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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Yoga: What Is It, and How Do I Choose the Right Class?

Yoga3Yoga is pretty popular, and not just in the fitness industry. It’s getting lots of press for its ability to aid in living a generally healthy lifestyle. When people hear about healthy living, they often associate that only with exercise, and sometimes neglect the importance of a balanced diet and de-stressing techniques. Studies are now showing that it’s important to balance out all areas of life; not just one part should have dominance.

What Is Yoga?

By definition, yoga is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation. Yoga was developed in India up to 5,000 years ago as a comprehensive system for well-being to balance the body physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Contrary to common thinking, yoga is not a belief system but a guidance technique to enrich living and aid in attaining goals.

Forms of Yoga

There are many types of yoga you might have heard of, including Vinyasa, Hatha, Iiyengar, Bikram, Ashtanga, and restorative, just to name a few. When it comes to picking the "right" yoga class, I say give them all a try because each of them is unique. Some involve lots of moving, some involve lots of deep stretching, some involve heat, and some even involve the use of nature and animals. The whole concept of yoga is to breathe and relax the mind. If you take a class that does not bring out those feelings in you, don't give up! Try that format a couple of times and see whether it is enjoyable. If it's not, research what you are looking to get out of your class and try one that offers that. 

Yoga to Me

Yoga means so many things to me. I began my yoga journey in 2009 to relax during a tough family situation. I was in love with the way it made me feel, and every week I looked forward to my Sunday night time on my mat. In 2011, my mom’s medical condition worsened and I began going to yoga 3 to 4 times a week. In 2014, I decided I was so impressed with the way it changed my mindset that I wanted to become certified, so I spent 3 months intensively training to get my 200 hour yoga certification. My yoga journey has a lot more depth, but that was the beginning. I never knew cancer would lead me to a career path of success and happiness, which is ultimately living a daily life of yoga.

Yoga at NIFS

Yoga is a growing class at NIFS. With a wide variety of instructors, you won’t find your standard “gym yoga.” All of the NIFS yoga instructors are 200 hour or more certified. You might take a class with a “flow” to it, be in a class with a more restorative approach, or even see that Yoga for Athletes is offered for those who want a strength-based yoga class. Check the Group Fitness Schedule for classes and times.

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This blog was written by Brittany Ignas, BS in Kinesiology, 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified, Stott Pilates Certified, and Fitness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS yoga group fitness strength relaxation healthy living meditation stress relief

Swimming in the Off Season: A Great Workout

ThinkstockPhotos-77738803.jpegNothing sounds more dreadful to me than putting on my suit to jump into the pool to do some lap swimming on a sub-20-degree winter day (unless, of course, it’s a belly-smacker challenge—then I’m in!). But with the vast benefits that come from swimming, the draw tends to be a little bit enticing (and here are some ideas for finding motivation to swim). When you are looking for what to do with your workouts over the off season, consider giving swimming a try.

Benefits of Swimming

Swimming can offer more benefits than I have time to list, but let’s take a look at what I think the top 6 are. And if swimming really isn’t your thing, keep on reading; I’ll share some other pool workout ideas that don’t involve lap swimming.

  1. Builds endurance, strength, and cardiovascular fitness. Considered to be one of the greatest total-body workouts, swimming covers pretty much all the basics that you might want in a workout.
  2. Helps build bone mass and tone muscles. While many think that because swimming is non-weight-bearing, bone density cannot increase, studies have shown differently. Swimming also helps to tone muscles of the body just like strength training does.
  3. Gets heart rate up without the impact on the joints. Most exercises that are cardio based like running and biking take some serious impact on the joints. “Taking the weight off” in the pool allows you to get the blood flowing through your body without the impact from your body that you get from other cardiovascular exercise methods.
  4. Aids in flexibility. With the repetitive stretching that takes place in the different swimming strokes, you can increase flexibility through swimming laps on a regular basis.
  5. Promotes high caloric burn. Depending on the intensity, duration, and stroke, swimming can burn equal to or more calories than going for a run.
  6. Good for the psyche. Like all exercise, swimming releases endorphins into your body, which bring those feel-good emotions. With the stretching that takes place during the strokes along with the rhythmic breathing, swimming can actually help you to relax.

Natatorium Lap Swimming is Now Included in Your NIFS Membership*!

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Other Water Workouts

Maybe you never really learned how to swim, or the water intimidates you. Don’t worry; there are plenty of other water exercises that you can do to get yourself into the pool and comfortable in the water without sacrificing a good workout. To name a few, you can try water aerobics, treading water, step in water (this is like a step class where risers are put into the bottom of the pool), aqua jogging, lap walking, and shallow-water runs.

Take some time to explore the Natatorium pool! NIFS now offers unlimited use of lap swimming at the IUPUI Natatorium (*eligible members only, see details). See the NIFS service desk to get started, and take your off-season training to a new level!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio motivation swimming stretching relaxation