Posts in health
Time For a Tea Break
 
rawpixel-600784-unsplash.jpg

As the magic of Fall and Winter will soon grace us it comes the time to pull out the winter warmers. Big sweaters, beanies, scarves, indulge in hot chocolate and sit under fluffy blankets watching our favorite movies. Although a much loved time of year, with all its beauty comes the undesirable dreaded cold and flu season.

Luckily, there's the deliciousness of a little something called herbal infused tea to not only delight us with warmth on those cooler days but also provide the health properties to prevent and rid our bodies of the bacteria and germs floating around the crisp air, while acting as a meditative practice aiding the mind and body into a state of relaxation.

Herbal tea has for a long time been considered a natural health remedy, by infusing plant materials such as blending leaves, fruits , bark and roots steeped in boiling water to retain the plants properties. Along with the obvious hydration and tasting incredibly delicious - the infusion of the herbs each contain various  medicinal qualities including antiviral properties, aiding digestion, acting as an anti inflammatory , while acting as an overall well rounded remedy for holistic healing and wellbeing.

Here are some of my favorite infused teas to get you started

  • Peppermint: Your belly’s best friend. Minty fresh flavor commonly used to support digestive discomfort, relieve nausea and reduce stomach inflammation and pain.  

  • Chamomile: For a good night sleep. The pleasant aroma and taste of the Chamomile flower provides its calming properties and stress reducing elements to calm and relax the body inducing it into sleep. While strengthening the immune system fighting cold, flu, sinus and congestion.

  • Hibiscus: Hello glowing skin. Fruity , sweet and delicious to drink, the floral infused ingredients are rich in antioxidants and high in vitamin C eliminating toxins with its liver support function giving you the perfect glowing skin.

  • Lemongrass and Ginger: Happier and healthier you. Zesty and uplifting , the combination of lemongrass and ginger reduces inflammation and high in antioxidants, fighting the common cold while providing a source of energy.

For more herbal blends flavors and benefits healthline lists its “top ten healthy herbal teas you should try” for a better healthier you.

Not a fan of the pre blended options? Try self infused tea as another great simple option to developing healthy flavorsome herbal teas tailored to your purpose and personal taste preference. Have a look at some of  these natural ingredients to help relieve any ailments you might be experiencing by letting their properties soothe you.

So every now and then when you feel that cold coming on - beat the symptoms by indulging in your favorite herbal tea blend and let the warmth take over.



 
health, mood, tea, wellnessLaura Santalucia
Trending: Is Athleisure the New Business Attire?
 
Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 4.17.29 pm.png

Move over business attire, is wearing workout apparel to work the “in thing”? We say yes please! How could we refuse such a suggestion!

What would be better than having the comfort of being able to work all day in your go-to yoga pants and comfortable sneakers?  Whether you’re on your feet or sitting at your desk, there's nothing quite like the feeling of being in workout wear - maybe it’s only me, but wearing workout gear instantly brings a sense of motivation, relaxation, and calmness to my day. It’s time to get rid of the business suit and make athleisure your new work wardrobe staple - I promise you won’t go back.

If you know Primary, you know we are dedicated to creating the perfect work life balance and today we had the presence of Athleta Apparel at our Primary Penn Station location to share tips and tools with our members on the importance of feeling great at work through their current “work to workout”  apparel pieces. This combined with a mindful meditation session by Primary Ambassador Beckie Warren on “Desk Friendly Movement and Meditation” was a great success! Our members received a lesson in refocusing and recharging the mind and body throughout your work day, which can be the ultimate productivity booster. Primary is passionate about inspiring a wellness routine and incorporating health, fitness, and mindfulness into both your workspace and Monday to Friday schedule for a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

Feeling a little unsure about wearing yoga pants to work? Luckily , the best part is society agrees with your desire to wear today’s Athleisure apparel to work, everyone’s thinking it so why aren’t we doing it?  It’s simple - by combining traditional athletic fabrics with a casual approach purposely made to transition between work, workout and everyday attire. Thankfully, casual attire is trending along with an emphasis on health and fitness consciousness. These concepts, coupled with flexible and co working environments on the rise, you won't be the only one showing up to your office in your running shoes!

Even better, is that athleisure is now a fashion trend acceptable to wear anytime and anywhere, pairing work out clothes with other fashion pieces such as coats,  jackets or even a nice piece of jewelry makes it easier to wear your staple workout wear doubling as casual work attire - all while being comfortable at the same time.

So why not give it a try and wear athleisure on your next day at work? You’ll be saving time and are instantly ready to hit the gym or your go to a studio class as soon as 5pm rolls around.  

