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How Safe is Hot Yoga?

Written by Lisa Jillanza

hot yoga All over the country, the temperatures in yoga classes are going up, and up, and up!  The newest fitness craze is Hot Yoga, where yoga fans are downward dogging in studios where temperatures vary from 90 degrees to 105 degrees.

While there are a number of concerns about the practice of Hot Yoga : including dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke : quite a few experts have been researching the effects that Hot Yoga has on people's bodies.

Researchers tested the core body temperature of people in a normal yoga class and then again while they were in a Hot Yoga class.  Besides sweating more (obviously) there were no other differences in the subjects' core body temperature and other variables the researchers tested.

The highest body temperature recorded in the study was 102.4 degrees, which is below the zone : 104 degrees - where heat exhaustion, fatigue and other heat-related problems begin to exist.

Subjects did say that they found the Hot Yoga classes more challenging overall, but both classes are still considered to be a form of light exercise.

While Hot Yoga did not prove to cause any heat-related conditions like heat stroke and heat exhaustion, researchers cannot stress enough the importance of staying hydrated.

You should drink lots of water before, during and after any yoga class, but especially a Hot Yoga class so that your body can better regulate your core body temperature.  Researchers also note that it can take your body anywhere from 10 to 14 days to acclimate itself to exercising in a heated condition, so be sure to monitor how you feel when participating in Hot Yoga, or any other heat-related exercise.

Tai Chi : Low Impact Exercises

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Tai Chi is a popular mind and body exercise that traces its roots to Ancient China. It is a low impact activity that is aimed at promoting a person's well being regardless of age and general health condition.

Tai Chi includes a variety of slow, gentle movements. It improves breathing, promotes better circulation and is a great way of relieving stress. Practitioners believe that Tai Chi improves the flow of energy in the body, restoring the body's natural equilibrium and providing relief to many ailments.

Opening Position

  • Stand erect, maintaining proper posture and spine alignment
  • Spread your feet apart, and point both feet at 12 o'clock
  • Relax, drop your shoulders and let your fingers hang loose
  • Curve your hands and palms facing the sides of your body
  • Bent your knees slightly

Awaken the Chi: Warm-up Exercise

Benefits: breathing exercise, stress reduction

  • Opening position
  • Bring your hands in front of your body, with your hands slightly touching and palms facing outward, about two inches below your belly
  • Breathe in, and raise your hands upward to your breast level with the palms of your hands still facing skyward all in one continuous motion
  • Breathe out; lower your hands in a pushing movement. Synchronize releasing the air and lowering your hands with the palm of your hands facing downward.
  • Repeat the cycle 6 to 8 times and return to opening position

Balancing the Chi

Benefits: relieves anxiety, strengthens back muscles

  • Opening position
  • Bring hands in front with palms facing skyward, with the tips of your hands around two inches apart. Position your arms at the hip levels.
  • Breathe in, raise your heels and bring arms to chest level
  • Breathe out, lower hands in a gentle pushing movement. Turn your palms facing to the ground and plant heels on the ground
  • Repeat movements 6 to 8 times and return to opening position

Beautiful Woman Turns the Waist

Benefits: Loosens tight muscles, strengthens back, improves kidney function

  • Opening position
  • Clockwise
  • Position your hands at the back, with the palm of your hands pressing at your kidney area
  • Straighten knees
  • Push left hip out to left bend upper torso slightly right
  • Push hips forward and allow upper body to bend backwards slightly
  • Push right hip out to right and bend body slightly left
  • Push bottom backwards and allow body to bend forward slightly
  • Repeat movements 6 to 8 times and return to opening position
  • Counterclockwise
  • Push right hip out to right and bend body slightly left
  • Push hips forward and allow upper body to bend backwards slightly
  • Push left hip out to left bend upper torso slightly right
  • Push bottom backwards and allow body to bend forward slightly
  • Repeat cycle 6 to 8 times and return to opening position

Cloud Hands

Benefits: Improves coordination, strengthens back muscles, relieves neck tension, stress relief and enhances mind functioning

