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10 Motivational Tips to Keep Your Spa Employees Performing

As a spa owner it is a great achievement to establish a team of self motivated employees that are excited and performing at their full potential.

When people are treated well they naturally perform better, provide better service, and make part of an excellent team.

These are 10 motivational tips for you to instill to create a smooth running spa business and generate income from the get-go.

1. Use positive reinforcement and praise daily. Give it often. Focus on a specific individual or team; this is much more powerful than making statements to the whole team. Make sure the employee knows why his behavior is important to you and the company. Acknowledge small achievements, don’t wait until big accomplishments, by then it’s too late! Even though recognition seems like common sense, it is not done widely enough. You may have to remind yourself, but it’s a great practice to get into, as you will get back what you reward in your employees.

2. Use ‘open book’ management. Open book management is a practice that This creates a work space where employees are aware of the spa’s goals, short and long term financial plans and progress towards those goals. This is beneficial in creating happy employees because they will be aware of the direction the company is moving in and will create a sense of security.

3. Make the work environment fun. Provide a friendly working environment with a great team spirit. Hire people with commitment that want to be there and make the spa a better place with their performance. Your customers can sense this, and in turn becomes part of their experience in your spa.

4. Define Job Responsibility Employees like to know what they are responsible for when they are at work. This will avoid any mis-communication and unnecessary anxiety and confusion on their part. Create specific job descriptions. Have the flexibility to alter these to fit your employees. It is good to have standards in place, however it is best to be flexible and not too rigid.

Also, define salaries, and what is expected of them as an employee. What this means is if you have created expectations for your employees to acquire additional bonuses based on their performance that they are fully aware of what is entitled of them in order to achieve these.

5. Reward and provide incentives. Have a ‘monthly star’ for the employee with the most product sales. This is a great way to encourage selling, and performance. It should be friendly and healthy competition amongst co-workers. Reward employees with things like an extra day off, a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or to do a favorite activity (a yoga class, rock climbing etc.) Have monthly staff gatherings. This will encourage outside the workplace interactions, where employees get to connect with one another in a different setting.

6. Goal Setting. Sit and set yearly goals with each employee. This is an excellent way to keep your employees moving forward towards what they would like to achieve in their lives. Include career, health, financial, and personal goals. Post these in an open area where everyone can see each employee’s goals. This is an excellent way for employees to motivate one another. Revisit these regularly and celebrate the small milestones.

7. Invest in Your Employees. You will never regret this. Employees want to feel appreciated and valued. Investing your time and energy into training is important, however once this step is covered, it is imperative to continue ongoing investment in your employees. Enroll employees in courses to keep them updated and educated on specific treatments, customer service, and most importantly make these events fun so that your employees will enjoy participating! Technical training and education have great benefits.

Institute a tuition reimbursement program to encourage growth. Offer trips to retreats as an employee perk and also for educational purposes. The employee will come back to work with a fresh outlook and feel a new sense of purpose which will shine through on their performance. If the team is performing, why not create a weekend get away to show them your appreciation? As well as continuing education, include benefits such as vacation days, medical and dental plans, and sick days.

8. Provide an Open Forum Environment. An open forum allows employees to share ideas and when implementing ideas can pay huge dividends. Your employees will get to know your clients the best. They work hands on with them everyday. It is crucial for you to pay close attention to the information that your employees are providing you with and be able to provide what your customer wants because you will have a good understanding of your customers.

9. Long Term Employees. Hold them to the same standards as new employees. Retaining an employee at all costs is not a wise decision. You create an inconsistent approach to how your treat employees and they will see this and cause internal friction within the team. If changes are about to occur, everyone should be expected to implement these in the work environment. You may have to deliver it differently to each individual, according to their behavioral styles, however when you create this expectation everyone will feel valued and be a part of the change.

10. Growth and Opportunity Promote from within whenever possible, or at least interview your existing employees for potential new positions. Some employees are more interested in job title recognition than in a pay increase. Learn about each individual and the career interest that motivates them and then support them. Sometimes, even citing the exceptional service performance of an individual is enough to satisfy the need for personal growth. Getting to know your employees and their path to personal and professional growth will be an exceptional way for you to tap into how best you can support and motivate them.

