Double Pigeon – Deep Hip Opener for Even Tight Hips

Posted in Asanas (yoga poses), Movement | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chest Opener with Massage Therapy Balls

So many of us suffer from “slouch-asana” because of poor posture, carrying heavy bags, too much time hunched over the computer, or texting, or driving. Whatever the reason, this repeated hunched posture creates tension in our chests leading to shallow breathing, painful shoulders / back and stress, and even more shallow breathing, and even more pain & stress. It’s a horrible cycle. Break that cycle by simply creating more space in the muscles in your chest.

 

Posted in Balls, Movement | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shoulder Work

Posted in Asanas (yoga poses), Biomechanics (corrective exercises), Movement, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Spiral Up

When I was in middle or high school, my mother introduced me to the writing of Louise Hay. It was the first time I had been exposed to affirmations and the link between the emotional and physical world. I wasn’t sure if I completely believed it but I did find it interesting! Through every move I’ve made over the years, those books went with me but I would go months or even years without looking at them.
Around age 19, I started meditating using Edgar Cayce tapes. Every day, for a few years I meditated. Any time I felt overwhelmed I immediately added an extra little meditation that day.
I don’t know why, but at some point I drifted away from affirmations and meditation. Ironically, it was around the same time that my physical yoga practice deepened.
Maybe I thought that I only needed one “spiritual” practice?
If that was the case, it turns out I was wrong. Life is a spiritual practice and the more ways you approach it, the better equipped you are to cope with difficulties.
Perhaps more importantly though, the more “tools in your toolbox”(i.e., affirmations, meditation, yoga, self-care, etc…)  you have, the more life doesn’t become difficult.
I don’t mean you start pooping unicorn rainbows (that only happens when you use the squatty potty! 😜) but that you see the world differently and therefore interact with it differently. Because of that, people approach you differently and many problems simply disappear. The difficulties that remain don’t impact you in the same way.
I’ve reignited my meditation and affirmation practice and my yoga practice has changed. It’s become more welcoming. I have nothing to prove on the mat. It’s about finding what I need that day.
Maybe I’m listening to myself without the distraction of other voices? (and by other voices I mean the ones inside my own head – people really aren’t thinking about us as much as we think they are!)
 
It seems that each of my “tools” fuel the others. I meditate and I view myself as worthy of only the most wonderful fuel for my body. I feed my body glorious foods* and my body responds by giving me a beautiful and loving yoga practice. That yoga practice leaves me with yoga bliss! Yoga bliss gives me a glow and allows me to give kindness to everyone (ok, not everyone but definitely most people and it allows me to let the mean folk roll right off my back).
*Disclaimer: If you know me well, you know I have an intense sweet tooth. I love my green juices but I also love a little bit of chocolate. I’m incredibly picky though and it better be hella good if I’m going to indulge! I’m not jeopardizing my machine for some gas station chocolate bar!!
 
You get the point. It’s a beautiful upward spiral*.
Second Disclaimer: I don’t beat myself up if I’m not 24/7 perfect. This isn’t a competition, folks.
The best part is you can start anywhere with anything. Start seeing beauty in yourself. If you can’t see it yet, talk to me because I can see it in you.
You are alive and by virtue of being a human and being alive, you are worthy of being loved by others and by yourself!
I guess what I’m saying is Spiral Up, my friend!
xoxo
Posted in Meditation, Movement, Uncategorized, Wellness | Leave a comment

5 Reasons to Stand Up Straight

 

5 Reasons to Stand Up Straight*: Surprising Reasons to Stop Slouching-

1. Less back pain. Sitting in front of your computer or in the car all day — especially in a hunched or slouched position — increases pressure on disks in the spine, which can cause its supporting muscles and ligaments to degenerate sooner, says Esther Yaniv, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist in Austin, TX. This can lead to back pain and may worsen herniated disks or pinched nerves.

