Routine is King: 5 ways to create your perfect day!

My daily routine is vitally important. By following a consistent daily schedule I am in complete control of whether or not I have a good day. My routine is most important from Monday to Friday as I have to make the time to do the things I love before work. Here are a few things I have applied to my daily life in order to enhance my physical and mental health.

1. Get up early

This takes work and commitment. It took me ages to consistently get up early because I was obsessed with pressing the glorious “snooze” button until I simply had to get up for work at around 8:00a.m. After many battles with both myself and the alarm clock, I am getting more consistent with my early mornings. From Monday to Friday I like to get up at 6:00a.m. because I want to have time to myself before my working day starts at 9:00a.m. The easiest way to get up at this hour of the morning is to put your alarm clock away from the reach of your bed. Your alarm clock should be put in a place where you have to physically get up out of bed to switch it off. Once your legs are moving and you are out of bed, you are ready for the day to begin.

2. Morning meditation

I find that the best time to meditate is in the morning. Once I get out of bed I go straight into my sitting room, sit upright on a cushion and throw on the “Calm app” on my phone for 10 minutes. This part of my daily routine helps me calm any worries or fears of the day ahead. If you don’t have a meditation app on your phone, I highly recommend the “Calm app”. It is 40 euro for the year and has various extremely relaxing guided meditations.

When I tried this at first I attempted lying down whilst meditating. This didn’t work for me as I would fall asleep almost immediately. My girlfriend Tracy would find me at around 8:20a.m., conked out and sprawled across the living room floor. This made me stressed, late for work and pissed off for the day. Please note, this is one situation where you should not lie down whilst meditating. Sitting upright is a must.

3. Exercise

I am addicted to exercise because it makes me happy and helps me manage and overcome physical pain every day. After I meditate each morning I either go to yoga class at the Yoga Hub at 7:00a.m. or I do my own practice at home. If I am at home I wake my body up with 30 squats, 30 press ups and 10 sun salutations. A sun salutation is a sequence of yoga movements which are great for waking the body up in the morning. If you type “sun salutations” into YouTube you will find many examples of how to go through these movements. Once I have this warm up done I throw on a 30 -40 minute yoga class on YouTube.

Whatever physical exercise you love, try to fit it in before you go about your day. I guarantee it will leave you happier and it will give you more energy to attack the day.

4. Journaling

I downloaded “the 5 minute journal app” about 6 months ago and I use it every morning and evening. The app costs €4.99 and it is extremely helpful in promoting positivity both in the morning as you start your day and in the evening when you are getting ready to go to sleep.
You don’t have to buy this app, you can buy an old fashioned journal and write in your morning and evening entries.

In the morning, before you leave the house for work, write the following:
Morning entries
1. 3 things you are grateful for (e.g. health, your job or anything relevant to you that gives you the feeling of gratitude)
2. 3 things that would make today great (e.g. good food, a walk, meditation, yoga or any other activities that would make your day great)
3. Positive affirmation for the day (e.g. I am positive, I am happy, I am proud of myself – this can be repeated throughout the day to assist you in having a positive day)

In the evening, before you go to bed, write the following:
Bedtime entries
1. 3 great things that happened today

This journaling process is extremely helpful in order to assist you in developing and maintaining a positive mindset on a daily basis.

5.Go to bed early

If you are getting up at 6:00a.m. and engaging in the above activities then you need to get a good nights sleep. I try to aim to get to bed by 10:00p.m. but I don’t nod off until around 11:00p.m. because I like to read a bit before my day comes to an end. 7 hours sleep is enough for me but everybody is different. 8 hours sleep is the recommended amount so make sure that you are getting the appropriate amount of shut eye if you are an early riser.

I try to follow the above routine every day. Some days I fall out of routine and ignore the alarm clock. The days I ignore the alarm are my bad days as these are the days when I am stressed, in physical pain and generally overwhelmed by life.  Once I follow the above routine I feel positive, focused and in control of my own health and happiness. This contrast may seem extreme but I promise you that this is not exaggerated. I can sum it up like this; when I follow my routine I am a jolly Dr.Jekyll but when I press that snooze button and dodge my routine, I am a full on raging Mr.Hyde.

Hope the above helps in your daily pursuit of happiness.

Thank you so much for reading.

Happy, determined, positive and focused healing to you all.

