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Brogi of the Month – July, 2013

By Featured, Interviews, Motivation, Students, Teachers One Comment

The Brogi of the Month Award goes out monthly (obviously) in recognition of a person who, through action or word, makes things better for themselves and the people around them. In most instances, recipients will be acknowledged for great achievements in the health/fitness/nutrition – aka Broga – realm, but not always. The common denominator will almost always be an achievement that inspires. All those who receive the award will get a 10-class pass (or something of equivalent value). We love inspiring stories, so please feel free to email us nominations and a story any time.

Our first Brogi of the Month is a guy that has inspired us …a lot. It has been a pleasure getting to know him and having him in our Somerville classes. He was very nervous for his first class, having never done anything “like this” before, but he kept coming back. His name is Mo Jarava and he’s lost nearly 70 lbs as a committed Broga student.

This past week was his 100th Broga class. Congratulations, Mo. We’re proud and honored to have you in this community.

Here’s a brief interview with Mo from a couple weeks back – i.e. just before his 100th class.

 

 

Broga: What do you do?
Mo: I’m a law enforcement officer with the federal government.  High pressure, and high demands.  I’ve been an officer for the past 18 years.  It’s something I’m used to but it doesn’t make it easier.

Broga: Is your job stressful?
Mo: Extremely.

Broga: Tell us a bit about how you found Broga and your expectations when you started.Mo
Mo: After a recent promotion, I began suffering from migraines.  I’ve always had a Type A personality, and migraines were a common occurrence for me but this was something different and much more intense.   After a battery of tests, one of which landed me in the ER, I was told “You need to relax”.   The last thing someone who is stressed needs to hear is “just relax”.   I ended up in therapy having electrical current run through my muscles to get me to unwind.  That’s when I knew I had to do something.   I saw an ad for Broga and started reading up on it.

I went on to the site and read about the course, the instructors, and the basic Broga mission statement.   I had my hesitations but decided to give it a try.

I wrote Adam and Robert an email and explained a little of my situation.   I was overweight, inflexible, and hadn’t done any fitness regime since years.  What I did have was the desire to improve, to find a balance in my life and find a way to calm my mind.  I wanted to participate but didn’t know if I could keep up and I didn’t want to hold the class back.   Adam wrote me back and told me Broga was the class for me.

Broga: How would you describe your level of fitness now compared to when you started Broga?
Mo: I’ve been practicing for over a year now.  I can totally see an improvement in my fitness level.  I think back to the third Broga class I took.  I almost gave up after that night.  My first two classes were tough but I was able to keep up.  That third class was intense.  I remember the thought “what fresh sadistic hell is this?!” going through my mind throughout the class.   I decided right then and there to give up.  I wasn’t ready for this level of intensity and this was just a beginner course.  After class, I was gearing up to go home; feeling defeated and like a failure.  Some of the other students in the class were milling about we began talking.  These were guys that were very fit and they were commenting on how the class had kicked their ass.   Ok.. so if the class was tough even for them, maybe it wasn’t just me.  I decided to come back the following week.   I remember Robert telling us we had already taken the first step, we showed up, we were there.  That meant a lot to me because I came so close to not going back.   The classes were still tough, and I still had my days where I dreaded hearing the words “forearm plank”.  But I kept with it.

Throughout the past year I’ve experienced a series of mini achievements.  I slowly starting to do some of the stuff I previously felt was impossible and improbable.  Poses that I once thought I’d never get into unless there was an intricate systems of pulleys and levers involved, now became a routine part of my practice.

Broga: Looking ahead over the next few years, what are your health and fitness goals?
Mo: Now that I know I have it in me to dedicate time to my health and fitness, I’ve taken more of a proactive approach to my well-being.  I’ve changed my diet, eating habits and behavior.   I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight and am on the way to getting to a healthy weight and fitness level.  Once there, I hope to be able to maintain and keep improving.  I’m looking at expanding my exercise routine to include some gym time.  I’m attending Broga three times a week and am looking for something in between the class days.  I’m keeping tabs on the number of classes I attend, when I get to class 100, I am going to try my hand at the Broga 2 class.

Broga: How awesome was it when you were able to do Crow pose for the first time?
Mo: The first time Robert had us do Crow pose in class I actually laughed out loud and shook my head.  There was no way I was going to get my body to do that.  Robert looked at me and said “No?  Not happening?  It’s ok, you’ll get there.”  He taught me a modified version that would help me to eventually get there.  As the classes went on, that pose became a goal.  I would eventually do it.  Around class number 50 I was finally able to do Crow.  It wasn’t perfect, I only stayed up for a few breaths, but I did it.  It was amazing.  Something that had been so far off had finally come within reach.