2. More energy. Good circulation is crucial to keeping your mind alert and body energized. But slumping tightens your chest and compresses your lungs — which means less oxygen makes its way into your bloodstream, leaving you tired, stressed, and mentally foggy. And strain in any part of your body saps energy, says Yaniv: “Tense postures have the same fatiguing effect as holding a biceps curl for two hours.”

3. Fewer headaches. Headaches are a common by-product of our constant use of computers and other electronic gadgets — notice how gravity draws your head forward when you’re staring at a screen. Trouble is, that position pulls on neck muscles and sensitive nerves in the back of your head and cuts blood flow to the brain. The result: a throbbing noggin. Sit straighter and you’ll prevent the pain.

4. Fewer bone and joint aches. Poor posture can be a slowly occurring injury that can lead to the shortening of muscles over time. For example, slouching when you’re sitting causes hip flexors to become shorter and less flexible than they should be, leading to joint pain. And if you sit with rounded shoulders, you may get rotator-cuff pain. Over time, this wear and tear can lead to arthritis.

5. Better digestion. Slouching on the sofa after eating causes your tummy muscles to tighten, which can push stomach acid into your esophagus and cause heartburn. Standing or sitting up straight allows your digestive system to work more efficiently, so you won’t experience that or other gastro problems, like gas.

*From Posture Facebook page

Posted in Biomechanics (corrective exercises), Movement, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness, Self-Care, & How You Can Change The World

I teach a weekly class where one client is always negative. She complains about most everything. The class is in a residential building and other residents know this about her and try to keep their distance. When I see her, I try to keep my energy calm and lead by example.

I wonder about people like this.

She doesn’t deal with chronic pain (always my first thought since I know how difficult it is to deal with pain on a regular basis). She’s been this way for years from what I’ve heard.

Why are some people unhappy? Does she have love in her life? Does she have “people”? Is there any touch in her day?  

It makes me grateful to return every evening to my loving home, to connect with my wonderful community, and to practice self-care through out the day.

With every act of self-care you practice, you subconsciously tell yourself that you love yourself and you realize that you’re worth loving. The more that happens, the more you believe it. It becomes part of your being, your very fiber. You exude it and most people pick up on that. You may find that people are nicer to you. It builds on itself. 

You may tell the guy with the hat how much you love it. You may tell the cashier at the grocery store how fabulous her haircut is. You may tell the child how great his/her glasses are. You may just smile at people. Notice they smile back. You made their day.

Your Self-Care practice made their day! How magical is that?! Being happy is contagious.

(Not sure how to practice Self-Care? Try some of these. Connection is important too. We’re social creatures, even us introverts. We need touch. We need love.)

So getting back to my negative Nelly (and no, her name isn’t Nelly), what to do regarding her? I’ll keep practicing Self-Care, being grateful and leading by example. I offer her kindness and let her make her own choices. … and probably bulk up on kindness to me when I get home! 😉

Try it for a day and let me know how it goes! I want to hear if (more likely, how) your happiness changed your world.

Posted in Meditation, Uncategorized, Wellness | Leave a comment

Backpack Strap Massage

Stress got you down, your back tight, and your shoulders way up? Grab a ball and roll out your tension.

You probably don’t even realize how tight your upper back is. Hours of hunching over your computer, carrying heavy purses/computer bags, and poor posture leaves your trapezius muscles carrying a heavy load (literally!). Be careful and go slowly because it is incredibly tight!

This Back Pack Strap Self-Massage can be intense but only because it needs lots more love from us! Get rollin’ and let me know your thoughts.

 

Posted in Balls | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sand Shifter

I have a joke I’m fond of telling. If you want to make yogis really angry. Go to a really packed weekend workshop but only attend the Sunday session. Get there early and put your mat down in the center of the front row. Watch many of the yogis – who remember are all practicing non-attachment – simultaneously freak out and try desperately to not look like they’re freaking out.

I know I have a warped sense of humor but if it’s any consolation, karma has sunk its fangs in me. Luckily, in hindsight I appreciate the irony!

