The Age of the IHUNCH: Modern Time and Our Spine

Christine Ahanotu–Guest Postimage-3

Like any young millennial, I have a bevy of tech devices that I use everyday to make my life simpler and more streamlined. My iPhone connects to my MacBook which is synched with my iPad, all communicating with each other merrily –and silently – in the background of my busy modern life. I am a serious advocate for certain aspects of tech. As a freelancer, making sure my schedules are aligned and my content is shared is part of my livelihood! So you can imagine how often I am sitting at my computer writing emails or checking my iPhone for messages. Its great! Never before has the entire world been at the tips of our fingers.

There’s just one, small, tiny caveat to all this convenience. We are literally breaking our backs.

Seriously – for every inch forward we lean our head over our devices, we are adding between 12 and 15 pounds of weight to our spine. Even as I sit here writing this, I have about 30 extra pounds weighing down on me. That’s a lot! And as I think about how far our posture has come since the dawn of time, I have to admit – as a proud technology driven millennial, I’m worried.

We are the first generation to have these wonderful devices! There is no long-term evidence of how they will effect us. There is no doubt in my mind that they will add greatly to our productivity and creativity for years to come – but we may pay a high price. We may pay with our spines. We may be a generation of 60-year-old hunchbacks, with back pain and resulting mental health issues abounding. So I have a plea for all my fellow tech enthusiasts out there – Just straighten up. Bring your phone up to eye level. Make sure you’re not looking down all the time. Even better, check out our website (QueenIsYouBlog.com) for daily exercises and techniques that will relax, reground and strengthen your core and spine. You can even hit up our founder, Patricia Kirk, for one of her Posture Bands. They align your spine and remind you to sit up straight throughout the day. But please, do something. Because technology is awesome but lifelong back problems are not.

Light and Love,

Christine Ahanotu


image-2Christine is a the fashion director and guest blogger for Q is You. 

Christine is the creator and founder of Isle of Light, a jewelry and lifestyle brand dedicated to the spread, empowerment and understanding of the Light – the growth of Love, the power of self and the connectedness of all living things. 

 

A DEEP, SLOW, SMOOTH BREATH

THE MOST LUXURIOUS FEELING IN THE WORLD IS A DEEP, SLOW, SMOOTH, BREATH …and it is the most healthy thing you can do for yourself.

Believe it or not, you are a terrible breather…we all are. This makes us feel stressed because we are literally suffocating ourselves. Being a shallow breather is a primary culprit of doubting ourself and feeling anxious about life. Research is revealing that breathing incorrectly is a root cause of many illnesses and disorders–from panic attacks to lung disease to digestive disorders. Learning to deepen your breathing and align your body in good posture will ease the mind and resolve much of what ails you.

good breathing is key to good posture and good posture is key to good breathing.

Unknown-1Not enough can be said about the importance of learning to breathe better. Dr. Andrew Weil tells us “Improper breathing is a common cause of ill health. If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly. There’s no single more powerful–or more simple–daily practice to further your health and well-being than breathwork.”  Allison Davis, for The Cut–NY Magazine, took a Breathing Class from Dr. Belisa Vranich (her book-Breathe) and said that the effects were immediate–she felt better; more calm and yet energized too; aches and pains were less and she slept better that night.

I can share my personal experience of how learning to become a “better breather” is changing my life. It helps me feel much better in general and it gives me a sense of control–knowing that I have something immediately available to comfort me and support me in stressful times. The other night I heard something that made me very upset–and it has to do with money so you can guess how much anxiety I was in. I felt betrayed, mistreated, rejected, hurt, angry, and above all panicked about my financial stability. I had a huge headache and my mind was spiraling down into all kinds of self-critical and self-defeating thoughts–I even started to blame myself, for what I am not sure but I was beginning to believe I was at fault for this news. Then it dawned on me, I needed to practice what I preach–I need to “use my body to help me feel better.” So I laid down on my back on the floor and started to breathe.