Broga: What’s your favorite yoga pose?
Mo: I can’t say I have one favorite.  I like the balance poses like tree, warrior three, and side plank.  Humble warrior is awesome!  Every once in a while a new leg stretch or back stretch gets thrown into the mix and I just want to scream out thaaaaaaaaaaaaank you!!

Broga: What’s your least favorite yoga pose?
Mo: Still not a fan of forearm plank but I am able to do it now and stay up.  We just added a mountain climber exercise that is a bit vicious but I can definitely feel the impact and benefit.

Broga: What do you like most about Broga class?
Mo: In no particular order…

  1. You can go at your pace.  There is no race or competition.
  2. The instructors tailor the poses to your current level.  Be it adding a strap, changing the pose or other modifications, they teach you how to get the most out of each pose and flow at your own level.
  3. The music.  I’ve added a few of the songs to my playlists and have found I start subconsciously breathing deep and calming down when I hear them.
  4. It has become the highlight of my week where I can turn off everything else going on and just focus on my breath and the poses.
  5. Effort and Ease.   It’s become a mantra not only throughout class but in my daily world as well.

Broga: What do you like least about Broga class?
Mo: There isn’t anything I don’t like.  As the word is getting out and more people are discovering Broga, the classes are starting to fill up.   I have to make sure to get there early to get my spot in the back corner.  I’m very much a creature of habit and can be a little OCD.  I have my focal points for my drishti.

Broga: What would you tell someone who is unsure about trying Broga?
Mo: They need to give it a shot.  If they are looking for a way to better their health and improve their life, try it out.  They should talk to others in the class, I know I’m not the only one who has benefited from Broga.  They can come talk to me about it too,  I’m the one in the back corner.

Broga: If someone gave you $1 million dollars to help people get/stay in better health, what would you do with the money?
Mo: I think it comes down to education.  Educating people on how to make proper choices, and take care of themselves.  Helping them find whatever works for them.

Thanks for the inspiration, Mo! With your success, the words “Mo-tivation” and “Mo-bility” are taking on new meaning in the Broga world.

If you have any thoughts or questions about what it takes to make big, sustained changes in your life, please share them in the comments section below.

Claims About Supplements Starting to Sound Fishy

By Featured, News, Uncategorized No Comments

If you’re currently taking Broga classes, or even contemplating signing up for your first one, you are already making progress toward improving your overall health.  The next step may be to give some thought to your diet if total body wellness is a goal of yours.  As you begin to contemplate your personal nutrition goals, you may at some point also begin to contemplate taking supplements.  Buyer beware, be sure to stay current on your research.  Shelling out big bucks on pills may be a waste of resources better spent on real food.Fish Pills

In spite of previous studies linking the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil pills to heart health, new research featured in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that taking fish oil supplements may in fact provide no significant cardio vascular benefits. 

So are fish oil supplements still worth buying? Doesn’t it always seem like the news about nutrition is changing?  One day something is good for you, and the next, not so much right? 

Nutritional research is still fairly young, as medical research goes.  We are still learning so much about how the body processes nutrients and which ones (and how much of them) it needs most. 

Any medical research is complicated to decipher, but I think I got this one. It’s generally accepted in medical communities that omega-3 fatty acids play a role in heart health.  We know that certain fish are known sources of omega-3s.  If you connect the dots then, fish=heart health.  Pretty simple stuff so far. 

Fish oil supplementation has risen in popularity in the past few years because it was thought that we could isolate the good omega-3s from real fish, and put them in a pill.  If people took these pills, it seemed logical that the increase in their diet in omega-3s would lead to healthier hearts.  This logic wasn’t exactly wrong, but there is likely more to the story than we thought. 

What this new information really means is that there may be more to fish that is good for your heart than just its omega-3s.  The same fish that are rich in omega-3s are also rich in selenium and Vitamin D (among other things.)  It is possible that omega-3s are most helpful to our cardiovascular health when consumed with other nutrients.  Just like we know that calcium needs Vitamin D to be fully functional in our bodies, omega-3 fatty acids may be most beneficial when accompanied by other nutrients.  Further research will need to be done to see if this is in fact the case.

SalmonSo what’s your action item?  If your doctor has suggested taking a fish oil supplement, I wouldn’t toss them in the trash because of one study’s findings.  If you are concerned about heart health (and aren’t we all) try to increase your intake of omega-3 rich fish to at least 2-3 meals per week.  Approachable fish rich in omega-3s are salmon, anchovies, and bluefish. 

