Category Archives: Happiness

 

Yes you do.

Core strength comes from proper posture as the body moves.  Like so many things, it’s not so much what you do, but how you are doing whatever it is that you do.

We walk around all day long, and every time our spines are upright, we have the opportunity to engage the core muscles. With a little bit of anatomy instruction, a strong stable torso is just a focused concentration of holding the body into an intelligent and happy-fied place!

Anatomy helps tremendously. The most popularly-known among the core muscles are the rectus abdominus, which are considered the 6-pack muscles. These lovely washboard aesthetics may look nice, but they do not imply core strength. What?! Sorry!

Core strength primarily comes from the transverse abdominus, which is a wall of muscle that spans the abdomen from the bottom of the torso all the way to the base of the ribcage, spanning in width from side body to side body, protecting the vital organs and empowering digestion.

This muscular wall works with the hip flexors and back muscles to hold up the space between the hips and the ribs. And it is one of the most vulnerable in the body for the spine, as only the core muscles are in place to hold up the lumbar region of the spine; no other skeletal support is offered.

So what is the #1 reason Americans visit general practitioners? Low back pain. And the number one reason? Weak core muscles.

Physical therapists suggest strengthening these muscles through various ways, such as leg lifts, gentle lower back extension exercises, yoga, and pilates for sure, but this area of the body can be worked as much as possible — the abdominal muscles can never get too much exercise.

So right now, check in and take a look at your pelvis. Are you drawing your abdomen in or sticking it out? Or was the belly just relaxed? Sitting upright, which is an activity we do quite often, is most efficiently performed with the abdominal wall drawing in as the back muscles balance the back of the spine, holding it up like a wooden spoon in the middle of a pot of soup.

Now, draw in your abdomen, sit up a little higher over your tailbone, and let your tailbone get longer by pulling it down and then readjusting to lift back off of it. You should feel as though you are in a neutral position with your pelvis; that is, you should feel as though your pelvis is neither tilting forward or back within the hip girdle.

This requires your mindful, happy-fied engagement of your low back and abdominal wall.

Now, relax and feel the breath comfortably moving up into the ribs rather than down in the belly. Feel the strength of this, and notice how simply breathing and sitting can help you engage your core if you allow for it. There is no need for 8-minute abs when you can engage your core any time you are feelin’ the happy vibe!

You can do this lengthening of the tailbone and engaging the core just sitting, or standing, walking, running, jumping, jogging, working at a computer, watching television — whatever you are doing — assuming you are upright, you can work to strengthen your core muscles. So what exactly isn’t a core exercise? Nada!

And it sure is a big part of happyfication. The lighter and stronger you are in the middle, the happier you are all over.

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Most of us spend our days walking around in our heads. Right now, as you’re reading this piece, you’re likely wholly unaware of your body. You might have some vague, back-of-your-mind sense of your hands on your electronic device or the stiffness in your legs, but for the most part your mind is separated entirely from your body.

Living your life with a weak mind-body connection is a recipe for missing out. There is a richness to living with awareness that is difficult to articulate, but marvelous to experience. When we are fully present in our bodies, with our minds fully engaged and in sync, the world opens up, with stress and strife melting away into the distance. When people talk about being happy, about feeling fulfilled, they are most often talking about times when they lived in a state of full mind-body integration.

Pilates offers a system of not just physical exercises, but mental ones as well that push forward the connection between the physical self and the mental self. Here’s how:

The breath

Mindfulness starts with breath. Breath control is seen in mind-body exercises in all forms and across disciplines. What’s wonderful about the breath, and what’s so important about it, is that it’s both a voluntary and an involuntary muscle movement. When you’re not thinking about it, this necessary bodily function happens on its own. When you are thinking about it, you have the ability to control the rate and depth of it.

The flow of air in and out of the lungs has a powerful effect in a wide variety of other bodily functions, from blood pressure to digestion. Breathing with intention is something that not everyone does on their own, but it’s a central pillar to Pilates instruction. By learning to manipulate the breath, those who practice Pilates can learn to take control of their physical bodies through mental discipline. With each and every exercise on both mat and machine, Pilates is designed to be integrated with precise breath control.

Breathing with intention takes a great deal of practice to master; it’s not something you just learn to control in a day. However, it’s also something literally everyone can do, no matter what other limitations they might face.

Controlled movement

So often, we move around without even thinking about it. We instinctively open doors, drive cars and type on keyboards. Though these movements are often precise in nature by demand, they are rarely executed with any intention. Learning to control movements with more intention is a central pillar in Pilates. Each movement in Pilates is intended to be not only correct, but carried out with control.

Again, this is something that’s developed through practice, and that kind of repetitive practice is wonderfully experienced through Pilates. The more controlled and precise those bodily movements are, the more integrated the mind and the body become. Pilates exercises are slow, with significant attention to detail, versus other similar forms of exercise.