I took a few breathes and then something remarkable happened. I calmed down a little. My body started to become heavier, I could feel some muscles in my back and butt relax. The horrible constriction in my chest and aching in my neck began to give way as the breath expanded my lungs. Feeling a bit better, I started to focus on how I was breathing and took bigger breaths, the biggest breaths I could expanding my torso as much as I could. It felt so good. I focused on breathing into places in my body that felt real tight and ached. As I exhaled I imagined the pounding energy in my head flowing into the floor and down into Mother Earth. My whole body began to sink into the floor and this wonderful sensation of being held helped me hear something mystical give me permission to just lie here, be still, and let go. I remembered that there is something benevolent in life that has my best interests at heart. I started to consider that maybe I could release my hurt and judgement about the money…I even could consider forgiving–and not just them but myself. After about 15 minutes I felt completely better–no headache or heaviness and if not real happy at least much more confident and calm…and powerful. I slept well.

JUST This BreathWhen all is said and done there really is no right or wrong way to breathe, so don’t let worrying about how to do it keep you from breathing better. There are some great techniques though that you may want to explore in yoga, pulmonary therapy and other great science and fitness resources. Yet it honestly comes down to just doing it. So take a breath. then take another.

YOUR BODY SHAPES WHO YOU ARE: A woman’s body is the holy grail of her true self.

Some of the most powerful research is showing up on the news lately. Behavioral Psychology is making popular what the fitness industry has known for several decades…”that your body shapes who you are.” I have been a fitness professional for over 30 years and have always known that “a fit body, supports a fit mind and vibrant spirit.” Fitness and good posture improves our health and keeps us moving with ease and we all know how that makes us feel more confident and happier. It makes us look a heck of a lot better too…more beautiful actually.

images-1BeilockCUDDY copyTwo behavioral psychologists that I have come to admire as of late, offer us very compelling evidence of how real this is…Amy Cuddy, Harvard, her new book, Presence (2015), and Sian Beilock, University of Chicago, her new book, How the Body Knows Its Mind (2015).

This research points to something very important for all of us, particularly women, to understand…that our body has a sacred consciousness. It points to how powerful our body/mind/spirit connection is in the course of our lives. And this is great motivation for people to create a more healthy and respectful relationship with their body.

I think this research encourages us women to learn to “befriend our body” rather than always feel so frustrated by it…not being good enough, thin enough, fit enough, healthy enough, beautiful enough. Instead, realizing the remarkable power of our body to help us feel more confident and powerful, we begin to respect our body so much more. For example, think about how you feel when you stand tall and graceful…do it now and notice if by standing taller, opening your chest and smiling, BIG, that you feel better.  The results are undeniable…you feel an easy, yummy energy flow through your body. Through metaphysics I have learned that when this energy is strong we are mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy. We have a “great vibe and we like ourselves so much more. Our good vibes are contagious and people like us more. And that feels good.

I hope you will check out the TedTalk by Amy Cuddy and both of these books by these remarkable women.

Good Posture Makes Relationships Better…IT’S TRUE!

93% of how we communicate is with our body—posture, vibration, facial expression, gestures.

imagesWe’ve all read self-help books on how to have better relationships by improving how we communicate. There are great insights about the differences between the sexes and behaviors we each can do that will help. For instance, woman could get to the point faster and men could share a bit more. And both could listen better and not interrupt before the other is finished. And most especially, we both shouldn’t tell the other how to feel or what to do.

This is powerful advice about what to say. YET what about our body’s communication during the conversation? I have come to realize (and research bears this out) that the truth of what I am thinking and feeling is worn on my face, in my posture and through every gesture. I may be saying the words but what am I really saying?

Unknown-1I have a theory that the main reason why we are not good communicators is because we are pretty much always self-focused—our ego takes control. Let’s face it, life challenges us all the time and it is hard not to be a bit defensive and competitive with each other. As a result, we often communicate with the intention of trying to get someone to do something we want them to do or trying to make ourselves sound important. We also find it hard to pay attention in a conversation because of how distracted we are with today’s information technology—we keep looking at our phone. We have to admit that this is not very effective for genuine connection and strong collaboration.