I keep saying that I think I’m finally finding my footing and feeling like myself again. Then, the sand shifts again and down I slide. Maybe I’m learning to cha cha?  Two steps forward with one step back? Maybe, though, I was having a much harder time than I realized. Maybe I was depressed – maybe?! – and I am feeling more like myself every time but I was really really bad off in the beginning?  Who knows.

What I do know is that I’m relying on all of my self-care tips and I’m still struggling. Maybe the lesson here is to stop struggling. Admit that I’m having a rough time and then let go of it?  Meditate more but not because I’m trying to become anything but because meditation is good for me. I feel better when I do it. Like, immediately better and leave it at that.

Practice yoga more. It doesn’t have to be a full session. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be on the yoga mat but move more. Play with my balls – I have so many different sizes. YTU balls of every size, Yamuna balls, balls whose names I don’t even know. Practice biomechanics and restorative exercises. It doesn’t have to be a long session but use what I know and move my body how it feels good to move it.

Eat food that supports me, not just food that gives me a sugar /processed food rush. Eat food that is yummy and good for me.

Let go of what I think should be happening. I’m not doing as much as I thought I would by now. The work I’m doing is rough. I’m starting over in so many ways but also don’t fixate on that. I’m starting over but I’m doing it with the love and support of a husband whom I respect, value and love so much.

Treat everyone with kindness. What you put out does come back to you. I always helped people network to find the health care providers, jobs, people they needed. I moved back to Florida and people are doing the same for me. At first, I was uncomfortable with it because I have nothing to offer in return and then I remembered how nice it felt to help people in Chicago. I did it without thinking twice and now the favor is being returned and I’m grateful.

Let go of what I thought my life would be. If you compare your life to fantasy, well that probably won’t go very well. On the other hand, when I look around me, I have so many blessings to count. It took me a long time to get where I am today. It’s not where I thought I would be and it’s not even where I thought I wanted to be – Florida anyone?!  – but I’m amazed that if I sit back and forget about the fantasies, I’m really happy, content and grateful – I know that word is getting a lot of play here.

So many things didn’t work out. So many doors were shut in my face. Thankfully they led me to where I am today and thankfully, I’m able to see that now. For a very long time, I only saw the doors closing so now when another door closes, maybe it won’t bother me quite so much. I’m a yogi who is trying to practice non-attachment. I’m standing on shifting sand, after all.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holistic Help for Inflammation

Top Holistic Treatments for Inflammation

The easiest tips to incorporate are to drink more water and rest. I have to be careful with rest though. If it’s discomfort due to my fibromyalgia, I need to move – slowly and gently at first but staying still isn’t helpful.

I’m a big fan of dry brushing – again going very gently but oh my gosh, this feel so good! It increases circulation and helps to bring me back to life.  Anything that increases circulation will be helpful – massage and self-massage. I love my massage therapy balls. Plus the jokes are really helpful for breaking the pain cycle!

Epsom salt baths are a staple in my life too. I probably take at least one a week and sometimes every day.

If you know me, you know I’m borderline obsessed with food and spices/herbs. I’ve long realized there’s a direct connection between what I ingest and how I feel. Everyone is slightly different but below are some great guidelines. Again, though, everyone is different – broccoli and kale are super nutritious but there are conditions making it a no no for some people.

I am not a medical professional. Please work with your doctor to find what works best for you.

Here’s the list. Did I miss anything?  Which are your favorites?

