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Why You Should Walk, Not Run, For Weight Loss And Better Health

Why You Should Walk, Not Run, For Weight Loss And Better Health

Are you a busy individual who wants to live healthier and look better? If so, ditch the lousy excuses and start a walking program immediately! Walking isn’t just for getting around – it can also be a highly effective way to keep you in good shape! Here are some excellent reasons why you should walk, NOT run, for weight loss and better health.

Walking is the Better Choice

Inactivity leads to obesity and poor health. Get up and walk around your neighborhood, church parking lot, school track, shopping mall, or favorite walking path. Simply stand up and put one foot in front of the other. Routine, vigorous walking can eventually create a substantial improvement in your quality of life. Here’s a list of key benefits of walking:

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  • You do not need to join a gym.
  • No special equipment is needed.
  • Gives you more energy and vigor.
  • Lowers your blood pressure.
  • Improves your mood and self-esteem.
  • Helps reduce anxiety and depression.
  • Wards off Type 2 diabetes.
  • Protects against falling and bone fractures.
  • Reduces the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
  • Helps you sleep better and have a positive outlook.
  • Provides relief from joint swelling and pain from arthritis.
  • Supports strong bones, lean muscle tissue, and joint health.
  • Minimizes stress and thereby decreases the risk of heart disease.
  • Decreases your bad cholesterol – low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
  • Raises your good cholesterol – high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
  • Burns calories for weight loss and weight management.
  • Lowers the risk malignant tumors such as breast cancer and colon cancer.

Why You Should WALK and NOT Run

Thomas Jefferson declared walking to be the best exercise. Research in the American Heart Association’s Journal of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology compared data from two studies and observed that for the same amount of energy expended, walkers received greater weight loss and health benefits than runners. Walking reduced the risk of heart disease by 9.3%, while running reduced it by 4.5%. Walking had a more potent effect on heart disease risk factors from a caloric perspective.

Here are some benefits of walking over running:

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  1. Walking results in fewer injuries than running.
  2. Walkers can usually walk in whatever apparel they are wearing with a quick change into a pair of comfortable shoes.
  3. Walkers impact the ground at 1.5 times their body weight with each step; runners impact the ground at 3 times their body weight.
  4. Walking works your bones and muscles against gravity, inhibiting bone loss and prolonged maladies.
  5. Walking stimulates your brain and enhances your attention and working memory, particularly if you do a nature walk.
  6. Walkers perspire and sweat less than runners do, making it possible for them to exercise without requiring a shower immediately after.
  7. Walkers, unlike runners, can decrease their pace to enjoy their surroundings, check out an unusual sight, or grab a snack from a shop or fruit tree.
  8. Walking is enjoyable at all ages; high-impact exercise is typically more challenging in later years.

Start Walking for Better Health

Set up your walking program to get approximately 30 minutes of brisk walking on most, if not all, days of the week. For maximum effectiveness, set a goal to walk at a moderate pace (3 to 6 miles per hour) for two miles on 5 or 6 days of the week. These recommendations will help you start your walking routine and sustain it with minimal aches and discomforts.

  • Select walking shoes that support your arch and slightly elevate your heel with thick soles that can absorb shock.
  • Should you decide to purchase exercise gear, choose moisture-wicking fabrics that draw sweat and perspiration off of the skin.
  • Choose apparel that prevents inner-thigh rubbing.
  • Set walking goals and establish milestones for rewards; monitor your progress with a walking journal.
  • Walk almost anywhere and at any time. If you’re having inclement weather, walk somewhere indoors such as a mall.
  • In lieu of stretching cold muscles, warm up by walking slowly for five minutes, and then begin your brisk walking. Slow down your last five minutes in order to cool down. Be sure to do gentle stretches after your cool down.
  • Start slowly and gradually increase your steps to avoid sore muscles and joints. Begin to walk farther and for longer periods of time as you develop strength and endurance.
  • Start out by walking 5 or 10 minutes a day, working up to at least 30 minutes for all-inclusive cardiovascular benefits. Feel free to divide your 30 minute walk into shorter sessions if you need to.
  • If you already do 30 minutes of moderate, physical activity each day, start doing more. Extend your workout time by using the stairs instead of the elevator; get off the bus a few stops early; park your car at the farthest end of the parking lot.
  • Do a strength building exercise routine at least twice a week. Consider using light hand weights to help build your upper body.
  • Infuse power walking into your program; utilize it as your main workout activity, or use it along with another sequence to mix things up a bit.
  • Make walking fun; bring a friend or pet along with you and choose a safe location that you enjoy.
  • Join a walking club. Recruit teammates or family members for an after-dinner walk – be certain they are able to walk at your pace and distance.
  • Stay cool and drink plenty of water; wear sunscreen when appropriate.

Keep in mind that a brisk walk is a great low-impact workout technique to obtain and sustain great health. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to exercise, and it’s a smart way to keep your weight under control. Scientific studies continue to prove that walking is more beneficial to the body overall than running.

