We all know that to truly achieve optimal health we need to include exercise as a part of our lifestyle. As we get older this is especially true as strengthening and stretching become more important to keep our bodies strong and limber. While there are many different forms of exercise that may provide these components, yoga is definitely worth trying out. Not only does yoga provide the ideal combination of cardiovascular, strength training and stretching for our bodies but also has the added benefit of meditation and relaxation for our minds – another very important component to health and longevity.

There are many different forms of yoga to choose from that offer a variety of benefits for everyone. All styles and practices focus on breathing and yoga postures to achieve different results and varying degrees of intensity throughout the practice. If you’re a beginner (or just prefer group exercise), try taking a yoga class to learn yoga poses, modifications and proper alignment. This is a great way to try different types of yoga to find the best fit for your body and goals. Props such as blocks or bands and pose modifications can also be used to tailor your practice to your specific needs. If you prefer to practice at home and feel more comfortable learning on your own, try a yoga dvd instead.

Oh, and if you exercise regularly and/or are more advanced and think yoga is too easy or slow-paced for you – think again. There are many forms including power yoga that give you an intense cardiovascular workout with more advanced poses and faster sequences that will definitely have you feeling the burn -- and seeing results.

Check out the list below for some of the different types of yoga and a short description to see which form you might want to try: 

Ananda Yoga - (gentle postures that prepare the body for meditation)

Anusara Yoga - (strict principles of alignment with a playful spirit)

Ashtanga (or Astanga) Yoga - (synchronized breathing with a continuous series of postures)

Bikram Yoga - (using a heated environment to promote flexibility and detoxification)

Dahn Yoga - (a mind-body practice that combines the ancient wisdom of Ki energy training with modern techniques to maximize the brain's functioning)

Hatha - (easy-to-learn basic form of yoga that combines breathing and meditation)

Integral Yoga - (combines postures, breathing exercises, meditation, chanting and prayer)

ISHTA - (focuses on opening energy channels

throughout the body with postures, visualizations, and meditation)

Iyengar Yoga - (promotes strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance through coordinated breathing and poses that require precise body alignment)

Jivamukti Yoga - (a vigorous and challenging asana form with an emphasis on scriptural study, Sanskrit chanting, vegetarianism, non-violence, meditation, devotion to God and the role that music and listening play in the practice of yoga)

Kali Ray TriYoga - (a series of flowing, dancelike poses that also incorporates breathing exercises and meditation)

Kripalu - (gentle, introspective practice urges practitioners to hold poses to explore and release emotional and spiritual blockages)

Kundalini - (practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward)

Power Yoga - (a discipline that combines stretching, strength training, and meditative breathing)

Restorative Yoga - (passively allowing muscles to relax by lying on blocks, blankets and yoga bolsters)

Sivananda Yoga - (combines postures, breathing, dietary restrictions, chanting, scriptural study, and meditation)

Svaroopa Yoga - (promotes healing and transformation often beginning in chair poses that are comfortable)

Viniyoga - (a gentle, healing practice that is tailored to each person's body type and needs as they grow and change)

Vinyasa - (focuses on coordination of breath and movement and it is a very physically active form of yoga)

White Lotus Yoga - (breath work and meditation)

Now that you know a little more about yoga, take a class or pick up a dvd and give the form that most appeals to you a try – you can get in shape, de-stress and heal your body all at the same time. All you need is a yoga mat and an open mind & heart ;)

For more info on yoga, check out the links below:

10 different types of yoga
http://www.omharmonics.com/blog/types-of-yoga/

what is dahn's yoga?
http://www.dahnyoga.com/what_is_dahn_yoga

different types of yoga disciplines

http://www.matsmatsmats.com/yoga/yoga-disciplines.html

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Authorcotodi

Get Sprightly B-12

Being a long-time vegetarian (and former vegan), I have been pretty well-informed about the importance of getting enough B-12 and all the problems that can occur when you don’t. Though B-12 deficiency can be more common in non-meat eaters (because it is a vitamin that is generally more readily available in meat and dairy products), anyone, (veggie and meattie alike) can become deficient. That’s why it’s important to get informed about all things B-12.

So, what exactly is B-12?