Your fish oil pills are not likely doing you any harm, and may still be doing some good, but it’s almost always best to get your nutrients from real foods when you can instead of supplements.  

Consider your likes and dislikes and your current dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and try to add more.  Don’t write off supplements in general, some do great things, but my advice is to look at them with healthy skepticism and always ask yourself if you can get what you are looking for from real food first.

 

 

What do you think? Do you have a post-workout favorite food? Maybe a smoothie recipe you’d be willing to share? Share your input in the comment section below!

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Jen JasminJennifer Jasmin is a nutritionist and freelance writer living in Watertown, Massachusetts.  She holds a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College, and a Graduate Certificate in Dietetics from Simmons College.  In her work, Jen strives to help people find balance between real nutrition facts, and realistic health and fitness goals.   Her background also includes over 15 years working in the food service industry, which adds to her unique perspective on eating well.  She shares her insights, personal cooking lessons, and recipe ideas on her blog at: www.skeletonsinmykitchen.com.  In addition to writing, Jen shares her passion about healthy eating in casual, approachable nutrition seminars and workshops in both corporate and community settings.  To Jen, the journey to wellness is incredibly personal, and should be approached in a way that is individual, actionable and unpretentious.

 

Feelin’ the Burn? How to Relieve Muscle Soreness After Broga

By Classes, How To, Students One Comment

Feelin’ the Burn?

It’s totally common to feel a bit worse for the wear the morning after your first Broga class. Introducing any new exercise to your fitness routine, or lack there of, stresses and strains your muscles in new ways, causing actual cell damage that takes time to heal.  It’s this damage, and the inflammatory-repair response that it triggers, that cause stiffness and soreness for typically 24 to 72 hours after a workout. It’s so common it even has a name: Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness – or DOMS. So you’re sore, and now you know why…what do you do about it?

Broga

Back-to-Back Broga:

Don’t be discouraged! In fact, get off the couch, stretch out, and go for a walk, or better yet, take another Broga class ASAP! I know this seems counter-intuitive, but it really works! One of the fastest ways to silence achy muscles is to stretch them out, and get them moving again. You may feel like you lack some range of motion due to muscle tightness, so don’t over do it. Let your instructor know that you are feeling a bit sore so he can let you in on any modifications that may be a bit lower-impact.

Refuel:

After Broga SmoothieYour muscles need fuel for repairs. A post-workout snack may help provide your muscles with the necessary tools to begin repairs quickly, resulting in less soreness the next day. It’s pretty common knowledge that protein is essential to muscle building, but you won’t return to pain free movement if you neglect other key macronutrients. Carbohydrate rich foods help the body restore muscle glycogen (stored energy your muscles need to function) quickly and fat is essential for cell repair. An ideal post-workout snack should be mostly carbs, some protein, and a little fat. Oh, and don’t forget to drink lots of water!

Chocolate milk has been touted as the ultimate post workout snack because it loosely meets the guidelines above. But before you grab the Hershey’s syrup, ask yourself, do you really think there is a nutritional benefit to chocolate syrup?   Make each part of your snack count by smartly selecting carbohydrate, protein and fat sources that are all beneficial to your body. Many super foods have anti-inflammatory properties, and work essentially the same way that NSAID pain relievers (like ibuprofen and aspirin) do. Try to work them into your snack routine.

So, what’s the ideal snack for post-Broga muscle repair? Try low-fat yogurt with fresh (or dried) blueberries, or cherries, with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. If you like the idea of a beverage better, add some ice, or better yet use frozen fruit, and turn this combo into a smoothie. Feelin’ better already?

Interested in learning more about the nuts and bolts of muscle response to exercise? Check out this article from Scientific American.

What do you think? Do you have a post-workout favorite food? Maybe a smoothie recipe you’d be willing to share? Share your input in the comment section below!

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Jen JasminJennifer Jasmin is a nutritionist and freelance writer living in Watertown, Massachusetts.  She holds a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College, and a Graduate Certificate in Dietetics from Simmons College.  In her work, Jen strives to help people find balance between real nutrition facts, and realistic health and fitness goals.   Her background also includes over 15 years working in the food service industry, which adds to her unique perspective on eating well.  She shares her insights, personal cooking lessons, and recipe ideas on her blog at: www.skeletonsinmykitchen.com.  In addition to writing, Jen shares her passion about healthy eating in casual, approachable nutrition seminars and workshops in both corporate and community settings.  To Jen, the journey to wellness is incredibly personal, and should be approached in a way that is individual, actionable and unpretentious.