bookmark_borderReal Secret to Improve Asthma

A study was recently done in Australia to see if breathing technique could helps asthma sufferers. Could breathing techniques make any difference to asthma sufferer’s health and also could these techniques reduce the amount of times rescue inhalers were used?

Firstly the group was split up into 2 smaller groups. Both groups were asked to try out some breathing techniques given to them on video (the point of the video was so that they could do the exercises at home and refer to the video so that the proper technique
was always being used). Both groups were asked to do their exercises twice daily and working with the video at least once per day.

Group A was told to practice using a shallow breathing technique through the nose for 3-5 minutes, twice per day, the Group B was told to do other breathing techniques which included correcting their posture, breathing techniques and some upper body exercises.
Both groups were also asked to try to delay how quickly they used their rescue inhaler in an emergency, but to try using their breathing techniques to try to resolve the problem first and if need be then to use the inhaler.

Half way through the 30 week trial, the researchers began lowering the dosage of inhaled corticosteroid in 2 stages. At the end of the trial that although the breathing techniques didn’t change their lung functions or quality of life, they did find that the usage rate of asthma inhalers dropped by a whooping 86% and dosages of corticosteroid dropped 50%. Another finding was that it didn’t seem to matter what breathing technique was used as both ways produced great results.

bookmark_borderTime Management

We’re not discussing a “catch phrase,” or short-term solution, where a manager goes to a one-day workshop on time management, and then comes back lecturing his, or her, staff, about their time management.

The irony is that, most of the time, this type of manager is aware of time management because he, or she, wastes plenty of time. This usually goes on until the next workshop, and then management will learn a new catch phrase to tell the staff what they are doing wrong.

What we are discussing is a lifestyle, and possibly a big change, just like the first time you visited a Yoga class. In a “nut shell,” we have limited time on this earth and we cannot afford to waste it thinking about future worries, past regrets, fighting with loved ones, or leaving goals on hold.

Most of us leave dreams, goals, relationships, and ambitions on the “back burner,” while the daily routine of life goes by. No wonder people complain about the monotony of daily tasks. Very often, we hear, “I don’t have time to learn new skills, go to night school, practice Yoga, or become a Yoga teacher.”

Remember when you were a child and life seemed to go by so slowly? You had time to play, watch television, listen to the radio, and lay around, without a care in the world. Now, welcome to adulthood, life is flying by at a rapid pace, and goals sometimes seem further away than ever before.

Your starting point is today. All you have to do is write your list of tasks for tomorrow. This is commonly called a “to do list.” You can post it on a piece of paper, on your desktop, in your PDA, or anywhere you will refer to it in a day.

To be honest, I put the piece of paper in my pocket and refer to it during the day. Sometimes, the lesson plan for my next Yoga class can be found in my pocket, too. This is a reflection of my time line, and my generation, but my son would put it on his PDA. Whatever you choose is fine, as long as you refer to it, and get something done.

Notice, I did not say get everything done. Somehow, life throws us curves and your “well laid” plans may not fit into the daily time frame. You learn this in your Yoga practice too. It is absolutely necessary that all of us accept change. These days, change occurs on a daily basis, so there is no need to become tense about it. This explains why so many corporate fitness centers have Yoga, or meditation programs, for their employees.

Be prepared to make modifications to your plans or “turn on a dime.” Deadlines should be taken seriously, but sometimes life gets in the way. There are times when the path you are on will have to be altered. So, be prepared to have a backup plan.

Remember the Serenity Prayer: “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.” It goes without saying, that you will waste a lot of time and energy, if you don’t know the difference.

The next point to cover is when to multi-task. What is this? You say, “This doesn’t sound very Yogic.” Yoga refers to “unity” or “union,” and we must exist in harmony with life as it is today. The mind naturally multi-tasks so, let’s make the most of our time.

In ancient times people multi-tasked, too. Why else would people around the world practice meditation for thousands of years? Why else would the people of India practice Yoga for over 5,000 years? Stress was one of many things our ancestors, and the ancient Yogis, have in common with us, and we know that stress is a killer. Most likely stress is linked to every ailment that connected to mankind.

True irony is when you consider planning time, and start to make excuses why you don’t have time to manage, or plan, your time wisely. If you like to watch television, you could do a little planning at the same time. Ideally, it is best to be totally focused, thinking clearly, and be in a quiet place when planning time.

However, there are other forms of multi-tasking you can do such as listening to an audio book in the car, using an exercise bike while watching television, and reading or listening to books while traveling. There are a number of Yoga, and Yoga philosophy audio books, available.

On the other hand, we know multi-tasking can go too far. I will never forget commuting into Boston, stuck in traffic, and seeing a guy next to me reading a newspaper on his steering wheel! Within the same month, I saw a motorist driving with a hamburger in one hand, and a milk shake in the other, while driving through stop and go traffic on Interstate 95!

