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.

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.

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.

All About Healthy Diet And Nutrition

With the fast-paced, technologically driven world people are now living, who would have the slightest idea that the most important rampart of normal living is being neglected?

Undeniably, because of the busy courses of people’s lives, people tend to forget some of the vital fragments in maintaining a healthy lifestyle diet and nutrition.

THE CONVERGENCE

The terms “diet” and “nutrition” are defined into two different sentences but are greatly connected. By definition, “diet” refers to the food and liquid intake of a person while “nutrition” pertains to the science of dealing with food and nourishment. When these two are combined, an entirely new meaning can be derived. More than the issues of food and liquid intake and the science of food and nourishment, diet and nutrition can revolve around nutritional information on various dietary supplements and the benefits vitamins and minerals to a person’s body.

Making yourself familiar with latest diet and nutrition topics, trends, and tips can lead you to the renewal of your health and well being commitment inside your home. You must remember that it’s never too late to redirect your eating habits, but before you take that drastic change, learn what are the common diet and nutrition mistakes so you can avoid them.

1. Careless assumption that the food choices you have are better than they actually are. Experts say that people who are very particular about diet and nutrition have larger tendencies of thinking and believing that their food choices are healthier than they really are. Make sure that you eat whole, fresh, and unprocessed foods whenever possible.

2. Confusion over carbohydrates. Although many people say that low carb diets are effective, experts say that there are excellent carbs that make people eat less. So before you cut down on carbs totally, make sure that you have consulted your dietician if this diet will be good for you.

3. You think you’re eating too much when you’re not. Experts say that one of the most common mistakes people make is that they overestimate and underestimate the amount of food their body needs. Make sure that you monitor the portion sizes of your food.

4. Not eating enough food or not eating often. Overeating and under eating may put the person at risk because it disrupts disrupting blood sugar and insulin levels. Make sure that you eat something every three hours and don’t starve before eating the next meal.

5. Neglecting the value of regular exercise. Making exercise a regular part of your life can definitely contribute to great diet and nutrition.

6. Taking in a lot of dietary supplements. A vitamin or dietary pill is a supplement that is meant to complement a person’s diet; therefore it should not be considered as substitutes for the foods you’re supposed to be eating. Experts say that one all-purpose multivitamin a day is enough to complement the nutrients you don’t get from the foods you don’t eat.

7. Following nutrition and weight loss guidelines by the book. Since people are different, it is only natural for them to have individual needs. Although diet and nutrition plans work for the majority of people, not everything can help you improve you overall diet and nutrition.

One of the major reasons why people get overweight or suffer from minor and major health risks is that they don’t practice having a healthy diet. Healthy diet which include eating balanced amount of food from all food groups along with exercise or regular physical activity can lessen people’s inclination to health problems.

PLANNING ON A HEALTHY DIET

Experts say that though basic principle of healthy diet is simple, most people are having a hard time sticking to it. Major reasons may include a super busy lifestyle, work that causes a lot of stress or even an environment that is not conducive to having a healthy diet.

Although it is hard to start and maintain a healthy diet, nothing is impossible if you really want to achieve a healthy mind and body. For starters, it is advisable to mix up food choices from each food group. Eating a large variety of foods and veggies can also serve as a warm up in avoiding the foods that contribute to drastic weight gain. Having a balanced intake of calcium-rich foods, whole grains, and protein-rich products will also keep you in track.

To be able to maintain eating a healthy diet, you must also know your restrictions of fats, salt and sugars levels, and intakes. Lastly, you must monitor your body weight regularly for you to know if your body is absorbing all the nutrients it needs.

Here are more tips for eating well and achieving a healthy diet:

1. Meals based on starchy foods are a good start to a healthy diet. Experts agree that people should eat more starchy foods such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta, and potatoes because they are a good source of energy not to mention being the main source of a range of nutrients of a person’s diet like fiber, calcium, iron, and vitamin B.

2. Load up a lot of fruits and veggies. Eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day is an ideal way to maintain a healthy diet. But, it is sometimes hard to achieve because people do not want to waste time peeling or chopping certain fruits and veggies. The best way to keep up with the recommended fruit and veggies intake if to eat a variety of fruits that are either fresh, frozen, canned or dried and picking out veggies that can be finger delights such as celery, broccoli, carrots, beans and peas.

