Friday, February 18, 2011

Healthy Aging and Yoga: Why You Don't Have To Be A Contortionist To Benefit From Yoga

You've seen the men and women in impossible body contortions on the cover of magazines, on TV and on the Internet. Yoga postures that look like something out of the circus rather than a means for everyday people to strengthen their bodies and calm their minds.

The truth is that the 5,000 year-old practice of yoga has nothing to do with being a "poser." Yoga is a personalized approach to finding and maintaining health and acceptance for people of all ages, abilities and beliefs.

Just ask "First Lady of Yoga" Lilias Folan, a 74 year-old yoga teacher, author and expert on healthy aging. For decades, Lilias has been bringing yoga to millions of people; first with her TV show "Lilias!" and then through her book, videos and CDs that include the popular series "Lilias! Yoga Gets Better With Age."

"Nothing softens the aging process like yoga," Lilias says. Especially for seniors, Lilias recommends yoga geared toward simple, weight-bearing postures to keep backs, legs and hips strong.
"Age gets better with yoga and yoga gets better with age," Lilias says. "At 65 you can see dramatic results, even in your very first yoga class."

Keeping your yoga practice soft, simple and satisfying is the key.

To get you started, try this easy posture aligning exercise from "Lilias! Yoga Gets Better With Age."

The Sacred Mountain Posture
This simple posture strengthens the legs, straightens the spine 
and focuses and relaxes the mind

  • Remove shoes and sock and stand tall with your big toes touching or your feet hip-width apart. Keep knees straight but not locked.
  • Align your torso by gently pointing your tailbone downward and pull your navel toward your spine by engaging your core muscles.
  • Pull your shoulders down your back and lift your heart.
  • Place the palms of your hands together at your heart then nestle the knuckles of your thumbs into the indentation in your breastbone (called the "lake of tranquility").
  • Soften your eyes and slightly bow your head.
  • Breathe evenly in and out through your nose for 1 to 2 minutes.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Don't Fear Fats...Consume the Right Kinds of Fats for Better Health and Wellbeing

Did you know that American eat too LITTLE fat? Too little of the right kinds of fats, that is.

Fat is a nutrient, just like protein, carbohydrates, minerals and water, and is a part of every cell in the body. Without adequate fat intake, our bodies can’t assimilate vitamins A, D, E and (known as the fat-soluable vitamins). Fat also helps the body regulate temperature, while insulating and protecting internal organs.

Eating too many foods rich in saturated fats has been associated with the development of degenerative diseases, including heart disease and even cancer. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, however, are actually good for you.

Studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association  indicate that Omega-3 fatty acids—a type of polyunsaturated fat found mainly in cold water fish—not only promotes cardiac health, but also helps with mood disorders such as depression.

Omega-3s  are termed Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) because they are critical for good health. However, the body cannot make them on its own. For this reason, omega-3s must be obtained from food, thus making outside sources of these fats "essential."

Omega-3 fatty acids are also natural blood thinners, reducing the "stickiness" of blood cells (called platelet aggregation), which can lead to such complications as blood clots and stroke.
Studies of large groups of people have found that the more omega-3 fatty acids people consume, the lower their overall blood pressure level is. 

Foods that are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids:

Atlantic salmon, herring, sardines, bluefish, tuna and mackerel. Fresh fish oil capsules can also be substituted.

Flaxseed oil, ground flax seeds, walnuts, and leafy green vegetables such as kale are excellent sources. * Be sure to check expiration dates of any oils you purchase as out of date oils or rancid oils can be potential carcinogens.

Fat contributes to feelings of satiety and satisfaction. That means it can lead to fewer food cravings. And fats also help keep us on an even energetic keel by providing concentrated, slow-burning calories, especially important during the cold weather months. So next time you think fats aren't good for you, be sure to consider how essential the right kinds of fats are.

Fat Facts and Myths:

Fact: The brain is 60% fat

Myth: Using body lotions containing fat can make you gain weight

Fact:  The average American consumes almost 40% of his/her calories from fat

Fact:  A Starbucks Grande Caramel Frapuccino has nearly as many calories and saturated fat as a McDonald’s double cheeseburger.