bookmark_borderHot Yoga Therapy

Introduced to the Western world for the first time in Los Angeles in 1974 by Bikram Choudhury, this form of yoga immediately differentiated itself from other schools.

Bikram yoga does not require the numerous and complex asanas (postures). A 90-minute session is composed of just 26 simple postures and is carried out in a room heated to about 34 degrees Celsius. Thus, it comes as no surprise to hear that many people have nicknamed Bikram yoga the “hot yoga”.

“That’s the main way in which Bikram differs from other types of yoga. I personally feel it’s a perfect combination of yoga, a work out and meditation. And that makes it even better! You get to stretch, meditate and sweat a lot. It gets rid of all the pain and aches in your muscles and also clears your mind,” says Benjaporn.

Its inventor drew up new postures and drew upon some basic yoga poses to help strengthen his muscles after a severe childhood injury crippled him. Benjaporn says that all the 26 poses of Bikram yoga are easy yet offer maximum muscle strengthening.

“You won’t find any compromising poses in Bikram yoga. That’s because Bikram himself wanted to create yoga poses that were easy for him at that time, but I assure you that all enable the same maximum muscle build-up, stretching and strengthening effect. And during the 90 minutes of our class, we want to make sure that you can complete all 26 poses without skipping or compromising any particular one to make it easier on yourself. It’s simple and I’m sure everyone will be able to follow it. Here, we encourage you to work at your own pace and stay within your own limits. But we also make sure that you don’t short-change yourself,” says Benjaporn.

Benjaporn recommends Bikram yoga to anyone in good health aged 10 and above. She also stresses that beginners should come to classes regularly – she suggests three or four times a week – to see and feel the improvements in their well-being.

“Most people will experience an improvement in the knee and back area. Many also say that they’ve shed some unwanted kilos. During and after class, I encourage my students to drinks a lot of fluids so they won’t dehydrate.”

bookmark_borderBegin a Golf Fitness Program

Golf fitness means something different to everyone. It can mean anything from stretching before you play to a supervised and progressive daily program. For others it means it’s the only way to play golf pain free, and of course there are those that think it is a big waste of time. Whatever your belief, the one thing that can’t be denied is the great benefits of regular exercise!

The benefits of exercise are many and backed by much research. We know it can improve your general health and quality of life, but it can also give you greater pleasure and a competitive edge on the golf course. Improved posture (my favorite topic) and flexibility are necessary keys to developing a repeatable and effective swing. Strength, stability and balance are paramount in producing the power needed for out-driving your friends!

However, the secret ingredient to an effective golf fitness program is your ability to take action, and be committed to working consistently on your program. It takes consistent action to make changes in your body. In some cases, you are making changes to muscles that have been lazy or dysfunctional as a result of many years of bad habits and programming.

Research specific to golf has been conducted over the past several years. One study conducted in 2004 looked at a group of male golfers and the effects of a conditioning program on drive distance. The study looked at their club head speed and driving distance before and after an 8 week training program. The training program consisted of strength training and plyometrics (explosive exercises) conducted 2 sessions per week. All subjects in the exercise group showed a significant increase in both club head speed and driving distance. The control group (non-exercise group) showed no significant improvements. Effect of an 8-Week Combined Weights and Plyometrics Training Program on Golf Drive Performance; The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 59-62.

Consult with a fitness professional:
One concept to understand when considering a golf fitness program is the immense value of finding and working with a professional. Just like taking personal lessons from a PGA teaching professional, you will benefit from consulting with a fitness professional.

I will discuss the process of selecting a fitness professional in a minute, but I have to emphasize the fact that nothing is more beneficial than physically working with a professional that can watch your every move and assess your physical abilities. Our body, specifically the nervous system, and muscular system are great compensators which results in dysfunctional movement patterns. In other words, our body changes over time resulting in weakness, tightness and even pain. The result is difficulty moving into certain positions, such as those needed in a golf swing. A trained professional can recognize poor movement patterns, bad postural positions, and therefore make changes to your program and initiate corrective exercises.

