BENEFITS OF YOGA
ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR HEALTH CARE TEAM BEFORE STARTING ANY NEW EXERCISE PROGRAM!
Yes, you heard me right! Our Jewish teachings instruct us to respect our health. It is written “Take utmost care and watch yourselves scrupulously” (Deut. 4:9). This guides us to pay attention to our bodies, to eat what nourishes us, exercise and avoid excesses, such as too much alcohol or smoking.
Likewise, the Yamas and Niyamas, (or the Ten Commandments) of Yoga, include a similar directive called Brahmacharya. (Almost sounds like “Baruch atah,” no??) Anyway….this also encourages moderation of the senses. Turn your mind inward and adopt balance in the varied aspects of your life.
While moderation is an exemplary goal, let’s face it; come Jewish holiday time that means plenty of honey cake, latkes, matzoh brei, macaroons and Aunt Bessie’s tzimmes. If your jeans still fit, mazel tov! And if your system is working right and on schedule (at least once a day), mazel tov again! If not, here are some yoga postures for help with digestion and returning to flatter abs.
(Wear comfortable loose clothing, bare feet and use a yoga mat if possible.)
Twisting Chair: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, arms by your sides and rooted into the ground, take a few deep breaths in Mountain Pose. Sweep your arms over your head, bend your knees and sink down like you’re sitting into a chair. Your arms can be bent and outstretched in front of you or they can rest right on top of your knees. Remember to breathe deeply as you are doing these poses. Repeat this chair pose a few times.
Now, as you sink into your next chair pose, clasp your two palms together in front of your heart, twist your body and rest your right elbow on your left knee. Take a few breaths. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side, twisting your torso so you can rest your left elbow on your right knee. Repeat the sequence again, once more on each side.
To take this to the last and most challenging level, repeat the sequence once or twice more on each side, but this time, when you are ready to get out of the twist and return to the starting position, first open your hands wide so one hand goes to the sky and the other to the ground. Give yourself a big, wide opening stretch here as an added bonus.
Boat: Start seated on the mat with your knees bent, feet hip width apart and flat on the floor. Grab the backs of your thighs, pull your abs in and up, nice straight back. Slowly lean back so your arms straighten. Hold this position until you really feel your abs engage. Repeat a few times. The next time, when you are in the leaned back position—brace yourself for this challenge—lift one leg off the floor---now the other leg. You can do it! Slowly release one hand at a time, yes, you heard me. Don’t forget to breathe. Try it again a few times. If you are ready for one additional incredibly hard challenge, repeat what you just did and then slowly straighten your arms AND your legs, so that your body is in a total V-sit. MAZEL-TOV!
Seated Twist: Baruch Hashem, you made it to the stretch! You certainly earned it. Sit on the mat with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee, twist your torso toward the right, and reach back behind your body with your right arm to support yourself on the mat with your right hand. Your left arm is going to encircle your bent right knee. Breathe into this twist and take it as far as you can, but gently. You are not pulsing, just gently twisting and breathing. Repeat on the other side. You should feel refreshed, relaxed and invigorated.
…………OK so Nu? A little exercise doesn’t do any harm once in a while. …………. Email me any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a drink of water and be well.
By: Marla Altberg-- Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor, YogaFit Level One, Senior Strength & Conditioning
Jewish Diabetes Association-Updated July 2018