Strong & Flexible Body

Yoga is Not a Chick Sport

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Yes, I consider yoga is a sport (or at least a very important addition to a sport). Yoga is a sport of balancing, energizing and elevating mind, body and spirit. I noticed a lot of men are intimidated of practicing yoga due its popularity with the women. Even though women are bendier than men and are more open in the hips, men have the advantage of upper body strength, which serves them well in arm poses. I’ve been practicing yoga for well over 9 years and when I showed a very difficult upper body pose to my husband that I’ve been trying to do for years, he did it in 5 minutes.

Some might argue that it’s a “chick sport” because it’s just “stretching”, but those people obviously haven’t taken the power yoga classes like ashtanga or bikram yoga. Oh, and if you REALLY want a workout, there is a also a boot-camp yoga class. You will be BEGGING for savasana (final relaxation pose).

Below are a few reasons for men (and women) to at least TRY a yoga class (and soon enough I’ll be teaching yoga myself, so you can take it with me and I’ll show you all the reasons and you will start noticing the benefits soon after)

  • Yoga is an AWESOME workout that covers every muscle, joint, and organ. It works every system: cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular and endocrine.

  • Yoga decreases muscle soreness. Yoga is a great way to alleviate muscle tension from other sports. It releases soreness by decreasing lactic acid build-up in the muscles. This helps performance and prevents injuries.

  • Yoga helps boost stamina. Instead of feeling depleted after you work out yoga actually increases your energy and revitalizes you. Stretching your muscles oxygenates your blood and deep breathing distributes oxygen throughout your body as energy.

  • Yoga relieves back pain and improves posture. After years of strenuous exercise tendons can shorten and eventually pull you out of alignment leading to chronic back pain. Yoga brings fluid back into stiff joints which helps correct alignment relieving back pain and even helps you appear taller by improving your posture!

  • Yoga reduces blood pressure. The deep extended breathing practiced in yoga helps reduce blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the many causes of heart attack, and fatigue for many men.

  • Yoga helps you focus. Many famous athletes including NFL stars swear by yoga. It has helped them heighten their performance levels. By increasing mental clarity they became better athletes in their chosen sport.

  • Yoga detoxifies the body. Yoga helps flush the body of toxins. It stimulates digestion and enhances the immune system.

  • Yoga calms the mind. After practicing yoga you feel a deep sense of well-being. It greatly reduces stress levels enabling you to feel calmer and more grounded. With renewed energy and mental clarity all activities and areas of your life are sure to benefit

  • Yoga will get you the hard rock six packs you’ve always wanted. Your abs are your core, and if it’s not exercised regularly, your back will suffer. In yoga, almost every posture activates the core and not just what your regular sit ups do, but deeper, making your abs leaner. Even if you are body builder, you will feel muscles that you didn’t know existed.

Now, hopefully this will motivate you to start practicing yoga. 

Namaste,

The Road to Your Healthy Self

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Being healthy has many dimensions. It’s a process and doesn’t happen overnight. First and foremost, you have to be in the right mind-set in order to achieve and maintain a healthy body and mind. It’s not just about losing weight and looking fit, but it’s about feeling healthy as well. There are many “get-slim fast” diets, like the lemonade diet, which has absolutely no nutritional value nor does it keep your weight off for longer than a week. So, if you want to loose the weight and keep it off, read on for a few tips to get you started The three main components consist of:

  • Stay Active

This may seem so obvious, yet a lot of people avoid hitting the gym, because

a) they are too tired b) they are too busy c) they have better things to do.

But what these people don’t realize is that exercising is like taking the medicine your doctor prescribed – it’s essential to your overall health. Your body needs to be in constant motion throughout the day in order to fuel the body. So if you feel like you don’t have the energy to hit the gym, do a few quick exercises at home, but do something. The key is find something you actually ENJOY: love dancing? take a zumba class or go to a salsa social. Love the peace a yoga class can bring, carve out the time to go or do a few poses at home. Chances are you’ll be refreshed and energized afterwards.  Your body will be refueled, your muscles will roar and you’ll feel great about yourself. Try doing a few quick exercises at work to regain your energy. Exercise gets your heart pumping and can help give you more energy to make it through your day. 

