Archive for the ‘Yoga’ Category

When Yoga Meets the Water

Meet the new fitness craze that is sweeping the nation, SUP yoga.  If you are bored with your normal yoga routine, or even if you aren’t, I highly recommend giving this a try.  Combining SUP and yoga brings you a whole new and challenging experience.  SUP yoga originated in Florida but it has spread quickly to locations where any body of water is present, be it the ocean, river, lake, bay, etc.

Top Five Reasons to Try SUP Yoga:

  1. Using the paddleboard as a yoga mat enhances your yoga routine as it requires extra balance and core strenth to stabalize the board. 
  2. Not only is SUP Yoga a great workout, it also extremely meditative. Being so connected with nature it is easier to relax and practice deeper meditation.
  3. Great for all levels and all ages and easy to learn. As challanging as it looks after a few sessions you will be surpised with how comfortable and stable you feel essentially walking on water.
  4. Get your Vitamin D, aka the Sunshine Vitamin. Sunlight is the best and only natural source of vitamin D. Unlike dietary or supplementary vitamin D, when you get your ‘D’ from sunshine your body takes what it needs, and de-metabolizes any extra. Just make sure you are also wearing sunscreen!
  5. It’s an enjoyable experience! The best types of workouts are the ones you actually enjoy and look forward to.

 

Yoga for Dudes

So…I know quite a few people in the fitness industry, as well as many more who simply lead active and healthy lifestyles.  They all pride themselves on eating healthy, working out regularly, and staying active.  What continually shocks me however, is the number of guys in this large group of people who refuse to practice yoga.  They write it off as “girly”, or simply “a waste of time”. 

Consensus seems to be that they think it’s not enough of a workout to warrant their time.  Depending on your goals, yoga alone may not get you to where you want to be.  But, when combined with a weight training and/or cardio program, yoga is a fantastic supplement.  For one, yoga is great at increasing flexibility and lengthening the body.  Let me quickly ask you something; which muscle is stronger (and able to lift more weight)?  The short, compact, tight muscle, or the flexible, long, muscle?  Answer: The flexible, long muscle.  Adding flexibility training to your routine WILL increase your strength gains in the gym.  This is a fantastic reason to add a practice like yoga to your overall routine. 

Many guys think yoga is all about sitting, breathing, and holding poses.  There are so many varieties of yoga out there, it’s hard not to find something that is suitable for your goals.  Many forms of yoga are downright hard and require a very fit body to make it through an advanced level class.  Working your way up the different class levels is a great way to continue to push yourself.  Yoga doesn’t have to be all about meditating, working on breathing techniques, and sitting in one position for long periods of time.  Yoga is highly versatile.

Unless you are one of those juiced out meatheads who simply work on his beach muscles, you probably work out to get your entire body more fit than it was.  Sure, there will always be a cosmetic aspect to working out; I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this.  Everyone wants to look good.  But ask yourself, what really looks better?  The orange-skinned juicehead with 17 inch biceps, or the Olympic triathlete?  A program that builds muscle and tones your entire body is going to make you look like an athlete, not a guerilla.  Yoga will help bring a component to your overall routine that helps you achieve the athletic look, not the primate look.

Want one more reason to do yoga?  Yoga girls are hot.  Not only that, yoga classes are almost entirely made up of women.  Studies show 72% of all individuals who practice yoga regularly are women. Think you’re going to find a ratio that good anywhere else?  I don’t think so.  So, not only are you going to get a solid workout for yourself, you’re going to surround yourself with hordes of hot, fit, women who are probably looking at you because you’re the only guy in their yoga class.  If this isn’t win-win, I don’t know what is.

Count on Yoga: 38 Ways Yoga Keeps You Fit

By Timothy McCall, M.D.

Are you looking for reasons to start practicing? Here are ways yoga improves your health—reasons enough to roll out the mat and get started.

If you’re a passionate yoga practitioner, you’ve probably noticed the ways yoga works—maybe you’re sleeping better or getting fewer colds or just feeling more relaxed and at ease. But if you’ve ever tried telling a newbie how it works, you might find that explanations like “It increases the flow of prana” or “It brings energy up your spine” fall on deaf or skeptical ears.

As it happens, Western science is starting to provide some concrete clues as to how yoga works to improve health, heal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay. Once you understand them, you’ll have even more motivation to step onto your mat, and you probably won’t feel so tongue-tied the next time someone wants Western proof.

I myself have experienced yoga’s healing power in a very real way. Weeks before a trip to India in 2002 to investigate yoga therapy, I developed numbness and tingling in my right hand. After first considering scary things like a brain tumor and multiple sclerosis, I figured out that the cause of the symptoms was thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve blockage in my neck and chest.

Despite the uncomfortable symptoms, I realized how useful my condition could be during my trip. While visiting various yoga therapy centers, I would submit myself for evaluation and treatment by the various experts I’d arranged to observe. I could try their suggestions and see what worked for me. While this wasn’t exactly a controlled scientific experiment, I knew that such hands-on learning could teach me things I might not otherwise understand.

My experiment proved illuminating. At the Vivekananda ashram just outside of Bangalore, S. Nagarathna, M.D., recommended breathing exercises in which I imagined bringing prana (vital energy) into my right upper chest. Other therapy included asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting, lectures on philosophy, and various kriya (internal cleansing practices). At the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai and from A.G. Mohan and his wife, Indra, who practice just outside of Chennai, I was told to stop practicing Headstand and Shoulderstand in favor of gentle asana coordinated with the breath. In Pune, S.V. Karandikar, a medical doctor, recommended practices with ropes and belts to put traction on my spine and exercises that taught me to use my shoulder blades to open my upper back.

Thanks to the techniques I learned in India, advice from teachers in the United States, and my own exploration, my chest is more flexible than it was, my posture has improved, and for more than a year, I’ve been free of symptoms.

My experience inspired me to pore over the scientific studies I’d collected in India as well as the West to identify and explain how yoga can both prevent disease and help you recover from it. Here is what I found.

