Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sit or stand your way to better fitness

Using Yoga to stay fit for the workplace ...

"Looking for a new challenge to spice up your workout? Sitting or standing is the latest craze. All the kids are doin’ it! OK, sure. It might not be a trendy workout, but it is effective in fitness and for your overall health.

Right now you’re thinking: "But I sit / stand all day at work, and I haven’t noticed a difference!" Standing or sitting properly is extremely different from how most of us do it in our everyday living.

In yoga, tai chi, Pilates, etc., most practice begins with the basic principles of proper posture. Let’s start with standing. Traditional Chinese medicine considers standing a very powerful therapeutic exercise. It’s even considered a cardiovascular exercise.

In yoga we call basic standing Tadasana, or Mountain Pose. Begin by placing your feet together, lining up your big toes, with your other toes spread and with heels slightly apart. Sway back and forth, front to back, and eventually come to a standstill with your weight balanced evenly over all four points of your foot.

Firm up your legs by drawing the kneecaps up in to the thigh. Turn your thighs slightly inward. Drop your tailbone to the floor while simultaneously pulling your pubic bone up toward your navel. Keep your abdominals lifted but loose enough that you can breathe deep into the belly.

Now you’ve got your lower body set. That’s just the beginning. For your next trick, squeeze your shoulder blades together and then press them down your back, as though trying to slide them in your back pockets. Lift your chest and let your arms hang naturally at your side. Centre your head so that the underside of your chin is parallel to the floor.

There. You’re exercising. Hold this pose for 10 to 15 seconds, or for five deep breaths. Relax and repeat several times. You might feel the fatigue right away or sense the muscles trembling. This is OK, as your muscles are adjusting to the new workload.

It is best if you are doing this with a mirror or someone who can help you find your ideal posture. You can further challenge this pose by closing your eyes, training your core strength, balance and proprioception to a new level.

Standing in this fashion also creates an openness within the body, between the vertebrae and other joints. This space allows for energy to circulate more readily, bringing flow wherever your body needs it most.

This enhanced energy flow helps your physical well-being, your internal systemic health and your mental health. Mountain Pose is aptly named, as it promotes strength in stillness and relaxed power, such as a mountain represents in nature.

It is one of the most basic poses in yoga, often used as a preparatory pose. Still, its benefits should not be overlooked when using it on its own. The great thing about this pose is that you don’t have to set aside time to practice it. You can assume it any time you’re standing — in line at the grocery store, say, after getting your healthy fruits and vegetables."    (Continued via TheChronicleHerald.ca)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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