39 Yoga Tips for Beginners

39 Yoga Tips for Beginners

yoga for beginnersYoga is no joke and even those who have been doing it for years admit how it can be daunting a practice. And so, if you are one of those who have bravely decided to take on the challenge, then it is important to arm yourself with the right knowledge to see it through. Imagine yourself finally joining a yoga class for the first time and how confident you can be instead of feeling shy or afraid to do it. You can avoid the common mistakes beginners make due to lack of preparation. These pointers are certainly going to help you enjoy every yoga session you attend while maximizing the benefits the practice can give you.

1. Meditate with intent
Yoga won’t be complete without meditation so start your practice with one. Sit in your most comfortable position or do an easy pose and get into meditation mode for a few minutes. This will help you to focus as well as begin with your purpose in mind based on whatever goals you may have for your practice.

2. Learn how to breathe properly
Proper breathing is one of the most essential things that you have to learn in yoga to be able to execute and hold the various poses. It is important to breathe in and breathe out from the nose then into the belly. One of the basics is the Dirga pranayama breath.

3. Practice from within
When you are new at something, it seems easier to just look at how others or how your teacher would do it. However, this may result to you getting awkward with your poses or not doing it properly. So feel your body and practice yoga from within because it is really an intimate encounter with yourself. Deepen your self-awareness and let yoga build you from within.

4. Safety first
Yoga does not discriminate and anybody at any age can benefit from it. However, you must make sure that you are safe to practice it before you proceed. In general, you have to be free from any injury or ailment that might complicate it if you make it a part of your routine. In this case, a medical clearance from your healthcare professional must be sought. There are also contraindications specific to a posture that you have to pay attention to. The most common ones are high blood pressure, pregnancy, menstruation, and injuries in your neck, shoulders, and knees.

5. Keep a practice journal
You will learn a lot of things along the way and you might want to take down notes so you can come back to them at any time. Record your realizations, insights, observations, thoughts, new terms learned, curious questions and a list of postures that you already know or the ones that you need to work on.

6. Practice at home
Establishing a home practice gives you numerous advantages. It lets you practice at your own pace and at your most convenient time. It also makes you comfortable outside of the yoga “classroom” so you can adjust to any environment when you need to travel or stay some place else. Most of the time, classes can be so fast-moving that you will not be able to align your body properly as you try to catch up. This is a habit that you do not want to build so practice at home and be as flawless as you can be when you are back in class.

7. Unleash your creative side
It will help you a lot if you utilize that creative side of you when you start practicing yoga. With all the different poses that you have to go through, making stick drawings or any kind of visual will make you remember them with accuracy and execute them better. They do not have to be amazing works of art but the tip is to make use of visuals like drawings or digital photos to help you master your practice easily.

8. Get a yoga mat
A sticky yoga mat is a must-have for all yoga enthusiasts whether a beginner or not. Choose the one which can provide adequate padding and a non-slip surface. To start, classic yoga mats are good enough but as you go along, you will need a thicker mat. A sticky mat will help you achieve firm footing and stability in your poses.

9. Learn the principles of alignment
The principles of alignment are like the foundations of a building. When the footings are shaky, then it is likely to crash down. The emphasis of yoga and its various styles is in musculoskeletal alignment as this is key to your safety – avoiding injury, as well as your ability to capitalize on the benefits of the asana. So take the alignment principles to heart and build a solid foundation with strong lines.

10. Bring joy into your practice
Like any other seemingly difficult feat, beginning your yoga practice with a smile can really lighten the load and help take you through the challenge. A smile can relax the body as well as your mind, and makes you enjoy the asanas more than anything. When you do it with cheerfulness and calmness, it gives you the extra energy to push your body to the limits and stretch it like it’s the most enjoyable thing in the world.

11. Check out some yoga props
Props are meant to ease your way through yoga when you are just starting – make you feel comfortable as you work on improving your alignment. Yoga blocks help stabilize your standing poses. Yoga straps allow you to stretch further when you are doing seated poses or bound poses. Bolsters or blankets facilitate restorative poses. You can choose to get them for home practice but in the yoga studios, they have stacks of these props for use during classes.

12. Include relaxation with your postures
You will find that your typical yoga class will emphasize heavily on the asana practice and the relaxation aspect would sometimes take a backseat. As a newbie however, it is important that you take time to relax, meditate, recover, and feel better. This will help you achieve that essential balance between physical health and mental well-being.

13. Don’t forget to warm up
Before you hit your mat, remember to warm up. Gentle exercises such as the Sukshma Vyayam will loosen you up and prepare you for the asanas up ahead. You can give your cheeks, nose, brows, and head a good massage. Then, turn your neck clockwise and counterclockwise to relieve stiffness. Finally, pump those shoulders and shake your hands off to wake up the body.

14. Take it step by step but go beyond your limits
Yoga is a pretty dynamic practice and the best thing about it is that it gives you plenty of room to improve and reach your highest potential. So yes, you do what is comfortable for you but as you become more confident, you can opt to stretch a bit further and challenge your limitations. You will know when your body is still okay with what you are doing when your breathing remains light, long, and relaxed. However, when it starts getting uneven, then you might have over-exerted already, so just slowly tone down your pace. In any way, make your practice as challenging as you can because there’s still a good number of yoga asanas you can explore.

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15. Allow a qualified instructor to guide you
Certainly, you are not going to proceed without a qualified teacher to lead you to the right path. Your teacher will guide in doing each technique correctly, learn the postures properly, and be from injuries along the way. Keep an open mind because those yoga philosophies will not only enhance your experience, but improve the way you live your life as a whole.

16. Kickoff with beginners level postures
It is but right that you start with the basic postures first so you can build a solid foundation and climb your way up with confidence. Do not attempt any yoga pose because it looks complicated and doing it will make you look impressive. Begin with some warm-up sequences and proceed with simple postures such as a forward bend, seated twist, triangle, cat, mountain, dog, cobra, child, and downward-facing dog. Once you are well-adjusted with these poses, then you earn the right to get into the advanced level.

17. Let it do its work
In the process of you getting to know yoga, you might reach that point where you will want to do it your way or feel like doing something else. While this is a natural tendency, it would be best not to give in and just allow the practice to do its work on you. Instead of trying too hard, try to let the posture, breathing exercise, or meditation, work as it is because it will allow you to receive maximal benefits this way.

18. Inform your instructor
If there is anything that is restricted of you due to a medical condition, inform your teacher about it before the yoga class begins. In this manner, he or she can take note of the things that you can and cannot do. It would be easy for him or her to customize your practice with consideration on your safety.

19. Don’t eat or drink before your practice
Considering the poses you have to do during a yoga session, you are advised not to eat or drink beforehand. This is especially true when the session will include practicing inversions. So make it a habit to eat way before your class starts at around 1-3 hours before, and drink small amounts of liquid only. During the practice, it is advisable to refrain from drinking water.

20. Gear up
What to wear on your first day? The principle to yoga clothing is to wear something loose or comfortable so as not to restrict movement or make you feel too shy to stretch out when some body parts get exposed with your movements. Stretchable clothing is recommended in this case and you can check out dozens of manufacturers that specialize in yoga-suited clothes. You can also opt for what you already have in your closet that’s great for any exercise such as unitards or tights.

21. Create a yoga corner in your home
For your home practice, it is highly suggested that you allot a special area just for your yoga sessions. In this way, it will motivate you during those times when feel sluggish or lazy. Put your mat in there, together with some props in one place, and probably some inspiring posters – anything to make the area look serene and inviting enough for you, right in the comforts of your home.

22. Try stepping back
If you are one of those who would typically sit in front of your academic class, try a different strategy in your yoga class. Step backwards, go to the back of the room, and be a good observer instead of an active, competitive, front-row student. You might find that moving away from where the action is will help you focus and internalize the practice better.

23. Choose doable postures
You would want to take it easy while you are just starting so it would be good to choose postures that seem doable at first glance. With this, you can go for floor-bound postures first over standing postures that will require greater strength or balance from you. Also do postures that have longer hold times in terms of breaths because it would mean that they would be easier to execute.

24. Don’t hesitate to ask
The perfect time to unleash your inquisitive tendencies is during your yoga classes. Don’t be shy to ask questions especially when something is not clear to you. Your yoga teacher is sure to welcome them and not consider it a distraction. Direct questions about specific postures to your instructor. Meanwhile, the whole class would be more than willing to chip in their own insights as more experienced students. Otherwise, you may ask questions after the yoga session.

25. Be early to bed
You will notice later on that yoga enthusiasts would typically sleep on time or early because they want to meditate and enjoy a long asana to help them start the day. It might take giving up or toning down on some of those late-night actions that you are used but it will be worth it. So if you are not a morning person, give yourself time to adjust and allow the practice to do its wonders on you.

