Sunday, October 11, 10:30 am PT  75-90 min (Recording will be available for later viewing)

Do you ever wonder how the hunchback of Notre Dame got his hump? And do you worry that you are heading toward the same fate?  If you spend too much of your time sitting, driving, doing computer work and/or texting, you just might be. Or, if you’re a breast cancer survivor experiencing surgical tissue tightness across the front of your shoulders, you might collapse your chest in subconscious protective posturing.

These activities all promote a forward flexed spine which can restrict our mobility, impair our balance and breathing, and cause all kinds of problems we don’t want to deal with—including the dreaded hump!

How often do you extend (bend backward)? Unless you change lightbulbs for a profession, I bet not very often. Extension is especially crucial for those with osteopenia or osteopososis-a silent disease of low bone density.  Decreased bone density can lead to a forward flexed spine due to common undiagnosed spine compression fractures.

Extension exercises will help to decrease that forward curve inclination. Those with decreased bone density are more susceptible to fractures, especially from falls. Upright posture is associated with decreased falls and studies show extension exercises build stronger bones in the spine. Added bonus, extending the spine just feels great!

In this workshop, discover the secrets of spine extension exercises to

  • Improve your posture and prevent falls
  • Build bone in your spine
  • Promote healthy aging to continue to do what you love

Learn how to do spine extension correctly, avoiding common pitfalls.  Experience simple extension exercises in multiple body positions, to unleash your optimal posture and bone health throughout the day.

You’ll receive a printable follow-along guide that you can also reference afterward to remind yourself of all the things you’ll learn in the workshop.

Extend Yourself!

REGISTER HERE

Walking, one step at a time, one day at a time. Walking just for the sake of appreciating God reflected in nature. The miracle of a sunset, the soaring granite peaks of El Capitan, the peaceful sound of birds, and distant waterfalls. The wordless mindfulness of hikers masking faces while passing each other during these unique times.

Many of history’s great thinkers were writers who hinged the working of their minds to the steady movement of their feet. They (i.e. Virginia Woolf, Gandhi, Walt Whitman…) felt the need to get up and get the blood moving, leaving the page to go out for a stroll.  How many of us choose to close our computer to take a walk just to be present and experience the world around us without expectation?  These thinkers got their creative juices flowing through movement and so can you.

Aside from the benefits to our mind and soul, research tells us the following about optimal walking for longevity.

The study from the American Cancer Society followed 140,000 older adults and reported that those who walked six hours per week had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and cancer than those who were not active, but that walking even as little as two hours per week could begin to reduce the risk of disease and help you live a longer, healthier life.

The world’s longest-lived people from the Blue Zones didn’t run marathons or join gyms. Their lifestyles naturally nudged them into moving.  They grow gardens, do house and yard work. They have jobs that require them to move and they walk every single day, almost everywhere.

In Amish communities, one study showed that the average woman logged 14,000 steps per day and the average man logged 18,000 steps and both men and women walked 10,000 steps on their day of rest.  These Amish communities also had the lowest rates of obesity of any community in North America. When this study hit the media, it’s what was behind the movement to reach 10,000 steps a day.

Some of the benefits of walking include:

  •    Activation of the lymphatic system
  •    Elimination of toxins
  •    Fighting infection
  •    Strengthening immunity

How do you fit 10,000 steps into your day?

  • Take several small walks like walking your dog, having walking work meetings, going for a walk with your family after dinner. Research supports doing movement throughout the day vs doing a 40 min gym workout then just sitting all day.

 

  • Walk 5 minutes every hour. Perhaps setting an alert on your computer will help remind you.

 

  • Take one long walk 40-60 min with a friend.  In this time of COVID you can still social distance, be masked, walk outside and get the benefits of social connection and fresh air.  Happy stepping!

To keep us connected and moving, Teresa is currently offering Quarantine Remote BoneSmart Pilates classes, 55 min long, all classes bone safe/spine safe.

Registration links for the classes will be sent when BoneSmart Pilates receives payment. If you have any questions, please contact Teresa at teresa@Pilateswithteresa.com

Participating in these classes will require that you create an account with zoom, it is free at https://zoom.us.  When you pay, please include a note in Paypal or by emailing me, indicating which class/classes you wish to register for. Be specific noting the DATE and time of your desired class.

