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According to the CDCl, 4 in 10 Americans are classified as obese, and this rate has been rising since the turn of the millenium. Obesity is a tough problem to solve because there are so many potential factors that can cause it. It makes sense, then, that the solution has many factors, too, and involves optimizing many different areas of your life. If you’ve been trying to lose weight for a while without success, a holistic approach might be the solution.

Focus on What You Eat, Not How Much

Is it better to go low carb, or are low-fat diets better? A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association tried to find out, by asking around 600 participants to follow either a low-carb or low-fat diet for a year. At the end of the study, participants in both groups lost 12 pounds on average. That’s right — both diets were equally effective! However, some things did matter. Specifically, the people who ate more vegetables and the fewest processed foods and sugary drinks lost the most weight. Crucially, people following this diet didn’t count calories — focusing solely on eating healthier foods is what made the difference. 

Exercise Less, But More Vigorously

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an exercise technique where you alternate between short bursts of very intense exercise and active recovery periods. According to a review of 18 studies published in Obesity Science and Practice, HIIT is more effective at reducing body fat than traditional exercise. 

The great thing about HIIT is that you don’t need expensive equipment to get results. You can do effective HIIT workouts in a home gym with inexpensive equipment — resistance bands and dumbbells are a great start, but a Swiss ball (or gym ball) would be useful, too. Just pick a multi-joint exercise, like the kettlebell swing, dumbbell thruster, or dumbbell squat, and do as many reps as you can in 30 seconds. Next, take a 60-second rest where you either jog lightly on the spot or do light ab work like Swiss ball crunches. Then repeat for 12-18 minutes. If you do have access to a treadmill or elliptical machine in your home gym, consider alternating days for HIIT strength training and cardio. 

Get More High-Quality Sleep

Diet and exercise are key behaviors for weight loss, but those precious hours you spend unconscious each night can play a role, too. For one thing, if you don’t sleep as much, there are simply more hours in the day for you to be awake and eating! But there may be more to it than that. Sleep deprivation may also play havoc with your hormones, increasing your appetite and potentially leading you to more unhealthy food choices. So make sure you get your full seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Reduce Your Stress Levels

After a hard day at work, it’s easy to throw healthy eating out the window and reach for quick, tasty snacks. Everyone has experienced comfort eating like this, but stress may also play a more direct role in obesity via increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. High cortisol levels can interfere with other hormones like insulin, and over time this may cause the body to store more fuel as fat. So plan out some time each day to reduce your stress levels, such as through meditation, getting a massage, breathing exercises, or spending time in nature.

Connect With Healthy People

A landmark study in 2007 found that someone’s chances of becoming obese in a given time frame were 57 percent higher if a friend became obese in the same period. Scientists think this is due to the spread of social norms — in other words, behaviors and values spread through groups. Of course, you don’t need to uproot your whole social network to lose weight, but by connecting and spending time with people who dedicate time to health and fitness, you might adopt these values yourself.

There is no single cause of obesity, and so you’re not likely to find a single solution. Diet and exercise are key foundations, but your mental health, sleep quality, and social connections also matter. If you take a holistic approach to battling obesity, you’re more likely to be successful.

Photo: Pixabay

Guest Article by:

Dana Brown of Health Conditions | dana@healthconditions.info
Connecting You to the Health Information You Need Most.



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Sleep is nature’s miracle drug. It helps our minds function at peak performance and can help our bodies age well. It’s equally good for your mental and physical health, as you experience emotional stability, healthy weight management, and great skin. Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying than a good night’s sleep. Here’s how you can enhance your sleeping experience.

Start Practicing Yoga

According to Harvard Medical School, yoga can help improve sleep by helping you learn to relax your muscles. Many people say that yoga reduces their stress levels, which is especially important for sleeping soundly. There are some easy poses you can do to prepare for bed, including child’s pose, forward bend, legs up the wall, and corpse pose. In fact, the simple act of stretching has been shown to relieve tension and help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.

