The Elongated Body – Balanced Flexibility Part III

Reformer Pilates manly are excellent at helping to keep the neck & back protected whilst still offering amazingly transformational exercises. Last week, I promised you some surprising scientific evidence on stretching. Here are the findings from studies on stretching that were conducted at universities in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Finding # 1. Active and dynamic stretching are both better at increasing flexibility than is passive stretching. You stretch passively when you use your hand, the floor or a piece of exercise equipment to create the stretch. You stretch actively when you enlist the muscles on the other side of those being stretched – termed the “agonist” muscles – to form your stretch as shown as the picture at the right. In this illustration the hamstring and glute muscles on the back of the leg are stretching the thigh and hip flexor muscles on the front of the leg. You stretch dynamically when your agonist muscles create little pulses of movement to deepen the stretch on the other (“antagonist”) side. In this example, small contractions of the hamstring and glutes drawing your leg back dynamically stretches your thigh and hip flexor muscles.

The studies concluded that passive stretching is good at relaxing your body but is not very good at increasing range of motion. The largest increases in flexibility came in studies during which subjects performed a combination of active and dynamic stretches and saved the passive stretches for the cool-down. Yoga, with its focus on surrender, is mostly composed of passive stretches. Pilates uses mostly active stretches and so is better at increasing range of motion than is yoga. The Bar Method fuses strength work together with active and dynamic stretching. Look closely at its strength exercises and you’ll notice that they double as active/dynamic stretches for the flip-side, or agonist, muscles.

At the ballet bar students pit strength against length for the muscles of their legs, as shown in the photo above.
Later on mats, Bar Method students form dynamic and active stretches for their backs as they hold the fronts of their torsos in a flexed position or perform tiny forward bends at the waist which strengthen their abs as seen to the left. Finally, the Bar Method inserts a passive stretch sequence as seen below at the end of every active one. The warm, exhausted muscles just worked surrender more wholly to the passive stretches than they would if they had not just been worked. In this way, the Bar Method’s passive stretches act more deeply than many yoga stretches performed with muscles that are fresh. Coming at the end of dynamic stretching sets, these passive stretches also give students a moment to gently reinforce any increased range of motion they’ve just gained.

Finding # 2. You don’t have to hold a stretch for very long to get the maximum benefit. One study in Montreal found that 15 to 30 second stretches work best to lengthen muscles. Holding stretches for longer – or repeating them too often – either did nothing at all or had the unpleasant effect of re-tightening those muscles. This finding suggests that yoga classes that give holding pose for longer than a minute could be tightening, not lengthening their students’ muscles. In another study based in Toledo, Ohio two groups stretched their hamstring muscles for different lengths of time, one for 30 seconds and the other for 10 seconds repeated three times. After six weeks, the range of motion gains were equal in both groups. The evidence in favor of shorter stretches is strong. If you’re aiming for a more flexible body, yoga’s long, unbroken holds have no advantage over numerous shorter ones, and can even be counterproductive.

Finding # 3. Strength and Stretch are part of one continuum, not separate features of fitness. Picture a yogi or a contortionist. Your mind will probably conjure up a slender, fragile figure. Now imagine a body-builder or football player. Odds are you’ll be seeing a tight, muscle-bound physique. In actuality these stereotypes represent extremes of body-type, not end results from physical regimes. For us average body types, the first step in stretching one of our muscles is to strength it. Our stronger muscle will in turn add stability to its underlying joint, making it less likely that the joint will fly out of control and get injured (joints are smart). Then, and only then, the joint allows our muscle to increase its range of motion.

When in my 30’s I started taking The Lotte Berk Method, the predecessor of the Bar Method. I was a regular yoga student but had been frustrated by the lack of gain in my flexibility. I even daydreamed of an operation that would add some length to my tight muscles. The new workout, which greatly strengthened my muscles, almost immediately began giving me more flexibility. Today I can do the splits and back-bends that were once fantasies.

The flip side of this equation is the strength you get from becoming flexible. Simply stated, stretching makes you stronger by giving muscles more ability to both contract and expand. So unless you’re a body-builder solely into fitness to look pumped, you have every reason to add range of motion to your hard-won strength. That range of motion will translate into greater strength during performance, whether you’re lunging for a long-shot on the tennis court or running in a marathon.

Finding #4: Stretching does indeed make muscles look long and lean. No, this is not a myth. Muscles that get stretched as well as strengthened look visibly smaller than solely “pumped” ones. These same muscles are just a strong as their heftier looking counterparts, but they’ll lie closer to the bone and appear smoother.

Taking all evidence into consideration makes it clear that any strength workout worth its salt must not just throw a few passive stretches in at the end but must instead fully integrate flexibility training into its routine.

With 23 exercise studios and Exercise DVDs, The Bar Method represents one of the fastest growing exercise trends in America today. To find out more about the studios, go to http://www.BarMethod.com To read about and purchase the DVDs go to

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Slowly, More Men Coming Around To Embrace Yoga’s Benefits

In order to get the yoga benefits all you need is a good Pilates instructor course. According to the most recent survey, the vast majority of participants in yoga classes were women (approximately 77 percent), despite the fact that some of the most popular and famous teachers today and many of the originators of the practice are and were men.

So where are the men in the studio?  That is a question that many yoga instructors and studios are trying to answer as they try to reach out to a market that, for all intents and purposes, remains relatively untapped.

There are many possible reasons why men stay away from the yoga studio, but a few reasons seem to stick out more than others.  Many experts and yoga enthusiasts point to the competitive nature in men and the belief that many men don’t find yoga challenging enough for the physical goals they wish to accomplish.  Plainly stated, many men don’t find yoga “masculine” enough for them (as if a pose like the Side Crane is a piece of cake).

According to a few instructors, quoted in a recent article, men enter the yoga studios and see a room full of women, perhaps hear calming music and notice there’s not one piece of heavy metal equipment in the room and conclude that this place is not for them.  And if there is a male instructor, his calm, sensitive demeanor is in sharp contract to the “feel the burn” approach of a personal trainer he may be used to.  One yoga instructor said that men come to the studio looking for a challenge immediately.

Experts point to a number of possible reasons why mainstream men consider yoga a “women’s thing”, starting with Indra Devi, a female yoga instructor who came to the U.S. in the 1940s and was promoted by cosmetic legend Elizabeth Arden.  Some time after, Richard Hitttleman became a yoga celebrity, but his books and television show only featured female models.  The PBS network presented “Lilias, Yoga and You” in the 1970s and featured instructor Lilias Folan in an afternoon broadcast that seemed perfectly tailored for the stay-at-home mom of that era.  Although more athletic forms of yoga developed later, such as Power Yoga, the deep involvement of woman in the practice solidified the idea of yoga as a woman’s exercise in the minds of many men.

Yoga experts also say the need for men to have concrete exercise results may also be a reason why they refrain from yoga.  With weight lifting or weight training, a man may see an increase in muscle mass – a bigger bicep or a bit of definition here or there.  But with yoga, many of the most important changes are internal, mental and emotional benefits that maybe harder to gauge for a person taught to measure success by wins and losses.

As one instructor stated, instead of focusing on quieting his mind or relaxing, men may build even more tension by focusing on performing a pose perfectly (in response to their competitive streak) and not be satisfied until they do, even if it’s a move recommended for an advanced student and they’re in their first class.  By putting their efforts into perfection, many men completely miss one of the real benefits of the practice.

Finally, several yoga experts and instructors point to men’s fear of failure as one of the reasons they shun yoga in such large numbers.  Since most men’s idea of exercise consists of lifting weights or calisthenics that require the body to move in such a rigid motion, they often lack the flexibility that yoga demands.  Even beginning male students, the experts say, give up after a few sessions because they fear “failure” at not being able to perform the moves (without realizing that their inflexibility may be the biggest reason they should participate in yoga).

Yoga instructors say it may help to inform many men that some of today’s top athletic stars are yoga fans who use the practice to help them perform.  Superstars such as NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, former NFL star Jon Kitna and pitcher Barry Zito, as well as entire teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Cubs, offer yoga to their athletes to counteract the rough treatment they receive on the field.

Men who attend yoga classes must let down their defenses and not think of yoga in terms of success and failure.  The instructors say that yoga is not concerned with perfection of pose or rating someone based on whether they can perform a backbend on their first day in class.  Yoga, they stress, is a gradual process where the student comes to acknowledge the mind-body connection.  When placed in the right perspective with realistic goals, each yoga session can be considered a “success”.

Yoga instructors suggest that men who are attending their first yoga session take time to introduce themselves to the teacher and discuss the class structure.  Men should also accept and admit (to the instructor and to themselves) that they harbor some anxiety about the yoga class.  By establishing lines of communication, the student and the instructor can begin to erase the fears they have about not being up to the task of yoga.

Another option yoga instructors may want to consider, the experts say, is occasionally conducting a men’s-only yoga session where men can be themselves.  Instructors who have held classes such as this admit that it creates a different atmosphere than usual and that the typical male joking is not uncommon.  But arranging such classes can be a big help in teaching men to relax in the studio and, in turn, relax with the idea of yoga.

Finally, men should be willing to let themselves go mentally in a yoga class.  Some of the most powerful men in business have credited yoga with letting them clear their heads of the day-to-day stresses and mental strain of the workday.  And not only does yoga let them get rid of old, troublesome thoughts, it allows new thoughts to come in.  indeed, many top executives have claimed that some of their most successful ideas have come while meditating during yoga.

It may take a while until more men embrace yoga the way women have.  But by adopting this attitude, men too can begin to understand the benefits of yoga, both mental and physical.

Lindaa Adams loves all things that have to do with health.

One of the top health blogs Lindaa has found is Kamloops Yoga Teachers, which is a distinctive combination of yoga and health. For more information, you may also visit Kamloops Yoga Fitness Boot Camp

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Yoga Mats – Your Ultimate Guide to Finding the Perfect Yoga Mat

As the courses on offer are run at a busy Pilates instructor course centre the trainees are offered the chance to get hands on experience with clients as part of the training and particular attention is given to rehabilitation. Yoga mats that properly support your body are essential for your enjoyment and success with yoga asanas (postures).  Yoga mats prevent and decrease injuries that can be caused by slippery surfaces.  Yoga mats are used by anyone practicing yoga to help them create a barrier between themselves and the floor.   Yoga mats can be purchased for as little as $20 and many studios and yoga classes will let you store your mat with them if you are a regular. Some will even offer you a free mat to use during your sessions. Research has not confirmed the link between unclean  yoga mats and fungal, bacterial and viral infections, plantar warts and staph infections.

Yoga mats have 4 requirements:
1.) they need to be safe,
2.) durable,
3.) comfortable, and
4.) environmental friendly. 

Good Yoga mats will help you improve your balance and coordination and give you better stability and traction. If you are  looking for a natural, eco-friendly alternative to sticky  synthetic yoga mats which may be full of chemicals, then  consider an organic hemp, bamboo, or cotton variety of yoga mat.

