Ten things you can do TODAY to improve your yoga practice


A recent study by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance revealed that 36 million Americans practice yoga. And every one of you yogis have a lot more in common than you might realize. Most of you perform yoga for three reasons 1. To improve flexibility, 2. To reduce stress, and 3. To improve your fitness level. It’s also interesting that nearly 80% of you give back to your communities. Go Yoga!

In the spirit of giving back, we have a few tips you can do today in your yoga practice, whether you’re a beginner or advanced, young/old, man/woman… doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter what kind of yoga you do either.

Here Are Your 10 Yoga Workout Tips:

While these tips might seem obvious, they are often overlooked. Give them a try (or remember to do them) and get more out of your yoga practice.

  1. Breathe: Talk about obvious, right? But listen… proper, deep breathing will help you relax, focus, and keep better posture. It also gives you something to think about other than tomorrow’s to-do list.
  2. Prepare for class: Don’t show up to a yoga class with only moments to spare before it begins. You need time to relax, focus, and prepare your mind, as well as your body.
  3. Drink and thrive: You probably don’t drink water during your practice, so remember to be thoroughly hydrated before you begin your yoga workout and drink throughout the day.
  4. Dress properly: Ideally, you can eliminate anything that can take you out of your mental focus during your practice. It may not seem like much, but if you have to adjust your yoga outfit, you can’t concentrate. And you just might be distracting others around you.
  5. No prop-shaming: You may not want to use them but put a block and a strap near your mat. At least they will be there. Don’t let your pride lead to an injury.
  6. Zero expectations: Your physical and mental state changes every day, right? This impacts your practice too. Just because you nailed a difficult pose yesterday doesn’t mean it will be so easy the next time. Give yourself a break. Be in the now.
  7. Focus on YOU: Yoga isn’t a competition, so don’t compare yourself to other people in class or be self-conscious about your form. If your form is off, your teacher will help you. Stay inward.
  8. Turn that frown upside down: It’s that simple. Not an idiotic, ear-to-ear grin, but a nice, calming smile. Yoga is about positive energy and a joyful demeanor. If you’re frowning, you might be in pain and not doing something properly.
  9. New is good: Try something new. You may not get it right today, but you are challenging yourself to achieve a new goal. That’s good for both your mind and body.
  10. Don’t skip savasana: If you’re in too big of a hurry to do this, then you’re missing the point of yoga. You warm down after any other type of long exercise, so don’t skip it here. In your yoga practice, it’s especially important to give your body and mind the attention they deserve. Relax. Breathe. Rejuvenate.

Yogis Lead by Example

These are all things you can do today and immediately improve your yoga practice. If you’re already doing them, good for you. Spread the word and improve the yoga practice of those around you. Lead by example!

Finally, if you practice yoga, it is a fact that you are much more likely to engage in other forms of exercise, like running, swimming, cycling, and/or weightlifting. We recommend incorporating a zero-impact exercise into your fitness regimen – isometrics. It is the perfect fit for yoga conditioning.  Yoga Exercises incorporate Isometrics and help with concentration, breathing and body positioning. Isometric workouts increase strength, flexibility, and stamina, all of which are necessary if you want to hold beginner yoga poses longer and learn more advanced poses and sequences.

5 Safe & Effective Exercise Routines for Seniors


When it comes to safe and effective workouts, perhaps no group can benefit more than seniors. But a wide range of factors, including fitness level, strength, mobility, balance and others can impact what’s safe and effective. An 85 year-old California woman just completed the Boston Marathon this year, but a lot of people half her age have a hard time getting off the sofa.

The point is that for seniors there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” workout regimen. Some seniors are incredibly fit and active, and others not so much, due to health issues and injuries. Regardless of your fitness level, there are several rules of thumb when considering various exercises.

  1. Keep it low-impact: I know we just mentioned a marathon. but running takes a toll on your body… up to 2,000 strides per mile, each inflicting 3 to 4 times your body weight, per stride.
  2. Take care of your back: Exercises like leg presses, upright rows, dead lifts, and even stomach crunches can strain your back and keep you from doing any exercise at all.
  3. Remember you’re stiff: If you’re a senior you know how tight, stiff, and achy your joints and muscles can get. Be sure and stretch first and avoid high intensity workouts, like plyometrics.
  4. Expand your mind: Just because your grandfather lifted rocks to stay fit doesn’t mean it’s good for you. New technologies can change the way you exercise… for the better.

Here are five workouts to consider, so you can exercise safely and effectively, whether you’re an active senior, need assistance in your daily routine, or rehabilitating from an injury or illness.

Swimming

The pool is ideal for exercising because water provides resistance without much impact. Here are a few you can do that require no equipment.

