BOSU Balance Trainer Ball : Lower Body Workout

HOW TO use the BOSU Balance Ball for Lower Body Strengthening


Featured Product: BOSU Balance Trainer Ball (Home) and the BOSU Pro Balance Trainer Ball
Brand: BOSU
Purpose: Build strength, trim, and tone while improving your balance and coordination.
Compatible Exercises: Yoga, Stretching, Cardio, Strength Training, Balance Training
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $109.98-149.98


A slew of workouts are quickly given throughout this video.  A great way to just sit back and watch the video and then grab your BOSU and “give it a go”.  After watching these quick ideas, it made me want to jump on one and just start playing!

As your leading Fitness Equipment and Yoga Supply Store, we offer BOSU Pro Balance Trainer and BOSU Balance Trainer for Home at the lowest prices!

BOSU Balance Trainer Ball : Yoga Chair Pose

HOW TO use the BOSU Balance Ball for Yoga Balance in Chair Pose 


Featured Product: BOSU Balance Trainer Ball (Home) and the BOSU Pro Balance Trainer Ball
Brand: BOSU
Purpose: Build strength, trim, and tone while improving your balance and coordination.
Compatible Exercises: Yoga, Stretching, Cardio, Strength Training, Balance Training
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $109.98-149.98


As your leading Fitness Equipment and Yoga Supply Store, we offer BOSU Pro Balance Trainer and BOSU Balance Trainer for Home at the lowest prices! The Home version is about 4 lbs lighter and has feet on the bottom for traction, whereas the Pro version has a non-marking, non-skid base with no feet.

Yoga Blocks : Increase Your Reach

HOW TO Use Yoga Blocks for Increasing your Reach


Featured Product: Yoga Blocks
Brand: Rolling Sands Harmony
Purpose:  Assist with flexibility and balance during stretches and yoga poses
Compatible Exercises  Iyengar, Hatha, Anusara, Ashtanga, Power Yoga, Restorative and Pre-Natal yoga practices
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $9.78 (*We carry a selection of other Yoga Blocks with varying materials and sizes.)


Many times we use Yoga Blocks to, as I like to say, increase the length of our arms, or bring the floor closer to us.  When we use our props in such a way, it allows us to focus on more important things in our yoga practice – such as proper alignment.  It brings stability into a pose when, without the blocks, we’d feel unstable if unable to press our hands into the earth.  Using Yoga Blocks, isn’t just for beginners.  We can use them when we challenge ourselves with new poses, or even just to bring more body awareness into a pose.

Here are a few examples of using a yoga block “to bring the floor closer to us”.

Pyramid with a Yoga Block

Pyramid:  Blocks allow us to focus on squaring our hips instead of hinging fully forward.

 

 

 

Reverse Lunge with a Yoga Block

 

Reverse Lunge:  Blocks allow us to practice with a flat back without needing to hinge fully forward to support ourselves with hands on the floor.

 

 

 

Triangle with Yoga Block

 

Triangle Pose:  Use a block under the hand to provide lift and focus on lengthening through both sides of the body and revolving the heart open.

 

 

Revolved Low Lunge with Yoga Block

In Twisting Poses yoga blocks help open our hearts and chest and revolve into the twist with more space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hero Pose with Block

A yoga block can be used in seated poses to lift our hips and take pressure off of our knees.  Try a block in Hero Pose.

 

 

 

Scale Pose with Yoga Blocks

Yoga Blocks under our hands in Scale Pose give us more freedom and space to lift our hips and feet off of the floor.

 

 

Half Moon with Block

Use a yoga block under your hand in Half Moon to focus more on rotating our hips open and building a strong core with less effort on maintaining our balance.

 

 

 

Yoga Blocks are generally available in two different sizes:  3″ Yoga Block or 4″ Yoga Block.  They are offered in a variety of materials – foam blocks, cork yoga blocks, yoga blocks made of lightweight Balsa Wood, and even yoga blocks made of recycled materials.  Choosing between the sizes depends on how you prefer to use your blocks – do you want stability (4″ block) or do you just need a ‘little’ lift (3″)?  To choose from the materials ask yourself if weight of the block is important, or price, or do you want eco-friendly, or even more simply, is color important to you?

