Yoga Equipment

Research has demonstrated that yoga can help control anxiety, reduce asthma, alleviate arthritis symptoms, lower blood pressure, eliminate back pain, and benefit patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, epilepsy, diabetes, headaches, stress and much more.

Yoga offers a lot of benefits. Perhaps its most important benefit is it’s ability to reduce tension and stress. Stress can lead to a whole slew of other health problems.

Yoga increases muscle tone, strength, stamina and flexibility. If you are overweight, yoga can help you gently reduce your weight and keep the pounds an inches off. Yoga exercises can burn excess fat and give you your desired figure.

Yoga can also help you improve your concentration and enhance your creativity. It can help you to think more positively and learn to live free of anxiety.

Your body needs to relax from time to time. Sometimes, work can leave us feeling spent and exhausted. During busy days, we may not be able to unwind because work is still on our mind. Yoga can help you create a sense of calmness and well being to replace this stress from work.

Yoga exercise improves circulation. Your organs and veins need to move and stretch to function properly. Yoga can also help stimulate your immune system to protect you from disease.

Don’t confuse yoga with religion. It’s just a method of exercise with a long list of benefits to your health and well being. If you begin to feel more spiritual it’s probably because you are more in tune with your body and life than you were before you started doing yoga.

The pressure and demands of life can leave us stressed out. We find ourselves rushing most of the time with the deadlines and hassles we need to keep up with. This leaves us little time to rest our minds and relax.

Leg Cramps & Running Cramps

The Role of Fluids

The main function of sweat is to cool the body down. The average 70kg/154lb person running at a 6 minute mile pace will burn energy at the rate of about 1000kcal per hour. In a warm climate, this would equate to around 1.5 litres of sweat to remove this extra heat.

When you look at it from this point of view it’s easy to see how an athlete could lose as much as 3 to 4 litres of water per hour!

It only takes a 2 – 3% dehydration or 3lbs of sweat loss for a 68kg/150lb person for body function and exercise performance to be impaired.So, if you want to perform your best and avoid dehydration fatigue and the possibility of cramping from dehydration, you should have a strategy aimed at taking on the correct amount of fluid.

Because you’re burning energy, you also need to take in carbohydrate – however the processing of carbohydrate also requires water . . . about 3ml of water for every gram of carbohydrate you want to fix into the muscles as glycogen. So, in order to replenish your muscle glycogen reserve, you need more water and if you don’t replace it then it will be taken from the blood stream and accelerate dehydration.

A litre of sweat typically contains about 20mg Calcium, 50mg Magnesium, just over 1 gram of Sodium and 1.5 grams of Chloride . . . a good reason why hydrating is better with a sports drink containing these minerals than just with water.

In fact, the use of a sports drink with electrolyte minerals and carbohydrate has three key functions:

  • Whereas an excess amount of water can dilute the blood plasma, possibly leading to potentially life-threatening conditions such as hyponatraemia (low sodium levels leading to swelling on the brain and confusion, seizure and even death) – by contrast, sports drinks will help maintain healthy plasma levels.
  • Drinks containing electrolyte minerals promote thirst and lead to an increase in voluntary intake of fluid.
  • There is evidence that when electrolyte minerals such as sodium and small amounts of glucose are present, the rate of fluid absorption from the small intestine into the rest of the body is improved. The same is true for hydration after the event.

Hydrating During The Race

There are 2 factors that determine how well you are able to get fluid to where it’s needed during a race – Gastric Emptying (how quickly the fluid leaves the stomach) and Intestinal Absorption (how well the small intestine is able to absorb fluid).

Studies have shown that a larger volume of fluid in the stomach as well as the presence of carbohydrate and electrolytes improves the uptake of fluid.

In regard to carbohydrate concentration, the optimal amount is around 2.5g per litre of water (about 4-5% glucose). Higher concentrations tend to slow the process down, however for endurance athletes the benefits of higher energy replacement may be more preferable.

Interestingly, fructose (sugar from fruits) tends to absorb more slowly and may slow down the uptake of water.

Yoga for Pain

Is Yoga really a cure for pain? Many Yoga students swear by the results they have received from regularly attending Yoga classes, two or three times per week. In truth, Yoga has its limits – just like any diet. Can you imagine if you were going to diet wisely once a week? You can imagine the results.