All of the great sports coaches such as John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, and Casey Stengel, all focused on fundamentals when coaching their players. When training your body as we do with golfers it is no different. The PGA teaching professionals always spend time with fundamentals. When training the body to have better posture, improved flexibility, or a stronger core you need to focus on fundamentals. If your body’s muscles do not function correctly from a fundamental perspective any advanced exercise will be a waste of time.

OK now, when searching for a fitness professional, ideally try to find someone that has several years of experience working with golfers. Make sure they have adequate training. For example a licensed athletic trainer (ATC), a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) or a certified personal trainer (CPT), are credentials that make them qualified.

Ask questions regarding their golf experience. Do they play the game? Do they have relationships with teaching professionals? Do they understand the mechanics of the golf swing, as well as swing faults? Also, ask specific questions regarding their approach to fitness. Do they provide a physical assessment? Do they address the different components of fitness (see below)? And, are they experienced in dealing with injuries or chronic problems?

You need to be able to trust your fitness professional, have confidence in their abilities and feel comfortable working with them. When you are satisfied with their answers to your questions, make a decision and go for it.

Components of a Golf Fitness Program:
Posture, I believe is one of the most overlooked areas when it comes to fitness training. An individual’s posture tells a lot about how their body is working and what kind of restrictions there may be when trying to swing a golf club.

When discussing posture it is important to keep in mind that I am referring to more than just sitting up straight, or not having rounded shoulders. The entire body from head to toe was designed to be aligned in a precise manner. The body follows the principles of physics by the way the ends of the bones are shaped, how they connect to each other and how the muscle act upon the bones & joints They are subsequently designed to function and move in specific ways.

When out of alignment or out of muscular balance, your muscular function and movement patterns are limited.
With the golf swing the most common postural problem that contributes to bad positions in the swing is the forward shoulders, forward head & rounded upper back. This slouched position makes it really difficult to get in a good set up position and significantly limits your shoulder turn or what we call thoracic rotation. The shoulder turn into the back swing is dependent upon a good position of the upper back at address. Tight muscles and restrictions in the upper spine prevent the golfer from maintaining good posture in the set up. Ultimately resulting in bad positions during the swing, The bottom line is you need to find a fitness professional that understands posture and its influence on movements specific to golf.

Flexibility/Range of Motion refers to the body’s ability to move the bones and joints to the limits of its designed capacity. However it must be controlled motion, which I will discuss next.

An example of needed flexibility or range of motion is in the hip joint during the golf swing. As you stand in your golf position and swing there needs to be an optimal amount of rotation through both hips. During the backswing (right handed golfer) your right hip should internally rotate because your pelvis is rotating on top of it. If you have tightness in your hip muscles this motion will be limited. And, as we know, limited motion in one joint leads to compensated or excessive motion somewhere else. Subsequently tightness in the right hip may result in locking of the right knee, a reverse pivot and excessive stress in the lower back during your backswing.

Dynamic Stability refers to the body’s ability to stabilize joints or positions during movement. The one area that is most often discussed is core stability. This refers to your ability to stabilize or limit movement in the lumbar spine & pelvic region, an important component of your program.

Dynamic Strength essentially means the same as functional strength. Golf strength training should utilize all planes of motion the body moves in and somewhat golf specific. Isolated strengthening may be appropriate in certain situations but you should mostly strengthen in a dynamic way.

Dynamic Balance is closely related to posture because of the requirements of a balance between muscles and having them function correctly. Your golf professional will work with you in terms of weight shift, balance and the coordinated movements of the swing. The fitness professional may at times address this, but should not get carried away.

Dynamic Power is the actual power that is produced in the movement of the golf swing. One of the key aspects of this power is the good swing that is developed by working with a PGA teaching professional. Power can also be enhanced by first working on the above components and then adding some power exercises. However training power should be the last part of your golf fitness program. I see too many people start with the cool golf specific power exercises with no concern for the fundamentals I talked about earlier.