  • Breathe in, turn your left arm towards the center chest area at shoulder level with the palm of your hands facing your body
  • Drop right arm in line with your body and palm facing the side of your body
  • Transfer your weight to your left leg
  • Lock legs and turn body from your waist
  • Turn left
  • Let your arm follow the body's side movement
  • Drop left arm in line with your body and palm facing the side of your body
  • Position your right arm over the center chest area at shoulder level with right  palm facing your chest
  • Return to center from left
  • Breathe out
  • Transfer weight to center
  • Transfer your weight to your right leg
  • Lock legs and turn body from your waist
  • Turn right
  • Let your arm follow the body's side movement
  • Drop right arm in line with your body and palm facing the side of your body
  • Position your left arm over the center chest area at shoulder level with right  palm facing your chest
  • Return to center from right
  • Breathe out
  • Transfer weight to center
  • Repeat exercise 6 to 8 times and return to opening position

Yoga : For a Healthier You

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Yoga is fast becoming one of the most popular relaxation exercises. Yoga techniques include physical postures, body and mind discipline, breathing control and meditation. Allowing cancer patients to do simple yoga meditation exercises can help reduce stress and condition their minds for cancer treatments. Below are some of the benefits of practicing Yoga:

  • Promotes sleep
  • Reduces stress
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves breathing
  • Gives patient a sense of well-being
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Enhances blood circulation
  • Strengthens muscles

Basic Yoga Techniques

Pranayamas are yoga breathing exercises designed to eliminate impurities in the body and improve the mind. All exercises must be performed while sitting with eyes closed. All breathing must be done with the tongue's tip touching the mouth's roof.

Deerga Swasam: Complete Breath

This is a type of breathing exercise which promotes proper breathing technique. Breathe slowly and deep thru the nose with the tongue's tip touching the mouth's roof. Direct the air to your diaphragm and slowly fill your stomach with air. Inhale until chest area is completely filled with air. Gently lift your shoulders as you slowly feel the air filling your lungs. Exhaling, pull your stomach in as deeply as possible while releasing the air. Relax all chest, shoulder and chest muscles as you expel air thru your nose. Total duration for each exercise should take 1 minute, 30 seconds to inhale and 30 seconds for exhaling.

Brahmari: Humming Bee

This breathing exercise teaches how to properly control exhaling and reduce stress. Students are instructed to enter a meditative state before each exercise and instructed to reduce their pace of breathing.  Perform complete breath exercise and produce a humming sound as you exhale slowly. Listen carefully to the pitch and tone of the hum produced and continue to perform the exercise until a pleasant sound is produced.

Kapalabhati: Skull Shining Kapalabhati is a relatively simple breathing exercise. It is based on the lungs natural property to fill itself with air when open. This breathing exercise doesn't focus on breathing but on moving your diaphragm. Abdominal muscles are used to move the diaphragm while you concentrate on keeping your lungs open. The diaphragm controls the movement of air in the lungs. Pushing the diaphragm up forces the air in the lungs to be expelled (exhalation), relaxing the diaphragm increases lung volume forcing air to be pushed in back to the lungs (inhalation). This breathing exercise is required prior to performing Bastrika.

Bastrika: Bellows

Practice rapid breathing movements similar to those in Kapalahati. Perform these movements as fast as possible with emphasis on more forceful exhalation. Perform inhalation slowly and hold breath for a few seconds. While holding your breath, lean forward to press your chin to your chest as far as possible. Gently raise your head as you exhale thru the nose.

Anuloma Viloma: Opposite Nostril Breathing Anuloma Viloma is a breathing exercise that aims to improve air movement thru nasal passages. It also promotes a smoother and slower movement of air while both nasal passages are equally trained. The breathing exercise also increases the amount of air that could pass thru to the lungs. Anuloma Viloma decreases and eliminates snoring and prevents sinus clogging.

First perform Kapalabhati or Bastrika to prepare body for a lesser oxygen supplies. Mild oxygen levels maybe experienced as covering one nostril constricts the flow of oxygen to the body. Perform the Vishnu mudra. Fold the first and middle fingers into the palm, taking note to keep the pinky, thumb, ring fingers straight. Perform complete breath technique thru both nostrils. Cover one nostril by using the pinky and ring fingers and exhale using the other nostril.

Still covering the other nostril, inhale thru the nostril which you just exhaled thru. Cover this nostril and exhale thru the nostril which was previously covered. Alternate nostrils and perform the exercise for about 10 minutes.

