yoga as only exercise? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 05-01-2006, 09:39 AM
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Could doing yoga (active yoga in a hot room) for 1.5 hours a day count for exercise? I have started doing it but before I just worked out at the gym (running, elliptical, a few weights) a few days a week. I much prefer yoga but I don't know how it compares to traditional workout stuff...
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#2 Old 05-01-2006, 10:39 AM
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That's definitely exercise. If you work up a sweat you're exercising.
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#3 Old 05-01-2006, 11:48 AM
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first, the heated room is irrelevant. it can be helpful and has many theraputic benefits, but it's not absolutely necessary to the practice of yoga or for the practice of yoga to function as exercise.



traditional western exercise focuses on developing these elements: strength and muscle balance; flexibility and agility; and cardio vascular health. strength and muscle balance is gained through weigh training or weight-bearing exercise. flexibility and agility are often gained through stretching routines; and cardio-vascular health is achieved through activities such as running or walking.



Yoga asana practice focuses on the same elements, but in a combined fashion. Most hot yoga routines (two most common forms of hot yoga in the US are baptiste style power yoga which is a vinyasa form and bikram yoga which is a static form of yoga asana) focus on weight bearing asanas or postures. This means that these movements function similarly to western weight training. Each of these movements, though, is a functional movement that works opposing muscle groups--strengthening or providing weight-bearing movement for one muscle group while simultaneously providing stretching movements for the opposing muscle group. Thus, yoga asanas increase flexibility and agility just as a separate stretching routine does in traditoinal western exercise. Finally, yoga practices focus on keeping the breath calm and steady, which functions as a cardio-vascular exercise. In cardio (western), the idea is to increase the capacity of the cardio-vascular system over time. By controling the breath and heart rate during the movement (and it takes time to develop this), you are working the C-V system and doing yoga in this way increases capacity and health. Therefore, it deminishes the need for extra cardio activities such as we would do in the west.



In this way, yoga is "all that you need" for fitness. But, it may not be all that you want for movement, for joy. if you like weight training, then you should do it. If you don't like it, yoga is all that you need. if you like certain cardio activities like running, swimming, or cycling, then you should do it. If you dont' like it, then yoga is all that you need.



Also, it is important to note that yoga goes far beyond the physical. yoga works the energetic, hormonal, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of your being (body). so, it's probably the best, most integrated form of 'exercise' available.
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#4 Old 05-01-2006, 12:23 PM
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Well, as a yoga instructor I like to think that 90 minutes of yoga counts as exercise. Why should it not?

If you want to make it more challenging, add leg weights and hand weights to your routine.
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#5 Old 05-01-2006, 01:13 PM
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no, do not add leg or wrist weights to your routine. that's ridiculous, it will throw off the movement of the asanas and it will definately throw off the energetic movement.



it's also completely unnecessary. if you're doing yoga properly, then the postures as they are will be difficult enough. in and of themselves, with breath work and focus, the postures will do all the physical work that you need them to do for fitness as well as for energetic and other spiritual work that is going on in body, mind, and spirit.



there is no need to use weights, unless you're using sand bags (usually 3 to 5 lbs) to help deepen a stretch. and even then, they should be used sparingly and with a teacher to help you use them.
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#6 Old 05-01-2006, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by zoebird View Post

no, do not add leg or wrist weights to your routine. that's ridiculous, it will throw off the movement of the asanas and it will definately throw off the energetic movement.



Actually it's not ridiculous many yoga instructors, including myself, are incorporating weights that can be worn around arms and ankles to add an extra challenge to those who want it. It doesn't throw off your movement of the asanas if done properly. I'm not saying strap on a 20lb weight on your arm, 1-2lbs are recommended but it can help strengthen your practice.



http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...v=glance&n=130



http://www.powerofyoga.com/news/weights-ij.html
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#7 Old 05-01-2006, 02:38 PM
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yes, and i think those teachers are ridiculous too.



it doesn't actually add to the movements at all--in most cases. i've even taken some of these classes and asked these teachers why they are doing things--to which they say all sorts of ridiculous things. in my experience, these teachers are both inexperienced in fitness and in yoga.



it really doesn't add anything to the yoga, and it does throw off the movement and alignment of the poses. I'm not just talking out of my a$$ about this.
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#8 Old 05-01-2006, 03:27 PM
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Zoebird, but wouldn't it make it more difficult to hold your arms up, for instance, and thus make you work harder, gain strength, and burn more calories? If you have one on both wrists, isn't it balanced?
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#9 Old 05-01-2006, 05:05 PM
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It seems like adding weights would be bad for your joints.
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#10 Old 05-01-2006, 05:23 PM
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i agree 1000% with zoebird on this- weights should not be incorporated into asana practice-ever. if you are truly working in each pose, not sitting in your joints but using the muscles your practice will be plenty exersise.



