bookmark_borderWay to Get a Flat, Firm Stomach

Despite it all though, the one thing that has become almost an obsession today is the way our abs look. It seems that everyone is looking for those ever elusive “six pack abs”, but much like Ponce De Leon’s search for the fountain of youth, it seems like it is impossible to find.

Now, while there is no “magical formula” for attaining a flat, firm, and toned stomach, there is something you can do that if done regularly, will get you the results that you are looking for. To get these results, stomach crunches need to be done daily but keep in mind that stomach exercises alone will not burn the fat off of your midsection.

Keeping your calories in check along with doing your crunches everyday will be the way for you to see that flat, chiseled, sexy stomach. Crunches are easy to do, and if done properly, are very effective for toning those abs. Here is a step by step breakdown of the proper way to get the most out of your crunches.

Lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs bent to about a 90-degree angle with both your rear and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head making sure not to interlock your fingers. You can make your hands into fists so you do not pull up on the back of your neck.

The next thing to do is to pick a spot on the ceiling directly above you. This should be done in order to ensure that you do not bend your neck during the duration of the movement. Do not take your eyes off this spot! The most common mistake while performing a crunch is too much stress on the neck as a result of pulling on it with the hands.

The next step is to stabilize the low back. This can be done by tightening the muscles in the abdomen.

Slowly curl forward and up using your abdominal muscles only. There should be no bending at the waist. Keep your abdominal muscles firm for the entire duration to ensure low back stabilization. Keep your focus on that spot on the ceiling to prevent neck pain as a result of stress. At the top position your shoulder blades should only be between 4-8 inches off the ground. There is no need to go any further. Pause at this top position. This whole movement should be performed slowly and take about 2 seconds to perform. Pause at the top position for 1-2 seconds to ensure full contraction of the abdominal muscles.

Slowly return to the starting position keeping your abs contracted.
That is all there is to it. The crunch is not a very big movement because you are working your abs only. A full sit-up does not work your abs better than the crunch because once you are past the crunch position, your abs are fully contracted and it is your hip muscles that are straining to lift you up, not your abs.

Doing a hundred of these a day is not the key here. Doing two to three sets of 15 to 20 of these at a slow and deliberate pace with good form is what is recommended for maximum benefits and minimum risk of injury.

bookmark_borderYoga for Busy People

How to add yoga to your daily schedule? You can’t just start doing yoga asana in the middle of the office. You can take other aspects of yoga and use them throughout your day. Practice awareness of your surroundings it easier said then done but once you get the hang of it you will notice that you are more aware of what is happening around you. You will enjoy life more and your senses will bring you closer to everyday occurrences that you may not have noticed before. A walk down the street while practicing awareness will show you the beauty of nature and give you peace and a calmness that will make your day more enjoyable.

By being in tune with your surroundings, you will be in control and that control will be conveyed by the language you use with people. When you are in a business meeting and you are in complete awareness of your environment you will be able to give very helpful input. Know what is happening in your body and be aware of your mental state. Do you need numerous cups of coffee with sugar to get through your day then transform your diet or get more sleep or both.

Another yoga technique to practice is .correct breathing. You can not be alert if you are not breathing properly throughout the day. Every cell in your body needs oxygen to function correctly and be in optimum health, do not deprive yourself of this energy source. Take time to breathe deeply. Take slow, deep breaths that fill your diaphragm with the needed oxygen. Exhale until your lungs are empty, that helps get rid of toxins in your system. When you are breathing correctly, your body will automatically relax. Your neck loosens up and your shoulders relax. Do this simple exercise, inhale deeply as you count slowly to 3-4, hold it for the same count, and then exhale to that count. You will find you have more vigor and after a while, this healthy breathing will be automatic with you.

