Excellent teaching moments

You may already know that my charity, The Boulevard Zen Foundation, teaches yoga to kids and moms living in domestic violence shelters (www.BoulevardZen.com).  I was inspired to start the nonprofit after visiting a shelter upon completion of my film, Boulevard Zen.   My experience with domestic violence comes via the domino affect abuse has on families as my father was a victim of child abuse until the age of 12 when his father left for good.  I have also befriended women in my lifetime that have experienced some of the most heinous crimes imaginable.  Domestic violence and child abuse unjustly robs its victims of self-confidence and oftentimes prevents kids from experiencing what we at the foundation call excellent teaching moments.  So when our yoga teachers find a unique opportunity during class to go beyond an actual yoga pose and teach meaningful life lessons, we all succeed.  And the kids remember those lessons and bring that knowledge into their lives while impacting the lives of everyone around them.  Which is why I get excited every time one of our teachers writes to me about an excellent teaching moment. Like today from Carolyn in our San Diego shelter.  It’s what we strive for and are committed to doing:  to be more than just yoga teachers and to impact lives forever. Because those lives are the future of our Nation and of our World.  Namaste – R

 

Thank you Jack LaLanne

Jack LaLanne

My first memories of this pioneer and King of daily exercise and good nutrition were in my Aunt Tina & Concetta’s living room.  My “right off the boat” Sicilian aunts were fascinated by this exuberant dynamo who preached the gospel of health and fitness.  Thus, I became fascinated with an American icon who would impact my life for the next 40 years.  Thank you Jack LaLanne.  For being ‘born again’ after meeting Paul Bragg when you were 15;  for starting a rudimentary gym for police officers and firefighters when everyone thought you were a crackpot;  for opening the first real gym in 1936 – LaLanne’s Physical Culture Studio in downtown Oakland, CA;  for starting the first morning TV show dedicated to health and fitness that encouraged kids to wake-up their moms for their morning workout;  for your multitude of daring feats to get people to believe in you – like towing 76 kids across the Long Beach Harbor while being handcuffed and shackled;  for inciting a national craze of weight rooms, exercise classes and fancy health clubs;  for always accepting people for who they were – like your 300 pound best friend who was a chain-smoker and a boozer;  for all the exercise machines and health related products you created;  and most importantly, for inspiring me to embrace a daily fitness routine since that fateful day I felt your unparalleled fervor.  You’re a true and inspirational legend the world will never forget.  Rest in Peace – R

 

Triceps anyone?

Triceps with Rich Tola

Sometimes you just don’t have the time or just don’t feel like changing into workout clothes just to workout, right?  Well who says you have to find time or wear something workout-ish?  Do one thing for a couple of minutes and you’ll get your workout in – at least part of it.  Like when you’re waiting for that email, or that phone call, or your girlfriend to get ready, or that client to show up.  Check out me working triceps here on my favorite reading chair (dining room and office chairs are even better).  Apply “yoga principles” as you plant your feet slightly apart with knees at right angles pressing together.  Keep your chin parallel to the floor, your spine straight and dip slowly until your elbows reach right angles (no need to go further), pointing your elbows toward each other.  Do not to jerk your head or neck.  Note: always be sensitive to any tweaks or pains in your neck as well as your shoulders, elbows and wrists.  Move with slow and deliberate movements.  Nothing fancy and make sure the chair is properly weighted to support this exercise.  Strengthen your arms and build stamina with these simple dips using whatever’s available to you.   Do as many repetitions as you can per set, and as many sets as you can – with short breaks in between until you feel the burn and can’t do any more.  It’ll happen quick.  And always maintain good posture, close your mouth and breathe slowly and quietly like the sound of the ocean, and pick a point of focus to wipe your mind clear.  Enjoy – R

 

