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Free Yoga isn’t only on Youtube

I try to go to the Yoga class at my gym, but they changed the time of my favorite instructor’s class and it unfortunately does not fit my schedule.  I decided to watch yoga videos at home to keep up the practice on my own time.  I’m comfortable practicing yoga on my own because A. I’ve had some yoga class experience where I’m confident in my form and B. No one is there watching me fall over repeatedly.  I’m also on a strict budget, so I perused through the multitude of free yoga videos online and found the best instructor for me.

yasmin

Yasmin Yoga: Basics 1: Breathing & Alignment is a full one hour video that can be found for free on Hulu.  I’ve only practiced this one video and cannot wait to complete the other videos in the series.  All in all there are 5 one-hour episodes available for free on Hulu and the Yasmin Yoga Website has free downloads of guided meditation and other instructional videos.  Yasmin Yoga is based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The Yasmin Yoga: Basics 1: Breathing & Alignment video is very relaxed without being super cheesy.  The well instructed verbal commands voiced over the yoga practice performed on screen keep you from fumbling from the tv/computer screen to your own body.  Yasmin’s fluid instruction is fairly slow with clear and concise movements that are also modified for all levels.  It’s helpful if you have a folded blanket and yoga blocks if needed, which is unfortunately not explained before the workout begins.  I would recommend this film for beginners, or anyone who wishes to focus more on their posture and breathing.

*If you are attempting to practice Yoga for the first time, please attend a class by a certified instructor to learn the basic forms to avoid injury.  I am not a certified yoga instructor and practice yoga casually.  Please listen to your body!*

USEFUL LINKS:

Yasmin Yoga Hulu Channel
Yasmin Yoga Website
Yasmin Yoga Free Downloads
Yasmin Yoga Facebook
Yasmin Yoga Youtube Channel

Furthermore, if you ever thought about joining Hulu for $7.99 per month, you can get 2 weeks FREE with no obligation to continue your subscription by using this referral link.  It’s as easy to cancel as it is to sign up!

Coring is not so boring.

I am the kind of person who likes to see results right away, otherwise I feel like that 1 whole hour of hard work is not paying off.  I blame it on being a Generation X’er.  I’ve tried to dismiss that mindset throughout my wellness journey and more importantly over these past 2 weeks.  About a month ago I hit a wall.  To change this feeling of not moving forward, I’ve made it a point to focus on a new regiment, eat when I’m hungry, snack on healthy stuff when i’m not so hungry, and not beat myself up if the scale fluctuates.  I also recently joined an affordable 24 hour privately owned gym, Urge Fitness, 3 blocks from my house with state of the art equipment and unlimited classes so there is NO EXCUSE not to work out!

I’ve been focusing on my core/abs in addition to lifting weights regularly again.  Historically, I’m the worst at regularly working my core area even though it’s the most important area to focus on and strengthen.  I usually bitch and moan and complain to anyone trying to help me, saying that it’s too difficult, it hurts my back, and I don’t want to “bulk up” my middle.  I realized today that those were pretty lame excuses to not work hard and in fact, my back has never felt better.  This is a pretty sad realization since I’ve always known that a strong core helps alleviate back pain and help with posture.  I was just too lazy and too impatient to put in the time.  In addition, over these past weeks my abs and other core muscles have never felt stronger which is surprisingly a more rewarding feeling than slimming down my mid section. Who knew!??  

I’ve focused on very basic core/ab exercises (crunches, side reach heel touches, lower abdominal leg lifts, kettle bell swings) in preparation for the hard “core” techniques of today (bridges, planks, twists, thrusts!).  I only recently started doing kettle bell swings (pictured below) which have become my new obsession.  I feel they have made a HUGE difference in my overall strength and I use a very low weight kettle bell.  Just look at all the muscles one single exercise can help strengthen!

kettlebellswing1MuscleAnatomyKettleBellSwing

If you google “Core Exercises” a slew of results pop up.   I’m still not at the point where I can hold a plank or bridge for 30 seconds, but I have finally attempted to at least try.  That is a HUGE deal for me!  After laying the ground work with beginner exercises, I finally feel well prepared to start trying more intense core techniques.  Core exercises are very intimidating to a larger woman like myself who has a lot more weight to hold up than the average sized human.   I’ve set a goal for myself to be able to hold a plank (without and then with arm raise) or lateral bridge for more than 2.3 seconds over the next couple of weeks.  Not so surprisingly, I can rock the Glute Bridge like no other.  I will then add different intense core exercises over the course of the next couple of months.

core exercises

For me, 2 weeks seems to be the point of clarity.  When I stick to a routine for at least that amount of time, I can start to see and/or feel small results that make me feel like the sweat, pain, and frustration over the past weeks wasn’t for naught.  In addition to my lower back pain being practically nonexistent due to my core work and religious stretching routine, I’ve felt my muscles responding to the weight training.  I feel stronger, I feel definition, and I feel that the weight I’ve gained is healthy and not worth getting depressed about when the scale numbers creep upward.

If you have lower back pain and it’s not due to a bulging disc or any other medical condition (as always check with your health care physician) take a gander at these Princeton University Athletic Medicine exercises and stretches.  I plan to try some new techniques and the page categorize them ranging from easy/medium/difficult.  I also came across core exercises geared specifically towards runners and thought it could be of use to some of my friends and followers.

