Yoga: Year One

Hello friends and family!

I hope everyone is enjoying the Summer and finding fun ways to beat the heat!

Looks nice but imagine heat and humidity making it 104 and up!

Looks nice but imagine heat and humidity
making it 104° and up!

Todays topic will be about Yoga and what I have learned from my year of re-acquainting myself with it. As I mentioned in 100 Days of Yoga I focused on Yoga during the brutal days of NY heat last summer of 2012. It was an awesome experience and learned a lot from it.

My Favorite Yoga Poses

My Favorite Yoga Poses

Well a year has passed and wanted to share some ideas and experiences from this year of doing Yoga. Some you may have heard before . But if  not I will share them here today anyway.

Be intent on action, not on the fruits of action. …Perform actions, firm in discipline, relinquishing attachment.

Bhagavad-Gitã  (2.47-48)
  • Yoga is a way to focus on your Internal world after dealing with the external world. This means centering yourself while the world goes on.
  • A perfect way to learn and listen to your body intimately.
  • You can apply what you do in Yoga daily while working at your desk or lifting grocery bags from the store. As in breathing correct posture and breaking the habit of slouching in a chair.
You will notice a difference in your posture.

You will notice a difference in your posture.

  • Yoga is Skill in Action: This comes from the Bhagavad-Gitã . I will let you think about that one on your own.
  • Patience becomes a virtue and you learn that being in a rush isn’t that serious. I know I am guilty of this one.
  • Abolishing bad habits become easier as you can focus and become more aware of them.
  • You will respect eating and be more mindful while eating.
  • Once you learn your limits you will want to challenge them in a healthy way.
  • Yoga will make other physical activities seem flawless and fluid.
  • Yoga is fun!
Enjoy Yoga! Its fun!

Enjoy Yoga! Its fun!

So these are some reflections and lessons I have had while doing Yoga. Its a journey with no destination. Everyday is a opportunity to learn something more about your own capabilities.

Enjoy the Summer and I will see you soon!

Dean

Breakfast! The King of Meals

Hello everyone! I know it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, but I am around still here and living life to the fullest.

So today we are going to talk about one of my favorite meals; Breakfast! It’s the best way to start your morning and take on the opportunities of the day. What do you consider breakfast? A Full English? Dunkin Donuts? Hash Browns and Sausage?

Good 'ol Full English Breakfast

Good ‘ol Full English Breakfast, Tasty Right?

These choices are all delicious, tasty and somewhat satisfying. I would love a Full English right about now! But is it really going to do me or YOU any good?

An even better breakfast!

An even better breakfast!

Here are some of the benefits of a nutritious breakfast:

  • A more nutritionally complete diet, higher in nutrients, vitamins and minerals
  • Improved concentration and performance in the classroom, boardroom and workplace
  • More strength and endurance to engage in physical activity
  • Lower cholesterol levels
(courtesy WebMD)

Here is an example I am going to share with you  of what I eat for breakfast. Try it, vary it, experiment with it! Give it a shot!

1 Apple/ Piece of Fruit

1 Cup Cereal

1 Cup Milk/Rice Milk/Soy Milk (Your choice)

See how simple it is? That meal powers and propels me through the day; and lunch (which is a light snack) is a booster for the remainder of the day albeit gym or class. The key is to eat to feel satisfied but not full and bloated, sluggish and wanting to sleep. You can vary this by Toast, Boiled Egg or even a piece of fruit alone.

Thanks once again for stopping by. Be patient and be on the lookout for more posts. Be easy and enjoy what you have!

Peace Dean

100 Days of Yoga!

Hello everyone! How are you all doing? Fantastic I hope. Well today I am going to share what I have learned from doing Yoga for a 100 days.

During the Summertime I wanted to find a way to stay fit during the sometimes brutal Summer heat of New York. Personally I am not a fan of being all sweaty while exercising; its annoying and distracting. Usually I do some Yoga moves before and after my exercises. So on another blogger mentioned she challenged herself to do straight Yoga for a week. That was the inspiration I needed to try it out. So I did it for a week and enjoyed it.  Being familiar with Yoga already I was able to design a session that would keep me strong and maintain my levels of fitness. I can say that my strength has increased and I am more resilient doing other exercises.