Point of no return

I just visited my thirty-something year old friend who was speaking about her weight when she said, “I know what it’s like to be past the point of no return”.  She spoke with such conviction about how everyone struggling with weight loss reaches a specific point of no return.   Last week I gave her my 15 Minute Fat Burning Workouts and stopped by today to check in on her and to drop one off for her girlfriend.  She hasn’t started the workouts, but said she would today – after much cajoling on my part. When I asked her why not, she said it was “mental”.  Actually she’s doing quite well, mentally and physically, considering she weighed 218 lbs. two years ago.  She also said her exact “point of no return” was 180 lbs, and that once she reached that point she pretty much gave up hope – and desire – of getting the weight off and skipped right past 200 until her final stop at 218.  And can you believe this adorably funny gal started college weighing 106 lbs? The good news is when she finally reached 218 she started with a well-known weight loss program that helped get her down to today’s weight of 180.  Hmmm.  I suppose now it’s the “point of return”.  Next stop 140.  So she says.  And so I believe – as long as she believes and continues to make good choices.  Because with a daily fitness program complemented by a positive mindset and positive lifestyle choices, anything is possible.  Enjoy your workout – R

 

Based on yoga principles

Utkatasana
Bicep Curl

When I refer to exercises being based on yoga principles, I’m referring to the how you do the exercise as compared to what you do and how often you do it.  In the gym this morning I overheard this twenty-something guy ask Mr. Adonis (check out my earlier blog “External Motivation”) what he should do for his biceps and how often he should do it. He also said he only read about it on the internet and found many different opinions.  That’s correct.  When it comes to asking any weightlifter or certified personal trainer their opinions about weightlifting, they all vary.  Just like yoga teachers are like snowflakes – they’re all different – so are opinions of what you should do in the gym.  But here’s something that I’ve brought into my workouts – and you can too – where you can’t go wrong:  think yoga principles in everything you do.  Like biceps.  Take a look at my posture and balance in the left picture – much like my posture and balance in the right picture.  In yoga terms that’s chair pose or Utkatasana (in Sanskrit).  Make sure the energy is radiating straight down through the crown like a steel rod going all the way through your spine down to the middle of your heels planted firmly on the ground.  Relax your toes and try not to swing or alter your posture when curling.  And curl slowly and deliberately for a better burn.  This way is more challenging than the usual swinging people do to get the dumbbells or bar up.  It’s also much more focused and effective.  And for specific lessons on bringing yoga principles into your everyday life – and the weight room – check out my Yoga Survival Guide.  There’s expert instruction on 100 key yoga poses filmed throughout the streets of Hollywood, Venice Beach and the LA Zoo!  There’s even Baking Yoga, Traffic Yoga and Prison Yoga – made especially for Lindsay Lohan.  So think yoga principles and enjoy your workout – R

Healthy lifestyle

Rich's Healthy Lunch

I forgot to mention the bonus part of my 15 Minute Fat Burning Workouts:  my succinct intros and outros reinforcing the concept of positive thoughts, speech and feelings with the forever mindset of making good choices and embracing a healthy lifestyle.  Like my lunch today.  Check it out – I made it myself.  Just like having a well-balanced diet of exercise, the same applies to what you consume on a daily basis.  So always take that positive attitude out into the world and don’t forget to get your workout in.  R Salad Ingredients:  European salad mix, bean sprouts, cut & peeled baby carrots, fresh tomato, fresh ginger, one can albacore tuna in water, topped with Sriracha hot chili sauce (my fav!).  Plus a non-alcoholic beer and cup of dried cranberries.

