Photo by Yogaholics Anonomous (love this, I can sometimes relate)

Today’s content is not my original content and while I usually share unique articles (today’s was just featured today on  Women’s Health) I thought this was worth sharing on a Wednesday, also known as “Hump Day” by many of you.  It catches your attention starting with “A is for Alcohol”  It also happens to be “Center City Sips” tonight in Philadelphia so I just might have one drink after all this evening.  (although I intended on power yoga, wonder if I can do both?)    Read the entire article though, there’s lots of great health suggestion and information A-Z.

The Skinny on Your Weight Loss Vocab

Knowing the right get lean lingo will help you lose weight quick by Amy Paturel: Articles, Food, Wine &  Nutrition

A is for Alcohol
You booze, you lose: A daily serving of hooch may be better for keeping off weight than abstaining. Alcohol may increase leptin, a hormone that curbs your appetite for sweets. To get the perks with minimal calories, order a glass of sauvignon blanc (119 calories per 5 ounces). See WH‘s Top Wine Recommendations.

B is for Buddies
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine compared solo dieters to teams of dieters. After 10 months, the latter were likelier to have maintained their loss (66 percent versus 24 percent). Find a bud 24/7 at
C is for Cortisol
Your adrenal glands secrete this stress hormone to help you handle threats, but too much can be bad news. Last year, researchers at the University of Leeds in the U.K. linked high levels of cortisol to increased snacking on junk food. Spend the cash you’d pay for a big dinner on a stress-reducing massage. And take a bite out of WH‘s Stress-Reducing Foods
D is for Density
A yearlong study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found women eating water-rich foods low in calories but high in nutrients (like veggies) as part of a low-fat diet lost more weight than those who only cut back on fat. They were less hungry than the low-fat-only bunch, too, most likely because they ate 25 percent more food by weight. Go for grub with an energy density (calories per serving ÷ weight in grams of serving) of 2 or less. Or snag ideas from Barbara Rolls’ The Volumetrics Eating Plan, which lists the energy densities of dozens of foods. Get mouth-watering, easy vegetable recipes from WH‘s Recipes Page.

E is for Estimation
Developing an eye for appropriate serving sizes can make or break your diet. Commit these serving-size visuals to memory:
3 oz lean meat = a standard deck of 52 cards
1/2 cup of fruit, vegetables, or grains = half a baseball
1.5 oz cheese = 3 dominoes

F is for Fructose
A study published last year in the journal Hepatology found that feeding fructose-laced water to rats increased their risk of obesity. Ditch the artificially sweetened juices and sodas and get your fructose from fruit–a form that researchers say could be kinder to your waistline.
G is for Grapefruit
Kick off every meal with half a ruby red or 8 ounces of grapefruit juice–you could speed up your weight loss. Subjects of a 2006 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food who ate half a grapefruit before each meal lost more weight after 12 weeks than those who didn’t (3.5 pounds versus less than a pound).

H is for Hydration
Studies have shown that drinking water can slightly increase your caloric burn rate. The researchers behind one such study at Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Center in Berlin estimate that sipping six extra 8-ounce glasses a day can burn 17,400 more calories (about 5 pounds of fat) per year.
I is for Insulin
The amount of this sugar-regulating hormone you secrete may dictate the diet you should follow. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that high insulin secretors dropped about 13 pounds on a low-carb diet but only about 3 on a low-fat/higher-carb diet. Look in the mirror: If you store fat in your belly (have an “apple” body shape), you’re more likely to secrete excess insulin and benefit from fewer carbs.
J is for Journal
If you write down everything you eat, research has shown, you can cut your intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day. And you’ll keep the weight off: Food journaling is one of the successful behaviors used by people in the National Weight Control Registry, a list of dieters who have maintained a loss of 30 pounds or more for at least one year.
K is for Ketosis
The point at which your body runs low on carbs and starts burning fat stores for fuel, ketosis can jump-start a diet or bust a plateau. Studies show that dieters who restrict carbs typically lose more weight during the first 3 to 6 months, but after about a year their results are comparable to those who go low-fat. So after dropping those initial pounds, it’s okay to have whole-grain pasta and bread again–in moderation.
L is for Leptin
Fat cells secrete this hormone to tell your brain you’re full. But researchers have found that fasts and extremely calorie-restrictive diets can lower leptin levels, prompting you to eat more. To keep this hormone in balance, strive for a slow, steady weight loss–no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week.
M is for Milk
You might get better results from your workout if you imbibe moo juice. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that downing 2 cups of skim milk after intense weight-lifting workouts built more muscle and burned twice as much fat as drinking carbohydrate beverages (such as a sports drink). But go with real cow’s milk–in the study, drinks made from soy had no effect.
N is for Numbers
Nobody enjoys weigh-ins, but research shows that people who hop on the scale once a day are more likely to lose and to maintain their loss. Make a standing appointment for yourself–just don’t obsess over the number you see. Step On It: WH‘s Best Scale Recommendations.