Relax with Breathing Techniques

An important part of yoga is breathing properly. Certain breathing techniques have been proven to help with sleep. If yoga isn’t your thing, you can start off with practicing breathing techniques instead. One technique is the 4-7-8 method, which starts with you breathing in for four seconds, holding your breath for seven, and then breathing out through your mouth for eight seconds. Another might involve focusing on your breath as it goes in and out your nose. One technique is called a “body scan,” which has you breathe in and out while focusing on flexing different muscles and relaxing. These can help you relax more easily and embrace sleep.

Make Your Bedroom the Coziest Place on Earth

Our bodies need darkness to truly rest. Get some blackout curtains or sheets and put them over your window. You can also use a sleep mask to make it effective. Get yourself comfortable blankets that can help you fall asleep easily. Turn down your temperature just before bed, but make sure you’re warm enough for sleep. If your mattress is uncomfortable, it might be time to upgrade. In short: Your bedroom should be designed solely for sleep.

Sleep on Your Back

According to Business Insider, sleeping on your side can have negative side effects, including shoulder and hip pain. It can also aggravate heartburn and other digestive issues. Sleeping on your back can be a difficult habit to get into, so put pillows on both sides so you move around less. Put a pillow underneath your knees as well.

Avoid Stimulating Your Mind at Night

It can be all too tempting to watch TV or spend time on your phone at night. If you have to do work, try to finish it at least an hour before bed. Having techniques to quiet your mind is vital as well. You can do this by making your bed a cue for sleepiness. This means going to bed only when you’re sleepy, avoiding naps, and getting out of bed when you’re worried or can’t sleep. 

Use a Humidifier

Physicians will sometimes recommend humidifiers to help people breathe better. Dry air can dry out your throat and make you more prone to getting sick. A humidifier is also good for your skin. Some humidifiers allow you to diffuse oils that can relax you and make your room smell good. 

Have a Skincare Routine

A solid nighttime routine can help your mind prepare to wind down and relax you. A skincare routine can be especially useful. Wash your face every night and put on some moisturizer. Your skin ends up being softer and cleaner the next day. You’re also cleaning any toxins and dirt your skin was exposed to throughout the day. Moisturizing helps repair the skin throughout the night.

Limit Alcohol Before Bed

Alcohol can be enjoyable, but even drinking just a little bit can impair sleep. If you do drink, do it earlier in the evening or have a small amount.

As long as you have a proper wind-down routine, have a comfortable bedroom and practice relaxation exercises such as yoga, sleep will come more easily. There are many benefits to sleep, both mental and physical. Take care of your body and it’ll take care of you.

Guest blog by Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com

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If you practice yoga on a regular basis the thought of going on a yoga retreat has probably crossed your mind. For yoga newbies a yoga retreat might sound like something out of the Julia Roberts movie, Eat Pray Love however, it doesn’t matter which end of the spectrum you are, we believe 2019 is the year that you should experience your first yoga retreat and here’s why:

You will take your understanding of yoga to the next level

During a busy work week it can be difficult to practice yoga on a regular basis, during yoga retreat chances are you will have at least 2 classes per day. Regular yoga practice enhances your complete understanding of yoga, the different poses and how to adequately meditate using yoga.

You will gain new perspective

Travelling, seeing the world, going to new places and meeting new people is wonderful for a variety of different reasons. Not only does it give you new perspective, but it also helps you to grow and learn as a person when you are open to exploring the unknown.

You will actually be able to meditate

On a yoga retreat you are able to completely shut off technology, no cell phone, computer, TV or any other digital distractions. Unplugging is necessary and during this quiet time meditation will be a lot easier and a lot more effective.  

Relaxing and de-stressing will occur naturally

When we are close to home we often times struggle to relax, but if you are on a yoga retreat the only option you have is to de-stress and relax. While on retreats you can listen to what your body needs, sleep if that is what you need, no one will judge you on retreat.

You will make new friends

People from around the world go on yoga retreat. The people you meet might just become new lifelong friends. Not only do you already have similar interests because you are on yoga retreat, but being on yoga retreat also brings you closer as you share your stories and experiences with each other.

