getting started with yoga

Yoga is the newest exercise discipline that I have chosen to study.

My first teacher was very encouraging and supportive. She taught all of the basic moves and over the course of a few months kept gradually adding to the repertoire of moves. She also came around and made adjustments which fixed my poses or helped me get deeper into a pose. Kristi Duke taught at my gym and referred me to other teachers and yoga studios that could offer me more advanced classes. I have had classes in very small, dark, candlelit dance studios where they turned up the heater and had a sauna environment. And I have been to serene studios with advanced teachers. As well as the classes at my gym where I started out and still go. Now I go to one of my teacher’s homes for semi-private lessons to further my practice. Two other good teachers I have been with are Leeza Snyder, Sara Vantuinen, Suzi Gill, and Steve Rogers.

For those new to yoga

Go buy a mat, at first they are kinda slippery, but once they are broken in they help stabilize you and give you a place to exercise that is portable and practical.

Buy pants or shorts that are loose and allow you to stretch out in every direction. I use martial arts pants, but many women wear stretch pants and an athletic top.

If you are not very limber than the blocks can help stabilize you in certain poses. I don’t use them now, but I have before and found them helpful for some of the twisted poses.

Don’t worry if a pose is too hard or challenging at first, just go back to child’s pose and wait for the next pose called out by your teacher. Or try a modified pose that allows you to stay in the modified version of the pose until you build strength or flexibility needed for that pose. There are still many poses that I cannot do, and others that I have learned over time. Just the attempt will help build your body towards a pose in the future. And as the teachers say the pose is not as important as the breathe.

The breath in and out the nose is the key to building strength and stability, and flow through each pose. If you stop breathing it is difficult to keep up with the class. If you concentrate on your breathing you will find that the poses get easier over time. The breath generates oxygen to the muscles and strength and endurance for your body.

Yoga has done a lot for my body. I have lost a couple inches around the waistline and I seem physically stronger, and my face looks better to me too. I think overall it has helped me trim my body and maintain a level of flexibility. I do other exercises as well, but yoga has a relaxation component to it that I do not find in other forms of exercise. Plus we always meditate at the end of class and that helps clear my mind of stress. And I know I can hold poses longer and in stronger positions than when I started so I am definitely changing my body chemistry, and muscular ability. Most of the teachers I have met have strong bodies, which I attribute to their yoga practice.

by Ronald Panlilio 1996

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martial arts: how to choose the best studio for you or your child

Martial Arts

Martial Arts is an art form. The movements and combinations function similar to a dance between many people at the same time. Film has shown the beauty and power of the martial arts. Wrestlers, UFC and pride fighters are into full contact combat. To me the martial arts and combat are different but related. Martial Arts did more for my state of mind, confidence level and athletic ability then it did for me as a combatant. I feel confident that I can defend myself against normal people and even against skilled opponents, but that is not the best thing I took from the martial arts. The martial arts is a discipline that gives you confidence in your physical ability and teaches you respect for elders and your team at the dojo, and your mental ability to learn complex maneuvers, and it helps you spiritually because it teaches you to clear your mind and have an inner peace if you seek it out. Once you diminish your fear of being harmed by strangers or bullies, then you walk with more confidence and you carry yourself in such a way that you are not confronted or challenged anymore by bullies. But it can take years to achieve this confidence level if you do not have it naturally.

I was a small guy to start with, so naturally I was more careful of larger people and thought that they might be able to hurt me. But I learned over time that physical size is not always the best indicator of an ability to have strength or power or ability to do harm.

Before you start any martial arts training, I would advise watching multiple teachers teach their class and interact with the students and parents. You might want to learn a certain style but if you do not love the teacher, you will not enjoy it as much as you could and it will be harder to reach your potential. I got lucky and my first teacher, Rudy Amaya,  was honorable, knowledgable and had a teaching style that I could absorb very quickly. Be sure that you respond to a teacher before you commit to being with them 3, 4, or 5 days a week for training. I became a black belt in 1989 after about 4 years of training for 5 days a week in group classes, plus one private lesson every week. And I have heard stories of it taking much longer for some people. Everyone learns at a different pace, and not everyone reaches black belt, but the key is just enjoying the process and improving at your own pace.

When you finally choose a teacher and a style that you want to pursue you will need a uniform or gi, and a belt, some pads and a helmet for sparring, and gloves for hitting the bags. Everything else is pretty much optional and at your discretion.

Some styles teach weapons, and others teach music, and culture and history of the art form to go along with their particular style. You might need these items or books for you to learn as well.

Be prepared to be challenged physically and mentally to learn, absorb and perform all of the techniques you will learn from your teachers. And then there is competitive tournaments for martial arts which allow you to compare your ability to others in the art. I recommend tournaments for anyone that wants to see what it is like to match up with other skilled martial artists in kata, weapons, sparring and musical or team katas.

keep your workouts fresh, new challenges create new results

The other day I was invited to an archery range.  Edward asked gio and I to join him for some archery.  And it was fun, like 5 or 6 of us talking and joking while one of the group was aiming at the targets in the haystack.  If you get bored , then your body gets bored, and stops developing…keep things fresh and try a new sport and you will continue to see improvements in your body, your confidence and you may learn that this new hobby is so life giving for you…I have never shot a bow and arrow before…but I enjoyed it and hit the target once …I had to learn to focus on pulling with my back muscles, and not just my arm…

if you always do the same thing, then at some point your body will stop adapting, and you will get less and less improvement…

Some quick, easy, healthy ways to have breakfast

1st option: oatmeal microwaved with water for like 40 seconds, then mix in some flaxseed (to lower your cholesterol levels), as well as some milk (I prefer chocolate soymilk, or 1% regular milk) Then add your favorite fruits: sliced strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, rasberrys or mangos sliced, or bananas…

or if you dont have fruit then a little bit of honey is good for sweetness, and maybe cinammon or nutmeg

and a scoop of protein powder is great if you worked out the day before

option 2: a bowl of fruit, and toast some wheat bread with with peanut butter..lately instead a toaster I have been putting my bread on a pan after warming up olive oil on it…then just fry the bread, andafter flipping it over, and searing both sides, you get toast that tastes great and the olive oil gives the bread  nice flavor, and you wont feel a need for butter at all… and a glass of milk is good with this as well

a quick smoothie:

in a magic bullet blender, throw in a bunch of ice cubes, then add your favorite frozen fruits( l love the mango chunks from trader joes), then a scoop of protein powder, and then water for 3/4 of the jar, and then milk on top of that, and a bit of cinammon and/or nutmeg or just a couple drops of either vanilla bean, or peppermint. You would be surprised at how strong that mint drop can be, dont overdo it or it will taste like medicine…and again flaxsee is great in this as well for those cholesterol or stroke in their families..

or if your really super in a hurry

go for a wheat bread with peanut butter and bananas, and a glass of water or milk—————————and you can fry it in olive oil as well, its good

or a granola bar, or a protein bar….or a cup of trail mix

if you have time you can make wheat pancakes with real maple syrup: do not use anything with high fructose corn syrup(ala aunt jemima), stick with pure maple syrup or honey if you like sweet stuff

or make an omelet from egg whites: add cheese, mushrooms, spinach, avocado, tomatoes and some salsa

good morning

you are all setup for a great day, and a good recovery from yesterday’s workouts, as well as an increase in muscle mass