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Factors Responsible For Enormous Wealth and Prosperity in the Horoscope of GD Birla

Shri Ghanshyam Das or popularly known as “G.D.” Birla (April 10, 1894 – June 11, 1983) was an Indian businessman and a member of the influential Birla family. Ghanshyam Das Birla, a doyen and a chief architect of Indian’s industrial growth. He was the man who laid the foundations of the Birla Empire and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). He is also popularly known as the builder of Birla Mandirs [temples].

Horoscope of G.D. Birla [D.B: 15.4.1894, place: Pilani, time: 3.35 a.m.]

Ascendant: Aquarius

1st house: Venus

2nd house: Mercury [debilitated] and Rahu

3rd house: Sun [exalted]

4th house: Jupiter [in quadrant]

6th house: Moon [own sign]

8th house: Ketu

9th house: Saturn [exalted]

12th house: Mars [exalted]

Astro Analysis of Different Aspects of G.D. Birla’s Life


· Ascendant is Aquarius, lord of ascendant is Saturn which is retrograde and exalted in 9th house.

· A very strong Raja-yoga is formed, by the exchange of houses by the lords of 1st and 9th houses. Native was born with the silver spoon in his mouth.

· Generally the Aquarians are spiritual and very intuitive in nature. They are pure in heart and always inclined to help others. Having magnetic personality, which endears them to all they come in contact with.

· Ascendant is in the constellation of Rahu and the placement of Venus in it indicates the foreign connections and frequent foreign trips.

Long life-span

· G.D.Birla lived a long life of 90 years

· Saturn [significator of longevity] as the lord of ascendant is being posited in 9th house making powerful raja yoga.

· Lord of 8th and Jupiter are aspecting the 8th house [house of longevity]

· Exalted Sun in 3rd house [house of longevity] and the lord of 3rd Mars is also exalted

· Saturn is very powerful

Powerful Mangalik dosha

· Mars is posited 12th from the ascendant and the Venus, 7th from the Moon, making a powerful Mangalik dosha in the horoscope.

· Due to this dosha his two wives died, before he completed his 32 years. Then onward approximately to the age of 90 he lived a lonely life.

Multiple marriages and Deaths of wives

· If 2nd house and its lord from ascendant/Moon are very powerful but severely influenced by the Mars then the, natives wife will die prematurely.

· If the lords of ascendant and 7th are in conjunction or aspect with each other, the native will have more than one wife

· In G.D. Birla’s horoscope the Sun as the lord of 2nd house from the Moon, is in exaltation but 2nd house/lord from the Moon are badly afflicted by the Mars.Further lords of ascendant and 7th aspects each others, indicates multiple marriages

Acquainting enormous wealth and prosperity

In the Aquarius ascendant the Jupiter is the, chief planet of wealth and prosperity being the lord of 2nd [wealth] and 11th [income]

Laxmi yoga [powerful wealth yoga]

· Moon and mars are related by aspect or conjunction

· In the horoscope, Moon in 6th and Mars in 12th aspects each other, making a powerful wealth yoga

Sasa yoga

· Sasa yoga is formed if Saturn occupies a quadrant from ascendant /Moon and being in its own/exaltation sign

· One born in this yoga will be head of a village or a town or even a king. If the Saturn occupies 4th place, then the native will be a head of a very successful business empire.

· In the G.D. Birla’s horoscope the exalted Saturn is occupying the 4th house form the Moon.

Ruchaka yoga

· Mars should be occupying quadrant from the Ascendant/Moon in its own/exalted sign.

· Person born with Ruchaka yoga will be a famous, king or equal to king, charitable disposition, wealthy, long-lived, and conforming to traditions and customs

· In the horoscope of G.D Birla, the exalted Mars is placed 7th from the Moon. In his youth he was well interested in wrestling. He donated ample amount of money for social causes

Parijatha yoga

· The lord of sign in which the lord of ascendant is posited shall join a quadrant/trine/ or own/exaltation sign.

· Due to his yoga, the native will remain happy in the middle and last parts of life, receiving the homage of kings and rulers; he will be famous and generous.

