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Health & Fitness

5 Yoga Asanas to Relieve Back Pain

Come to your knees, with your legs hip-width apart

Ustra-asana – Camel Pose

Benefits:

Boosts mood and energy

Strengthens the back

Stimulates the sympathetic nervous system

Helps counteract damage of bad posture

Relieves back pain & Re-aligns the spine

Promotes proper kidney function

Helps with digestive function,

Eliminating constipation and flatulence

Instruction

Come to your knees, with your legs hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips, with your thumbs on your sacrum, the bony plate at the base of your spine. Keep your hips over your knees and internally rotate your thighs, squeezing them toward each other. Inhale to engage your lower belly and reach your tailbone toward your knees, creating space between your lower vertebrae.

On another inhalation, lift your sternum and draw your elbows toward each other, allowing your rib cage to expand.  Keep your chest raised, your core engaged, your spine long, and your chin tucked as you drop your hands toward your heels.

Press the heels of your hands into the heels of your feet while draping the fingers over the soles. Keep lifting through your sternum. Now lift your shoulders to allow the trapezius muscles between the shoulder blades to rise up and cushion your cervical spine. Gently lower the head and neck and gaze at the tip of your nose.

To exit the posture, bring your chin back toward your chest and your hands to your hips with your thumbs on your sacrum. Engage your lower belly and use your hands to support your lower back as you come up slowly.

Trikon-asan –  Extended Triangle Pose

Benefits:

The triangle pose strengthens your back and strengthens the muscle along your outer hip.

Stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves; shoulders, chest and spine

Helps relieve stress

Improves digestion

Relieves backache, especially through second trimester of pregnancy

Instructions

Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down.  Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right knee cap is in line with the center of the right ankle.

Exhale and extend your torso to the right directly over the plane of the right leg, bending from the hip joint, not the waist. Anchor this movement by strengthening the left leg and pressing the outer heel firmly to the floor. Rotate the torso to the left, keeping the two sides equally long. Let the left hip come slightly forward and lengthen the tailbone toward the back heel.

Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot, whatever is possible without distorting the sides of the torso. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left, eyes gazing softly at the left thumb.

Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, strongly pressing the back heel into the floor and reaching the top arm toward the ceiling. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.

Bal-asana / Shishu-asana  –  Child Pose

Benefits:

Gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles

Relaxes you spine, shoulders and neck

Increases blood circulation to your head which reduces headaches

Calms the mind (central nervous system) thus helping relieve stress and tension

Deeply relaxing for the back

Instructions

Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.

Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your sacrum across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points toward the navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.

Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back.

Balasana is a resting pose. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Beginners can also use Balasana to get a taste of a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs. Stay in the pose from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, first lengthen the front torso, and then with an inhalation lift from the tailbone as it presses down and into the pelvis.

Dhanur-asan  — Bow Pose

Benefits:

Strengthens the back and abdominal muscles

Opens up the chest, neck and shoulders

Tones the leg and arm muscles

Relieves menstrual discomfort and constipation

Helps people with renal (kidney) disorders

Instructions

This pose is so called because it looks like an archer’s bow, the torso and legs representing the body of the bow, and the arms the string.

Lie on your belly with your hands alongside your torso, palms up. Exhale and bend to bring your knees with your heels close to your buttocks. Reach back to hold on to your ankles (but not the tops of the feet). Make sure your knees aren’t wider than the width of your hips for the duration of the pose.

Inhale and strongly lift your heels away from your buttocks while lifting your thighs away from the floor. This will have the effect of pulling your upper torso and head off the floor.  As you continue lifting the heels and thighs higher, press your shoulder blades firmly against your back to open your chest. Draw the tops of the shoulders away from your ears. Gaze forward.    Stay in this pose anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds. Release as you exhale, and lie quietly for a few breaths. You can repeat the pose once or twice more.

Adho Mukha Svan-asana – Downward Facing Dog

Benefits:

Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches and hands

Strengthens the arms and legs

Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause

Relieves back pain

Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis

Instructions

Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.

Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.

Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis. Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.

Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It is also an excellent yoga asana on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose.

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Health & Fitness

If EYE Were You…

If eye is natural cataract awareness month and there are some precautions you should be taking to

If eye is natural cataract awareness month and there are some precautions you should be taking to make sure your vision is grade A and your health is on point. Cataracts are the number one form of blindness worldwide! But thankfully it is preventable. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens inside the eye. However, if you don’t take cautious measures to prevent cataracts now, you could damage your eyesight to the point of surgery.

6 ways to take care of your eyes:

1.​ ​Eat Foods that Improve Your Vision

Eat the following:
•​ ​CARROTS!!
•​ ​Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards
•​ ​Salmon, tuna, and other oily fish
•​ ​Eggs, nuts, beans, and other non-meat protein sources
•​ ​Oranges and other citrus fruits or juices
You may think staying healthy mainly affects your weight and heart, but everything is connected. Healthy eating helps prevent diabetes. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults. Be aware of what you are feeding your body and don’t use it a human trash can.

