Benefits of Yoga

I will admit…I’m not a fan of yoga. Sitting in poses letting my mind wander for who knows how long is not my idea of a fun workout, but more like preparing for a nap. In my book, any workout where checking Facebook is possible during the workout isn’t really a workout….My favorite workout is strength training or sweaty cardio where I feel that post workout high, deep muscle burn, sweat in my eyes and the need to sit down when done.

But….several of the trainers, workout blogs and workout friends I respect keep mentioning yoga, so I begrudgingly did some research and found that, strangely enough, yoga does have benefits (who would have thought). Before I share my personal experience, here are some benefits that will hopefully encourage readers to take a small step towards throwing in the occasional yoga workout:

“Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown, protects your spine, better bone health, blood flow, ups the old heart rate (can improve cardiovascular conditioning), drops blood pressure, regulates adrenal glands, improves happiness, lowers blood sugar, helps focus, relaxes your system, maintains nervous system, releases tension in your limbs, helps sleep deeper, boosts immune system functionality, gives lungs room to breathe, prevents IBS and other digestive problems, increases self esteem, eases pain (asana, mediation or a combo of the two helped with back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, arthritis to name a few), gives inner strength, benefits relationships, uses sounds to soothe your sinuses, keeps allergies and viruses at bay! and supports your connective tissue just to name a few.”

That is quite a list, and I am not totally sure how yoga can accomplish all those at once, but I certainly believe the stretching and strengthening aspects are true as I have experienced them myself. Currently I am throwing a PiYo workout into my weekly rotation when I am not in the mood for an intense workout, and find that I am relaxed when done, but still feel like I have kept up my conditioning and have increased mental focus (that is until my two-year-old starts emptying kitchen cabinets). Being around a toddler, I am always trying very hard to avoid getting sick, so if the immune system boosting claim is true, that can only help my cause.

All in all, my weekly yoga workout hasn’t transformed me into a yogi, and don’t imagine myself ever sitting on a mountain in the lotus pose, but would recommend throwing in a yoga based workout once in a while, if nothing else, it will add variation to any workout plan, and best case scenario the benefits could include all those on that really long list….

My Best Friend, the Crock Pot

The crock pot came into my life on my wedding day, and saw occasional use for work potlucks. It mostly took up space under the counter, and I didn’t really understand what the big deal was. That is, until I attempted to prepare a meal with a 2-year old doing what she does best; alternating between being hanging from my arm and disappearing into that quiet that all moms know means trouble! Now I attempt to use it at least once per week because it solves a number of problems at once. First, I can prepare and throw the ingredients in while the baby is taking her afternoon nap without worrying about what she is doing in the cupboard. Second, it is big enough that leftovers are guaranteed, and that means one less night I have to cook! Third, I can control the ingredients and make soups and chili that aren’t loaded with sodium and other preservatives. These perks apply equally to busy working adults and stay at home parents, so there is really no reason not to use it.

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I regularly make the old stand-by dishes, including chili, (which I made the other day for Super Bowl), stews, and chicken soup (my new favorite Thanksgiving tradition). Recently I learned that it is really, really easy to cook a whole chicken in the crock pot. Just remove the plastic and giblets, and throw it in the crock pot. A little garlic or other handy spices only make it taste better, but are certainly not required to produce a juicy chicken. A chicken cooked like this can take the place of those store bought rotisserie chickens, which sure taste good, but have questionable ingredients and spend an unknown amount of time sitting on the shelf in the store. A crock pot chicken has no added sodium and is hot out of the crock pot so I can feel good about feeding it to my family. The leftovers can make some top notch enchiladas if plain chicken doesn’t fly (no pun intended) two nights in a row.

What are some of your favorite crock pot meals?