Running a 5-kilometer race sounded like a good idea back in January when you were making New Year’s resolutions. But as summer approaches, running to the mailbox may be the closest you’ve come to training for it. It’s not too late to reach that goal, and Canyon Ranch is ready to help.
Getting started is the most difficult part. For one thing, many people do not envision themselves to be runners. Avid walkers may view the gap between walking and running as a huge obstacle that they’re not willing to overcome. Although running is more difficult than walking, it is doable.
Demystifying the 5k
Don’t let the distance scare you. A 5k race only amounts to 3.1 miles. If you are a walker who’s afraid to run, consider this: Running is harder because it requires a higher degree of fitness. So why not decide up front to take yourself to the next level? It may be a challenge, but you’re up to the task.
Once you make a commitment to begin training, you need to find a race in your area. You can search online for local running clubs, which will typically link to a calendar of running events in your area. Sign up right away. Making that public promise is a great way to get motivated. Then you can focus on preparation.
Ready, set, GO!
You’re jazzed and ready to train, but on your first day of running, you feel winded after five minutes. Don’t get discouraged.
“When people first decide to run, they are so excited about it. They get new shoes, sign up for a race, then they actually hit the streets and on their first attempt, they want to quit. It’s important to remember that most people cannot run three miles nonstop today. There needs to be a slow build-up, allowing time for your fitness level to improve,” says Mike Siemens, Director of Exercise Physiology at Canyon Ranch in Tucson.
He suggests allowing 10 to 12 weeks for your body to get used to running. Start with walks spiced with brief running intervals. Do your normal walk two or three times a week. Then, as you progress, start adding periods of running. In the beginning, these intervals can be for as little as 30 seconds at a time, eventually building up to two minutes of running. Follow these running intervals with two to four minutes of walking to allow yourself time to catch your breath.
Whether you are a novice or more advanced, Siemens suggests using one of the following eight-week training schedules:
Week Mon Tues Weds Thurs Fri Sat Sun
1. Rest or Run/Walk 1.50 mi Rest or Run/Walk 1.50 mi Rest 1.50 mi 30- to 60-min. walk
2. Rest or Run/Walk 1.75 mi Rest or Run/Walk 1.50 mi Rest 1.75 mi 30- to 60-min. walk
3. Rest or Run/Walk 2.00 mi Rest or Run/Walk 1.50 mi Rest 2.00 mi 40- to 60-min. walk
4. Rest or Run/Walk 2.25 mi Rest or Run/Walk 1.50 mi Rest 2.25 mi 45- to 60-min. walk
5. Rest or Run/Walk 2.50 mi Rest or Run/Walk 2.00 mi Rest 2.50 mi 50- to 60-min. walk
6. Rest or Run/Walk 2.75 mi Rest or Run/Walk 2.00 mi Rest 2.75 mi 55- to 60-min. walk
7. Rest or Run/Walk 3.00 mi Rest or Run/Walk 2.00 mi Rest 3.00 mi 60-min. walk
8. Rest or Run/Walk 3.00 mi Rest or Run/Walk 2.00 mi Rest Rest Race
Can you handle it?
Before beginning a fitness program, Siemens says you should determine your fitness level, which may be the deciding factor for whether you run or walk the 5k on race day. Always consult your doctor before beginning any fitness program.
Now that you’ve made the commitment and have the training schedule, what are you waiting for? Start moving toward a healthier, happier you.
They don’t care where you went to college or what clothes you wear. They don’t care if you’re having a bad hair day or if you drive a clunker. They don’t care who you are and they’re without ambition to be something different from what they are. A dog or cat or horse is completely committed to being what it is.
Just being around these creatures tends to make people more content with themselves. Indeed, studies have shown that interaction with pets is often less stressful than socializing with people, because the interaction is so much more straightforward and free of judgment.
