With gyms closing nationwide to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), a lot of us out here are in disarray. It’s amazing how much the gym becomes a part of your life and you don’t even realize it until you can’t go.
Well this is the reality for the vast majority of us, at least for the time being. But, personally, this has given me some time to reflect on myself and my journey.
I used to strictly be a “fitness guy”. I even had a blog about home fitness 10 years ago. I didn’t have a problem going to the gym. I guess I had somewhat of a misunderstanding.
I had a misconception about gym etiquette and the ‘task’ of going to the gym when I could just workout at home. It wasn’t until I actually walked into one and worked out that understood its value (more on that another day).
But nevertheless, here we are….at home….no gym.
I was on Youtube searching through a collection of old calisthenics/home workouts and this video by Jeff Cavalier came up.
Jeff Cavalier is a fitness guru in Every true sense of the phrase. This home workout gives you everything you need for any kind of split you’re on (upper body, lower body, push-pull).
It’s been a while since I wrote on here, but what better time than now to talk about sickness prevention?
More importantly, just Prevention.
When I was a kid, I often made really questionable choices such as going outside in 12 degree weather with my coat wide open, no hat on, no scarf and a potential death wish (I spent the first part of my life in NY winters).
And what would often happen is exactly what you think would happen: head cold every other month, congestion, stomach sickness and a plethora of other conditions that took away from my goofing off time in school.
Every single time I would get sick, as I would be laying in my bed begging for the reaper to spare my life one more time, I would say….
“I will never do this again!”
“I’m gonna wear my coat, my scarf, my gloves and my boots like mom tells me!”
And sure enough, as soon as I started to feel better again, the cold that I left in November would show up madder than ever in early January. The BS would continue.
I eventually got the point sometime in high school and that would be the end of my self induced head colds that plagued me as a youth.
The point that I’m referring to is Prevention.
If I prepare myself to go into cold harsh conditions the right way, I can prevent illness from invading my body. How I would prepare myself is to layer in a way that would protect me from the elements and put the proper nutrition in my body to have a strong immune system.
Applying these 2 tasks to my winter regimen put me in a state of prevention from illness.
Which brings us into the current times of the Corona Virus we’re dealing with.
These are the times that the discipline of health, fitness and wellness gives us a fighting chance against mass illness. One of the pillars of wisdom in wellness is to stay in a state of prevention.
Prevention in the sense of Living the life of someone who wants to Live.
It’s not prevention to have chronic back pain and pop an aspirin everyday so the pain will go away.
It is prevention if you are physically active in some capacity and tend to sore joints and muscles when you feel discomfort through natural means.
Instead of the aspirin, take some vitamins and herbs that are targeted for muscle relaxation.
Take a yoga class from time to time online to keep your body nimble and flexible.
It’s not prevention if you’re taking Pepto Bismol every time you get sick on your stomach.
It is prevention if you avoid foods all together that have trans fat, MSG, heavy oil, too much sugar, artificial additives and sweeteners that unsettle your stomach from first ingestion.
Not a Chore, A Lifestyle
You must change your paradigm to really understand the power of prevention. When you change your paradigm, making better choices for yourself isn’t a chore so much as an investment into yourself.
A good investment brings a return, and the return you get by staying in a state of prevention is peak performance on command. How much extra effort do you give in the gym when you go in with no illness or a lag from a poor lunch?
How much more creative are you in the workspace when you had a smoothie instead of that bagel and hot chocolate?
How much more are you able to give to your life when you’ve prepared just by avoiding bad decisions?
It’s not a chore when you have the right mindset. It’s a lifestyle.
Oh Yeah! Corona!
So bringing my point back to the Coronavirus, it’s Very important that we stay in a state of prevention.
-Wash your hands after every outside interaction. This would include using hand sanitizer when you don’t have a chance to get to the soap and water.
-If you don’t exercise, please begin to do so to build your immune system. A great exercise for the time and equipment challenged are jumping jacks (trust me, they still work if that’s all you can do)
-Make better decisions with your nutrition so your body has a fighting chance when it has to be strong! Start with the heavyweights (vitamin and nutrient rich green vegetables, fruits for your immune system, plant based protein sources).
I’m going to tell you something you already know.
Prevention does Not stop or catch everything.
However, it gives you a fighting chance in a world full of sickness and disease. If you are the kind of person who gets sick a few times a year, it’s because you’re leaving yourself vulnerable in some capacity.
Whether it’s your inactivity, your malnutrition or your overall sedentary lifestyle, you’ve got to build armor for this thing called Life.
What are some of your methods for sickness prevention?
What are some of your methods for building that armor?
Yoga has been practiced for as long as 5,000 years worldwide. It is a phenomenon in the health and wellness world and for just reason. There are very few practices of health and wellness that can compare to the benefits you get from daily practice.
