Category Archives: Yoga + Fitness

Breath Techniques for Energy, Calm, and Clarity

There is an ancient proverb that says, “He who half breathes, half lives.” One of my yoga students took the concept a little further and said, “He who doesn’t breathe, doesn’t live.” While we obviously need to keep that in mind (lol), the main problem is that most of us are shallow breathers. Breathing rapidly into the top part of your lungs is a result of stress and also creates more stress hormones in a negative feedback loop. As we know, stress is damaging to the body, drains our energy, and steals our joy. To feel relaxed and energized, as much as you can, breath deeply and fully, right down into your belly. You know, like you did when you were a baby. Babies are little yogis who can teach us a thing or two!

There are also numerous breath exercises that help bring about peace, calm, energy, clarity of mind, and more. If there is a state you want to achieve, there is a breath technique that will help get you there. Below are links to a few of our most common yogic breath exercises with a summary of the benefits, the “how to”, and a minute or two of practice. A daily breathing practice will help keep you relaxed, your energy stable, and your mind clear. You can also use these in times of need, when you need an infusion of energy, clarity, or calm.

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The Master Resolution

This New Year, are you looking to transform some aspect of yourself? Most of us are! Did you have the same intention in years past? Most of us did! With all this fresh motivation, “New Year, New You” effort, why do we find ourselves climbing the same mountain year after year?

There are endless theories that have shed light on our predicament, but they haven’t necessarily helped us overcome our challenges. We’ve still got these same 10 lbs, the afternoon Venti double shot high octane sugar bomb addiction, binge watching, couch potato habits.

Maybe it’s high time to stop looking for the newest trend in self help, and instead embrace the oldest trend in self help… meditation.

Meditation isn’t just for hippies anymore. It’s gone mainstream, big time. And for good reason… it works! Meditation is the foundation of all self help. Looking through hundreds of books in the self help section, the common denominator is self awareness, creating mindful space between trigger-reaction, reducing stress, cultivating self control, simplifying… Meditation addresses all of these. One practice, so many benefits! Plus it’s free, you can do it anywhere, it’s simple, and anyone can do it.

This time of year (and again in a few months) everyone is hyper focused on weight loss. Can meditation help you lose weight? Yes, because extra weight is a symptom of a thought pattern. Meditation sheds light on the thoughts and transforms them into more empowering versions. The cause of overeating dissolves, and eating more moderately becomes natural. Of course, the benefits extend way beyond anything about weight or appearance. By products of mediation include becoming more patient, understanding, insightful, creative, happy, peaceful, and more.

Let’s do this! Here’s the resolution underlying all resolution… Every day, make the commitment to yourself to sit down and meditate. Make your starting point so small, that your subconscious won’t derail you. On the first day, just sit down for a minute with a straight back and closed eyes. The second day, increase the time a bit, if that feels right. Just get into the habit of sitting, let the time frame build slowly up to around 20 minutes. During meditation, you can simply watch your thoughts, find the space between thoughts, observe your breath or ambient sounds, or maybe silently repeat a mantra. There is a meditation technique for everyone.

For more guidance, check out these excellent resources:

Wishing you all the peace and happiness in the new year!

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Benefits of Yoga: Digest and Repair

Woman doing stretching exercise on yoga mat. Fitness female performing yoga on exercise mat at gym. Child Pose Balasana.

In our stressed out society, many of us are in a constant “fight or flight” mode, due to psychological stress and habitual shallow breathing. This causes our sympathetic nervous system to direct the blood where it’s needed to quickly escape or fight an imminent physical threat– our muscles, brain, and eyes. Therefore, blood flow is directed away from digestion, immunity, skin, and repair. Is it any wonder that stress causes digestive problems, rapid aging, and predisposes us to disease?

Yoga to the rescue! The physical yoga postures, breathing exercises, and psychological approach stimulate the parasympathetic response, which is rest, digest, and repair mode. And you thought you were just getting more flexible! Yoga practice can help us to feel better in every way, live better, and even age better.

There are numerous styles of yoga, from relaxing and restorative to vigorous and athletic. Explore the classes in your area – you can definitely find one that meets your needs (which of course may change over time).

Namaste!

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Get Fit Quick: The Workout for Busy People

Not to be confused with “get rich quick” schemes, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is no scheme. It’s a highly effective, proven approach for building lean body mass, boosting metabolism, improving insulin sensitivity, and increasing fitness and performance. Since you can whittle down your workout from a long, boring 60 minutes to a quick but intense 20 minute workout, it’s the best option for time crunched people, but also a great adjunct for anyone interested in fitness and health.

There are many variations to HIIT, but the basic format is:

  • 3 – 5 minute warmup of your choice
  • 30 seconds of intense movement (ex: sprinting)
  • 90 seconds of lower intensity movement (ex: relaxed jog)
  • Repeat the 30:90 sequence 8 – 10 times
  • 3 – 5 minute cool down of your choice

You can do this sequence with walking/running, cycling, swimming, running stairs, elliptical, and even jump roping. Also, you determine the level of intensity that works for you. And, there’s no pressure to do this every day. In fact, it is best to limit HIIT to no more than three times per week. On the off days, you can do your longer cardio workouts, weight train, and/or practice yoga.

HIIT workouts will be intense, but just for a short period, and you get to recover completely before starting the intense phase again. So you’re not huffing and puffing through a long, grueling workout. Because the recovery is built right in, you actually finish this workout feeling refreshed and with more energy!

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