April 20, 2020
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Almost all of my coaching clients workout at home. This is the convenience and delight of at-home workout programs.

Once every month or two, a client will either ask what they should wear on their feet to workout OR report that they have started experiencing calf, foot or heel pain…and then disclose that they have been doing all their workouts barefoot.

There are benefits to being barefoot sometimes! It is good for our ankle and foot health to move all the bones of the foot and spread the toes.

white dog and woman walking barefoot

The question is: Is working out barefoot appropriate for me?

🚦OK TO GO BAREFOOT: 👣

  • Animal Flow
  • Pilates
  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • You are not doing high impact exercises.
  • You are not lifting or throwing heavy objects that you could drop on your feet.
  • You have healthy feet.

🚦NOT OK TO GO BAREFOOT: 👟

  • It hurts.
  • You are doing high impact exercises and you are not an elite athlete or trained dancer or gymnast.
  • You are jumping and you are not an elite athlete or trained dancer or gymnast.
  • You are lifting heavy weights or other objects you could drop on your feet.
  • You are new to exercise or returning from a long hiatus and your feet have not done this kind of movement for some time.

You have recently experienced a calf injury, acute or chronic plantar fasciitis, or a stress fractures of the foot.

SOCK NONSENSE: 🧦

OK, Anne, but I have seen some really sexy ‘yoga models’ doing fancy workouts in their socks on hardwood floors. Should I do that to also be sexy?

The only reason I would ever ask you to workout in socks is if the intention was to use them like blankets or gliders. This can be effective and fun in a supervised class or training setting!

The sliding allows for some challenging and fun core and dancey type stuff. But if you are planning to do pliet jump squats, at home, by yourself, in your cashmere socks, near your cat, on your hardwood floors…please don’t.


December 27, 2019
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“How can I improve my happy baby? Because I struggle to get a deep bend in the hips and still keep my low back/pelvis on the floor, it’s a huge pull on my arms/shoulders to hold my feet.” – Gillian

 

Most conversations in response to this question about any yoga pose will go something like this:

Me: “Why do you want to ‘improve’ the pose and why do you feel you need to improve the pose?”

Student: “Everyone in class just seems to have their knees so much closer to their torso and I imagined be how good that must feel…”

Me: “You can see how a pose looks on someone else, but you can’t see how it feels.”

 

If you want to get deeper into the pose because it actually feels better for you, or you want to improve your hip flexion, for example, here are some ways to do it:

 

  1. Hold onto something closer. Back out of the pose before you dive further into it. If you are unable to keep your tailbone on the ground or have very long legs/short arms, but are set on holding your feet, your tailbone will never reach the ground. But if you try to grab something closer to your body, you may be able to keep your tailbone on the ground and it may actually feel better. Grab hold of one of the following body parts, listed from closest to furthest away – which ever you can hold while the back or your head and shoulders remain comfortably on the floor. (Be sure your chin is not tilting up and your shoulders are not craning away from the floor.)
    1. The backs of your thighs
    2. The backs of your knees
    3. Your shins
    4. Your ankles
    5. The pinky-toe sides of your feet
Happy Baby Progression 1
Happy Baby Progression 2
Happy Baby Progression 2

2. Make it active. Ananda Balasana is usually a passive posture, as opposed to an active one. By making it active, we can increase our active range of motion and potentially, get deeper into the pose. Here are some ways you can make Happy Baby active:

  1. Gently press your sacrum down into the floor like a foot on a gas pedal. This will lengthen out your spine and bring the lumbar curve into your lower spine, instead of rounding it into the floor (not what we want).
  2. Use your hip flexors to actively draw the tops of your thighs down towards the floor on either side of your ribcage.
  3. Dorsiflex your feet to stabilize the ankles and knees and avoid overstretching.

3. Take it upside-down. In Ananda Balansana, you are upside down, on your back, allowing gravity to help move your thighs and knees towards the floor. You can work this pose upside-down (upside up?):

  1. Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders.
  2. Sit down into a deep squat.
  3. Place your elbows on your inner knees.
  4. If necessary, stick your bum out until there is a concave curve in your lumbar spine.
  5. Relax your hip flexors and pelvic floor and let gravity help you to sit down into the squat. I find that constantly revisiting Step D helps to move my hip flexors out of the way and sit down deeper.
  6. You can stay with elbows on inner thighs…or start to work your hands down towards your ankles, just like you would on your back in Happy Baby.
Happy Baby Prep Squat 01
Happy Baby Prep Squat 01
Happy Baby Prep Squat 02

Happy Happy Baby-ing!


October 27, 2019
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I would get a lot of other things done if I didn’t workout.

Especially at the times I usually workout – 6 a.m., when my creativity for work and writing are peaked, and 2 p.m., when my energy is up and I feel like “doing.”

If I didn’t workout in the morning, maybe I would be a successful writer, get more sleep, or write more blog posts.

If I didn’t workout on the days I workout in the afternoon, maybe I would bake bread, put away the laundry, or finally assemble that shelf.

But probably not. And even if I did do those things, none of those things are as consistently important to me as my fitness.

But that’s the fight we have in the moment, isn’t it? The overwhelm and the ‘shoulds’ take us away from ourselves and our commitment to ourselves – our commitment to mental and physical health and to a pain-free body.

You may feel a sense of accomplishment from assembling the shelf, cleaning the house, or putting away the laundry. But a sense of accomplishment is different from showing up for yourself.

A sense of accomplishment or productivity comes from a place of fear and feeds your ego; showing up for yourself comes from a place of love, because you value yourself. It is a form of self-care.

As I write these words, I am kneeling on the floor of my home gym. I interrupted my workout to write this because I knew I had to get these words down in this moment. I am not afraid of my workout being cut short or missed because I know there will be another, and another after that, and another after that.

It is like any other relationship – the more you show up for yourself, the more you trust yourself to show up for yourself the next time, and then you don’t have to be afraid.