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5 Yoga Poses (and Their Weight-Room Translation)

For many of us, yoga is this intimidating thing that seems like a foreign type of exercise that we’ve never done — and might never do. “People may think that yoga is turning into a pretzel, and so many assume they won’t be good at it because they don’t have the flexibility,” says Jessica Matthews, a yoga teacher and author of “Stretching to Stay Young.” “But not only are some of the poses things you might do in your workout, they’re things you do in everyday life.”

Check out these five yoga poses that are similar to movements and strength exercises you’re probably already doing. Once you see that yoga isn’t so alien, you may feel more confident walking into a class.

HIGH LUNGE = LUNGE

A high lunge looks similar to your everyday lunge, but the two are not exactly the same. In a lunge, both knees are bent 90 degrees and your weight is distributed evenly.

However, in high lunge pose, your back leg is mostly straight. “This gives you a stretch along your front hip flexor and quad,” says Julia Falamas, a strength and conditioning coach and yoga teacher in New York City. The extra stretch, coupled with strength work, makes this an effective move.

CHATURANGA = PUSHUP

Chaturanga dandasana, or four-limbed staff pose, works your chest, triceps, shoulders and core, just like a body-weight pushup, Matthews says. But chaturanga is even better for building strength, Falamas says.

Most people perform a pushup with their hands wide and elbows flaring out to the sides. This causes your shoulder blades to hit each other, and you can’t go that low. But in chaturanga, your hands are directly below your shoulders and your elbows glide almost straight back, against your ribs. In this way, your shoulder blades glide up past each other so you can drop lower. “This is how all pushups should be done to keep your shoulders healthy,” Falamas says.

Even though your body can lower farther in chaturanga than a pushup, you only go halfway down, which builds more muscle. As a cue, ideally your elbows and shoulders should be in line with one another, Matthews says. If you can’t drop that low yet, your shoulders can be slightly higher than your elbows.

STANDING HALF-FORWARD BEND = DEADLIFT

If your yoga class includes sun salutations, you’ll do standing half-forward bends. To do this, after forward bend (where you fold over like you’re reaching for your toes), you rise halfway up, pushing your hips back slightly, straightening your legs as much as your hamstrings allow, and lifting your torso until it’s close to parallel to the ground. It’s similar to the bottom half of a deadlift.

In a deadlift, however, you bend your knees softly as you hinge forward, keeping your weight in your heels and allowing your back to arch more as you contract your lats to manage the weight you’re lifting.

The difference in your knees is key with these two. “Your hamstrings aid in lifting the weight in a deadlift,” Falamas says. “If your legs are locked out, you can’t contract them and generate power.”

BRIDGE = GLUTE BRIDGE

Both of these movements enhance mobility in the hips, which is great for all of us who sit all day. But the glute bridge only focuses on the hips — your spine stays neutral as you lift and engage your glutes and hamstrings.

On the other hand, bridge pose is not only a hip opener but also a backbend. “Your hips lift and most of your shoulder blades are off the ground, with the weight resting in your shoulders and back of your head,” Matthews says. “This helps your hips and thoracic spine have good mobility and range of motion so they operate in the way they’re intended to.”

MALASANA = SQUAT

Many times yoga instructors compare chair pose to a body-weight squat. Falamas, however, prefers to compare malasana, or garland pose, to a squat. “In chair pose, you never get your thighs below parallel to the ground, but most people should be able to get lower in a squat,” she says.

In malasana, you’re going for depth and flexibility. “Sit as low as possible, keeping your heels flat on the floor,” Falamas says. “You’re going for hip flexibility, so it doesn’t matter if your back starts to round in order for you to get low.”

In a squat, though, it’s essential to maintain the integrity of your spine. If your lower back starts to round, stop and come back to where you can keep your back straight, Falamas says. This will help prevent injury, especially if you’re doing a weighted squat.

No matter what happens your first time in yoga class, explore and have fun. It’s not about getting into a pose super deeply or getting everything “perfect.” Focus on doing what’s right for your body, that day.

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12 Holiday Food Swaps to Save Calories

It’s the holiday season but that doesn’t mean you have to forego your healthy lifestyle. Sure, we’re in the spirit to indulge but by making just a few quick ingredient swaps to your favorite recipes, you can significantly cut calories, fat, sugar, or sodium without ever tasting the difference. Now that’s something to celebrate!

