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Setting Up an Emergency Kit

It is almost time for my little girl to go out in the world on her own, in her own car. She is fifteen years old now, but she is going to be sixteen in no time. Already I have been teaching her how to drive and she seems to have a real skill at it. At any rate I want her to be ready for anything that happens to her out on the road. I already have a Blazeray tactical flash light which is going to be in the glovebox. It is a really good light that did not cost that much in comparison the real tactical lights. Of course a real tactical flashlight is designed for the work of a police officer or a soldier. You should be able to whack a criminal over the head with it and have it keep working. These people are in a life or death business, so you want to pay for gear that does what it is supposed to do no matter what. Continue reading

Benefits of Yoga Poses For Weight Loss

Yoga has all around benefits on the human body and mind. Yoga has different meanings, one of which is balance and here it means the balance between body and mind to bring about a calming influence and endow you with quiet energy. There are dozens of various asanas in yoga.

Some will stretch muscles; others will address the vital organs and glands; some will take care of the skeletal structure; some will improve the functioning of central nervous systems while others will improve circulation. When it comes to yoga poses for weight loss this gentle form of exercise can actually help burn calories. This is because yoga actually brings about internal balance and improves metabolism that in turn helps burn fat as well as improve digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Some of the recommended asanas are setu bandhasana, naukasana, vakrasana, bhujangasana, shirshasana, sarvangasana, halasana and utthita hasta padangustasana. If you look closely, there are a certain sequences to performing each asana. Some are difficult such as sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and dhanurasana or bow pose.

You have to start in a particular way and go step by step. Once you achieve the final position, you have to hold it for a certain duration or for as long as you are comfortable. Then one must reverse the sequence. This is not all. Breath control is also of importance.

This is why yoga gurus always recommend that you do not try asanas by reading books or going online. It is much more beneficial to join any of the top yoga schools to get maximum benefit from yoga for weight loss. If you do it wrong, you could actually sustain damage. This is why it is essential to go for yoga training, the home of Yoga.

When you join a yoga training course in the top yoga schools you will receive personalized training. You are first assessed for your physical condition and for the medical condition because certain asanas are forbidden for those with health or medical issues and the yoga teacher decides which of the over dozen asanas will give maximum benefit for weight loss.

There are various institutes for yoga training. Yoga is not just physical exercise; it is also a state of mind as you will find when you undergo yoga training from top yoga gurus.

Mind controls body and body pose helps mind gain balance and calmness. More, breath control is included in the yoga program along with yoga mudras and practices such as nauli, which only an experienced yoga instructor can impart.

All of these revitalize body’s functions and help in weight loss far better than strenuous exercises and crash diets. Such programs do not have far-reaching benefits whereas yoga does. It not only helps you shed weight but also sets you up for an empowered, calm and energized life.

7 Benefits of Yoga During Pregnancy

Yoga with its holistic approach to exercise is unquestionably India’s healthiest export to the world. The Western world in particular have lapped up this ancient fitness regime as a spiritual conduit to attain mental and physical nirvana.

Yoga’s be-spoke gentle exercises as opposed to high-intensity workouts are of significant benefit to women in a pregnant state. Pregnancy is a period of varying degrees of emotion for a woman, from utter joy to severe pain and discomfort. Yoga goes a long way in alleviating any discomfort during the birth and post-delivery stages.

Here are seven key benefits of prenatal Yoga:

1) The chances of natural childbirth are significantly increased as a result of practicing Yoga both during and prior to pregnancy since it helps develop the reproductive system and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles. Toned muscles and elastic ligaments in the pelvis, hip and leg areas help the body adapt to various positions during labour, thereby helping in natural child birth.

2) Pregnant mothers look healthier in body and in mind, in spite of the stress, anxiety and even depression during pregnancy.

3) Back problems, particularly lower back pains, during pregnancy is a common source of discomfort during pregnancy. The various postures during Yoga helps to ensure that there is no such discomfort.

4) Various breathing techniques’ or pranayams help prepare for labour. It helps the body to relax and the mind to escape all the aches and pains of labour, while making the process of childbirth quick and easy.

5) Yoga is performed in various poses or asaanas that works different muscles, joints or systems of the body. This in turn encourages breathing and body awareness which prepares the body and mind for child birth.

6) Intrauterine growth restriction is a condition that slows a baby’s growth. Yoga decreases this condition as well as the risk of preterm labour and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Some specific asanas also relieves digestive problems like gas, constipation and nausea.

7) Yoga helps improve blood circulation, reduce water retention and manage blood pressure.