Isolation of movement and mind

Just as we tend to walk around with our minds and bodies separated, so too do we tend to walk around with a sense that our bodies are just one blob of motion that’s moving around without much consciousness. We aren’t engaged with our bodies. Pilates focuses on is teaching us to isolate parts of our bodies, pulling them apart and sensing exactly what’s going on.

Pulling that awareness down to just one small section of the body is an important step in learning how to integrate the body and the mind. Trying to be aware of every sensation and motion within the entire body at once is a tall order, and one that can prove to be a challenge that’s just too much. By bringing the focus down to a small sliver of the body, we’re able to increase the connection between the physical and mental selves. Pilates walks practitioners through the process of isolating one precise part of the body, allowing the mind to experience the connection, even if only for a moment. That isolation comes in many forms in Pilates – from articulating the spine during a head roll to the unique movement of lateral breathing.

Mental and physical focus

Learning how to focus is a skill that can be taught, and Pilates offers a solid teaching tool. More than turning on a laser light, learning to focus is about letting go of all of the things that are weighing down and distracting the mind. That letting go and keeping the mind in one place is important to the mind-body connection as well – allowing the body and mind to align for the same purpose instead of going off in divergent directions.

Pilates pulls focus right down to the forefront through physical activity. This method of learning focus through movement is extraordinarily helpful for many people who have struggled with focus and connection in the past. That’s because the body isn’t offering the kinds of distraction that it normally does. Rather than focusing on something external, Pilates lets practitioners work with the body so that it’s not a distraction but a gateway into better focus.

It’s important to understand that, unless you’re enlightened, you’re not going to live in a perfectly aware state. That’s a great goal perhaps, a distant ideal, but it’s not where even the best of us are. Living with a strong mind-body connection means that you have the ability to pull yourself into that state of awareness when you want to, and that above all you are able to create within yourself a consistent state of at least partial integration.

It’s this level of awareness that Pilates brings to people who practice it. That strong sense of empowerment through integration, the control and the focus as the mind and the body come together through the breath, all work together to build the mind body connection.

Practicing the mind-body connection

Do you think you can bring your focus to that intense mind-body connection for five minutes or less, every day for 100 days? Then download our app and try our 100s to Happiness challenge – and let us know how you feel!

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The way that you start the day is the biggest indicator as to how your day will progress. Starting your morning with focused meditation can set your intention for the rest of the day, preparing your mind to be open, curious, peaceful and relaxed—regardless of what the next 24 hours throw at you.

Mornings are crazy times for most of us. We’ve generally gotten less sleep than we should have, have more things to do than we have time to get done, are running from project to project at an insane pace and have an overall sense of panic and a lack of control. Mindful meditation in the morning promotes a sense of calm, increasing your ability to remain focused throughout the chaos. It’s like a big box of Wheaties for your brain, giving your mind the energy to find happiness and success!

Incorporating morning mindfulness

Won’t adding something else to your already packed morning routine just make things worse? Not at all. Mindfulness is all about bringing yourself into the moment. You’re not adding anything else to your morning; you’re really just changing the way that you approach it.

Including simple mindfulness practices into your morning routine is a wonderful way to expand and uplift your ability to navigate the day. Here are seven quick morning meditations that will bring you happiness even through the hustle and bustle.

All of these meditations take one minute or less. The point here isn’t to sit in a lotus position for hours on end, but rather to pull the practice into the things that you’re already doing. Adapt these as you see fit, as most easily translate into your lifestyle. Mindfulness is a deeply personal practice, one that you need to make your own in order for it to be successful.

When waking

First off, a calming alarm like a chiming bell is a far better way to start your day than a harsh buzz. It will ease you into your day much more smoothly. It’s much easier to transition to a mindful state when you wake peacefully.

Before you even get out of bed, open your eyes wide and look straight up towards the ceiling. Lay your hands at your sides, palms facing up. Breathe in deeply through the nose and out of the mouth, allowing the oxygen to wake up your brain. Do this for three to five cycles, then close your eyes and check in with your body starting at your feet, releasing any tension that you might feel and letting go of any stress that you have for the coming day.

This is your time for you – nothing else matters. Take a few more deep breaths before getting up and moving on with your morning, taking that calm with you.

During your shower

A morning shower is a powerful place to harness the mind. Pull yourself into the moment as you feel the water cascade across you. Allow yourself to become lost in the pitter patter of the drops as they strike your body and the hard surface of the shower. Pull your shoulders down away from your ears and breathe into your muscles as the water washes away tension. Breathe in again through your nose and out of your mouth, savoring the sweetness of the smells and textures of something so simple as a shower.

While brushing your teeth

What do you usually think about when you’re brushing your teeth? Most people fret about the things that are going to happen in the coming day, making lists and ignoring the world that they’re living in. Teeth brushing is an incredibly kinetic experience, which makes it a great way to pull the mind into the body.

