patio or a club room, consider reserving one of these spaces for your gathering. If not, many parks have tables and gazebos that can be reserved and used for these types of parties. These also likely have grills, which can provide a fire for warmth on chilly days.
Finally, planning your menu is key—for many, it’s the most important part of Thanksgiving. There are the traditional recipes that you make every year, like grandma’s stuffing or corn bread, but the other side dishes provide plenty of opportunities to get creative. This year, try mixing up your recipes, pairing traditional ingredients like sweet potatoes with surprising ones like yogurt or mint, or transforming fall classics like butternut squash into new preparations. Curious about some of these? Check out our virtual Thanksgiving cooking demo on Thursday, November 19 at 6pm EST.
CLICK HERE to join us for the cooking demo on 11/19 at 6pm ET.
How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Share it with us on Instagram @powerforlifefitness.
Most charitable organizations ramp up their activities during the holidays in an effort to make everyone feel loved and cared for during the festive season. But this year, with social distancing guidelines still firmly in place, you may be less inclined to volunteer to serve food at your local soup kitchen or wrap and hand out gifts at the shelter.
The good news: You can still give back to your community without putting your own health and comfort at risk. Here are three ways you can make a socially-distant difference this holiday season.
If you don’t feel comfortable serving food directly to people in need and you have a car, you can deliver prepared food and other necessary items instead. Vulnerable populations like seniors and others who need to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe and healthy still need holiday meals and local churches and service groups are likely delivering those straight to them. Reach out to see if they are looking for people to pick up these items and deliver them to homes or facilities in your area.
Participate in a Food Drive
Nonperishable food drives may be more important this year than ever before. Why? People may be less likely to help prepare cooked items if it requires close proximity with others. But food drives don’t have that requirement, nor do they necessitate much of a time commitment either. So this year if you notice a food drive in your apartment building or nearby, take a moment to stop and peruse the list of requested items and then pick up a couple on your next trip to the grocery store. Or if there isn’t a food drive in your building, consider asking the property manager if and how you might set one up.
Send Holiday Cards
A great way to engage with charitable organizations both in your community and beyond without ever leaving your home is to make and send holiday cards. Many homes and charities, from children’s shelters to assisted living facilities and more, will put out requests and information regarding the types of notes and cards you can send to their residents to brighten their season. Check out Cards for Hospitalized Kids, which provides card-making guidelines and instructs you on where to send them, or The Angel Card Project, which gives you the opportunity to send cards to the less fortunate.
Are you giving back in a new way this holiday season? We’d love to hear about it! Tag us on Facebook or Instagram @powerforlifefitness and share how you’re spreading holiday cheer!
Over the last few months, you’ve no doubt found yourself searching for some sort of magic solution that will instantly eliminate all of your stress. While a stress-relieving spell or potion has yet to be discovered, one of the easiest ways to banish anxiety and boost mood during the warm summer months is to head outside into the sunshine. You’ll get a much needed dose of vitamin D, which will deliver benefits from strong and healthy bones to improved exercise performance and muscle strength to an efficient and powerful immune system. And depending on the activity, there are countless ways that being outdoors can help get rid of your stress. Read on for four of our favorites.
In addition to the physical perks of going for a hike, hiking can go far towards lowering your stress levels. Simply being surrounded by nature’s greenery has been shown to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, while the tranquility and beauty of an impressive vista will help you forget your worries and to-dos. Hiking also requires the engagement of all the senses, helping you unplug from your responsibilities and be present in the moment, a practice that will promote calm and feelings of zen.
While not as active as some other options, setting up a picnic in a local park with friends or loved ones can do wonders for your mental health. Studies have shown that people have higher levels of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin on sunny days than they do on cloudy ones, while others have identified a relationship between UV light and the release of feel-good endorphins. When you’re on a picnic, you’re getting these perks while spending quality time with people you enjoy, which will also help banish your stress quickly.
Outdoor Group Fitness
Taking your go-to group fitness class outside is a no brainer. You’ll reap all the benefits of regular exercise, including improved cardiovascular health, stronger muscles and more self-confidence, plus you’ll get to enjoy them in the fresh air and sunshine. Another of these benefits: Improved moods and freedom from stress. In fact, studies have shown that exercise can be as effective, if not more effective, than medication for treating depression. Plus, it can help lower levels of stress and anxiety by relaxing and releasing any physical tension you are holding in your body and prompting the release of mood-boosting brain chemicals. And if you live in a Power For Life Fitness property, you may be able to reap these benefits for free right now! Ask your property manager if your building is offering outdoor group fitness classes today.
