A Few Minutes to Zen with Rikki Alrutz

Happy New Year Everyone!
By Rikki Alrutz

Many of us look forward to January, so we can experience fresh starts not only to our years of course, but also with ourselves.  Similar to the ancient Babylonians who made pledges to their gods at the start of each year and the Romans who began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named, we, too, make our New Year’s Resolutions.  The problem, however, is that our pile of resolutions is  often such a tall mountain that it’s tough for anyone to get through them all, let alone stick to most of them, creating unnecessary stress during a (supposedly) fresh start.

Why not forget about making impossible promises to yourself and just pick one or two things that you feasibly can make happen.  I always try to think of one thing for myself and one thing for others; more often than not, they both lift my spirits.  Maybe, you can vow to smile every day or to touch base with friends or family you haven’t recently seen; perhaps leave the grocery store and head to a local farmers market.  You can help yourself by eating healthy and also help the local farmers.

Consider the big ones: losing weight and working out.  Instead of setting an unrealistic number of pounds you must lose this year or stating that you’ll be at the gym every day without even knowing what the year will bring your way, try small, easy goals that are possible to keep.  Something as simple as taking the time to breathe and not worrying about anything at all for a few moments can flush your body of toxins, tone your abs, and give you an energy boost.  See how to do my favorite Pilates Breath Exercise below.

Instead of saying you will now magically grab an hour to work out to that exercise video, which has been gathering dust on your shelf, or insisting you will now find the time to drive to the local studio every day to take a fitness class, tell yourself you will do one healthy and active thing for yourself each day.  This could be as simple as doing 12 crunches before dinner, taking the stairs  instead of the elevator, parking slightly farther away from the door to get a little walking in at the store,  carrying your grocery bags instead of pushing the cart (curls anyone), going outside and building a snowman, or playing tag with your children or pets.  The list can go on and on, but I hope you see how easy it is to do something good for yourself, for your health, each day.

There is no need to set crazy goals that create more stress if impossible to keep.  When you do have extra time for something more intense, think how rewarding it will be.

Have a wonderful 2015.  May this year rock!!!!

Pilates Imprint/Neutral Exercise:

Lay on your back, legs bent, feet on the floor, arms long beside you with palms down.

Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.

As you inhale, bring your lower back, the lumbar, slightly off the ground, making sure your bottom stays on the floor.  This neutral arch should be just enough space for a little mouse to crawl under you.

As you exhale, return your spine to the floor.

Want more ab work?  As you imprint to the floor, bring your belly button in as if you are zipping up those tight jeans when you bring your back to the ground.

Try to do 1-6 minutes.