Mixtape #10: An Alternative to Exercise Apps
Produced by Camille Duran / Published by Eleen Murphy / Senior Editors Eleen Murphy & Camille Duran / Music Credits: License by Ins. Green White Space. Photo by Katalin Szarvas.
Transcript from the Episode
Camille Duran [CD]: Your life is hard, you spend a lot of time in front of that bloody screen, sitting on this office chair, driving your car or running around town. This is tough on your body.
No, this is not an advertisement for a new deodorant, this is another mixtape produced by Green Exchange to make sure you take serious care of your body. Remember it’s the only place you have to live and life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Okay, it may look more like a marathon with a lot of sprints in the middle. Especially if you are trying to make new things happen in society, defend the interests of your community or protect the environment. Nevertheless, you need a high-performing body, a productive brain, and a big heart that doesn’t get tired.
As always with our mixtapes, we start from a good music track. And this one is going to mess with your brain, in a good way! As you know, we always invite a guest co-host that knows a lot about the topic. And we start from there.
Today we are lucky to have Julia Zatta to guide us through this body awareness mixtape, she knows all the good tricks that could change your working life – if you practice them of course. It’s up to you.
CD: Hello Julia, thanks for being with us
Julia Zatta [JZ]: Hi Camille, it’s great to be here.
CD: We got something special today.
JZ: That’s right!
CD: But before we start, I need to contextualise a little bit, as always, so our listeners know what kind of music and mood to expect for the coming thirty minutes. This mixtape is designed for 3 specific situations:
Situation 1: You know when you’re really stressed and all your want to do is go get a drink or maybe for some of you go reach for the b*ng – well, this mixtape is for that kind of moment, you’ll be able to leave the stress behind without intoxicating your body. You are going to feel really relaxed.
Situation 2: You want to mess with your brain for experimental purposes.
You really feel like expanding your consciousness but you don’t want to go the traditional route. You feel like in the lab and if you had all those machines and sensors you would use them but you’re on a tight budget. All you have is a smartphone and a good pair of headphones. No pro, bro. We have THE soundtrack for you.
Situation 3: You need a new body-mind practice. And you are bored to death with your weekly meditation group where the smell of incense commingles with body odour. Are we on the metro here or in an Asian temple? And that voice! Whose is it? Is it the voice in my head or is it the teacher talking? – I don’t know anymore, this is supposed to be relaxing but it’s stressing me out – I’m out of here. Yes, you need a new body-mind practice. Let’s get started!
CD: Okay Julia, who are you, first of all? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
JZ: Okay well I’m Julia Zatta and I’m a yoga teacher, and I’m also a massage therapist, specialised in posture.
CD: Posture? Is that important really?
JZ: Yes. It’s very important because posture isn’t just your physical posture (how you hold your body), but it’s also the position you adopt in life.
CD: That’s going to be very helpful. We’ve made some room in the studio so we can practice a few movements as well while we’re recording. And we are going to listen to some binaureal beats, that’s how we say it?
JZ: Bin-au…binaural…ah, I don’t know.
CD: I think binaural. You know what? Let’s check it out.
[Computer Voice]: Binaural.
CD: [Copies computer voice]. What is that supposed to do? How does it work, what is a binaural beat?
JZ: Well it’s supposed to put you in a nice, relaxed, focused state of mind that is ideal for meditation. Binaural beats are made with two sounds. They have slightly different frequencies, and you hear one sound in one ear, and one sound in another ear, and it creates an effect in your brain that creates a third sound.
CD: Wow, that’s a bit like getting high.
JZ: [Laughs] Just a little bit!
CD: Okay, so you need good headphones.
JZ: For sure.
CD: Actually, we don’t talk about this often enough, but listening to any Green Exchange episode with good headphones is a whole different experience. Because we are investing more and more into the sound quality and editing techniques that you’ll miss if you don’t use good headphones.
Julia, why don’t we get in the mood and listen to a couple of minutes of binaural beats before we start digging?
JZ: Let’s go for it!
CD: First of all, if we call it a practice, it’s because you need to practice it!
JZ: Yes, that’s how it works.
CD: Which is why we are also producing a short five minute track that you can use anytime you want to reset your mind, you can simply take a break at your desk, take a moment before going out to lunch, or use it to close your workday. In this shorter version we cut out all the bla-bla so that you can go straight into the exercises and practice, practice, practice.
JZ: Absolutely, it only works if you do it. And what we’re going to do today is a few different exercises to get your brain and your body in shape, and ready for what’s next.
