Health & Wellness Blog

    

Yoga for Health & Wellness

As we live our busy lives, we often need to find a form of exercise that will help us un-wind. One of the most rejuvenating and good-health promoting activities is Yoga. 

Yoga is a perfect retreat for relaxation as well as physical benefit. By practicing yoga for health and relaxation, you are engaging technique to optimize your time and physical benefits while enjoying the mental and emotional relaxation that practicing yoga provides.

Better Self-Awareness Through Yoga

When practicing yoga for health benefits, you may realize many things about yourself, such as your degree of flexibility and strength. This may help you better understand bodily issues that you can focus and improve upon.

Also a self-awareness aspect of Yoga derives from the deep breathing involved with the practice. Beginner yogis can immediately start unlocking a much greater lung capacity upon a commencing a consistent Yoga practice.  More breathing means your body will better oxygenated, helping to nourish every cell in the body.

Yoga in Many Forms

There are many different styles or forms of Yoga. When deciding on the style of Yoga, it is important take into consideration what your ultimate goals are from your practice.

Some forms of Yoga are more relaxing and breathing intensive, such as Hatha or Restorative Yoga. On the other hand, some styles of Yoga are more aerobic with more movements and postural transitions, such as Vinyasa.

If you are getting into Yoga for health reasons, then the outlets may seem vast and overwhelming. You will want to talk to an experienced Yoga instructor about the various options. In addition, there are a number of different Yoga resources online that can help lead you in the right direction.

Whether you seeking ways to alleviate stress in your life, or simply want to explore a new road to better strength and flexibility, Yoga can be a solution for many things in life.

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Ashtanga Yoga: A Deeper Practice

Yoga helps your body and mind. It keeps you healthy and helps you rediscover your fullest potential spiritually and psychologically. Yoga has three basic practices that help you gain awareness and control of self. These are Ujjayi Pranayama (proper breathing), asanas (postures) and driste (gazing point).

Whether you're a beginner, or practice yoga regularly and are considering a yoga retreat in the future, there's immense benefits to be gained. In essence, you will get steadiness of mind and body if you are devoted and you perform Yoga regularly.

Ashtanga Yoga for Health

The 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

The term Ashtanga literally translates to 8 limbs. This refers to:

* contemplation or Samadhi

* abstinences or Yama

* observances or Niyama

* breath conrol or Pranayama

* sense withdrawal or Pratyahara

* postures or Asana

* concentration or Dharana

* meditation or Dhyana

The different limbs have to be used together. The asana (posture) practice is pivotal in pranayama and the development of niyamas and yamas. Asana, pranayama, niyama and yama, the 4 externally-oriented limbs, are the most important since the 4 internally-oriented limbs spontaneously evolve with the passage of time.

Get Your Flow On

Vinyasa refers to movement that is breath-synchronized. Breath-synchronized movement is very important in Ashtanga. You generate intense internal heat when you practice locks (Uddiyana Bandhas or Mula together with the breath-synchronized movement. The intense heat is important because it purifies organs and muscles.

This has the effect of nourishing the body, achieved through the massaging of sweat back into your skin, the release of beneficial minerals and hormones and the expulsion of unwanted toxins. Breath-synchronized movement helps in the regulation of the vinyasa and it ensures there is efficient blood circulation. This ensures that your body is light and strong.

The Ashtanga system is made up of 3 sequence groups. The first (primary) series in the sequence is Yoga Chikitsa. This works by detoxifying and aligning the body. Nadi Shodhana is the second (intermediate) series. It works by purifying the nervous system through the opening and the cleaning of energy channels. The last (advanced) series in the sequence is Sthira Bhaga works by integrating grace and strength of the Ashtanga system. It requires great humility and flexibility.

One Step at a Time

It is important that you develop in each level/series fully before you go to the next one. It is also important that you follow the correct order of asana since the postures are arranged in such a way that one prepares the way for the next. You will not have the necessary balance and strength if you go to advanced postures without mastering the easier ones first.

It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of deep and even breathing while practicing Ashtanga Yoga. Breathing is important in that it feeds your actions and these actions feed your posture. With proper breathing, your movements will be precise and gentle and you will have great balance.

