WEEK 5:  Health & Wellness at Every Stage of Life
Feb. 7, 2016

Each stage of life comes with its own experiences, responsibilities, opportunities, strengths and challenges. This week, we explore how to build a practice that will sustain and nurture you through all of life's stages.

I often share that when I took my first-ever Nia class, I walked out with the knowledge that I had finally found  the practice that would keep me active and healthy and joyful in my body for the rest of my life.  The same goes for yoga with many yoga practitioners such as the amazing Tao Portion Lynch teaching or practicing into their 90's and beyond!  

Whether you are a young person trying to establish your first exercise practice, a parent with young children juggling to carve out some time for yourself, a woman or man managing one of the many hormonal shifts throughout life, a new empty nester learning to finally prioritize your own self care, or anywhere in between... learning to truly listen to your body and meet its needs with love, compassion and commitment is the key.

Read on for this week's Wellness Tip, Journal Activity, Challenger Deal of the Week and more! 

With love and admiration,
Christina Wolf

Wellness Tip: Stages of Life, Stages of Your Practice
Beauty & Heath at Every Age! Photo courtesy of Nia Technique

Cultivating a lifelong practice means allowing that practice to grow and change as you do. A practice built on the joy of movement can keep you in touch with your body the whole way through, supporting whatever changes come. 

Last week, we introduced you to the idea of kid's yoga, and this month's Nia routine incorporates the "Five Stages." These are:
  1. Embryonic
  2. Creeping
  3. Crawling
  4. Standing
  5. Walking
There's a good video demonstration of the movements here. Most people go through these five stages during their own early childhood development process, but encountering them in a Nia class as an adult can be a real process of "relearning." Just as Madlyne Moeller's yoga kids seem to forget their confidence about being in the front of the studio as they get just a little older, we sort of forget how to move our bodies on the floor as we, literally, "grow  up ." 

It's something Embody Owner Christina Wolf recognized when she got to observe her own son growing through the stages. "That has been the most eye-opening to me," she says. "To watch it in real-time, understanding the value of taking our adult bodies through the process kids do naturally, to relearn how to move."

But it's not just the change from childhood to adulthood that affects the way we move. There's the aging process itself, as well as the dramatic changes in the body that accompany both pregnancy and menopause.

As we age, a whole host of changes take place, from the heart slowing down to the bones shrinking and the memory becoming less efficient. As early as our twenties and thirties, our metabolism begins to slow down, so that we literally need to eat less and move more in order to simply maintain the same weight. As that's happening at a time when many of us are less active due to our jobs, it can present a pretty big challenge.

Research overwhelmingly shows that staying active throughout our years can greatly reduce the chances of developing disease and boost longevity and vitality. 

The same goes for women going through both pregnancy and menopause. These two bookends are supercharged with the same ingredient: hormones. And the funny thing is, little is done to adequately prepare women for what either can mean for their bodies. There's an enduring belief that we'll just have this baby, and our bodies will be back to the way they were before, no problem, or that we'll get a little flushed from time to time, and then our period will just stop.

But in reality, hormone fluctuations can create what's known as "brain fog," as well as mood swings, depression, pain, food cravings, extreme fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms both in pregnancy and menopause. Peri-menopause can also mean night sweats and heart palpitations. Both have their associated weight gain, too, which can put pressure on women to exercise more just when their bodies might need a break.

Movement is absolutely key to alleviating symptoms, along with dietary changes. It's just not true that pregnant women need to take to their beds or that women "going through the change" need to retire to a rocker. But you also have to listen to what your body needs.

"I'm extremely grateful that I  had to be active during and after my pregnancy," says Christina. "What I used for a guideline was to listen to my body, to do what feels good." However, since she was not just a student but also a teacher, she didn't have the opportunity to dial back to level 1 in Nia, or to take only a slower, healing-focused style of Nia around her pregnancy, which she thinks might have served her better. 

Knowing where to find the line between healthy movement and pushing yourself too hard can be tricky, but for Christina, it comes down to motivation. "What's motivating the movement? If it's to fix or improve or make better or make OK as opposed to wanting to care or nurture... Unhealthy can come from a place of self-criticism."

Simply put: Keep moving, listen to your body, ignore the critics, and do what's right for you.

For more information about practicing Nia before, during, and after pregnancy, see this article  by Nia co-creator Debbie Rosas.

Journal Prompt: Where are you on this journey?

How are things different for you now than they were when you were a small child, a young adult, or middle-aged? What are your body's life lessons?

If you've gone through pregnancy or menopause, write about how your body changed during and after that time. How did your practice change?

Think about how your practice can support the changes you will face in the future.

Embody's Featured Wellness Coalition Partner: 
Summit Chiropractic

Summit Chiropractic Center
Summit Chiropractic has been serving the public since 2007 providing personalized chiropractic care and patient education to help patients achieve a better quality of life. Whether you seek chiropractic care for pain relief, improvement in physical function, wellness, or pregnancy/pediatric chiropractic, Summit Chiropractic Center is available to help you achieve your goals.

Chiropractic treatment can provide effective drug-free pain relief for a wide variety of conditions including back pain, headaches, neck pain, and joint pain in the shoulders, knees and hips.

With their experience and knowledge in chiropractic care, they're committed to relieving your pain so you can get back to the activities you enjoy. At your first visit they'll ask about your symptoms, your general health, and previous health challenges or symptoms. You'll be examined and they will try to determine the source of discomfort or pain. Finally, they'll describe a plan of treatment and likely give you a spinal adjustment.