You will have a new appreciation for home when you get back

It is very easy to take our everyday life and routines for granted, it is only once you step away from it all when you realize just how fortunate you actually are. Yoga retreats will whisk you away into a world that’s the polar opposite to what you are use to on a daily basis. Take the time to appreciate your life, routines, and the people you are surrounded by when you are on retreat, if you do this you will come back with a clear and refreshed mind.  

Just do it, you deserve it

Just do it isn’t just Nike’s famous saying, sometimes we just have to do something. If you want an excuse not to go you will find one. Instead of over thinking, take the leap of faith and just do it. We all work hard for what we have, you deserve the break, and who knows what other endless possibilities yoga retreat might open up for you.

Guest blog post by Frankiee Charles

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The connection between mind and body is a powerful one, and making (and maintaining) that connection is important to anyone seeking lasting holistic health. When your body feels good, your perspective and self-image improve, and you feel more confident and more optimistic. This holiday season, work some self-care into your Christmas shopping, take advantage of holiday sales, and set yourself up with equipment that will help you stay healthier in both mind and body.

Workout Space

Unless your spouse drops a gym membership card in your Christmas stocking, getting enough exercise during the course of a busy week may hinge on how much working out you can do at home. Make your New Year’s resolution a week or two early this holiday season and resolve to set up a home workout space. Exercise equipment is among the most popular holiday gift ideas, so there are plenty of opportunities to outfit an exercise room in your home without blowing through that Christmas bonus.

Many companies got the ball rolling on Cyber Monday with sales on some of the finest exercise bikes on the market, including the Schwinn 130, the Marcy Fan Bike and the Sunny Pro Indoor Cycle, with deals of from 30 to 90 percent off. Cyber Monday has come and gone, but finding good offers on these and other exercise bikes throughout the holiday season won’t be much of a problem.

While you’re getting your cardio work in, why not round out your exercise space with some strength-building equipment like kettlebells and resistance bands? You can easily find a set of two 10-kilogram (22-pound) kettlebells for around $50. And consider adding a Self-Guided Exercise Kit from Walmart for just $17, which includes resistance bands, an exercise mat, and a stability ball.

Mental Mindfulness

Don’t leave your mental well-being out of the picture. Set up a meditation space at home, a quiet, distraction-free area that’s designed to help you focus and create the inner-peace you need to maintain a healthy mental/emotional state. People who

meditate on a regular basis often find that meditative self-discipline can elevate one’s sense of well-being and overall health. A well-equipped meditation room enhances the likelihood that you’ll stick with it year-round and enjoy the feeling of tranquility and relaxation that meditation can offer.

Overall, meditation is a pretty low-impact activity when it comes to equipment. Meditation or yoga mats and meditation cushions enhance the experience, are not expensive and can be found easily at most major retailers and through online sources such as Etsy. These items can also be used in the practice of yoga, another restorative practice that helps make that all-important connection between mind and body.

If you’re new to yoga and its many benefits, consider giving yourself yoga lessons this Christmas and enjoy learning with a class of fellow beginners. The average cost of yoga sessions at fitness centers is about $12, though the cost may be a bit higher in larger metropolitan areas. (If you do have a gym membership, be aware that some gyms

include the cost of yoga classes with your membership fee.) If you’re an eBay fan, you can find high-quality Manduka yoga mats in multiple colors for as little as $11.

People resolve to exercise more and lose weight all the time, but many fail in their resolution because they lack the space or equipment — or because it’s just too inconvenient to get to the gym every day. You can make that New Year’s resolution stick this year with affordable equipment you can use in the comfort of your own home.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Guest blog by Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com

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Doing what you love and listening to your needs. Sounds so good, doesn’t it? And it is. It’s the most gratifying thing, yet it can seem so complicated. It’s not. It’s the simplest of things, yet the excuses for not doing it are countless. It’s not complicated yet it doesn’t make it easy. Surely, there are some challenges here and there and sometimes it is hard to choose what’s best for you. But is it complicated? No, not really…

The mind likes to make things complex, to exaggerate the hurdles and find reason as to why give up before we even try. 

