Mind & Body by Samantha Nichole

Mind & Body by Samantha Nichole

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Yoga Practice: Issue 2, Yoga as Therapy

The spring semester of my sophomore year of college I was in a course that helped me learn now to interact with small groups. One of the group presentations was extremely fun, and my group’s topic was wellness. We each decided to touch base on how we personally achieve wellness. I picked yoga, and my group members were surprised – they thought I was going to pick dancing, which happened to be my second choice.

During my research I discovered that yoga has more physical benefits than I was aware of. I am unable to find all my class research, so I found a website that listed the same benefits as I found originally. According to www.yogabasics.com, practicing yoga as therapy can help conditions such as anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain, colds and the flu; depression, insomnia, headaches, and many more conditions. Personally, yoga has helped relieve me of headaches and back pain, but also anxiety.

As a dancer, student, and a person who works too many hours, anxiety is something I struggle with. During the school year I will sometimes have more than one dance performance per week (not including practices), and finding the time and patience to handle all the stress that comes with it is tiresome. I have found that the more often (and closer to my performances) I practice yoga, the more relaxed and focused I am during my performances.

Therefore, yoga is my favorite therapy. Since anxiety is my biggest obstacle, I use yoga to counteract it. When struggling with anxiety, I typically stick to the sun salutation (surya namaskar in Sanskrit) series. According to www.yogasite.com/sunsalute.htm, the sun salutation consists of 12 different flowing poses. The 12 different poses listed on YogaSite.com are pictured below, but I took pictures of myself doing the poses, instead of the stick pictures on YogaSite.com. In my research I didn’t necessarily find the sun salutation recommended for anxiety, but I use the sun salutation as a way to counteract my anxiety.

Here is the sun salutation series.

Pose #1 (feet should be placed flat on the ground, toes spread apart; mine weren’t because the wood was too hot)

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Pose #2

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Pose #3

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Pose #4

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Pose #5

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Pose #6

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Pose #7 – Whoops! My tag was showing

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*After this pose, lunge forward and come to standing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

☼ Mind & Body ☼ is now on Facebook!

Hello devoted readers! I am happy to give you some news - ☼ Mind & Body ☼ is now on Facebook ☺ It is listed under "Mind and Body by Samantha Nichole."

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“Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.” (www.thinkexist.com)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Make the Most of Summer

Sometimes I feel as though summer goes by too quickly (ahem, especially in the Midwest). In this blog post I have come up with various ways to make the most of summer, and I have posted three common dilemmas: working too much, having time but not money, and having no time or money.

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Photo by Christine Hawley

Dilemma 1: I work too much

• Make a list of all the things you would like to accomplish.
• After making the list, make up a schedule. For example, “Mondays: Work until 6pm, go to the beach until sunset; Tuesdays: Work until 6pm, go for a run until sunset.”
• Make crock-pot meals. Almost anything can be cooked in the crock pot. For recipes try www. busycooks.about.com
• If you can afford it, then cut some hours, or take vacation.

Dilemma 2: I have the time, but not the money

• Try picking up odd jobs! This is especially common with college students. A website to try is www.kellyservices.com
• Considering most summer leagues such as volleyball, softball, or baseball cost too much money, make a league with a group of friends. Find a time and day to get together, meet up, and play the game. This will be great for your budget AND your social life.
• Avoid bars and nightclubs. Although going out is a lot of fun, especially in the summer, avoid going out because it simply costs too much money.
• Make plans for a potluck barbecue with friends and family. Have everyone bring a dish to pass; invite people over for summer fun at a minimal cost.
• If you are an athlete, take your workouts outside. That is a cheap and beneficial way to stay in shape. Check out my earlier blog post named “Exercising Outdoors.”
• If you have a gym membership, make the most out of it and take some classes! Quitting your workout mid-class is difficult. In addition, you can make some great friends who share similar interests, thus improving your social life.
• Start blogging, that’s what I did!

