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  • Marcia

Self Care December Challenge Week 4

All through December I posted on self-care, and you can see day 23 - 31 here!

Day 23:

Pose like a cobbler

... cause cobblers know how to party. Or at least make party shoes. I don't know how many cobblers can cobble lying down, but it's none of my business. They can also stretch their inner thighs like nobody's business, and that's what we're about today. We've been on a bit of a theme with opening up the hips, but that's how important it is. A few tips:

  • I've got my head propped because comfort.

  • Your arms can go wherever you like

  • If it's too intense just letting it all open, try putting cushions under your knees or thighs to prop you up a bit. Then you can ease into it.

  • Throw down some lazy cobbler whenever you like. As Madonna says - Strike a pose, there's nothing to it.

Day 24:

Crescent Stretch

Crescent like crescent moon, or like crescent roll. But that's confusing, cause we're definitely NOT going to roll in this stretch. Personally, I try to imitate a banana. Whatever inspires you - you do that. A few tips:

  • Your arms don't have to be straight - play around with it

  • Use a pillow under your head if you feel like you're arching your back

  • I've got my ankles crossed, but it's not required

  • Biggest thing? Keep both hips and shoulders on the floor. If the outside shoulder and hip lift up you are not bending, you are rolling, and we talked about that!

Day 25:

Angelic Arms

Merry happy to you! You are probably free and easy today (or at least I hope so) and so you can celebrate with some angel arms! This stretch is amazing for the entire upper body anywhere you have space to spread out, but there's nothing like taking it outside and doing snow angels! A few tips:

  • Face up is best. Just saying.

  • Legs optional but encouraged

  • Try rotating your arms different directions. It's different stretch!

Day 26:

I'm a block-head!

... wait, maybe I said that wrong. I have a block under my head - that's more accurate I think. And yes, we've done a neck stretch already this month, but anything you can do lying down is worth the time. And this is one is worth it. Our poor neck muscles get so tight and cranky, you won't be sorry to do this one. In fact, you might find yourself wondering if you could sleep this way. I don't know, but let me know if you try it. A few tips:

  • Put the edge of the block right at the base of your skull (your hair line)

  • The block should encourage your head to 'roll' forward and down

  • We'd like the back of the neck to lengthen, so if you feel like there's still an inward curve back there you might try repositioning.

  • Don't force it. I don't think there's any hope of putting your head back on if it comes flying off.

Day 27:

"Fatigue is the common enemy of us all - so slow down, rest up, replenish and refill." - Jeffrey R Holland

I joke with people that I am a high performing amateur when it comes to sleep, and if there was a pro-tour I'd be there. I could be a contender! But seriously, sleep is the most restorative, necessary thing we can do daily. Now I'm a really good sleeper, but I don't pretend to be an expert about it. All I can say is that poor sleep quality and quantity are commonly reported to me as one of the greatest hurdles in people's day. There really seems to be an epidemic of sleeplessness, and it's time to make good sleep a priority. If you are willing to consider a few pointers from a high performing amateur, A few tips:

  • If my brain is over-tired, I have a hard time sleeping. Mental rest is not the same as sleep in my experience. Having a nice wind-down activity before bed is really helpful here. I'm a bath and book fan.

  • If I haven't moved enough, I can't fall or stay asleep. Daily movement and exercise is vital.

  • If you have a million things on your mind, write them down. You'll just keep thinking about them otherwise. I keep a pen and paper next to the bed for this reason. If I know I'll remember tomorrow, I can let it go.

  • If I wake up and can't fall back to sleep, I'll get out the foam roller or do a series of stretches (like, well, everything we've visited this month). Then I feel more relaxed and can get back in bed.

Day 28:

Eyes need rest, too!

Eyes are always on the move. They even move when we sleep! And I don't know about you, but my eyes get good and tired when I'm doing a lot of reading, driving, screen time, etc. Pretty much, my eyes get tired. So I keep a copy of this image taped on my window at the studio to remind me to give those peepers a break. A few tips:

  • Go outside, or to a window

  • Look at something that is very far away

  • You can switch between close and far, but most of the things we do in our day are close up things, so it's actually very restful to let them look far for a while

  • Making framing hands like a movie director is optional, but makes you look important.

Day 29:

"No is a complete sentence." - Anne Lamott

You go, Anne Lamott. I would love to be a bad-ass woman who just says, "No." After all, we all seem to believe that no is a naughty word. But in order to make room in our lives for the things we want, we have to stop inviting in the things we don't. It doesn't have to be rude, or mean. As Brene Brown says, 'Clear is kind.' And if the answer is no, the kindest thing you can do is just be clear. Let's practice!

  • I'm not able to commit to that right now.

  • I understand you really need my help, but I'm just not able to say yes to that.

  • No, I can't do that, but here's what I can do.

  • Under different circumstances I'd love to, but right now I can't.

Day 30:

“Breathing is the first act of life, and the last. Our very life depends on it ...Therefore, above all, learn how to breathe correctly." - Joseph Pilates

Anyone with a Pilates practice knows The Hundred, and I can tell you that no one is ever excited to do The Hundred. I mean, let's be honest, The Hundred can be hard work. But in that one exercise there's a great deal of wisdom, and threre's one extremely important piece that we tend to overlook - The Hundred is really just 10 deep breaths. And when I point this out to people, suddenly we don't mind doing the work anymore. Isn't that interesting? As I say, there's many benefits, but in my opinion the greatest one is the restorative, rejuvenating power to breathing deeply and fully 10 times. A few tips:

  • Don't worry about position, just make sure the posture you're in allows you to breathe fully. (This might be important for life, too. Huh.)

  • Don't worry if someone sees you. Invite them to join you!

  • Breathe all the way in through the nose, then all the way out through the mouth. We'll do it through the mouth for now because we're really gonna squeeze every last drop of air out of us and you don't want to spray boogers everywhere. Eww...

  • Breathe completely in and completely out 10 times and then marvel at how much better you feel. Seriously, it's pretty great.

Day 31:

"Do something every day that is loving toward your body and gives you the opportunity to enjoy the sensations of your body." - Golda Poretsky

We've reached the end of the month, then end of the year, and the end of the Restore self-care series! I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have and found a few useful thoughts and actions to take with you into the new year. Today more than any other we all have RESOLUTIONS on our mind, the good old laundry list of things we intend to do (or not do) in 2019. But I'd like to gently point out one very important thing I've learned on the Restore journey: Self-care and self-improvement are not necessarily the same thing. And resolutions, while well meant, can often be a list of things we don't like about ourselves. So resolve to your heart's content, but then take a look and ask yourself:

  • Am I resolving this because I love and care about myself, or is it coming from a place of negativity and judgment?

  • Is there room for mistakes? Because life happens, friend. It's okay to not do it perfectly.

  • Is it a realistic goal / expectation, or am I being unkind to myself?

  • Does this fill my cup, or drain it?

I hope 2019 brings self-love, self-fulfillment, self-realization, and heaps and heaps of loving self-care. Happy New Year!

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