Schedule is subject to change.  Classes will run through the end of April and we’ll re-evaluate then.

Payment Information:

$20 per class and must be paid in advance in order to receive the registration link. After doing that you’ll receive another email with the actual link to the class so don’t delay the registration step.

**If you’re experiencing financial hardship and just can’t swing it right now, I still want to support you. As a licensed physical therapist and movement educator, I’ve been blessed with a gift that I want to share so please just donate what you can, no questions asked.

Options to pay:
www.paypal.me/BoneSmartPilates/   Preferred method (this requires a PayPal account)
Enter the amount appropriate for the number of classes that you are registering for. For example, if it is just one class, fill in $20.  If it is 3 classes, enter $60 and so on (or enter your donation amount)
Note: You must include a note when you purchase in PayPal (or email me separately), indicating which class dates and times you’re requesting. Be specific

Venmo.com  @Teresa-Marchok (also you must include a note with the specific class, date and time you’re signing up for.  Include your email address with your venmo note so I can send you the registration link.

 

 

 

 

 

The following post is written by guest blogger and nutritionist Sally Duplantier

“As part of my annual check-up, I had my cholesterol tested, certain that the numbers would improve due to a year of great nutrition and exercise.  Imagine my surprise – and disappointment – when the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides had actually gone up.  The overall ratios were excellent and hadn’t changed in the past 10 years.  However, I could not see beyond those other two numbers.  How could they be bad, when I had been so good?”
 
Our Fixation with Numbers
Our fixation with numbers starts at an early age and continues through life.  In school, we have test scores.  At work, we have performance reviews.  In the wellness world, there are blood pressure readings, heart rate, steps per day, calories burned and of course – the number on the scale.  It’s not that these numbers aren’t important.  They serve as markers for health and keep us focused on goals.  The problem is when we are so obsessed with a number that it defines our self-worth.

Numbers Gone Awry
Consider a friend of mine who became overly focused on hitting the daily Movement goal on his smartwatch.  Since he only had 50 more calories to burn for the day, he jumped up and down on the cement floor in his garage.  He reached his goal but also developed shin splints and could barely walk for a week.

A Different Way of Thinking
Try this thought experiment for a day:  ignore the scale (or number of steps or calories burned) and simply focus on how you feel.

  • Is your energy good?
  • Can you do the things you want physically?
  • How do your clothes fit?
  • Are you confident in your appearance?

Weight Watchers calls these “non-scale victories.”  My favorite came from a client who hadn’t lost weight as quickly as she had hoped.  When I asked her about a non-scale victory, she said, “I feel like trying on pants again.”

The Top Takeaway
When it comes to health and especially weight loss, numbers play a role, but they don’t define who you are or what you’ve accomplished.  Cut yourself some slack!

 

Guest author and nutritionist, Sally Duplantier, creator of www.MyZingLife.com

Who wouldn’t want to look better and feel healthier?  This is true no matter what decade of life you are in.  The good news is this: there are things you can do now to improve the way you age at a cellular level
 
In 2009, three molecular biologists – Elisabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider, and Jack Szostak – won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research into telomeres and their effects on aging.  Telomeres are the caps on our strands of DNA.  Think of them like the protective tip on a shoelace; without the tip, the shoelace ravels and becomes unusable.  This is similar to our DNA.  If protected by long telomeres, the cell can easily divide and renew the tissues that depend on it.  As telomeres shorten, the cell loses its ability to divide and dies.
 
In the book, The Telomere Effect:  A Younger, Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer, Blackburn, and co-author Elissa Epel, PhD, provide these tips to keep your telomeres thriving:
 
Telomeres Love Fish
They especially love fish that contains Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and tuna.  In fact, they thrive on any Omega-3 foods: walnuts, flaxseed, chia seed, and soy.  Foods associated with shorter telomere length include sugar, saturated fat, processed meats, white bread, pastries, and excess alcohol.
 
Telomeres Don’t Care What You Weigh
More than a number on a scale, telomeres care about your metabolic health—how well you control blood sugar levels.  This is true whether or not you are diabetic.  On the other hand, yo-yo dieting (losing the same 20 pounds or so over and over ) puts telomeres into a tailspin.
 
