Tag Archives: yoga

Have you tried Bikram Yoga?

Following is a guest post written by Kelsey Duke (my daughter) who is a Bikram yoga proponent.  Her experience makes me strongly consider going back to Bikram yoga!

I find myself in the hot room for the first time in over six months, after half a year of inconsistent workouts and trips to the gym. I recently started a new job that requires long hours, happy hours, and fancy dinners that drag on for hours. When I walk in, the heat hits me as soon as I walk in but my brain has been here before, instantly it seeks to shut off the panic mechanism, “you’re okay, this is what you need.”

I lay my mat down strategically in the middle of the room since I’m not new but I’m not entirely ready for this. When class begins with breathing exercises I notice that my breath has become more shallow, my stomach looser and my knees wobbly. “Oh no,” I think to myself. Then “just breathe, you made it to class just do what you can,” a mantra echoed by the yoga teacher.

backbend_lorenza

Then an amazing thing happens, muscle memory. My postures come back, with more balance than before and almost the same depth. My mind is already trained to focus on breathing, listen to the teacher’s constant stream of instruction, and focus my attention and thus all my energy on myself.

When I started this class I thought it would be a good supplement to my workouts, a nice stretch, another way to burn calories. But as I leave with my wet towel and heavy mat, I’m reminded why I need to practice Bikram Yoga more. My mind is clear, my face is radiant, my energy is new and positive thoughts come easily.

For the first time in months my entire being is calm. The worrisome cycle of thoughts, the restless legs, the rash decisions are gone, replaced with a natural, easy peace. “This is why I love it,” I think to myself, “this is how I come to know peace.”

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Exercising can Help During and After Cancer Treatment

The following article was written by a fellow blogger,  Melanie Bowen.  Melanie is currently a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness.  In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

Benefits of Exercising During and After Cancer Treatment

Whether your diagnosis is mesothelioma, leukemia, lymphoma, or any of the other forms of cancer, fitness can make a difference. While exercise alone may not cure you, it can aid your body’s natural healing abilities. There are many reasons a fitness program can help you during your battle with cancer.   
Creating a Positive Mindset

One of the most important things you can do for your body is to develop a positive mindset. When faced with a scary diagnosis, this may seem difficult to do. However, there is a lot of evidence that our mental state affects our ability to heal. This is called mind-body medicine and, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there is a measurable correlation between mood and health.

Exercise is one of the most efficient ways to improve your mindset. During exercise, the body is flooded with oxygen and the brain releases endorphins that naturally improve health and mood. You do not need to spend hours in the gym each day. In fact, you should start out with just short sets so that you do not become overly tired or injure yourself. Speak with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program. Other medical issues you may have can determine what level of exercise is suitable for you.

Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Gong

Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Gong are all known for their mind and body benefits. Practicing these increases oxygen in the blood, increases range of motion in the extremities, and contributes to a calmer mind. No matter what your current fitness level is, these exercises can be adapted to your needs. Some Yoga and Chi Gong forms may even be performed while lying down.

Aerobic Exercise

Energy levels often plummet during cancer treatment. Aerobic exercise raises energy levels by flooding the body with oxygen and strengthening the heart and lungs. Low-impact aerobic activities are easiest on the joints – these activities include bicycling, using a rowing machine and walking.

Strength Training

Many have trouble eating during some cancer treatments. This can cause rapid weight loss, which may include a loss of muscle. Strength training helps prevent some muscle loss, and strengthens both the bones and the muscles. Examples of strength training include push-ups, squats, working with resistance bands, and using weights.

Start your fitness program as soon as possible. During treatment, it will help you feel better both physically and mentally. After your cancer treatment, exercise can help you regain your strength and energy.

Catching up

Hello blog friends, I have been neglecting you!

I have been very busy–I’ve started a new job and that has been taking up a lot of my time and energy, but I am totally enjoying it. I am working on a few big projects that I can really sink my teeth into.

I also have been keeping up with my running which is a good thing as I have a half marathon in early November. I’m on track with my training as far as running goes, but my yoga practice has taken a back seat. I really need to make time for yoga too as it complements the running nicely–tighten the muscles, stretch them out, tighten them, stretch them out, etc., etc.

And while I haven’t been writing about health and nutrition, I have been eating very healthy and working on my vegan recipes, (much more on this in future posts).

But mostly my time has been spent pampering myself — hair treatments, facials, hair cut and highlights, manicure, pedicure and an eyebrow wax…now I am NOT typically this high maintenance but I have been buffing and polishing to get ready for my son’s wedding! The wedding is this Saturday and I am so excited for him and his fiancée!!

Is Yoga “real exercise”? — You Bet it is!

I had a wonderful yoga class today, and wanted to try to express some feelings, but other than say, wow, yoga feels sooo wonderful, I turned to my daughter who has been practicing longer  and asked her to write a guest post about her experiences with yoga.  Enjoy!

Pulling is the object of stretching

by Kelsey Duke

If you aren’t practicing yoga regularly then you are probably just like I was. Hear me out:

I started running when I was fairly young, about 6 or 7,  which isn’t to say I was health conscious at an early age, just that I was born to health conscious parents who back then were probably considered “exercise freaks.” Running became my favorite and only form of exercise outside of team sports. Running was so ingrained in my routine that I could not fathom burning calories any other way. If I wasn’t running, it wasn’t exercise. Period.

