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Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #10

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery

 

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

 

VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined above, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

 

10. Multi-Split (Targets: spine, upper/lower back, hips, abdominal muscles, legs, ankles, shoulders, and arms)

This FlexSkill is another two-part movement that targets multiple joints simultaneously, while at the same time improving muscle strength and balance. The primary idea behind this movement is to get the upper- and lower-body connective tissues aligned and working in concert with one another. In some forms of yoga, this Multi-Split movement is known as “the Stork” or “the Tree” and sometimes as the “Crescent Lunge,” depending on the direction of the movement.

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Start from a standing position with your toes pointing straight ahead and your arms at your sides. Take a deep, cleansing breath. In the first part of the movement, extend your arms upward and away from your sides so they are parallel to the floor. Then, bring the sole of your right foot slowly up the inside of your left leg, raising your right foot as high as feels comfortable for you. Continue maintaining a slow, deep rhythmic breathing pattern (and your balance!) as you hold this position for fifteen to thirty seconds. Slowly return your right foot to your mat and repeat on the other side.

In the second part of this FlexSkill, you will start from the same standing/toes-forward/arms-at-side position. Take a deep, cleansing breath, look straight ahead, and step forward with your right foot. Keeping both knees pointing straight ahead, bend your right knee into as deep a lunge as feels comfortable. Continue your slow, deep breathing while you reach your arms upward straight over your head. Imagine lengthening your spine from your lower back all the way up to the ceiling with each breath. Hold this position for fifteen to thirty seconds before slowly returning your arms to your sides and stepping back from your lunge into your starting position. Repeat with your left leg.

After finishing this last FlexSkill movement, you should come back to a resting position for a few last deep, cleansing breaths. You can use a comfortable standing position, the Squat position, or even the Child’s Pose to bring it all together to a relaxing conclusion. Experiment with each position to determine how you best like to end each FlexSkill session, or try ending with a different position each time.

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Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #9

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery

 

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

 

VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined above, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

9. Plank (Targets: spine, upper/lower back muscles, hips, abdominal muscles ankles, shoulders, arms)

This movement is a classic yoga position that helps integrate upper and lower body alignment. You can think of the Plank as a static “push-up” in high and low positions. Start this FlexSkill with the “high” position and progress to the “low” position. In doing so, you encourage muscle activity in all parts of the body and stimulate circulation and delivery of nutrients to a range of connective tissues. Breathing is an important consideration in this FlexSkill, because, with so many muscles being activated, you’ll have to concentrate on taking full, deep breaths for the entire movement.

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Start from the same relaxed face-down position as the Superman movement (#8 above). Place your hands, palms down, directly under your shoulders. Take a deep, cleansing breath, and fully extend your arms, pushing upward to the “high” Plank position. Try to stay up on your toes while you maintain a straight spine and neck, and focus your eyes on the floor directly in front of your fingertips. Concentrate on maintaining slow, deep, even breaths, and hold this position for fifteen to thirty seconds. This can be a very challenging movement, especially if you lack a lot of upper-body strength, so only maintain this “high” position for as long as you feel comfortable. You will then move directly into the “low” Plank position by simply allowing your arms to slowly bend and bringing your elbows to the side of your body. Continuing to breathe slowly and deeply, hold this position for fifteen to thirty seconds before slowly returning to your face-down starting position with your stomach flat on your mat. Take another deep, cleansing breath.

Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #8

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery

 

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

 

VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined above, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

 

8. Superman (Targets: lower back, spine, hips, shoulders, neck, and shoulders)

Also known as “the Locust” position in some forms of yoga, the Superman position is popular as much for its strengthening and balancing qualities as for its flexibility benefits. As a FlexSkill, the Superman movement can be performed in several variations, from easy to advanced, depending on your degree of flexibility.

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Start from a lying face-down position, with your forehead flat on your mat. Your arms should be stretched out in front of you with your palms flat on the floor. Breathe slowly and deeply for a few moments. Keeping your forehead flat on the mat, slowly raise your right hand/arm and left foot/leg off the mat as far as comfort allows. You should feel a slight stretch in your front torso and through your entire back, hip, and butt region. If you feel any low-back pain at all, you should lower your hand and/or foot until you feel comfortable again. Continue taking slow/deep breaths, and hold this extended position for fifteen to thirty seconds. Slowly lower your right hand and left foot, take a deep breath in the beginning (face-down) position, and repeat the movement with your left hand and right foot.

Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #7

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery

 

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

 

VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined above, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

 

7. Cross Twist (Targets: lower back, hips, spine, abdominal muscles)

This FlexSkill is a two-part movement, starting with a very simple “knee-to-chest” movement that you may have performed as a child in gym class, followed by the twisting position that is sometime called a “T-Roll” or a “Crucifix Twist” because of the position of your upper body and arms during the movement.

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Lying on your back with both legs out straight, use both hands to bring your right knee up to your chest. Take a deep breath, and with your hands on your knee/shin, slowly pull your right leg/knee into your chest until you can feel a gentle stretch in your lower back and right hip. Pull as far as you feel comfortable, and hold for fifteen to thirty seconds while you continue to breathe slowly and deeply.

