Reminder: “Breathe with Me” tomorrow at 11:00 am PST

Happy Sunday everyone!  I hope you get a chance to get outside today and enjoy whatever weather is like in your neck of the woods!

Thank you for your enthusiasm in the “Breathe with Me” class.  I was very excited to see all the sign ups this morning.  That being said, a few of you have reached out and shared that Monday mornings are a hard time to stop, breathe, and destress. Though maybe that is when we need it the most? Just saying… 
Not a problem at all! I get it! Some of you might prefer to do this sort of practice at the end of your day, or after a long bout of studying or working.  That is a GREAT idea.  Luckily, that’s where the recording comes in.  In other words, if you are interested but see yourself in the middle of a meeting or out for a sunny walk at 11:00am PST simply register and I will send you the link by Monday afternoon.

What do we need for class?

Great question! For the first half of class you need a comfortable place to sit.  I will be seated on a chair, but if you prefer your couch, upright in bed, or your car (because it might be your only a quiet space) that is fine, too.  Just be comfortably upright.

The second half of class will be a series of restorative yoga postures and gentle yoga.  Grab 2-3 rolled towels or blankets and a bolster or firm pillow. If you are bed bound, just get comfy!  The idea is to relax and let your body down regulate.  Gentle movement is an added bonus.

Why this class?  Doesn’t everyone know how to breathe?

Yes, we all breathe – that is why we are here! But the fact is many of us suffer from respiratory challenges (chronic asthma, sleep apnea, mouth breathing) and also autoimmune issues which point to a dysregulation of the body.  Learning efficient breathing techniques that you can practice throughout the week is like flexing your breathing muscles.  The more you practice these techniques, the more efficient your respiratory system will be.  Breathing effects everything.  Think about it – without breath we wouldn’t be alive.

Wouldn’t it be better to do a strong yoga practice after? 

Sure, if that was your goal.  In fact, guided breathing techniques have been used to improve elite athletes’ performance and opera singers’ stamina.   But the purposes of this class is to downshift a bit.  Gentle yoga and restorative poses aim to down regulate our central nervous system by calming our “fight, flight and freeze” response and encouraging our “rest and digest” abilities.  Learning how to “actively rest” can be a tool for us during stressful times or when our anxiety is getting the best of us. In addition, practicing restorative yoga can be a gentle practice that is available for many when other more vigorous activities are not possible.

How do I pay?

Class is free! Yay! A class like this would normally be $15-20. So treat yourself to something nice that day (lunch out?) or save your pennies for future self care endeavors. 🙂

Lastly…

Thank you in advance for your time and interest!  I am looking forward to connecting with you in this class or others.

xo
Francine

Looking back fills me with gratitude

I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude this week…

I do that, in times of recent tragedy, loss and overwhelm. I also find myself yearning for good memories.  This week I thumbed through albums (yes, the paper kind) and even updated frames with more recent photos of the kids.  Btw, I think they are growing at lightening speed.  And I reflect.  What was I doing this month two years? Three? Five? Thank you Google Photos for helping answer that question so easily.  As I wandered down memory lane this week I came across the photo above.  It was taken June 7, 2017.  My 36th birthday.  Also the day we finished our month long journey of the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain with our then 18 month old son. It seems so long ago, yet the memories are fresh in my mind.  I can feel the heaviness of my hiking shoes, my sweaty shirt, the curiosity in my mind of how we would spend our last few days in Spain before traveling home.  Honestly, I don’t remember what kind of hotel or hostel we stayed in that night. I don’t recall what we ate for my birthday dinner.  But I do remember feeling comfortable, confident, and well in the world.  We had just experienced a month of moving from place to place traveling on foot, bus, train and taxi.  We stayed at hostels, hotels, houses, and pensions.  We ate at grocery stores, cafes, restaurants and from street vendors.  We had spent four weeks relying on one another and trusting strangers who became friends.  The feeling of completing this excursion in a different country, in a foreign language, (with a toddler!) and with so many other unknowns felt, well, amazing.  

I will hold on to that feeling whenever life feels like way too much.  I will go back to that memory when it feels INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT to trust the world around me. I will flip through these photos, both physically and digitally, when my body and soul are yearning for confidence in myself and in others.  And I will strive to teach my children, by example, to live as best as we can with hope in our hearts for ourselves and the world around us.