We’re not considering reckless multi-tasking, but consider combining tasks that don’t require 100% focus. For example, you cannot focus entirely on an audio book while driving, and you may have to listen to it quite a few times before you mentally digest all the material.

For this very reason, you should not consider listening to, and concentrating on, meditation audio books, while driving your car or operating machinery. Yoga philosophy is one thing, but trying to listen to or practice with a meditation audio book, while driving, is quite another. Therefore, be very careful about the safety factors involved in multi-tasking.

Another point to cover is logistics. When you consider where you are going, always plan to avoid “back tracking.” For example: If you are picking the kids up from school and have to get groceries, make it into a combined trip. If you make it into two trips, this is truly a waste of time. Therefore, plan your trips, whether they are time spent in a car, riding a bike, or walking.

Lastly, make time for family, friends, and loved ones. Unify your time for a balanced life. Life is not, “all work and no play,” but life is not sitting around living the life of a “couch potato.” Remember one of the best excuses for not attending a Yoga class: “I don’t have the time.”

bookmark_borderYoga Clothes for Comfort

Yoga Pants

There are many types of yoga pants. Some are long and go down to your ankles; others stop just below your knees. Often they are relatively form fitting. These types of pants have the benefit of allowing your instructor to see your alignment so she can make any necessary adjustments to your form.

If you aren’t comfortable in pants that are so revealing, you might enjoy wearing loose, cotton trousers. They offer freedom of movement without being too tight.

Whatever pants you choose, make sure that you can bend and move freely in them. Also be sure that there are no bulky ties at the waist that might be uncomfortable when you are lying in a prone position.

Yoga Shorts

Yoga shorts are a very good choice if you practice Bikram or hot yoga, because the room is heated to such a high temperature. They are a good bet in the warm summer months when long pants might be too warm. They also help you more easily check the proper alignment of your lower body because you can see your knees and ankles.

The yoga shorts should be long enough to cover your derriere and they should not ride up. Form fitting shorts usually don’t move too much, so they may be just right for you.

Yoga Tops

Yoga tops should allow you to move freely without having them fall in your face. Tee shirts should be short enough so that your lower body is not hidden, so you can more easily check your alignment. Some women like to wear sports bras (especially those who practice Bikram yoga). If you choose to wear one, make sure that it holds you securely and that nothing falls out when you are bending or stretching. You don’t want to wear something that is going to cause you to worry about what you might be showing to the rest of the class.

Yoga tops come in many bright and attractive colors. You might also have fun wearing shirts with characters such as Yoga girl on them.

Yoga Shoes

Most people do not wear shoes during their practice. However, they might be useful if you practice outside in a park, on a beach, or some place where you would not want to take off your shoes and socks. Yoga shoes look very similar to other athletic footwear, except that the soles allow for considerable flexibility in your foot and the tops of the shoes are very lightweight. Some popular brands include Puma yoga shoes and Adidas shoes for yoga.

Jacket

Many people might not think that a jacket is an important part of yoga clothing, but I beg to disagree. I think it is absolutely critical to take a jacket with you to your yoga class. I have been in many classes where the temperature has been quite cool (some are downright freezing). While the temperature often doesn’t matter too much while I am moving during the poses, it becomes quite a different story when the time comes to meditate.

bookmark_borderYoga 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.

bookmark_borderYoga 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.

bookmark_borderSitting 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.

bookmark_borderSpeak with Mindfulness

Whenever, you engage another person in conversation, always think before talking. This may sound simple, but everybody knows someone who does not think before talking. Hence the saying, “Putting his/her foot in his/her mouth.” Children do this, but it is innocent, and they do not yet understand all the rules of etiquette.

Your mind has many random thoughts, and there is no need to expose them to the world. Good politicians, sales people, and diplomats are masters at saying enough to stay out of a conflict, but still manage to get a particular point across. What is the technique they use? In a “nut shell,” it is mindfulness.

Try to avoid conversation when you are not focused, tense, or not in the present moment. If a situation seems potentially volatile, you should pick the time to engage the other party in conversation. Set the tone of the conversation by using a relaxed approach and listen carefully.

When you maintain an air of good will and positive thoughts, it becomes difficult to pursue a conflict with you. Be aware that when you slow down and relax, most people will respond the same. Therefore, you can control a meeting by radiating thoughts of kindness. You do this by showing respect and thinking positively about the other person, despite your differences.

There are exceptions to every rule, and I do not endorse complete surrender, unless you are wrong. However, when you listen emphatically and are fully present for the other party, you will most likely resolve, or avoid, a conflict.

All of us need to learn to laugh at ourselves and develop a sense of humor. This will give you a completely different perspective of yourself, and you won’t worry about feeling embarrassed or making a mistake. This perspective will also allow you to be mindful of yourself and your words.