Hilaria Baldwin, yoga teacher and wife of Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin, told Pregnancy Magazine during her first pregnancy in 2013 that, “The number-one thing in taking care of yourself in pregnancy is having low stress. It’s really about being more in touch with your body, and yoga teaches that to you.”

There are various safety guidelines to be followed while practicing Yoga during pregnancy, particularly in cases of high-risk or any complications. Therefore, it is best to conduct Yoga under the guidance of a qualified Yoga Master or pre-natal instructor.

 

Pregnancy Yoga Benefits: What You Should Know

Should you perform yoga when you’re pregnant? Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of exercising during pregnancy. You are scared because you’re not sure whether you want to “move your body much” during childbirth. What if an improper body movement ends up hurting your baby? What if you’re hurt while doing those stretches?

Let us tell you that yoga is not only about unimaginable “twists” and turns but deep breathing and light stretches as well. Light yoga (suited for pregnant mothers) helps you keep fit during pregnancy. Today, we will be particularly talking about the multifarious Pregnancy Yoga Benefits in this particular post.

What are the benefits that you need to be aware of?

Let us tell you that yoga helps you to get through your pregnancy with relative ease. Quite contrary to what you believe, yoga actually helps you during childbirth and post-delivery stages- rather than doing harm. Experts have actually opined that pregnant moms who do yoga generally appear healthier in mind and body compared to those who don’t do the same. Not only does it help you stay in shape but also keeps you spiritually nourished. If you are careful enough to take the help of an instructor and focus on the particular areas of your body, you can benefit a lot from yoga during pregnancy. Your body becomes more flexible – thereby helping you adapt to different postures when you’re in labor. Additionally, your ligaments are more flexible. It reduces labor pain.

Light exercises help you a lot when it comes to getting your posture right. As they say, childbirth can even force the straightest arrow to slump. Your posture continues to suffer as you push the stroller, start nursing or lift the baby up. Yoga, on the other hand, helps you get some of your back postures right. It bolsters your shoulder strength and opens up your chest – thereby helping you to stand tall.

Yoga, in general, is known to uplift your mood. Would-be moms often complain of mood swings. This can be reduced to a large extent. Meditation, in particular, offers you deep relaxation which can definitely help you tackle mood swings effectively. Actually, with the all-pervading relaxation, there is very little scope to get irritated at the first place.

If you’re taking classes on a regular basis then be rest assured that they will help you with fluid retention and better blood circulation. Instead of doing harm to the process of child birth, it facilitates the whole process by preparing you for pregnancy. It helps you to be more aware of your body, eliminates anxiety and helps you to adapt to new situations.

Difference Between Yoga and Meditation

Introduction

In the present-day world, people seem to use the words meditation and Yoga interchangeably. Such people think that both are the same. This article targets such people and educates them about the two practices. Both the words are totally different. In fact, they are bays apart.

Origin of Word Yoga

To understand the words, we should first understand the origin of the words. Let us first start with the word Yoga. This word is a Sanskrit word. In that language, the word means union. This word represents the connection between Soul and the Spirit. In reality, this word describes the state of union and the means to make that happen. An ancient sage from India PatanjalI has formulated the bible of Yoga. He discovered the Eight Limbs of Yoga. They are Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. According to this sage, these are the basic steps of Yoga. Thus, yogi is a person who has permanently attained the lofty state of spiritual union after passing through these stages.

Origin of Word Meditation

If you look closely, the word meditation comes from Dhyana, the Seventh Limb of Yoga proposed by the sage Pathanjali. It is essentially a state of awareness or consciousness. In the beginning, it is a spiritual state wherein the practicing yogi has become successful in turning his or her attention inward, and shutting off the senses and other outward distractions. By doing so, the yogi would have transcended the restless mind to reach inner self. Technically, one cannot meditate, instead he or she could do or practice certain things to bring about the state of meditation or dhyana.

Interplay of Yoga and Meditation

In reality, we practice certain things to bring about meditation or dhyana and ultimately reach Yoga or union. Sages make this happen by relaxing their body, calming their mind, and maintaining proper breathing to control the life force. The practices of yoga are truly designed to help one learn to control this life force. Prana is known as the subtle intelligent energy that sustains all the creations and is most correlated to the breath in man. In fact, one cannot wilfully do meditation (dhyana) or reach Yoga (union) until he or she learns to control this life force. Hence, Yoga practitioners devise methods to teach people who want to reap the benefits of meditation and Yoga. Therefore, the students of the Yoga class need to follow the instructions given by the practitioner.

The words Yoga and Meditation are Sanskrit words. The later is the subset of the former. The practitioners have to pass through the stage of Meditation to reach the ultimate samadhi or Union.This fine interplay is neatly presented in this article.

