Uncategorized

🌼YINsights into YIN YOGA🌼

‘We don’t use our body to get into a pose, we use the pose to get into our body’

Bernie Clark

I have been practicing Yin Yoga for a while (maybe not as regularly as I would have liked to but still), attended a couple of workshops and self taught myself through videos and books. I eventually completed a proper full 4 day Yin Yoga and Mindfulness training with amazing Sarah Lo in June and it has been wonderful learning more in depth about the practice. It has also opened up a door to many many more questions about the practice of Yin Yoga, mindfulness and Chinese meridians. I do not normally read books, I mostly listen to them, but I have actually managed to read 2 books on Yin Yoga and reading a book on Yoga & Fascia as well as Yin Yoga book N3.  

With a gradual introduction of Yin Yoga into my current weekly sessions and workshops, I thought it would be beneficial to introduce you to the world of Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga in a nutshell is a a series of long held postures aiming at releasing tightness in the body and targeting the deepest tissues, while letting your mind relax. Yin Practice helps to balance the mind and the body, reduces stress and anxiety and has the whole lot of emotional and physical health benefits. Every posture in Yin Yoga focuses on a specific area (or areas) of the body and on certain emotional qualities. It also targets specific meridians.

Yin Yoga is deeply connected with the Chinese Meridian theory (these meridians flow through all tissues and bones. The energy – chi – flows via these meridians and its strength and flow is vital for a healthy balance of body and mind. If the energy is stagnant and the meridians are blocked it can cause an illness or emotional imbalance.  The energy then needs to be redirected to allow for a smooth flow of chi throughout the body. To get it all back on track we use acupuncture, physical practice, breath work and a focused mind. The last three methods can be achieved through a balanced yoga practice (Powers, S. 2008). We have Yin and yang organs and they all correspond to five elements: fire, water, wood, metal, and earth. This is a very concise description of how it works and throughout our time together I will talk a bit more about the organs we are targeting and the emotional and physical elements of each posture. 

Chinese medicine has been recognised as a viable science (not sure if it can be called science but let’s just assume it can be). Acupuncture is a well recognised treatment worldwide, as well as reflexology. Our body is a map of thousands of acupuncture or trigger points each positioned on various meridians. Dr Motoyama, with the help of modern electronic instruments, has been documenting the existence of a system of energy channels in the body. Dr Motoyama has demonstrated that the energy flows through water-rich channels in the connective tissues, which could also be called meridians (Grilley, P). It is all very fascinating and it might be a little bit of a woo woo information for some, but if you have a curious and open mind I think it might very well be of some interest to many. 

Western Yoga practice is heavily Yang dominant: movement, pace, sweat, & flow. Physical exercise is Yang, mindfulness and stillness is Yin. They are like two sides of the same coin – one always complimenting the other one. Muscles are yang, connective tissues is Yin… muscles do not exist without connective soft tissue; and we would not be able to exist having no muscles. Every Yin practice has a bit of Yang in it.. we can’t just sit still and meditate fo a long period of time if our body is weak. We strengthen the body with Yang practices to be able to sit still during our meditation. 

As Paul Grilley states in his ‘Yin Yoga Principals & Practices’ book: ‘The modern world is very yang; life should be a balance between competition and compassion, between ambition and contentment, but the balance has been lost’. Yin yoga can help in balancing a predominantly Yang lifestyle and making us into a calmer, better versions of ourselves. 

‘Our goal in life is not to become perfect: our goal is to become whole’

Bernie Clark

Holding Yin postures for a few minutes trains mind and body to become calm, less distracted and helps to deal with all those scattered thoughts. Our minds are so full of various things we have to do and remember that we all need to stop and let the mind be still for a while. Yin yoga does not just make your joints more flexible, it cultivates physical ease and mental calm (Grilley, P. 2012).

In terms of purely physical benefits, Yin postures gently stretch and rehabilitate the connective tissue that form our joints. You have a few minutes to find that place that comforts and challenges you. Yin postures are not meant to be ‘easy’, they serve a purpose and you have time to find that sweet spot where you feel the pose is working for you: if you are feeling it, you are doing it (Clark, B. 2019). Yin Yoga (and any other forms of Yoga) is not about showing off your ego: we do not need to look great and flatten into a pancake to impress others –  it. Is all about how the pose makes you feel; it is about creating your own practice and going deeper into it session after session. 

