Get Your Sunshine Fix

Hey there amigo!

Sorry I’ve been out of touch for a week or so. It’s been one of those
periods of life where things have been comin’ at me fast and furious. Travel,
presentations at conferences, working on my businesses…..coupled with
a nasty stomach bug that made the rounds through the entire family. Including
one of the dogs! Yuck!

Anyhoo, we got through it. I’m finally coming up for air. I’m back writing
to you, which is one of the highlights of my day.

I can tell my schedule is out of balance by one key indicator: whether I
have been able to get out and walk or run. I walk or run – or some
combination of the two – just about every week day. I love it! And I love
being out in the fresh air and sunshine.

Nothing like a good brisk walk or run – especially along the rolling
(and sometimes quite steep) terrain that I journey along – to clear the
mind and rekindle the energy and enthusiasm.

Being out in the sunshine is important this time of year, because the
days are getting shorter. Despite what the conventional wisdom says –
you know, the admonishments to stay out of the sun, always cover up and
wear sunscreen, and so forth – it is actually healthy for you to get some

In addition to the mood and energy-enhancing benefits, sunshine also
provides us with our most important source of Vitamin D. If you are into
better breathing and better health, you want to make sure you are getting
sufficient Vitamin D.

Over the past several years, there has been renewed interest in, and
appreciation for, good ol’ Vitamin D. There has also been some good news
about the benefits of Vitamin D for lung health and better breathing.

I don’t always report on the first study or finding that comes out on something.
Frequently, a second or third study comes out that refutes or minimizes what
the first one promoted. So I tend not to get too excited until I learn more.

In this case, there have been a number of scientific studies on the effects of
Vitamin D on lung health. And the findings are very encouraging.

A few years back, researchers from Kings College found that Vitamin D can
substantially improve the responsiveness of asthma patients to steroid therapy.
Some people with asthma, a chronic lung condition, become steroid resistant.
This can severely limit their medical treatment options.

After some promising lab findings, the researchers did a small pilot in which
people with steroid-resistant asthma took Vitamin D3 supplements on a daily
basis. After 7 days, lab tests indicated that previously steroid-resistant cells
in their immune systems were now responsive to steroids.

The researchers also think that Vitamin D3 can help improve responsiveness
to steroids, even in people who are not resistant. This could mean a decrease
in the dosages required to control asthma.

In a separate study done at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, researchers
looking into the effects of Vitamin D on lung function found that patients with
higher concentrations of Vitamin D had significantly better lung function, compared
with patients who had lower concentrations of Vitamin D.

(By the way, I am giving a very high level synopsis here. Reading detailed
research findings is about as exciting as watching paint dry.)

More recent studies in the US and abroad have confirmed these findings, and
also supported getting more Vitamin D in our diets for better bone health
as well.Everyone typically focuses on Calcium, but we need Calcium and Vitamin D
acting in concert to strengthen our bones and help prevent or slow the onset
fo osteoporosis.

How can you use this information?

Well, as always, I have to say “check with your physician”. However, it’s easy
to get more Vitamin D into your diet.

Vitamin D can be found in the following foods: eggs, butter, cream, halibut,
herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and shrimp.

Dairy products in most countries are fortified with Vitamin D, making this a great
source if you don’t have allergies or sensitivities to dairy.

A wonderful source of Vitamin D is cod liver oil. This used to be administered in the
“old days” to help prevent rickets and tooth problems. Cod liver oil is also a great
source of Vitamin A, which is very beneficial to lung function.

Vitamin D supplements are pretty inexpensive. The recommended daily amount is
400 to 1,000 IU. Amounts over 2,000 IU are considered to be potentially dangerous.

Perhaps the best source is getting out in the sun for 15 minutes or so each day.
Your body synthesizes Vitamin D when exposed to sunshine. And, like I said, getting
out in the light on a frequent basis is good for you for other reasons too,
including elevated mood and energy levels, and better stress management.

So take a look at your diet. If you don’t think you’re getting enough Vitamin D,
you may want to supplement. And be sure to get out in the sun a little each day,
even if it’s just a quick walk at lunch.

It’s one more thing you can do to help your lungs and promote healthy breathing.

You Can Do It!