If you take the time to speak with gentleness, mindfulness, and loving kindness, the world will respond in kind. At the same time you won’t waste energy defending your ego. Always remember the old saying, “Life is too short to waste time fighting.”

bookmark_borderPrenatal Yoga

Pregnant students should be in a specialized Prenatal Yoga class, with a competent Prenatal Yoga teacher, and have their doctor’s permission to be in the class. Why should Yoga teachers be so cautious? As a Yoga instructor, your number one priority is student safety and you could set yourself up for a negligence lawsuit, if you do not have Prenatal Yoga teacher training.

Last year, we had a potential Yoga student, who had two previous miscarriages and wanted to practice Yoga. She had become pregnant again and decided to try Vinyasa Yoga during her first trimester. Upon asking her a few questions, it was discovered that both of her two previous miscarriages occurred during the first trimester.

Do you see any “red flags” with this situation? I hope so. Firstly, she should not think about participating in a Vinyasa style Yoga class, with her past medical history, but any jumping movements could possibly dislodge an embryo from her uterus. We did manage to place her in a Prenatal Yoga class, with her doctor’s permission, and later she did have a healthy baby.

Supervised Prenatal Yoga is a very good thing for expectant mothers, but many people are under the mistaken impression that because Hatha Yoga is a “low impact exercise class” in comparison to other forms of fitness; there is no risk.

Currently, there is some open debate as to whether a pregnant mother should be lying on her back during, and after, the second trimester. Compression on the inferior vena cava can slow the flow of blood to the uterus. Therefore, it would be prudent to use props in order to avoid conventional supine Yoga postures.

Am I too cautious? Maybe, but I would like a guarantee that the fetus is getting good blood circulation, if a pregnant Yoga student is lying in a supine asana. A few blankets, pillows, and bolsters will help insure safety in this case.

Lastly, I do not want to sound any false alarms, but it is wise for expectant mothers to seek out certified prenatal Yoga teachers and it is wise for Yoga teachers to know their “boundaries.”

bookmark_borderYoga for Men

A man’s greater level of physical strength is accepted by most committed yoga practices. This is why several of the poses recommended for men require additional muscle strength and endurance. Numerous male yoga practitioners have discovered that a mixture of yoga and weight training can equip them with the required levels of energy and positive thinking. In many cases, the balance between mind and body is broken by various harmful exterior factors such as stress, pressure, social problems and so on. The tight link between body and soul can be regularly seen in such cases: if the spirit is defeated, the body will often get ill and debilitated.

This is why the more physical aspects of yoga are greatly recommended for men. Society imposes certain standards – and keeping fit and looking good are just two of them. In order to possess self-confidence and respect for your own self you need to take care of your body correctly. Some of the yoga poses you will read about further on in this article are fabulous for keeping the body in perfect physical condition, particularly when a balanced and healthy diet is adhered to. Needless to say physical yoga training greatly reduces the likelihood of several illnesses such as lowered blood pressure, heart attacks and osteoporosis.

Yoga also favors meditation and relaxation as some of its most effective shields against stress. Half an hour of stretching your muscles and deep breathing can take any yoga practitioner into a condition of serenity and relaxation that gives both mind and body the opportunity to renew their vitality. Particular yoga poses such as the head stand are superb for assisting circulation and allowing the heart rate to drop. This type of position also “forces” you to breathe deeply, thereby improving brain oxygenation. Another comparable pose would be the shoulder stand, which enhances the positive effects of breathing by improving the lung’s capacity to process oxygen. Both these poses are beneficial to the spine as well, as they allow it to stretch and relax at the exact same time. The plough pose may also be tried in order to strengthen the abdominal and lower back muscles. Savasana, also known as the corpse pose, is excellent for relaxing the body between asanas.

The above-mentioned poses have to be accompanied by some specific breathing techniques. The Anuloma Viloma technique balances the prana levels in the organism and is recommended for use while doing physical exercises. The Ujjayi breathing method clears the nasal passages and throat of phlegm and allows for a superior air circulation. This technique also works well for improving the responses of the nervous system.

bookmark_borderYoga Sandbags

These are very useful in increasing your strength and to know your endurance level. Breathing can be maintained and by using it, the stretching of all the dormant muscles are done. It helps mainly in your hamstring stretch which can be very vital and important for your body.

It can be used under your feet, seat bones to enhance the level of practicing yoga. These come in different colors with high quality of pack cloth and a sturdy inner coating to prevent dust and sand from falling out of the bag. These are ten pound sandbags mainly used to lengthen your yoga poses. It is a very simple and easy device which can be used by most people. By adding the weight your level of yoga poses take a deeper and better turn. They come in different colors and can be chosen according to your needs and wants.

There are such kind of bags which are not filled with sand but with beans and can be used in the same manner and has the same benefits. They can also be also come in designs which can be customized and you can show off it to your friends. The sandbags are mainly made of Velcro, denim and other materials according to your needs. The materials used can be easily dry cleaned or hand wash depending upon your needs. The handles are for easy handling and performing the yoga.