· In the Birla’s horoscope the, ascendant lord Saturn is placed in the sign Libra, whose lord Venus is being posited in the ascendant [quadrant].

Wealth acquired though lottery and shares market

· Lords of 2nd [wealth] and 8th [shares market, lottery, etc] exchanges each other houses

· The native will get enormous money by share market and lottery

· In the Birla’s horoscope the lord of 2nd and 8th exchanges each other’s houses.

Neech bhang Raj yoga

· The lord of the sign being occupied by a debilitate planet, is posited in quadrant from the ascendant /Moon

· The status of the native will be equivalent to a rulers or a king

· In this horoscope the Mercury is in a debilitate sign [Pisces] but the lord of the sign, Jupiter is placed in quadrant from the ascendant.




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Pregnancy and Yoga Can Work Hand in Hand

Yoga can be a welcome aid during pregnancy

For women who are avid practitioners of yoga, becoming pregnant presents a unique situation when it comes to participating in the activity.

But it doesn’t mean you have to stop participating in yoga completely until your pregnancy is over. In fact, participating in yoga may help pregnant women cope with the physical and mental changes that go along with it.

There’s no denying the fact that becoming pregnant will alter a woman’s regular yoga schedule, not to mention her entire life. While a pregnant woman may not be able to participate in yoga with the same frequency that she did before becoming pregnant, or participate in all of the exercises as she might have done before, but she can still enjoy some of the benefits of yoga by making a few changes to her routine.

According to yoga instructors and medical experts, yoga can aid pregnant women by encouraging breathing and relaxation. Anyone who has participated in a child birthing class, especially a Lamaze birthing class, is no doubt familiar with the importance of breathing exercises in the process. While there is the more deliberate breathing exercises associated with a child birthing class (think the “hee hee hoo hoo” type of deliberate breathing), there is also the deep breathing exercises that are designed to relax and calm the body during delivery and is closely related (if not directly related) to the types of breathing exercises taught in a yoga class.

By utilizing the moderate breathing exercises taught in yoga, expectant mothers can reap the benefits of relaxation at all stages of the pregnancy experience, from the pre-natal phase through labor to birth and afterwards. The breathing techniques connected to yoga can help calm the mind and the body, eliminating physical and mental stress which can be harmful during pregnancy.

As stated, there are precautions that need to be taken by pregnant women when participating in yoga, many of them geared toward specific trimesters. The following are suggestions for how to incorporate yoga into each trimester of your pregnancy.

Women in the first trimester of pregnancy who regularly attend yoga classes should inform their instructor of their condition so that the instructor can suggest or help them with any modifications to the routines. And if you are pregnant and experiencing “morning sickness”, don’t feel guilty about pulling out of a class, skipping a few of the more strenuous poses or moving to a less difficult class. Take morning sickness as a signal that it’s time for you to change your yoga routine.

On the other side, if you are a pregnant woman who has never taken part in a yoga class but have heard about the benefits of yoga for pregnant women, you may wish to seek out a prenatal yoga class in your community. Many yoga studios today have special classes for pregnant women, where you can also consult with other expectant mothers in the class and share information. Even if you can’t find a prenatal yoga class in your community, don’t fret; there are many videos and DVDs available on the subject of prenatal yoga that you can view and use in your home.

Yoga experts say there are specific poses and movements that are well-suited for women in their first trimester of pregnancy, movements that promote flexibility, particularly in the hip area that can help make the actual birth process easier. Yoga experts recommend expectant mothers practice poses such as the Triangle, Knee to Ankle, Warrior II, the Pigeon, Ardha Chandrasana and Baddha Konasana. Yoga instructors also recommend positions that can actually affect the birth process, such as Cat-Cow, in which the participant is on all fours, because it helps put the baby in the prime birthing position inside the woman’s body. In a similar vein, yoga experts discourage pregnant women from performing poses that stretch the muscles, particularly the abdominals, too far, since pregnancy increases the production of the hormone relaxin, which softens connective tissue and allows the uterus to expand.

