Yoga postures for the back

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Back pain is one of the biggest bane of modern jobs and lifestyle. But the truth is, most back issues can be avoided if you follow certain exercise regimes. Personally,  I think swimming is very good for the back, although there  are no research results to back up my claims.

However, Yoga is the one exercise form about which I’m convinced. You know why ? After practicing Yoga rigorously for a few months, my hunch backed grandmother now again has a straight back, and I too found my persistent back pains gone after one of my instructors in the gym taught us Yoga postures to stretch our backs.

Without further ado, here are the three Yoga poses you should practice twice a week to help you with your back.  Unlike a lot of other blogs, I don’t want to go into huge descriptions without photographs. Therefore, I’ll limit the description to 2-3 sentences, and let the pictures guide you.

 

Bhujangasana

Line down on your stomach with your hands in front of you. Now push your torso up using your hands, while letting the lower body remain on the floor. Now look at the ceiling. Hold this pose for 15 seconds, come down, relax for a few seconds and repeat.

Dhanurasana

Lie down on your stomach with your hands in front of you. Fold  your legs from your knees, and stretch your arms back to hold your feet with your hands. Now lift your head, torso and legs up, with the body resting only on the pelvis and stomach. Look ahead. Hold this pose for 15 seconds, come down, relax for a few seconds and repeat.

Shavasana

This is what you’re supposed to do right at the very end. Lie down on your back, with your arms resting lightly by your sides.  Close your eyes and relax for two minutes.

(Images via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shavasana.jpg,

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dhanurasana.jpg,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bhujangasana.jpg)

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Swimming

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Swimming is one of the most popular and refreshing exercises. However, a lot of people complain that while swimming makes them feel fresh and healthy, they are unable to see any tangible health benefits like weight loss, muscle tone or increase in stamina. The reason is, that swimming is a unique exercise form, and needs to be done properly to extract maximum benefits. Today, let us discuss how you can benefit from swimming.

Benefits

Swimming, if done properly, is a great toning exercise, and also a great supplement to other exercise forms. If you swim four times a week, you’ll get a more toned, agile body with greater heart rate and stamina. However, if you combine it with aerobics or cardio, it will help you burn more fat, and if you combine it with heavy weight lifting, it will get you better muscle tone.

Moreover, swimming improves your looks. It makes you look fitter, gives you better skin, and helps you look young.

Style and Technique

There are a few things beginners  should take care of while swimming  to gain maximum benefit –

– Do not take more than 1 minute breaks. It is okay if you get tired and need lots of breaks,  just try not to take long breaks.

– Try to engage your lower body as much as possible. Your leg movements should be proper, and your abs and core should be engaged. Try swimming the first 10-15 minutes using just your lower body. Engage your arms after that but keep your lower body active.

– Pay attention to technique. Don’t waste your exercise time swimming the wrong way. People who splatter too much end up getting tired without burning much calories. A proper swim is smooth, silent and efficient. Watch the video below, and other videos on Youtube and get your technique right.

(Image via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Front_Crawl_4704.JPG)

Aerobics

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Today’s post deals with Aerobics classes.

Have a hard time getting yourself motivated for your daily jog or gym workout ? Good news for you – Cardio is no longer boring !

How to choose the correct class ? 

The most important thing while choosing an Aerobics class is not the instructor’s certificates, or the perfect technique, or the number of  exercises you do. There are just two things you should look for:  First  – the class should be fun, and Second – after the class you should feel that you’ve really had a solid workout.

What are the different forms of aerobics ?

Most instructors generally teach one or more of the following –

-Step Aerobics

-Dance Aerobics

-Circuit Training

-Stretching and Yoga Asanas

What are the benefits of Aerobics classes ?

Aerobics exercises are very good for stamina, agility and heart. If you start aerobics young, your bones will get stronger and hold on for longer once you’re old. Whereas cycling and swimming are more beneficial if you purely concentrate on the number of calories you need to burn, they’re good for you if you find these boring. They’re also are a lot of fun because instructors generally build on choreographed sequences, because of which they end up feeling more like dance classes and less like monotonous cardio.

Are Aerobics classes for guys too ?

Health wise, aerobics classes are excellent for guys and most elite athletes follow a daily routine which includes stepping exercises. If you want to maintain a buff physique, I suggest you keep doing arm and shoulder toning exercises along with aerobics (swimming or push-ups will also do) .  As for those guys who feel shy – here’s the best tip I can give you – attend three full classes before you quit, even if you think you’re making a fool of yourself the whole time.  Feel good that you’re working out with tons of hot girls !

Can I combine aerobics with anything else ?

For girls – you can combine it with stretching, cycling, swimming or traditional yoga.

For girls – you can combine it with swimming, cycling or upper body workout.

Cycling

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Usually, we judge the weight loss a form of exercise will cause by looking at the number of calories burned during the activity.

Today I’m going to tell you a secret – there is one form of exercise which revs up your metabolic rate so much that you continue to lose weight even when you’ve stopped exercising. It’s cycling !

You roughly burn 500 KCals on cycling 15 Kms. This means, that if you want to lose half kilogram of weight in 2 weeks, you theoretically need to go on eight 15 Km trips over those 14 days. However, the good thing about cycling is that you continue to lose weight even when you’ve stopped cycling. Therefore, to lose half a kilogram, you just need to go on four such trips.

Here’s a summary of the tip :

What you need to do : Go on 4 cycling trips in 2 weeks, and cover roughly 15 Kms of distance in each trip.

What you need to take care about : Keep enough water with you. Have fruits, salted lemonade and a decent meal after the trip.

What you should avoid : Eating too many sweets after the trip. There’s nothing which kills the effects of cycling like sugar.

PS: As will all other tips on this blog, this one is not dependent on any other tip and can be followed independently.