The Major Benefits Of Yoga For Your Overall Health

I have a great post today about yoga. Yoga is something I’ve always been meaning to do more of. I do do some stretching but nothing really “proper” I guess. There are so many benefits so I really should make more time.

There are many reasons why people choose to do yoga. Some people do it for exercise, some for relaxation, and others to increase flexibility. But whatever your reason may be, there are countless benefits to doing yoga regularly.

Yoga Can Help To Improve Your Flexibility

One of the most common reasons people start doing yoga is to improve their flexibility. And it’s no wonder why! After just a few classes, you will notice a difference in your range of motion and how much easier it is to do everyday tasks.

Yoga helps to lengthen and stretch your muscles, which can prevent pain and injuries in the future. It also helps with circulation and can even improve your posture. Regular yoga classes can do wonders for your back and neck pain if you sit at a desk all day or spend hours hunched over your phone.

Photo by Chevanon Photography

Yoga Can Help To Reduce Stress And Anxiety

Yoga is an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. In one study, it was found that yoga can help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders. In another study, it was found that yoga can help to reduce the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

There are several different ways in which yoga can help to reduce stress and anxiety. One way is by helping to improve the functioning of the nervous system. Yoga helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion functions. This can help to decrease the levels of cortisol in the body.

Another way in which yoga can help to reduce stress and anxiety is by helping to improve sleep quality. Poor sleep quality is a significant contributor to stress and anxiety. Yoga can help to enhance the quality of sleep by helping to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

Yoga can also help to improve mental well-being. In one study, it was found that yoga can help to reduce depression. In another study, it was found that yoga can help to improve mood and reduce stress.

Yoga Can Help To Improve Your Strength And Endurance

Yoga is not just for people who are looking to improve their flexibility. It is also a great way to build strength and endurance. If you are looking to improve your strength and endurance, then yoga is an excellent option for you. There are a variety of different yoga poses that can help you to improve your strength and endurance and you can learn more by looking at the yoga certifications available.

Some of the best yoga poses for improving your strength and endurance include:

– Downward Dog

– Warrior I

– Warrior II

– Triangle Pose

– Camel Pose

– Half Moon Pose

All of these yoga poses are designed to help you build muscle and improve your stamina. If you commit to doing a few of these poses regularly, you will see a significant improvement in your overall strength and endurance levels. Not only will this make it easier for you to complete your everyday tasks, but it can also help reduce your risk of injury.

There are many benefits to doing yoga regularly. If you are looking to improve your overall health, then yoga is an excellent option for you. Not only will it help to improve your flexibility, but it can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve your strength and endurance, and improve your mental well-being.

Do you do yoga?

Would you say you’re flexible?

Getting back to running after having a baby and my adidas haul

I actually cannot believe I have an eight-month-old. And that eight months ago I gave birth. Time has flown so quickly.

What I also can’t believe, and I want to stress that I know I’m very lucky and I’m so grateful, is that my return to running and fitness in general has been so smooth and, dare I say, easy. I use the word “easy” here in terms of experiencing no issues, rather than effort level. There was a lot of effort in getting back to it, as with any comeback.

I took it slow though. I didn’t return to any fitness beyond pelvic floor exercises until six weeks and I didn’t return to running until 12 weeks, after I’d seen a women’s physio for a Mummy MOT. The Mummy MOT was fantastic. She tested my pelvic floor (yes this did involve her examining me while I did the exercises – so it was rather, er, intimate) and doing different body movements. From there she gave me homework of what to improve upon. I cannot recommend having a Mummy MOT enough, runner or not. It’s so beneficial. She taught me how to really tune in to my body and ensured I was doing all the exercises correctly.

I won’t lie, my pelvic floor was definitely weakened from being pregnant and giving birth but doing the exercises literally three times a day massively helped. I felt weak during my first few runs. And when I say I felt “weak” it was like towards the end of the runs I’d feel like I’d need to have a wee, or that I could lose control potentially (thankfully this never actually happened). But like with any training plan, I got stronger and stronger until now I feel back to normal.