Telomeres Favor a Couple Forms of Exercise
Two forms of aerobic exercise are especially popular with telomeres:
 
  1. Moderate exercise like light jogging or fast walking, done 3 times a week for 45 minutes each
  2. High-intensity interval training, with a 10-minute warm-up, 4 intervals of fast and easy running (or brisk walking), and a 10-minute cooldown
 
Although the current research hasn’t linked strength training to telomere length, strength training is still vitally important for revving metabolism and maximizing bone health – especially as we get older.
 
Telomeres Crave Sleep
Telomeres respond best to a full night’s sleep, at least 7 hours, allowing your body to complete its four required sleep stages.  Short-changing yourself on sleep prevents your cells from replenishing as they should.  Likewise, you can’t make up for lack of weekday sleep by sleeping in on weekends.
 
Telomeres Know When You are Stressed Out
Anxiety, depression, pessimism, chronic stress and hostility have all been linked to the depletion of telomeres.  This can be undone, however, through meditation and mind-body practices like yoga or tai-chi and by reframing stress as a positive.
  
The top takeaway is this:  lifestyle choices — including nutrition, movement, sleep and stress management – impact how you age at a cellular level.  It’s never too late to improve this picture.
About the Author 
Sally Duplantier is the founder of Zing, a company that helps people improve their Healthspan—the number of years in which they are healthy, active and mentally sharp. She has a certificate in Nutrition Science from Stanford Medical School and is studying the science of aging at USC, where she is working on a Masters in Gerontology.

Have you ever contemplated getting studio Pilates equipment for your home workouts?

What if I told you that you may already own something that lends itself wonderfully to Pilates work? This month I’ll share with you a Pilates workout that I designed to be performed on…an Ottoman!

Perhaps you don’t have the money or inclination to purchase big Pilates equipment for home use. Well I’ve discovered to my delight that my padded ottoman is the perfect surface for so many Pilates exercises. Here’s a way to do some Aging Strong Pilates® in the comfort of your home and notch up the level.

The video below is my personal quick and dirty ~15 min workout that I do in my bedroom before or after a shower about 2-3x a week. I do it in my underwear for maximum skin to leather traction so I have good grip and don’t slide. Some of the exercises are extremely challenging so proceed with caution. They are safe but difficult, so listen to your body and proceed at a level and pace that matches where you are today.

At the end of this blog post I’ve included a full written list of the exercises so you can print it and repeat on your own with your choice of music.

Note: Your ottoman should not be on wheels or have a base that swivels.

My ottoman has a slope to it. Depending on the direction your lying on it, the slope can make a particular exercise easier or harder. If your ottoman is sloped, try and drape yourself on it in the same angle I do in the video. I demonstrate the exercises at the angle that facilitates each movement.

For example, for the beginning chest lift core series I’m positioned on my back with my buttocks on the low edge and the lower tips of my shoulder blades at the top of the slope. This is the easier orientation but you’ll see quickly that it is by no means “easy”. If your ottoman is level, that’s fine as long as it has nice padded edges so it doesn’t dig into you. If you choose not to do it in your underwear then add a shelf liner to the surface so you don’t slide.

This workout includes all ranges of motion, Flexion (just from Extension (back bending) to Neutral (straight line) so it’s safe for conditions where flexion is contraindicated) Rotation, Side Bending, and Extension. I incorporate wonderful stretches after working the muscles in all these planes of motion.

I have to admit this is one of my favorite routines. It’s a Bad A_ _ Core workout that energizes me and makes we feel worked in a short amount of time!

The planks are extremely challenging but if you have stiff feet or bunions that make it difficult to curl your toes under for planks on the floor, having your feet elevated makes that part actually easier since you don’t have to tuck your toes under. Remember, the more leg you have on the ottoman, the easier it will be, so position yourself wisely.

 

The two sections that I do face down (opposite arm and leg reach, swimming and swan) are great for strengthening the muscles that strengthen the hips and support good posture. Firing those upper back muscles has the added benefit of stimulating bone growth in the spine.

 

Here’s a full list of the exercises so you can repeat them on your own with your favorite music. Note that as you see in the video – you don’t have to do a lot of repetitions to make it count. If you want to get feedback from me on your technique, purchase a 30 minute online Skype session and I’ll ensure you’re moving safely and effectively!

Go slowly. Be Precise. Breathe. Have fun!

