Saucy Sun Salutations: Why Yoga Is a Natural AphrodisiacBy By Sarah Stevenson
Rumor has it that Yoga X may not be your favorite part of P90X®. I get it. You're bored, you're not breaking down your muscle, you're not pouring out buckets of sweat like you do with Plyo X, but before you discount the benefits of bending up like a pretzel, consider this: Unlike other workouts, yoga can actually spice up your sex life.
I thought that might get your attention. Our sensual, sexual side is a natural primordial part of who we are. The problem is, it's often being covered up by a clouded mind fueled by the chaos that exists in the lives we lead. Yoga is freeing for your body, mind, and soul. In fact, yogis happen to be some of the most tuned in and turned on people in town. So if you're looking to perk up that libido, then sit back and read up.
Women can benefit from yoga because it helps clear your mind and calm your nerves, so that you can make conscious clear decisions about who you want to connect with and, in turn, be calm and connected enough to actually have an authentic orgasm . . . No more faking it, ladies.
Men can benefit from yoga because it instigates a certain awareness that will heighten your connection to the sexual beast within you, and coming from that place makes it a whole lot easier to keep it up for prolonged periods of time. It also allows you to have a more authentic connection to the woman you are frolicking with, which may not sound all that interesting to you—until you discover the sexual beast within her that a little authenticity can release.
Pranayama is a Sanskrit word used to describe yoga breathing. Prana means "life force" and yama means "control" or "discipline." In yoga, controlled deep breathing practices are used and channeled to certain areas of the body to ignite an internal awareness that will rock your world. The Ujjayi breath is a common breath used throughout the seated meditation as well as the active movement practice of yoga. Ujjayi is Sanskrit for "victory." It lives up to its name by allowing you to become victorious over your mind. It is characterized by a deep inhale through the nose, in which the belly expands outward, and deep exhales through the nose, in which the belly sinks inward. An "ocean sound" is created by narrowing the throat passage, which allows the breath to brush against the back of the throat. Ujjayi is a balancing and calming breath, which increases oxygenation, promotes clarity of thought, and builds internal body heat.
When you're afraid or stressed out, you tend to hold your breath or take very shallow, quick breaths that put your entire system on a state of heightened paranoid awareness. It's impossible to connect with the world around you—especially in the bedroom—if you are unable to relax and let go. The Ujjayi breath paired with a few other points we'll discuss shortly will allow you to relax and sink deep into a sexier, more sensual state.
Clear out the mind.
We all have those inhibitions that keep us from scoring with our dream girl or boy. What's the first thing we do when we lock eyes with a hottie across the room at our local watering hole? BARTENDER! That's right, nothing like a little liquid courage to seal the deal. But is it worth it? You've shut your sympathetic system down, but you've also shut down your ability to judge properly. This means you have about a 87 percent chance that the person you wake up to in the morning will also scare the heck out of you. And even if your catch still looks like a babe in the morning light, there still might be a beast lurking within—but you wouldn't have discovered that because you were drunk.
Yoga, on the other hand, calms the "fight or flight" part of the sympathetic system but heightens your connection to your body, your partner, and the world around you. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system that instigates relaxation and letting go, but also allows you to be more aware of yourself and your environment. So it helps you to drop into the most sensual you without compromising your ability to judge properly.
Move that body.
The yoga asanas, or poses, create some of the most sensual, sexy positions a body can twist and turn into. Sometimes, asanas are held for several minutes, which helps strengthen and build muscles. You may not increase muscle mass holding these poses, but it will train your body to hold certain, ahem, positions, for as long a time as it takes.
While you won't bulk up, with consistent practice you will sculpt a beautiful physique that highlights muscle structure. A fit body is a sexy body; when you look good in (or out of) your clothes, you feel sexier and more sensual. Some asanas stretch your muscles out to help increase flexibility and mobility. Stretching helps your body feel open and free. Being more flexible is also incredibly helpful in the bedroom, as you can imagine. When you pair the Ujjayi breath with the asanas, you ensure that your mind will stay calm, so that you are able to sustain endurance to get through an hour and half of class—or whatever else you want to do for that period of time.
