How to do a headstand.

how to do a headstand, yoga, headstand, yoga headstandTodays post is about how you can incorporate some more advanced inversions into your yoga practice.

I guess the simplest way to describe an inversion would be when your heart is below your head. If you’ve been to a yoga class then  most likely you’ve practiced the basic inversions like down dog or a forward fold. But what about some of the more advanced ones? Like head-stands, hand-stands or Scorpio pose?

The reason I thought it was important to talk about is because they are insanely good for you! Some of the most hard core traditional yogis do a practice that consists of just meditation and an inversion. But often times you won’t see these poses in regular classes because there are risks of injury if they aren’t practiced safely, but the average person without any existing conditions and a normal body mass index shouldn’t have any problems.

To be honest I have been practicing yoga regularly for almost 10 years and I just started doing headstands about a year ago,  the thing is I’ve probably had the functional core strength for most of that time, but because I let my ego get in the way and didn’t want to be embarrassed so I wouldn’t even try them, and I see a lot of that in yoga classes.

The good news is that once you start to practice a hard pose regularly you will see results! Even if it ‘s just for 5 minutes every evening your body does eventually follow suit.

How to Do a Head Stand Below

I have broken down headstand (the way that I have learned it, I’m sure other teachers have different just as effective methods!)

1. Begin in a traditional downward dog, and then come down onto your elbows so your hips are still high in the air.

2. Bring the top of your head down onto the floor and interlace your fingers together, palms are toward your head.

3. Now move your head towards your hands, the back of your head is basically pushed into your hands almost like a little net.

4. Bring your elbows in, they should be in your peripheral view.

5. Keep you hips lifted and come up onto your tippy toes, walk your feet as close to your body as you can.

6. Now lift one foot into the air, and keep that foot flexed.

7. Keeping your core engaged slowly lift up your other foot from the ground, try to keep both feet together and flexed.

8. You’ve done it! Or maybe not, even getting one foot off the ground is great, you can always progress.

Don’t be afraid of falling!! That was the hardest part for me, but after I fell a few (dozen) times you realize that it doesn’t hurt, and it’s actually kind of fun. Plus if you have kids they’ll love to practice with you. I would recommend not using a wall, lots of people begin this way but it actually just slows down your progress because your not engaging your core as much as you would without the wall. Don’t kick your legs up! This is just using momentum and you will more likely just roll right over, slowly lift one leg at a time. If you’re nervous get a friend to assist you, have them place their hands on the sole of your feet but just enough to steady you.

8 Reasons why you should be upside down.

 

  1. Bringing your head below your heart reverses the blood flow in the body and improves circulation. It also brings oxygen to your brain, which helps to improve mental capacity and focus.
  1. Increase your core and upper body strength, more women then men tend to practice yoga and typically our legs are more powerful, doing inversions such as head and hand-stands works deep into your core while also strengthening the shoulders and arms.
  1. Reduced Blood Pressure and Heart Rate, once your upside down the pressure in your body changes. Blood rushes to your head and the receptors in the brain signal the heart to lower its rate and pressure when pumping blood.
  1. Better Mood, studies have proved that inversions when practiced on a regular basis can improve your overall mood and lessen symptoms of depression.
  1. Improves balance, if you think it’s hard to balance on one leg well it’s a whole other ball game once you only have only your hands or shoulders to work with!
  1. Prevent Illness, the lymphatic system keeps the body healthy by eliminating toxins and bacteria through the lymph nodes. Lymphs move through muscle contractions and gravity so when you are upside down the lymphs can more easily travel through the respiratory system where the majority of toxins enter the body.
  1. Builds confidence, nothing feels better then when you can master some freaky yoga pose…also fun to break out at parties.
  1. Keeps you humble, learning a hard pose is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight, just strength alone will not get you there when it comes to a difficult inversion, it’s a combination of flexibility, power and confidence. The same way you feel empowered when you master a hard pose you feel humbled when you fall on your but a few dozen times!

 

 

 

7 Super foods for weight loss

foods for weigh loss, diet, health, weight loss

1. Beans & Lentils- Since they’re both high in protein & fiber they help to stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep you full.

 2. Wild Fish- Foods that are naturally high in omega 3 fatty acids increase insulin sensitivity, helping your body to increase muscle mass and decrease belly fat.

