Tag Archives: health

Keep Calm and Carry On: why is self care so hard?

I was recently wondering why so many of the inspirational writers I come across these days are advocating self-care. I wrote about it last month  and have a few more self-care tips to share with you this month too.

It seems to me that the “Keep calm and carry on” spirit marked those of us who grew up in the years after the war. Our parents lived through it and rationing only came to an end a few years before I was born.  Making do was the order of the day and carrying on in spite of adversity was seen as almost saintly. “Looking after Number One” (i.e. yourself) typified selfishness in a bad way.

Thinking about all this brought to mind one of my favourite books, Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a small island”.  In describing his much-loved adopted country, Bryson observes that the British have sayings like “Mustn’t grumble” and “Let’s make do and mend”. The latter was the title of a pamphlet issued by the Ministry of Information during World War II.

He also says – and this part always makes me smile – that it’s a shame that communism was left to the Russians when the British would have managed it so much better! For Brits, going without is second nature; they are great at pulling together in the face of adversity; they don’t mind queuing; they accept rationing and have “a natural gift for making jokes about authority without seriously challenging it.” He asserts that the British would have taken communism “in their stride, with good heart and wihout excessive cheating. In point of fact, until about 1970 it wouldn’t have made the slightest discernible difference to most people’s lives.”

I wonder if he would be of the same opinion if he were writing today? And I wonder if all this goes some way to explaining why some of us find it so difficult to take care of ourselves? It’s not a concept we grew up with – quite the reverse! I hope some of the tips below will help.

Have a great month

Nia move of the month – Elbow Strike Back

Elbow Strikes all start from Sumo Stance or Bow Stance and use the opposite hand for support to direct the strike. They invoke the power and precision of the martial arts.
They help to release stress and condition the upper arms, chest and back.

For Elbow Strike Back, use the opposite hand to push on your fist, in order to drive your elbow back behind you.

What I’m reading

Here are those self-care tips, courtesy of Cheryl Richardson:

20 ridiculously simple ways to live longer better

  • Upon waking, stretch your body in some fun way for five minutes.
  • Drink half your body weight in water (in ounces).
  • Refuse to rush. When making commitments or appointments, put space in your calendar in between.
  • Look for one thing in nature that astonishes you.
    Read more

Dates for your diaryCalendar

Nia classes
New 5-week blocks of Nia classes have started at Keep Fit Darlington and at the Pioneering Care Centre. Two more weeks of the present block at Bishop Middleham.
Full details on the Classes and Events page.

Unfortunately, the Ageless Grace class at Bishop Middleham wasn’t sufficiently well-attended for it to continue.

Saltaire Day of Dance
Saturday, 13th May, Victoria Hall, Saltaire, BD18 3JS

Exercise your brain and body by trying out a form of dance you’ve never tried before. Everything from Argentine Tango to Charleston and from Disco to Swing.

There’ll be Nia with Lynette MacFadden at 12.30, and I will be doing a beginners’ Irish Set Dance workshop later in the afternoon.
Full details of all dance workshops.

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Take 5 & Age well

Last week, you may remember me talking about the book by Dr Christiane Northrup about ageing well (I still haven’t read it by the way – I’m saving it for my summer break which begins on Wednesday; not that I’m counting the days or anything…). I’ve also been watching her video series which I mentioned last week too. Apparently, Joy and the right mindset have as much to do with ageing as your genes!

And here’s some exciting news about someone else who talks a lot about ageing well – Denise Medved, who created Ageless Grace and whose 10 Tips for an ageless brain and body I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Denise is going to be speaking at a TEDx event on 8 September. Her subject is Changing Your Aging Brain Can Be as Simple As Child’s Play. The talk will eventually be posted online; I’ll let you know when it is because it will be excellent. I’ve had the great good fortune to attend training with Denise and she’s such a lovely person.

wonder womanIf you’ve not come across TED talks, they’ve worth looking up. There are some fascinating subjects. Visit the website or just search for TED talks on YouTube. One of my favourites is about how you can trick yourself into feeling confident through your body language (see below for link). Tip: think “Wonder Woman”!

Have a good week!