Cardiovascular Endurance, although not an obvious component for golf, it may be a factor in some cases. You should be able to walk a golf course (may be some exceptions) and generally be in some sort of cardiovascular condition.

bookmark_borderYoga to Manage ADD

When ADDers report challenges with impulsivity and hyperactivity, they often describe feeling like they don’t have control over their own bodies. They find themselves speaking before thinking their thoughts through, and often regret their words. They constantly fidget, unaware that their bubbling energy can be disruptive to others in work and social situations. And they feel as if they simply cannot stop the whirlwind of thoughts spinning in their heads.

Yoga can help ADDers learn how to forge a mind-body connection that promotes self-awareness and self-control. Yoga practitioners are taught deep breathing and relaxation techniques that help center the mind in the present moment. Practitioners are also guided into holding different postures, called asanas. Each asana is held for an extended period of time, as the practitioner focuses on holding the best posture that they can, while breathing calmly and deeply. The asanas promote stretching, strengthening, and balancing, as the deep breathing promotes relaxation and
mental awareness.

It is important to remember that yoga is not meant to be stressful or taxing on the body. People should be encouraged to concentrate only on themselves and not the others in the class, and to do only what feels comfortable. A practitioner should never feel pressured to perform. If an ADDer finds him/herself at a yoga class that moves too quickly, or focuses heavily on strength training, they will not reap the
intended benefits, and may find themselves overwhelmed. The best place to find yoga instruction is at a yoga center, where the instructors practice yoga as a way of life, and teach both the physical and psychological components.

Yoga can help ADDers feel calm, centered, in control, and in touch with their bodies. Practiced regularly, ADDers will find that yoga is a powerful mental and physical refresher that they can retreat to when feeling out of control or overwhelmed.

bookmark_borderTruth About Six Pack Abs

No Such Thing As Spot Reduction

First off, you cannot spot reduce your ab area. That means doing hundreds of crunches and ab work every day will not make your six pack show any faster. If you currently have a layer of fat in your mid-section, that fat is hiding your abs. Your primary focus will be on burning fat to lower your body fat percentage. Once you have burned off the fat, all of your hard work will be ready for display.

Women Have It Harder

Unfortunately, if you are a woman, six pack abs will be somewhat harder for you to achieve. This is because women naturally store more fat than men for the purpose of bearing and nourishing babies. This means you will have to work harder at lowering your body fat percentage. Lowering your body fat percentage should be done with caution as well. A significant decrease in a woman’s body fat can lead to amenorrhea (lack of menstruation.) It occurs very often in female athletes.

More Ab Work Isn’t Necessarily Better

Most people tend to forget that abdominal muscles are just like any other muscle in your body. Overworking them will not create your six pack any faster. Your ab muscles will need the proper recovery time just like any other muscle group you would strength train. Muscles repair themselves and grow larger during recovery time. When you are exercising your abs, just remember to take it slow and focus on isolating each area: upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. Give your abs a break between workouts.

bookmark_borderLearn Basic Yoga

Yoga has been a spiritual practice in India. There are four main kinds of yoga, which are Raja Yoga, Jhana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Karma Yoga. However, in this article, you should be able to learn the basics of yoga.

Let us focus the fundamentals of yoga. The four steps are breathing, meditation, posture and relaxation. The basic objective of yoga is to free your mind from problems and worries. When doing this, you are actually releasing any intensions such as stressed at work or even your worries from the past.

The popular yoga meditation is done when sitting cross-legged with your straight back. Relax your hands, place your palm face up above your legs. It is important to breathe deeply while closing your eyes. Relax your muscles, particularly your jaw. Then unconsciously, you will be feeling better and relax.

Expert says that is better if you would attend yoga class at least twice a week to properly learn basic yoga. However, this may not work for you because of your busy schedule. Therefore, it will be very helpful if you would know the basics of yoga.

Now, start practicing to learn basic yoga meditation because this will help you bring closer to a stress free life. Now take a deep breathe and get started on your journey to stress free city.

bookmark_borderMuscle Burning

If you run or cycle as hard as you can, you start to breathe hard, and suddenly your leg muscles start to burn because your muscles have become acidic. It’s the burning in your muscles that forces you to slow down. Muscles get the energy to move your body from the food that you eat. Carbohydrates are broken down step by step in a chain of reactions to release energy for your muscles. Each step requires oxygen. If you have enough oxygen, the carbohydrates are eventually broken down to carbon dioxide and water that you can blow off from your lungs. However, if you can’t get all the oxygen that you need, the series of reactions stops and lactic acid accumulates in your muscles and spills over into your bloodstream. The acidity in muscles caused by the accumulation of lactic acid is what makes your muscles burn.