A Little Bit of Yoga Stretches To Keep Things Moving While Working at the Computer

OK, not everyone gets to sit at their computer in New Zealand close to the ocean but sitting is sitting. So to counteract all that sitting at the computer which makes our mental function feel good about accomplishing cognitive stuff, we still have to take care of the poor old body – the physical function. Doing a few stretches can go a long way to keeping the body flexible, keeping the circulation moving, and keeping the mind from getting overtaxed with too much data.

Here are a few stretches to keep your body from stagnating while working at your computer. We will start with the head and work towards the feet. Take your time and follow your own rhythm. What I have here are simple guidelines but only do what is comfortable for you; if it does not feel right, do not do it.

  1. Head 1: Let’s begin by coming to an exhalation and while exhaling, lower your chin toward the chest. Follow this with an inhalation while lifting the chin upward. Repeat this movement 3 times. Return the chin back to its normal position parallel with the floor.
  1. Head 2: Next, exhale and turn your head slowly to the left. Inhale again and then exhale once again while turning your head slowly toward the right. Use the breath to create your movements and rhythms. Complete this movement 3 times.
  1. Shoulders: Inhale and lift the shoulders up to the ear lobes. Hold the breath for a count of 5, exhale and drop the shoulders. Repeat 3 times.
  1. Arms 1: Inhale and raise the right wrist upwards towards the ceiling – let it just float up and once it is as high as it wants to go, open the fingers and palms and reach up from the shoulder joint. Hold for a count of 5 and slowly lower the wrist back to your starting point.
  1. Arms 2: Exhale as you grab your left shoulder with your right hand. Next, with your left hand, push up on your right elbow slightly. Hold to a count of 5 and inhale, relax.
  1. Torso Twist: Maintaining the position in #5, exhaling while you turn the upper half of your body towards the right to look behind you. You can create more of a stretch by either placing your left hand on your right knee or over the arm of the your chair while twisting the torso to the right and looking over your right shoulder. Hold for 5 seconds. Inhale, release. REPEAT ON LEFT SIDE.
  1. Forward Bend Chest Press: Move away from your desk slightly to prevent banging your head on your desk which would reduce the benefit of stretching (sorry) and exhale as you draw in your chin and slowly bend your chest towards your knees bending forward while walking both of your hands down the front of our legs towards your feet or ankles. Hold the breath for 5 seconds. Then coming to an inhalation, keep your chin tucked in as you slowly straighten one link of the spine at a time returning to normal sitting position.
  1. Knee to Chest Press: Grab your right knee with both hands and pull it towards your chest. Hug it to your chest as you exhale. Hold for 5 seconds and then inhale, release by slowly crossing the foot over the opposite knee. Once again do a torso twist to the right. Hold for a count of 5 and then lower the foot to the floor. REPEAT OPPOSITE SIDE.
  1. Feet 1: With your feet flat to the floor, point your toes towards the ceiling. Hold for 5 seconds and lower feet back to the floor. Lift heels off the floor keeping the toes on the floor; hold for 5 seconds and return the feet back flat to the floor. Repeat this toes/heels movement a few times.
  1. Feet 2: Lift one leg slightly off the floor while pointing your toes away from you. Now push the heels away from you. Hold each position 5 seconds and repeat for a total of 3 times. Then, circle the foot 3 times in one direction and 3 times in the opposite direction. Repeat the series of moves 3 times and then do the opposite leg.

Keeping things moving – whether it is stuff in the mental function or stuff in the physical function – is important. It is good to get things completed on the computer and feel good about cognitive results but remember to keep the old body moving too. Enjoy the series of movements. Cheers from down under, Mate.

A Few Fantastic Health Benefits of Yoga

There are so many of us who inevitably end up associating yoga with its “physical” attributes. In fact, they shy away from it simply thinking that yoga is strictly meant for the physically fit or the athletic ones. A highly erroneous notion. The concept is far from truth-very far! Yes, it’s a physical exercise. No doubt about it. However, one needs to understand that this ancient practice entails much more than just “body”- yogis aim for that perfect realm of stability where the mind, body and spirit work in cohesion. Today, we will be primarily discussing the health benefits of yoga but not before clearly pointing out that you can practice it even if you are not athletic! Here’s what you need to find out about the health benefits of yoga. They are simply fantastic.

It can bolster the function of lungs

Deep purposeful breathing is a part of the yogic experience. Such exercises, as per studies, can actually improve the functioning of lungs. With a better-functioning pair of lungs you can expect to perform a lot of activities better – like running or walking long distances without getting tired.