Nia move of the week – Shimmy

This is another move which strengthens your core muscles. In my experience Nia class members seem to find it one of the hardest to master. It’s easy if you relax your jaw, shoulders and neck and imagine shaking water off your shoulders. Or imagine that someone is behind you with a hand on each shoulder blade and pushes one shoulder forward and then the other.

Try to do the move slowly and gradually build up speed. If it doesn’t come naturally, do it Your Body’s Way. Don’t force it and one day you’ll do it without even realising it!

Watch it here.

What I’m listening to

Amy Cuddy on “Your body language shapes who you are”

What I’m watching

Free video series by Dr Christiane Northrup

CalendarClasses & Events – Dates for your diary

4 – 14 August, Summer break – no classes

26 August,  18.30 – 20.30 – Move with Ease, Aditi Yoga & Pilates, Darlington.
Contact me to book a place

5 September – 3 October, Mondays 18.30 – 19.30, new block of 5 Nia classes, Pioneering Care Centre

Full details of all Classes & Events

Take 5 & Move to heal and stay young!

Hello. It’s good to be back.

The Nia Moving to Heal training in Burntisland was excellent. Lots of ideas for adapting Nia and with an emphasis on self-healing. Look out for some specific Moving to Heal classes in the near future. Then a few days taking it easier than usual. I’m usually so busy doing that I forget that I need to rest and switch off sometimes. Ironically that’s when some of my better ideas come to me – when I’m not really thinking about them. So my promise to myself this week is that I will programme in some time off. And not just an evening here and there, but a few days at a time. I was just beginning to really relax when it was time to get out and about again.

Although I need time off and time to be still, the weekend course did impress upon me that movement can not only help us heal in body and mind, but it can also  help us stay young. You may have come to the same conclusions if you watched the two BBC programmes “How to stay young”. More about that below.

I just have time to give you a quick reminder about the new Nia class tonight at the Pioneering Care Centre in Newton Aycliffe. It’s at 6.30 p.m. but you’ll find me in the cafe from about 5.45. Why not join me for a cuppa and catch up first?

Have a great week!

Nia Move of the week: Cross Behind

This move develops mobility and stability in the legs, helping you to move more efficiently.  You start from an Open Stance, imagine you’re standing in the centre of a clock face, and step your left foot behind the right – your ankles making a small “x”  Come back to the Open Stance and then repeat with your left foot, keeping the back heel high. Keep your arms relaxed and natural. Cross Behind can be combined with a Cha Cha Cha and a Cross Front.

Watch it here as Nia trainer Helen Terry suggests ways of energising and adapting the basic Cross Behind.

What I’m watching

How to stay young, BBC One
I enjoyed  the two programmes with Angela Rippon and Dr Chris van Tulleken who  looked at the latest experiments and research that could “help put the brakes on the ageing process”.

There were lots of tips about healthy eating and what science has discovered in recent years, but I was delighted that dancing and walking came out as two excellent ways of staying fit as we age. Dancing in particular is good for exercising the mind as well as the body, but then we knew tha didn’t we?  You can read about it here or catch up on the iPlayer here. And isn’t Angela Rippon amazing? I hope I look that good at 71!

What I’m reading

Feel the Joy!(1)Article – The Body’s Way: 5 Reasons to Dance Nia

“In 2010, I realized something in my life was missing, but I couldn’t get a hold on what it was. I stopped my usual workouts at the gym and started taking some serious Pilates classes in a small studio next to my office… “ Continue reading

Classes & Events
Starts Tonight – Monday 18 April, 6.30 p.m.
New Class
, Pioneering Care Centre, Newton Aycliffe, DL5 4SF

Nia adele an otherClasses on the following Mondays:

18  and 25 April; 9, 16 and 23 May.

Special introductory offer – £17.50 for all five classes if paid on 18 April.

Minimum of six people required to run the class.

NML HeaderNourish Move Love
starting 30 April 2016

It’s not too late to join us.
Full details and booking form to download, or read more here.

Jump to the Classes & Events page for full details of all classes, workshops and events.

Take 5 & Share

What do you like to share with people?

I’m getting really excited about a lot of stuff I learned last weekend that I’m going to be able to share with you very soon: some really easy, safe moves to help you move more freely, prepare to do your daily activities  or your favourite exercise/sport with greater ease and maybe even free you from pain and help you look younger.

What am I talking about?

