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Five-Pose Yoga Fix: Long Trip

Travel takes a toll on the body — even if it’s a vacation to recharge. Long flights, train rides and road trips mean sitting in small spaces for hours and leave our bodies tight and stiff. Practice this five-pose yoga session before and after your journey to lengthen and stretch the body. Hold each pose for 5–10 breaths to shake off the exhausting and bring on the exciting.

CHILD’S POSE

This pose is a salve that soothes and calms the body. It stretches the low back, hips, thighs and ankles while increasing circulation to the head, which can relieve stress, fatigue and headaches.

The Move: Kneel down and sit on your heels with your knees and feet together. As you exhale, bend forward, placing your forehead on the floor. Extend your arms forward, placing your palms down to lengthen your torso and stretch your arms.

STANDING FORWARD FOLD

This posture provides a deep stretch for the hips, hamstrings and calves. It creates length in the spine, releasing tension in the low back. It’s also a simple inversion, which helps get blood flowing back to the upper body.

The Move: From a standing position, inhale and sweep your arms overhead. Keep your low belly engaged to help counteract arching your back. As you exhale, hinge from the hips and swan dive forward with your arms out like wings. Rest your hands on your suitcase, hold onto your ankles or place your palms on the floor. Let your head be heavy and relax your eyes.

To deepen the release in your back, bend your knees and rest your chest on your thighs. Add a shoulder stretch by bringing your arms behind your back, interlacing your fingers and letting your arms fall over your head.

LOW LUNGE

Sitting for too long compresses and tightens the hip flexors. This lunge variation is the perfect antidote and opens them up.

The Move: From standing forward fold, bend your knees, take both hands to the floor and step your left foot back. Drop the left knee and slide the foot back until you feel a gentle stretch through the front of your thigh. Stay here, with your hands framing your right foot, or inhale and lift your torso up, resting your hands on your front thigh or sweeping your arms overhead. Hold here for 5–10 breaths and then, on an exhale, frame your right foot, turn your left toes under, engage your left leg, step forward to standing forward fold and repeat on the other side.

READ MORE > FIVE POSE YOGA FIX: NETFLIX BINGE

COW FACE POSE

When yogis come into this pose, the body is supposed to look like the face of a cow. Forget playing spot the farm animal and focus on the deep stretch to the hips and shoulders which start to hunch forward after too much sitting.

The Move: Start in a comfortable, seated position and cross your right thigh over the left. Slide your feet out in opposite directions, as if you were tying a shoelace so that each foot rests next to the opposite hip. You’re aiming to stack one knee on top of the other, but a space between the two is normal. Try to sit evenly on your bottom.

Inhale and lift your left arm up overhead. Bend your elbow and rest your palm on your upper back or shoulder blade, depending on your reach. Use your right hand to gently press your left elbow down. Take the right around your back, palm facing out, and try to reach your left hand. If you can’t touch — and that’s common — take a towel or strap in your left hand and reach your right hand for the towel. Lift your left elbow toward the ceiling. Keep your spine tall.

After 5–10 breaths, switch sides. Remember, if your right leg is on top, your right arm is the bottom arm, and if your left leg is on top, your left arm is the bottom.

PIGEON

This pose opens up the hips, groin, hip flexors and thighs, which makes it a great remedy after a 10-hour car ride or a trans-Atlantic flight

The Move:

To come into full pigeon, begin in down dog. Step your right foot forward, placing your shin on your mat so that your right knee is behind your right wrist. Eventually, you may be able to rest your shin parallel to the top edge of your mat, but most of us make a diagonal with our leg so that our right foot is near our left hip.

Lower your back leg and hips to the ground. Walk your back leg out so that it extends directly behind your hip. Press the top of your left foot evenly into your mat.

Walk your hands to the mat next to your hips. Square your hips, making sure you’re not dipping to one side or the other. If you find there’s a gap between one hip and the floor, tuck a block or blanket under that glute for added support.

Deepen the pose by folding forward on an exhale. You can rest on your forearms or place your forehead on the mat.

To come out of the pose, walk your hands back to your sides. Curl your back toes under, engage your leg, press firmly into your hands, and step your right foot back to down dog. Take the pose on the other side.


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Recipe: Healthy Shamrock Shake

Shamrock-Shake

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with this festive, minty-green shake from The Roasted Root that’s a healthy riff on McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. There are no added sugars or artificial food coloring in this treat: It’s naturally sweetened with bananas and gets its green hue from mint leaves and spinach. Enjoy this refreshing, nutritious drink without breaking your calorie bank.

Healthy Shamrock Shake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 large bananas peeled and frozen
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) unsweetened almond milk or full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 1 heaping handful baby spinach
  • 14 leaves large mint chopped
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 1-2 tablespoons cocoa nibs, optional

Directions

Add all of the ingredients for the shake to a blender and blend until smooth.

Nutrition Information

Serves: 1 |  Serving Size: 1 cup

Per serving: Calories: 243; Total Fat: 3g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 162mg; Carbohydrate: 48g; Dietary Fiber: 7g; Sugar: 26g; Protein: 4g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 757mg; Iron: 14%; Vitamin A: 47%; Vitamin C: 46%; Calcium: 39% 

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Is Snoring Bad for Your Health?

Your partner isn’t the only one who suffers when you snore. Nights spent sawing logs have been associated with health risks ranging from heart disease and stroke to memory loss and erectile dysfunction.

Snoring is caused when structures inside the throat — either the soft palate on the back of the roof of the mouth or the uvula, the piece of flesh dangling at the back of the throat — flutter, according to Eric J. Kezirian, MD, MPH and professor of otolaryngology at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California. The resulting noise could be a wake-up call.