Your neighbor is at the gym most mornings by six. Your best friend can run for hours but doesn’t have patience for yoga class. And you know somebody who goes into a funk if she misses even one daily workout in a month. Then there’s you, with a style and needs all your own.
There is an exercise program that’s exactly right for you. All you need to do is find the one that fits your personality.
“People are more consistent about doing exercise if they match the schedule and activities to their personality,” says Mike Siemens, director of Exercise Physiology at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. “It’s important to find two or three kinds of aerobic activity that you enjoy, as well as exercise that incorporates the four components of fitness – cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and agility.”
So, think about your major personality traits and consider these approaches to lasting fitness:
Competitive vs. Noncompetitive
Love the thrill of competition? That’s great incentive to keep a fitness program going.
“Even young people have to be in pretty good shape to chase a ball around, so it can be tough to use the sport itself as a training mode. But you can use tennis (or soccer, basketball, skiing and other sports) as a motivator to get into better shape,” says Siemens.
He suggests working with a certified personal trainer to design a routine that will strengthen the appropriate muscles for your sport of choice. This can improve performance and help you prevent injuries. If you want the excitement of competition without the risks of many competitive sports, you might also explore alternatives such as race walking or biking, which may be easier on your body.
On the other hand, if competition is not your passion, you may enjoy less aggressive. Walking is an ideal option on your own or in groups. Dance – including ballet, western dancing, jazz, tap and other nontraditional forms of movement – may also appeal to your creative, fun-loving side.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Siemens says the indoor/outdoor factor plays a big part in every fitness program.
When you try to start or continue an exercise routine, tune into how you feel. Some people love the controlled environment, electronic displays, TVs and book racks you get with indoor treadmills. If that’s dull or confining to you, why not cover the same distance – with different scenery – outdoors?
Regimented vs. Non-Regimented
More disciplined personalities often appreciate the technical aspects of exercising indoors on machines that allow them to determine specific programs, calories burned, heart rate and so on. If they exercise outdoors, they frequently chart a specific course.
“Many times regimented people are ‘documenters.’ I recommend they keep an exercise diary or journal so they can chart their resting heart rates, times, etc. They enjoy this and it gives them incentive,” Siemens says.
Often these personalities also appreciate the structure provided by weight-training machines as opposed to free weights.
Not so regimented? You can get a great workout bicycling, planting trees, waterskiing, running with your dog in the park, bodysurfing at the beach, taking long walks, learning to dance.
Patient vs. Impatient
Some people love the mindful repetition of exercise programs. Others lack the patience, particularly in the strength-training arena.
“Personality types who don’t have a long attention span can get great benefit from a 15- to 20-minute routine targeting just one exercise per muscle group. You still get 80 to 90 percent of the benefit of doing two or three exercises for each muscle group,” Siemens says.
It’s all about YOU
Let your personality be your guide in customizing a fitness routine that motivates you.
“This is all about being active and moving more. If you have the perfect exercise program and you never do it, it is useless,” Siemens says. “Find what suits your personality and you’ll stick with it. That’s really what matters most.”
Other important lessons that our four-legged friends can teach us:
Stretch. Animals are continually stretching – following a nap, while changing position, when they want their stomachs scratched. They remind us, by example, that we need to stretch out and open ourselves up.
Go for the gusto. Animals enthusiastically enjoy routine activities – eating, running and playing. In fact, the ordinary and predictable things are, the more pleasure they seem to get from them. As one delighted dog says to another in a Gary Larsen cartoon, “Oh boy! Dog food again!” Nobody is more “in the moment,” more appreciative of what simply is, than a happy dog or cat.
Touch and be touched. The concept of pet therapy is becoming more mainstream. Therapy dogs are routinely brought into hospital wards to brighten patients’ days. The comfort of touch is a big part of what animals offer people. Most communication between animals of all kinds is nonverbal, and touch is the most intense form of nonverbal connection. People are free to reach out to animals and connect with them in an innocent but intimate way that isn’t possible with most other people.