It is “a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins. It is normally involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis and regulation, but also fatty acid synthesis and energy production.” (wikipedia.org

In short, it’s a very important vitamin and definitely not something that we can afford to go without if we want to be healthy and want our bodies to function properly. To better highlight this point, below are some symptoms associated with B-12 deficiency: (www.health.harvard.edu)

  • difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
  • anemia
  • a swollen, inflamed tongue
  • yellowed skin (jaundice)
  • difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss
  • paranoia or hallucinations
  • weakness
  • fatigue

So, how do you know if your B-12 level is low? Besides most likely feeling the effects (see list above) the best way to know for sure is to ask your doctor to be tested. But, by taking preventative measures like proper diet, supplements and limiting alcohol, you can reduce your likelihood of becoming deficient.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

If you’re a veggie….

  • Eat a mostly alkaline, hydrating diet (as in lots of fresh fruits and vegetables)
  • Eat grain products that are fortified with B-12
  • Take sublingual supplements – (besides B-12 injections) this form absorbs most quickly into the bloodstream
  • Try adding nutritional yeast to your diet – another form of naturally occurring B-12

If you’re a meattie….

There’s a lot of information available about B-12 and differing views on the best ways to get it and prevent deficiency. Everyone is different and it’s important to find the best option that will work for your body and your lifestyle. Check out the links below to some great, informative articles about B-12.

General B-12 info

Vegan B-12 Foods

Meattie B-12 Foods

Must read story about the effects of B-12 deficiency

Food for thought on B-12

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Authorcotodi

Add a little Alkaline to Your Morning

It is (somewhat) common knowledge, that for optimal health, our bodies should be in a more alkaline than acidic state. Too much acidity makes our bodies a breeding ground for disease, including cancer. So, what can we do?

The best way to combat acidity is to consume alkaline foods and beverages in our everyday diets by eating lots of fruits and vegetables. And, another simple way of starting the day off with alkaline is to replace your morning cup of coffee with lemon and water - YES! It’s that simple.

While acidic in flavor, lemon is actually alkalinizing to the body and is great for the immune system, with its vitamin C and astringent properties - these are only some of the benefits of lemon.

So how simple is it? Just squeeze ¼ to ½ a lemon (preferably organic) into some warm water – then stir and drink. That’s it! You’ve got the perfect drink to kick off a mini-detox, get your insurance against colds and a revved up metabolism for the day.

Now, you could just stop there. But, if you want to get really crazy, then add a little raw honey to the mix. Not only will you get more of the alkalinizing benefits, since honey is also good for your immune system and amazing at reducing inflammation, it tastes great too!

So give lemon water in the morning a try …and add some raw honey while you’re at it. Your body will thank you ;)

To learn more about the benefits of lemon water, check out these articles: 

For more on honey & its alkalinizing properties, check out these articles:

Oh, and While we are Talking about Honey…Let’s Save Some Bees!

So, in case you haven’t heard, here’s what we know. Bees. World-Wide. Are. Dying. And, if you aren’t exactly a big fan of bees (especially, if you’ve ever found yourself on the business end of a stinger), then you may be thinking…’Why does this matter?’

Well, here’s why. Not only are bees adorable (who doesn’t like black & yellow stripes?) and cuddly (um, well… not so much), but these industrious and sprightly little workers *the honey bees* are responsible for pollinating a huge chunk, more than 90 types, of the crops that we humans consume.

To be more specific, “one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.” (nbcnews.com)

To get even more specific, here are some examples of what we could lose along with the bees (care2.com) ….

  • pears
  • blueberry, raspberry, blackberry
  • almonds, Brazil nuts
  • pumpkins – all squashes
  • avocado
  • mango, star fruit
  • cocoa…yes chocolate!

I don’t know about you, but a world without avocado, chocolate, pumpkins (Halloween, anyone?) and honey is not a world I want to live in. And, did I mention that these are only some of the crops we could lose?!  I think it’s obvious that bees are really, really important and that we can’t continue to ignore this problem.

Now, it would take more than just one blog post to talk about all the different reasons that the bees are in crisis -- so for today, let’s just focus on what we can do to help. Here are some ways to get started: (Adapted from care2.com)

  • Eat organic -- pesticides kill insects, including bees so the more demand we can create for organic pesticide-free crops the better for the bees (and for us!)
  • Buy local honey -- Support your local beekeepers
  • Plant bee-friendly plants -- check online for the best kinds
  • Spread the word!!!

Even something as simple as trying to eat organic whenever possible can make a big difference. So, join us, do what you can and let’s save some bees today!

To learn more about how you can save the bees and what else you can do, check out these articles:

To learn more about the importance of saving the honey bees, check out these articles:

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