7 Tips to Transform Your Practice: Philly Yoga Pros Give Us Their Best Advice

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When I witness a yoga instructor go effortlessly from dolphin pose into a handstand and hold it for minutes without trembling, cursing or crying, I always want to scream, Howww do you that?! Tell me the secret, now! But that would be obnoxious, so I keep my mouth shut. Still, long after class is over, I’m dying to know—how do they do it?

To avoid coming across as a crazed yogi in the midst of meltdown, I decided to calmly ask seven Philly yoga pros, outside of class, what their secrets to success on the mat are. I asked each one: What is the one piece of advice you would give to a student to totally transform their practice? And let me tell you,  the advice these instructors doled out—be present, trust yourself, have fun—is serious food for thought, on and off the mat. See what they had to say below.

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Expert Advice: How to Prevent Yoga Injuries with Strength Training

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It’s better to bend than to break—so the proverb goes. But what if the bending causes the breakage?

Earlier this month the New York Times reported on a problem within the yoga community: the rise of a condition called femoroacetabluar impingement (FAI). Because of their naturally greater flexibility, female yogis are much more prone to developing this painful condition, in which the bones and cartilage of the hip joint become damaged or inflamed. In severe cases, women’s hips must be surgically repaired, or even replaced.

One of the best ways to prevent FAI and ensure years of fruitful yoga practice is to strengthen the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the hip joint: the glutes (butt muscles), abductors (top-of-the-butt muscles) and adductors (inner thigh muscles), to name a few.

And believe it or not, a simple resistance-training program will not only prevent hip injury, it will also make you more flexible, since flexibility is often limited not by the pliability of the stretched muscle, but by the strength of the opposing muscle to safely hold the end range of motion. In other words, if you’re not building strength, your body will simply not allow you to achieve a position that it doesn’t have the strength to support.

To build real-world strength, you have to use real-world weight. Here are three moves you can use to strengthen your hips and build muscle. But don’t worry—this program won’t make you bulk up. It’ll complement the lithe physique you get from a regular yoga practice.

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Dad Files: Dear Fellow Parents, Please Stop Complaining About Being Parents

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People who’ve read this column on even a semi-regular basis probably heard me rail, now and again, about the stupid things parents say.

I’ve yet to feel the accelerated time of parents who say it all goes so fast. I also found, much to the consternation of wizened elders who assured me otherwise, that parenting did get easier and I slept again. But one of the craziest things anyone ever said to me, and I heard it repeatedly, is something on the order of: “You’ll be hating life when they start walking!”

At the time, I thought they were crazy (Hint, I still do.) But now that they’re walking, I totally (not really) get where they were coming from (I don’t). So here, now, are the Top 3 Reasons I Wish My Children Couldn’t Walk.

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Smart Kitchen Tip: How to Hard-Boil Eggs in the Oven

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Last week, someone I follow on Instagram raved about a new foolproof technique she’d discovered for hard-boiling eggs. Instead of boiling them in water on the stove, she tried baking them in the oven. Thirty minutes later, she had a batch of perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs; the shells, she said, slid off in almost one piece. Interesting.

Now, I know hard-boiling eggs on the stovetop isn’t particularly difficult. And I know using older eggs, instead of fresh ones, makes the shells come off more easily. And I know boiling them in water takes way less time than this baking method.

But. Have you ever needed to hard boil, say, a dozen eggs at once, perhaps for a recipe or a week’s worth of lunches? And you found that boiling all 12 eggs at once resulted in a lot of shells that cracked mid-boil? It’s definitely happened to me, which is why I think this baking method, whereby each egg is separated individually  in a muffin tin (no risk of collision-induced cracking!), is so brilliant.

I took an informal poll at our staff meeting this morning and discovered that no one had heard of this hard-boiling technique, so I figured at least some of you haven’t either. Check it out, then stow it somewhere in your mind for safe keeping. I guarantee this will come in handy eventually.

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How Protein Benefits Your Workout

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Got protein? If you workout and want to build muscle, you should get familiar with protein, one of the most essential nutrients for the human body and what should be a staple in any diet. Proteins are chains of amino acids that act as the building blocks of tissue and muscle and provide an important source of fuel for the body. They’re getting more attention lately because of the popularity in high-protein diets for weight loss. All the exercise in the world won’t build muscle if you’re not getting enough protein.

High protein diets tend to work for three main reasons. First, protein is dense so it keeps the body feeling fuller for longer periods of time after eating. Protein also keeps blood sugar stable to stave off the crashes associated with cravings and hunger pangs. And here’s something you might really like: The body works harder to digest protein so it burns more calories.

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How Sleep (and Lack Thereof) Affects Your Workout

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Veer

Everyone wants to get more done in a day, and with our hectic lives, sleep is usually the first activity to be sacrificed. The Better Sleep Council estimates that 70 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep—a scary fact considering that too little sleep has been linked to everything from memory loss and other serious cognitive issues to an increased risk for osteoporosis and cancer. But the truth of the matter is that sleep is free, so you should take all you can get. More importantly, it’s an essential part of fitness and exercise, yet it’s very often overlooked.

It’s true: While training and nutrition can help create a fit physique, so can sleep. Here’s how.

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