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Must Kill Robots: 3 Simple Ways To Be More Human

There is no doubt that we are becoming more and more robotic in modern society. We go about our day without questioning the reason as to why we have to constantly review our facebook newsfeed whilst we starve ourselves of real social connection. Our smart phones have become our best friends and this is why it is easier to meet your life partner on the internet than it is to meet them on the street. Most of our social interaction is through email, text message and social media which takes face to face social interaction out of our lives. Technology is slowly but surely dragging the “human” out of us. These technological advances, albeit have many positive benefits can also have a negative effect on us as humans.

Transformers: Rise of the Human, Fall of the Robots

Greeting Dilemma – Case in point No.1: A robot walks past a fellow robot on the street. Both robots know each other well. For fear of human behaviour both robots ignore the shit out of each other by firmly placing their gaze into their smart phone.

Be more human Lesson 1: If I know you and I see you walking towards me on the street I will greet you with a “Hello” and you can then return the human gesture with your own form of greeting, “Hello” will work just fine :).

Remembering names – Case in point No.2: Two robots who have met before on various occasions have bumped into each other in public, each with their significant other. The two robots have both forgotten each other’s name and as a result they avoid introducing their partners. This has caused a malfunction in the social interaction thus causing an extremely awkward and robotic conversation to unfold before all parties leave confused and embarrassed.

Be more human Lesson 2: When meeting people in social situations make sure to try and remember their name by being more engaged and interested during conversation (leave your phone in your pocket). Calling somebody by their name is the first step in human interaction. This is a skill I really need to develop.

Hug it out – Case in point No.3: Two robots have been part of each other’s lives for quite some time. These robots have grown up together as they were both produced in the same factory by the same manufacturer which makes them family. Both robots have cause for celebration as they have not seen each other for quite some time. Though both parties are excited to see each other they are not prepared to show any sign of human emotions or behaviour so they stick to a firm handshake at the moment they are reunited.

Be more human Lesson 3: All the time spent on social media makes us forget and fear real physical interaction with those around us. Don’t be afraid to show emotions and to share a hug with those close to you. The people who hug the least are actually the one’s who need it most. Being Irish we are pretty useless at showing any affection towards our close friends and family, me included.

Hugs give out love and healing energy which  is extremely powerful and beneficial to both people involved in the embrace. So don’t be shy, connect more and get your hug on.

There are many other things we can do in order to knock the robot out of us. The less time we spend on our phones and computers, the more opportunity we have to concentrate on the real friendships and relationships in our lives.

Right, I better get off this computer and get my human on :).

Thanks for reading.

Namaste classy folks.

5 Exercises to activate the glutes and overcome “Dead Ass Syndrome”

I’m sitting down to write this after a long day at the office. When I add it up, I have spent over 8 hours sitting on my ass today. With this in mind it is of no surprise that my glutes are well and truly de-activated for a large portion of the day. This is the case for the majority of the population that work in an office environment. Unfortunately these working conditions have caused a “Dead Ass Syndrome” epidemic. “Dead arse” or “Dead Ass Syndrome” is when the glute muscles decide to switch off as they are not being utilised. When the glute muscles are not firing, a variety of issues can develop. Without a strong butt, the lower back muscles become over worked, as well as the hip muscles and leg muscles (especially the hamstrings). Read More

Designing Your Own Workout Recovery System: Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Happy New Year, Happy New Body

Happy new year everybody. I hope you are all relaxed, re-charged and ready for the year ahead. No doubt a vast majority of people have decided that they are going to get fitter, stronger and faster in 2016, but with this in mind it is vital to take care of your body in the process.

It is important to push your body to it’s limits in order to achieve fitness targets but it is equally if not more important to develop a focused recovery plan in order to ensure that your 2016 fitness regime develops and thrives beyond the end of January.

I have spent the last few years battling through chronic muscle pain which developed as a result of a severe whiplash injury. For me, exercise on a daily basis has become vital in order to keep my body happy and healthy. With this in mind I have had to learn to design my own daily workout recovery system to ensure my muscles get the care they need in order to relax and rejuvenate. Now, I am no physical therapist or doctor but I have spent countless hours researching and testing workout and recovery systems in order to assist and accelerate my own body’s healing process. These systems have been guided by physical therapy sessions as well through researching different books and online articles.

The 100 Point Workout Recovery System

The following workout recovery system helps me to attend at least three 7am yoga classes per week, go to the gym at least five times a week and cycle to and from work each day. As I am an accountant by day it is of no surprise that this is a number based system :).

The idea is that if you workout on any given day you must reach your 100 points of recovery within 24 hours. A workout is defined as any exercise session which challenges you physically. This can be running, yoga, boxing, gym classes or any activity that puts physical strain on your body. Instead of just accepting the post workout muscle pain and stiffness, this 100 point system assists in speeding up your recovery so you can get back to your physical activity of choice as quickly as possible.

These 100 points can be gained by performing various post workout activities which I will list below. These activities must be carried out within 24 hours of completing your workout session. Each activity is equal to a certain amount of points and once you reach 100 points you are ready for your next training session.

Points Activity
30 1 Hour Restorative Yoga Class
30 30 Minute Massage
20 8 + Hours Sleep
20 15 Minute Stretching Session – Home Practice
20 Carbohydrate + Protein Rich Meal within 60 minutes of workout
20 15 Minute Foam Rolling Session – Home Practice
20 Contrast Showers – 2 minutes cold, 2 minutes hot alternated three times = 12 mins
20 20 Minute Swim
20 15 Minutes Spin Bike
20 10 Minutes Meditation
10 2 Hours wearing compression garment – e.g. Skins
10 Consumption of at Least 3 Litres of Water
10 30 Minute Nap
10 20 Minute Gentle Walk
Minus 20 Consumption of Alcohol
100 Target

Please note that the above activities should be coupled with a nutrient rich diet filled with fruit and vegetables. Also note that the only negative activity in the above recovery system is the consumption of alcohol and this decreases your score by 20 points as it dehydrates the body and makes it much more difficult for you to recover quickly.

I wish you all the best of luck with your health and fitness in 2016. I hope you find this 100 point recovery system useful. We all want that dream body which is well defined and sculpted but in order for us to get results this year we all need to adopt a life consisting of balance. If you intend to push your body to it’s limits this year then make sure to adopt an appropriate recovery system such as the above.

As Justin Bieber says, “you should go and love yourself”. I listened to that song way too much over the last few weeks and still can’t stop replaying it. I am ashamed to say I’m a Belieber but I have to agree that you have got to “love yourself.” Listen to your body and show it the love and care it deserves in 2016.

Thank you so much for reading.

Happy, determined, positive and focused healing to you all.

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The City Commute – How to Stay Sane in The Fast Lane

I just arrived in the door this evening after facing my twice daily bike ride from my apartment in Sydney Parade to my place of work on Harcourt Street. Being a young man from Sligo it took me until my late twenties to eventually pluck up the courage to invest in a pair of wheels and venture out on to the mean streets of Dublin City. Now, I have only been cycling to work for the past 5 months but during that time I have absorbed a lot of abuse from fellow commuters. In fact, I have lost count of how many times I have been called a “Dick head” by individuals in automobiles who insist on rolling down the window to ensure I have consumed the aggression which they have vented at me. Initially these occurrences upset me quite a bit but eventually this country boy grew a thick skin. Here are a few things I have initiated in order to ensure angry roadsters no longer have an impact on my day.

Ignore the abuse – Whether somebody is intent on beeping their horn repeatedly at you or they are yelling all sorts of abuse, just ignore them. If you choose to absorb this abuse it can have a detrimental effect on your outlook for the day. On occasions when I have been called a “Dick Head” I would then venture into work almost convincing myself that maybe I am perhaps a “Dick Head” like that guy said whilst flying by me in his car that morning.

Don’t react – The most important thing of all is to not react to somebody else’s aggression on the road. I can remember one instance where a guy thought I dangerously cut out in front of him on my bike. I thought otherwise but that is not the point of the story. This very guy insisted on stopping, rolling down his window and calling me a “wanker.” Being an adult I took a moment to think about the situation and after much deliberation, I retaliated by calling him a “wanker.” This exchange went back and forth for a few rounds until he decided he would say it last in order to get the final word in and he went speeding off down the road. This was the behaviour of two grown men which is ridiculous when you read about it. It is so important not to react to aggression whether that be on the way to work or in any other life situation. This incident had an extremely negative impact on my emotional state for the day. Had I not retaliated my day would have been much more positive.