‘How you look in a pose is irrelevant: how you feel in the pose is what matters’. 

Bernie Clark

I am really looking forward to welcoming you on the mat and even if you are not joining us, I hope this post has given you a bit of an YINsight into this wonderful practice.

In terms of props, you might not need any, or you might need all of them. I do like knowing that I have a cushion, a bolster, a couple of blocks and a blanket for the practice. There is a video on YouTube of how to make a bolster from a couple of pillows and a blanket. Click here to watch it. It is super easy and you will probably benefit of having something like that for the Yin Practice.

Have a wonderful week and I hope you are all doing well,  practicing Yoga and staying positive during these strange times!

Sending Love & Loads of Positive Vibes Your Way

Natallia

Visit www.natalliasfitness.com to view all our upcoming Classes & Workshops.

Reference:

  1. Grilley, P. 2012. Yin Yoga Principles & Practice
  2. Clark, B. 2019. The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga. Philosophy + Practice.
  3. Powers, S. 2008. Insight Yoga

health and fitness

I bend so I don’t break…Backbends explained

clean eating, health and fitness, Uncategorized

SPROUTED GRAINS

sprouted grains

Adding these to your food will give your body a bit of extra goodness!

If you are not familiar with sprouted grains, here’s a bit of information on why we sprout them and what they are.

I sprout wheat at home and add it to kefir, scrambled eggs and salads.

(Wild salmon with scrambled eggs, spinach and sprouted grains)

A regular grain is essentially a seed that you could put in the ground to grow a new seed-producing plant. When you let that grain start to grow, but harvest it before the shoot turns into a full-fledged plant, you end up with sprouted grain. Pretty straight forward, right? Well, here’s where things get more complicated… In order for a shoot to grow, it digests some of the starch inside the seed and uses it as fuel to break through the grain’s outer shell. So, since sprouted grain is lower in starch, it has higher proportions of other nutrients, like protein, vitamins, and minerals, compared to unsprouted grains (www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/should-you-be-eating-sprouted-grains#sthash.Ysr1F0gl.dpuf)

“The advantages of sprouted grains are maximized when you are eating the sprouted grains themselves,” (www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/should-you-be-eating-sprouted-grains#sthash.Ysr1F0gl.dpuf)

Sprouted grains are whole grains, and whole grains are healthier than their refined-grain alternatives, like white bread, pasta, and rice.  (www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/should-you-be-eating-sprouted-grains#sthash.Ysr1F0gl.dpuf)

Sprouted Grain: Benefits

Sprouted grain differs from whole grain in three fundamental aspects:

1) sprouting activates food enzymes;

2) sprouting increases vitamin content,

3) sprouting neutralises antinutrients like phytic acid which bind up minerals preventing your ability to fully absorb them.

When examining the nutrient density of sprouted wheat to unsprouted wheat on a calorie-per-calorie basis, you’ll find that sprouted wheat contains four times the amount of niacin and nearly twice the amount of vitamin B6 and folate as unsprouted wheat; moreover, it contains more protein and fewer starches than non-sprouted grain and as a further boon, it is lower on the glycemic index making it more suitable for those suffering from blood sugar issues.

Furthermore, sprouted grain and sprouted flours – having been effectively “pre-soaked” do not need to undergo further soaking or souring and are therefore suitable for quick breads, cookies and cakes in a way that sourdoughs and soaked flours are not (www.nourishedkitchen.com/sprouted-grain)

You can always purchase sprouted grain flour online if you don’t want to do it at home.

Uncategorized

WALKING: THE MOST UNDERRATED ACTIVITY

walking

Despite being on the most underestimated activities, walking has many benefits for your health and fitness.

Although many of us have changed our perception on walking, it still remains one of the most underestimated activities out there. The main reason for this stems from the illusion that a few exercise sessions a week (especially if they are high intensity ones) or going out on runs eliminate the need for taking a walk.

