Vigorous exercise has the potential to add unnecessary wear and tear on the joints of the body. While weight bearing exercises are a must to keep bones strong and healthy, sometimes our knees, hips, and spine can take a beating if we don’t find balance with some gentle activity.
Ancient Taoists refer to certain types of exercises or super-active behaviors as Yang, known as the energetic life force that facilitates change, growth, and get-up-and-go for the mind and the body. Yang exercises include running, high-impact aerobics, weightlifting, and even certain styles of yoga such as Ashtanga or power vinyasa.
It is surprising that yoga is referred to as a Yang activity, but many styles require a high level of vim and vigor to practice. Sometimes, as a result of pushing, striving, and working too hard in yoga, injuries can incur and joints can be compromised. Even a yoga class must be balanced out with some slower moving and deeply relaxing activity. (more…)
If you have ever tried to grow your own food, you know how much work is involved. From building beds to pulling weeds, gardening is a task that requires a lot of strength and stamina, not to mention flexibility. There is no greater feeling than the satisfaction of knowing where your food comes from, but some days an achy back, neck or knees can trump your homegrown glory faster than a growing sprout on a warm spring day.
To prevent fatigue and energize your body, it is important to take periodic stretch breaks. The following yoga inspired stretches will help relieve bodily discomfort brought on by spending hours in the garden. Plus, you may even get a second wind and get more done.
Half Forward Bend
Your knees may begin to feel stiff and tired after squatting or kneeling over your sprigs of future bounty. To refresh your body, stand up and straighten both legs. Next, fold forward until your spine is parallel to the dirt. Place both hands on your shins just below your knees. Keep your back and legs straight. Hold for 20 seconds and then come up. Repeat as often as necessary. (more…)
Whenever I workout, especially after a hard workout, I always make sure to spend some time stretching. For me, stretching is like the dessert of my workout, it’s my favorite part. I love feeling my heart and breath slow down while I lean into a deep stretch. It helps me wind down both physically and mentally.
So, how important is it to stretch? Some benefits of stretching include decreasing pain and soreness after exercise, improves circulation, range of motion, and posture. It also decreases muscle tension and soreness.
If you lack time, you do not need to stretch after every workout. However, if you’ve just finished a hard workout or a new workout, make sure you allow time for it.
Before starting any kind of stretch make sure your body is warmed up. You will increase the risk of injury if you try to stretch “cold” muscles.
During your stretching it is important to keep a couple things in mind. Always stretch slowly (even if you’re in a hurry) and always stretch both sides of the body. Hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds and make sure you are breathing! People tend to hold their breath while stretching and this could lead to injury, and also prevents the muscles from getting the oxygen they need. Never bounce or jerk while stretching and avoid over-stretching. Never push your stretch to the point you are feeling sharp pain or discomfort. (more…)
Unless you live in a warm climate and are lucky to golf all season long, springtime means tee time; a time to dust off the irons and get your body ready for 18 holes of swings, putts and chip shots.
Smacking the ball at high speed plus staying calm and focused during a crucial putt all take a certain amount of skill and practice to master. Power, torque, flexibility, and concentration are all key components in the game of golf, and yoga can help.
The following yoga suggestions will help your golf game. Designed to give you an advantage prior to golf season, these pointers will also teach you how you can loosen up before the game, stay calm and centered while on the putting green, and enjoy a revitalizing stretch before heading to the clubhouse.
Just like a tough weightlifting routine at the gym, shoveling snow is also hard work. Treat it as you would any hardcore yet safe and effective workout and you will gain the benefits just as you would a carefully designed exercise program.
The following yoga poses and shoveling tips can help keep you strong, fit and protect your body from injury when the sidewalk is knee-deep in snow.
A flexible spine is a healthy spine, especially when it comes to shoveling heavy snow. Practice this twist before and after shoveling.
Lie down on your back with your right knee pulled into your chest and your left leg extended on the floor. Reach for your right knee with your left hand and roll onto your left hip. Extend your right arm out to the side. Hold for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
Researchers at Seattle Washington’s Group Health Research Institute lead a study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The results, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine are creating quite a buzz.
This study was conducted to determine whether yoga is a more effective method of relieving low back pain versus conventional stretching or the use of a self-care book for primary care patients with chronic low back pain.
Of the 228 adults that participated in this study, all had a type of low back pain that was not a result of a spinal disc problem or any other specific cause. In twelve weekly classes, 91 patients practiced stretching and 92 practiced yoga. The other 45 patients used the self-care book.
A back related functional status questionnaire and test of pain level was conducted before, during and after the study. The testing concluded that the outcomes in the yoga group were superior to those in the self-care group, however yoga was not superior to the conventional stretching method group in related back function and low back pain.
Planning on standing at the kitchen counter for hours preparing the Thanksgiving meal? Or perhaps you will be sitting in front of the television for hours while someone else prepares the Thanksgiving meal. Either way, your back is going to take a beating. The following gentle yoga inspired poses and stretches will help smooth out the kinks and restore your spine for a second helping of holiday fun.
Kitchen Counter Stretch
Place both hands on the edge of your kitchen counter. Take one big step back and fold forward from your hips, keeping both arms straight. Reach your hips back as you lower your chest in between your arms. Take five deep breaths and then stand up. Repeat as often as needed between mashing up the potatoes and stirring the turkey gravy.
Whether you are a high-powered executive or a stay-at-home mom, some afternoons inevitably make you feel like crawling back into bed. Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee to remedy your post-lunch sleepiness, how about reaching for your yoga mat? Practicing yoga on a sluggish afternoon can revitalize you.
Mountain Pose to Energize
Remove your shoes and stand up as straight and as tall as you can. Reach both arms overhead and stretch vigorously from your feet to your fingertips. Hold for 20 seconds, and for the last five seconds lift your heels up to balance on your toes. Immediately feel light and vibrant.
Standing Twist to Invigorate
Cross your right foot over your left and place it to the outside of your left foot. Stand equally on both feet with your ankles crossed. Straighten both arms directly out to the side. Begin to reach your left arm forward and your right arm back, twisting from the hips. Turn your head and look out over your right arm. Hold for five deep breaths and then switch sides. Notice an energizing tingle through your spine.
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.
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.