Resting poses play an important role in any good yoga class. They're placed strategically between asanas in order to allow you to check in with your body and mind. Lying in a child's pose often gives me chills because I can feel my blood flowing freely, my energy swimming around under my skin, and my heart pulsating. It's a combination that heats me up every time, reminding me what a sexual being I am. Yoga classes end with shavasana, or corpse pose—but you feel anything but dead while gently spread across your mat. When you take the time to just lie there, it's an opportunity to inventory all that's taken in by your senses once the mind is calm, the body is activated, and your inner awareness is heightened.
If you're able to lay it out on the mat several times a week, you will be a lot more likely to lay it out on the sheets. Yoga clears you out, heats you up, builds you up, and turns you on. So no more calling yoga "Stretch and Sleep Class." It's high time you ditch the synthetic aphrodisiacs and tap into all the goodies you have inside you.
- Bald, D. H., The human amygdala and the emotional evaluation of sensory stimuli. Brain Research Reviews, Volume 41, Issue 1, January 2003, Pages 88-123
- Conley, T. D.; Moors, A. C.; Matsick, J. L.; Ziegler, A.; Valentine, B. A. (2011). "Women, Men, and the Bedroom: Methodological and Conceptual Insights That Narrow, Reframe, and Eliminate Gender Differences in Sexuality". Current Directions in Psychological Science 20 (5): 296
- Scientific American Mind. Your Sexual Brain, How It Rules Your Life: The Orgasmic Brain, Martin Portner. http://www.scientificamerican.com
Muscles in a Tub: A Beachbody® Creatine FAQBy Dave Slagle
Creatine may be one of the most popular sports nutrition supplements of all time, but it's also one of the most controversial. Everyone and their brother has an opinion about how, when, why, and where to take the stuff—if you should take it at all. But given opinions are like glutei maximi (everybody has one), let's dispense with the jibber jabber and look instead to real scientific facts behind the supplement. Ever since it spiked in popularity in the early 1990s, creatine has become the most researched sports nutrition supplement in history. Here's what's been discovered.
What is creatine and what does it do?
Creatine (or methyl guanidinoacetic acid) is a combination of three amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. It was first discovered in 1832 by the French scientist Michel Eugene Chevreul while he was researching the skeletal muscle system. Creatine is naturally produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. A normal, active person produces about two grams daily, and most people consume an additional gram or two from fish, beef, chicken, and dairy products. Creatine is stored in the muscles as creatine phosphate, which plays an important part in the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy cycle that supplies energy to human muscles. During exercise, as the stored ATP begins to run low, creatine phosphate (CP) is then broken down into creatine and phosphate, replenishing ATP for greater energy and contractile strength.
What are the benefits of using creatine?
Research shows that creatine supplements are most effective for people who want to gain muscle strength, muscle tone, or engage in explosive sports like powerlifting, rowing, or sprinting. Many people falsely believe that creatine is only good for bulking up and that using it will stop them from losing body fat. The truth is that creatine volumizes the muscles, increasing muscle tone, which may increase the metabolic rate and accelerate fat loss. Volumization means the storage of extra water in the muscles, allowing the user to have harder muscle contractions, or more strength.
The trick is that volumized muscles will show up as extra pounds on the scale. No, that doesn't mean you gain fat; it means you gain muscle. Obviously, if you're looking to build or tone muscle and gain strength, that's a good thing.
What about side effects?
There are no documented research studies showing that consuming creatine causes any serious adverse side effects. However, during scientific research studies some test subjects reported that while supplementing with creatine, they experienced two noticeable issues. The first was subcutaneous water retention, or a bloated appearance. This can be chalked up to creatine's poor solubility. The second was gastrointestinal distress (gas, stomach bloating, and even diarrhea). This occurred when creatine was consumed in excessive doses. The reason for this is most likely creatine's high acidity.
Although these problems are temporary, they may be completely eliminated by lowering the dosage of creatine and taking it (with nonacidic juice) in divided doses throughout the day. Some people might also look at cell volumization as a negative side effect because it can stall weight loss. "Creatine does not impede fat loss—far from it," explains Steve Edwards, Beachbody Director of Results. "However, it does not at all aid weight loss and will even offset it in some ways. You do hold on to more water weight with creatine as part of the cell volumization to increase CP stores. This is why we don't recommend it for everyone."