As I got a little older I realized that running, though it was great for my mental health and wellness, wasn’t changing my body the way I wanted it to. At the end of college I found myself about 20 pounds overweight (or more, but I feared the scale that would give me an accurate measurement) and unhappy with my body. Not to mention running had become a chore for me. I wanted to  go running like I wanted to take a 5 hour final exam; I didn’t.

While I was sitting around beating myself up about not wanting to run, something I’d always taken pleasure in, I decided to try hot yoga. Not because I thought it would be a good form of exercise (because as a runner I thought yoga was in the same category as sitting down for an hour)  but because I was bored and it was only $20 for a whole week. What I expected was some relaxing stretching, maybe a nap, what I got was the biggest ass kicking. And the funniest thing was yoga was a totally zen ass kicking. No grunting, no yelling, no loud music. So by the end of it my body was completely exhausted but my mind was calm, awake and alert. This is the real benefit of yoga.

Bikram Yoga is a form of hot yoga that reaches all the major muscles, joints, and organs of the body in a 90 minute class. The heat provides exercise for the largest organ of all, the epidermis (or the skin). While you sweat out toxins you use muscle strength and to go deeper and deeper into each posture, thereby gaining muscle and flexibility while improving balance. The heat also provides a mental challenge similar to that you experience while running. You have to force yourself to focus on the work out, not let your body be talked out of it and attempt to calm your mind.

Yoga not only can improve your body but it can improve your mind-body connection. This is the hardest thing to sell people on because if you’ve never been in tune with your body, it’s hard to imagine what that feels like. But as a reformed runner (I can run for fun again! what a treat!) and still a relatively new yogi, I can tell you the mind-body connection is worth the effort and will improve every aspect of your life.

A Good Week!

I’ve had a good week this week both in terms of my eating and exercising.  I’ve been really concentrating on eliminating dairy products from my diet (you can read this post for the back story on that), and on eating a lot of greens and mushrooms, With the exception of last night, I’ve done well!

Last night I had a wonderful dinner at Grissini Italian Bistro in Kennebunkport, Maine.  It was very rich (butter) and wasn’t within my new diet plan, but it was good, it included mushrooms (in the butter sauce) and I didn’t eat too much nor did I have dessert!

I also managed to get in two runs and two yoga classes this week.  The runs were great.  It is a bit painful to get back into running, but it feels good.  Running makes me feel strong and I feel like I am strengthening my heart and increasing my lung capacity.

Yoga makes me feel powerful.  It strengthens my body and calms my “inner voice” — you know that annoying internal dialogue that holds us back.  Plus the physical stretching of yoga is a great compliment to running.   It stretches out all the things that  running tightens — hamstrings, hip flexors, lower back and glutes!

Motivation — not!

This is the time of day when I say, hmmmm it’s 4:00, I could go to yoga at 6:15.  I have plenty of time… but then when would I eat.  Well, I could have a small snack now and then I could eat at 7:30.  Sounds good.

OK, I’ve had my snack, now let’s see what else should I do for the next hour and a half before class?  I don’t want to get too involved because if I do, I will miss the class.  But, I hate to do nothing and just wait.  Well I have to drive home, that will take about a half an hour.  Maybe I’ll go for a walk before class…maybe I’ll walk to class.  No, that won’t work, it will be dark when class is over and I don’t want to walk home in the dark.

How about I just go to yoga tomorrow?  Yeah that will work.  I’ll go home and then go for a nice walk (in the light).   Well, why not go to the gym?  I haven’t been there in a while.  I could go for a walk, then go to the gym.  Well if I’m going to do that, I might as well run, it will take less time.  No, I am not psyched up to run today.

OK here’s the plan.  Go home.  On the way decide what to do, walk, gym, run, yoga…or just make dinner…..

I’ll report back later

 

OK, leaving now to

Yoga Can Make You Taller!

I’ve been practicing yoga for about a year and a half.  Last week when I went to the doctor, she measured me and I grew about half an inch taller!  I commented that it must be due to my improved posture due to yoga.  She said, yes, yoga certainly improves our posture, but it also can cause us to grow!

Yoga stretches and extends our spine.  It helps the back decompress from the downward pressure of gravity.  It also causes the cartilage in our back and our joints to lengthen and thicken making us taller.

There are several poses that encourage this growth in height:

Easy Pose (Sukahasana) opens up our hips and groin muscles and promotes our body’s natural ability to grow.

 

Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and Child’s Pose or Half  Tortoise (Ardha Kumasana).  Practicing Mountain Pose and Half Tortoise stretches our vertebral column, making it longer.

 

Shoulder Stand (Sarvanganasana)  not only stretches our spine, but also promotes pituitary gland activity, boosting the secretion of growth hormones.

It’s counter pose, Fish (Matsyasana) should be done soon after Shoulder Stand as it offers balance to the stretching produced by Shoulder Stand.

 Cobra Pose (Bhujangsana) increases the flexibility of our spine and  boosts blood supply to our vertebral column.

 

Thanks to Yoga Journal and Arc4life for the photos!