We all know that a sedentary lifestyle is simply not a good choice, but too much of a good thing is also not so good.
Throwing yourself into too much exercise, in whatever form, can take its toll on your body, as much as no exercise at all, albeit differently.
I am certainly 'all in' for keeping the body (and mind) as healthy as possible, but ultimately, it's all about balance.
Many students over the years have come to the studio because they have been advised to stop running. A conversation ensues... 'How can something so healthy be bad for you?'. Too much of a good thing! Constant flexion of the joints is not a good thing.
Many students have come to the studio to find flexibility only to find that their overworked muscles prevent mobility. Too much of a good thing. Constant flexion of the muscles is not a good thing.
Many students have come to the studio with hyper-mobility problems. Too much of a good thing. Constant stretching of the muscles is not a good thing.
Constant body building, swimming, rock-climbing - you name it - and yes, even repetition of same style yoga classes, is not a good thing.
We need to find the middle ground. We need to understand that our bodies strive balance; the harmony of lean and flexible muscles, support and stability, space and freedom. Our bodies have to tell us to stop the consistent pounding, flexing, stretching etc. through injury and illness. Which is exactly the same with inactivity.
So where is the middle ground? For this I will use the example of Yoga.
If you take a weekly flow class, you should take a weekly relaxation and/or meditation class. If you take a weekly relaxation and/or meditation class, you should take a weekly movement class. If you don't take a weekly class, well you know you should. And yes, you have the time. Balance, balance, balance. Take time to exercise, and take time to relax. We have to understand, right now, not tomorrow, that we need to bring balance into our lives, because we don't want to spend time nursing injuries or illness, and because, perhaps, we only have the one life to make as happy and healthy as possible.
'I’ve looked at nearly all the studios in Alexandria that offer Yoga Teacher training. Having taken several classes at 532 Yoga already, I’m convinced that you will find no better yoga studio to take your 200hr Yoga Alliance Certification than 532 Yoga. I’ll be taking their Yoga Teacher Training myself this November, and I’m very excited to have the opportunity and privilege to learn from such masterful teachers like Suzanne and Ginny.'
Paul Roberts, Personal Trainer, Alexandria VA
Whether you have just started with yoga or have been practicing for some time, if you love the way it makes you feel there is a natural progression towards wanting to practice more and learn more. My own experience (see ‘parachuting yoga’ blog below if interested) had me falling in love with one pose at my first ever yoga class and seeking out a training program the very next day.
The amount of YTT Programs has grown exponentially and it is wonderful that there are so many programs out there, but if you are ready to step forward on this journey, how do you choose the ‘right’ one?
Factors such as location, timing, and cost of course need to be considered. Intuition will certainly play a part in helping you make your decision, but don’t forget to ask questions! Ask lots of questions! Attend classes at different studios with different teachers so you can get a feel for where you might like to spend your time and with whom. In the average (short) 6 months of training, what is your primary goal and what is it that you want to learn? What about the School itself? How long has it been around and what is the experience of the teachers that are going to teach you?
Different schools will have a different emphasis on their training. What will that be and does it gel with what ‘you’ want? Yoga is much more than asana, and a good program should certainly introduce you to certain fundamental and foundational concepts, but it’s impossible to cover everything in 6 months of training, so what do you want to focus on, and does that school meet your requirements? This will be a commitment of your time and perhaps also the time of your family members, so does the program fit into your life?
If you have concerns as to whether you should, let me alleviate your doubt… Your practice ‘is’ good enough, you do not need to be able to stand on your head, you are not too old nor do you need to lose weight. If you have a passion to pursue this journey, then you are ready.
Most schools will hold information sessions before the start of a YTT. This is a great opportunity to get your questions answered and get a feeling (or otherwise) of whether ‘this’ is the program for you. If you can’t make a session then arrange to speak with someone who can give you the information you are looking for.