It helps to bring mind, body and spirit together as 1 unit. If you have never practiced and always wanted to, here are the 12 basic postures to get started.
It’s important to mention that Yoga is a journey. There are no competitive components to Yoga. You do what you can and allow for a natural progression.
The headstand is referred to as the “cure-all” for disease. Aside from building confidence and increasing focus, the blood flow from your heart to your head is known to relieve stress and reduce depression.
The Shoulder Stand
The shoulder stand is another inverted posture, this time with the body resting on the shoulders. This pose balances the entire body and is centered around the thyroid gland. This is key because the thyroid gland regulates all other glands in the body making it essential for overall health.
Other benefits of this pose are that it aids in digestion, relaxes the mind, improves circulation the body and brain, and can even aid in headache relief.
The plough pose is done with your hands and feet on the floor, almost resembling an actually plough.
This Yoga pose can help with correcting curvature of the lower back, which most of us who sit at a computer all day can really benefit from. In addition to aiding lower back issues it can also remove energy blockage from the neck and upper back, again truly beneficial for sitting too long or picking up heavy materials.
This pose will also calm the brain, stretch your shoulders and reduce stress and fatigue.
The fish pose involves resting on your arms, arching your back and expanding your chest.
One of the key benefits of this pose is it’s aid of respiratory challenges such as asthma and bronchial issues. Also removing blockages from the neck and throat areas, it’s great for helping to breathe and bring more oxygen into the body.
The upper back is a target for this pose, helping with your flexibility.
Sitting Forward Bend
This Yoga position involves sitting and stretching your spine forward.
Although this position looks fairly simple, its benefits are amazing. It eases spinal compression caused from standing too long, which helps anyone working in manual labor or security detail.
Practicing this position over time can help keep your back and joints mobile, toned and invigorated. It has internal benefits to some of your internal organs, the pancreas in particular, in that it gets a stimulated massage because of the nature of the position.
This pose is done by arching your upper body and expanding your chest.
This position is all about flexibility of your spine. Very few in society today are aware of the importance in maintaining a healthy flexible spine. It’s the bone chain that holds everything together.
While the other positions are great for your neck, upper and lower back, the cobra opens up your chest, shoulders and abdominals.
In addition, your arms get a stimulating pump, just in the nature of you having to hold your torso up. Try this position and feel how the stiffness leaves your body and the good vibes come in.
The Bow position is another gem, particularly for the spine, abdomen and chest. Have you ever felt an overall stiffness at the end of the day from running errands, hopping in and out of your car multiple times and then going back to work completely erratic?
This position is a jewel for those times!
The entire from of your body gets a deep stretch from this yoga pose, and watch how much your posture improves.
(Half) Spinal Twist
It’s a half twist, but it’s a twist for your entire spine. This yoga posture will open your chest and rib cage letting blood flow into your stagnant areas.
Rotate in both directions for the full benefit and feel how energized you become from this pose. ]
Another treat is the stimulation your liver and kidneys get, naturally because they are directly involved in the mechanics of this move.
The Crow Pose
Your upper arms, forearms and wrists will get the biggest benefit from this yoga position.
However, this is not to say that it negates the rest of your body. Your abdomen is heavily involved because to hold yourself up in this manner involves a lot of core strength.
This is the reason why a key benefit you will see from this position of balance and full body coordination.
The triangle is a simple lateral bend. Simple in appearance but packed with benefits for your chest and shoulders.
In addition is helps with sluggish digestion (remember this around the holidays lol).
Because you’re using gravity to your benefit with the side stretch, your hips thighs and back are all involved and stimulated. This is one of the reasons why this yoga position is known for general circulation.
Standing Forward Bend
This yoga pose involves standing straight and bending over at your waist, aiding in elasticity of your spine.
In addition it helps to relieve stress and calm your brain, which makes it a wonderful stretch before and after work, and the gym.
Standing forward bend involves one motion, but it stretches your hamstrings, calves, hips, stimulates the kidneys (for purification) and lower back.
Try this pose before bed and see how much better you sleep.
This pose involves lying on your front with your legs lifted up behind you.
This one is another jewel for the abdominal organs in the nature of the pose. It’s a little more on the challenging side because it calls on you to use your shoulders, chest, thighs and stomach in a static way.
However, your improved posture will show you why it’s worth daily practice.
These are the 12 basic yoga position for health and wellness.
I’d like to emphasize again to take your time learning and practicing these postures. There is no competition, no deadline, no judge looking at your form or any score card.
Yoga is a journey to be appreciated by you and you alone.
Yoga is defined as: a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
Even if you’ve never done yoga before, known anyone who has practiced yoga or even driven by a yoga studio, we can pretty much conclude that it is beneficial for your health and wellness, right?
The Ultimate Goal of Yoga
The ultimate goal of yoga is to achieve optimum spiritual, mental and physical wellness through consistent practice. This is a sure way to see and feel the benefits.
Sure, it will make you look amazing adding flexibility, while elongating your joints and limbs. Who doesn’t want to look good naked, right?
However, the practice of yoga is bigger than that. We’re talking about overall health and wellness.
(Bet you didn’t know that yoga is an ancestor to Kung Fu, did you? Read more to find out how)
Yoga should be practiced with the full intent of peace and happiness throughout the day, especially when the day becomes challenging.
Which Yoga Is Best For Beginners?
There are many different forms of yoga to practice, but for beginners you want to choose the right one. Some of the more advanced positions can be very challenging and you don’t want to get frustrated or discouraged before you see any progress.
With that being said, Vinyasa and Hatha yoga are regarded as the best types of yoga to start with.
Vinyasa Yoga is known for the fluidity because you’re stringing postures together to make seamless transitions from one to the other.
Breath control is important, of course, and it’s very fulfilling to do. The reason for this is there are no set rules for the positions. You can do any pose at any time and switch to the next pose of your choice.
Another benefit of Vinyasa is the cardiovascular workout you get in practicing. Although you’re practicing at a slow pace, it gets your heart rate going, which is the cornerstone of any good workout.
Hatha Yoga is more slowly paced. It involves movements that have benefits on a more cellular level. Some would say it is a tool of self transformation because it requires full concentration on breathe control, which forces you into a deeper focused meditative state.
Another point to make about Hatha is, in this day in age, the practice of Hatha can involve other styles of yoga in its practice.
Although Hatha can be more mentally challenging, the practice itself consists of slow, gentle movements that are great for beginners to benefit from.
How Often Should A Beginner Do Yoga?
There is no set schedule for when and how often you should practice Yoga. For a beginner, however, abiding by a typical gym schedule would be adequate to get your body used to the new practice.
If you go to a gym 3-5 times a week, start your yoga practice the same. This will give your body the full benefit and allow enough time for recovery.
Yoga might be promoted as soft, gentle and slow….and it is!
But it will kick your butt, especially if you go into it too fast, having never done physical activity before. Just take it slow, relax and enjoy the journey.
To extend on the point above, yoga is practiced in a group, but you’re not in a race with anyone. This is about you, your body, your improvement, your health and ultimately your well being.
Isn’t that a relief?
That’s one of the beautiful things about Yoga. It helps you have a personal relationship with yourself.
This was a “jewel” that was given to me a few years ago when I was in some really dark times. I pass it along to people every now and then when I see person caught in that mid-point of:
“Is what I’m doing even really working?”
“Maybe I should just try something else. It’s not happening as fast as when the other guy did it.”
“If it was going to happen for me, it surely should’ve happened by now!”
The reason I pass this jewel along to those I feel might need it, is because I SURELY needed it when it was given to me.
One of the worst feelings in the world is to be in a state of uncertainty. To have a passion to want to do something, to go about it a little bit, but get frustrated because you don’t see any movement right away.
The fear and doubt set in, you start looking around at other people who are in motion and then you 2nd guess yourself and your Own goals.
Then you want to abandon Your dreams and aspirations and take on someone else’s just because you see movement.
It doesn’t make any sense when you step back and look at the idea of these actions, but it is damn sure easy to fall into this counterproductive cycle.
So the solution to quitting….
Remember Why You Started It
When you find yourself in doubt of your goals and aspirations and you want to quit, remember the Feeling you had the day you decided to act on it.
Remember the enthusiasm you had when you told your best friend about your idea.
Remember how it felt to you when you first saw your ideas on paper (or screen) and how Real it was.
Remember the feeling, the situation, the burning desire to change your present ways that sparked this need for a new way.
As all of the greats advise, write down your vision and keep it someplace commonly visible to you. Put it on your wall, your bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your car, anywhere you are guaranteed to see it multiple times a day.
This will reinforce your desire to continue and keep your Reason at the top of mind and in front of you.
Consistency is one of the hardest habits to build. It can be tiresome sometimes, tedious, dull and never ending.
But it is worth its weight in gold once you have attained it and made it part of your creed.
The Ability to be consistent stems from the other pillar of success: Discipline
Discipline is the very thing that enables you to be consistent. I once heard a wise man say that discipline is an expression of God. Everything in nature runs on discipline and consistency.
The sun rises and sets every day….The earth rotates every second of every day….The seasons change 4 times every year.
Whenever we start something, it’s usually because the seed of thought had a bit of love in it. It had some kind of incentive for you that lit a fire to manifest.
This is the very thing you need to keep close to you at all times to keep fanning those flames.
Never lose sight of that thing that gets you up in the morning, that keeps you going back, and back no matter how hard it gets.