Category Archives: health and fitness

Getting Healthy With Yoga

People have always believed that yoga can do more for your body than just keeping it fit and flexible. Research now shows it can help weight control, lower back pain, insomnia and even heart disease. Studies indicate yoga helps with weight loss and maintenance. In a study of 15,000 adults, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that those who did not practice yoga gained approximately 18.5 pounds more over a 10-year period than those who practiced for at least four years. There was also a study done at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California. This study found people who regularly practiced yoga and meditation, exercised and watched their diet lost more weight than those who exercised, and ate a balanced diet, but did not practice yoga.

Additionally Yoga can improve your range of motion in your hips, reducing lower back pain. A study done at The American College of Sport’s Medicine, suggest that yoga increases lower back flexibility and decreases pain. It was a small study conducted on older women age 44-62. Persistent back pain however should always be professional diagnosed before embracing on any exercise program including yoga. Yoga’s backbends and forward bends may exacerbate some back conditions.

Yoga can also calm your body and your mind, which can help people who suffer from insomnia. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD., an instructor of medicine, division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School recently published a study. He found a half hour to 45 minutes of daily yoga practice with a focus on meditation and breathing, helped chronic insomniacs sleep through the night. The subjects increased their overall sleep by 12%.

Yoga breathing can help lower your heart rate and calm your nervous system. The breathing techniques can help alleviate serious anxiety and depression and reduce stress. Practicing yoga for an hour and a half three times a week can make your heart healthier in just six weeks. A recent study out of Yale University School of Medicine had 33 men and women who practiced yoga at that rate. This lowered their blood pressure and improved their blood vessels’ ability to expand and contract by 17%. Researchers believe the improvements are based on the stress-reducing benefits of yoga.

Finding Balance And Health With Yoga

Have you heard about the Gunas? No, they are not Disney characters! According to yoga there are three basic qualities or energies that make up everything. They are, rajas, tamas and sattva.

Rajas is the energy of action, change and movement. Rajas is the fuel of passion and fire. Rajasic energy is also associated with the day light hours. We obviously need rajasic energy to create energy to move successfully throughout our world and lives. When we have too much rajasic energy we might appear to the outside world as extremely busy, go go go, do do do! Does this sound like you? Maintaining a high degree of rajasic energy leads to burn out! When rajas is out of balance the mind and body are overstimulated, the mind becomes restless and you experience a lot of uncontrollable thoughts.

Foods that are rajasic include: spicy food, fried foods, coffee / caffeinated beverages/ stimulants/ fish, eggs, chocolate, foods that are very bitter, sour, dry and salty. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic

Tamas can be thought of as the opposite of rajas. Tamasic energy is associated with a state of inactivity and inertia, heaviness and darkness. When tamas is out of balance your ability to reason becomes clouded and you might experience the darker emotions such as anger or greed. Just as there is more rajasic energy present in daylight hours, tamasic energy is present during nighttime. People who are very tamasic might be depressed or appear lazy. Generally speaking disease states are tamasic.

Examples of tamasic food include: meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, fermented foods – vinegar or strong cheese, stale food or over ripe food, overly processed food or chemically treated. Overeating is considered tamasic.

Sattva is energy that is in a state of harmony and balance. Positive mental and emotional states of joy and intelligence are associated with sattva. A person who was experiencing a lot of sattvic energy would appear very happy. Sattvic energy also is consistent with healing states and in Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) sattvic energy is actively cultivated. Sattvic energy is most present during the times between light and dark- in other words dusk and dawn. A person on the yogic path is focused on developing sattva and for this reason yoga asana and meditation are classically performed at these times.

Foods that are sattvic include: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, pure fruit juice, legumes, milk, butter, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey and herb teas.

It is important to realize that we all have all three gunas within us. And while this is true we tend to have a predominant guna. Based on the descriptions above can you figure out what yours is? It is good to be aware of this because once you are aware of your predominant guna then you can predict how might react to certain life circumstances as well know your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll know when you will tend to be thrown out of balance and what you will need to do to bring yourself back into balance.

You also might have times in our lives when one guna is more active then another. Perhaps you have very active time and very productive (rajasic). Or a period when you have been depressed (tamasic). Or a time when we are very balanced and in tune with your spirituality (satvic).

Another way the gunas show up in our lives and directly effect us is through the food we eat. Consider for a minute the average American diet with overly processed and chemically treated foods which are very tamasic. Modern science now confirms that these food items are directly linked to major illnesses including cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. As mentioned above too much tamasic energy leads to disease states. We also know that foods in their whole form such as grains, fresh fruits and vegetables (sattvic foods) are life sustaining and bring health and energy.

Do you practice yoga postures (asana)? How do the gunas show up here? Is your asana practice fiery and passionate? Was your practice was slow and lazy? Or was it balanced?

It is probably becoming clear to you by now that to be healthy, happy, and live a balance life it is important to cultivate sattva in your life. This can be done by:

Reducing rajas and tamas
Becoming aware of when you are out of balance- which guna seems most present?
Increase activities and environments that produce positive thoughts
Eating a healthy, sattvic oriented diet
Certain herbs (subject for another article)
The practice of yoga: pranayama (breathing practices), asana (postures), meditation

Going gaga over yoga

Pop icon Madonna is probably one of the most popular bi-products of commercialized yoga. Since she started to come out with that toned and buffed figure, women all over the world wanted to know what kind of diet she has been doing. When she revealed that she has been on her journey of self-discovery and has found a new source of spirituality, she also revealed her secret in maintaining her almost eternal youth look—practicing yoga that is.

But, aside from staying fit through practicing of yoga there is so much more about the discipline that people should know.

THE TRUTH ABOUT YOGA

Before becoming gaga over yoga, you should familiarize yourself first about what yoga really is, its origin, the many underlying premises behind the discipline and how can you benefit from it. Let’s start first by defining the foreign word that is yoga. Basically, the word “yoga” is rooted from a language of ancient India where it is originated—the Sanskrit. “Yoga,” in Sanskrit, means “union or joining.” It can either be a union that occurs between the mind and the spirit, between the body and the spirit or a joining of the mind, body and spirit as a whole.

But, the term “yoga” can be accurately defined by another Sanskrit word “asana” – the practice of physical poses or postures. Although “asana” is only one of the eight known types of yoga, both terms are now being taken as one because since both of them are concerned with mental and spiritual well being than in purely physical activity.

Since yoga has been packaged for the Western culture, it is now best described as a general term that includes various disciplines. And now, yoga is more popularly known to people as a form of discipline that varies from one concept to another. The term yoga is now also viewed as a discipline that deals with purely physical abstraction to purely spiritual conquest and to just about everything in between. If you are thinking of practicing yoga to improve your life, you must know hoe to convert its underlying possibilities to your own satisfaction.

THE ULTIMATE YOGA BASICS

If you are really interested with yoga, you should be willing to learn almost everything about it. First of all, you should define why you need it.

Some of the many different styles of yoga that being taught and practiced today include “hatha ,” the slow-paced and gentle style; “vinyasa,” the breath-synchronized movement style; “ashtanga,” the fast-paced and intense style of yoga practice; “iyengar,” bodily alignment style, “kundalini,” the breath in conjunction with physical movement style; and “bikram” or “hot yoga” which is practiced in a 95-100 degree room allowing the loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating.

Aside from being an effective stress and anxiety reducer, practicing of yoga is also proven to increase strength, create energy, build and tone muscles, improve focus, concentration, and posture, reduce blood pressure, improve memory, and relieve pain.

Another basic thing you should know about yoga is that it requires an exertion or force through different poses. Done through the performance of poses, most people might think that yoga is just about stretching, utmost concentration and weird poses. True, you see people practicing yoga doing some sort of “acrobatic” stunts, but those stretching are not just simple flexing of muscles: these are creative processes that balance the body to develop agility, flexibility and strength. Since each pose has a specific physical benefit, the poses in yoga can be done in succession to create heat in the body through movement that will build-up an increase in stamina.

Facts About Chakra Awakening

Chakra awakening is highly a debatable topic, with two distinctly different schools of thought. The answer could be, “Yes” or “No”, depending upon which school of thought you are trained in.

Firstly, let’s cover the side that would say, “Yes” to helping you share the experience of Chakra awakening. There is no shortage of detailed information, made available by enlightened Yoga enthusiasts like Anodea Judith.

Anodea Judith has made a Chakra balancing kit available, which gives a tour of the seven main Chakra system, detailed exercises, meditations, a workbook, and the path to Chakra awakening. She also has more books available, confers with other enlightened Yoga enthusiasts, and teaches workshops on this very subject.

There are many other books and CD’s on this subject by a variety of knowledgeable authors and enlightened Yoga practitioners. All of this information is easy for the public to “get their hands on.” So, here is a school of thought that believes this information should be shared and has gone out of its way to mass produce this information.

On the other hand, some Yoga teachers do not want the negative and positive qualities, within each Chakra, to be casually explored by students, without a competent Yoga teacher present. This is with the student’s safety in mind.

Furthermore, the amount of previous Yoga experience a student has is a factor in being able to control emotions, such as fear, lust, anger, and depression that can come boiling to the surface as a result of a Chakra awakening.

When, or if, a student is ready for Chakra awakening, should be determined by the teacher; this is not for every student. Some students put pressure on themselves, which may lead to anxiety, causing negative qualities of the Chakras to surface, during an awakening.

In summary: One of the results of steady Yoga training is that we can get a better handle on our emotions than most. We also realize that we are not enlightened or perfect all the time. If you want to experience Chakra awakening with an enlightened Yoga enthusiast, you should seek out a competent Yoga teacher, who is willing to help you.

You could also get similar guidance from a Reiki teacher or Reiki master. Reiki teachers are very familiar with the Chakra system and very helpful. If it is not possible to work with a Reiki master, and you have been regularly practicing Yoga for at least two years, the Chakra balancing kit, I mentioned above, gives you step-by-step guidance toward awakening the Chakras.

Lastly, this is not a race, and please don’t put pressure on yourself toward self-perfection.

Find Your Way To Lose Pounds With Yoga

We all know that overweight along with obesity are for centuries no longer a fashion trend, instead it has even attracted many illnesses and problems to health. Yoga as a concept is simply “The art of living” that always provides us with solutions for mental concentration. A way to stay active and is also an opportunity to keep a positive force for the body and the mind. It provides us ways to lose weight.

Overweight issues have increased dramatically as our lives become faster, problematic and hard to handle, even considered by many an unavoidable state. Thanks to the increment of food our scrap paunch had increased and we spend a lot of energy to sustain it.

To adopt Yoga like atool to lose weight is a good option that considers all the aspects of obesity (mental, physical and emotional). It is agility and efficiency in the person and it can be for people of any age. It helps to obtain the control of our minds and behaviors including the feeding habits.

It is always advisable to study the reasons and the symptoms of obesity before beginning with the treatment. It provides us an advantage to have a better understanding of our body and to correct the frequent errors that we fight day by day.

The most common symptoms are clearly the increment of weight and feeding, frustration, emotional deficiencies and mental stress.

All those conditions mentioned before are the main causes people tend to quit their journey to lose weight, so try to keep in mind that Yoga can help you go through this conditions. Yoga has a very important role play in the treatment against the obesity and the technical effects of the internal glands as much as the mental conditions of a person.

Eight Amazing Benefits of Teaching Yoga

Every challenging occupation yields some sort of satisfaction, but the fitness professionals industry had an amazing 85% job satisfaction rate according to an Idea Health & Fitness survey.

Job Satisfaction

In the same survey, 98% of those interviewed felt that “My work gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment.” Lack of personal satisfaction is the most frequent reason why people leave a job. These statistics make it obvious that this is an extremely harmonious atmosphere to work in.

For many of us who worked in the corporate world and shifted into the health and fitness industry, the energy felt in a health club, ashram, or wellness center is similar to being on vacation.

There’s always something to do, but the job itself is very gratifying.
Rewards of Helping Family, Friends, Students, and Co-workers
Your self esteem improves as you find solutions for the pain management of others, ailments, fitness, stress management, positive thinking, etc.

The list goes on, as you continue your own journey of self improvement, but the feeling of gratification you get from helping someone find the right path, is beyond words.

You will always remember: That student who reaches their ideal body weight, the physically impaired student who finds that they, too, can live a better quality life, and the student who leaves your class without the headache or backache they came in with.

Your Own Health

As a practitioner of Yoga, you have become more aware of your daily ups and downs. You monitor your breath, posture, moods, diet, and exercise on a daily basis.

As a Yoga teacher, you are setting an example to your students and teaching them to live a quality life. This path will enable you to live longer and live better.

There is no Shortage of Work

When the working world is in the “9 to 5” mode, you have many opportunities with Corporate Accounts, The Fitness Industry, Senior Centers, Medical
Centers, Referrals, etc. This is when you to teach them, with any free time you have.

Once I became totally self-employed, there were more daytime off-site Yoga teaching opportunities than I had time for in a geographic area that has many active Yoga teachers and studios. One of my best students, who became a Yoga teacher through our on-site program, inherited an area that I could no longer service due to time restraints.

The object is to contact them. This is where your post cards come in handy, if you don’t have a personal referral.

Continuing Education

Yes, learning new things keeps your mind stimulated and healthy. You will never tire of subjects to study, explore, and investigate. There are so many facets of Yoga, that one life span, is just not enough time to learn it all.

It’s not a race, but it is a journey. You will find friends, colleagues, and students who are on the same path. This makes giving, receiving, and sharing a wonderful thing along the way.

Time

You will have time to stop, think, breathe, relax, or meditate. You can always fill your plate beyond its limits, but you no longer have to.

You can determine whether or not you will be stuck in traffic during rush hour. You decide what hours you will work and what days you have off. You will come to the realization that your time is your own.

Independence

Everyone wants control of their own life, but very few achieve it. Being in business for yourself, can help you control your own destiny and that of your family.

Sure there are limits to what one person can accomplish, but it is better to try than to have never tried.

Success

No matter what you want, if you write down your short-term and long-term goals, you will make great progress toward them.

You should keep these goals in a place where you can see them daily and visualize yourself accomplishing your goals. You should be specific about time frames and ethical methods used to meet them. You can even use them in meditation.

Review your long-term goals at least once every season and every year.
Review your short-term goals daily. You will see yourself make rapid success
in this way.

Lastly, goals do not have to be material at all. For example: You may want to start teaching Yoga in a year, and the following year, get a part-time Yoga teaching position. This type of goal setting is realistic and beneficial to mankind.

That is the key – If you choose a goal that will benefit others, you will surely achieve it.

Feel Great with Bikram Yoga

Hot Yoga or what is also known as Bikram Yoga is getting more and more popular. So what are the benefits of this form of Yoga?

Some of the many benefits of Bikram Yoga include, body strengthening, building endurance and emotional balance as well as improving your health. Some of these benefits can be contributed to the use of heat while performing the posture series.

With the help of a heated room, you are able to get into your postures better, and your muscles stretch more readily. In a heated room you will also find that you will lose weight more rapidly if this is your goal. Another advantage is that your metabolism speeds up and this helps to breakdown glucose and fatty acids.

The heat also helps to move oxygen to your body tissue and organs, which promotes healing as well as aids in removing harmful toxins. Another great benefit of Bikram Yoga is unlike many other forms of Yoga; it will raise your heart rate and promote cardiovascular health.
Beyond the obvious benefits of Yoga, this form has been known to actually help repair damaged tissue and ligaments as well as helping to cure those who are plagued with chronic ailments.

The health benefits alone may be a good reason to try Bikram Yoga, but this is by far not the only benefit to this form of Yoga. There are many others, including a means in which we can find balance in our lives.
Additional areas in which Bikram Yoga may be helpful include, relieving stress. This is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Stress can be a killer and the better we learn to manage our stress, the better our health can be.
The endurance required in Bikram Yoga helps you to learn how to focus your energies. This is undoubtedly a good trait to master. The better we can focus in our everyday lives, the more we can accomplish and the better we will feel about ourselves.
Though Bikram Yoga is not necessarily a highly spiritual form of Yoga, it can help in spiritual transformation. When we feel better about ourselves, it is easier to reach to a higher spiritual self.

Bikram Yoga is a wonderful form of Yoga, but it may not be for everyone. Essentially, the postures can be performed by most anyone of any age, though you may find it difficult at first unless you are in good shape and have a high tolerance for heat. It might be a good idea to begin with Hatha Yoga first and then move on to Bikram Yoga. Once you have mastered Hatha Yoga, you can be fairly certain you are ready for Bikram Yoga.
Once you reach the point that you feel you are ready to begin Bikram Yoga, you may be truly astounded by how good you begin to feel.

Enjoying Yoga to Live Healthy Aging

Yoga is a sort of exercise. Yoga assists one with controlling various aspects of the body and mind. Yoga helps you to take control of your Central Nervous System (CNS) and more. Enjoying yoga on a daily scale will build you up, which you will notice changes (Good changes), such as a boosted self-esteem. Your body will feel stronger also. For more than 5000 years, people have enjoyed yoga. Yoga derived from the India nations, which many believed that the act has helped millions of American citizens take control of their body and mind. Yoga has proven to reduce stress, which promotes the nervous system helping it to stay strong. Yoga when enjoyed on a regularly scale is a great method to help you with many pressures. Yoga combines spirituality, exercise, positive thinking, breathing and so on to help you enjoy healthy aging.

The Pros and Cons in Yoga:
Yoga is a valued practice for many people worldwide. Yoga incorporates fitness, health, gymnastics, and training in a set of rules. Yoga helps you to maintain or loose weight. Yoga is a stress reducing machine. Yoga will train your mind, since it teaches you to control your thoughts through meditation and breathing. Breathing right is essential to yoga’s creators. When you practice yoga, it keeps you in contact with your inner self. You learn to balance your mind and body, which leads to good health. Your emotions are controlled as well, which means fears, doubts, and other negative influences will not take control of your life. Rather you will have control. As you practice yoga, you will feel comfortable with you and the people around you. The world will become yours, since you learn to communicate effectively and stop sweating the small stuff. The cons in yoga, includes that some types of yoga training is not right for everyone. Another con inside yoga is that you sometimes have to modify the workouts to benefit your body type and to withhold the workout suited for your strengths. This is not a con necessarily, but it can be if you have to figure out where beginners start.

How to get started:
The first thing you should do is see your family doctor. Make sure you are able to enjoy the type of yoga you choose. When your doctor approves of your choice of yoga steps start out slowly. Guide your way into mediate exercising. Yoga will put you in connection with your spiritual side, so prepare to find a new you. When you first start yoga, perhaps you would benefit from joining groups that practice yoga. The group sessions may inspire you to continue your journey to healthy aging. Having support is essential for all of us, which yoga groups can become your support team. If you cannot find a group in your area, visit your local library. You can also purchase books that train you how to enjoy yoga. Videos are available as well.

Where do I go after I’ve trained in yoga?
After you have taking the steps to get started, you will need to find a quiet area that makes you feel comfortable. You want to avoid interruptions while practicing yoga.

When will I notice the change in me?
Like everything in life, you will not notice a change in you right away. It takes time to notice or feel the changes. If you do this like your suppose to do on a regular basis you will see some changes gradually. Keep in mind that yoga is teaching you how to control your mind, body and emotions. Work with yoga and yoga will work with you.

Go ahead and Relax-Yoga’s way

If you go to the zoo or tune your TV to the Discovery channel, an observance of nature will show us that animals love relaxation and sleep. They often relax and get as much sleep as they want.

Rest and sleep are essential to recharge our nervous energy as our physical, emotional and mental balance depends on the quantity and quality of these vital necessities.

With the stress of our daily jobs, traffic while commuting to and from these jobs, schools, studies, parenting etc having a relaxation technique to fall back on will be indispensable for any and everyone.

Thanks to Yoga, such a technique is well within reach. It is known friends as the Corpse or Relaxation Pose.

It mostly involves lying motionless while applying a combination of deep square breathing and mental suggestions.

This following pose/exercise will show you how.

Technique:

-Lay motionless on your back with the arms and legs slightly extended.
-Start off by breathing deeply in counts of 5 that being in a ratio of 5:5:5
(inhalation-retention-exhalation)
-After a few minutes of this, begin to make what is defined as auto suggestions
to the limbs starting from the toes by mentally affirming that “My toes are hereby relaxed, My feet are hereby relaxed” etc…working upwards to the head and internally through the internal organs.
-After several minutes of this, resume the deep square breathing for about 2-3 minutes.
-Next, begin to mentally chant this Yogic quote: “I am that pure consciousness or self” (You may substitute this with a verse from the books of your religious faith for example: “Those who wait upon God shall renew their strength” or any energizing quote for that matter like a simple “I am being relaxed and energized at this moment…”
-Continue mentally affirming this phrase for several minutes, then roll over to your right side and remain motionless while all the while maintaining the 5:5:5 breathing schedule for an additional minute.
-Finally, arise from the position.

Personally, I employ the use of a timed metronome or the steady tick of a nearby wall clock to keep time and sequence. Moreover, I often practice spurts of this technique during my yoga session and a full 15 minutes afterwards. At the office, I sometimes just sit back in the chair and apply the deep breathing and autosuggestions mostly with my eyes closed.

However, one truth remains, whenever one needs to relax, this simple Yogic technique does offer a safe and effective means of attaining this.

I always tell people: “Hey if it is said God took a break on the 7th day after making the world, who are we as humans not to take time out to rest?”
That said, empower yourself with the knowledge of this technique offered by Yoga whenever you need time to just relax.

Fitness Yoga Accessories For Yoga Exercises

There are many accessories for Yoga exercises that will serve to make you more comfortable, and help you achieve the most benefit from every Yoga pose that you achieve. Some of the accessories are considered to be props, but there are various mats that will prove to be beneficial to. There are many books written on Yoga that would make perfect accessories to refer to while learning and practicing Yoga.

One of the most common accessories for Yoga will be the apparel and clothing that is worn when going through the various poses of Yogo. Since Yoga is for developing a zest for living through meditation and exercise, the apparel worn for Yogo must be comfortable enough to be worn all day long. Yogo wear is casual wear and for those with busy lives it can also be considered active wear.

There are spiritual charms that can be worn as accessories for yoga because the Yoga experience is based on developing the spiritual side of our being. There are Yoga T-shirts that are designed to make you feel good about yourself and the changes that are occurring in both your mind and your body at the same time. Many of the Yoga shorts are stylish enough for wearing out on the town.

The accessories for Yoga exercises include blankets that can be placed on the floor to make your body comfortable. There are benches that you can use while meditating that provide for comfort and the cushions that are on the benches will also mold to your body to provide a better barrier to lean against when any type of stretching or deep breathing exercises are needed.

The straps used in Yoga are accessories for Yoga stretches, and when used correctly the straps will also help a person maintain a pose for a longer period of time than they would be able to if they did not use this type of accessory. Some people prefer to use sandbags during their workout because they find the added weight helps them to develop toned muscles at a faster rate.

The Yoga balls are often used by people at home for their own personal exercise program. Using the Yoga balls will be difficult at first because they do tend to roll when you least expect them to, but as with any Yoga exercise, controlling muscles takes time and with time, people are able to balance and stretch further with the balls than they ever have before.

All of the accessories used in Yoga will fit into a Yoga bag. These handy bags have been designed to accommodate the width of a Yoga mat and are equipped with plenty of space to store smaller objects. The Yoga mat will provide a center stage for all exercise and it will serve as a focal point during all Yoga meditations and routines. There are massage accessories for Yoga which often helps the body to relax too.