O is for Omelet
Eggs are an ideal protein source, says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S., author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Protein helps build muscle, which will fry more calories per pound than fat. Bonus: You’ll burn about 25 percent of the eggs’ calories just by digesting them (protein metabolism uses more energy than that of fat and carbs). A two-egg omelet takes you a quarter of the way to your protein RDA.
P is for Peanuts
Subjects in a study at Purdue University received about 500 calories’ worth of peanuts a day to eat at their discretion. After 8 weeks, they had gained an average of about 2 pounds–much less than the 8 pounds researchers had predicted. Probable cause: The high-protein and high-fiber nuts filled them up. And after 19 weeks, they also had boosted their resting metabolic rates by 11 percent, possibly due to the fatty acids in the nuts. Take the edge off your appetite by snacking on a handful (a quarter-cup) per day.
Q is for Quinoa
Quinoa (keen-wa) has more hunger-taming protein and fiber and less carbs than most other whole grains. Swap it for white rice and other refined grains.
R is for Replacements
Researchers at the University of Kansas found that dieters who drank liquid meal replacements lost just as much weight over 52 weeks as those who used the weight-loss drug Orlistat with regular meals. Who needs pills?
S is for Stress
Scientists at Georgetown University fed two groups of mice a diet of high-fat, high-sugar feed and measured how much weight they gained. Stressed mice (you don’t want to know how they pushed them over the edge) gained more than twice as much weight as the group with the same diet but no stress. The reason? Researchers believe that stress causes the release of a molecule that helps increase the size and number of fat cells. The next time you’re feeling the strain, do yoga (see Y) instead of dessert.
T is for Tea
The fat-busting benefits of green tea boil down to disease-fighting compounds called catechins. One study of 240 Japanese men and women found that when subjects drank green tea containing 583 milligrams of catechins per 12-ounce cup, they dropped more weight–and inches–than those who ingested tea containing only 96 milligrams. Max your results by steeping your bag of green tea as long as possible. The darker the hue of your brew (and the more bitter it is), the more catechin-rich the cup.

U is for User-Friendly
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association assigned 160 overweight and obese volunteers to one of four popular diets for 6 months. They found that the strongest predictor of weight loss wasn’t the type of diet but compliance with the selected plan. The takeaway: Find a plan you can live with so you’ll stick to it (e.g., if you need help controlling portions, try WeightWatchers’ Core Plan).
V is for Vinegar
A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that swallowing 60 grams (about 4 tablespoons) of an apple cider vinegar mixture with a high-glycemic-index meal caused test subjects to eat 200 to 275 fewer calories over the rest of the day. If you can’t stomach the stuff straight, try mixing it into a low-fat dressing.
W is for Weights
If you’ve put off pumping iron, get to it. According to experts, you burn calories faster after a strength-training session than you would after a cardio session. And researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that lifting weights three times a week for 25 weeks caused women to lose an average of 4 pounds of body fat.
X is for Xenical
This prescription fat blocker made news last year when the FDA green­lighted its over-the-counter version, Alli. But both drugs come with an unfortunate side effect: loose stools. We say pass on the gas and slim down the old-fashioned way.
Y is for Yoga
A study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that normal-weight women who practiced yoga for four or more years gained three pounds less over 10 years than those who didn’t. Grab a mat and get going. Don’t miss WH‘s Yoga Postures Guide.