  • Flutter kicks: With both hands on the side of the pool, float your body up and start kicking. Get your heart rate up and keep going for 60 seconds. Slow down if you need a rest.
  • Leg Swings: With one hand on the side of the pool raise one leg forward and hold for a few seconds. Then, swing it back behind and hold for a few seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Arm Circles: In neck deep water, stand with one foot out in front and one foot behind for balance. Lift your arms sideways, elbows straight, and palms down. Move your arms in small circular pattern for several seconds, then spin the other direction for several seconds.
  • Walk / March: Just walking in water is great exercise, but if you step high and move your arms in a marching motion, it’s even better. Go until you are out of breath.

Yoga

Yoga is something you can do in a class or on your own once you know a few positions and combinations of moves. Yoga will improve your strength, balance, and circulation, while increasing flexibility and mobility. You can even do yoga in a chair!

Walking

The benefits of walking focus on your heart health, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease. Try to get your heart rate up, but don’t get out of breath. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes and stay hydrated. A 20-minute walk just three times a week will yield results.

Body-weight Training

Your body is its own natural gym! Just using your body’s weight as resistance can benefit your overall health in many ways. Here are some exercises you can do right now:

  • Squats: Stand up straight with your feet should width apart. Slowly lowery your body, keeping your head facing forward and your back straight (don’t bend over). Raise your arms out in front of you as your body lowers. Go as low as you can comfortably and hold it for 5 seconds. Raise back up into standing position.
  • Toe Stand: Holding the back of a chair for balance, raise your body up on your tippy toes. Hold it for 5 seconds, and lower yourself back down.
  • Leg Raises: Using the chair for balance, raise one leg out 45 degrees behind your body and hold it. Slowly swing it out in front of you at the same 45-degree angle. Hold it for a few seconds. Repeat with your other leg.
  • Push-ups: If you can do a push-up, that’s fantastic. If it’s too much to do a full push up, try doing them on your knees rather than feet. Or you can do wall push-ups (just make sure you’re not too far away from the wall!)
  • Arm raises: Stand up straight and simply raise your arms over your head. Hold your arms up and stretch them nice and good. Try holding them up for 20 seconds. It’s not easy, is it!

Isometrics

In a nutshell, isometrics is about pushing muscle groups against each other or against a fixed object. Isometrics can be done anywhere, anytime. You can do isometric exercises standing up, sitting down, even lying down. What’s great is that you get all the benefits of every exercise mentioned above. In fact, many of the exercises above are, in fact, isometric. Anytime you hold a muscle group in a fixed position, it’s isometrics. Here are a few more you can try:

  • Plank: If you can get into a push-up position, whether it’s on your toes, knees or against the wall, all you do is simply hold that position for 10 seconds. Lower yourself halfway to the ground or wall and hold for another 10 seconds. You can do planks on your elbows too.
  • Stomach crunch: Not your traditional crunch which can be bad for your back, you can do this standing, sitting, or lying down. All you do is contract your abdominal muscles for 10 seconds. Do it 10 times.
  • Bicep “curls”: Hold your right hand out in front of you, palm up, bent at the elbow. Place your other hand on top of it and grip your hands together. Try pushing your right hand up and using your left hand to resist it. Then, try pulling your right hand down using your left hand to resist it. Switch to your left side and repeat. You can do these arm resistance exercises in a variety of positions. It’s all about using your own muscle groups against the others!

There are countless isometric exercises you can do, regardless of how healthy or mobile you are. You can get even more out of an isometric workout using the Activ5 fitness device, which pairs with a smartphone app. It coaches you through over a 100 gym-based exercises, keeps track of your progress, and keeps you motived.

Regardless of what kind of fitness routine you choose, just make sure you choose something. Smart, safe, and effective exercise is key to both physical and mental wellness, especially for seniors.

Please consult your doctor before beginning any fitness routine. Now get up and get moving!

Do Yoga Exercises and Isometrics Help ADHD?


Isometric Yoga for ADHD Helps Relieve Symptoms

ADHD is a condition that can cause difficulties with focus and hyperactivity. Thus, asking a person to perform isometric and yoga exercises to help their ADHD may seem akin to unleashing a bull in a china shop. Ironically, the practice of holding yoga poses is a panacea for people who struggle with stillness and focus and can provide an opportunity for its practitioners to retrain their brains and in doing so relieve their ADHD symptoms.

Is Yoga Isometric: Isometrics, Balance and Yoga Pose Basics

Yoga incorporates both isotonic and isometric contractions. Isotonic refers to muscle in motion and occurs when you change your body position from one yoga pose to the next. Isometric contractions are those that hold yoga poses in place. They are static, with no movement, change in muscle length or joint angle. In fact, isometric exercises, such as those in yoga positions, are a low-impact exercise that provides a full-body workout.

Furthermore, yoga exercises take isometrics one step further to incorporate balance, engaging the vestibular system of the brain. Children, particularly those with ADHD, are often drawn to play that promotes balance (swings, skateboards, balancing activities or those that involve directional-change movement), seeking stimulation as their brains develop. However, holding a yoga pose requires focus, unlike sitting on a playground swing, and provides ADHD sufferers extra opportunity for neurological growth.

How Yoga and Isometric Exercise Helps ADHD

adhd diet and exercise

Yoga teaches concentration. Any type of isometric exercise requires attention to form, and yoga is no exception. Yoga Exercises teach body position awareness, which requires the development of focusing skills.

Improve Body Control. As you develop more body awareness through yoga practice, you gain more control over your movements and as a result, an increased ability to maintain stillness.

Deep breathing is beneficial. Controlled yoga breathing reduces the anxiety that is common in ADHD, as well as ameliorating irritability and inducing calmness.

Meditation improves executive function. Executive function is higher-level thinking. It’s often deficient in ADHD, and it’s a key component of being  organized and  paying attention. Meditation is the practice of increasing awareness of your own thoughts and therefore improves your executive functioning abilities.

Yoga exercises can be done in a class setting or as a home workout. It incorporates simple exercises that build muscle strength, improve stamina, and provides a way for you to get toned and more energetic. Therefore, it’s an effective ADHD management tool for both adults and children, and it’s worth trying if you haven’t yet done so. Classes focused on yoga for beginners can provide ADHD relief almost immediately. 

Applying These Lessons

Find out how to incorporate concentration exercises for adhd adults or children using the Activ5 fitness app for either workout routines or games that include isometric exercise. This how-to-video will show you everything you how to overcome concentration issues and expend energy like you would with isometric yoga or other adhd fitness strategies.

Sources:

http://kolpinstitute.org/preparation/exercise/

http://www.additudemag.com/adhdblogs/27/10006.html

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/lifestyle/focusing-on-a-d-d/

http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1983-32882014000200012

http://www.healthyenergy.net.au/blog/isometric-exercise-how-yoga-completes-your-fitness-training/

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/How_does_mindfulness_help_control_behavior

5 Steps to Incorporate Yoga into Your Life


More and more people are turning to yoga to become healthier both physically and mentally. Yoga can have many health benefits including improving your muscle strength and tone, increasing your flexibility, protecting your spine and increasing your energy, vitality and mindfulness. 

Of course, starting and maintaining a new habit or routine can be difficult. Behavioral scientists suggest that the best way to create new habits is to start small and build on success.  To help you get started we’ve pulled together five different ways you can incorporate yoga into your daily life right now.

Yoga Stretches at the Office

You’ve probably never imagined lifting weights at the office, but you can easily do yoga while at work. In fact, you don’t even have to bring a yoga mat along. You can perform Chaturanga, plank, upward-facing dog and several other yoga poses right at your office desk.

Take a Community Class

When you hear the words “community class,” you likely envision nighttime lectures focused on gaining a technical degree. As it turns out, though, there are also yoga community classes offered nationally.

Many studios, in fact, offer at least one free weekly class. Once you get involved and meet other participants, you’ll be more inclined to make it a normal part of your routine, if for nothing more than the social benefits.

Practice Yogic Breaths

If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you’ve undoubtedly heard the words “breathe consciously.” While yogic poses may be the most recognizable aspect of yoga, conscious breathing is also central to the practice.

Whether sitting at your desk or waiting in line at a convenience store, consciously controlling your breathing and taking deep breaths will calm your body and mind. This will also help you master the breathing techniques used with poses regardless of where you are.

Work with What You Have

Everyone wants to feel like they’re progressing in their yogic journey by constantly learning and incorporating new poses. Don’t let this drive slow you down. If you only have five minutes, refrain from wasting that time looking up “how-tos.” Use the ones you’ve already memorized and learn new yoga poses when you have more time.

Download Apps that Incorporate Yoga

Mobile apps  will allow you to incorporate yoga into your new routine at a moment’s notice. Instead of downloading an app that only focuses on yoga, however, get a more rounded app.

The Activ5 app, for instance, has five-minute yoga-themed workouts that track your results and personalize your routine. It also uses gamification, so you’re more likely to develop a new routine just to stay competitive. Activ5 also provides other five-minute isometric workouts, which will help you to build a more comprehensive fitness routine.

From increased flexibility to improved cardiovascular health, yoga comes with numerous benefits. Once you start incorporating yoga into your life, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to get involved in the first place.