IMO, teachers who use weights don't know enough about alignment to insure that all the muscles are engaged in a pose and use the wieghts to make it "harder" when they could simply insure that the student is not resting in the joints.
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#11 Old 05-01-2006, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by zoebird View Post

yes, and i think those teachers are ridiculous too.



it doesn't actually add to the movements at all--in most cases. i've even taken some of these classes and asked these teachers why they are doing things--to which they say all sorts of ridiculous things. in my experience, these teachers are both inexperienced in fitness and in yoga.



it really doesn't add anything to the yoga, and it does throw off the movement and alignment of the poses. I'm not just talking out of my a$$ about this.





not only are they ridiculous- they are bad teachers.



i
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#12 Old 05-01-2006, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by zoebird View Post

first, the heated room is irrelevant. it can be helpful and has many theraputic benefits, but it's not absolutely necessary to the practice of yoga or for the practice of yoga to function as exercise.



traditional western exercise focuses on developing these elements: strength and muscle balance; flexibility and agility; and cardio vascular health. strength and muscle balance is gained through weigh training or weight-bearing exercise. flexibility and agility are often gained through stretching routines; and cardio-vascular health is achieved through activities such as running or walking.



Yoga asana practice focuses on the same elements, but in a combined fashion. Most hot yoga routines (two most common forms of hot yoga in the US are baptiste style power yoga which is a vinyasa form and bikram yoga which is a static form of yoga asana) focus on weight bearing asanas or postures. This means that these movements function similarly to western weight training. Each of these movements, though, is a functional movement that works opposing muscle groups--strengthening or providing weight-bearing movement for one muscle group while simultaneously providing stretching movements for the opposing muscle group. Thus, yoga asanas increase flexibility and agility just as a separate stretching routine does in traditoinal western exercise. Finally, yoga practices focus on keeping the breath calm and steady, which functions as a cardio-vascular exercise. In cardio (western), the idea is to increase the capacity of the cardio-vascular system over time. By controling the breath and heart rate during the movement (and it takes time to develop this), you are working the C-V system and doing yoga in this way increases capacity and health. Therefore, it deminishes the need for extra cardio activities such as we would do in the west.



In this way, yoga is "all that you need" for fitness. But, it may not be all that you want for movement, for joy. if you like weight training, then you should do it. If you don't like it, yoga is all that you need. if you like certain cardio activities like running, swimming, or cycling, then you should do it. If you dont' like it, then yoga is all that you need.



Also, it is important to note that yoga goes far beyond the physical. yoga works the energetic, hormonal, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of your being (body). so, it's probably the best, most integrated form of 'exercise' available.





WOW what a great post, thanks!!!



I was actually wondering the same thing... I love doing yoga, but I feel as though I have to do other type of exercise to lose weight (cardio and weight trainning)... however, thinking back, when I was doing yoga everyday was when I was the skiniest!!! I should go back and do it daily again. The problem is that there is only one class at the gym that I like (only Mondays). I enjoy doing tapes at home, but I'm bored now with the ones I have... I need to get new tapes... any suggestions on yoga tapes?



Thank you much,



Carla
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#13 Old 05-01-2006, 05:52 PM
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i agree 1000% with zoebird on this- weights should not be incorporated into asana practice-ever. if you are truly working in each pose, not sitting in your joints but using the muscles your practice will be plenty exersise.



IMO, teachers who use weights don't know enough about alignment to insure that all the muscles are engaged in a pose and use the wieghts to make it "harder" when they could simply insure that the student is not resting in the joints.