Safety Tips when Working Out in the Gym

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Going regularly to the gym is a great way for getting a toned, trim body.  But gym workouts should match with your specific fitness goals. Exercise can prevent diseases, reduce weight, lower blood pressure, lower high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, increase energy levels, improve endurance and make us live longer. However, exercising may also make us prone to injuries.

Injury increases with a lot of factors. Some of these factors include unqualified staff, equipment malfunction, improper exercise, falls, sprains and strains, and infections. We can avoid these risks for injury if we take certain precautions, as said in the tips that follow:

Train with a Professional

If you are new to the gym, walk around and familiarize yourself with the equipment. It is a good idea to meet with your trainer to discuss your personal goals and exercise programs, and the usage of specific pieces of equipment. With proper safety procedures for using gym equipment in mind, you can prevent injuries to your body and work on the correct set of muscles. Do not let go off machines too quickly as this may cause accidents.

Warm Up Before and Cool Down After

These are the important steps of any exercise the regimen. Warm-ups and stretching increases blood flow, loosens your muscles, and prepares your body for a workout. If you do not warm up, you will end up putting a strain on your muscles, resulting in injuries. Similarly, once you have done a rigorous workout, you need to cool your body for 3 to 5 minutes so that your heart rate normalizes and your muscles relax.

Gradually Move to a Higher Gear

Do not let the drive for toning your body put you in a position of carrying on high intensity workouts when you are not used to it. You will merely end up hurting yourself and eventually falling back on your exercise schedule. Rather than burning up quickly, you should ease into your workout schedule gradually and listen to your body.

For strength training, you can start with lighter weights and increase the reps and sets before increasing the weights which shouldn't be more than 10% of what your body can handle. Cardio exercises require you to increase the work and time on your body before increasing your exertion level and speed.

Maintain a Straight Posture

When you are at gym, see if you can workout in front of a mirror. Doing so will help in maintain a good posture while you exercise. Straighten out your shoulder blades and do not hunch while exercising. Your knees and elbows should be soft through the workout so that they are not hyper-extended.

While Lifting Weights

 

Strength training exercises require certain safety tips including:

  • Do not hold your breath while lifting weights
  • Do not lock your joints as this would put them under strain
  • Keep both hands at an equal distance from the center of the bar when using free weights
  • Have a spotter tell you how well you are doing the exercise
  • Avoid putting pressure on your teeth
  • Pay attention to your breathing
  • When pick up the weight from the ground, you should squat down, bend at the knees and bring your butt down. When you lift up the weight, push it up with your legs. This will prevent you from any back injuries.

Before you can concentrate on exercising at the gym, get a check-up from your doctor to see which exercises would suit your health.

Choose Your Gym

Make sure that the gym that you go into has properly trained personnel. Some gym staff members who call themselves fitness trainers or instructors actually have no training. You should ask if their certificates and degrees are current. The staff should also have training on CPR and first aid.

Check Your Equipment

Injuries sometimes stem from improper equipment. Remember that there are a lot of people who use equipment aside from you so that these cannot escape every day wear and tear. Wear and tear may later on lead to malfunction, and you could be at risk for injuries. To avoid the risk for injury, ask gym staff if damaged equipment is repaired as soon as possible and whether they do quality checks on their equipment every now and then. You can also play a role by reporting to staff when you see damaged equipment.

Do Proper Exercise

Choosing improper exercise can also lead to injuries. Ask the help of a personal trainer in choosing what exercises are best for you and your goal. You should also warm up before exercise and cool down after exercising. Warming up should be done for 30 minutes and may consist of light exercises such as walking, jogging or stretching. Cooling down also takes up 30 minutes after exercising and also consists of light exercise. Also, talk to your doctor whether the exercises you plan to do are right for you and your health condition.

Be Prepared

You should wear proper apparel while exercising. Also, wear shoes which will prevent you from tripping over and getting sprains or strains. You should also bring a water bottle with you and hydrate before, during and after exercise. Be careful when you go around showers, pools and hot tubs. Keep keys or other objects away from you while you exercise.

Prevent Infections

The risk of infection may increase in crowded places. This is because disease-causing fungi or bacteria may breed in wet areas such as showers and swimming pools. Towels, locker room floors, cardio machines and benches may also serve as breeding grounds for these microorganisms.

Exercising indoors is not a guarantee that you will be safe from sprains, falls and other injuries. There are also some factors which increase injury even when you are working out inside the gym.  Following these simple tips however, ensures that you are able to