Well, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a Somatic Exercise training course with Martha Peterson, which taught me all sorts of interesting things about the way I stand (twisted) and move (resting more into one side). Had you noticed? Maybe you had, but it’s all so habitual, that I don’t any more. However,  the exercises I discovered this weekend can help me unlearn some of the bad habits I’ve adopted when standing and moving and create some new ones, relieving neck, shoulder and back pain along the way. If you’d like to read more about it, then check out the Essential Somatics website.

Evening Nia Taster Class, 14 March, 6.30 p.m.

Nia logo new redAs a result of the taster session I told you about last week, there’s going to be a free Nia Taster Class at the Pioneering Care Centre in Newton Aycliffe on Monday 14 March at 6.30 p.m. I’ll be in the cafe there before the class (from about 5.45) if you’d like to join me to have a cuppa or you have any questions. It would be great to see you and to have a chat

Nia move of the week – Sumo Stance

This stance aligns all three body weights – head, torso and pelvis and has the outside of your feet parallel. You’re standing with your knees slightly bent, as if you’re riding a horse (it’s also sometimes called “riding stance”). It helps condition all your leg muscles, which of course make it possible for you to move around. In Sumo Stance, you can reach further side to side and sink lower. Watch it here.

What I’m watching (and sharing)

I’m loving this video and have shared it on my Facebook pages:

Classes and Events

NiaBlackBelt2Free Nia Taster Class, 14 March 2016, 6.30 p.m.
Pioneering Care Centre, Carers Way, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham DL5 4SF

Move in your body. Connect to your spirit. Relax at the end of the day.  Join us at this fun workout that you can do at your own level.

This is a free class offered by the Pioneering Care Centre.
The cafe will be open, so why not come along early and join me for a cuppa and a chat beforehand?

No experience, or co-ordination needed!
Dress comfortably so you can move and bring some water. We usually move barefoot, so no special footwear is required.

6-8 May 2016: Relax your Mind, Move your Body, Revive your Spirit: Relaxing Weekend Nia Retreat More

7 – 13  August 2016: Personal Development with a difference: Nia White Belt Training
If you enjoy Nia and want to know more; if you want to know yourself more – then consider this training with – for the first time in the North East – Yonit Lerner Ofan, one of the international Nia trainers. Yonit will be teaching several masterclasses during the week These will be open to the public – truly an opportunity not to be missed! More

See website for more details of all classes and events

Regular classes and events – full details

Take 5 & Get moving for better health!

After highlighting illnesses where exercise probably won’t help you because your body needs rest to fight the bugs, I got to thinking of what illnesses and conditions might actually be helped by exercise. A lot of this is common sense, but it’s good to know that what follows is backed by research too.

Women walkingThe NHS advises women to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week with exercise on at least five days a week to help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. (That’s a thirty-minute brisk walk every weekday.)

For adults who want to lose weight, but not change their diet, 45 to 60 minutes of exercise a day is recommended (and from personal experience, I would say it works)

The Mayo Clinic in the USA, echoes the view that regular exercise can help people with heart disease. It can also help insulin lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and help control their weight and boost their energy. It seems that the frequency and severity of asthma attacks can also be controlled by regular exercise.

Pilates_01For those with back pain, low-impact aerobic activity can increase strength and endurance in the back and improve muscle function. Core-strengthening exercises may help reduce symptoms by strengthening the muscles around your spine (I suppose this is why Pilates helps so much). And on a personal level I can tell you that exercise reduces pain from arthritis, as well as reducing stiffness in the joints and build muscle strength.

And all that is before we start on the fact that getting moving can also lift your mood and improve your social life.

Do you have any experience of how exercise has helped you that you’d like to share?

Tip of the week

dancingFind something active you can do for just fifteen minutes every day this week. Choose something easy that you enjoy and get moving!

  • Go for a walk
  • Put on your favourite music and dance
  • Go for a swim
  • Meet a friend for a coffee and walk to and from the meeting place
  • Park just a bit further from work so you can walk there and back
  • Dig out one of those exercise DVDs and follow the moves

My choice is easy. The sun’s just come out, so I’m off for a walk, and then, I’ll put on some music and dance my way through a couple of new Nia tracks.
What will you choose?

Have a great week!