When you put it that way, it makes sense. Thanks.
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#14 Old 05-01-2006, 06:14 PM
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When you put it that way, it makes sense. Thanks.



your welcome. I see it all the time- students take "power yoga" in which the teacher just cranks up the heat and moves them through the poses very very quickly- then they they take my plain old yoga class where they have to imagine they are squeezing a block in their hands when they are raised overhead, or scraping the walls as they inhale them up in Surya Namaskar... and realize that slowly and mindfully will be just as challenging if not more that "speed" yoga.



I took a training with Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller and all they had us in was Tadasana ,Trikonasa and Balasana the first day and I had to go home and soak in epsom. that's where I learned about true muscle engagment.
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#15 Old 05-01-2006, 06:19 PM
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Elena:



{quote]but wouldn't it make it more difficult to hold your arms up, for instance, and thus make you work harder, gain strength, and burn more calories?[/quote]



once in the position, it would make certain aspects of the posture more difficult--but not in a way that the posture is meant to be more difficult. It won't make you work harder for the pose itself, but simply make you work harder for the purpose of working unnecessarily harder. there is no specific benefit to the purpose of the yoga posture itself or for that matter, to the purpose of yoga itself.



If, for example, you're working Warrior II pose, then weights in the hands or on the wrists will make maintaining the arms in this posture more difficult. But the emphasis of this posture is not on the arms. The arms are meant to be light and extending here. Yes, one works the arms, but the emphasis on the posture is on the lunge and hip opening process. What good to this point does the weight do?



Also, if i'm coming into warrior II, from which posture am i coming? if i'm coming from warrior I or from downward dog or from wide leg forward bend or from mountain pose, then how i move the arms into position in their due time is important. With weights on the arms, i have a momentum issue, and that can throw me off balance when entering the posture. This is unnecessary, as the balance in this posture is already difficult. If one is actually doing the posture, and doing, attentively, every aspect of the transition properly, it's already difficult enough--and the weights increase a risk for injury (such as the joint issue, as well as loosing balance, as well as potential muscle tears from momentum, etc) and do so unnecessarily.



Each asana is already perfect in form and structure. Nothing needs to be added. Each posture is structured to increase physical vitality and energetic power. But, most people don't even have the basic alignment right to begin with. most people who are beginning or advanced have to do any number of modifications to help them enter the appropriate alignment for proper physical and energetic movment in the posture. Learning a single posture, properly, can take decades--even a lifetime. If most people cannot even do the posture in the most basic sense, and working the alignment of that posture is already difficult to them because of their own physical and energetic imbalances, why would i add something to these postures to make it more difficult, thus not only increasing their risk of injury, but also decreasing their ability to learn the pose with proper alignment?



This 'extra work' will make them work harder, but in the wrong direction. When people do not work proper alignment (with modifications) in a posture, they are at a great risk for injury. what is important is to learn the proper alignment and how to maintain it while holding the pose. This requires both focus and effort. why would i increase the risk for injury by allowing a person to do a posture wrong (not working hard enough) such that they feel they need to "increase the effort" by adding weights, which only increases their risk for injury? If i focus on alignment, it will be effort enough. In fact, most of my clients--whether they are brand new and i'm their first teacher or i'm their 30th teacher--say that i'm the toughest teacher they've ever had who teaches the most dynamic and challenging classes they've ever taken. And i teach 'mixed levels' for the most part.



gain strength



if you're trying to increase arm and shoulder strength, then do postures that emphasize this. with over 6,000 yoga postures to choose from, not every posture has to be one that 'works the arms' or 'works the legs' in emphasis. If you want stronger arms, work arm balances like plank pose, four-limb staff pose, crow pose, hand stand, and a myriad of others. If you want stronger legs, work balancing postures and the various postures that incorporate lunges. If you want stronger abdominals, work the bandhas or locks throughout the whole practice--most yoga postures incorporate abdominals already. If you want a stronger back, then work on back bends, particularly those which start in the supine position.



different yoga postures work different physical areas of the body (usually in tandem groups) and they also work the energetic body differently. If you want a good exercise for the arms, shoulders, chest, upper back (traps), and abdominals, upward facing dog is an excellent choice. In fact, an amazing exercise for this area is to work a vinyasa of: Chaturanga dandhasana (four limb staff pose) on the exhale and Urdhva Muka Svanasana (upward dog) on the inhale. If you do each posture with perfect alignment and perfect transition--no belly flop, no flaccid thighs, no dropping into shoulders--then you'll get an arm, chest, back (trap), belly, thigh work out that you won't believe. this also super charges the heart and throat chakras (between open and neutral), and maintains constancy in the third or power charka. it's a pretty potent connection--and lets not talk about the nadis and meridians down the arms and legs and how they function.