bookmark_borderDifferent Types of Yoga

  • Hatha Yoga – in Sanskrit (an ancient classical language of India) “Ha” means “sun” and “tha” means “moon”. This type of Yoga is relatively slow paced, gentle type of Yoga and is a good place to start if you are completely new to Yoga and don’t know any of the asanas (poses). Like all types of Yoga, Hatha Yoga aims to unite the mind, body and spirit.
  • Ashtanga Yoga – this is the type of Yoga that I practice on a regular basis and means “eight limbs” in Sanskrit. It’s a fast moving, intense style of Yoga practice and is based on a progressive set sequence of asanas, synchronized with the breath. Ashtanga Yoga can be quite physically demanding as you constantly move from one asana in the sequence to the next, so you’ll find that it will improve your stamina as well as your flexibility and strength..
  • Power Yoga – this is a western interpretation of Yoga and is based on Ashtanga Yoga. A Power Yoga class may not necessarily stick to the exact sequence of poses like Ashtanga Yoga does, but it does involve practicing a series of poses without stopping and starting.
  • Iyengar Yoga – This type of Yoga is based on teachings by B.K.S Igengar and concentrates on the correct alignment and form of the body. Unlike Ashtanga Yoga, there is an emphasis on holding each pose for a long period of time rather than moving constantly from one pose to the next. Iyengar Yoga uses props such as blocks and straps to help align the body into the different poses.
  • Vinyasa Yoga – Vinyasa means breath synchronized movement and is another fast paced type of Yoga, with an emphasis on breathing. A practice typically starts with sun salutations and moves on to more intense stretching. Throughout the practice each pose is balanced with a counter pose.
  • Bikram Yoga – otherwise known as “Hot Yoga”, is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees, with a humidity of around 40%. Generally a sequence of 26 different poses is practiced during a Bikram Yoga class and the hot temperature helps to loosen muscles. Due to the high temperature most people sweat a lot during the class and this helps to cleanse the body of toxins.

bookmark_borderSimpler Exercises to a Younger

Bear this always in mind – all muscles and all organs grow in size, strength and elasticity if properly exercised. And they will surely lose those properties if this is neglected. In short, the secret of being and keeping young and having the body elasticity of youth is through regular muscular exercises. Strict attention must, of course, be paid to cleanliness, both internal and external. Also the food must be properly prepared for digestion by chewing it thoroughly before it is swallowed. But if exercise is not a part of your system of health, success is doubtful.

Man’s physical condition depends to a large extent on the condition of his arterial system – from the largest artery to the smallest capillary. It is important to keep the arterial system free from clogging. It is because the muscles and organs will not be properly supplied with blood or material for repairs to prevent the deterioration of the muscles and organs that causes old age. Any man or woman with an unhealthy and inelastic body is practically old even though his or her age is not.

Neglecting exercise means allowing the ashes to clog up your system, which would cause your health to fail. Just like a machine left to rust, you will not be able to function like you used to, and before you know it, you will show signs of old age.

Systematic, persistent and general muscular activity will expel that rust or clogging debris, and then you will commence to “limber up.” And if the various simple health methods I advise are faithfully practiced, you may again become “just as good as new.” No, not altogether. I must admit, that it is not possible to make a very young body – by this or any other health system – out of a very old one, but the improvement will soon be so considerable as to be a source of great satisfaction to you.

You will live a longer life than if you do not exercise. The rusty, clogged-up state is a tell-tale sign of old age. You will find truth in this theory of keeping young, unless you are a believer of other methods such as the use of drugs, which I don’t strongly subscribe to.

One factor that keeps people from exercising is that they do not have time. In the busy world of today, this is true. But then, you must also know that your health is far more important than your business. You’ll realize this profoundly when your health starts to deteriorate in your latter years. With the exercise system I devised, time is not a problem. In my case, I do the exercises at my most idle time. I habitually wake up at about 5:30 A.M. Before rising up, I would do the movements, one after the other for half an hour or more until I have performed them all.

After performing the exercises, I rise up with a healthy glow and a wide-awake feeling ready for the business ahead. Even after a half hour of exercise, my heart is beating steadily. I then proceed to shave and bath for a complete clean and healthy start. I realize the joy of living to the full!

bookmark_borderYoga and Meditation

Mind is like a disturbed pond with many impurities. First you need to stop the inflow of fresh impurities and then remove the existing impurities to clean the mind. Abhyasa is the one of the practices for purifying the mind. Dhyana is one of the sub practices of abhyasa. This is a stage that the person reaches after practicing concentration for some time. At the start of dhyana, the mind is steadier and only a single thought about the object arises in the mind. Now it is safe to say that the state of dhyana is reached. Here the mind becomes very stable like the flame of a lamp in the calm atmosphere and its contact with the object of experience becomes intense and complete.

