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12 Things About Yoga You Probably Don’t Know

12 Things About Yoga You Probably Don’t Know

Yoga is a beginner friendly exercise that will give you a sharp mind, positive attitude, and calm demeanor. Don’t feel self-conscious about it, because no one was flexible to start with (that takes practice!). If you’re not already taking a class, I bet you’ll want to after you read these 12 things about yoga.

Surprising Benefits

1. Yoga is a break from your stressful day. 

We are surrounded by stressful expectations placed on you by your partner, parent, superior, society, or whoever. No matter how upset these things might make you, remember that you can’t do anything about them. Practicing yoga can help you become a less stressed, present-focused person.

2. Yoga is a remedy for anxiety and depression. 

We live in an upsetting world. That devastating break-up that left you emotionally drained. A move to a new town where you don’t know anybody. The sadness that follows losing a family member, friend, or pet. No matter how sad you might feel, remember that you deserve to be happy. Practicing yoga can help you improve your mood and mental functioning.

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3. Yoga improves your balance and breathing pattern. 

We are chained to our desks. That hunched over back from hours of sitting. A closed-off appearance that expresses a lack of esteem. The panic that follows short, rushed breathing. No matter how self-conscious you might feel now, remember that confidence is a skill that you can learn. Practicing yoga can help you develop balance and a calm breathing pattern.

4. Yoga boosts concentration and productivity. 

We live in a distracting world. That feeling of dread that comes when a deadline is drawing near. A list of stuff to do that grows and grows. The loud noisy of the phone that never stops ringing. No matter how busy you might feel, remember that a state of overwhelm could be a signal that you are over-committed or impatient. Practicing yoga can help you focus on getting stuff done 

Common Misconceptions

5. Yoga requires you to stretch yourself into a pretzel. 

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You don’t have to be an acrobat to go to yoga class. I couldn’t reach my ankles in a forward fold the first time I tried it. My hips were so tight that I needed to tools like blocks for the bent-over poses. I wasn’t very graceful, so I practiced the balance poses at home with my hand placed on a wall. It doesn’t matter where you are starting from. The important thing is where you are going to.

6. Yoga is a religious practice that demands you to say “om.” 

Yoga does have spiritual roots, but that doesn’t mean have to chant to spirit gods or anything like that. Most yoga classes in commercial gyms will focus on athletic poses, while yoga studios might offer classes that include meditation. If you want a class that is more (or less) mindful, just ask your gym or yoga studio for details before signing up.

7. Yoga classes are all created equally. 

There are more varieties of yoga than I could possibly list here. Hot yoga classes use humid conditions to encourage flexibility. Power yoga classes use a wide variety of athletic poses to keep things interesting. There are yoga classes for special populations like seniors, children, and expecting mothers. If you can’t find something you like, you’re not looking hard enough.

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8. Yoga is the only exercise you need to do. 

Yoga is a great way to improve your mind and body, but a balanced fitness routine would also include cardio and strength training. You could improve your heart health by walking your dog at the park, running a few blocks in your neighborhood, or going on a hike. Develop your strength by lifting weights, joining a boot-camp class, or doing push-ups during commercial breaks (hands on a wall or counter if needed).

Actionable Ways to Get Started

9. Perform the sunrise salutation every morning. 

Sunrise salutations are a feature of vinyasa (flow) yoga. The previous link includes a routine you could do in ten minutes to begin your day feeling relaxed. The video below includes modifications that will make the same routine doable for people of all shapes and sizes.

10. Join a yoga class.

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Seek knowledge from a coach or instructor if you have a hard time understanding proper form. An exercise class also offers instruction plus social support, which might encourage you to be consistent with your yogapractice. Just search for “yoga in (insert your city and state)” to find out what’s available.

11. Bring a blanket.

If you can’t sit up straight without rounding your back, plant your butt on a folded blanket for seated poses. You could also use it to ease into exercises that challenge tight muscles. Using a blanket during pigeon pose, for example, will help you ease your hips into that stretch (read: you won’t squirm the entire time you hold it).

12. Notice the difference.

It is easier to stay interested in exercise if you are mindful of the differences it makes in your life. I love yoga class, because it wakes me up better than coffee. I’m mindful of my alignment, posture, and breathing patterns. I’m more confident in how I present myself. I’m less clumsy, self-conscious, and stressed out. Sound nice? Give yoga a try. I bet you’ll like it. Tell us your favorite things about yoga in the comments!

Featured photo credit: Sunset Yoga/Pierce Martin via flickr.com

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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