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BREAK IT DOWN: The Handstand

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– Fitness Tips –

Hone your alignment and awareness to get more comfortable getting upside down.

Handstands are one of the most admired and aspirational body-weight exercises. Common in yoga and gymnastics as well as Life Time’s Alpha program, handstand training can improve your full-body strength, balance, coordination, breathing, and spatial awareness.

Though the idea of performing a freestanding handstand might be intimidating at first, you can get upside down in a gradual way — whether kicking up or walking up a wall. Advance at your own pace while focusing on form.

Handstands of all levels demand full-body stability, plus the ability to keep your body stacked — no ribs flaring or back collapsing into a banana shape. They require strength and mobility in the wrists and shoulders, control through the core, and hamstring flexibility.

Handstands also call for a gentle touch. While it’s tempting to kick hard to invert yourself or speed-walk your feet up a wall, focus instead on controlled movements to build skill and power over time.

Remember, the handstand is an advanced move and is best approached with patience and practice. It is worth enlisting the help of a qualified coach who can offer guidance and support; there are also numerous online handstand programs (such as those by Pamela Gagnon of Performance Plus and Kirsty Grosart of Garage Gym Girl).

The tips below can help you get started.

1. Plant your hands shoulder width apart in an active position. Engage through your shoulders, and shift your weight forward.

2. Kick up with control, allowing your hips to line up with your shoulders and hands. Engage your core and extend your legs above you.

Tip: Engage your core to avoid collapsing into a banana-back.

Tip: Straighten your legs, engage your quads and glutes, and point your toes as you reach away from the floor.

3. Find your balance and hold the position only as long as you can maintain great form. Lower your feet back to the floor with control.

4. Active hands are key: Keep your index fingers forward and fingers spread wide, with pressure in your fingertips, the bases of your fingers, and the heels of your hands.

Tip: Lock out your arms, stacking your shoulders over your hands.

Tip: Keep your gaze between your hands.

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Health & Fitness

The 4 Communication Styles – Experience Life

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How knowing these four different communication styles can improve your relationships.

When I was in seventh grade, my friends and I developed a pattern of sulking, almost on a monthly rotation. We’d take turns getting upset about something relatively minor — one friend wouldn’t call when she said she would, another would flirt with that cute boy we’d all been crushing on.

Whatever the origin of the sulk, the aggrieved party would insist, “I’m not mad.” Resolving the conflict became impossible, because no one would ever admit they were angry.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that behavior is a classic example of passive-aggressive communication — and it’s an ineffective way to get your point across.

So why do some people persist in long sighs, insincere denials, and other hallmarks of passive aggression? It’s not that they’re stuck in middle school, experts say. It’s just one of the four basic communication styles: passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive, and assertive.

Our communication style can be a powerful tool in building meaningful connections with others. Though our way of communicating may vary depending on the situation and the individual, we all tend to gravitate toward one dominant mode — and sometimes get entrenched in bad habits.

Research suggests the assertive style is the healthiest and most effective, although it’s normal to use one of the other types on occasion. When communication breaks down, it’s often because of conflicting styles.

“Communicating effectively is a good way to lower the amount of stress we’re experiencing individually and collectively,” says psychologist Randy Paterson, PhD, author of The Assertiveness Workbook. “As we think about the pain in the world, think about how much stems from people feeling profoundly alienated from one another.”

Understanding your own com­munication style — and learning how to identify the types of those around you — can foster more compassion and mutual respect in your most important relationships.

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