Studies show habitual snoring is associated with these five health problems:

1. SLEEP APNEA

Snoring is a major symptom of sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by multiple pauses in breathing.

With sleep apnea, the airway collapses or gets blocked; the air that passes through the narrowed airway causes loud snoring. Sleep apnea is linked to other health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart attack and diabetes.

Kezirian calls sleep apnea, “a serious condition,” and says, “if you snore consistently, especially if others have noticed that you seem to hold your breath or gasp for air, you should discuss it with your doctor.”

2. HEART DISEASE AND STROKE

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital studied snorers between the ages of 18–50 and found an increased thickening of the carotid arteries, which could be a warning sign for atherosclerosis. Researchers believe the vibrations of snoring cause inflammation of the arteries.

Lead researcher Robert Deeb, MD, said in a statement, “Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn’t be ignored. Patients need to seek treatment in the same way they would if they had … other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

3. MEMORY LOSS

A 2015 study published in the journal Neurology found those between the ages of 55–90, who had sleep breathing problems like snoring and sleep apnea, were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment an average of 10 years earlier than those who did not snore. Snoring and sleep apnea also led to earlier diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease.

Kezirian notes, “There are a number of potential mechanisms, but one key seems to be the drops in oxygen levels that can occur in patients who not only snore but also have obstructive sleep apnea that involves blockage of breathing.”

4. DEPRESSION

Snoring can also affect your mental health. Australian researchers found that between 32–53% of patients who snored also had depressive symptoms, a number that’s significantly greater than the national average.

“In my own clinical experience, I have seen great improvements in mood when we are able to treat the sleep disturbances [like snoring] associated with sleep apnea,” says Daniel Root MD, medical director at Oregon Sleep Associates.

READ MORE > WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES? SLEEP CYCLES EXPLAINED

5. SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION

Men who snore as a symptom of sleep apnea may have trouble getting and maintaining erections, according to researchers at the University of Rome. In fact, up to 60% of men with sleep apnea also have erectile dysfunction.

“The blood vessels involved in erections and sexual function are small and more vulnerable than the bigger arteries like those in the heart,” Root explains. For this reason, the penile blood flow commonly suffers the consequences first, and then 5–10 years later, more larger vessel disease may appear.”

No one is immune to occasional snoring: A sinus infection or cold, different sleep position or restless slumber can all cause nocturnal rumblings. Habitual snoring is more common in men, those who are overweight, obese and back sleepers.

If snoring is chronic, Kezirian suggests talking to a healthcare professional.

“There are a wide range of treatment options for both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea,” he says, including sleeping on your side and avoiding alcohol within three hours of bedtime to special mouthpieces and continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines. The best way to know what might be right for you is to discuss the full range of options with an expert.


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Why Athletes Need Salt and Sugar

Athletes have different nutritional needs that go beyond calorie and macronutrient intake. Specifically, there are two nutrients that are harmful in excess but are helpful when used strategically for athletic performance: salt and sugar.

HOW SALT CAN IMPACT PERFORMANCE

Research shows that one in four people will develop high blood pressure from excess sodium intake. The majority of sodium in the typical American diet comes from processed foods, and avoiding these products will help make room for foods with higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids, as well as allow for targeted use of salt when you exercise.


If you exercise for more than 60 minutes and to the point of sweating, research shows that consuming electrolytes (including sodium) during exercise enhances performance and recovery.  Sweating is key — it sets athletes apart from inactive individuals and increases their sodium needs.

This is particularly true for salty sweaters (those who have white crystals build up on their skin and clothes after exercising). 


Not only can sodium help improve performance if consumed during exercise, it can also aid recovery since it helps replace fluids lost during exercise. Many athletes will drink large amounts of water during and after exercise and assume they’re hydrated. But without sodium, the body doesn’t retain water — we just pee it out. On hot days or even when wearing warm clothing on a cold day, sodium is a necessity in addition to water both during and after exercise. 


You can replace sodium either by eating salty foods (and drinking water to replace lost fluids), or by drinking beverages like sports drinks that contain sodium. After a workout is a good time to include salty foods such as pretzels, salty crackers, tortilla chips or salted nuts.


READ MORE > WHAT TO EAT FOR A RUN (AND WHEN)

HOW SUGAR CAN AID RECOVERY

For people who have trouble regulating their blood sugar levels, such as those with diabetes or pre-diabetes, too much sugar can be dangerous. Yet for athletes, sugar is a nutrient that can be used strategically to help improve performance and enhance recovery. 


If exercising 60 minutes or more, having food and or beverages that have sugar in various forms — including dried fruit, bananas, sports bars, gels and sports drinks — can improve performance. The general recommendation is 30 grams of carbohydrates per hour.

Studies from the Australian Institute of Sport have shown that foods rich in complex carbohydrates, which take a longer time to hit your bloodstream, are less effective than foods high in sugar (aka quick-burning carbs) at restoring glycogen levels. For athletes engaging in rigorous training for more than an hour, eating foods high in sugar within 30 minutes of training is more effective than eating complex carbohydrates.

A dietitian isn’t necessarily going to tell an athlete that they need to start eating chocolate cake and candy every time they do a hard workout (although some have famously recommended chocolate milk), but including foods high in sugar during and after a rigorous one hour or more training session can help improve performance and recovery.

The short story: If you engage in vigorous exercise for an hour or more, salt and sugar during and after your workouts just may improve your performance.

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