Yoga to Relieve Stress

For centuries, yoga has been used for flexibility, pain relief and to relieve stress. When I was in college, I used it because in addition to my courses, I was also performing as a classical musician and had a rock band to pay my bills. Talk about stress??? I have heard about practitioners that were able to bring down their blood pressure and lower their heart rates to fifty beats per minute. Hatha yoga is what I practiced because my stress level and blood pressure was too high and I was in my early twenties then.

As an Eastern Rite Catholic, the meditation aspects of my faith system are very similar to the meditation aspects found in yoga. Breathing control is critical in yoga. When you lie on your back when practicing yoga this pose is called corpse pose, you breathe abdominally. This means that your center is on your diaphragm, not on your upper chest. Musicians breathe abdominally so they can control the phrase of the music.

If you have back problems, yoga can help relieve stressed out muscles. The pose that is utilized to relieve stress in the lower back is called downward facing dog. This is also a good pose for people who sit behind a desk all day, like I do. There are other poses that help with focus and relieve stress. Warrior one and warrior two are poses where you have your feet spread shoulder width apart and you have one arm extended to the right and the other to the left. You hold that pose until you bring your arms in front of you, then resume the pose again. When you practice yoga, take your time, assume the poses naturally and comfortably; just don’t rush through the process. Stress is one of the leading causes of high blood problems and issues with the cardiovascular system and yoga can relieve the stress levels.

My professor of Philosophy and Religion was a practitioner of yoga and what he taught us was mindful breathing and meditation. One of the common misbeliefs is that yoga is just a collection of poses. I have had both breathing and joint issues since I was in college. Between my faith and learning yoga, I was able to get better grades in my course work, have better sleep and simply feel better about myself. A mantra to focus on with this mindful breathing and different yoga poses will relieve the stresses of every day life.

There are some restrictions that a new person attempting to practice yoga that should be observed. If you have herniated discs, some poses will be extremely painful and can cause permanent damage. A pregnant person can practice yoga, but because their center of gravity is off balance, they must be very careful to avoid a fall. If you have osteoporosis other degenerative bone diseases, like Paget’s disease, you can practice yoga, but because of the nature of these illnesses, yoga must be practiced very slowly. Practicing yoga while holding a baby has been practiced by mom’s who want to lower the stress of parenting but, the bonding experience is worth it.

Do Weight Loss Supplements Work

If you check out the weight loss section at your local health food store or vitamin shop you will find no shortage of supplements marketed as fat loss aids. There are fat burners, carb blockers, appetite suppressants, metabolism boosters and vitamin blends; all of which claim to help melt away body fat. The million dollar question is; do any of these supplements actually work? The answer to this question is not so clear cut.

Fat Burners

Most fat burning blends have a long list of fancy-sounding ingredients in addition to the tried and true stimulant, caffeine. The companies that produce and market fat burners often site clinical research that supports the efficacy of these other ingredients, but in truth, the amounts included in a serving are often insufficient to provide any benefit. At the end of the day, consumers are paying $30 to $60 for a bottle of caffeine pills. If you go to the pharmacy you will find “No Doz” caffeine tablets or a generic version for around $5. The bottom line; the math on fat burners just does not add up.

Appetite Suppressants

There are many natural supplements that claim to have appetite suppressing effects, but the overwhelming consensus is that only the prescription strength appetite suppressants get the job done. However, there are two ways to suppress the appetite without visiting your doctor and risking the potential side effects that come with pharmaceutical strength medications; caffeine and a low carbohydrate diet. Caffeine has well established (but mild) appetite suppressing effects, and a low carbohydrate diet keeps blood sugar steady, which blunts the appetite and prevents cravings.

Meal Replacements

Meal replacement products particularly those high in protein and essential fatty acids and low in carbohydrates are one type of fat loss supplement that actually works. Preparing healthy, balanced meals is tedious and time consuming, and being able to whip up a quick protein shake or eat a protein bar is much more convenient. However, not all meal replacements are created equal. For best results, choose one that contains 20 or more grams of protein per serving and fewer than five grams of sugar and 12 grams of fat per serving. Also, look for high-quality whey or milk protein in the list of ingredients. These products are great when you have to eat on the go or grab a quick breakfast on your way out the door.

Carb and Fat Blockers

These supplements were very heavily marketed for a number of years, but have proven to be largely ineffective. The claim was that they would bind with dietary fats or carbohydrates and prevent them from being digested. However, research showed that the effect was far too minimal to be significant. There are still a few of these products out there (white bean extract, chitosan), but they are not worth your time or money.

If you are serious about weight loss, begin an effective regimen, clean up your diet and choose a quality meal replacement product for occasions when you do not have time to cook at home.