Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Word of the Month: Space

Our word of the month for October is SPACE which is a continuation from September of The Dailey Method Secondary Alignment Principles: Stability, Space, Support and Smile!

As we Align/Engage/Move (our primary alignment principles) we can get even deeper by putting intention on the “4S’s” mentioned above. In September we practiced STABILITY, focusing on foundation, grounding, arriving, noticing, connecting with breath, and feeling/finding stability within. Keeping the supportive foundation and practice of STABILITY, we can expand our focus to making SPACE.

Truth: “SPACE” is a step many of us skip (in TDM practice, and in life) because we’re impatient, controlling, distracted, rushing… or just eager, excited and ready to GO NOW! In class you may want to get right into your strongest plank, thigh-work and seat-work. In life, we often plow forward to fit it all in, rarely pausing between one thing and the next. SPACE is about noticing these tendencies, and making choices to open up to a deeper experience. Space is exactly what we need to get that AMAZING class/life we are constantly striving for. If we remember to pause and take a breath, make space…  guess what? Plank, thigh-work and seat-work are deeper and stronger and feel way better! And the same can go for the larger arena of our lives.  

Here are some ways to start creating more SPACE for yourself right now:

NOTICE. Every time you arrive in your practice, take a few seconds to just notice your body (sensations), your mind (thoughts, your brain-machine never stops generating), and your heart (emotions that are present right now). Fully arrive and begin your practice with intention. As soon as we NOTICE sensations, thoughts and emotions, we can separate from them. If we can observe them, we are not them and we don’t need to be controlled by them. Notice. Observe yourself.

SOFTEN. What??? Not the word you think of first in an exercise class, right? Try it. When you’re coming into thigh-work, soften first, notice your stability and then breathe. This softening not only centers your body and mind, it also immediately opens up SPACE, and sets the stage for better alignment and a deeper experience. When you soften and breathe, you find better foundation, your collar bones widen, your heart opens, your lungs expand, your energy flows, and your senses heighten. It allows the bones of your body to more properly align naturally, without you forcing it. Softening allows you to invite, receive, respond, center, connect, expand and be open to possibility.

INHALE. One of the best ways to make more space is to take a deep breath. See if you can refine your breathing practice this month, noticing what happens every time you breathe in. Use your inhalation to find space and length from your heels through the crown of your head. Inhale to expand your heart and lungs! Feel stuck in an exercise? Feel stuck in life? Take a deep breath and inhale.  

FOCUS. With focus and attention we can create space in our bodies. Here are some things for you to practice in class and cues you will hear from your Teachers to help you find more space: 
- Move your inner thighs in, back and apart to widen your sitz bones- this will create space in your SI joint.
- Broaden and laterally expand your legs and pelvis apart- this allows the thigh bones to stabilize deeper in the pelvis and better align your knee joint.
- Practice breathing more space and length into all four sides of your body (side body long) from your hip-bone to bottom rib. Making more SPACE in your torso on all sides will enable you to get deeper in abdominal work and allow for greater length and range of motion for your spinal cord.
- Draw your arm bones slightly upward and widen your collarbones- this will allow optimal shoulder alignment and greater range of motion for your shoulder girdle.
- Feel better cervical alignment by lifting your jaw line parallel to the floor and allowing your throat and back of skull to ease back, bringing your ears over your shoulders into your plumb-line- creating a healthy cervical spine curvature.
- Notice how the small expanding adjustments impact the way you feel in your positions. All of these actions work to help you place the bones in better alignment and should add EASE to your body prior to the deep muscular engagement that will come next with SUPPORT.  

ACCEPT & ALLOW. A big part of making SPACE is accepting and allowing. Showing up for your practice every day also means noticing, accepting and loving your body every day exactly where it is. Accept ebbs and flows, in practice and in life. Allow for setbacks. Make your TDM practice a physical, mental and emotional SPACE that is supportive, centering, positive, honoring, and empowering. Accept. Allow. Then MAKE SPACE in every way you can so you are also ready to expand, evolve and transform. That’s a life practice, and one that never ends!

We are holding a BIG supportive space for all of you, and for this amazing extended TDM family.  

-- Jill & Lorna

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

30 Clean Recipe Ideas

I am in the midst of The 30 Clean (day 10 and feeling great!) so wanted to share some of my favorite recipes with you. When I do a cleanse like this it’s what I make for everyone for dinner. My family goes on a cleanse and doesn’t even know it! That’s how good this food is.

1 handful mixed greens
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon
roma tomato sliced and quartered
½ avocado sliced into chunks
2 slices bacon preferably organic, center cut and free of added sugar and nitrates
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste 
*Note: I added onions and pea shoots

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Lay bacon on the rack of a foil lined baking sheet.
3. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until crispy.
4. Meanwhile toss the mixed greens with olive oil & lemon.
5. Plate the greens, roma tomato and avocado.
6. Top with chopped bacon.    

2 cups snap peas
2 cups garden peas
5 cups arugula
2 cups kale, stems removed
½ cup mint leaves, chopped – can do more depending on your taste
1½ -2 avocados, cubed
¼ cup lemon vinagrette
Pepitas and coarse sea salt for garnish

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath.
2. Wash the sugar snap peas and de-string them if necessary, snapping the tip and removing the fibrous strand running lengthwise. If the snap peas are young, you won’t have to do this. Drop the sugar snap peas into the pot of boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes, then strain out and drop them into an ice bath. Once cooled, strain.
3. Combine arugula, kale and mint to a serving bowl.
4. Add peas, avocado and dressing and mix well.
5. Top with pepitas, salt and any additional toppings and season with salt and pepper if needed.