When acid is exposed to an alkaline or base, it combines with it to neutralize the acid and form water. What would happen when an athlete takes the base, sodium bicarbonate, before he competes? He would be able to exercise longer if the bicarbonate got into the muscle and neutralized the burning caused by the acid. The authors of this study showed that higher doses of sodium bicarbonate were more effective in preventing burning. This exercise aid is still experimental, so we will have to wait for further research to see if it really works.

bookmark_borderOn-The-Road Workouts

Push-up

The push-up mimics the bench press and trains the chest, shoulders, triceps, serratus anterior, and even the latissimus dorsi (“lats”). If it has been a long time since you did 100-200 push-ups in a workout, your upper body should be sore tomorrow, even if you can bench press twice your bodyweight.

The Traditional

Place your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider). Keep your feet together and maintain a neutral spinal alignment (with your head, neck, and back straight). Slowly lower yourself to the floor by bending the elbows. Allow your chest to touch the floor and then push up to return to starting position.

Variations: The closer you keep your hands together, the more you will train your triceps. As you spread your hands out, the movement will stress the chest muscles more, but may also result in a greater stress and pain at the wrist joint (if you spread your hands extremely wide).

Jackknife push-up

This push-up places a greater emphasis on the shoulder muscles (deltoids). Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and keep your feet flat on the floor. Elevate your hips so that the body forms a V-shape. Lower your upper body until the shoulders are even with the elbows and your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push up to return to the starting position.

Variations: You can increase the stress on the deltoids and triceps by taking weight off of your feet and transferring it to your hands. You can do this by elevating your feet. The higher you elevate them, the more stress on these muscles, and the less stress on the pectorals.

Push-Ups With A Plus

This exercise is provided by Lori Gross, CSCS, of Human Performance Specialists, Inc. This is an excellent rehabilitation exercise.

Perform a normal push-up. At the top of the movement, push up maximally, rounding the shoulders and abducting the scapulae. For beginners, this exercise can be done while standing and pushing-up against a wall.

One-arm Elevated Push-ups

This is a twist on the traditional push-up and stresses the serratus anterior muscle. This muscle is located on either side of the body, adjacent to the abdominal area, just below the chest and the lats, and wrap around the rib cage like large fingers.

To stress the right serratus anterior muscle, place the right hand elevated on a 6-10 inch block rather than on the floor. The left hand is placed normally on the floor and hands are slightly greater than shoulder-width apart. Perform normal push-ups but try to push the most through the right arm and use the left side only to stabilize the body. Perform 10 repetitions in this manner and then switch to the left arm.

bookmark_borderYoga on the Road

One solution is to drop in on classes wherever you happen to be. Yoga is so widespread that it should be fairly easy to find a class where your travels take you. This can also be an enriching experience as you get to attend classes with varied instructors in different environments.

Dropping in on out-of-town classes can actually be a catalyst for personal growth in your practice. It will get you out of the comfort zone of your own studio and instructors and open you up to new experiences that can “push the envelope” and provide you with the opportunity to learn and expand your knowledge.

As it may not be practical to always be able to attend a class while traveling, you can create a space in your hotel room that will make it more appropriate for yoga. Bring a few personal items such as photographs, candles, little statues, incense, books, or other objects that you find “homey” and/or inspiring. This will personalize the space.

Get some extra towels form the hotel to spread on the floor to eliminate worries about cleanliness. Use the pillows or cushions from sofas as bolsters. Turn the heat up in the room to make it more comfortable. Bring an eye bag to help induce relaxation in Savasana. Her are four asanas that are easy to do and can calm the mind while your traveling. This routine takes between 20-40 minutes if you spend about 3-10 minutes in each pose. Best done first thing in the morning or right before bedtime, this routine will definitely help you relax, release and enjoy your trip more.