This new year, why not make it a little easier and eradicate the distractions that go on saying how things can never be the way you prefer them to be. Drop the excuses for a minute and ask yourself just this once, what are you longing for? Is it possible that your hearts deepest yearning is also exactly what you need? Well then go for it! 

Are you wanting to adopt a daily yoga practice, enjoy good company and a coconut on a beach? Do you want to put yourself first for a little bit and just relax while having a little bit of fun too? 

Exhale Yoga retreats are designed specifically to accommodate everything you desire and need for the optimal enjoyment and rejuvenation. They offer a loving atmosphere for everyone, whether you’re looking to unwind, be adventurous, connect with kindred souls, get the perfect start to a new year or just get away from the stress of everyday life for a bit.  

It’s a matter of compromise, and in all compromises- we must come to understand where our true priorities lie. When we start choosing differently, we also begin experiencing life differently and new things come into play. When we choose our well-being, compromising the need to please everyone else, we shall see that things start to shift. Our priorities tend to rule our lives, especially when we are unconscious of them. Thus, when we start looking at them more consciously, we are given the chance to reorganize a bit and, naturally, the way we feel begins to change. 

What has been in the forefront that needs re-evaluating and de-prioritizing? What are you choosing to put first for this coming year? And what are some tangible things you can do to really act in alignment with your new priorities for yourself?

Make a list and start living in alignment with what is most important to you. It doesn’t mean that all else is forgotten, it merely means they come second. You just can’t pour from an empty cup, so what might you want to fill it up with this New Year?  The choice is yours!

Words by Antonia Rothschild
hippieserendipity

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Do you give up on your exercise plan when you don’t see results soon enough—even one as fun as biking? Or are you more likely to let fitness take over your life, sacrificing sleep and socialization for an extra hour of cycling? While both stories are common, neither is the healthiest approach to physical fitness.

Biking—and exercise in general—should be used as a tool to improve your life, not just your aesthetics. Physical activity should uplift you; it should give you energy and feed your soul. It should also exist in harmony with the other important aspects of your life, because true health includes emotional and mental wellness, not just your physical health. If you’re struggling to balance the roles of biking and fitness in your life, this advice is for you.

Make Holistic Fitness Goals

Fitness goals don’t exist in a vacuum. Achieving a muscular or super-lean physique takes a lot of time, energy, and commitment. If that’s what you want to pursue, you have to be ready to say “no” to a lot of other things in life in order to schedule time for cycling—after all, there are only so many hours in the day. Think about all the priorities and responsibilities you have and their relative importance, then figure out how much time you can commit to each item per week. If your fitness plan would take time away from higher-priority items, you may need to adjust your fitness goals to match your life goals. One way to save time is by setting up an in-home gym. The garage, your basement, or a spare bedroom are great spots for this space.

Know It’s Not All or Nothing

Unfortunately, we tend to approach fitness like it’s all or nothing, like the belief that you’re either a fit person or you’re not. But that’s not the case at all. When it comes to getting active, something is always better than nothing, and there is such a thing as too much.

Take Care of Your Body in All Ways

Biking doesn’t negate other abuse to your body. If you’re not eating and sleeping well, misusing drugs or alcohol, or doing other things that wear your body down, your training and your health will suffer. You’ll get the best fitness results when you’re caring for all aspects of your health, and fitness can actually help you make good choices in other areas of life.

Use Rest Days for Self-Care

Rest days are important for preventing injury, but they don’t need to be spent lazing on the sofa (unless you want to!). This is a chance to take self-care beyond healthy meals and good sleep and into the activities that help you connect with your inner self. You can read, journal, meditate, or garden, or you can follow Fitness Blender’s suggestion and get active rest in the form of a nature hike, gentle yoga practice, or long walk with your dog.

