CrossFit and Kundalini?!?

Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Blog, Chakra, CrossFit, exercise psychology, happiness, manifesting, post-partum, progesterone, Uncategorized, Wellness coaching | 1 comment

If you have been following my posts, you’ll know that I was really getting into competing in CrossFit when I became pregnant with my baby boy.  I stayed active throughout my pregnancy, and kept my diet relatively clean.  After the natural birth of my little bear, I took appropriate time to rest, and slowing reintroduced CrossFit back into my fitness regimen.  While it may look like I “bounced back” on the outside, my body underwent significant changes from pregnancy and childbirth.  I never quite felt like my “old” self, but have learned to embrace the “new and improved” version as a result of mommyhood.  Sterling is 18 months, and is still nursing a bit.  Relaxin still flows through my veins, I cannot Zone, and I cannot get on a super-pumped supplement plan.  My body is experiencing a crazy shift in hormones, and I am very sensitive to the changes. My girlfriend, Andrea, was in a town a couple of weeks ago.  I love Andrea.  We have this amazing bond and though we only see each other every few years, we always pick up right where we left off.  We can talk for hours in comfort and stay focused on our conversations.  Not to mention, she’s hilarious!  During one of our chats, she told me about how she has added a Kundalini Yoga practice to her life. What enticed me was when she said that it not only works directly on your nervous system, but also on the endocrine system (HELLO HORMONES!!).  The morning before I took her to the airport for the next leg of her travels, we hit up Yoga Yoga for a Kundalini class with DeLora.  It rocked my world.  I knew DeLora from the Austin Area Birthing Center, so it felt like a good transition into the new practice. I have been doing Kundalini for about a month, and I’m hooked.  I’d like to share why I feel Kundalini Yoga fits in a CrossFit lifestyle.  Keep in mind, I’m a newbie, and may mess up a few of these terms. 1. You have to “go there” in your mind.  As many CrossFit workouts push you to keep a continuous pace for a specified amount of time, Kundalini includes kriyas (exercise movements) that generally last 3-7 minutes straight.  You have to relax your body except for the parts engaged and keep them moving with fluidity and purpose to get the endocrine system going.  There is a lot of focus on breath and mantras.  What I have found during many of these is that just as I start to feel that burn and desire to quit, a clarity blossoms in my mind.  A shift happens in my thinking.  I...

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Brain Benefits of Exercise (Part 1- The Cerebellum)

Posted by on Oct 5, 2012 in Blog, brain health, cognition, CrossFit, exercise psychology | 0 comments

     I have been active my entire life.  My parents put me in gymnastics at the age of three and I never looked back.  For me, getting a good work out in was always part of my schedule.  There have been periods when my workouts went minimal; combat deployments and Army commitments come to mind.  Nothing cleared my head the way a good run did.  Regardless of my schedule and responsibilities, exercise took a priority at least 5 days a week.  If I went too many days without it, I felt “off”.   Now I know why.      My passion for exercise is what drew me back to school after my 11 year hiatus in the Army.  Instead of becoming another master of Exercise Physiology, I wanted to explore the Psychological aspect of it.  This semester in particular has been given me a lot of clarity in where I want to go with my journey.  I love exercise, and I am fascinated by brains.  Right now, I am not only taking a Neurophysiology course, but also Cognition and Exercise Across the Lifespan.  They complement each other perfectly.  I have studied psychological benefits of exercise, but now I get to look at studies on actual changes that occur in the brain with exercise.  Brace yourselves.      When we are born, our brains are only 25% of the size that they will be when we reach adulthood (20-25 years of age).  Nutrition, exercise, education, and exposure make a HUGE impact on how our brains develop over that time.  Yes, there have been studies that show that high fit children perform better on tasks involving attention and inhibition, scholastic exams, general executive function, and even creativity than their lower-fit counterparts.  One study focused on children diagnosed with ADHD.  After a 1 year team and individual exercise intervention, the experimental group experienced improved sport competence, social communication, self-esteem, attention span, ability to follow instructions, listening and waiting skills, improved behavior in the classroom, and reduced anxiety.  How’s that for a benefit?      The beauty of non-human trials is that it allows researchers to analyze the actual brain tissue of subjects post-experiment.  One of my favorite studies was done in 1990 by Black et al. showing development in the cerebellum with exercise.  The cerebellum, aka “little brain”, is in the lower part of the hindbrain and is best known for its role in coordination and balance.  Rats were put into 4 different groups and studied for 30 days; acrobatic, forced exercise, voluntary exercise, and inactive control.  The rats in the acrobatic group were given tasks of increased complexity throughout the study which culminated with a very difficult obstacle course including loosely suspended ropes and pencil-wide...

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