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Yoga Insights

Yoga for Cardiovascular Health

Keeping the heart healthy is essential to living a long and active life. The heart works hard for us every day; its steady beat pumping blood through our arteries, bringing oxygen and nutrients to all the cells in our body. It’s common knowledge that a good diet and regular exercise are both key elements to keeping our cardiovascular system healthy. The American Heart Association recommends that we either exercise moderately for at least two and a half hours every week or exercise vigorously for 75 minutes per week. 

Practicing yoga asanas falls into both categories. Moderate exercise would be practicing the poses as I do on most of my TV shows and DVDs, holding the poses for a certain amount of time with short rests in between.  Even just half an hour every other day adds up to those two and a half hours. For a more vigorous asana practice you can do a fairly fast vinyasa session based on the movements of Salute to the Sun. 

When practicing Salute to the Sun, it’s always good to start with a few slow rounds to warm up your body and loosen tight muscles. As you feel your body getting warm and more pliable, you can move a little faster and stretch more deeply into the poses. Pay attention to your breath as you move through the sequence. Try to keep it even and smooth. This will enhance the effects of your practice. When practicing a slow version, you can breathe evenly as you hold each position, but when flowing faster, inhale or exhale just once for each step of the pose (you can see the instructions here).

Feel the tingly glow developing throughout your whole body as you continue to practice, a sure sign that you are giving your heart (and lungs) a good workout. One caution though. If you suffer from high blood pressure, consult your doctor to make sure that Salute to the Sun is suitable for you. 

 

Yoga Poses to Prevent and Relieve Headaches

When we’re stressed, our muscles tense up—especially in the neck, shoulders, face, and jaw. We often don’t even notice that it’s happening. This unconscious buildup of tension can lead to headaches.

It can arise for many reasons: working long hours, holding the head in an uncomfortable or unnatural position for long periods of time, exercising excessively, regularly carrying a backpack or heavy load, and so on.

Meditation/Relaxation for Weight Loss

You may be surprised to hear that in addition to practicing yoga asanas, yoga relaxation and Yoga Sound Meditation can also help you lose weight.

One reason is because these techniques are so effective at reducing stress. Studies show that stress is one of the main reasons people overeat. Stress may also cause the body to hold onto fat, making it harder to lose weight. So by using these yoga techniques to reduce your stress, you’ll be well on your way to dropping a few pounds (provided you still watch what you eat, of course).

Yoga Poses and Weight Loss

The best and healthiest way to lose weight is to watch what we eat and exercise regularly. Yoga asanas are a great form of exercise that can help you lose weight, though not necessarily in the way you might think.

While yoga asanas don’t burn as many calories as, say, running or cycling, they have many deeper effects on our body and mind that can lead to permanent changes, helping us to lose weight as well as to maintain our ideal weight.

Yoga Is Fun and Great for Kids

Kids have great imaginations and lots of energy and they love to play, so it’s not surprising that they enjoy doing yoga. Pretending to be dogs, cats, cobras, and camels is great fun, and they really enjoy the challenge of moving their bodies in new and different ways. This fun activity has lots of benefits.  For example, balancing poses not only develop children’s sense of balance, but also teach them to be still and to concentrate. They become more coordinated while cultivating strength, flexibility, endurance, and stamina.

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