Yoga for Bodybuilders

Although exercise and weight training is important for health and vitality, body builders can face problems related to joint and muscle pain. Yoga is a useful solution to help realign the body properly and improve flexibility. Beyond helping with any muscle or joint pain, yoga can also help improve poses and movement.

Risks in Body building

Body builders spend hours working on improving muscle mass and physical exercise, but that does not necessarily mean that good health will always follow. Common problems with health can occur as a direct result of building up a large amount of mass and hours of exercise for extended periods of time.

One important risk that a bodybuilder might face is injuries. Lifting weights, particularly heavy lifting, can result in injuries to the muscles and bones.  Even minor injuries from general weight lifting and exercise, such as sprains and strains, can add up over time causing pain and discomfort.

Beyond the physical risk of injuries, body builders often face a reduced range of motion due to increased muscle mass. Building up muscle has a risk of losing flexibility. Range of motion decreases and the body becomes less capable of stretching and moving freely. Along with the reduced ranged of motion, stiffness in the muscles can develop that requires longer periods of time stretching to regain the same level of physical movement.

Joint damage is another common problem that occurs over time while bodybuilding. The reason is simple: the joints take on more pressure due to exercises, weight training and increased muscle mass. Over time, the joints can cause discomfort and pain. When measures are not taken to correct the joint pain, inflammation and arthritis can develop.

Although body builders often spend hours exercising, they face health risks that are possible to prevent. It is not necessary to lose range of motion or face uncomfortable injuries due to increased stiffness.

Improvements with Yoga

Many body builders see positive changes by adding yoga to a normal routine. Beyond the improvements to flexibility, yoga can help improve sleeping habits, energy levels and general happiness. Sleep is a necessary part of healing after exercise because the body takes that time to repair muscles. A greater amount of energy can provide the opportunity to enjoy exercise without losing focus or taking unnecessary risks due to fatigue.

Here are a few poses to try:

Downward Facing Dog

The asana called downward facing dog is a basic pose found in several yoga practices. The movement increases general flexibility throughout the body and improves circulation. It also stretches out all of the muscles throughout the body.

Start on your hands and knees. Place your hands forward and adjust the knees so that they are below your hips. Slowly, lift the knees off the floor and pull the tailbone away from the spine. Move your heels toward the floor. Draw your shoulder blades toward each other and keep your head between your arms. The proper form has a shape like an inverted V. Stay in the pose for around five to eight long, deep breaths.

Seated Twist

The seated twist helps improve flexibility in the back and helps reduce the risk of back injuries from lifting.

Sit on your mat (or the floor) with your legs out in front of you. Now put your right foot (knee up) next to the outside of your left knee. Tuck your left heel close to the buttock (or leave that leg straight if this is difficult). Keep the sit bones even on the floor and lift up through the top of your head, then twist from the shoulders toward the right. With your left arm, hug your right knee toward your upper body. Look over your right shoulder. Hold this pose for a few breaths – lengthening the upper body on the inhale and twisting a little more on the exhale. Then uncross the legs and do the other side.

Warrior Pose

Warrior pose is a pose of power that improves general balance and builds core stability. Start with the legs together. Do a side lunge with the front foot facing forward and the back foot facing sideways. Hold the arms straight from the shoulders, activating the arms. Hold the pose for a few seconds, release, then do the other side.

Bridge pose

Bridge pose is a great chest stretch. Lie on your back and bring your feet, soles on the floor, close to your buttocks. Keep your arms on your mat, palms down. Be sure that your toes face the front and feet are parallel to each other. Now, as you inhale, start lifting the hips. With every inhale, lift a little higher. You can support your bridge with your hands or a block under the hips.

Cow face arms

Cow face arms are an element of cow face pose, in which the legs are crossed and the feet tucked close to the buttocks. (That is a great hip opener!) For this purpose, you could also just sit with legs straight in front of you. Stretch your left arm out horizontally and then tuck it up between the shoulder blades. Now stretch your right arm up, then tuck it behind your head, toward the fingers of your left hand. It may be necessary to use a strap to hold between the two hands. Hold this for a few breaths, then do the other side.

If you are unsure, why not attend a class? Most instructors are experienced in helping all body types and would help you find the best way for you to practice. There are so many more asanas that can help.