Therefore, the real dilemma, with Yoga practice, is getting a student to practice on a regular basis. Also, Yoga, much like any prescription drug, cannot promise to be a “cure-all” for every ailment. Yoga can promise to be a diversion from pain and help students to manage it better, with no adverse side effects.

The lifestyle changes that occur after regularly practicing Yoga, will cause Yoga students to evaluate everything they do, and everything they eat. Yoga is not just another exercise program or some fad that just came along within the least decade. According to some archaeological findings, Yoga has been in existence for over 5000 years. Show me an exercise fad with those credentials!

What kind of Yoga teacher should you visit for pain management? The Yoga teacher you select, for pain management, should be knowledgeable in the use of props. The prospective Yoga teacher should understand that each posture can be modified for the needs of the specific student. In other words, if you detect a “it’s my way or the highway” attitude, get as far away from that Yoga teacher as you can.

The most important component in a Yoga teacher’s personality, who helps students with ailments, is compassion. If you don’t see, feel, or hear any compassion, this is the wrong match for your needs. Yoga can be customized for the specific needs of students. The Yoga teacher, who has not yet felt any pain, is going to have less empathy for students who are in pain. So, an “elite” Yoga teacher, who can perform every asana imaginable, and has the body of a competing Olympic gymnast, may not exactly understand your pain.

What style of Yoga would be best, if you are constantly feeling pain? There are a number of styles to consider that can be easily customized for your specific needs. Here are a few to consider: Restorative Yoga, Therapeutic Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Yoga Therapy, and Tri-Yoga. Please keep in mind that these styles will vary according to the Yoga teacher’s interpretation of the style’s principles.

In which cases would Yoga not be advisable for students in severe pain? Sometimes, physicians do not recommend Yoga in cases of severe pain, such as in the case of extremely severe arthritis. The reasoning is that any movement will cause a great deal of pain in the joints. If your physician tells you not to practice a gentle form of Yoga, you should at least ask why. If you are not satisfied with the answer, you should seek a second opinion.

Reasons To Power Walk

Energy Boost

In addition to being refreshing, the power walk is also invigorating and energizing. It gets your heart pumping, the blood flowing, and those synapses firing. Today, office workers spend most of their day sitting. Between the office commute, the hours spent in front of the computer, and sitting in front of the television for entertainment, your body does not get many opportunities to move around. The power walk is the perfect antidote for this. It gets your body moving, your brain thinking, and the blood flowing.

Breaks the Day Up

As I mentioned, my power walks are helping to break the monotony of the day. Rather than take on your work day in 4 hour increments, a 15 minute power walk in the morning and one in the afternoon will break your day into 2 hour increments. You can return to your desk, or meeting, alert and ready to take on the next chunk of work.

Mental Clarity

Sometimes my power walk is timed just when I’m banging my head against the wall trying to solve a difficult problem. Stepping away from the computer for a while helps. Your head will clear when you go for a walk. New solutions will become apparent to you. You will return to your desk with the perfect solution and the energy to execute it.

Calorie Burn

It’s no longer a secret that I am getting healthier everyday. Part of that is increasing the number of calories I burn. While a power nap might prove energizing, a power walk certainly burns more calories. You can get an extra hour of walking into your day with power walks. A 15 minute walk for a morning break, one for the afternoon, and a 30 minute lunch walk, gives you an hour of movement easily spaced throughout the day. It certainly beats staring into space while marching on the treadmill.

Socially Acceptable

My roommate’s mom was right. Dozing off at your desk while staring at the screen isn’t the best office etiquette. Worse than that, nodding off in the meeting while your boss is giving a very important (cough, cough) presentation. No one can fault the power walk though. Better than that, it gives the impression that you care about your health and you’re industrious.

Stress Relief

Ever feel like telling a co-worker, “Let’s take this outside.” Now you can, with just 2 more words. “Let’s take a walk outside. Or you can go by yourself. A short walk will help to diffuse the situation and loosen you up. It also beats a smoke break.