I took my comeback slowly. Building the miles gradually. I didn’t attempt any sort of speedier runs at all in the beginning, because that really tested things and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant feeling.  However as I got fitter I naturally got faster and my body got stronger and stronger. Now I can comfortably sprint, jump and skip without any risk.

My advice to anyone would be DO THE EXERCISES. I had a reminder three times a day on my phone and basically did the pelvic floor exercises when I was feeding Isaac as I was sat down without much else to do. They take like 5 minutes in total. And don’t push yourself too much too quickly with coming back to “proper” exercises. Take your time. There’s no rush.

My running is back to how it was pre-pregnancy. And if anything, I feel stronger and fitter. I’ve run two marathons since Isaac was born and while I don’t necessarily recommend this as a comeback strategy, for me it’s exactly what I wanted. I love marathons and getting back into marathon training, something I truly enjoy, was exactly the right motivation and drive I needed. I had a focus, I had a rough plan and I had an end goal to reach.

Now I’m regularly running long runs every week, knocking out some faster parkrun times, hitting strength PB’s with my personal training and just feeling good. I could do with some more sleep (as every parent agrees I’m sure) but honestly I’m really enjoying where my fitness is currently. I mean, of course, this is when I’ll get injured but… fingers crossed!!

This isn’t a post to brag about how great I am, but it’s a reminder that pregnancy and having a baby doesn’t mean the end to the things you love. It just takes patience, perseverance, the right advice from educated specialists, and a lot of privilege of course. My situation is that I have a lot of support and patience from loved ones (especially Kyle) who understand my love for running and help me reach my goals. I mean, they adore Isaac so it isn’t too much of a hassle for them 😉

Anyway I was recently sent some incredible kit from adidas as part of their Blogger Community and let me tell you, having some awesome workout gear to wear is another thing that massively motivates me to exercise. There’s nothing better than exercising while feeling confident in clothes that are both flattering and comfortable. adidas for me is one of my absolute favourite brands and they always deliver the quality.

I received a mix of gym clothes and running clothes. For running, I was glad to have tank tops as well as a light weight long sleeve top (the Parley Adizero Long Sleeved Running Tee) – perfect for this transitional period of winter temperatures to spring-like mornings.

Fast Running Shorts and Parley Adizero Long Sleeved Running Tee

It’s slim fitting and really airy so keeps you feeling cool as the run goes on. I also love that it’s made with yarn containing plastic waste (40% in total). What with climate change and excessive plastic consumption, I love brands that are putting in an effort to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

To pair with this, I have the Fast Running Shorts which I adore. They’re also made with recycled content so that’s another tick for me. And they have a pocket! Perfect for your parkrun barcode, keys or a gel. They’re quite short but they have inner briefs and they’re really comfortable and don’t ride up – an absolute essential for shorts.

And obviously as a legging loving, I’m so pleased with the lovely green pair of Optime Training 7/8 legggings. They’re super flattering and squat proof (a must!). And again, made from recycled materials. I really like these leggings as they’re high-waisted and give such a nice silhouette.

Optime Training 7/8 Tights and Badge of Sport Tank Top

To pair with the leggings the Badge of Sport Tank Top is perfect for gym and home workout sessions. But I know I’ll also be wearing this when it gets warmer for running. It’s really light-weight and moisture wicking so you know it won’t get heavy or uncomfortable when you start working hard.

I really love the pieces I got and can’t wait for the weather to get warmer to wear the sleeveless tops outside – get that tan going again! Especially the tank top (Parley Adizero Run Tank) version of the Parley Adizero Long Sleeved Running Tee. And I have to say I really love that adidas is doing more recycled materials range. The quality isn’t compromised, which really shows that companies can be making more headway in this direction.

**Full disclaimer: I was sent the adidas products for free in exchange for a blog post. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

How to Get More From Your Workouts

As you know I’m a huge fan of working out and found that over the years I’ve really found a love for the gym and strength training (rather than it being an utter chore) . Though now that’s it’s changed a bit with COVID and I’m fully embracing and loving home workouts – something I never thought I’d ever be into. But whether it’s home workouts or the gym you’re into it or wanting to get started on, I thought this post might be helpful for anyone needing some good tips for working out, enjoy!