 3. Blueberries- Most fruits are great snacks on any meal plan because they contain vitamins and fiber. Blueberries are an even better choice since there packed with antioxidants, and a lot cheaper than other high antioxidant fruits (acai berries).

 4. Chilies- A compound found in chilies called capsaicin has a thermogenic effect, meaning it causes the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after you eat them, and they pack heat forcing you to eat your meal more slowly, this allows the stomach time to tell the brain its full.

 5. Plain Yogurt- The combination of carbs, protein and fat keep you feeling satisfied and staves off feeling of hunger. Try to choose yogurts that don’t contain added sugar (other than what’s contained in the fruit) artificial sweeteners or gelatin- this can be difficult to find, so read your labels! Eat more by substituting plain yogurt for mayo, sour cream, or cream in your recipes.

 6. Quinoa- This ultimate grain is a complete protein and glutton free! It also has tons of fiber. Replace your usual carbohydrate with this amazing side (also great to serve under beans and veggies I toss mine with salsa and plain yogurt.)

 7. Avocados- Even though avocados are high in fat it’s the healthy monounsaturated type that our bodies crave, it keeps you full and works to strengthen skin, hair and nails.  Replace typical sandwich spreads such as mayo or cheese with mashed avocado.

 

This is why yoga is freaking awesome

benefits of yoga, yoga, health and yoga

 

Aside from the obvious benefits of practicing yoga, i.e. improving your flexibility, strength and cardiovascular health, there have also been a slew of studies that document the mental benefits that can help aid in weight loss and decrease your overall response to stress.  I have outlined a few :

7 benefits of yoga that you might not know about

  1. Studies have proven that immediately after practicing yoga participants will score higher on cognitive tests. This is likely because breathing deeply activates the prefrontal cortex in the brain.
  1. Yoga requires intense focus, often times in class your instructor will tell you to focus on a still spot in the room in order to help you maintain your balance or posture. Practicing this type of control carries over into other aspects of your life, studies have proven yoga students have more overall control of their feelings such as fear, anger or stress.
  1. Combing your breathing, focus and movement activates the parasympathetic nervous system, this is where our body decides whether or not to rest or digest. Digestion actually takes up a great deal of energy, and if this system isn’t working properly it can interfere with our bodies ability to cleanse.
  1. The vagus nerve is a neural system in the body it is partly responsible for regulating your mood, and alerting your immune system. After practicing yoga more immunity enhancing cells are released into your system making it easier to fight off infections.
  1. When we breathe from our belly we fully expand our lungs allowing for more oxygen to be received by the body.
  1. Regular yoga practice has proven to lower your resting heart rate.
  1. After yoga class cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are low, since cortisol makes many people crave fatty foods it’s often easier to avoid snacking on trigger foods right after your yoga practice.

 

 

4 Rules for Making the BEST Smoothies!!

how to make a good smoothie, smoothie recipes

Lets be honest making a smoothie isn’t exactly brain science, however there is a certain art to it- use the tips below and make the most out of your “frozen meal.”

-In the summer I use coconut milk because it’s supposed to have a “cooling” effect on the body, in the winter I use almond. My advice would be to use whatever you think tastes better, the coconut is definitely creamier and the almond has a more neutral watery taste.

-You don’t need the extra protein powder, I think if you are trying to go a longer period of time before your next meal protein powder is good because it’ll keep you satiated longer but it also adds 100 plus calories and if you include a natural protein source such as greek yogurt or nut butter you’ll be fine. However~ if you strength train you might want the extra protein & calories so do include the powder

-Purchase a high quality protein, there is tons of cheap crap out there that’s full of chemicals and fillers, find a reputable supplement store and talk to them about your choices.  I use Vega it was developed by a vegan Olympic athlete and it’s the cleanest formula I’ve found. Dr Oz recommends rice protein powder, but I find it really gritty again up to you, it’s a personal choice and there’s lots of different opinions out there.

-Because smoothies tend to have fruit in them they do contain a moderate amount of sugar, thankfully the high fiber content decreases the spike in insulin that usually occurs when the body ingests sugar but still it’s better to have your smoothie in the morning so that your all revved up for the rest of the day, then at dinner eat your protein and veggies in order to keep insulin levels low before bed.