Play time!!! Why is Circus Arts Appropriate for Everyone?

Play time!!! Why is Circus Arts Appropriate for Everyone?

 

“Play is the highest form of research.”
– Albert Einstein

Why Circus?

Historically, the circus has been a place where anyone and everyone is welcome and the possibilities of human potential are expanded. It comes to town and becomes the central gathering place, a community hub and a source of inspiration. Circus is a gathering of the others.

As a hybrid of art and sport, circus is comprised of a myriad of disciplines: dance, theatre, acrobatic, rhythm… As a result, it not only includes people of varied skills and abilities, but actually requires this diversity to be whole. When practicing circus arts, trust, coordination and communication skills are experientially developed and risk-taking curiosity is played out in a safe and controlled environment. The non-competitive yet physical nature of the form makes it a unique and beneficial outlet for all ages.

Circus Arts are a disciplined form of movement that is equally appealing to people of ALL ages and abilities! This type of training improves spatial awareness, coordination, self-esteem, physical fitness and trust. Working to meet goals is highly satisfying; everyone is part of a creative process when they join together to develop small group acts.

You can learn the basics of circus: beginning tumbling, handstands, juggling, hula-hoop, poi, spinning, diabolo, slackline, balloon sculpting, hand-to-hand, group pyramids, make-up and choreography. Through group activities, children learn the most important aspects of performing: leadership and communication skills.

We live in a culture that encourages us to experience disconnection from our bodies, our instinctual selves, each other and the world around us.

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the oldest definition of the verb “to play” is “to pay attention.” In a state of play, we experience the present moment. What can take many months of meditation to achieve happens instantly in play. We can use this as a roadmap home.

When we play, we are inside our bodies. When we are inside our bodies, we experience connection. Connection is everything. Connection heals.

Circus skills take work; you cannot fake them. They establish habits of discipline, patience and perseverance.

Exercise happens naturally in play. Circus is a practice of concentrated play.

The more we concentrate, the more fun we have. Practicing circus arts increases concentration and a sense of calm by working both hemispheres of our brain. When we focus and center ourselves, we are surprised at how wonderful we can be in our bodies. Circus allows us to suspend judgment and experience gratitude and joy within ourselves.

Circus is a practice of Joy, only requiring a desire to play, to push past your self-perceived limits.

Circus teaches partnership. Through connection and trust, we can create wonderful things together.

Chinese artists juggling dishes

Circus emphasizes cooperation over competition. Circus arts are non-competitive and require collaboration, trust and support of each other. When every individual shines, we experience true community.

  • Expand creativity, confidence, perseverance and positive sense of self while teaching life skills that lead to experiences of success and recognition.
  • Promote health and physical literacy through diverse physical activity, motor skills refinement and safe risk taking.
  • Develop powerful creative voices rooted in awareness and inclusivity.
  • Build trust, collaboration skills and teamwork by creating nourishing environments in which to challenge fears and develop positive personal relationships.
  • Integrate art into daily life by making it accessible to all.
  • Offer artistic gathering spaces in which to dialogue, dream, create and transform.
 

How I discover Zumba and why I am still loving it after over 10 years of teaching it

I am super passionate about health and fitness. I spend lot of time searching for the new trends and ideas that come out. In 2006, I found a DVD set on amazon and ordered it. It was Zumba’s first dvd set, Beto, the creator of Zumba couldn’t even speak English. He only spoke Spanish on the dvd. I loved it right away. My bellydance and fitness background made me feel like Zumba was the perfect combination for me. There was nothing like it on the market and its not a surprise Zumba became such a popular dance fitness revolution because it blends so many styles of music.

