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3 Fun and Unique Ways to Get Healthy in 2017

3 Fun and Unique Ways to Get Healthy in 2017

If you are looking to join the thousands of other people getting into the fitness frenzy in 2017, you may want to consider other ways to get fit that do not involve going to the gym.

Let’s face it, losing weight is the number one resolution that people make each New Year yet 80% of people who make a new year’s resolution fail to accomplish their goals.

We need to find creative and exciting new ways to stay fit.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered 3 unique hobbies that you could commit to trying in the new year that are not only fun and invigorating but will actually make you break a sweat.

1. Mountain Climbing

I know what you are thinking – way too extreme.

While there are famous mountains that are as high as 19,000 feet, beginners can start small and work their way up.

Believe it or not, getting into mountain climbing isn’t too hard and the learning curve can be shortened if you follow a few basic tips.

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First, you need to make sure that you have the proper mountain climbing gear. Any list of good climbing gear starts with a reliable helmet as falling debris and rocks are a constant danger.

Next, be sure to buy a good set of climbing shoes. As the primary contact between you and the mountain, your shoes are critical.

You should tailor your shoes to the type of terrain you are climbing. Some mountains require more flexible shoes with a good grip. Other peaks require shoes with attached spikes. Also, to prevent your feet from overheating and being damaged by your sweat, you should choose shoes which are breathable. This will help keep your feet warm and dry.

Furthermore, your climbing gear must include a comfortable and flexible harness. The harness will provide a point for attaching belay and safety lines. It’s important that you choose a harness that fits your body type correctly. A poorly fit harness can create damaging pressure on the underlying skin leading to blisters and other problems. Additionally, if the harness is not properly attached, it can create a safety issue and lead to accidents.

Finally, your backpack will serve as the centerpiece of your mountain climbing gear. It’s important to choose the right bag as there are many types. Some factors which might influence your decision are: how long you plan to be on the mountain, what gear you will be carrying, and how much weight you can safely carry. You should look for backpacks which have multiple storage pouches. These pouches provide easy access to frequently used items. You also want to be able to separate things to keep items safe and dry.

Wherever you choose to climb, having the right climbing gear will help keep you safe and add to the enjoyment of your experience. Choose wisely and make your time on the mountain as pleasant as possible.

2. Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Never heard of stand up paddle boarding?

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It’s actually the fastest growing sport in the world with over 2.8 million Americans who participated in 2014. Not only is SUP or Stand Up Paddle Boarding a rapidly growing hobby but it is also a fantastic way to get your exercise.

The only equipment that you need is a board, a paddle, and a personal flotation device to get out on the water – all of these can be found at your local Paddle Board Retailers.

The central question that you will face is whether to go to the lake, river or ocean.

Lakes are ideal for people that are new to Stand Up Paddle Boarding or just want to check out the wildlife. It is peaceful, calm and by far the most laid back environment of the three.

You can go to the shallow spots near the shore or dock to get the hang of climbing on your board. You will fall off a lot in the beginning, so it is nice to have a quiet place and still water to get the hang of it. Once you are up on your board, you will be amazed at the distance that you can cover during Stand Up Paddle Boarding.

Another beautiful thing about SUP is that you make almost no noise, so you can quietly approach wildlife and enjoy absolutely beautiful and scenic pictures!

Stand Up Paddle Boarding in a river ups the ante a bit which is where you really get a workout because you will have to hold your own against the current at all times. You will also have to be aware of potential obstacles such as rocks, sticks, and rapids and maneuver safely around them. When paddle boarding in the river, you will definitely want to wear a safety helmet to protect your head.

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The ocean is like an advanced course for SUP. That is one of the reasons that Destin Paddle Boarding is a popular destination for anyone that loves Paddle Sports. You are always challenged while boarding in the ocean. You have to be aware of boats and larger ships as well as surfers and swimmers.

The hardest part of paddle boarding in the ocean is, of course, the waves, but you can get into great shape fighting through the waters and have fun doing it. With a little practice, you will be up and paddling in no time.

Don’t forget the sunscreen because you will have so much fun that you may forget about potential sunburn until it is too late!

3. Paintballing

This final activity is one of my favorites because it is so fun, you barely realize how much running you do until it’s over and your body is tired and aching.

Paintball is a game of concentration, thrill, and skill.

The object of the game is simple: you are essentially shooting paintballs with compressed air guns at correct angles to strike the other players present on the ground.

The result is a messy experience with many laughs, achy sores and hundreds of burned calories.

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If you are paintballing for the first time it is recommended that you layer up on clothing and drink plenty of water.

You are essentially running away from your opponents for the entire duration of the activity so a healthy level of hydration is going to be very important.

By the time you are done, you will be exhausted but the amusement of the experience will make it worthwhile.

I listed only three activities but the options are plentiful. If you are looking to stay fit in the New Year there really is more that you can do that is much more fun than laboring on a treadmill or lifting the same weights week after week.

Getting in shape can be fun and if you focus on activities that you can actually enjoy which involve a steady about of movement and exertion on your body, it really won’t be that hard to achieve and maintain the body of your dreams.

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Sara Jane Adkins

Blogger at Natural Healthy Living

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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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