Monthly Archives: August 2020

Aloha Yogis,

I think it is very fitting that the final academic class of my career is titled "exercise prescription" - this simply fits. Exercise is medicine. I am in this business to help people. I am a student in this discipline to learn more about how to help people. And I hope I have helped you all, in some way or another. If you are needing the motivation to get moving, I am here for you. Pop into class tomorrow and move your body for 75 minutes. You will feel better.

Exercise and movement, really is a prescription for health. Here are the physical activity-related health benefits for the general population of adults:

Source: Exercise is Medicine.

Sign me up. Unfortunately, 36% of adults engage in no leisure time physical activity. We are supposed to engage in either 150-minutes of moderate physical activity/week or 75-minutes of vigorous physical activity/week. I know, COVID-19 makes things tough. There is a lot you could do from the comfort of your home. For example, yoga with me online (live on Sunday mornings or via youtube), or from one of the many instructors who are teaching online! 

You could do a series of planks and push-ups, add in some balance work and core too. You want to be sure to get your heart rate up though. I need to complete a project this semester for my exercise prescription class and I am thinking of tailoring the project to COVID-19 restrictions. Meaning, I will address issues on how to motivate folks to work out, how to improve adherence to the exercise plan, how to build it properly and safely, all for an at home setting. The entire plan will be evidence-based, and you just might learn more about it in my emails!

You guys are all the experts now. You've been working out at home for six months. I would LOVE to hear from you with any and all of your ideas for this project (tips, tricks, advice, home gym hacks, motivation ideas, adherence, etc.).

Unfortunately, exercise scientists are very aware that the American College of Sports Medicine recommendations do fall a bit short, in that they don't recommend balance work. Balance work is particularly important as we age. We lose our ability to balance, which continues to decline unless we work on it. If we don't work on our balance, it can lead to falls and other issues from there. 

Yoga, the fitness multivitamin.

As far as workouts for health go, yoga is in many ways a safety net catch-all. Yoga is analogous to a multivitamin, but for fitness. We practice so many key movements and challenge our body in various ways, build mobility, strength, cardiorespiratory fitness, and more. Chances are if in your other workouts you've missed some key component of your fitness, you will hit it in your yoga practice.

If I haven't convinced you to get moving and join me for a yoga class yet, now is your chance. I teach every Sunday morning at 8am (HST). Email me for the link to join, I would love to have you in class. Class is donation-based (Venmo: @LauraMary-Flynn).

See you tomorrow!


Happy ALOHA Friday,

Sometimes when things feel hectic, wild, and crazy, you just gotta step outside and look up. It can be that simple, where fresh air and palm trees is all you need.

Take a mindful moment.

Leave the stresses, give your mind and body a true break. And then go back as you were with a refreshed perspective. One that is less inclined to have a knee jerk reaction. Where you will also be more thoughtful in your work and interactions.

Physically, your breath rate will decrease and it might even feel like you've removed a weighted vest. Cognitively, your thinking will be clearer. Emotionally, your mood will be lifted. Spirits? Well, those will feel restored. And how about that once impossible to solve problem? It will now feel possible.

Who should practice mindfulness?

We all benefit from mindfulness. It’s no longer just for the yogis, this is for corporate executives, bankers, athletes, store clerks, scientists, surgeons, your mother, your brother, this is human work.

When we approach our lives holistically from an open mind perspective, the world truly shifts around us. No matter one’s background, we are drawn to grounded individuals. And we are grounded when we are mindful.

I’ve experienced firsthand the personal growth that follows this adoption of a mindfulness practice. My introduction to this way of conscious living was in an academic course at Skidmore College. We practiced yoga, mindful eating, walking meditations, and so on. In any case, it was my very first introduction to the practice of being intentional in the way I live.

What followed was years of working in the hospital and academic research world, many years of yoga practice and teaching, and more schooling than any one person should ever go through. I’ve learned a lot about the body and brain, and the way they work together.

And as complex as my research work can be, one simple truth is that we can all implement effective mindfulness practices, right now.

1. Step outside, look up.
2. Hold that image in your mind.
3. Take several deep breaths.

Taken together, the sunlight or starlit sky, the breaths, the fresh air, the pause in your routine, will calm down your nervous system, your mind and body. Even if you can’t pause and step outside, hold an image in your mind. Make the vision as complete as you can, imagining all the sensations of the moment. Breathe into it.

In a time where we are all cooped up inside, this simple break is even more impactful. I love the work of my friends at Yoga Ed., who bring these practices to life in an accessible way for children.

I shudder to think about the unknown impacts from shelter in place orders and virtual classrooms. I know we are all doing our best, but let’s be better. Implement a mindful moment in your day.

The fall semester begins next Monday, I am teaching academic courses and I will definitely be implementing some mindfulness practices in teaching.

Personally, I crave those mindful moments. My husband is always joking with me about how I enjoy silence. Don't get me wrong, I love music, but I need pockets of silence in my day too.

Chaos breeds opportunity. Cheers to the year 2020, and the growth mindset mentality.

Deep breaths,


Choose Happiness

Aloha Yogis,

I am out of my academic conference bubble, with a very unconventional piece for you today. Well, sort of, in content yes, but in the thesis of my message no. 

Be your best, now.

This should always be what we are striving for, but COVID-19 has reinforced this message more than ever. 

