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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fitness Friday--Yoga for Writers, Students and Computer Geeks.

I know I'm a day late, but I do plan to post on Fridays with some health and fitness tips for my friends and readers. Since my day job is as a yoga teacher and massage therapist, I thought I would share with you the benefits of yoga and a few key poses that are great for writers, readers, students, and computer geeks. As always, if you have an injury or health concerns about physical activity, consult your doctor before doing yoga or any other type of exercise plan. This first part, anyone can do, so take a deep breath in and out through your nose, lengthen your spine, and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Connect your feet to the floor and guess what? You are already doing yoga. Yoga is about awareness. Connecting your mind, body and breath.

Yoga is a 5000 year old practice that has been a path to enlightenment and good health to millions of people all over the world. And no, you don't have to be able to wrap your feet around your head to do it. As a matter of fact, even if you can, I don't recommend it. I'm not a fan of extreme yoga postures. Of course, each individual must find their own 'edge'--that place where you feel a stretch, are comfortably challenged and where you can maintain a steady breath. Yoga should not be painful! The people who are being injured at alarming rates are not practicing responsibly, or are not getting good instruction. One of the main philosophies of yoga is 'ahimsa' which means non-violence--towards others, but also towards yourself. Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.

Anyone who spends time sitting at a computer or hunched over a desk all day NEEDS to stretch. So stand up, press your heels into the floor, tighten your thighs (without locking your knees), and tuck your belly button in toward your spine. Now take a breath in through your nose, raise your hands over head and lower your shoulders down and back, opening your heart space (chest). Turn your palms inward as if holding a big beach ball overhead and breathe in and out a few times, feeling the energy in your hands and legs. Release your hands slowly to your sides and relax. You just did Mountain pose (Tadasana).

Another good posture is yoga mudra. In standing again, clasp your hands behind your back, squeeze your shoulder baldes together and open your heart space. Now slowly bend forward, keeping your knees bent and raising your hands behind you away from your hips. Listen to your body and respect your limitations. If your shoulders and chest are super tight, you may not be able to go far, but with consistent stretching over time , your flexibility will increase. If this is difficult for you, you can use a belt or towel between your hands to make it easier. Hold this posture for a few breaths and come back up slowly.

There are so many wonderful postures that energize the body and mind, improve posture, increase the immune system, and reduce stress, I've decided to offer a couple of easy poses each week. This will be interspersed with other fitness and health tips that I think you will find are enjoyable and that improve the quality of your life. So tell me, have you ever taken a yoga class? If so, what kind? Do you have a favorite posture? Mine, if I had to pick one, is cow's face posture. Don't ask me to describe it. It would take too many words. If you haven't taken a yoga class, why not?

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