 
Stop and Take a Breath
 
photo-1498568715259-5c1dc96aa8e7.jpeg

The natural inhalation of oxygen and exhalation of carbon dioxide is so organic we forget it’s even happening.  The act is so involuntary that it has become unnoticed that many of us are in fact breathing with the wrong technique. What would happen to our mental and physical state if we pay more attention to proper breathing as a wellness and holistic approach, improving our focus and productivity? A thought most often forgotten particularly as our professional and personal schedules get busy and our to-do lists become countless.

As we become inundated with endless work, deadlines, and an inbox full of messages yet to be responded to, it is inevitable that stress, panic, and anxiety can quickly take over. Good news is that you’re already practicing the solution to your nail-biting, hair-pulling moments. You know how to breathe so there’s no lesson to learn there, however we can easily transition into a state of calm by understanding our awareness of breath.

Many of us have become shallow or chest breathers causing our muscles to tighten inducing stress, panic attacks and fatigue as a response. Over at Headspace they explain the difference between shallow breathing, its negative health effects and the positive effects of proper diaphragmatic slow breathing. Proven to lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate and relax muscle tension.

Perfecting your awareness of breath isn’t magic and won’t happen overnight, however you can easily begin your journey to proper breathing by taking a look at the steps Susan Kaiser Greenland provides in her “11 minute awareness of breath Practice” .

Take a few minutes of that “me time” - lock the office door and begin the art of breathing properly.

Don’t have 11 minutes to spare in your busy schedule and need a quick fix as you feel the panic and heavy breathing coming on? Try this quick and easy one minute process to soften and let go of tension and begin to instantly relax.  

  • For one minute try inhaling for a count of two seconds hold and exhale for a count of 3 seconds.

To further create a well rounded breathing session try include the help of the soothing and relaxing scents of your favourite essential oils. Hint: lemongrass and ginger is a Primary favourite. Along with its many benefits, the scent acts as an antidepressant, boosts confidence, hope and mental strength. Otherwise, try the ever popular Lavender - directly inhale or diffuse while practicing your newfound breathing techniques for an immediate calming effect.  

Still can’t get into the rhythm of it? If you feel you are unable to become attuned to the practice of slow breathing on your own, consider the guidance of these deep breathing mobile apps as a starting point to ultimate body relaxation and re focus.

There you have it, the next time you feel you’re unable to shake that feeling of panic, stop and take a breath. A proper breath that is.  

 
Relax with a DIY Massage
 
applying-body-body-lotion-286951.jpg

Massages have a multitude of health benefits in addition to that “aahhhh”-inducing effect. However, you don’t have to find a professional to get the boosts of a massage--actually, you don’t have to find anyone!

Just like you can DIY your home decor or a multitude of crafts, you can DIY a massage (BYO oils or lotions optional!).

Self-massage can help relieve pain, including symptoms of osteoarthritis. Researchers had study participants suffering from osteoarthritis (OA) in the knee do 20-minute self-massage therapy sessions, focusing on their quadriceps muscle. The OA patients who did the self-massage felt significantly less OA pain and stiffness.

The benefits can also be mental. In one study, smokers trying to quit were prescribed three daily hand and ear self-massages during their withdrawal symptoms, including cigarette cravings. After one month, the smokers reported feeling less anxious and moody--two common smoking cessation withdrawal symptoms. Not only that, but those who did the self-massages smoked fewer cigarettes each day by the end of the study than those who did not do-self massage.

In a study of adults suffering from wrist and/or hand arthritis, self-massaging every day (paired with a weekly massage done by someone else) resulted in lower levels of anxiety, depression, and physical pain, while also increasing the strength of their grip.

Try massaging all the way down to your toes: Foot massages also have considerable benefits, including boosting your mood while tamping down stress. Also, in one study, researchers found that the immune systems of people who gave themselves foot massages improved over time. (Put that tip in your back pocket for flu season!)

DIY:

Here are some tips from the Arthritis Foundation, aimed at those with arthritis, but could be helpful to anyone interested in trying some self-massage:

  • Start by warming up your muscles by using large, vigorous strokes, then switch to smaller strokes focused on areas you’d like to target. Applying heat before starting your self-massage can also help your muscles relax.

  • When you move into the smaller strokes, you can try holding certain points, rubbing back and forth or deeper strokes along the length of your muscle

  • Pressure-wise, just be sure that you aren’t pressing hard enough that it hurts

  • You can add oil or lotion (scented for an aromatherapy boost as well!) to make the stroking easier.

  • If you already visit masseuses regularly, you can also add self-massage between visits to enjoy the benefits longer.

Go ahead, rub on some relaxation. You deserve it.


 

 
Down Dog for Digestion
 
pexels-photo-374101.jpg

The next time your stomach is bothering you, you may want to reach for your yoga mat.

Research shows that yoga can help boost your digestive system, not only for people with occasional issues, but also for people with more chronic ailments, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

It’s not just that when you twist your torso your yoga teacher says you’re “detoxing” your system. Yoga affects your digestion in more ways than one.