As a public health professional, I feel it's my duty to share some information with you. It seems like a massive public health oversight that known behaviors to promote a healthy immune system aren’t being discussed. We are bombarded with only disempowering news. Day in and day out, we hear COVID is on the rise, no vaccine is ready yet, more deaths due to COVID, and yet no where in the flood of negativity is there a positive takeaway.

And yes, a positive thread of news shouldn't simply be included for mood and morale balancing purposes, but there are actual steps we could all take today to improve our overall health. COVID aside there are behaviors that foster a strong immune system. These practices are even more important right now, considering that we are all living through a pandemic. 

What does the data say?

The evidence is more and more tipping towards the second theory of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality, which is the ‘immunologic collapse’ of the host’s protective system, or the failure to control unrestrained viral replication and dissemination with direct host cytotoxicity. Support for this theory emerged based upon observed progressive and profound lymphopenia (I will explain below, keep reading), often to numbers seen in AIDS.

What are these terms? Lymphocytes?

White blood cells are an important part of the body's defense system. They fight infections and play a role in inflammation, as well as in allergic reactions. Lymphocytes exist in both the blood and the lymphatic system.

There are three different types:

  1. B lymphocytes (B cells) produce antibodies.
  2. T lymphocytes (T cells) recognize foreign substances and process them for removal.
  3. Natural killer cells (NK cells) directly attack and kill abnormal cells such as cancer cells or viruses.

What is lymphopenia?

This is a reduced amount of white blood cells in your blood. During an infection, such as COVID-19, white blood cells attack, attach to, and help induce the production and secretion of chemicals that help fight the virus. An important pathogenic mechanism of COVID-19 is impaired immune competence.

Considering the recently published data on COVID-19 and the immune system, shouldn’t we be reading about ways to proactively bolster our immune systems? The reality is we may get COVID. Hopefully not, but if we do, we all want to beat it, right? We want our body to be in peak form, so we have the ability to fight the virus, right? 

Immune System Strengthening 101:

1. Get enough sleep.

2. In the words of Michael Pollen, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Personally, I eat a lot. It is all veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc. If you splurge on non-plant foods, follow the ‘not too much’ rule of thumb. 

3. Drink water, a lot of it, often, and especially first thing in the morning. 

4. Exercise. Light to moderate exercise seems to do the trick. 

5. Related to #4, stand up every hour. We are all on Zoom every day, which makes it easy to stay seated and not move. Be sure to get up and walk around every hour, do 30-seconds of squats or push-ups, or if all you can do in the moment is stand, stand! Avoid sedentary behavior, standing up will help move lymph, facilitate blood flow and muscle contraction. 

6. Get your vitamin D. There is already evidence associating optimal vitamin D levels to better COVID outcomes. We need vitamin D, always, but especially right now.

7. Calm the nervous system. Practice yoga, meditate, sit quietly, journal, etc.

8. I am not a huge supplement advocate, but it is a good time to take a multivitamin, just in case you are missing something from your diet. 

My thesis also happens to be my life mantra: be your best, now. Love yourself like you love your family and friends. I can help with a few items on the list above, if you want to join me “live” tomorrow for my Sunday Yoga Flow, I would LOVE to see you!

Stay healthy,


P.S. email me for the recent publications on this topic.

Aloha Yogis!

Happy August, oh my, we have made it so far in this quarantine struggle. I hope you are staying healthy, happy, and are making the most of this time. True story I have about 1,000 blog post ideas these days from muscle cramping to the benefits of downdog for shoulder health to the benefits of apple cider vinegar for overall health, but most of my time is spent hunkering down and writing all about the brain for my dissertation.

In my Goal Chaser Series this Summer, one of my students asked me what my goals were, and truthfully, they are all academic this year.

Mission: write the damn dissertation, publish, and graduate!

In other news, I am presenting next week at the American Society of Biomechanics Annual Meeting. The conference was supposed to be in Atlanta, GA but it is now virtual, thanks COVID-19. I am really excited to attend, and even more thrilled to present.

I am presenting my work on a processing paper I’ve written with some colleagues. It is actually quite technical. Initially, I thought it was beyond the scope of my knowledge, but I am grateful that I challenged myself to learn the intricacies of processing.

Here is the gist: I processed the biomechanical outputs of two of the “hottest” variables (knee adduction moment and dynamic knee varus angle) on the same nine patients in four different ways. One of the processing methods yields wildly different outcomes compared to the other three. Clinically, this is confusing.

Why should anyone care, you say?

The paper speaks to the need for authors to specify their data processing methodology, because processed one way it would appear the surgery was a huge failure; however, processed the other three ways it appears the surgery was an immediate and long term success. Because with total knee arthroplasty, clinical decisions are made based on the outcomes of biomechanical analyses, it is actually some important work!

Don't researchers always think their work is important though?

Don't worry, I am not oblivious to this truth. Needless to say, my mind is deeply steeped in the research world right now, I will let you know how the presentation goes! In the meantime, I am still recording yoga classes, but have run into a minor YouTube upload hiccup. If any tech readers want to lend a hand, I am all ears! Hopefully, I have more classes for you soon! It has been fun hearing from those of you who have taken my online classes! I definitely recommend the Foundations Yoga Class for beginners! I will include the link below.

As always, if you would like to join me “live” tomorrow for my Sunday Yoga Flow, I would LOVE to see you! It is seriously the best start to the week, sweating out all the worries on the yoga mat. Looking forward to tomorrow's big exhale.

Until tomorrow,


P.S. this is a photo of me with all of our 31 retroreflective markers on as we were going to collect some pilot data.