CD: So exercise one, what do you have for us?
JZ: This first exercise is going to be to relax our eyes, because most of us spend all day staring into our computers or our smartphones. So we’re going to start by placing our hands over our eyes in a way that we can keep our eyes open without seeing anything. To do this you might want to sit back into your chair, soften your shoulders; place your hands over your eyes and keep your eyes open while you take a few deep breaths and listen to our special tracks.
JZ: Anytime you feel your eyes getting tired from looking into a screen would be a good moment to do this.
CD: You know Julia, one problem I often have at the computer is, you know it’s really the neck tension.
JZ: Yes, everybody suffers from that, it’s super common.
CD: Do you have a magic recipe or an exercise I can practice to get my neck relaxed?
JZ: I do!
CD: Tell me.
JZ: Alright, so for this one you’re going to do it with your nose. So, just looking straight ahead and softening your shoulders, put your attention on the tip of your nose. And now with the tip of your nose you’re going to start to draw a small circle, like a spiral that slowly gets bigger. Keep your eyes soft and keep making that spiral bigger and bigger. Try and slow down your movements if you can. And when your spiral gets almost to the size of a tennis ball in circumference, you can start to spiral back down into a small circle. So you can wind it back up into the centre slowly. And once you arrive in the centre, you do it again but in the opposite direction.
CD: Wow, it works!
JZ: Yes, so we have these two joints at the top of our spine, and they get really compressed throughout the day, and these little movements that we do by drawing circles with our nose, helps to de-stress our neck and the top of our spine.
CD: Okay Julia, one thing I do worry about is not looking stupid at my desk when I’m doing those exercises. The one with the nose spiral was okay. But now I feel like we’re going to get into something that takes a bit more space.
CD: Should I worry about how I’m going to look?
JZ: Yes you should!
CD: Great [laughs]. What’s next?
JZ: Okay our next one is going to be for the top of our spine. We’re going to do just a couple of gentle twists at our chair. So make sure you’re sitting up nice and tall, and that your hips are level with your knees. Make sure you’re not sitting back into your chair for this one, you want to sit up straight.
From here you can turn your chest to the left side and grab the back of your chair to help you go into the twist. Make sure your hips stay even and level. And you’re going to hold that for a breath or two and then come back to centre. Reset, put your spine nice and long again, and then slowly turn to your right, using the arm or back of the chair to twist to the right side. And again, you want to hold this here for a couple of breaths, keeping your hips steady and level. And then gently release and come back to centre. You can repeat this as many times as you like throughout the day, it’s so nice.
CD: Okay should we talk about our spine now?
JZ: Definitely. Our spine has four very important movements that we should do every day to keep it in good health. These movements are flexion, extension, side bending, and twisting.
JZ: So we just did a spinal twist, now we’re going to go for flexion and extension of the spine. This is another exercise that you can do at your desk when you want to take a little break because your neck feels stiff or your back feels sore. So to do this exercise, you want to make sure your feet are nicely grounded on the floor, and you can place your hands on your knees, your elbows pointing out. And from here you’re going to round your spine and bring your chin into your chest like an angry cat, and just round as much as you possibly can while still breathing.
And then slowly on your next inhale you’re going to go the opposite way. You’re going to bring your elbows in towards your body and you’re going to lift your chest and lift your chin, and arch your spine back. On your next exhale you’re going to round again, and come back in towards the centre, chin to chest, keeping your back nice and rounded. And on your next inhale, you’re going to roll your shoulders back, lift your chest, lift your chine, and arch your spine back.
You can repeat this three to five times, it feels really nice after you’ve spent a lot of time at your desk.
CD: I think with this one people will start to look at me in a weird way at the office. That’s the beginning of the end, no?
JZ: It’s the beginning of the end. Or a beginning of a new trend!
CD: Now, in case I want to impress my colleagues even more, what should I do?
JZ: Well, you can take up even more space, I’ve got a good one for that!
CD: Let’s go!
JZ: For this one you want to come to the front of your seat, and make sure your feet are nice and flat on the floor. With an inhale lengthen your spine, and as you exhale, place your right hand on your right knee. Inhale, lift your left arm up, all the way up, reaching towards the ceiling. Exhale here and now start to lean towards your right side. Stretch your left side open as much as you can.
On your next inhale, come back up. And exhale, bring your left arm down.
Now we’re going to do the other side. So place your left hand on your left knee. Inhale, sweep your right arm up towards the ceiling. And as you exhale, bend your left, stretching your right side, body long. And inhale, come back up and stretch to the ceiling. And exhale, bring your right arm down onto your knee.