Relax, breathe, enjoy the ride – I must admit that when I started to cycle to work, I was extremely stressed and in a serious rush to get to the office. This would put me in a situation where I was highly strung and liable to meet aggression with a bit of my ill tempered ‘Sligolian’ slang. Now I have adopted the attitude whereby I don’t have to get to work as quickly as possible. I have learnt to relax and enjoy the journey by slowing down my commute. Slowing down my commute means, not cycling like Lance Armstrong after a blood transfusion but leisurely cycling into work in the morning with a calm and relaxed attitude. The positive difference in attitude is immense when you learn to take that extra five minutes for your commute.

Be kind and understanding – All of us have to get to work in the morning and if we all adopted a more understanding role in our daily journeys, it would make for a much happier working population. You never know what other people are going through when they display an episode of road rage so try to display compassion and understanding in these heated situations. If we all assisted and supported each other’s pursuit to work each day then we could eventually do away with the unnecessary use of car horns throughout the city. You would swear there was a fatal accident around every corner each morning with the staggering use of rhythmical car horns.

Have a little patience – We are all going to eventually make it to work each morning. That light will go green and the world will not end if you get to work a little later than 9am, so have some patience. All the impatience and frustration in the world will not transport you to your destination any quicker. So it is vital to both your physical and mental state to “have a little patience” like the Take That lads say :).

Give a few of the above a go as you commute to and from work in the future. It is amazing how we can allow our daily journey to and from work to contribute to our overall mood and outlook each day so it is vital that we deal with it in an appropriate manner so that we can enjoy our day.

Thank you so much for reading.

Happy, determined, positive and focused healing to you all.

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5 Fears I had before starting Yoga Teacher Training

I am currently three sessions in to the 200 hour yoga teacher training course at the Yoga Hub. I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience so far and I’m delighted that I decided to sign up to do the course. Before I enrolled on the course I was quite apprehensive about embarking upon my yoga teacher training journey. I suppose I was scared and fearful for a variety of reasons. The main fears that almost held me back included the following:

Fear of standing up in front of people

Being Irish I find it quite difficult being the centre of attention. I wouldn’t call myself overly shy but when it comes to public speaking or introducing myself to a new group of people, I get awfully nervous and my whole mind and body system becomes scared shitless. This fear has been faced at each teacher training session and the discomfort is slowly dissipating. The more I get to know the teachers and my fellow students, the easier it gets and I am beginning to believe in my ability to stand up in front of a room full of people.

Fear of not being good enough

I didn’t believe my yoga knowledge or practice was advanced enough to begin my training. I didn’t know my vipasanna from my savasana and I was extremely worried that the rest of the class would be far more advanced than me. From the beginning of the course the teachers made us very comfortable and highlighted the fact that everybody’s practice was at a different level and was relative to each individual. Your yoga practice is always progressing but it is not a race and this course has put me at ease in that sense.

Fear of failure

I thought that I would look like an idiot if there were certain postures I couldn’t do. For me, I initially thought that in order to train as a yoga teacher that I would have to be able to wrap my legs around my head and be able to do the splits at the drop of a hat. I was incredibly worried that I would be found out when we approached difficult postures. The fear was that if I was seen to be unable to perform a posture then I was a failure as a student. From talking to fellow students and teachers, it was evident that we all have difficulty with certain postures as we are all human. We are not expected to perform every posture as students. The teachers are hugely supportive and comforting on this topic and there is no such thing as failure. So if you are unable to drop down and get your “pigeon” on, it is not the end of the world. The teachers constantly affirm that they weren’t born in “reverse wheel” pose, they had their own struggles and they share these along the journey which provides us all with extra confidence and inspiration along the way.

Fear of change and the unknown

Change is difficult and I’m always slightly apprehensive about trying new things as a shock to a routine is always challenging. I also had no idea what to expect as I had never done a full weekend of yoga before. Initially, one weekend a month of yoga seemed quite daunting for ten whole months. The anticipation of giving up my weekend was quite worrying but the funny thing is that I now really look forward to my yoga teacher training weekends. The whole structure of each weekend makes for a very enjoyable weekend where not only do I get well needed yoga therapy but I am also absorbing vital knowledge and learning valuable skills to take with me as a future yoga instructor.

Fear of following my dreams

Yoga and meditation are extremely beneficial for me as they help me every single day to help me overcome pain, stress and anxieties in my life. My absolute dream is to be a yoga teacher and to help other people overcome the things that I do every day. I was frightened of taking on this course as I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to take on so much as I also have a full time job and I am undertaking other studies at the moment. Though I had a dream and an overall purpose I wanted to work towards, I was worried that I may have bitten off more than I can chew but that has definitely not been the case.
 