This is a close-up of vegetables and fruits.

2.​ ​Quit Smoking

Smoking can lead to cataracts and nerve damage in the eyes. Smoking isn’t worth the health risks and the drain on your wallet.

Stop smoking now

3.​ ​Wear Sunglasses

Try to read the labels on sunglasses and get ones that protect your eyesight from UV rays, meaning ultraviolet. However, any sunglasses are better than none. Look for sunglasses blocking UVA and UVB rays. Also as a bonus, sunglasses help from having wrinkles around your eyes. For beauty and health reasons, grab some shades.

4.​ ​Use Safety Eyewear

If your job or hobbies include working with wood or welding metal, swimming, construction, bright lights, strong sprays, certain sports, or hazardous equipment, wear protective goggles.

Japanese woman looking in the mirror

5.​ ​Take a Break from the Computer Screen

Many hours staring at a computer can cause:
•​ ​Eyestrain
•​ ​Blurry vision
•​ ​Trouble focusing at a distance
•​ ​Dry eyes
•​ ​Headaches
•​ ​Neck, back, and shoulder pain
It is very important to take breaks from staring at the screen, avoid it right before bed, and turn down the brightness of the screen light.

Woman smiling with perfect smile and white teeth in a park and looking at camera

6. Visit Your Eye Doctor Regularly

Go to a specialist to know your genetic s with eyesight and the health and upkeep of your eyes.

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Health & Fitness

Exercise for pregnant women

Is it safe to exercise while pregnant? The answer is yes, but there are some very important steps to

Is it safe to exercise while pregnant? The answer is yes, but there are some very important steps to follow when pregnant to ensure safety for you and your child. Follow the 5 steps below if you are pregnant and want to be active.​ ​

Beautiful pregnant woman doing pilates isolated on white background

1.)​ ​Check with the Doc
Make sure, in your condition, that your doctor gives you the thumbs up to exercise while with child. If you never exercised before becoming pregnant or if you have any health conditions, it may be best to lay low for 9 months. Listen to your doctor’s orders before proceeding.​ ​

2.)​ ​EAT More
Eat more calories. Now, there is another human being that requires nourishment from you. By working out, you are burning more calories, which means you need to be eating more calories, and not just for you but the child growing inside you.

 

3.)​ ​Drink lots of Water
Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause contractions or overheat your body which is not good for the little one. Make sure to always have a water bottle on hand and drink throughout the exercise and throughout the day.

Happy pregnant women in yoga class lying on mats in a fitness studio

4.)​ ​Avoid Injury
Don’t over exert yourself and don’t try something dangerous you have never done before being pregnant. This is not the time to try to lose as much weight as possible, but it is a time to be healthy. Be healthy in the sense, that you new unborn child comes first and their needs are more important than yours right now. Think about health, not image. If you feel over-worked, stop and take a break or a few days off. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you were a work-out fiend before becoming pregnant, than exercising might put you and the baby at ease and stopping exercise completely could be harmful. Everyone is different and every pregnancy is different.​ ​

Pregnant woman practicing in the park

5.)​ ​Warm Up
Get your body and your baby a heads up that you are about to be doing physical fitness. Get your heart-rate up with a few jumping jacks and dynamic stretches before going straight into a workout. It is important to prepare your body and foreshadow what is to come so your muscles are relaxed and ready.

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Health & Fitness

Chickpea Tofu Curry

Ingredients

Ingredients
​ ​1 red onion
​ ​3 cloves of garlic
​ ​200 g tofu
​ ​1 fresh red chilli
​ ​200 g spring greens
​ ​1 tablespoon vegetable oil
​ ​1 tablespoon ground coriander
​ ​2 teaspoons ground cumin
​ ​½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
​ ​1 teaspoon turmeric
​ ​1 x 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
​ ​2 tablespoons olive oil
​ ​1 x 400 g tin of chickpeas
​ ​2 teaspoons paprika
​ ​2 teaspoons garam masala
​ ​½ a lemon
​ ​2 teaspoons cumin seeds


Method
Peel and finely slice the onion. Peel the garlic, then finely chop 1 of the cloves and finely slice the rest. Cut the tofu into cubes. Finely slice the chilli, and shred the spring greens.

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan, add the onion and chopped garlic, and cook gently until the onion begins to brown.

Add the ground coriander and cumin, cayenne and turmeric. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and half a tin of water. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the tofu until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.

Drain, rinse and stir the chickpeas into the tomato sauce, heat through, then add the paprika, garam masala, lemon juice and seasoning to taste, plus more water if it looks too dry. Add the tofu.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and fry gently to release the aroma, then add sliced garlic and chilli.

When the garlic begins to brown, add the spring greens and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until just cooked. Serve with the tofu and chickpea curry.

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