Sitting Fit for Everyone

When I was a kid, my Dad asked me if I could design a chair for people whose knees bent backwards. I’m still working on that one. But since I began doing yoga, I’ve been working on designing a practice for those of us whose knees bend forward many hours a day. What do we do with bodies that ache because we sit, and sit, and sit? We’re a society of “chair people.” We sit for meals, sit for classes, sit in the car, sit at a desk, sit in meetings and movies. We sit to talk on the telephone and watch TV, sit at computers, on planes, on trains, in waiting rooms. Some of us sit due to accident or illness, weakness, or job requirements. Some of us sit because we just have a lazy life style. Do you ever feel that your life has become a series of transitions from one seated location to another?

I don’t think our bodies were meant to live that way! Most chairs aren’t designed to support our bodies with healthy posture. They cause us to slump, curve our spines, push our heads forward or lean us back onto our tailbones. The worst back problem I ever had came after sitting in a seminar room for three days of lectures.

Inactivity can cause stiffness, backache, weakness, constipation, poor circulation, mental dullness, nervousness, cramps, and degeneration. Depressing thoughts. Whatever the reason and wherever you sit, its possible to begin to become fit, even while sitting in your chair.

Yoga, the 5000 year old gift of body/mind balance, can be adapted to a seated stretching program that can counteract the inevitable results of too much sitting. Body awareness, better posture, relief from aches and pains, as well as increased flexibility and strengthening, and a deep sense of relaxation can be achieved right where you are….are you sitting down?

Although a consistent yoga program of standing, balancing, lying poses, and inversions is a more complete practice, yoga need not be relegated to the yoga studio or health club. The time commitment of hours per week can sometimes be difficult to fit in to a busy schedule. Doing a pose or two hourly throughout the day can give you some of the benefits of a yoga practice and help relieve the results of sitting too much. In fact, small efforts while sitting in various daily situations, can contribute greatly to our strength, flexibility, relaxation, increased circulation, stronger respiration, and clarity of mind. Yoga poses adapted to small bites may not have the same intensity as a full yoga class, but the benefits of yoga are readily available to those who nibble on yoga throughout the day.

Those who are physically challenged due to age, illness, or who just can’t do poses on the floor, need not miss out on the many benefits of yoga. Invalids, those confined to wheelchairs or recovering from injury, with their physician’s approval, can benefit from their own adaptation of the breathing and gentle seated poses. Seated yoga can build the strength and flexibility, needed to progress to more and more challenging poses. Breathing, stretching and strengthening can be introduced at a slow pace, gently bringing bodies to new levels of fitness, increasing circulation and bringing in healing “life force” energy.

“Sitting Fit” benefits all of us, regardless of our physical condition. Sitting needs to be balanced with moving, breathing and stretching, so try some of these simple poses for a “mini yoga break.” You’ll feel the difference and return your attention to your work refreshed, more relaxed and with a clearer mind.

Sitting Fit Can Be Done in a Chair … Anytime, Anywhere

Breathing Sit up straight on the edge of your chair, feet flat on the floor directly below your knees. Let your hands rest on your thighs. Take a long, deep breath, and exhale completely. Inhale deeply again, reaching for the ceiling with the crown of your head, lengthening your spine. Continue breathing with full deep inhalations and complete exhalations for 10 to 20 breaths.

As you exhale, slide your shoulder blades down your back, dropping your shoulders away from your ears as you reach through your finger tips. Keep breathing deeply for 3 to 5 breaths. Exhale as you lower your arms.

Shoulder shrugs Inhaling, bring your shoulders up tightly toward your ears. Roll your shoulders back, pressing your shoulder blades tightly together. Exhale as you press your shoulders down toward the floor. Inhaling again, bring your shoulders up again, roll them back and press your shoulder blades together, and release down. Repeat several times and don’t forget to breathe!

Forward Fold Still sitting on the edge of your chair with your feet hip width apart, inhale as you bring your arms out to your sides. Reach forward with your chin as you rotate from your hips, exhaling as you bring your chest toward your thighs. Keep your back flat. With your next exhalation, allow your self to relax, chest on your thighs, arms and head dangling, relaxed. Take 3 to 5 deep, full, relaxing breaths. Inhale as you sit up slowly with a flat back.