Z is for Z’s
When you skimp on sleep, your brain thinks you’re low on fuel and sends a message to your stomach to start growling. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that among 68,183 women, those who slept for 5 hours or less were an average of 5 pounds heavier than women who snoozed for 7 hours. Want to stay slim? Go to bed.


Yoga in Prisons

June 13, 2011

I admit, I love Facebook.  Not only does it keep me in contact and up to date with family and friends, it also keeps me well informed on things that are important to me.  Today Yoga Journal posted an interesting concept on facebook regarding yoga in prisons.  I’ve reposted it on my  My yoga facebook (click here)

I personally believe yoga should be incorporated into elementary and highschool PE curriculum.  Maybe this would help people from ending up in prison yoga!  An interesting thought that I’ll expand on for tomorrow’s topic.

Yoga Journal

Yoga in Prisons

Posted by Nora Isaacs on June 13, 2011 |via Yoga Journal
James Fox began teaching yoga to prisoners at San Quentin State Prison in California nine years ago, where he founded the Prison Yoga Project. Recently, he’s been traveling around the country training others how to teach in a prison setting.

We caught up with James before his June 18-19 training in New York City, “Working with Incarcerated Communities,” where he’ll instruct people about how to teach yoga in prisons, addiction recovery facilities, halfway houses, and other rehabilitative facilities.


Are your trainings just for yoga teachers?
They are for serious yoga practitioners. They may not necessarily be a certified teacher,  but they want to be of service in some regards.Why is there so much interest in teaching yoga in prisons?
The yoga community in general is looking at karma yoga as the next step in their personal evolution. They know they are getting a lot out of the practice, and at a certain point, a part of the yoga is tradition is to give it back. I know that’s been my path. I’m always interested in going to populations who haven’t been exposed. There is a whole economic paradigm shift in this country, where it’s becoming more and more obvious that the under served populations aren’t being afforded the same opportunities for health and well-being. And here we are with this incredible practice, and yogis are stepping up.How did you end up teaching at San Quentin?
I was contacted by the Insight Prison Project to set up their yoga and meditation program. I still teach for the Insight Project. While they focus on rehab and the whole restorative justice movement, I focus on yoga.What are the benefits for prisoners?
The big focus in on impulse control. How does a yoga practice assist those whose major issues are addiction and violence? It all comes down to impulse control, to learning how to pause, learning how to deal with difficulty. If you are experiencing difficulty in a pose and coming up against your limitations, how do you work it out and work through it?Anything else they take away?
Another focus is in really understanding yourself as a whole person, [and] yoga really helps support integrating the mental, emotional, and physical. It leads to a greater understanding that we are this whole person, not just thoughts going through our heads, but feelings going through our hearts and sensations going through our bodies. We hear these things in a yoga class, but populations like prisoners need to hear this kind of thing. It’s simple wisdom that they can apply to their lives. To me this really brings it home, to the core of one’s healing.

If you can’t get to the Prison Yoga Project training in New York, look for future trainings in San Francisco. Or pick up Fox’s book:  Yoga: A Path for Healing and Recovery or sign up for the Prison Yoga Project Facebook page.

We want to know: How does yoga help you with impulse control?