If your digestion is slow, performing yoga poses can increase your blood circulation, while also giving an internal massage to the muscles around your digestive system. This can help get your system back up and moving again.

A yoga practice can mean you get more out of the foods you eat, as results from a study out of India suggested that it can aid the body in nutrient absorption.

Put It Into Practice:

A twice-weekly Iyengar yoga practice helped patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by alleviating their symptoms.

To get the biggest digestive benefit each time you do yoga, make sure to engage your core with every pose, which also massages, contracts, and stretches the organs responsible for your digestive system. When you stretch in certain ways you create more space for your organs to function.

Also be sure to focus on your breath. Abdominal breathing can aid your digestive system.

How to Power Your Practice:

If you’re going to a class, try to eat one to two hours before hitting the mat. If you’re working with this timeframe, opt for choices that have complex carbohydrates, protein, and fats--yoga teacher and nutritionist Jennifer Vagios, RD suggests cooking ¼ cup of eats and topping it with walnuts and plain Greek yogurt.

If you are rushing from the office and only get a chance to eat 15 minutes in advance, have something with easily digestible natural sugars and a bit of fat and protein, she says, citing a smoothie made with a date, ½ frozen banana, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, and cinnamon as a good choice for this situation.

So, there you have it--the next time you hear your stomach rumble, take it to the mat.

By Hannah Woit

 
Select Sprouts for a Nutritional Boost
 
soybean-933026_1920.jpg

There are so many terms popping up on food labels it can be hard to know how to make sense of it all - organic, biodynamic, heirloom, natural… What is worth the extra money?

One term that might be worth looking out for? “Sprouted.”

Sprouting refers to when the seed has just begun to grow, before it becomes a plant.

Why Sprout:

When the sprout begins to germinate, the seed breaks down starch, which increases nutrient levels.

This process also breaks down chemicals that can lessen bioavailability, which translates into how well your body absorbs the other nutrients present in the food. In grains, this means that your body will benefit from more vitamins such as folate, iron, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, and protein. You’ll be getting more nutrients in less food.

Since germination also lessens the amount of starch in the food, it can make sprouted grains easier to digest, which can be especially helpful for those who sometimes have issues digesting grains.

Sprout Safely:

There are a couple of caveats to keep in mind with regards to sprouted foods. First, be mindful of bacteria. Sprouts can be contaminated by harmful bacteria such as E. coli. Buy your fresh sprouts from somewhere you trust. Also, be sure to enjoy your sprouted foods sooner rather than later--within two or three days. If you’re bringing them to work, be sure to put them in the office fridge when you get in--sprouts and sprouted products should generally be kept in the refrigerator.

If you want to be super careful, use sprouts in cooked foods. Kristina Secinaro, a registered dietician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, suggests incorporating them into your baked goods, by grounding sprouts into a paste that you can add to your recipe. You can also cook the raw sprouts as part of a dish. The cooking process can kill that potentially harmful bacteria.

Sprout On:

Sprouting is something you can do in your own kitchen to save money and be in control of the process to make sure it is done safely. Try this recipe from The Kitchn for sprouted grains. If you’re interested in branching out from grains, you can use this guide to see how long it takes to sprout different legumes and grains.

If you don’t want to DIY, Secarino suggests checking nutrition labels to find the healthiest sprouted products, since some have only a little bit of sprouted ingredients, but many preservatives.

So, the next time you're getting groceries, keep an eye out for those sprouts!

 
Play On: Have Some Fun For Your Health
 
boys-childhood-children-51349.jpg

By Hannah Woit

What did you enjoy doing as a child that you no longer do as an adult? Make sandcastles? Spend some quality time with a coloring book or whizzing through the air on a swing set? Play a pickup game of soccer with your friends? The things that come to mind are likely to be what we used to do as play--and unfortunately have become activities we do less and less frequently as we grow up.

However, research indicates that we may want to pick these activities back up if we want to live our happiest, healthiest lives.

Are You Playful?

“Playfulness” can reference a person’s tendency to approach situations in ways that entertain those around them and make them more engaging and fun.

Playfulness in adults is associated with:

Play at Work?

Just as more foosball tables are popping up in workspaces, researchers are conducting more studies around playfulness at work. You might assume that play at the office leads to decreased productivity or distraction, but some research indicates that “organizational playfulness” can make for a climate that is more conducive to creativity. How? Researchers posit that playfulness can make people feel more open and motivated, and to forge more relationships built on working together. It can also foster greater trust amongst team members.

Also, making meetings more playful can actually make them more productive because play can inject energy and increase engagement during an otherwise dull meeting.