There are two varieties of dhyana called sagunadhyana or nirgunadhyana. In the first dhyana, the stillness of mind is associated with an object of experience which can be experienced through the sense organs. The second one is completely mental. It implies complete absorption of mind into itself. Here mind is not associated with any external object. It becomes completely still in this state. This mind is supposed to remain still, silent and sensitive such that it can understand any past, present and future event that might have happened anywhere in the universe.

bookmark_borderSet Reps and Exercises

Number of Exercises

First of all we should look at the number of exercises that you are going to do per muscle group. There are nine muscle groups that we can distinguish just for simplicity; calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, abs, chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps. The best way to work a muscle is to work all of the muscle fibers and the only way to do this is to do exercises that work the muscle from different angles so that you can tax each part of the muscle. Often advanced body builders will do three or four exercises for each muscle group. This means for example that for your shoulders you would do front lateral raises for the front deltoid, side lateral raises for the medial deltoid and reverse flyes for the rear deltoid.

Number of sets per exercise

Next we will look at the number of sets you will do for each muscle group. I believe that it is important to not overtrain your muscles and the best way to do this is to reduce the number of sets that you do in each workout. The way that I get the sets going when I have had a long layoff is to do one set for each exercise and three exercises for each muscle group. You will be able to gauge when it is time to increase the number of sets by listening to your body. Your muscles quickly adapt to any kind of weight training and so after a couple of weeks you will be able to add a set to one of the exercises and then another set to another exercise maybe a week later and as you get stronger you will feel you have more in you after you have rested a bit after a set and can come back with another set to further push your muscles.

Number of reps per set

Lastly is the number of reps you should do in each set. The prevailing wisdom ever since I can remember is that for a big muscle group like you quads, chest, back, biceps, triceps or hamstrings you should do four to eight reps per set after you have done a warm-up set. For the smaller muscle groups like calves or shoulders you should do a higher number of reps per set this means you should do eight to twelve reps per set. The way to do these sets initially anyway is to warm-up and then do a light weight set for a high number of reps and then move the weight up for each set after and drop the number of reps and for advanced weight lifters the last set is a lower weight for a higher number of reps until you can not move the muscle anymore.

bookmark_borderHigh Blood Pressure

When your heart beats, it squeezes blood from inside its chambers to the large arteries. This sudden bolus of blood causes normal arteries to expand like balloons do when they fill with air. The walls of arteries have sensors that allow arteries to expand with each pulse of blood. If the arteries do not expand enough when blood enters them, blood pressure can rise very high. Blood pressure is determined by the force of the heart’s contraction times the resistance in the blood vessels. Normal blood pressure is 120 when the heart contracts and 80 when it relaxes. During exercise, the heart beats with increased force to raise blood pressure. It is normal for blood pressure to rise up to 200 over 80 during running, and to 300 over 200 while doing a leg press with very heavy weights.

People with normal resting blood pressures who develop very high blood pressure during exercise are the ones most likely to develop high blood pressure later on. If your blood pressure rises much above 200 during running, you are at increased risk for developing high blood pressure.

Ninety percent of Americans will develop high blood pressure, which increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage and sudden death. High blood pressure usually occurs in people who have normal blood pressures when they were young. If you have an exaggerated blood pressure rise during exercise, you should go on a heart attack prevention program that includes a diet that is high in plants and low in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, regular exercise, losing weight if you are overweight, not smoking, and avoiding stimulants and drugs that raise blood pressure.

bookmark_borderYoga for Relaxation

Unfortunately, through the westernization of yoga, we have lost an essential component of this peaceful practice. Though the ritual remains intact the meaning has gone astray. Where previously the postures of yoga practice were merely a branch of a tree; today they are viewed by western society as the tree itself. How do we bring meaning to our poses?

Though the development of yoga cannot be pinned to an exact year, the discovery of the Indus seals, which show figures in the classic yoga asana (posture) of lotus pose, trace yoga back to at least 3000 BCE. At this time the Vedas were being written, which today’s yoga postures are derived from. These gave birth to Vedic yoga, which accommodated the ancient Indians fixation on ritual and sacrifice. We see evidence of the importance of sacrifice in the yogic corpse posture. Lying as though we were placed in a coffin, this represents the ultimate sacrifice-that of death. Though seemingly morbid, corpse posture is one of hope when we understand that according to the Vedanta sutras, death results in liberation

Sacrifice was meant to join the material and the physical, and create the longed-for “union” that defines the word Yoga. The Vedanta sutras (vs.4:4,13-14) declare that the liberated soul is not materially motivated.. By asking us to free ourselves from the bondage of material motivation, compassion requires us to be selfless. Surely, this giving is an exercise in compassion. Even still, the modern practice of yoga facilitates this. Through postures and stillness, we alter our consciousness and therefore change our perspective. In our new realization of others as being part of the cosmic whole, we feel that in giving to them we are also giving to ourselves.