Custom Yoga Mat

Mats come in a variety of custom colors and sizes, with the standard size of 24″ x 68″. There are also 100% hemp yoga and meditation mats made from certified organic European hemp: processed without chemicals for true purity and environmental sustainability.  You’ll love an organic hemp yoga or meditation mat if you’re looking for something natural, organic, and soft during your yoga session so that you forget about your worries of synthetic or dusty carpets (many yoga studios have carpeted or synthetic and dusty flooring).  Rolled up, the yoga mat makes a great pillow and also a lower back support.  We’ve found that mats are also good for the second (mat to lie on) and third (folded up for knee support) of the Five Tibetan Rejuvenation Rites since bare floors can be very hard on your knees.

Yoga Mat Products

There are half a dozen type of yoga-mat wipes available, and new products like hand and foot mitts will protect yoga mat borrowers.  Though, you should keep in mind that it has not been proven that you can ‘catch’ a virus, fungus or other bacteria from another person’s yoga mat, you will still probably want to purchase your own, as it will become personal to you, and you will be able to maintain it and know that it is your very own.

Meditation Mats

A hand-woven yoga mat is best if you want to do gentle yoga, meditation or relaxation. A comfortable bamboo meditation bench with rounded leg bottoms is also suitable for long meditations.  For complete yoga that includes exercises, meditation, breathing (pranayama) and relaxation, sticky mats should not be used. For a sitting meditation, you may want to fold the mat two or three times so that you have a thicker cushion under you while you sit.   Rolled up, the hemp yoga and meditation mats make a great pillow and lower back support too.

Cotton Yoga Mats

Yoga mats are made of cotton, jute, rubber, rug and synthetic materials.  A 100% cotton yoga mat rug for your practice may be best if you have allergic reactions to other materials, or just wish a softer, more cushier mat.  An all natural zabuton mat is handmade from chemical- free green cotton. A long lasting filler for pillows is organic buckwheat hulls as it conforms to your body’s shape and is usually wrapped in a organic cotton twill shell with a hidden zipper carry handle.

Natural Yoga Mats

The original eco yoga mat is  made with all-natural rubber and jute fiber and is excellent for any consistent practice of yoga. Its rubber underside grips  the floor and the jute fabric/rubber mix on top offers superb traction and a highly durable, tactile and pleasantly natural surface to practice on.

Eco Yoga Mats

Selecting an eco yoga mat is a perfect choice as you pose your way to enlightenment and inner peace in your yoga practice.  Even a carpet can potentially become slippery and cause  an injury, especially in a more complicated pose.  After extensive research, I believe that the ecoYoga mat is currently the greenest  option available for those who wish to practice on a sticky mat.  Better still, you may want to show a little eco enlightenment at your next yoga class with a PVC-free mat.  In the past, we’ve given you a few  options regarding eco-sensitive yoga mats: the Harmony Rubber Yoga Mat, and Eco Mats by Eco Yoga.

Green Yoga Mats

Greenpeace wants all PVC production to cease, because it releases dioxins into  the environment.   An all natural zabuton mat is handmade from chemical-free green cotton.

Organic Yoga Mats

Organic hemp yoga, meditation mats are eco-friendly, all-natural and sustainably made. What better way to be there than starting  with synthetic-free, plastic-free, chemical-free,  and toxin-free organic hemp mat on which  to perform your asana’s. When purchasing new yoga clothes or yoga  products, you should consider shopping at a organic clothing store, fair  trade business,recycle shop, etc.

Colors

Most retailers offer a wide variety of colors and designs.  You should be able to find any color that you like in a yoga mat, I’ve seen them in everything from bright red to purple to deep aqua to the natural colors of organic cotton and bamboo.

Yoga Mat Essentials

Yoga mats can be purchased for as little as $20, and many studios let you store your mat with them.  Yoga mats are handy, safe and comfortable for yoga practice.  The standard size of 24″ x 68.  Yoga mats provide ideal base  for  practicing yoga safely and comfortably.  There are some yoga mats that are not made of PVC, which is considered to be the most toxic of all plastics, and is found in more than 90% of today’s sticky mats. Alternative materials such as hemp, cotton, bamboo and other materials can be used instead of PVC when you are looking for a more organic or chemical-free experience, or simply to prevent allergic reactions.

Brett Simpson has practiced yoga for many years. For more useful articles, videos and a free eBook: Easing Your Stress With Yoga, visit his ~Dream Yoga~ website.

~Dream Yoga~
Your Yoga Resource
http://www.dreampublishers.com/healing/yoga/

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How to Increase Your Core Flexibility: Pilates for Beginners at Home

Dynamic Pilates Manly studios specialises in athletic, high intensity, low impact Pilates classes. Looking to get a strong, lean body without spending countless hours doing exercises in the gym? A strong, toned body doesn’t always have to come from lifting weights. You can just as easily get a greast full body strength workout at home with just your yoga mat and a Pilates routine. Pilates not only tightens and tones your muscles, it also strengthens your body and increases your core flexibility. It involves workouts comprised of precise moves and specific breathing techniques. So why choose Pilates? Read on to learn more about why you should choose to add this Pilates workout for beginners to your regular fitness routine. Sara is wearing the Ultimate Sports Bra for support during her workout! 

So What is Pilates Exactly?

Pilates is a form of exercise that uses controlled movements designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture. The movements focus primarily on your core to condition your body and build stronger, more sculpted muscles without any excess bulk. The result is a sleek, toned body. Pilates can also help to improve your posture from the ab and back strength you’ll gain through the controlled movements.

There are two different forms of Pilates – one is mat based while the other uses large pieces of equipment generally found only in Pilates studios. The mat based form of Pilates is the most popular (and the one we will be focusing on for this post) and can easily be done at home. All you need is an exercise mat and a routine to follow as shown below by our Shefit Founder Sara Marie Moylan.

What are the benefits of Pilates?