First off, sit in a chair and with your knees wide apart align your heels and point your toes slightly inward. Place your elbows on your knees, move your buttocks back into the chair and have your head hanging forward. Feel your neck lengthen as you breathe deeply and relax into the pose. If you wish to go further you can place your hands close to or on the floor. Gently come up by pressing on your hands or elbows and let your head come up last. This will relax the shoulders and neck and relieve tension in the tailbone.

Next up is the crooked knee pose. This time bring your legs together and in front of you while sitting in a chair. Move your feet slightly forward and place your left ankle on your right thigh with the groove of the left ankle on the right thighbone. Gently slide the left ankle towards your hip. As you do this, tilt your head forward to soften the back of your neck.

If at this stage you feel any discomfort, remain here. If not then as you inhale raise your front ribs upwards and lean your upper body forward as you breathe out. Let your arms hang loosely alongside your legs or put your hands or forearms on your right knee. Again use your hands to slowly rise out of the pose, raising the head last. Lower the left leg to the floor, take a few deep, relaxing breaths and repeat with the other leg.

This pose will quiet your mind and release tension in the neck and back. It will be comforting for those who suffer from sciatica and relieve pressure in the abdominal and pelvic organs which will aid digestion.

Next up is a lunge. With your hands and knees on the floor and your back level, move your right foot into the space between your hands. Breathe easily in this pose for 30 seconds to three minutes, longer if you have the time. Then push on the floor with your hands, slowly backing out of the pose to prevent gripping in the back muscles. Do the other side.

This asana will also help those with sciatica. It will help to ease neck and back pain and relieve tension and anxiety, allowing you to experience more mental clarity.

The final asana is a rotated stomach pose. Lie on your back with your hands or forearms around your shins. Hug your knees to your chest then extend your arms down to the floor and out to your sides so that they form a 45 degree angle to your body. Roll your bent legs and your hips to the left, laying your legs on the floor.

Slowly rotate your head to the left, pausing to breathe 1 to 2 minutes and then turn your head to the right. Breathe for another 1 to 2 minutes, then bring your knees to center and do the other side.

This pose is very soothing for the central nervous system. It will relieve tension in the spine and neck and help to relieve headaches, insomnia, lower back pain and sciatica. Further, it gently massages the internal organs, stimulating the metabolism and improving digestion. This asana is an excellent preparation for meditation.

bookmark_borderHealing Hearts with Yoga

Lie down or sit in a comfortable position making sure that all parts of your body are supported.

Close your eyes and scan your body with your mind. Do you feel a tightness or tension anywhere? Is one shoulder tighter than the other? Is your neck tense? Do you feel pain anywhere?

Adjust your body to be even more comfortable.

Bring your attention to your right leg. Stretch it out from your hip, hugging the muscles toward the bones. Raise your leg a little off the floor, and relax it back down again. Roll it from side to side and relax. Then do the other leg.

Bring your attention to your right arm, stretch it out to the side, hugging the muscles to the bones and stretching your hand as wide as possible, make a fist, and release it to your side. Then follow the same process with your left arm.

Squeeze your buttocks, feel your body lift, and then relax down.

Press your belly out as you inhale deeply, and release with a relaxing exhalation. Allow your belly to be soft.

Inhale deeply and allow your ribcage to expand as wide as possible, expanding your lungs. Exhale and let go. Relax.

Draw your shoulders up around your ears. Squeeze them tightly. Roll them back and down, releasing any tension in your neck and shoulders. Roll your head gently from side to side, letting it come to rest at center.

Squeeze your face, pucker your lips, close your jaw, squeeze your eyelids tightly shut and draw your whole face toward your nose. Then release and relax.

Focus your breath. Taking long deep breaths, and as you exhale send the breath through your mind to each of the parts of your body that you just relaxed. Send your breath as a healing balm, searching out the more subtle tensions and releasing them with your exhalation.

Inhale deeply and fill your entire body with relaxation. Bring your attention to your heart and inhale, filling it with peace, centeredness and calm. Realize that this feeling of stillness is your essential self, the place of peace within you from which you may live.