Flex Time
1 Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. You’ll also probably notice that aches and pains start to disappear. That’s no coincidence. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.

Strength Test
2 Strong muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain, and help prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. If you just went to the gym and lifted weights, you might build strength at the expense of flexibility.

Standing Orders
3 Your head is like a bowling ball—big, round, and heavy. When it’s balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Move it several inches forward, however, and you start to strain those muscles. Hold up that forward-leaning bowling ball for eight or 12 hours a day and it’s no wonder you’re tired. And fatigue might not be your only problem. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.

Joint Account
4 Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by “squeezing and soaking” areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone like worn-out brake pads.

Spinal Rap
5 Spinal disks—the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves—crave movement. That’s the only way they get their nutrients. If you’ve got a well-balanced asana practice with plenty of backbends, forward bends, and twists, you’ll help keep your disks supple.

Bone Zone
6 It’s well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And some, like Downward- and Upward-Facing Dog, help strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. In an unpublished study conducted at California State University, Los Angeles, yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga’s ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol (see Number 11) may help keep calcium in the bones.

Flow Chart
7 Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. This can help if you have swelling in your legs from heart or kidney problems. Yoga also boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood. This can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes since blood clots are often the cause of these killers.

Lymph Lesson
8 When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yogapostures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.

Heart Start
9 When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack and can relieve depression. While not all yoga is aerobic, if you do it vigorously or take flow or Ashtanga classes, it can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range. But even yoga exercises that don’t get your heart rate up that high can improve cardiovascular conditioning. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise—all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning. One study found that subjects who were taught only pranayama could do more exercise with less oxygen.

Pressure Drop
10 If you’ve got high blood pressure, you might benefit from yoga. Two studies of people with hypertension, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, compared the effects of Savasana (Corpse Pose) with simply lying on a couch. After three months, Savasana was associated with a 26-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number—and the higher the initial blood pressure, the bigger the drop.

Worry Thwarts
11 Yoga lowers cortisol levels. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider this. Normally, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to an acute crisis, which temporarily boosts immune function. If your cortisol levels stay high even after the crisis, they can compromise the immune system. Temporary boosts of cortisol help with long-term memory, but chronically high levels undermine memory and may lead to permanent changes in the brain. Additionally, excessive cortisol has been linked with major depression, osteoporosis (it extracts calcium and other minerals from bones and interferes with the laying down of new bone), high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. In rats, high cortisol levels lead to what researchers call “food-seeking behavior” (the kind that drives you to eat when you’re upset, angry, or stressed). The body takes those extra calories and distributes them as fat in the abdomen, contributing to weight gain and the risk of diabetes and heart attack.

Happy Hour
12 Feeling sad? Sit in Lotus. Better yet, rise up into a backbend or soar royally into King Dancer Pose. While it’s not as simple as that, one study found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol. At the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, Ph.D., found that the left prefrontal cortex showed heightened activity in meditators, a finding that has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function. More dramatic left-sided activation was found in dedicated, long-term practitioners.

Weighty Matters
13 Move more, eat less—that’s the adage of many a dieter. Yoga can help on both fronts. A regular practice gets you moving and burns calories, and the spiritual and emotional dimensions of your practice may encourage you to address any eating and weight problems on a deeper level. Yoga may also inspire you to become a more conscious eater.

Low Show
14 Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar in several ways: by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss, and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Get your blood sugar levels down, and you decrease your risk of diabetic complications such as heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.

Brain Waves
15 An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice Transcendental Meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better—probably because they’re less distracted by their thoughts, which can play over and over like an endless tape loop.

Nerve Center
16 Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs—comprising what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response.

Space Place
17 Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain. Better balance could mean fewer falls. For the elderly, this translates into more independence and delayed admission to a nursing home or never entering one at all. For the rest of us, postures like Tree Pose can make us feel less wobbly on and off the mat.

Control Center
18 Some advanced yogis can control their bodies in extraordinary ways, many of which are mediated by the nervous system. Scientists have monitored yogis who could induce unusual heart rhythms, generate specific brain-wave patterns, and, using a meditation technique, raise the temperature of their hands by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If they can use yoga to do that, perhaps you could learn to improve blood flow to your pelvis if you’re trying to get pregnant or induce relaxation when you’re having trouble falling asleep.

Loose Limbs
19 Do you ever notice yourself holding the telephone or a steering wheel with a death grip or scrunching your face when staring at a computer screen? These unconscious habits can lead to chronic tension, muscle fatigue, and soreness in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and face, which can increase stress and worsen your mood. As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension: It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck. If you simply tune in, you may be able to release some tension in the tongue and eyes. With bigger muscles like the quadriceps, trapezius, and buttocks, it may take years of practice to learn how to relax them.

Chill Pill
20 Stimulation is good, but too much of it taxes the nervous system. Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Restorative asana, yoga nidra (a form of guided relaxation), Savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides downtime for the nervous system. Another by-product of a regular yoga practice, studies suggest, is better sleep—which means you’ll be less tired and stressed and less likely to have accidents.

Immune Boon
21 Asana and pranayama probably improve immune function, but, so far, meditation has the strongest scientific support in this area. It appears to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed (for example, raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and lowering it when needed (for instance, mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis).

Breathing Room
22 Yogis tend to take fewer breaths of greater volume, which is both calming and more efficient. A 1998 study published in The Lancet taught a yogic technique known as “complete breathing” to people with lung problems due to congestive heart failure. After one month, their average respiratory rate decreased from 13.4 breaths per minute to 7.6. Meanwhile, their exercise capacity increased significantly, as did the oxygen saturation of their blood. In addition, yoga has been shown to improve various measures of lung function, including the maximum volume of the breath and the efficiency of the exhalation. Yoga also promotes breathing through the nose, which filters the air, warms it (cold, dry air is more likely to trigger an asthma attack in people who are sensitive), and humidifies it, removing pollen and dirt and other things you’d rather not take into your lungs.