Most people will gain between two and four pounds in the first few weeks of using creatine, but human studies have shown that this extra water volumizing in the muscles may increase protein synthesis, leading to the growth of muscle fibers as well.
What is the best way to take a creatine supplement?
Scientific research shows that the best way to increase the uptake of creatine is by creating an insulin spike. Insulin is an extremely anabolic hormone that transports nutrients into the muscles. The best way to create an insulin spike is by taking a serving of creatine monohydrate powder and chasing it with a glass of nonacidic juice (grape juice is the most popular), or by using creatine products that are mixed with simple carbohydrates such as Beachbody Strength and Muscle Men's Formula. If you're looking for more control over your sugar intake, you want to mix your creatine with another supplement, or you want to skip the sugar entirely (the creatine will still work, albeit not as well), try a pure creatine monohydrate like Beachbody Pure Creatine.
On a final note, postworkout is also an excellent time to supplement creatine, because your blood sugar and glycogen are low. So, as the dietary sugars replenish those, they do double duty by rushing creatine to muscle.
For some reason, creatine has become one of the most complex sups to learn about—but it doesn't have to be. It's safe, naturally occurring, and it works. Consider adding creatine to your supplement regimen if you want to gain muscle or increase muscle tone, power, and strength.
- Bahrke, M.; Yesalis, C.; Creatine As an Ergogenic Supplement, Ch. 15. Performance-Enhancing Substances in Sports and Exercise, 1st edition; Human Kinetics: Champaign, Illinois, 2002; 175-209.
- Nutrition. 2004 Jul-Aug;20(7-8):609-14. Scientific basis and practical aspects of creatine supplementation for athletes. Volek JS, Rawson ES Source Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA.
- Sports Med. 2005;35(2):107-25.Creatine supplementation and exercise performance: recent findings. Bemben MG, Lamont HS. Neuromuscular Research Laboratory, Department of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
- Casey, A. et al. Creatine Ingestion Favorably Affects Performance and Muscle Metabolism During Maximal Exercise in Humans. Am. J. Physiol., 1996, 271, 31-37
- J Strength Cond Res. 2009 May; 23 (3): 818-26. Effects of creatine monohydrate and polyethylene glycosylated creatine supplementation on muscular strength, endurance, and power output. Herda TJ, Beck TW, Ryan ED, Smith AE, Walter AA, Hartman MJ, Stout JR, Cramer JT. Department of Health and Exercise Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA.
- J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov; 17 (4): 822-31. Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. Rawson ES, Volek JS. Department of Exercise Science and Athletics, Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania 17815, USA.
- Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2003 Mar; 13 (1): 97-111. Creatine supplementation: a comparison of loading and maintenance protocols on creatine uptake by human skeletal muscle. Preen D, Dawson B, Goodman C, Beilby J, Ching S. Department of Human Movement and Exercise Science at The University of Western Australia, Crawley, W.A., Australia, 6009.
Healthy and Grillicious: 5 Steps to a Great Summer BBQBy Sarah Stevenson
Summertime and the living is easy. Swimming, surfing, fishing, and sun lounging fill your days. BBQs fill your nights. But all of those activities require some degree of exposed flesh, and you want to look good in that little white sundress or fitted V-neck T-shirt, so you need to be smart this summer. After all, you didn't eat healthy and work out all year just to waste it on a few summer parties full of junk food, right?
Of course, it's one thing to navigate through someone else's BBQ. Basically, you just avoid eating junk. But what happens when you're hosting your own party? A summer grill-up is a great time to show off lessons learned during your transformation into fitness. Why not host a body-beautifying BBQ? Here are some healthy, fun alternatives to your average waistline-busting fare. (Hint: If you're invited to a potluck, you can also use these great ideas to keep your platter healthy and nutritious.)
- Appetizers. These devilish little starters can be the naughtiest foods to sink your teeth into. In fact, it's probably best to skip most of these little fat bombs at a typical BBQ. The only saving grace of the first course is generally the veggie platter—as a health nut, you'll probably be spending a lot of time there. The only problem is, well, in a word, "Boring!" So instead of your basic carrot-celery-tomato-broccoli mix, add some multi-colored, phytonutrient-rich veggies you don't typically find on a boring old platter.