In the second trimester, morning sickness has usually passes and this can be a perfect time for those who have never tried prenatal yoga to begin the practice. Regardless of the level of experience with yoga, expectant women who perform yoga at this stage of their pregnancy should use caution and refrain from exerting themselves or performing moves that require extreme stretching.

Experts recommend they refrain from jumping, jump-throughs or rolling in their transition between movements, but step or crawl instead. For instance, with a move such as the sun salutation, yoga instructors recommend that pregnant women keep their chest no more 85 degrees from the floor in the forward position of the move and place their hands in front of their feet as opposed to the sides. Also, they recommend avoiding extreme twists which could cause placental abruption, poses that press the heel of the foot into the uterus while sitting or seated in the lotus and half-lotus positions unless you are able to keep the position loose and not twist the knees too much.

In the third trimester, an expectant mother will increase in size and her level of fatigue will change, which means she will have to alter her yoga participation. At this point in the pregnancy, the woman should avoid poses that compress the stomach and they should acknowledge their feelings of fatigue. In this trimester, they can keep participating in yoga, but only if they feel up to the task. If not, doing gentle stretching and calming breathing exercises will suffice.

At 36 weeks of pregnancy, women should limit the number of inversion poses they perform, such as Legs Up Against The Wall, Bridge Pose and Downward Dog. These moves may alter the position of the baby in a negative manner. The only exception for performing these positions is if the baby is currently in the breech position in the womb. In that situation, those poses may actually help to turn the baby around.

Along with these recommendations, yoga experts have a few rules that pregnant women should heed when participating in yoga classes. Avoid participating in Bikram yoga, also known as “hot yoga”. Studies show that overheating could adversely affect your pregnancy.

• Beginning with the second trimester, when the changes in your body can alter your center of gravity, perform standing poses with a chair for support or with your heels against a wall to reduce the chance of losing balance and becoming injured.

When bending forward, bend at the hips with the chest leading the way and extending the spine from the tailbone to the base of the skull. Bending in this manner give the ribs more room to move and makes it easier to breath. If you are bending forward while seated, put a yoga strap or towel behind your ankles and hold the ends with both hands. As with the other move, bend from the hip and keep the chest elevated so that you avoid putting pressure on the abdominal section. Keep the legs open approximately hip width to give your stomach more room.

If you perform a twisting move or pose, twist from the shoulders and back as opposed to the waist and restrict your twisting to a position that is comfortable. This helps avoid putting pressure on the abdominal area.

Avoid backbends, one-leg balancing, handstands, headstands and upward bow movements.

Lastly, do not ignore the signals your body sends you. This is an amazing time in your life and yoga can help make pregnancy less stressful, less discomforting and even more peaceful.

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Tips For Managing Pain Due to Complex Ovarian Cysts

If you are suffering from complex ovarian cyst pain, then here’s what you need to know. There are many ways on how to deal with pain caused by cysts. You can use herbal remedies and medications, alter your diet routine or simply apply pain management techniques. After reading this article, you will be able to lessen the pain brought by complex ovarian cyst.

To start with, when you are experiencing pain from the complex ovarian cyst, you need to put a heating pad in the lower portion of your abdomen. You can put the pad just under your belly button. After that, use your fingertips to gently massage your abdomen. I suggest you do it in a circular pattern. If you prefer to lie down or decide to take your rest while suffering from pain, you can simply elevate your legs or do a side position while bending your knees. Relaxations are also beneficial. You can either do yoga or meditation. A warm bath is another way of easing the pain as well.

When it comes to the amount of food intake, I recommend that you only eat small servings. And to make up for the low amount, you need to eat frequently. In that manner, you will gain the daily nutrition required for your body while avoiding any pain. A warm drink will be a good complement for your diet.

If you weigh more than what your supposed to weigh, then I suggest you start losing weight to lessen the pain. Instead of eating simple carbohydrates like white rice, try eating foods which are rich with complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and wheat bread. Fruits and vegetables also speed up burning your body fat. You need to control your salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake as well.

If you are taking Vitamin B6, Calcium and Magnesium then continue taking them. They are proven to lessen pain as well. I also recommend that you do regular exercise particularly pelvic rocking exercise. You also need to do breathing exercises if you really want to manage your pain. Once your period is near, you can take Ibuprofen until your period is finished. And lastly, you need to rest and sleep properly.

However, you can also use medications which can help eliminate your pain. There are lots of medicines such as antidepressants, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs are only effective for moderate to severe pains. You also need to get prescriptions from your physician to be able to use these drugs.

If after all of that, you are still suffering from tremendous pain, then you need medical attention. Other cases which need medical experts are delayed periods while being sexually active, profuse vaginal discharges, fever and bad odor.

Although the tips I have mentioned above seem simple, you still need to consult your doctor before trying any treatment. Oftentimes, Pain management is a case to case basis and may not be effective for everyone. Find out what pain management routine is best suited for you and stick to it to effectively get rid of the pain caused by complex ovarian cyst. Good luck and have a pain free life.

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Teaching Hatha Yoga – Contraindications For Inversions

What is an inverted posture, or an inversion, in a Hatha Yoga class? Technically, any posture (asana), in which the head is below the heart, is an inversion. Whether you stand on your head, bend forward, or bend back, if the head is below the heart, you are performing an inversion.

This also means that Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and Fish (Matsyasana) are also inversions – although both postures are mild in comparison to Head Stand (Sirsasana). If you bend back far enough in Camel (Ustrasana) -that is also an inversion.

This is not meant to beat a dead horse, but inversions are not for everyone. When you perform any Yoga technique, there should be a clear intention. If the risks outweigh the benefits, there is no logical reason why a teacher or student should practice a technique. The following contraindications are specifically related to inversions.

General Guidelines for all Inverted Postures

If you have any of the following conditions, please omit inversions or work with a competent teacher who will modify your practice. To identify a competent Yoga teacher is not difficult. Is the teacher really interested in his or her students? Is your safety a primary guideline in class? If not, please seek the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher, who cares for his or her students.

If you are a teacher, you should make it a point to know about the physical condition of each student. This means that new students, who show up late, disrupt your classes, take risks if they have any medical conditions, and will hold you liable if anything goes wrong.

The solution: Do not teach students who you have not talked to before class. A student’s medical condition is information that you must know in order to teach Yoga safely. In the following cases, inversions should be omitted, adjusted, or modified, depending on the health condition of a student.

In the case of neck problems, eye problems, a previous stroke, high blood pressure, heart problems, sinus problems, and epilepsy, inverted asanas should be omitted, adjusted, or modified. If a student is pregnant, she should be practicing with a prenatal Yoga specialist.

In the case of menstruation, there is much controversy. About a contraindication for menstruation: At this point, there is no hard data or research that would warrant an official warning.

Therefore, it might be wise to let students know about the controversy. Students should be made aware and make a decision based upon their own thoughts and research. You could easily design an informative handout for students and encourage them to research all of these contraindications.

Lastly, never put a student at risk. If you have serious doubts about a student’s ability to safely perform an inverted asana, because of a health issue, you should omit it or insist on a doctor’s note.

© Copyright 2009 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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How Can I Use Yoga For Weight Loss?

My friend has always been interested in yoga and when she decided to begin an exercise routine she wanted to incorporate yoga into it. The problem was, she was getting conflicting advice on whether or not yoga was really good for losing weight. Can you really use yoga for weight loss, or is it solely for meditation and balance?

• While you can indeed use yoga for weight loss, you need to understand that not all yoga classes are the same and some just won’t work for you if losing weight is your main goal. You’ll need to find yoga classes that are tailored to lose weight and an instructor who understands your personal needs..

• If you want to lose a lot of weight yoga alone might not do it for you. You might need to add jogging or aerobics to your lose weight routine.

• If you only want to lose a few pounds or maintain your current weight, even the meditative yoga classes might work for you. By helping you build your core strength and improve your balance, these classes can help with milder weight reduction goals.

• Before signing up for any class, make sure your instructor understands that you want to use yoga for weight loss. He or she can tell you whether or not their classes will fit your needs and may be able to point you in the right direction if they aren’t a good match themselves.