P.S. Another important thing to help promote healthy breathing and all the
benefits it provides, is to learn how to breathe correctly. In the Secret Power
of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume 1: Invigorate and Rejuvenate
, you learn
how to breathe with the Complete Breath, as well as seven other breathing exercises
that will have you feeling relaxed and energized at the same time. You can read
more about it at the Best Breathing Exercises website.

Copyright, Karen Van Ness

Protect Your Foundation

Stress is stealing away your life, even if you don’t realize it.

You see, stress, fatigue and chronic pain manifest physically as increased tension
and tightness in the body, particularly in the large muscles of the torso, such as
chest, shoulders and back.

This is why neck and back pain and headaches are so prevalent today.

Stress can also cause your breathing to weaken and become more shallow. When
you take in less oxygen, your system doesn’t work to capacity. You feel physically
fatigued and mentally foggy and fuzzy.

These reactions to stress put into motion a cascade of hormonal and neuromuscular
changes that can have dire consequences for even the hardiest of us.

Your posture also changes when you’re under stress. You turn in your shoulders and
hunch forward. You may notice that you cross your arms more frequently.

These are all signs of the protective impulse…. of your body collapsing in on itself in
an effort to protect you physically from more abuse.

Problem is, the tightness and tension in your muscles, along with the stressed, hunched
posture, create huge imbalances and overloads on your spine.

The spine is the foundation of your body and one of its critical centers of energy.

Sitting, standing and walking compress the spine to varying degrees. The high proportion
of time many of us spend sitting is particularly tough on our backs.

After years of sitting at desks, in meetings, on the couch, or on airplanes, the spine loses
its resiliency.

This in turn affects the entire nervous system, causing decreased energy, backaches,
headaches, neck and shoulder tightness….even moodiness, irritability, and the inability
to concentrate or focus.

The secret is to free the tension and tightness from your entire torso area, so that the
breathing spaces are wide open and free, and the spine is extended and lengthened.

Open breathing spaces mean full, complete breathing. In turn, this expands your lungs’
capacity to infuse larger amounts of oxygen into your body, and more effectively remove
wastes and toxins from your system.

Elongating and loosening the spine helps free up vital nerve force and energy, as well as
release tension.

The combination of the two is a powerhouse!

It leaves you with a loose, relaxed, energized feeling. It not only invigorates — it’s a major
pathway to physical health and wellbeing.

You may think it difficult to achieve this combination of opening, freeing, and releasing.
You may think you have to pay big bucks to visit a chiropractor or massage therapist
every week.

Well, it’s not difficult at all. Nor is it expensive.

For starters, I highly recommend taking several short stretch breaks throughout the day,
especially if you are spending long periods of time sitting in meetings or clacking
away at the computer.

Get up, stretch up, stretch to the sides, lean forward and down, rotate your
shoulders. All loose, relaxed movements. Synch your movements to your breathing for
even more relaxation and re-energizing.

There are even some stretches you can do while sitting in your chair – if you’re
too lazy to stand up.

If you’re interested in really loosening, relaxing and re-energizing, you can easily
discover how with just a few minutes of listening to the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy
Exercise Course, Volume 1: Invigorate and Rejuvenate.

The course consists of two series of seven exercises. The first series focuses on dynamic
breathing coordinated with easy, flowing movements.

The second series helps stretch, relax and rejuvenate your entire torso area, with special
emphasis on the spine and back.

These amazing exercises stimulate, strengthen, and rejuvenate you.

They help you instantaneously relax AND improve your energy levels. You’ll feel more in
control, rather than at the whim of the latest crisis. After doing the exercises for just a few
days, any back or neck pain you have been experiencing will be history.

The Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course provides you with a quick, easy,
enjoyable way to rejuvenate and protect your foundation. I’d love for you to give it a try.

To learn more about this incredible course, head on over to the Best Breathing Exercises website.

You Can Do It!

Copyright Karen Van Ness, 2010

How to Make the Normal Cycles of Life Work For You

As you know from reading my blog, I’m a big proponent of using targeted,
effective breathing techniques and exercises as one of the cornerstones of
robust fitness and health.

This emphasis is due to one overriding phenomenon: the correct selection and
sequence of breathing exercises work.

I’ve experienced the benefits firsthand, in myself as well as others with whom I
have worked directly, or who have purchased and put to work the exercises in
my Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course.

I’m always searching for new methods or techniques to add to my arsenal. I
think it’s important to have multiple tools, or variations of tools, to help you.

