Yoga, Movement + Purpose With Kristin McGeeApr 16, 2018
I am so excited about my guest in this episode of The Core Connections Podcast! Kristin McGee is not only a good friend, but she is also a celebrity Yoga and Pilates Instructor, a trusted wellness expert, author and a mom of three. Kristin's celebrity clientele includes Tina Fey, Bethenny Frankel and Savannah Gutherie.
Kristin, like many busy mamas, struggled to find time for her yoga practice. What she discovered is that by using the time she had while stuck in her seat (whether that be while on the train or subway commuting to work or sitting at a child’s practice or while taking a break at work,) she would use this time to go into a few, simple yoga poses. Even though these increments were only 5-10 minutes in length, she still felt this time helped to relax her mind, manage her stress and sleep deprivation, work out the kinks and increase her energy. This inspired her to write her Chair Yoga Book.
TIGHT HIPS LEAD TO A LOT OF LOW A BACK PAIN...
As more and more research surfaces, it is scientifically proven that sitting for long periods of time negatively impacts your overall health. Getting up and moving every day and taking time to breathe is SO important because you can heal your everyday aches and pains with proper movement!
I highly recommend listening to this episode because we give out some amazing tips that can help transform your quality of life!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!
Order her Chair Yoga book on Amazon!
Ankle to Knee Pose
Prayer Up The Back
Prayer Up The Back Option Two
Downward Facing Dog
Erica: Can we start off by talking about your Chair Yoga book? I have two copies of it because it is so applicable to everybody. Whether you are a pregnant, postpartum or a man it doesn’t matter; it is a great way to include some movement into your day.
Kristin: Yes, 100%. I wrote Chair Yoga because I used to be able to spend hours on my yoga mat, but then three kids later, my life got more hectic and my job was getting busier that I didn’t have any more time left in my day to do my yoga practice. I just needed to stretch, move and breathe to stay focused throughout my day as I was stuck at my computer or on the subway. So, I started sneaking in some simple, natural stretches that I would normally do with my neck or shoulders. When I started to do this, I noticed a difference in my outlook and in my mood, then I realized that I can sneak in just as much yoga as I used to do on my mat. And it’s really become an epidemic where sitting is the new smoking and most of us are stuck in a seated position throughout our day. Through my book, I make it the perfect opportunity to do something that is going to be amazing for your body to help you unwind and get rid of those kinks. The nice thing about it is that it is so applicable and doable for everyone. People who are intimidated by yoga practice and afraid of it because they aren’t flexible have nothing to worry about because it is all about connecting your mind and your body through breath. Anyone and everyone can do chair yoga as it opens this practice to a whole new audience.
Erica: And that’s exactly what I love about it as it brings the awareness back to your core. Because I even found myself somedays, sitting more than I would have liked. But with this book, you can incorporate these little things to help decrease these aches and pains in your body. When you can incorporate such little tiny things that you can do throughout your day, that’s when it adds up to big results. Do you have a favorite thing that you love to do when you are sitting?
Kristin: The ankle to knee pose is one of my favorites. All you do is take one ankle to the top of the other knee which will make your shin now parallel to the floor. Try and keep those anchored, then just hinge forward from your hips and you will immediately feel that nice stretch in the outer hip as it relieves the lower back. Remember, your back starts at your sits bones, so you want to make sure that you hinge from there. This will create an origami fold and helps people learn how to lift and lengthen out of their lower back as they stretch their hips more effectively. What’s nice about this discrete pose is that you don’t feel uncomfortable doing it if you are on an airplane, train or bus and even at your desk. Another one I like is prayer up the back. Instead of pressing your hands into prayer in the front of your chest, you try to press your hands together behind your back. Majority of people can’t do it, so you could also just hold opposite elbow and that is called the posture pose. This pose helps because so many of us are rounded forward in our shoulders and this position allows us to spread our collarbones. It is a great reminder to lift your chest to help expand our breath, which is very energizing and lifts our mood.
Erica: Breath is huge and it is something that can take time to learn. Because when our breath is restricted, it can be affecting our entire body including the way your core functions. So that is why I always encourage that you must start somewhere. The cool thing about breath is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. The tiny bits of practice can add up to big results and that is why I love your book so much as you are bringing awareness back to the simplest of moves that once done correctly, you are going to notice how much more amazing your body feels. I was going to briefly mention that Kristin and I did work together. We filmed a Prenatal Yoga Sculpt DVD when Kristin was 36 weeks pregnant with twins.
Kristin: To do that big filming day felt good because I was moving throughout the entire day. And I found that to help throughout my entire pregnancy; finding the time to move helped me to not only carry them as long as I did but to be able to bounce back quicker after delivery.
Erica: It was just amazing to see you move and knowing that you had twins, you didn’t even look like you were pregnant with twins! We have added our DVD to the Knocked-Up Fitness Membership, which is something that I have expanded on by talking more about preparation for birth because doing a little bit out movement throughout pregnancy can add up to big results. Not only for birth or recovery but for life as a busy mom afterward. How do you do it with a toddler and infant twins? Because I have three, but I never had two at the same time and, for me, I think the sleep exhaustion was the hardest part for me.
Kristin: That is like the bane of my existence, I have a twin who is an incredible sleeper and sleeps through the night and then my other guy is up four or five times a night. And I’m not very good at letting them cry it out because if he cries too much then he will wake up his brother. I realize that I must keep reminding myself that the days are long but the years are short, and it is all going to fly by before you realize it. You won’t even remember those sleepless nights in a few years. It is tough though going through your day on such little sleep, but that is where the meditation helps because it is a quick brain reset and a quick energizer. Also, matcha tea helps me stay consistent with my diet and nutrition. I feel like if my body is well fed and I am drinking enough water, that it helps with my fatigue and tiredness. Getting fresh air and going to the playground always helps reenergize my mind throughout the day. I also try not to stay up later than I need to by not going online or other work things. I want to push myself harder, but now is not the most optimal time to do so. As moms or as people in general, we need to realize what we can let go of now and it doesn’t mean that you’re never going to get around to it. Because right now, you are keeping your mind and body sane rather than trying to cram in one more thing before bed.