Opportunities for self care this month…

We all need self care.  I could say “we need it right now more than ever” but truthfully, whatever the season, we owe it to ourselves, our families and our community to take time for physical and mental wellness.  It is eminently important.  This month I have two opportunities for you to make time and space for these healthy habits.  First is my Thursday Move with Me mat class.  (Description and registration below.). We move, we laugh, we perspire a little.  If you are physically able, Join us!  The format is both challenging and doable.

The second offering is my newest class, Breathe with Me, on Mondays for the month of June at 11:00am.  The class on June 6th will be free, and open to anyone who registers.  A link will be sent for those who can not attend in person. Breathe with Me will be a seated practice of guided breathing techniques that help regulate and calm our central nervous system.  The second half of the class will be a series of restorative yoga postures and very gentle yoga.  Please have yoga bolsters, pillows or small couch cushions handy.  Those who are chair or bed bound can rest for the second half rather than move from pose to pose.  To register, please click on the links below.

From my deep breath to yours,
Thank you,
xo
Francine

Introducing “Breathe with Me”

It’s an interesting thing, breath

Voluntary or involuntary? In through the nose and out through the mouth?  Soft belly breaths or deep breaths? “Just breath”?

There are so many ways to look at breath. Though I have been practicing and studying breath since my first trials on my yoga mat, through my graduate work and always with clients, lately I am teaching and experiencing it with greater intrigue.  Much of this is due to recently reading Breath. The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor.  Have you read it? If not, let me summarize. Our breath is important and HOW we breathe can provide benefits for our immediate and future health.  “Healthies”, young, old, those with respiratory conditions such as asthma and sleep apnea, autoimmune issues and folks with scoliosis can all benefit from incorporating a few minutes of breathing practice each day.  Will it cure whatever ails you? Mmm, I can’t guarantee that.  Will it contribute to your overall health and wellness? Most definitely.

I have long been interested in whole body wellness.  In fact, the very reason I switched from biochemistry to biopsychology in my undergraduate work at UCSB was because “biopsych” had so much more real life application.  For example, how the brain influenced our behavior and vice versa.  What I didn’t realize at the time, but have come to after years of teaching movement, is that we have a tremendous amount of opportunity in the “proper care and feeding” of our bodies to contribute to our whole body heath.  Elements such as food, exercise, sleep, relationships, self care, job satisfaction, laughter, touch, etc, etc. are all contributing factors. Breath seems to be another area (right at the tip of our nose!) that we can hone as a tool for wellness.

Since reading Breath I have been practicing many of the breathing techniques, some of which are familiar to me from my yoga practice, and others, like box breathing used by Navy Seals, which are new to me.  Not only do I feel the benefits of taking time to exercise my breath, but I am also inspired to share the techniques.  It is clear to me that mindful breathing is something that ANYONE can do to add quality to daily life by stress reduction, increased respiratory strength and support to the immune system.

All that to say…

I would like to invite you to a new class I am rolling out called Breathe with Me Mondays at 11:00am for the month of June (starting June 6th).  In this class I will introduce different breathing exercises followed by a practice of restorative yoga postures.  The breath work takes focus and attention, and I have found that a few restorative poses to follow is a lovely compliment for rest and to assist in the down-regulation of our nervous system. I will share more details on what you need (or don’t need) for our practice in the week prior to June 6th.  Until then, think about it, breathe about it 🙂 and look out for a Zoom link to register.  If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask.  Also, if you think someone you know might be interested in this work, please share this blog post with them.

 

I’m here, and I am listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week, I sent out a newsletter with a message that seemed to resonate with many of you.  (In case you missed it, you can read it here).  I want you to know that I am here and I am listening!  Writing that piece and hearing your responses has inspired me to add a new weekly offering.  I will hold off on the details for now, but stay tuned for an additional online option coming your way soon.  (Psst. Spoiler alert: Anyone can participate.)

Until then, there are always Thursdays! And Thursday recordings, too. 🙂 I hope you will consider joining me for Move with Me this week.  Register here.

