So what exactly is ph? pH stands for “potential hydrogen” which is the measure of hydrogen ion concentration, i.e.; the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. In our particular case, that “solution” refers to our body’s fluids and tissues. Everything, from the healthiest cells to malignant cancer cells, from soil quality to fresh and sea water life is affected by pH.
The pH scale is used to determine how acidic or alkaline a substance is and ranges from 0 to 14. Seven is considered neutral. As that scale falls below 7 it becomes increasingly acidic, above 7 increasingly alkaline.
Just as is the case with most health-related barometers, balance is extremely important. Ideal pH levels vary throughout our body for a number of reasons. For instance, our bowels, skin and a woman’s vagina should be slightly acidic, as this helps ward off unfriendly bacteria. Saliva is more alkaline; while our urine is normally more acidic, especially in the morning. Additionally, your body regularly deals with a host of naturally occurring acids that are the by-products of respiration, metabolism, cellular breakdown, and even exercise. So it’s best to resist the temptation to think of acid as “bad” and alkaline “good”. As always, it’s a delicate balance.
By far the most important bodily measurement of pH is you blood. For optimal cellular health, our blood pH must be slightly alkaline, ideally with a pH between 7.365 and 7.4. A general understanding of how our bodies maintain an alkaline blood range is essential for good health. Our body doesn’t automatically “find” the proper pH balance; it works exceedingly hard to create it. Whenever we make poor lifestyle choices or are burdened by a toxic, chemical laden environment, our bodies will have to work harder to create homeostasis (or the tendency to maintain its pH’s stability).
Whenever there’s even the remotest possibility that our body is about to become overly acidic (as a result of poor food and/or lifestyle choices, toxic environmental exposure, etc.) this remarkable body of ours will extract alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium from our bones, teeth, and organs to neutralize the acids. It’s a bit like having a supply of inner or internal antacids. This may be okay every now and then, but stressing or depleting our reserves over the long term can lead to osteoporosis and other assorted health challenges.
Think of the average or standard American diet (SAD). Most Americans are flooding their cells with an inflammatory acid bath multiple times every day (tons of sugar, processed foods, factory farmed animal products, etc.). One of the biggest casualties of this type of diet is the toll it takes on the body, especially the digestive system, liver, and kidneys. Conditions like inflammation, allergies, arthritis, skin problems, constipation, bowel issues, stress (both physical & mental) and chronic disease simple love an acidic diet. Excess acidity also sets the stage for bad bacteria (including yeasts and fungus) and even viruses all of which wreak havoc on our health.
Shifting the pH scale in the alkaline direction is easy with a diet filled with nutritionally dense, mineral-rich plant foods. By eating an alkaline based diet (leafy greens, wheatgrass, spirulina, veggies, sprouts, avocados, green juices and smoothies) as opposed to an acidic diet (high in animal products, processed carbs, refined sugar, energy drinks, etc), we nourish our bodies with chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, and oxygen. Healthy food creates healthy cells, whereas junk food does the opposite.
Most people are not aware that there are well over 50 toxic chemicals found in the average home in the US. Toxins that can, over time, raise havoc with your body! It’s no wonder why more and more people are beginning to suffer from asthma, hormonal problems, headaches, depression and frequent illnesses, fatigue, etc. Many of the most commonly used cleaning products in kitchens and bathrooms throughout America contain harmful toxins that are stored in the fatty tissues of your brain via inhalation and skin absorption during usage.
It’s not only the cleaning products found in most homes that are dangerous; it’s also cleaning products for your body (so called, “body care products”) that are potentially harmful. Shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays, hair colorings, body washes, deodorants, shaving lotions and after-shaves, make up, mouth washes and the list goes on…
So it cannot be stressed enough, the importance of checking the labels on all the products used for your home and your body. Educate yourself and avoid any products with words that you don’t know or understand especially if there is a warning label on it.
Most of the suspected products’ labels bear a “signal word,” such as Danger, Warning or Caution, providing some indication of a product’s toxicity. Products labeled Danger or Poison are typically the most hazardous and should be avoided; those containing a Warning label are moderately hazardous, and formulas listing a Caution label are considered slightly toxic. It’s always best to remain on the safe side and only choose products that are nontoxic enough that they don’t require any of the signal words above on their label. Keep in mind that the signal word is often found in a phrase that describes the nature of the threat to your health, such as “may cause skin irritation,” “flammable,” “vapors harmful,” or “may cause burns on contact.”
A good “rule of thumb” is to ask yourself, “would I put this in my mouth or am I willing to taste it”, if not, then don’t on on your body. Studies have shown it can take as little as 26 seconds for whatever you put on your body to be absorbed through your skin and into your bloodstream.