Want to make a swap? Here’s where you can find the recipes!
Asparagus Prosciutto Bundles
Lightened French Onion Dip (made with nonfat Greek yogurt)
Spiced Roasted Chickpeas (salt omitted)
Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Wild Rice Stuffing with Sausage and Apples
Lightened Fruitcake
Lightened Chocolate Yule Log
Endive Stuffed with Goat Cheese
Lightened Eggnog
Lightened Hot Buttered Rum

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The Best Travel Workouts You Can Do With No Equipment

When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, consistency is key. And while travel workouts are obviously great if you can fit them in, don’t stress about taking a few days off—skipping your workout for a few days isn’t going to set back your progress.

But there are so many benefits to breaking a sweat that are worth setting aside some time to train while traveling, including more energy and improved mood. That’s why we rounded up some of our top equipment-free, minimal-space travel workouts to help you make it happen no matter where you are. Plus, squeezing in a quick workout or two during your trip can make it easier to get back in the swing of things after you’ve unpacked your suitcases.

So whether you’re on the road for work, fun, or visiting family, here are eight travel-friendly workouts to try.

1. THIS ARMS CHALLENGE ALSO WORKS YOUR CORE, SHOULDERS, AND BACK MUSCLES.

Repeat 3x:• 10 Plank Ups • 10 Lateral Plank Walks • 10 Burpees With Push-Ups • 10 Planks With Shoulder Taps • 10 Diamond Push-Ups • 10 Mountain Climber Twists

Developed by FitFusion trainer Kenta Seki, this workout might make it hard to blow dry your hair tomorrow. It will take about 10 minutes to complete—get all of the workout details.

2. BUILD STRONGER GLUTES WITH THIS THREE-MOVE ROUTINE.

Do 12 to 15 reps per side for each exercise.

Repeat 4x:• Side-Step Squats • Single-Leg Glute Bridges • Curtsy Lunges With Side Kick Rest — 90 seconds

No squats required for this workout from Jill Penfold, LA-based personal trainer and creator of the 12-week LA Bride Body program. Get the workout details.

3. START A BUSY DAY WITH THIS CARDIO BLAST WORKOUT IN YOUR HOTEL ROOM.

If you’re a beginner, do 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds rest per move. Intermediate: 40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest Advanced: 50 seconds work, 10 seconds rest

Repeat 2x:• Mock Jumping Rope • Burpee With Push-Up • Squat Jump • Plank Taps • Jumping Lunge

Get up on the right side of the bed (even if it’s not your bed) with this 10-minute burner from Jill Penfold, LA-based personal trainer and creator of the 12-week LA Bride Body program. Get the workout details.

4. YOU CAN DO THIS 10-MINUTE TOTAL-BODY WORKOUT WITHOUT BREAKING MUCH OF A SWEAT.

Do each move for 2 minutes, rest for 30 seconds between moves:• Bodyweight Squats • Push-Ups • Plank With T-Rotation (switch sides after 1 minute) • Alternating Standing Oblique Crunches

The perfect routine if you’ve only got 10 minutes to spare (and no extra time to get ready again afterward). It was developed for SELF by Jessica Bolbach, owner of NYC fitness studio KORE. Get the workout details.

5. DO THIS WORKOUT IF YOU FIND YOURSELF ACTUALLY MISSING LEG DAY.

Repeat 2x:• Plié Squat pulses With One Foot Raised — 30 seconds per side • Alternating Side Lunges — 30 seconds per side • Skater Hops — 15 seconds • Curtsy Kicks — 30 seconds per side • Goblet Squats — 30 seconds • Jumping Jacks — 15 seconds • Pilates Scissors — 30 seconds • Clamshells — 30 seconds per side

This workout from exercise physiologist Michelle Lovitt, M.A., will set your inner thighs on fire. Keep in mind that spot training is a fitness myth. If your goal is muscle definition or fat loss in a particular area, you’ll need to do a combination of strength training (both of that specific muscle group and everywhere else), reducing overall body fat, and eating a diet that contributes to body fat loss and muscle-building. With that disclaimer, get the full workout details.

6. FOR A CORE-FOCUSED WORKOUT, TRY THIS MAT-BASED ROUTINE.

2 sets of 10 reps each:• Step it Up • Leg Lift • Tap It Out • Downward Dog Reach

This four-move strength circuit targets your core. It was created by Katherine Greiner of KGBody, for SELF’s 2016 Six Weeks To Summer challenge. “The moves work the obliques, abs, and lower back to reveal a strong, sexy stomach,” Greiner says. Get the workout details.

7. IF YOU’VE GOT MORE TIME, TRY THIS 20-MINUTE CARDIO CIRCUIT.

Do each move for 1 minute.

Repeat 4x:• Jumping Lunges • Wall Sit With Hands Up • Jumping Squats • Plank Rest — 1 minute

This workout from SELF’s 2016 Six Weeks To Summer challenge will have you jumping, planking, and sweating. Get the workout details.

8. THIS LADDER ROUTINE GIVES YOU A NEW WORKOUT FORMAT TO SWEAT IT OUT WITH.

Air Punches — 30 seconds • 5 Burpees Air Punches — 30 seconds • 4 Burpees Air Punches — 30 seconds • 3 Burpees Air Punches — 30 seconds • 2 Burpees Air Punches — 30 seconds • 1 Burpee Air Punches — 30 seconds • 2 Burpees Air Punches — 30 seconds • 3 Burpees Air Punches — 30 seconds • 4 Burpees Air Punches — 30 seconds • 5 Burpees

There are only two moves in this workout from SELF’s 2016 Six Weeks To Summer challenge, but your heart will be racing by the end. Get the workout details.

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What to Say When People Push Food on You

“Just have one.”

“But it’s the holidays!”

“You can have a little.”

Staying true to your nutrition plan is hard. But with all the parties, feasts, and indulgence, staying on plan during the holidays is Rubik’s Cube hard. And to make matters worse, a lot of us face pressure, both subtle and overt, from our friends and family to toss the Rubik’s Cube out the window and eat cake for breakfast.

This can feel like sabotage, even when it’s innocent. The collected opinions of friends and family, and the opinions of complete strangers and coworkers can feel like a lot of pressure. So when I work with clients, we brainstorm ways to handle it. Everything from what to do to what to say. Here are some of the best lessons I have learned from my clients about how to handle “food pushers.”

1. REMEMBER THAT CHANGE IS HARD FOR EVERYONE

When we were discussing food pushers, a client of mine who had lost a lot of weight let me in on her very unique strategy: “I remember that I’m not the only one dealing with change.” She recognized that as scared as she was of people pressuring her, a lot of the people pushing food on her were doing it because they were scared. They didn’t want their friend to change because it meant they might have to change. They didn’t want their friend to turn down a drink because it meant that they might have to reflect on why they needed that drink. “So I started thinking of them like bears. You know, more scared of me than I am of them?” That change in mindset was enough to take some of the power back and more easily say “no” to an extra helping of pie.

2. ROLE-PLAY SCENARIOS YOU KNOW ARE COMING

My clients and I actually plan and act out situations that they know are coming. Someone is going to ask “why are you on a diet?” Someone is going to offer you a drink. You know these situations are going to happen so you can plan for them and act them out in your head.

3. LET PEOPLE BE HOSPITABLE IN OTHER WAYS

If your fear is looking ungrateful, plan and role-play saying things that show how grateful you are. A lot of food pushing at the holidays is hospitality with calories. People want us to feel welcome and comfortable, and that usually means food. And on the flip side of that relationship, we don’t want to appear ungrateful so we feel obliged to accept. So, accept people’s hospitality in other ways. If they offer you a muffin, politely decline but ask “who made that delicious salad?” If they ask if they can get you a beer, you can politely decline but let them know you’ll take a bottled water.

4. RESPOND WITH VALUES, NOT OUTCOMES

When people push food, a lot of what they say falls into the “one little one won’t hurt you” category. You can choose to ignore it, but if some people are really pushy you can respond in unexpected ways that turn the conversation. If the idea of saying, “but I might not stop at just one” is scary, try practicing “I’m trying to do this for myself.” Or, “I’m trying to practice a little willpower.” Or, “No thanks, I’m trying to be a better me.” Responding with the values you are trying to embody rather than the outcomes you want is a great way not only to shut down a pushy person, but to remind yourself about what this journey is really about.

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