In wellness,
Francine

Exercise is good for everyone!! Wait…is it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture this…
It’s my first year of grad school. I am in a class led by my advisor, Dr. Vicky Jaque. She is standing at a podium with a Power Point projector behind her. Her wire rimmed glasses are pushed down over the tip of her nose so she can glance at her notes then back up at us. With wavy light brown hair, casual clothes and tennis shoes, she is not much taller than five feet. We, a class full of both undergraduate and graduate kinesiology students, are waiting for lecture to start. The class is called Fundamentals of Kinesiology or something of that nature. For the undergrads, it is one of the few classes they will take from Jaque – her time more aptly spent in her lab, office or graduate only level courses. For us grad students it’s a class we could assist in the future, perhaps next semester or after graduation. In either case, both groups of students are ready to listen attentively. Jaque clears her throat and starts lecture. “How many of you believe that EVERYONE should exercise?” Hands shot up quickly. We are all eager to answer this question correctly. “Okay, okay,” she says as she looked back at us neither acknowledging nor refuting our response. “Next question. How many of you believe everyone CAN exercise?” Hands go up more slowly, but still, the majority’s are up. After all, we are kinesiology students. We are there because we believe in the power of exercise. Didn’t she? She looked back at us matter-a-factly. “What if I told you not everyone should exercise. What would you think of that?” Before we could answer she went on. “You will come to realize that not everyone can exercise, and even if they can not everyone should. For some, it is down right detrimental to their entire system.” We all looked a little shocked, and I, who had rested my faith in this woman who was going to be my advisor, was a little miffed. That being said, I listened with open ears. She went on to describe conditions in which just normal ADLs (activities of daily living) require so much effort that they, on many days, are plenty enough demand on the body. Tasks such as being upright, dressing, bathing, eating and communicating taxed the body to the point that there was no “extra” energy for exercise. Add on some days of occupational therapy and those with these types of conditions are basically doing their version of cross training. Their bodies can only take so much.

Nearly a decade later, I have not forgotten that lecture. It gave me pause, information, and a completely different perspective on the roll of exercise for the individual. It educated me and taught me an important lesson. Just like no two bodies are the same, no two movement prescriptions should be the same either. I am grateful to Jaque for opening lecture that day with those questions. It has helped me define the work I do.

For many years I have a struggled with what to call myself. Am I a Pilates Instructor, Yoga Instructor or Kinesiologist? Am I a teacher, Movement Coach, Exercise Physiologist or Fitness Instructor? Truth be told, I am all of these. But the two words that most resonate with me incorporates the titles while simplifying the message. I am a Movement Educator. I am cueing movement to an individual’s unique body whether I am teaching standing Hatha yoga poses, Pilates fundamentals or simply how to breathe better. It could be a Pilates roll down, a functional squat or alternative nostril breathing. Perhaps I am teaching advanced arm work on the Reformer, or restorative yoga poses on the bolsters. It doesn’t matter. Formal exercise may not always be appropriate for an individual or for a given time, but MOVEMENT is always possible. The very act of extending our inhales and exhales is moving breath in and out of lungs. Drawing our bellies in engages our deep core muscles without having to use the spine. Swallowing and humming activities strengthen our vocal cords while relaxing our necks. You get the idea. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, a Hot Yoga class or a long hike. Sure, those things are awesome (and if you can do them, go for it!) But those and even gentler forms of exercise are at times not appropriate for some. We may be in a season due to acute or chronic illness, grief, or injury where we just can’t keep up our “normal” or “former” exercise routine. It’s ok. Simple movement is good, too. At times, working on those fundamental tasks like breathing, ergonomic sitting, good posture, and relaxed standing, can be THE exercise that the body needs in this space and time.

I realize my story turned into a bit of a soap box (enter embarrassed emoji). If you are still here, I am most grateful. 🙂 Honoring the space and ability that we have at given time is so important to me, especially as I approach my birthday next month. But let’s not wait for our next birthdays! Let’s honor where we are at right now, and do what movement, however much or little, feels good. What do you say? I hope you are on board. And if you need some encouragement, even if it is solely to breathe with me, grab your mat and log on to Zoom this Thursday at 10:00am PST. I’d love to see you there.

