Meditation for Stress Relief

(Image Credit: Daniella Segura)

(Image Credit: Daniella Segura)

What’s the one thing people always tell you not to do, but seems impossible not to do? Stress. Stress seems to be an inevitable part of daily life that many people cannot overcome. Although stress seems unconquerable, there are remedies to lessen daily stress, such as meditation.

As far back as prehistoric times, meditation was used to deepen people’s understanding of higher beings in life, but has since transitioned into a common way to practice relaxation and stress reduction, according to Mayo Clinic. A simple definition of meditation is that it “consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on one’s breath, a word or phrase… [and] a meditator may also be walking or standing,” according to Psychology Today.

Some studies have proven that there is a link between meditation and stress levels, such as one conducted by researchers in China and at the University of Oregon, according to Science Daily.

The study consisted of a control and an experimental group of undergraduate college students. The control group received five days of relaxation training, while the experimental group received five days of meditation training. In the experiment, stress was induced by mental math. Although the two groups both released the stress hormone, cortisol, the experimental group, or the one with meditation training, released less of this hormone and also showed “lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue.”

Overall, the study found that there is “a measurable benefit that people could achieve through body-mind meditation, especially involving an effective training regimen, but larger studies are needed to fully test the findings of this small, short-term study,” according to a researcher quoted by the Science Daily.

Although everyday stress reduction is the prime benefit of practicing meditation, there are also other benefits linked to meditation. According to Jaan Suurküla M.D., because practicing meditation can lower the amount of cortisol that your body releases, this may in turn help to lower the chances of chronic stress.

Other studies have also found that meditation may both prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.

Some forms of meditation include: guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, qi gong, tai chi and yoga. Each of these practices has different elements and levels of difficulty, which helps make meditation a practice that is accessible to anyone.

So the next time someone tells you “don’t’ stress,” remember to take a deep breath and meditate.

Originally posted July 14, 2013
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Why Men Should Give Yoga a Chance

(Image Credit: undrey)

(Image Credit: undrey)

Man, the stories are true in regards to yoga. It’s a complete workout that can kick your butt in more ways than one. Believe me, like most guys, I was one of those skeptics that thought yoga was geared more towards the “feminine” side and basically threw aside the benefits that participating in the activity could have for me. Like most men, I prefer taking the more “masculine” route by lifting weights and doing cardio because in my mind I thought, as a man, that’s the only way you can build yourself to get stronger. Jeez was I wrong…

After suffering from a back injury a while back (I have to remember to stretch more OFTEN), I was told by a physical therapist to cease any strenuous physical activity for a couple weeks. Now, if you knew me in a personal level you would know that’s not an option for me. I love to stay active, as I think it’s the best thing for your body to thrive in the vitality and longevity that fitness brings. So with that being said, sitting on my couch was not an option. This is where yoga came into play.

After pleading to my physical therapist about ways to stay in shape, he brought up the idea of yoga. It was funny because the way he said it was if he knew right off the bat I was going to say no. (He wasn’t wrong though; I’m a skeptic.) After hearing him out for a bit I decided to take his suggestion. I went out and bought a yoga mat and looked up a few videos on Youtube. It was then where I was introduced to Fightmaster yoga, with Lesley as the instructor, and then I fell in love with yoga. After a few yoga sessions, I can honestly say I’ve never felt my heart pound that hard repeatedly after any cardio session I’ve ever participated in.

Guys, trust me, yoga isn’t as taboo as you think it may be. I’ve learned to leave my comfort zone in order to try something that I thought wasn’t “masculine” enough. I personally believe that can be dangerous thinking, especially if we’re inhibiting ourselves from trying something new. So, calling out all men (who haven’t tried yoga yet) – I dare you to go out, buy a yoga mat and engage in the activity. I’ve already added it to my weekly routine. Try something new for once; it won’t hurt! At least not that much!

An open letter to yoga pants

Yoga Pants

Image Credit: (Ellisia)

Dear yoga pants,

I’ll be honest – it took me 21 years on this earth to really grasp your true majesty. I had always loved wearing you to bed (I tried rephrasing that multiple times, but it comes out sounding like an unintentional innuendo no matter what), but I refused to take you outside the house for many a year. For a long time I resisted your comfort and warmth in favor of the cold rigidity of jeans. Crazy, I know. But I like to look polished, and to me, yoga pants did not equal a well-dressed individual – no offense.

One day, I finally broke my rule to never wear pajamas/sweatpants/leggings outside the confines of my abode and wore you to the airport. In fact, I wore you on a 7-hour flight in front of countless flight attendants and on two coasts. After a long and quiet affair, we had finally gone public. And let me tell you, it has been a slippery slope ever since.