At the end of your “hold,” slowly extend your hands outward to your sides, forming a “T” shape with your body. Slowly rotate your pelvis and torso to lower your right knee toward your left side, bringing the inside of your right knee as close to your mat as possible while keeping your palms and shoulders flat on your mat. At your most comfortable twist position, continue to breathe slowly and deeply, and hold for fifteen to thirty seconds. Repeat both positions (knee-to-chest and twist) with your left leg.

As you become more flexible and can pull your leg/knee farther into your chest and rotate your knee closer to touching your mat, you may also begin to feel a gentle stretch in your opposite hip flexor (the front part of your hip—an area that becomes very tight in many people and causes extreme strain to lower-back muscles).

Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #6

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery

 

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

 

VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined above, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

 

6. Figure-8 (Targets: lower back and hips)

Also called “the Pretzel” and “the Seated Hip Twist” in some forms of yoga, the Figure-8 FlexSkill is one of my personal favorites. As a runner and cyclist, my hips and lower back are in a constant state of stress, so this movement is vital to maintaining optimal flexibility and mobility in these important “core” areas.

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From a seated position, with your legs straight out in front of you, keep your right leg straight and cross your left foot over to the outside of your right knee. Grasp the outside of your left knee and gently pull it toward the ribs on your right side. Slowly pull and continue breathing slowly and deeply until you feel a stretch in your left hip, butt, and lower back. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds. Slowly release the stretch, extend your left leg, and repeat the movement on your right knee.

Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #5

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery

 

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

 

VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined above, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

 

5. Sky Reach (Targets: spine and shoulders)

Also known as the “Pillar Stretch” and the “Mountain Pose” in yoga, this FlexSkill movement can be done seated or standing. I prefer to do the Sky Reach seated with my legs crossed, because I feel that I get a better low-back stretch in the seated position, and the next FlexSkill movement is also done in a seated position. But the choice is yours, and you may wish to experiment with seated and standing positions to see which you prefer.

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From a cross-legged seated position (or standing with feet shoulders’ width apart and toes pointing straight ahead), inhale slowly and deeply. Interlace your fingers, turn your palms away from your body, and reach for the sky. Look straight ahead, hold your spine straight, and breathe slowly and deeply. Hold your most comfortably extended position for thirty to sixty seconds.

Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #4

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery

 

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

 

VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined above, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

 

4. Squat (Targets: lower back, pelvis, hips, knees, ankles)

Okay, it is time to teach your skeleton what proper alignment looks like. This squat position is actually the “resting” position that is most natural in terms of skeletal alignment. Sitting in a chair (as most of us do for hours on end every day) is one of the worst biomechanical positions because of the extreme pressures, torques, and twists that the sitting position delivers to the back—especially to the lower back. Low-back pain affects eight out of ten American adults at some point in their lives, and the Squat helps realign the entire joint system into a more natural position.

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Start in a standing position with your feet about shoulders’ width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. Take a deep breath and slowly squat down, bringing your butt to your ankles. Your hands can hang by your sides, or you can wrap them around your knees or position them on the ground in front or to the side of you to help balance yourself. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply, and hold the Squat position for thirty to sixty seconds. As your balance improves in the Squat position, you will find that you can maintain this comfortable position for many minutes without using your hands for balance or support.

Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #3

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery

 

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

 

VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined above, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

 

3. Cobra (Targets: spinal discs, lower back, front torso, hips, arms, and shoulders)

This position is also sometimes called “the Lizard” and has similarities to “the Upward-Facing Dog” pose in traditional yoga practice. Aside from the obvious advantage to your lower-back flexibility and spinal-disc alignment, the Cobra movement serves to open up and expand your entire front torso, an effect that will greatly improve your ability to breathe and thus to deliver vital oxygen to the repair process in every tissue. 

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Lying face down on your mat, place the palms of your hands under your shoulders. Inhale slowly and deeply, hold for a moment, and then, while slowly exhaling, push upward from your hands—raising your head and shoulders and allowing your lower back to naturally arch. Arch up as high as comfort allows, continue breathing slowly and deeply, and hold for thirty to sixty seconds. Slowly return to your beginning face-down lying position. As you become better at the Cobra FlexSkill, you will find it easier to push yourself into a fuller arch; for a more advanced movement, try arching your neck back to look toward the ceiling.

Secret of Vigor – FlexSkills 2

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

 

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery

 

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at http://amzn.to/1eju3wu or at your favorite library or bookstore.

 

VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined earlier, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

2. Arch (Targets: spine, neck, lower back, hips, abdominal area)

This FlexSkill is sometimes called “the Cat” by yoga instructors, and it resembles a modified version of a standard yoga pose known as “Downward-Facing Dog.” You can move directly into the Arch position from Child’s Pose, or you can pause, take a breath, and start from the kneeling position below.

 

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From a “hand and knees” kneeling position, keep your hands shoulders’ width apart (directly beneath your shoulders). Slowly arch your back upward (as a scared cat might arch its back) and point your head downward using a count of five, pausing for another count of five at your highest arch point. Slowly arch your back downward and your head upward, using the same five-second count, pausing at your lowest arch point for another count of five. Continue breathing deeply through three full repetitions of arching upward and then downward for a total duration of sixty seconds.

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