Maybe you don’t have hiking trails or a park near your apartment and you don’t have access to outdoor group fitness classes. Don’t worry! Simply heading outside for a walk, even if it’s through your busy downtown neighborhood, will deliver many of the benefits mentioned above. Regardless of your fitness level, walking will help you strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your flexibility and coordination, and reduce chronic pain. It will also help prevent or manage conditions like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. And of course, it will offer a health-promoting respite from your busy day, serving as a powerful stress reliever.
Perhaps you’re a diehard yogi and can hold a tree pose for hours. Or you’re a boot camp pro and laugh in the face of burpees. Or maybe you can salsa circles around your neighbors in Zumba class. If one of these sounds like you, congrats! It sounds like you’ve found an exercise regimen you love and you’re sticking to it, which is admirable. Even so—and no matter how much you love your child’s pose or jumping lunges—there are benefits to mixing in a different exercise format or class every once in a while. Here are three.
Prevent a Plateau
The more you practice a particular exercise format, the better you will get at it. Why do you get better at it? Because your muscles are getting used to the movements, improving their ability to complete them efficiently. Adapting to the movements takes work, and your muscles are going to be toning and strengthening as they do so. But eventually, after doing the same exercises over and over again, they will become too easy for your body to complete and you’ll hit a plateau, at which point you will stop seeing results. The simple solution: Try a new workout! Even doing one or two yoga classes and then going back to Zumba will challenge your muscles in a new and different way, instantly restarting your gains.
Avoid Burnout and Boredom
You’re most likely to hit a plateau if you’re so in love with one exercise style that you never try anything else. On the other hand, only going to boot camp classes can breed boredom that has you dreading and maybe even skipping your workout. It can also lead to fatigue and burnout, which can increase your likelihood of injury. Switching up your routine can help you avoid both of these issues, promoting balance and all-over strength plus keeping you excited to head to the gym.
Keep Your Mind Fit
Exercise isn’t just about physical fitness. Mental health is equally as important and mixing up your fitness routine can help you keep your mind fit. The reason: Just as you can hit a physical plateau and stop seeing results, the same thing can happen with your mind as exercises become easier to do well and max reps grow less difficult to achieve. But mastering the merengue is going to be both physically and mentally challenging if all you’ve been doing are push ups and squats. Switching up your workouts every once in a while will provide a challenge that will keep your mind sharp, increasing your brainpower and self-confidence.
Is it time for you to switch up your fitness routine? Power For Life Fitness’s livestream and on-site programs offer a wide variety of classes, from yoga and Zumba to boot camp and Pilates. Ask your property manager how you can access these classes and start seeing results today!
Apartments, by nature, are small. It can be difficult to carve out spaces, for work, for play, for relaxation, and it can be even more difficult to carve out personal spaces that aren’t shared with roommates or family members. However, it is crucial to your mental and emotional health to create spaces in your home that will promote calm, comfort and contentment. Here are three things you can do to create your very own personal sanctuary.
Find Natural Light
Natural light can be difficult to come by in apartments, especially considering that most only have windows on one side and those windows may be facing a direction that only yields light for half the day. Even so, exposure to the sun’s rays can have a powerful effect on mood. Studies show that just 15 minutes of sunlight exposure daily can reduce feelings of depression by 18% and increase levels of mood-boosting endorphins by 50%. If you’re able to in your apartment, place a chair or a mat near a window so that you can enjoy your morning coffee, read a book or catch up on emails in the sunlight. And don’t skip it on cloudy days—the sunlight through the clouds is still strong enough to produce benefits.
Fill It with Plants
Not only are they lovely to look at, but plants also absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, making the air healthier for you to breathe. Many species of houseplants actively remove toxins from the air as well, yielding perks like improved concentration and better mood. If there’s an area in your apartment where you like to spend time or where you need to be productive—perhaps your chair by the window or the place where you’ve been working from home—place a plant or two there. Your mood and your space will be instantly brighter.
Decorate with Bright Colors
Color has been shown to have a profound impact on mood: The duller the colors around you, the drearier you feel. Meanwhile, bright colors like yellow, pink and red can brighten your mood almost instantly. Toss a yellow quilt or throw over the back of your chair near the window or house your plant in a green or pink pot. Fill your space with colors that make you feel happy, awake and inspired, not those that make you feel sleepy or bored.
Do you have a personal sanctuary in your apartment? If so, snap a photo of your space and post it to your Instagram or Facebook story, but be sure to tag us for a chance to win a prize! The giveaway will end on Friday, 7/17/20.
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