Monthly Archives: November 2016

More of YOGA

Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation.

There are more than 100 different forms of yoga. Some are fast-paced and intense. Others are gentle and relaxing.

Examples of different yoga forms include:

  • Hatha. The form most often associated with yoga, it combines a series of basic movements with breathing.
  • Vinyasa. A series of poses that flow smoothly into one another.
  • Power. A faster, higher-intensity practice that builds muscle.
  • Ashtanga. A series of poses, combined with a special breathing technique.
  • Bikram. Also known as “hot yoga,” it’s a series of 26 challenging poses performed in a room heated to a high temperature.
  • Iyengar. A type of yoga that uses props like blocks, straps, and chairs to help you move your body into the proper alignment.


Intensity Level: Varies with Type

The intensity of your yoga workout depends on which form of yoga you choose. Techniques like hatha and iyengar yoga are gentle and slow. Bikram and power yoga are faster and more challenging.

Areas It Targets

Core: Yes. There are yoga poses to target just about every core muscle. Want to tighten those love handles? Then prop yourself up on one arm and do a side plank. To really burn out the middle of your abs, you can do boat pose, in which you balance on your “sit bones” (the bony prominences at the base of your pelvic bones) and hold your legs up in the air.

Arms: Yes. With yoga, you don’t build arm strength with free weights or machines, but with the weight of your own body. Some poses, like the plank, spread your weight equally between your arms and legs. Others, like the crane and crow poses, challenge your arms even more by making them support your full body weight.

Legs: Yes. Yoga poses work all sides of the legs, including your quadriceps, hips, and thighs.

Glutes: Yes. Yoga squats, bridges, and warrior poses involve deep knee bends, which give you a more sculpted rear.

Back: Yes. Moves like downward-facing dog, child’s pose, and cat/cow give your back muscles a good stretch. It’s no wonder that research finds yoga may be good for relieving a sore back.


Flexibility: Yes. Yoga poses stretch your muscles and increase your range of motion. With regular practice, they’ll improve your flexibility.

Aerobic: No. Yoga isn’t considered aerobic exercise, but the more athletic varieties, like power yoga, will make you sweat. And even though yoga is not aerobic, some research finds it can be just as good as aerobic exercise for improving health.

Strength: Yes. It takes a lot of strength to hold your body in a balanced pose. Regular practice will strengthen the muscles of your arms, back, legs, and core.

Sport: No. Yoga is not competitive. Focus on your own practice and don’t compare yourself to other people in your class.

Low-Impact: Yes. Although yoga will give you a full-body workout, it won’t put any impact on your joints.


What Else Should I Know?

Cost. Varies. If you already know your way around a yoga mat, you can practice for free at home. Videos and classes will cost you various amounts of money.

Good for beginners? Yes. People of all ages and fitness levels can do the most basic yoga poses and stretches.

Outdoors. Yes. You can do yoga anywhere, indoors or out.

At home. Yes. All you need is enough space for your yoga mat.

Equipment required? No. You don’t need any equipment because you’ll rely on your own body weight for resistance. But you’ll probably want to use a yoga mat to keep you from sliding around in standing poses, and to cushion you while in seated and lying positions. Other, optional equipment includes a yoga ball for balance, a yoga block or two, and straps to help you reach for your feet or link your hands behind your back.

Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?

Yoga is a great activity for you if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. It gives you strength, flexibility, and mind-body awareness. You’ll also need to do something aerobic (like walking, biking, or swimming) if you’re not doing a fast-moving type of yoga.

If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart problems, ask your doctor what you can do. You may need to avoid certain postures, like those in which you’re upside down or that demand more balance than you have right now. A very gentle program of yoga, coupled with a light aerobic activity like walking or swimming, may be the best way to start.

Do you have arthritis? Yoga can help you stay flexible and strong without putting added stress on your joints. You get the added benefit of a mind-body approach that can help you relax and energize.

If you’re pregnant, yoga can help keep you relaxed, strong, and in shape. If you’re new to yoga or have any health or pregnancy related problems, talk to your doctor before you give it a try. Look for an instructor who’s experienced in teaching prenatal yoga.

You’ll need to make some adjustments as your baby and belly grow and your center of gravity shifts. After your first trimester, don’t do any poses that have you lying on your back. And don’t try to stretch any further than you did before pregnancy. Your pregnancy hormones will loosen up your joints and make you more likely to get injured.