Make Time for Play:

Been a long time since you set out to play? If you need inspiration, University of Wisconsin psychologist Shilagh Mirgain, PhD suggests:

  • Game nights with friends

  • Play with pets or children

  • Arts and crafts

  • Playing in a physical group activity, such as tennis, Frisbee, or kickball

  • Doing something you enjoyed as a child

Mirgain also brings up scheduling time for play. However, don’t get too serious about it: play being voluntary is key. And it has to be something you enjoy (versus something other people tend to enjoy or something you think you’re supposed to enjoy).

Go on, get out there and have some fun!

 
Create Your Way Well
 
art-blur-close-up-6334.jpg

By Hannah Woit

Maybe you’ve purchased one of the adult coloring books that has risen atop of Amazon’s bestseller list, ripped up all of your magazines to create a vision board, or have a home full of Pinterest-inspired DIY projects--coloring books are no longer just for kids. There are many factors that have contributed to the rise in adults doing art projects--and the pursuit of mindfulness and health is a major one.

Art therapy has been around for years. So how does using your creativity impact your health and wellbeing? Read on for ways that picking up a paintbrush, splurging on a set of colored pencils, or an art break at the office can be a boost.

Paint the Stress Away:

When researchers looked at how making art such as collaging, drawing, clay modeling, and coloring helped students in Maine cope one week before their final exams, the effect was clear: The subjects’ anxiety levels decreased, even only after doing art for a short time.

Some research has also indicated that the way participants are doing the art matters. When undergraduates at a Canadian university were assigned to groups that would either choose the colors they used or color by copying the colors in a completed image, the ones who had the ability to choose experienced greater drops in their anxiety levels than those in the other group after a coloring session.

However, some structure to the activity may actually be beneficial. Researchers in Illinois found that being assigned to color a mandala or plaid pattern resulted in a greater improvement in the intensity of the participants’ anxiety than those who were asked to draw freely.

Perk Up by Coloring:

As we’ve discussed previously, your health is tied to your emotions. It turns out that you can use art to change your mood. If you want to try an artistic pick-me-up, studies indicate that you may want to consider the structure of the activity. For example, coloring circular shapes versus squares might be more impactful in cheering you up, according to research. How you use your emotions also matters. Findings published in the Art Therapy Journal of the American Art Therapy Association have demonstrated that drawing freely may be more optimal than being instructed to draw with the intention of expressing how you’re feeling.

Consider this your coloring book prescription!

by Hannah Woit

 
The Long View: Optimal Eye Health
 

By Hannah Woit

Ironically, we often overlook our eyes when it comes to health. Considering it is one of our most precious organs, it may be time for you to take a look at how you’re doing when it comes to the necessary steps you need to take to protect them.

1. Schedule an eye exam.

Glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, macular degeneration caused by aging, and other common eye illnesses often are only detectable once they begin through a dilated eye exam. The more regularly you get an exam, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to catch issues before they get progressively serious. If you’re 20-39 years old, the suggested range is 2-5 years. For those 40-64, every 2-4 years, and for 65 years or older, every 1-2 years. If you have diabetes, have had an eye injury or surgery, have family members who have had glaucoma, or have other risk factors, you may need an exam more frequently.

2. Look at your plate.

It’s not just carrots that help protect your vision. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale support eye health, as do omega-3 fatty acid rich fish. Opt for coldwater options like salmon or tuna. Lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E are also eye boosters.

3. Don some shades.

Sunglasses that block out at least 99% of UV-A and UV-B rays are best for preventing eye damage  on those sunny summer days.

4. Break once in a while.

Workplace-related eye issues go beyond goggles for scientists or protective eyewear for construction workers. Just like your muscles after a hard workout, your eyes can get tired after a long time of staring at a computer screen or focusing on one point. When we do this we often forget to blink. The National Institute of Health recommends implementing the 20-20-20 strategy: After each 20-minute interval of computer work, look at things 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. Set a timer on your computer or phone if that helps!

 
health, workHannah Woit
Feel All the Feels: Emotional Management for Optimal Health
 
pexels-photo.jpg

By Hannah Woit

Your emotional feelings and physical feelings are connected. Positive emotions can benefit your health while negative ones can harm if they are not dealt with in the right way.

So, with that in mind, where do we go from here if we want to cultivate an emotional life that supports our overall health? Are we supposed to walk around pretending everything is fantastic and that we actually love the fact that we just dropped our ice cream cone on the ground or got all the way to the office only to realize we left our cell phone at home?

Deal With It:

For better or worse, life has its highs and lows. It would be silly to act as if that’s not true. In fact, ignoring your feelings--negative and positive--may be the worst thing you can do.

According to the University of Minnesota, failing to deal with or ignoring your anger can be associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, infection, and digestive issues. Instead, you should feel your emotions and express them without judging yourself.

Feel it, then you can let it go.