Poop Scoop
23 Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation—all of these can be exacerbated by stress. So if you stress less, you’ll suffer less. Yoga, like any physical exercise, can ease constipation—and theoretically lower the risk of colon cancer—because moving the body facilitates more rapid transport of food and waste products through the bowels. And, although it has not been studied scientifically, yogis suspect that twisting poses may be beneficial in getting waste to move through the system.

Peace of Mind
24 Yoga quells the fluctuations of the mind, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. In other words, it slows down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress. And since stress is implicated in so many health problems—from migraines and insomnia to lupus, MS, eczema, high blood pressure, and heart attacks—if you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll be likely to live longer and healthier.

Divine Sign
25 Many of us suffer from chronic low self-esteem. If you handle this negatively—take drugs, overeat, work too hard, sleep around—you may pay the price in poorer health physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you take a positive approach and practice yoga, you’ll sense, initially in brief glimpses and later in more sustained views, that you’re worthwhile or, as yogic philosophy teaches, that you are a manifestation of the Divine. If you practice regularly with an intention of self-examination and betterment—not just as a substitute for an aerobics class—you can access a different side of yourself. You’ll experience feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, as well as a sense that you’re part of something bigger. While better health is not the goal of spirituality, it’s often a by-product, as documented by repeated scientific studies.

Pain Drain
26 Yoga can ease your pain. According to several studies, asana, meditation, or a combination of the two, reduced pain in people with arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions. When you relieve your pain, your mood improves, you’re more inclined to be active, and you don’t need as much medication.

Heat Treatment
27 Yoga can help you make changes in your life. In fact, that might be its greatest strength. Tapas, the Sanskrit word for “heat,” is the fire, the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds. The tapas you develop can be extended to the rest of your life to overcome inertia and change dysfunctional habits. You may find that without making a particular effort to change things, you start to eat better, exercise more, or finally quit smoking after years of failed attempts.

Guru Gifts
28 Good yoga teachers can do wonders for your health. Exceptional ones do more than guide you through the postures. They can adjust your posture, gauge when you should go deeper in poses or back off, deliver hard truths with compassion, help you relax, and enhance and personalize your practice. A respectful relationship with a teacher goes a long way toward promoting your health.

Drug Free
29 If your medicine cabinet looks like a pharmacy, maybe it’s time to try yoga. Studies of people with asthma, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes), and obsessive-compulsive disorder have shown that yoga helped them lower their dosage of medications and sometimes get off them entirely. The benefits of taking fewer drugs? You’ll spend less money, and you’re less likely to suffer side effects and risk dangerous drug interactions.

Hostile Makeover
30 Yoga and meditation build awareness. And the more aware you are, the easier it is to break free of destructive emotions like anger. Studies suggest that chronic anger and hostility are as strongly linked to heart attacks as are smoking, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol. Yoga appears to reduce anger by increasing feelings of compassion and interconnection and by calming the nervous system and the mind. It also increases your ability to step back from the drama of your own life, to remain steady in the face of bad news or unsettling events. You can still react quickly when you need to—and there’s evidence that yoga speeds reaction time—but you can take that split second to choose a more thoughtful approach, reducing suffering for yourself and others.

Good Relations
31 Love may not conquer all, but it certainly can aid in healing. Cultivating the emotional support of friends, family, and community has been demonstrated repeatedly to improve health and healing. A regular yoga practice helps develop friendliness, compassion, and greater equanimity. Along with yogic philosophy’s emphasis on avoiding harm to others, telling the truth, and taking only what you need, this may improve many of your relationships.

Sound System
32 The basics of yoga—asana, pranayama, and meditation—all work to improve your health, but there’s more in the yoga toolbox. Consider chanting. It tends to prolong exhalation, which shifts the balance toward the parasympathetic nervous system. When done in a group, chanting can be a particularly powerful physical and emotional experience. A recent study from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute suggests that humming sounds—like those made while chanting Om—open the sinuses and facilitate drainage.

Vision Quest
33 If you contemplate an image in your mind’s eye, as you do in yoga nidra and other practices, you can effect change in your body. Several studies have found that guided imagery reduced postoperative pain, decreased the frequency of headaches, and improved the quality of life for people with cancer and HIV.

Clean Machine
34 Kriyas, or cleansing practices, are another element of yoga. They include everything from rapid breathing exercises to elaborate internal cleansings of the intestines. Jala neti, which entails a gentle lavage of the nasal passages with salt water, removes pollen and viruses from the nose, keeps mucus from building up, and helps drains the sinuses.

Karma Concept
35 Karma yoga (service to others) is integral to yogic philosophy. And while you may not be inclined to serve others, your health might improve if you do. A study at the University of Michigan found that older people who volunteered a little less than an hour per week were three times as likely to be alive seven years later. Serving others can give meaning to your life, and your problems may not seem so daunting when you see what other people are dealing with.

Healing Hope
36 In much of conventional medicine, most patients are passive recipients of care. In yoga, it’s what you do for yourself that matters. Yoga gives you the tools to help you change, and you might start to feel better the first time you try practicing. You may also notice that the more you commit to practice, the more you benefit. This results in three things: You get involved in your own care, you discover that your involvement gives you the power to effect change, and seeing that you can effect change gives you hope. And hope itself can be healing.

Connective Tissue
37 As you read all the ways yoga improves your health, you probably noticed a lot of overlap. That’s because they’re intensely interwoven. Change your posture and you change the way you breathe. Change your breathing and you change your nervous system. This is one of the great lessons of yoga: Everything is connected—your hipbone to your anklebone, you to your community, your community to the world. This interconnection is vital to understanding yoga. This holistic system simultaneously taps into many mechanisms that have additive and even multiplicative effects. This synergy may be the most important way of all that yoga heals.

Placebo Power
38 Just believing you will get better can make you better. Unfortunately, many conventional scientists believe that if something works by eliciting the placebo effect, it doesn’t count. But most patients just want to get better, so if chanting a mantra—like you might do at the beginning or end of yoga class or throughout a meditation or in the course of your day—facilitates healing, even if it’s just a placebo effect, why not do it?

