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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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Staying Motivated!

Staying Motivated!

Author: Achieve Wellness Staff

Do you have a desire to lose weight? Improve your figure? Keep heart disease, cancer or diabetes at bay? Lower your blood pressure or cholesterol? Protect your bones? Or are you just trying to live to a healthy old age?

This might sound like an uninspired script for an infomercial, but of course you know these are all reasons people turn to exercise. And while these are all great reasons to exercise, recent research has shown that if you’re looking for the best motivation for exercising, it’s none of the above!

It turns out your biggest motivator is: exercise makes you feel great! Yep, it’s as simple as that: you should exercise because it feels good—now. The health benefits that you will eventually reap on top of that are just the icing on the cake.

A recent study at the University of Wales found that while many people begin to exercise as way to lose weight and improve their appearance, these motivations did not keep them exercising in the long term. For that reason, the suggestion is that experts take a different approach when talking to the public about exercise. “The well-being and enjoyment benefits of exercise should be emphasized,” the researchers concluded.

Dr. Michelle Segar, a research investigator at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan, recommends that we need to change the way exercise is marketed. “Physical activity is an elixir of life, but we’re not teaching people that. We’re telling them it’s a pill to take or a punishment for bad numbers on the scale. Sustaining physical activity is a motivational and emotional issue, not a medical one.”

If you’re already an “exerciser”, you know this too well. If you’re not already an “exerciser”, maybe the simple promise of feeling great—immediately—is enough to get you started—immediately!

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Improving Your Fitness Age

Improving Your Fitness Age

Author: Achieve Wellness Staff

Exercise makes you feel younger. Okay, okay, all you “exercisers” out there know that this isn’t really a news flash. But recent studies have shown it’s actually true.

“Fitness age” is an idea that was developed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in its studies of thousands of Norwegians of all ages. Generally speaking, the concept of “fitness age” is that people with above-average cardiovascular fitness generally have longer life spans than people with lower aerobic fitness, and vice-versa.

The Norwegian research was the basis for the development of fitness calculators, which are easy to use and readily available online at no cost.

This year the idea of fitness calculation was put to the test on a special population of older adults: 4,200 participants at the Senior Olympic Games. Dr. Pamela Peeke an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and Ulrik Wisloff, the scientist who led the development of the fitness age calculator, got together to study the fitness age of the Senior Olympians.

The results were impressive. “While the athletes’ average chronological age was 68, their average fitness age was 43.” Yes, you read that right: the average Senior Olympian’s fitness age was 25 years younger than his/her chronological age!

The substantial difference in the chronological age vs. the fitness age of the Senior Olympic study should serve as inspiration for all as to the substantial benefits of fitness at any age!

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