It’s not supposed to be competitive, but fans hope for Olympic glory. Matthew Bell reports from the national championships
Flamingos may find it relaxing, but for most of us, standing on one leg isn’t much of a tonic. Unless, that is, you’re a follower of Bikram yoga, in which case it’s the first step to fitness, flexibility and finding inner peace.
That was the message at yesterday’s National Yoga Asana Championships, held in the carpeted fug of a central London hotel. Now in its 10th year, the annual competition drew 26 female and nine male entrants, and, for the first time, a youth division, all battling it out to be crowned Britain’s bendiest yoga bunny.
Normally considered a form of relaxation, yoga as competition may seem like a contradiction in terms. But as with diving or gymnastics, there’s more than one way to flail a limb. In Bikram yoga, named after its creator, Bikram Choudhury, the temperature is cranked up to 30C, the idea being that a hot and humid environment improves joint relaxation. For the competition, each entrant is allowed three minutes in which to strike seven postures, of which five are mandatory, and two are chosen by the individual.
Obviously, the first requirement is to be able to contort yourself into position. So, how hard is it? Just before she goes on stage, Bridgett Ann Goddard takes me through a few moves. “Legs apart, arms out, lean, and head up!” There’s a lot to take in, but suddenly we’re doing “the triangle”. “And, touch your toes!” It’s tempting to topple over, except that dozens of Lycra-clad men and women are cheering me on. “Whoop! Way to go!” I hear through an armpit. It may be competitive, but this is a very friendly sport.
Once you’ve mastered the triangle – what then? “Judges award points for grace, style, accuracy, precision, strength – there’s a whole rubric they’re following,” explains Lorraine Bell, one of the organisers. The competition takes place in front of an X Factor-style panel of judges and an audience of 400 guests, each paying £15.
Competitive yoga is growing in popularity, and Ms Bell hopes it could one day become an Olympic sport. Why? “Yoga is very popular,” she says. “More so than curling. Why is curling an Olympic sport? There are more people who have a knowledge and understanding of yoga, who make it part of their lives, every week, every day. I think it would be nice for them to see another place for it to go. Not everyone is competitive and certainly lots of types of yoga are not, but there will be some people who will want to compete. This is just another avenue.”
An astonishing number of competitors discovered yoga because of health problems. Ky Ha, 32, is one. A former yoga world champion, he took up yoga 10 years ago, after suffering knee pain. “I was doing a lot of running, and I’d been in a lot of car accidents,” he says. “The running was really hard on my joints. A friend said practising yoga would really help me out, and it did.”
Most moving is the story of Ayesha Nauth, 37, who suffers from chronic rheumatoid arthritis. Last year, she came third. “From the age of 22, I was quite debilitated,” she says. “I was at home being looked after by my mum because I couldn’t do anything at all. I got a bit better through taking medication, and started working in the City, but it was really stressful, and the stress was inflaming it even more. A friend of mine recommended Bikram because the heat and the humidity would help my joints. After a few sessions, I noticed a big difference. Now, when I stop practising my joints really seize up. I can’t even turn the handle of a door.”
But why do it competitively? “My doctor told me I would be in a wheelchair by the end of my twenties. Since doing Bikram, I don’t even use a walking stick any more. So my teacher said I should do it to inspire others, and to show you don’t have to go into hospital all the time. It has completely changed my life.”
It’s certainly not for everyone, and the chances of it becoming an Olympic sport are, everyone admits, pretty slight. But maybe the flamingos are on to something.
Yoga is much more than simply twisting your body in impossible poses. It is a meeting of mind and body that together give you the health benefits of mindful exercise.
With tremendous positive effects such as normalisation of blood pressure, reducing stress, weight loss and cholesterol control, yoga has become a global favourite form of exercise. Today, Ms. Sunita Pathania – Sr. Registered Dietician and Diabetes Educator, Healthy Living Diet Clinic, Mumbai, presents the top 10 benefits of yoga…
Benefits of Yoga # 1: Yoga for pregnancy
If you are pregnant, and want to stay fit, then you should practice yoga daily. Practicing yoga during pregnancy makes you strong overall. Regular practice of yoga helps ease tiredness, releases tension, increases flexibility by stretching of the muscles, offers internal benefits like good circulation, digestion, respiration and regulation of the nervous system. Besides, it also helps in relieving pregnancy ailments like insomnia, lower back pain, leg-cramping and digestive upsets. But, to avoid complications, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before practicing yoga.