While you’re pregnant, avoid postures that put pressure on your belly or low back. Don’t do “hot” yoga, where the room temperature is very high.

What should you know about your heart rate?

Even if you’re not an athlete, knowledge about your heart rate can help you monitor your fitness level — and it might even help you spot developing health problems.

Your heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Normal heart rate varies from person to person. Knowing yours can be an important heart-health gauge.

As you age, changes in the rate and regularity of your pulse can change and may signify a heart condition or other condition that needs to be addressed.

Where is it and what is a normal heart rate?

The best places to find your pulse are the:

  • wrists
  • inside of your elbow
  • side of your neck
  • top of the foot

To get the most accurate reading, put your finger over your pulse and count the number of beats in 60 seconds.

Your resting heart rate is the heart pumping the lowest amount of blood you need because you’re not exercising. If you’re sitting or lying and you’re calm, relaxed and aren’t ill, your heart rate is normally between 60 (beats per minute) and 100 (beats per minute).

But a heart rate lower than 60 doesn’t necessarily signal a medical problem. It could be the result of taking a drug such as a beta blocker. A lower heart rate is also common for people who get a lot of physical activity or are very athletic. Active people often have lower heart rates because their heart muscle is in better condition and doesn’t need to work as hard to maintain a steady beat.

Moderate physical activity doesn’t usually change the resting pulse much. If you’re very fit, it could change to 40. A less active person might have a heart rate between 60 and 100. That’s because the heart muscle has to work harder to maintain bodily functions, making it higher.

How Other Factors Affect Heart Rate

  • Air temperature: When temperatures (and the humidity) soar, the heart pumps a little more blood, so your pulse rate may increase, but usually no more than five to 10 beats a minute.
  • Body position: Resting, sitting or standing, your pulse is usually the same. Sometimes as you stand for the first 15 to 20 seconds, your pulse may go up a little bit, but after a couple of minutes it should settle down. Emotions: If you’re stressed, anxious or “extraordinarily happy or sad” your emotions can raise your pulse.
  • Body size: Body size usually doesn’t change pulse. If you’re very obese, you might see a higher resting pulse than normal, but usually not more than 100.
  • Medication use: Meds that block your adrenaline (beta blockers) tend to slow your pulse, while too much thyroid medication or too high of a dosage will raise it.

When To Call Your Doctor

If you’re on a beta blocker to decrease your heart rate (and lower blood pressure) or to control an abnormal rhythm (arrhythmia), your doctor may ask you to monitor and log your heart rate. Keeping tabs on your heart rate can help your doctor determine whether to change the dosage or switch to a different medication.

If your pulse is very low or if you have frequent episodes of unexplained fast heart rates, especially if they cause you to feel weak or dizzy or faint, tell your doctor, who can decide if it’s an emergency. Your pulse is one tool to help get a picture of your health.

Happiness is good for health

Happiness is one the most important assets we can have. If you are not happy, then life can become pretty meaningless.

An unhappy person is not at their optimum at work, as a parent, or as a friend. You must look after yourself before being able to look after others.

So how do you become happy?

Whilst there’s no magical wand you can wave to become happy, there are several things you can do that will help. Here are 10 ways to be happy in life.

1. Connect with Friends and Family

Whilst we all differ in how much time we need to spend with people, we ALL need to connect. Put the effort in to reconnect with family you haven’t seen for a while, and friends you’ve neglected. Give someone a call out of the blue. Pop round for a visit. It’s easy to get bogged down with work and family commitments, but you MUST make the time to connect with people. It’s worth it.

2. Have a Long-Term Goal

You need something to work towards. Something to motivate yourself to keep going. It could be to save up and buy a holiday home, a yacht, or even to become a published writer. Find something that is possible to attain in the long term, and that excites you. Now work towards this, one step at a time. This gives your life hope that something better is on its way, and give you a sense of purpose.

3. Have Things to Look Forward to

Having things to look forward to helps keep you positive and happy. It might be a holiday that you’ve booked, or a concert. Make sure you regularly provide yourself with things to look forward to. Once you have done the thing you planned, quickly start looking for the next thing to plan.