Everything worth doing takes time

Have you heard of the new 787 Dreamliner that’s due to hit the market this fall?  It’s promised to be the most advanced, fuel-stingy passenger jet ever made – at a mere $200 million each.  But it’s three years overdue and billions of dollars over budget.  No worries!  Because once it’s ready, travelers will experience shorter and more comfortable trips in a passenger plane that’s the fastest, largest, brightest, lightest, and cleanest – with the purest air quality – ever made.  Sounds great to me.  Because everything worth doing takes time.  Like building a better and more durable plane to achieving a healthier, leaner and better looking body by way of daily fat burning.  That’s why my 15 Minute Fat Burning Workouts are designed to be effective and easy-to-follow without all that jumping around.  More importantly, I believe a simple and attainable workout program is worth doing, but also one that’s successful over time.  And I say attainable because they’re low impact exercises based on yoga principles that anyone can do for only 15 minutes a day – 1% of your life.  Unlike most high-impact fat burning programs that are more complicated and require much more time.  So take a long term approach to your health and fitness, and just like the new Dreamliner, look forward to the results you patiently desire.  Enjoy your workout – R

Peaceful pool of water

My yoga teacher used that phrase today in Savasana at the end of class. For those who’ve never taken a yoga class, Savasana is the final resting pose when you totally let go and experience the sensations from your practice.  It’s awesome!  It’s also that quiet surrender to your feelings and affects of the physical and mental challenges you just endured. Yoga truly helps you achieve that peaceful pool of water while wringing the body of all sorts of negative things.  Even if it’s practicing Warrior II for 5 minutes a day, pushing the body to limits that challenge your focus and your mind.  So do some yoga and get a little more peaceful.  And staying with that peaceful theme, check out my friend Molly’s Peaceful Offering – she’s amazing!  PS – she’s the beautiful blond at the beginning and the end

Help with Sciatica

Lesson #30 - Zoo Yoga

I spoke with my brother yesterday who said he could use some help with his sciatica.  Sciatica occurs when there is pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the spine and runs down the back of each leg. It controls the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg and provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot. Sciatica pain can vary widely. It may feel like a mild tingling, dull ache, or a burning sensation. In some cases, the pain is severe enough to make a person unable to move.  So what can one do to help?  A simple, yet rather uncomfortable yoga asana called Lizard Pose.  I cover Lizard in Lesson #30 of my Yoga Survival Guide, aptly named Zoo Yoga.  So if you could use a little relief, as I encouraged my brother to do, spend 4 minutes a day in Lizard (2 per side), then roll over on your back and come into Happy Baby for another minute – which is also covered in the same lesson.  Remember to slow your breath and try not to wiggle around in the pose, however uncomfortable it may be.  And enjoy your time at the LA Zoo!

Top 10 Excuses

www.RichTola.com

So what’s your excuse for not making fitness a daily part of your life?  Here are the top 10 excuses I’ve heard this year:

1.    It’s too expensive. Well, if you can’t afford the $13.93 to download my 15 Minute Fat Burning Workouts – only $1.99 per workout – or the $14.99 to download my Yoga Survival Guide, then go for a free 15 minute walk or just lay on your back and stretch and work your core & abs – for any amount of time.
2.    I don’t have the time. Who doesn’t have 15 minutes a day to respect themselves?  And if 1% a day is too much time for you, then make it 5 minutes.
3.    I don’t know what to do. Educate yourself for free on the Internet, or better yet, purchase any fitness or yoga video that resonates with you – hopefully mine.
4.    I’m injured. Speak with your doctor about what you can do to avoid that area of your body – and mindfully and cautiously workout around your injury.
5.    I’m afraid of getting hurt. Before you begin any fitness program, check with your doctor about what you can and cannot do, and really listen to your body at all times.
6.     I’m too old. Nonsense!  Everyday – including this morning – I exchange hellos with this eighty-something year old man in the gym.  Plus, my oldest yoga student was an 88 year-old woman who could barely walk.  Need I say more?
7.    I don’t have the desire. Who does?  I mean, what’s desire got to do with strengthening and preserving your body and your mind for the long term.  It’s a necessity.
8.    I don’t like working out. Same as above.  Plus, try working out everyday for 30 years then tell me if you really like doing it.
9.    It’s too cold outside where I live. Who says you have to go outside to workout?
10.  I’m going to start in the New Year. Great.  Now download my 15 Minute Fat Burning Workouts or my Yoga Survival Guide, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

All the best in 2011 – R