- Bell peppers. The brighter the pepper, the higher the concentration of antioxidants and vitamin C.
- Asparagus. Raw asparagus fancies up your platter, and it happens to be a great source of protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
- Squash. Another vivaciously-colored and great-tasting veggie that you can sink your teeth into. They are also a great source of vitamins B1, B6, and C, folic acid, fiber, and potassium. Just like bell peppers, the richer the color, the richer the nutrients.
- Broccolini. Sometimes mistakenly called baby broccoli. Everybody loves babies, right? When it comes to broccolini's nutritional value, yes. Baby broccoli has a nice deep green color and contains protein, potassium, folic acid, calcium, iron, fiber, and vitamins A and C.
Add some hummus spiced up with a little garlic or cayenne to those veggies and really make them sing. Your platter will be the talk of the town (or gym).
- Drinks. What goes hand in hand with BBQs like beer? Truth is, it's not going to kill you to have a high quality craft brew or two, but that doesn't mean you need to host a frat party. Guests are going to bring booze. Guests are going to drink booze. The best you can do is have lots of healthy alternatives on hand. Fill pitchers with a variety of iced herbal teas. Offer plenty of water, and fill it with slices of fruit or cucumber to entice your guests to hydrate properly.
- Main course. Just think PROTEIN. (That veggie platter should have done you right for carbs.) Ditch the hot dogs and hamburgers and get a little creative. Processed meat is quite popular because it's quick, easy, and doesn't make a huge mess (except in your gut). Conversely, while fish is great for your insides, it can really mess up a grill. Here's a little trick. Choose a nice moist fish like mahi-mahi or salmon. Take a one-foot-by-one-foot square of aluminum foil and rub it with seasoning, lemon, and just a dash of olive oil. Place your piece of fish in the center, wrap it up (not too snug—give it a bit of room to breathe) and place it on the BBQ. You can cook up to five of these at a time, and if you keep them wrapped until the guests are ready to grub, they stay warm. Leave on the grill for 10 to 12 minutes and you have yourself a nice healthy meal. Fish is high in protein and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Dessert. Summertime is the best time for healthy desserts, given all the yummy seasonal fruit on hand. Start by cutting a watermelon in half and scooping out all the contents. Then fill it with all types of fruit, like strawberries, blueberries, melon, bananas, peaches, plums, and kiwi. It is a super creative, fun summer dessert, and when you're done, you can use the leftovers for compost to feed your garden. Fruit is high in fiber, low in calories, rich in vitamins, and contains no fat.
- Entertainment. Most cookouts include a round of flag football, Frisbee®, or horseshoes. But you're working toward that BBQ of the Year trophy, so how about you finish the festivities with a boogie? Crank up the tunes, clear the floor, deck, or lawn, and make room for some dancing fools. Sure, you might get a few eye rolls at first, but all will be smiling pretty—and sweating pretty hard—by the end.
Admittedly, the above blueprint won't induce the artery-hardening bacchanalia we typically associate with BBQs. But it'll still be a heck of a party, and you'll have some pretty blissful guests knowing that they don't have to diet for the next week to make up for a fatty, sugary shindig. You can really influence others by showing them that a summer barbecue can be nice and healthy. There is no need to compromise your waistline for a good time.
"Top 10 Seasonal Foods to Summer-Proof Your Body"
"Tiny Cloth Triangles of Terror: 8 Ways to Prepare for Bikini Season"
"Summer Cocktails: How to Enjoy the Party Without Looking Like a Flotation Device"
Recipe: Fig Salad with Honey-Lemon Dressing
(Makes 2 servings)
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. raw honey
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 4 cups mixed organic greens
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 4 medium ripe figs, cut into quarters
- 20 raw almonds, coarsely chopped
- Combine olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper in small bowl; set aside.
- Combine greens, spinach, figs, and almonds in serving bowl; drizzle with prepared dressing. Serve immediately.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Nutritional Information: (per serving)
|270||17 g||2 g||0 mg||312 mg||31 g||5 g||23 g||4 g|
P90X® and P90X2® Portion Information
Nutritional Information: (per serving)
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