Yoga can help body builders improve flexibility, create more space and reduce the risk of injuries. Although it might seem difficult at first, the practice can increase the amount of time that body builders are able to continue working out and enjoying their workout while also improving mental and physical health.  I have a few muscle men in my classes and they love their yoga practice!

Om Shanti Om

 

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Please feel free to check out feedback from students over time.

Om Shanti Om

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Yoga Helps with Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety is a common condition in this world as it is today, so it is important to find a form of exercise that calms your body and allows your mind to recuperate. Luckily, practising yoga is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety because it requires complete attention and focus on performing each pose. Many of the asanas we perform are aimed at helping with anxiety. During yoga, breathing becomes increasingly important as you get deeper into a pose. According to a study at the St. Elisabeth’s Medical centre in Brighton, MA yoga is one of the best non-medicinal ways to eliminate stress and anxiety. According to the report, 25 out of 35 trials focusing on the effects of yoga on stress reported a reduction in stress when practising yoga (1).

Here are the top 5 reasons why yoga is great for reducing anxiety.

Take Time for Yourself

Despite yoga often being practised in a class with others, yoga is much more about connecting with yourself than with those around you. During your yoga, your body is only limited by your mind and your imagination. Even an hour of yoga each day allows you an opportunity to leave the stresses of your busy life. You won’t have to answer phones, talk with customers or deal with any other issues that are causing you stress. Instead, practising yoga allows you to escape into a different world where you can forget the problems outside the studio’s walls and focus on being in the moment.

Clear your Mind

From planning a dinner to driving a child to an after school activity to finishing a project at work, being busy can be both stressful and challenging. As the day progresses, our minds begin to become cramped with all the things we have yet to accomplish. Often, this causes us to become stressed and to lash out in unhelpful ways. Practising yoga reduces anxiety because it allows you to clear your mind by pushing away negative or stressful thoughts and focusing on your breath. Yoga is as much physical as it is mental exercise.

Problem Solving

Have you ever had so many thoughts running through your head that it is almost impossible to get any work done? I think we’ve all been there before and the best solution is to grab your yoga mat and work these issues out at the studio. Not only does yoga allow your mind to rest, but also it releases more blood and oxygen to the brain giving you the energy necessary to solve even the most complicated of problems.

1. Aw, Li; “The Effects of Yoga on Anxiety and Stress,” St Elisabeth’s Medical centre, March, 17 2012.

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7 Ways to Fit in Yoga Classes at a Studio

We all know it is important stay in shape and we all know what it is like to be busy! There are many ways in which you can make – sometimes small – changes your lifestyle so that you are able to fit in Yoga classes in a studio and stay in shape. Practising yoga in a studio, along with other practitioners and a teacher is a great way to stay on track. Yoga is great for the body – an all over workout – and mind as it creates a state of relaxation and fitting it into your schedule would be a big plus to continue living a healthy lifestyle.

1. Assess Your Day to Day Routine

Have a good look at what your normal schedule looks like. Casting a fresh eye over what you are used to doing is a good idea, anyway. Looking over what you can move around or don’t need would be helpful to find your yoga time.

2. Find a Studio that Works for You

Location is a good place to start – is it on your normal route, or perhaps close to you? Look for a reliable studio with classes at times that work for you. Perhaps try a few classes with different instructors to see if there is someone who resounds with you. Talk to the other participants and get an idea of what they think of the studio.

3. Desire to Get in Shape

Very few things would motivate as much as a real desire to stay or get into shape. You would be more likely to work harder to fit different things into your schedule. Finding ways to encourage yourself to stay healthy is a great way to find the courage to clear a schedule and keep an allotted amount of time set aside for yoga.

4. Talk With Friends

Having a “yoga buddy” or two could be of great help – to share the experience, and you would be less likely to miss a class if you have an “appointment” with your friend. You would be more likely to fit in more yoga time. Having friends who are interested in completing the same goal and attending yoga classes with you as well is an easy way to encourage yourself to go to the studio and work out.

5. Buy Gear

If you own all of the needed gear for yoga classes, why wouldn’t you go? Logic dictates that you are more likely to make time for something you have invested your money into. Buying gear helps cement your commitment to yoga in your mind. Besides – there is such a great range of lovely yoga clothes out there!