The following winter, in 2007, I saw a Zumba teacher training at a Can Fit Pro conference in Montreal. I registered right away and did my training in Montreal with Beto himself. When I started teaching Zumba, I realized how much people loved it. The music variety and the fitness aspect disguised into a dance party were the perfect combination. Over the years Zumba expended it’s musical repertoire a lot. At first it was mainly latino music; Salsa, Batchata, Merengue, Cumbia, Quedradita, Reggeaton, Calypso, Samba… Since then, many new styles of music have been added, from Funk to Afro- Cuban, Brazilian, Flamenco, Bellydance, Hip Hop, Jazz, Tango, to name a few. I have now been teaching Zumba for over 10 years. I taught Zumba to seniors, in high schools, in elementary schools, for fundraisers, for university students; I love that it get so many people together that simply have a love for music and moving. Dance is also good for your brain to, it increases coordination, balance, agility. On top of being good for your brain and body of course it feels so good for the soul. Each time I teach a class, it brings much joy and happiness to me and the participants. I often hear people telling me how they didn’t feel good before coming to class and how the class completely changed their moods. In the last fews years I’ve been enjoying adding more pop songs into my Zumba repertoire. I love that we can relate to a song we hear on the radio and can sing to it. I you feel intimidated by a Zumba class, just know that its purpose its simply to move. There is no right and wrong, and no dance show to perform to. You are only there to move your body, sweat and smile. The advice I give to participants its to start from the ground up; try to do the steps, then add the hips, the arms, then the hands. Make sure you add your special flare to it, after all we all have different bodies and we all move differently. Simply have fun and move your body!!!

A fews Zumba videos I took over the years. Hope you enjoy!

 

Click here for my calendar of current classes and click here for more information about dance classes I offer.

You can also check this article: Bellydance help understand how your hips and torso can move; 5 basic movement explain. Simply click here.

Journey to recovery from broken leg to walking again: How parents can support and help their kids

Journey to recovery from broken leg to walking again: How parents can support and help their kids

My oldest son Elohw broke his leg (tibia bone) 2 days after his 6th birthday. His broken leg has been in a full cast from his mid thigh to his toes for 6 weeks. The orthopaedic surgeon and doctor advised us not to let him put any weight on the leg while in the cast so it would heal better. Even though we had a pair of crutches for him to use, I never forced him to use them while he had his cast on, because I thought he would compensate too much and create wrong walking pattern At the same time, I wanted to listen to the specialist’s recommendation to make sure it would heal as well as possible.

We were all excited that he when it was time for him to get his cast off; we didn’t realize that would just be the beginning of the journey to recovery! Once the cast got off the orthopaedic surgeon told us his broken leg might grow crooked and we will have to be careful for a year to prevent complications. He also told us that the fracture was not fully healed and said: “if he was an adult we would have to put him back in a cast but because he his a kid he will heal fast enough.” We were a bit puzzled by his answer and asked him should we bring him to see the
physio. He advised us not to waste money on physio for a kid. We left the doctor office with our son and his “brand new leg” – and decided to do what seemed right to us based on our own journeys in our bodies.

I am so grateful about all my knowledge and experience with pain because I am able to support my son in his recovery journey. It has also made me realize how many parents must be at lost in a similar situation. I broke my femur when I was 19 and I know from experience that we compensate to avoid pain and create more pain at other place in our body; usually the spine and hips. So I keep bringing awareness to my son about his posture and remind him often.

I knew that the first thing we had to focus on was for his to gain mobility back in his joint before even being able to gain strength. So I started showing him simple exercises; pointing and flexing his foot and the second one flexing and extending his knee. I soon realize that out son had really low tolerance for pain and had gotten use to be carried around and scooting on his butt! I had to deal with lot of resistance and screaming. I tried encouraging the use of the crutches but that wasn’t working. I also discovered that I could go stretch him while he slept to help speed up the recovery.

We had a second visit at our family doctor and she kindly explained to us that he needs to start standing and using his crutches to put weight on the leg in order for the bones to grow. She told him that astronaut that go out in space lose bone density because they don’t weight bear without gravity.

We also took our son to the physio to see if she had different advice on to speed up the process. She explain that most kid are eager to get
up and going and they have to be slow down to not get hurt. (It was different for Elohw he was anxious about the pain and needed lot of encouragement.) She also explain to me that his ankle got compressed
in the cast and might be swollen for a few weeks. She show us a way to use the crutches that is more like a natural walk; step the opposite foot and crutches in the same time, instead of using it like we usually see people using like hopping without putting weight on the foot. She also confirmed that what I was already currently doing was
helpful and said that Elohw also had to work thought pain and move his leg as much as possible. She said pain if normal but if you feel pain 20-30 minutes after doing some simple exercises that is a sign that it was too much.

I am realizing how tricky it is to deal with mind set. My son right now keep saying “I can’t” – but I keep encouraging him to breath and tell him “Yes, you can!” He finally started to walk without the help of crutches and I put him on his bike as soon as possible to help him gain his strength and mobility back.