Q & A with Professional Surfer Holly Beck: On Surfing, Yoga & Giving Back

By Colleen Wachob, Mind Body Green

A calling. A passion. A destiny. Professional surfer Holly Beck has found the elusive and exhilarating state in which the boundaries between work and play are blurred. After years traveling the world and surfing some of the most remote and exotic beaches from the islands of Andaman in the Indian Ocean to Sao Tome off the Gulf of Guinea, Holly is continuing her adventure in Nicaragua. She’s founded a women’s surf camp, Suave Dulce, and is sharing some of her favorite things — surfing, yoga, local food, and adventure. From her commitment to improving the local Nicaraguan community, to her focus on breath in yoga, to her garden of blackberries, chard, and mint, Holly embodies the MindBodyGreen spirit and is inspiring people to lead better, healthier, and greener lives.

MindBodyGreen: How did you first come to love the ocean and surfing?

Holly Beck: I grew up in Palos Verdes, CA which is coastal but my parents aren’t beach people so it wasn’t until I started going to the beach with friends as an 11 year old that I fell in love with the ocean. We would boogie board in the shorebreak and I would stay in the water until I was blue and teeth-chattering because even though it was cold it felt so good! Around 13 I first noticed surfers and decided I wanted to be like them. My mom said, “No! Surfing is for boys and you should be sitting on the beach looking cute in your bikini not out competing with them. You’ll never get a boyfriend that way!” A year later I had saved up enough babysitting money to buy myself a surfboard and wetsuit at a garage sale and I haven’t looked back.

MBG: After spending years traveling and surfing the globe, where are some of your favorite places to surf and to visit?

HB: Australia is amazing, Bali is exciting, but I love going further off the beaten path to places like the Andaman and Seychelles islands, the tiny West African nation of Sao Tome, Taiwan, and Haiti. Going to places like that where McDonalds, Holiday Inns, and Starbucks haven’t taken over is so much more interesting. I love to explore and discover, and while the world is constantly getting smaller, there are still a few places where you can really get away and I appreciate that.

MBG: Do you have any beginners tips for someone who is looking to improve their skills on the board?

HB: The hardest part of learning to surf is learning to read the ocean. You have to learn which wave is going to be good and how to position yourself to catch that wave in the right spot then maneuver according to how the wave is changing. There’s no secret formula to learning that other than spending a lot of time in the ocean and really paying attention to the waves. Other than that fitness definitely helps, as well as self-confidence. If you believe in yourself anything is possible.

MBG: How did you become introduced to yoga? How has yoga helped you in and out of the water?

HB: I am a late convert to yoga. I grew up dancing — tap, jazz, ballet — and always had my own stretching routine. When yoga started to become popular, I thought it was just a fad. “Why do I need to pay someone to lead me in stretching?” Then a friend dragged me to a class and I realized what I’d been missing out on. Yoga is so much more than stretching! I was really surprised by how much strength is involved but my favorite part is the breathing. Being able to be calm mentally and continue to breathe while holding a difficult position is such a great skill to have in surfing and life in general. In surfing, especially in big waves, it’s really all about staying calm and breathing, and yoga is a great way to practice that mentality while also maintaining physical strength and flexibility.

MBG: You are passionate about healthy eating and organic food. How did you develop this lifestyle? What are some of your favorite healthy foods?

HB: I’m not a vegetarian. I will eat almost anything. I grew up in a family that got a dozen doughnuts every Saturday morning and had a bowl of ice cream after dinner every night. It wasn’t until I was in college that I started thinking about eating healthy and even later until I realized the importance of organics. In the last few years I’ve read Michael Pollan‘s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, as well as watched documentaries that expose our food industry and it’s attempts to separate people from how our food is made in an effort to get us to eat more processed and engineered foods, while trying to convince us that they are better for us. All of that has really opened my eyes and made me a lot more conscious of my choices at the grocery store. My boyfriend and I have a garden in our little apartment patio which grows blackberries, tomatoes, chives, green onions, romaine lettuce, chard, mint, basil and a variety of chili peppers. My garden in Nicaragua has many of the same things plus a lot of fruit trees. I know that organic, locally grown food is not only better for my body and the environment but it tastes and feels better. I can’t imagine going back to eating the way I did growing up!

MBG: You started Suave Dulce, a women’s surf, yoga, and volunteer retreat in Nicaragua. How did you get the idea to start Suave Dulce and what makes it different from other surf retreats?

HB: I love inspiring people and after spending so much time traveling the world I’ve learned a lot about what makes a trip memorable and meaningful. Sharing a love of surfing and yoga, while helping and encouraging people to improve their skills in those areas is great, but I realized that the most memorable aspects of my own travels have been the chances to interact with the locals — to meet them, see how they live, share a smile and hopefully have a positive impact on them. Nicaragua is the perfect place for this because the water is warm, the place and people are beautiful, and tourism is relatively new so it still feels pure and real. It is also the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere so there is a lot of opportunity for positive change in the lives of the average Nicaraguan. We have fed and given clothing donations to families that scavenge at the local dump and helped to build a community center that when completed will provide access to sewing machines, computers, and clean water for a village previously lacking those things. The difference for guests is that not only are they getting surfing advice or lessons from a professional surfer in warm uncrowded waves, plus yoga, healthy, locally grown food, plenty of unique adventures, but they also come away feeling good about their contribution to the place they visited and all the more grateful for everything they have at home.

MBG: What’s one thing we can all do to help keep our oceans beautiful and clean?

HB: Be mindful. Plastic in the ocean is such a huge problem. Plastic on the beach gets into the ocean, gets broken down by waves, sun, etc. into small pieces that look like food, get eaten by fish and birds, then become a part of the food chain. The ocean is becoming plasticized and as a result, so are we when we eat the fish that have eaten the plastic. Minimize your plastic consumption. Consider the packaging when you purchase anything. Never buy plastic bottled water, juice, etc. I drink filtered tap water and buy juice in glass bottles which can be recycled, and if they do find their way into the ocean are less harmful. It’s hard, but every little choice counts.

MBG: What does a typical day look like from you from a training standpoint?

HB: I’m one of those annoying people that have a really high metabolism and don’t have to workout to stay shapely. Of course, staying strong is always important. I hate the gym. I don’t like working out. I do like to play, so I try to play as often as possible! Yoga and surfing are both great for mind and body but if I can’t do those things I’ll ride my skateboard, go for a hike, take my dogs for a run on the beach. I live most of the year in Nicaragua off the grid. I have to pump a well for water which means every time i shower, do the dishes, water the garden, do laundry (by hand), even flush the toilet, I have to pump the well first. It’s great for the environment and also my body. Just living is a work out down there!

MBG: What does MindBodyGreen mean to you?

HB: MindBodyGreen is a term that reinforces the notion that everything is connected. The health and well-being of our minds, bodies, and the earth are one and the same. Ignoring one while trying to nurture the others is unsustainable. For any one to truly prosper, the health of all three is necessary.

MBG: Who or what inspires you?

HB: I’m inspired by intelligent adventurous people who live outside of normal societal expectations and find a way to pursue their passions as a career that lasts a lifetime.

MBG:
What’s next for you?

HB: I’ll be spending July, August, and September in Nicaragua. Aug 30 – Sept 6 I’m co-hosting a surf, yoga, volunteering trip with a non-profit called SYRV where we will be putting the finishing touches on that community center. See SurfwithHollyBeck.com for details on that and more retreats in November/December.

5 Reasons Why Dudes Should Practice Yoga

I’m not your typical yoga person.

In fact, I don’t even come close to fitting the profile of a yoga person. First of all, I’m a dude. I’m tall (6’7″ to be exact). Yes, is the answer to your next question: I played basketball. I played for four years in college at Columbia, in New York City. I also was president of my fraternity.

After college, I worked on Wall Street as an equities trader for five years. Did I even mention the injuries I have? Dislocated shoulders, separated shoulders, stress fractures, bone spurs and disc problems. I’ll stop there because I’m totally fine — have absolutely no pain — partly due to yoga. I practiced yoga weekly for two years, was just starting to get the hang of it, before work travel took over. The discs in my lower back derailed (literally) and I was off my yoga train. I’m only about three months back into my practice, but I’m back on board the yoga train, full-speed ahead.

So how does a tall-ex-wall-street-trading-fraternity-boy-jock end up practicing yoga? Well, it just sorta happened.

Competitive sports are rough on the body.

I’m 35 and playing pick-up basketball just really isn’t an option, as I’m always just one rebound (or I’d still like to think one dunk) away from my shoulder popping out. Not fun.

The gym lacks camaraderie and community.

Since I turned 15, I’ve been hitting the gym an average of three to five times a week, lifting weights, doing the elliptical (or the ‘perpetual motion’ machine as my good friend, Michael Taylor likes to call it). Granted, lifting weights in the gym was a lot more fun in college when our whole team would lift together in the off-season or before practice. But since then, it just isn’t the same.

I got married.

Yes, another benefit of marriage other than love and tax benefits, is finding an activity that’s good for the body that you can do together. Since we both work a ton, finding ‘date’ time is sometimes difficult. So what better date than a ‘fitness’ date? Lifting weights together isn’t a viable option for us and neither is running (not so good on my knees).

I found a class that was a fit for me.

For a tall dude who who is looking for a workout, finding the right class is key. Quick movements with my body curled up scare me, but long and gentle movements where I feel a stretch and my quads or triceps burning is something that my body can handle. God bless, Tara Stiles and Michael Taylor at Strala Yoga.

So, for me it was a blend of finding a replacement for my ex-athletic, gym-going, yet-injured body, that my wife and I could enjoy together. But enough about me. Let’s talk about all the other dudes out there who are sitting on the perpetual yoga-fence. Here are five reasons why other dudes should practice yoga.

1. Your upper body will get stronger. I feel stronger, I’m more defined, and I haven’t lifted a weight in the past two months. This is all due to yoga. Just working plank pose in a basic yoga series will provide an upper body workout. I’m not even talking about handstands, crow pose and all those poses that require a lot of strength (and concentration), which strong yogis can make look easy. They are hard.

2. Your core will thank you. Sit-ups and crunches and all those other fun exercises only take you so far, as they become repetitive and your body becomes familiar with the movement. I’m not saying that you won’t get some sort of results doing these exercises. But Yoga will help you use and develop your core in relation to your other muscles and body parts. Hello six-pack abs and Speedo season. Well, maybe not Speedo season.

3. You’ll alleviate stress. Unlike our female counterparts, who often deal with stress outwardly, most dudes (I’m guilty too) often hold stress in, and don’t necessarily deal with it in a healthy way. The result is often sleep deprivation, lack of focus, unreflective eating or a little too much Happy Hour. Go to a yoga class that’s challenging and you’ll be 100 percent focused on your pose and breath. Your stress will most likely be left at the door. You’ll be more mindful. You know that concept called “mindfulness” that seems to be all the rage these days? You know, being present? Paying attention to all the little things, concentrating on your breath and focusing on the moment. You’ll do all that better, too.

4. It’s a cheap date. Dinner and/or movie, or drinks can’t compete with $10 yoga. You get a workout, don’t have to talk (sometimes guys just don’t have a lot to say), and your female companion will be happy. Priceless.

5. The women. Yes, the women — probably the most important reason for dudes on why they should practice yoga. If you’re single, there’s no better place to meet a woman. First of all, the girl-to-guy ratio is heavily in your favor. Odds are that the women will be in-shape, smart and probably run deep as opposed to superficial. It beats the hell out of Happy Hour.

Convinced? Sorta convinced? So what to do? As a fellow dude I’d hate to embarrass myself in class (wait, I’ve already done that), I’d suggest a few things:

First, take a look at some of the key beginner yoga poses so you know what’s coming your way. Just getting familiar with how they look will prove to be tremendously helpful.