1. Pilates Is for Everyone!

Pilates can be done by anyone – man, woman, young or old. No matter your age or physical ability, you can do Pilates. There are thousands of possible exercises and modifications, so it can be adapted to fit an individual’s needs – from the absolute beginner to the seasoned athlete.

2. Pilates Works Your Core

One of the key components of Pilates is the emphasis oncore strength. The core is the “powerhouse” of the body – Pilates strengthens and conditions the core while simultaneously working your arms and legs. The exercises focus on movements and positions that not only activate your core but also rely on your extremities (arms and legs) for control.

3. Pilates Is Good for Your Posture

One of the main components of Pilates is the connection between mind and body and the overall awareness of how your body moves. As a result, you become more aware of the placement of your spine and pelvis, especially during your Pilates routine.

4. Pilates Increases Energy

Like yoga, Pilates teaches you how to focus on the correct way to breathe. You’ll breathe more deeply, providing your body with more oxygen and thus increasing your energy levels. Once you finish your Pilates routine, you’ll find yourself feeling more energized, de-stressed, peaceful and relaxed.

5. Pilates Improves the Mind/Body Connection

Pilates workouts are designed to improve your balance and coordination by teaching a stronger connection between the mind and the body. Pilates movements are done with control and focus to help you become more aware of your alignment.

6. Pilates Improves Balance and Co-ordination

Because of its strong focus on the core, Pilates helps to improve your overall balance by stabilizing your core. The movements of Pilates work the small, deep muscles in your.

Why Pilates Is The Number One Choice

Pilates instructor course is one of the most popular methods of exercise in the world, and for good reason. There are various types of Pilates workouts that are available to you, thus it is important to understand about each different type, so that you can study the components of each. Either you want to take up Pilates as a hobby or a career choice, the following article helps you decide on which exercise is truly suitable for you.

1) Powerhouse Pilates

Powerhouse Pilates is a form of exercise that provides that of a fitness approach to that of the Pilates education overall. It was founded by Marci Clark and Christine Romani-Ruby in order to make Pilates education easily available for fitness professionals.

2) Peak Pilates

Peak Pilates is one of many forms of Pilates which uses a truly and entirely different approach that teaches you how to teach and not just what to teach. Peak Pilates certification programs concentrate on that of professional development and a deep understanding of the integrated, systematic approach to Pilates overall.

This knowledge is important because it is what provides the solid foundation and the confidence; two things that are required in order to become a successful Pilates instructor.

Moreover, the Peak Pilates certification programs offer that of a modular educational pathway which allows you to learn and teach at your own pace while simultaneously matching your own personal education level to the level of Peak Pilates that you wish to teach. It is compulsory for every single Pilates student, regardless of their specific fitness level or movement experience, begins by learning the introductory system.

3) Stott Pilates

Stott Pilates is one which concentrates on that of breath, core conditioning, and body awareness. Moreover, Stott Pilates exercise provides a safe and highly effective way to stretch, which is a very important part of the Pilates routines altogether. Stott Pilates is also great as it strengthens and streamlines your body without adding unwanted bulk and without putting any more pressure on your joints.

Stott Pilates is performed on a mat and uses specialized equipment. It is considered as being one of the few fitness regimes that can last you for a lifetime. In addition, it is also thought of as being the perfect compliment to that of cardiovascular exercise, sport and rehab.

4) Power Pilates

Power Pilates are exercises on almost the same lines as yoga, however with a big difference – the fitness in yoga comes from the mind first, hence the deep meditation, etc. The Power Pilates imparts a series exercises which are focused to build muscles and overall the fitness of body and mind.

There are many programs which offer a number of Power Pilates at different levels of interest. The Power Pilates is a series of exercises that a person has to take on for about 12-36 hours per week. The Power Pilates moves will almost always require backup by some form of equipment. These equipments are used for different muscle stretching exercises.

The Power Pilates exercises are a great way to stay fit. Yoga is the only other method for accomplishing the same level of fitness of the mind and body. Power Pilates is not too costly to learn, or too labor intensive as yoga yet it is highly effective. While with yoga you will need to be extremely supple, with the Power Pilates you require only to have the will to learn and do it.

5) Yoga Pilates

There are several different yoga Pilates workouts that involve exercises that have their foundation in yoga along with Pilates as they focus on flexibility and core strength. An exerciser can do these yoga Pilates exercises at a restful pace by breathing slowly and deeply throughout the workout. Yoga Pilates exercises can also be adjusted to fit different fitness levels and flexibility. However one should also consult the doctor before starting any of these exercise programs.

There are definite yoga Pilates guidelines that should help exercisers which include yoga postures that should not be performed on a full stomach. One should wear comfortable clothing to enable freedom of movement and not exercising when feeling weak or shaky.

One should build up strength steadily while staying within personal limitations. One should extend their boundaries of limitations gently while staying focused throughout the workout on one’s breathing that is inhaling and exhaling fully and completely, through the nose.

Because yoga Pilates classes is mushrooming everywhere, there may be a limited number of qualified instructors available. Having a qualified instructor is important as it guarantees that the participant takes the right yoga Pilates exercises. In the case of Pilates, it is dangerous to do moves that are beyond one’s capabilities.

6) Pilates and Pregnancy

Pilates is thought of to be one of the best ways a pregnant woman can use to prepare herself for the birth of her baby. Furthermore, by practicing Pilates can help her along the stages of her actual pregnancy. The dynamic moves of Pilates actually challenge the woman by building her muscle endurance, and at the same time helping her to gain better balance.

Pilates and pregnancy is a great match in this regards because with Pilates it is a mind and body incorporating method of exercise that strengthens the most important muscles – the ones that the woman will be using during the labor and delivery part of her pregnancy: the abdominals, pelvic muscles, and the back.