Work It Out:

If you tend to hold on to negative things that have happened, this doesn’t mean you are doomed for poor health. A study supported by Stanford and the Department for Veterans Affairs showed that you can learn how to forgive. In the study, adults who were trained in forgiveness experienced fewer physical ailments, less anger, and fewer feelings of hurt.

If you want to develop a more positive approach to life, there are things you can do to mould your outlook for the better. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson suggests that you aim to experience three positive feelings for every negative one to reverse the potential physical damage that negativity can inflict. And, she posits that positivity is like a muscle that can get stronger over time with practice to make you more resilient emotionally.

So, just like you have a gym or workout routine, it may be worth implementing a routine for checking in on and working through your emotions--your body will thank you.

 
Feelings: The Mind-Body Connection Important for Your Health
 
backpack-blonde-hair-blur-214574.jpg

By Hannah Woit

The impact of your emotions goes beyond your mental health--your feelings have implications for various aspects of your physical health as well. Here’s a rundown:

The Positive:

It pays to be positive! According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, in addition to increased creativity, awe, and possibilities, positivity can get you more sleep and happiness overall and less time for recovery from cardiovascular stress and colds.

And the correlation doesn’t seem to be that the happier you are, the better your health. How is your emodiversity? Emodiversity is the mixture of your emotions and their intensity. Research indicates that the more diverse the positive emotions you experience, the more likely you are to have lower inflammation. This seems to hold irrespective of your average positivity and negativity, your body mass index, anti-inflammatory medicines, personality type, and other factors.

Another boon for our physical health is our ability to forgive, which some in the medical field define as “fully accepting that a negative event has occurred and relinquishing our negative feelings surrounding the circumstance”. Studies have found that being more forgiving can be positive for our mental, emotional, and physical health. Forgiveness is associated with having lower blood pressure levels, superior cardiovascular health, a stronger immune system, and a longer lifespan.
 

The Negative:

Negative feelings and outlooks are associated with chronic stress. In the shorter term, this can throw your hormones out of balance, as well as the chemicals in your brain that have to do with happiness, and suppress your immune system. It can also prevent you from living a longer life by shortening your telomeres, which are the tips of the strands of your DNA, by quickening the aging process.

However, there are things you can do to combat negativity in a way that protects your health. Keep an eye out for this upcoming Monday’s post, which will feature tips for maximizing your positive emotions and processing your negative ones so you can live your happiest, healthiest life.

 
Your Vacation Rx, Part 1: Formulate a Plan
 
clear-sky-daydreaming-hammock-914929.jpg

By Hannah Woit

What is linked to reduced risk of coronary heart disease, decreased anxiety, and higher job satisfaction, yet 40% of employees take zero to 25% of what is available to them?

Vacation days.

If you’ve got them, use them--for the sake of your health, research says.

The various health benefits of vacation last different lengths of time upon returning to work, but if you’re nervous about taking time off, consider a respite’s impact on work absenteeism: Odds are that you’ll be less likely to call in sick to work for the month following your vacation.

You don’t need to go on a yoga retreat to design your vacation in a way that can boost your health. Taking time off can be a valuable tool in your wellness toolbox and to use vacation days in the most health-promoting way possible, there are some things you may want to keep in mind when strategizing your time away.

Pull up your Google Calendar or grab your pencil and planner and start implementing your solid vacation strategy!

How Often?:

Since the wellbeing effect of your vacation starts to lapse pretty soon after your return to the office and that you’ll be back at your prior level of wellbeing within one to four weeks, researchers suggest that breaking up your vacation time may be better for you than taking it all at once each year.

How Long?:

Studies show that your health and wellbeing increase quickly after vacation starts and peak 8 days into the vacation, so you may not squeeze all the health benefits you can out of your vacation if you take a shorter break. However, the research seems to indicate that no matter the length of vacation, the benefits you’ll get from the time off will start to decrease after your last day,

Where To?:

Warmer, sunnier locales are ideal if recuperation is your goal, research indicates. And for all of the stressed types out there counting down the days until vacation, take heart: The more work strain you experience before your departure, the greater benefit you’ll experience if you’re able to really get away and unplug.

Consider time zones too, as the greater the number of hours are between your home and vacation time zones, the more exhaustive effect it is likely to have.

On Monday, check back here on the Primary blog for your next step in setting up the vacation you need to feel your best: building your itinerary (or lack thereof!).

 
Rise & Sweat to Shine
 

By Hannah Woit

Maybe the early bird really does get the worm. The next time you want to hit the snooze button, consider this:

morning people are more likely to be proactive about problem solving and may be better set up for success at work than their night owl counterparts, according to a study out of Germany.

Another recent study, from Business Insider and MSN, revealed interesting differences between the morning routines of Americans by income. Results showed that people who make more than $175,000 per year are the most likely bracket to wake up before 6am, filling that time often with a workout.

