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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yoga: All Bent Out Of Shape

Almost every morning, I go through an exercise routine.  I focus on short, intense (20-30 minute) workouts, typically following a Convict Conditioning-style regiment:  Very little workout equipment, as would be the case if you happened to be in jail.  Lots of body-weight stuff (push-ups, lunges, squats, planks).

I start and end each workout by doing yoga.  After years of athletics when I was younger, my joints - and in particular, my back - need to be warmed up before I get going.

I actually got into yoga while playing football in high school.  In 10th grade, we had this coach who was big into stretching and yoga.  During pre-game warm-ups, the other team would be doing jumping jacks in cadence, and growling and being all tough.  We'd be in a big circle, focusing out thoughts, doing yoga!

They laughed and snickered.  And then got their asses kicked.  We went 9-1 that season.

Anyways, when playing football in college, the competition was bigger and meaner, and the chance for injury was much higher.  Being physically flexible, agile AND powerful (I was a D-lineman) was beneficial.  Yoga helped a lot.

I just started a new move called the Boat Pose.  I found an article about it, and decided to share.

Of course, be sure you're physically sound enough to do this, or any, workout.  If you hurt yourself, don't come whining to me.  Check with your doctor FIRST if you have any doubt.

No, smart ass, this isn't me!

Neat Yoga Moves: Remove Lethargy With This Neat Yoga Move

Neat Yoga Moves: Remove Lethargy With This Neat Yoga Move

By Heather Greaves

Imagine a yoga pose that can remove lethargy, stimulate the muscular, digestive, circulatory, nervous and hormonal systems, and tone all the organs. This same pose can be used to help reduce nervous tension. When practiced at the end of a session and before the final resting pose, Shavasana, it can facilitate a deeper state of release. It can also energize body and mind when done before getting out of bed in the morning.
As usual there are a few names for one yoga pose. This one is called Boat Pose, Stretch Pose, Navasana, Naukasana. We are often encouraged to close our eyes when practicing in order to turn the mind inward. In this pose however the eyes are kept open throughout.
Begin lying on your back palms down, feet together. Be aware of the body breathing itself and when the breath becomes steady, inhale slowly and deeply, hold the breath and then flatten the back of the waist into the ground. Flattening the lower back before lifting the body avoids compression in the lumbar vertebrae. We'll get back to the breath later.
The second part of this neat yoga move is lifting the upper and then lower body off the floor no more than 6 inches (15 cm); in essence balancing on the buttocks. The arms are also lifted at the same level as the toes. Palms can be facing each other at the sides of the body, or over the thighs. Unless you need to place them under the buttocks to support the lower back. Let the heart lift the head. To keep the vertebrae in the neck safe bring the chin in towards the throat, not down or away from the throat. Your ears will move closer to your shoulders. Try lifting the chest and drawing your chin in as you sit to get a feel for the move. Leave a comfortable space in the throat. Finally lift both legs or one at a time.
As you balance on the buttocks, hold the breath counting mentally to 5, or longer if you can. If you like, tighten the whole body. You could include fists. Then exhale and return to the floor lowering your head carefully. Definitely you do not want a pounding head pain from crashing to the floor! Feel the whole body as you rest between repetitions. If the abdominal muscles are tense, extend them when you inhale. Then repeat the exercise 4 to 5 times.
If you are feeling tired, perhaps you can devote 1-3 minutes a day to this powerful pose and see whether it will remove lethargy.
Heather Greaves is an avid yoga student and the owner of Body Therapies Yoga Training. She organizes yoga and meditation retreats and workshops in Ontario and Barbados, and has been helping yoga enthusiasts learn to teach therapeutic yoga in a certified program. For more yoga tips or to sign up for our monthly newsletter visit

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