Ottoman Pilates Exercise List

On your Back (face up)

  • Big X Stretch
  • Chest Lift Series
    • Center
    • Oblique twisting toward the lifted tabletop leg
    • Advanced: knees lift, lift, lower, lower, alternating lead leg
  • Finish with Big X Stretch to lengthen the abdominals

On Your Belly

  • Opposite Arm leg reach (ottoman under pelvis and belly)
  • Swimming
  • Final extension hands interlaced reaching toward feet-rotating head as you breathe w/ease
  • Child’s pose/Rest position (knees open wide if you have osteoporosis or herniated discs)

Side Lying

  • Leg lifts (bottom foot on floor, top leg lifts and lowers) Waist positioned at middle of ottoman
  • Side Kick top leg, keep hips stacked vertically.    Shift body so hips at middle of ottoman
  • Hover body parallel to floor and hold (head in line with spine)
  • Top leg lifts and lowers
  • Side-Lying Stretch (shift yourself so it’s comfortable for you, grab top wrist with bottom hand)

Repeat above on the other side

Face Down

  • Planks (first with lower thigh and shin on ottoman) Hold position
  • Add pushups if desired
  • Walk further out so less leg on the ottoman-increased challenge
  • Side Plank (one on each side-move slowly and hold/breathe)

Face Down

  • Swan (begin with breasts/chest hanging over the front edge, hands on the floor, feet on floor against base of the wall) Activate core and legs then Inhale as  you rise, Exhale as you lower
  • Child pose/rest position

 

 

Do you know someone who seems to have 80 hobbies and are always looking for the next one? Maybe you’ve thought, “They must just have too much time on their hands.”  The truth is, they probably work hard at making time for hobbies. Learning a new skill offers a slew of mental, physical and social benefits for people in all walks of life. 

Whether you’re in school, in the middle of your career, living in your golden years, recovering from substance abuse or anywhere in between, finding a good hobby can keep you healthy and enjoying life. Here are five mentally engaging hobbies that can be learned online or with a group of friends.

Learn an instrument

One skill that is good for the mind and helps people express their thoughts and feelings is playing a musical instrument. It can also increase your capacity for memory, strengthen your dexterity and coordination, lift your mood, and boost your self-confidence. Furthermore, developing musical comprehension can improve your communication skills, and playing in a group can strengthen your interpersonal skills. A lot goes into choosing the right instrument, so do your research and pick one that interests you and fits your personality. 

Read

Besides the entertainment aspects, reading is beneficial for people of all ages. Along with being a critical part of child development, reading a variety of topics and genres is an effective way of gaining general knowledge and expanding your vocabulary. It has also been proven to reduce stress and improve cognitive function by boosting memory, concentration and focus, as well as strengthening analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. Reading a traditional book promotes healthy sleep. For those who are interested in writing, reading also helps you become a better writer. 

Write

Similar to reading, writing is beneficial for any age, whether it’s done traditionally or digitally. It engages and stimulates your brain, sharpens your focus and provides an outlet for creatively expressing unresolved thoughts and feelings. Writing can even slow down the aging process, calm the nerves, and ease anxiety and depression symptoms. Additionally, there is a plethora of different forms and subjects to write about, so there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for a good excuse to unplug from our tech-driven world, opt for writing some of your material by hand

Dance

If you’re looking for a hobby that’s more kinetic in nature, dance may be the one for you. Some of the many benefits include improved mood, positive self-image, increased energy and more neural connections, a big plus as we age! 

There are many ways to increase your skill in dance, whether by taking a class or just dancing to music in your living room. For the former, active agers may have access to dance classes if they’re signed up for a qualifying Medicare Advantage plan. SilverSneakers, a program specializing in senior-focused fitness activities, is included in many Medicare Advantage plans offered by health insurance companies like Humana. Your local YMCA is a valuable resource for Zumba and other movement-oriented activities. The Y offers programs for people of all ages and abilities and always has something fun for those ready to take up a new fitness-focused hobby. 

Volunteer

While volunteering is a great way for retirees to stay physically, mentally and socially active, it has just as many benefits for people in other age groups. Volunteering at a nonprofit (e.g., food pantry, animal shelter, church, museum, etc.) is a great opportunity to step out of the stresses of your personal life and help others. It can also be a base for socializing and building new friendships, enhancing school and college experience, providing better job opportunities, and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s while helping you age gracefully.  