Benefits of Yoga # 2: Mental peace
Yoga’s overall emphasis on breathing and other balancing asanas help in harmonising both the sides of the brain and restores balance. This also makes us utilize both the sides of our brain and further enhances the internal communication, which we often fail to use during our daily tasks. By practicing yoga you can find a state of balance between your thinking brain and creative brain.
Benefits of Yoga # 3: Boosts overall health
Good health is not a mere absence of disease, in fact it is more of a balance between your mind and emotions as well. Practicing yoga, helps in achieving total fitness, it helps you to stay away from various diseases and makes you dynamic, joyful and enthusiastic.
Benefits of Yoga # 4: Good circulation
With the combination of various yoga poses and breathing techniques, yoga also aides in proper blood circulation in your body. Due to proper blood circulation in the body, oxygen and other nutrients are better transported in the body which results in healthy organs and glowing skin.
Benefits of Yoga # 5: Yoga for flat stomach
Before reading about how yoga helps with a flat stomach, you must know that no ‘single’ exercise can help you get a flat stomach. If anyone promises you a flat stomach with a low-tempo, zero core work, exercise that doesn’t help you lose excess fat from all over the body, then you need to consult another expert.
In yoga, various asanas like Naukasana, Ushtrasana and basic crunches will help you tone an already flat stomach, if practiced daily. Practicing yoga and following a proper diet will help tone down your stomach.
Benefits of Yoga # 6: Healthy Heart
Various asanas wherein you hold your breath for a short time help improve the fitness of your heart and arteries. Yoga helps in proper blood circulation, which prevents blood clogging and hence gives you a healthy heart.
Benefits of Yoga # 7: Prevents pains and aches
As yoga improves flexibility and strength it also helps in preventing back pains and joint pains. Sunita says – people who have a desk job and drive for a long time should practice yoga daily, as it helps to relieve the spinal compression and spinal tightness. Besides, it also helps in improving your structure which further helps in preventing various pains caused due to bad posture.
Benefits of Yoga # 8: Better breathing
Due to various deep and slow breathing techniques, which yoga involves, it improves the capacity of your lungs and abdominal cavity. This further enhances your daily performance and endurance training. The deep breathing also stimulates relaxation and helps you recover from physical and mental stress.
Benefits of Yoga # 9: Improves balance
With poor posture, we lose the ability to balance as we age. This is due to different aspects of sedentary living that involves little to no core engagement on a daily basis. This results in falls, fractures, poor back health, and many other issues. Yoga can help you regain this lost balance and core control. Yoga improves your sense of balance by fine tuning your strength and flexibility. This improvement also aids in making your brain work fast and makes you more able to control your impulses.
Benefits of Yoga # 10: Stress reduction
Yoga helps in relieving stress. When you practice yoga after a hectic schedule, you will notice that all your stresses will melt down. Of course, this does not mean that yoga is the only form of exercise that alleviates stress. Any exercise, when practised dilligently with focus and correct form and breathing technique, will help you relieve stress.
Remember the sit-and-reach test from high school? Your results may have been more important than you thought. A study conducted at the University of North Texas suggests that yoga or other stretching disciplines may have a positive impact on overall heart health and recommends that stretching should be “integrated as a new recommendation into the known cardiovascular benefits of regular exercise.”
Kinesiologist and yoga blogger Kreg Weiss recently explored this issue (see full article), citing two studies that bucked the trending opinion that yoga does not have cardiovascular benefits. The first study, conducted by K. Yamamoto, et al., found that middle-aged and older adults with limited flexibility were more likely to suffer from age-related arterial stiffening than others of the same age group with greater flexibility. The second showed that arterial stiffness can be reduced by stretching alone — even if you don’t engage in additional strength training or traditional cardio activities.
These findings have important implications for your health, because arterial stiffness can increase the likelihood of complications, including high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
While these studies do suggest that stretching and yoga can have a positive impact on cardiovascular health, it should be mentioned that you shouldn’t give up aerobic training altogether. The Center for Disease Control recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic training per week for overall heart heath.
Can’t touch your toes anymore? Not to worry. Practice this short cycle of postures three times per week to improve the results of the sit and reach test.
Hold each posture for a minimum of 60 seconds each. Practice variations 1-4 until you can grab your toes. Afterward, gradually work deeper into the forward fold by gradually adding variations 5-6 to your practice.
If you have herniated disks or other back problems, make sure to consult with a yoga teacher before beginning these exercises.
Traduction en français : Cette posture crée une torsion des organes situés dans la cavité abdominale. Ceci aide à nettoyer le foie et les autres organes avoisinants, en dirigeant le sang et le liquide lymphatique dans les vaisseaux plus larges du système cardio-vasculaire et en expulsant les toxines.