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Sri T. Krishnamacharya in their ‘Breath is Life’ teach us that proper breathing has a divine essence, with inhalation being inspiration from God and expiration being movement towards him. It is only through practice that you will achieve the results you need in Ashtanga Yoga. Contrary to how Westerners view yoga, Ashtanga Yoga is actually accompanied by sweat, stamina and strength.

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5 Mind-Friendly Spa Treatments

It is good for people to undertake different measures to develop improved mental habits that will strengthen their intellect. One of the most recent developments is the prediction by the Inter Continental Hotels Group that ‘brain spas’ or places where commuters desire to learn much will determine their destination choices. They asserted that the market for services and products following the latest demand mind friendly spa treatments will grow between one and five billion by 2015.

It is essential to keep the mind alert and healthy particularly in the current hyper-informational and over stimulated environment. With regard to this, here are the five brain friendly sap treatments to enhance your mental health.

• Meditation - This refers to focusing the mind in a certain way. The benefits of meditation are endless. Some of the benefits it brings include calming and quieting the mind, relaxing the body, honing the use of your mental skills in performing tasks like focusing your attention on one object for a longer duration. It also helps to create the state of pure awareness of sensations, emotions and thoughts without reacting. Research from the University of Pennsylvania shows that long-term meditators display exceptionally higher cerebral blood flow within their brain structures linked to emotion, attention and more.

• Ayurveda - This name means the science of life and its goal is to attain optimal health at all levels, including the physical, spiritual and mental levels, though use of techniques and theories that incorporate exercise, herbal medicine, diet, massage and meditation. Former pilot studies indicated that this science creates positive results for depression, alzheimer’s, anxiety and Parkinson, among others. Some spas like the Raj located in Iowa have programs that help to avert the onset of age-associated cognitive ailments such as memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

It is an extensive program in conjunction with the Brain Research Institute director – Alarik Arenander, Ph.D. It entails the evaluation by a health consultant through the use of pulse diagnosis, health education classes, Maharishi rejuvenation treatments, fitness activities, informative lectures and cooking classes.

• Vibration/Music/Light/Sound and Color Therapy - In stimulating the mind, the forces of light, color, sound and music can create a huge impact on energy levels, mood change and relaxation. The scientific explanation on how vibrations and frequencies affect people both emotionally and physically is immense. There are various treatments like the Tibetan sound massage, singing bowls and the Kohler’s Vibra Acoustic baths, where sound waves move through the water and become choreographed to chromotherapy and music.

The other treatment is Taiz Sensorium that integrates vibrational medicine, gentle human touch, music therapy and aromatic oils. The last one is Shuniya sound therapy that entails a healing ceremony, which infuses vibration and sound though the Tibetan bowls, gong baths, Kundalini Yoga and turning forks coupled with Thai massage, shiatsu and Chi nei tsang.

• Exercise - Studies show that less than a third of the Americans meet the least recommendations for physical exercises. This research is worrying since engaging in any exercise like hiking, tai chai, walking and yoga can greatly help to strengthen your mind.

• Sleep Therapy - This one helps to rest your mind. Although this is not a common spa treatment surrounding us make it hard for most people to give good rest to their minds. In fact, the average adult sleeps for less than 7 hours per night yet research suggests 7 to 8 of sleep time. Insufficient sleep is associated with heart disorders, hypertension and cancer apart from memory problems.

This article was written by the advocates of Five Senses Spa & Salon, one of nation's leading hair salons and spas in Peoria, IL. The spa and salon specialists of Five Senses Spa & Salon pioneers spa experiences by incorporating an inspiring combinations of treatments.

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Health Benefits of Maintaining a Regular Yoga Practice

health benefits of yogaYoga is an ancient practice whose health benefits resound till today. It is a potent way to improve circulatory and cardiovascular health. It is rooted to breathing and stretching, thus it is a very natural means to maintaining the body’s homeostasis.