It is possible to simply use yoga poses themselves to gain strength in certain areas. One of my clients related a story to me today about how her karate teacher is preparing her for the black belt test. He got all of the students who are prepping for this test in one area and had them do this exercise where their arms were out in front of them, one palm up and one palm down. they were in partners, and the other partner stood facing them, hands in opposite directions, over each others hands, without the hands touching. Then, a weighted sand bag was placed on the arms of those practicing. My client only does karate and yoga. She's done karate for years, and continually her teacher has told her to work on arm and shoulder strength. She took up yoga on a whim about 5-6 months ago and enjoys it greatly. This was her first test of shoulder/arm strength since starting yoga. She was able to hold the position longer than her partner and longer than anyone in the class. When everyone else was finished, the teacher kept her there, and began to add weight to her arms. she had nearly 20 lbs of sand bag on her arms--and had been standing there for over 30 minutes--before her arms started to shake. All of this from yoga with good alignment! She is thrilled, and so is her teacher! (and so am i!)



Her alignment, though, in certain yoga poses isn't great. This strength that she's developing will help with it. because she can do this in karate and has 'decent' alignment, should i let her add weights to certain movements? I don't think so. She still has to learn alignment--and doing so will increase her strength. And, once she learns the alignment of these basic poses that we do, she can begin to add more difficult postures that require more arm strength--such as certain arm balances or work like handstand. Why would i even think to add weights when yoga is naturally progressive and has more difficult postures to move into that would require more strength to develop over time to do them? and how would weights help with this development?



quite honestly, it wouldn't.



burn more calories



yoga isn't really focused on burning more calories per se. but, there is a kriya practice in asana practice that is called tapas. it refers to burning away impurities--and is had other interpretations as well. but in this context, it refers to sweating and burning away impurities.



if a student applies right effort to the asana, as well as engaging pranayama (energetic movement, predominently focused around breath) properly, then they will enter a space called tapas--they will begin sweating. in fact, i practiced with one of my teachers outdoors in winter time. she suggested that i only wear 'normal' yoga clothes--which are light. i had a light long sleeved T and capri length yoga pants. I was snowing at the time. Within 5 minutes, i was warm and sweating profusely. This is because i was able to access the prana that would increase body temperature and cause me to sweat. My teacher also achieved the same result within a few moments.



the effort of doing yoga asana--with pranayama--is enough to help one burn calories. weights do not help one burn more calories. it is the lack of effort that causes people to burn fewer calories in yoga class--if they think they are not burning enough. Many people are lazy, they do not focus on alignment, they do not focus at all. I have had clients whom i adjust to the correct position (modifications) and then as soon as i step away they move back into their lazy position. These students often do not sweat because they are not putting the effort forth in yoga. And without the effort--it doesn't matter what the activity--you're not going to burn many calories. but, by doing, and with the right effort, you burn the appropriate amount of calories.
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#16 Old 05-01-2006, 06:23 PM
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no, do not add leg or wrist weights to your routine

. that's ridiculous, it will throw off the movement of the asanas and it will definately throw off the energetic movement.



it's also completely unnecessary. if you're doing yoga properly, then the postures as they are will be difficult enough. in and of themselves, with breath work and focus, the postures will do all the physical work that you need them to do for fitness as well as for energetic and other spiritual work that is going on in body, mind, and spirit.



there is no need to use weights, unless you're using sand bags (usually 3 to 5 lbs) to help deepen a stretch. and even then, they should be used sparingly and with a teacher to help you use them.



I ditto this..

no reason at all to add weights to a yoga routine.
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#17 Old 05-01-2006, 06:36 PM
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Zoebird: Purrpelle already convinced me, but thanks for responding.



Yoga isn't about burning calories, I agree, but some people take it for that. My main attraction to yoga is feeling more centered and improving my balance and strength.
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#18 Old 05-02-2006, 01:28 AM
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I'd say to include some cardio in there. Just to raise your pulse, but other then that, yoga can be your only excersize. I do yoga seven days a week for at least an hour a day. I've started adding to this though because I need to get in better shape. I run, I love running, and I take kick boxing and tai chi.