26. Focus on yourself
In a class of 15 or so, it would be easy to get a bit jealous with how others seem to be able to do it competently and confidently. You can get lost in how your classmates in the yoga class execute poses like its nothing. However, it would be more beneficial for you to focus on your own pacing and development rather than comparing yourself to others. Remember that you are as unique as every yoga asana there is. No need to feel pressured when you are not as fast or as good especially when you are just beginning your journey. Focus on yourself and one day, you will be surprised at how good you have become.

27. Check your pain tolerance
It is expected that you will feel some some soreness in the first few days of your practice especially in the muscles. This is something you need not get alarmed about and as the days go by, your body will be able to adjust and not feel that much pain anymore. As long as you keep to your practice and make it an important part of your routine, then your body will get used to it. However, if it is that kind of pain that persists, it is time to let your instructor know about it so together you can determine if it is something else and you need to do something about it.

28. Never give up
Preferably, yoga asanas are to be practiced in the morning, as early as you can. But if you are not a morning person, then you can definitely choose to do it later in the day. What’s more important is the consistency of your practice, that you never give up until you become a regular yogi – no excuses whatsoever.

29. Select your yoga type
There are tons of yoga classes out there and you need to do some research to pick the one that is just right for you in terms of your pacing, personality, ability to learn, and physical state. Take a look at different yoga styles and get to know them a bit. For beginners, vinyasa or ahatha class is recommended with consideration on whether you prefer it to be fast or slow-paced. This will be good to start and you can simply move on to something more fancy later.

30. Make your practice distinctive
Make your yoga practice a seriously fun business by making distinct definitions. Explore various techniques and pick the ones you would like to focus on. Then, balance it with proper breathing, meditation, and your asana practices. Get into the details such as the order of your routines, the poses you need to prepare for, as well as the methods you’re using. For anything, you can ask your yoga teacher or classmates for help.

31. Make the necessary adjustments
The postures you see in pictures or with your yoga instructor is your goal, or the direction that you are supposed to take. However, these are not strict or inflexible standards because you can actually modify them to fit your bodily dynamics and uniqueness as an individual. So go ahead and experiment on different positions and align them with your body’s mechanics to make them work for you.

32. Gather relevant yoga resources
To have the best practice, you have to have all the knowledge and skills right at your fingertips. You can collect books, videos, audio records, or CDs that will help increase your knowledge base and help you internalize your practice and meditation. Get them from different sources and levels of practice so that you can explore different perspectives. Manual-style, inspirational, or yoga philosophical books are highly recommended together with basic anatomy workbooks.

33. Cool down
After an intense yoga workout, take time to cool down with a Yoga Nidra as this is as essential as the workout itself. Sometimes, you can have so much to do in a day, that you would tend to just get up and go immediately after your asana practice. However, you need to cool the body down first so the energy can get consolidated inside of you. Just lie down and savor the Yoga Nidra even for a few minutes, relax your body and mind, and let the energy flow through you. Now, you are recharged and ready to face your big day!

34. Find a yoga class to your liking
Check out resources on the Internet and see what yoga classes are offering in your locality. Your local newspapers or online magazines can direct you to a listing of wellness studios or gyms which conduct regular classes. The one nearest you can be motivating to go to but make sure that you get into a beginner’s level class with a teacher who can understand your needs and is very helpful with your practice.

35. Practice frequently
It is certainly preferable to practice more times in a week even if they are short, than to do it longer and less frequently as it will yield better results. Your practice can be 15-90 minutes each day or at least thrice in a week. You have to make it fit into your schedule as much as you can if you consider it an important aspect of your overall well-being.

36. Learn some Sanskrit
If you are into languages, it would do you great to learn some Sanskrit and be able to sound it off. It is actually an elegant and orderly language and has been used in yoga for thousands of years. Many of the mantras used for meditation is associated with Sanskrit as well so it will help you pronounce the words accurately and maximize its effects.

37. Steady and intense
As a newbie, you can start slowly and gradually work your way up, then increase the level of your intensity. When you are ready, you can take up the challenge and be as vigorous as you can, as long as you already have mastered the alignment of each posture. There are different ways to intensify your practice and one is to hold the postures longer and in longer time periods. Another one is to try more advanced postures or be able to move between varied postures quickly.

38. Keep a positive and open mind set
You are a human being and even in yoga, you can commit mistakes. Try to stay positive when your teacher would give you corrections to your postures. Remember that it is only for your own good and interest that he or she is doing it. This is one of the best ways by which you can learn. Keep a good sense of humor in this beginning stage, smile when you make a mistake, and just enjoy every moment of it.

39. Take a breathing break
It’s not all work as they say so take breathing breaks in between. This is a powerful antidote against stress especially when you make use of them on a regular basis. When you are feeling exhausted or extremely busy, take a moment to count your breaths and relax the tension away – close your eyes if you have to. Do this for at least 5 minutes, twice daily and find yourself feeling recharged by this meditation-like practice.

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28 Fundamental Yoga Poses and Benefits

28 Fundamental Yoga Poses and Benefits

yoga benefits

At first glance, it may look like a yoga practice is a simple relaxing exercise. But deep down, it is actually very serious in giving you the health benefits you deserve. Yoga is an ancient practice that has become a huge hit from your next-door buddies to the hottest celebs in the recent years. All these for great reasons because it brings you better sleep, less stress, a slimmer body, and a sound mind.

So before you get excited about striking a pose or asana, in yoga lingo, it is but right to familiarize yourself with the different poses. In this way, when your yoga teacher calls out “trikonasana” or “utkatasana” in Sanskrit language, you already have a clear picture in your mind as to which one it is. Whether an experienced practitioner or a newbie, this guide will help you through the basic poses in any open-level yoga class.

Basic Yoga Poses

1. Chair or Utkatasana

yoga chair poseWhen you do the Utkatasana, you are certain to feel the burn as it is considered a heating standing pose. It is meant to strengthen you starting from your shoulders, to your upper back, and your legs.

Begin by standing with your feet together, grounded on the floor. Raise your arms and reach as far as you can with your fingers. And then sit down as if there is an invisible chair you are sitting on. Lengthen your torso and shift the weight towards your heels.

2. Puppy Dog on Chair or Modified Downward-Facing-Dog

Puppy Dog is a modified version of the Downward-facing-dog that makes way for beginners. It has the same benefits as the original pose as it opens the shoulders, stretches the hamstrings, and lengthens the spine – withoutyoga puppy dog pose too much weight on the upper body.

To strike the pose, face the back of any chair and place your hands on the back rest. Your palms should be at a shoulder distance apart. Step back until your feet is aligned with your hips like a right angle with your spine parallel to the floor. Keep your feet grounded and lift your body using your thighs. Lengthen your torso as you stretch your hands away from your hips. With your outer arms firmly on the chair, look down and lengthen your neck.

3. Mountain or Tadasana

yoga mountain poseWith yoga, any pose is not as simple as it looks especially when it comes to the benefits. Tadasana in particular will make you look like you are just standing, but you are actually not. This mountain pose is like the basic pattern for all the other poses. It boosts your balance and makes you focus on the present.

With your feet together, stand up and ground your feet evenly on the floor. Lift your head and thighs then lengthen all 4 sides of your waist to elongate your spine. Just breath easy and focus your attention in the moment.

4. Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog is very calming for the whole body as with this pose, your head gets situated below your heart. Not only that, your hamstrings also get stretched out while your shoulders are opened and your spine is lengthened. The benefits of Downward-facing dog is said to be for the whole body, from your head to your toes. Because it is a strengthening and stretching asana, you will feel its effects on your hands, shoulders, arms, calves,yoga downward dog back, hamstrings, and feet. It especially strengthens those small stabilizing muscles in your feet that allows you to instantly react to a change of terrain, effectively shift your weight, and protects you from injury. At the same time, it promotes that essential balance between your mind and body.

Just like a dog on all fours, walk your hands at least a palm away in front of you. Lift your hips and back up to elongate your spine while tucking your toes. If this is too much to start, you can bend your knees slightly to bring some of the weight to your legs. Press your hands on the mat and firm up your outer arms. Try to reach your upper thighs towards the back, lengthening them as far as you can.

5. Bound Angle or Baddha Konasana

yoga bound angle poseThe Bound Angle pose is the best way to give those inner thighs as well as groins that much needed stretch. The forward bend likewise gives you a cooling and calming effect.

As you sit on your mat, bend your knees and then open them wide. Allow the soles of your feet to join together and make sure that you sit upright. If you can’t open your knees widely just yet, you can prop some blankets and sit on them to help your inner thighs achieve that flexibility first. Then, put your fingertips behind you on the floor while lengthening your spine. One variation is to hold onto your ankles instead of putting your fingertips behind you. With this, you can hinge your hips forward.

6. Triangle or Trikonasana

yoga triangle poseAt first, the triangle pose can be challenging especially for those who are not that flexible. But if you keep doing it, you will notice that it becomes easier over time and your inner thighs and hamstrings get that proper stretch. It will create that feeling of expansion, a wider reach, and promote balance in the body.

To do this pose, you have to stand with your feed wide apart. One toe should be slightly in, say your left toes, while your right toes point to the other side directly – rotating your right thigh open. Both legs should be kept straight and your feet should be grounded on your mat. Then, pull up your thighs, roll the front thighs open and you can hinge by your front hip. Spread your arms widely at shoulder height. As you do so, ensure that your spine is lengthened towards your front foot and then you can release the bottom palm to your front ankle.

7. Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II

yoga warrior 2A warrior pose in yoga does not imply war in as much as it works to enhance your stamina. This standing pose is still very much Zen with the calmness and serenity of mind that it brings. When you strike the pose you will know why it is called the warrior and you will notice how it strengthens your ankles and legs.

In standing position, open your feet wide apart by at least 3.5-4 feet. Slightly turn your left foot in while turning out your right to the side by 90 degrees. Line up your front heels with your back foot’s arch. Then, bend your front knee in a 90 degree angle. To protect your knee joints, track your knee with your second toe. Give your back leg a good stretch and ground down with your back foot. Reach out with your arms at shoulder height then put your shoulder blades down. With palms wide, gaze over your front fingers.

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8. Tree or Vrksasana

Yes, you are right. You are trying to mimic a tree with this particular pose and it can get really interesting. The treeyoga tree pose pose is going to help with your balance as well as train you to concentrate properly. Physically, it will strengthen the arches of your feel and your outer hips.

Starting with the mountain pose, bend one of your knees by using your hands to bring your foot into your inner upper thigh. One alternative, if this is difficult, is to bring your foot below your knee instead of your inner thighs. Should balancing be a problem, you can stand against the wall for support. While pressing in to your standing foot, lengthen your body up all the way to your head with your arms raised straight upward.

9. Bridge or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

bridge pose yogaThe bridge is a great pose for opening your chest and stretching your spine and neck. It aims to lower your anxiety levels, relax the mind, give you energy, and improve digestion.

Lie face up on the floor and bend your knees. Flatten your feet on your mat and keep them parallel at hip-width apart. Put your arms on your sides and push your heels under your knees. Roll your upper arms open and expand your chest. While grounding on your upper outer arms and rooting down with your heels, lift your hips off the mat. Adjust your shoulders until you are able to entwine your fingers together from underneath.

10. Corpse or Savasana

This may seem like the simplest of the poses, but it is a must in any yoga class – mostly at the end of a session. Acorpse yoga pose savasana is the most relaxing way to allow your body to absorb all the goodness the practice has to offer.

The corpse requires you to lie face up on your mat and separate your legs, splaying your feet freely apart. Your arms also relax along the sides with your palms facing upwards. Enjoy the bodily sensations that yoga makes you feel with your eyes closed.

Intermediate Poses

1. Intense Side Stretch or Parsvottanasana

yoga intense side stretchThe Parsvottanasana is indeed intense in giving you calmness of mind along with a good stretch for your wrists, shoulders, spine, hamstrings, and hips.

In mountain pose, step back with your left foot, flat on your mat at a 45 degree angle. Ground both feet and then lift your thighs up while lifting your arms to shoulder height. Then, turn your arms slightly in with palms adjoined until it touches your upper back from behind. In case your shoulders are still tight, you can simply put your hands on your hips or grab both your elbows from behind. Now, you can hinge forward using your hips and then lengthen your spine over your front legs. While doing this, make sure to lift your shoulders off the floor so you can spread your chest widely.

2. Plank

yoga plank poseThe Plank gives you that fundamental core strengthening as the pose toughens your abdominals. It is likewise considered one best move for boosting your stability.

Start this pose in a downward-facing dog then shift your weight forward so that your shoulders are in line with your wrists. Tuck your toes and press your heels back while lengthening your head forward. Ground your hands down, pull your body up using your arms, and spread your collarbones away from your sternum. Lift your front body up and allow it to support the plank pose.

3. Chaturanga Dandasana

yoga chaturangaMost of the time, your vinyasa session will start with or include a sun salutation and the Chaturanga is one of its main parts. Like the plank pose, it promotes the stability and strengthening of your core and abdominals as well as your triceps.

From the Plank position, shift slightly forward and bend your elbows in a 90 degree angle – your upper arms should be parallel to the floor. Ground your palms on the floor and spread your collarbones widely. Next, lift your shoulders away from your mat while pulling your front ribs into your spine. Then, lift your upper thighs in the direction of the ceiling as you try to reach your tailbone towards your heels. Steady your gaze forward.

4. Warrior I or Virabhadrasana I

The Warrior, as an energizing pose, boosts the strength of your back muscles, arms, and legs. You are giving youryoga warrior 1 neck, chest, shoulders, ankles, and thighs that nice healthful stretch.

Starting with a downward-facing dog, step forward and turn your back foot in a 45 degree angle. Ground with your back foot and line up your heels a bit widely. Bend your front knees over your front ankles as you give your back legs a good stretch. As you inhale, lift your torso and your arms up towards the ceiling.

5. Upward Facing Dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

yoga upward facing dog poseUpward-facing Dog typically appears in a sun salutation, specifically after the chaturanga. It is meant to open up your shoulders and chest as well as give your hip flexors and abs that much-needed stretch.

On your mat, lie face down and bend your elbows while placing your hands on the floor to make it in line with your lower ribs. Reach back with your legs and pull forward. Together, lift your knees and thighs away from the mat and with your chest spread out, lift your breastbone up.

6. Half Moon or Ardha Chandrasana

Yoga is mostly about enhancing your concentration and balancing abilities and these are what’s being developedyoga half moon through the Half Moon. You gradually achieve balance with every pose as you strengthen your outer hips and your legs as well as stretch out your inner thighs and hamstrings.

You start a Half Moon with a Triangle pose. Bend your front knees and track them using your second toes. Step your back foot in then walk your hands for about 12-inches in front of you. Line up your thumb with one of your pinky toe. While shifting the weight towards your front foot, lift off your back foot from the floor. Reack back at your legs then raise your arm upwards. As a balancing act, you can move your chest towards the ceiling and gaze at your hand.

7. Revolved Triangle or Parivrtta Trikonasana

yoga revolved triangleThe twists and turns of your yoga practice is going to be very apparent in the Revolved Triangle. The twist is going to give your spine a healthy swig as you engage your abdominal obliques to help you execute the twist. This is also a balancing pose that stretches your outer hips and hamstrings.

Beginning in Mountain position, step back using your left foot and place it flatly on your mat at a 45-degree angle. Line up your heels together or give it a bit of space for stability. Ground both of your feet and lift your body up using your thighs. Then, hinge forward with your hips and lengthen your spine over your front thigh. Put a block on the outer or inside of your front foot and release your left hand. Rotate your body towards the right and stretch your right arm upwards.

8. Dolphin

This particular intermediate pose will prepare you for the more advanced forearm-stand and headstand. Theyoga dolphin Dolphin does this by building the strength of your upper body. Likewise, it provides you with serenity of the mind and a relief from stress.

On your mat, come on your forearms and keep your elbows at a shoulder-width distance. Tuck your toes then lift your knees off the mat and hold your hips and back up. Just allow your head to hang-off the floor while you ground your forearms and lift your shoulders up.

9. Bow or Dhanurasana

yoga bow poseThe benefits of the Bow to your overall well being is as interesting as the pose itself. This is the kind of back bend that stretches the front of your body including the chest and shoulders. As you do it, you are also giving your abdominal organs a soothing massage.

Face down, lie on your mat and lift your arms, legs, and chest off the floor. Bend your knees toward your back and reach for your outer ankles. Your toes should be lifted towards the ceiling while you spin your inner thighs upwards. Lengthen your tailbone towards the direction of the back of your knees. Spread your chest while lifting it up.

10. Camel or Ustrasana

The Camel is a great way to have a full stretch for the front section of your body, starting from your throat, thorax,yoga camel pose abdomen, and down to your ankles. The pose also strengthens your back muscles.

Kneel down and position your shins a hip-distance apart. Put your palms on the sacrum and point your fingers down. Press your knees down and lengthen your spine. Then, press your hips forward, squeeze in your buttocks and thighs to support your weight and bend backwards. As you do so, slowly and carefully reach for your heels and drop your head back if you feel confident and safe. Otherwise, you can simply place your hands on your sacrum. Hold on tightly and press your hips forward so that your chest can get lifted towards the ceiling.