On reflection, I am so happy that I enrolled on the course and that I am following my dreams. This course has actually taught me to make time for those things I am passionate about, as they are the most rewarding activities I will ever do.
– 
“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
-Judy Blume
 
Thank you so much for reading.
 
Namaste classy folks!

Promoting Muscle Recovery: You gotta roll with it

Yoga: Day and Night

I’m currently attending four yoga classes a week in the Yoga Hub as well performing a lot of practice at home. I’m also in the middle of the part time 200 hour yoga teacher training course in the Yoga Hub which started in September. The reason I am mentioning the above is because I want to explain that my body is getting a lot of use and with that comes tight and tired muscles.

Yoga has and is becoming more and more beneficial to both my body and mind with the more that I do it but there are some extra tools I use in order to facilitate the progress within my physical body. Anybody who does yoga knows that it can be intense. Constantly twisting your body in ways you haven’t before and attempting new poses can cause your muscles to tense up. With this in mind, I have developed a helpful home routine to relax these muscles so that I continue with my daily practice and prevent injury.

Roll out the tightness

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The above foam rollers and hockey ball are what I use to recover from my daily yoga sessions. I bought the foam roller on the left for €30 in Elverys but the one on the right is much more effective and I bought it for €20 off adverts.ie and plenty of similar rollers are still on adverts.ie for sale. You can grab a hockey ball for a few quid in any sports shop. These are the best massage therapists around and I guarantee they will aid with any muscular aches and pains you pick up from yoga or any other physical activities you are involved in.

How I roll

I have followed various foam rolling classes on YouTube in the past and from these videos  I have developed my own routine. With every rolling session I do at home I usually roll my whole body with specific focus on the upper back and hips. If I find an extremely tight muscle I roll it with the foam roller at first and then I take the hockey ball to it by placing the hockey ball on the ground and rolling the muscle out. This is agony at first but if you stay working with a knotted muscle it will eventually give in and let go. Be patient!

Here are just a couple of foam rolling exercises to get you started:

1. Hip Flexors release

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You’ve heard the saying: it’s all in the hips, but for many of us, our hips – or more precisely, our hip flexors – are tight, stiff and inflexible. If you’re an office worker like myself then you can probably thank sitting down at your desk 8 or more hours a day for your tight hip flexors. Habitual sitting causes your hip flexors to tighten and shorten. With this in mind it is extremely beneficial to perform the above exercise with both a foam roller and a hockey ball if the muscles are not too sensitive. In order to perform the exercise, lie with the front of your hip on the foam roller and roll into the hip flexor until the muscle releases tension (as above). This can take a long time to release as the hip flexors can be extremely tight so take it slow. Repeat on both sides.

2. Thoracic Extension (Arms across chest)

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Place the foam roller under your upper back and cross arms over your chest as demonstrated above. This can be performed with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground or with your legs flat on the ground.The exercise can further be progressed by placing arms over head or by rolling the foam roller backwards and forwards along the length of the upper back.  This is excellent for releasing tension in the upper back. If you find extra sensitive spots you can roll into them until they calm.

3. Glute Release

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Tight glutes can be the cause of a lot of pain elsewhere in the body, specifically in the knees and the lower back. Foam rolling the glutes can release these areas of tension (trigger points), allowing for pain-free movement. If you have sciatic pain, this foam rolling exercise is a must.

To begin, sit with one leg crossed over other while sitting on top of the foam roller. You should almost be sitting directly on top of the foam roller with the roller at the top of your glute muscle towards your lower back. Lean slightly towards the leg you’re working. Roll your way down. The entire movement is not more than a few inches, so be careful not to fall off. Repeat on both sides.

Conclusion

I have spent a lot of money in the past on deep tissue massage but with around ten minutes foam rolling each day, you can get similar results. Keep in mind that foam rolling can be a bit painful if you are especially tight. If you just commit to doing a little each day, you will soon notice a difference in how you feel.

If you are really interested in learning more about foam rolling certain areas YouTube is an excellent source to learn how to release trigger points within all of the muscle groups.

Thank you so much for reading.

Namaste classy folks :).

Happy, determined, positive and focused healing to you all.

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