Getting in your daily workout by turning your commute into a run or bike ride (we love Citibike and provide members with complimentary memberships in NYC) is not only a boost to your health and fitness, but is environmentally and financially beneficial, as well as saving you the time and energy it takes to pack a workout into your schedule. But that’s not the only benefit of pairing your workday with a workout--one academic review in the Journal of Occupational Health found that exercise can reduce work burnout. Plus, those in that early morning loving $175,000+ income bracket are most likely to get in a full workout as well.

If you’re coming to Primary, you won’t have to worry about showing up sweaty at the office--members have full access to our locker room--with showers stocked daily with clean towels and eco-friendly shampoo, conditioner, and bodywash.

If getting up and out in the morning is an issue for you, place your workout clothes and shoes right next to your bed so they're right there when you wake up. If you don’t like exercising on an empty stomach or just need that caffeine boost as soon as you wake up, put something easily digestible like apple sauce on your nightstand or keep a half cup of coffee next to your bed to sip from a few minutes before you head out.

 
Om in the Office
 
pexels-photo-440581.jpeg

By Hannah Woit

When work’s a (physical, literal) pain, a look at how you move your body at the office is well overdue. We’ve covered the impact of sitting, but there’s more you can do to keep your body healthy and limber at work.

One easy way to do this is to incorporate small bits of yoga into your workday. Here are a few opportunities:

Bottleneck Neck: During your commute to work (not while driving, please!), practice some neck rolls, suggests Darrin Zeer in his book Office Yoga: Simple Stretches for Busy People. Drop your head to one side, rolling it around in a circle in one way then the other. When you come across a particularly tense spot, pause and take a few breaths.

Combat “Tech Neck”: Our devices and computers are not necessarily designed with our health in mind. How many hours a day do you spend looking down at your phone? Yoga Journal suggests a front chest opener: Facing a wall, put your right elbow and forearm against it a little above shoulder level (think “cactus arms”, putting your arms out like football goalposts, but a little higher). Switch sides.

Breathe in Good Energy, Release the Bad: You can even use this one in a meeting without anyone noticing. (They may notice your more positive vibes though!) Send oxygen to your brain by taking a few cycles of deep inhales and exhales. Breathe in what you think you need (a boost of energy, calm, etc.), and when you breathe out, visualize letting go of stress and tension.

Do the Twist: One of Zeer’s “Hang in There” stretches, this one is great towards the afternoon or end of the day after a long meeting. In your chair, cross one leg over the other and put the opposite hand or elbow on your crossed knee. Twist towards the leg on top and hold for a few breaths. Switch legs and repeat on the other side.

Namaste.

 
work, health, yogaHannah Woit
Events to Kick Off a Strong Summer
 
photo-1501556466850-7c9fa1fccb4c.jpeg

By Hannah Woit

There is no shortage of incredible opportunities for helping you feel your best in New York City, including Primary’s full slate of events and classes, but sometimes it can feel as if there is a shortage of time to take advantage of them and they often fall by the wayside when we get busy unless we commit in advance. Make sure you plan a feel-good summer this year--here are some wellness-centric events to make sure are on your calendar so you can thrive over the next two months!

Art Without Ego with Kyoun Sokuzan

June 11, 7pm

MNDFL / Greenwich Village

10 E 8th Street

New York, NY 10003

$35

Flex your creative muscle while also strengthening your mind with an event that melds meditation and art. Zen teacher Kyoun Sokuzan will lead you in thinking about breaking through any obstacles you face between you and fully realizing your creativity.

 

Daybreaker

June 16, Yoga 10am - 11am;  Dance Party 11am - 1pm

Location TBA

Yoga and Dance Party: $40 + $3.20 fee

Dance Party Only: $25 + $2.75 fee

Daybreaker is a morning yoga sess and dance party that happens in 22 cities around the globe. They’re coming to NYC June 16 to give the crowd their signature “DOSE”, which stands for Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins, the natural feel-good hormones and brain chemicals your body produces after a fun yoga class or dance party. It’s bring your own mat for yoga, but Daybreaker will bring the energy and non-alcoholic beverages you need for a morning boost!

 

NYC Parks: Bronx Recreation 5th Annual Family Fitness Festival

June 16, 12pm-3pm

Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center in Williamsbridge Oval

3225 Reservoir Oval East

Bronx, NY 10467

Free

If you’re looking for a kiddo-friendly event, check out this free fitness fest in the Bronx. It will feature cooking and fitness demonstrations, games, sports (including relay races), and arts & crafts, face painting, and more! Attendees will also get a chance to create their own “fruit creature” and enter free raffles and giveaways.

 

How to Have a Great Day!

June 20, 6pm-7:15pm

Primary

26 Broadway, 8th floor

New York, NY 10004

Free; Email rebeca@liveprimary.com to sign up!