11. Warrior III or Virabhadrasana III

yoga warior 3Warrior III is for better balance, memory, and posture. It is the pose to count on for strengthening your shoulders, outer hips, legs, ankles, and upper back. It invigorates and tones the entire body.

Start with your Warrior I pose and then hinge forward with your hips and give your abdomen a rest at your front thigh while you place your arms alongside your ears. Step with one foot and put your weight on this leg and interlace your fingers with the index finger pointing upwards. Lift your other leg and lower your torso and arms towards the floor. Do the same for the other side.

12. Boat or Navasana

The boat pose will benefit your hip flexors and abdominal muscles as it strengthens them. It will allow the backs ofyoga boat pose your legs a good stretch. It also works to improve your confidence and sense of balance.

To execute the pose, sit on your mat and bend your knees to bring your feet flat on the floor while pulling your legs together. Slide your hands behind the hips, point your fingers forward, and bend your elbows away from you. Lean back and lift your heels 1-2 inches off the floor. Draw your shoulder blades together and open your chest. Gradually straighten your legs to lift it up as high as you can. If you can handle it, release your arms, make it parallel with the floor with your palms down.

Advanced Yoga Poses

1. Wheel or Urdhva Dhanurasana

yoga wheel poseThe wheel is meant to open up the whole front of your body. Muscle strengthening will be significant in your shoulders, back, and hamstrings.

To do the Wheel, you need to lie face up with your feet flat on your mat and with your knees bent. Next, position your feet parallel to each other at hip-distance apart and your heels under your knees. Then bring your hands to the mat and frame your ears while your fingers face your toes. Press down on your hands and feet as you lift your chest and hips off the floor. Straighten your arms and lift using your shoulders. Allow your inner thighs to face downward to the floor as you work on lengthening your tailbone towards your knees’ backs. To recover from the pose, bend your arms and look toward the ceiling and gradually lower your upper back down on your mat.

2. Wall-Assisted Forearm stand or Pincha Mayurasana

The Wall-Assisted Forearm stand is known as a deep shoulder-opener and prepares you for more advanced backyoga wall assissted forearm stand bends with every practice. Since it is an inversion, it will also help in improving your circulation.

Facing the wall, start by positioning yourself in all fours. Place your elbows on your mat and position your forearms parallel to one another at shoulder-with distance. Then, tuck your toes, lift your knees, and reach your hips and back up as in the dolphin pose. Spread your chest and focus your gaze on your mat between your forearms. Next, work your legs and step 1 foot in for a few inches closer as you lift your other leg like in Warrior III. Bring your feet up to the wall by bending your bottom knees and hopping off your feet. Give your inner thighs a good squeeze and turn up your heels toward the ceiling.

3. Headstand or Sirsasana

You have probably dreamt about finally doing this pose but you will need to consult with your doctor if it’s safe foryoga head stand you to execute it. This is especially true if you medical issues or neck injuries. Once that is done, make sure that you have a trusted instructor to watch over and support you while attempting at it for the first time. When all is well, then you can certainly proceed with the Headstand and benefit from the strengthening of your arms, shoulders, and upper back. As an advanced inversion, it will also have a positive impact on your endocrine, lymphatic, and circulatory systems.

To start, face the wall on all fours. Interlace your fingers with your knuckles all facing the wall. Put your elbows on your mat and place them parallel to each other at shoulder-width distance. Tuck your toes under then lift your knees off the floor as you try and bring your hips up and back. Press your forearms down and lift with your shoulders. Next, move your back towards your chest and walk your feet closer to spread your collarbones widely. Position your head on the mat as you keep pressing with your forearms, concentrating all your weight there, and lifting with your shoulders. With careful control, draw your knees to your chest and put your feet against the wall while simultaneously sliding your heels up.

4. Wall-Assisted Handstand or Adho Mukha Vrksasana

yoga hand standAdho Mukha Vrksasana is another inversion for advance yoga practice that is meant to give you energy, calm, confidence, stability, body control, and a sense of balance. With each practice, you will strengthen your wrists, arms, and shoulders.

Pose in Downward-facing Dog as you face the wall and put your hands at least 1 palm-print away. Step your foot in for a few inches as you lift your other leg to the air just like in Warrior III. Steady your gaze towards the wall and bend your knees while hopping off your foot to bring both your feet to the wall. Put your legs together and direct your heels toward the ceiling.

5. Shoulder stand or Salamba Sarvangasana

The Shoulder stand is very beneficial to multiple systems in your body including the circulation of your lymph andyoga shoulder stand blood. Likewise, it stimulates the thyroid and promotes a strong immune system. Typically, it is done at the end of a session for its energetic and cooling effect. Before you try to do it however, make sure that you do not have any chronic or recent injury in the neck, back, or shoulders. This is also not advisable for those with menstruation, high blood pressure, or during the first trimester of your pregnancy. It is best to get a clearance from your doctor before you give it a try.

Lie on your back with your arms alongside your body and your palms down. Bend your knees, then lift your legs up and rock it down and up until the bent knees are on your forehead while you place your hands under your hips. Cup your hips and lift your legs up then straighten over your head. Support your body weight using your arms and shoulders only.

6. Crow or Bakasana

yoga crow poseThe Crow will require serious strength from you but with constant practice, it will build the power of your hip flexors, arms, wrists, and core.

On your mat, get on a deep squat with your feet together and your knees wide apart. Flatten your hands on the mat at shoulder-width distance and spread your fingers widely. While keeping your hands and feet in the same position, lift your hips up towards the sky while bending your knees and lifting your heels off the mat. Press your knees in gently towards the back of your triceps then shift your weight to your fingertips. One at a time, pick one foot off the floor. You can bend your elbows if you feel the need. Using your core strength, draw your navel in towards your spine to help you stabilize and to center the lift to your core and allow you to straighten your elbows and hold the pose.

–If you would like to try some yoga a great place to get started is with our 3 Week Yoga Retreat which can be accessed with Beachbody On Demand. You will also have access to a ton of other yoga workouts and workouts like P90X, P90X2, P90X3, Insanity, T25, Brazil Butt Lift, TurboFire and man many others.–

3 Week Yoga Retreat

35 Scientific Benefits of Yoga for your Health

35 Scientific Benefits of Yoga for your Health

yoga pose

Fervent practitioners have experienced firsthand how yoga has made their lives better. It goes beyond the physical because practicing yoga makes you want to maintain that healthy lifestyle as a whole. Meanwhile, the health benefits it brings can really transform you from the inside out. You will not only feel good but you will have that extra energy to do most of the things you love as well as sleep better, feel relaxed, and get sick less. The best thing about this practice is that it is backed by science so you are assured that you are doing the right thing. Here is how yoga works to rebuild your body:

1. Improved flexibility

One of the primary benefits of yoga is improved flexibility. It is the most obvious one you will notice as you keep coming to class, trying to reach for your toes or doing a back bend. Over time, you will realize that both feats will come naturally as your body starts to loosen up and your flexibility improves. Those seemingly difficult poses that you see with long-time practitioners will not be that impossible any more. As you stay consistent with your exercise, you will experience less of the aches and pains, giving way to more flexibility in your connective tissues and muscles. Your thighs and shinbones will gradually be aligned again and you will not experience any strains on your knee joint any longer. You can also say goodbye to back pain as hamstrings loosen up and the lumbar spine become upright.

2. Happier disposition

There is one thing that all human beings strive for and that is the pursuit of happiness. Yoga is guaranteed to make you happier and this is backed by research. A study has confirmed how yoga can uplift you from depression and increase the serotonin levels or happy hormones in the brain. Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin observed a heightened activity in the meditators in the left prefrontal cortex which is associated with greater levels of happiness and improved immune function. Practice yoga longer and the results will be even more dramatic. Go ahead and enjoy sitting in Lotus, do your backbends, and strike a King Dancer Pose.

3. Muscle strength

Muscles serve to give the body that firm shape. But more than just good looks, they have important functions to fulfill and that is to protect you from conditions such as back pains and arthritis. They also give strength to the body and prevent falls and accidents from happening. The good thing about yoga is that muscle strength is balanced with flexibility. In this way, you do not just build the muscles but you become flexible enough to allow for strong and fluid movements. This is the kind of versatility that yoga can give you which going to the gym for weight lifting or strength training might not.

4. Renewed cartilage and joints

Often times, some areas of cartilage do not get used as needed. Consequently, they get neglected, wear out, and result to degenerative arthritis. All these can be prevented with yoga as you are able to take your joints through its full range of motion. When this happens, those neglected areas get to be squeezed and soaked up like a sponge. As the fluid is squeezed out, a new supply of fresh nutrients is received and soaks up the cartilage once more, preventing joint and cartilage breakdown.

5. Upright posture

A perfect posture does not only leave a good impression but serves to protect you from head to toe. Imagine a big and heavy bowling ball as your head and how the rest of your body is supposed to carry that weight and not experience any strain. The key to this balancing act is an erect spine that the practice of yoga helps you develop. In this way, your neck muscles as well as your back muscles don’t have to work too hard to support your head. Otherwise, they could get strained and make you feel easily tired or fatigued. And then, there goes the neck, back, muscles, and joint problems. Worst, it can result to a degenerative spinal osteoarthritis or arthritis of the spine. With yoga, you will be able to improve your posture and avoid the development of degenerative joint diseases.

6. Spinal health

In between the vertebrae are shock absorbers called spinal disks that crave for movement. This is actually their way of getting nutrients. To help your body in doing so, yoga lets you do a lot of forward and back bends as well as twists so that your spinal disks are kept supple. It does expand the range of motion of your spine and the rest of your body especially when you are able to maintain your regular yoga exercise. In this manner, the risks of spine injuries or chronic pain are significantly reduced. If your daily lifestyle includes hours sitting on a desk or lifting heavy baggage, yoga can compensate for that by allowing for agility, flexibility, and support against herniation of the vertebral discs.

7. Cardiovascular conditioning

Various studies have revealed that yoga lowers your resting heart rate. It also tends to increase endurance and improves one’s maximum oxygen uptake while exercising. On the other hand, it helps get the heart rate into its aerobic range and when done regularly, it actually reduces the risks of a heart attack while providing relief from depression. Apparently, not all yoga exercises are aerobic, but you can do them vigorously or make use of Ashtanga classes to boost it into the aerobic level. Fortunately, whether vigorous or not, yoga practice still improves your cardiovascular conditioning.

8. Hypertension remedy

If you are suffering from hypertension, yoga can help you drop that high blood pressure. As indicated in two studies published in a British medical journal called “The Lancet”, you can optimally benefit from yoga. The effects of Savasana or the Corpse Pose was compared with a typical lying on the couch for three months. The result was quite dramatic as Savasana showed significant drops in systolic and diastolic blood pressure at 26-point and 15-point respectively. And so if you want a solution to high blood pressure that won’t take so much from you, go yoga and go beyond just lying down.

9. Bone development

More than anything, yoga has a significant impact on bone health. In general, weight-bearing exercises strengthen the bones and prevent the development of osteoporosis. Postures like downward-facing dog and upward-facing dog are especially helpful in strengthening the bones in your arms that are often vulnerable to fractures. The advantage with yoga is that most of the postures require you to lift your own weight, making it as natural and as safe as possible. Moreover, in an unpublished research done at the California State University, it was found that the yoga routine helped increased bone density in crucial areas of the body such as the vertebrae. Finally, yoga helps in reducing the levels of cortisol or stress hormones in the system which in turn, facilitates calcium maintenance in the bones.

10. Increased blood circulation

Yoga promotes the continuous circulation of blood in the body by increasing the blood flow. It is so relaxing that blood keeps flowing in the hands and feet. It provides more oxygen for the cells to make it function better. Likewise, it boosts hemoglobin levels and red blood cells. The risk of strokes and heart attacks is substantially reduced as blood is thinned out and the levels of blood-promoting proteins are cut. Moreover, various poses have different beneficial effects. Twists are supposed to draw out venous blood in the internal organs so that oxygenated blood is allowed to flow with the release of each twist that you make. Meanwhile, inverted poses including handstands, headstands, and shoulderstands, serve to bring venous blood from the bottom of your body to the heart so it can be pumped to your lungs and be freshly oxygenated. This will remedy any swelling in the legs as well as kidney problems.

11. Immunity booster

You will enjoy yoga because you get to stretch and contract your muscles, move some organs around, and transition from one posture to the next. But aside from the fun and action, you get to increase the drainage of a viscous fluid called lymph that is abundant in immune cells. Because of this, the lymphatic system is more enabled to fight infection, put down cancerous cells, and throw away those toxic waste products from cellular functioning.

12. Regulation of adrenal glands

In an acute crisis situation, the adrenal glands is responsible for secreting cortisol to boost your immune function temporarily. However, if they are not regulated, they could remain in high levels after the crisis and in turn, put the immune system in trouble. So while the temporary boost is going to help with your long-term memory, the opposite becomes true and may even cause permanent brain changes when they continue to remain at chronically-high levels. Aside from this, excessive cortisol has also been associated with osteoporosis, major depression, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure. Fortunately for you, yoga can lower cortisol levels and regulate the adrenal glands so you won’t have to suffer from any of these.

13. Blood sugar control

The benefits of yoga works in two ways and that is to lower your blood sugar together with the “bad cholesterol” or LDL, while boosting the HDL or the “good cholesterol.” And so, for those with diabetes, a lowered blood sugar level would also mean reducing the risk of suffering from the complications including kidney failure, blindness, and heart attack. Fortunately, yoga practice has been associated with lowered blood sugar levels by reducing the adrenaline and cortisol levels and promoting weight loss. As you keep doing it, you will notice an improved sensitivity to insulin effects.

14. Improved concentration

Yoga is not only healthy for the body but also for the mind as it helps one focus on the present moment. With constant practice, various studies have confirmed how yoga can improve your memory, reaction time, coordination, and have a positive impact on your IQ test scores. Through transcendental meditation, your mind can get more focused and become less distracted by endless thoughts. Your problem solving abilities and acquisition or recall of information will get better over time as well.

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15. Healthier lifestyle

When you exercise, you tend to get more conscious about what you eat and how much because you don’t want to waste any of your efforts. With yoga, diet management becomes even more intense because while it helps you burn calories with all that movement, it is likewise supported by the spiritual and emotional dimension of the practice. In this way, it does not only help you deal with a weight problem on the surface level, but it helps you maintain a healthier lifestyle because in your mind and in your heart, you understand how beneficial that is for you.

16. Relaxation

The noise of the outside world can sometimes create a lot of stress within you. In the slow movement and the serenity of yoga, you are able to relax your system, slow your breath down, and just focus on what you are currently doing. As this is happening, you are actually helping your sympathetic nervous system to shift the balance to your parasympathetic nervous system. In this way, you are able to activate a relaxation response where your breathing and heart rate is lowered, blood pressure is decreased, and the blood flow to your reproductive organs and intestines is increased. Yoga is indeed calming and restorative.

17. Tension reliever

Without your knowing it, some unconscious habits ultimately lead to muscle fatigue, chronic tension, and soreness in different parts of your body such as your arms, neck, shoulders and face. You will notice this when you seem to have too tight a grip on the steering wheel or while holding your phone. This is really a manifestation of the tension that you are feeling inside which also negatively affects your mood and increases your stress levels. As you continue with your yoga practice however, the tension that you feel will gradually be minimized. You will be able to identify in which part of your body you are holding that tension and be able to release it.

18. Pain relief

Whatever pain you may be currently experiencing, you can count on yoga to help you ease them. Studies show that individually and as a combination, Asana and meditation, were able to help the subjects reduce pain associated with arthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, as well as other degenerative conditions. When these kinds of pain are relieved from your system, you are enabled to do the things that you were restrained to do before, become happier, and have less need for taking pain medications. Yoga is a liberating remedy at this point.

19. Proprioception and balance

Proprioception is your ability to have a feel of your body, what it is doing, and also where it is in terms of space. Regular yoga practice tends to increase this ability as well as improves your balance. Otherwise, poor proprioception means having dysfunctional movement patterns or unerect posture that eventually lead to back pains and knee problems. And so, if you are an elderly and you want to achieve more independence or prevent admission to nursing homes, yoga is the answer. At any age, yoga postures like the Tree Pose can help make you feel less unstable on the mat or off it.

20. Sound and deep sleep

When you have been deprived of deep sleep, the undesirable consequences reverberate all through the day or even the next day. Fortunately, yoga practice helps you to sleep soundly so you can have a respite from your busy, modern lifestyle. The key is to allow for the nervous system to have a downtime so it can restore itself. In yoga parlance, this refers to pratyahara or the turning inward of one’s senses achieved through asana, Savasana, meditation, and yoga nidra which is guided relaxation. With better sleep, you are bound to feel less tired or stressed out.

