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Essential Oils for Aromatherapy



Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that is growing in popularity. The belief is that the aroma of essential oils (that is to say, oils with essence ) have healing benefits and can uplift one’s mood and disposition. Any oil with an essence can be used for aromatherapy, but some are more popular and are said to produce more benefits than others. Here are some of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy and some of their purported benefits.

Sweet Orange Oil

This is the most widely produced aromatherapy oil and produces a smell that almost everyone recognizes: that of an orange. It is thought that the scent of orange oil produces relaxing and refreshing effects.

Mint

Also known as menthol or mentha arvensis, the oil of mint leaves is widely used to create a stimulating aroma. Since it is antispasmodic, that is, it suppresses muscle spasms, pregnant women are advised against using mint essential aromatherapy oil.

Cedarwood

The most commonly used essential oil derived from wood is oil of cedarwood. In addition to filling a room with an enchanting woody scent, the oil is also thought to produce soothing effects in the mind.

Lemon

Lemon oil produces a citrus-y smell that borders on pungent. This aroma is thought to be refreshing and stimulating. Applying lemon oil to the skin prior to exposing one’s self to the sun is ill-advised as lemon is a photosensitizer and therefore makes the skin more likely to burn.

Eucalyptus

One of the most intoxicating essential oils is the aroma of the eucalyptus, or blue gum tree. This oil is widely used in saunas for its balancing, anti-inflammatory effects. This oil should never be ingested as it can prove fatal for epileptics or those battling hypertension.

May Chang

May Chang, or litsea cubeba, is a commonly produced essential oil from the evergreen tree of the same name. The tree is common throughout Asia and produces an oil that commonly serves as a fragrance in bar soap and other vanity products.

Clove

Oil of clove leaf is irritating to human skin and should be strongly diluted prior to direct contact. As an aromatherapy oil, it is popular for its warming effects and is thought to have value as an insect repellent.

Myrrh

Myrrh is not just something that was given as a gift in Biblical times, it is still used for its aromatherapy benefits to this day. It has a spicy scent and is well-liked for its rejuvenating effects by those who practice aromatherapy.

Rose Oil

Rose oil is commonly distributed and unfortunately often bogus. Since it takes literally pounds of rose petals to produce one single ounce of rose oil, many distributors dilute the valued liquid. Rose oil is thought of as relaxing and some believe it has anti-depressant effects.

Yoga FAQs

What is yoga?

- Yoga is an exercise that originated in ancient India. It involves stretching and aligning your body. Yoga is said to be a moving meditation so focusing on one’s breathing is taught as highly important. Yoga activates every muscle, tendon, bone and organ in conjunction with the mind to renew and purify your body.

Will I lose weight by practicing yoga?

- Weight loss through yoga is possible since you are burning more calories during yoga than you do while resting dormant. However, yoga and yoga alone cannot guarantee weight loss. To lose weight, one must burn more calories than they intake. Yoga can help increase the number of calories being burned throughout the day, but if you eat a box of donuts after each yoga class, you’re probably unlikely to experience any weight loss. Bikram yoga, a form of yoga done in a 105 degree room, has been useful as a weight loss aid due to its high calorie-burning effects.

Am I too old for yoga?

- No. Anyone can do yoga young or old. However, when done improperly, yoga can cause a risk of injury. Be sure to take yoga from a licensed practitioner before attempting to do it yourself.

Can men do yoga?

- Certainly. Men and women alike have been enjoying the benefits of yoga for centuries.

Does yoga hurt?

- Yoga is designed to help align and reopen areas of your body. This process can be a bit painful, like they say, “no pain, no gain,” but yoga is really no more “painful” than any other form of exercise. It is not uncommon for yoga practitioners to experience soreness resulting from stretching. But the net result of a yoga practice is less bodily pain, not more!

Isn’t yoga for wackos?

- There was a time when yoga was practiced primarily by hippies or vegetarians, but these days lots of people are practicing yoga. Businessmen, husbands, wives, even Republicans can be found practicing yoga. So no worries, you won’t be alone in a room full of smelly hippies if you decide to try yoga.

What should I wear to yoga?

- Loose fitting clothing and sandals should suffice. Yoga is generally always practiced barefoot, so you can leave the gym shoes at home. The less clothes you feel comfortable wearing, the better. Yoga involves putting your body in a lot of unusual positions, so the less your clothing acts as a hindrance to this, the better.

I’ve heard yoga prevents disease, is that true?

- It is thought that yoga helps prevent disease by releasing toxins stored up in the body by regulating organs. Yoga is also thought to improve digestion and enhance immune system response.