CD: You know what I would really like, Julia? I’d like our listeners to send us pictures of them or their colleagues doing this exercise.
JZ: I would love that! I would love to see them on Instagram doing these exercises at their desk.
CD: Can we offer a special ten minute phone consultation with Julia? The three first ones who send pictures of their exercise?
JZ: Absolutely! I’d love to give postural assessments.
CD: So get your postural assessment with Julia now, and send us your pictures. We’re only at exercise five, we have a few more to go. Now it’s time to stand up. Even more space at the office.
JZ: Okay this is an easy one. It’s just about taking a forward bend so you can stretch the backs of your legs and the back of your backside. So you can turn your chair so that you’re facing the back of your chair, and you can place your hands on the back of your chair. Now you’re going to walk back away from your hands so that your arms can stretch nice and long, and from there you can fold forward.
Make sure when you do this exercise that you’re folding forward from your hips and not from your low back. So you’ll want to keep your low back as long as possible, not rounding. You should feel a nice stretch in your back and even maybe your arms. And you just want to hold this for a few breaths.
JZ: And then slowly bend your knees and come back up.
CD: And people passing in front of the window of the studio are wondering what the hell we’re doing in there. But we don’t care! We feel more and more relaxed! Okay.
CD: You know, we tend to work a lot on relaxing our back, but I heard legs are also very important.
JZ: Absolutely. the legs are the support for our back, and when our legs are weak, then our back is going to hurt. So this exercise we’re going to do right now is to stretch out the fronts of our legs that get really short from sitting a lot. So we’re going to stand up, still facing the back of our chair. This time we’re going to rest our hands on the back of our chair and take a step back with our right foot, and bring our right knee to the ground. So you can make this harder by just hovering your right knee above the ground, or you can rest your knee on the ground. And we’re looking for a stretching sensation in the front of your right thigh. This is where your hip flexor muscles are and they get really contracted when you sit down for long periods of time. Just hold this stretch, take three to five breaths. And when you’re finished, come back up and switch sides.
CD: It’s quite a challenge to visualise these positions just from audio. It’s the way it is, it’s a podcast. You need to visualise, you need to use your imagination, and you need to listen.
CD: Alright so we’re going to keep going down. To the knees now?
JZ: So our next exercise is just to move our knees a little bit to get the blood flowing a little bit more. And we can do this one sitting in the front of our chair. So, sitting nice and tall, you can stretch your right leg forward; just picking your foot off the floor, stretching the leg, and then bending the knee again and placing it back on the floor. And we’re going to repeat this about five times to get your knee joint moving, because every time we move our joints, the fluid inside gets renewed and our joints stay young and mobile.
After five repetitions you’re going to switch sides, placing your right leg on the floor and lifting your left foot off the floor; stretching your left leg, and then bending your knee, and stretching your left leg again. And repeating three to five times.
CD: If every time you lift your foot, you hear “Ow! Oh!”, it’s probably that you’re hitting your colleague sitting in front of you, no?
JZ: Yeah, be mindful of your neighbours! [Laughs].
CD: At this point I’m so relaxed I don’t know if I can go back to work, but lets keep going.
JZ: Okay we’ve got one more. This is a grounding exercise for your feet. Our feet are the most disconnected part of our body normally because all our attention is in our head, eyes and in our hands. So now we’re just going to take a minute to just feel our feet as we place them flat on the floor. We’re going to imagine for a second that we’re on a beach and that our feet our resting on the sand. And you want to leave a perfect footprint of each foot on the sand. It’s helpful if you do this with bare feet. But if not you’re just going to have to use your vivid imagination.
Try and trace the outline of each foot as if you’re trying to leave a perfect footprint in soft, wet sand underneath your foot. Take the time to feel what it would feel like and imagine it in your mind’s eye. And you want to do one foot at a time. Once you’ve done both feet, just rest in the sensation of your two perfect footprints.
[Music & Sounds]
CD: Okay, well this gives me a lot of great ideas. My colleagues are definitely impressed at this point, because while they’re thinking about if they should get into it, I already got back to work and I’m so efficient and so relaxed.
JZ: Oh, that’s great to hear!
CD: To finish, you have a secret trick that you want to share with us.
JZ: That is a secret trick that ensures success in most things, and it is to do it every day!
CD: Don’t be shy! Thank you Julia for stopping by.
JZ: Oh you’re so welcome!
CD: Hope to see you soon. Ciao!