Knee Raises Sitting up straight, inhaling as you raise your right knee up in front of you. Grasp your leg in front of your knee with both hands. Keep your back flat as you exhale and draw your knee in toward your chest. Hold it there for 3 to 5 breaths. Release as you exhale. Repeat with your left leg.

Tickled by the Pickle

The Basics

Before you step out onto the court, it is important to know that Pickleball has varying skill levels, it is an activity for all ages, and you can choose singles, doubles, or mixed doubles. Equipment is minimal but essential. Footwear should be cross-trainer or tennis shoes with non-marking, durable flat souls that provide stability for side-to-side movement and the paddle you use should be light enough to present you both tactile options and power. Flexibility is imperative an important aspect of any fitness activity. Maintain your optimal functional efficiency by warming up all muscles, joints and ligaments for greater ease of movement, enhanced skill performance, and less chance of injury – Remember that short tight muscles limit movement and become sore when they perform physical activity. Every athlete knows the importance of having water readily available and Pickleball is no exception, hydration will be imperative due to the physical demands.

It’s all in the Team

Doubles play is perhaps the most enjoyable part of Pickleball. Playing involves much more than just the individual player’s techniques or physical abilities. The emphasis is on team, working together using strategies, tactics, and various techniques. A recent match had my partner asking, “Why are you trying to kill it? Just put the ball where they’re not.” Makes sense. How was I going to curb my enthusiasm? By trusting in my partner.

Before diving into more advanced skills, such as strategies and tactics, I had to first understand the basic Pickleball doubles formation. Moving with my partner for best effect. On the serve both players must stand behind the base line and stay there until the other team returns the ball then we move together about centre court for best effect.

As a novice player, I tend to make the mistake of staying on my side of the court even when my partner is under pressure. I find myself just standing there watching as my partner gets assaulted by the opponents. Lately, I have found that as the novice, experienced players will draw the ball to me most and trust that I will make mistakes – often. If that sounds familiar, here’s how to help yourself and your partner. Imagine that there is rope attached to your waist and your partner’s waist and when one player moves, the other should naturally follow. For example, if one player is returning a corner net shot, the partner should follow to help maximize court courage. You and your partner are linked by an invisible rope, pressing forward together, retreating together, and moving laterally together. This is how partner chemistry is developed in Pickleball doubles.

Health Benefits

You may be thinking, “Here it comes, – exercise and diet, you will live longer.” Consider this, the human body was designed for physical activity – only the fittest survived. Our current society has an abundance of what is known as hypokinetic diseases – conditions caused by a lack of regular physical activity.

The average person can burn anywhere from 300- 400 calories per hour playing Pickleball. When you increase the number of calories you expend and balance it with healthy eating, a magical thing happens; you begin to feel good about your body, emotional and mental clarity may follow, and energy levels improves considerably. Stress and tension melt away. Increase your play or add a few more games in each week and you will increase your demand for oxygen. Aerobically, this means your heart, lungs and muscles to work more efficiently, why it even reduces elevated blood fats and blood pressure, improves digestion, and elimination trouncing hypokinetic disease. Dynamic and isotonic strength improves, low back pain, osteoporosis, and joint pain diminish as well as resistance fatigue over a period of time develops. A Pickleball lifestyle is more than physical activity, it is a standard of living with meaning and purpose. Evidence supports the fact you are never too old to experience the benefits of exercise and the body will respond to exercise at any age.

The Rules

To start, a coin toss usually decides who goes first but most friendly games has the pair with the least amount of experience serving. The pair will stand behind the baseline and the player on the right side will begin by serving underhand and contacting the ball below the waist. The ball is directed to the opposite player on the other side of the net who is standing behind the baseline. The ball must bounce once before it is returned and the serving team must also wait for the returned shot to bounce before volleying. This is where the game gets exciting and picks up speed. There is a no-volley zone – or “kitchen”, this is the 7′ foot space between the net and the first court line which prevents players from standing too close to the net and promotes quick reflexes with skill shot strategies as apposed to power shots. Only the serving team can score points and the game is played until one team reaches 11 points or clears 2 points above. A game can last anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes and can be quite competitive with equally skilled players. The main goal is to have lots of fun.