Dilemma 3: I have no time, and no money

• Something has to go. Maybe it’s the extracurricular activities, and if that’s the case (provided you feel overwhelmed), then cut something out.
• If you really need the money and you are working a lot, then unfortunately survival comes first. However, if you do find yourself with some free time, then take advantage of it. Check out Dilemma 1 for some options.
• Check your diet – make sure that you are eating healthy foods that will give you energy, so you can enjoy any free time you find yourself having.

I hope this was useful. Happy sunbathing my friends!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Exercising Outdoors

Exercising outdoors is one of my favorite things to do. Fresh air is rewarding and rejuvenating, and there are other fitness benefits to getting a good workout in the sunshine. 1– Wind, uneven terrain, and the sun add factors that will help tone your muscles. When the sun is warming you, and the wind is giving you resistance, your body is working harder. 2– Water bottles, park benches, and other items can be used as resistance.

Here is a simple workout that can be applied outdoors – without the need for gym equipment.

Inverted Push-Ups

STEP 1: Use a park bench (in my case I used a bridge) and keep your arms a little more than shoulder width apart

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STEP 2: Do a regular push-up! This exercise is virtually the same as a normal push-up

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Leg Dips

STEP 1: Use a park bench, short wall, fence, or any other object that’s a natural fit for your leg. Place the top of your food on top of that object, and place your hands on your waist

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STEP 2: Bend your knee, and dip. Keep the body upright – you shouldn’t feel any strain in your knees. If you do, you are probably dipping too low

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Water Bottle Tricep Extension

STEP 1: Your body should be leaning forward slightly. One hand is on the hip, and the other hand is holding the water bottle at the hip

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STEP 2: Extend the arm backward. Don’t overextend the elbow (some people, like me, are able to do that)

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Water Bottle Upper Arm Exercise

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STEP 1: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. One hand is on the hip, and the other hand is holding the water bottle
STEP 2: Lift the arm, and your hand should point down – it should look the same as if you are holding a bucket. Look toward your arm to make sure your arm is straight, and in line with your shoulders (no higher)


1 – Carry water when exercising outside. Your water bottle can be used in your workout sequence, but also remember that drinking water is extremely important - drinking water has many benefits, such as reducing muscle cramping.

2 – When running outside, try to stay away from traffic. Fumes from cars and trucks can enter the lungs.

3 – Check the weather so you don’t have to shed layers during your workout.

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Yoga Practice: Issue 1


Stress can take over any person’s life, whether it’s from work, family issues, money, or somewhere else. Practicing yoga can reduce symptoms of stress - stress can be channeled and transformed into positive energy. In this blog I am going to show you some meditation techniques that worked for me, and I truly hope they work for you!

These exercises can be done anywhere, but if you are at work try to practice in private (on break in your car, or in your office with the door closed). Although sunlight is wonderful, shutting the blinds may help relax you.

Breathing and Relaxing

1. Start off by realizing that you are becoming stressed or anxious (always remember that awareness is the first step to solving a problem).

2. Close your eyes. Take in deep breaths, slowly through the nose, and count to 5 (give-or-take). Then exhale out through the mouth for another 5 counts.

3. Pay attention to the muscles in the face and neck. Are you tense? Are you clenching your teeth? If so, relax those muscles (p.s. – through personal experience I have found that I am more likely to get a migraine if my face muscles are tense).

4. Now work your way down your body – are your shoulders stiff? Relax them. Are you clenching your fists? Open your hands, and face your palms up toward the ceiling. Pay attention to your body’s internal needs as well. Use the rest room if you have to, in fact, you should do this as soon as you realize your need to go.

Sequence of Relaxation Poses

1. Legs Across Chair – In your office, break room, park bench, or wherever. Lie on your back, lift your legs, bend your knees, and rest your calves on a chair. Remember to release any tense muscles.

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2. Legs Against Wall – Slowly come to a seated position, and push the chair away. Lie on your back, lift and straighten your legs, and place the legs against the wall vertically. Relax.

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3. Child’s Pose – Bend your knees and release your legs to your chest (back to knees to chest), and roll over to one side. Slowly move over to child’s pose – legs tucked in, head resting down, arms can either be extended or tucked to the sides.