Visit doctors Aaron Wilson and Jibok Lee at 2530 NE Kresky Ave in Chehalis and visit their website!

Jibok Lee D.C.
Aaron Wilson D.C.

Embody Lifestyle Boutique Challenger Deal of the Week:
Queen of Hearts Clothing
Challengers receive 
10% OFF Queen of Hearts Clothing!
Offer valid through February 13th
***Please remind us about your discount at checkout!***

"We see in order to move; we move in order to see.

 - William Gibson


by February 13th

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Returning Challenger Q & A  
with Alexandra Sullivan
Alexandra during Tribal Belly Dance
Q: What was the biggest factor in your success in completing the challenge last year?
A:  The responsibility of knowing that I had to complete a certain number of classes within a time frame made it more difficult to excuse myself from attending.  It felt rewarding to come in, see my punch card fill up, enter the drawing, and see other members of our community who had made the same commitment and dedication to health.  There was an aspect of healthy competition, or challenging myself to exceed my expectations and measure myself against a standard, and wanting to achieve stellar results for myself. Also knowing I would walk into a full room of smiling faces who would experience this communal ritual and fill up the space with movement and laughter made class even more exciting than usual.

Q: Who or what was is the greatest support for your practice?
A:  The greatest support has been the community of individuals occupying space together.  This doesn't feel like going to the gym as an individual, working out for an hour, having it feel like a chore, and going home afterwards not particularly looking forward to having to go again.  The community and friendships I've made have been crucial.  If I don't go to class, I know I will be missed.  Having the structure of a class and routine makes it easier to achieve my health goals, because in a way, I don't have to be as self-motivated- I just know what time class is, and commit to being there whenever possible.  Also, the pure joy of participating in Nia helps- it helps me feel creative, express emotions in a healthy way, and move freely in a way that we typically aren't able to in day to day life.  Having that outlet has become a sort of addiction- I can't imagine not having that time to myself to feel free and uninhibited.  Having that space, and knowing that a whole community of people are rooting for me, and I can support them in a similar way, makes all the difference.

Q: How has your practice enhanced your life? 
A:   For me, it has changed all aspects of my life- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  My body is stronger and more fit than before, and I feel a stronger connection to my body.  I have learned to listen to its needs in a more compassionate way, but have also found a way to not identify myself as much with my body and how it defines my self-worth.  I see my body as a tool to move my spirit through the world, not as much as an object that defines who I am.  This makes my relationship with it less complex- if I eat too much or don't go to class, I don't feel as though I've "failed".  I don't feel the need to "punish" my body, or feel an emotional reaction in connection to its needs.  I feel like many people, especially women, have negative relationships with their bodies, and Nia has been a great way to overcome those feelings.  Now, I feel pride and understanding in my body and what it does for me.  Mentally, Nia is a great release for emotions I may be trying to stifle or repress in every day life.  I have an outlet for anger, frustration, yelling, tears, sentimentality, and appreciation that does not jeopardize my relationship with other people.  I can nurture myself emotionally and come out feeling fresh and clean, with no emotional debris left over.  Spiritually, finding expression through dance, and connection to my body, breath, and movement has given me a more positive and holistic outlook on life.  Having the focus in class to self-improvement in a way that is fun and inspiring has made my life more peaceful.  And also making friendships in our community has made me feel more nurtured and less isolated

Embody Teacher Feature:
Christina Wolf, Embody Owner, Yoga/Nia

Christina before class - 38 weeks pregnant

When pregnant with her son Keenan, Christina taught up until three weeks before her delivery and then returned to it six weeks afterward. 

"I loved practicing up till the end," says Christina. "Music and movement are highly beneficial to a growing fetus. I always felt like we were sharing this dance. It was precious."

She credits her practice in both Nia and yoga for her lack of stretch marks, by the way. "By actively stretching the body, especially the layers of muscle fascia, it allows the skin to be more elastic," she explains. "Of course, I could also just have good genes," she jokes. But her practice definitely helped her develop muscle strength and stability, as well as maintain mobility and flexibility.

After her son Keenan was born, she continued dancing with him and is thrilled to have students bring infants into Nia. It just depends on a parent's core strength, and there are always modifications available. There's even a "babywearing class" offered at some Nia studios. 

For Christina, it was important through all of this to have an identity intact that was separate from her son. Being a teacher and small business owner gave her that. "New moms can sometimes get so wrapped up in being a mother," she says. "We women have a tendency to give, give, give, to everyone around us. But you have to fill your cup. Class does that for me. Once I step into class, all the multi-tasking falls away. I'm just there."

On that note, here's a great video with Jada Pinkett, " Take care of YOU, first ."

Week 4 Prize Giveaway
Week 5 Prize:
For the week of 
February 7th - February 13th
BioFreeze Cooling Spray
Summit Chiropractic
$10 Boutique Gift Certificate
 from Embody
Week 4 Prize Winner:
Patricia Ensrud

Congratulations to 
Patricia Ensrud who won our 
"Week 4" Challenge Prize

$20 Gift Card from
Good Health Nutrition Center
MantraBand Bracelet
 from  Embody

Embody Movement Studio & Lifestyle Boutique | www.EmbodyCentralia.com
(360)330-BODY(2639)  | 115 S. Tower Ave Centralia, WA 98631