Visualization and imagery. Our minds are incredibly powerful, and our bodies hear and respond to everything we think. Worry and anxiety are the result of imagery. Most of the time we worry about things that never happen, causing physical stress, increased blood pressure and heart rate, lowered immunity, and mental anguish. If our bodies respond to worry, they’ll also respond to positive images and the physical result is healing. Concentrate your attention on an area of your body that needs healing or relaxation. Imagine or visualize it the way it will look to you, seeing it healthy. For example, visualize your heart. Pink, healthy tissue, blood flowing freely through clear, strong arteries, rich red blood flowing out of your heart, through your arteries to feed every cell in your body. Create as graphic an image as you can. Remember, your image is to create healing and your body will believe what you tell it.

Breathing. We can live without food, water, and shelter, for a time, but how long can we live without breathing? Our first inhalation meant life, and our last exhalation will mean death. The way we breathe affects our thoughts, our minds and our emotions. Chronic stress and tension cause shallow breathing, starving our bodies for oxygen and constantly pushing our nervous systems to the edge of a panic response. Control of our breath gives us control of our responses. We’ve all heard “If you’re angry, take a deep breath.” That breath gives pause. It slows us down to give us time to think a different thought, to choose again. Putting space between our thoughts creates relaxation and can be controlled by putting space between our breaths. Begin by noticing your breathing pattern. Are your breaths shallow or deep? Are you breathing only with the tops of your lungs or are you bringing your breath all the way down to your belly? Deep full breathing oxygenates the body, relaxing it, cleansing it and slowing down our emotional reactions.

You can practice controlling your breath with “alternate nostril breathing.” Close your right nostril and deeply through your left nostril. Then close off your left nostril and exhale completely through your right nostril. Take full deep breaths and exhale completely. Alternate as often as you feel comfortable, building up to about 3 minutes. Close your eyes and notice how you feel.

Meditation. When life becomes hectic and stressful its important to have a stress management tool to help us to stay calm. Meditation is a path to creating and maintaining that place of peace and stillness within. When we’re calm and our minds are clear, we’re able to respond to life’s inevitable challenges from a realistic and positive perspective; we have the space in our minds to choose to act appropriately. In a medical study at Duke University, it was shown that people who did stress management after their first heart attack were less likely to have a second.

There are probably thousands and thousands of meditation techniques. The point is to calm the mind and find a technique that you enjoy doing. When you begin to try to calm the mind, it will rebel. Thoughts will be constantly pushing their way in. Be patient, start with short sessions, even just a few minutes at a time and build up to 30 minutes gradually.

To meditate, just begin:

Set up a consistent time and place to meditate. Create the atmosphere, light a candle, use your favorite cushion, light incense; whatever “gets you in the mood.”

Sit up in a comfortable position.

Choose a meditation technique that works for you. Try a few, choose one and stick with it. Meditating on a candle, on your breath, on a word. Writing, walking, meditating on a tone, on the point between your eyebrows. There are many books and tapes on meditation techniques.

As your mind tries to distract you keep bringing it back to your point of focus. If necessary, write down the important thoughts that are coming between you and your calm mind.

Physical aerobic exercise is important. It can be gentle and should very definitely be enjoyable so you’ll do it; about a half an hour a day is effective. Exercise at a comfortable rate so that you can carry on a conversation while you’re doing it. You’ll be exercising your entire body as you walk and talk and share with a friend. Integrate your exercise into your day, climb a few flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator, get a dog to walk with or walk to work with a friend. Sunset is a great time to stroll briskly and relax from the day. The more you walk, the faster you’ll enjoy the benefits of better cardiovascular circulation, overall fitness, stronger respiration, and of course, a healthier heart.

Participate in a support group. Emotional, psychological and spiritual support is valuable for all of us, and especially critical for those who are challenged with a major lifestyle change. The value of interpersonal support systems has been demonstrated in 12 Step Programs, and that type of support is just as valuable for those changing their lifestyle for a healthier heart. Sharing with others opens our hearts, supporting each other heals them.