In knowing that every movement counts,

Francine

How is it so quiet around here? This is how…

I had to laugh…

when, nearly a year ago, a new client said to me, “I didn’t even know you had kids!”  She had learned of them through one of my newsletters but had never “heard them in the background” while I was teaching.  Nor had she seen them suddenly open the door and appear on screen.  She hadn’t experienced me pausing class or a session to go attend to a cry or a want or a need.  Not that any of that would have been bad or even unprofessional.  After all, for the better part of two years we all squeezed our lives into the confines of our walls.  But the fact that my client knew not of their existence even while both kids were home full time during the Pandemic, largely has to do with the unending support and dedication of YDP’s MVP (most valuable player) – my mom.  She’s the one who arrives at my house by 8am so I can get ready for my day of teaching.  It is her, and her alone, who takes the kids to the park during the week, brings holiday crafts to punctuate the seasons and listens to their endless stories and concerts.  She makes them breakfast, feeds them lunch, rocks them to sleep, and now, with the oldest having completed nearly a solid year of school, listens with eager ears about the adventures of the day.  Before I moved my work out of our house and into my studio, she would keep the kiddos quiet when we shared walls.  I know it was hard, and a bit stressful, but the effort she made helped me focus on my work.  By her supporting me, I could help you all – my wonderful YDP community. 

This past week my mother celebrated 80 years on this planet. Eighty years young for sure!!  Our celebration for her was simple, because that is what she wanted. It included a delicious dinner planned and partially cooked by my six year old, scrumptious ice cream from the local creamery, and a gift of fine pearl earrings.  (Because, really, pearls and turning 80 seem like a classic match!) I felt a little bad that it wasn’t more grand, but when my mom looked me in the eyes and said…”Trust me, Francine, this is just what I wanted. It was perfect,” I knew better than to doubt her.  For it’s the love and support that we show each other throughout the year, not just on our celebratory days, that makes our relationship so special.

Thanks mom, for all you do for my business, my family, and for our relationship. I love you to bits. I know, I know…you love me more. ;-).

In gratitude for the best MVP and loving mom a girl could ask for,

Francine

Need a link? It’s right…here!

Hello!

I hope everyone is having a good week and a fulfilling one, at that.  Did you get your taxes done? It’s getting close, so don’t forget! But hopefully that reminder does not pertain to you.  Fingers crossed you had them done weeks ago and you can enjoy your leisure time as you see fit.  I had to sacrifice a little Sunday “quiet time” to get mine done.  That’s ok. Done and done.

Speaking of not forgetting, don’t think I forgot about mat class! Admittedly it’s been a busy week, but Thursday 10:00am mat class is on repeat in my Google calendar.  If you are ever unsure, or simply want to sign up before the newsletter goes out, remember you can visit my website and click on “Online Sessions and Mat Class” for the most recent link and PayPal button.  

Enjoyed that last newsletter? Read it again at your leisure…

Over the past couple years of sending out the weekly YDP newsletter, many of you have responded on different occasions.  Some of you have wrote how you’ve enjoyed a particular story or how a message resonated with you.  This means a lot to me, as I not only take pride in my writing, but also would be elated if my insights on creating a healthy lifestyle reach more people.  For this reason, I have decided to repost my newsletters here on my Blog.  As time permits, I will be adding to the archives of the last year.   For now, find the most recent newsletters (including this one, obviously! ) here. Please feel free to share it with friends who might enjoy a particular post or story.  You never what might help someone get onto a more healthy track or mindful lifestyle.

As always, thank you.   My work would not be as fulfilling without people like you staying engaged, interested and interesting!

In health and fulfillment, 

xo
Francine

A different kind of quiet…

Each Sunday…

I get a chance to have some quiet time.  My husband takes the boys out for a few hours for their Sunday morning rituals which includes outdoor mass, DONUTS, and some time playing at the park.  Often they run into friends, so the kids and Dad get some social time, as well. (You can see why it’s a big win all around!)  While they are out, I am on my own. Usually I enjoy a walk by myself, some yoga, a chat with a friend over coffee or just tidying around our home in my jammies enjoying the quiet.  I love…let me repeat…LOVE, quiet. 