6. Just Do It!

I know – it sounds obvious. I know from experience that it can be pretty easy to talk yourself out of doing something if you start thinking about it too much. If you want to stay motivated, it works – just get into your gear and go. And I find that I am usually very glad I did that!

Procrastinating will only stop you from achieving your goal.

7. Make it part of your day

Going home first after your work day can make you lose your resolve. If you made your class early before your day starts, or during the day or on your way home after you are more likely to attend.

Making time for yoga in the studio is a great way to help stay fit and stress free. Yoga is a wonderful way to relax and clear your mind. It helps you to stay on top of your goals in life and to stay focused on all that you have in front of you. By utilising these tips, you can position yourself to be prepared to take on the commitment of yoga classes and easily fit them into your autumn schedule. While life can be overwhelming, you will always have time to exercise and relax your body.

Namaste – sending love ~ Amanda

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6 yoga poses that are helpful for releasing shoulder tension

When it comes to relieving shoulder tension or simply relaxing, there is no substitute for a thorough yoga practice. Daily yoga is very effective in relaxing muscles and preventing stiffness. These six yoga exercises will often come in handy to create relief and reduce stress.

1.Simple Seated Twist

This involves sitting on a chair with your feet firmly on the ground, and bones pressed down. Reach the back of the chair with your right hand and your right knee with the left hand. With your head in the midline, extend it up. With your shoulders low, breathe in and out, into the stomach and eventually to the chest. Then on an inhale, lift, exhale and turn your shoulders around with your gaze over your shoulder.  This, of course, can also be done sitting on your mat – making sure your sitbones are both in contact with the mat and a soft, long spine.  Then put your one foot on the outside of the other knee, sole of the foot fully connected with the mat.  Your other leg can stay extended, or you can tuck that heel in, next to the buttock.  Then inhale and grow taller through the top of your head and on an exhale, turn.  Try to make sure that your shoulders are at the same height.  Try to maintain the length through the spine on the inhales while turning a little more on each exhale.

2.Actively opening the chest through the bridge pose

Lie down on your back and bend your knees, feet hip width and on the mat.  Breathe out, press your feet into the mat and raise your buttocks, lifting the sternum towards the chin. Elongate the back of the neck into the floor and breathe deeply.   Reach for your feet with your hands, while rolling on to your shoulders. Keep your head still with your nose pointing up and gently press the back of your head into the mat, all the while lifting the hips. This can be done supported – with your hands under your hips, or a block.

3. Supported Forward Bend

This pose is meant to release and relax your neck. With your legs crossed, sit on the floor in front of a seat and place a pillow in the seat. Pull the chair towards you and rest your head on the pillow, with your arms just under your forehead. Gently stretch the neck muscles by dropping the chin to the chest and breath in and out while resting your head on the pillow.

4. Savasana

Also known as corpse pose, this is meant for relaxing completely.  Lying on your back on your mat, aim your heels for the corners of your mat.  Arms by your sides, turn your palms up.  Support your body wherever needed – e.g. a bolster under your knees, etc.  Then, through breath or visualisation, imagine your muscles and your bones melting into the mat.

5. Supta baddha konasana

This pose is best performed with your eyes closed or covered with an eye bag or a pillow. It allows the head and neck to relax, while opening the chest. Lie back on a stack of pillows or put a block or bolster between your shoulder blades, with your head supported by one or two pillows if you want. If it feels ok to have the head unsupported (pay attention to your neck here!) and have your head hang back, you will stimulate the thyroid too.  Or you can support your head and then stretch your chin toward your chest, relieving the neck muscles.  You could also have a pillow should support the buttocks, to support the lower back. Let your arms lie by your sides, palms up.  Your legs are long and relaxed.  There is a variation where you can bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to drop open naturally.  This is a great hip opener – we often hold tension in the hips too.  Breathe in and out deeply while in this pose.  This pose is also a great stretch for the chest.

6. Ghomukasana arms

This pose comes in handy in the movement of shoulders to correct the forward head position and rounded back. You might also want to arm yourself with a belt for this asana! Sitting down with legs out in front of you, set your feet in parallel position and extend sides of the torso up, while pressing down through the sitting bones. Let the head rest on the body’s midline and drop the shoulders down. Lift one arm into the air, turn your palm to the side so that your thumb faces to the back, and stretch the little finger upward. Now bend the elbow and reach for your shoulder blades. Stretch your other hand to the side to gain length, bend the elbow and reach up for the other hand.  You could hold a belt between the two hands or if it is accessible to you, leave the belt and see if you can interlace the fingers of both hands.  Make sure that the spine is extended, and does not lean either to the left or right and breathe in and out in this position.  Keep your chin in neutral.

