Alternate Your Strength Training Workout With Some Yoga

Many who think of strength training equipment think of the massive muscles that many bodybuilders get and consequently show off in competitions. This can be a plus or a drawback for many consumers. The average consumer likes to be able to say feel good about themselves when they go swimming, but many are concerned about building too much muscle and suffering from stereotypical viewpoints. This needn’t be a worry for anyone considering strength training equipment.

The average body builder works out a lot in order to get the muscles they are famous for, plus they have to be on a very strict regimen with lots of protein and little or no fat. It would take you a lot of effort to become as built as the average bodybuilder. Many consumers can use simple free weights in order to maintain the muscle mass that they have or to add a little muscle strength. Some use strength training equipment to add a little tone or shape to certain areas of the body.

If you use them properly and alternate your strength training workout with some yoga or stretching exercises there is little risk of you bulking up too much. Many find that they enjoy the challenge of working out with strength training equipment. You can gradually increase the weight as you work out over a period of time and after your workout you really will feel the ‘burn’ in your muscles.

Though you should be careful of using too much weight at once. Its easy to sprain a muscle and hurt yourself, putting you out of commission for a few days or more. A good rule of thumb is that if you think you can start out with a certain weight begin about five or even ten pounds lighter and after a few repetitions move up to the next weight level. You can check out strength training equipment reviews online for an idea of what others are doing.

Yogic Breathing For Better Health

Swami Kuvalyanand once said: “Yoga has a message for the human body, for the human mind and the human spirit.”

This is a truism as a healthy body is the prime requisite for success and happiness in life. People are increasingly being convinced that yoga makes for good health, contentment and happiness in present day stressful life and is not just an exercise regimen.

In this article we will discuss Anuloma-Viloma (alternate breathing) pranayama. Pranayama simply means proper ‘management’ of the vital force – prana. Although the basic principle remains the same, many different types of pranayama have been devised, each with its own unique technique. Anuloma-Viloma or nadi shuddhi pranayama (nerve purifying pranayama) is one such kind and is considered one of the basic forms.

The practice of Anuloma Viloma is somewhat like the squad that regulates traffic on roads, looks after their cleanliness, beautification, etc and keeps the traffic moving smoothly and efficiently. The method involves breathing in (pooraka) through one nostril and vice versa. Therefore this pranayama has the name anuloma viloma, i.e. alternate breathing.

To practice this, you have to sit in any of the yogic sitting postures. To begin with, carry on normal breathing applying moola bandha (i.e. comfortable anal contraction). Keeping a stable moola bandha, breathe in and breathe out completely. Ensure that the moola bandha is not loosened during the process. Pause for a while between breathing in and breathing out. Breathe in deeply through the left nostril and breathe out through the right; then breathe in through the right and out through the left. Continue breathing this way, i.e. alternately from left and right nostrils, for one to three minutes.

After reaching a comfort level in this way, you may move to the next stage. Close the right nostril with the right thumb keeping the other four fingers together. Now, slowly breathe in through the left nostril at a uniform speed. Repeat with the other nostril. While breathing in, raise the shoulders and expand the chest taking the ribs up. The lower abdominal region, however, must be held in.

Benefits: The respiratory passage is cleaned and this prepares one well for the practice of other pranayamas. Breathing becomes easy and regulated. The mind becomes and heartbeat rhythmic. Also aids in enhancing concentration, memory and other mental faculties.

Contraindications: Severe pain in abdomen, swelling on account of appendicitis, enlargement of liver, very delicate bowels or intestines, disorders of the lungs, severe throat infections, growth in the nose (polypus) or blockage of the nasal passage due to cold, etc.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautions before following any of the asanas from this article and the site. To avoid any problems while doing the asanas, it is advised that you consult a doctor and a yoga instructor. The responsibility lies solely with the reader and not with the site or the writer.

you thought Yoga Was Just Stretching

While on the way to spot a friend of mine at the local YMCA, he asked why I didn’t just join the gym and I explained to him that I practice Yoga and occasional calisthenics at home for my exercises and really didn’t feel the need for a gym membership. His response was predictable: “Yoga…isn’t that just stretching?”

I smirked at the familiarity of the question and proceeded to explain to him the theme of this article. As I told him and for those who may not know otherwise: No, Yoga is way more than just stretching or getting into supposedly awkward looking poses and positions.

It is a combination of stretching, breathing exercises, meditation and perhaps the most overlooked limb, adherence to a proper diet.

The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as a “union” or a method of discipline. Its ultimate goal is the union of man with God or the universe in one breath. Furthermore, it aims to liberate the spirit as the mind and spirit are equally involved in its practice.

Yoga is indeed the oldest existing physical-culture system in the world. Besides being a systematic and scientifically proven path to attaining physical fitness, it delays aging, rejuvenates and improves one’s appearance, maintains suppleness and increases vitality and the creative part of life.

With its core warm-up exercises known as the Sun Salutations (which are somewhat similar to the calisthenics exercise known as ‘burpees’), the inversion poses, forward and backward bending poses, balancing exercises for the arms and building focus, the average practitioner will attest to the fact that for attaining fitness, Yoga can stand its own.

Think Yoga can’t help with building strength? Think again. Heck, I challenge the most adept body-builder to hold the simple yet powerful peacock-pose for 90 seconds straight. Bet you they’d crash half-way in its execution-if they make it that far.

Yoga also offers unique breathing exercises which are wonderful for patients with respiratory disorders and even singers and public speakers, moreover with its unique relaxation pose, oft times practiced during and after its execution, Yoga offers a systematic means of deeply relaxing the entire body perhaps the way no other exercise can. (Keep in mind of course that several of the poses give a deep body massage not unlike the ones received in salons…just thought I should throw that in.)

With countless books, DVD’s, videos and classes being offered for all ages, levels of fitness and experience (some of them being actually free for the first couple of lessons to try Yoga out), I suggest you give it a trial and see for yourself what it can do.

One thing I promise you is this; you will walk out of your class and nod in agreement that indeed: “yoga is way more than just stretching.” It is THE exercise.

Origin and Background

Yoga is an age-old science made up of different disciplines of mind and body. It has originated in India 2500 years ago and is still effective in bringing overall health and well being to any person who does it regularly. The word yoga is based upon a Sanskrit verb Yuja. It means to connect, to culminate or to concur. It’s the culmination of mind and body or the culmination of Jiva and Shiva (soul and the universal spirit). It’s also a culmination of Purush and Prakriti (Yin and Yang).

The term Yoga has a very broad scope. There are several schools or systems of Yoga. Dnyanayoga (Yoga through knowledge), Bhaktiyoga (Yoga through devotion), Karmayoga (Yoga through action), Rajayoga (Royal or supreme Yoga) and Hathayoga (Yoga by balancing opposite principles of body). All of these schools of Yoga are not necessarily very different from each other. They are rather like threads of the same cloth, entangled into each other. For thousands of years, Yoga has been looked upon as an effective way of self-improvement and spiritual enlightenment. All these systems essentially have this same purpose; only the ways of achieving it are little different for each of them. In its most popular form, the term Yoga has come to associate with the last of these systems which is Hathayoga. For the purpose of this article too, the term Yoga is used with the same meaning. Although, when it comes to Philosophy of Yoga, which is at the end of this article, the term Yoga will have a broader scope.

Asana and Pranayama

Let’s take a detailed look at the main two components of Hathayoga i.e. Asana and Pranayama.

a) Asana:
Asana means acquiring a body posture and maintaining it as long as one’s body allows. Asana, when done rightly according to the rules discussed above, render enormous physical and psychological benefits. Asana are looked upon as the preliminary step to Pranayama. With the practice of Asana there is a balancing of opposite principles in the body and psyche. It also helps to get rid of inertia. Benefits of Asana are enhanced with longer maintenance of it. Asana should be stable, steady and pleasant. Here is the summary of general rules to be followed for doing Asana.

Summary of rules:

1. Normal breathing
2. Focused stretching
3. Stable and pleasant postures (sthiram sukham asanam)
4. Minimal efforts (Prayatnay shaithilyam)
5. No comparisons or competition with others
6. No jerks or rapid actions. Maintain a slow and steady tempo.

Each asana has its own benefits and a few common benefits such as stability, flexibility, better hormonal secretion, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s a misconception that an Asana (Yoga stretch) has to be difficult to do in order to be beneficial. Many of the easiest Asana render most of the common benefits of Yoga to their fullest. Besides, the beauty of Yoga is in the fact that at a not-so-perfect level most of the benefits are still available. That means even a beginner benefits from Yoga as much as an expert.

In their quest to find a solution to the miseries of human body and mind, the founders of Yoga found part of their answers in the nature. They watched the birds and animals stretching their bodies in particular fashion to get rid of the inertia and malaise. Based upon these observations, they created Yoga stretches and named them after the birds or animals or fish that inspired these stretches. For example, matsyasana (fish pose), makarasana (crocodile pose), shalabhasana (grasshopper pose), bhujangasana (cobra pose), marjarasana (cat pose), mayurasana (peacock pose), vrischikasana (scorpion pose), gomukhasana (cow’s mouth pose), parvatasana (mountain pose), vrikshasana (tree pose) etc.

Many of the Asana can be broadly categorized based upon the type of pressure on the abdomen. Most of the forward bending Asana are positive pressure Asana as they put positive pressure on the stomach by crunching it e.g. Pashchimatanasana, Yogamudra (Yoga symbol pose), Hastapadasana (hand and feet pose), Pavanmuktasana (wind free pose) etc. The backward bending Asana are the negative pressure Asana as they take pressure away from the abdomen e.g. Dhanurasana (bow pose), Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Naukasana (boat pose) etc. Both types of Asana give excellent stretch to the back and abdomen and strengthen both these organs. Alternating between positive and negative pressure on the same area of the body intensifies and enhances blood circulation in that area. The muscle group in use gets more supply of oxygen and blood due to the pressure on that spot. E.g. in Yogamudra (symbol of Yoga), the lower abdomen gets positive pressure due to which Kundalini is awakened. Hastapadasana refreshes all nerves in the back of the legs and also in the back. As a result you feel fresh and rejuvenated. Vakrasana gives a good massage to the pancreas and liver and hence is recommended for diabetic patients

Abdominal Weight Loss

Whenever anyone says or gestures that they want to lose weight, most of the time, they point to their guts saying “I wanna lose all this!” Obviously, abdominal weight loss is a goal for many people.

However, what most people might not be aware of is that-of all exercises-Yoga actually can help immensely for weight loss in the abdominal region. There are specific poses, that target excess weight in the abdomen and coupled with a customized diet, those seeking abdominal weight loss would find success in using these yoga exercises.

Let’s go over them, shall we?

Abdominal Weight Loss: Yoga Poses to Use.

1. The Sun Salutations: These are a combination of poses that serve as a warm up-routine for a Yoga session or class. They are very similar to the popular calisthenics exercise known as burpees. However, they differ in that they have a spiritual significance included as a result of executing them. Due to the forward and backward bending motions involved, after performing a few to several rounds on a daily basis, you are bound to notice a marked loss of weight in you abdominal area and the added bonus of muscular tone.

2. The Bow Pose: This simple pose involves laying flat on your belly and grabbing your ankles with both arms while simultaneously lifting your head up high. When performed correctly, you should be resting on your abdomen. Needless to say, it is a pose commonly recommended for weight loss and the prevention and correction of chronic constipation.

3. The Peacock Pose: This is slightly more challenging. The objective is to balance your abdomen on your conjoined elbows while simultaneously raising your legs and head of the floor. Naturally, merely attempting it speeds up abdominal weight loss and detoxification of the visceral organs and the preparatory stage could suffice as the actual execution of the pose till the mastery of it is achieved.

4. The Abdominal Lift: This is not a pose, per-se but is a specific exercise that involves you exhaling your breath and pulling the diaphragm in while holding the breath out. This is a specific abdominal exercise for weight loss, spiritual rejuvenation and detoxification.

Now friends, there are other poses such as the shoulder-stand, the forward-bending pose, the spinal twist and the wheel pose that also target increase in muscular tone and weight loss in the abdominal regions, however from practice the 4 above will perhaps be the most effective.

Do note though that if you are female and pregnant or in your menstrual period, some of these poses might not be the best to execute.

Moreover, since these poses-besides helping with abdominal weight loss-aid tremendously with detoxifying, it is advised that one eats a proper and healthy diet to augment the actions of these poses.

Other fantastic exercises for abdominal weight loss include your intense Aerobics, the use of the ab-wheel, basic sit-ups, windmills etc.

So empower yourself with these tips and information to achieve your goal for weight loss. Lose that gut starting today.

The Importance Of Eating A Healthy Diet

There are many important reasons for anyone to eat a healthy diet of which the first and most important is in the name itself, health. Everyone has hear the saying, You are what you eat!

It is in this saying where most of the truth lies. Everything you eat can either be beneficial or dangerous to your personal health. The food can increase or decrease your risk of contracting certain diseases.

Unfortunately another truth is that eating healthy does mean that some of the best foods to eat do not taste very well and as a result, many people opt for the better tasting food which is bad for you. Some of these good tasting foods taste good because of the tempting ingredients within them like sugars which in some cases are a good thing but too much of a good thing can also be bad for you.

It is important to remember that in order to eat healthy, you first off need to focus on eating a variety of various foods and not just the same meal every day. The colors of the food play an important role and thus making sure that you eat meals with a wide range of colors can help you to maintain a healthy diet.

The color of a food is dependant on the vitamins and nutrients which make it what it is. These colors can tell you if the food is high in one vitamin or low in another and just the fact of eating a variety of different colors can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

It is important to remember that every meal needs to be balanced. Thinking back to grade school, everyone remembers learning about the various food groups and their importance in living a healthy lifestyle. The concept of making sure every meal has the right amounts of each food group has not changed since you were a child, in fact it has been a belief for many centuries so far and most likely will not be going anywhere anytime soon.

Everyone has the habit of snaking in between their meals and an important part of eating healthy is to make sure that these snacks are also healthy. Instead of grabbing for a bag of potato chips for your afternoon snack while stopping of at the local convenient store, grab some nuts or seed instead. There is a large selection of nuts and seeds available in almost every convenience store to choose from that not only taste good, but is also good for you.

By sticking to a diet of healthy foods that are good to you, you can loose weight, keep that weight off and have more energy to do whatever it is you need to do all day.