I don’t know about you, but I work on the computer for most of the day (plus blog and facebook time!) and my wrists sure do hurt off and on.   Early signs of carpal tunnel syndrome are often numbness, tingling and weaknesses of the wrist.  I’ve got one more yoga pose that I love to the list of poses to ease wrist pain.  Love gorilla pose!  Padahastasana: forward bend placing your hands under your feed.  When you feel that slight discomfort, yet not to the point of pain, you’re doing it right!  (Pada – foot, hasta – hand. )

carpal tunnel syndrome
Photo provided by Jared L of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome Pain
Yoga eases the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome
A simple yoga program — no drugs, no expensive equipment and no surgery — was better than conventional treatment at reducing pain and improving the hand strength of patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, according to a new study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.
Common among computer users, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a potentially debilitating nerve disorder of the hand usually caused by repetitive motion, like typing. It results from pressure on the median nerve, which controls sensations in the thumb, index and middle fingers. The condition can be so painful that many sufferers cannot use their affected hand.The randomized, single blind, controlled study included a yoga group and a group who only received wrist splints, the most common form of treatment. The yoga group took a 1.5 hour class twice a week. They performed simple postures designed to take each joint of the upper body through its full range of motion, stretching, strengthening and aligning the hands, wrists, arms and shoulders. After eight weeks, the yoga group had significantly less pain and greater hand strength, whereas the control group experienced no significant reduction in pain or increase in hand strength.The postures used in the program included:1. Staff pose (dandasana) — sit on chair, trunk upright, press hands into chair, press shoulder blades into back, move shoulders back and down.

2. Prayer position — press palms and fingers together, stretch and bend fingers.

3. Arms overhead (urdhva hastasana) — Lift arms over head, keep arms straight and shoulders down

4. Arms overhead, fingers interlocked (parvatasana) — Same as above, clasp fingers, turn palms upward.

5. Chair twist — sit sideways in chair with right side against back of chair. Place hands on back of chair, twist to the right using hands for additional support. Repeat on other side.

6. Mountain (tadasana).

7. 90 degree forward bend to wall — Stand with feet about hip width apart, raise arms over head, bend at hips bringing hands to rest on wall.

8. Arms overhead with hands in prayer position — Stand in tadasana, raise arms to Tee position, urn palms up, then rotate arms in small circles, first forward then back. Lift arms straight overhead, join hands in prayer position, stretch up and look up at hands.

9. Dog pose with chair — Stand, feet hip width apart, facing the seat of a chair. Bend, placing palms on seat, shoulder width apart. Straighten arms and lift waist, hips and knees a few inches above the chair. Turn arms out and curve trunk back between them. Bring coccyx, sacrum and lumbar spine forward, keeping buttocks tight. Stretch front of body from the pubis. Raise sternum and ribs. Hold shoulders back. Press shoulder blades and dorsal spine in.

10. Hands in prayer behind back — Stand in tadasana, bring palms together behind back, fingers pointing up down. Turn fingers up and raise as high as possible between the shoulder blades.

11. Relaxation

Each posture should be held for about 30 seconds.

From “Yoga-based intervention for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A randomized trial,” by M. Garfinkel, A. Singhal, W. Katz, et al, in The Journal of the American Medical Association, November 11, 1998.

Bridal Shower Yoga

May 23, 2011

Whether the bride is a yoga aficionado or she and the guests have never pronounced the word “namaste,” a yoga session can bring everyone’s shoulders down. Hire an instructor to guide an all-level class for the shower crowd (and possibly provide hints for how to relax in the nervous weeks leading up to the wedding), either at home or in a yoga studio. Food and drink possibilities are variable, since you can embrace healthy spa type snacks or indulge in some sweet treats.
Select beautiful music that you enjoy, add some mimosas, teas, and perhaps even a light brunch after practice.

Here’s what a few people have to say about attending a yoga bridal shower.

“Doing yoga the morning of my wedding with all of my bridesmaids was amazing.  It was just what I needed to stay calm and relaxed before the big event.

With everyone being at a different level, it was also fun to have a good laugh. There’s a lot of nervous energy the day of a wedding, and rather than stressing out, it was great to have an hour to myself to reflect.”
~ Sara Gilbane Sullivan

“I loved our yoga session the day of our wedding. Gathering for that moment of peace and calm was a highlight. It was a great moment to NOT race around staring at a to-do list.
I was able to breathe, reflect and enjoy all the love that surrounded us with our dearest family and friends present!”
~ Lindsey Payne Welsch

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