One of the best and most important parts about Pilates and pregnancy is that it is the most perfect groundwork for a woman’s labor and delivery process. Pilates is also great during pregnancy because it helps the woman to limber her muscles thus making them supple, which will be a very helpful factor when the time comes to deliver the baby.

However, as with any other form of physical activity, the pregnant woman should consult her physician before starting Pilates, just to ensure that it will not do harm to herself or to the baby.

Cindy Heller is a professional writer. Visit winsor pilates workout [http://www.winsorpilatesworkout.net] to learn more about power pilates [http://www.winsorpilatesworkout.net/power_pilates.php] and other pilates workout

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How to Find a Tai Chi Class Or Teacher

Pilates instructor course will encourage you to achieve the perfect body and conditioning that you want. Depending on where you live, finding a Tai Chi class may be as easy as pie or nigh on impossible. If you live in or close to a major city, your odds of finding a good teacher are certainly better than if you live in a small rural area. Even so, with Tai Chi gaining in popularity you may still be able to find a local class. If your town has a karate dojo or martial arts studio, that may be the first place to inquire. While they may not give any classes in Tai Chi it’s possible they may have connections with another studio that does or know of someone who teaches classes.

Other places that may have classes in Tai Chi or advise you on where to find one may be:

-Holistic Wellness Centers

-Therapeutic Massage Studios

-Health Food Stores

-Adult Learning Centers

-Churches

-YMCA/YWCAs

-Senior Centers (even if you are not a senior the person who

         teaches Tai Chi may teach additional classes elsewhere)

-Local or Community College

-Local high school

-Local dance studio

-Bulletin board at your local bookstore or supermarket.

-Community Center

Also, searching for tai chi and the name of your town on Google may come up with something. With diligence and a little luck you may be able to find a class not too far from home.

However, in the absence of regular classes, you should still be able to start practicing Tai Chi by working with a DVD or tape. The best videos for beginners will have an emphasis on understanding proper posture and provide ways to self-check to be sure you are staying on course. Tai Chi for Busy People, by Dr. Keith Jeffery is one example of a good beginner’s DVD.

Since there is no test or standard rating system for Tai Chi instructors there is nothing to show that a given instructor is qualified, or even competent, to teach Tai Chi. Unless there is no other option available, I would steer clear of a teacher who considers Tai Chi to be just another exercise like step class or Pilates (This is not to put down Pilates, by the way, I actually know a lot about Pilates – I helped write a Pilates book, as a matter of fact – and it’s a great exercise system).

The best Tai Chi teachers are fully aware of the martial origins of the various postures (whether or not they choose to utilize that information in class), along with some of the history – including the origins of their particular form – along with information about energy flow and the healing aspects and health benefits of Tai Chi.

Because Tai Chi is so easy on the joints and doesn’t require great athleticism classes can tend to be very mixed when it comes to age and physical conditioning. Classes can also have a wide range of experience levels with more advanced students assisting the instructor with teaching the beginning and less experienced students. However, not all teachers, regardless of their Tai Chi experience and education level will be able to handle a class with multiple skill levels adequately.

My mother, before she passed away in 2007, had some serious problems with balance and leg strength due to anemia and other physical issues. She decided on her own to try a Tai Chi class not far from her apartment in New York City (I live near Philadelphia, so I didn’t get to see her as often as I would have liked). She was not comfortable and felt very alienated because the teacher seemed to be making no provision for integrating her into the class. She told me she was intimidated because all the other students were much more advanced than she.

When she told me about this during one of my visits I was a bit perturbed. A good, experienced Tai Chi instructor should make it a primary focus to be sure all his students are comfortable. No one should ever feel isolated because they are a beginner or are in any way infirm. I suggested that she try a new teacher and a new class and keep going until she found the right one, because Tai Chi was exactly the type of activity she needed. I demonstrated some of the form I was working on so she could see how gentle it was, and she was very encouraged and excited about the prospect of trying another class.

Sadly, my mother suffered a stroke only a few days after my visit and never recovered. When I was next in her apartment a couple of weeks later, I noticed an entry on her calendar indicating she had indeed signed up for a new class and teacher.

The lesson here for every Tai Chi Student is that Tai Chi should be for everybody, regardless of age or physical condition, but your first class and teacher may not be the right ones for you. If you don’t feel comfortable in the class or with the teacher, don’t give up Tai Chi — try a different class, and keep going until you find one that works for you.

I realize this advice may not work for everybody since you may be lucky to find a teacher at all, but if you can find a video that works well with the style and form you are learning, and can supplement your class with learning from the video, you may be able to persevere and get through the difficulties You have with the class.

Good luck in your journey to Tai Chi fulfillment.

Pete Glaze is the creator, webmaster and principal author of the website [http://www.taichistudent.com], a site written for tai chi students (and potential students).

(c) Copyright – Peter E. Glaze. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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Yoga Or Pilates – Which is Better For Me?

KX pilates dee why is a revolutionary, fast paced, high intensity, body-toning workout that fuses the core strengthening elements of traditional reformer pilates with circuit, cardio and endurance training. Good questions. From my own experiences and research, it would be like asking:

Drum machines Vs. Drums, which do I use?

Well, a quick observation will depict that one must have come from the other. In this case, pilates is derived from yoga or at best yoga-esque principles and methods, so suffice it to say that for which may be a the BETTER CHOICE it may be a matter of needs, time, preference and fitness levels.

Now to compare the both:

What is Pilates?

This is an exercise system developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and improve overall health. Primarily, the workout is usually performed on a mat and on specially designed equipment. The Pilates system includes exercises for every part of the body and applications for every kind of activity.