Le cœur principal de ce mouvement sont les muscles abdominaux en action de synergie avec le sternocleidomastoide (muscle du sternum),le latissimus dorsi (dos) et le tricep (bras) d’un coté, en combinaison avec le bicep (bras) et l’esquio-jambier (arrière de la cuisse) de l’autre coté pour accentuer la torsion.
From Bikram Yoga Boucherville
Rather you are a man, woman or child you may occasionally struggle with anger. Some people experience this negative emotion more than others or to a greater extreme. In any case, yoga can be a great tool to help control fury. There are many poses (asanas) that can greatly benefit anyone when they experience anger.
Signs of anger
Flushing of the face
Persistent verbal arguments
Finding yourself having problems with the law
Threatening harm to others or engaging in physical encounters
Reckless behavior, such as destroying property and breaking property
Holding in anger (which can later lead to an explosive reaction)
Judging and criticizing others
How yoga can help with anger
Yoga poses can help with anger as you perform them while breathing deeply and quietly.
The following asanas are beneficial to those who experience anger.
– The Shoulder Stand ( Sarvang Asana )
As you feel hatred build up or a lot of anger come upon you, the shoulder stand is a great exercise to help tame these feelings.
– Hidden Lotus Pose (Gupta Padmasana)
This asana brings about a sense of tranquility, balance and emotional well being. In addition, it is great for the spine as it helps to align it properly.
– Corpse Pose (Savasana)
The corpse pose is one of the best for promoting relaxation. Anger can cause high blood pressure, and savasana is good for lowering blood pressure, making it even more beneficial in times of displeasure.
Russell Brand performs yoga to aid with anger issues
Russell Brand, Katy Perry’s ex-husband, has been using yoga as an anger management technique. During an interview on the talk show “Piers Morgan” Brand actually states, “For the first time in my life I spend more time meditating and doing yoga than I do having sex. That’s only because I do a hell of a lot of yoga. And they’re still neck and neck!”
A judge states that yoga is a part of anger management
A man was actually sentenced to perform yoga as part of anger management for slapping his wife. Judge Larry Standley said, “It’s part of anger management. For people who are into it, it really calms them down.”
Videos on yoga for anger management
Coby Langford leads viewers through asanas that are great for irritability and anger in this video that focuses on Dru yoga. Dru yoga is one of about 50 different types of yoga that is similar to tai chi in the flow and movement.
Yoga for emotions offers a free online class on how to release anger through the practice of yoga. This video is by Namaste Yoga with Dr. Melissa West. These poses and breathing techniques will aid in turning your life from chaos to calm.
Are you ready to fight anger and bad emotions back with the practice of yoga? It is definitely well worth the time and effort to go from feeling hatred to enjoying happiness.
People with chronic low back pain may want to try taking to the yoga mat to relieve their symptoms, a small new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of York in the United Kingdom found that back pain sufferers who participated in a group yoga program for 12 weeks had fewer medical costs and fewer missed days from work, compared with people who didn’t participate in the yoga program.
“We welcome the fact that not only has yoga been found to help people manage their back pain, but that it is also cost effective, and results in fewer sick days,” Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, which funded the study, said in a statement. “It is another option for people who are struggling to manage their condition, and one that encourages the move to self-management.”
The Spine journal study included more than 300 people who experienced recurring back pain; half of them were assigned to the 12-week yoga program and also received standard medical care, while the other half only received standard medical care for their pain. (Standard medical care could mean anything from seeing a physiotherapist, to receiving prescription painkillers.)
The researchers found that each person was able to participate in the yoga intervention at a cost of less than 300 pounds ($472 in U.S. dollars). And people who participated in the yoga program also took fewer sick days from work than people who only received the standard care.
Yoga has been shown in past studies to aid in back pain relief. Researchers found that yoga classes or stretching classes helped people with chronic low back pain to manage their pain, compared with just using a “self-care” book, according to a 2011 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
And “several other studies — all smaller than ours — have found that Iyengar yoga and general Hatha yoga are helpful for persons with back pain,” study researcher Karen Sherman, Ph.D., of the Group Health Research Institute, earlier told HuffPost. “My guess is that any therapeutically-oriented style of yoga could be helpful to people with chronic back pain.”
The way you start each day is incredibly important. Whether you’re a mom, a coach, a writer, a small business owner or a yoga teacher, what you do first thing in the morning matters.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, choices that you make regarding your daily routine either build up resistance to disease or tear it down.