Respect the cycle of life. Caring for a pet also keeps human beings in tune with every aspect of life, from birth to death, and though loss of pets is deeply sad, and inevitable, given their short life expectancy, they teach us to accept life’s limits, and offer irreplaceable comfort in tough times.
Aching for a spa experience but can’t quite fit it into your schedule or budget? Laura Hittleman, director of Beauty Services for Canyon Ranch in Tucson, has good news. The escape and indulgence you crave may be just down the hall, under your very roof. Clear out the tub toys, turn off the phone, lock the door and revel in a blissful bath.
A bath is a bath is a bath, right? Wrong, says Laura.
According to Laura, you must begin by understanding the distinction between taking a bath and drawing a bath. Someone might take a bath just to get clean, but drawing a bath is a different endeavor. “Drawing a bath is a luxury, a ritual. You are setting up that tub for yourself,” says Laura.
Make it special
For the kind of bath Laura recommends, you must first create the scene. Slow down and enjoy the ritual as you insulate yourself from the outside world. Get out your fluffiest towels. Turn down the lights. Arrange and light your favorite candles. Bring in some soothing music. Make sure the room and the water are not too hot nor or too cold. “Anything above 98.6 degrees will feel good, but don’t go over 103. Water that is about 99 to 101 degrees is best.”
Consider the water itself, choosing from among the many ingredients you can use for the experience you desire. You might want to savor a seaweed soak, for example. Or, you might add a favorite scent to the water, maybe something you find invigorating if you’re bathing at the start of a busy day. To relax, you could sprinkle some lavender in the water or substitute lavender oil.
And don’t forget your pantry, says Laura. What about a chamomile or peach tea bath right before bed? Toss a few tea bags in the water as you draw your bath.
Make the time
Laura recommends thinking head to toe when you plan your bath time. Consider your hair, face, hands, cuticles, skin, and feet. Pick one or two areas of concentration and treat them with extra special care.
“You might comb conditioner through your hair before you step in the bath, or put on a face mask,” suggests Laura. Or, apply a cuticle cream beforehand and use the wash cloth to gently push soft cuticles back. You can also apply a grainy exfoliating scrub to dry skin before a bath, then let it soak and melt off.
How long should you linger in the tub? “Eighteen minutes maximum,” says Laura. You don’t want to sacrifice your skin or the proper water temperature. “Remember, relaxation also comes with the preparation,” she adds. You don’t need hours of free time to make bathing an important part of your day or week.
The after-bath and beyond
Following your bath and a rubdown with a thick towel, Laura suggests you moisturize immediately, using favorite, rich products that feed and condition the skin. Bathing need not be any more drying to the skin and hair than showering.
And is soaking in a warm, indulgent bath only for women? “Absolutely not,” says Laura. Men need regular getaways just as much as women. In addition, men often enjoy and benefit from special scalp treatments as they soak.
As with any activity, safety is a factor to consider as well. Bathing during pregnancy must be considered with care, making sure that you don’t soak for too long in water that is too hot. People with diabetes should also take extra care and perhaps discuss with their doctor whether bathing is advised. Oils and scrubs may increase the risk of slipping, but a grab bar on the wall and a towel on the tub bottom can add extra insurance.
You don’t need to go to a spa to feel like you’ve been to one. Build a bathing ritual into your life. Mark your calendar and make an appointment to slide into a relaxing sea of bubbles. “Do this for yourself once a week or a couple of times a month,” suggests Laura.
Draw the curtains, draw a deep breath, and draw a bath.
Most people admit that part of their weight-training program is about looking good. In addition to the fitness benefits, a regular routine tones your body and enhances confidence. But smart weight-training is not just about pecs and abs. Though most people know this, their exercise regimens don’t always show it. Fitness routines can easily become more comfortable and image-oriented than conscientious.
