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There’s Not Enough Time in the Day? Oh, Yes, There Is!

Generally speaking, we are all very busy people. It is the American way, especially if you Unknownlive in a large, urban environment like Houston. We are constantly chanting, “go, go, go,” to ourselves as we move from one thing to another. However, this does not mean that there isn’t time in the day for you or for you to do what you want to do. The free time may not be flaunting itself in your face, but with these 4 tips you will find that you have more time than you originally thought.

1. Really analyze how you are using your time.

Most people need only 8 hours of sleep each night and a typical workday is (or, more precisely, should be) 9 hours. Right there you have spent 17 of your 24 hours in a day. How are you spending the remaining 7 hours? Ask yourself these questions: How much time do you spend on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter (not considering while you are at work)? How much time do you spend watching TV each day? How many social functions are you attending each week? All of this adds up and if looked at differently, can suck all your free time. Consider only checking your social media sites for a total of 30 minutes a day. Ta-da, free time! Consider reducing the number of TV shows you watch to 2 or 3 a week. Voila, more time! Consider only attending those social functions that are important, like a baby shower and a birthday party, not happy hour every day. Abracadabra, you have more time!

2. Two birds with one stone.

My all time favorite thing to do is get two birds with one stone, but I don’t mean this literally. Think of it as a two-for. Do this one thing, but get two things out of it. For example, exercising with my best friend is a two-for. I get in the daily exercise I need and I get to catch up with my best friend. Or, take an cooking class with your partner. You’ve always wanted to take a cooking class and doing so with your partner also counts as quality time together. Think of the many ways you can do one thing, but really do two things.

3. Use your time wisely.

Inevitably, you are going to find yourself waiting, stuck in traffic, or standing in line. Think of the many ways you can maximize these few minutes. Instead of reading a magazine while waiting to see your doctor, you can check your social media sites (this is part of your 30 minute daily allotment). Or if you are stuck in traffic, turn on that Bluetooth and call that friend you’ve been meaning to call for months. When you’re standing in line at the grocery store, use those minutes delete emails from your inbox. Don’t waste a minute of your day.

4. Say no!

You are not superhuman and you cannot do it all. Say it with me. “I cannot do everything.” Humans are not meant to do everything and be everywhere all the time. It is OK to say no to an invitation. It is OK to say no to someone asking for a favor. It is OK to say no to something that gets in the way of your life. When asked to commit your personal time to something, weigh the value of that commitment over the value of something else you’d rather do. Then make the wise decision to say no!

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The Value of Breathing

We all know that if we stopped breathing, we would stop living. We learn this truth early on in life. Have you ever asked yourself exactly why we breathe and the value of breathing? I started pondering this question when I began my yoga practice. Then I laid the question to rest until it popped back up when I started practicing Pilates.

Without getting too scientific, we breathe because our cells need to breathe and because we need to expel carbon dioxide. If the cells in our bodies stop doing their jobs, then our bodies will eventually stop working. We need our cells to do their work and cells need oxygen to do what they are designed to do, so we breathe. Carbon dioxide is the byproduct, or waste, that is created when cells do their jobs. We breathe to get rid of the carbon dioxide.

I think of this kind of breathing as the normal, or involuntary, way of breathing. It is just what we do.

Then I think about the breathing we do in yoga, ujjayi. This is the breathing pattern that sounds like the ocean. This breathing is a more controlled breathing in which you intentionally breathe deeply and slowly. The inhale begins through the nose and inflates the low belly. As the inhale continues, the breath begins to fill the bottom of the ribs and then to the top of the lungs. At the completion of the inhale is a pause, holding the breath still. Upon exhale, the breath is released from the bottom in reverse order: top of the lungs, bottom of the ribs, and then low belly. This style of breathing is deep and concentrated.

In a vinyasa yoga class, each movement is tied with a breath. You might hear the instructor guide in this way, “On the next inhale, jump back into your plank pose and then exhale through chaturanga. Inhale into updown and exhale into downward facing dog.” Each movement is cued by the breath. Even though vinyasa may feel like a fast flow, the actual design is for the movements to be in sync with the slow rhythmic ujjayi breath.

The Pilates practice also has a breathing pattern. It is called lateral breathing. This breathing technique is designed to keep the abdominal region engaged while taking deep breaths. If the abdomen is contracted, then the core is stable. A stable core is important for successful performance of the movements and for protecting the body.

In lateral breathing the focus is on expanding the rib cage laterally while maintaining the inward pull of the deep abdominal muscles during both the inhalation and the exhalation. It is quite normal to pull the belly in during an exhale and expand it during an inhale. In lateral breathing, however, you want to keep the belly pulled in and contracted while you inhale and exhale. During the inhale the breath you take in should expand the rib cage to the sides, not the belly outward, and during the exhale the belly stays engaged. When practicing Pilates, it is recommended that you exhale during the part of the movement when you need to feel most stable. The exhale is often more stable than the inhale, so exhale during the hardest part of the movement.

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