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Regular Stretching Vs. Yoga Stretching

Last night, I attended an event that included about 6 different Chamber of Commerce groups from Rockland and North Bergen County, NJ.  The attendance was overwhelming, even with the weather!  Since I am a people person, I started talking to some people about the importance of stretching and the difference between yoga and stretching.

I have noticed over the 18+ years in this industry, there have been many people who have heard that I do and instruct yoga classes and immediately say either “Oh, I need to stretch more” or “I always TRY to stretch”.   I find the connection to yoga and the term stretch fascinating.

Regular stretching that you may find in certain gym classes is something most people are familiar with.  Many stretch on their own, and this does not require much supervision.  We have all seen our runner friends with a leg propped up on something and bouncing into the stretch. For years, the fitness industry has debated on bouncing and if it can cause harm, by creating tiny tears in the muscle.  The jury is still out on this, some say it can, some say it can’t.

Yoga stretching, or as I like to call it – just Yoga- puts more emphasis on breathing. Deep breathing can assist you with getting deeper into your muscles, helps you pay attention to the limitations of your body and keeps the mind calm. Yoga also requires you to pay attention to the way your body is aligned while you stretch.  There can be an issue with individuals that get caught up in pushing too hard, too fast or being competitive with the person next to them in class and causing injury that could have been avoided. Yoga is also much more than stretches; it incorporates alignment, strength and balance.

I met 5 runners last night at the networking event, who asked if I had any recommendations for stretches they can do:

  • Baddha Konasana  (Butterfly Pose)

buterfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose)

 

pyramid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Rajakapotonasana (Pigeon Pose)

pigeon

 

 

 

 

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So You Want To Meditate, Do you?    By Stephanie Anne Sirico

When you think about meditation, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? People sitting around chanting? Or does it bring up images of being annoyed, not being able to sit still and your mind forever wandering? Believe it or not the physical and emotional benefits are vast and are the perfect tool to help you through any stressful situation.

The physical benefits of meditation: through deep breathing, which is the root of meditation, muscle fatigue and tension due to poor circulation of oxygen to the muscles starts to dissipate . Meditation has also been known to strengthen the immune system, as well as induce a relaxation response which reduces the occurrence of pain, insomnia and headaches.

The mental benefits: Better mental focus and concentration. Less anxiety and stress for better peace of mind. The mental benefits of meditation can be long lasting and eventually permanent.

Emotional Benefits: Less irritability, reduction in fight or flight response, and more self control. Managing our daily lives can be quite overwhelming and stressful when you factor in things such as traffic jams, family issues, holiday pressures, etc. Taking a small amount of your time to meditate can be all the difference you need to remove yourself from the pressures of the daily life and bring your perception back into focus.

Most people feel mediation should be done for hours, however, starting out with 30-60 seconds a day and gradually working up from there makes it much more of an attainable task to get done. Here are some easy steps for starting to work on your meditation:
• Find a time each day that you can devote just a minute to meditation. It can be anywhere but try to keep to the same time each day. (When I started meditating, I used to do it in my car..it was very quite there).
• Close your eyes and just listen to your breath moving through your body.
• Each time you breathe in, try to count to 4, and as your exhale for a count of 6 making your exhales longer than your inhales
• Each time you breathe, just pause your thoughts for a moment. Take about 15-20 breaths.

Starting a meditation practice just take time and persistence.

 

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