It is noteworthy of mention that Pilates focuses mainly on cultivating core strength in the body and lengthening the spine. Furthermore, a lot of dancers practice this exercise and it does deserve a lot of credit for having become very well knows (especially in the last few decades) for its effect on sculpting the body. Needless to say, in partnership with Yoga, it does go a long way towards increasing physical fitness all around.

NOW…

What is yoga?

Boy, ol’ Boy?

I think it should be, in terms of body-weight only exercises, What ISN’T yoga or at least yoga-esque, should be the question. Alright, you got me, yeah I lean more towards this system of exercise. Well Foras, can you tell us why?

Sure…

Folks, Yoga is a scientific system of physical and mental practices that originated in India more than three thousand years ago. However, the word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline. Its ultimate goal is the union of man with God or the universe in one breath. Furthermore, it aims to liberate the spirit as the mind and spirit are equally involved in its practice.

Needless to say, yoga is indeed the oldest existing physical-culture system in the world. Besides being a systematic and scientifically proven path to attaining physical fitness, it delays ageing, rejuvenates and improves appearance, maintains suppleness and increases vitality and the creative part of life. Still, after all is said and done, like drums and drum machines, in terms of Yoga and Pilates, both can stand independent of each other, work dependent on each other or when the need arises can be interchanged in their exclusive or combined uses.

That’s not to say one isn’t better than the other, to me, I think it’s more preference. However like drums which will never go out of style, Yoga does have more of a human and authentic feel to it. The emphasis on breath, relaxation etc is something that seems to be absent or less prevalent in Pilates, although that’s not to overlook the ease, quickness and efficiency of doing the art form.

This article did mention that Pilates is often used by dancers, just like Yoga is often used even by Basketball players, Boxers etc, so it means just like drums are oft times needed or used in a song and do form the foundation of music and dance, the use of either or both would be a wise choice. But, I do lean more towards Yoga, just from my experience, besides, when doing Pilates, it almost feels like I’m doing Yoga either way, so, I guess, why not just do it.

I guess that reminds me of my audio recording teachers who insist to this day to use live drums over drum machines for the ‘authentic’ feel. So yeah, left to me, I’ll go with Yoga, it works for me, does what pilates can do and more, but for variety, being the spice of life as is often said, doing Pilates here and there won’t hurt and may in fact help a lot. Still, owing to the obvious similarities between both exercises, suffice it to say that some guidelines need to be observed when executing them.

For the Interested persons, such helpful aids are herewith provided:

• Yoga postures should not be done on a full stomach. Wait at least 3 hours after a meal BEFORE practice. Personally, I think it’s best to do yoga first thing in the morning.
• If you can, (and you probably should) try to do Yoga barefoot. Or at the very worst with socks or those non-slip footwear they have advertised. Me, I’m old school…barefoot!
• Okay, Nude Yoga has the right idea. Will I go that far…hmm, no! However, as little clothing as possible should be the ‘dress-code’ when doing yoga so you can move freely.
• As the Father of Naturopathy, Prof Ehret recommended in his books, always try to exercise in front of an OPEN window. So please make sure the room is ventilated.
• You are not competing with anyone so take it slowly and safely. So no straining, no holding the poses beyond your physical strength levels; okay…buddy!

*Try to have fun with both; with everything in life.

Well, if you decide to use “drum machines” (Pilates) or “drums” (Yoga) as long as you’re getting the sound (fitness) you want, hey an exclusive, combination or interchangeable use of them would do just fine.

In Friendship,
Foras Aje

PS: I prefer “drums”!!!

Foras Aje is an independent researcher and author of Fitness: Inside and out, a book on improving physical and mental health naturally. For more information on the latest health news and breakthroughs visit his site at http://www.bodyhealthsoul.com/

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How to Get Rid of Old Scars: Top 10 Remedies

Overview

While some people consider their scars to be marks of pride, many people just want them to go away. Since they can affect your appearance, they can make you feel self-conscious. Best treatment for acne scars and large pores are using Skinceuticals C E Ferulic.

If you want to get rid of an old scar, you need to understand what a scar is and what type you’re trying to get rid of.

A scar forms as part of the natural healing process following an injury. When the dermis — the second layer of skin — is damaged, your body forms collagen fibers to repair the damage, and that results in a scar.

  • In most cases, the faster a wound heals, the less collagen will be deposited and the less noticeable the scar will be.
  • Typically, the severity of the scar is based on the severity of the injury or damage.
  • Scars form differently on different parts of the body.
  • Scars form differently based on the age of the injured person.
  • There are different types of scars.

Different types of scars

There are different types of scars, each with defining characteristics.

Atrophic scars

Atrophic scars are characterized by the loss of tissue. They appear depressed, serrated, or flat against the upper layer of the skin. Often atrophic scars have darker skin pigmentation than other area of your skin. Examples of atrophic scars include acne scars and chickenpox scars.

Hypertrophic scars

Hypertrophic scars are characterized by excess tissue that forms over the skin as it heals. Unlike a keloid scar, it does not grow outside the injured area. Hypertrophic scars are commonly darker than other skin in the area.

Keloid Scars

Keloid scars are the result of aggressive healing and an overproduction of tissue. They are characterized by a raised, thick, puffy appearance. They are typically darker than the surrounding skin. Unlike a hypertrophic scar, keloid scars can grow beyond the injured area.

Contracture scars

Contracture scars result from large areas of skin being lost or damaged, typically from burns. They are characterized by tight, shiny skin that can restrict movement.

The top 10 remedies for getting rid of scars

There’s no known way to make scars totally disappear, but many will become lighter over time on their own.

That being said, advocates of natural healing believe that there are remedies that can speed up the lightening process and make a scar less noticeable. Here are some of the remedies that have been effective for some people.