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4. Knees to Chest – To transition from child’s pose, slowly roll sideways, go to your back, and tuck your legs in. Bring your knees to your chest.

I truly hope these techniques help you. They helped me!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Make Working Out Fun

In general, people prefer to be in shape, but hate working out. Through experience, I have found that working out is more enjoyable when I don't realize I am working out.

With that being said, I have compiled a list of fun ways to work out! Calorie statistics are found from: http://www.eddieoneverything.com/sports/how-many-calories-does-activity-x-burn.php

1. Volleyball

Bump, set, spike!

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Picture: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/VjXrdUWn8V6/Olympics+Day+3+Beach+Volleyball/0A2c0wzOgxA/Larissa+Franca

Estimated calorie burn… (Calories depend on weight; 130lbs to 190lbs)

Beach: 472-690
Competitive, or indoor: 236-345
Noncompetitive (6-9 members), or in the water: 177-259

2. Soccer

All the sweating will pay off in the end.

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♥ Beckham


Estimated calorie burn…
Casual: 413-604
Competitive: 590-863

3. Mowing the lawn

I am talking about the push-mower. Hello green toes...

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Estimated calorie burn…
Push mower: 325-474

4. Frisbee

You can play Frisbee anywhere! On the beach, in the yard, or in the park.

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Estimated calorie burn…
General Frisbee game: 177-259
Ultimate Frisbee: 207-302

5. Dancing

Do it in the club, take some lessons, or while you clean the house.

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♥ Dirty Dancing ♥


Estimated calorie burn…
Aerobic, ballet, modern, or twist: 354-518
Fast ballroom: 325-474
Slow ballroom: 177-259
General dancing: 266-388

"What lies before us and what lies behind us is nothing compared to what lies within us." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fitness: The Benefits of Exercise

Most people believe that the key to losing weight is diet and exercise in moderation, but why should all people exercise?

To begin, exercise is not only important for the sake of appearance – it is also good for the brain. Web MD, a credible online resource for health, said that “exercise can not only reshape your body and make you physically fit, it may also cause positive changes to your brain.” The site also posted a video about a study performed to help prove this theory. Female monkeys were placed on treadmills 5 hours per week for 20 weeks, and they were tested throughout this period. The video stated that “there is a noticeable increase of blood flow to the monkey’s brain during the activity, and that blood flow carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain” (http://www.webmd.com/video/exercise-and-your-brain).

The American Heart Association also encourages people to work out. According to their official website, “physical exercise has many benefits and should be a regular part of almost anyone’s life” (http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=11081). The website also suggests the following exercises: brisk walking, swimming, biking, jogging, rowing, cross-country skiing, hiking or stair climbing. Team or court sports such as basketball, soccer, football, tennis, squash and volleyball are also aerobic activities. These exercises are most-beneficial to cardiovascular health. Some other sports, such as golf and bowling, don’t require enough effort to make them beneficial to one’s cardiovascular health.

There are many, many other benefits to exercise, and they are not limited to improving one’s appearance. For more information, I highly recommend the resources listed below.

Fitness.com (a women’s magazine)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Like, Stop Saying "Like"

America is facing a large problem, and I am not referring to the economy or war. The word ‘like’ is misused every day. This word is contagious, and spreads quickly through the media; especially reality TV and talk shows. Those who use the word ‘like’ incorrectly, and too often, are seen as being hard to understand, or even in some cases unintelligent. This word is misused daily, and has managed to spread its way into the vocabulary of many, if not most, Americans.

‘Like’ is thought to have originated from Southern California in the 1970’s, and it was originally referred to as “valley speak.” The phrase is most often heard from young people, but it’s also heard in adults. Although ‘like’ is often times used incorrectly and too often, it is believed by some people that the word is harmless. Because the English language changes often, ‘like’ could just be another change to the English language. Also, some see it as an ‘all-purpose word, and again, it’s perfectly harmless.
Nevertheless, ‘like’ is a word that is supposed to be used to compare something. For example, if a news anchor were to say, “The intense black-Friday shoppers ran to Wal Mart’s doors like a pack of hungry wolves.” It can also be used do describe if you are fond of something, for example, “I really like your tie.” Unfortunately, people are not using ‘like’ in these proper contexts.

