5 Ways to Use Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards in the Workplace

yoga cardsOctober marks Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month, a web-based initiative that aims to “build awareness of the importance of workplace health for the short and long-term success of organizations and for the well-being of their employees.”1 In order to help you and your team move more during the workday, we’re sharing 5 ways you and your colleagues can move  and stretch using a few of your favourite Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards.

When selecting cards to use in the different activities, be sure to keep in mind the ability and safety of all participants. Remind participants that they are free to modify stretches and poses, as needed.

 

1. Stretching Scramble. Select 8-10 of your favourite cards from Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards and place them face down in a common area of your meeting space. Set an alarm (e.g., phone or computer alarm or timer) for 3-5 intervals depending on the length of your meeting. Once the alarm sounds one person selects a card and leads the team in a stretch for 30-45 seconds. Once complete, cards can either be returned face down or be held onto by the stretch leader. Each alarm gives an opportunity for a new stretch leader.

2. PowerPoint Power Up. Display 6-8 of your favourite cards from Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards at the front of your meeting space. When presenting to your colleagues using PowerPoint (or a similar program) place a yoga themed image in the bottom right corner of every 5-6 slides. When this image appears, meeting participants select one of their favourite poses from those displayed at the front of the room. This can be structured where the entire meeting stops to stretch, or simply allow participants to take the lead and stretch for as long as they need.

3. Stretch and Seek.  Place 8-10 of your favourite cards from Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards in common, but hidden, areas of your workplace – think coffee cup cupboard, freezer, and photo copy room door. Encourage colleagues who come across the “hidden” cards to perform the stretch for 30-45 seconds while in the space. Consider changing the card locations daily.

4. My Stretch. Meeting participants select their favourite Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards and keep it at their meeting space face down. At random intervals, determined by the participants, one participant will lead their colleagues through their stretch holding it for 30-45 seconds. Consider displaying optional cards for those who might want to perform an alternate stretch.

5. Drop Everything and Stretch. Place 10-12 of your favourite cards, from Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards in a fun bag or decorated envelope, along with a staff list and pen. Participants perform a specified number of stretches from the bag before crossing off their name and passing the bag along to a colleague who hasn’t received it. Participants are encouraged to drop everything and stretch as soon as they receive the bag. Challenge staff to see how quickly they can make it through the entire staff list and challenge themselves to beat their combined time another day.


1Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month. (2017). About Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month®. Retrieved from: http://healthyworkplacemonth.ca/en/about/about

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5 Moves to Help You Keep Fitness a Priority on Vacation

When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, consistency is key. So don’t let dashing through the terminal be your only workout while on vacation. Here are five full-body moves that are equipment free, and can happen in minimal-space or out on the beach to help you make it happen no matter where you are. Plus, squeezing in a quick workout or two during your vacation will make it easier to get back in the swing of things after you’ve unpacked your suitcases. Here are five moves I shared on CH Morning Live on Thursday April 4th. Watch the segment here.

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If you’re a beginner, do 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds rest per move. Intermediate: 40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest Advanced: 50 seconds work, 10 seconds rest.

1. Traveling Lunge: Standing with feet hip distance apart, step forward in to a standing split position and slowly lower your body until your front knee is bent to at least 90 degrees. Pause and then return to standing. Using the same leg, step backwards with the right leg and slowly lower your body until your front knee is bent to at least 90 degrees. Pause and then return to standing. Those two movements are one set, continue for a designated amount of time (see above) then repeat on the other side.

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2. Plank Walk Out: Start standing with the feet shoulder width apart and arms hanging down to the sides of the body. Slightly bend the knees and bend over and placing the hands shoulder width apart on the floor, so your body is in the shape of an inverted V. Walk forward four steps forward with your hands until you reach a plank position. Walk hands back in towards your feet and return to stand.

3. Marching Hip Raise: Lie face-up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Lift one knee to your chest, lower back to the start, and lift your other knee to your chest. Continue to alternate back and forth and to make it harder, lift those hands up and decrease your base of support.

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4. Plank Jacks: From a high plank on your toes, jump both feet out and in while keeping your shoulders stacked about your hips and core stable. To decrease the challenge, perform a step touch with each foot reaching it out to the left and back center before repeating with the right.

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5. Push-ups: Get into a high plank position with hands on the bench or stair directly under shoulders. Begin to lower your body until your chest grazes the bench/stair. Keep your back flat and eyes focused about three feet in front of you to keep a neutral neck. Push back up.

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Others ways to sneak physical activity in while on vacation:

  • Explore your destination by foot either walking or hiking around.
  • Hit up your hotel gym and hop on the treadmill or lift some weights before you start your day.
  • Take a drop-on class at a local studio. Not sure where to go? Ask around your hotel or at an active wear store.
  • Bring compact workout gear in your luggage. Consider a skipping rope, resistance band, or folding yoga mat.
  • Partake in local sports. Whether it’s surfing or SUP, who can resit getting active in a stunning beach destination? If you’re not comfortable on the water, take a class, and enjoy this full body workout.

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So whether you’re on the road for work, fun, or visiting family, there’s no need to take a vacation from your workout too!

What’s your favourite way to workout on vacation? Share it in the comments!

5 Yoga Poses For Runners

With the sidewalks clear, training is full steam ahead for the 2017 race season including the next big GTA race the Around the Bay Road Race which goes March 26th.  Yoga is a great compliment to running as it will keep your stretched and injury free. Here are five postures I shared on CH Morning Live on Tuesday March 7th. Watch it here and check out the postures below.

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Standing Back Bend

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Standing tall with big toes together and heels slightly apart, place hands on the lower back and gently arch the spine opening through the chest looking up.

Standing Forward Fold

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From standing position with feet six inches apart, exhale and fold forward. Bend knees slightly if pressure is felt on the lower back. Head should hang heavily from the upper spine. Slide the index and middle fingers of each hand between and around the big and second toes gripping the big toes firmly. Press your toes down against your fingers. Bend your elbows out to the sides, pull up on your toes, lengthen the front and sides of your torso, and gently lower into the forward bend. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

Low Lunge

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Place both hands on the floor, inhale and step your left foot back, keeping your right foot between your hands in a lunge. Lower your left knee onto the floor, placing the top of your foot against the ground. Bring your hands to your right knee while sinking your hips toward the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

Pigeon

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From Low Lunge, bring the right leg forward in front of the body with the right knee bent and the foot flexed. Extend the left leg behind the body with the left toes on the floor. To extend the pose, place the left hand or the left forearm on the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

Downward Facing Dog

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From Pigeon, exhale placing both hands on the floor and stepping your feet back lifting the seat towards the sky. Spread hands and feet as they are pressed onto the floor. Focus is on lengthening the upper body. Legs should be straight, but may be bent as needed. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.
Repeat low lunge and pigeon using the other leg.
Take yourself through this sequence after your run and enjoy your recovery. Happy running!
*Outfit provided by New Balance Canada
*Yoga mat, bottle, strap provided by Gaiam Canada