Oh, and make sure the room isn't too hot. It was big trend a few years ago because you could loose a ton of weight that way. But its really unhealthy and very easy for you get dehydrated.
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#19 Old 05-02-2006, 01:38 AM
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yes, and i think those teachers are ridiculous too.



it doesn't actually add to the movements at all--in most cases. i've even taken some of these classes and asked these teachers why they are doing things--to which they say all sorts of ridiculous things. in my experience, these teachers are both inexperienced in fitness and in yoga.



it really doesn't add anything to the yoga, and it does throw off the movement and alignment of the poses. I'm not just talking out of my a$$ about this.



I had one of my students ask me when I would incorperate weights into my class. I told her if she'd like to lift weights I reccommened the gym just down the street, its where I work out and everyone is very lovely there. Yoga isn't for weight training.



I haven't stopped any of my students from using them. But I do tell them I find that they lack benifits and that if they aren't being challenged enough in the class to sign up for a more advanced class.
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#20 Old 05-02-2006, 06:44 AM
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i don't discourage people from weight training or other forms of exercise. i do discourage them from mixing these things with yoga (that is, adding weights to yoga classes) for the reasons that i mentioned before. if a person enjoys lifting weights (as i do), then they should do that.



cardio, extra cardio, is not necessary. a yoga practice burns enough calories in the 1.5 hours of diligent practice to meet whatever the need. between asana and pranayama practices, the cardio-vascular requirements are met. cardio activities, though, can be fun and if a person likes to go swimming or running or whatever, then they should.
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#21 Old 05-02-2006, 08:11 AM
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I do light weight training as well (trying to just add some meat to my bones). I say because, well, I'm not really weight training. I just go to the gym and lift weights.



I personally enjoy running (clears my mind and burns nervous energy). I've just always learned it was important to get your heart rate up while working out. Though according to my sister, sitting her with her nutrition book wide open, I was gravely misinformed. If I don't tell her she's right and I'm wrong, she threating to call our doctor and nutritionist.
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#22 Old 05-02-2006, 08:26 AM
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well, you have to consider how yoga works. how cardio works.



here's the thing about cardio--when you first start out in an activity, your heart rate goes up quickly and usually you can't sustain it for very long. But once you become more accustomed to the exercise, your heart rate goes up to a certain level, and then it can stay there longer. it may take longer to get there, or it may take more intensity to get it there. Am i being clear about this?



this is why many people may start off running for the first time doing a run/walk split. their bodies do not have the cardio-vascular ability to maintain running for any distance. but with time and practice, they'll eventually be able to run marathons. this is how cardio works.



yoga works similarly. when people start taking yoga, they tend to breathe really heavy, sweat a lot, and find that yoga is a 'very challenging work out.' eventually, they develope the cardio capacity to do the class with less huffing and puffing--with a more regulated breath. this means that their CV capacity has increased.



if the school of yoga focuses on regulating the breath to begin with, then it almost doesn't matter which poses the person does or doesn't do. the focus is on the breath work, which works the CV system. increasing lung capacity and focus, people develop stronger lungs and their circulatory system begins to regulate along the breath.



i find that while my breath is regulated, my pulse is often working at a 'cardio' level. I do not feel stressed or challenged, but my body is doing the work necessary. my breath is steady, my mind is steady, the postures are steady. The breathing is the real key here.



and it works in other places. for example, for one year my only 'fitness' was walking with my husband (about 30 minutes) and 1.5 hours of yoga a day (vigorous practice). when we went hiking with our friend who hikes every weekend and often once during the week, he said to me 'oh, you'll never make it, you're not in good enough cardio shape!' but, the whole hike, i was a good 100 ft in front of him in the hike, and rarely winded. I used pranayama techniques while hiking and found that i had a great deal of stamina and no problem with the day-long hikes in Maine. So, it definately worked my CV system.



but again, if you want to do cardio activities, then you should do them. if you don't want to do them, in general you do not need to.
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#23 Old 05-02-2006, 09:53 AM
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That actually makes perfect sense. My brain's been a little fried with finals and everything. I actually alrady knew a good amount of that (I had to learn it a few different times). But right now, I can't think outside my classes. I'm so glad finals are in a week.
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#24 Old 05-02-2006, 01:23 PM
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it's always good to get through finals.
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