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Disclaimer: The text and links to content furnished herein are produced for informational purposes only. They’re not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance upon any information provided in this article is at your own discretion.

Featured photo credit: Cabarita Ocean Health Retreat via cabaritaoceanhealthretreat.com.au

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Published on January 17, 2020

How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

If you think yoga can be learned on the mat, you’re wrong! To learn yoga is to learn yourself, your life and the world around you, which happens mostly off the mat.

Since 2000, I study, practice, teach and live yoga – I grow with it from year to year – hence life becomes more interesting and more meaningful from year to year, too. Through all these years, I observe the evolution of yoga in the western culture and see, how (mostly) wrongly, has been interpreted, taught and practiced. Little is known about how to learn yoga – about its practice, its effect and its application. Yoga is all about finding the simplicity and the meaning in the complexity of life.

But when we look around us, it doesn’t seem so simple, even for those who practice it, and for the most who teach it. Everything about yoga begins in its definition from the original yogic scripture Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[1]

And the value for how to learn yoga, is in this article – showing the value of the above definition and how to practice it in the simplest way, effectively and efficiently.

What is Yoga?

Yoga-Citta-Vrtti-Hirodhah — and its translation is: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations arising within consciousness.

The 195 Sutras, that the original yoga scripture consists of, are written in a strongly compressed manner with the idea to deliver a profound meaning and a lot of space for interpretation. However, the interpreter must be highly serious and competent, otherwise the interpretation will drastically deviate from what the message conveys.

When the definition about yoga is interpreted and applied the right way, it tells us how yoga is to be practiced and explored. To start the right way, we must know the right destination of yoga, which is Kaivalya:[2] The union between you, the other and the world.

Let’s see how to do that:

Beginning with the famous mainstream slogan “Union of Body, Mind and Soul”, brings up the question, “How to reunite the body, mind and soul?”

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Your feelings – created by outside stimuli result in the creation of thoughts, hence there’s connection between your body and mind. That’s easy to understand, right?

Now this connection and the thoughts must serve and improve the mind, making it capable to 1) understand the soul and 2) to unite it with the body and mind. That’s where our journey towards the goal of yoga (Samadhi) is interrupted – making the main part of the union not easy to understand, even less so to accomplish.

Yoga is More Spiritual than Physical

This is what makes yoga more spiritual than physical. To put it in numbers, yoga is 97% of psychological, philosophical and spiritual nature and only some 3% of physiological, considering that there are only seven out of 195 Sutras referring physiologically to sitting and breathing, of which I talked in my earlier post on Yoga For men.

But before experiencing any spirituality from yoga, there is the mental (emotional) part that needs to be mastered and that part is to establish a connection between the body and mind. How?

The simple thought and realization that you are conscious of how you feel within your body (cold, warm, relaxed, depressed, anxious, happy and so on), means that you have made the union between your body and mind. (below the step by step exercise for that).

But to establish a connection to your soul – to the finest part of yourself – the Self:

You must find out (through thinking) what is the subtlest thing that drives your body and mind – yourself as an individual and use that driver to go pass beyond your physicality and mentality.

It is right here that you use the definition about yoga and the realization – the moment, where you are not analyzing any thoughts or feelings. This is a state of Yoga – a state of union between body, mind and soul, in which your consciousness has ceased to identify with its fluctuations.

Yoga as Creativity and Expertise of the Individual

In such a case, there is no specific (like beginners, intermediate or advanced) technique for learning yoga. The moment of the state of yoga arises for everyone of us in an individual way as everybody’s physique and mental content are different. You might be very well advanced in performing the most difficult asanas for decades but still unable and incompetent to be in a state of union with your body, mind and soul. Whereas, if you are a beginner and possess the grace and other virtues, than it’s easier and quicker to establish that connection.

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As yoga is an inherent part of the human being, firstly, in order to pave the yoga path successfully and effectively, you must understand that yoga is not a technique for performance, but rather a creativity and expertise of yourself.

Your learning process cannot be focused on, nor conditioned by a certain handbook, someone’s instructions or some specific school.

Learning yoga requires your creativity to look within yourself and learn from yourself, become the expert of your feelings, emotions and desires. You, as a beginner might already possess many qualities and prerequisites for creating the union between your body, mind and soul, but your knowledge requires creativity for your growth to reach the state of union and then reap the fruits of that union. Once this happens there is no turning back – you’ll be pulled by the beauty and energy of your on being.

Be Fast Mentally and Slow Physically

As already mentioned, you don’t need to do physical performances like the split or the headstand to be able to immerse in a deep meditation or Samadhi. But you do need enough creativity for your self-inquiry.

Many of my students start working directly with meditation – attending the complexities of the mind, because that’s where the hindrances lie. There, the meditator is able to work on the cessation of identifying with the fluctuations of the consciousness – where intelligence expands, adversity ends and the individual is ready to pass through its physicality and mentality in order to reach the union with the soul.

But if you’re really a beginner and cannot start with that, then you can start enhancing your creativity on the body-mind level. The exercise follows in the next paragraph.

