Category Archives: Yoga

talking smack behind my back

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Let it go!
Be the bigger person!
Would you rather be right or happy?
Just be kind.
Lead by example.
Rise above.

All of these sayings are running through my head and I know what the right thing to do is, but at the same time, somewhere inside of me I want to unload and point my finger at someone for saying something negative about me behind my back. What is with that? I mean, who still does that after you graduate high school? Why does nothing bother me more then wanting to set someone straight when they are misinformed. I need to set the record straight. In this particular situation there is no wrong which means we are both right, right? The only difference is that other person doesn’t have the whole story and is making assumptions, as well as, not taking responsibility for her role in the situation. So I feel I am MORE right than she is. Nothing gets me fired up more then when someone is lying or not taking responsibility for their role in a situation. I have known this person for 4 years now and had considered her a friend but as it turns out we have a very different definition of what friend means.

What does all this mean? What should I do? Well, for starters, I called my Mom. Somehow the simple act of telling my Mom that someone is a meanie, had the same powerful effect, now, at 38 as it did when I was 8. Sigh. My Mom is the best Mom in the world. I have been thinking about confronting my demon head on and enlightening her to my side of the story. So then I meditate on the situation. Why do I need to tell her? What will it prove? What will I gain? Will she gain anything? So then I turn to yoga. How is yoga going to help me through this dilemma? Yoga is much more than the physical practice of the asanas but they are helpful in this situation by quieting the mind and tuning out the dialogue of thoughts, as well as, squeezing out any tension that may have seeped into my muscles. In yoga, there are “eight limbs” the second limb is asanas and the first one is the Yamas and Niyamas. The Yamas and Niyamas consist of 10 ethical principles that allow us to be at peace with ourselves, our family and our community. Just reading that makes me feel better. Sigh.

Taken from Donna Farhi’s book Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit:

The Ten Living Principles

The first limb, or the yamas, consists of characteristics observed and codified by wise people since the beginning of time as being central to any life lived in freedom. They are mostly concerned with how we use our energy in relationship to others and, in a subtler sense, our relationship to ourselves. THe sages recognized that stealing from your neighbour was likely to promote discord, lying to your wife would cause suffering, and violence begets more violence; the results are hardly conducive to living a peaceful life. the second limb, the niyamas, constitutes a code for living in a way that fosters the soulfulness of the individual and has to do with the choices we make. The yamas and niyamas are emphatic descriptions of what we are when we are connected to the source. Rather than a list of dos and don’ts, they tell usthat our fundamental nature is compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful.

Yamas -Wise Characteristics

Ahimsa -Compassion for All Living Things
Satya -Commitment to the Truth
Asteya -Not Stealing
Brahmacharya -Merging with the One
Aparigraha -Not Grasping

Niyamas -Codes for Living Soulfully

Shaucha -Purity
Santosha -Contentment
Tapas -Burning Enthusiasm
Swadhyaya -Self-Study
Ishvarapranidhana -Celebration of the Spiritual

I’ll go into the details of these principles at another time as I want to stay focused on the original thought. So, this is how yoga helps me in everyday life, it’s always there, non-judging, just in me, a part of me. We aren’t immune from hurt feelings, it’s how we deal with them that creates our environment. What will I chose to do with my dilemma? Will I confront my demon? I don’t know, I doubt it. I am, for now, choosing to take the high road and rise above it. I am better then that, not that I think I am better than she but I’m not going to get caught up in the drama. Life is too short and I hope that I won’t give this another thought from this moment forward and know that it’s ok if I do. My plan is to hold my tongue because she is not worth any more of my energy, she is an empty calorie friend. And above all I will be kind. The kind of person I want my kids to be, the kind I person I want to be.

Peace and love.

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individual immunity, I’m safe.

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with individual immunity, you are safe from elimination

Everyone and their G-ma seems to have a method or cure-all for the common cold. I certainly have my favourites. I have a background in western herbal medicine so that’s my go to for natural remedies. I also believe that you need to have a healthy foundation for your immune system to be able to kick into action when needed, we are not immune from getting sick but with the proper maintenance and support your immune system can work like a well oiled machine.

 

 

 

 

Foundations (preventative medicine)
Wash your hands, often
Wipe surfaces in high traffic areas
Health-full diet
Proper sleep
Vitamins
-Vit D
-Vit C

Treatment (once you’re sick)
Herbal teas
-dried herbs or tea blends
Capsules
-Astragalus
Vitamins & Minerals
-Vit D
-Vit C
-Zinc
Rest/Sleep
-Lots of it!

I’m going to try to follow the KISS method here: keep it simple, stupid. I’m not going to talk about your blood blood cells or T cells, lymph nodes, lymphatic drainage or any other biological functions of your immune system or supporting system. That’s for biology class. What I am going to do is give you simple steps you can take in order to boost your immune system to help prevent getting sick, as well as, things you can do once you are sick. (Insert disclaimer here -I am not a doctor, nor am I a licensed practitioner so please follow this as a guideline and use your best judgment and what works best for your body at any given time. Also this information doesn’t replace the advice of a qualified practitioner). I have been following a vegan diet since Sept 2010, have never had a flu shot and don’t have any underlying health issues or diseases.

Foundations

Let’s start with foundations, they are the steps you take before you get sick. The preventative measures that help to keep you and your immune system strong and healthy and better prepared for an acute illness like the common cold and flu.

Wash Your Hands!!
Wash them often and use SOAP!! Use any soap you want to use, I, personally, don’t care if it’s organic, anti-bacterial, scented with essential oils, homemade, liquid or bar form, whatever is right or wrong with soap, all I care is that you use it!

Wipe Surfaces
Another helpful tool, about 2 years ago my husband got into the habit of wiping down all surfaces in high traffic areas in our home, every day! He wipes all the door knobs on the main floor, including the front door, the stair banister, the remote controls, the key boards for computers, counters, etc, etc. I am so grateful he does this because I know it makes a difference and doing after your family is sick is too late…but should still be done, gross.

Health-Full Diet

1) Eat Your Fruits & Veggies!!
I will make more detailed posts on this in the future but in light of following the KISS format, I’m going to keep it simple, stupid. The easiest and best way for your body to get the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that it needs to stay healthy is to eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, they should make up the largest food group of your overall diet. During the fall and winter the best fruits and veggies that are going to help boost your immune system are: apples, oranges, berries, dark leafy greens ie) kale, swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, carrots, beets, garlic and ginger. These are just to list a few and if you’re having trouble finding fresh fruits and veggies then the next best thing is frozen, try to avoid canned fruit and veggies as much as possible. As I said with the soap I don’t care if they’re organic or local or whatever is right or wrong with buying produce these days, as long as you buy them and eat it! They are better eaten then not bought because they’re not perfect.

2) Eliminating or Limiting Dairy Products.
Dairy products are mucus forming and when you get sick this problem is compounded by your dairy intake. By reducing your intake of dairy products while you are sick, on a regular basis or eliminating them altogether you’ll notice that the severity of nasal/mucus symptoms are greatly reduced. This was the first thing I noticed when I finally stopped eating cheese!

3) Water!! H2O
There is nothing that replaces water. As soon as you add something to water it is NO LONGER WATER! End of! Those crystal light packets marketed for you to add to your water bottle and help you drink more water, don’t help you in the long run, they make you sicker and it’s a waste of money. They are chemicals that are toxic to your over all health. Just drink water. Nothing helps the body cleanse and flush out unwanted toxins naturally, then water. If you’re one of those peeps that NEED some flavour then add some lemon or lime and get over it already.

Regular Exercise

There are many benefits to partaking in regular exercise but did you know that strengthening your immune system was one of them? Well it does. Regular moderate and consistent exercise helps to reduce stress and strengthen the immune system. I have been doing yoga for over a decade and overall the practice helps to strengthen the immune system, as well, there are certain asanas (poses) that help support the immune system and lymphatic drainage. Walking and swimming are also fantastic low impact activities that can be done at little to no cost to help with your overall fitness.

Sleep/Rest

Consistant sleep patterns are a big part of being healthy. So much is happening within our bodies while we are sleeping. Our body has the capability to heal itself but in order to do that we need to let it and one of those ways is through proper and consistant sleep routines. The average healthy adult needs anywhere between 7.5 – 9 hours of sleep per night. When was the last time you slept 9 hours? I aim for about 8 hours. There is no replacement for a proper good night sleep but ways to help support your immune system when you’re feeling sleep deprived is by resting throughout the day with a nap or taking a moment to practice some yoga with an extended savasana. A 5-20 minute savasana (relaxation pose practiced at the end of the yoga class) can have the same effect on the mind and body as a nap.

Treatment
Now you’re sick. What to do?

Herbs
My first plan of attack when I start to feel a cold coming on is herbal medicine.

Tea
There’s nothing better than a nice hot cup of tea. Usually herbal, sometimes it’s just hot water with honey and lemon but very rarely will I use caffeinated teas. The tea I use depends on the symptoms I have and what tea blends/dried herbs* I have on hand. I like to stock up with *licorice tea blends for sore throats and chest colds. As well, rosehips and hibiscus for vitamin supplement and something with *echinacea and *elderberries immune support. Also adding fresh chopped garlic and ginger to herbal tea or sencha green tea can be very beneficial.

Capsules
If you’re not a tea person, not to worry. There are capsules! One thing you should know is that herbal remedies do not stifle the symptoms so you might still feel crappy until they start to take effect and the length of time is greatly effected by your overall health, remember the symptoms you are experiencing is your body’s way of fighting the infection. The one herb that I always have on hand in capsule form is Astragalus. It supports and strengthens the immune system. Astragalus has low risk of side effects and no known interactions with medications*. You can use astragalus as a preventative to  boost your immune system or at the onset of symptoms. For an immune boost take 2 capsules before you’re about to head to a germ filled situation like an airport, school, hospital…you get the idea. Then take 2 more before you go to bed and maybe the next morning, if needed. At the first sign of symptoms with a cold, take 2 capsules 2-3 times a day.