Massage Balls : Feet

HOW TO Use Massage Balls for your Feet


Featured Product: Muscle Knot Relief Balls 
Brand: JFit
Purpose:  Release tight muscles, knots or adhesions and tension
Compatible Uses: Neck, jaw, shoulder, rotator cuff, lower back, hips, knees, calf muscles, and feet
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $16.98 (*We carry a selection of other Massage Balls. Spiky Balls by FitBALL, Hand Renewal Therapy Balls by Rejuvenation, Mini Massage Balls by JFit, Muscle Massage Kit by Rejuvenation)


Treat your feet with these exercises using massage balls.  Reduce aches and pains and improve balance by remembering to exercise and stretch your feet, too.

Post-Natal Pilates

Whether it’s post-natal Pilates or yoga, the emphasis is on toning the abdominal muscles and the core, so if you’re looking for core work don’t let the name fool you. All you need to do to perform the following Pilates exercises is a mat.

A Pilates mat tends to offer a little extra cushioning as compared to a yoga mat since many exercises are done on the floor and the extra thickness or padding will help cushion your spine and joints. Check out our Harmony Fusion Mat which is 5/16″ thick, Natural Fitness Powerhouse Mat 3/8″ thick, our Extra Wide/Extra Long Mat at 1/4″ thick, or if you’d like a padded exercise mat take a look at our Tri-Fold Exercise Mat.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome : Wrist Stretches

HOW TO Stretch Your Wrists When Suffering from Carpal Tunnel 

This is a continuation of last week’s article on Yoga and Your Wrists.  Here are a couple of the wrist stretches recommended by Marian Garfinkel, who has created a whole series of yoga asanas for Carpal Tunnel.  In addition to stretching, using props – such as a yoga wedge -  to help reduce the angle of extension can help you during your practice.

The Yoga Prescription: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Five minutes a day can help anyone get the benefits of yoga, says Marian Garfinkel, doctor of education, senior Iyengar yoga instructor, and lead author of a promising study on the effectiveness of yoga for carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel sufferers who attended an eight-week, twice-weekly yoga class had less pain, greater flexibility, and a stronger grip than those who wore a wrist splint, the standard treatment for the condition. Whether your hands hurt because of too much time at the computer keyboard, other repetitive stress injuries, or even a chronic illness such as arthritis, “A few simple stretches can really help,” says Dr. Garfinkel. She recommends the following three exercises to help you get started.

Overhead arm extension (urdhva hastasana)
Do this first thing in the morning, or as a break during the day.

Stand straight, with feet parallel and arms at your sides: a posture that promotes blood flow to the hands. Stretch your arms and fingers straight out in front of you, palms facing the floor. Keeping the arms and elbows straight, slowly raise your arms over the head to the 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock positions, inhaling through the nose. Be sure to keep your throat and shoulders relaxed. Lift the sides of the body, keeping the shoulders away from the head. Maintain for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing in and out through the nose. Exhale and lower your arms to your sides. If you feel the blood flowing through your hands, says Dr. Garfinkel, it’s a sign you’ve done the exercise correctly.

Trunk extension (dandasana)
A good exercise for the office or anywhere you’re seated.

Sit on a chair with your trunk upright. Place your hands at your sides and press the palms into the seat, taking care not to tense your shoulders or neck. Press shoulder blades into your back, moving the shoulders back and down. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing in and out through the nose. Relax, then repeat. Spreading the chest and shoulders, Dr. Garfinkel explains, also has benefits for the wrists and hands.

Chair twists (bharadvajasana)

A more advanced position, also effective for back and neck pain.

Sit sideways in a chair, with the right hip and thigh towards the chair’s back. Keep the knees and feet together, with the heels aligned under the knees. Stretch your trunk upward and pull the shoulders back. With knees together and feet on the floor, turn your trunk towards the right and place both hands on the back of the chair. Pull with the left hand, bringing the left side of the body toward the back of the chair; at the same time, push with the palm of the right hand, moving the right side away from the chair back. Turn the body, then the head, and look over your right shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds. Relax. Repeat on the left side.

For additional information: Journal of the American Medical Association, 11/11/98. Dr. Marian Garfinkel teaches the Iyengar method of hatha yoga, which stresses precision and alignment; E-mail mariang102@aol.com. Contact the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Association (1-800-889-YOGA; www.comnet.org/iynaus) for a list of certified yoga instructors.