• If you want the best weight loss results from your yoga classes you’ll want to look into specific yoga styles. The best types of yoga for weight loss include power yoga, ashtanga yoga and hot yoga.

• Make sure you work out at least three times a week. If you can’t make it to yoga class that often, practice what you learn during class at home to get the most out of your yoga routine.

• Don’t assume that yoga alone will help you achieve significant weight loss. You have to combine the right style of yoga with a healthy diet if you really want to shed the pounds.

It may take some work to find the right classes and the right instructor if you want to use yoga to shed those extra pounds. Once you do, however, the end result will be well worth it. Not only will you achieve your weight loss goals but you will be creating a mind-body balance that will last you a lifetime.

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Why Boys Don’t Do Ballet

I want to get right to the point with this article and explore why I think so many fathers are so totally opposed to their sons taking ballet and where the American prejudice against male dancers comes from. I am not trying to offend anyone with this article, but at the same time I have caught so much flack and encountered so much ignorance as a male dancer myself that what I have to say may irritate some. I hope this will be taken in an open-minded way as this is a real problem and I seek to explain what the real, ground-level reasons are for it.

Ever since I can remember I heard my friends giggle or make jokes at any man wearing tights dancing on stage. In the days long before YouTube and Cable TV, movies might be shown in school as part of a history or civilization class and would inevitably touch on the arts and then at some point show ballet. As soon as the male dancer appeared, here came the jokes and snickers. Since I had done ballet myself since the age of 4 this always struck a real nerve with me but most of the time no one else knew I took ballet so I would just sit quietly and listen to the snide remarks. I must say that while this is not at all the same thing as someone being made fun of or joked about because of their race, I do think I know something of that same feeling because I always loved ballet and would never not do it but hearing people disparage something I knew to be so great and that was a part of me really hurt in a way that leaves you feeling totally powerless to deal with it.

Much later in life I finally gained the perspective to look back on my childhood and also hear the comments being made anew and make some insights into where this prejudice comes from. What follows is my analysis of the prejudice against male ballet dancers.

1) Smooth or graceful movement confused with moving “like a girl”.

Many, many men don’t ever fully appreciate the value of being able to have a wide range of motion for the body and the ability to move separate parts of it at the same time and smoothly so as to maintain balance. Practically all the sports anyone has watched on TV since the 1950’s shows athletes very highly conditioned to move in straight lines as fast or powerfully as possible. Male ballet dancers MUST move in a different way because the goal of a dancer is to maintain balance rather than impart a large amount of energy into a ball or into another person’s body to knock them down. A great many confuse this with ballet making men move like girls. Quite apart from this, ballet actually makes men move a lot like someone practicing Tai Chi or Kung Fu or especially Yoga. Add to this the idea that ballet is a pure creative exercise set to music, not something intended to hurt or render another person unconscious, and you arrive at the basis for one of the big misconceptions of ballet regarding men. Curiously this is also the reason why many men find ballet extremely challenging to do and gain a grudging respect for it later in life if they ever take a class their daughter might be in during an open house type event.

2) Boys don’t wear tights

Let’s examine this one. When I warned that I may offend some people with this article, this part is exactly what I was referring to. I don’t know how else to approach this, so here it goes: Every male athlete wears tights or far less. Swimmers? You wear lycra speedos. Wrestlers? Seriously, what is that spandex bodytard thing you guys wear? Football? Lycra-spandex cut off tights with some extra padding and a cup. Don’t confuse the shoulder pads and upper jersey with the fact you guys also wear a chopped up version of tights. And, if boys are doing “girly” things when they dance, what do you call getting right behind a Center’s rear end and putting your hands almost in his crotch before a snap of the ball?