‘Like’ in today’s context is used in a way similar to ‘um.’ It is a filler word, and it has no purpose. What people don’t realize is that ‘like’ is not necessary at all, and often times intellectual pauses are good things. Intellectual pauses allow for the speaker to gather their thoughts, and they also give time to the audience to soak in the content. If President Barrack Obama said, “Our troops are like, going to Afghanistan and like, will do a bunch of like, good things to protect our country,” people would have a hard time understanding the president, and because of his incorrect, poor communication skills some could believe him to be unqualified for presidency.

Using this filler-word also makes people sound uncertain as they talk. When a person is ‘winging’ a speech it is sometimes very easy to tell: they may stutter, use many ‘ums’, and also use many ‘like’s. Therefore, if a person is talking about an intellectual subject, the audience is less likely to listen to them because they sound as though they are hesitant about their own ideas. So, how did a habit this harmful to communication make its way into American vocabulary?

“Probably nothing has spread the L-word so quickly as American television has. Turn on your set nowadays and see how far into the talk show and celebrity interview you can go without hearing that hiccup vocable” (Grambs, 2007). Television is the source for most information in today’s society – since it is such a large part of society bad habits are spread like wild fire. It is interesting to hear your favorite celebrity talk about their lives, so once they start talking one automatically tunes in. It is also intriguing to see how other people live their lives (reality television), and since the general American public is the culprit for this word, television helps the phrase spread.

Listening in general is how this word is spread so quickly. ‘Like’ is contagious because Americans cannot go a day without hearing it being misused. “Listening is a complex process, part mental and part behavioral” (Brydon, Scott 2008). Since people hear the ‘like’ word improperly so often, it is hard not to use it improperly. People listen to content they are interested in, and since this ‘like’ word is coming from entertainment it is easy to soak in the material.
What can people do to refrain from using the word? First, realize the word’s existence. The first step to solving a problem is realizing there is a problem. Second, know exactly how the word is supposed to be used; lastly, read scholarly literature – literature is edited; therefore there should not be many grammatical errors. So, now it is time to make a conscious effort to eliminate the improper use of ‘like.’ There are several examples of this, and many of these examples are found on the internet.

An English-teacher-in-training and writer named Nicole Dixon wrote an article for the publication Time Out New York. She, like many other people, made a conscious effort to stop using the word after realizing her problem. “At first, my like-free sentences sounded to blunt, with a new, ugly rhythm that tripped me up. Ugh. After a week, I was still slipping up about thirty times daily, but I’d identified my problem” (Dixon, 2009, para. 2).

The incorrect use of ‘like’ is mostly due to a bad habit, spread rapidly through American television sets. Often times, those who use the word incorrectly and too often have a hard time making statements, because their audience is confused by their jumble of filler words. Because ‘like’s purpose is used in the wrong context, it is meaningless and therefore has no purpose. Something that Americans can do is realize that they are incorrectly using the word, and from there make a conscious effort to fix the problem.


Grambs, D. (2007). The Like Virus. New York: Pearson Education, Inc.

Brydon, S.R., & Scott, M.D. (2008). Between One and Many. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Dixon, N. (2009). No Saying Like. Time Out New York. Retrieved November 2, 2009 from

Aaronson, L. (2009). Valley Girl Talk. Psychology Today. Retrieved November 4, 2009 from http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200510/valley-girl-talk


First off, I just wanted to say “welcome” to my blog! This is my first blog, and post, so I am very excited. Although my profile information and description seem very poetic, I assure you that I am genuine person. My favorite food is macaroni and cheese, my favorite movies are 10 Things I Hate About You, Blood Diamond, and Across the Universe, and I hate asparagus.

I hope to explore many different topics in my blog, share some poetry, and simply share my ideas with others. In the process, however, I hope to have some fun ;)

Samantha Nichole