“Most people start strength training for cosmetic reasons, so they are more interested in the muscles they can see. Functionally, however, muscles we can’t see are often more important than those we can,” says Rob Hughes, M.S., exercise physiologist at Canyon Ranch in Tucson.
Hughes emphasizes that training muscles asymmetrically – working the front of the shoulders but not the upper back, for example – often creates posture and joint problems.
“As a general rule, the muscles behind you – the upper back, the erector spina, and the anti-gravity muscles – are the most important functionally. And actually, they’re important even if you’re mostly interested in looking good. We need to remember that, while we don’t see our backs and bottoms when we look in the mirror, other people notice them every day.”
Hughes identifies three commonly overlooked muscle groups to target for a pain-free, fully functional body – the lumbar spine, the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder and the forearms – and recommends a simple exercise for each one. With all three exercises, the goal is not to look great in a bathing suit, but to avoid pain and debility further down the line – which will, of course, eventually affect your appearance. Keeping the body working properly is the foundation not only of health, but of beauty.
The lumbar spine
Hughes says he often sees guests who assiduously train their upper backs while neglecting the area of the back most prone to injury: the inward curve of the lower back.
“Research shows that people with good tone, strength and endurance in the lumbar region are less likely to experience back pain than others. Nonetheless, I see a lot of weak lower backs, even in clients with well-developed shoulders, chests and abs. People train these muscles because they see them, but training the front while neglecting the back tends to lead to incorrect posture and problems with balance.”
Hughes recommends using a seated lumbar extension machine to safely strengthen the lumbar area. Using the machine is straightforward: Simply sit down with the pad between your shoulder blades and push back against the pad, moving smoothly from the waist. Since the lower back muscles are often weak at the beginning, he suggests starting with just 10 pounds on the stack and progressing gradually. Avoid any part of the exercise that is painful.
“Interestingly, the muscles of the lower back get quite strong if you work them just one or two days a week with 10 to 20 repetitions. For a small investment, you get a huge return,” Hughes says.
Rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder joint
These four small muscles act as stabilizers in everyday movements such as raising your arms and reaching to the side.
“A sure sign that you have neglected these muscles too long is shoulder discomfort when doing a bench press, pectoral deck or lateral raises. If you have pain in the shoulder doing these moves, there is a good chance the rotator cuff is already damaged or not working properly. In that case, you should consult a doctor or physical therapist,” Hughes says.
If you don’t have shoulder pain, take the initiative and train your rotator cuff muscles before they cause trouble: Lie on your left side, holding a one- to five-pound hand weight in your right hand. Bend your right elbow 90 degrees, holding your upper arm against your side and your forearm across the front of your body. Keeping your elbow against your ribs, lift the weight toward the ceiling. (Don’t lift any higher than is comfortable.) Lower slowly, contracting the external rotators. Perform two sets of 15 to 20 repetitions for each arm.
A Dynaband (exercise band) offers an effective standing alternative: Loop one end of the band over a doorknob and hold the other end in your right hand. Stand with your left side or back against the door. Hold your right upper arm against your side and pull outward with your hand away from the door, keeping the elbow against the ribs. Perform two sets of 15 to 20 repetitions for each arm.
Front and back forearms
Hughes suggests wrist curls to strengthen the forearms, an area especially prone to weakness with advancing age.
“This exercise is particularly useful for people who are prone to arthritis, those with problems with gripping or opening lids, and those who do lots of computer work.”
Sit comfortably and lean forward, resting your forearms on your thighs with your hands and wrists hanging over your knees. Hold a three- to ten-pound weight in each hand, palms upward. Slowly flex the weights up and down, 10 to 15 times. Repeat with palms facing downward. Perform one or two sets several days weekly.
“These exercises are commonly used in rehabilitation, but an even better use for them is ‘prehab’ – in other words, prevention,” Hughes explains. “It doesn’t take very much effort to avoid a host of common problems.”