1. Drink more water

2. Rest

3. Heat and Ice Therapy

Ice for trauma with in 48 hours

Heat to increase blood circulation

4. Massage

Improves  blood circulation

Stimulates nerve condition

Facilitates lymphatic drainage

Try self-massage – Lessen Neck and Head StressUpper Back Relief or Help for Your Hands, Wrists, and Forearms

5. Essential Oils

Arnica, Calendula, St John’s Wort or Peppermint relaxes tense muscles and improve circulation

6. Arnica

Stimulates white blood cells and disperses trapped, disorganized fluids from bruised joints, tissues, and muscles

7. Vitamin supplementation

Vitamin D reduces inflammation and vitamin E reduces inflammation as well as cleansing the body of free radicals

8. Dry Brushing

Increase circulation

9. Magnesium – Muscle relaxer

Epsom salt baths at temp ~ 80* for 20 minutes

Magnesium oil spray for 20 minutes or on feet before bed

10. Spices and Herbs

Turmeric (works best when used with Black Pepper), Ginger, Cayenne, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Basil, Cardamom, Chives, Cilantro, Cloves, Garlic & Parsley all have strong anti-inflammatory properties

Golden Milk

recipe here (I use flax milk – anti-inflammatory – instead of the suggested coconut milk)

11. Food Choices

Avoid

Sugar

Corn syrup, Agave, Fructose, Maltose, Sorghum, Sucrose, Hidden places

Try – stevia, honey, molasses, fruit without added sugar

Common Cooking Oils

Vegetable, Grapeseed, Cottonseed, Sunflower, Safflower, Corn

Try – Macadamia oil, Extra Virgin Olive oil (not at high heats), Coconut oil (my personal favorite)

Trans Fats

Processed foods

Try – foods containing no trans fats, cook

Dairy

Try – Kefir and unsweetened yogurt in moderation are fine for some. Almond milks, Coconut milk, Flax Milk (my personal favorite) – make sure your milk does not include carrageenan

Feedlot raised meat

Fed grains like soy, beans and corn which are high in inflammatory omega 6 & low in anti-inflammatory omega 3. Also have hormones and antibiotics

Try – organic, free-range meat

Red Meat and Processed Meat

UCSD School of Medicine study – Neu5Gc -> triggers anti-Neu5Gc  antibodies -> chronic inflammation

Try – red meat in moderation but cut out processed meat

Alcohol

Try – anti-inflammatory green tea

Refined Grains

Whites – rice, flour, bread, noodles, pasta, pastries. Often include other inflammatory ingredients – sugar, trans fats, dairy…

Try – minimally processed foods if you can handle gluten. Don’t trust 100% whole on the box – no guidelines

Artificial Food additives

aspartame, msg

Try – again, cooking

Sensitive foods

Everyone has their own foods that just don’t work for them.

Common foods include nightshades, yeast, soy.

Add

Kelp

Contains fucoidan – anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-oxidative

but not seaweed snack – lots of salt and veg oil

Wild Caught Salmon – not as easily converted inside the body. Also Anchovy (European, raw), Mackerel (salted), Flax seeds, Walnuts 

EPA, DHA – 2 potent omega-3s that help with anti-inflammation

Shiitake Mushrooms

but not deep fried mushrooms

Green Tea

flavonoids – anti-inflammation

Papaya – pineapple

Papain (protein-digesting enzyme)

Vitamins C & E – reduce inflammation & improve digestion

Blueberry – Blackberry, Cranberry, Strawberry, Raspberry

Antioxidant powerhouse

High in phytonutrients anti-inflammatory protection against disease such as cancer and dementia

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Polyphenols – protects heart and blood vessels from inflammation

Broccoli (other greats – cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts)

Phytonutrients such as sulforaphane – anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer

Avocado

Almond

Sweet Potato

Beta-Carotene, Manganese, Vitamins B6 & C, & Fiber rich -> heal inflammation

but not processed potatoes

Posted in Food is Medicine, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Common Sanskrit Translations

Have you ever wondered what your yoga teacher was saying when she/he spouted those strange sounding words? Have you ever wondered what those pose names mean?

Here are some of the more common Sanskrit words translated. Do the poses make a little more sense now? Knowing a few root words make it much easier to understand your yoga practice.