Second, ask around, poke around and find the right class for you. There’s no one-size-fits all approach for yoga, and it might take a while to find your class or instructor. Just like love, you’ll know when you “know.” And when you “know,” you’ll be on your way.

Last, yoga is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m not doing handstands or anything fancy yet, and I don’t know when I’ll be ready for that challenge. What I do know is what’s right for my body and I try to take my practice one class at a time. (Kathryn and Elena, I’ll be bringing my extra-long mat to your classes soon).

Happy yoga.

By Jason Wachob

Basic Yoga Postures

Be kind to yourself when you practice yoga. Go slowly, especially in the beginning, and listen to your body. It knows what it can do. If it says “stop,” stop. Don’t push it. Yoga is not a competitive sport. You don’t win points for matching a picture in a book (or on a website). If you push too hard, you probably won’t enjoy it, and you may hurt yourself. Whenever possible, work with a teacher, and use books, videos and websites to supplement your classroom instruction. Most of all, stick with it. If you practice, you will improve. And you will feel better. Jai Bhagwan.

Below describes some of the fundamental yoga postures. The sequence can be performed in order. When you are familair with the postures, try some of the vinyasas, or yoga flows, listed to in the column to the right.

Sit/Easy Position – Sukhasana

A starting position that helps focus awareness on breathing and the body; helps strengthen lower back and open the groin and hips.
Sit cross-legged with hands on knees. Focus on your breath. Keep your spine straight and push the sit bones down into the floor. Allow the knees to gently lower. If the knees rise above your hips, sit on a cushion or block. This will help support your back and hips. Take 5-10 slow, deep breaths. On the next inhale, raise your arms over your head. Exhale and bring your arms down slowly. Repeat 5-7 times.

Dog and Cat
Increases flexibility of spine
This is really two poses, one flowing into the other. Begin on your hands and knees. Keep your hands just in front of your shoulders, your legs about hip width apart. As you inhale, tilt the tailbone and pelvis up, and let the spine curve downward, dropping the stomach low, and lift your head up. Stretch gently. As you exhale, move into cat by reversing the spinal bend, tilting the pelvis down, drawing the spine up and pulling the chest and stomach in. Repeat several times, flowing smoothly from dog into cat, and cat back into dog.

Mountain – Tadasana
Improves posture, balance and self-awareness.
A deceptive pose in that it appears so simple that some students may ask – “why bother?” But just as there’s more to breathing than meets the eye, there is more to standing, too.
Stand with feet together, hands at your sides, eyes looking forward. Raise your toes, fan them open, then place them back down on the floor. Feel your heel, outside of your foot, toes and ball of your foot all in contact with the floor. Tilt your pubic bone slightly forward. Raise your chest up and out, but within reason – this isn’t the army and you’re not standing at attention. Raise your head up and lengthen the neck by lifting the base of your skull toward the ceiling. Stretch the pinky on each hand downward, then balance that movement by stretching your index fingers. Push into the floor with your feet and raise your legs, first the calves and then the thighs.
Breathe. Hold the posture, but try not to tense up. Breathe. As you inhale, imagine the breath coming up through the floor, rising through your legs and torso and up into your head. Reverse the process on the exhale and watch your breath as it passes down from your head, through your chest and stomach, legs and feet.
Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, relax and repeat.
On your next inhale, raise your arms over head (Urdhava Hastasana) and hold for several breaths. Lower your arms on an exhale.
As a warm up, try synchronizing the raising and lowering of your arms with your breath – raise, inhale; lower, exhale. Repeat 5 times.

Forward Bend or Extension – Uttanasana II
Stretches the legs and spine, rests the heart and neck, relaxes mind and body
Begin standing straight in Mountain pose or Tadasana. Inhale and raise the arms overhead. Exhale, bend at the hips, bring the arms forward and down until you touch the floor. It’s okay to bend your knees, especially if you’re feeling stiff. Either grasp your ankles or just leave your hands on the floor and breathe several times. Repeat 3-5 times. On your last bend, hold the position for 5 or 10 breaths. To come out of the pose, curl upward as if pulling yourself up one vertebrae at a time, stacking one on top of another, and leaving the head hanging down until last.
Variations
1. Follow the instructions for the basic pose described above, but instead of holding the pose for several breaths, come up on the inhale. Extend your arms forward as your rise until you are standing straight and your arms are overhead. Exhale and bend forward. Repeat the process 5 times.
2. Go into the pose and take 3 deep breaths. Inhale and raise your head, but keep your hands on the floor. Hook each index finger around each big toe, exhale and come down. Hold for several breaths
3. Inhale and raise your head, again keeping your hands on the floor. This time, slide your hands under your feet so that the tips of your toes are touching heel of your hands. Hold for several breaths.
4. After bending forward, fold your arms and hang for as long as is comfortable. A very relaxing pose.
5. To come out of the pose, curl upward as if pulling yourself up one vertebrae at a time, stacking one on top of another, and leaving the head hanging down until last.

Trikonasana – the Triangle
Stretches the spine, opens the torso, improves balance and concentration.
Start with your spread 3-4 feet apart, feet parallel. Turn your left foot 90 degrees to the left and your right foot about 45 degrees inward. Inhale and raise both arms so they’re parallel with the floor. Exhale, turn your head to the left and look down your left arm toward your outstretched fingers. Check that your left knee is aligned with your left ankle. Take a deep breath and stretch outward to the left, tilting the left hip down and the right hip up. When you’ve stretched as far as you can, pivot your arms, letting your left hand reach down and come to rest against the inside of your calf, while your right arms points straight up. Turn and look up at your right hand. Breathe deeply for several breaths. Inhale, and straighten up. Exhale, lower your arms. Put your hands on your hips and pivot on your heels, bringing your feet to face front. Repeat the posture on the other side.

Warrior I I – Virabhadrasana II
Strengthens legs and arms; improves balance and concentration; builds confidence

Begin in mountain pose with feet together and hands at side. Step your feet 4-5 feet apart. Turn your right foot about 45 degrees to the left. Turn your left foot 90 degrees to the left so that it is pointing straight out to the side. Slowly bend the left knee until the thigh is parallel with the floor, but keep the knee either behind or directly over your ankle. Raise your arms over head. Then slowly lower them until your left arm is pointing straight ahead and your right arm is pointing back. Concentrate on a spot in front of you and breathe. Take 4 or 5 deep breaths, lower your arms, bring your legs together. Reverse the position.

The Cobra – Bhujangasana
Stretches the spine, strengthens the back and arms, opens the chest and heart.
Lie down on your stomach. Keep your legs together, arms at your side, close to your body, with your hands by your chest.
Step 1: Inhaling, slowly raise your head and chest as high as it will go. Keep your buttocks muscles tight to protect your lower back. Keep your head up and chest and heart out. Breathe several times and then come down. Repeat as necessary.
Step 2: Follow the steps above. When you’ve gone as high as you can, gently raise yourself on your arms, stretching the spine even more. Only go as far as you are comfortable. Your pelvis should always remain on the floor. Breathe several times and come down.

Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
Builds strength, flexibility and awareness; stretches the spine and hamstrings; rests the heart.
Start on your hands and knees. Keep your legs about hip width apart and your arms shoulder width apart. Your middle fingers should be parallel, pointing straight ahead. Roll your elbows so that the eye or inner elbow is facing forward. Inhale and curl your toes under, as if getting ready to stand on your toes. Exhale and straighten your legs; push upward with your arms. The goal is to lengthen the spine while keeping your legs straight and your feet flat on the ground. However, in the beginning it’s okay to bend the knees a bit and to keep your heels raised. The important thing is to work on lengthening the spine. Don’t let your shoulders creep up by your ears — keep them down. Weight should be evenly distributed between your hands and feet. Hold the position for a few breaths. Come down on and exhale. Repeat several times, synchronizing with your breath: up on the exhale and down on the inhale.

Half Shoulderstand — Ardha Sarvangasana
Promotes proper thyroid function, strengthens abdomen, stretches upper back, improves blood circulation, induces relaxation
You probably remember doing this as a kid. Lie on your back and lift your legs up into air. Place your hands on your lower back for support, resting your elbows and lower arms on the ground. Make sure your weight is on your shoulders and mid to upper back — not your neck. Breathe deeply and hold for at the posture for at least 5-10 breaths, increasing the hold over time. To come down, slowly lower your legs, keeping them very straight — a little workout for your abdominal muscles.

The Bridge – Sethu Bandhasa
Increases flexibility and suppleness; strengthens the lower back and abdominal muscles; opens the chest.

Lie on your back with your knees up and hands at your side Your feet should be near your buttocks about six inches apart. To begin, gently raise and lower your tail. Then, slowly, raise the tailbone and continue lifting the spine, trying to move one vertebra at a time until your entire back is arched upward. Push firmly with your feet. Keep your knees straight and close together. Breathe deeply into your chest. Clasp your hands under your back and push against the floor.

Take five slow, deep breaths.

Come down slowly and repeat.

The Corpse — Savasana
Relaxes and refreshes the body and mind, relieves stress and anxiety, quiets the mind
Possibly the most important posture, the Corpse, also known as the Sponge, is as deceptively simple as Tadasana, the Mountain pose. Usually performed at the end of a session, the goal is conscious relaxation. Many people find the “conscious” part the most difficult because it is very easy to drift off to sleep while doing Savasana. Begin by lying on your back, feet slightly apart, arms at your sides with palms facing up. Close your eyes and take several slow, deep breaths. Allow your body to sink into the ground. Try focusing on a specific part of the body and willing it to relax. For example, start with your feet, imagine the muscles and skin relaxing, letting go and slowly melting into the floor. From your feet, move on to your calves, thighs and so on up to your face and head. Then simply breathe and relax. Stay in the pose for at least 5-10 minutes.

Via YogaSite

Incorporating Meditation into Your Yoga Routine

If and when you finally decide to incorporate meditation as a daily part of your routine and have deemed yourself ready to take the first step, do not commit the mistake of thinking that it would change everything overnight. Learning how to meditate and be able to benefit from it is a long process but you will soon discover that there are many great things in store for you in the future.

It may be difficult initially (everything is the first time around) Even though meditating can be difficult when you first begin the rewards that you receive are well worth the effort. You will soon discover that you have more peace than you previously thought and that there is a better view to life. To get you on the right track to accomplish your pursuit of inner peace and well being, here are a few proven steps on how to learn meditation easily.

1.    Look for the most secluded and quietest spot in your home or your office where you can have the most privacy for 10 to 15 minutes in order to avoid interruption as much possible. Privacy helps you with your concentration especially in the beginning. If you can not find a spot where you can have total silence, play soft relaxing music to drown out disturbing noises. As much as possible, always meditate in the same spot at the same time.

2.    A major part of meditation is learning to control your breathing rhythm. Learn the proper breathing techniques by focusing and controlling your breathing rhythm at the very start.

3.    As soon as you are comfortable in controlling your breathing rhythm, the next step is to learn to relax your entire body. Do not think about anything else while you are doing this, forget the past and don’t worry about the future. Keep your focus and concentration on the here and now and make yourself aware of what is happening at this particular moment. Let go of the tension in your body starting from the toes going up and relax each one after another sequentially.

4.    If you prefer to meditate at home after work, it is best to unwind first before doing so. Keep in mind however that it is not recommended to meditate after a meal and that you should always be in a comfortable sitting position instead.

The first few times you try to meditate, you would surely experience loss of concentration but don’t give up. This is part of the learning process. Simply start over and take up where you left off. Over time this will happen less and less often until you are able to stay focused and concentrate almost at will.

Meditating is easier said than done but by following these 4 easy steps, you will soon learn how to do it easily and correctly. Keep persevering and don’t give up easily. The more effort you put into learning how to meditate the more benefits you will be able to reap.

Now sit down a little and try it, you will feel a lot better I promise!

Article Via Yoga-Exercises.Net

Think Yoga Is Always Easy And Relaxing?

When most people think of yoga, they think of a quiet environment, where participants spend a lot of time just laying around, holding poses, and focusing on their breathing.  While there are serious benefits to this type of yoga, this is not the only variety out there.

Sculpt yoga is a form of yoga that incorporates weights into the discipline.  You move from pose to pose, sometimes incorporating weights, sometimes focusing on bodyweight oriented poses; either way your muscles are sure to take a beating.  By working out with a qualified sculpt yoga instructor, you will receive the maximum benefit of your workout. 

Think of sculpt yoga as a two-in-one, muscle building, calorie burning workout.  Studies have shown that one hour of sculpt yoga burns 555 calories in a 145 lb. woman.  This is the equivalent of 45 minutes on the elliptical machine that so many women use, but grow tired of in a hurry.  Don’t subject yourself to the same boring exercise routines that you hate. 

What if you could just throw down a yoga mat and follow a live sculpt fusion yoga instructor?  Just 1 hour of your day, in the comfort and privacy of your own home is all need to develop that lean and toned, yoga/pilates body.  Do this a few times a week, combined with other forms of exercise are you are well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

Share It Fitness has our very own, certified sculpt yoga professionals ready to assist you and your every needs.  No two classes will ever be the same.  Doing yoga from your home while following along on your computer will be almost identical to following along in a studio….except for the fact it’s easier, more private, and perhaps most importantly, far less expensive. 

Subscribe to our blog or join our mailing list on shareitfitness.com and we’ll keep you up to date about all of our sculpt yoga classes and information!

Your Highest Potential with Yoga

Are you living your divine potential? I mean that person inside of you? Are you fully expressing your inner being?

No? Why do you think that is?

Is it some other event, resource or person? Something outside of you that is holding you back? Is it lack of time? Maybe it’s an education, money or health for that matter? These thoughts of lack could go on and on. Gee. Gosh are you focusing on lack more than abundance?

Could it possibly be that you have something inside you that is dying to express your potential, but you are afraid to let it out? Often times instead of facing the reality and being 100% responsible for our lives, we hide from ourselves and blame others. We begin to only see our weakness and not our strengths. Our focus goes to what not all peaches and cream.

Whatever it is may be holding you back, try these steps to uncover your inner potential.

Step 1: Ask questions of yourself: What would happen if I let out your true self-expression, talents, and core being? But what do you think it is? What do you think you are you afraid of? Is it a loss of security or safety? Could it be love? Maybe it’s recognition?

Step 2: Begin ‘Whying it.’ Sounds strange I know, here’s an example of how it works.

Example: The obstacle: I fear success Why? I am afraid of being thought of as a fraud Why? Because I don’t want to be a fraud <— This is the fear, not fear of success.

Step 3: This is where yoga fits in! In fact, if it wasn’t for yoga I don’t know if I ever would of uncovered some of the huge blocks that were holding me back. Yoga transforms. It uncovers our greatness. It prevents us from tearing ourselves down.

Practice self-acceptance and self-love of this obstacle and let it go on the mat. Here’s how.

At the beginning of your yoga class, sometimes the teacher will ask you to set an intention. This time you are going to set the intention for ‘becoming authentically whole and always truthful.’ You see this is the opposite of ‘I don’t want to be a fraud.’ All through practice remind yourself of how ‘authentically whole and truthful’ you are. Then in savasana (corpose pose) at the end of class, embody and completely feel that intention absorbing you. Lastly, after class set an intention to take an action that would move you forward to overcome any your obstacle. By making an intention and focusing on it for an extended time, it allows us to let go and move on.

Article Via Everythingyoga.com

Working out with an Injury

Mike was driving to work when out of the blue he was blind-sided by a car running a red light.  He was lucky he didn’t suffer a direct impact, but was still sent to the emergency room for treatment.  Mike suffered numerous back and lower body injuries.  Each of his doctors gave a different opinion on which movements and activities to stay away from to avoid perpetuating the injuries.

“Avoid high impact activities”.  “Don’t bend over”.  “Don’t turn sideways”.  Following doctors orders, Mike began to pack on the pounds because he was worried about exerting himself. 

Luckily, Mike’s physical therapist mentioned that he give yoga a try.  Mike was desperate for anything to help him get off the couch and get a little physical activity.  Only a few weeks into his yoga training, Mike was seeing major improvements.  He was becoming less stiff, losing some of that weight, and noticed his pain was subsiding.  Since overcoming his injuries, Mike has kept up with his weekly yoga routine, and is now a model of great health and fitness.

Stories like this are extremely common.  Yoga is great for limbering up the body, improving blood flow to injured areas, and burning calories.  However, there is another added benefit of yoga many aren’t aware of.  According to a UK Cancer Research study, there are large numbers of lymph vessels which are located just under your skin.  These vessels contain white blood cells and plasma, which produce bacteria and virus fighting antibodies.  With the assistance of macrophages, they are able to “devour” any germs or alien particles in your body.  This is what keeps you well, and gets you well if you do become sick.  They are vital to a healthy immune system.

It has been shown that yoga is the absolute best method for circulating lymphatic fluid.  It’s no wonder that sedentary people get sick more often than active people.  Their fluid moves at a much slower rate than the active person, leading to illness.  By practicing the art of yoga, you keep lymphatic fluid fresh by keeping a constant flow of it in your body.  In the article “The Lymph“, Roger Jahnke O.M.D. makes the claims that  movement and breathing increase the amount of lymphatic fluid produced, as well as its movement around the body.  Two key components of yoga are movement and breathing.  Is it any wonder that people who practice yoga are healthier individuals?

So, what do you do when you suffer an accident like Mike? What’s your plan when your knee is throbbing from that old basketball injury?  Or you are sick and tired of constantly getting colds and other irritating sicknesses.  Yoga is the answer.  Your future health is determined upon how well you know how to take care of yourself.  You now know that moving lymphatic fluid and increasing blood flow to injured body parts is key to a lifetime of good health and fitness.  Combine yoga with proper diet to realize less sick days, less time lost due to injuries, and a long, happy life.

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