We all need some variation in our routine or training. This helps us avoid becoming
stale, and is important to ensure additional progress.

In my research, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that breath training is being
used more and more in athletic training.

For example, many coaches now train their athletes in the proper use of
breathing to help enhance performance, focus better mentally, and recover
more quickly and fully from their training or competitive exertions.

Seems what’s old is new, and what’s new is old.

I’ve realized that each person’s experience with breath training to improve
their fitness or health follows along the same type of paradigm as does physical

In athletic training, athletes and coaches follow the practice of periodization.
This means they emphasize different things in training as the athlete cycles
through general training, to sport-specific training, to the competitive, or
“in-season” phase.

Within the periodization paradigm, cycles of improvement and assimilation
are always included — at least in a rational program.

What this means is that training science and application have proved what
we all intuitively know: that any development, whether physical, mental,
emotional — or even spiritual, for that matter — follows natural cycles of
progression and regression.

In training, as in any kind of self-improvement or health enhancement program,
you will make progress for awhile. Then you will experience a period of
little or no progress. Or you may even feel like you are regressing a bit.

This is natural and to be expected. It is so natural and powerful that
training programs of all types take this into consideration. They actually
build in these periods of assimilation or regression.

While this can be frustrating, it’s also magical. If you recognize and embrace
the periods of regression you are experiencing for what they are, you can 
emerge from them capable of making even more dramatic strides and

This is because, during the slow or stagnant period, your body and mind are
still developing. It’s happening beneath the surface, beyond your conscious

Your systems are busy assimilating the gains in training, or knowledge, or
self-awareness you have achieved during the growth phase. This prepares
them for additional growth and development.

The key for you is to recognize these cycles for what they are.

For example, even with breathing exercises that are extremely effective, you
may experience periods in which your body has adapted to them.

To counter this, you can try performing the exercises in a different order. Or
you can stop performing certain exercises for awhile, and introduce others
into your routine.

This is one reason why I will continue to come out with additional programs
that use dynamic breathing as a means to health and fitness. They add
variety, sustain interest and enthusiasm — and they work.

Occasionally, I even stop doing my regular exercises completely, for as long
as a week or two. This is a way for me to test their effectiveness and see
whether they really make a difference.

I can tell you this: within a week or so of not doing them, I feel the difference.
And I’m always very enthusiastic about returning to them.

You Can Do It!

P.S. Introducing breathing exercises into your daily routine is not complicated.
Try doing some deep breathing as soon as you wake up each morning. Perform
at least 8 cycles of full inhalations and exhalations, with an emphasis on the
exhalation. You’ll be amazed at how energetic you feel as you move into your day.
Copyright 2010 Karen Van Ness

How to Extend Your Life

Recently, a new study came out that actually quantified the life extension benefits
of regular exercise.

The study determined that regular exercise, which they defined as “doing a little
something every day”, can add as many as four years to your life.

Now, four years may not sound like much to a lot of us. But when I ran this by my
parents (who are in their early seventies), they thought it sounded pretty darn good.

The key for them: these are four healthy years that are added. No one wants to
live longer yet be incapacitated, either physically or mentally.

But adding four years of active, productive living is very meaningful. Think how many
things you could do, or how many moments you could enjoy, in four years.

Engaging in a more active lifestyle today helps you on two fronts. First, you’re more
healthy, feel better, and enjoy life more today. Second, you’ll enjoy more life and
better living when you get older.

I harp on this a lot in my tips because I know many adults have either drastically
reduced their activity levels, or given up on exercise altogether.

The reasons may vary from person to person, but they often include things like:
no time; no energy; had an injury and stopped; don’t know how; etc, etc.

I know this because I’ve used some of these same excuses myself.

I learned the hard way that this is about the worst thing you can do. Maintaining
activities and at least some exercise on a regular basis is one of the keys to
maintaining, even enhancing your energy levels.

It also helps you be more productive. If you devote just 15 to 30 minutes for
exercise, you can add as much as two additional hours of productivity to your day.

Here’s another fact to consider: as you get older, you have to continually work on
building and maintaining your vital capacity, the ability of your lungs and heart to
do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

Vital capacity naturally diminishes as you get older, unless you do something
about it. If you’ve been inactive for any length of time, you have even more incentive
to build yourself up, because you’re starting from a lower level.

From my experience training clients, I’ve found out that many people shy away from
conventional exercise programs. They think they are in such bad shape that they
will injure themselves, or not be able to perform at a decent level.

