Advertising
Advertising

Body Pain Comes From Weak Communication Between Muscles And Brain, And These 5 Yoga Poses Can Help

Body Pain Comes From Weak Communication Between Muscles And Brain, And These 5 Yoga Poses Can Help

We all know that stretching,[1] to some degree, helps to relieve muscle tension and tightness. However, some complain that the benefits of stretching provides only short-term, minimal relief at best, making it a waste of time and energy. In order to truly understand muscle tightness and how to reap the benefits of stretching, one must first understand the complexities of the muscle and brain connection.

Muscle tension begins with messages from the brain to contract certain fibers in your body. Chronic stress, however, leads your brain to contract muscles of your body that are not needed in order to perform particular tasks.[2] In these instances, stretching alone will only provide minimal relief for muscles.

How Stretching Impacts The Muscles

So what happens when you stretch?[3]

Advertising

New scientific revelations show that stretching is much more complex, dynamic, and fascinating than what has previously been imagined.

We now understand that increasing our flexibility has much less to do with the physical length, size, and shape of our muscle tissue, and much more to do with the part of our body that controls and moves our muscles: our brain. Stretching regularly allows us to reach our stretch “tolerance” enough times that our brain adapts to this new level of tension and informs our muscles that this new deeper range of motion is acceptable.

5 Yoga Stretches That Improve Your Mental And Physical Range Of Motion

The best way to get your muscles to relax and reap the full benefits of stretching is by learning not to send “tense” messages from your brain to your muscles, except when they are truly needed. Chronic tension sufferers will really struggle with this, especially in the beginning, as your brain has long forgotten how to turn off those chronically tense muscles.

Advertising

Practicing yoga not only produces temporary physical benefits,[4] such as increased flexibility and range of motion, muscle strength, and improved posture, it also improves sleep, lowers cortisol levels in the brain (which is produced by stress),and improves mood and mental focus.

1. Downward Facing Dog[5]

    via AllPosters

    Advertising

    • Start on all fours with your hands directly under shoulders and knees under your hips.
    • Walk your hands a few inches forward and spread your fingers wide, pressing your palms into the mat.
    • Curl toes under and slowly press hips toward the ceiling, bringing your body into an inverted V, pressing shoulders away from your ears. Feet should be hip-width apart and your knees should be slightly bent.

    2. Happy Baby Pose[6]

      • Lie on your back. With an exhale, bend your knees into your belly.
      • Inhale, grip the outsides of your feet with your hands (if you have difficulty holding the feet directly with your hands, hold onto a belt looped over each sole). Open your knees slightly wider than your torso, then bring them up toward your armpits.
      • Position each ankle directly over the knee, so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex through the heels.
      • Gently push your feet up into your hands (or the belts) as you pull your hands down to create a resistance.

      3. Warrior Pose[7]

        via Ekhart Yoga

        Advertising

        • Stand with legs 3 to 4 feet apart, turning your right foot out 90 degrees and your left foot in slightly.
        • Bring your hands to your hips and relax your shoulders, then extend your arms out to the sides, palms down.
        • Bend your right knee by 90 degrees, keeping your knee over your ankle. Gaze out over your right hand. Hold this position for 1 minute.

        4. Mountain Pose[8]

          via Fitness Magazine

          • Stand tall with your feet together, shoulders relaxed, weight evenly distributed through your soles, and your arms at sides.
          • Take a deep breath and raise your hands overhead, palms facing each other with your arms straight.
          • Reach up toward the sky with your fingertips.

          5. Staff Pose[9]

            via YogaBird

            • Sit on the floor with your legs together and extended in front of your torso.
            • Your sacrum and shoulder blades should touch the wall, but not your lower back or the back of your head.
            • Without hardening your belly, firm your thighs, and press them down against the floor.
            • Rotate your thighs slightly toward each other and draw your inner groins in toward the sacrum.
            • Flex your ankles, pressing out through your heels.
            • Take four deep breaths in and exhale

            According to yoga experts, the overall purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness, and harmony in both the mind and body. When the brain and body connection is strong and in sync, chronic pain, muscle tension, and stiffness will vanish.

            Reference

            [1] Lifehack: 7 Practical Tips For Stretching
            [2] Anxiety Stress Centre: Do You Get Tensed Just Thinking about Relaxing
            [3] Yoga Dork: Stretching Is In Your Brain: A New Paradigm of Flexibility and Yoga (PART 1)
            [4] Yoga Journal: 38 Health Benefits of Yoga
            [5] Yoga Outlet: How to Do Downward-Facing Dog in Yoga
            [6] Yoga Journal: Happy Baby Pose
            [7] Fitness Magazine: Yoga Poses for Beginners
            [8] Fitness Magazine: Yoga Poses for Beginners
            [9] Yoga Journal: Staff Pose

            More by this author

            Denise Hill

            Speech Writer/Senior Editor

            Why It’s Never Too Late To Redefine Yourself 30 Best Business Podcasts That Help Entrepreneurs Become Successful 20 Simple Ways to Bring Positive Energy into Your Life Right Now Day 10 Shocking! Exercise Right After Eating Ain’t That Bad for Health The 10 Best Nonfiction Books Of All Time You Should Not Miss

            Trending in Exercise

            1 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly) 2 3 Home Exercises To Fix Your Rounded Shoulders In One Month 3 Workout Every Day: Thursday Music Playlist 4 Cut down on drinking! Time for a post-holiday detox 5 How To Get A Six-Pack In One Month

            Read Next

            Advertising
            Advertising
            Advertising

            Last Updated on February 18, 2019

            8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

            8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

            When people think of cardio, usually a boring treadmill, elliptical machine, or other mundane activity comes to mind. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

            When you’re short on time or easily distracted, there are a variety of fat-burning cardio alternatives that will increase your body’s metabolism, boost weight loss, and keep you interested.