Exercises bolster the condition of your heart as well

Patients with high blood pressure and cholesterol can benefit a lot from yogic exercises. Studies, for instance, have shown that individuals practicing yoga on a regular basis have lower blood cholesterol levels and reduced risks of blood cholesterol level. What more? The efficaciousness of the breathing exercises is now even harnessed by doctors to address heart ailments. Medical practitioners duly acknowledge the usefulness of the right breathing techniques and exercises when it comes to reversing symptoms of several stress induced diseases or heart ailments.

These exercises help you master the right postures

The importance of sitting, working and walking in the right posture is mostly undermined by us. We often fail to identify the evils of wrong postures. For instance, we just fail to realize that wrong postures can actually give birth to a number of problems including neck pain, shoulder pain and so much more.

Practicing yoga can help you build stronger muscles so that they can support the right postures. Yogic exercises also add flexibility to your body thereby eliminating muscle tension so that you are able to walk and sit with your shoulders straight. You can sit with your stomach tucked in as well.

Yoga can also help you fight depression

Meditation or relaxation exercises can help you get out of depressive thoughts as well. For many depressed people, when every measure fails, yoga turns out to be the answer.

So, what exactly are you waiting for? It doesn’t matter how old you are or how athletic (or not) you are, you can always trust the therapeutic benefits of yoga in a major way. Find a credentialed instructor and get going! Make sure you are exploring more about these exercises and their benefits by reading up about the same. There is no dearth of resources to help you there. Make sure you’re keeping these points in view.

 

Can Pilates Help With Your Problems?

Pilates is one of the best types of exercise options for many people. No matter what your goals are for improving your health, it is likely that this particular type of exercise regimen can provide you with the best possible way to get there. The good news is it is not an overwhelming exercise routine that seems too hard to get into or too hard to do. Anyone and virtually any stage can begin to use this method to improve the way their body looks and feels. What can it do for you?

It’s a Mind and Body Link

One of the reasons you will like Pilates is because it does more than just offer a way to improve the way your body looks. It also works very effectively to help you to improve mind clarity. It does this through the power of breathing properly. It also works to align your pelvic and spinal areas. When you do this, and concentrate on your movements being smooth and flowing, your body naturally relaxes. You will learn how to control your body’s movements more precisely while improving your mind focus, too.

Build a Strong Core

One of the reasons to use this type of method is to build a strong core. That means you will be able to flatten your abdominals and help create more strength in your back. By doing this, virtually every other aspect of your body will improve as well. You will be working these muscles properly without overexerting them and hurting yourself. This will allow you to improve your trunk and your pelvis region.

You’ll Be More Flexible

Another benefit that this type of program can offer is the improvement of flexibility. If you feel as though you cannot bend and twist like you used to or you find it just too hard to move around during the day, it could be due to the compositions of your muscles. By building improved muscles that are longer and lean, you gain the flexibility your body is craving. In doing this, you also work to balance strength in your body. You are less likely to be injured from workouts and you are more likely to feel good even after a tough day at the gym.

Is Pilates right for you? To find out, give it a try. This is a challenging form of exercising and it may not be right for everyone. However, for those who want more balance in the structural components of their body and who want to feel stronger, this type of exercising may be just right. Take a few minutes to consider all of your options and find out if this type of exercise option is the perfect choice for you.

 

Pilates Vs Yoga – A New Viewpoint

Which is better? How are they similar? how are they different? This review of two of the most popular forms of exercise is a brief but comprehensive viewpoint from one of today’s leading Pilates instructors who has also taught yoga for many 35 years.

Breathing

Pilates and yoga are oddly similar and at the same time deeply different when it comes to breathing. Both methods emphasize breathing, but take it in different directions.

Breathing is one the most important principle in Pilates. Joseph Pilates, the founder, stressed breathing in his books and in his instruction.

According to my teacher and ‘Pilates Elder’ Mary Bowen, Joseph Pilates never developed any special breathing mechanics, though several techniques were developed after his death by some of his students. Joe Pilates did create breathing patterns to accompany each exercise, natural breathing that allows full and frequent breaths while you move. The effect is exhilarating, and in fact, Pilates is known for being energizing rather than exhausting even after the most rigorous workout.

Yoga far exceeds Pilates in the development of particular breathing mechanics. The complexity and depth of pranayama (breathing) yoga techniques include breathing through different nostrils in different patterns of inhalation, exhalation and holding the breath, all designed to create and move energy in the body. I’ve explored breathing techniques in Pilates and yoga and have found both to be highly energizing.

Mind and Body

Few exercise methods connect the mind and the body like Pilates and yoga.

Focussing your attention on your movement is key to both methods. Yoga goes a step further by adding a spiritual or religious dimension with meditation and in certain traditions chanting and devotion to the teacher.