The greater your creativity, the better your expertise about yourself – the deeper your competence to inquire further into the union with your soul. Sure enough that a more pliable and healthy physical body has some advantages and better preconditions for that, but don’t get discouraged because your body-mind union will open up the way.

So here we are, you are at the moment to enhance your creativity upon that union. Please, take this as a very serious part of the practice as it is crucial for learning yoga – for learning yourself.

The Beginner’s Exercise – Creativity upon Body-Mind Union

The first and most important element to learn and practice yoga is of physiological and psychological nature: Stillness:

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  1. Make sure your body is still and comfortable.
  2. Focus on breathing to initiate observing.
  3. Observe your body and identify the first feeling that occurs to you.
  4. Keep identifying feelings and emotions, but without getting involved with them.
  5. Now create feelings and emotions as you please and let them go.

That’s it! That’s the creativity upon the body-mind union. The validity of this creativity lies in the stillness and observance of that union. In this practice you can learn to understand and catch the moment – the main ingredient of life.

Life is a sequence of moments and knowing that you’re able to manage that sequence is a new level of living life, called dharma – the practical and skillful way of living. An essential character develops as a result of practicing this discipline.

However, be aware that we are still talking about outward elements of yoga – the gross levels (from Yama to Pratyahara) whereas the subtle, inward elements (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) are yet to be approached, learned and implemented. It is on these subtle levels that you can realize the depth of spirituality and the essence of yoga.

It is remarkable how the science of yoga can take you in such heights and depths of exploring life and being. Little is known about the essence and the right practice of yoga in the west. There is a huge knowledge gap between how yoga should be learned and how it is practiced today in the west. You can bridge this gap by practicing the above exercise.

Know that yoga is of a very subtle nature – operating on a subtle energetic level – the level of your mental energies, your thoughts. That means that it is to be learned at that level and not on any other. A body posture alone cannot take you to that level if you don’t apply your creativity and self-inquiry.

Prerequisite for Yogic Success – Union between You and the Other

Yoga is nothing, if our relationships with others are not managed harmonically.

Learning yoga is also learning connecting with the other – with the stranger who’s not you but carries the same “core”, the same heart as you. We as individuals, possess the inborn feature of Ego – the “I-consciousness” that makes us feel separate from the rest of what makes the wholeness.

This separation is the second of the the five “klesah” afflictions[3] – that stand as major hindrance against the union (Yoga) – called “asmita” or I-am-ness / Egoism (Y.S. II.6.), and has to be cultivated and brought to a level of discernment that will lessen our disturbance that comes out the fragmentation between the “I-am-ness” and the “Other-ness”.

This is a crucial concept in Yoga and it is inevitable to be worked upon this hindrance in order to reach the inner “psychological” freedom or the ultimate liberation “Kaivalya” for which Yoga stands for. But, again, if you are beginner in this part, you want to know how to start dealing with all this. Here is the exercise:

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  1. Practice observance from the first exercise.
  2. Realize that the structure of your feelings, emotions, etc. is identical with the one of the other individuals.
  3. Practice witnessing, tolerating and gradually accepting the diversity between yourself and the other individuals.
  4. Observe for so long with equanimity, until you see the uniformity in that diversity.

This is one of the greatest accomplishments a human being can achieve. To be, means, to be in relationship – internally, as well as externally.

Yogic Lifestyle – Union Between You, The Other and The World

Here comes the last piece of the puzzle – the union – on the highest level of worldly existence – between you, the other and the world. This means that Yoga is also worthless if practiced only on the mat. So when learning yoga, especially when practicing the body-mind union, consider if:

You speak the language of nature and how you’re connected to nature and its basic elements? Do you complicate your existence by thinking that you are in the center of the world and require extra attention and acknowledgement?

Thinking this way interferes with the practice of yoga. And surely, you might wonder, what should be done here in order to create that harmony in union? You’d be amazed to know that there is one important yogic movement that needs to be done. That is:

The action of not doing anything but contemplating! Then yoga happens.

Yes, this goes beyond the physicality and mentality of your being. As our bodies play just a tiny part of the evolution of existence, we must not attach to the world in that sense – clinging to worldly life with that insatiable urge that generates worries and anxiety – but rather grow through life with detachment and the attitude that life has been gifted to us with the purpose to realize that gift and attain the wisdom of life.

Go Beyond Your Physicality and Mentality

Attaining greatness like connecting to the world and to your soul, we must pass beyond the thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the influence they have on us. Hence we want to make the mental fluctuations to cease and let yoga shine its light through this yogic movement:

The stillness and the watching within.

Can yoga be understood and achieved in one single session and then practiced continuously, productively and effectively? Of course it can. Your union within yourself, the other and the world is lot simpler and easier than you think. Practice these simple yogic movements diligently, seriously but also effortlessly and your yoga will be flourishing and fruitful. I salute the spirit in you!

More About Yoga

Featured photo credit: Avrielle Suleiman via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
[2] Wikipedia: Kaivalya
[3] Plato Stanford: Klesah

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