Take a few moments when you’re brushing your teeth to feel the brush, to check in with the way your body is moving and feeling. Think about the weight of your body on your feet, the cool edge of the counter, the bristle of the brush against your gums and cheeks. Simply pulling yourself into the moment during this simple task will help you to be less stressed and happier.

While making breakfast

Though the morning meal can be a stressful one, there is still room to be mindful. Prepare breakfast without racing through the thoughts of the day. In mindfulness, simple tasks become powerful ways to connect. Focus on the food that you’re preparing, being thankful for its nourishment and the energy that it will give you for your day. Think about how this food will power you and the people that you’re preparing it for towards happiness and productivity. Then as you eat, think again about how this meal is so important and how it will afford you the fuel that you need to feel energetic and fulfilled.

Drinking morning coffee

Many people use their morning cup of coffee or tea as a meditative tool without realizing it. Consciously take your time with that cup, allowing it to clear your thoughts and free up your mind. That warm feeling that you sense going down into the center of your chest as you drink? Pull it in even further and feel it manifest as happiness that starts right at your heart. Each sip becomes nourishing to both your body and to your mind, loosening stress and increasing awareness.

As you walk out the door

Don’t just run out the door, even if you’re running late. Stop as you get to the threshold and take several deep, cleansing breaths. Whatever the weather is outside, experience it for just a moment before you hop into the car or run for the bus. Take this time to transition yourself from home to the world outside of your home, bringing your awareness to the environment around you. Clear your mind and focus on your breath. Leave home with the intention of being happy and fulfilled by whatever is coming, knowing that you will be able to take care of any problem.

When you get to your destination

As you get where you’re going, again recognize that transition. Take a few moments to release any stress that might have come from the ride over, to let go of any hang-ups that you might have about this day and to instead go into the day with a positive and happy outlook.

Incorporating mindfulness into your everyday life is something that happens everywhere you go, with every step that you take. This is a practice, like Pilates, that you take with you every single day and that affects your wider life. I’d love to be part of your mornings for the next 100 days, helping you take just 5 to 10 minutes to start your day with gentle Pilates, mindful meditations, and inspiring quotes. Make your mornings your own by using these easy meditations for happiness and trying my 100 Day Challenge.

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While there are certainly aspects of life that are difficult and cause us to struggle, there is truly so much pleasure to be had that it just takes unlocking the door to open the floodgates. Give in to silliness. Give in to wackiness. Give in to hope. Give in to being happy. You are in control of your happiness, in control of how you navigate this world and the attitude that you bring to it. In so many ways, happiness is a choice, a conscious one that we have to make every single day. What’s lacking in life isn’t the number of things that could make us happy, it’s knowing how to see them—and then choosing to see them!

Happiness is a conscious choice

Happiness is also contagious. When one person takes up the mantle of being happy, that joy spreads from person to person. It only takes a little effort to be kind to someone, to do something that you didn’t have to do in order to make their day brighter. It only takes a small spark to brighten a day. What’s more, that happiness builds on itself within you. When you create that spark in the life of someone you know, you’ll find that your own fire is a little brighter.

But just in case you need a reminder today, here are one hundred little things in life that bring joy and happiness. This list is a great starting point, but it’s up to you to use it as a jumping off place to find your own mindfulness and happiness.