For more on vitamins, herbs, and other therapies for painful wrists, see our library entry on Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Date Posted: 01/22/2001

Prenatal Pilates

In this video you will learn several easy-to-follow exercises that are beneficial for pregnancy, but aren’t just for pregnant women. Good cueing to engage the pelvic floor and core. In these simple pilates exercises all you will need will be a pilates mat and a small inflatable exercise ball.

We offer several sizes of these small exercise balls – a 7″ Exercise Ball and a 9″ Exercise Ball. When using them to provide resistance in your exercises, they will generally be slightly under-inflated. When using between the legs, you’ll still want your knees about hip-distance apart and if between the arms, arms should be shoulder-width apart depending on the specific exercise. Hopefully that will give you a rule of thumb to determine which size is best for you. We also offer a 6″ ball that is used for body rolling (a wonderful massage technique), that could also be used in many exercises as well.

Hand Weights : Pilates Butterfly

HOW TO do the Pilates Butterfly Exercises with Hand Weights


Featured Product: Hand Weights (1 lbs, 3 lbs, 5 lbs)
Brand: JFit
Purpose: Develop upper body strength
Compatible Exercises: Pilates, Strength training, Core Training, Walking, Jogging, Balance Training
Rolling Sands Harmony Retail Sale Price: $6.98-$11.98


In under two minutes you’ll learn how to do the Pilates Butterfly exercise using small hand weights.  The Butterfly is an arm workout that also incorporates a spinal rotation to help loosen up back muscles.

Pilates Exercises for Breast Cancer : Part 3

The final article in this three-part series on recovering from Breast Cancer with Pilates exercises.  As previously noted these articles were written for teachers to assist their students.  So, if you are practicing these exercises at home, please be mindful of your own body.  Also, these exercises are to be done in order starting with the first series posted on Dec 16th.

To get started:  gather your Pilates Mat, soft-weighted Pilates Toning Balls, and Pilates Resistance Exercise Bands.

Pilates Exercises for Breast Cancer: Rebuilding the Foundation, Part Three

In this third part of our phase one programming for breast cancer survivors it’s critical to acknowledge the importance of parts one and two of the program, adhere to the goals of each segment and honor your client’s readiness to progress. There is no definite time frame allotted for each part—it truly depends upon the client’s success and comfort level.

The phase one exercises are essential building blocks recommended for a lifetime.

Follow these simple guidelines to assess readiness to progress:

  • The client has developed a good understanding of basic Pilates biomechanical principles.
  • The client applies Pilates principles both during the sessions and in daily life activities.
  • The client remembers from session to session the skills reviewed previously and the lessons are becoming second nature.
  • The client can maintain proper alignment throughout each repetition.
  • The client leaves the session energized, not fatigued.
  • The client experiences no residual soreness or discomfort post-workout.

Part Three Movements
As previously stated, the exercises here do not replace those shown in parts one and two; they are a continuation and are meant to be executed in the order in which they have been outlined.

If you have been scheduling your client’s workouts for 30 minutes, two to three times per week, you may opt to increase one of those weekly sessions to 40 minutes. This will help develop the client’s exercise endurance and give you a nice arena to add in the new repertoire.

It’s important to work within the guidelines outlined in part two: only add one or two new exercises at a time and vary the exercises from upper to lower body to avoid overtaxing one area.

You will note we have added the STOTT PILATES® FlexBand Exerciser® and 1- or 2- pound Toning Balls to either support the weight of the limbs and/or provide gentle resistance. Note: the movements may be done without the props.

  1. Side-lying Arm Circles
  2. Hip Rolls
  3. One Leg Circles
  4. Swimming Preps

1. Side-lying Arm Circles with STOTT PILATES® Toning Balls

Benefits: This move improves shoulder joint mobility and increases blood flow to the joint. The ball provides proprioceptive feedback and adds gentle resistance. The light load helps recruit the deep stabilizing muscles (e.g. rotator cuff).
Note: Only do this exercise if the client is comfortable lying on her side.

Start Position: Lie on side with both knees bent and a spacer between thighs to keep the hips more neutral. Head rests on a pillow or cushion; spine is neutral, top arm reaches toward the ceiling. Hold toning ball in the palm, facing forward.

