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5 Ways To Achieve A Safer Yoga Practice

5 Ways To Achieve A Safer Yoga Practice

 

Author: Dean Woehrle, NASM-CPT

Practicing yoga provides many health benefits not limited to flexibility, stress relief and enhanced fitness. However, like any physical activity, there are risks involved if not practiced safely. With yoga increasing in popularity within the United States, it is more important than ever to practice yoga safely. The number of yoga injuries treated in emergency rooms or doctors’ offices rose to 5,500 in 2007 according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. According to a 2016 “Yoga in America” studies, conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance: It is estimated that the number of American yoga practitioners has increased to over 36 million in 2016, up from 20.4 million in 2012. With the dramatic increase in the number yoga practitioners, injuries are on the rise as well.

 

Here are 5 ways to achieve a safer yoga practice:

1.) WARM UP:

Make sure you warm up before you jump into a yoga class. Yoga poses can be challenging for your body. If your body is unprepared, it may be too quick of a challenge for your tissues. Your body needs to be gently mobilized to lubricate the joints and warm the muscles to avoid injury. For example if you perform a deep forward fold before warming the hamstrings and mobilizing the spine you could cause an injury to the hamstring, the lower back and/or spine.

2.) START SLOW:

You wouldn’t find yourself taking an advanced martial arts class or an advanced group class on your first attempt, so why would yoga be any different? While yoga may look simple, it can be more complicated than would seem at first glance. Look for a beginner class and allow yourself to learn the basics of yoga and your body’s limitations to build a solid foundation and knowledge of alignment, before you try a more challenging class.

3.) BE AWARE OF YOUR BODY:

If you ease into a pose and it doesn’t feel right, stop! There is no advantage to pushing yourself through pain. Ask your instructor how the pose can be modified to increase comfort and/or reduce risk of injury. Your instructor should be able to walk you through the pose, describe the correct feeling, and make any corrections necessary to ensure you have proper form. This will help to avoid any discomfort you may feel.

4.) DON’T COMPETE:

Avoid forcing yourself into a pose to match your neighbor. Everyone has their own muscular imbalances and individual joint ranges of motion. While it is good to challenge your physical limits, respect those limits and do not over challenge them. If you stick with your practice, your flexibility, stability, and strength will increase with time.

5.) BREATHE AND RELAX:

The way you breathe affects your movements, posture, coordination and changes within the muscles. Holding your breath will lead to more tension in the body, which in turn will deny you the ability to deepen your stretch and achieve relaxation. Not only does your breath relieve tension in the body, deep breathing through the diaphragm, such as in yoga, can provide the same cardiovascular benefits as other moderate exercise.

In conclusion take what the body will give you and know your body’s limits. Your stretch is your stretch. Remember yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self. Maintain a safe practice and remember to have fun!

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Myth: Skip Meals to Lose Weight

Myth: Skip Meals to Lose Weight

Author: Joe Sage, NASM-CPT, FNS, WLS, CES

While it is true that we need to lower caloric intake to lose weight, skipping meals all together, or fasting, can have a negative effect on weight loss. Let’s take a look at the meal most often skipped, breakfast. Eating a balanced breakfast can help improve concentration, performance in physical activity, and also aid in weight control. But, it is estimated that 31 million Americans skip breakfast every day. One of the biggest problems with skipping meals is that we tend to overeat at other meals during the day. It is suggested that eating breakfast can reduce feelings of hunger and help people make smarter foods choices during other meals.

If we were to skip eating all morning, and hadn’t eaten since the night before, we would be starving and be tempted to eat just about anything in front of us, even if we knew it wasn’t the healthiest option. That lack of control from feeling hungry can also cause us to snack all day long leading to an increase in calories that wouldn’t normally be present.

For me, breakfast was a struggle. When I was younger, I never had an appetite in the morning, and it just became a habit to not eat breakfast. I soon realized that I needed to break this habit, as it was having a negative effect on my entire day. So, I started small. Some days it was a bowl of cereal and others just a piece of toast. As I stuck with it, I started feeling hungry in the morning and slowly increased the size of my breakfast. It has been years since I have gone without breakfast, and looking back I’m not sure how I functioned without eating in the morning. We have to provide our body with fuel as soon as we can to get the most out of our day.

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How Much Stretching Is Enough?

How Much Stretching Is Enough?

Author: Achieve Wellness Staff

Flexibility is defined as the ability to move joints at their full range of motion, and is important for several reasons. Without enough flexibility, daily routines become difficult and, over time, the body begins to compensate leading to improper joint mechanics. Maintaining a flexible body decreases physical pain and prevents injury.

Research suggests that the risk of injury is reduced when people follow a proper flexibility-training routine. Regular flexibility training can also help reduce stress in active muscles and relieve tension in overused areas. Flexibility is also a form of active recovery that improves mental states and helps soothe unstable emotions.
If you find yourself experiencing any of the following, it may be a good indication for the need to begin implementing more flexibility training into your fitness program.

Joint stiffness, poor posture muscle or joint pain, chronic stress, back, shoulder and neck pain
For guidance, I have adopted the concept of FITT for flexibility training, as follows –

Frequency
Generally an 5-10min flexibility routine four to seven days a week is recommended. It is also ideal to conduct flexibility training pre and post workouts.

Intensity
Stretching should never be painful – stretches should be held to a point of slight tension. Proper breathing is highly important to optimize the stretch – practice a big deep inhale with a 1 second pause followed by a slow long exhale with another 1 second pause between breaths.

Time
The length of a stretch depends on both the type of stretch and activity. In general, a flexibility routine should last a minimum of 5 minutes and should target the major muscles groups. At a minimum, static stretches and poses should be held for 30 seconds.

Type
The best flexibility training programs incorporate multiple forms of stretching based on the goals and needs of the person. The timing and the types of stretches utilized should be based on the findings of an evaluation, the goals of the program and when the stretches will be used. The four types of stretching used at Achieve Wellness to accompany self-myofascial release (foam rolling) are static stretching, neural-muscular stretching, active-isolated stretching and dynamic stretching.

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