Join Primary for an event that will give you the tools you need to make the most of each day in ways that feel good. Transformational Health and Life Coach, 500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher and Inspired Living Facilitator, Stacy Brass-Russell will introduce guests to simple and enjoyable things you can do now to create positive changes.

 

Shambhala Training Weekend I: Feel Human Again

June 29 - July 1

Shambhala Meditation Center of New York

118 W 22nd Street, 6th Floor

New York, NY 10011

$275 for Patrons

$225 for General Public

$180 for Members

This immersive weekend takes place at the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York, but is open to new and experienced meditators alike. Led by Natalie Baker, a Buddhist practitioner and licensed psychotherapist, attendees will learn and practice mindfulness-awareness meditation, including sitting and walking meditations. One-on-one time with meditation instructors will also be available as an option. The meditations will be interspersed with lectures and discussions in small groups.

 
health, mood, eventsHannah Woit
Want to Think Better? Get On Your Feet
 
photo-1415336190137-2cfe99b8f3f0.jpeg

By Hannah Woit

A new study out of the University of California Los Angeles gives new meaning to the phrase “thinking on your feet”. The benefits of standing during the workday for your cardiovascular health and weight are well documented, but this study marks a remarkable foray in that it links sitting to inferior brain health as we age.

As we get older, part of our brains associated with memory (the medial temporal lobe, which houses the hippocampus) atrophies. What is new about these findings is that although researchers have looked at the association between physical activity and brain health, this focuses on the time one spends sitting versus standing, a seemingly more accessible and simple change to make for most people than a change in exercise. (Interestingly, the team at UCLA did not find a relationship between levels of physical activity and the thickness of the medial temporal lobe.)

There had been indications in previous studies that reducing sitting time might be more potent than getting in more time at the gym or your favorite fitness studio when it comes to improving certain health indicators. For example, one study drawing on data from fifty-four countries demonstrated an association between sitting less and reduced mortality, but not between mortality and exercise.

Ready to take a stand for your health?

Here are a few things to think about, especially when it comes to standing at the office, where many of us spend a large portion of our sedentary time:

  1. Try standing every time you do a certain activity at work, such as talking on the phone.

  2. Suggest your team go for a walking meeting.

  3. Try a standing desk.

  4. If you know there is somewhere you’ll be standing for a long period of time, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and you may want to get an anti-fatigue mat.

  5. Your feet and legs may need time to adjust to standing for longer periods of time. If you find you’re tired of standing, try taking a break and sitting until your legs recover.

 
Biotics on the Brain
 
plate-3033198_1280.jpg

By Hannah Woit

Have food on your mind? Ever make a decision based on a “gut feeling”?

Sure, you may be thinking about how long until you can dig into your office lunch or feel butterflies in your stomach before making a big decision, but your food is also on your mind in another sense.

More and more information is coming to light regarding how what you eat and what is in your gut can impact your brain.

How? The answer gets back to our recent topic of the microbiome and the importance of having both prebiotics and probiotics in your diet.

According to researchers, probiotics release a type of acid, called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) associated with reduced anxiety and gut microorganisms may affect the impulses that reach your cerebral cortex--and all of this may influence your behavior.

These microorganisms in your gut have been termed “psychobiotics”.

Different types of bacteria can:

  • Help moderate the levels of harmful bacteria in your gut

  • On a hormonal level, stop the cortisol and adrenaline response that can be hazardous to your health

  • Help turn off chronic stress responses via the immune system

Plus, your gut actually contains neurons, in the form of your enteric nervous system which controls your digestion. Some in the field have started referring to this system as your “second brain”.

So, what does this mean for you? Think about reaching for:

Dark chocolate can boost the levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in your gut because the polyphenols in chocolate, as a prebiotic, can help them thrive.

Yogurt often has Lactobacillus acidophilus, which helps your spinal cord’s cannabinoid receptors, which are associated with your ability to regulate pain.

Probiotic shots, such as Pure Green’s Blue Biotic Shot, a new addition to Primary’s cafe menu. It is a potent combination of probiotics, blue algae, ginger, lemon, manuka honey, and filtered water.

 
Two Elements You Need for a Healthy, Happy Gut: Probiotics and Prebiotics
 
berries-1846085_1280.jpg

By Hannah Woit

The past few years have seen a shift from an emphasis on harsh antibacterial soaps, sterile environments, and antibiotics to an appreciation of bacteria in protecting our health.

This is due to research on the microbiome--the colony of bacteria in bodies. Researchers have found that the mix of bacteria is important in promoting health, especially in our gut. Our gut microbiota help our bodies process indigestible substances and the medicines and pollution from our world that we ingest.

The development of our microbiome begins even before birth and continues throughout our lifetime. And, despite the relatively higher access to technology and advanced healthcare in general in cities, those who live in more rural areas tend to have a better mix in their microbiome. Other factors determining our gut health include our diet, genetics, culture, age, lifestyle, and history of medication usage.