So what is that miracle benefit that can only be achieved by walking?

If fat loss is your goal, incorporate walking into your lifestyle! If you are dealing with too many stresses, going for a walk might be that miracle cure you have been missing! If you want to rebalance your hormones to multiply the post-training/weightlifting/cardio effect, walking is the key to all of the above!

Walking and high-intensity exercises like intervals and weight training are synergistic in their actions. “This is not a calorie phenomena but rather a hormonal one. In order for the body to recover properly, age well, build muscle and burn fat, it needs the correct balance of stress producing hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline) compared to growth promoting hormones (testosterone and human growth hormone,)” (HGH). During an exercise session, the desirable effect is to raise all of these hormones together to maximise fat loss.

However, in the days and hours following an intense workout, it is most beneficial to maximise the levels of growth hormones while minimising the levels of stress hormones. To keep stress levels low, walking should be done at a leisurely pace.

Many fat loss seekers misunderstand that changes in the way your body looks has much to do with changing the way you feel. Stress lowering activities such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditative practices are wonderful at this. A lower cortisol level along with lower perceived feelings of stress will have a positive impact on fat loss directly through less cortisol activity, and also indirectly through potential decreases in hunger and cravings for sweets or fatty foods, which cortisol will impact. The effect of walking is magnified in a nature setting as feelings of relaxation and comfort are enhanced.

So if fat loss is your goal you should maybe look into:

  • Changing your power walking to leisure walking
  • Whenever possible walk in nature-based settings

walk1Walking anywhere is better than no walking, so if you are nowhere near nature-based settings, any type of leisure walking will still help to balance the nervous system and make you feel more relaxed. In those cases when it is possible, go for a walk in a nature setting like the woods as it seems to have an even greater impact on rebalancing our hormones and making us feel more relaxed and rejuvenated.

Another big problem with walking is taking that first step and actually going for it. If you are very new to walking, start small with a 5-10 minute walk and gradually increase the time and the distance. Have a step goal you want to achieve daily and try and beat it if you can.

This feature is available on a variety of tracking devices (Argus being one of them), which are a great help to stay on track and be accountable for your actions. It all depends on how much you would like to invest into your tracker (or get a free app!), but I would certainly recommend having one.

10,000 steps per day should be the minimum step goal for a more or less active individual. A considerably lower number of steps is ok for those who are just starting to make changes to their lifestyles.

A few tips on how to make walking more fun

  1. Listen to Podcasts. I am a big fan of them and with a busy lifestyle, walking is the only time I can listen to podcasts. They are free and it is amazing how much new up-to-date information you can get out of them. There are so many podcasts out there ranging from comedy to science. (My personal favourite is Tim Ferriss’ podcast).
  2. Get a dog. With a dog, you will have no choice but to take the dog out! Can’t have one? Borrow a dog from somebody or join your friends on a doggie walk! Time flies when you have a walking companion.
  3. Walk different routes. If you can, avoid walking the same route daily to prevent yourself from becoming bored!
  4. Join a local walking group.
  5. Walk on your lunch break and whenever you can get around not using the car!
  6. Walk your kids to school and from school.

There are absolutely millions of ways you can get in these 10,000 steps into your day without even thinking of it or making any effort!

Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Achieving small goals brings big satisfaction! Make little changes and you’ll be surprised how easy and quickly it is to reap all the benefits of walking!

health and fitness

YOGA AND CROSSFIT: THE PERFECT PAIR Improve your performance in either Yoga and CrossFit by adding both to your routine.

Most of us are more or less familiar with yoga, less so with CrossFit. Saying that, its popularity has grown quickly in the last few years to the point that unless you live on a desert island, there’s no doubt that you have heard of it. Some feel intimidated by it, but the ones who are not, love it!

A common misconception is that most people see CrossFit as being all about lifting heavy weights and doing high intensity workouts only. It is true to some extent, but there is way more to CrossFit than that. CrossFit is not a building-muscles-and-looking-like-a-potato discipline (CrossFitters are much leaner and smaller than weightlifters). It’s also not all about the look: one can see males and females of all shapes, sizes and ages working out and having fun at CrossFit boxes all over the world! Community spirit is definitely one of the defining features of CrossFit. Some call it a cult, some call it a tribe, but for others it has become a way of life!

