Tag Archives: flexibility

Four Ways to Gain More Flexibility in 2014 (Including One That May Surprise You)

Flexibility is often overlooked,  but it’s one of the most important areas to focus on while increasing your level of physical fitness. After all, it’s been among the benchmarks for measuring fitness on the Presidential Physical Fitness Test for years! Having good flexibility is beneficial to the mind and body alike and can help prevent injuries, improve posture and range of motion in our joints, and increase overall physical fitness, just to name a few.

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When you think of flexibility, stretching is probably the first thing that comes to mind. And, unfortunately, stretching seems to be thing that that so many of us focus the least amount of attention on in our workouts. Warming-up and cooling-down properly before and after exercise are very important and aid in better flexibility, but it can also be focused on during a workout.

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Saturday Morning Drill: Gentle Springtime Yoga for Flexibility

The weather is finally warming up, which means we’re all gearing up to get outside and exercise more. For many, this means strapping on the tennishoes and getting out for for a run. I’m hoping to do so myself as running is one of my absolute favorite activities to do outside, especially in the springtime.

With increased exercise often comes soreness and tight muscles, which requires a proper stretch and adequate rest for our bodies. Our solution? A gentle yoga routine that will help you slow down, breathe, get re-centered and give your muscles a good stretch. Stretching is not only important for preventing injury, but it also keeps our bodies limber and flexible to complete all of the activities we love to do – indoor and out.

This 8-move yoga routine was designed by our own Jill Lawson, a certified yoga instructor in Colorado. We recommend getting into some yoga-appropriate attire, finding a good place to practice, and then reading through all of the instructions before jumping in. Doing so will allow you to practice the movements fluidly, and ensure you do them properly to avoid injury.

View Saturday Morning Drills: Yoga for Flexibility Slideshow

You Can Have Better Sex by Valentine’s Day – Our Experts Show You How

A lot goes in to a good sex life, and for women it can be more of a mind game with our conscience than anything else: Are my legs shaved? How’s my breath? Am I bloated? What’s he really think of my naked body? It’s common for women to over analyze things and want everything to be perfect to be “in the mood,” but that can be the biggest antagonist of them all.

We’ve got four weeks to get you ready for a romping good Valentine’s Day night. So follow these four key tasks our experts have identified to help you work on body image, toning, flexibility, and a little weight loss. There’s a good chance you’ll be the one wanting to skip dinner and head straight to the sheets…

Body Image

We all have insecurities about our bodies, but realize how important a positive body image is for enhancing our sex lives.

“Even without changing your body, learning to love it (or parts of it) can do wonders for you in the bedroom,” says Brooke Randolph, LMHC, our resident mental health expert. “If you hate your body and want to hide it, it’s hard to really relax and be tuned into your partner and what you’re experiencing. When you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to not only try to seduce your partner, but you’re more easily seduced by them as well.”

Try these sexy self-confidence boosters: (more…)

Saturday Morning Drills: Yoga for Holiday Stress Relief

With the holidays here and nearly at their peak, we can only image how busy and stressed most of you must be scrambling to finish all of your shopping and gift wrapping before you either hit the road or relatives arrive at your home. Stressed is exactly where we’re at, but we have a solution.

We often get so caught up in all the hustle and bustle that we forget to take time off and just relax. And working out? Is there really enough space on your to do list for that, too? Here’s an idea: Kill two birds with one stone by adding some yoga to your routine this Saturday morning (before hitting your ever-growing to do list). We promise it will provide both relaxation and a refreshing workout in one session.

Studies have found yoga to provide benefits such as stress reduction, increased flexibility, weight management, total body toning, improved balance, increased strength and decreased chances of injury. And that’s not all –  it can also aid in managing chronic health conditions such as depression, pain, anxiety, cancer, insomnia and fatigue. It can even help reduce heart rate and blood pressure! Good luck with coming up with any reasons why not to give this extremely beneficial practice a try. Now, let’s get started.

View Saturday Morning Drills: Yoga for Holiday Stress Relief Slideshow

Also Read:

Yoga For Babies

The Yoga Bible

Yoga For Anywhere

Rock Wall Climbing Challenges Both Body and Mind

Last week, our team here at Diets In Review decided to step away from our desks for an afternoon of practicing what we preach by doing something active. Our activity of choice? Rock wall climbing.

We met up at a local health club that houses the state of Kansas’ largest rock wall, strapped on our gear, and raced to the top. Not only did we all have a great time together, but we also got in a pretty descent workout.

Indoor rock wall climbing can be beneficial to many parts of the body. For one, it’s a great cardiovascular activity. If you’re new to climbing, try starting out easy by climbing for about five minutes at a time. You’ll eventually get the hang of things so you can work your way up to 30 minutes or more.

Rock wall climbing is also great for toning and increasing muscle mass. Some of the areas that get most challenged are your chest, back, arms, shoulders, forearms and legs. In addition, with all of the stretching you do in order to reach that next blue mount ahead of you, you’ll also be working on your body’s balance and flexibility.

Obviously this activity helps the body physically, but did you know it provides mental benefits as well? (more…)

Yoga Helps Stroke Survivors Regain Balance, Coordination and Independence

The benefits of yoga continue to stretch across all walks of life. From teenagers needing a boost in self-esteem, to breast cancer survivors needing to relieve anxiety, yoga is not something to shun as some kind of weird activity with heavy spiritual undertones.

According to a recent study in Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association, stroke survivors reduced their level of post-stroke disability by participating in a regular yoga routine. Survivors of a stroke often lose balance and coordination due to the damage that can arise within the brain. This leads to a greater risk of falling, potential dependence on a caregiver, and an increase in stress and tension that can contribute to depression and anxiety.

In the study, two groups of stroke survivors practiced yoga or yoga and relaxation. The other group, the control group, just received standard post-stroke medical care. After a battery of tests, both the yoga and the yoga and relaxation group showed improvements in balance, coordination, and reported feeling independent and empowered. (more…)

Yoga Hits a Home Run With Baseball Players

Evan Longoria used yoga to rehab his left foot

Major League baseball players are coining the phrase “flexibility is the new strength” and adding yoga, stretching, and Pilates to their off season and spring training regimes. Baseball manager Joe Maddon said in 2007, when yoga was first introduced as an official part of the training program, that he expected yoga and stretching to soon be as mainstream as weight lifting for strength, and his assumption is now a reality.

The Devil Rays’ third basemen Evan Longoria is one player who first took yoga seriously as a way to find a little peace and contentment through the stressful baseball season. Needing to rehab his left foot, Longoria focused on functional movements and stability therapy, adding that doing yoga in a hot room for over an hour was no easy task, but also provided many benefits beyond peace of mind.

Many other baseball players have followed the lead of Longoria and used yoga or Pilates as part of their offseason training. Jimmy Rollins practiced yoga following an injury and went on to playing 142 more games after making a strong comeback. Jim Thome practiced both yoga and Pilates to better prepare his 41-year-old body for playing first base, and Alex Rodriquez, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson have also reportedly added more flexibility to their training.

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Common Yoga Misconceptions Clarified

The following is a compilation of some of the most common misconceptions about yoga I come across, and my responses to them.

“I can’t even touch my toes, how am I supposed to do yoga?”

This is a very popular fear and misconception that keeps people from trying yoga for the first time. While flexibility is important to perform certain poses, no teacher expects a new student to be super limber. Flexibility comes with time and practice; it is not a requirement to walk in the door.

“Yoga is too hard.”

Some styles of yoga are very challenging, however other styles such as Hatha, Yin and Restorative Yoga are gentle, and offer a great starting point to build up strength and stamina for harder classes.

“Just sitting there and breathing is not my thing, I need something more active.”

If you want a hard workout that challenges every single muscle group and more, seek an Ashtanga, Power Vinyasa or Bikram Yoga class. These classes are not for the timid and do require a moderate to high level of fitness to attend.

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Yoga for Chefs, Prep Cooks and Other Kitchen Workers

Standing for eight hours while hovering over a counter with a butcher knife in one hand and a sauté pan in the other can put the kibosh on the kebobs.

Chefs, prep cooks and other kitchen workers will find the following yoga poses helpful in maintaining vitality so their energy doesn’t sink like a tired soufflé.

Poses to Practice in the Kitchen

For a tight lower back, place both hands shoulder width apart on the edge of a clean and solid counter. Step back about a leg length in distance from the counter and fold forward from your hips so that your spine is parallel to the floor with both arms straight. Hold this stretch for up to one minute while breathing deeply. Repeat as often as you can throughout your work shift.

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Yoga for Inflexible Men

I see it quite often. Women drag their reluctant husbands to yoga only to find them wilting in a puddle of sweat. At the end of class, while the women glow and prance nimbly out of the studio, the men, hobbling to the door, are left feeling defeated.

Men are typically so much stronger than women, yet some struggle gravely in yoga. So why is this?

Flexibility vs. Strength

While men might be stronger overall, women tend to be more flexible. Many yoga poses require less brawn and more give to finesse. Often, men are programmed to muscle through physical challenges, relying on rote strength and manliness to get the job done. In yoga, women take the path of least resistance, using their litheness as an advantage.

When the bones of the body are correctly aligned in a yoga pose, little effort is needed to maintain the pose. However, bones can only be aligned properly if the muscles surrounding them are limber enough to permit it. Tight muscles tend to pull bones out of alignment, therefore causing one to use more energy to hold the pose for an extended amount of time. And since yoga poses are often held for durations of up to three minutes, wasting energy due to improper alignment can sap anyone’s strength in a hurry.

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