UnknownTo make our communication better, we need to bring more authenticity, more heart and spirit, to the conversation. I have a shortcut that helps us be more genuinely attentive and interested in what the other person is sharing. It is a technique that helps us feel more centered in who we are and thus more calm, confident and considerate. In other words, our ego does not have to be so on guard.

BP-GP copyThe shortcut is shifting our self into good posture–lengthening our spine-pulling in our Abs and lifting our breastbone, uncrossing our arms, softening our face and oh yes, don’t forget that Kegels are Key . When we stand or sit in good posture, we feel good. We are balanced physically and because of the body/mind connection we become more mentally and emotionally balanced. Our chakras align and open and we become conscious of a better-feeling vibration flowing through us that I believe is our true self. We are more relaxed and become focused. We become more willing to consider another’s point of view. Feeling more present-minded, we are not trying to think ahead of ourselves about what we are going to say in response. Instead we listen passively and with a pause after they have finished speaking we respond from our authentic, wise self—which is most often thoughtful and collaborative. When we face the other person, are in good posture making eye contact and smiling softly, the other person sees us as someone who is open and approachable. And this makes them feel good—they relax and communicate more from their true self and together we create great collaborations.

(Significant tip: take a moment sitting in good posture to notice how it makes you feel. This will deepen the good-feeling influence your body has on your sense of self in this moment–feeling physically good will improve your mood and how you are thinking–aware of feeling and thinking more positively will empower you to communicate well. Our self-awareness is core to our awakening.)

By the way, we need to put are phones away.

The Best ABS of Your Life! Why crunches just don’t cut it!

4. Kegels/Abs Compression

We all want great ABS! Don’t get me wrong…the ABS curl, or “crunch”, is a great exercise for toning your ABS. However, most of us are doing them wrong and may not see the “slimness” we are looking for.

Strong ABS are key to good posture—and good posture is sexy. More importantly, strong ABS are key to good performance. For a little kinesiology here: our ABS are the key muscle group of our CORE–aligning and stabilizing our torso so we can move with ease and do our favorite activities like skiing. Also, I like to point out the mind/body/spirit benefits of fitness. So here it is–strengthening our Core has the psychological effect of strengthening our self-esteem…how do I know? Slouch for a moment and notice how you feel. Now stand tall in good posture and see if you notice a positive difference.

So how to get flatter ABS, you ask? When doing ABS curls most people try to see how far up off the floor they can bring their head and shoulders and also try to impress themselves with 100s of reps. The problem is the faster you curl and the higher up you come, the more likely your ABS push out. They can become a bit rounded as result. Rather than trying to come up high in a curl it is better to focus on how far down, or how flat, you can press your ABS-Wall* toward your spine while you curl. I call this technique Activated Position (AP-see below). The key is to move through the curl slowly and fluidly and not to come up any higher once you see your ABS begin to push out. When done properly, you should fatigue much, much faster. With the right form and technique it only takes a few sets of reps to get the best conditioning.

 The EXERCISE

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Starting a Sexy, Uplifting Conversation… about Our Bodies

QisYou is a conversation with other women about what I believe is the most important relationship in our life – our relationship with our body. I have been having this conversation in fitness and meditation classes and wellness retreats all over the country and found over the years that it is a very uplifting and sexy conversation. Turns out we all want to be more sexy because it fuels our vibrant, creative, loving self and makes us look beautiful. Feeling sexy lifts us up with enthusiasm for life. This inspired me to design the program QisYou, and this blog as a way to share it with you. Enjoy! Life is all about our vibration!

QisYou helps keep our sexy, sacred, soothing vibration strong by showing us techniques for good posture and body-meditation™. This supports us to be connected with our inner truth and wisdom. We recognize our body as holy and thus feel intrinsically motivated to make the choices to live and love well…to become the women we want to be. We experience life with greater ease, joy, love, faith and fun. The truth for me…how we experience life and enjoy it comes down to how we respond to it– and our best response comes from our inner knowing. “Its all about our vibration!”

My new philosophy on life: Our body always knows the best answer! And our fit body is our greatest inspiration!”

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