I hope this helps any parent in a similar situation, and I would appreciate any advice or thoughts you might have that could help us in our journey to healing.

What is mindfulness and why should you practice it in your daily life?

What is mindfulness and why should you practice it in your daily life?

Mindfulness is all about existing in the present moment by, letting go of judgements, fears, regrets and expectations. It is the ability to be aware of the present, go beneath the cloud of emotions to clearly see the truth of what is happening.

The untrained mind is often described as the “monkey mind” because it is constantly being distracted, moving from one thought, emotions or bodily sensation to an other. The mind is stuck in the past and or thinking about the future without really paying attention to what is happening right now. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that brings you back to the present moment.

You can start practicing mindfulness by allowing yourself to do nothing. Spend some time alone, sitting quietly and focusing on experiencing the world around you exactly as it is. Embrace emotion, thought or bodily sensations by allowing them to pass by like the weather. Stop trying to control them, just observe with them equanimity, and try not to judge what is happening.

Practicing mindfulness is really useful when you want to lose weight. Why? Because instead of putting food in your body while watching T.V. or some other distraction, you are being fully present to how the food tastes and feels in your body. You can be present within and be aware of whether you are eating because you are hungry or to push down some emotion that is rising up, like sadness or loneliness.

Mindful eating” encourages healthier eating habits, helps you lose weight, and helps us to savour the food we eat. “Eating becomes a succession of moments of mindfulness that might include the sight and smell of the food, the physical sensation of your arm being raised to your mouth, the sound of the food being chewed, the taste of the food, and even the thought, “This food is good.”Mindfulness enables us to make wise choices.”(Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/turning-straw-gold/201106/6-benefits-practicing-mindfulness-outside-meditation)

  • It helps you sleep better.
  • It makes you a better person, by making us more compassionate
  • It helps us even when we’re not actively practicing it.
  • It changes the brain and may be protective against mental illness.
  • It could help people with arthritis to better handle stress and fatigue.
  • It can make your grades better;
  • It helps us to tune out distractions, improve our memory and attention skills
  • It increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.
  • It lowers the stress hormone cortisol
  • It boost our immune system and ability to fight off illness
  • It is good for our moods, increase positive emotions
  • It is reduces depression, anger and hostility

The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life. Mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arises in your awareness at each moment. It involves being kind and forgiving toward yourself.” (Source: http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm)

One of the best anchors to help you come back to the present moment is your breath. Where ever you are, pause, and take a fews deep mindful breaths. And remember, a thousand miles journey starts one breath at a time!

What to eat before and after a workout? Eating right food right time

What to eat before and after a workout? Eating right food right time

How can I lose fat and weight? How can I tone my body? How can I have more energy throughout the day? What should I eat before and after a workout?

The topic of this post will be about eating the right food at the right time. Feeding your body properly before and after a workout is essential for burning calories from fat, keeping your energy up, building lean muscle and speeding recovery so you can train again. There are many opinions as to what you can eat before, during and after your workouts. It’s important to realize that these are general guidelines. We have different digestive systems and it also depends on what kind of workout you’re doing and how long is our workout. Know that what you put in your body (nutrition) is as important as you what you do with your body (exercise). This post is about food, but let’s not forgot the important of staying hydrate properly during the day. Make sure you keep your body hydrated with water.

The Importance of Eating Before Your Workout

Some people believe that working out on an empty stomach can burn more fat; research shows the body burns the same amount of fat whether you eat before or not. However, you can actually cause muscle loss if you regularly work out on an empty stomach. Here’s why: When you’re hungry, your body goes into survival mode and draws protein from muscle instead of from your kidneys and liver, where the body normally looks for protein. When this happens, you lose muscle mass, which can ultimately slow your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose weight. Plus, if you exercise on an empty stomach, you’re not giving yourself the fuel you need to power through an intense training session. Not giving proper fuel to your body before a workout is like “driving a car on empty,” You also might not have enough energy to maximize your workout and you limit your ability to burn calories.”

What to Eat Before Your Workout

The best pre-workout food contains some form of complex carbohydrate and a protein. Carbohydrates are digested faster than fat or protein, this is important, as eating too much fat or protein or even a large-carb meal within two hours before a workout will drive blood flow to the stomach, not the muscles. Carbohydrates are rapidly used up during a workout, leaving fat as the fuel the body will burn once the workout gets started. Avoid saturated fats and even a lot of healthy protein — because these types of fuels digest slower in your stomach and take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from your muscles “The key is to consume easily digested carbohydrates, so you don’t feel sluggish.” Here are some of my favorite snacks to keep me energized during my workout without weighing me down.