3) My son will be gay if he takes ballet

Now I am a flaming heterosexual if you ask my wife. I do know many gay guys, but many of the gay guys I know are sports junkies and never ever did any ballet. And as body-built up as they are from pumping iron all the time they’d have as much luck doing ballet as Arnold Schwarzenegger. This one really stumps me to be honest and it comes up a lot as a reason why dads will not let their sons take ballet. Are there gay male dancers? Sure. Are there gay men in every profession including sports? Yes, there are, and again as the football and wrestling examples given above show, if I were a gay man I’d do those sports because then I’d be in direct physical contact with other athletic guys rather than ballet where 99.99% of the time you are dancing with GIRLS! More specifically, you are partnering girls which involves holding them in all kinds of very difficult positions and getting sweat all over yourself from them which no gay man wants because most gay men do not want close contact with women. Honestly I have to say there is just no basis to this prejudice just as there is no basis to any racial prejudice and the answer to any prejudice is education not arguing the prejudice itself because it is founded on ignorance or outright stupidity. To be brutally honest fathers who are too over dominating of their sons run a much greater risk of causing their boys to become gay than any art form including ballet could ever pose.

Now many children – boys and girls – don’t like ballet and won’t take ballet classes and that’s just fine, no activity or sport or art is for everyone. I only hope to spark the checking of the premises for anyone out there who holds to this ignorant prejudice against boys taking ballet because for those that do want to, ballet can be a life-long benefit that will improve mental and physical health, stimulate academic performance, almost guarantee a scholarship to college for any half-way capable male dancer, and foster creativity and imagination for a lifetime. This is hardly something to be opposed to.

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Yoga Helps Relieve Back Pain

When you are suffering from back pain it is hard to think about anything else. I began doing yoga to relieve my low back pain more than a decade ago and it worked! It helped with my back and many other aspects of my life, so I’ve been doing yoga ever since.

I am not talking about a slight back ache. I had several herniated disks with severe sciatica running down the back of my right leg. The pain was so bad that I couldn’t wear shoes with closed heels, and I limped. Physical therapy didn’t really offer much relief and I didn’t want to take cortisone injections.

I wanted to help my back heal naturally, so I turned to yoga and never looked back. I want everyone suffering with back pain to discover the same healing power of yoga that worked for me.

Caution: You should not perform these yoga exercises if you are experiencing severe or acute back pain. Please check with your doctor before beginning yoga or any exercise program, especially if your pain is accompanied by other symptoms like numbness or pain and tingling or weakness in your legs.

Low back pain is a significant health problem in the U.S. Did you know that according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

Seventy to 85 percent of all people have back pain at some time in their life.

Back pain is the most frequent cause of activity limitation in people younger than 45 years old.

Doctors usually recommend a combination of pain medications and exercise to treat low back pain, but complete relief is often difficult to achieve.

More than one million Americans use yoga, a form of “mind-body” exercise, as treatment.

In an article published in the December 20, 2005 Annals of Internal Medicine researchers compared the effectiveness of yoga, traditional exercise (combining aerobic, strengthening, and stretching exercises), and a self-care plan for the treatment of chronic low back pain. Results showed that after 12 weeks, yoga was significantly more effective than traditional exercise or a self-care approach in improving back function.

“Yoga may be beneficial for back pain because it involves physical movement, but it may also exert benefits through its effects on mental focus,” they wrote.

Viniyoga Used in Study

Patients in the study learned Viniyoga, a therapeutic style of yoga that is easy to learn and can be adapted for various body types and fitness levels.

“This study suggests that Viniyoga is a safe and effective treatment for chronic back pain and provides physicians with a rationale for recommending it (and possibly other therapeutically oriented styles of yoga as well) to their patients.”

How a Good Yoga Teacher Can Help

Once your doctor gives you the okay, find a good yoga teacher and tell her about your pain and any other medical concerns. Find out if she is certified and what kind of yoga she teaches.

An experienced teacher with a background in Viniyoga, Iyengar, or Anusara yoga should have the training required to respond to your physical limitations creating gentle yoga exercises to safely stretch and strengthen your back.

Why Yoga Helps

One of the essential principles of back care is to create balance by developing strong yet flexible muscles, something yoga for back pain is designed to do. Most people, especially those of us living sedentary lives, have certain muscles in our bodies that tend to be tight and others that are weak, creating imbalances and pulling our spine and joints out of alignment. So, the focus will be to stretch and increase flexibility in some areas, while strengthening others.

For example, tight hamstring muscles (in the back of the thighs) and hip flexors (in the front of the thighs) can contribute to low-back pain so poses that stretch these muscles are important for overall back care.