The ancient philosophy of yoga saw its postures as part of a greater whole. Thousands of years ago during the time of Astanga yoga, posture practice was one piece of a more important whole. Astanga yoga, which originated during Vedic India, was derived of eight branches; yama (control and discipline), niyama (rules, methods and principle), asana (posture), pranayama (focused breathing), prathyahara(avoidance of undesirable action),dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (contemplation). In contrast, most contemporary yoga focuses on postures and uses breath work as a small component or an afterthought. Though admittedly, the current vision of yoga over-emphasizes asana, it is extremely important and has enormous benefits. The medically studied benefits of yoga include the following: Stress reduction, improved muscle strength and tone, increased energy and flexibility, improved balance and coordination and a reduction in depression.

Through most of asana practice, we are unconsciously engaging in physical metaphor. Many yoga postures are named after and imitate the living world; tree pose, eagle pose, frog pose, cat pose. By developing postures that imitate the stance of animals, the vedic seers may have been seeking not only to embrace the qualities of these animals, but to formulate compassion for them.
The way that compassion serves as a partner to yoga’s goal of liberation can be understood through reading the ancient yogic texts. Understand these vedas; whether they be the Rig Veda (knowledge of praise),Yajur-Veda (knowledge of sacrifice), Sama Veda (knowledge of chants), and Atharva-Veda(knowledge of atharvan), is likelier while deep in meditation. Understanding the vedic sutras, we are permitted to experience a bliss unknown through material grasping.

In this state everyday experiences fade away and a greater perspective unfolds. Over time, meditation also allows us to become more intuitive and receptive. This opens us up to others, enhancing our compassionate nature. This experience has been discussed by Eastern sacred-text expert “H.P. Blavatsky’s in “The Voice of the Silence.” Blavatsky writes: “Compassion is no attribute. IT is the LAW of LAWS–eternal Harmony, Alaya’s SELF; a shoreless universal essence, the light of everlasting Right, and fitness of all things, the law of love eternal.”

In order to experience compassion for others we must first extend it to ourselves. Straining too forcefully in a pose is counter to compassion. Why? Yoga teaches us that we are all connected, so when we hurt ourselves this pain eventually reaches others. Instead we must strive for gentle self-acceptance, competing with nobody-not even ourselves. This is essential to a rewarding experience of yoga.

By the time of Patanjali’s yoga sutras, which were written near the beginning of the common era, we begin to see a discussion of the more practical aspects of yoga. Posture is discussed (be it mainly for meditative purposes), as is concentration of the mind during this exercise. In the Yoga-Sutra, Patanjali presents relaxation as the very essence of yoga practice. He teaches us that posture should be steady and comfortable .This sentiment is reflected in the postures (asanas) of today’s practice. The physical dimension of yogic exercise requires us to have compassion for our limits. We are never asked to push, instead only to release. Mercifully, our small efforts are graced with us connecting to a life-force that is divine and encompassing.

Asanas urge us to see our body as divine, and to nurture health in this mortal temple. Yogic adepts understand that their body is flawed, however slender and toned it may look externally. This acknowledgement leads to less judgement of other’s bodies. However pleasing to the eye a yogis shape may be, the same vedic texts that encourage the practice of yoga for health, also remind us that true “liberation” comes from being free of the cycle of rebirth-free of the physical form.

Yogic postures work in contrast to the western notion of exercise. Here we see exercise as an end, such as an end to overweight and fatigue. Yoga is different. While in most forms of exercise the physical results are the sole goal, in yoga the soul is the goal. The ancient tradition of yoga exercise stands apart in its doctrines. The ancient yoga texts insist that the mind and spirit are more important than the physical body. While many other eastern forms of mind-body fitness also encourage this awareness, no other physical practice has the ultimate goal of union with the divine. In yoga, the process of attaining this union is as important as the actual attainment.

bookmark_borderCreating Workout Program

List your specific goals and chose a role model.

If you are looking to lose bodyfat, then you are going to want to focus a lot of your workout program on cardio. If you are looking to gain muscle size, then it makes sense to spend a large percentage of your workout program focusing on lifting weights. I think it helps to find a role model. My personal role model is Brad Pitt in Fight Club. In that movie he is very lean and compact. I have developed my workout program in a way that maximizes fat loss, so 75% of my workout is on cardio and 25% lifting weights. This workout program allows me to maintain a very lean look year round.