In addition to a healthy microbiome helping our digestion in general, research reported in Nature demonstrated that gut microbes in obese versus lean individuals differ. Researchers reported finding that when the obese people lost weight, their microbial profile started to look more closely to that of the leaner people, which may be due to the fact that high-fiber diets tend to contain less fat and calories, while also helping people feel more full and lose weight.

So, what to do?

One way to promote our gut health is to focus on incorporating probiotics and prebiotics into our diet. Probiotics and prebiotics both alter our microbiome composition and help keep our digestion revving efficiently.

Here are the basics:

Probiotics:

Probiotics are health-promoting bacteria. They help maintain a healthy digestion, which means they can reduce the frequency of constipation, cramping, and other digestive annoyances. They also help your body combat inflammation associated with inflammatory disease and tackle infections like the common cold and flu and other illnesses.

In terms of nutrition, if you’re already making an effort to eat healthy, you can help maximize the health benefits of the nutritious food you’re eating by working on your gut health. Probiotics help your body use the nutrients in your food more effectively.

Where to get them: 

As we’ve previously mentioned on the blog, we have probiotics stocked for you at Primary, including Revive kombucha or Maple Hill yogurt. Other sources of probiotics include tempeh and cultured non-dairy yogurt.

 

Prebiotics:

Prebiotics are probiotics’ best friend. Probiotics have gained more attention in recent years, but prebiotics help probiotics survive and thrive.

Prebiotics are most commonly fibers found in the ingredients in our food that our body can’t digest. However, the probiotics we want in our gut thrive off of prebiotics.

Where to get them:

Get your prebiotic fix by incorporating onions, asparagus, artichokes, or soybeans into your diet, or stash bananas or whole-wheat snacks at the office.

 
Bathe Your Way Well
 
bath-bathroom-bathtub-374148.jpg

By Hannah Woit

Do you ever want to escape into a cocoon when life gets tough, just to be alone and to tune out?

Thanks to the popularity of various wellness-conducive baths, you can have your choice of bath. Take your pick!

1. The Basic Bath:

If you’re a bathing traditionalist, a good old soak in the tub can often to the trick. Some people swear by their epsom salts, others by their favorite bath oils, but even basic baths have benefits. The temperature can be key: baths on the warmer end of the temperature spectrum have been shown to improve blood pressure and other research has indicated that they can also reduce blood sugar levels.

2. Sound Baths:

As we’ve covered here previously, sound can have a healing effect. Various studies have found links between tension reduction and improved cognitive performance. Focusing on sound can be a great option if you find yourself wanting to drown out the cacophony of city life. To step it up a notch, join a sound bath and tune out to the sound of gongs and singing bowls while also getting in some time to meditate.

3. Forest Bathing:

We’ve also discussed the power of nature in enhancing our wellbeing, especially in the workplace. But if you get a chance to become fully immersed in nature, take it! Forest bathing, also known as “Shinrin-Yoku”, the Japanese tradition of going out into nature, is gaining traction in the Western world, and it’s no wonder. Besides the fresh air and calming effect, researchers have found that it can even help reduce pain. It’s a hot topic in research right now, so we are only beginning to understand the myriad of effects nature can have on us. Be sure to use all five of your senses mindfully to soak up the benefits.

 
The Sound of Healing
 
singing-bowl-200851_960_720.jpg

By Hannah Woit

What is the soundscape of your life? Honking and beeping as you walk down the city street? That collection of songs that helps get you through mile after mile on your runs? The sound of a long-distance friend or family member’s voice on the phone? That podcast you can’t get enough of?

The soundscape in your life can be a powerful influence on your mood and wellbeing. In this spirit, more and more people are gravitating towards “sound baths”, sessions where you are immersed in sound in the hopes of having some sort of positive psychological or other benefit.

Many of us are painfully aware of the environmental pollution around us in the air and water, so we seek the fresher feeling air in the woods or choose to swim in a lake far from a city rather than jump into the Hudson. However, it’s worth taking a minute to think about a different type of pollution--”noise pollution”. The  EPA defines noise pollution as “unwanted or disturbing sound” and researchers have found links between environmental noise and our cognitive performance.

The increasingly popular sound baths, often done using tuning forks, crystal or Tibetan singing bowls, or gongs, may be a way to combat noise pollution and replace it with something that feels more soothing.

Though definitive research on the impact of sound baths on health is scarce, their popularity highlights people’s beliefs in the power of sound as a potentially centering and calming tool in meditation. In fact, sound baths may also be even more powerful when it comes to newcomers to meditation. One study found that participants who were not aware of the impact of sound meditation enjoyed larger decreases in tension than their peers when a Tibetan singing bowl was played for them.

Finding it hard to calm your mind during meditation? Might be worth incorporating sound into your practice--to tune in so you can tune out.