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New Moon No. 10, Winter

LUMEN  LETTERS

Mt. Slide Spring
TinyCrashes at Imaging USA
Photography: Kitfox Valentín

“We are shaped by the forces we experience. We've removed the wind and, likewise, the strength to withstand it.”
 
Katy Bowman, Movement Matters

Howdy folks!

I'm currently sitting in a cute café in Nashville, watching the unusual scene of snow falling outside as I write to you. Looks like a trip down south won't pardon me from frigid temperatures and snowfall. That's quite okay though...after spending the past two days inside of the surreal bio-dome convention center where Imaging USA is being held here in Nashville, I'm happy to actually experience the appropriate season of winter rather than the tropical climate that the bio-dome provides. Sure, walking around surrounded by palm trees and exotic blooming flowers while it's freezing outside is definitely welcomed, however, this snowfall feels refreshing, and makes for a lovely backdrop to my café writing expedition this morning. 

But boy, I think Nashville is right in line with where I grew up in Virginia for not being able to handle this kind of weather. I watched a big salt truck cut across the divided highway suddenly to make a U-turn that I'm still shocked didn't cause a crazy accident. #blessed? That was on my way to take a dance class, which didn't wind up happening, because I was the only one who showed up for the class. Toto, I don't think we're in NYC anymore...
MIND


What brings me to Nashville, you may wonder? My wild woods man was a sponsored speaker at Imaging USA, where he discussed his lifestyle design as a professional photographer and human being seeking to connect more deeply with the natural world and the wild within. One of the facets of a healthy work flow we both utilize and he shared during his talk was the importance of breaks, movement, and how you can stack the two. #movementbreak

Katy Bowman, quoted above, is a bio-mechanist, author (I'm currently reading Movement Matters), and podcaster who leads her listeners through movement breaks during her podcasts. Contrary to the traditional Pomodoro technique, which just says to take a break every 5 minutes in between 25 minute work periods, she's all about lifestyle stacking, as are we. So why not use your 5 minute break as an opportunity to move your body? Change your shape. Reorganize your alignment. Shift your architecture. Disconnect from your screen to reconnect with your body. I have found this to be a tremendously helpful practice in staying supple and sane while working. When we stay static in our bodies for long periods of time, our minds also become static. The mind follows the body and the body follows the mind. There is plenty of legit literature on the subject matter, but I say, try it out for yourself and make your own conclusions. Notice how your mind, body, and being feel and operate with this movement break practice stacked into your work flow.   

And you don't need a tomato kitchen timer to implement this practice (although how cute would that be sitting on your desk) - of course, there's an app for that. Here are the 12 Best Pomodoro Timer Apps with recommendations suited to fit a variety of customized needs.

 
BODY
 
 
On Monday morning, during the middle of my wild woods man inspirational talk about balancing work & play in his professional photography career, a loud timer went off, right on cue, as he was speaking about the Pomodoro technique. Yes, this was cleverly planned by us. I hopped up onstage and led the group of 50+ attendees through a 5 minute movement break. Afterwards, I had many people come up to me saying how much they appreciated the sequence of easy, gentle movements I shared with them and that they would definitely be incorporating them into their lifestyle. Several people asked if there was a written version or video of this sequence. I had something else planned for this BODY section, but after the positive feedback from others paired with a desire for this sequence of movements to be available to refer back to, I knew that I'd be writing out the sequence for this section.

So, without further ado, here is the 5 minute movement break I led earlier this week at Imaging USA, written in a simple, easy to follow manner:

1. Seated Cow/Cat - Scoot to the edge of your seat, body away from the back of the chair. Palms rest on thighs. Inhale for cow, arch your spine, chest opens towards the ceiling as you look up. Exhale for cat, round your spine, tucking chin towards chest gazing at your navel. Repeat a few more times, syncing inhales with cow pose and exhales with cat pose.

2. Chair Pose to Stand - Feet parallel, hips width distance apart. Arms reach up alongside head, palms facing in towards one another. Shift your weight forward, hinging at the hips. Press down into the floor with your feet, lifting your seat off of the chair a few inches. Make sure knees are tracking over middle of foot, your weight is shifted back towards heels, so you're able to see your toes. Relax your shoulders. Pull your lower abdominals in, belly button towards spine. Hold for a few rounds of breath. Stand tall, arms down by sides. 