They also sometimes dread the thought of working out at a gym. They think everyone
else will be in shape. They worry that they will not know which exercises to do
or how to use the machines or weights.

If you think you’re not yet capable of conventional exercise…OR if you are intelligent
enough to know you should start out slow….you can get started today with the
exercises in the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume 1.

The exercises in this course open up the breathing spaces of the body. They stretch,
extend and work out all the kinks along your entire spine, a critical source of energy.
And they help you easily and effortlessly loosen up your body, from calf to neck.

They’re easy to learn and do. All it takes is a few minutes per day, and you’ll start to
feel like a new person within a few days.

Performing the movements regularly provides an excellent way to prepare your body
and “re-introduce” yourself to exercising.

Whatever you do, the important thing is to get moving, even if it’s only for 15 or
20 minutes each day. Build some type of activity into your daily routine. Within
a few days, you’ll feel better, have more energy, and enjoy a more positive outlook.

For even more incentive, remind yourself that you are also giving yourself more
years of life.

You Can Do It!

Karen Van Ness

P.S. Even if all you can do is walk around the house a few times, get busy and
get going. Remember Newton’s Law: “A body in motion tends to stay in motion.
A body at rest tends to stay at rest.” If you take the first few steps, you’ll be amazed
at how quickly you can overcome inertia and gain momentum.
Copyright Karen Van Ness 2010

Winning by a Nose

Winning by a nose is a phrase that refers to a really close race or match.

The contestant who wins the race does so by just barely outstretching or outcompeting
their opponent. Figuratively or literally, their nose crosses the finish line first.

Kind of a funny saying. But you can apply it to your breathing and come out a
winner too.

By now we’ve all heard how important it is to breathe through your nose. This is
important for physical reasons. But did you know it’s also important for
psychological reasons?

When we breathe through our nose, the hairs that line the nasal passages filter
out particles of dust and dirt that can harm our lungs. If too much dust or dirt gets
in, the membranes of the nose secrete mucus to trap them, or make you sneeze
to get rid of them.

Breathing through the nose also helps to warm and moisten the air before it
gets to your lungs.

Another very important reason for breathing through your nose is that it helps
balance the ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen in your system.

Breathing through your mouth all the time can lead to a sort of chronic hyperventilation.
This can make any breathing problem or weakness you have even worse. It also
contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Breathing through your nose can have an amazing effect on your psychological
state, especially when exercising.

When you breathe through your mouth, you only inflate the upper two lobes of
the lungs. These lobes are connected to the sympathetic nervous system. This
is the branch that triggers the “fight-or-flight” response.

When you breathe through your nose, you inflate all of the lobes of the lung. And
the lower lobes are connected to the parasympathetic nervous system.

This is the part of the nervous system that calms you down, slows your heart
rate, and helps you relax.

So, nose breathing brings a balance to your system that you simply can’t get with
mouth breathing.

You may not even realize that you’ve been breathing predominantly through your
mouth. You’ll need to pay attention to your breathing. Just stop what you are
doing at various times during the day and check in on yourself.

If you have the mouth breathing habit, you’ll have to work on breathing only through
your nose.

An easy way to do this is to keep your mouth closed, but don’t clench your teeth.
Place the tip of your tongue lightly against the back of your top front teeth (touching
the soft palate).

With a little time and effort, you’ll find it becomes more natural to breathe through
your nose. And you should really feel a difference in your breathing and sense
of control.

It’s more difficult to stick to nose breathing when exercising. It’s natural to breathe
through your mouth when you’re really exerting yourself. But this should be the
exception rather than the rule.

To help you, try this: keep your exertion to a level that allows you to continue
to breathe through your nose. In other words, if you are running, slow down
or walk anytime you feel like you have to breathe through your mouth.

Believe it or not, over time this practice can actually improve your stamina
and physical performance.

It seems counterintuitive: slow down to get better. If you give it a try, you’ll
see what I mean.

So, whether you win by a nose or win by 10 meters, who cares? You’ve won!

You Can Do It!


P.S. To experience the physical AND psychological benefits of breathing more
deeply, fully and completely, try the incredible exercises in the Secret Power of
Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume 1
. After a few minutes with the first
CD, you’ll feel a tremendous difference. Get your copy today!

Copyright Karen Van Ness 2010