1 1/2 cups fully cooked chickpeas, towel dried
zest + juice of 2 limes, divided (my limes were extra juicy-seeming)
olive oil
chili powder (chipotle, ancho, whatever you like)
salt + pepper
1  head of cauliflower, core removed
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1/2 tbsp maple syrup/raw honey/agave nectar
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup flat parsley leaves
2 sprigs fresh mint, leaves sliced
2 green onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 crisp apple (like fuji or pink lady), sliced thin
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the chickpeas out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle them with a bit of lime zest, chili powder, salt, pepper, and about a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the chickpeas to coat and slide the tray into the oven. Roast until lightly crispy and golden, about 15 minutes.
2. Start turning the cauliflower into rice in batches. Place a few handfuls of the florets into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Pulse the florets until you have small, rice-ish bits of cauliflower. Scrape the “riced” cauliflower into a large bowl. Repeat with remaining cauliflower.
3. Whisk together the remaining lime zest, juice, a little splash of water, some salt and pepper, the grainy mustard, maple syrup, and 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil. Pour it over the cauliflower rice and toss to coat.
4. To the large bowl, add the radishes, parsley leaves, mint, scallions, chives, sliced apple, and roasted chickpeas. Toss it all lightly to combine. Top it all of with the diced avocado, sunflower seeds, and some more salt and pepper.

What are your favorite recipes? Please tell me in the comments below!

Bon Apetit,

-- Jill

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fit Tip: Why Balance is so Important!

One of the greatest joys of developing and teaching The Dailey Method is the knowledge that what our students learn and practice in class will help them to be stronger and healthier outside of the studio. Your Dailey Method practice will prevent injuries and allow you to participate in all of the things you love to do.

One of the most important ways in which The Dailey Method will benefit you in the long term is by improving your balance. Balance naturally degrades as we age due to loss of muscle and bone mass as well as deterioration in senses such as vision and proprioception. Falls are the leading cause of injuries in older adults; each year one in every three adults 65 years and older falls!

Good news! Research shows that exercise programs that incorporate balance work can slow that degradation as we age. The Dailey Method helps maintain and improve balance throughout class in a number of ways:
- Core strengthening exercises improve balance and coordination by creating stability from the inside out. 
- Exercises that strengthen the muscles that support the hips and pelvis are particularly important in improving balance. 
- Single legged exercises challenge your balance with a less stable base of support. One more reason to love standing single leg lifts, single legged lunges, standing seat work, and stretches such as dancer’s pose, tree pose, and Dailey barre stretch!

Additionally, The Dailey Method’s strong focus on alignment and postural awareness helps to improve proprioception. Proprioception can be thought of as a sixth sense. It is your ability to sense where your body is in space. Your muscles, tendons and ligaments are constantly sending signals to your brain as you move. Your brain responds by sending signals back to your muscles telling them when and how much to contract and release to keep you balanced and to keep your movements smooth and coordinated.

And finally, The Dailey Method incorporates a large repertoire of multi-joint and multi-planar exercises. By working more than one joint and muscle group simultaneously and by moving your body in all planes, your brain and your muscles are challenged. You are strengthening your mind-muscle connection, resulting in better balance and more graceful and synchronized functional movements.

The final resting pose at the end of each Dailey Method class is just as important for balance as all the work you’ve done throughout the class. Final rest gives your nervous system the chance to integrate all the deep muscle work you’ve done. It allows your mind much needed quiet and stillness leaving you with improved clarity to take on the rest of your day. It allows your heart and soul the opportunity to express appreciation and gratitude to yourself for your dedication, your hard work, and your decision to lead a balanced life.

Here’s to finding more balance inside and outside the studio!

-- Jill

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Dailey Playlist

Music is pretty much always on my mind, but it has been even more so lately and inspired my blog topic this week. Yes, you’ve heard it… I LOVE Spotify. The quantity of music right at your fingertips is so fun and exciting. The opportunity it allows you to get inspiration from others, create, and change up playlists is truly life changing - if you have my life:). When I have a great playlist I know I teach a better class because I’m motivated and inspired. It’s also incredibly motivating to me as a student when my teachers have current, interesting and creative playlists. I make it a goal to always have a playlist that I love. Here’s my current spotify list that I’m taking to Chicago with me for the upcoming teacher workshop series (keep a watch on my instagram for photos from that). Maybe it will inspire you to do a little thigh dancing or push-ups all on your own!  

click on image to enlarge

A couple of notes on how I design my playlists:
- I always have music in the beginning of my list that that doesn’t necessarily work for class but  for the student's enjoyment while they’re entering and preparing for class. It sets the mood but still keeps a calm energy- we can pick it up once I put on the microphone!
- I try to have a balance of great new music and old music. I know students really appreciate hearing the new but also familiarity to music is really powerful when people are working deeply.
- I try not to use songs that have profanity but sometimes the song just demands to be played. My daughter Nico loves to help me find songs and she found All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor a couple weeks ago. She said “Mom there’s a couple bad words but it really has positive messaging.” Love! Done!
- I do my best to time my music so that one song will roll into the next. I use my playlist to keep me on track with timing. Now you know- if I have to rewind a song “uh oh!” it’s your 70 minute class.

Here’s some pointers on my current list just in case you want to envision where you’ll be during class for the different songs:
- My warm-up song is Another Love by Tom Odell- LOVE this song right now!
- Big surprise! you’ll be in thighwork and back dancing with “my boy” Pitbull.
- You’ll be stretching during Battle Scars and Good Girls.
- Life of the Party is for Savasana, helping you walk out stronger, healthier and calmer.

Happy listening!

-- Jill