4. Have a Laugh

Laughter is fantastic medicine for the soul. Seek out people who have a good sense of humour and make you laugh. Avoid those negative drains. Watch some funny films and TV programs. Learn to laugh at yourself and things around you. Life shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

5. Smile in the Mirror

To a fair degree you can “fake it until you make it”. By deliberately smiling, you send a positive signal to the rest of your mind and body, and it will follow suit. So when you look in the mirror in the morning, put on a smile and give yourself a great start to your day.

6. Eat a More Natural, Balanced Diet

A good diet has been proven to improve your mood. Avoid processed and ready-made foods. Do more cooking. If you are not a good cook, then learn. There’s loads of free recipes and tips online. It really isn’t that difficult, and can be a fulfilling hobby in itself.

Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and meats. A good rule of thumb is to strive to eat foods that were available 1000 years ago.

7. Watch Your Stress Levels

Stress can turn the most laid back person into a moody monster. It is also harmful to your health. If your job is stressful, consider ways to reduce this stress. Can you offload some responsibility? Maybe talk to your boss about getting some help?

If things can’t be improved, then consider finding a new job – even if the pay is reduced. A job is not worth a life time of misery. Most people tend to over spend when they’re stressed, so you might not actually be worse off financially anyway.

Learn meditation. This is great for stress reduction. Also walks in the countryside are great for de-stressing your mind and body.

8. Exercise!

Through millions of years of evolution, we are designed to work physically harder than most of us do in this modern world. This leaves us with an excess of unburned energy.

Find an exercise that you enjoy. This could be the gym, swimming, playing tennis etc. Exercise also releases those feel-good hormones into your body, leaving you feeling great afterwards.

9. Do Someone a Favour

Doing a good turn for someone can boost your levels of happiness. It might be something simple like buying them a small gift that you know they will like. It could be something practical like giving them a lift to work. Doing good turns for others creates a good vibe that you will also enjoy.

10. Don’t Be a People Pleaser

Although it is good to do favours for others, only do them when YOU want to. Learn to say no to people who ask for too much. Do things that make you happy, even if people in your life don’t approve. As long as it isn’t harming anyone else, then chase what you feel you want to do.

You may have people in your life who like you to do things for them instead of for yourself. They may try and put you off so that you can be there for them. Ignore them and carry on. They will get used to your new way of being. If people in your life value your happiness, they will support you.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber – and they’re low in calories.  Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and blood pressure.

Which fruits and vegetables are best?
That’s easy: They’re all good! If you eat many different types of fruits and veggies, you’re sure to get all the different types of nutrients you need. The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half your plate with fruits and veggies in order to make it to the recommended 4-5 servings of each per day. The good news is that all produce counts, which means canned, dried, fresh and frozen varieties can help you reach your goal.

When buying canned, dried or frozen vegetables and fruit, be sure to compare food labels and choose the products with the lowest amount of sodium and added sugars.

Take the Next Step

If you’re already eating plenty of fruits and veggies every day, you may be ready for the next step: include more color. All fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that may help prevent heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. Some of these nutrients are fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin A and C. The best way to get all the various nutrients is to eat fruits and vegetables of many different colors. The five main color groups and examples in each group are listed below. Eat from as many color groups as you can each day.

Color Fruits and Vegetables
Red / Pink: beets, cherries, cranberries, pink grapefruit, pomegranates, radicchio, radishes, raspberries, red apples, red grapes, red peppers, red potatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice, watermelon
Orange / Yellow: acorn or butternut squash, apricots, cantaloupe, carrot, corn, grapefruit, lemons, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, orange juice, orange peppers, papaya, peaches, pineapple, pumpkin, summer squash, sweet potatoes, tangerines, yams, yellow apples, yellow peppers, yellow squash
Green: artichokes, asparagus, avocados, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, collard greens, cucumber, green beans, green cabbage, green grapes, green onions, green peppers, kale, kiwi, leeks, limes, mustard greens, okra, pears, peas, romaine lettuce, snow peas, spinach, sugar snap peas, watercress, zucchini
White bananas, cauliflower, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, mushrooms, onion, potatoes, parsnips, shallots
Blue / Purple: blackberries, blueberries, currants, dates, eggplant, purple grapes, purple grape juice, plums, prunes, purple figs, raisins