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5 Fun Ways to Transform Your Body And Health When You Don’t Feel Like Going to the Gym

5 Fun Ways to Transform Your Body And Health When You Don’t Feel Like Going to the Gym

Some days (or weeks), you just don’t want any part of the gym. You are either too tired, stressed, busy, or lazy—all of which happen to the best of us. But, just because you don’t want to go to the gym doesn’t mean your health will have to take a sabbatical. You still have a body to maintain, keep strong, and improve over time.

When it comes to transforming your body, you may only think of the gym as the place that can make this goal happen. But, transforming your body isn’t just a physical thing. Optimal health includes 4 pillars of fitness—mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.

With these in mind, here are 5 ways to transform your body and health when you don’t feel like going to the gym.

1. Swimming

Every four years, the Olympics rolls around and during that time the increase in interest for swimming seems to double if not triple. Yes, it’s a physically impressive feat to swim that fast, but a lot of times, many people are enamored with the lean and toned shape of the swimmers.

Swimming (not leisurely doggy-paddling) can burn up to 750 calories per hour. Calories are important, but to transform your body and health entails more than just burning those calories.Swimming has been linked to increasing longevity.[1] For those with injury issues, swimming provides an activity where you can push yourself without the added risk of further injuring yourself.

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Swimming improves your lung function and thus provides tremendous benefits to your respiratory system.[2]

2. Dancing

The majority of people may think of dancing as a weekend-only activity (often accompanied by loud music and a few drinks). But, dancing is an activity that provides many benefits to your health.

From pole dancing to salsa dancing, this form of physical activity helps transform your body by helping you take control of your internal world, and perhaps most importantly, can help you improve your confidence.

Dancing can increase our level of happiness[3] as it aids in the fight against mental illnesses.[4] Another benefit of dancing is its ability to help keep your brain sharp and prevent dementia.[5]

3. Walking

It can be boring and often times overlooked as a way to improve your health, but walking is a powerful tool to use in your exercise regimen. In fact, a daily walk of up to 25 minutes can add up to seven extra years to your life.[6]

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For those heavily involved with weight lifting, walking provides a great supplementary activity because it is not taxing exercise and thus you’re allowing your body to relax and repair. And for those who have trouble sitting and meditating, walking can be used as a form of meditation especially if you’re doing this activity while out in nature.

Walking has been shown to help those with Alzheimer’s[7] and many other diseases.[8]

If you require a sharp brain for your career, walking also helps with mild cognitive impairments and improves your thinking.[9]

4. Sex

What better way to transform your body and have some fun in the process than to have sex (safety first though)?

Individuals who engage in sexual activities a couple times a week have higher levels of immunoglobulin A in their saliva.[10] This is an antibody designed to help us fight infections and the nagging common cold that gets many people.

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Often times we resort to chocolate or other foods that could hamper our fitness goals when we’re stressed. But did you know that sex (specifically semen)[11] can act as an antidepressant for women? And with men, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), those who have more intercourse have better control over their blood pressure compared to men who have less intercourse.[12]

Engaging in frequent sex also helps you maintain the fountain of youth (i.e. maintaining great skin).[13]

Sex is so powerful that getting busy in the morning can lead to you having a glow to yourself all day long.[14]

5. Yoga

If you scoff at yoga and the benefits that it is supposed to provide, think again. Yoga deserves a seat at everyone’s table when it comes to transforming your health and body.

Yoga has been suggested as benefiting those who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, and other mental conditions as well as sleep problems.[15]

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Those who suffer from frequent migraines can also benefit from adopting a yoga practice.[16]

To reiterate point number four about more sex helping with your health, yoga will help with a myriad of your sexual functions and this applies to both men[17] and women.[18]

Yoga also helps those with insomnia.[19]

Lastly, yoga can aid in your nutrition and daily decision-making because its regular practice can help you to be more mindful with your food choices, as it helps you to avoid mindless eating.

Reference

[1] Prevention: Dive Into Longevity
[2] Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology: Comparative study of lung functions in swimmers and runners.
[3] Prevention: The Happiness Trick You Haven’t Tried
[4] The Denver Post: The Many Health Benefits of Dancing
[5] New England Journal of Medicine: Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly
[6] Independent: A Daily Walk Can Add Seven Years To Your Life
[7] Scandinavian Journal of Caring: A community-based exercise programme to improve functional ability in people with Alzheimer’s disease: a randomized controlled trial
[8] NCBI: Walking – the first steps in cardiovascular disease prevention
[9] Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic Finds Exercise Can Reduce the Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment
[10] NCBI: Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA)
[11] Psychology Today:Attention, Ladies: Semen Is An Antidepressant
[12] NCBI: Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile-vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity.
[13] The Telegraph: Sex is the secret to looking younger, claims researcher
[14] Daily Mail: How a spot of morning passion can make you glow all day long
[15] Frontiers in Psychiatry: Yoga on our minds: a systematic review of yoga for neuropsychiatric disorders
[16] NCBI: Effectiveness of yoga therapy in the treatment of migraine without aura: a randomized controlled trial.
[17] International Society for Sexual Medicine: Yoga in male sexual functioning: a noncomparative pilot study.
[18] The Journal of Sexual Medicine: Yoga in female sexual functions.
[19] NCBI: Treatment of chronic insomnia with yoga: a preliminary study with sleep-wake diaries.

More by this author

Julian Hayes II

Author, Health & Fitness Coach for Entrepreneurs, & Speaker

18 Basic Rules To Lead A Fulfilling Life Starting Today, Stop These 6 Things to Become the Best Version of Yourself 5 Fun Ways to Transform Your Body And Health When You Don’t Feel Like Going to the Gym 4 Common Reasons Why You Fall Short With Your Weight Loss Goals (And What You Should Do Instead) 7 (Surprising) Actions to Take For Guaranteed Fat Loss

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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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