21. Lung care

Yoga is all about proper breathing and this is not just for perfect execution during the exercise. Taking fewer breaths but in greater volume is really more calming and efficient for the lungs. The Lancet published a study in 1998 which taught the yogic technique termed as “complete breathing.” The subjects of the study were individuals who suffered from lung problems in relation to a congestive heart failure. After a month of practicing yoga, a significant decrease in their average respiratory rate was exhibited from 13.4 breaths to 7.6 per minute. On the other hand, exercise capacity significantly increased together with their blood’s oxygen saturation. So definitely, yoga is meant to improve lung function such as maximum breath volume and exhalation efficiency. In those prone to asthma attack, the practice promotes breathing thru the nose to filter air, warm it up, and humidify it to remove the pollen and dirt.

22. Digestive health

Yoga promotes digestive health by preventing irritable bowel syndrome and other problems such as ulcers and constipation. This is made possible as yoga lowers your stress levels that otherwise worsen any digestive problem. Like any other physical exercise that entails making body movements, it eases constipation and theoretically lowers the risk of developing colon cancer by facilitating the speedy transport of food or waste products through the system. This is yet to be scientifically proven but, yogis assume twisting poses likewise facilitate this process.

23. Mental well-being

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra espouses that the practice does not only relax the body, but it can also give you that otherwise elusive peace of mind. What it does is appease the waverings of the mind so that the loops of anger, regret, frustration, desire, and fear may be slowed down and cause minimal stress. When stress levels are kept to a minimum, you are also able to avoid a string of health problems ranging from eczema, migraine, lupus, insomnia, MS, heart attack and high blood pressure. This goes on to say that learning how to achieve serenity of mind will help you live a healthier, longer life.

24. Enhanced nervous system

Yogis or some of those who practice advanced yoga are able to control their body in exceptional ways that are mediated via the nervous system. Scientists have been a witness to yogis who are able to induce peculiar heart rhythms and specifically generate brain wave patterns. With the use of a meditation technique, the same yogis can increase their hand’s temperature by fifteen degrees Fahrenheit. If they are able to utilize yoga in this way, it is likewise possible for you to maximize its benefits. For instance, you can use it to help you feel relaxed until you are able to sleep soundly or learn how to improve the flow of blood to your pelvis if you desire to get pregnant.

25. Healing through guided imagery

Yoga can be extraordinary and this is evident in yoga nidra as it allows you to effect desirable changes in your body just by contemplating an image of what you want to achieve in your mind’s eye. In this way, you are able to guide your body’s healing as demonstrated in numerours studies on how yoga was able to reduce postoperative pain and decrease the frequency of headaches through guided imagery. In people diagnosed with cancer or HIV, an improved quality of life became apparent.

26. Higher self-esteem

As mentioned earlier, yoga has ripple effects on one’s lifestyle as a whole. Life can be challenging indeed and if you choose to deal with it unproductively by taking drugs, overeating, sleeping around, or working too hard then eventually, it will take its toll on your self-esteem. Low self-esteem is bound to result from poor physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. So if you want higher self-esteem, choose to practice yoga consistently and see its motivational effects on the other aspects of your life. You will realize your value as a person or in yoga philosophy, that you’re a manifestation of what’s considered Divine. This is because aside from the physical exercise, it will allow you to examine your self deeply and work for your betterment. You will come to imbibe the values of forgiveness, gratitude, and empathy that will make you realize your important role and purpose in the bigger scale of things.

27. Immune system booster

Yoga has the capacity to boost the functionality of your immune system. Both pranayama and asana are likely to enhance immune function but meditation is one which has been supported by strong scientific evidence to boost your immune functionality. For instance, as necessary, antibody levels get raised to respond to a vaccine; or get lowered to mitigate an unsuitably aggressive immune function in relation to an autoimmune disease such as psoriasis. Consequently, yoga does have a highly-beneficial effect on your immune system’s efficient functioning.

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28. Strength from within

Yoga works from the inside out. Without you knowing it, it will give you the strength to transform from within and make better changes in your life in areas that has been a struggle for you to make all this time. What will fuel you from the inside is the “Tapas” or the heat in Sanskrit, that will fire you up to spread the benefits of the discipline to your whole self. You will be able to let go of dysfunctional habits and replace them with a healthier lifestyle of eating right and exercising more. You will not find solace in smoking or drinking anymore as a defense mechanism. Yoga will provide you the inner strength to become the best person you can ever become.

29.Teaching and guidance

Yoga instructors are no ordinary teachers – they are literally good for your health. And mind you, the more extraordinary ones go beyond just guiding you through the postures. They assist you through the practice in a personal manner, helping you adjust where they see fit, pushing you to your limits when they see potential, and helping you relax in their compassionate discipline. Your yoga teacher is your very own, faithful health partner.

30. More meaningful relationships

As you practice yoga over a period of time, you will also get to imbibe yogic philosophies that will improve your friendships and relationships. Yoga is all about developing friendliness, honesty, empathy, and equality, and these values are sure to benefit you when applied to your relationships. Healthier relationships with family, friends, and your immediate community will also mean emotional healing for you. The love that you give and receive will show in better moods, happier days, and a healthier lifestyle.

31. The power of chanting

The Yoga basics pranayama, asana, and meditation work for your health advantage, but there is more to that. It likewise involves chanting and makes use of that sound to give your sinuses a soothing relief. The Karolinska Institute of Sweden found in a recent study that humming sounds just like that from chanting Om actually open up the sinuses to facilitate drainage. Because of this, exhalation tends to get prolonged – shifting the balance towards your parasympathetic nervous system. Chanting in groups is even better as it gives you both a stimulating emotional and physical experience.

32. Drug-free lifestyle

Yoga helps you maintain a drug-free lifestyle where you do not depend too much on synthetic medications. So, if your medicine cabinet is starting to look like more of a pharmacy, this could be a sign for you to try yoga instead. Whatever it is that you are dealing with: high blood pressure, asthma, Type II Diabetes, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, yoga can help you minimize or completely free you of your dependence on medications to help you feel better. Give yoga a chance then save on money and avoid the side effects or the serious consequences of drug interactions.

33.Self-awareness

Yoga plus meditation combined opens up the world of self-awareness for you. Being aware means being able to check on some destructive emotions that you may be holding inside such as anger. Apparently, studies have shown that chronic hostility and anger are contributory to heart attacks in the same way that smoking, high cholesterol, and smoking does. To make sure you do not suffer from heart failure, regularize your yoga practice and reduce that anger by cultivating more of the positive emotions of interconnection and compassion. Being able to achieve calmness of mind will allow you to spare the drama and to stay strong in the midst of life’s challenges.

34. Protection from viruses and allergies

There is an element in yoga called Kriyas, in reference to cleansing practices. It includes rapid-breathing exercises and the more elaborate cleansing of the intestines. In this way, you will be able to keep viruses and allergies at bay. In particular, jala neti involves the gentle washing out of the nasal passages using salt water to remove viruses and pollen from the nose, prevent mucus build-up, and drain the sinuses.

35.Self-empowerment

In these numerous benefits that yoga gives you, they are all meant to empower your whole self. While conventional medicine is about being a passive recipient of care, yoga empowers you to bring healing to yourself. You simply have to make full use of the tools that are made available to you and you become the agent of your own transformation. From day 1 of your practice, you will already feel the impact of yoga to your whole being. And, the more you commit to doing it, the more that you will discover its powerful effects on you until you become self-empowered to heal yourself and be the best person you can ever become.

–If you would like to try some yoga a great place to get started is with our 3 Week Yoga Retreat which can be accessed with Beachbody On Demand. You will also have access to a ton of other yoga workouts and workouts like P90X, P90X2, P90X3, Insanity, T25, Brazil Butt Lift, TurboFire and man many others.–

3 Week Yoga Retreat

12 Benefits of Walking for Exercise

12 Benefits of Walking for Exercise

benefits of walkingFrom simple to complex, there are many forms of exercise that you can choose from. You can run, jog, lift weights, do aerobics, yoga, or even high intensity training. However, should you want to make it more doable and easier for you, then there is one exercise that you can succeed in pursuing and that is walking. Yes, walking is the simplest exercise that you can definitely do and naturally at that. Besides, walking is free. You do not have to pay for anything to join or register and this is the best part.

With the right program, walking is likewise known to help you shed the extra pounds or to maintain your ideal weight. What most people do not realize however is that, walking can bring a host of other benefits that you too can avail of. Here are 12 of the most significant ones:

  1. Brain booster

Whether young or old, walking boosts brain functions. Meanwhile, it is most helpful as people age. Walking as an exercise becomes more important with age because it tends to lessen the risks of brain disorders including dementia. Aging brings about deterioration in the whole body and the brain is likewise affected.