Fight Depression with Exercise

While the sky-high feeling is only temporary, I am still left with the personal satisfaction that yet again, I put forth a considerable amount of effort to take a step forward in my life. Only a fortnight ago, exercising seemed as impossible as climbing the tallest mountain in the world. Today, it is gradually becoming a part of my weekly routine.

Some days are tough – sitting in front of the computer seems a much easier alternative; however, when you anticipate the feeling of well-being you will have at the end of your exercise session, when you look at yourself at the mirror and see big gobs of fat hanging over your trousers, when you remember you stuffed your face with cake at lunch and would do best to burn those extra calories, you know you’re better off getting up and hitting the gym than spending time with a computer that doesn’t even love you back.

The first five minutes, pumping the required energy to move your inertia-prone body feels like doing prison chores, but as you get going, you realize it’s not so bad after all, and in the end, you’re glad you forced yourself to do it because you suddenly feel 10 years younger and a couple of pounds lighter (even if you know you weigh just the same as you did before you started).

Recovery From Exercise

Cool-down

After exhaustive exercise, don’t stop and rest immediately. You can speed up the removal of lactic acid from your muscles by continuing to exercise at a low intensity for 10-20 minutes. Cooling down can help reduce the feeling of stiffness that often occurs after a workout and is especially important if your next training session or event is scheduled a few hours later.

Stretch

Static stretching before exercise puts you at risk for damaging the very tissues you are trying to protect and as such should be avoided. Research has shown that stretching causes lengthening of the tendinous fibers within the muscle-tendon unit. Such lengthening causes the tendon (or passive) component to lose much of its shock absorbency, thus, placing the muscle fibers at greater risk of trauma. However, stretching after exercise may help minimize muscle soreness and may even help prevent future soft tissue injuries. Thus, before activity, more active-type stretching routines that promote range of motion and increased blood flow are recommended. Conversely, after exercise, the emphasis should be on passive or static stretching to allow the muscles to relax and return to their resting lengths.

Carbohydrates

The muscles are primed for quick restoration of their carbohydrate fuel reserves (glycogen) immediately after exercise, so don’t wait too long to start eating foods and drinking beverages rich in carbohydrate. Fruits, energy bars, and sports drinks all contain large amounts of carbohydrate. From a nutrition standpoint, post-exercise is one of the only times where you want to be consuming high-glycemic index foods for they will stimulate a quicker release of insulin and, thus, carbohydrate storage in the muscles. Ideally, these fuels should be consumed as quickly as possible upon finishing your exercise session.

Protein

Most forms of exercise lead to the breakdown of proteins within the muscles. This breakdown-repair process stimulates the muscles to rebuild and become stronger. Moreover, some of our muscle proteins continue to be broken down during the recovery phase after exercise. For a faster buildup of muscle proteins during recovery, include a small amount of protein in the foods you eat. Milk, cheese, eggs, whey protein shakes, sandwiches, nuts (almonds, walnuts) and energy bars provide carbohydrate and protein. Look for easily digestible protein sources (such as the ones listed above) following strenuous exercise. Avoid saturated fats.

Fluids

Replacing lost fluid is crucial to the recovery process. Having adequate fluids within your body promotes the removal of toxins and waste from your muscles. Top off your supply of fluids by drinking before exercise, continue to hydrate every 15 or 20 minutes during a workout, and replace any body weight lost during exercise by drinking while you recover. Remember, 1 L of water is equivalent to 1 kg of body weight. Therefore, if the difference between your pre- and post-exercise weight is 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) you would want to rehydrate with 1.5 L of water to bring your body fluid back to homeostasis. Before, during, and after exercise, the rule of thumb is that if you’re thirsty, it’s too late! Therefore, be sure to have a water bottle throughout the day to sip on. On a daily basis (at rest), the number of ounces of water you should be consuming should equal half of your body weight (in lbs). Thus, if you weigh 200 lbs, then you want to be drinking 100 ounces of water (almost 3 L).

Salt

Your body loses water and minerals – mostly sodium chloride, some potassium – when you sweat. Drinking water alone during exercise and recovery will make it difficult to replace body fluids rapidly because much of it will pass through the kidneys to become urine. Replace the salt along with the water to counteract dehydration. If you have to compete again within a few hours, consider sports drinks that contain water, sodium chloride, or fruits such as bananas which are high in potassium. Add extra salt to foods at mealtime if you are susceptible to cramps. Consider using condiments, sports drinks, and fitness waters instead of salt tablets.