Vitamins & Minerals
There are a few key vitamins and minerals that I have found to be beneficial to me in strengthening my immune system. During the fall and winter we take vitamin D, I can’t believe the difference it makes in fighting the many little sniffles that tend to plague us while school is in session. Another favourite is vitamin C. We take both Vitamin C & D daily to boost immunity and during a cold I up the dose of Vitamin C. I also give my kids a multi every day, just in case.

Zinc is worth mentioning, too. Sometimes I use it only during a cold. Make sure you read the label and don’t over do it as elevated levels of zinc over an extended period can harm your immune system instead of helping it.

Rest, Rest & more Rest
Did I happen to mention rest? And lots of it!! It is very important to slow down when you are sick. I know it’s not always possible to take a day off or re-schedule your day so you can get the proper rest you need to help your immune system and body do what it needs to do but try to cut back on some things and take a day off if you can. When you are sick it’s your body’s way saying that it’s time for a break. When you’re sick is NOT the time to get a workout in or start trying to get exercise into your routine, you’re not doing yourself any favors and NOBODY wants to be around you or catch your cold. And no, yoga is NOT good for you while you’re SICK, stay home.

Ok, so I’m not sure this has all fallen into the KISS category but I did my best. There is a lot of information to go over and in the spirit of trying to keep it simple I may have left out info so please ask questions and do your own research. Certain herbs or vitamins that work for me may not work for you, there are many other choices out there. I try not to use any over the counter cold remedies like Nyquil or tylenol cold because it doesn’t work for me, I mean, they work but I would rather take things that are going to support my own body systems like nutrition and holistic medicine, rather then something that is loaded with chemicals and does more harm then good. Another benefit over the long term of using natural remedies and practicing a healthy lifestyle not only do you not get sick as often but when you do get sick, the symptoms are not as severe. That is the power of a healthy immune system.

All of the information stated above is based on my personal opinion and experience, these are the lifestyle choices, herbs, vitamins and minerals that have worked best for me and my family. By following these guidelines myself, I have greatly reduced not only how often I get sick but also the severity of the cold, which always surprises me because I’ll get hit with a cold and I seem really sick, I’m talking with a fever & aches, runny nose, maybe sore throat and after a couple cups of tea, some astragalus and rest, the next morning I feel great! We all have our tricks and methods that work for us but I hope by compiling mine together it’s clear that not one magic pill does the trick but a formula for healthy living that makes the rough patches easier. I hope you have found the information useful and can apply some or all of it into your life. As I stated above I am not a doctor, nor am I a licensed practitioner so please follow this as a guideline and use your best judgment and what works best for your body at any given time. Also this information doesn’t replace the advice of a qualified practitioner.  *Always check with your doc if you are taking meds and are planning on trying any new herbal or natural supplements, even herbal teas as there may be contraindications with the type of medications you are currently taking.

Peace and love

Thoughts on Life

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I personally feel that sometimes we give the word need too much power.  We need people in our lives to learn and grow, we are all equal and we learn from and teach each other all the time.  In my experience, we need to have a deep connection and unconditional love with ourselves before we can truly connect with and love another human…it would be nice if we could be whole or fulfilled or just at peace with who we are and who we are not, so we can have nurturing relationships that are fulfilling and balanced.  Without inner peace, relationships can become needy or dysfunctional or just plain drama.  This is one of the many reasons I love yoga as it leads the inner journey toward the soul and fosters the feelings of peace and happiness.

Namaste

Flexibility

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We all have our own ideas of what flexibility means. Here’s a definition from The Free Dictionary

flex·i·ble  (flks-bl)

adj.

1.

   a. Capable of being bent or flexed; pliable.
   b. Capable of being bent repeatedly without injury or damage.
2. Susceptible to influence or persuasion; tractable.
3. Responsive to change; adaptable: a flexible schedule.

The common misconception for people who are new to yoga is that you need to be flexible to do yoga. Which isn’t quite true, you do need to be flexible but not in the way that you think. Most people who are new to yoga feel intimidated or self-conscious about their flexibility or lack thereof. In these situations it’s the physical flexibility I’m talking about, the ability to be bent or flexed repeatedly without injury or damage. The most important thing to understand is that flexibility begins in the mind, whether new to yoga or not, as long as you are adaptable and responsive to change then the rest will come. With an open mind and open heart anything is possible.

We are all beginners at some point in our lives and for most of us being uber-flexible doesn’t come naturally. I am not a physically flexible person and have to work really hard at my flexibility, balance is more of a strength for me. When it comes to practicing yoga we are all equal and there’s no need to compare yourself with those around you, you are exactly as you should be. In yoga there is no competition for who gets to their toes the fastest, so take your time, there’s no rush, don’t forget to breathe and the flexibility will come.