Animals also help boost physical activity and improve emotional states. On days when you may be less motivated and want to skip your walk or run, your dog has only to wag his tail and gaze longingly at his leash to get you out the door. It means so much to him –you just have to lace up those shoes and go.
Equally important are the stability and emotional warmth that domestic critters bring to the human world.
They bring us back to a place of caring. When we invest in them, they pay us back with gratitude and love. The more we put in, the more we get back – and that’s not always the way it is with humans. A dog who’s been saved from wandering the streets or rescued from a cage at the pound never, ever takes his comfortable new world completely for granted. And the unconditional love of pets is a benefit you can enjoy throughout life. Research published in the March 1999 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that seniors who own pets are more active and less likely to experience depression than those who don’t.
There’s nothing magical about a new year. It doesn’t clear the slate or change your life – that’s up to you, and it’s within your power. You can make meaningful changes any time of the year, of course, but traditions add motivation and structure. January might be your time for an annual self-exam, a chance to review the past year, refresh your goals and revisit old dreams. It can also help to set season-by-season goals as the year passes: plant a garden; learn to kayak, hike every weekend; practice generosity and gratitude every day.
Whether you follow a resolution-setting tradition or not, it’s good to take stock of life periodically. Remember to be gentle with yourself, acknowledge your successes, forgive yourself and others, and to enjoy your blessings.
For inspiration, we asked some well-known professionals at Canyon Ranch what their plans were for a rewarding year:
Jim Eastburn, Director, Life Enhancement Center
My resolution for 2009 is to live each day with more hope and less fear.
Peggy Holt, Life Management therapist
Live simply, love and appreciate those around me. Drink more water, take dance lessons, and run and ride like H-E-double-hockeysticks!
Mike Siemens, Director, Exercise Physiology
To be in touch with members of my family more frequently, since we live in different cities. In the New Year I am going to call each of them at least every two weeks and get together with them at least four times in the next year.
Lisa Powell, Director, Nutrition
To live fully, appreciating each new day I’m given as the gift that it is; to spend more time with the people I love, especially my two new grandbabies. On a practical note, I want to begin strength training in 2009 and, as always, eat more vegetables!
May you enjoy beautiful health and endless wonders in the New Year!
You love your athletic shoes, but do they love you back? Many people choose the wrong size or style shoes for their feet and activities. And they often wear them long after they’ve lost their performance and protective value. For comfort and safety, it’s important to know how to select shoes – and when to toss them away.
If your goal is to get the maximum mileage out of your workout shoes, physics is about to take on a possibly painful significance in your life.
“Shoe longevity is directly affected by the specific biomechanical function of your foot. The more balanced the shoe is to your body, the longer the shoe will last,” says Rob Tenny, footwear specialist at Canyon Ranch in Tucson.
But, he cautions, no shoe lasts forever, and most people wear their shoes much, much too long.
If the shoe fits
Because feet are like snowflakes – no two are alike, including the two at the end of your legs – shoes must be selected to meet individual needs and counter any weaknesses such as pronation (heel rolls out, foot rolls in) and supination (heel rolls in, foot rolls out).
“Proper fit of a shoe and proper shape of a shoe for your foot is essential to workout-shoe longevity and comfort. If you have a straight foot and your shoe is curved, your foot will sit askew inside the shoe. Choose a shoe that fits the curve of your foot and supports your arch,” Tenny says.
Tenny emphasizes that the most common footwear faux pas is wearing shoes that are too small.
“Out of any 10 people, 9.5 are wearing shoes that are too small, which causes a myriad of foot problems.”
Manufacturers’ lack of uniformity in shoe sizing contributes to consumer confusion: “Every brand fits differently. There’s no standard of specificity to size.
One company will have a size nine that is too small and another will have a size nine that is too big for your ‘size-nine’ foot. You can’t pay attention to sizes: Fit is what matters.”
