Yoga: A Healthy Exercise for Everyone

Yoga is one of the oldest forms of exercise with a history that dates back thousands of years. Unlike some forms of exercise that focus on physical endurance and movement, yoga is focused on the mind, body and spirit connection. Yoga is one of the easiest exercises to learn, requires little equipment or training and can be performed in almost any setting. Not only does yoga focus on mediation and relaxation, it is also very useful for conditioning the cardiovascular system, toning muscles and maintaining flexibility. If you are looking to incorporate more stretching exercises like yoga into your workout routine, try some of our recommendations for the most beneficial yoga poses for men and women.

About Yoga

Yoga originated in India around 3000 B.C. The word “yoga” is developed from an ancient Sanskrit language and roughly translates to the phrase: to unite, the mind, body and spirit. In the U.S. and other western locations, yoga is mainly practiced as an exercise, but traditionally, yoga has always had a spiritual component. For many, yoga serves as more of a lifestyle than an exercise. There are many different varieties of yoga – all of which have their own intensity and focus. Some of the most popular yoga varieties are Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, and Bikram yoga.

The Health Benefits of Yoga

Researchers at the University of Maryland examined yoga’s health benefits and determined that it was especially effective at reducing stress and increasing flexibility. The university also reported that some varieties of yoga provide as much of a physical health benefit as aerobic exercise. In some cases, yoga outperformed aerobic exercise in regards to improving an individual’s balance and strength. Yoga was also was effective at decreasing pain levels among seniors and menopausal women.

Yoga Poses for Women

While yoga encompasses a number of styles and poses, there are a few poses – child’s pose and warrior pose – that are especially helpful for women. Child’s pose works to strengthen and stretch the hips, quadriceps and core. This pose can be useful to relieve back pain and menstrual cramping and also helps to open up the hips and relieve tightness in the lower back. The warrior poses, which consists of several variations such as warrior I and warrior II poses, focuses on stretching the hips, inner thighs and chest. The arm movements used in the pose help to strengthen the quadriceps, abdomen and shoulders. This is one of the best poses to build strength in the mid-section and uses the body’s weight to tone the arms and shoulders.

Yoga Poses for Men

While some men may not feel like yoga is a “manly” exercise activity, some might be surprised to learn how effective yoga can be as a conditioning exercise for other athletic activities. The plank pose and the boat pose are a couple of the best yoga poses to help men develop strength and power. The plank pose is a great option for strengthening the upper body. Basically, the plank is a modified push up that targets the arms, back, shoulders and core. Boat pose targets the core muscle groups and uses an elevated, modified sit-up technique.

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Can I Practice Yoga at Home?

Whether you have just gotten started with the yoga basics at your local YMCA or you have been going to classes with a yogi that you admire for some time, you know that you are not going to get better unless you spend some time practicing! However, even after you have found the time to practice, you might be wondering where you can do it. If you have always practiced yoga at a studio or at a school, you may be a wondering where to do it when you are on your own. The truth of the matter is that you can just as easily practice yoga at home as you do at the studio!

When you are interested in practicing yoga at home, all you need is a small, private area that is relatively clutter free. You need enough space to lie down flat on your back, and when you are standing with your legs spread at shoulder width, you should be able to swing your arms around at full extension without hitting anything. This kind of space can be found in the living room, or in your bedroom. You may need to pick up a little bit of clutter before you begin, but that is simple enough.

When you are practicing yoga at home, you might wonder what kind of equipment that you need. Theoretically, you can practice yoga with no equipment at all, but having the right equipment around can put you into the right frame of mind. If you are going to be practicing on a wooden floor, you are going to need a yoga mat at the very least. The yoga mat is a long strip of textured rubber that will allow you to be more comfortable when you are doing yoga exercise on the floor and it will also give you the kind of grip and traction you need to perform some of the poses. The yoga mat should be long enough that when you do a long pose that your feet will not leave it. People who are taller tend to need longer yoga mats.

After you have purchased your yoga mat, there are a few other things that can help you get situated and comfortable in your routine. Blocks can be used to give you more support an you do exercises like lunges or poses like the half-moon. These foam blocks can be purchased from any health store and may even be available from your instructor. You may also find that a strap can be useful when it comes to helping you maintain certain poses that involve putting your legs in the air or when the ball of your foot needs to be pulled back. The strap can be any soft rope, and things like bathrobe ties can be used if you need something quickly.

After you have the equipment and the space, it is all about setting the mood. Yoga is a deeply relaxing activity, and getting some of the peace from your yoga activity during your day to day life can be invigorating for you. You may choose to light some incense and to play some music before you start your routine.

Bring your yoga practice into your home; it takes less effort than you think!

Learn more about health, fitness, yoga and exercise and yoga mats.

  • Story Behind Phillip Askew’s Awesome Yoga Video (mindbodygreen.com)
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Bikram Yoga For A Healthy Mind And Body

 Bikram Yoga For A Healthy Mind And Body

Bikram Yoga is a style of yoga developed by Bikram Choudhary of India. It involves strengthening both the mind and body for a completely healthy person. This style is most distinctive because the yogasanas or the sequence of postures and movements are done in a heated room to prevent any muscle injury. It offers the benefit of an improved cardio vascular activity for a healthier heart and body. It is also effective for people of all ages providing both agility and fitness.

In learning this method, it is essential to find a good guru to teach you the proper movements and postures. If you find it difficult to find a teacher in your area, Bikram Yoga DVDs are available to guide you through the levels of instruction. The DVDs are divided into levels so that as you become more adept in the practice, you may progress to higher levels of postures. The starter DVD contains the Pranayama series and the Ardha Chandrasana which is Level 1 of the practice. Succeeding levels deal with Ustrasana, Bhujangasana and other high level postures that are more tailored to practitioners who are already supple and flexible. You must be careful to follow only the DVD that is right for your level because more advanced postures may cause more harm than good to your body.

Care must be observed in buying these DVDs because fake copies also abound. The original DVD contains the company logo on the cover. If you cannot find it then the copy is probably a fake.

You may want to find out more about Bikram Yoga to fully understand the philosophy behind this style. You may find that you are fitted for this yoga style and want to start practicing immediately. The practice of yoga involves dedication and discipline that can only be achieved through constant practice.

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Uses of the Acai Palm from South America

Uses of the Acai Palm from South America

OMG! this was the BEST!!! (Photo credit: CRASH:candy)

Many have heard about the antioxidant value of the Acai Berry from South America, but there are additional uses for the Acai Palm beyond the berry. The stem is consumed by many for the same reason as the berry. And commercial purposes have been created for the leaves and the wood of the trunk.

Acai Palm Stem

The part of the Acai Palm tree that is growing at the tip of the tree is used in salads and is referred to as the heart of the palm.

The Fruit of the Acai Palm

Somewhere near 800 berries grow together on the branches of the Acai Palm twice a year. The fruit contains an amazing large seed consisting of 80% of the berry itself. Within the Amazon, the berries represent a large portion of the population’s diet. Many beverages have been created from the juice of the berries which is consumed within the region. Farther north within Brazil, the berry is consumed more often as a fruit instead of a juice. Other unique uses within Brazil include ice cream and liqueur.

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