September, 2011 | The 50 Zone Magazine : Mens Information On Wellness, Health, Weight Loss, Nutrition, Women, Style And Fashion

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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Yoga For Men

oga: Eastern Practice in Western Sports

by C.J. Ong, Jr.

Over the past few years the practice of Yoga in many variations has come to the west. Often considered by the uninformed to be a religious practice, Yoga is recognized as one of the six philosophical systems to arise out of India, founded by the Indian sage Patanjali in approximately 300 B.C. Yoga yields the greatest benefits when approached as a way of life, offering one a chance to experience an integrated system of education for the body, mind and inner spirit. For the athlete Yoga can provide a way to synthesize the processes of a well-rounded fitness program in several ways. They can include:

  • Improved use of Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
    The neurological location for the skills needed to execute movement in any or all of the three planes of movement lies within the motor cortex of the brain, with each hemisphere dominant or controlling bodily movements on the contra-lateral side. An asana in Yoga recruiting Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence would be Ardha Matsyendrasana (the spinal twist), an asana requiring movement in all three planes of movement. Developing the skills to execute an asana correctly can transfer to improved sports performance. When mastered the 12 positions contained within Surya Namaskar (the sun salutations) integrate each hemisphere of the brain and provide one with a total stretching routine.
  • Calming of the Sympathetic Nervous System
    Many athletes allow their workouts to become back to back races and challenges, either with themselves or others. These “workouts” create constant state of stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system with a negative effect on the body. In an effort to protect itself the body releases cortisol, a catabolic hormone consuming lean tissue. Engaging in regular Yoga practice will allow the body to recover faster, improve sleep (quality sleep is when the production of the body’s natural growth hormones is at its’ highest levels) and lead to lower body fat levels when incorporated into a sound training schedule.
  • Optimal Performance Through Improved Posture
    For the body’s ten levels of cellular organization to work together in an optimal manner the correct alignment of the body segments is crucial. Postural faults often lead to compensation injuries and the resulting sub-par athletic performances. Learning the asana Tadasana (mountain) can bring one to an awareness of correct posture. Improved posture allows the nerve plexuses/chakras to enter into correct alignment with each other, in turn allowing the river of energy contained within the body to flow easily.

In the beginning the practice of Yoga may seem confusing, even perhaps daunting and improvement may seem miniscule. Attending a class with those who have attained a certain level of mastery might make one feel out of place at first. It is at these times one should keep in mind the words of Bruce Lee, one of the first athletes to integrate Eastern and Western practices into athletics: “Success lies in the process rather than the completion”.

© C.J. Ong, Jr. / 2011

Stress as a Transformative Gift

Stress as a Transformative Gift

By Lars Gustafsson

Nineteen years ago I was sitting in a motivational seminar, listening to a fabulous speaker talking about the trials of life being the greatest gifts of our lives. I heard a lot that day, and although I even forgot the name of the speaker, these were the words burned in my memory…

“The pressure in life creates diamonds in the rough — without pressure over millions of years coal would stay black and soft. Instead, that immense pressure turns that coal into one of the toughest and most beautiful substances on our planet.”

This metaphor is applicable on so many levels … life, relationships, business and sports, and brilliantly illustrates how stress can be a transformative tool.

Although no one, including myself, enjoys the pressures of negative stress, its outcome is often positive in the big picture. We may only be able to see this many years later after time has healed all that we were experiencing in that moment.

Just as our bodies change from the rigors of exercise, we will change under pressure. To recuperate from exercise, we use the best possible supplements and nutrition. To recover and strengthen from stress, it’s equally important to have the right tools at our disposal.

Much like the vicious acids and oxidation that results from exercise when we don’t utilize the proper recovery nutrients and rest, there are numerous things we can do that will continue to tear us down during or after a stressful period.

We can lay blame, feel guilty, argue, rant, rave, stew and ruminate … lose sleep … and so much more. Are we actually learning from the stress and becoming stronger through these thoughts and actions? Most likely not … unless at some point, hopefully sooner than later, we flip the switch and look at what we are learning, what we are grateful for in life, and see these conditions as a way to evolve and become stronger.

I have had coaches in every aspect of life — from personal trainers to life coaches — tell me that the way to propel oneself to the next level of life … physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually … is to have an innate plan of action to apply stress in an intelligent way, and a recovery plan to make large gains from the stress.

This is where any stress becomes transformative.

We definitely understand the physically transformative nature of stress, both when it comes from physical exercise and emotional pressures.

When you exercise, you create a condition of improvement that propels you through the first layers of limitations that you had when you began… with or without good nutrition. I have personally coached world-class athletes that had deplorable nutrition routines when they first came to see me — yet somehow their bodies recovered to propel them to the highest ranks in the world. Through this I came to see that mind over matter goes deeper than any of us can imagine or understand.

