While I don’t expect all of you to jump head first into NEKKID YOGA (although the creator is CLEARLY brilliant), women, black women especially, need to practice regular yoga. Why am I singling you out? Because black women have the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety and a bunch of other bad stuff. Yoga, if done properly, can improve ALL these conditions. There are literally hundreds of reasons yoga is one of the best exercises, but I’ll just give the top ten best as I see it, because clearly, I’m a genius.
Yoga Helps Drop the Pounds.
Do me a favor, ya’ll–could you please promise in this new year that you will STOP running like hamsters, mice, and gerbils on treadmills? Don’t get me wrong–cardio is good for your heart and burns some calories, but it shouldn’t be your default routine when you want to drop the pounds. Building muscle is what’s hot. Trust me. Yoga builds long, lean muscles (as opposed to short and stumpy ones–think the ballerina/dancer look). I can’t get into too much detail in this post, but put simply, a muscular body burns more calories than a flabby one, even at rest. If you work it like a job, you can burn 200 calories per hour, but the more valuable effect is what happens after the workout. After four kids, I am 5’2 and 122 pounds. But trust and believe that fat runs in my family. Fat=diabetes, fat=high blood pressure, and we’ve got all of the above swimming around in my genetic pool. Slim doesn’t come natural for me. I’ve simply had to accept that exercise and the proper diet are mandatory…forever.
Yoga Improves Posture.
Yoga poses like the plank strengthen the back and reduces “muffin top.” You’ll stand up straight naturally and you won’t even need your mother to remind you ever two seconds because she needs to shut up already. Hottie note: Good posture exudes confidence in your body language. It makes you graceful and more feminine looking.
Poses, especially the pretzel-like ones, help to improve digestion and purify the liver. The deep breathing also floods your body with oxygen and opens the lungs. But…don’t be surprised if you let out some…flatulence–perfectly natural and just means the yoga is doing what it’s supposed to do. Just blame it on the dog.
Yoga Reduces Anxiety, Stress and Blood Pressure
Black women are probably the most stressed of the U.S. female population. That’s why food is our crack dealer and so many of us are obese–we find comfort in food, and In & Out cheeseburgers with a chocolate shake are like a warm hug (for me at least). Deep breathing, stretching and the concentration necessary to maintain your balance soothes the central nervous system and reduces the stress hormones like cortisol, a hormone responsible for making you fat and homicidal. It also improves your sleep, which is about the most important rejuvenative thing you can do to keep your body at it’s best.
Yoga Centers You
Balancing on one leg and having to empty your mind of everything except for what you are doing right in the moment is a great way to clear your head and keep you more focused and organized throughout the day.
Yoga Makes You Strong.
Better than dumbbells and weight machines, there’s nothing harder that lifting your own weight in a pose until you get muscle fatigue, which sounds like a bad thing, but it’s really the goal. The muscles tear, heal, get stronger. More muscles=less fat. Muscle burn calories more efficiently. And you could probably move your own furniture after a few months of practice.
Yoga Helps Grow Your Hair.
You may laugh, but it’s true. Reducing the stress hormones, detoxing, deep breathing to fill your lungs and blood full of oxygen, and the hard work it takes to keep from falling on your arse improves circulation to the scalp. More blood circulation to the scalp encourages hair growth, and reduced stress keeps it from falling out.
Yoga Clears Your Skin.
Much of the toxins in your body lie in the gut. The detox effect of yoga helps rid your body of bacteria and other crud that often shows in the form of a pimple at the end of your nose. Right before a date. With that guy you really like.
Yoga Makes You Look Younger.
Looking and walking around like a prima ballerina is not a bad look. Combine that with the majorly wonderful beauty sleep you’ll have, viola! The bags and dark circles under your eyes suddenly disappear.
Yoga Helps Make You Look Good With Or Without Clothes On.
‘Nuff said on that. *wink, wink*
Here’s a video on how I warm up. This series of poses works the arms, belly, chest, legs and butt. Pretty much all the major stuff. Do this for ten minutes and you’ll work up a sweat for sure:
BTW: All the equipment in the video is from www.naturalfitnessinc.com. Their mats are the best I’ve ever tried.
After the workout:
What you do after your workout is just as important as what you do during the practice. First, poses assist in the release of toxins, that will just whirl around in your blood if you don’t flush them out with water. Drink at least two full glasses afterwards.
Second, because yoga is an intense workout that builds muscle, YOU MUST supplement your body with protein. I do not, however, recommend eating more meat. I take two protein shakes a day, and just eat a regular dinner with the family (I put a lot of other stuff in my smoothies–lots of fruits and vegetables, but that’s a whole ‘nother post). One of my favorites is CLICK, a protein drink that gives about 20 grams of protein in yum-diddli-umptous coffee and chocolate flavor, kind of like an ice-blended mocha from Starbucks without all the bad stuff. Try this yummy treat: fat-free chocolate milk (soy or rice is fine too), a tablespoon of powdered fiber (organic flax, chia, pysillum husk) one scoop of CLICK and another scoop of Amazing Meal Chocolate Infusion, which is SUPER nutritious and delivers greens that taste like chocolate. Put all the ingredients in a shaker and experience bliss. BLLLLLIIIIIISSSSS. Plus the extra fiber will keep you full for hours.
The extra protein will help rebuild your sore muscles, because trust me, you. will. be. sore. Being reasonably sore is a good thing, but can be a bit uncomfortable. I just learned about this topical ointment, Dr. Oswald’s Muscle Care, that is all natural and most importantly, won’t leave you smelling like a geriatric center. I’ve personally tried the stuff and it works very well.
Lastly, please don’t join a gym just to take a yoga class or drop down dollars at a yoga studio unless you got it like that. I don’t. I just play rich on TEE VEE. Instead, try an online daily yoga practice right from your computer, like my personal fav, Yoga Today.
Why waste time? What are you waiting for? Start your yoga regimen right now: