Tortoise Power! The secret to living a long and healthy life.

My very first pet, growing up in Mexico City, was a tortoise. I think I asked my parents for something softer and furrier like a puppy or a rabbit. At the tender age of three, I was totally ready to upgrade Toto (my stuffed; rainbow dragon) to something more lively and cuddly. However, my parents didn’t think I was emotionally ready for a live, cuddly, pet at that time. So they got me a tortoise instead–the complete opposite of soft, furry, and cuddly. I named him Julio. He lived in my grandma’s jardín, mostly hanging out near the raised garden beds. I would visit Julio in the mornings, feed him veggies, and try my best to enjoy petting his hard, scaly, shell. Julio, lasted about a week under my watch. One morning he was in the garden sunbathing, the next day he was gone. I was sad he left me so abruptly. Where could he have gone? …
A few days ago, I was sitting on the back porch of Mozart’s Cafe, drinking an iced tea. I was sitting there with my friend Mandy, trying to figure out my next writing topic. The Wi-Fi was taking forever to connect, so I decided to take a breather to look away from my screen and glance over the beautiful backdrop that is Lake Austin. Sitting there contemplating, I noticed two turtles swimming in the lake

Turtles swimming
Turtles swimming
How peaceful they looked just gliding in the water. Most people, should take the time to slow down go with the flow, and enjoy life like turtles (plus, I heard they live like a 100 years, they must be doing something right?). And then I had that AHA Moment-I’m going to write about turtles and tortoises on my next post!
A little lowdown on turtles and tortoises (just learned there is a difference between the two creatures). They are all reptiles and they all have shells; however, the main difference between them is turtles live in water, tortoises live on land. Turtles typically have a life span of 20-40 years (not 100 like I originally thought, my bad) whereas tortoises live 80-150 years. The oldest one living today is a tortoise named Jonathan, going strong at 183 years of age! Also, tortoises are mostly herbivores and turtles tend to be omnivores. Interesting.
So WHY do tortoises live such a long time? And what does it have anything to do with you and me? Let me explain first by declaring…
I love Bikram yoga! Today marked my #444th class today since 2011; (I like nerding out on data by logging numbers, if you can’t already tell) when I started going to the Pure Bikram studios in Austin, TX. The 20th posture of the 26 posture sequence series involves a yoga pose, aptly named , Half Tortoise Pose (Ardha-Kurmasana).
Half-tortoise pose  PC: Ron Natal
Half-tortoise pose
PC: Ron Natal

“By training us to slow our breathing and relax, Half Tortoise Pose can actually help us to live longer—in fact, longevity is Tortoise’s number one benefit. Think about it: The tortoise is the longest living animal on Earth…Why? Because it’s the slowest-breathing creature on Earth. Each inhale and each exhale is 2 minutes long; it’s like a meditation in itself. We do ourselves good when we imitate the Tortoise; 30 seconds in this posture can provide the same benefits to the body as sleeping for a full eight hours. You can get this restorative, relaxing effect by practicing Tortoise at any time, even in bed”
–Bikram Choudry, p.187 Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment.
Basically, you too can start adding years to your life-expectancy by slowing down, practicing yoga, deepening your inhales and lengthening your exhales. How amazing is that?!!
I will never know if Julio ever made his great escape by digging himself into a deep, underground burrow in my grandma’s garden, becoming recluse by pulling a Bobby Fischer on me somewhere down in Mexico. Or if he skipped town in search of a better flower bed? Wherever he is, I hope he is happy, breathing…taking a moment to slow down and enjoy life.

15 Rules Fit Women Always Follow

My first post! So excited to share my first post with you. Yesterday, I woke up to some amazing news. I found out that Brit + Co featured me in their article, “15 Rules Fit Women Always Follow” written by Krista Gray.

Krista interviewed incredibly healthy, strong, inspirational women to publish. The list included Jillian Michaels of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, ToneITUP.com founders Karena and Katrina, and Jilian Lorenze, co-founder of The Barre Code. I was (lucky) #7 tip.

I loved all of the tips given. Especially, tip number five from dance instructor, Allie Gavin. I highly recommend you go through the list and find those that resonate with you. Check out the post here.

My tip was to save time for stretching. I know this might sound glaringly obvious coming from a yoga teacher. But it is very important for everyone to do it regularly!

Back when I first started training for my first marathon in 2004, I was so focused on logging training miles (into an already busy schedule) that I often skipped stretching at the end. This was a BIG MISTAKE! I did cross the finish line, however, not without knee injuries, back problems, and tight hamstrings as a result of not stretching.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Make sure you include stretching daily. Even if it’s just a few seated twists at your desk, shoulder rolls, or side bends. Do it. Your body will thank you. And if you add mindful breathing to it, inhaling deeply while holding the stretch, you are stretching smartly. Which essentially, is one of the secrets to true yoga-connecting with your breath.