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Yoga is a centuries old art that uses specific postures and breathing techniques intended to provide those who practice it with physical health benefits that include increased flexibility, stamina, strength, muscle tone as well as mental-psychological benefits such as improved concentration, relief of tension and inner calm.

One learns and practice in groups or alone a series of postures which are held briefly or for longer periods. One can practice yoga in groups, usually for an hour or less or individually, sometimes for no more than 10 minutes or so, usually in the morning. Yoga, even for only a few minutes after arising, can ease soreness associated with sleeping in awkward positions as well as calm the mind and provide a degree of emotional balance with which to start one’s day.

One usually practices before breakfast, moving slowly, waking the body gently. For some physical conditions for which one often or generally avoids most exercise yoga can be practiced except that a number of yoga positions are to be avoided.

One usually starts with relatively simple, non-stressful poses: cat and dog tilts for example.  Some will try to add the treading the needle or puppy do positions at an early stage. One then often proceeds to warrior 1 or a victory pose and develop proper warrior breathing. In a second stage simple and advanced twist positions, both sitting or lying on one’s back, are learned as well as the so-called  sphinx and cobra positions.  The downward dog, dolphin, and other positions may be regarded as more strenuous and thus attempted later in the work out, the triangle pose as well as the child pose. The latter is often used as a resting pose in which the back muscles are stretched in a restful way.

There are many additional poses which offer challenging positions to those who go beyond the beginning stages as of yoga. You can look into them individually or study them first in beginning classes or in later intermediate or advanced classes.

On Dietary Change When You Begin Exercising

While you are getting your exercise program going, trying different ideas and getting accustomed to exercising every day, a little discussion about diet is in order. It ‘s important for those who are just beginning to exercise that just as you are beginning to take on new exercise routines  slowly  so also you should change hour diet slowly, yet not too slowly.

Several ideas or strategies should be kept in mind: (1) Change from eating larger meals to smaller ones, indeed snacking  5 – 6 times a day instead of eating larger meals 2 – 3 times a day. (2) Eliminate junk foods and emphasize more protein and fiber at the expense of carbohydrate and fat. This means eliminating or reducing drastically your intake of of starchy,  processed foods. (3) In the beginning it’s important to keep the changes simple. Add oatmeal for breakfast, mixed with dried fruits and nuts and perhaps a little raw honey. Pour over a bed of mixed fruits (3-4 different ones). Preferably the fruits should have high antioxidant content and be low in glycemic index. Examples include kiwi! blueberries! dark red or black grapes, raspberries, and so on. You can make your own list.

(4) Alternative breakfasts can include mixtures of yogurt, added cut-up fresh fruits, dry high-protein grain cereals or a high protein smoothie prepared from a mixture of fruits, juice, yogurt and protein powder.

(5) Snacks can include vegetables, fruits, almonds or some other nuts, low fat cheeses on a minimum number of crackers.

(6) Lunches can be salads topped with some tuna, salmon or alternative fish, or poultry ( chicken or turkey). You can add a wide variety of vegetables, some fruits as well as nuts. You can add slices of freshly cooked hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese , slices of cheddar or other cheeses.  You can tire of salads easily unless to interject substantial variety into them. You need not have salad each day, but you should have a mixture of raw vegetables together perhaps with some chicken or fish. The side can be several slices of tomatoes over a few lettuce leaves.

(7) Dinner can include fish, chicken preferably boiled or roasted plus several vegetables.  Mixtures of vegetables only can be backed in a squash with some cooked wild rice mixed in. Over time you will find that preparing soups ahead of time and having a small bowl of lunch or even for a snack is an option. Eat mainly high protein, dark multigrain breads, but not in high quantity. Drink plenty of water each day.

Resuming the Blog

I’ve just taken a couple of months vacation from this blog and now is perhaps a good time to resume writing. I’m not certain I will write every day as I did before my vacation, but I do feel as though my batteries have been regenerated. I will try to write 2-3 times a week at least. As before, the posts may have little to do with what is going on in the world. While what is happening currently is certainly important, most of us frankly need a rest from the madness.

While I was away I invested in a “fitbit” device and, as advertised, it is helping me to stay focused on my exercise routines generally and also has helped me keep track of what I’ve been doing to stay fit. I’ve also kept regular readers in mind and I have more to say. I’ve done a bit of reading and thinking and I’ll say more about that as we go along.

Growth Of Poverty — The Economically Dispossessed

Gradually, over the last 20 years or more, America has experienced a wide separation of wealth. Many at the top get more wealthy but many many more reach further toward a bottom that seems to have no limit. At one point the view was that a “rising tide floats all boats,” suggesting that when one or a few do well that we all do well. But no one believes that anymore. Increasingly, those at the bottom multiply in number earning less and living at or close to the edge of poverty. This may not be deliberate policy, but it is the direction of things presently. Indeed, it now appears that on the order of two-thirds of America’s children are born into poverty. Slowly but steadily the safety net is disappearing.

Increasingly, people are forced to survive on less and less. More walk and bike, while some still have cars for transportation to jobs that inevitably pay less. Some share rides, or other assets, live together in sometimes larger but older apartments to avoid homelessness. But that’s increasingly unavoidable for many. Gradually many people are coming together with mutually supportive skills, where the combination of one with another becomes better than two. American society is gradually splitting into two separate fragments or perhaps more than two: those with adequate net worth to survive and thrive and those without an adequate support structure to survive on their own.

Supplementary Funds In Retirement

The best way to begin setting up a way to earn supplementary funds in retirement is to first take an inventory of what you have done for yourself over time. In my own case that’s a lengthy list of relatively simple chores that were easy enough for me to to, but hard enough that if someone else were to do them for me, they would charge me. When I retired I thought it was time for me to turn that around.