Ayurveda invites us to get a jump-start on the day by focusing on morning rituals that work to align the body with nature’s rhythms, balance the doshas and foster self-esteem alongside self-discipline.
Your mind may say you have to check emails, take the dog out, get the kids out the door, that you can’t be late for work or that you just don’t have enough time to cultivate your own morning rituals.
But, if you can only make time for one ritual that will improve your health, let it be this…..
Start the day out with a mug of warm water and the juice of half a lemon.
It’s so simple and the benefits are just too good to ignore. Warm water with lemon:
1. Boosts you’re immune system
Lemons are high in Vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C is great for fighting colds and potassium stimulates brain & nerve function and helps control blood pressure.
2. Balances pH
Lemons are an incredibly alkaline food, believe it or not. Yes, they are acidic on their own, but inside our bodies they’re alkaline (the citric acid does not create acidity in the body once metabolized). As you wellness warriors know, an alkaline body is really the key to good health.
3. Helps with weight loss
Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings. It also has been shown that people who maintain a more alkaline diet lose weight faster. And, my experience is that when I start the day off right, it’s easier to make the best choices for myself the rest of the day.
4. Aids digestion
The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis—the waves of muscle contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving. Lemons and limes are also high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen ama, or toxins, in the digestive tract.
5. Acts as a gentle, natural diuretic
Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Toxins are, therefore, released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy.
6. Clears skin
The vitamin C helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes. Lemon water purges toxins from the blood which helps keep skin clear as well.
7. Hydrates the lymph system
This cup of goodness helps start the day on a hydrated note, which helps prevent dehydration (obviously) and adrenal fatigue. When your body is dehydrated, or deeply dehydrated (adrenal fatigue) it can’t perform all of it’s proper functions, which leads to toxic buildup, stress, constipation, and the list goes on. Your adrenals happen to be two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and along with your thyroid, create energy. They also secrete important hormones, including aldosterone. Aldosterone is a hormone secreted by your adrenals that regulates water levels and the concentration of minerals, like sodium, in your body, helping you stay hydrated. Your adrenals are also responsible for regulating your stress response. So, the bottom line is that you really don’t want to mess with a deep state of dehydration!
Adopting just this one practice of drinking a cup of warm water with lemon in the morning for a month can radically alter your experience of the day. Don’t be surprised if you begin to view mornings in a new light.
Like I said, the recipe is really simple – a cup of warm (not hot) water and the juice from half a lemon.
In the comments below, tell me which one of these benefits is going to get you to try this morning ritual. Or, if you’re already a lemon water junkie, what specific benefits have you noticed?
It’s no secret that pregnancy hormones can dampen moods, but for some expectant moms, it’s much worse: 1 in 5 experience major depression.
Now, new research shows that an age-old recommended stress-buster may actually work for this group of women: yoga.
Pregnant women who were identified as psychiatrically high risk and who participated in a 10-week mindfulness yoga intervention saw significant reductions in depressive symptoms, according to a University of Michigan Health System pilot feasibility study. Mothers-to-be also reported stronger attachment to their babies in the womb.
The findings were published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
“We hear about pregnant women trying yoga to reduce stress but there’s no data on how effective this method is,” says lead author Maria Muzik, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of psychiatry and assistant research scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development. “Our work provides promising first evidence that mindfulness yoga may be an effective alternative to pharmaceutical treatment for pregnant women showing signs of depression.
“This promotes both mother and baby wellbeing.”
Mental health disorders during pregnancy, including depression and anxiety, have become a serious health concern. Hormonal changes, genetic predisposition and social factors set the stage for some expectant moms to experience persistent irritability, feelings of being overwhelmed and inability to cope with stress.
Untreated, these symptoms bear major health risks for both the mom and baby, including poor weight gain, preeclampsia, premature labor and trouble bonding with the new baby.
While antidepressants have proven to effectively treat these mood disorders, Muzik says, previous studies show that many pregnant women are reluctant to take these drugs out of concern for their infant’s safety.
“Unfortunately, few women suffering from perinatal health disorders receive treatment, exposing them and their child to the negative impact of psychiatric illness during one of the most vulnerable times,” Muzik says. “That’s why developing feasible alternatives for treatment is critical.”
Evidence suggests women are more comfortable with nontraditional treatments, including herbal medicine, relaxation techniques and mind-body work.
Yoga continues to grow in popularity but in the United States, many classes concentrate on yoga as “exercise,” omitting the practice of being fully present in the moment and aware, authors say.
Meanwhile, mindfulness yoga – which combines meditative focus with physical poses – has proven to be a powerful method to fight stress and boost energy.
