Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #3

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

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 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. 


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.

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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