Tenny’s recommendation: Bigger is better. Your foot will fit better and feel better inside a slightly larger shoe than it will with a shoe that’s a little too small.
Here’s some advice from the experts to get a fit that will make the most of your soles:
• Shop for shoes later in the day, when feet tend to be the most tired and swollen. Always accommodate fluctuations in foot size caused by various conditions, including pregnancy and weight gain – the number on the box is infinitely less important than your comfort and health.
• Get athletic shoes that are wide enough. “The only two manufacturers that make a full range of widths are New Balance® and Etonic®,” says Tenny. “If you’ve got a wide foot, you need a wide shoe. Period. All the high-tech materials in the world aren’t going to make a shoe work for you if you’ve got a D-width foot and a B-width shoe.”
• Most people’s feet are two different sizes. Always fit to your larger foot.
• Clown around. When shopping, go up in size “until the shoe feels like a clown shoe.” Then pull back about half a size, leaving at least an inch between the end of your toes and the tip of the shoe.
“It is really hard to convince people that they need to go that much bigger, but I consider an inch at the front optimal. It keeps the shoe from crowding your toes and prevents joints from being compressed, which can eventually cause hammertoes and bunions. You do not want these conditions.”
Shoes worn outdoors generally have a shorter lifespan than those worn in the gym, even if the mid-soles are made from polyurethane (as opposed to more porous EVA, or ethyl vinyl acetate). Shoes worn outside and exposed to lots of sweat, water, abrasion and dirt simply wear out faster.
But not even an expert can tell what shape a shoe is in just by looking at it.
“Some people wear them out from the inside out, some do it the other way,” Tenny says. “I’ve seen shoes that looked perfect that were shot – the mid-soles totally compressed. And I’ve seen shoes that looked like they’d been through the wars that were still just fine.”
Exercise rates also have a significant impact, making longevity generalizations difficult. Tenny estimates that people who exercise moderately indoors can expect six to nine months of wear from a pair of shoes; outdoor shoes average just three to six months. He judges wear by pinching the insole at the heel and ball of the foot. If the insole is thin, it’s time for action.
“You can lengthen the life of a shoe with a new, good-quality insole,” he explains, but not if the mid-sole is starting to become grooved and compressed.
“You might as well be walking around on a bunch of stale, broken-down marshmallows,” Tenny says.
Breakdown of the outer sole calls for instant action.
“When the outside lateral edge of the shoe is worn down at the heel and the insole is thinned – the shoe feels dead, with no cushion left – well, you needed new shoes some time ago.”
“Most people take their shoes to the wall,” adds Tenny, who strongly cautions against this practice, reminding clients that an investment in shoes is an investment in health.
The worst he ever saw?
“I once worked with a woman wearing athletic shoes she’d had for 20 years. That’s incredible – the trouble that sort of neglect causes doesn’t end at your ankles.
“Wearing the wrong shoes or worn-out shoes can have endless consequences, right up to your head,” Tenny warns. “When your shoes are too worn to cushion against shock, or are skewing or cramping your feet, every structure in the body is going to feel the effects.”
So treat your feet well. Good fit and fresh shoes can are good for the sole.
If you have a one firm image of yoga in your head, think again. This traditional practice is not a single discipline but a range of disciplines based on a common core. You can try any number of classes until you find the one that’s right for you. Or you can consider ancient Ayurvedic approach, matching your “doshas” with yoga styles.
Tailored to fit your dosha
How does it fit? That’s an important question whether deciding which jacket to buy – or which yoga class to take. In either situation, there are “off-the-rack” varieties, but there’s nothing quite as luxurious as something specifically designed to fit you.
When it comes to yoga, Ayurvedic yoga, related to Ayurveda (a traditional healing system of India), offers an approach that is tailor-made for each individual.
“Ayurvedic yoga uses the same postures and bends as other types of yoga; however, the approach is crucial. The instructor designs the approach to fit each person’s constitution,” explains Kathy Sprague, mind-body specialist at Canyon Ranch in Lenox.
