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    Get your balance on

    Balance is more important than we think.  We always assume that the importance of balance is only on the elderly, or something to worry about when we get older.  Well, yes, it is.  But, it's even more important to work on balance when we're younger, and then continue to "improve" on our balance as we get older.  Balance is like diet.  It' a way of life, and the more we are in tune with it, and the healthier our balance system, the healthier we are overall. 

    Here are a few exercises that you can do to improve you balance.  Please be careful, as these exercises can be risky!

    1)  When you are walking on the sidewalk, try walking with one foot up on the sidewalk and the other foot down on the grass or sand (so that you are straddling the sidewalk's edge and one foot is on one type of surface and the other foot is walking on a different surface).  Then, switch feet.

    2)  Try going up and down the stairs without  holding on to the handrails. Then, go up the stairs, skipping steps as you go up.

    3) Stand on some pillows, a Bosu ball, or balance board.  Swing your left leg back and forth.  Then, do the same for the other leg.  Then, try to  lift your right leg with your left am and visa versa.  For an extra challenge, try this with your eyes closed. 

    4)  Try to hold the monkey pose while you are on an unstable surface, such as a balance board or on a mattress.  For an extra challenge, try the monkey pose with your eyes closed.  Also, grab your opposite leg and pull it up behind you like a monkey's tail. 

    5) Instead of always walking or running on the pavement, try switching to walking/running on other surfaces such as sand, soil, pebbles, and grass.  Your muscles will have to work more and your balance and coordination will improve.

    If you want to start incorporating balance exercises into your daily routine, here are a few other exercises that you can do. 

    1) Try getting up from your chair without using your arms or hands to assist you.  Do this 10 times.  You can also try to alternate your stance-having your feet close together and then far apart. 

    2) Stand on one leg and do leg lifts in all directions (front, back, left, and right).  Then, repeat with your other leg.  This exercise works four groups of hip muscles. 

    3) Place cones or other objects in a straight line and weave in and out of them as you move forwards.  Try doing this going backwards.  If you were a soccer player or still are, you will know this drill. 


    Remember, if you don't use it, you lose it. 

    Hawai'ian adventure yoga

    Are you ready for a trip to Hawai'i?  If so, here are seven poses to get you feeling the Aloha spirit.  Hawai'i is home to some indigenous animal and plant species that will knock your socks off.   Start your day with a bit of Hawaiian music found on Youtube or Pandora, and get your groove on with these Hawai'ian yoga poses.

    Small Asian Mongoose Pose (Mouse Pose):'Iole manakuke (e-oh-lay ma-na-coo-kay are not native to Hawaii, but are everywhere.  They were brought in to help eat the rats.  Well, rats are active during the night, while mongooses are active during the day.  So, guess what?  Now there's still a rat problem and a mongoose problem.  This is why it's important to do some research before making a decision



    Moray Eel Pose (Snake Pose): there are many types of Puhi (eel) that live in the Hawaiian tropical reefs.  The Moray eel is the largest species and breathes by rhythmically opening and closing it's mouth to pass water over it's gills.  eels hide in caves and crevices and are not aggressive, unless provoked.  They eat fish, crustaceans, and sometimes octopi.  The Viper eel is the largest Moray eel in Hawaii and can reach up to 5 feet long.



    Monk Seal (Downward and Upward Dog): ʻIlio-holo-i-ka-uaua, or "dog that runs in rough water" is what the Hawaiians call the Monk Seal.  This seal is only one of two remaining species of Monk seal.  Most seals live in cold water, but the Monk seal lives in warm waters, such as the water found in Hawai'i.  There are only about 1,100 Monk seals left, so they are critically endangered.  It has a grey coat, white belly and slender physique.



    Dragonfly Pose: The Pinao are beautiful creatures who have been around since the dinosaurs.  They are usually found near water where they hunt mosquitoes, flies, and other small insects.




    Mountain Pose: The Hawai'ian islands are made from lava, which means from volcanic rock.  There are still a few volcanoes on the islands, one of which has been active since the early 80's.  That one is called Kilauea and if you visit it right now, you can see hot lava glowing. 





    Tree Pose:  The Koa tree usually grows to about 80 feet tall.  It can grow up to 30 feet in 5 years, and it's beautiful wood is often used for making furniture, bowls, ukuleles, guitars, and small surfboards.  The trees in Hawai'i are amazing and provide a lot of homes, shelter, food, and shade for the people and animals that live there.