Image Pexels CC0 License

If you are new to working out, hitting the gym can seem a little daunting. Seeing all the equipment can feel overwhelming, and you may be wondering how even to get started and if you can remember anything from your induction. Well, the good news is that the fact that you are ready to get started and work on your fitness means you have conquered half the battle. Deciding to start working out can have so many benefits throughout your life, even outside the gym. So, if you are ready to get started, here are some of the ways you can get more from your workouts and begin to see the benefits of your hard work sooner:

Know What You Want to Achieve

Everyone has different goals for their fitness. Knowing what you want to achieve from your workouts will make it much easier for you to measure your results and keep your motivation levels high.

For some people, the reason they workout is purely aesthetic; they want to achieve their perfect body image and create a muscular, toned physique by focusing on bulking up certain areas of the body. For other people, the desire to be at an optimum level of fitness and make their bodies as strong as possible drives them. Whether you work out to make your body look a certain way, make it stronger, or improve your mental well-being, knowing why you want to do it will help you see the results and stay on track.

Nourish Your Body

Trying to work out when you have been feasting on junk food all day will make you feel pretty yucky. No matter how much you work out, it cannot completely counteract an unhealthy diet. But, nourishing your body with the correct fuel is sure to make you feel great and to see more benefits from your workout. Eating the correct amount of protein and following a balanced diet will help you to feel at your best while working out and afterwards. Don’t forget that staying hydrated is super important too, so ensure that you replace the fluids you lose.

Supplementing your diet can also help make your workouts easier and your results better by providing the body with the correct fuel it needs to perform at its best. Many people find that creatine powder is beneficial for their workouts as it helps the muscles to produce energy while you are training. 

Stay Motivated

Some days, you may look out of the window, see that it is raining, and decide to stay in bed rather than visit the gym. Everyone has days where their motivation starts to fade, but finding ways to keep yourself as motivated as possible will ensure that you don’t give up on your fitness goals. To stay motivated, it is helpful to find a workout routine that fits easily around your schedule. Having set days when you work out should help keep your motivation levels high and make it easier to visit the gym.

How do you stay motivated to workout?

Do you use any supplements?

Keeping Fit Doesn’t Have To Include The Gym

Only a few days left before Christmas – so exciting!

I have a post for you today about keeping fit without having to use the gym. While I do love using the gym, it’s not essential. You can do so much at home or out and about as part of your normal day. Hope you enjoy the article…

When you are busy and on the go all the time, keeping fit isn’t always the easiest thing to do. It can feel as though everything is taking over, and you are letting your health and fitness get left behind, but this doesn’t have to be the case. A lot of people think that the secret to this is getting to the gym, but we are here to tell you that this doesn’t have to happen and you can stay fit from the comfort of your own home. Keep reading this article to find out how.

Watch What You’re Eating

The first thing that you have got to do if you want to keep fit is watch what you are eating. This is going to make up a huge portion of your health overall. Have you ever heard of the expression ‘you are what you eat’? While this may not literally be true, it will have a big impact on the way that you feel. For example, if you are constantly eating takeout, greasy food and processed fats, your body is going to show this in the form of oily skin, spot breakouts, and so much more. If you make the simple swaps and start adding fruit as well as vegetables to your meals, you are going to notice a big difference.

Try and make sure that a third of your meal is fruit or veg, and you will see a huge improvement. It’s not all about being active and moving around, though that is important! Take care of yourself by watching your diet, and you will achieve things that you didn’t think were possible.

Take Up Yoga

The next thing that we are going to suggest is that you take up yoga. Yoga is excellent for your fitness as it allows you to do things that you never thought possible with your body. Not only this though, but yoga is also excellent for your mind and will make you feel incredible when you are doing it. All you need to do is make sure that you get the right equipment such as yoga bolsters, to make it easier for you, and you are ready to go.

If you do this a couple of times per week, you will be getting the exercise that you need without going to the gym, and you will find yourself feeling a lot better than you have been in ages. Yoga is amazing for keeping to your fitness goals, try it and see for yourself.