Understand When to Step Back

If your biking or all-around fitness routine is causing your relationships, work, or physical or mental health to suffer, it’s time to step back. Overtraining puts you at risk of injury and leads to a variety of health repercussions. It can weaken your immune system, cause fatigue, make it difficult to focus, and even contribute to depression. (Learn more signs of overtraining at MyFitnessPal.) However, overtraining isn’t the only way you can push yourself too hard. If your biking regimen is negatively impacting your self-esteem or getting in the way of other responsibilities, reassess how it fits into your greater life goals. Exercise is a wonderful tool for strengthening yourself in body and mind. However, your fitness goals are just one piece of what makes your life healthy and fulfilling. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a dedicated biker, make sure you’re leaving time and space in your life for everything that’s important to you.

Guest blog post by FitSheila.

Image via Freepix “no copyright infringement is intended”

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Exhale Yoga Retreats Blog by Rachel Wainwright - 6d ago

50m tall buddha in Sri Lanka. An incredible site to see and experience. 

Life is incredible. I feel happy and totally full of love for myself and this world. This is truly living and experiencing life to the fullest potential. Being around like-minded people who keep you up, culture that is so genuine and kind, nature so vast and powerful, history and devotion so rich - every moment a new opportunity to be present in the exact moment we are in. That goes for everywhere we are - whether traveling or living as our true self back home.

I feel Sri Lanka in its entirety pulsing through my veins so strongly. I will cherish and value this experience more than I have any other. This is our chance to shine brightly as ourselves - just like Jungle Dance with Rachel last night. Closing our eyes and moving our bodies freely, dancing to the beat of our own drum. Then witnessing if and how quickly our rhythm morphs to another persons when we open our eyes. All of us are unique, all of us have different individual paths to our own truth, all of us must flow in our own way aligning with that truth.

Photo taken during the buddhist site pilgrimage day. Monkeys everywhere!

The time is always now. We cannot think of whats to come over what is now if we truly hope to live in the present. Worry, doubt, fear, etc. are all very real feelings we often get, however each of those throw us off balance with living life as truly ourselves - to do that we must trust the universe and listen to it along with our hearts at all times with big ears and small eyes. If we ever feel out of balance with this, go to nature for fresh air + fresh perspective. Breathe Deep and do something we know without question is good for our soul - go explore a new place, go outside in nature, meditate, practice yoga, listen to songs that make your heart sing, write your thoughts down, collect yourself and bring yourself back to the present moment. For it is here in the present moment we are alive and as close to the universe as possible.

This universe surrounds us on the outside, and completely fills us on the inside. Trust that. Trust ourselves and the person we were meant to be. Above all - LOVE unconditionally that inner self through every moment. My heart is so full for those around me, the people I've met here are all different versions of myself in which I learned from in past lives, or am still learning from. It is these like-minded people who I will keep in my soul as reference points for my journey through life.

Good vibes!

Stay true along my road home. Feel the vibrant colors in my blood, gently rock my head to the left and to the right mixing both sides of the brain, let the breathe roll through my body in its entirety like smooth glassy ocean waves. Close my eyes and simply listen to everything around me and within me. This is life, and the time is always now. 

"Sat Chit Ananda" 

- Taylor 

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Exhale Yoga Retreats Blog by Rachel Wainwright - 6d ago

Photo taken during Exhale Yoga Retreats 200hr Yoga Teacher-Training in Bali

If you observe yourself and those around you, you will see how much we close ourselves off just with our body language. We’ve gotten used to hunching over our computers and limiting our vulnerability through new forms of communication, like email.

What will help open us up to the world, while improving our posture?

Backbends.

These are powerful poses that offer many benefits, but there are many reasons that people limit or avoid them in their practices.

Typically we think of ourselves as having a frontward orientation because our eyes face forward. However, we need to find balance by exploring the other side—the back. This can be scary for many people because you can’t see where you are going in backbends, or in much of life for that matter.

They require trust, patience and strength of mind and body.

Physical Benefits

Physically, backbends strengthen the legs, back and arms. They open the shoulders and chest and stretch and elongate the spine, improving posture and lung capacity and strength. The extension of the back increases blood flow to the spine, which increases energy and relieves anxiety and tension. Backbends also stretch the front of the body, including the hip flexors and abdominal organs.