100 everyday things that make us happy

  1. Singing – the song doesn’t matter at all.
  2. A good hair day.
  3. Snagging a great parking space.
  4. Catching every green light.
  5. A great song on the radio.
  6. Rolling in the grass.
  7. A smile from a stranger.
  8. Popping bubble wrap.
  9. Waking up just before the alarm clock goes off.
  10. A clean kitchen.
  11. Freshly vacuumed carpets.
  12. The silence after the vacuum is turned off.
  13. Riding with the windows down.
  14. Clean sheets.
  15. Unsubscribing from a junk email list.
  16. Getting mail that is not a bill.
  17. Finding surprise money in your pocket you’d forgotten about.
  18. A purring cat in your lap.
  19. A dog who greets you at the door after a long day.
  20. A great movie trailer.
  21. A bubble bath.
  22. Dancing when no one is watching.
  23. Washing your face with a warm washcloth.
  24. Looking for shapes in the clouds.
  25. An elevator that arrives immediately after you press the button.
  26. Arriving just in time for your bus/subway car/plane
  27. Looping your favorite song.
  28. Remembering a happy time in childhood.
  29. Beating a level in a video game.
  30. A hug.
  31. Warm clothes out of the dryer.
  32. A perfectly popped bag of popcorn.
  33. Baby animal videos.
  34. Stepping outside to find that the weather is just right.
  35. Wrapping a present.
  36. Fireflies
  37. Gazing up at the stars.
  38. Hearing birds singing as you open the window.
  39. Running through a sprinkler.
  40. Getting retweeted.
  41. Your team scoring a point.
  42. Your favorite meme.
  43. Someone liking your post.
  44. A sticky note in the middle of a computer screen.
  45. A phone that’s charged 100%.
  46. Catching your phone just before it falls into the sink.
  47. A new episode of your favorite show.
  48. No one in the checkout line.
  49. The perfect sandwich.
  50. How crunchy foods feel in your mouth.
  51. The first bite of an apple.
  52. Peeling and orange in one piece.
  53. The smell of good cooking.
  54. Running your hand along a wall.
  55. Stepping over the cracks in the sidewalk.
  56. Jumping rope.
  57. Dangling bare feet into water.
  58. Skipping down the street.
  59. Finding a great deal.
  60. Coupons.
  61. Picking up a penny.
  62. Tossing a penny into a fountain.
  63. Babies giggling.
  64. Kittens.
  65. Puppies.
  66. New clothes.
  67. Fuzzy socks.
  68. Freshly brushed hair.
  69. The smell of coffee.
  70. Holding a warm mug.
  71. A full moon in a clear sky.
  72. A flower in bloom.
  73. Sunlight through a window.
  74. Finishing the 100.
  75. Constructive rest.
  76. Twists.
  77. Shoulder massages.
  78. Foot massages.
  79. Watching a ceiling fan.
  80. Afternoon naps.
  81. Sleeping late.
  82. A productive morning.
  83. Singing happy birthday to someone.
  84. Donating to charity, even just a dollar.
  85. Giving blood.
  86. Helping someone who needs you.
  87. Being needed.
  88. Someone saying “thank you”.
  89. Saying “you’re welcome”
  90. Holding the door for someone who needs it.
  91. Bagging your own groceries.
  92. Leaving a great tip.
  93. Getting a great tip.
  94. Being early for an appointment.
  95. A childhood cartoon.
  96. Having just enough milk for that last bowl of cereal.
  97. Eating an ice cream cone.
  98. Candles.
  99. Straightening a picture.
  100. Getting to the end of a list.

There are so many little things in life to make us happy! We don’t have to wait around for the major events in order to find joy in life. Look around you every single day and you’ll see so many potential ways for you to find happiness.

Take a moment for yourself today with a quiet moment for wellness and reflection – try it for the next 100 Days and see how it changes your life!

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Workouts can become moving mediation.

Movement and mind are one and the same. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing in order to grow mindfulness in your life and exercise routine – building a mindfulness practice into your workout is one of the best ways to get more out of both your physical body and your mind.

Here are five ways to incorporate mindfulness into your workouts.

Focus on breath

Taking control of the breath is a key to taking control of the mind. Pilates offers very specific instruction on breathing during movements, helping to pull the body and mind together, but not all workout systems do. At first, it’s not important to try to control the breath, only to observe your patterns of breathing and to be aware of the breath as it comes in and out of your body. No matter what exercise you’re doing, focusing on the breath is a great way stay in the moment.

There are other benefits as well. Focusing on breath helps you to get more out of your workout by sending more oxygen to the muscles and to the brain. During a workout you need that boost even more than when you’re just going about your everyday life. There’s a reason that breath control is a central point for so many exercise systems – it works!

Try breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, and exhale during the work of the exercise. You’ll find that the more that you’re able to align your breath with your movement, the more you’ll be able to take control of your workouts and the easier it will be to let go of distractions so that your movements and your thinking can become one and the same.

Use mantras

A mantra is just a word or phrase that you repeat over and over again during meditation. It doesn’t have to be extraordinary or spiritual, but the effect of using a mantra is powerful. Mantras can help you to feel stronger and less like you want to give up. They can be incredibly empowering, propelling you forward when you don’t want to keep going. They focus the mind on the moment, pulling attention away from wandering thoughts and back to the reality of the here and now.

Here are some examples of mantras that you can say to yourself, either out loud or internally. And of course it’s great to come up with your own – use what works, because there are no rules!

  • One movement at a time.
  • My body is getting stronger.
  • I am strong. I am powerful.
  • My mind believes it, my body can achieve it.
  • Just do it.
  • I’m doing this for me.

 

Whatever kind of repeated word or phrase you find to be useful is what you should be using. It could be something as simple as repeating the word “focus” again and again, or something as complex as a quote from a favorite fitness hero. Whatever it is, incorporating a repeated word or phrase into your exercise is powerful.

Visualize

Using the mind to the fullest extent often means thinking in new and innovative ways. While it’s true that our stated goal here is to use mindfulness to pull the body and mind together, sometimes the best way to do that is to disengage from the world around us. For instance you might visualize yourself speeding down a wooded path during a workout on a stationary bike, or running on the beach as you power down the treadmill.

Pulling your mind out of your current surroundings is a great way to help your body and mind to become in tune with one another. People who visualize during workouts often find that they can actually sense their bodies more effectively and that their form actually improves as they let go of distraction.

Be aware of your self-talk

You’re saying things to yourself, whether you realize it not. There is constantly a voice in the back of your mind that is offering a commentary on what’s going on inside you and around you. What is it saying? Is it encouraging you to move forward or is it holding you back? These are some significant questions to think about because negative self-talk can have a tremendously stifling effect on your ability to move forward and can even be the catalyst that pushes you back.

Once you’re aware of your self-talk, you’ll then be able to mold it into positive self-talk that will take you to the next level. Changing your inner dialogue can really help you to reach your goals. This is one area where tapping into the power of a mantra can help you to change the way you talk to yourself during a workout.

Focus on one thing

In order to bring mindfulness to your workout, focus on just one thing at a time. It truly doesn’t matter what you concentrate on – that part is entirely up to you and your coaches or mentors.

This might start with something as simple and straightforward as counting your steps or counting your breaths. You might focus on one spot straight in front of you or think hard about releasing tense muscles. You can even focus on the burn that you’re feeling, which can surprisingly actually make the sensation feel better! That’s because as you pull your attention to it, you learn to feel stronger and less afraid of the discomfort.

By pulling your attention directly to one specific thing, you’ll let go of distractions and keep yourself in the moment.

Whether you add in one or all of these mindfulness techniques into your workout, you’ll notice the results. Working out shouldn’t be a chore – it’s something that should make our bodies and minds feel invigorated, even as exercise challenges us. When you bring your body and mind together, movement can push them both to improve.

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Though it’s a widespread belief that mindful mediation is a thing in which people sit down cross-legged and stay still and silent for hours on end, in but the truth is that mediation is so much more than that. Mindful meditation is about being here and present in this moment, without thinking about what’s coming next or what’s come before. Particularly today with the swirl of electronics and the sway of mounds of tasks to occupy our minds, it’s a monumental challenge for us to feel as though we’re right here and now. Our bodies our in one place and our minds completely another.

10 Benefits of pairing mindfulness with fitness

 

Adding mindful meditation to the workout has a wide variety of benefits, allowing for improvements in physical, mental and emotional health.

Stress reduction

 

It’s well-documented that just one month of practicing mindfulness brings down stress levels dramatically, both in the sense that people feel less stressed and in the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) that can be found in their bodies. Working out is already a powerful way to reduce stress, but adding in mindfulness offers a perfect pairing, increasing the results.

Clearer thinking

 

Mindfulness leads to more focus and clearer thinking. Working out sends much needed blood flow to the brain, washing it in oxygen and mind building nutrients. Adding mindfulness into the mix increases verbal reasoning skills, working memory and concentration.

Knowledge of self

 

Who are you? What do you want out of life? It’s easy to just plug in and keep going, without realizing whether or not this is the kind of path that you should be on, the one that really makes you happy. Practicing mindfulness gives the mind the chance to slow down and get thinking about what’s really important instead of being constantly focused on task lists. There’s a chance to realize flaws within yourself as well as opportunities. That clarity is far more valuable than many of us can imagine without it.

Better form

 

Attaining great form is an important part of any workout routine. It prevents injury and leads to results. However attaining great form doesn’t happen when you’re constantly thinking about something else. In order to improve form and perfect technique, presence is a must. Adding mindfulness to the regimen helps to keep the focus where it should be – on the body.

Improved awareness

 

Somewhere along the line it became cool to hate being active. The couch potato culture that’s been snowballing for decades is something that everyone has to wrestle with, and that causes many people to actually fear activity. Mindfulness shows us that there really isn’t anything to fear – being present in your body and in this moment is not only perfectly alright, it’s actually pretty amazing! Instead of trying to escape the occasional discomfort of exercise, mindfulness helps us learn to enjoy our bodies even as we push them to change and improve.

Easier weight loss

 

Regularly practicing meditation is linked to improved outcomes for people who are trying to lose weight. That’s right, sitting still and clearing your mind can help you to reach those weight loss goals. Why? For all of the reasons that we’ve listed here that mindfulness is great for you! Bodily awareness, improved focus and attention, better understanding of self, etc. These reasons and others that we perhaps can’t even put our finger on are all contributing factors for hitting those goals when it comes to bodily changes.

Fewer sick days

 

Nothing challenges the great groove of a workout routine like getting sick. Mindfulness meditation is directly linked to lower incidences of illness, and for those that do get sick the duration is shortened. Now that doesn’t mean that if you meditate that you’re never going to get a cold, but a regular practice will make you less likely to catch that virus that’s running rampant through the gym.

A better night’s sleep

 

Getting a solid amount of sleep is an integral part of staying healthy and supporting those workouts. When the mind regulates itself more effectively, it’s less likely to be out of control at bedtime when the brain needs to be taking a break. As working out regularly has a similar effect, when the two are put together it’s a perfect recipe for getting the right kind of sleep in order to stay healthy.

Self improvement

 

Meditation and mindfulness actually make us better people. Though it may seem a little outlandish, it’s actually true that practicing the art of mindfulness increases empathy, in those who practice. What does that have to do with working out? Success in life isn’t just about the self, and in order to get the most out of your workouts you’ve got to be able to connect with others. People who really become passionate about health and fitness aren’t just concerned for themselves, but for the people around them who deserve to be happy and healthy. Mindfulness helps to take the workout mindset out to the wider world, inflaming your own passion for getting fit.  

Long lasting effects of mindful meditation

 

One of the truly amazing aspects of meditation and mindfulness practices are that they have these incredible effects that stick with you, they are there for long after the meditation session is over. Once that meditation session is over, the brain continues to have improved emotional regulation and attention span. We can really see here how much meditation is like working out – the results are something that we can count on. Working out and mindfulness are two parts of your health and fitness life that you want to stick with you for today and for the years to come.

While Pilates and mindfulness go hand in hand, thanks to the body-mind connection that is a focus of Pilates, mindfulness is something that can be incorporated into any workout system. Adding a mindfulness practice into your workout routine helps to created a well-rounded experience, one that promotes health and wellness in holistic way.

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Being a parent can be tough. We’re seeing more and more kids being diagnosed with what were once adult diseases, things like diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. That’s not to speak of the dramatic social and emotional problems like attention issues and lack of motivation that are also running rampant through young people and which are equally important aspects of health and wellness.

Today’s society is full of influences that don’t just reach in from the schoolhouse and the neighborhood, but also reach in from televisions, mobile phones, tablets and laptops. These influences often cause unhealthy habits that can follow children well into adulthood. Shaping the health and wellness of our children, therefore, has become a huge challenge.

How can parents raise fitness minded kids? The solutions are surprisingly simple, yet can be difficult to carry out. Take heart! This is doable for every single family out there and though it can be a challenge at first, families quickly find that making changes offers such tremendous benefits that they were well worth it – for everyone involved.

The basics of fitness-minded kids

There are a few things that kids need in order to grow up as fitness-minded adults. Some of these are quite easy to make happen, while others are tremendously difficult. Keep in mind that you don’t have to get this all done at once – it’s ok to begin with just one!

60 minutes of physical activity each day

For many families that number can seem overwhelming given the high amount of time that kids spend in school however keep in mind that the time spent active does include physical education time at school or activities like dance, karate or soccer that happen after school. Recess is unfortunately becoming a thing of the past and that physical movement time is something that families must make time for. When you get this piece incorporated you’ll be amazed at how well kids do, and the improvements that you see in sleep patterns, focus skills, dietary habits and more.

Tip: Go for a family walk after dinner, enjoy a quick game of soccer together in the backyard or try out some exercises like those from 100s to Happiness together. You can even throw on a physically active video game. These are great ways to connect with kids and strengthen your family bonds as well.

Moderation in moderation

There are very few things in life that have to happen 100% of the time. Not leaving a child in a hot car, turning off the stove and looking both ways before you cross the street are just a few examples of things that have to be done without exception. However kids need to understand that health is one of those things that allows you to indulge in as long as it’s in moderation. So having a cupcake a birthday party or noshing on some holiday candy is perfectly fine, but a candy bar every day is too much. The same goes for working out or physical activity – it’s ok to take a bit of time off as long as it’s in moderation.

When you’re working together as a family, it means that means that everyone has a voice. Allow your kids to have autonomy when choosing when and how indulgences happen to help them learn to self regulate moderation.

Tip: Agree to family rules about moderation to make it more plug and play, taking the pressure off in moments of struggle. That could mean taking one day a week off from exercise or going out for an indulgent family mean every Friday night. Having those systems in place is critical to everyone’s success.

Customize your child’s fitness

Getting excited about fitness is a lot easier when you’re doing something that you’re excited about. Allowing a child to have a say in what they do for fitness helps them to make it their own. Any kind of physical activity will do. For some kids it might be gymnastics, for others it could be soccer. Swimming is a wonderful physical activity to encourage or you could even try rock climbing or gardening. Think outside of the box and allow each child to learn to express themselves through fitness.

The key part here is to make it regular and help kids stick with it. Finding a long term way to stay physically active doesn’t have to mean signing up for a sport, though that’s a traditional and perfectly valid way to get it done. There are also lots of great workout programs for home that kids can get excited about. Classes at a gym are great for kids who are twelve and up and can participate effectively in adult classes even if there aren’t special classes offered for their age.

Tip: Parents shouldn’t forget that they’re the role models when it comes to customizing fitness. Finding out the kind of fitness activities that motivate a parent will spur the child on to get excited about it themselves!

Environment is everything

What truly shapes young minds and bodies is the environment in which they live. That goes for the home environment and the school environment. In order to for kids to grow up health conscious and able to make great fitness choices, they have to be surrounded by a positive experience that puts an emphasis on the right kinds of food decisions and exercise habits. We even have an app that can help guide you for 100 days of fitness and wellness, making fitness fun, easy, and accessible on your handheld device!

It cannot be overstated –

Parents play the key role in the choices that their kids make and the behaviors that they act out.

 

Children are looking at their parents. At every move that they make, everything that they do. With children, there is no hiding, there is no way to pull the wool over their eyes. They are going to reflect the parent. That magic mirror is a beautiful thing, but also a sobering realization. In order for kids to be fitness minded, parents have to be.

Creating a fitness minded environment that values the importance and benefits of getting healthy is the central pillar of raising fitness minded kids. That focus simply has to be there, and everything else is going to stem from that focus. The great news – creating that environment means that everyone in the family gets to benefit!

 

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“It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” – Lucille Ball

 

You deserve to be happy. Not because you’ve done something special, or because you were born into a certain place and time – you deserve to be happy because every person does. This is an intrinsic right, one that is a part of all people, no matter what their past might include or what kind of life they might have come from. The potential for happiness lies within us all.

Pilates is a system of exercise that’s not just about changing the body, it’s about empowering the spirit and taking control of life. One of the reasons that Pilates has becomes so popular is because it teaches us not only to learn to love our bodies, but also to learn to take control and find our way.

Today’s world offers information and opportunities that are unprecedented in history. We have more of a chance today to find happiness than at any other time before. Though the world is full of problems, the knowledge is here for you and for me to grab hold of our journey and to create the fulfillment that we deserve.

That’s all very easy to say, but actually getting there isn’t so easy. The world is a weighty place. Depression, anxiety, coping mechanisms and the pressures of life can build up layer after layer of gunk that keeps happiness from coming into our lives. It can feel nearly impossible to just be happy. Why, even when life seems to be going beautifully, does this stew of mediocrity or inaccessibility seem to just keep hanging on? Figuring out which changes to make in order to fill in the things that aren’t falling into place is no small task, but there are some wonderful ways to reset yourself and begin take charge of your own happiness.

Questions to ask yourself when seeking happiness

 

Just getting started is a challenge, but once you get going on the path to finding out what makes you happy you’ll discover that it’s something that just flows along, easily and wonderfully enriching your life.

Here are five questions to ask yourself to get you started on figuring out what makes you happy. Either go over these simply as you read through, or for even better results grab a sheet of paper and record your answers. Putting them down on paper will really help you to solidify what you’re feeling and to make the whole process more concrete, which will make it much easier for you to pursue your happiness.

Another important note here is that there are truly no right or wrong answers here. Be open to your answers and honest with yourself. There’s no one looking over your shoulder or checking to make sure that what you’re writing is “correct”.

If you had unlimited resources (time, money, etc.), what would you do with yourself?

 

The fantasy of being overwhelmingly wealthy is one that just about everyone finds themselves indulging in from time to time. And there are most certainly people on this planet who have seemingly every luxury and accommodation that could possibly be out there. However we all know that wealth doesn’t equal happiness, nor does the time that it can buy you.

So if you weren’t impeded by the constraints of finances and the time that you currently use to pursue the money that keeps a roof over your head and food in your mouth, what exactly would you do with yourself? How would you make use of your time? Given unlimited possibilities, what would you choose to do?

Given sixty seconds to describe yourself to a total stranger, what would you say?

 

Knowing who you are is a core part of figuring out what makes you happy. Think about this question long and hard, and don’t just jump to the normal answers that revolve around what you do – think about who you are. A great way to tackle this question is to come at it from the angle of determining what you would tell someone who you were embarking on a relationship with rather than what you might say in a job interview. Think about the things that are important to you, the aspects of yourself that you most highly value.

Who would you be if you knew you could fail?

 

Fear plays a central role in why we aren’t happy. Figuring out who you would be if you could let go of fear will tell you a lot, because it will key you into who you could be. Assuming there were no risks at all, no chance whatsoever that anything could stand in your way – what would you love to pursue? This could be in terms of relationships, education, career, personal accomplishments, anything at all. In fact it’s a great idea to think about this question from a variety of different angles in order to really understand it.  

What are your core personal values?

 

What are the 4-5 values that are most important to you in life? Think about this question in terms of your ideal life, and don’t be held back by any limitations that you might feel because of actions that you’ve made. In this exercise, remember that you’re free from mistakes. When you’re able to figure out exactly what values you find to be the most important, you’ll then be able to figure out what your priorities should be. Think about things that are good, desirable, useful and constructive in life. These serve as guiding principles for your journey towards happiness.