Walk A Little More

Or, you could try walking a little more. This could be walking with music in your ears just for fun, or walking somewhere that you would usually drive if it is within a reasonable distance of course. Walking is great for keeping you fit and healthy, and doesn’t require you to do anything intense, which is always a bonus if this type of exercise is not for you!

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now see how keeping fit doesn’t have to include the gym. Good luck, we hope you see the results that you are looking for.

Do you go to the gym?

Do you try and watch what you eat during Christmas? While I do like to keep somewhat healthy, I’m a big believer in enjoying this time of year. Don’t go mad and eat 17 mince pies every day, but equally don’t restrict yourself to the point of missing out and not enjoying the happy times.

Do you exercise over Christmas? I generally stay with my usual routine around Christmas as I enjoy it, and on Christmas Day I try and go to the Christmas parkrun as it’s just so festive and fun.

Everything I’ve learnt with my hamstring injury

I wanted to write a post about my hamstring tendinopathy experience.

This might be fully pre-empting things but I feel somewhat confident I can write this post and that I’m mostly out of the woods).

The affected area was the top of my hamstring, right below my bum cheek. It wasn’t sharp or stabbing pain, more like a throbbing, dull ache. At the beginning I could feel this while walking, while lying down and especially when sitting. Sometimes I would feel an ache in my lower back and down my hamstring.

Running made it feel uncomfortable so at first I avoided this to let it calm down. Though I saw a very good physio who I heartily recommend (South Physiotherapy), it didn’t really help. I had acupuncture, massages, ultrasound… I still felt the discomfort.

I wanted to write this post because during my hamstring tendinopathy injury I read a lot online which was very negative and without solutions. I realise the spirit of the Internet and forums for health issues is not like a diary whereby people write about their issues, solve them and then go back to update people. When you’re fixed, you don’t go back. You just carry on with life. But I wanted something to put out there that might be helpful to someone like me. I know I’d have found this helpful.

Here are some sources that were useful though and hugely helped my recovery –> this journal article and this blog post.

Obviously I’ll preface this saying that I’m not a physio, doctor, coach or any sort of professional who has more than half a brain. I’m merely explaining how I overcame my issue. Whether it’s the full-on correct way or if it’s just something that works for me, I don’t know. But if you can take away anything from this post (if you have this injury) is that there is hope!

Though there appears to be minimal research out there for hamstring tendionopathy, what the two sources above agree is having a three step approach. The first step is to let the hamstring settle a bit. You don’t want to be doing hardcore leg strength workouts and you should probably stop running, especially avoid any sort of speedwork or hills which will aggravate the hamstring directly.

The not running part I was really good at. I stopped running completely for seven weeks. In hindsight, I don’t believe I needed to take this much time off had I not aggravating things further with trying to do too much strengthening and rehab at the gym in the early stages. But I read too much online, got carried away and attacked my hamstring with all manners of strengthening, from hamstring curls, Swiss ball bridges, sledge pushes and glute kickbacks. All of which I felt directly in my top hamstring but believed this was it “working” only to find the next few days it was far more niggly and nothing was improving. I also tried to replace running with using the elliptical machine, but this aggravated things too.

What I should have done at the beginning was focused primarily on isometric exercises. These are when you hold your muscle tightly. Nothing moves, but you’re squeezing the muscle. We’re talking static bridge holds. Eventually once I got past my over-enthusiastic gym endeavours and took a step back and focused on the bridge hold, things got calmer. The niggle was still there, but now it wasn’t getting worse or bugging me all the time and the isometric exercises were providing relief.

So, stage one: only do isometric exercises for the hamstring. The best example of this is literally the bridge hold (with a long lever base so it’s your hamstring working not your glute – so push your feet out further from your bum). Increase how long you can hold. Then when you’re solid with that, move to single leg and push the time on that. You can do this just lying on the floor, or you can do (as well as) putting your feet on a raised platform, like a coffee table.

