Join us for the Yoga Journal 21-Day Yoga Challenge – http://www.yogajournal.com/21daychallenge. Why don’t you join us too and transform your life and yoga practice? You can choose either a beginner’s track or an intermediate track, depending on your previous yoga experience. You’ll get a daily video, weekly meditation and regular newsletters with practice tips and recipes. Participants can set goals and track their progress, either solo or in teams, to keep you motivated. The challenge begins on January 9.
The Yoga Journal website is a fantastic resource. Here you’ll find videos and podcasts – suitable for all levels – as well as lots of yoga inspired features. Another great resource is the Yogaglo website – www.yogaglo.com. For the bargain price of £11 per month you can access hundreds of online classes led by leading yoga teachers.
2. Start Running
Running costs nothing and is a very attainable goal for most people. Your one expense should be a decent pair of trainers to minimise the risk of injury. Initial enthusiasm can also lead to injuries, so make sure you don’t push yourself too hard at the outset.
If you don’t fancy running on your own, there are a number of running groups, led by licensed running/fitness coaches, which are ideal for beginners as well as more experienced runners. To find out about groups near you, look at http://www.runengland.org/groups. If you’re looking for a sociable, weekly session, visit http://www.parkrun.org.uk. These 5km “park runs” embrace all abilities, and there are now over 90 “park run” locations in Britain.
3. Focus Harder On “Informal Exercise”
It’s the everyday activities that burn off calories by just getting us around. With just a small shift in mind-set you can improve your health by simply doing as you usually do, but working “smarter”. A study, in 2005, comparing the amount of informal exercise performed by obese and non-obese individuals, found that if obese individuals had “non-formal exercise activity” levels similar to the lean non-obese subjects, they would have burned an additional 350 calories a day, equivalent to roughly 1lb of fat every 10 days! Even postural changes and fidgeting made a difference.
Most people are aware of using stairs instead of escalators or getting off the bus a stop early and walking, but try being creative. Anything that expends more energy – even not using buttons to open automatic doors, but pushing or pulling them instead – is effective over time. In the office, write fewer emails: get up and talk to people instead. Fit as many of these “activities” as possible into your normal living pattern so that you are exercising without upsetting your day.
4. Always Sit Down To Eat & Eat Slowly
Sitting down relaxes the digestive tract and increases our awareness of what we’re eating. We’re less likely to suffer from indigestion and more likely to enjoy our food if we sit down to meals rather than eat on the run.
People who eat their food quickly have a higher risk of becoming overweight. Researchers have offered several explanations for this, one possibility being that eating slowly allows the body to signal that it is full up before consuming too many calories. A study of 30 women, offered lunch and water and asked to eat until they were full, showed that when women ate slowly they consumed less food (both in terms of the calorie content and the weight) than when they ate quickly.
5. Eat A “Rainbow Diet”
To ensure that you get your recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals, eat at least 20 different food types each day, including fruit and vegetables of every different colour. Foods with a variety of colours have different healthy nutrients – vitamins, minerals, micro-elements, antioxidants, etc. There are literally tens of thousands of protective phytochemical compounds present in the plant kingdom which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and immune-boosting properties. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is our best bet for delaying/ preventing virtually every chronic disease. This view has been established by scientific study and endorsed by UK and US government health agencies, the World Health Organisation and virtually every major medical organisation.