3. Be more “fishy” Despite of the so-called “high mercury content” of fish, nutrition experts say that eating more fish especially oily fish is an important component of a healthy diet because it is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

4. Try to cut down on saturated fats and sugars. Do not totally cut down on fats because your body needs it to stay healthy. Basically, fats are categorized into saturated and unsaturated fat. The former has high amount of cholesterol and the latter has lower amounts that lowers blood cholesterol. Cut down only on foods that are high in saturated fat such meat pies, sausages, hard cheese, butter and lard, pastry, cakes and biscuits, cream and the like. Also monitor your sugar intake because aside from causing decay, sugary foods can also be high in calories that contribute to weight gain.

Important Points To Lose Weight As A Vegetarian

Eat Healthy. A healthy diet will help you lose weight. To many people the term “Vegetarian” implies someone who eats healthy. We envision all the types of far out, unheard of and little known healthy food that the normal person just would not eat. For a few vegetarians this is true. For most they eat like everyone else just avoiding meat. Meat alone does not cause us to gain weight unless we over do it. In fact the number one culprit in weight gain is sugar. Sugar as plain table sugar and sugar in all of its artificial forms are the number one cause of weight gain. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that equals energy or just added weight. Because sugar is the number one food additive and the processed foods and flours are either simple sugar or converted to simple sugar once we eat it, we gain weight because of the excess of sugar in our systems. To lose weight we must first reduce these simple sugars. If possible we should completely avoid them and eat a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts and beans. This Healthy diet is the key to weight loss.

Eat Vegetables. This may seem obvious but it is important that we eat at least 4-5 servings of vegetables a day. Many vegetarians give up meat yet they eat everything but vegetables as their main source of nutrition. Vegetables should be number one, hence the name vegetarian. Fruit and vegetables should provide 60% to 70% of our caloric consumption. Since fruit is mainly for energy they contain more natural sugar than vegetables and that could cause weight gain or in the very least hinder our weight loss progress. We need fruit. We need vegetables and we need more vegetables.

Eat Fruit. 3-4 servings of fruit a day is recommended by the USDA, any less and we are depriving ourselves of needed nutrition and energy. If we eat too many more servings and we will begin to gain weight as many fruits are full of natural sugar. Too much sugar, even though it is natural, causes weight gain.

Eat Whole Grains. Avoid processed foods. Avoid the unnatural processed cereal, rice, bread and pasta. Instead choose 100% whole grain cereals, breads, rice and pasta. Processed foods process out the nutrition and add starch, sugar and preservatives. These are all equal a formula for weight gain and poor health. Whole grains provide the natural nutrition God intended.

Eat Seeds, Nuts and Beans. Seeds, nuts and beans all provide protein and other nutrition we miss when we do not eat meat. Really, seeds, nuts and beans provide more nutrition with less fat than meat. These help us get the nutrition we need without the excess fat.

Drink Plenty of Water. Not only is water good for all the organs in our body but water helps us to lose weight. A body that functions properly needs 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. Water helps increase our metabolism. Increased metabolism burns more calories. Water also helps our digestive system. Therefore we eliminate the toxic waste that can build up in our system. When you do not drink enough water you body retains water and thereby increasing your weight. Our bodies are two thirds water, even down to the cellular level. As such water is the key to all of our bodily functions. Yet many diets no nothing more than to reduce water weight which the will begin to retain for survival mode and thus the weight will return.

Regular Exercise. Regardless of what you eat if you do not exercise regularly losing weight is difficult. We lose weight by burning more calories than we consume. Exercise helps us to burn calories. When we give up meat we generally consume fewer calories if we eat properly. Like water if we do not have enough physical activity the body will retain fat. Our bodies reacts to our sedentary state by storing fat for the time that is needed. That time is when you exercise. Since we are programmed to burn fat or store fat regular exercise is the only way to ensure we do not move to the store “fat mode”.

Rest, Fresh Air and Sunlight. Though mostly important for optimal health we need to rejuvenate our bodies to be most effective at weight loss. That is one reason why sleep (rest), fresh air and sunlight are so important to your weight loss program.