Aloe vera

  1. Remove the dark green “skin” from the flatter side of an aloe vera leaf.
  2. Scoop out the almost clear light green gel.
  3. Apply the gel directly to your scar using circular motions.
  4. After half an hour, wash the gel off with fresh, cool water.
  5. Repeat twice each day.

Vitamin E

  1. Cut open a vitamin E capsule over the scar and squeeze the oil onto the scar (you might need more than just one capsule to get enough liquid for full coverage).
  2. For about 10 minutes, massage the oil on and around the scar.
  3. After about 20 minutes wash off the oil with warm water.
  4. Repeat this process a minimum of 3 times per day.

Honey

  1. Before going to bed, cover your scar with a layer of honey.
  2. Wrap the honey-covered scar with a bandage.
  3. Leave it on for one full night.
  4. In the morning, remove the bandage and wash off the honey with warm water.
  5. Make this part of your routine every night.

Coconut oil

  1. Heat a few tablespoons of coconut oil, just enough to liquefy it.
  2. Massage the oil into the scar for about 10 minutes.
  3. Let the skin absorb the oil for a minimum of one hour.
  4. Repeat two to four times every day.

Apple cider vinegar

  1. Combine 4 tablespoons of distilled water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
  2. Dip a cotton ball into the water-cider mixture and generously dab your scar.
  3. Let it dry.
  4. Do this every night before you go to bed, washing the area in the morning.

Lavender and olive oil

  1. Mix three drops of lavender essential oil into three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. Massage the mixture into the scarred area for about 5 minutes.
  3. Leave the oil in place for about 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse the area with warm water.
  5. Repeat this process a minimum of three times a day.

Lemon

  1. Cut a wedge from a fresh lemon.
  2. Gently rub the juicy side of the lemon on the scar while you squeeze the juice onto the scar.
  3. Relax for about 10 minutes before rinsing off the area with cool water.
  4. Do this every day at approximately the same time.

Potato

  1. Slice a potato into medium thick rounds.
  2. Using a circular motion, rub the potato slice on your scar.
  3. Once the potato slice starts to dry out, discard it and continue rubbing with another slice.
  4. Continue rubbing and replacing for about 20 minutes and then let the scar air-dry for about 10 minutes.
  5. Rinse the area with cool water.
  6. Repeat this process at least one time each day

Rosehip and frankincense

  1. Mix equal parts rosehip essential oil and frankincense essential oil.
  2. Massage the rosehip-frankincense mixture onto the scar.
  3. Wait for 45 minutes before gently rinsing the area with warm water.
  4. Follow this procedure three times a day.

Baking soda

  1. Mix distilled water — a little at time — into two tablespoons of baking soda until it forms a paste.
  2. Wet your scar with distilled water and then apply the paste to the wet scar.
  3. Hold the paste in place with a warm compress for 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse the area and repeat daily.

Before trying any of the remedies above, thoroughly wash and dry the scar and the area around it. Also, only use these remedies on scars — not open wounds. Should any of these remedies cause any irritation, stop use immediately.

The takeaway

If you want to make a scar look less noticeable, you may want to try a natural remedy. There are many people who believe that natural remedies can get the job done.

As with any home remedy, have a conversation with your doctor before starting. Your doctor can offer insights and recommendations about which remedies you should or should not try.

Pilates Vs Yoga – A New Viewpoint

Which is better? How are they similar? how are they different? This review of two of the most popular forms of exercise is a brief but comprehensive viewpoint from one of today’s leading Pilates instructors who has also taught yoga for many 35 years. Inspiring pilates instructor course target a middle age students who typically health conscious.

Breathing

Pilates and yoga are oddly similar and at the same time deeply different when it comes to breathing. Both methods emphasize breathing, but take it in different directions.

Breathing is one the most important principle in Pilates. Joseph Pilates, the founder, stressed breathing in his books and in his instruction.

According to my teacher and ‘Pilates Elder’ Mary Bowen, Joseph Pilates never developed any special breathing mechanics, though several techniques were developed after his death by some of his students. Joe Pilates did create breathing patterns to accompany each exercise, natural breathing that allows full and frequent breaths while you move. The effect is exhilarating, and in fact, Pilates is known for being energizing rather than exhausting even after the most rigorous workout.

Yoga far exceeds Pilates in the development of particular breathing mechanics. The complexity and depth of pranayama (breathing) yoga techniques include breathing through different nostrils in different patterns of inhalation, exhalation and holding the breath, all designed to create and move energy in the body. I’ve explored breathing techniques in Pilates and yoga and have found both to be highly energizing.

Mind and Body

Few exercise methods connect the mind and the body like Pilates and yoga.

Focussing your attention on your movement is key to both methods. Yoga goes a step further by adding a spiritual or religious dimension with meditation and in certain traditions chanting and devotion to the teacher.

History

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. He studied all forms of exercise available in his day including eastern forms such as yoga. He first developed his method nearly 100 years ago.

He moved to New York in the 60’s and first introduced his method to the dance community where it was an instant hit. From there it gained worldwide popularity. It is used by elite athletes, celebrities and physical therapist, and is particularly effective for physical rehabilitation such as back pain.

Since the death of Joe Pilates in the late 60’s, the method has morphed into many schools and fusions such as yogalates, Zumbalates, tangolates and even piloxing (Pilates and boxing).

In contrast yoga goes back thousands of years. The earliest evidence appears on 4500 year old seals from the Indus Valley. Experts agree that the yoga tradition is probably much older. Light on Yoga, universally considered the bible of yoga, lists hundreds of treatments for illnesses using particular yoga positions.