  • Eat Right

When it comes to food, moderation is key. It’s better to eat throughout the day than overindulge with large meal three times a day. If you keep healthy snacks near you between breakfast and lunch, you are more likely to eat less for lunch and dinner. And of course by snacking I don’t mean chips, cookies or donuts, but what I mean is nuts, carrots with hummus, apples etc. Also, can’t stress this one enough: drink plenty of H20. By drinking an ample amount of water you will avoid dehydration which can cause feelings of fatigue. The key is having the best water filtration system. 

Another important component of eating right is personalization. “There’s no one-size-fits-all diet plan,” says Tara Gidus, RD, an Orlando-based nutritionist. “It’s important to try different approaches and see what works for you,” says Rena Wing, PhD, cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry.

  • Maintain a Happy Spirit

Consider the “mind/body connection”, which means your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. Your stress level, anxiety or sadness affects your mood, hence affects your overall health of your body. If you feel good and happy, then you usually also look great. So, besides the two very important components of staying fit and eating right, you have to:

  • Think positively

  • Smile more often

  • Don’t let the little things get to you, because the only person you’ll be hurting in the process of these emotions is yourself.

Poor emotional health can also weaken your body's immune system, making you more likely to get colds and other infections.

Part of being healthy is to start improving your mental health. The following are some helpful tips from the Family Doctor

Express your feelings in appropriate ways. If feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety are causing physical problems, keeping these feelings inside can make you feel worse. It’s OK to let your loved ones know when something is bothering you. However, keep in mind that your family and friends may not be able to help you deal with your feelings appropriately. At these times, ask someone outside the situation--such as your family doctor or a therapist for advice and support to help you improve your emotional health.

Live a balanced life. Try not to obsess about the problems at work, school or home that lead to negative feelings. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be happy when you feel stressed, anxious or upset. It’s important to deal with these negative feelings, but try to focus on the positive things in your life too. You may want to use a journal to keep track of things that make you feel happy or peaceful. Some research has shown that having a positive outlook can improve your quality of life and give your health a boost. You may also need to find ways to let go of some things in your life that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Make time for things you enjoy.

Develop resilience. People with resilience are able to cope with stress in a healthy way. Resilience can be learned and strengthened with different strategies. These include having social support, keeping a positive view of yourself, accepting change, and keeping things in perspective.

Calm your mind and body. Relaxation methods, such as meditation, are useful ways to bring your emotions into balance. Meditation is a form of guided thought. It can take many forms. For example, you may do it by exercising, stretching or breathing deeply. 

Strategize Your Workout

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After a long and awesome kick-boxing class, I realized that this is happening more and more throughout the gyms everywhere - multitasking your workouts. Americans have gotten so used to multitasking on the daily routines: operating a vehicle, cell phone to their ear, coffee in their hand, trying to have a simultaneous conversation with a clerk lady through the drive-thru window. It's insane how much brain power we need to fuel two conversations at once and think about which road we are going to turn on next or which train we need to catch. So, why not apply the same concept when it comes to toning your body?

We strategize throughout the day without even realizing it ... how to get the most value out of the least amount of time. We want to accomplish so much in a day and still have the energy to come home and be able to cook dinner, talk to our significant others/roommates or/and friends.

Multitasking usually keeps you fired up throughout the day, but you may be drained by the evening. You might think a lot gets done when you multitask, but a study conducted by Stanford researchers Eyal Ophir, Clifford Nass and Anthony Wagner says it isn't so.