What aspects of life make you truly happy?

 

Most people aren’t happy because they find themselves chasing the wrong things. If it’s family that really makes you happy, then you’re not going to be happy with your life if you work long hours or travel a great deal. Here’s where the hard part comes because, unlike in previous questions, here it becomes obvious that you don’t have unlimited resources. However realizing what your priorities are is a great way for you to realize that you’re free. You’re free from restrictions, free from demands. There is always a way, always a path. You might have to think well outside of the box, to extend your view and take chances in order to pursue that happiness.

Lots of people say things for their whole life like, “I’d love to live at the beach,” but then over the course of an entire lifetime they never make that happen. Why? If waking up to the sound of the ocean is really the thing that would make you happy, then there are most certainly ways to make that happen. That desire might be at odds with other values, like the desire to be close to family or the need to attend a certain college in order to move forward. These are tough issues that often leave us with a great deal many more questions than answers. However there’s a huge difference in seeing the limitations in life that are keeping you from moving forward and just blindly groping for fulfillment without any knowledge of why or how the process works or doesn’t.

Happiness truly flows from empowerment. Finding out what makes you happy is the first step on the path to getting what you want out of life. Then, download our 100s to Happiness app for 100 small steps–just one a day–that can help you on your path to happiness. Starting on your path is amazingly life changing.

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Getting more out of your life by taking control of the health of your mind and body is within your reach. 100’s to Happiness is here to help you with options that fit your level, your lifestyle and your goals with virtual classes. Virtual classes are a core part of what we’re all about, and with good reason. Flexible and accommodating, challenging and exciting, virtual classes are an interface that work for almost everyone. This is a technology that truly enriches your Pilates practice, helping you to make the most of your hard work.  

There are so many marvelous reasons to subscribe to the on the Go Virtual Classes offered by 100s to Happiness, but here are the top five:

1 – Challenge yourself by going beyond 100

Completing 100 challenges is a solid way to kickstart a change in your lifestyle, but they aren’t the end. In order to keep growing you’ve got to keep going.

The virtual classes offered through 100s to Happiness give you the next step in the process, extending your practice from the mastery of a single exercise to a complete routine. Part of the beauty of Pilates is that it’s a system that’s extensive and varied. Thanks to its long history and rich diversity, you can keep developing your practice with new exercises, variations on current moves, form improvements and dynamic combinations of movement.  

2 – Access them anywhere

Virtual classes can be accessed anywhere – from your phone or on the web. That’s important because it means that you’re not limited in where you’re able to get your workout done! We live in a super busy world, one in which it’s not always possible to get to the gym. With virtual classes that you can access anywhere, you can get your fitness routine in everywhere.

In fact, the workouts included in the virtual classes are specifically designed to be done with minimal or no equipment! You can literally sneak one in anywhere that you’ve got just a bit of space just by pulling up the app on your phone and joining in with the video exercises.

3 – It’s cheaper than the gym

At just $4.99 per month, the On the Go subscription is a steal! Your gym membership is probably at least double that, plus there’s the additional cost of getting yourself there. The On the Go subscription allows you to get fit while minding your budget.

4 – Access to Pilates experts

No matter where you live, no matter what kind of Pilates resources are in your area, you can have access to experts in Pilates through these virtual classes. Whether you’re wanting to refine your techniques or to learn the right way from the start of your Pilates journey, you’ll be able to get access to the expertise that you need to do it all right.

There is no substitute for experience, which is something the creators of 100s to Happiness virtual classes have in spades. The instructors that you see in virtual classes and workshops through our online subscription are PMA certified and masters of this craft.

5 – A healthier you!

Your body matters and so does your mind. Pilates helps you to enrich and support them both, empowering you to improve your overall health. There are so many health benefits for people who practice this amazing form of exercise.

Just in case you needed a reminder, here’s a quick refresher on the benefits that you get with Pilates:

  • Increased muscle tone
  • Core strengthening
  • Improved flexibility
  • Enhanced muscular control
  • Spine stabilization
  • Improved posture
  • Better balance and coordination
  • Injury prevention
  • Increased lung capacity through breath control
  • Stress reduction

 

By expanding your practice with virtual classes, you’ll see your health grow through Pilates by leaps and bounds. You’re taking control of your body, becoming more in tune with who you are and giving you a better understanding of your body and mind. You can do it and virtual Pilates classes will make it easier.

Whether you’ve already joined the 100s to Happiness community or are brand new, you’ll find that signing up for virtual classes is easy! Just login (or quickly create a login) through our website or by downloading the free app on iOS or Android devices. Once you’re registered, you’ll be able to access a free virtual classes so that you can try before you buy. From there you’ll be able to enter your payment information and take your Pilates practice to the next level!

 

 

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