            Here’s a list of different types of cardio workouts:

            • Steady State (Burns less fat, but isn’t as demanding on the body)
            • Interval Training (Burns more fat)
            • HIIT
            • Spinning
            • Stairs
            • Weight Training (Supersets) short rest periods
            • Weight Training (Compound Sets) short rest periods
            • Machine Circuit Training

            And I’m going to talk about each of them in detail:

            1. Steady State

            Steady state cardio involves working at a low to moderate intensity — around 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, for a sustained period of time. This type of cardio doesn’t burn a huge number of calories, but it does burn a high percentage of fat tissue for fuel, and it isn’t too draining.

            An example of steady state cardio would be a long outdoor walk at a moderate pace. Interval training, on the other hand, is much more intense.

            2. Interval Training

            Similar to HIIT but with exercises that are slightly longer in duration, interval training alternates levels of intensity. For example, if you enjoy running, you would run or sprint for 30 seconds, then bring down your heart rate and walk for two minutes.

            Pick two intensities per interval, usually one at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and the other at 60 percent, and alternate between them. I find that 85% for 30 seconds and 60% for one minute, not only burns more calories but increases my energy level as well.

            Another example would be jumping rope. Jump rope for two minutes, rest for one minute. Begin again, this time jumping rope for one minute and resting for one minute. On the third and final round, jump rope for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds. Repeat five sets of this routine.

            Advertising

            3. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

            Have a busy schedule? Fifteen minutes a few times a week is all you need. HIIT is an extremely popular workout because it can be done quickly, burn calories in a short amount of time, and can even be done in your home or during a lunch break at work. And the best part – You don’t need any equipment.

            With the use of your body weight, HIIT is typically 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of active rest which means your heart rate remains elevated for the entire 15-minute workout.

            Check out this HIIT routine by Fitness Blender: 15 Minute HIIT Workout

            4. Spinning

            Spinning is a great way to get your heart up and keep it up in a 45-minute spin class. Our thighs and back are our largest muscles so they work the hardest.

            To get the most out of spinning, try to stay out of the saddle throughout an entire spin class. That way, you are forced to hold up your body weight which burns more calories and increases intensity.

            It’s also great for stabilizing and building strong core muscles, versus cycling outdoors, where most of the time you are sitting in the saddle and going for distance (steady-state cardio).

            5. Stairs

            One of my favorite places to get out of the gym for cardio and trim fat from my thighs and butt is the Santa Monica Stairs, near California’s most popular beach. Climbing 170 steps a few times builds the glutes, leans the thighs, strengthens the calves, and builds endurance.

            So, if the gym is not your scene and you love the outdoors, climbing stairs is a great alternative. Find a place with multiple steps, do six or seven rounds, and you’ve easily burned around 600 calories.

            6. Supersets

            A superset is two exercises that work opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, or different body parts such as the lower and upper body with little to no recovery between sets.

            Advertising

            The superset may include two to five sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of each exercise or more.[1]

            So, if you love to workout with weight-training but aren’t really feeling cardio, supersets with no more than 30-second rest periods between exercises will keep your heart rate up. Not only will you build muscle, you will burn fat!

            For example, say you are doing a leg workout, five sets of exercises with high reps and low weight is all it takes to turn your weight-training into a cardio workout.

            Here’s one of my leg training workouts:

            i. Dumbbell Step-Ups on a secure bench or box (4×15, each leg)

            ii. Front Squat (4×15)

            iii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet (4×15)

            iv. Leg Extension (4×15)

            v. Leg Curl (4×15)

            Advertising


              Photo Credit: Shape Magazine

              vi. Front Squat


                Photo Credit: Stack

                vii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet Squat

                viii. Leg Extension

                ix. Leg Curl

                  Photo Credit: T Nation

                  7. Compound Sets

                  Compound exercises are exercises that recruit muscles in the entire body, such as pull-ups, squats, bench press, etc. However, a compound set simply means to “compound” the number of different exercises into a series of sets with little or no recovery between, similar to supersets.

                    This may be accomplished by performing four to five exercises for the same muscle group, opposing muscle groups or total body exercises performed in succession such as full body extensions, followed by squat/cleans and complete the compound set of compound exercises with lunges with biceps curls.

                    Advertising

                    Compound sets put stress on the body and are great for expending additional calories while strength-training.

                    8. Machine Weight Training Circuit

                    Like compound exercises, a machine circuit workout targets the entire body, upper body, lower body, or core. The difference is, with the use of machines instead of free weights, muscle strength is increased by by making your muscles work against weight.[2] By limiting rest periods between exercises to 30 seconds, your metabolism will go into over-drive!

                    Machines also give you better control over the exercises, which decreases risk of injury.

                    Here’s a machine circuit training example: Muscle and Strength Machine Workout

                    The Bottom Line

                    The above-mentioned workouts should be completed within 30 minutes, unless you’re taking a class which is typically 45 to 60 minutes, giving you time to get on with the rest of your day.

                    By keeping your rest periods to a minimum between exercises, your heart rate will stay elevated and you will burn more calories, get lean, and have more energy.

                    Don’t be a gym rat, spending unnecessary time doing lengthy workouts that give you minimum results. For efficient weight loss, perform these workouts three times a week and watch the fat melt away while achieving your fitness goals.

                    More Resources About Weight Loss

                    Featured photo credit: Spencer Dahl via unsplash.com

                    Reference

                    [1] Mountain Life Fitness: Super sets, compound sets and giant sets
                    [2] Better Health Channel: Resistance training – health benefits

                    Read Next