At Play

By: Cris Caivano

The blog At Play will help you get moving and get in shape. Learn how to move your body with more power, strength and grace.


Nov 30, 2011
The other day someone told me, “I don’t deal with change very easily.” That person must have a very difficult time of it, since change is the essence of being alive. It pays to learn to observe, embrace, and even be grateful for changes, since, after all, what is our choice?

In Yoga class recently I overheard the teacher tell another student “Your muscle is cramping? Congratulations, you’re alive.” I thought her comment was a riot, and so true. The fact that we are living, breathing (when we’re not too much in our heads, that is) organisms means that our bodies are in a constant state of flux. The changes


The body can alert us to stressful situations that we may not have caught onto with our brain alone.

that continually occur might be as obvious as a muscle cramping in response to an unfamiliar work load, or as imperceptible as the constant transformations that occur throughout the body on the cellular level; change is happening all the time.

The body is an excellent harbinger of the internal shifts and alterations that occur as we go about our lives, and can alert us to stressful situations that we may not have caught onto with our brain alone. For example, when you catch yourself grinding your teeth, or clenching your hands, you can pretty much be assured that you are STRESSED. “Duh,” you’re probably thinking. Okay, but what about when your shoulders are tight? Or your lower back? Or how about when you feel exhausted and inert, even though you had eight hours of sleep and know that you aren’t sick? Those can all be signs of stress, too. It pays to be attentive, in a non-judgmental way, to all the ways your body feels as you enter into this mother of all stressful situations, the Holiday Season.

Fun, exciting and pleasurable events can be stressful, too. Stress is stress, as far as the body is concerned and, to some extent, so-called “good stress” is managed with the same cascade of glucocorticoid, or stress-responsive hormones, as the “bad stress.” Overload your circuits for too long, either in merriment and celebration or in angry resentment, and something is going to give out: it might be be your cheerful disposition, or your immune system, or it might be your back.

If you find yourself stressing out from the obligations, irritations or the simple effort of dealing with the changes that are upon you, remember that all it takes to downshift from “Yikes!” to “Ahhh…” is a deep, slow, easy, mindful breath or two. If things are really getting to you, go hide somewhere quiet and private for five minutes and simply breathe mindfully and fully until you can feel your body let down its guard.

There is a big change happening with this blog, too. This is the last entry I will be making for an undetermined time. When I do resume the blog, chances are it will not be on the site, but through my own website,  I will certainly keep you posted. If you are not already on my contact list and would like to be included, just email me at, and I will be happy to include you in the alert, once I begin publishing again. That is also an address where you may continue to send any questions or comments, and I will respond, blog or no blog.

Special thanks to my pal and wonderful former editor at, Thom Forbes. Thom has a strong and important vision for incorporating fitness into the area of recovery, and it is thanks to him that I have been able to share my thoughts with you via this blog.

Last but not least, thanks to you for reading my blog during the past year. I am always so surprised when someone tells me “Hey, I liked your blog last week” since, as my brother says, “I’m kind of like a DJ: I spin the records, but can’t be sure who is listening.”

Happy holidays everyone. May you learn to love the changes. Keep enjoying your exercise, too, and thanks so much for sharing your time and thoughts and energy with me. I hope you will keep in touch!


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