Erica: Can I ask about your meditation, because I feel with so many people they get scared when they hear the word meditation. Do you have any words of wisdom or tips as far as the meditation practice goes?
Kristin: With meditation, I always say try not to beat yourself up. A lot of times I will have people come up and say to me that they can’t quiet their mind because they have too many thoughts and that’s completely natural. So, first, cut yourself some slack. Secondly, any amount of meditation is better than none. As I say, a down dog a day keeps the doctor away. Even just sitting still for a couple of minutes is huge. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and then take that breath out to help calm the mind. It can even help you sleep at night if you find yourself having a hard time falling asleep or not sleeping well enough at night. I can tell when I haven’t had enough sleep because I have a shorter fuse when you get a four-year-old running up to you yelling, “mom, mom, mom.” That is when I will take my meditative breath and that doesn’t mean that I stop and sit in the corner for five minutes. It means that I pause and take a moment, take that breath before reacting to my son. And you want to share that energy with your children so they feel relaxed and calm as well.
Erica: And sometimes as moms, we can be malnourished too with just so much going on. You don’t even have to be a mom, just trying to do so many things at once can be too much for our body or our mind. I have worked on that these past few years, is to outsource some of those tasks so I can be as present as possible when I’m with my kids. So, I want to ask, because I moved back to the Midwest two years ago after being in Southern California for 10 years. With you living in New York City, we get similar weather with the snow and cold. How do you find the mindset for movement in the winter? Because for me, I love to be outdoors, but the cold doesn’t help.
Kristin: That’s funny, because I grew up in Idaho, so sometimes I’ll dress the boys in massive down comforters and we go outside no matter how cold it is. But I understand that it is not possible for everyone, especially if you aren’t a winter person. I think music is so uplifting, so turning on some good tunes and dance around your house. That is always fun to do with the kids and always gets us in a better mood, and I’m getting a workout as well. I will do a lot of indoor workouts or yoga just to get the kids involved with me. It was funny I had a classmate of my son’s come over the other week and his mother came along and she had done something to her shoulder. I got out my fair bands as the twins were entertaining themselves and our sons were playing together. Meanwhile, she and I were doing these exercises and I was showing her moves and it was great because we both got a workout in while our kids were playing. I think it is motivational for your kids too because then they will see that you are taking care of yourself by working out.
Erica: Absolutely, I notice it with my kids too when you move so much and then they start doing it with you. But, yes, winter can be a tricky thing because there is something so powerful about nature, so take advantage of those days when it is a bit nicer in the winter and get yourself some fresh air.
Kristin: It is also motivation for your body as it must fight to stay warm. When the elements are colder, you burn more calories so just go outside and take a brisk walk even if that is all it is.
Erica: Something is better than nothing. What are some of your top tips for people that want to improve their lives and live a healthier lifestyle?
Kristin: One thing is the deep breathing. People don’t realize that they have this tool right in their hands. And it is the easiest way to change your mood and your mindset. Learn to love your breath because that is what is going to fill you with life and energy to make you feel incredible. The second thing is to make contact as much as you can. First, make contact with yourself. Connect your mind and your body, through breath or physical practice. Then, make contact with others. I think that is beneficial for us to build a community that you can rely on, share with and motivate. It could be a fitness club or it could be the Core Rehab Program that you and a bunch of girlfriends are doing. It will give you so much positivity throughout your life. And then I encourage you to follow a healthy eating plan by listening to your body. Listen to what it needs and what makes it feel good, unlike a diet that restricts or eliminates things. Eat as many foods as you can in their natural state. And always be moving throughout your day. If you are moving throughout your day, you are always going to feel better.
Erica: Great advice, I want to talk about diaphragmatic breathing because it is not talked about enough and it is so great for core training and function. Without proper diaphragmatic breathing, we can’t properly connect through our core. You want to think about breathing deep into your sides and the back of your rib cage. And it might take a while to feel that connection because it will be foreign to your body. I’d love to talk about nutrition a little bit more because I also believe that if we restrict ourselves too much it can backfire. What is that go-to food that always makes you feel amazing after you eat it?
Kristin: I find more than anything is that I must eat a substantial breakfast. I love to have organic eggs with avocado toast, or Greek yogurt with flaxseed and walnuts and berries. I will always have something for breakfast and lunch is a little more on the go because I am so busy. I will make chicken salad in advance with feta, artichoke hearts and capers. Or I will have some tuna salad or an open face turkey sandwich with avocado toast. A good soup or salad is always nice to have in these winter months. My go-to snack is an apple with nut butter mid-day. As for dinner, we usually have salmon, chicken or steak with Brussel sprouts and brown rice.
Erica: When you don’t deprive yourself and you try your best to be healthy most of the time, then you will find yourself enjoying it. Everybody’s bodies are so different than what one person’s nutrition looks like can be completely different from someone else’s because that is what works best for them. I always make sure that we have good fat because fat is so good for brain function and sleep deprivation. But if you have a piece of pizza, whatever, the next morning you are going to start your day off with a healthy breakfast. No more beating up your mind of, “oh, I shouldn’t have eaten that,” it’s okay. Who cares? Eat it and move on.
Kristin: All food in moderation is okay for the most part. Eat good food, eat real food, eat it because it makes you feel good and not for other reasons.
The material contained within is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before beginning a new regiment or purchasing any product(s).