Yaga has also morphed into many different schools and fusions.

No Machinery

Though both methods readily use balls, bands and other props, neither require any equipment. You can do them anywhere and anytime – the ultimate in convenience.

There is specially designed equipment for Pilates, but it is not necessary. In fact, the mat exercise routine which uses no equipment is the original Pilates method which Joe Pilates called ‘Contrology.’

Stretching

No review of these two exercise methods should ever neglect their distinct forms of stretching. Yet no other discussion I’ve ever read does!

Yoga features static stretching. This means holding a position while your muscles stretch. In contrast, Pilates is dynamic stretch where muscles lengthen while you move. Research indicates more benefits from dynamic stretching due to increased muscle recovery and decreased risk of injury.

Speaking from personal experience as a teacher and practitioner of both Pilates and hatha yoga, I find static stretch wonderful for relaxation and stress relief. On the other hand, I find dynamic stretch a better choice for joint and back pain relief and for improving athletic performance.

Strength and Cardio

Exercise science has proven that our bodies need 3 distinct kinds of exercise – strength training, stretching and cardiovascular conditioning popularly referred to as cardio or aerobics. These three essential exercises are rarely included in one method. Pilates always includes 2 – stretching and strength training. Advanced Pilates mat exercises also include cardio for an unusually complete exercise method.

By contrast yoga is primarily stretching and rarely includes strength training or cardio. There are exceptions such as the very athletic forms of yoga found in the Iyengar, Ashtanga and Bikram methods.

Which Is Better?

I believe I can offer an interesting perspective on this question, because I’ve practiced and taught both for nearly 4 decades. In my experience you get more of a spiritual dimension from yoga, as well as relaxation. However, research shows that any exercise is very effective at relieving stress. But if you want a complete exercise with strength building, stretching and cardio, Pilates is my favorite choice.

Bob is an advanced certified Pilates instructor with nearly 4 decades of experience. He was taught by the ‘Pilates Elder’ Mary Bowen, and is the author of several popular instructional ebooks and videos specializing in the original athletic style of Pilates mat exercise.

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3 Essential Reasons Why You Should Practice Pilates

Pilates is becoming popular more and more because of the benefits that it provides. If you have never had an exercise regime before Pilates will be just right for you. Read on to find out how to get that ideal physique you have always dreamt about. Pilates Northern Beaches is the most enjoyable inspiring and incredible experience you can receive in Australia.

1) Beginners’ Pilates

Pilates for beginners are most suitable for people who have little exercising experience as the moves are slow and steady that they can be easily adopted. Moreover, even the smallest bit of stretching and movement does well to a body, so Pilates for beginners is a slow but sure way to get the muscles toned.

Although you may have workout regimens that you have stuck to for many years, if you wish to try something new, you can begin with Pilates for beginners. However, you have to first learn some exercises that fall under the category of Pilates for beginners before you try anything more advanced.

2) Pilates for Weight Loss

If you do not already know, Pilates is a type of exercise which helps improve flexibility and joint movement. In addition Pilates for weight loss is thought of as being the most positive quality regarding this exercise.

The Pilates basic program is designed to tone and sculpt your entire body and at the same time help you to lose weight. It combines a series of controlled movements that help you to shape long and lean muscles without adding unwanted bulk. Because all is done at low impact, it does not hurt or add stress to your body in any way.

Winsor Pilates

One of the most famous forms of weight loss Pilates is to practice Winsor Pilates. Winsor Pilates is one way you can get the slim and sexy body you have always dreamed of. This program has been intended to tone and sculpt the entire body and also helps in losing weight, all at the same time. It is also a program that only takes twenty minutes a day.

Once where only the rich and famous are the only ones who can afford to perform Winsor Pilates, it is now possible for the average person to achieve these unbelievable results without having to pay very high fees and also in less time.

With more than four million Winsor Pilates videos sold, it is one of the best selling fitness programs worldwide which help to transform the bodies of men and women alike, all throughout the world.

Winsor Pilates is also for men who can workout daily and it strengthens the core as well as sculpts the muscular physique. The program provides the exerciser with added flexibility that would help in not sustaining injuries which results to enhance overall athletic abilities. In addition, it also provides more agility and quickness to anyone working out using the Winsor Pilates programs.

3) Pilates Abs Workouts For A Way To Get Great Abs

We all want great lean abs and to achieve them we are willing to adopt endless different exercises such as crunches and sit ups. Unfortunately these exercises are not only painful but can also damage your back in the process. Pilates abs is an exercise that is easy to perform. It is also pleasurable as it does not injure your back and you can see results as soon as in a month.

Pilates exercises are concentrated in working with your ‘core’, which are the muscles of your abdomen, back and pelvis in order to control the tone and shape of your other body parts. A Pilates abs workout is performed with every single workout you practice because Pilates works with the ‘core’ and that involves the abs. However there are specific Pilates abs exercises that you can practice also.

Pilates abs exercises are also popular because you can practice them without any pain and yet see results you desire in the shortest period of time. All Pilates exercises must be practiced regularly and as instructed otherwise results will take longer to appear.

The best thing is your abs will work out even when you are not doing a Pilates abs exercise because all Pilates exercises are done through and with the ‘core’. That generally means that your abs are being worked out twice as much which in turn means you will have beautiful shapely abs twice as fast compared to doing other workouts.

Of all the exercise methods that are available today, Pilates can definitely be thought of being one of the best. With hundreds of thousands of people across the world who have tried Pilates, they are incredibly impressed by the results they see. The best thing about Pilates is that it combines methods that you could only get from completing several different exercise programs.

Cindy Heller is a professional writer. Visit winsor pilates workout to learn more about pilates warm up exercise and pilates ring exercise.

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