If you want to go the same route, the first thing to do is to collect and organize all the tools you’ve purchased over the years and clean them up. Then make a lengthy list of everything around the house that needs fixing. Then fix everything on the list. You will clean the grout between the tiles wherever you have light colored tiles and grout. You will patch over small or large holes in walls (if there are any) sand down any rough edges and paint them. You will change or clean the air filters. You will make repairs on chairs and tables or other pieces of wood furniture using matching wood stains, after repairing or rebuilding any unstable pieces. Repair doors, windows and create special insulating solutions so that you don’t have any wind tunnels anywhere.

You will change out the batteries in the smoke detectors, garage door openers and replace batteries anywhere in the house they may be needed. Repair drips in faucets, clogged drains. Check and Then repair light plumbing problems in all inside systems as well as in the automatic sprinkler system outside if you have one. Leave all the heavy plumbing problems for a professional. Do light painting jobs both inside and outside. On the outside use added polymer beads added to the paint to improve the insulating quality of the paint. Learn how to repair cracks in cement patios walls and floors before you paint. If you don’t know what insulating polymer beads added to paints are read about them. Indeed, for anything you are not sure about, read up on it in books — but first google it and read everything you find.

By the time you finish all of the above you will have a list of everything you are capable of doing around the house to improve it for whatever reason. You may be ready to hire out as a home repair handy man. Have some cards printed advertising what you do. Keep it simple. Set up your smart phone to take credit card payments and aps to organize business expenditures.

Separately do all the necessary work in the yard around your house on the outside. Plant flowers, exotics plants, a vegetable or herb garden. Mulch around major bushes or evergreens. Recycle all green refuse if there is room somewhere for a mulch pile. If you can take care of your own yard, you may be able to do the same for others. This might include preparing and selling some starter plants for gardens. If it does you should plan to do something unique as there is plenty of competition for such services.

In general, whether you are doing outside or inside work you can save lots of money by doing most simple chores youself, and given that you know the work well you can set a fee schedule that will allow you to charge others fairly for such services. If you decide to do some part time work you will be able to supplement your retirement income at the level you need. You will also gain by repairing and doing things for yourself that you will then not have to pay others to do.

And You Thought All Traces Of The Neanderthal In Us Were Gone

In most depictions of the Neanderthals we apparently left behind us as we came out of Africa many thousands of years ago, he is depicted as dim-witted and hunched over clearly unable to compete with our main ancestors who were by comparison in those same drawings depicted as the far more intelligent-looking humans. We were supposed to have just out-competed our Neanderthal brothers, largely ignoring them as we took what food and resources we needed while they died off. However, based on DNA evidence presented in recent reports in both Science and Nature it appears that on average about one percent of the DNA present in modern humans is derived from Neanderthals. Some of us contain a little more, but what is interesting is what that surviving Neanderthal DNA codes for. Up to about 70 percent of our Neanderthal DNA codes for hair and skin proteins. These are supposed to have conferred advantages of lighter skin including including vitamin D synthesizing machinery present in the Neanderthal but not in our ancestors coming out of Africa.

So apparently some of our African ancestors mated with Neanderthals before they largely died out. Gradually the Neanderthal genes noted were distributed throughout the population. They’ve been retained over many generations as they conferred certain survival advantages that may not be limited to the speculations noted above. In speech and communication tissues for example as in the genes that determine sex (maleness) there are no traces of Neanderthal DNA.

The Steady Increase in Longevity

The growth of longevity in the population is complicated, and the factors that contribute are perhaps more easily assessed when long time periods and large populations are considered in historical perspective. For example, the advent of antibiotics and anti-infectious agents early in the 20th century led to remarkable changes in death rates in early childhood and over time led to major increases in life expectancy.

Over the next 40 to 60 years life expectancy gradually increased. These increases were added to by steady improvements in hygiene, removal or reduction of environmental toxins, improvement of safety in cities, and additional medical advances that improved the chances of recovery in many diseases that were formerly fatal. Countering factors led to earlier that expected deaths in some cases. But, in general, life expectancy measurably improved over the 20th century. We started the 20th century expecting to live to be 40 – 45 and ended the century expecting to live on average into our late 70s or longer. Those born in this century have a measurable chance of living beyond 100.

Tobbaco smoking and related uses of tobacco increased during the 20th century and this led to marked increases in a number of cancers, notably lung cancer. Diagnosis was often too late to effect recovery. Thus, as tobacco use increased, early deaths from tobacco use increased and continued to increase as tobacco use increased. Tobacco use increased from the early part of the century and peaked in the 1940s and 50s. In the early 1960s efforts were made to reduce tobacco use successfully. Use of tobacco has been cut in half, but it has taken a while for those effects to show up since most cancers due to tobacco use don’t show up for a number of years. Recently, it has been estimated that lives have been extended for about 20 years for about 8 million Americans as a result of the program that began in the 1960s. Indeed, it took until 1996 for death rates to peak and then to begin to decline.

Still, longevity continues to increase slowly, but can be affected by countering problems like tobacco use. Currently, overweight and obesity have increased in the U.S. and, indeed, worldwide. Over 60 – 65 percent of the population is overweight or obese. This has led to increased insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular and renal problems as well as an increased incidence of cancers that may be directly traced to overweight and obesity and the attendant lack of exercise. These conditions may be reduced as we have seen for tobacco use, but it may take a while to see the effects. Indeed, the above list of chronic conditions and cancers have increased while medicine has improved methods of their treatment — often turning them into treatable non-life-threatening conditions. In general, the costs of treating those who are overweight or obese have been increasing. Yet, reduced life expectancy due to carrying excessive weight has really not shown up yet. If it does, it may not occur for another 20 – 40 years. When it does life expectancy is expected to drop by 3 – 5 years at least.