Desi Bartlett M.S., CPT, Fitness, Yoga & Dance Expert, Mom & Spokesperson.

Posts tagged: yoga

Travel Health and Fitness Tips

Recently while working with a private client, I made a list of health and fitness tips for executives on the go. Whether it is a trade show, convention, or an important meeting, travel can be stressful. Here are some ways to stay healthy;
A few tips for health & exercise and travel;

Schedule 15 minutes a day for exercise first thing in the morning. This can be a quickie workout for your core. When traveling a straightforward core workout is; 100 crunches, 50 bicycles, 100 oblique crunches on the right, 100 oblique crunches on the left, flip over and try 3 sets of superman (10-15 reps each set). This will also help to maintain good posture throughout the day.

Bring protein bars or snacks with you so that your blood sugar doesn’t drop. If you go 4 hours without eating, then the next time you eat, you’ll be more likely to go for simple sugar to boost your energy. Try Quest protein bars (25 grams of protein and not just a glorified candy bar), or a hand full of trail mix; either of which will help stabilize your blood sugar.

Drink as much water as you can. Flights dehydrate our bodies, and then we are more likely to want something to quench thirst and add a pick me up (caffeine or sugar). If you can drink water on the plane, it helps.

Try a wonderful Yoga pose called Viparita Karani. In this pose you lay down on the floor, with your legs up the wall. You can put a pillow under your lower back for comfort, and if you really want to treat yourself, use a lavender scented eye pillow and spa like music .You can do it on the hotel floor with a pillow for 10 minutes before sleep.. It helps with sound sleep, especially when traveling. It also helps to regulate thyroid function.

Every time that you check your watch, relax your shoulders. Stressed out shoulders (and traps) like to jump up a bit, and that is usually made worse by stress (even good stress), so it helps to have a cue throughout the day to remember to release them.

Safe travels!

Kids Yoga

Recently I read an article in the LA Times about some folks in Encinitas who took a strong stance against Yoga being taught in their schools, and basically thought that there was an agenda to convert children to Hinduism. I felt pretty strongly about this being more than a little disturbing, and wanted to share my open letter to the editor. Namaste, Desi

photo by Natiya Guin

Dear Tony,
As someone who has taught Yoga in an LAUSD school, I can tell you that the criteria for these types of programs is required to be in alignment with the guidelines for physical education for the state of California’s State Board. With funding being cut for physical education all of the time, these types of programs help to develop physical awareness, strength, coordination, and mental focus, as well as increasing self esteem in a non competitive setting.

As a long time Yoga practitioner and teacher, I am obviously aware that Yoga originated in India, and that it is steeped with the tradition of that beautiful country. However, if the lawyer in your piece did a little more research, he would find that Yoga is not a religion, and does not require a specific belief in any deity, nor does it have a worship service, ordained clergy, institutional structure, membership procedure or church. Some of the beautiful stories in the Indian tradition and mythology have led to names of poses like Warrior pose. This can be equated to Westerners in the gym doing a preacher (bicep) curl. There is a recognition of a shape, form or quality, but that does not make it tantamount to organized religion. When I am practicing a preacher curl, I have no litigious inclination to sue the gym for imposing their religious beliefs on me.

I think that the confusion comes in because Yoga can absolutely be part of someone’s spiritual practice, but it is in no way required. There is no hidden agenda to convert everyone to Hinduism, and great Yogis like Yogananda, who built a spiritual center in Encintas, recognized the beauty of all religions living in harmony with one another. To be clear, Yoga is not a religion, and those who practice any religion, or no religion are welcome to practice Yoga.

Now that my son is of school age (see attached picture), I am elated to see him involved in a preschool Yoga program, and how much he enjoys singing songs like, ‘This Little Light of Mine,’ and barking in down dog, or moo-ing in cow pose. For those who are concerned about mantras or statements made in children’s Yoga classes, I can share the mantra from the class that I taught through the P.S. I Love You Foundations and the Yoga 1.2.3. program;
I am happy to be me
I take Yoga 1.2.3.
I take Yoga for my health
I can always change my mood
Life improves with attitude!

During these storms, both literal and figurative, may we all have the ability to remember that our lives improve with a positive attitude.
Desiree Bartlett MS CPT YT
photo by Natiya Guin

Prenatal Exercise and Bedrest

While awaiting the most miraculous event, the birth of your baby, it is normal to take it easier with your workouts, and to relax when you need to. But what do you do if you are a strong, fit, mama to be who is put on bed rest? If you are on bed rest it can be for a variety of reasons, including;  vaginal bleeding, multiples, history of pregnancy loss, etc.. To make sure that you and your baby are safe, it is important to listen to your Doctor, and to spend most of the time laying on your side with a pillow between your knees, or laying on your back- propped up on pillows. You do not have to lay completely still all day everyday. Here is a simple exercise routine to follow. As always, check with your Doctor first, and know that you can still enjoy a restorative Yoga practice including meditation, special breathing techniques, and particular shapes that are safe for the body. Here are 6 things you can do on bedrest;

  1. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Slow your breath down, and slow your thoughts down. Breathe deeply through the nose only. If this is uncomfortable, you can breathe through the mouth as well. When breathing through the nose only, this is called Ujayii Pranayama and it creates a little whispery sound in the back of the throat that sounds like the ocean’s waves. Try to ‘stretch’ your breath, meaning that if you are used to taking a 3 second inhalation, and a 2 second exhalation, try now to make both the in breath and the out breath 4 seconds long. This should bring a sense of calm and relaxation to the body and the mind.
  2. Visualize the beautiful baby inside of you. Imagine your baby’s head pointed down towards your pelvis, and his/her back to your belly. Send your love and your blessings to your baby. What is it that you have always wished for your baby? Love, peace, laughter? Whatever it is, imagine that you are sending that to your child with each breath.
  3. Sit upright and place your hands about 6-12 inches behind you on the bed. Lift your heart and if it feels ok, then let your head dip back a little. This is an extremely gentle backbend that will allow you to stretch the front of your body and stretch tired shoulders in an easy way.
  4. Keep sore shoulders strong with I’s, Y’s and T’s. This is a great exercise that is normally done with dumbbells, but at this time you are just going to use the exercise as a way to get a little bit of blood circulating into the shoulder joint (with no weights). Sit up in bed and lift your arms directly overhead for one breath, then out to the side on an angle, as though you were making the letter ‘Y.’ Now take the arms straight out to the side, and make the letter ‘T.’ Repeat a total of 3 times to feel the upper body enjoying a little movement.
  5. Purchase a stress ball and squeeze it with your hands. This will help you to maintain grip strength. Make sure to breathe deeply while using the stress ball, and if you are feeling frustrated about being on bedrest, imagine that frustration moving out of your body, into the ball (don’t worry, you can ask someone to rinse the ball with cool water afterwards). Remember to breathe deeply as you do this, as it is extremely important for you not to hold your breath while squeezing the ball.
  6. Pillows can help you to enjoy a very easy Yoga posture called supported supta badha konasana. Lay 2 pillows vertically on your bed (these will be for your spine). Now place one more pillow on top horizontally (this is for your head). Lay back onto your pillows and allow your knees to bend and open to the sides (like a butterfly stretch, but laying down). If your inner thighs are tight, you can place more pillows under your outer thighs and knees. Lay back and relax and allow your body at least one minute in this shape and take the time to invite in peace and tranquility.

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