History

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. He studied all forms of exercise available in his day including eastern forms such as yoga. He first developed his method nearly 100 years ago.

He moved to New York in the 60’s and first introduced his method to the dance community where it was an instant hit. From there it gained worldwide popularity. It is used by elite athletes, celebrities and physical therapist, and is particularly effective for physical rehabilitation such as back pain.

Since the death of Joe Pilates in the late 60’s, the method has morphed into many schools and fusions such as yogalates, Zumbalates, tangolates and even piloxing (Pilates and boxing).

In contrast yoga goes back thousands of years. The earliest evidence appears on 4500 year old seals from the Indus Valley. Experts agree that the yoga tradition is probably much older. Light on Yoga, universally considered the bible of yoga, lists hundreds of treatments for illnesses using particular yoga positions.

Yaga has also morphed into many different schools and fusions.

No Machinery

Though both methods readily use balls, bands and other props, neither require any equipment. You can do them anywhere and anytime – the ultimate in convenience.

There is specially designed equipment for Pilates, but it is not necessary. In fact, the mat exercise routine which uses no equipment is the original Pilates method which Joe Pilates called ‘Contrology.’

Stretching

No review of these two exercise methods should ever neglect their distinct forms of stretching. Yet no other discussion I’ve ever read does!

Yoga features static stretching. This means holding a position while your muscles stretch. In contrast, Pilates is dynamic stretch where muscles lengthen while you move. Research indicates more benefits from dynamic stretching due to increased muscle recovery and decreased risk of injury.

Speaking from personal experience as a teacher and practitioner of both Pilates and hatha yoga, I find static stretch wonderful for relaxation and stress relief. On the other hand, I find dynamic stretch a better choice for joint and back pain relief and for improving athletic performance.

Strength and Cardio

Exercise science has proven that our bodies need 3 distinct kinds of exercise – strength training, stretching and cardiovascular conditioning popularly referred to as cardio or aerobics. These three essential exercises are rarely included in one method. Pilates always includes 2 – stretching and strength training. Advanced Pilates mat exercises also include cardio for an unusually complete exercise method.

By contrast yoga is primarily stretching and rarely includes strength training or cardio. There are exceptions such as the very athletic forms of yoga found in the Iyengar, Ashtanga and Bikram methods.

Which Is Better?

I believe I can offer an interesting perspective on this question, because I’ve practiced and taught both for nearly 4 decades. In my experience you get more of a spiritual dimension from yoga, as well as relaxation. However, research shows that any exercise is very effective at relieving stress. But if you want a complete exercise with strength building, stretching and cardio, Pilates is my favorite choice.

 

Is Pilates Safe During Pregnancy?

Yes – as a matter-of-fact it is one of the best forms of exercise you can do when pregnant. A Pilates program tailored to pregnant women targets the very muscles that are problem areas when pregnant, namely pelvic floor, back and stomach.

Pelvic Floor

Having a strong pelvic floor helps support your bowels, bladder and uterus (and the growing baby in it). This helps reduce urine leakage many women experience when pregnant, especially in the last trimester.

Back

By strengthening your upper and lower back muscles through Pilates, you can reduce back pain. With a growing amount of weight positioned in front, this can put an enormous amount of strain on the lower back.

Stomach

Because pregnancy makes your tissues and ligaments more pliable, it is easier to suffer an injury. Strong stomach muscles helps contain and restrict the baby from shifting around as much when you move. It is this shifting of weight that can throw you off balance and end up with an injury (or worse yet, injuring your baby).

Strengthen these muscles, and not only will you have a good stable core to support your growing baby, but also improved posture, balance and strength for yourself.

A couple of added benefits of doing Pilates while pregnant are:

  • it also helps you relax and control your breathing which will help you with labor.
  • because you are on your hands and knees for many of the movements, Pilates can help position the baby correctly for birth when nearing the end of your pregnancy.

When choosing a Pilates studio, be sure to ask if they have experience with pregnant women. Many studios have programs and certified instructors trained to help this very special group of women.

As far as when to start a Pilates program, you should be doing it now before you get pregnant as part of your regular exercise program. Then once you find out you are pregnant, switch over to a program for pregnant mothers.

The reason is if you have strong core muscles before getting pregnant, you’ll have an easier time of maintaining these muscles once pregnant and an easier pregnancy all around. Starting a Pilates after getting pregnant is still beneficial; it’s just it will take a little longer to get your muscles in shape than if you had been doing Pilates before getting pregnant.

Before starting any exercise program, be sure to check with your medical provider to ensure you are healthy enough. This is especially important if you are already pregnant and want to start doing Pilates.