Fun Workout Ideas

So you made your New Year’s Resolution to work out more. You’ve dutifully dragged yourself to the gym five days a week, putting in the requisite hours on the treadmill. You’ve lost some weight and you feel healthier, but now you’re - dare I say it - bored!

Human beings are creatures of habit. But while habits are great for things like making sure the bills are paid or the kids get off to school on time, they’re lousy in the gym. When you feel like you’re stuck in a fitness rut, your workouts will be less effective and you’re more likely to stop going altogether.

But you don’t have to fall prey to workout boredom - instead, check out the following fun workout ideas:

Kick Some Butt

Feeling frustrated with your current workout routine? Take out some of that aggression with a martial arts class. If you already have a membership to a gym that offers classes, take a look at the class schedule - you may find a kickboxing class that will put some punch back in your workout routine. Alternatively, you can check with martial arts studios in your area to see if they offer beginning adult classes. Karate, aikido and judo are all great disciplines for new adult students.

Take a Dance Class

It used to be that Jazzercise was the only option for adults looking to shake up their workouts with some fun moves, but today, dance studios around the country are adding options for beginning adult students who look to dance for exercise. If you ever dreamed of being a prima ballerina or envisioned yourself closing the show at Stomp, this could be a great workout option for you. Check with your local dance studios for more details - you may be able to find classes in disciplines as diverse as ballet, tap, hip hop, modern and even belly dance.

Join a Sports Team

Adult sports teams are experiencing a resurgence in popularity around the country. And what’s not to love? You’ll enjoy the camaraderie so much that you won’t even notice you’re getting a great workout! Perennial favorites - like soccer and volleyball - are great choices, or you can check out one of the many recess-style leagues popping up around the country, including activities like kickball, dodge ball or ultimate Frisbee.

Train for a Workout Goal

Running on the treadmill for an hour a day can get dull, but taking part in a group training program for an upcoming triathlon can be just the incentive you need to stay on track. If you have a secret fitness goal - whether it’s finishing your first 5k or taking part in an Ironman triathlon - check with your gym or sporting goods stores in your area to see if they offer any group training programs. More and more places are offering these programs, and they’re a great way to add some fun and focus to your daily workout.

What is the Truth About Alkaline Water?

One of the great health fads out there today, trailed by a frenzy of manufacturers happily capitalizing on the thrill of potential benefits is alkaline water. Americans have always been keen on the newest diet sensations and health breakthroughs, never missing the most recent revelation. Often times, the excitement of the newest potentialities revealing health optimization or weight loss fads fade just as quickly as their initial rise to begin with. So it is fair to question whether the benefits of alkaline water are substantial or not.

There are some amazing claims being projected to promote the health benefits of alkaline water. The body’s pH level, which ranges between 7.35-7.45 is vital to maintain a healthy body, actually directly sustaining life of the human body as a whole. Alkaline water, also referred to as ionized water, is said to effectively balance the body’s pH level, helping to counter the acidity of many other foods. Extreme claims propose that alkaline water acts as an antioxidant to help fight free radicals; it can help assist weight loss; reduce the aging process; helps in cases of Diabetes and other health conditions; helps skins conditions; and also helps to prevent cancers. On a more moderate level; alkaline water is promoted to increase energy, detoxify the body, and naturally balance the body’s pH level which will ultimately enhance overall optimum health. In a sense, acidity can be related to rust or corrosion that in time deteriorates the body’s tissues, veins and arteries, which can negatively affect our cellular activity from the way our hearts beat to all the way to how we think. The acidic body becomes a breeding ground for germs, fungus, and viruses. It reduces the oxygen levels in the body, may coagulate the blood or clog capillaries, and it may interfere with mineral absorption. These effects directly cause a down spiral within the body, which will in turn cause it to work in overdrive to try to correct the imbalance. Alkaline water is said to proactively counteract the negative effects caused by acidity, promoting the health it would otherwise be in.

On the other hand, there are definitely critics out there that iterate the body’s natural functionality. The body is equipped to strictly monitor and marginalize the level of pH in order to ensure a consistent balance. Some professionals profess that the body does not allow room for error when it comes to acidity/alkalinity. Immediately upon becoming out of balance, the liver and kidneys work to balance the pH levels and then eliminate, through urine for example. With this argument, there is no need for exterior influences, and nothing else will cause operative results.