One may be skeptical if one has never practiced yoga because it seems to border on the mythical aspects of human energy. It has however been proven scientifically that there are a dozen health benefits of practicing yoga daily. It is interesting that beginners are the ones who notice the most significant positive changes on the body.

The first point to note is that yoga improves breathing significantly by encouraging full use of the lungs. Most of us are shallow breathers and it can be demonstrated that athletes breathe ten times better than the average man. This alleviates most chest problems and the onset of asthma. The whole body benefits from increased circulation and oxygenation.

Secondly, yoga helps to stretch the spine and all the joints. This separates the vertebrae, which are the bones of the spine easing the associated nerves and vessels. The cerebral spinal fluid also flows more freely and posture is dramatically improved. Everyday stresses and strains lead to compaction and even twisting of the spine. Yoga aims to reverse this, and it has an actual effect of making yoga practitioners stronger.

The movements in yoga are very fluid and give time for the body to adjust to new posture. The poses are slow but rhythmic enabling increased circulation and breathing yet a slowing of the heart rate. This is an important point on improving endurance. It is a light exercise that tones the muscles and strengthens the weak ones.

Yoga focuses on core strength that has to be achieved in order to attain flexibility and balance. The human poise is challenged by stresses on the back and abdomen. With core strength, the body will be able to return from incorrect posture. The consciousness of one’s posture is improved with yoga such that one can begin to realize that he is not standing or sitting correctly. This is critical as it helps heal common back pain in a very natural way without ingesting regular pain killers.

Diseases of the joints like osteoporosis or arthritis are very painful. The pain can be alleviated by light yoga sessions that stretch the affected joints thus allowing circulation and healing. Uric acid trapped in the joints is released. Some individuals suffer aches and pains because of accumulated lactic acid in the joints and tissue. This is also physically released during yoga.

Certain important hormones and biochemicals are released during yoga meditation. The process can be identified as the feeling of wellness that encompasses one on the yoga mat. The positive effects include reduction of stress and a heightening of the senses. Mental alertness also improves; this is also contributed by the fact that negative stress hormones are reduced. Those who have experienced panic attacks or trauma with shallow breathing among other symptoms will have less likelihood of having repeat episodes.

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Best Practices to Maintain Optimal Spinal Health

Spinal HealthLike your chiropractor always says, take care of your spine and live with mindful, good posture. Did you listen to your chiropractor? Learn more about the spine and taking care of your spinal health.

Your spinal column is composed of nerves, muscles, and ligaments. These serve as the primary connection areas that function your body.

Therefore, it is important to keep your spine in optimal condition if you want to maintain good overall health. There are several simple things you could try to keep your spine as healthy as possible.

Likewise, this would prevent any complications from your back and/or future painful episodes. Here are some of the best practices that you could do to maintain optimal spinal health.

1) Strengthen your abs and back

For those who aren't aware, one of the most essential components of a healthy spine is exercise. Performing back and abdominal exercises (these parts don't get enough exercise from daily activities) would be efficient to keep your spine healthy.

These exercises are quite simple and you could easily perform them in just 20-30 minutes, as a part of your regular routine. However, if your back and abdominal muscles aren't in good shape, the additional pressure could be placed on the spine. Your chiropractor in Berkeley, or wherever you're located can help show you this exercises.

This part is already under constant stress as it tries to support your entire body. Nonetheless, when these muscles are well-maintained, they could support the spine and alleviate the chances of injuries.

2. Meditate and perform yoga

As advocated by a number of different chiropractors, Yoga offers incredible benefits on the spine. One of the many benefits of regular yoga is that it could improve the functional range of motion across the whole body. Wherein, greater flexibility combined with agility could prevent or lessen the likelihood of chronic pain and spine injuries. Through yoga, the spinal column's range of motion expands and chronic tension patterns could be released.

3. Sleep right and sleep long

Sleeping enables your spine to relax and be rejuvenated. Using the right pillow and mattress would support the spine that the ligaments and muscles could be stress-free and become refreshed. When it comes to choosing the type of pillow and mattress to use, this would greatly depend on your personal preference. Just keep in mind that the basis of these choices should ensure that the correct support and sleeping position would be achieved.

