Say Yes to Yoga

Yoga seems to be increasing in popularity. If you are a member of a local gym, you will likely see it listed as one of the group fitness options. You may also have noticed that yoga studios are popping up in various parts of your city or town. And perhaps your doctor or someone that you know has recently recommended it to you. Though some have managed to overcome the negative stigma of yoga, others are still yet to be persuaded.
I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend who had been complaining of pain in the knees, back and hips. Given what I know about this individual, although fitness was always important to him, like many, he was relying on modern traditional methods to help meet his weekly fitness goals – which primarily consisted of a combination of exercise machines and walking. Although the walking is not too concerning, exercise machines can sometimes be problematic. Though exercise machines were created to provide a safe alternative to free weights; they can put your body into unnatural positions and take your joints through dangerous ranges of motion which can lead to injuries overtime, thus leaving some searching for alternative exercises.
Yoga is a great form of exercise and has become a well-respected way of recovery from injuries. For example, according to the website spine-health.com – a site developed by a multi-specialty group of medical professionals, yoga can provide several healing benefits for people with various types of back pain such as: speeding up the time it takes to recover from an injury, preventing re-injury, and helping maintain a regular level of daily activities and thus reducing chances for disability. Other benefits of yoga include: improving flexibility, building muscle strength, preventing cartilage and joint breakdown, lowering your blood pressure, lowering blood sugar levels, boosting your immune system, reducing stress, improving your sex life and giving you a peace of mind.
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However, despite the health and fitness benefits of yoga, still many have chosen to say, “NO” – especially men. In fact, according to a 2012 Yoga Journal Report, 83 percent of the more than 20 million yoga practitioners were woman, which may led some to wonder, why there is such a large disparity. Two of the common reasons I have heard from men as to why they do not practice yoga is that this is “not a real workout” or it is “only for women”.
The term Yoga covers religion, philosophy and practice and can be traced back to northern India. It is a mental, physical and spiritual practice and has a long and rich history that extends over 5, 000 years. The yoga that most people are familiar with today only dates back about 1851. It was introduced into western culture by teachers from India. Among them were Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888 – 1989), Sivananda Saraswati (1887 – 1963) and Swami Satchidananda.
Many yoga poses require you to support the weight of your own body in ways which includes: balancing on your hands (such as in a Hand Stand), balancing on one leg (such as in Tree Pose or Warrior Three) or by supporting yourself with your arms (such as in Downward Facing “Dog”, Three Legged “Dog”, or Quarter “Dog”). Interestingly, natural movements were at the core of exercise routines for centuries prior to the use of any modern day exercise equipment. This should encourage some (especially men) to consider using more natural methods that has proven historically to have positive results.


renna-in-green-suiteContributor Renna Reddick is a certified nutrition specialist, personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Certifications include: National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT) and Aerobics, Fitness Association of America (AFAA) Group Fitness Instruction, and NFPT Nutrition Specialist
 

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Recently, while attending a Zumba Class, I overheard a group of ladies talking about the challenges they faced trying to lose weight. One lady mentioned that she does Zumba 5 days a week but still could not see any results. Another confessed that she felt her diet may not be the best, especially because she sometimes consumes a large meal after a late evening Zumba class. Their stories are not uncommon.  Millions of people struggle with their weight. In fact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States reported in June 2015 that more than one-third 34.9% (78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. The website www.businessInsider.com also recently reported that Americans were among the top ten fattest countries in the world. Others were China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan and Indonesia. — leaving many to wonder what these countries have in common. Is there a correlation between “development” and a steady increase in weight gain in these countries in recent decades?
There are many factors that can contribute to weight gain, from increased stress, medical reasons, or perhaps a more sedentary lifestyle. Another reason that people may not typically think of is NOT having a more diversified fitness portfolio, especially since our bodies tend to adapt to exercises. For example, the first time you attempt to run a half mile will probably be very challenging. However, by the 20th time, it gets much easier. Hence, as you become used to a particular type of exercise, it becomes easier, less challenging, and less effective. This is why it’s important to mix things up.
Another thing to keep in mind is “Calories In, Calories Out”. As for the second lady that I reference earlier, if what she does is continue to consume more calories at meal time than she is burning, and at the same time, she does not incorporate weight training into her fitness program, then she will continue to be far away from her weight-loss goals.
Bottom line: Diversify your fitness portfolio by changing things up! Options include: trying different forms of cardio, use split routines when working out (back and biceps on one day, chest and shoulder on another, and legs on a different day). You can also simply make a change to your weight and/or repetition. Most important, manage your calories intake as best as you can.
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renna-on-ledge-in-bostonContributor Renna Reddick is a certified nutrition specialist, personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Certifications include: National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT) and Aerobics, Fitness Association of America (AFAA) Group Fitness Instruction, and NFPT Nutrition Specialist