Ayurveda and its roots
First, a little history about Ayurveda. This healing system is believed to be about 5,000 years old. It comes from two Sanskrit words ayur, meaning “life” and veda meaning “knowing,” and is interpreted as the “science of long life.” The primary focus of Ayurvedic medicine is to improve health and longevity, which leaves the individual free to follow a spiritual path.
Ayurveda is the oldest recorded healing system to remain intact and has influenced traditional healing systems around the world. Although it is spiritually focused, the system also offers practical applications and deals with all kinds of health issues.
Its primary methods for healing are natural: instead of relying on synthetic drugs for treatment of disease, Ayurveda uses food, herbs and lifestyle practices like yoga, relaxation and breathing exercises to cultivate health. Ayurvedic yoga takes into account not only your body, mind and spirit but the exterior circumstances and surroundings which affect the other three.
What’s your dosha?
Before embarking on the Ayurvedic yoga journey, you are asked a series of questions to help determine your dosha(s) or constitution. (Most people have dominant traits in two of the three doshas.) The questions concern your physical attributes as well as your mental and emotional tendencies. These help identify your dosha(s), Vata, Pitta or Kapha.
If you are a vata, you are often rushed. You are energetic and creative. However, you are also like a gust of wind that comes to a sudden halt and then can’t move. Vata is cold in nature and benefits from warmth and comfort.
Most people are pittas. They are forward-moving and competitive. One of the main challenges for pittas is to learn to relax and not try to control things, since pittas are so focused on achieving their goals.
If you are a kapha, you have a strong, sturdy and well-developed body. You also have a strong immune system, and generally do everything without hurrying. However, you gain weight easily, and your digestion is slow.
Yoga and doshas
Once your dosha(s) have been determined, your yoga instructor will design a yoga routine for you. In general, here are some guidelines on how to approach your yoga practice, depending on your dosha(s).
Vatas and yoga
It’s essential for you to slow down as you practice yoga and focus on the experience of the here and now. Slow breathing is important and you should hold bends longer. It is preferable for you to do yoga on a regular basis, daily if possible, and at the same time each day. Even though you don’t like routine, it can have a calming effect on your life.
Pittas and yoga
When practicing yoga you need to cut down on the effort involved. Shavasana or relaxation is a must for a pitta person. This provides the time for pittas to use yoga for relaxation and develop more inner awareness. Postures such as forward bends and seated twists can be beneficial.
Kaphas and yoga
If you are a kapha, when practicing yoga you should begin slowly and build gradually. Your goal is to eventually work up a sweat. This will increase your circulation and metabolism.
Breathe and relax
By the way—don’t forget to breathe and relax. This may sound elementary, but it’s important to consciously focus on these two essential limbs of yoga: pranayama (breathing exercises) and shavasana (relaxation).
Pranayama involves becoming more mindful of our breath and learning to breathe more consciously. Because breathing is natural, most of us have little or no awareness of the way we breathe. How we breathe is closely connected to our state-of-mind. For example, when we are frightened, we tend to take rapid, shallow and irregular breaths. The breath is connected to the mind, but we’re often unaware of this.
Kathy Sprague advises, “Slow and steady breathing relaxes the mind and brings brainwaves into an alpha-meditative state-of-mind enabling inner awareness.”
Shavasana occurs at the end of yoga practice and lasts for about ten minutes. It involves lying on the floor without moving and then consciously relaxing every bit of tension in the body and mind.
Path to health and serenity
Finally, there is another way.
“So many people notice a change after their first Ayurvedic yoga class. Also, it is good for weight loss and cardiovascular exercise – total fitness to include the body, mind and spirit!” claims Kathy Sprague.
A still and quiet mind allows you to reflect upon your spirituality, enabling you to experience your natural being—which is already perfect.
Ayurvedic yoga – a perfect fit for you.