Adho-mukha — Face downward

Ardha — Half

Asana — Posture – third stage of yoga

Astavakra — Broken boy

Aum — All, conveys concepts of “omniscience”, “omnipresence”, & “omnipotence”

Baddha — Bound, caught, restrained, firm

Baka — Crane

Bandha — Bondage or fetter, a posture where certain organs or parts of the body are contracted and controlled

Bheka — Frog

Bhuja — Arm or shoulder

Bhuja-pida — Pressure on the arm or shoulder

Bhujanga — Serpent or snake

Chandra — Moon

Chataur — 4

Danda — Staff

Dhanu — Bow

Dharana — Concentration or complete attention, sixth stage of Yoga mentioned by Patanjali

Dhyana — Meditation, seventh stage of Yoga mentioned by Patanjali

Dwi — 2, both

Dwi-hasta — 2 hands

Dwi-pada — 2 feet or legs

Eka — 1, single, alone, only

Eka-pada –1 leg

Garbha-pinda — Embryo in the womb

Garuda — Eagle

Go — Cow

Gomukha — Face resembling a cow

Hala — Plough

Hasta — Hand

Janu –Knee

Karma — Action

Karna — Ear

Karna-pida — Pressure around the ear

Kona — Eagle

Krauncha — Bird like a heron

Kriya — Cleaning process

Kukkuta — Cock

Kundalini — Divine cosmic energy

Kurma — Tortoise

Mala — Garland, wreath

Manduka — Frog

Mantra — Sacred thought or prayer

Marichi — Name of one of the sons of Brahma

Matsya — Fish

Mayura — Peacock

Mudra — Seal, sealing posture

Mukha — Face

Mukta — Liberated

Mula — Root, base

Nauli — Process in which the abdominal muscles and organs are made to move vertically and laterally in a surging motion

Nava — Boat

Pada — Foot or leg

Padangustha — Big toe

Padma — Lotus

Parivartana — Turning around, revolved

Parivrtta — Turned around, revolved

Parivrttaika-pada — With one leg turned around

Parsva — Side, flank, lateral

Parsvaika-pada — With one leg turned sideways

Paschima — West, the back side of the body

Paschimottana  — Intense stretch of the back side of the body from the nape to the heels

Patanjali — Propounder of Yoga philosophy, author of the Yoga Sturas

Pida — Pain, suffering, pressure

Pincha — Chin, feather

Pinda — Fetus or embryo, the body

Prana — Breath, respiration, life, vitality, wind, energy, strength, also connotes the soul

Prasarita — Spread out, stretched out

Pratyahara — Withdrawl and emancipation of the mind from the domination of the senses and sensual objects, fifth stage of yoga

Purva — East, front of the body

Purvottana — Intense stretch of the front side of the body

Raja — King, ruler

Raja-kapota — King pigeon

Salabha — Locust

Salamba — With support

Sama — Same, equal, even, upright

Sama-sthiti — Standing still and straight

Sarva — All, whole

Sarvanga — Whole body

Sava — Corpse, dead body

Setu — Bridge

Setu-bandha — Construction of a bridge

Sirsa — Head

Supta — Sleeping

Surya — Sun

Sva — One’s own, innate, vial force, soul, self

Svana — Dog

Tada — Mountain

Tap — Burn, blaze, shine, suffer pain, be consumed by heat

Tapas — Burning effort which involves purification, self-discipline and austerity

Tittibha — Firefly

Tola — Balance

Tri — 3

Trianga — 3 limbs

Trikona – Triangle

Uddiyana — Fetter or bondage, diaphragm is lifted high up the thorax and the abdominal organs are pulled back towards the spine

Ujjayi — Type of pranayama in which the lungs are fully expanded and the chest is puffed out

Upavistha — Seated

Urdhva — Raised, elevated, tending upwards

Urdhva-mukha — Face upwards

Ustra — Camel

Utkata — Powerful, fierce

Uttana — Intense stretch

Utthita — Raised up, extended, stretched

Vakra — Crooked

Viparita — Inverted, reversed

Vira — Hero, brave

Virabhadra — Powerful hero

Vrksa — Tree

Vrschika — Scorpion

Yoga — Union, communion, union of our will to the will of the Supreme Spirit

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment