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Is Yoga Right for You?

Yoga is often associated with health-conscious people who want to lose weight to get a fit body. But, yoga can be beneficial to nearly everyone in one form or another. When yoga was invented thousands of year ago, it was not about losing weight or getting a fit body. Yoga’s main aim then was to treat different types of muscle and joint pain. Yoga was later used as a meditation technique to help the brain and body relax to improve concentration.

Yoga can benefit people of any age. In fact, yoga can be used with children to help make their bodies more flexible when carefully supervised. Yoga, particularly stretching exercises, can be a great way to get relief from different muscle and joint pain for seniors. The use of yoga among seniors is growing faster than other age groups. So, yes! Yoga is right for you. Whether you are male or female, child, adult or senior, want to improve fitness level or treat joint pain, yoga can be a solution for you. Here are several reasons to help you decide for yourself.

1) Yoga Has Hundreds of Different Poses
You don’t need to be expert in yoga to get started because there many different poses to begin your journey. Starting with easy yoga poses will build your confidence and you will start seeing benefits from the practice. Most yoga poses do not just provide you with health benefits, they also enjoyable and convenient. You can do them anywhere at anytime. Yoga can be addicting!

2) Health Benefits
The second reason that why yoga may be right for you is the number of health benefits associated with yoga. People practice yoga to burn calories so they can lose weight. Some people do yoga after cardio-exercise to relax and stretch their muscles. Others find that yoga is just a great way to treat their muscle pain. Yoga can be a huge benefit in getting your body to recover after strenuous exercise, like weight lifting or yard-work. Making yoga a habit often leads to better health and an improved lifestyle.

3) Relieve Stress
Yoga can also help you to relieve stress after a long working day at office or home. Just few poses of yoga on an office chair can help you to get refreshed and release stress. Yoga does not require much time or special equipment to practice and its benefits multiply when combined with a healthy diet and aromatherapy.

Most communities have certified yoga instructors to get you started right. Yoga Alliance provides a terrific directory at https://www.yogaalliance.org/directory.

A Brief History of Aromatherapy

The term aromatherapy evolved in the 20th century, but civilizations have been enjoying its benefits in one form or another since prehistoric times. For centuries, people have used flowers, herbs, and roots to care for their health, their beauty, and their spirituality. In the earliest of times, it was the simple act of crushing plant matter. Evidence shows that cave-dwellers used juniper berries as a basic antiseptic and as a food flavoring. They undoubtedly enjoyed the subtle aromatherapy value of plants through the burning of leaves and woods as well as through the sense of touch. Anyone who has ever touched a rosemary plant or peeled an orange has experienced aromatherapy.

Ancient Chinese cultures used and explored the benefits of plants and herbs. Citrus fruit originated in China and one ancient text mentions the creation of a crude form of essential oil by means of burning the rinds in a vessel of water and collecting the floating “oils”. The Chinese also used incense and burning woods in religious ceremonies. Around the same time as the Chinese were exploring plants, the people of India were using aromatic plants as a vital part of their Ayurvedic medicinal system as well as for incense and spiritual practice.

The Egyptians became experts in the exotic use of aromatics. The most commonly known use is the embalming process. Cedar, sandalwood, cassia, frankincense, and myrrh, among other essential oils were blended with beeswax for that process. Most oils found in Egyptian tombs indicate they were more likely infused oils versus the pure essential oil we know today.

The science of aromatics was also for the living. These ancient Egyptians created cosmetics, perfumes and incense from fragrant plants and resins. Evidence shows that plants such as rosemary, marjoram, jasmine, chamomile, frankincense, juniper, and myrrh were in use. Most perfumes were created by blending the plant matter in oils and fats. The Egyptians became such experts in the field of aromatic cosmetics that it prompted spice trading with other countries in an effort to expand their ingredients and resources. Egyptians, Chinese and Indians were first to discover the aromatherapy and they used essential oils extracted from trees, flowers, fruits, herbs and roots in medicine to treat many diseases, enhance their beauty and improve their overall lifestyle.

After the work of Egyptians, aromatherapy was shared from country to country. First it was used by Greek physicians like Pedanius Dioscorides and then by Persian born physician Avicenna in 980 AD. In 16th century, aromatherapy reached France, where it then spread throughout Europe in 17th and 18th centuries. Marguerite Maury was an Austrian cosmetologist who first introduced massage techniques using essential oils in mid-19th century. Aromatherapy then spread throughout the world due to its benefits. Some have called Marguerite Maury “the mother of aromatherapy in the modern world.” Indeed, aromatherapy was practiced for thousands of years, but it has only recently become very popular in Western world.

Five Tips for a Healthy Diet

There are many different types of healthy diets and each of them has positives and negatives. Studies have shown that it’s not the specific diet that you follow as much as it is staying with the diet you choose that creates health benefits. Most people start reevaluating their diet after they become ill or received a poor checkup from their Doctor. That’s too late! According to Medical Health Research of America, more than 40,000 people die each year due to illness related to an unhealthy diet. That translates to more than 3 people diing every hour. This is a huge number and unfortunately, Americans make plenty of unhealthy diet choices.

Several different types of diets often come to mind. For example, a great deal has been written about the protein diet, low-carb diet (Adkins), gluten-free diet, low-calorie and the fat-free diet. The purpose of each of these diets is to introduce healthy food in your daily routine to help you feel and look better. I like to think of a diet as fuel for your body. The better the fuel, the better your mind and body will run!

Here are five tips for a healthy diet for those readers who want to make a change in their lives.

1) Avoid or Reduce Eating Unhealthy Food
The first rule of healthy diet is to stop eating unhealthy food. Simple enough. What is unhealthy food? Unhealthy food contains excess amounts of sugar, oil, fats and calories which do not provide your body any benefits. Foods that include refined sugar, excessive fat, processed snacks or baked goods, which often contain high fructose corn syrup are all proven to be unhealthy. Sure; they taste good. Food scientists use chemicals to create just the right taste that will make you want even more. Can you ever “just eat one?” A good rule is to eat your food as close to the source as possible. That means taking advantage of farmer’s markets popping-up all over the country.

2) Eat a Variety of Foods
The main motive of healthy diet is to get maximum nutrition from what you eat. Because, there is no single food in this world which can provide you with all the nutrition you need. You can only get that by eating a variety of foods. A balanced diet is recommended by most experts.

3) Count the Calories Before You Eat
The average person requires a minimum of 1500 calories to keep their body alive. Consuming more than 2500 calories daily is not necessarily bad. It’s more a function of how active you are. Marathon runners or long-distance bikers can consume thousands of calories daily, with little ill-effect because they burn them off. But, exceeding these limits if you are more sedentary is not healthy. So, the best way to control your calories is to start counting your calories before you eat them. Adjusting calories over time can make more improvement in your health than most anything else.

4) Drink Eight 8-Ounce Glasses of Water Daily 
Water is not really a food. But, it is a important part of healthy diet. Any diet plan is not complete without water. Water helps your diet in many ways. For example, water boosts the metabolic system and helps you feel full, which means that you are less likely to cheat on your healthy diet plan. Plus, water aids digestion of what you what you eat allowing toxins to leave your body as quickly as possible. A good thing!

5) Eat More High Protein Food
Protein is one of the most important nutrients, because it helps in so many ways. From building muscles to growing hair, protein contributes greatly to our overall heath. Increasing the intake of foods which contain protein is a good idea. Protein rich foods include fish, nuts, white meat, whole-grains and many vegetables. A healthy diet or eating healthy does not mean that you should cut all fats from your food. Fat is necessary to keep your body working as it should. But, how much and the type of fat you should eat depends on your daily physical conditions, activities and the overall diet you are following. Always see your Doctor if in doubt.

Natural vs Synthetic Scents

According to Pour le Monde Natural Perfumes, 60% of what we put on our skin gets directly absorbed into our blood stream. The skin does not have a filter unlike other organs, like our kidneys. This is the basis for Aromatherapy. So, it’s obvious that knowing the origins of the scents and lotions you use is important to your health.

WebMD reports that the use of fragrances in all types of products is skyrocketing and so is the number of consumers are are reporting allergies to these scents. Sensitivity or alergic reactions appear more with synthetic fragrances where “as many as 200 or more chemicals are being mixed to create the fragrances we smell and masking agents in unscented products.” Think about that one for a minute. Making an unscented product requires dozens if not hundreds of chemicals to cover up the real scent.

80% or more of the chemicals used in commercial fragrances are synthetic and 95% of these synthetic compounds are derived from petroleum and natural gas according to Pour le Monde’s research. Why? Cost. Natural scents are more costly to produce than synthetics. The distillation process to get fragrances from botanicals uses steam or water, which is the same process that has been used for thousands of years. Natural scents are often sourced from around the globe. This takes time, effort and money. To be fair, there are some scents, like cucumber-mellon, that are obviously not found in nature. In these cases, synthetics are the only option.

Another side of the debate regarding natural vs synthetic scents is an environmental one. Natural scents are healthier to use and better for the environment that perpetuating a reliance on petroleum. The big caveat here is that botanicals must be grown, harvested and distilled in a environmentally-responsible manner. The great news is that are choices in the marketplace for those who want a healthier and green option in scents. It’s up to you to evaluate the tradeoffs.

Better than Meds?

A recently published research study compared how well various drugs and exercise succeed in reducing deaths among people who have heart disease, chronic heart failure, diabetes or stroke. The researchers chose these particular diseases to study because the effects of exercise on the risk of death have been well documented.

The results of the study were highlighted in the New York Times and included almost 340,000 participants in 305 past experiments. While most of the patients had received drugs for their ailments, 14,716 volunteers in about 57 studies were examined for the impact of exercise as a treatment.

Their findings consistently showed that drugs and exercise produced almost exactly the same results. Patients with heart disease, who exercised, but did not take the commonly prescribed heart meds, had the same risk of dying as those patients who took the meds. Same was true for patients with diabetes. Stroke patients had significantly less risk of dying from that condition if they exercised than if they used medication. Only patients with chronic heart failure had a “beyond random” chance for survival by taking meds instead of just exercising.

The researchers agree that more study is needed on how exercise affects patients with these common diseases, but they suggest that big pharma may not be as interested in this kind of research as it might decrease profits.

Yoga After 50?

Yoga classes are all the rage right now. But, is yoga right for every age? According to a recent NY Times article, yoga can be be great at most any age, but it’s more a question of adapting your technique to your age.

The article quotes Dr. Loren Fishman, a back-pain specialist in NY, who uses yoga in his rehabilitation practice. He says that “designed appropriately and taken in proper dose, it is certainly safe.” Dr. Fishman noted that aging brings impairments of range, motion, strength and balance that can require modifications, even among veteran yogis, like using the support of a chair or the wall for many poses.

With more baby-boomers practicing yoga, there is also a demand for older teachers who can better relate to an aging market. Once such group called Wisdom Warriors has been developed by Desiree Rumbaugh.