Exercise and Breath Pattern:

  • Inhale: make tiny circles in one direction for 5 counts.
  • Exhale: make tiny circles in the other direction for 5 counts.
  • Repeat for five full breath patterns.

Beneficial Cues:

  • Keep the movement very small and execute circles slowly.
  • Feel as though the ball is resting gently in your hand; do not grip.
  • Keep the arm directly over the shoulder joint.
  • The movement should feel like a shoulder massage.

2. Hip Rolls
Benefits: This exercise encourages proper sequencing and fluidity of the spine, pelvis and femurs. The goal is to strengthen the abdominals, hip and spinal extensors while relieving tension. While appropriate for all breast cancer clients, this is especially beneficial for those who have had TRAM flap surgery and experience core weakness and lumbar spine and hip flexor tension.

Start Position: Lie supine on the mat with spine neutral, knees flexed, legs hip-distance apart, arms long by sides. You may use a spacer between knees to encourage proper alignment (place pillow under arm of affected side if necessary).

Exercise and Breath Pattern:

  • Inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale, engage abdominals to rock pelvis away from the femurs. Activate the glutes and hamstrings and lift the pelvis, rolling through the lumbar spine until the hips are in line with shoulders.
  • Inhale, stay at the top of the movement.
  • Exhale, roll down—starting at the upper spine—all the way back to the start position.
  • Repeat 3-5 times.

Beneficial Cues:

  • Activate the abdominals first, then the glutes and hamstrings.
  • Use your exhalation to activate the deep abdominal muscles and take the tension out of your neck and shoulders.
  • Re-engage the abdominal muscles before rolling back down from the top position.

3. One Leg Circle
Benefits: This exercise focuses on spinal stability in neutral against a circular leg movement. It brings blood flow to the hip joint, mobilizing the hip, and brings attention to the use of breath to activate the inner core musculature (e.g. transversus abdominus, pelvic floor and multifidus). This is another exercise that is very specific for developing core and spinal strength and stability for those who have had TRAM flap surgeries.

Start Position: Lie supine on the mat with spine neutral, both knees bent with band wrapped around one leg (which is in the tabletop position). The other foot is flat on the mat. Arms are bent, hands hold band with an overhand grip and palms face body. (do not wrap the band around the wrist). Note: If the client needs arm support on the affected side, place a cushion under the elbow.

Exercise and Breath Pattern:

  • Inhale, allow the leg with the band around it to cross the mid line of the body.
  • Exhale, continue to circle the leg downward, outward and around back to start position, maintaining a neutral spine throughout.
  • Repeat 3 – 5 times on both legs.

Beneficial Cues:

  • Use your exhalation to maintain core stability as you circle the leg.
  • Keep the range of motion small enough so you can maintain core stability.
  • Allow the band to support the weight of the leg; avoid gripping in the hip.
  • Press against the band to activate the hamstrings, releasing the hip flexors.
  • Keep the foot on the floor energized to help stabilize pelvis and spine.
  • Watch that the pelvis doesn’t rock and roll.

4. Swimming Preps
Benefits: This exercise helps retrain oppositional movement patterning between the upper and lower body, which is essential in daily functional movements. For example, when we walk it’s natural to swing our arms and legs in opposition. This exercise also brings awareness to how our abdominals support our spine against gravity. Four-point kneeling is a perfect position to notice and feel this effect. Note: it may be uncomfortable for a client to bear weight on her arms. Avoid this exercise if it creates tension.

Start Position: Kneel in “four points” with the hands directly under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Entire spine is neutral and knees are hip-distance apart.

Exercise and Breath Pattern:

  • Inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale, engage abdominals with the breath and lift the opposite arm to leg.
  • Inhale and return back to the start position.
  • Repeat 3-5 times consecutively with one side, and then do the other side (opposite arm to leg).

Beneficial Cues:

  • Think length, not height, when lifting arms and legs.
  • Engage the abdominals to keep the spine from sinking.
  • Activate the glutes to lift the leg.
  • Visualize the hips are headlights shining on the mat in front of you.
  • Hold a ruby in your navel and do not let it drop.

PJ O’Clair is the owner of Northeast Pilates Certification Centers and Master Instructor Trainer, STOTT PILATES®.