Now I want to wear you just about everywhere. After years of being suppressed, my inner yoga pants-lover has been unleashed, and I don’t have the power to stop her.  I still have my limits (note: those of you trying to pass off yoga pants as dress pants aren’t fooling anyone), but I have now embraced the idea that it’s OK to be cozy at work, in class, in the car and at the movies, given that you are worn with a long sweater or dress. I love you, yoga pants, but you are not actual pants. No. You’re not fooling me on that one. Remember – this love has limits. But I do indeed love you, after all these years.

I went through the same process with Uggs, my dear yoga pants, so don’t feel bad that it took me so long to fall in love with you. But now that we have gotten closer, perhaps you can answer a question I’ve always wondered about: does it bother you that people wear you to do just about everything but yoga?

Sincerely,

Casey

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(Image Credit: Gromovataya)

5 Home Workout Programs That Will Whip You Into Shape

(Image Credit: Gromovataya)

(Image Credit: Gromovataya)

It would be easy to fit in a workout if we all had a free 24 Hour Fitness next door, but unfortunately gym memberships aren’t feasible for everyone. Memberships aren’t cheap, and there are only so many hours in the day – you don’t always want to spend your precious free time en route to the gym. Continue reading

Acroyoga (Image Credit: Charlie Llewellin)

What’s the big deal about… Acroyoga?

Acroyoga (Image Credit: Charlie Llewellin)

Acroyoga (Image Credit: Charlie Llewellin)

I first became aware of acroyoga from a YouTube video a friend sent me. There were two people practicing with a mountain back drop. As one of the partners twisted and twirled, I thought it looked like a nature friendly version of a Cirque du Soleil performance. Despite what I first believed, acroyoga can be done by regular people.

Acroyoga is the combination of yoga, acrobatics and healings arts. There are three typical roles one can fill when participating. The person who is the base is the one who is supported by the floor. In most cases the base is laying on the ground which frees up their arms/legs to help the other person out. The flyer is the person who is supported by the base and is typically the one that you see moving into the complicated poses. The third position is a spotter who can make sure everything is going safely.  Continue reading

What Style of Yoga is Right for You?

Yoga (Image Credit: Lululemon Athletica)

Yoga (Image Credit: Lululemon Athletica)

Yoga: it’s all the buzz in the exercise world. However, do you know what style of yoga best suits you? Before you go buy a yoga mat (or go find the one  that’s hiding in the closet), it’s important that you make sure you know the types of yoga offered to choose the one best for your body. Below is a quick overview of just a few styles of yoga. Continue reading

Meditation for Stress Relief

Kali Sampson teaching yoga, one of many forms of meditation, at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Los Angeles, Calif. (Image Credit: Daniella Segura)

Kali Sampson teaching yoga, one of many forms of meditation, at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Los Angeles, Calif. (Image Credit: Daniella Segura)

What’s the one thing people always tell you not to do, but seems impossible not to do? Stress. Stress seems to be an inevitable part of daily life that many people cannot overcome. Although stress seems unconquerable, there are remedies to lessen daily stress, such as meditation. Continue reading

Yoga Pose of the Week: One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

(Image Credit: lululemon athletica)

(Image Credit: lululemon athletica)

My name is Melanie Cuccia and I am a certified yoga instructor. Each week I will bringing you a new post with everything you need to know to execute a yoga pose. I’ll tell you how the pose benefits you, give you prep and counter poses, clue you into contraindications and modifications, and provide step by step instructions for the pose!

This week’s pose is the One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)! Continue reading

Yoga Pose of the Week: Seated Wide Angle Pose (Upavistha Konasana)

Seated Wide Angle Pose

Seated Wide Angle Pose (Image Credit: Lululemon Athletica)

My name is Melanie Cuccia and I am a certified yoga instructor. Each week I will be bringing you a new post with everything you need to know on how to execute a yoga pose. I’ll tell you how the pose benefits you, give you prep and counter poses, clue you into contraindications and modifications, and provide step by step instructions for the pose. This week’s pose is the Seated Wide Angle (Upavistha Konasana)! Continue reading

Your First Time… Trying a Yoga Class

Image Credit: lululemon athletica

Image Credit: lululemon athletica

Yoga is a great way to improve your strength, gain flexibility, and relieve tension in your body, but for a newbie considering taking a class for the first time the many different types of classes to choose from combined with the jitters of trying something new in a group setting could be enough to make you want to forget the whole thing.  But don’t be discouraged! To help you navigate the yoga waters, we asked Melanie Cuccia, a certified Group and Private Vinyasa Yoga Instructor, to give us some tips to make your first time trying a yoga class a fun and rewarding experience. Continue reading

Simple Ways to Improve Your Quality of Life

Image Credit: Leslie McCracken

You deserve to be happy! If you need to put a little oomph back in your step or simply realize there is always room for improvement, check out these simple and inexpensive ways to improve your quality of life!
Continue reading