When considering that stress, most of the foods we eat, and certain diseases or common imbalances ultimately do produce a bit more acid, it only seems appropriate that an over acidic level in the body is unhealthy. Even if the body is capable of, and will ultimately, regain the balance of its critical pH level; ingesting something that may automatically counter the acidity only seems wise. Considering the pH scale is balanced by acidity and alkalinity to begin with, and considering the body is naturally completely reactive to what it intakes; it is safe to say that there are scientific rules that inherently suggest that alkaline water can in fact promote optimum health. Even if it doesn’t impact the weight loss or the disease fighting on its own; it may at least allow the body’s natural defense system to focus on other areas in need, while directly removing the duty to naturalize the pH balance innately. Alkaline water makes sense. Water is such a purifying, intrinsic element utterly vital to our optimum health. Why not optimize the quality of such a vitality? Ultimately, though, you are sure to find your answers by trying it. Give it a month, stick to it; see if you reap the benefits that are raved about.

How Such a Tiny Device Can Help

We all need a push every once in a while to increase activity, stay weight conscious, and exert the extra effort to maintain optimum health. Often times, help from a friend is a really beneficial way to stay motivated when endeavoring to stay active. He/she reminds you that the effort is necessary, sometimes offers that extra push by extending an invite for a nice brisk walk, and helps pass the time during exercise with some friendly conversation or encouragement. There is no question that a motivational counterpart can definitely upkeep the spirit of health and inspiration to stay active. However, a luxury like this can’t last forever, at least not on an everyday basis. This is where it is important to find something consistent, reliable, and easy to depend on as that extra motivational push to continue increased activity, day in and day out. For many, this motive is as small as a rather inexpensive tool that has been around for a long time; the pedometer.

The pedometer is a small tool used to count steps, typically placed around the waste in between the hip and belly button. Many people wear it throughout their entire day in order to gauge how far they are actually walking on a daily basis, while others simply like to wear it during specific exercise. Converting the number of steps into miles allows one to see the level of activity he is getting each day, however; it can offer something much more than just a telltale monitoring. The pedometer offers the ability to set a goal. Not only does it clearly depict the average steps a person takes throughout his day, it is an easy way to determine a greater amount to reach for, beyond the daily average. Some suggestions advise to increase walking activity by 10% each week. The universal agreed upon number of steps that should at least be reached per day is ultimately 10,000. This is a level set to ensure health and natural balance. Increasing this distance to 15,000 steps is the typical level of reaching assured weight loss. For some people, especially those who have been sedentary for quite some time, this may take a gradual approach in working up to this goal. Small increases of steps over time will inevitably work towards becoming comfortable with this type of distance. On average, studies show that a half an hour walk will accumulate 3,100-4,100 steps. By taking a walk (the brisker the better) that measures 6,000-7,000 you are increasing your chances of weight loss. Studies also show that the average daily routine already includes approximately 3,000-4,000 steps. In this sense, it is a great idea to get creative and begin finding new ways to incorporate more. Perhaps walk to the grocery store to pick up a few items, rather than driving; stepping outside to simply walk around the block while enjoying your morning coffee, instead of sitting at the table doing nothing; walk into the other room to talk to your loved one instead of shouting out what you wanted to communicate across the house; park as far away from every building as you can (someone will appreciate finding a close space and you will have also made her day); choose stairs instead of elevators; do your grocery shopping in the order you have the items listed, rather than going aisle to aisle; incorporate walks with friends or coworkers to spend quality time; walk your dog-more often, a little further (or why not walk your cat?); play with your children, or your pets, or your significant other-chase them; if you think about it, there are ways to increase your steps nearly everywhere you go.

Being conscious of how many steps, in turn how much distance, you are covering each day is a great reminder to continue this type of activity. Upon setting a goal, one is much more likely to increase his steps than if there is no goal in place at all. Study upon study has supported this. Gradually increasing that goal will ultimately gradually increase weight loss, lower blood pressure, decrease the risk of heart disease, and level out blood sugars.

There are many versions of pedometers out there today. A simple step counter is really all you need. The fancier ones will cost a bit more and begin offering other functions such as calorie counting (which may be a plus), speed of gait, conversion of steps to distance etc. Some have radios and other amenities. Bear in mind when purchasing your pedometer what you want to get from it. One of the best options is the Yamax, manufactured in Japan, as this is the one most often used in scientific studies. Japanese models, in general, are high quality products with very little error rate, followed by Taiwanese models.

The quality/brand may or may not be significant when deciding to incorporate a pedometer into your life. What is important is the decision to get motivated, the choice to utilize a tool that can help keep track of how well you are doing, and setting a personal goal for yourself. Keeping a journal of your steps often helps continue the psychological pact with yourself to stick to reaching and eventually exceeding such a goal. Having a sense of measurement can ultimately encourage, inspire, motivate, and even push someone into finally following through with their determination to increase activity. Without the live help of an exercise companion, the pedometer may very well be the next best thing for many people.