The 532Yoga teacher training program is now in its 18th year, and has a 5-Star rating with Yoga Alliance. We are committed to guiding you through a training that will open doors of opportunity for personal transformation and growth. This is a program that will transform your practice, and it will give you the professional knowledge, confidence and skill, to become an exceptional yoga instructor. This is an incredible journey which combines coursework and a teacher training curriculum led by a deeply experienced faculty of expert instructors! You’ll be supported by teachers with decades of experience in teaching, leading, helping, and healing. Our programs are designed to be very user-friendly; fitting easily into your work and family life. We offer you practical teaching skills; hands on teaching right from the start, which will build your confidence and ability to conduct a well-informed and well-sequenced class using Sanskrit and English. You will have the knowledge of alignment for key poses which will enable you to understand how to address the ‘building blocks’ of each pose without causing undue stress to the joints, and you will be able to assist those that need your help in order to work their own body optimally in a pose.
200-hour Professional Yoga Teacher Training since 2000. Next Program: 23 Sept. 2018
Introducing 100-hour Personal Practice and Development Program in September 2018
Introducing 300-hour Advanced Level Teacher Training in November 2018
our breath is our life force or Prana. Without it, we wouldn’t be alive. So it is essential to our lives but it’s also something you can use to make your life better. There are a variety of different breaths which were created along with the inception of yoga so many centuries ago. Some techniques will help you reduce anxiety, some will help you stretch your muscles out further. There are ways you can breathe that aid in helping you run faster and further. You can even utilize it to help you pump heavier weights. The benefits of your breath may surprise you.
Breathing Can Improve Your Workout
If you use yoga to support your workout, you will probably notice some major benefits. For one, you have greater strength through better posture. What you will probably notice too is that you don’t get exhausted so quickly. You can run further and faster, cross train like a rock star, and lift weights more fluently and with less effort. When doing yoga, you learn that the body follows the rhythm of the breath. You can take this into your workout, using the breath effectively so you don’t run out of steam.
When you learn to breathe properly, you improve your fitness regime because you optimize the oxygen in your body. You will have more energy after your workout and breathing helps you to metabolize fat. When you learn to use your focus of breath, you will find that your workouts become much more enhanced and enjoyable.
Yogic Breathing and Stress
Thoughts or feelings can conjure up stressful moments for you. When this happens, the sympathetic nervous system is triggered to use your body’s fight/flight response. This gives you a burst of energy of course. Breathing is shallowed and adrenaline is searing through your body. When you don’t run or need to protect yourself, this causes cortisol levels to stay in the body. This is where stress becomes damaging. Blood pressure rises as well as the pulse rate. Some people live in this kind of state of panic a lot and don’t breathe optimally for their health on top of it all.
When you breathe deeply, you can reverse all the symptoms that occur at the moment of major stress. Just by taking a deep breath into the belly, maybe even holding it there briefly and slowly releasing the breath, you combat an anxious feeling. You activate the parasympathetic nervous system, reversing all the stress that could have wreaked havoc on your body. The heart rate will slow down to a normal rate which will reduce blood pressure. You’ll notice the calm right away if you practice this through an anxious moment.
Reducing Strain on the Muscles of Your Neck and Upper Chest
When you breathe deeply into the belly, you engage your stomach muscles and diaphragm. Otherwise, it’s your upper chest and neck muscles that become engaged. When you condition yourself to breathe deeply, you improve how efficiently oxygen is exchanged. More air exchange occurs in the lower lungs. You essentially get more oxygen being fed into your tissues and cells.
Here are some breaths that are useful for the above:
Ujjayi Breath (Ocean’s Breath)
As a cooling breath, it helps if you feel angry, stressed out or frustrated. It soothes your state of mind and quickly relaxes you.
This is a great breath before your workout. It will give you a noticeable surge of energy and your mind will be clearer.
Take a few full breaths into your belly to start.
Author’s Bio: Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)
Website: https://www.siddhiyoga.com/ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/siddhiyogaacademy
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According to a study published in 2013 by the Mayo Clinic, back pain is the third most common cause of doctor visits in the United States. And according to American Family Physician, only 25 to 30% of people seek treatment for their back pain. So if you’re experiencing back pain, you’re not alone.