I am going to break down a session that you can do to evolve your exercises. Before I start Yoga is not all about standing on your head or bending and twisting; there is a philosophy behind it also. But the basic premise I want you to focus on while you try these these poses out is mindfulness; what is mindfulness? In the short term being in the moment NOW. Not your job, Facebook status or whats for dinner. Being focused on how your body moves through the pose.

So here is my basic sequence of sessions, this will get you started as you progress I have added two more phases to get you in the groove. I will give you a breakdown here but its up to you look into it a little further. Links for help will be at the end of the post.

PHASE I

  1. Corpse Pose – This is where you set the tone and start to unplug from the daily routine of your life. Lie down face up and relax. Breathe! Its not uncommon the first times to doze off sleep. Get a timer start with 60 seconds and build up to 5 minutes.
  2. Easy Pose – We are still setting the tone here and really begin to let the Yoga state of mind sink in to yourself. From here you will do neck and shoulder rotations.
  3. Sun Salutations – This is to warm you up and get ready for the session. Start with 3 rounds, 6, then finally 12 rounds. *** face East if you can ***

                 You can stop here and you are essentially warmed up for anything else you like to do in the Gym.

Phase II ( continuing from number three)

  1. Leg Raises – This is to stretch your hamstrings, calves and quadriceps. Do these 3 times.
  2. Wind Relief Pose – This will massage your stomach and spine.
  3. Cat Stretch – To help the upper back muscles and release tension there.
  4. Bridge – This will help the lower back muscles relax and release tension there also.
  5. Fish – This will help the neck and shoulders stretch out tension.
  6. Wheel – The wheel will elongate your and charge your whole nervous system very good to way you up.
  7. Forward bend – This will help your legs and back, also it will counter balance the wheel pose.
  8. Cobra – This is to strengthen the spine and tailbone area.
  9. Locust – This is a great pose to build and develop inner strength. Start with one leg raise then do both.
  10. Bow – This will counter stretch the Cora and Locust pose. Also another great stretch to build power in your arms.
  11. Spinal Twist – This will help your hips and lower back become supple.
  12. Stick – This will aid your posture by  straightening out your back.
  13. Toe Balance – This will help your feet and toes become strong.
  14. Hero Pose – This is to stretch your legs especially if you sit down all day or stand all day.

Phase III

I used to do this after my exercises as a “finisher” to lock in and strengthen my muscles. You can continue from number 14 or as a stand alone exercise.

  1. Mountain Pose – This is all about standing up straight, not hunched over. Just standing shoulders back chest up and spine erect. You will the difference in your posture and will build inner strength also.
  2. Over Head Mountain – Pose in Mountain with arms raised above your head. Great for your shoulders upper and lower back.
  3. ***God Pose*** This is a variation of mountain pose. What you do is stand with your legs a little more than shoulder width apart and arms out with palms facing down. Look straight ahead and breath slowly. You will feel a tug from all four limbs.
  4. Wide-Legged Forward Bend- Great for hips, hamstrings and your whole leg basically. This is one of those poses that takes time to master. be patient and reap the benefits of it.
  5. Warrior Pose I – Great whole body exercise will get your system fired up all over.
  6. Warrior Pose II – The focus here will be on your legs and lower back while keeping your arms straight.
  7. Warrior Pose III – This will help you learn balance and focus. Your ankles and feet will thank you for it.
  8. Triangle – Great side bend pose for your mid section and chest.
  9. Chair Pose – Another way to build strength from the inside.
  10. Corpse Pose – Still is to relax and reflect on your body and mind. This will slow everything down for the moment. Just lie back and breathe.

Well That’s it! I left pictures out for two reasons the first is so that you go and find the poses own your own. Second there are many variations and styles out there. You have to find the one that works for you and your body. I hope that you go out and try what I have shown you here. This could help you in other ways also. But remember! Know your limits and boundaries as with any form of exercise it can harm as well as heal. Its up to you to find that perfect balance as you do with anything else.

Everyone have a great holiday and a prosperous new year!