What if you have been on a treadmill of life for decades … not realizing that even the smallest levels of stress have been eating away at your body? What has slowly broken down over these years can be equated to the breakdown that can happen in a single triathlon season without the right recovery nutrients. Tendons, organs, cellular cleansing systems, the central nervous system, immune and rebuilding systems all suffer.

Emotional stress has the same nature – it eats away at all the normal operative systems of your body. It lays open your body to disease and dysfunctions that are often blamed on genetics or age. Sure these play a part but only because all the supportive and contributive aspects have not really been considered and applied.

So how can you flip the switch and turn any stressful situation into a beneficial and transformative experience?

Below are the top five keys that include physical, mental, emotional and spiritual support. The physical aspects will be the bed underneath all of it. You will obviously feel stronger, have positive hormones surging through your mind and body, and have a bolstered immune system that will help to see that big picture view of the situation you are in. It’s extremely challenging to feel positive if your body is acidic, bloated, worn down and weakened.

1. Eat lighter meals and replace one or more of them with liquid nutrition — a robust, nutrient dense shake will bypass your worn down digestive system and provide the much needed nutrition to your cells. A single shake under these conditions can be worth more in nutritional support than many days’ worth of food. Become familiar with super foods and other supportive nutrition that bolsters your digestive system, organs, cells, central nervous system, mind and body.

2. Become an expert at supporting your immune system: some key supplements are Vitamin D (one of Dr. Mercola’s favorites), C, E, CoQ10, Greens, Chaga Mushroom (a David Wolfe favorite), Probiotics and more.

Once the stress has subsided, look into how you can gently begin cleansing your organs, cells, digestive tract and lymph system. Care needs to be taken with this crucial subject, and I recommend guidance with a professional, as cleansing too deeply when your body is weakened by stress can be more of a detriment than a benefit. It’s somewhat like going into an extensive physical exercise program without proper build up or strengthening of all your systems.

3. Exercise to release stress. Just as in your meal plan and supplementation, this is as unique to you as your life. Take care to not overdo exercise during stress — which would show up in slow recovery times, poor sleep, and overall increased tension in your mind and body. Exercise is critical during stress — but too much or too intense exercise without the proper nutrition can wear down all of your systems. I have seen triathlon and iron man athletes age years from a single season of malnutrition.

4. Seek out every avenue to promote a healthy mind, here are a few that I recommend right from the start: brain training, bio-feedback, meditation, yoga, NLP training, life coaching … and healthy attitudes such as the gratitude, having fun with friends & family, ample sleep and rest.

Over the years, I have seen extremely stressed clients quickly come out of their stress when they started on even the simplest nutrition programs.

If you are reading this and feeling overwhelmed at the things you would have to add on to your already packed lifestyle, realize that the simplest of shifts is all you will need to get started. Pick one thing that you know you could fit in every day — even an extra glass of water with a pinch of Himalayan sea salt between meals, or an extra piece of fruit in the morning and afternoon instead of a cup of coffee, or getting to bed an hour early every night.

The “simple of shifts that will last a lifetime” are those that will quickly make you feel better about bringing something positive into the stressful mix.

5. Next … pick up on the idea of gratitude and look at all the many positive things that you have around you and in your life. Moving your emotions from those in observation of stress to those of gratitude can literally change your biology instantly. It pays to be grateful.

I’m going to close this article by helping you set the intention that you will begin a new journey of mastering stress by becoming an expert at taking care of your body, mind and emotions.

And remember … it’s all about simple shifts.

I look forward to bringing you the next keys to living a life filled with fun, power and joy in my next article.

In health and inspiration,

Lars Gustafsson

Founder: BodyMind Institute

www.bodymindinstitute.com

Physical Activity and Health – Part II

by Bob Gurney

The previous article informs the reader to exercise/physical counselling in the medical profession. Although Physicians are very positive in their attitudes towards the importance of exercise/physical activity, some Physicians may be limited in their knowledge of the current literature and practices, and/or lack of time to discuss exercise/physical activity with patients.

To explore the role of the Physician in discussing exercise/physical activity with patients, we invite the readers to engage with the contributors of The 50 Zone in terms of providing feedback for discussion to the following questions:

1. Have you ever discussed exercise/physical activity with your Physician? If no, why? If yes, please describe your level of satisfaction?

2. Do you manage your own personal exercise/physical activity practices? If no, why? If yes, please provide a brief description of your management?

3. Do you consult with and/or receive advice from exercise/physical activity experts? If no, why?
If yes, what qualifications do the experts hold? Please describe your level of satisfaction gained from the experts.

Please submit the questions above and your answers to: fitquestions@the50zone.com

Thank-you for your participation. We will promptly respond to your answers and summarize information in the next addition of The 50 Zone. Confidentiality of respondents identity will be maintained.

Author: Bob Gurney


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