4. Core Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic usually involves the treatment of the lower back, such as spinal manipulation and mobilization. In chiropractic care, spinal manipulation, refers to a lever-arm thrust in high-velocity that's applied to abnormal vertebra. The goal of this is to increase functionality, restore flexibility, and lessen nerve irritability. On the other hand, mobilization is the low-velocity manipulation, stretching, and movement of the joints and muscles with an aim of improving the overall flexibility in these areas. Overall, chiropractic services can help sustain proper spinal alignment and overall functioning.

5. Stretch out

Regular stretching could help the back and neck. Likewise, keeping it flexible helps in maintaining the normal joint function and a good range of motion, reducing the risks of injury. Most back pain problems are caused by tight hamstrings-- the muscles located at the back of your legs.

If the hamstrings are tense, they would pull on the bottom of the pelvis. This would encourage it to rotate backward and cause postural changes whilst adding tension on the entire spine. That's why it is important to start your day with a few stretches. Aside from being invigorating, this could promote your spinal health. In addition to stretching, massage (whether getting a professional massage or doing soft tissue work by yourself) can help keep the muscles around the spine loose. Even if you opt for only a 15 minute massage, if it's a professional massage that targets a specific area of the body or spine, the results can be profound.

Overall, the tips mentioned above are just some of the simple, yet effective ways to keep your spine and back healthy. Also, even if you're in a very bad pain, or perhaps, undergoing extensive medical treatments, it's still recommended to remember these simple things you can do to help your back heal and get healthier over time.

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5 Tips for Rapid Injury Recovery

Injury Recovery RunnerFor sport enthusiasts and athletes something tragic can happen at the worst possible moment, tearing a muscle, breaking a bone, or spraining an ankle. You may be out on the trail, on the squat rack, or just walking down the street.

A wide range of injuries are possible - everything is just hunky-dory when out of the blue, something tragic happens. Maybe you pull/tear a muscle, sprain an ankle or break a bone. You may be on the squat rack, out on the trail or just jogging in the park.

There is a wide range of injuries that can happen to active people and each of them takes different amounts of rest to heal. However, there are some things you can do to help it healing faster. We will discuss here 5 tips for rapid injury recovery.

Adjust Your Diet

Even if your ability to train is impaired by your injury for a while, you can still maintain a great body shape and also help heal faster with the proper nutrition. In case that your injury doesn’t totally prevent you to continue your regular workout then you need to maintain your current intake of nutrients. However, if your injury is likely to make you miss most of your workouts, you need to reduce a little your food intake. Just adjust your diet to your level of physical activity.

Some macronutrients can help you heal your injury faster. Good nutrition will increase the supply of nutrients carried by the blood flow to the area of the injury. Some foods accelerate healing and have anti-inflammatory proprieties. Avoid foods that promote inflammation such as eggplant, fried foods, cayenne, processed white flour, potatoes, tomatoes, and hot peppers.

Consume instead foods that can accelerate the healing of your injury, such as fresh juice made from raw, fresh and organic vegetables, fresh ginger, foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, radishes, garlic, and beets. These foods are high in important nutrients that accelerate healing: manganese, zinc, silica, calcium, multivitamin, glucosamine sulfate, essential fatty acids, and BCAA’s.

Deep Tissue Massage

Professional massage for athletes includes the deep tissue massage therapy that is proved to relieve severe muscle tension, decrease pain and accelerate healing of the injured area. This form of massage treatment is recommended to athletes dealing with injury, people involved in accidents, and those who experience consistent pain.

Deep tissue massage therapy can accelerate healing in personal injury recovery, sports injury recovery, chronic muscle pain relief, and car accident recovery.

Chiropractic Care

Injury Recovery ChiropracticThe Active Release Technique (ART) is used in chiropractic care for treating nerves, tendons, muscles, ligaments, and as soft tissue injuries. This chiropractic technique is a non-invasive hands-on therapy for professional and amateur athletes who need help with rapid injury recovery.

In fact many chiropractors are starting to adopt ART and other forms of treatment like acupuncture and massage. One of the Bloomington chiropractors at Bly-Hillman Chiropractic specializes in ART as supplemental therapy for injury relief. This is just one example of how chiropractic care is become more integrated.

Yoga, Stretching, & Mobility Exercises

After an injury is not recommended to cease all sports activity, but rather continue with yoga, mobility exercises, stretching, and easy “injury prevention” style workouts. This will help your muscles recover faster from an injury and prevent in the same time muscular atrophy that is a significant strength loss which can install after just three weeks of inactivity.

Epson Salts Compress with Heat

Heat promotes relaxation in tissues and muscles. Epsom salts baths and Epson salt compresses with heat can enhance relaxation, help decreasing muscle soreness, and displace the calcium ions that accumulate in muscle tissue during workouts. Epsom salts deliver magnesium sulfate, an active compound that work well for injury recovery.

Magnesium is a mineral essential for over 300 reactions in your body, including protein formation, muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve and cardiac function, and synthesis of ATP-based energy.

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5 Ways to Increase Soft Tissue Mobility & Range of Motion

Soft Tissue MobilityIf you regularly participate in some kind of sporting activity, then some form of soft tissue damage seems almost inevitable. Eventually, most people take a particularly hard knock, or land too hard on a knee or ankle, or just overstress their muscles for too long without allowing adequate rest periods for recovery.

Soft tissue damage can haunt you for years, causing near-constant pain that many athletes and sports enthusiasts just learn to ignore, or dull with painkillers. This does not need to be the way! With a bit of work, soft tissue damage can almost always be repaired. You can have your muscle mobility and full range of motion back! Here are five simple tips to help repair your soft tissue damage:

Get a professional sports massage

Many athletes are already using sports massages to remove built up lactic acid from their muscles. This greatly shortens recovery time, allowing athletes to go into their next event feeling fresh, and be able to push that little bit harder. The same principles can be used to help your soft tissue injuries. In the interest of full disclosure, I should warn you that this is going to hurt. A lot. But the positive effects of sports and deep tissue massage therapy will be more than worth the pain.

Massage yourself with specialized tools

This is the massage option, but without the massage price tag. You can pick up (or make yourself) purpose built foam rollers or balls. (I'm told that you can also just repurpose a lacrosse ball) There are plenty of videos on the internet detailing how to use these tools effectively to help combat the effects of soft tissue damage, so I'm not going to go into the specifics of how to do it here.

As with the massage option above, this option is going to hurt. The first time that you use a foam roller, you are going to think to yourself "This can't be right. Nothing that hurts this much could possibly be helping!" but you will be wrong. Stick with it, and you will find yourself pain-free in no time.

Stretch

One of the easiest ways to increase flexibility and range of motion in soft tissue is to stretch. This is different to the short, dynamic stretches that you perform before a workout or sports match. To permanently increase range of motion, a stretch should last as much as twenty minutes. This is something that you can do in your downtime.

If you're sitting around with the family in the evening watching a two hour movie, you should see that as an opportunity to perform six different stretches for increasing your flexibility. Again, the internet has already done a much better job of detailing which stretches are most effective that I could ever do here, so I won't try to cover it.

Try a Yin Yoga class

Yin Yoga has much of the same benefits of the stretching program above, except that Yin Yoga classes are taught by professionals who can critique your performance and offer tips for helping to restore your specific soft tissue injury. Yin Yoga is a slow moving yoga style, where each position is held for an extended period of time.

This is an ideal way to increase mobility and range of motion. Yin Yoga classes are available across most of North America and Europe, but if you live elsewhere, it is still worth searching for a local Yoga class.

Physiotherapy

When nothing else works, go to the professionals. Physiotherapists are highly trained in repair of soft tissue injuries, and they will design you a customized recovery program. It is very likely that they will want you to come back once a week or once a fortnight until you have made a full recovery from your injury. During these meetings, they will test your mobility levels, and adjust your recovery program accordingly.

With all of these options readily available, there is just no need for soft tissue injury to control your life anymore. Get your mobility back. Get pain free. There is no excuse not to!

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