3. Shoulder Shrugs - Inhale, shrug shoulders up towards ears and tense the muscles. Exhale, let shoulders drop, heavy arms, fully relax the muscles. Take 5 rounds of shoulder shrugs, using the breath to find the lift and tension on the inhale, the drop and release on the exhale.

4. Side Bend - Bring your arms overhead, hooking thumbs. Inhale, reach up and out to the right, bending into the right side of your waist. Exhale, recruit abdominals to bring your torso back to center. Inhale, lengthen up and away, bending over to the left. Exhale, use the abdominals to pull your body back to center. Repeat each side bend twice more. Use these side stretches to also awaken your core but making sure to use the abdominal muscle each time you return center. 

5. Neck Stretch - Reach right arm up and over, taking a hold of the left side of your face with the right palm. Inhale. Exhale, peel your head to the right, ear drops towards shoulder. Keep both shoulders relaxed, left arm heavy at your side. Breath deeply for a few rounds of breath into the left side of your neck. Return head to center, switch arms, and repeat on other side for right side neck stretch.

6. Chair to Sit - Making sure feet are parallel. hips width distance, inhale to draw arms overhead, palms facing in. Exhale to bend at hips, knees, and ankles, sitting back down onto your chair through chair pose (see. No.2).

7. Seated Figure 4 with Ankle Rolls & Massage - Once seated, cross right ankle over left knee. Take a few ankle circles in each direction with right foot as your hands massage and knead into the muscles of your lower right leg. After ankle circles in each direction, flex right foot (toes pull back towards knee cap), hinge forward from the hips as much as is desired for outer right hip stretch. Take a few breaths. Return upright, uncross ankle, switch legs to repeat these steps on the left side. 

Set your timer and incorporate this movement break into your lifestyle for a happier, more supple body, and with that comes a happier, more supple mind. Enjoy!

*Disclaimer: listen to your body. Don't force anything that doesn't feel right for your personal architecture. 

 SPIRIT


Now, finishing writing this letter in the Nashville airport as we wait to depart back home to NYC, I can't help but dedicate this section to the spirit of human connection. If there's one big takeaway from my time here in Nashville, it's the importance and impact of good ol' fashioned face to face personal connection with others. I witnessed the power of this kind of innate connection over and over again during this trip. My wild woods man was on the inspirational track for his talk, and oh, did he nail it. People came up to him after the talk and throughout the rest of the conference expressing their heartfelt sentiments of gratitude for bringing these elements of leading a holistically human lifestyle into the field of photography. Some were moved to tears, others opening up about their own personal struggles with health, burnout, and career pressures. I myself shared inspiring conversation and cultivated genuine connections with truly amazing individuals. Even the commitment to teamwork and sense of community I felt among Bay Photo Lab, who sponsored my wild woods man as a speaker, was so uplifting to both observe and participate in over the duration of this trip. 

So, I guess what I'm getting at here is that while technology is a wonderful way to connect from afar, and I plan on utilizing these technologies to keep me connected with the people I met over the past few days, there's nothing like the kind of connection one can inspire from a real life, face to face connection. Perhaps it's that southern hospitality I was raised around that was rekindled in Nashville, or maybe it was just par for the course when your S.O. is giving an inspirational talk, but I'm leaving Nashville feeling more inspired and kindled with gratitude than I've felt in quite some time. 

 

A new moon in Nashville,
A return to NYC.
The possibilities arising from fertile ground,
Are felt deep inside of me.
In these dark & stormy days,
Carried by winter's winds,
I'm reminded of the balance,
Between work & play,
Movement & rest.


Luminous love,
Jessica

You'll have TWO chances to join your sweetie and myself on the mat next month for a special pop-up couple's restorative yoga workshop. Stay tuned for an email announcement with workshop info + Luminous Elixirs Lover's Edition products, to be enjoyed alone or with your lover. Subscribe to Lumen Letters below to stay in the lover's loop
xo

 
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