All this being said, I do not want a 6-pack.  I do not want to look like a body builder.  I just want to feel strong and healthy and fill out a nice pair of jeans.

The Most Embarrassing Stretch Ever is My Favorite!

happy baby pose

So it seems my favorite stretch at the moment is the most embarrassing stretch to get caught doing while at the gym.  My lower back and hips are always tight, so the “Happy Baby” pose is an amazing stretch to help open up these areas as well as loosen the groin muscles, calves, and even relax your neck.  If you have herniated discs or had a recent neck injury, you should avoid this pose completely.  Furthermore, I always make it a point to stretch after warming up my muscles through 60 minutes of cardio and lifting.

To perform this stretch, after drawing your knees to your chest, grab the outside of your feet and make sure your ankles are lined up above your knees and your knees are at a 90 degree angle.    Slowly pull your knees down on an exhale, making sure not to force the stretch, until the joints loosened up.  If you cannot reach your feet, don’t force yourself, you can use a stretch strap.  I just discovered stretch straps last summer and I recommend them to everyone, they are awesome!

When I first started doing the Happy Baby stretch, I could tell how tight these problem areas of mine have become.  I felt such openness in my lower back and hips for hours afterwards, but then the tightness slowly crept in again and started to really hurt later on that night.  Muscle memory is so powerful, and you have to remember it takes a while for your muscles to relearn how to “be” through regular stretching and strengthening.  You may be sore from the tightness at first, but you have to start somewhere!   After a lower back and hip massage and some Aleve, I was as good as new.

My Saturday 1.5 Hour Gym Visit

This morning I woke up without excessive muscle pain but enough ache to know I did some good work at the gym yesterday!  Yesterday was a lazy overcast day but eventually I was able to drag myself away from my two adorable cuddly cats to get to the gym and burn off some of this anxiety I’ve been feeling lately.  I was unable to get to the gym during the work week, but instead chose to do yoga in the evenings when possible, also hoping to help with this very emotionally exhausting week.  It helped a little, but I am bummed I wasn’t able to make an effort to at least spend a half hour or an hour at the gym at least once for weight training and intense cardio.

Instead of beating myself up about it, I made it a point to get to the gym this weekend for a low impact workout since it’s a new beginning for me as far as resurrecting my gym routine.  For those who may be curious as to what I did this weekend when time was not so much an issue, here is Saturday’s routine.

  1. 30 minute elliptical for cardio
  2. 30 minute weight machine rotation for strengthening
  3. 10 minute ab work for core strengthening and sculpting
  4. 20 minute stretching and non-machine strengthening for cool down

ELLIPTICAL

  • Ran 25 minutes on level 12 with a 5 minute cool down.
  • My ultimate goal is 45 minutes 3-4x per day alternating different programs and increasing level tension over time.

WEIGHTS
I normally do 3 sets of 12 reps using low weights that still tired my muscles by the third rep for each exercise listed below, resting a couple of minutes between sets. The amount of weight you decide to start lifting depends on many factors, please ask a trainer at the gym before trying to lift 200 pounds your first, or even second, try.

Click on each image below to be taken to another website for more detailed exercise instructions.

  • Back

              Rear Deltoid Flies: targets posterior deltoid, secondary rhomboids, trapezius, triceps

Machine-Rear-Deltoid-Fly

             Lower Back Extension: targets lumbar, secondary glutes

Machine-Lumbar-Extension

  • Chest

             Seated Chest Presses: targets pectorials, secondary deltoid and triceps

chest presses

  • Glutes/Legs

             Seated Leg Press: Targets quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Added padded toe raises that targets your calves.

Inclined-seated-one.legged-press.Leg-press

Leg Press

calf lifts

calf lifts

  • Shoulders

             Lateral Raise: targets deltoids.

machine-lateral-raise

AB WORK

  • Main abdominals
  1. Basic Crunches: 2 reps of 25, targets all abdominal muscles.abdominal_crunch
  2. Abdominal Leg lifts: 2 reps of 25, targets lower abdominals

    core leg lift

  • Obliques
  1. Broom Stick Trunk Twists, 50 twists with 12 lb. barjorge_broomstick_twist
  2. Side Reaches: 2 sets of 25, lift up engaging your obliques and reach towards your feet from side to side.

side touches

STRETCHING AND STRENGTHENING

I love to stretch!  I stretch whenever I can throughout the day, at work, at home, before bed, in the morning.  I’m sure I look completely ridiculous, but the feeling of a good stretch trumps embarrassment by passersby. Stretching at the end of my gym routine is a blissful experience.

  • Pigeon stretch: targets glutes, piriformis, and helps loosen tight hips (an ongoing issue of mine).pigeon
  • Lumbar Extension stretch: targets lumbar spine and abdominals.Lumbar-Extension-Stretch-WEB
  • Sitting Side Reach stretch: targets areas of your abs, back, and legs.

side reach stretch

  • Side Leg Lifts: 25 reps each leg, targets abductor muscles, glutes, and hips.  This is my back to basics Jane Fonda move. Side-Lying-Leg-Lift

    jane fonda

  • Cat Stretches: 25 slow reps, targets lower back and abdominals.

cat stretches

mew. :3

photo by James Hamilton

photo by James Hamilton

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