  • Banana with almond butter (2 tablespoons)
  • Multi-grain crackers (10) with hummus (3 tablespoons)
  • Apple and walnuts (1/4 cup)

The Importance of Eating After Your Workout

During exercise, your body uses the fuel stored in your muscles known as glycogen for energy. After workout, your muscles are depleted of their glycogen stores and broken down. Eating (or drinking) something that combines protein and carbohydrates 30 minutes to an hour after your workout refills energy stores, builds and repairs your muscles that were broken down, and helps keep your metabolism burning strong. Research shows that your body’s ability to refill muscle stores decreases by 50 percent if you wait to eat just two hours after your workout compared to eating right away after your workout.

What to Eat After Your Workout

According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, consuming protein and a little carbohydrate is best immediately after exercise. Here are the foods I eat after my training sessions to help speed up recovery, maximize exercise benefits, and help maintain lean muscle to aid in weight loss.

  • Protein shake made with half of a banana, one scoop of protein powder, almond milk, and hemp seeds (excellent protein source)
  • Salad with roasted chickpeas (1/2 cup), light olive oil and vinegar
  • Sautéed or steamed vegetables (1 cup) with non-GMO tofu (1/2 cup)
  • Quinoa bowl (1 cup) with black berries (1 cup) and pecans (1/4 cup)
  • Sprouted multi-grain bread (2 slices) with raw peanut butter (2 tablespoons) and honey
  • Burrito with beans (1/2 cup), brown rice (1/2 cup), guacamole (2 tablespoons), and salsa
  • Quarter cup of sliced grapes mixed into half a cup of cottage cheese
  • Quarter cup of blueberries mixed with half a cup of yogurt
Inspiration Person: Caity Howell losing 80 lbs and becoming Personal Trainer

Inspiration Person: Caity Howell losing 80 lbs and becoming Personal Trainer

Why do I want to feature an inspirational person in my newsletter?

I want to feature people like Caity who have crossed my path and touched my life, inspiring me toward greatness. Too many of us fail to see greatness in ourselves. Somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter what we have achieved; we often need others to point out to us how we excel. People display “greatness” by their attitude, their lifestyle, their choices, their actions… I want to recognize the people in my life who lead by example.

How did I meet Caity?

I’ve meet Caity when I went to the Can Fit pro-convention in Vancouver in November 2015. We travelled together and shared stories. I went back to the same convention this year, as I was sitting on the ferry I noticed her, she was sitting in the row next to me. We reconnected, shared the travel time together again. Caity is a nurse and teaches group fitness classes part time at VI fitness. She is inspiring with her commitment to exercise, health and fitness. She has been on the road to transform herself and has lost so much weight. Enjoy reading.

What motivates you to exercise?

Knowing how great and strong I’m going to feel once I start. Even on days that I really don’t feel like exercising, it just becomes that thing you do, like eating breakfast or brushing your teeth, and you feel like something is missing when you don’t do it… Sometimes I just need to remind myself how happy I’ll be and how good I’ll feel, and it usually works.

What activity/workout do you prefer?

I love doing any kind of exercise with friends, I’m very competitive and I love having someone next to me to make me push harder. But I also love getting into the zone and lifting some heavy weights on my own.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Losing 80 lbs and completely changing my life from lazy and unhealthy to fit and motivated and becoming a personal trainer! Then going through a divorce, new relationship, gaining weight, and eventually finding balance between healthy body and healthy mind.

What is your superpower?

Picking up heavy things then putting them back down again! Oh, and being such an awesome motivating trainer/fitness instructor/teacher!

What is your favourite cheat treat?

SUSHI!!! Or anything with chocolate

What is your favourite dish/recipe?

I dunno… Everything? I just like food

What are your goals and dreams?

I am currently considering working towards the goal of competing in a bikini/fitness/figure competition. I’ve been building this muscle for so many years now, it’s about time to shred down and uncover it all!

Advice for a newbie?

Find something you love to do, and it no longer feels like work, it’s just something that you enjoy. And surround yourself with like-minded people!! Support is so important.