And, similar to yoga, it benefits not only physical, but many other aspects of our life as well.

Love it or hate it, yoga has been proven to bring tremendous physical and (especially) psychological results. The success of yoga lies in the fact that apart from being a physical discipline, it has its impact on different aspects of our life and wellbeing:

1. Regular practice of yoga promotes strength, endurance, flexibility and facilitates characteristics of friendliness, compassion, and greater self-control, while cultivating a sense of calmness and well-being.

2. Sustained practice also leads to important outcomes such as changes in life perspective, self-awareness and an improved sense of energy to live life fully and with genuine enjoyment.

3. Yoga helps to relax your nervous system, which leads to a better sleep.

4. Meditation and relaxation aspects help with a racing mind, which leads to a better concentration and clearer thinking.

5. Twists, bridges and other asanas (postures or poses in other words) in yoga aid in bettering your metabolism, which then leads to increases in energy, faster calorie burn, and also helps you in utilizing more vitamins and minerals.

6. Early yoga practice makes you energized for the day ahead.

7. Asana, meditation or a combination of the two can reduce pain and disability while improving flexibility and functional mobility in people with a number of conditions causing chronic pain.

Yoga and Crossfit share a number of the same benefits

1. CrossFit improves your strength and endurance, and so does yoga. The only difference is yoga is a purely bodyweight form of exercise while CrossFit is not. The stronger you are, the more advanced postures requiring strong arms, legs and core you can get into.

2. The mindfulness of yoga helps with better concentration during the class, weightlifting and WODs (workouts of the day).

3. Yoga helps to maintain muscle strength, which protects from conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain. During a yoga session, the joints are taken through their full range of motion, squeezing and soaking areas of cartilage not often used and bringing fresh nutrients, oxygen and blood to the area, which helps to prevent conditions like arthritis and chronic pain.

The muscle strengthening you get from yoga and the muscle building (and strengthening) you get from CrossFit complement each other very well:

1. Balance postures in yoga are not just about coordination; they also concentrate on stretching, core engagement, strengthening and calming our mind. All these could benefit a CrossFitter in many ways: every heavy lift requires core engagement; every overhead lift requires good balance, etc.

2. Breathing (pranayama) is an integral part of yoga and is hugely beneficial for CrossFitters in many ways. Yoga is a practice linked entirely to the breath. Establishing a full even rhythmic breath is the first tenant of Yoga. This translates beautifully to all of the elements of CrossFit, from Olympic lifting to conditioning, and will really improve your performance if you can master balanced breathing. It will also translate to a more peaceful mind.

3. Naughty fact alert: yoga and CrossFit could help improve your sex life! The fitter you are, the stronger you are, the more flexible you are the better sex life you will have and the happier, less stressed person you are going to be. Win – win! CrossFit and yoga are joining forces to take your sex life to the next level.

4. Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. Flexibility and suppleness that yoga develops can bring your CrossFit training to the next level: overhead squats, back squats, deep ring dips, squat clean, and other movements can benefit hugely from yoga practice. Ankle mobility, which is so underestimated but so essential for the majority of the movements, improves with specific yoga postures.

5. Yoga helps with muscle tightness and soreness that you can experience after a CrossFit workout. Yoga helps to loosen you up after a training session, speeds up recovery, and reduces soreness.

Having done CrossFit for 2 years and yoga for 5, my overall performance in both disciplines has improved drastically over the last 2 years. One complements the other tremendously! The quietness, peacefulness, reflectiveness of yoga and aggressiveness, loudness, and competitiveness (in a good way) of CrossFit keeps your body and mind in balance.

The verdict:  Coupling of yoga and CrossFit creates a more balanced athlete.

Uncategorized

7 RULES OF LIFE

Hi guys! This blog post isn’t about fitness, clean eating or anything exercise related. I came across this picture on Facebook last week and thought that these were the most true to life set of quotes combined together. We are all walking our own unique paths but I am quite positive that 99.9% of us could relate to the quotes below. 

Image

 

Love,

Natallia

xxxxxx