These poses should be helpful to relieve you of stress and headaches too.  Include them in your daily routine if you are prone to much stress.  Always do both sides of the body.

Wishing your peace, and calm.

Namaste

Amanda

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2012 and 2013

I would like to share this with all the wonderful yogi’s out there.  Even those who don’t practice yoga.  You will know if you are a yogi.  ♥

I will be in a wild, wonderful place for a few days – there is no electronic connectivity.  So, a little early – have a wonderful new year’s day.  Be accepting.  So many wonderful adventures and experiences are there for you to discover – if you are open.  If you accept and celebrate what is there.  I wish you a magical, wonderful 2014 filled with love, peace and a real, real kind of happiness.  You will know.

be soft

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5 Reasons to have a cup of green tea after yoga

Yoga has a number of proven health benefits. So does green tea. So it’s no wonder that yogis and yoga enthusiasts alike enjoy having a cup of green tea after practice. However, one may wonder if this is really beneficial after working out and centering yourself through a variety of different poses. While not everyone agrees, most serious yoga enthusiasts encourage drinking tea after a yoga session, with green tea being considered one of the healthiest types. Below are five reasons why drinking a cup of green tea is a good idea after a yoga session:

Circulation is Improved

Yoga gets your blood flowing, but in a more relaxed healthy way than an intense workout would. Therefore, the antioxidants in green tea are better spread throughout your body after a yoga workout than they would be if you drank a cup of green tea at any other time. Doing this will help to improve your circulation and invigorate your entire body overall.

Stress is Relieved

Yoga helps to alleviate stress and so does green tea. So whatever stress had been built up your body before you did yoga, most should have been flushed out by the end of your session. Whatever remains will most likely be taken care of by the green tea you drink, as it has caffeine, but a more subtle form of caffeine that won’t hype you up like coffee. The meditative buzz that comes from your yoga will only be extended by the caffeine in your cup of green tea.

It Helps with Arthritis

Green tea has long been proven to help achy joints that are prone to or already suffering from the effects of arthritis. So after a yoga workout, in which joints and muscles have been significantly stretched and are still very open, a cup of green tea will have even more of a helpful effect on those joints that are in need of the helpful ingredients contained in green tea. Usually the stronger the green tea, the better for truly arthritic joints.

Good for the Heart

As it has already been clearly documented that yoga and green tea are both good for a person’s circulation, the added perk is heart health. So if there has been a history of heart disease in your family or you have already experienced some heart trouble, this is an added benefit on top of the other healthy steps you are already doing to keep your heart as healthy as possible.

It’s Just Soothing!

Hot green tea has an aromatic quality and that subtle dose of caffeine, which is the perfect transition back into the world after thirty minutes to an hour of yoga. The hot tea that slowly but surely cools as you sip it after an intense yoga session also mirrors the heat being released by your body after your workout, which is smoother for both your body and mind. By easing back into the rest of your day, the relaxing effects of yoga aren’t lost as quickly and the daily stresses of life can be held at bay just a little bit longer. In some cases, this is critical for the health effects of doing yoga and drinking green tea, as it allows the mind to stay relaxed and in turn allowing the body to feel healthier. As we all well know, a healthy body usually comes with a healthy mind.

Sending hugs and a warm cup of tea ~ Amanda

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Wabi Sabi on and off the mat

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget about your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”  –  Leonard Cohen
 

The concept of Wabi Sabi has its roots in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony and is sometimes explained using the example of a well loved teacup, made by an artist’s hands, cracked and chipped by use.

Richard Powell writes in Wabi Sabi Simple:  “It is a way of life that appreciates and accepts complexity while at the same time values simplicity.  Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.”

In our yoga practice, we could approach our asanas – and perhaps ourselves too – with the acceptance that we, and our practice, are not perfect.