This Sunday I experienced a different kind of quiet.  I had the opportunity to help a friend and colleague with a project she is co-developing.  I contributed some exercises and tutorials of my go-to movements I often recommend for clients.  In between takes, a team adjusted lighting, fixed the set, re-adjusted the lighting….and then filmed me doing what I love to do.  Even though my Sunday did not get its usual dose of quiet time, experiencing “Quiet on the set! We are rolling!!” was a pretty great experience as well.  Showing up just as myself and sharing my knowledge of movement filled me up in a different way than my usual Sunday solitude.  But you know, there was a common link.  Both situations were examples of being true to myself and my values.  Recharging on my own is important, AND showing up for others for a bigger vision is also important.  Having that regular quiet time on Sundays refuels me after a busy week while also giving me perspective to zoom out and discern what projects get my extra energy and free time.

What about you? How do you recharge? How do you chose to spend your ‘extra’ time?  Given the chance, sometimes it is through mindful movement that we can find clarity in our headspace.  I wonder if that happens for you. I encourage you to try to carve that time for yourself.  Perhaps this week in mat class?

In quiet and zooming out,

Francine

Like green things? Me too!

Earlier this week…

I watered all my house plants.  It was Sunday morning, actually, the usual day of my bimonthly watering ritual.  The boys were at the park, so Lulu (my four legged child) and I, had the place to ourselves. As I sipped my coffee, I went around the house and gathered all my plants.  I crowded them into my large kitchen sink and dish rack and proceeded to feed them plant food and then give them a good drink of cool, filtered water from my small green watering can.  Then, per usual, I let them be in the sink for a while, knowing that no one would be around to disturb them. They could sit and enjoy their good soak with their fellow plant friends while glistening in the morning sunlight streaming in from the kitchen window.  As I proceeded to putter around my house and drink the last of my coffee, I stopped in each room.  Something struck me.  Devoid of those decadent green leaves that trail from various hand made macrame hangers, bookshelves, mantels or desks the house looked positively VACANT.  My rooms looked monotone and well…lifeless.  I was a little shocked.  After all, I had lived several good years of my life without a single live plant in my house. Keeping anything more than cut flowers was really just a hobby of the last few years…namely, the last two years.  But taking that beauty away from each room even for just a few moments really showed me how much they contributed to the feeling of the room.  Life. Energy. Color!

I feel like the same thing happens to me when my movement practice is put aside for too many days.  Life feels more sluggish. I definitely have a little less energy and a lot less vitality.  That is why I try to make movement a priority each day.  A walk, a yoga practice, a swim or a Pilates workout – one of my favorites to give myself the nourishment of exercise.

This Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day, I will double check that all my greenery has as much water and food as it needs. 🙂 Then I will roll out my mat (next to some of my favorite studio plants, of course) and get moving.

Let’s practice what we preach

As we close out April can we ask ourselves, are we living our practice?

Hi there 🙂

Would you believe me if I told you sometimes I struggle with self care? That often an extra cup of caffeine and a piece of dark chocolate sounds better than 20 minutes on my mat.  That my wellness check ups are often the last ones to get scheduled.  That I sacrifice sleep to get office work done. Sometimes, even though I talk a good talk, I slack in my own self care. So this week I have taken it up a notch. I attended an online mat class of an instructor I’d admire. I cleaned out a closet and then rewarded myself with some time working on a project I enjoy. I scheduled some needed appointments.  I made some *healthy* but still very tasty snacks. I took a bath. 

What about you? How are you doing in your self care practice? Are you eating well? Getting enough sleep? (Something I am still working on!) Are you getting outside, stopping to take breaks at your desk, or reaching out to a friend when you need to connect?  Are you moving? Have you moved today?

I hope so. I hope you are doing all those things. Let’s do them together…well, some of them. :-). Like exercise.  Let’s do that together.

Whether you join me this Thursday, sign up for the recording or schedule a private I look forward to helping you take good care of your body and mind.  Heck, by now we know it is all connected.  As we close out this month, let’s practice what we preach. That movement is indeed an essential part of lives.  That breath is something we have the luxury of doing all day long without thinking about it, but also a skill we can nurture on our mat.  That we need to schedule the time for self care.  Because in a world that is constantly shifting and changing, caring for ourselves should be our TOP priority.

Join me* for class, Thursdays at 10am PST or sign up to receive a link to do class at your leisure. “Move with Me” is a combination of Pilates, Yoga and functional exercises inspired by rehabilitation modalities.  Feel free to email me with any questions or inquiries.