Welcome to the Pilates Style Newsletter
Six times a year, we will bring you a calendar of the must-know Pilates events around the country,
updates on our conferences, Pilates-related news, original feature articles and bonus material
from the current issue of Pilates Style magazine.
We want to hear from you! If you know of a Pilates event, or have news to share with your
community, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In this Issue
By Linda Knittel
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If your holidays are anything like mine, there is a lot of cooking going on, and that usually means a fridge full of leftovers. Sadly, aside from a turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving, most foods do not taste better the second day. Sure, you can blame it on refrigeration, reheating, or the fact that eating the same dish two days in a row does not excite the palate, but from a yogic point of view, the real problem with leftovers is that they have lost their prana, or "vital energy."
From an Ayurvedic perspective, foods devoid of prana inhibit digestion and impede well-being. "Basically, when you keep food for a long time, it takes more energy to digest it than you reap from the food itself," says Sarasvati Buhrman, PhD, Ayurvedic practitioner and co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda in Boulder, CO.
Perhaps worse, food that lacks prana lends nothing to the creation of the body's ojas (life energy). Traditionally, it is believed that the food we consume replenishes all the tissues of the body and becomes ojas in about a month. "Ojas permeates the entire mind/body complex and has a lot to do with resistance to illness," Buhrman says. So if you eat food that lacks prana, you may lack the resources for optimal health.
"The body's inability to metabolize foods that are not fresh results in the formation of ama, or toxic undigested material," adds Shubhra Krishan, author of Essential Ayurveda: What It Is and What It Can Do for You (New World Library, 2003). This substance clogs up the vital channels of the body, disrupting digestion and ultimately giving rise to everything from fatigue to disease. Since food begins losing prana the moment it's disconnected from its life source, it is important to create meals using only the freshest ingredients and to take care not to overcook them. Try not to cook meals ahead of time; if possible, make a few separate trips during the week to buy fresh produce. And instead of buying frozen, canned, or processed foods, reach for those that are still closest to their original state, such as fruits, nuts and freshly cut greens.
But cooking each meal from scratch is a luxury many of us can't afford. Besides, shouldn't modern refrigeration afford us some leeway in this area? "Maybe refrigerated food loses prana less quickly-we don't really know," Buhrman says. "I don't encourage people to cook food over the weekend and eat it throughout the week, but I think eating leftovers within 24 or 48 hours at the maximum is probably all right."
5 Perfect Gifts for Your Pilates Pal
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The gift ideas below are a perfect way to say "happy holidays" to your Pilates instructor, workout buddy, or even yourself. What's more, they all fit perfectly in your gym bag.
S'well stainless steel bottles keep cold beverages cool for up to 24 hours and hot beverages warm for up to 12 hours ($35 for a 17-ounce bottle; www.swellbottle.com).
Hurraw! Balm is an all natural, vegan lip balm made from premium raw organic and fair trade ingredients. Super smooth and not too glossy, Hurraw! Balm comes in 16 tasty flavors like coffee bean, grapefruit and green tea ($3.79; www.hurrawbalm.com).
Caveman Cookies are gluten-free, and made with ingredients like honey, almond meal, walnuts, raisins, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. At only 75 calories each, these are a perfect post workout snack ($5.45; www.cavemancookies.com).
TractionSocks are made from organic cotton, and give you the anti-bacterial protection of a sock with the non-slip security of a sneaker. Plus, they come in eight color combinations ($9.99 per pair; www.tractionsocks.com).
"I Heart" gloves from Object Mythology are made using the highest-quality baby alpaca, which is warmer and lighter than wool. These beauties are hand knit in Peru ($45; www.objectmythology.com).
& A with Rael Isacowitz
Q: I am working toward doing an Upward-Facing Plank, but I don't have the arm strength yet to do it correctly. What are some exercises that will help me achieve this goal?
First, let me applaud you for choosing to include and master this exercise. It is such a valuable and wonderful exercise and its benefits are far-reaching, well beyond arm strength alone. In the BASI system, we refer to this exercise as Back Support followed by Leg Pull-Back, because one leg is lifted and lowered several times before switching to the other leg, all the while maintaining the Back Support position.