The researchers are still studying whether chronic media multitaskers are born with an inability to concentrate or are damaging their cognitive control by willingly taking in so much at once. But they're convinced the minds of multitaskers are not working as well as they could.

"When they're in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they're not able to filter out what's not relevant to their current goal," said Wagner, an associate professor of psychology. "That failure to filter means they're slowed down by that irrelevant information."

So even though when it comes to texting, reading a book, watching TV and trying to pay attention to a conversation might be a bad idea, when it comes to exercising, it's beneficial to multitask throughout your workout. The multitask workout includes the moves that combine muscles in the upper body and lower body simultaneously, while putting you a little off-balance for core strengthening. Then you can add cardio intervals between moves for a total body workout.

These moves will cut your work-out time in half.

1) Leg Lunges and Bicep Curls

Start with 15 right leg lunges forward (be sure to step far in front, landing heel-then-toe and keeping the right knee directly over the ankle as you lower.) It becomes a multi-tasker by adding front bicep curls when you come back to a standing position. Use weights heavy enough for you to feel challenged after 15 reps. Keep your abs tight. Lower the weights as you lunge forward again.

2) Leg Lunges and Tricep French Press

Do 15 left leg lunges forward while lifting one or two heavy weights overhead into a tricep french press. You do this by bringing your weights together overhead and bending the elbows. The weight is now behind your neck. Lunge forward. As you bring the left leg back to stand tall, lift the weight back overhead by extending the elbows. Be sure to keep the arms right next to your head and elbows pointing forward, not out to the sides.

3) Plea Squat Shoulder Press

Assume a plea squat position by standing with feet wider than shoulder width apart and toes pointed out to the sides. Bend knees at a 90 degree angle so that your knees are directly over the heels and your waist is almost at knee level. Engage your abs, start a shoulder overhead press with the weights in your hands, palms facing forward, in line with your ears. Straighten the elbows and press weights to the ceiling as you straighten the legs. Bring weights back down and end at your ear level, as you squat back toward the floor, taking care not to bounce weights into your shoulders. Do the plea squat shoulder press for 15 reps.

Do one minute of jumping jacks or simulated jump rope between each numbered move. Repeat 1-3 for a total of 3 sets. You will work quads, glutes, triceps, biceps, shoulders, inner thighs and abs.

4) Outer-Thigh Lift and a One-Arm-Outside Bicep Curl

The first move is an outer-thigh lift and a one-arm-outside bicep curl. Balance on your right leg, lift the left straight leg to the side, this gets the hip abductor working.

At the same time, lift the right hand holding a heavy weight to the side for an outside bicep curl. Feel the abs engage. Do 15 reps and repeat on the other side.

5) Upperback, Abs and Outerthighs

The next move works upperback, abs and outerthighs. Get down on your hands and knees. Use medium-sized weights and balance on them. Lift your right arm out to the side while lifting your bent left leg out to the left side (we call this the hydrant, get it?).

Do 15 this way, then switch and lift the left arm and right leg at the same time. Notice how your abs have to contract as you lift.

6) Bench Press

Finally, lay on your back with heavy weights in your hands, elbows bent at 90 degrees. Align your wrists directly over your elbow, getting ready for a bench press. (Your arms should look like goal posts.) You'll simply straighten the arms to lift the weights towards the sky, and then bend the elbows back to 90 degrees, keeping the wrists above the elbows. At the same time.

Bend the legs and put your feet flat on the floor. As you lift the weights for a chest press, you will engage your glutes, quads and abdominals to lift the hips as high as you can off the floor. Lower hips and hands at the same time. Do 15 reps.

Finish with another set of jumping jacks or jump rope!

You can really get creative and strategize your workout to fit your needs. If you have your own favorite upper body exercises, mix them in with you not-so-favorite lower body moves, so the good will offset the bad. By the end of the workout, you might realize you actually LIKE what you didn't before. Your brain will not be so focused on the not-so-favorite while you are mixing in the fun moves.

Have a blast!