Walking however has the ability to reverse the signs of old age. Based on a study issued through the Annals of Neurology, it was discovered that those participants aged 55-88 years old who made an effort to meet the exercise guidelines established by the American Heart Association were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

If you are looking at improving your cognitive abilities though, then there is this one essential trick: Walk backwards. Yes, that’s right, walking in reverse was found in a Dutch study to have significant effects on the brain as it helped participants think more speedily while they were on their feet. Also, try to incorporate some brain-enhancing movements to your walking exercise as this intensifies the benefits that you will be getting. For instance, you can move in a determined pattern then couple it with coordinated movements of the arms.

  1. Bone strengthening

Walking is friendly to the bones. With every step, your bones strengthen and this reduces the risk of you developing osteoporosis. Specifically, walking exercises contribute to the strengthening of the hip bones. This was confirmed in a Nurses’ Health research in which the women participants who walked for at least 4 hours in a week’s time were found to have reduced their risks of suffering from hip fractures.

You can also do the more rigorous forms of exercising such as jumping, weight lifting or running but the benefits for your bones will actually be the same. And so if you would like to start light and easy, go for walking. It will not demand as much from you but it will strengthen your bones just the same. Besides, walking can be such a leisurely activity that it would be like hitting two birds with one stone. This is likewise highly recommended for those who have joint issues as this is a low-impact exercise that is safe for them.

  1. Mood enhancer

Like most physical activities, walking can also enhance your mood. It is perfect for those rough days when you have a lot of negative feelings bottled up inside. Walking it off can really help to let off steam. Stressful situations can really bring you down and walking can help lift your spirits up again. There have been a number of studies that have established the high correlation among improved mood, lowered stress levels, and walking as an exercise.

What would be best in this case is to take a nature walk. The great outdoors with its lush greenery can be very relaxing especially when it is spent with someone who is able to lend a helping hand or a listening ear. Walking alone can also be a meditative venture. Just make sure that you do so in safe areas or parks.

  1. Keep your circulation going

Walking is very heart-friendly. Most physical activities, including walking, actually does the heart a lot of good. In particular, it makes your body’s circulation run smoothly, enhancing it with every effort made. Because of this, it helps keep your blood pressure levels at bay and reduces any risks of a heart attack. And as you know, this simple exercise does not demand a lot from you. Brisk walking for as short as 30 minutes daily, already qualifies you to these circulation benefits. So the next time you feel too lazy to walk, remember how you can help your heart if you just walk the extra mile.

  1. No more Humpty-Dumpty

Aging cannot be avoided, but there is definitely something that you can do to steer clear of falling or tripping disasters as you age. Making strong powerful strides as you do your walking helps keep your balance and strengthens your muscles especially when it is done consistently. When muscles start to weaken in the shins or when you experience a loss of balance, this causes a shuffling gait and sooner or later, you will find yourself falling or tripping. Walking regularly helps resolve this problem by providing strength for the lower body and improving balance.

So the next time you take a walk, make exaggerated actions – giving emphasis to the heel-to-toe movement as the foot moves towards the shins, better identified as the dorsiflexion. Walk it bravely so you won’t end up like humpty dumpty.

  1. Sharpen your memory

The more you walk, the more you remember. When you are able to perform your walking exercises on a regular basis, you do not have to worry about things that you might forget or trying to recall something important. Walking targets the hippocampus part of the brain that is in charge of learning and verbal memory. As observed in a study made by the researchers from the University of California in San Francisco, those women aged 65 years and above who made walking as part of their health routine experienced lower age-related decline in memory in comparison to those who didn’t.

  1. Pain relief from arthritis or fibromyalgia

If you find yourself crippled by pain, then there is more reason for you to move, get up, and walk. Making frequent walks can help ease the pain as well as minimize the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other similar conditions. With this exercise’ low-impact and moderate nature, it can certainly help in lessening the pain. For most individuals, it can even improve their body’s functions. Like any other exercise program though, it is best to pay your doctor a clinical visit before you proceed so as to make sure that it is safe and approved for you.

  1. Stabilize blood sugar levels

Fluctuations in the blood glucose levels can spell disaster for the body’s internal system. To avoid the serious consequences including developing Diabetes, take a walk during the day or at night – whichever is most convenient for you. However, should you want to maximize the health benefits of walking, doing it after eating can be more effective. Through a study found in the Diabetes Care journal, it was shown that walking after meals for a quick 15-minutes is as effective as walking for 45 minutes when your goal is to lower your blood glucose levels for a 24-hour period.

  1. Bolster immunity

Walking makes your body stronger inside and out. You do not only become physically strong, but more importantly, it builds your resistance against diseases. With a solid immune system, you can guard yourself against life-threatening cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, and other debilitating conditions. Make walking a daily habit or do it at least 3 to 4 times a week. You will slim down and look good on the outside as well as become impregnable from the inside.

  1. Sleep soundly

There is nothing like a good night’s sleep. It gives you the positive motivation as you wake up each morning. Otherwise, you will feel groggy and unable to deal with your daily tasks competently the next day. So what do you do to get that peaceful, uninterrupted slumber that your body deserves every single night? Morning walks are best recommended for those who find sleep hard to hit. Surely, you will be able to catch some Z’s faster than when you did not make an effort to exercise at all. Get outdoors, walk in the morning, and bask in the sunlight. Exposure to the early morning sun allows you to remain in sync with the natural circadian rhythm of your body, paving the way for you to sleep heaven.

  1. A ball of energy

So where do you muster the energy to face the world everyday? Be your best and more energized self daily by keeping to your walking exercise routine. Brisk walking is one of the most potent natural sources of energy that you can count on to help you finish the job efficiently and speedily. With each step, you are increasing the supply of oxygen to every single cell of your bod and making yourself feel fully alert, alive, and enthusiastic. Walk during your break or lunch time and have the energy to accomplish more for the next half of your day.

  1. Pump up the bum

What do you leave behind as you turn your back? Yes, it is your buttocks and you don’t want to leave without making a good impression. Walking is the best exercise to keep your behind fully engaged with the human world. If you have been sitting around all day and have to keep doing it the rest of the week, then you are causing your glutes atrophy and inactivation. Walk as much as you can and you will transform that rear in no time. In specific, you can power up your bum while walking by placing your hands on both glute. It will tense up for a bit as your hands do the pushback. Keep going and you will walk your way through those sexy bottoms.

And if you’re ready to do a little more than walking then check out our Beachbody On Demand FREE for 30 days where you can do workouts like P90X, P90X3, Insanity, T25, Hammer and Chisel, TurboFire, Turbo Jam, P90, Yoga Retreat and many many more. (This is an awesome value)

Is Coffee Good before you Workout?

Is Coffee Good before you Workout?

coffee before workoutShould you be enjoying a cup of Joe before you hit the gym? Is it actually recommended to drink coffee before heading out for an intensive weight training? These questions must be answered if your health is of utmost importance to you. It is estimated that more than half of the American adult population dependably consume coffee every single day.

They do so for a variety of good reasons and most adults drink coffee for the jolt it gives early in the morning or later during the day. And then some would consume it to provide a boost of energy before working out. This will be logical if you are already tired and just need something to perk you up, right? But one dare asks, “Is this a good practice to do routinely?”

Coffee has been one of the most studied beverages, but when it comes to elucidating on its benefits with regards to exercise, it mostly zeroes in on the caffeine content that is found in it.

Caffeine: What is it?

Caffeine acts as a stimulant. It primarily targets the brain, signaling it to be awake and alert. It also decreases your brain’s awareness of the effort you give out. This means that you feel more invigorated and you don’t feel as much discomfort or pain. This will translate not only to an increase in the time spent in exercising, but it can also give an upsurge of energy that will sustain a tougher regimen. You become a Captain America or a Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow for an hour or two there. Now, isn’t this something that you would desire while working out?

Fatigue and Coffee

Studies show that caffeine delays exercise fatigue, and this mostly benefits aerobic endurance. It has also been shown to increase the number of sets and the weight one can carry when it comes to strength training. While it has been said that caffeine can help you sustain a tougher work out session, this will also mean that it may mask the symptoms of fatigue and can lead to over-training and concomitant injuries and this is the part that you should be very concerned about. So while it does its purpose while you are working out, it has after effects that you must be ready to face. Keep this mind as you sip on your coffee.

Fat Burning Abilities

While it has been widely stipulated that caffeine can burn fats during exercise because it can support the release of fat stores, studies have not backed up this claim. On the contrary, studies show that caffeine cannot help with fat-burning, especially on the long term. So, if this has been your motivation for drinking coffee before working out, this is not a good reason to do so.