Energetic Benefits

The physical benefits alone are great reasons to practice backbends. However, backbends also have so much energetic healing power.

Heart Opening

Backbends are heart openers and they stimulate the Anahata(Heart) Chakra. Anahata means ‘unstruck’ or ‘unbeaten’, which is a fitting way to live our lives. By accessing your heart, you can live more fully, unbeaten by the things that frustrate or upset you. Once you open your heart you may release stored emotions like love and courage, but also sadness or fear. With this release, however, you can also find your true self and feelings of freedom.

Courage

As backbends and the unseen (unknown) can be scary, the process of practicing them improves your self-confidence and gives you the courage to try new things. Combined with opening your heart and seeing what you love, backbends will help you have the strength and courage to not only listen to your heart, but follow it. 

So now that we have explored some of the benefits, which ones to do?

Backbend Poses and Categories

It is good to start with baby (gentle) backbends likeBhujangasana (Cobra Pose), its variation SalambaBhujangasana(Sphinx or Supported Cobra Pose) and Bitilasana (Cow Pose).

Once you gain openness and strength, explore some of the other back-bending poses:

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Kapotasana(King Pigeon Pose)

Matsyasana(Fish Pose)

SetuBandhaSarvangasana(Bridge Pose)

Salabhasana (Locust Pose)

Ustrasana(Camel Pose)

Depending on your particular practice, consider the three categories of back-bending poses: contraction, leverage and traction.

Exhale Yoga Retreats 200hr Yoga Teacher Training student.

Contraction

In these poses the muscles of the back are contracted to oppose gravity. A good example of this is Salabhasana (Locust). In this pose, you are lying on your stomach and you use your back muscles to lift your limbs and chest off the ground.

Leverage

These are back extensions that use the ‘leverage’ of a stable object (for example, the floor) to stretch the front of the body. Bhujangasana(Cobra) uses the leverage of the hands against the mat to stretch the front of the body and extend backwards.

Traction

In traction poses, the muscles of the front of the body contract to oppose gravity while in a backbend. In Ustrasana(Camel) the front of the body will be active and contracted while bending back.Therefore the front of the body controls movement of the back of the body.

Backbends release a lot of prana(energy) so they can be exhilarating yet emotional. Practice them with greater awareness of yourself and your breath. Use them to bring love to your practice, for others and yourself. Allow yourself to explore your heart, your limits and your strength.

Sharing the love during Exhale Yoga Retreats 200hr Yoga Teacher-Training.

 

About the guest blog writer:

Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. Learn more about Meera on her website by clicking here.
 

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Exhale Yoga Retreats Blog by Rachel Wainwright - 6d ago

Yoga is more than what we do for ourselves on a mat. Yoga is the people we meet, the food we eat as well as the air we breathe. And all of that for ourselves as well as for the greater good. The practice of Yoga is selfless in that it naturally is of service to all beings. When one embarks on the yogic journey, one becomes a vessel of transformation into the higher Self. A Self which is devoted to its own evolution in order to be a better person for everyone around.

Dr. Ganesh Rao says, one of the biggest obstacles on the path of yoga is the company we keep. The people we spend most of our time with end up defining a lot about us. Our priorities begin aligning with theirs and their behaviours are absorbed as our own. So, who are these people we allow to taint our everyday life and ultimately our whole life?

Do they uplift? Or do they constantly seek to tear us down? It is important to see things as they are to move forward in life. Every person we meet makes an imprint on our soul, so just imagine the impact of the people who are there every single day, for most part of the day! What do you speak about? What do you do together? What do they dream of and how do they contribute to the realization of your dreams? These are all valid questions which any devote yogi must come to ask themselves.

It does not mean we should simply cut people from our lives as soon as we suspect they’re not headed the same direction, more so that we should all be more explicit about the direction we are heading. This way others can have the choice to come along and align to you instead of you being unconsciously dragged along somewhere else. Let yourself be open and free and watch who sticks around. When you’re more honest about your intention and begin living your life more according to your true values, people around you start shifting.

