Happy Planksgiving!

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For the month of November, Empower Yoga students and friends have been participating in a Planksgiving Challenge. It is 30 days of giving thanks and planks.  No prizes are awarded, it's more about having fun, creating community, challenging ourselves and of course giving thanks! Each day our plank holds get a little bit longer. We started with a 20 second plank and are working our way to a 3 minute hold on November 30th.

Planksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! Planking is not only a really great way to activate and strengthen your core, but a great way to work your whole body!

Are you ready to jump into our #Planksgiving Challenge? Don't worry if you find it too difficult to hold, you can plank as long as you can and break it up into smaller parts. Try to hold a few more seconds each day! Remember to stay aware of your form- it’s quality, not quantity that counts. Challenge yourself, but not to the point of injury.

Why you should be thankful for the plank:

  • No equipment needed

  • Improves your posture

  • Promotes a flat belly

  • Works more than just your core

  • Reduces back pain

  • Burns calories

  • Builds strength

  • You can do them anywhere

How to safely do a plank:

  • Start out lying on your stomach with your hands flat on the floor, directly below your shoulders

  • Have your legs out straight and toes curled under

  • Press your hands into the floor, squeeze your core, and come up into a straight arm plank position

  • Don’t allow your hips to sag or your butt to come up

  • Think about squeezing your core and drawing your belly button in towards your spine, and pressing your hands into the floor the entire time

  • Try to keep your head and neck in line with the rest of your spine

  • You can do most of these on your forearms, too, just place your elbows directly underneath your shoulders!

Click for 35 fun plank variations!

Happy Planking ;)

Cultivating Gratitude

What are you grateful for? Have you thought about it? Do you show gratitude in your daily life?

At times, I often feel that we take so much for granted and forget about all the good that is present in our lives. Instead, we think about all the things our lives are lacking. However, when we stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing and we have so much to be grateful for.

In an effort to remind myself and others of all the things we should be grateful for, I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s blog to the idea of gratitude! Enjoy :)

What does gratitude mean?

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It’s a conscious awareness of how much we’ve been given. Gratitude shifts our focus from what our life lacks to the abundance that is already present.

What research shows:

Behavioral and psychological research has shown that giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress. Isn't that enough reason to practice gratitude?

What can we do to practice gratitude?

I found a gratitude exercise online by Marelisa Fabrega that I wanted to share.  Start by imagining that you lost some of the things that you take for granted. For example,  your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. How would you feel? Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one of them.  Next, start finding joy in the small things and allow yourself to feel gratitude and joy instead of holding out for big achievements, such as a new job, a promotion, having lots of money in the bank, getting married, having the baby, etc…

How can we appreciate and learn from the difficult times in our lives?

Gratitude can help you put things into perspective, especially during difficult times. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the opportunity for an equal or greater benefit. When facing challenges, think : “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?” See how your perspective can change.

Ways to practice gratitude:

  • Create a gratitude journal
  • Write daily lists of all the things you are grateful for
  • Thank a positive influence in your life
  • Write a letter or note to a family member or friend

A few of the things I am grateful for:

  • My husband, my best friend and my rock, who loves and supports me & always has my back.
  • My family for their unconditional love and support.
  • My friends for their trust, honesty, and keeping me in line when I get a little crazy ;) You all inspire me and make me want to always be and do my best!
  • My 3 dogs who are always happy to see me. They're the best cuddlers around.
  • My health and my ability to run marathons, which I thought I could never do.
  • For my work and the ability to open a yoga studio and share the joys and benefits of yoga with others.
  • Good music that makes me smile, dance, sing-a-long, and lifts me up when I am feeling down.
  • Books, TV shows, & movies that help me unwind and escape for a bit.
  • Holiday lights and the way they sparkle and glow.
  • Family dinners when we share stories of our past and also create new and lasting memories for the future.
  • And of course, my readers, who actually read my blog posts lol ;)

Once you begin looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Remember, gratitude shouldn’t just be a result of getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good, even in difficult times. Start today and begin  bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful.


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