Caffeine Does Not Give Energy

People mistakenly think that caffeine gives energy, but it is not. It is a stimulant for its’ efficient release from food ingested. It actually does not provide the energy, per se. This means that if you have not taken any food for more than three hours, or if you feel your energy draining, it may be a sign that your glucose is actually low. It would be wise to eat a balanced meal or a healthy snack before you drink a cup of coffee and head out to the gym. This will provide the energy that the caffeine can effectively release.

Do’s and don’t s in caffeine consumption

While any amount of caffeine affects everyone differently, it is recommended that non-players and the general population take in 0.9 mg per pound or 2 mg per body weight (in kg) of caffeine an hour before working out. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and it would be wise to start with a smaller dose first and see how it works for you.

It would be beneficial to have a chart to guide you into the amount of caffeine in each drink. It’s also important to note that these guidelines were made for the adult population, so its use is not for minors. Also, ingestion of caffeine for the young has yet unknown effects, so if you are part of this age group, it would be best to shy away from products containing caffeine, such as sports drinks.

Drinking more is not always better

If you are a professional athlete, then you have to take note of your caffeine intake as too much amount of this controlled substance can cause disqualification. Even if you are not an athlete, it is still imperative to check your caffeine intake as it can cause a rise not only in heart rate and blood pressure even at rest, but also can cause gastric irritation. Caffeine can also bring about insomnia since it takes 8 to 14 hours for the body to fully metabolize and excrete it. Due to this, it is not recommended to ingest a cup of coffee in the late afternoon and evening because it can bring about this condition. If ever you feel like you need coffee in the afternoon, consider first if you are just thirsty or hungry, because being so can make you feel lethargic as well.

To drink or not to drink

The question remains—would it be wise to drink coffee to help in working out? While it is true that it indeed help in enhancing performance, and it is generally safe for consumption for the adult population, this does not spell out that caffeine is imperative for one to have a great exercise session. Instead, it is best to ensure that you first drink lots of water, eat a balanced diet and have ample amount of rest before exercising. If there are days when you feel very sluggish even though you have taken all the above measures, then ingested of small amounts of caffeine can help, just as long as it is not during the later afternoon or evening when it can also cause sleeplessness.

If coffee is just not your thing and you are looking for a top of the line pre-workout drink be sure to check out our Beachbody Performance Energize.  Or get the Performance Energize in the 10 Pack.

Should I Weigh myself and how often?

Should I Weigh myself and how often?

weight-scaleWhen your goal is to lose weight, most of the time, you can’t help but think about shedding the pounds as fast as you can. So you go ahead and spend more time at the gym, sweating it out with a bunch of cardio exercises. Of course, you also do your best to keep to your diet plan and avoid all sorts of high-carb temptations. And then you think and say to yourself, “I must have lost some weight now!” – only to discover that you are about to disappoint yourself.

The Rocky Road Ahead

On your own, you will realize that losing the pounds that you have gained over time is not going to be that easy. In the meantime, you would tend to check out the scale to see if you have made any progress. And what does the scale say to your face? You still weigh the same or worst case scenario would be that you have become heavier. Now, that is completely frustrating and you might feel like wanting to give up. What was it that you have done wrong? Didn’t you exercise enough? Should you be trying a different diet plan? Or should you just give up altogether and go back to your old ways and comfortable way of living?

Before you go nuts however and sulk in depression, know this truth: These feelings that you are actually having are pretty normal and mostly expected when you are trying to get rid of the unwanted and the undesirable. The weight loss business can be real tricky and the weighing scale can tell you things that you might not like. Because of this, it is important to understand how losing weight really works so that you don’t easily get distracted when it does not reflect the numbers that you have been wanting to see.

Weight Management Realities

The cycle of losing, gaining, and maintaining your ideal weight involves an intricate process that needs to be fully understood. So yes, you have to see beyond what the scale tells you and dig deep into what is happening to your body as you work on achieving your ideal weight. A number of factors are at play that influence how much you lose or gain along the way. Again, weight fluctuations are normal and realizing this alone can already help you think more positively about your weight loss goals, become less frustrated, and be able to persist until you are able to achieve physical transformation.

So what are these factors? The human body is such an efficient system that whatever you do with it, it will do everything in its capacity to maintain that healthy balance. Well, if it is to function accordingly, it has to ensure that not one element is askew – everything has to be just enough. While you are in the process of slimming up, you would tend to cut off on your usual consumption of solid food and liquids and this in turn signals the body of what it lacks and what needs to be compensated or replenished. Likewise, when you indulge in more exercise now than you ever did in the past, this will also have an effect on how your body will respond.

Accordingly, factors such as hydration, recent food consumption, bowel movement, and the energy expended for exercise come into play. Even the climate can have an effect on your weight. As a result, you will notice that each time you step on the scale, it would give you a different reading despite all the efforts that you have made. Needless to say, the weight fluctuations that you will experience will not always be because you have actually gained weight or you didn’t treadmill enough but is only the body’s way of ensuring that it is able to fulfill its physiological functions.

The question now is, how often then should you take that trip to the scale to check on your weight? Whether you want to shed off those pounds or gain a little bit of weight, it is very imperative to dissect the mystery of the scale first.

More questions to answer

Why weigh yourself in the first place? When you are trying to slim down, the happiest day of your life would be when you see a huge drop in the weighing scale. However, is it actually healthy to constantly check the scale? Is it helpful or more harmful to the individual in this sense? Should you be doing it everyday or in a weekly or monthly basis? There is no black and white answer to this question. What will be considered helpful or harmful depends on what will work out for you and what will be positively motivating for you. Yours is the power to decide as to the frequency by which you should be stepping on the most intriguing scale.

Keeping it going daily

Is it mortal sin to be visiting the weighing scale section each and every day of your life? If the purpose is to make it as a constant reminder of your weight management goals, then the answer is no. A lot of people need a tangible reminder of their health objectives and seeing what the scale will tell them on a day-to-day interval may work. It gives them a sense of responsibility for their own weight loss and renews their enthusiasm to continue doing what they are already doing. Their daily progress is important because it keeps them in the right direction.

Some people would even go as far as keeping a daily log or journal of their weigh ins so they are able to analyze the results and re-evaluate their efforts towards their ultimate health goals.

On the other hand, if you are the type of person who would be easily and extremely affected by the numbers you see, then forget about doing it everyday. You might weigh in one day and notice the 0.6 pounds of weight gain then get depressed about it for the rest of the day. Or, should you see the 1.10 pounds of weight loss and already feel like you can slacken off your efforts with that very minimal and even irrelevant success. Don’t forget that certain weight fluctuations like these can be attributable to the factors pointed out above so there is no reason for you to exaggerate. The scale is just giving you numbers and this should not dictate how you should spend your day and the rest of your life. So no, no daily scale checking for you in this case.

Making it weekly

So what about checking out the scale at least once a week? Weekly weigh-in could be the thing for you. You do not have to worry yourself daily with your goals. Instead, you can focus and put all your concerted efforts on what needs to be achieved today so that by the end of the week, you can take a look at the numbers. In this manner, the pressure is off but you are still able to track your progress and remain consistent with your efforts with something to look forward to after 6 days.

The best practice when it comes to making weekly tracks of your weight loss or gain is to choose a certain day to do it and have it done in the mornings. While doing so, assess how your efforts affect the numbers on the scale. However, keep in mind that just like daily weigh-ins, you do not have to pay attention to the minute changes or fluctuations. In addition, your assessment should cover a good number of weeks before you are able to pinpoint a pattern that is giving you more success for your goals and then make sure to implement the same. With this weekly habit, you can still feel that sense of accountability but with more space and time for the actual health-promoting actions.

The Advantage of Periodic Tracking

You can also choose to check in on your progress on an occasional manner. Say, if you happen to have the spare time at the bathroom where you have your scale or at the clinic when you have your medical exam. This works well for those who do not consider numbers that important but find noticeable changes in the fitness of their clothes or how they feel more energized when they exercise more significant. They are in for the big changes and feel very motivated when it is other people who would first comment on or notice their transformation. Health buffs who do periodic weigh-ins believe more in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the long-term in comparison to short-term, and often fleeting weight management goals.

Forget the scale

Whoever said that the scale is the only way to go? Well, there are also those who simple do not care about the weighing scale. What is most important for these groups of individuals is their general well-being and that’s all there is to it. As long as they are eating a balanced meal, feeling comfortable with their clothes, and exercising regularly, then they are good.

So there you have it with four options to choose from. Keep in mind that whichever you pick, it should lead you to the sustainable achievement of your weight objectives. And whatever you do, never weigh in twice or thrice daily. Simply put, that is just too much and anything excessive is bad for you. Use the weighing scale as a tool to help you and not make you obsessive over numbers. This is the secret to a successful weight loss via the weigh-in.

Not liking what the scale says? Check out Hammer and Chisel for a great program.

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