Decide how much time you are going to devote to exercise.

In designing your workout routine, you are going to have to figure out how many days you will be able to workout. Contrary to popular opinion, I think you do need to workout 4-5 days minimum to achieve great results. Many personal trainers have their clients perform workout programs 3 days per week. The body was meant to get daily exercise. The people in the best shape I know perform at least some exercise every day. If you have 7-8 total hours to devote to exercise, you will get better results spreading those 8 hours over 6-7 days -vs.- having three 2-hour workouts. As an example… Matthew McConaughey simply tries to work up a sweat for at least one hour every day. That is a simple technique that obviously gets great results.

Pick exercises that are right for you.

What I typically see is the trainer taking every person through the exact same routine, regardless of their body type. I also have head people complaining that a certain exercise hurts them. The problem is that the personal trainer simply can’t get into your head and know what the exercise feels like to you. For instance, I have a spinal injury so I have to avoid any type of crunch exercise in my workout program. Only you know how a certain exercise feels to you. I use a lot of dumbbells in my workout program, since I can really feel them working my muscle. If I was a personal trainer I would probably design workout programs for my clients using dumbbell exercises. This would be a big mistake, since many people get a better workout using barbells or machines.

Educate yourself about fitness.

My advice is to educate yourself using the Internet and then come up with your own workout program that is perfect for you. Not only will you experience greater results, you will save time and money getting to your goals. There are several great resources online which will help you create your ideal body. Finding a really good e-book will cost less than the price of one session with a personal trainer. In no time flat you can easily design a solid workout program and fine tune it over time.

bookmark_borderGet Around Excuses for Not Exercising

How many people do you know who were going to start exercising and start getting in shape and they were going to start this coming week, but that was two weeks ago and they still haven’t started yet? What excuse did they have this time? Maybe this has happened so many times, you stopped counting. Maybe this has even happened to you more times than you can remember. Well, what’s stopping you?

Here are some of the most common excuses used by people to not exercise, and the ways that you can get around those excuses if they have plagued you and are stopping you from partaking in a healthier lifestyle.

By far and away, the most common excuse used today is; “I don’t have the time to exercise”. The old perception that you have to exercise for 1 to 2 hours a day is just nonsense. A good, solid exercise routine doesn’t have to last for more than 20 to 30 minutes a day to be very effective. If you can’t find up to 30 minutes a day to exercise, then how do you manage to find up to 2 hours or more a day to watch TV?

Another popular excuse used often is; “I can’t afford to pay for a gym membership or for home equipment”. The fact is, you can get in better shape and lose weight without ever setting foot in a gym. Walking and or jogging around your neighborhood or in the local park don’t cost a dime and will give you all of the benefits of a cardio workout at the gym. Doing callisthenic exercises such as crunches and pushups and so on at home also cost nothing. Home fitness equipment can also be purchased that will give you a good resistance workout for under $50.00 such as resistance tubing bands and an exercise ball.

“I don’t know how to exercise or what exercises to do” is an excuse that gets used from time to time, but there are several ways to learn how to exercise right and what exercises to do. Using the services of a qualified, certified personal trainer is the best way to get you going in the fight direction. If affordability is an issue with a trainer, there are workout videos and books that you can buy to help you out, you can even find loads of exercise books at your local library that you can check out free of charge.

Another excuse that seems to be fairly common is; “I’m too old and/or out of shape to start exercising”. This excuse is really only valid if your doctor has told you that you should not exercise for some medical reason. If you are very out of shape or you are a senior citizen, then you may just have to start out slowly. Even starting out with only 5 minutes a day of exercise and slowly increasing as you go is much better than doing no exercise at all.

Last but not least and by far my favorite excuse is; “I hate anything to do with exercise”. This one always gives me a laugh. Most people who really think they hate exercise do so because they are stuck with the image that exercise is a series of boring, grunt and groan exercises involving heavy weights, or jogging far enough to complete the Boston marathon. The old adage of “no pain, no gain” is still embedded in the minds of many people, and who wants to have to go through pain every day to get in better shape? Exercise is really all about getting active and getting your body moving. Even playing in a softball league or hiking on a trail or bicycle riding is good exercise. Just find activities that you like to do and you will find that exercise can be fun.