Yoga – Which Class Is Right For You?

Yoga is fast becoming one of the most popular fitness genres in the country thanks to due the myriad benefits it offers, which include amazing flexibility, great posture, de-stressing, as well as developing long and strong muscles.

However, many people remain a bit unsure about which type of class is ideal for them. So in the same way as you will find a little card in your favourite box of chocs outlining the flavours, here’s our simple guide to selecting the perfect yoga class for your needs.

Hatha – designed to create equilibrium between the the mind and body by means of various poses and breathing, clearing energy flows promote health and flexibility. It is a more relaxed method of yoga involving a variety of poses to increase flexibilty and strength. It is ideal for beginners all the way up to those at advanced level and tends to be favoured by people who enjoy the relaxation benefits yoga offers, because it is especially good for dealing with stress, quite apart from the physical benefits it confers.

Lyengar – this is a therapeutic form of yoga, concentrating on posture, spinal alignment and helping to improve physical afflictions and illnesses. This type of regime differs from other forms of yoga in that it employs various pieces of equipment like blocks, straps, chairs and blankets to help users reach and maintain poses and postures. It is great for a broad range of participants, from those just starting out, those recovering from injury and people who want to participate in a gentler style of yoga.

Ashtanga – this is very popular in the fitness industry these days.  It involves a great deal more aerobic conditioning than hatha, helping to increase stamina and durability, but it also offers other benefits like detoxing, spinal alignment as well as having an invigorating effect on the mind and body

Bikram – this is probably the most popular kind of yoga at the moment, one we are seeing practiced just about everywhere, involving the temperature in the club or other room where the workout is taking place being cranked up to the max and where the switch from one pose to another is much more athletic and explosive in nature, as you can see from the video below. You are going to sweat a lot during these classes so a towel and lots of water are essential if you want to avoid becoming dehydrated. This type of class is aimed at a reasonably fit person and is not recommended for absolute beginners, pregnant women or people suffering from ailments exacerbated by heat. If in doubt, speak to your doctor and the instructor for their advice before going to the class.

Don’t Let Headaches Give You The Needle

There has been much publicity recently about the effect of regularly taking the maximum amount of painkillers daily. It seems that, far from getting rid of your headache, regularly taking painkillers can actually cause your headache to “rebound”, becoming a chronic, persistent problem.

Certain painkillers, especially those containing codeine, are also habit-forming and doctors and other health professionals now advise against taking such medication on a regular basis.

So what can you do if you are subject to regular headaches but don’t want to run the risk of potentially exacerbating the problem by taking regular medication? One answer may be to try acupuncture, which has been shown in some instances to relieve chronic headaches and even migraines.

Could Acupuncture Be The Answer For Those Persistent Headaches?

Often severe headaches such as migraines are triggered by certain factors – it could be stressful situations at home or at work or perhaps something as mundane as eating a particular type of food.  Avoiding these “triggers” would make sense but that is easier said than done in our increasingly busy lives. Acupuncture can have the effect of resetting any imbalances in the body, meaning that those extraneous factors which may in the past have sparked off severe headaches have much less impact.

Golden Rules To A Healthier You

Here in the UK we are all still basking in the reflected glory of our athletes Olympic endeavours. But, we wonder, are there any lessons we can learn from top sports stars when it comes to dealing with the slings and arrows of daily life?

One thing many of the top performers at the games seem to be able to do at the moment of greatest pressure is to stay calm. This does not simply happen by accident. Take Michael Phelps for instance. He uses a technique called emotional conditioning to help him compete. It involves visualising the perfect race and Phelps has been quoted as saying that he does this with his eyes closed to help him stay focussed on his ultimate goal.This way outside influences and pressures do no penerate the “bubble” you build up around yourself. These kind of visualisation techniques have been popular for some time but is there any prooof that they work if you are not a super-human athlete like Phelps? Well, yes, it appears so. Research in the publication Psychological Science  demonstrated that folk who were given a “lucky” golf ball before they started putting actually performed better than those who were not, suggesting that, on the assumption putting abilities were roughly equivalent, the psycholigical effect of knowing you were using a “lucky” ball made a difference.

Another important element in performing to your maximum appears to be avoiding negativity. When things are tough it can often be very easy to succumb to pressure or the feeling that you are just not going to be able to manage a task or tasks. Remember what Usain Bolt said after his victorious 100 metres race. He has a notoriously slow start and this had begun to create some self-doubt. Instead his coach told him not to worry about his start, but rather to concentrate on what he does best – the mid part and end of the race. The result? Three more gold medals, proof that concentrating on the positives is much more effective than dwelling on the negatives.

No matter how posiive and driven you may be, there are inevitably times when you will not succeed in your chosen endeavour and therein lies another key to continued improvement. It is essential that you do not dwell on failures – simply accept them as part of life and move on to the next challenge. Psychologists claim that it is key to put failures or disappointments into perspective, failing which there is a real risk that they can be allowed to drag you down.  Think of golfers as a prime example. No matter how telented they are, it is a fact of life that they will lose much more often than they will win. This applies even to the greatest like Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods. What they are able to do is to  acknowledge this as a fact and move on towards that next triumph.

Get In Touch With The Inner You With Your iPhone

The iPhone is, of course, the must-have gadget to help manage your busy work and social livfe. But now those of us who are stressed out by the daily grind can use our iPhones to help us unwind and relax, thanks to a new app.

Two entrepreneurial Swedish yoga instructors have developed the Mindfulness App which claims to help those who use it relax, meditate and unwind.

The app features a number of helpful pointers to help you get in touch with your inner self, including a timer, a helpful spoken guide to assist with your routine and useful statistics to enable you to gauge your progress.

In their native Sweden the developers have seen a huge rise in the popularity of the app, which they hope is now set to continue with its introduction in the UK. You can download it from iTunes for £1.99. The perfect combination of cuting-edge technology and old world meditation.