That’s the power of yoga, and we all have it inside of us. This is how community rapidly weaves itself like a beautiful web of love and all people that can support each other are magically drawn into it. And those who truly don’t wish to be a part will not be forced, yet in yoga- there is always a place for them too, even if it takes years or lifetimes for them to claim that place.

Community is a powerful thing when harnessed for the greater good. Yoga naturally brings people together that aim towards refining themselves and the world altogether. It is the union between people that in any other case would not have found each other but in this case sees and honors the light within the other as well as themselves. It is raising the vibration in which we co-exist to make sure it is of greater service and of more love.

That is yoga.

Much love, Antonia

Wordsmith: Antonia
@hippieserendipity

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It turns out that breaking a sweat will break you out of the cycle of substance abuse. How does it do that? A better question would be how doesn’t it. Therapists, fitness experts and former addicts are discovering the physical and mental benefits of wellness, especially for those in recovery, and they are numerous. Here’s a look at some that may inspire you to go for a run right now.

Undoes the Damage

Though you may not feel it, drugs and alcohol have likely put your body through the wringer. High blood pressure, weakened muscle tissue and decreased lung capacity are all symptoms of long-term abuse that have a tremendous negative effect on your overall physical health. A diet and exercise program will help you recover your strength, stamina and energy, ultimately leading to stronger mental health as well as a better physique.

Fixes Your Neurochemistry

Your brain has been rewired through substance abuse to constantly crave the high you get from your poison of choice. Exercise turns that cycle to good use by boosting production of feel-good endorphins, providing a high similar to drugs and alcohol but from something healthy. Over time, you’ll even begin to feel this chemical reward from other activities such as eating or meeting someone new.

Relieves Stress

Exercise helps you manage your anxiety, says a doctor in Health magazine. That’s because of a crucial link between the mind and body, and what’s good for one is good for the other. According to research cited in the article, the three best activities are running, hiking and yoga, the latter of which provides a number of additional mental health benefits thanks its incorporation of rhythmic breathing and mindfulness.

Gets Rid of Anger

Fitness also serves as an excellent outlet for frustration as you release your negative emotions through physical activity like a flurry of punches on a heavy bag. The exertion will also kick-start that endorphin boost, leaving you with a healthy post-workout buzz in place of the pent-up anger you felt going into the gym. Any kind of exercise works, and the wellness website Lifestrong.com suggests simply going for a walk or a jog.

Builds Confidence

The best way to feel better about yourself is to accomplish something, and exercise allows you do just that. With each run at the park or session at the gym, your physique will gradually improve until there’s no denying that you look better, and feel better to boot, or so say the experts at health website Sharecare. This will inspire increased self-confidence as you realize what you can achieve with a little effort.

Generates Discipline

It takes some self-control to exercise every day rather than wasting your time with TV or video games. It turns out that it’s a two-way street, and you’ll be rewarded for sticking with your workout with increased discipline to keep doing so in the future, according to an article in the New York Times. One researcher suggested that exercise alters parts of our brain involved in higher-level thinking and decision-making to encourage impulse control.

Establishes a Routine

The chaotic life that you once led is now shaping into something completely different. Fitting in your aerobics or weight-training means sticking to a strict schedule throughout the day. You’re quickly falling into a routine, which helps you balance work and family while keeping you away from the harmful elements of your previous lifestyle.

Improves Your Social Life

You’ll make new friends, or even find a new romantic interest as exercise puts you in touch with others who share the same interest in fitness and can bond over a particularly strenuous workout. The easiest way to meet people would be to sign up for a group activity such as  aerobics, Crossfit or yoga where you’ll have ample opportunity to chat and exchange numbers while cooling down afterward.

Now can you find the time to add a workout into your daily planner? You’ll get the best results through consistency, so make time everyday for exercise, even it’s just a half hour in the morning or evening. It’ll be even easier if you choose something fun and crank up the music.

Image via Pexels.

Guest blog past by:
Constance Ray
Recoverywell.org

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