Keeping your mind engaged is not only helpful, but it’s also essential for anyone who wants to live a long and healthy life. Reading, writing, playing an instrument, dancing and volunteering are all mentally challenging activities that are worth trying, no matter your age or life circumstances. Whether you opt for local classes or go online for free tutorials, find a hobby to make a lasting difference in your quality of life.

Photo Credit: Unsplash  

Cheryl Conklin

www.wellnesscentral.info

We all have our postural faults, especially if we lose focus. Mine is rib flaring, that tendency to jut the bottom ribs forward in a faulty attempt to open the chest or lengthen the body. This often results in excess back tension and pain.

With mindfulness and an awareness of this tendency, I can better control this common error and so can you!

The secret is, no surprise, “connection”.  I like to use the image of 2 vertical bungee cords connecting my front bottom ribs with my pelvis.  Watch the video to test if you’re a rib flarer and learn 2 exercises to help fix it.

Many people have expressed an interest in learning more about my recent travels this month to New Zealand. Since it was such a unique experience, I’m happy to share with you the deep gratitude that I have both for the beauty of that country and for the opportunity to share this adventure with my husband, daughter and my son who is in the middle of a gap year and headed to college in the fall. Here are the trip highs and one low.


Cruise on the Milford Sound with my husband and children

Moments that stood out for me…

My son skydiving for the first time, and from 20,000 feet! Mind you this is a young man who is afraid of spiders yet he did this with calm assurance.  Blew me away.

Mother and baby dolphin by our boat

Seeing a momma and baby dolphin swimming side by side near our boat on my birthday.  The plan was to swim with the dolphins but if there’s a nursing mom in the pod, they restrict people from swimming with them so we don’t interfere with their feeding schedule.  I totally understood and was just grateful to experience their beauty and lively spirits from the boat.

Snorkeling was colorful and quite active as the guide cut up sea urchin for us to feed the fish. 

On the south island we had the opportunity to kayak to some secluded beaches in Abel Tasman National Park and I marveled at the architectural beauty of the sea carved caves, the unique sounds of the birds-unlike anything I’ve heard before, the ornate shells and even the startling beauty of a single red mushroom on our hike.

Getting stronger as I age?
Titanic Moment!

There was the stunning beauty of Milford Sound as our boat was surrounded on either side by high cliffs and waterfalls.  I even had a “Titanic moment”  with my husband on the ship as well as a dancer moment with legs going north and south. 

I can’t help it. It’s in my DNA

A high was whizzing down the world’s steepest tree to tree zip line through native beech forest in Queenstown. Unfortunately this was scaffolded with a low. Unbeknownst to us, the Christchurch massacre was simultaneously unfolding.

Homes throughout NZ had flags at half mast

The pain and sorrow in this region was palpable yet I marveled at the fact that this country in an astoundingly short time, just 6 days, managed to put in place an assault weapon ban.  I realize I’m treading on unstable ground with different people and their different points of view about this. The ban may not eliminate all such future tragedies but I believe to be true that it will indeed make a difference.

Franz Joseph Glacier

Enjoyed a hike with stunning views of Franz Joseph Glacier, colored blue because of the lack of air bubbles in the compressed snowpack. A low was seeing how much the glacier receded in the last decade due to global warming.

Franz Joseph Glacier Hot Springs

A soak in the local hot springs and a visit to see live Kiwi in a protected environment completed the day’s adventures. I love soft squishy stuffed wild animals and rationalized that I couldn’t buy a kiwi until I saw one live.

Maori traditional Haka dancer-Have you seen a tongue that long before?

The Haka! You may have heard of that?  It’s the native Maori male dance that is designed to intimidate opponents. We visited a live Maori village and as a dancer, I really appreciated the power of their forceful arm gestures, low to the ground stomping, wild bug-eyed, tongue thrusting facial expressions and thunderous chants. This unique dance underscores the power of movement, the power of dance. In fact, the All Blacks, the national NZ rugby team does the dance before every game. It’s also been performed across NZ in the wake of the Christchurch shootings as a symbol of unification in their time of grief.

Follow this link to learn what the Haka means and to see a video of how the Haka is performed.

Sheep, llama, and more sheep. I’ve never seen as many sheep farms as I have here. We visited the Agrodome in Rotorua, a farm that offered interactive experiences with the llama, sheep, sheep shearing demos and an informational tour. I loved getting right in there with these animals as did my kids.


Have you dug your own hot tub in the sand?  That’s exactly what we did on our last day in NZ at Hot Water Beach on the North Island.  At low tide you grab a shovel (rent from local merchants) dig a big hole and soak in natural geothermal hot springs with the ocean as your landscape. It’s quite a fun festive atmosphere as more and more people gather to dig their holes around you.

Digging a natural hot tub with hip hinging, spine sparing technique
Enjoying our hot tub at Hot Water Beach

I appreciated the thought behind this New Zealand crossing sign, displaying concern and responsibility for those who need just a little more time to cross the street.

This booth, seen in Kaiteriteri, on the south island of NZ. It seems you can have your asparagus with or without horse poo.

I’m happy to say that I began several days with some Pilates in my PJ’s using my core ball and resistance band and even did my “Counter series” from my first DVD on a terrace overlooking the sea.  This helped counteract the negative effects of prolonged plane and car rides.  I also made sure to use my spine sparing “hip hinging” technique whenever lifting something or in the photo above, when shoveling sand for our Hot Water Beach hot tub

Core ex with BoneSmart miniball
Counter series

Hip hinging rest position on the plane-actually found this worked!


It’s with gratitude that I’ve returned home safe, healthy and excited to continue sharing my BoneSmart Pilates method with you.

I hope you all make it a priority to take care of yourselves at home and also when traveling. Consistently doing just a few well chosen core exercises and stretches can make all the difference!

Penny Eckert

I have a passion for helping people to age strong. That goal can only go so far if there isn’t follow through by the participant during the hours and days that occur outside of class. Penny (Penelope) Eckert is a distinguished linguistics professor at Stanford where she first took a class with me over a decade ago, then later with private lessons at my Mountain View studio.

What impresses me most about Penny is her commitment to her health and her drive and determination to apply the principles and exercises we work on in class, into her daily routine. She’s one of the clients who I design home programs for who actually follows through and does them. Because of her tenacity, she’s overcome various physical obstacles and I’m proud to say she is a great example of someone who is aging strong.

The following is an interview with Penny.

What’s your line of work?
I’m a professor of Linguistics at Stanford University.

What inspired you to try Pilates? 
I was having back pain and I’d been reading about Pilates. Then I sat next to a woman on a plane who did Pilates and raved about it, so …. I signed up for a Pilates class at Stanford. My back pain was gone by the end of the quarter. Then I signed up for a class with Teresa and it was a revelation. Her classes were an amazing workout and her eagle eye made sure every move was precise. I swear she can see under my clothes. I’ve been addicted to Pilates with Teresa now for fourteen years.

What was an AHA moment you had in Pilates?
I think the biggest AHA moment was when I realized I was in charge of my body, and that I knew what to do at every moment to keep it strong. 

What are the most potent movement principles that you apply to your daily life?
The key to well-being is making sure my core feels strong before I leave the house in the morning, reminding myself to sit and stand tall and relaxed (the key to keeping my shoulders down and released) throughout the day, and striding rather than walking in little steps. 

Which is your most challenging exercise and why?
At the moment my most challenging exercise is your Standing Clocking exercise.  It’s challenging because I seem to have pretty lousy balance but I love it. But then … the Iliotibial band stretch is challenging because It hurts and I HATE it!

Which is your favorite exercise and why?
Since the classic hundreds is not safe for me to do anymore, I enjoy the modified standing hundreds because it warms me up and gets my core firing.  I also love just about anything on the reformer and TRX. 

What is your greatest physical challenge and how have you addressed it?
My back pain came from a messy spine, and I’ve had two spinal fusions since I began Pilates. My surgeon told me that the success of such surgeries depends on the patient’s preceding physical condition, and there’s no question that having a strong core has made all the difference for me. My recovery was fast and once the fusion was complete, I went back to Pilates rather than doing regular physical therapy. I’m six months out from my second surgery and my back feels amazingly strong. 

What improvements and benefits have you noticed during your life outside of class?
I feel much stronger, balanced, and centered. I stand and walk taller. I’m pain free.