Some links you help you on your journey.

http://www.yogajournal.com/

Two awesome books that will teach the fundamentals of Yoga.

The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga

Swami Vishnu-devananda

Some Healthy Things to Think About

This is a small essay I have been meaning to write so I am finally sitting down to get this off my chest. As you know I am sort of a health enthusiast. It took me a long way to get where I am today and just wanted to share some points and discuss my new found health and vitality. I went from 240 lbs. to 180lbs in about a year.

Going to start from 1999 when I joined the US ARMY. When I signed up back then I was 145. As you know basic training is mentally and physically demanding. Most of it is mental but we will discuss that later. So time went on and by 2001 I was a chunky 180. The Army Physical Training program isn’t bad but only designed to maintain not really anything else. You have to work out on your own for your results.

My weight gain “downfall” started around 2003 when I went to Germany. By the time I returned to Fort Drum I had stress fractures in both legs. I was on crutches sitting around just eating pizza and wings. I got to about 225 lbs. back then. By Army standards I was overweight. Fast forward through two tours in Iraq and by the time I got out I was about 230 lbs.

Me circa 2007

By then it’s now 2006 out of the Army and just sitting at home. Like most Veterans when you get out you don’t do much just kind of “decompress”. Then I found out I had high blood pressure in 2007. Which was weight and Army induced. So they put me on medication. But my weight still rose. By May 2008 I was about 240 lbs. One day I looked in the mirror and said “time to change”. There was a Gym about a mile away from my house so I joined up. At first went there went through the motions but not really doing much. I was losing weight but not really. My habit was workout then go home and pig out which doesn’t make any sense when you think about it.

I went to Antigua in January of 2009 and came back different. So started to read and research about not just weight loss but the human body and what health is. Everything I read and applied to see what the results would be. This way I knew what worked for me.   Also I began to do Yoga. Yoga is like the ultimate mind body connection. Once you start you will begin to notice and feel more in tune with yourself.

Then I changed my eating habits. I know you’ve heard of “eating clean”. I make sure I eat food that is mostly natural. Also most of the meals I cook myself. Don’t get me wrong I still love cookies, cakes and a juicy hamburger when I want to indulge myself. But if you cook make stuff you know you going to enjoy and want to cook all the time.

Remember what I said before about it’s all mental. Before I got my car I took the bus to the Gym after work. I would also ride my bike there also. I’m saying this to show that if want it you it you will succeed as with everything else…

Me now!

Below are some questions and tips which you have probably heard before but will reiterate here to help you.

1. How serious are you about your health/fitness and what are you willing to do about it?

2. Consistency is the key. Set aside time where you know you can do what needs to be done to improve your weight loss/fitness goals. Make it a good habit!

3. Pace yourself and coach yourself. Personal Trainers are great but only you can motivate yourself.

4. Listen to your body. Get feedback from it you will be amazed at what it will tell you.

5. Do your own research and ask questions which leads back to Number 4.

6. Eat to fill satisfied not to feel bloated, full and sleepy. When this happens blood and energy is being drawn from other parts of the body to your digestive system.

7. Drink water and natural juices. Sodas and other drinks have dyes and preservatives that aren’t natural. If the ingredients have more than two things that are not natural put it back!

8. Exercise doesn’t have to be a task or chore. It’s important, but make it fun so that you look forward to it instead of dreading it.

9. When exercising concentrate on the full range of motion. And breath normally, don’t hold it. Breath control is the absorption and release of energy.

10. Try Yoga! You don’t have to be flexible like a pretzel. It’s all about the mind and body connection.

11. it’s all mental, it starts with your mind then after that. If you hungry enough you will succeed.

Some links and Books to check out:

http://www.menshealth.com/

http://www.smallworldbeauty.com/

http://www.crossfit.com/

http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/

http://blogilates.com/

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/nutrition/sport/diet.html

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/nutrition/sport/diet.html#proportion

Health and Fitness by Sharkey and Gaskill

You Are What You Eat by DR. Gillian McKeith

The Fitness Model Program by Jennifer Nicole Lee

Athletic Body In Balance by Gray Cook

Jump Rope Training by Buddy Lee

Anatomy of Hatha Yoga by David Coulter