Happy International Yoga Day!
There are millions of yogis around the world celebrating International Yoga Day today. Are you one of them?
I am. I’m not a consistent practitioner, but from time to time I enjoy an hour of yoga. Chances are, I’d creak less if I practiced more, but I have to admit I prefer other workouts most of the time.
Why so many?
So, why do so many people practice yoga? For some, it just makes them feel better. They say it centers them and are more present and in tune with their body.
A few health benefits of yoga
Others appreciate the health benefits without delving deeply into the mind-body connection. With a consistent practice, yoga will improve your flexibility, strength and posture. Every pose emphasizes these. A focus on breathing is instrumental in improving all-around fitness.
Practicing yoga – just the Sun Salutation for just 15 minutes a few times a week will improve flexibility. And you’ll be breathing deeply, increasing your energy level.
And you don’t have to be flexible to start with. Every pose has modifications. No one is perfect. Everyone is improving.
A Flow practice improves cardiovascular health too. My favorite yoga instructor taught an incredible Flow class – different every week – that left us breathless and flopped on the floor like a rag doll after the final Shavasana.
Many yoga poses are designed to reduce stress and increase calm. It’s been shown that a regular yoga practice can reduce stress and even promote better sleep.
On the flip side, many yoga poses, especially when combined, increase energy and leave you raring to move more. Even without caffeine, that Flow class left me energized and ready to tackle chores.
I think tomorrow I’ll practice yoga instead of do a cardio workout. I’ve convinced myself!
Do you have a dog? If you do, chances are you get more exercise than your neighbors who don’t have a dog. A recent British study shows that people with dogs exercise more than those who don’t own dogs. In fact, dog-owners are 4 times more likely to get the recommended amount of daily activity.
Hundreds of families in Britain were surveyed
The study involved hundreds of English households and suggests that just the fact of having a dog can influence how much exercise people get. The study was published in April in Scientific Reports and involved first homeowners in a community in Liverpool. Eventually the study involved hundreds of participants from over 300 neighborhoods, more than half of whom were dog-owners. Scientists reviewed results of surveys and actual activity monitors that people wore for an entire week. The results showed that people with dogs spent more than 300 minutes per week walking with their dogs, compared to about 100 minutes walking by people without dogs.
It follows naturally …
It makes sense, too. If you have a dog, you’re likely to take it for a walk. And if it’s a nice day, the walk will be longer, your pace will be more rapid. You’ll breathe more deeply and feel like exercising even more.
Exercise More with Your Dog
There are other ways to get exercise with your dogs too. I like to chase my dogs and have them chase me in the backyard. I’m lucky enough to have a fenced yard. It’s not big, but neither are my dogs. We run around like maniacs – it’s great exercise for all of us! Plus, it’s a fun way to reinforce the recall – or “Come”! I call my dog’s name and take off running in the opposite direction. He’ll chase me and, since he’s faster than I am, catch up to me. When he catches me, I turn around, cheer for him, grab his collar and give him a little treat. And start again!
Another way to get exercise with my dog is a rousing game of tug! Sometimes I get down on my knees – more my dog’s level – and play with him. I switch hands from time to time so that both arms get a workout. If your dog doesn’t like to tug, chances are he’ll like to chase a toy. Pull a toy along the floor – not too fast or your dog will be discouraged – and let your dog catch it! A game of tug ensues! Fun for all, and pretty soon you’ll both be out of breath.