Avoid at all costs: squats, lunges, glute kickbacks, hamstring curls (lying or sitting) and anything that makes the hamstring feel worse the next day. Tendons are a funny thing – it can take 24 hours before you realise you’ve screwed it up. Try and avoid long periods of sitting; get up and move around frequently. DO NOT STRETCH the hamstring. Don’t be tempted. It won’t feel better, it’ll aggravate it. It is literally the worst thing you can do to it.

Stage two is now where you can do a bit more. I found using the lying hamstring curl machine on the affected leg worked wonders. At first I aimed for high reps low weight but actually what really changed the game for me was low reps higher weight SLOWLY (heavy slow resistance).

What you should aim for is a weight that becomes challenging on the 8th rep. Aim for 8-10 reps. Don’t push through pain though! Pain is NOT a good thing. 3/10 discomfort is your marker. Your hamstring should feel tired afterwards but not painful at the time or later.

This is also when you can start to add a bit of running back in (again, no speedwork or hills though). It will still feel uncomfortable but if you have sharp pain, avoid and go back to stage 1. Mild discomfort that doesn’t get worse and that disappears after 24 hours is OK.

During this stage I also focused a lot on improving my adductor strength. I wanted the surrounding muscles to be strong. I used the adductor machine at the gym (that awful machine that people a few years ago used thinking it would zap inner thigh fat). I also laid down, put a medicine ball between my knees and gently straightened my legs out, then drew them back to my chest while all the time SQUEEZING the ball. This is a killer for the adductors and the core.

I still avoided squats and lunges but ramped up my glute work with resistance band walking, clams and heavy hip thrusts. Basically I was gently rehabbing my hamstring while super-powering everything else.

Running was frustrating (for me and everyone around me who had to hear me moan). It was still uncomfortable. Having a physio “re-align” my hips helped unlock me and changing my trainers definitely helped but it was more of a case of being sensible with when I did the rehab and when I ran. And keeping things easy and short – building up gradually. And trusting the process.

So many times after a run I was lost in my negativity and ready to give it all up. I’m very lucky to have such a patient and loving network of support around me. Even my mum, who’s a big supporter of my running but in general doesn’t care for the details, would ask more questions after every run, worrying for me and wanting things to be better. Kyle of course was a pillar of strength for me during this time.

But gradually things got better. My hamstring would niggle less, become uncomfortable later and later during a run. Afterwards it would feel better. I remember when I ran eight miles and that night I felt my hamstring gently throbbing while I laid in bed and I worried and worried. The isometric exercises helped calm things down and acted as a good pain relief. And taking bigger gaps between each run helped. Then long runs stopped bugging me during the night. My body was healing quicker as it adapted.

Stage three is adding back in things like squats and deadlifts. I’m not quite there yet. I think I could add them back in but with Chicago literally round the corner I want to avoid anything that aggrevates my hamstring.

I’ve ramped my long runs up (two 15 milers under my belt) and feel confident I’m heading in the right direction and not putting my hamstring at risk of regression. Obviously 26.2 miles in a few weeks is really going to test things but my plan is to be sensible. Realistically I am terrified and worried of going back to square one. If this wasn’t Chicago I would have canned it.

Basically my advice for this injury is: it will take time to recover. There is no magic pill, no trainers, no massage technique, no amount of icing or medication, no stretching or foam roll battering that will make everything better.

Rest is also not best. During my injury I had friends and family, who were enduring my continual frustrations, saying I should stop everything I was doing. Stop going to the gym. While I will fully admit that there were a number of weeks I shouldn’t have gone quite as ham on the rehab as I did and should not have tried to replicate my running on the elliptical machine, rest would not have solved my issue either. This injury requires rehab which involves strengthening and monitoring. Gently getting into a position where you can actually build your hamstring back up without reaggravating things. It’s a delicate balance.

In terms of cross training, I found the stair machine to be the best thing. Cycling (including spin – which was horrendous for it), the rowing machine and the elliptical machine really didn’t work. But ultimately it’s the strengthening of the hamstring that is the way forward.

Sorry for such a waffle but I wanted to write down my findings for this. If this helps just one other person, then I’m happy.

Good luck!