I encourage my students to not only accept, but to celebrate the imperfections.  We start class with a few minutes of meditation – simply becoming aware and present.  With eyes closed, we simply sit – in hero pose or simply with ankles crossed.  Then just noticing the environment around us – sounds, sensations against the skin.  Then bringing the awareness a little closer – noticing anything in our bodies – things that might be stuck, rigid or out of balance.  Noticing good sensations too.  Noticing any emotions – big or small.  Thoughts – and not hanging on to the thoughts or emotions, but just acknowledging them and letting them pass.  Then bringing the awareness into the breath.  Just as it is – flowing naturally.

When we do our asanas, I instruct and encourage a lot of “peeling back” – peeling open layers and revealing what is there.  For example, in Virabhadrasana I, hook the thumbs, and from the outside edges of the hands, peeling back – and feeling the rolling back of the muscles of the arms from the palms down to the shoulders.  I use asanas like Supta Baddha Konasana – a great hip opener and stretch of the chest (intensified with a block or bolster between the shoulders), while also being a great “revealer” as well as a nurturing pose.

During practice, I encourage the students to notice the sensations they feel in their asanas – in their bodies and also if and how it affects their emotions and thoughts.

We end class with:  “Allow yourself to see and care for yourself exactly as you are.”

Sending loving kindness

Amanda

Helpful sources:  Leonard Koren, artist and architect, and Jessie Sholl, healthy blogger
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Types of Yoga Mats and How to go About Choosing One

There is a variety of yoga mats available on the market which can make it hard to select the right mat. Fortunately, learning a little about the types of mats that are available can help narrow down the choices and make the process of finding the perfect yoga mat a little easier.

Eco Friendly Mats

Eco friendly yoga mats are typically made with recycled materials or are made out of materials that are recyclable. Furthermore, they do not use harsh chemical dyes or other ingredients that are harmful to the environment or human health.

Environmentally responsible yoga mats are usually appropriate for most forms of yoga, but may be a little slippery for power yoga or similar variations. The thickness and comfort of the mat may vary between brands, so take time to look at several eco friendly options before selecting a mat.

Cork Mats

According to Fitness Magazine, cork yoga mats are a great option for variations of yoga that get the heart-rate up and cause sweating. The grip on the mat makes it easier to avoid slipping or sliding, which is dangerous in a fast-paced power yoga class or similar fast-paced versions of yoga like Power Vinyassa.

The benefit of using a cork mat is that the grip improves when it gets wet with sweat. It helps prevent slipping, sliding and accidental injuries during a fast-paced yoga class.

Extra Large Mats

When the typical yoga mat size is too small for comfort, a super-sized option may help. A super sized yoga mat is wider and slightly longer than the typical mat, which is ideal for taller individuals who may feel uncomfortable on a regular mat or when a single mat is used for more than one individual.

Travelling Mats

A travelling yoga mat is exactly how it sounds. The mat is thinner than most other versions of a yoga mat to make it light weight and easy to transport. It is also flexible enough to roll up tighter than other mats and it is perfect for bringing on trips.  I have one that also has a better grip, as I practice mostly Power Vinyassa and it is really easy to roll up and take along on my trips.

Since the mats are designed for travelling, the materials are made to work with most types of yoga. The mats may be slightly shorter or smaller than other mats that are available.

Beginner Mats

According to Fitness Magazine, beginner mats are ideal for new yoga practitioners because they have printed designs that make it a little easier to follow along during a class. A beginner mat will usually have a basic thickness and is designed to prevent slipping. It is versatile enough for most forms of yoga.

Picking the Right Mat

Fit Sugar suggests that the key to finding the right yoga mat is actually focusing on how it will be used. A travel mat is ideal for individuals who travel often for work because it is designed to travel on a plane or in a car. It is made for travelling but might not be appropriate for use in all class settings.

The best way to select the right yoga mat is by considering the class and the possible problems that may arise. A class that causes the heart rate to increase and the body to sweat will need a different mat from a slow-moving style that focuses on breathing and meditation. By focusing on the style of yoga and personal needs, the process of finding the right mat is a little easier.

There is a wide variety of yoga mats available on the market but they are not all created equal. The best mat is the one that works for your needs and focuses on your specific goals.

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/gear/equipment/best-yoga-mats/, http://www.fitsugar.com/Tips-Buying-First-Yoga-Mat-20129474

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