How Yoga Helps with Back Pain

-Strengthens and stretches the back muscles

-Helps lengthen the spine and create more space for the discs between your vertebrae

-Improves posture leading to diminished pain

-Increases flexibility in your shoulders and hips, decreasing demands on your back

-Increases blood flow to muscles and joints, allowing nutrients to flow in, and toxins to flow out

-Increases blood to the spongy discs between the vertebrae and spinal muscles

-Improves body awareness, making you more conscious of movements that may contribute to the pain

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Yoga For Beginners: A Guide To Introductory Poses

Currently, there are about 84 different yoga poses. However, if you are a beginner to the world of yoga, you will not need to know of all the poses right away – you can learn the advanced poses over time. The following are basic poses for beginners that you will encounter in yoga classes.

Tada Asana Mountain is a pose that is used for stretching as well as making you taller. You stand up erect with your feet against each other, and your toes are spread – think of it as being like standing at attention in the military. Your arms should be positioned down at your sides. Hold your breath for 45 seconds, release, and then do the pose again.

The Trikoasana pose is great for back pain and joint issues. This is a triangle pose: place your legs about 3 feet apart. Your left foot should be at a 90 degree angle and turned a bit inward. Take a deep breath, and then bend to your right to touch the ground and exhale. Breathe and hold your breath for 20 seconds, then exhale and repeat on the other side.

Baddha Konasana Bound pose is a sitting-down yoga pose. Sit up straight against a door or wall. Bring both feet in front of you so that the heels of your feet are touching each other. Your back and shoulders must be touching the door or wall that you are sitting up against, and you should tighten your pelvis a bit. Touch your knees downward to the floor, then inhale for 30 seconds, exhale, and repeat.

The Marjasana Cat Cow pose basically involves you getting into a cat position, on all fours. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees should be situated underneath your hips. Raise your head, and as you exhale, raise your back so it is rounded and put your head down. Inhale, exhale, and repeat at least ten times.

Vajrasana Extended Puppy pose may be a bit difficult to learn at first, but it is still a beginner’s pose. Start by getting on your knees, then extend your arms out in front of you as far as they will go. Bring your rear end toward your calves, and bring your hands to the back until they touch the tips of your feet. Inhale fro 20 seconds, then exhale.

These poses are great for beginners entering into the world of yoga.

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Plyometric Training – Safety Precautions

Plyometric training is very important when you are an athlete. Engaging in active sports would require you to be able to move quickly and powerfully. In plyometrics, you are not only training your muscles, you are also training your brain. You see, when you are trying to extend and contact you muscles at a rapid rate, you would need you nervous system to be able to send quick signals to your brain to do just that. You get a two in one benefit when you engage in plyometrics. However, since you would be placing great stress to your muscles and tendons, it is important to know how to perform these exercises safely.

There are a lot of factors to consider if you want to engage in plyometric exercises in a safe manner. Age is a major factor. As we grow older, our bones and tendons grow more and more brittle. It is best to consult with a medical professional first before trying these out. You do not want to injure yourself in the process. Pre-adolescents should also be very careful since they are undergoing a lot of hormonal changes in their bodies.

Another factor to consider would be technique. Erroneous performance could lead to grave injuries. Make sure that you have a well-trained professional guiding you through your exercises when you first try them out. Trying them out on your own might be very dangerous. As you know, these exercises are intense and done in a quick and repetitive manner. This places great stress on your muscles and tendons. Without proper knowledge, you could easily tear something apart and might reduce you to bed rest for a few days.

It is highly recommended that you do only a maximum of one hundred repetitions a day, and this is already in the advanced level. One also should not do plyometrics daily. Your body needs to rest to repair itself. Instead, why not try doing light stretching exercises? Yoga would be a great alternative because it is not as strenuous and would even allow your body and mind to relax while you perform the positions.

Plyometrics in itself is not really dangerous. However, precautions must be observed because of the intensity that it involves. Proper knowledge and supervision is needed when trying it out for the first time. Also, muscular wasting might result from too much working out with not enough rest and nutrition. Make sure that you get enough rest and eat the right kind of food when engaging in plyometrics.

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