Focusing on arm strength alone is not enough. Often, it is not strength that is lacking, but rather it's tightness that is limiting the execution of the exercise. If you are tight in the pectorals for example, this will be a very tough exercise to perform. This is the reason many men have a difficult time with it.
In terms of the muscles of the arms and shoulders, the ones that need to be addressed and worked are the elbow extensors (Push-Up) and shoulder extensors (Chest Expansion). However, it is important to also focus on the hip and back extensors and, as mentioned above, stretching the muscles that may be restricting the movement.
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Isacowitz, MA, has been practicing Pilates for more than 30 years and is recognized
internationally as an expert in the field. Rael founded BASI Pilates in 1989, a comprehensive
Pilates education organization represented throughout the world. For more information, visit basipilates.com
Close Up: Cougar-Spine Stretch By Tannis Kobrinsky
This exercise will mobilize the spine, elongate back muscles, and increase flexibility in the hands and wrists.
Setup: Start on all fours, with your fingers curled in to make a fist.
Begin the move:
1. Inhale, and when you exhale, pull in your core muscles and curl your spine, like a Halloween cat (or cougar).
2. Inhale again, then stretch back toward the left, lowering your left hip to the floor, extending your arms in front of you toward the left, and opening your fists to let your cougar claws stretch as wide as possible. Hold the position for 5 deep breaths.
3. Return to all fours, and as you inhale go back up on your fists. Exhale as you repeat the cougar cat back in the center.
4. Inhale again, and stretch back to the left and repeat the cougar claw stretch to the left. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
Repeat twice on both sides, and then return to the center and rest your hips back to your heels, arms extended in front in a child's pose rest position. Relax and breathe for another 5 deep breaths.
Note: Adding the fist clench and claw stretch in this exercise sequence increases hand dexterity and is good therapy for those coping with arthritis in fingers and wrists. Starting up on the fists also takes pressure off the wrists in the all fours position.
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Recipe: Decadent Chocolate Pâté
By Ricki Heller
This pâté makes a great dessert for holiday gatherings, as it looks beautiful and most people can it eat-even those with food intolerances. It also tastes incredibly rich, but is actually good for you. A little goes a long way, so it's best to cut it into thin slices.
Makes 9-12 servings
1 ¼ cups nondairy dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa is best), chopped
¼ cup freshly squeezed (this is essential) orange juice (remove larger pieces of pulp)
1 small ripe (but not squishy) Haas avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, optional
Line three, individual serving loaf pans (about 2" x 4"), or a single small loaf pan (about 4" x 6") with plastic wrap. Set aside.
Place chocolate in a heatproof glass or metal bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. Melt together with the orange juice and maple syrup, stirring frequently, until perfectly smooth.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, puré the avocado, making sure to scrape down the sides so there are no lumps. Add the chocolate mixture and vanilla and puré until perfectly smooth, creamy, and glossy. It will have the texture of an old-fashioned cooked pudding-thick and almost glutinous. Turn the mixture into the pan(s) and smooth the top(s). Refrigerate for about an hour until the top is just firm, then cover the top with more plastic and refrigerate overnight.
To unmold, remove the top piece of plastic. Place a serving plate upside down onto the loaf pan, then, holding the plate against the pan, turn the whole thing over so the pan is on top and the plate is on the bottom. Remove the loaf pan, and carefully peel off the plastic. To cut into slices, use a long, sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped clean between slices. Serve with fresh berries, cream, or other fruits.
Tip: The pâté will keep, refrigerated and covered with plastic, up to 4 days. If you can't finish it all in that time, simply wrap the leftovers tightly with plastic and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Ricki Heller is a whole foods chef, educator and author of the Canadian bestseller Sweet Freedom: Desserts You'll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar (one of only three cookbooks endorsed on Ellen DeGeneres' website), as well as three e-cookbooks. She writes the popular food blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, where she chronicles her ongoing challenges with candida, tells entertaining anecdotes about her life, shares sugar-free, vegan, whole-foods recipes (almost 500 at last count); and provides a platform for her two, chatty lab-border collie cross dogs, Elsie and Chaser. She lives near Toronto with her husband and two "girls."
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