    Pigeon Pose:  Though pigeons are not native to Hawai'i, there are numerous tropical birds and doves all over the islands.  Finches, love birds, and


    10 minute workout

    When all you want to do is 10 minutes, do it!  When I was living in Taiwan, it rained a lot.  Sometimes the rain never stopped, and though jumping in puddles is always fun, we didn't feel like it all the time. There weren't any gyms around either.  So, we had to come up with a plan b on getting in some exercise or getting those heebie-jeebies out of our bones.  My daughter and I came up with a fabulous idea.  We spent 10 minutes going through a circuit training or obstacle course.  Honestly, I was the one who did the obstacle course, while my 3 year old daughter jumped all over me during the process. Here's what I did:

    60 jumping jacks

    15-30 push ups (partly on my knees)

    60 bicycles on my back

    100 squats

    15-30 dips (on a chair)

    15-30 step ups

    100 jump ropes (if you don't have a jump rope, just pretend)


    I would do 2-3 sets of these and a little meditation or deep breathing.  Sometimes I would leave something out or add something in for variety (frog jumps or superman back stretches for example).  Lately, we've also been adding the balance board for more core-strengthening and improving our balance.  Whatever the case, this mini workout is great for the heart and for relieving stress. My daughter enjoyed creating her own little circuit simultaneously. It's a great way to start or end the day.




    Best Sports for kids

    Sports are great for kids.  They not only teach them about teamwork and good sportsmanship, but they are good for getting the heart rate going and keeping kids fit and healthy.  The most important thing to remember when choosing a sport for your child is finding something that your child is interested in.  It's also wise to choose a sport which is safe, fun, and age appropriate.  For example, soccer and yoga can be started at a very early age. They both help with fine and gross motor skills.  However, archery would probably be best for older kids, as arm strength and good eye-hand coordination is essential.  A good coach or trainer is a must.  Make sure the coach knows about safety and first aid. The coach should also be respectful to the children. 

    Here are some other sports that kids enjoy doing:

    tumbling, gymnastics, karate or other type of martial arts, swimming, diving,  dance, bicycling, jump roping, tennis, sailing, rowing, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, basketball, baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse, horseback riding, volleyball, cheerleading, bowling, cross country running, track and field and more.

    Even though sports have so many great benefits, remember that some are more dangerous than others when it comes to accidents and injuries.  For example, soccer and football can cause a lot of injuries and head traumas.  Yet, swimming and yoga are very gentle on the body and equally beneficial (if not more).  When choosing a sport, remember that children's bodies are continually growing and that safety is imperative. 

    Make sure that your child is wearing the correct gear.  Also, they should also stay in shape and stay flexible (remember to stretch).  Your child should get a check-up or physical exam before starting a sport to make sure he or she is ready developmentally and physically for the activity.  And remember to wear sunscreen, stay cool, and hydrated.  Heat-related injuries happen more than we know it.

    Don't worry if your child isn't ready to start a sport in Kindergarten.  There are so many great activities to do, which will help your child in their growth and development outside of a team sport.  Running around and playing at a park, climbing trees in a forest, or digging and running in the sand at the beach is equally important for kids.  Just as long as they are moving. 





    Try these 10 on your board.

    1) Instead of the floor, use the balance board to do your plank, sit-ups, or push-ups.

    2) Tai Chi or Karate moves are ideal for the balance board.  Watch how your focus improves dramatically.

    3) Getting ready to hit the slopes on your snowboard or ride some waves on your surfboard?  Do your stretching on the balance board for extra strengthening and conditioning.

    4) Calling all skateboarders who need a little help with balance....try a few 360 spins on this board and see how you compare.

    5) Yoga is taken to the next level on the balance board.

    6) If you are practicing your swing with the baseball bat, this is a great board to stand on for agility and balance.

    7) Basketball players can throw in a curve ball by dribbling on the board.

    8) Feeling lazy, but want to work out  your core for a few minutes? Just sit on the balance board and rock side to side.  You'll feel the burn without knocking you off your rocker.

    9) Meditate-just sit and relax on  your balance board.  Imagine you are on top of the world and enjoy the moment.

    10) If you are feeling a bit ill, lie down on your balance board on your belly.  The coolness of the wood will soothe you.


    If you can think of anything else that hasn't been mentioned, give it a shot.  What do you have to lose?