Yoga

yoga     Yoga is something I have recently begun practicing over the past few months.  And by practicing I mean a free class once a week, and then on my own during the week.  I took a beginners yoga class about 3 years ago in college and thoroughly enjoyed it, but was never able to take it again after because it can be expensive.  Finding free classes has been a real life changer.  If you are looking for free classes I have three places that I know of that you may be able to find near you as well.  The first is Lululemon which offers a free yoga class once a week.  Next I utilize Athleta which posts various classes on their online schedule and most of the time yoga is available.  Lastly, and even more unlikely resource is the Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance office which offers a variety of exercise classes and yoga is a frequent one.

     So far I have noticed in a short time I have made quite a bit of progress in a few areas thanks to yoga.  I was previously jogging a few times a week (which I still also do) however I did not notice any of these changes until after I begun practicing yoga.  The two most obvious changes are in muscular development and flexibility.  These both surprised me because I took Tae Kwon Do as a young adult and worked very hard to build muscle and flexibility but was never able to achieve so much in so little time and with only 1 real class a week!  I also thought that my running I was building core muscle but let me tell you yoga will show you how much muscle you have yet to develop, the same goes for flexibility.

     Besides the physical changes I have seen, I have also noticed mental changes too.  I crave yoga.  I know that Saturday mornings are my therapy.  There is something so beautiful about practicing and ancient body art that is quite therapeutic.  The breathing exercises, listening to your body, quiet time and meditation if you are so inclined are wonderful for calming your mind, and bringing your life back into focus.  Also seeing yourself progress physically brings its own sense of accomplishment that none can rival.  There are also many scholarly research sources that demonstrate the benefits of yoga.

     It is shown to be good for anxiety and depression and also for improving the digestion system.  Although I could not find any scholarly articles stating its usefulness for balancing womens hormones, it is traditionally used for this.  In the same way that yoga stimulates the digestive system it is also thought to stimulate the reproductive system as well and encourage core tone, increased blood flow to the reproductive organs, and just the other day I was in quite a rather odd pose and the instructor mentioned that it was supposed to stimulate the thyroid gland.  Overall I highly recommend yoga for men and women of all ages.  Perhaps I will post a photo of myself in the weeks/months to come as I work on perfecting my inversions!  Have any of you anything to share about your experience with yoga?

 

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Stubborn Fat

stubborn fat

     One of the things that even the healthiest people struggle with in their appearance is subcutaneous fat.  This is the fat that is deposited under the skin and above the muscles.  It is very stubborn as difficult to get rid of.  A little bit of subcutaneous fat is not hazardous to your health and may even have health benefits, however if it is not evenly dispersed and is settled in one area it may appear unsightly.  Please remember that although it does not correlate with health concerns, being thin and having low little of  this kind of fat does not mean that you do not have fat deposits.

     Visceral fat is the kind that surrounds your organs and carries the highest health risks.  If someone is naturally thin and has substantial muscle tone, Visceral fat may be there undiscovered.  That is why a healthy diet is just as important as a healthy lifestyle.  In other words working out does not equate a free pass to eat garbage.

     For those of you who do have a little bit of remaining stubborn fat there is hope. Research presented in 2011 from the Iranian Journal of Health and Physical Activity demonstrated how massage can decrease fat deposits.  The reasoning behind this is that fat is stored energy and to be utilized but be able to travel via the bloodstream.  Subcutaneous fat has very little blood flow and massage can increase blood flow the increasing the likelihood of stored energy being released.

     I also wrote a post of exercising for fat burn which will be useful in targeting the use of fat as energy during exercise, but increasing blood flow to the area is crucial.  As a matter of fact the next time you work out notice how warm your body feels. Then place a hand on your fat deposit and notice how cool it feels.  That is due to lack of blood flow to that area.  If you are interested in learning the specifics, check out the article here.

Burning Fat

cardio

     If you are trying to burn fat when is the best time to exercise?  Well until recently most experts say there is no right time but new research does confirm that the morning is indeed the best time.  As a matter of fact the study found that you can burn as much as 20% more fat.   This only works if it is before eating breakfast however.  If you are not looking to burn fat and just looking to build muscle and endurance then the time does not really matter.  So this is for all of you out there who are looking to burn off that extra stubborn fat!

     If you have very low blood sugar in the morning I would advise to have a small portion of whole rolled oats prior to working out.  It will help to level out your blood sugar levels.  If your blood sugar is too low you may further lower it through morning exercise and become weak, lightheaded and potential injure yourself.   The source that the body would normally use to raise your blood sugar will instead be converted into energy for exercise.  So by all means if you have very low blood sugar have a little bit of plain whole oats in the morning, it is an excellent food in that you do not need a lot to feel satiated and it will slowly raise  your blood sugar and contains amino acids to support your muscles during exercise.

     When you exercise, your body first burns through your storage of glycogen.  Glycogen if derived from glucose in carbohydrates and stored in your liver for energy.  It is then broken down into glucose from which it came, and burns quickly allowing you to do demanding exercise.  Fat burns slowly and is only used after your glycogen levels run out.  Your glycogen levels are lowest in the morning after your fast overnight, and you will burn through it more quickly and then target fat burning.

     Fat gives off energy slower than glycogen so do not be alarmed if you can not keep up the pace you normally do.  Moderate exercise for a longer period of time will target fat burning.  The researchers from Northumbria University in England released the research earlier this year.  They also addressed common concerns such as if exercising in the morning increases hunger during the day and in turn raises calorie consumption over the course of the day.  They found this to be false.  People actually did not consume more calories and found that they even had more energy throughout the day.  So if you want to burn fat, unfortunately you will have to set that alarm for even earlier.  Hopefully the extra energy you gain from an early morning workout will balance out the extra sleep you lose!