Teaching yoga to prevent back injuries

As any chiropractor will tell you, improper posture or spinal injury can create a host of seemingly unrelated physical issues. For example, misaligned cervical vertebrae might be related to headaches and sore throats while problems in the lumbar region of the spine could also lead to tingling in the feet or persistent knee pain. Basically, the back and neck have a lot of responsibilities; they support lifting and carrying, walking and running, turning and sitting still and any other type of physical activity a person is involved in. The majority of the population suffers from or will suffer from moderate to severe back pain. Many with weak or chronic back pain use yoga to build strength and flexibility plus manage their symptoms. Yoga is one of the few strength building or fitness activities that can claim respect for the spine and all that it does. In fact, rather than putting stress on it like when weightlifting or putting it at high...
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Mindful walking

I’m often asked how to begin meditating (and, no, you don’t have to sit crossed legged on a cushion with your eyes closed, chanting). My answer is simple - stop whatever you’re doing, be aware of any tension you’re holding and take 5 long, slow, deep breaths before resuming the day. Meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand. What’s mindfulness? For me it’s doing something with your whole heart. Let’s look at how it combines with walking. Spending time outside in the fresh air and sunlight helps regulate circadian rhythms (your body clock) and increases serotonin levels. This in turn raises energy levels and may make you feel happier with life. Walking raises your heart rate, depending on your speed. It also balances the left and right sides of the brain making you more aware of what’s going on inside and around you. Moving with your whole concentration is a wonderful way to notice your surroundings and the changing of the seasons. Many of us spend a lot of time in cars,...
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Pilates and your posture

What are the advantages of good posture? From an aesthetic point of view, those with good posture appear taller and slimmer than others. Having good posture gives you confidence in yourself. In our modern times it is normal to spend several hours each day sitting in a car or in front of a computer screen or else to carry heavy suitcases when going on holiday. It is not surprising therefore that many have back problems. Some of these problems can be corrected with better posture. A good posture helps the correct functioning of the internal organs and with breathing. Those with good posture rarely have digestive problems since the stomach and intestines are not subject to unnecessary pressure. Before beginning a Pilates class, you should have the best posture possible. This is called “neutral”, alignment of the hips with the vertebral column. Stand with your feet parallel and the width of your hip bones, the weight of your body evenly distributed on both feet. Put your hip girdle into neutral by drawing your navel towards your spine and tucking your...
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10 benefits of drinking lemon water first thing in the morning

Adapted from an article by Claire C. For the full article see: http://www.espritsciencemetaphysiques.com/eau-citronnee-tiede-matin.html Start your day by drinking a glass of water to which you have added some squeezed lemon juice. Here’s why… Hydration. For those who find water boring, lemon can be a tasty addition. Constipation. If you have a sluggish digestive system, lemon water could be what you need. In general citrus is a digestive aid. Urinary tract infections. If you have a urinary tract infection and want to cure it naturally or to find a way to prevent it happening, lemon water can help. Lemon helps to change the pH balance in the urinary tract. Bad breath. There is no way to avoid morning breath, but lemon and water can fight bacteria in the mouth, and therefore reduce the risk of bad breath. Weight loss. There are many theories as to why lemon can aid weight loss (including the natural fibre from pectin in lemons). Although there is no definite proof of this, we do know that there are no more...
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Sun Salutation (surya namaskar)

Sun Salutations limber up the whole body in preparation for the asanas (stable postures) in yoga practice. The movements allow us to honour the yang or masculine side of our energy. Just as the sun rises each day and warms the earth, the movements wake up the body; they are often practiced at dawn. They are a graceful sequence of twelve basic positions performed as one continuous exercise. Each position counteracts the one before it, stretching the body in a different way and alternately expanding and contracting the chest to regulate the breathing. Practised daily, they will bring great flexibility to your spine and joints as well as trimming your waist. One round of Sun Salutations consists of two sequences, the first leading with the right foot and the second with the left. Below is an illustration of the 12 positions. ...
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For everyone who has never asked – why choose Pilates?

Regularly practising Pilates increases flexibility of the body and helps lengthen muscles, actually giving you a leaner look. This is why Pilates was originally developed as an exercise form to increase muscle strength for strenuous performances. If practised regularly, it shows better results in a shorter time than visiting the gym. Pilates is not a cardiovascular workout and so needs another form of exercise to complement it. Pilates moves are either strength or suppleness based and sometimes a combination of the two. The routine is like yoga where maintaining balance, doing stretches, and using resistance against your own weight are required. One of the ways Pilates differs from yoga however is in the number of repetitions of each movement, another way is with the use of equipment (eg. balls or bands). When you watch someone doing a Pilates move, it may seem easy, but it actually involves a lot of effort. The effects are subtle but will help you with any...
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Yoga and (lack of) sleep

Worryingly, it’s not just a matter of exhaustion. Insomnia sufferers are also at significantly higher risk of major health problems, ranging from depression and anxiety to immune deficiency and heart disease. Additionally, compared with people who sleep well, people with insomnia are more likely to experience low mood, lack concentration and struggle to ‘get things done’ at work or at home, and to suffer from lack of energy. The depressing list goes on, as disrupted sleep is also associated with weight gain and obesity. If lack of sleep is an issue for you, yoga can help give you the good night’s rest you crave. Through the gentle physical exercise, breathing techniques and complete relaxation yoga encourages, you can promote regular and restful sleep patterns without resorting to medication. As a starting point, simply lie on your back either with your legs straight and apart, your feet falling to the side or with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat...
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7 strategies for weight loss success

Keep track of everything you eat – you may be surprised how much you consume without even thinking about it. Weigh yourself only once each week – ensure that this is at the same time of day and on the same scales. Don’t be obsessed, losing half to two pounds each week is normal. The fit of your clothes is a much better indication of your progress. Lose weight with a friend – a supportive buddy will strengthen your resolve. Do exercise which you enjoy – if you exercise as well as changing your eating habits, you should lose weight quicker and tone your body at the same time. Forget fad diets – there is no magic solution to weight loss. A healthy food plan which does not leave you feeling hungry and allows an occasional treat will easier to commit to in the long term. Watch out for weekends – plan for occasional splurges by eating a little less during the week. You will...
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First thoughts

I read this as part of an article by Mark Rice-Oxley in the Guardian Weekly.  It’s about how overthinking is spoiling our ability to simply be.   “Instead of obsessing about things we don’t have, we need to accept and celebrate what we do. Instead of worrying about things we can’t control – people’s opinion of us for example- we need to direct our attentions to things we can influence and leave the rest be. Instead of judging each other, and – worse – ourselves, let us simply take as we find. Instead of ruining our short time alive by setting expectations of how we think everything should be, from our jobs to our love lives, our children to our prospects, let us accept that some things will not always go as we wish.  You’re not who you think you are. You’re so much more than that.”  ...
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