Many back pain sufferers struggle with what’s causing their back pain, not realizing the 8 or more hours they spend sitting could be the main culprit.
The most common cause of lower back pain is postural stress. For this reason, lower back pain is frequently brought on by sitting too long, prolonged bending, heavy lifting, or even standing or laying down, all for a long time in a poor, rounded back position. According to Cornell University Department of Ergonomics, up to 90% more pressure is put on your back when you sit vs. when you stand. There are several reasons why, the first being that if you’re like most Americans, you habitually sit in ways that cause tension and imbalance in your back and neck. This applies to sitting at work, in the car, and at home.
Common Posture Mistakes That Lead to Back Problems
1. You’re looking down at your screen, phone, or desk, and your head tips forward. As your head weighs on average 10 lbs, any slight angle forward puts a strain on the muscles of your neck and upper back. The further forward that you lean your head forward, as well as how long you keep that straining posture, determines how much extra work your neck and upper back need to do.
2. Your shoulders are rolled forward. Some of the most common causes are a lack of lumbar support from a chair that’s too soft or one that doesn’t encourage good posture, a muscular imbalance where your pectoral muscles (chest) are stronger than your back muscles (common in men who like to work out their beach muscles more than their back), or habit. If you’re wondering if you’re guilty of this, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and let your arms hang down at your sides. If your thumb points forward, you’re probably balanced. If your palms are pointing behind you, you probably have an imbalance.
3. You’re leaning forward from your lower back. This posture puts even more pressure on the vertebrae of your lower spine (lumbar area), as it compresses your disks.
4. Your elbows are too far away from your body. The rule in lifting anything is that the more the object weighs, and the further your elbows are away from your torso, the more strain you put on your shoulders and upper back. Reaching your arms forward to type or write might not seem like much, but doing it 8 hours or more per day will take it’s toll.
5. You hold your phone to your ear. Many people multitask and talk on the phone while their hands are doing other things. Doing this for a few seconds isn’t going to cause an imbalance in your body, but anything more that that will cause tension on one side of your neck and upper back.
6. You sit for too long. Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division and author of the Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, explains“We weren’t designed to sit. The body is a perpetual motion machine.” When you’re sedentary, your muscles get less oxygen and nutrients from your blood.
The rule of thumb is to frequent changing of postural positions and take movement micro-breaks for every 30 minutes of sitting throughout the work day. A helpful strategy is to drink lots of water: it keep you hydrated, which is healthy, and it forces you to get up and move in order to use the bathroom!
Reproduced with permission from Start Standing. Read more here..
One thing that yoga teaches us is that 'change' is inevitable. Some amazing things have happened over the last few days and it reminds me....We should welcome change with open arms and an open heart. Whatever crosses our path, we should view it with equanimity. That does not mean Indifference, nor does it promote a fatalistic attitude, but it does, I believe, help us understand through experience 'santosha'. Santosha is the observance of contentment; one of the 'niyamas' which are part of the eightfold path of yoga. Contentment is the secret of life - enjoying the passing of time - enjoying the change that comes not only from year to year but from moment to moment.
Most of the time we want 'it' to be different right!? Most of the time, given the opportunity, we would rewind that sentence, that day, that week and 'do more' or 'do it better' or make that perfect comment or comeback. Oh for a 'groundhog day' sometimes (the thought of Bill Murray always makes me smile!).
But here's the beauty of santosha - that whatever it is and however it is, we 'can' choose to be content.
Happiness comes only from within.
How beautiful is that!
De-Stress, stimulate your Brain and slow down the Aging Process with Meditation - Suzanne Leitner-Wise
Stress is the modern day silent killer! A regular meditation reverses the fight-or-flight (stress) reaction, helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reduces the heart rate and the oxygen requirement of the body by 10-20% in the first 3 minutes!! (this is the effect produced by medication to lower high blood pressure without the side effects!!). Stress affects each of our body systems (Nervous, Digestive, Reproductive, etc.) and the connection between the mind and body, via the field of science known as Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). The body eventually suffers serious illness after relentless exposure to stress.
Arm Balances/ Inversions W/end