For the U-M research study, women who showed signs of depression and who were between 12-26 weeks pregnant participated in 90-minute mindfulness yoga sessions that focused on poses for the pregnant body, as well as support in the awareness of how their bodies were changing to help their babies grow.
Funding for follow up work on this subject was recently provided by a grant from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender.
“Research on the impact of mindfulness yoga on pregnant women is limited but encouraging,” Muzik says. “This study builds the foundation for further research on how yoga may lead to an empowered and positive feeling toward pregnancy.”
Researchers at the University of Los Angeles have shown that yoga would have a biological effect on the health of persons under chronic stress. These findings were published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, 14 July 2012.
A previous research conducted in Pittsburgh in April 2012, had already shown that chronic stress cause a weakened immune system and could increase the occurrence of recurring health problems.
Here, researchers from the University of Los Angeles wanted to know if meditation has a biological effect on the immune disturbances of stressed individuals.
So they selected 45 people who take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. These people, in whom there is constant stress, regularly develop depressive symptoms, emotional distress, and have a decreased energy.
Every day for eight weeks, participants divided into two groups, had to do a meditation session of 12 minutes, either by practicing yoga, or by isolating itself to listen some relaxing music.
At the beginning of the experiment, a blood test had revealed that they all had high levels of inflammatory markers in the blood. These substances are released into the body when subjected to an aggression threatening its integrity.
After eight weeks of daily meditation, their rates had declined in samples of the group practicing yoga .
In fact, scientists believe that this relaxation method would influence the expression of certain genes, themselves responsible for the disruption of the immune system by stress.
They bring by blood evidence that yoga can reduce and control anxiety, what fans of the practice had advocated already long!
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1 – COMPLIANCE WITH THE LIMITS
Easy to say, less easy to apply. There are two kinds of limits. That which we impose and the actual limits of the body. Generally, when one imposes limits it’s either we are afraid, or we are unmotivated or not really interested in progress in our practice. For example: think you can not improve because you are not flexible enough. Such limits may be exceeded and the practice of yoga can help them do that.
In contrast, the actual limits are limits that must be respected if there is a risk of injury. For example if you just leave a wrist surgery, you should allowed a sufficient time to heal before starting to do a headstand!
So for yoga if we follow the real limits of our bodies we are less likely to get hurt. The challenge then is to know when our limits are set by irrational thoughts or real need to go slow.
2 – POSITIVE THINKING
Sure it sounds cliché, but positive thinking is very important. When we practice yoga, the mind is a true sponge wishing to absorb everything within his reach. If you have even a single negative thought during practice, this negativity is going to interfere in every cell of your being and will manifest itself physically or emotionally.
Have you ever met a yogi with an attitude defiant, angry or nervous? Certainly, any person may be at some point but people who are highly irritable or aggressive should be careful not to reinforce what may be neglected. Let go, get rid of anxiety, anger and negativity will make space for the many benefits of positive thinking on health.
3 – SELF-CONFIDENCE
Whether you practice yoga because it is fashionable or other reasons, you must have a minimum of confidence in you. Without it, you’ll pass near the goal and deny you the benefits of yoga. If you break this rule, you will have little or no progress in mastering the connection between body and mind. By cons if you trust yourself, you will understand the needs of your body and can take better care of your health.
BEFORE HOT YOGA CLASS
We always advise to drink at least 1.5 liters of water the day before practice or you may get dehydrated quickly because of sweating.
Especially avoid eating at least 2 to 3H before the class starts and arrive before the beginning of the session to register, change, relax and allow the body to warm up before exercise. If you suffer from an illness or injury, inform the instructor.
DURING HOT YOGA CLASS
The breath control is essential. Always inhale and exhale through the nose except during phases of relaxation where you can exhale through the mouth. The trick is to always stay calm, focused and avoid unnecessary movements! For the first time, you may feel dizzy, have hot flashes or just need a break, it”s is normal. The hot yoga is a very demanding exercise for your body and requires several practices to tame the regular rhythm. At this point, sit down and rest by staying in the room. Of course you can drink as much water as necessary.
Practicing Hot Yoga helps to maintain good health and its benefits are many:
- Relieves back pain, headaches, muscle and joint aches : reduces symptoms of chronic diseases
- Improves posture and alignment of the spine
- Also improves the circulation of fluids
- Allows rapid removal of toxins through sweating and rapid elimination of fats
- Harmonizes the functioning of organs and body systems
- Prevents disease by strengthening the immune system
- Reduces stress
- Limits the effects of aging
- Tones the muscles
- Refines the silhouette
- Reinforces self-confidence