Damage Control

Inflammation, swelling, and muscle soreness are possibilities following strenuous exercise. To minimize the effects, consider cold packs around joint areas, alternating cold and hot whirlpool baths, and the use of specially designed magnets to speed the recovery process. Light massage is also a good option for promoting toxin removal from the tissues and reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). A study by Hilbert et al. showed that a 20 minute massage 2 hours following exercise helped to reduce the intensity of soreness 48 hours post-exercise in subjects who underwent 6 sets of maximal eccentric hamstring contractions. Minimize foot contact with the ground. Engage in light activities that increase blood flow while not taxing the nervous system. Swimming, cycling, walking, and light jogs are alternatives, but minimize foot contact with the ground.

Instant Fitness

Get a schedule

I can not stress this enough. The first two weeks is that hardest part of any new aspect of your life and going to the gym is no different. If you want to work out everyday before work, do it everyday! Don’t skip a day, because that will quickly turn into skipping every other day, and before you know it, you’re back to making a New Year’s Resolution. Seventy percent of people who sign up for a gym membership stop going after two weeks. Seventy percent.

Get a difficult workout

OK, I’m sorry, but there’s nothing in the air that will magically make you reach your fitness goals. If it is to lose weight, you need to hit the cardio at a relatively fast pace, increase the difficulty periodically, and combine a safe weight training routine. The correct weight training done at a faster pace will burn just as many, if not more, calories than cardio.

Write down everything you eat and drink

And I mean everything! Those margaritas on a Friday night still count against your diet, and they do add up! If you go to Staples and get a composition book and write down everything you eat daily, along with the total number of calories, you’d be amazed at where you can make changes.

Buy measuring devices

This is the single most important tip you will receive. Everyone (should, at least) knows where the nutrition information is on all the food we eat. But 2 ozs. of pasta? How much is that? The only way to know is to buy a digital scale (I bought mine for less than $30) and weigh your food. I know, it sounds strange, but it will help melt the weight right off.

Stomach Exercises

Unfortunately, the stomach is one of the hardest areas to work on, which is why we see so many chubby guts in older people. Not only is it the hardest area to tone up, but most stomach exercises are a painful and unpleasant form or workout to perform.

When exercising in a gym, pushing a few weights to build up muscles like the biceps and triceps, often give immediate results in as much as you can see the rewards for your efforts almost instantly. The stomach on the other hand can be a thankless task because there is plenty of pain but little immediate gain to show for all those unbearable, back breaking, gut wrenching crunches.

There’s a bit of a misconception about how to reduce belly fat and stomach exercises alone do nothing to give you a flat pack. I worked on my abs for over 6 months and was frustrated to see that I still had a beer gut. I could feel my strengthened abdominal muscles under the blubber but that was no good as they were buried under the layers of fat!

In my ignorance I watched a few info commercials on the TV and thought that I just had to do what they did to get what they had, which was an impressive looking 6 pack in just 6 weeks of rigorous workout. Wrong! Ok, yes, the exercises will strengthen your abs without any question of doubt, but to fight the flab, there’s only one sure way and that is do some form or aerobic exercise.

Loosing that jelly belly is perfectly doable with aerobic exercise (skipping is very good for this), and is the fastest way to shed those extra pounds, but just remember that doing sit-ups and crunches alone will only work the abdominal muscles and have absolutely no effect on the surrounding fat. Your newly developed muscles will be hidden under your layer of lard, and that is a very frustrating experience.

The best plan of action is to let the dog see the rabbit. Once you can see your feet again from the stand up position, you will get an enormous physiological boost, and this is the time to begin work on your abdominal muscles. Don’t do what I did and think that a few sit ups and crunches alone will get rid of your excess weight as it’s extremely demoralizing.

Get a plan of action together which includes aerobic exercise followed by a stomach workout, and then you will definitely be able to get that look you so desperately desire. But stomach exercise is no different to any other form of exercise in that it will only work if YOU work it, so remember to follow through. Good luck!