These ingredients in cleaning and “body care” products vary in the type and intensity of the threat to our health that they pose. Some will cause acute, and/or immediate, hazards such as skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes, even chemical burns, while others are associated with chronic or long-term (accumulating) effects such as cancer.
Among the most dangerous cleaning products known are corrosives, like drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners. These corrosive chemicals can cause severe burns on eyes, skin and, if ingested (God forbid), on the throat and esophagus. Next in line are products that list active ingredients of chlorine or ammonia, which individually can cause respiratory and skin irritation; and they will create highly toxic fumes if accidentally mixed together.
More common chemicals that you should be aware of, and consider avoiding include:
Alcohol – Alcohol is mostly found in mouthwashes, creams, moisturizers, lubricants and many commercial hair and skin products. Alcohol derivatives by themselves can severely impact your skin. Alcohol has a drying effect to the skin, and has even been linked to mouth and throat cancers.
There are alternatives alcohols that are actually safe for your skin and health. They are known as fatty alcohols, such as:
• Cetyl Alcohol – Derived from coconuts.
• Stearyl Alcohol – Also derived from coconut oil.
• Cetearyl Alcohol – Derived from natural oils.
Aluminum – Aluminum is found in many commercial skin deodorant and antiperspirants. Its compounds have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory disorders and breast cancer. When used as an aerosol spray, it can cause almost immediate brain damage, because it’s readily absorbed through your nasal/sinus passages into your brain.
Butane/Propane – Butane and Propane are colorless and odorless gases that are used in many over-the-counter cosmetic and personal products. Formulations of various cleansing products, shaving creams and hair conditioners often include these compressed gases.
In extreme doses, oxygen deficiency can occur, which can lead to asphyxiation. Butane and Propane are known to be toxic for the environment and dangerously flammable.
Diethanolamine (DEA) – Diethanolamine is a carcinogenic substance used as a “wetting agent” and added to confer a creamy texture and foaming action to most lotions, creams, shampoos and cosmetics, making them more easily absorbed by your skin. It becomes extremely toxic when mixed with other ingredients in certain products, causing a bad carcinogen reaction that is likely responsible for stomach, liver and bladder cancers.
Artificial Flavorings and Colorings – There is a kaleidoscope of colored dyes available to create any color combination meant to make any household or edible product more appealing. These artificial flavorings and colorings are found in nearly everything, from toothpastes and mouthwashes to flavored cough syrups and children’s medicines.
These harmful dyes cause changes at the cellular level, which are carcinogenic, and highly suspect of causing cancer. Children consuming such products often become hyperactive.
It’s best to completely avoid these artificial ingredients in foods and other products for health reasons; not only are they are toxic, they lack nutritional value.
Propylene Glycol – Propylene Glycol is actually a form of anti-freeze for many household products. It is found in processed foods, pet food, laundry detergents, floor wax, paints, deodorants, shaving creams/gels, shampoos and conditioners.
Purchasing a bottle of Propylene Glycol has its own a warning label that says “Avoid contact with skin.” Even at low levels of concentration, this solvent has found to inhibit skin cell growth, cause skin irritations, inflammations, certain types of dermatitis along with liver and kidney damage.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is found in most detergents, stain removers, carpet cleaners, dish soaps, shampoos, bubble baths and toothpastes.
This is another type of solvent and is a cheap sort of foaming agent which, over time, builds-up in your heart, lungs, liver and brain. It can also cause cataracts and lead to abnormal eye development in children especially those under the age of six.
Additionally, it’s commonly used as a cleaning agent in the automotive industry. Car wash soaps, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers are some common examples. SLS breaks doen grease, attacking all greasy surfaces and it is highly corrosive.
Recommended whenever possible and practical…
Try to use safe, simple household ingredients like pure soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax; when aided by a little “elbow grease” and a coarse scrubbing sponge anyone can take on most household cleaning chores. Plus, they can save you lots of money that would ordinarily be wasted on unnecessary, specialized and toxic cleaners!
There are two major types of Diabetes:. Type 1 Diabetes, (aka juvenile Diabetes or insulin-dependent Diabetes), is a disorder of the body’s immune system where there is no production of insulin, and Type 2 is where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin.
The practice of yoga is effective as a preventive measure and also to treat Type 2 Diabetes, where the causes are attributed to life style and stress.
Type 2 Diabetes is rapidly becoming one of the most common, debilitating, diseases in the United States. Type 2 accounts for 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of Diabetes.
Diabetes is now responsible for the deaths of more than 350,000 Americans every year, and it slowly destroys the bodies of those who survive. For 90 percent of the roughly 14 million people who are develop Type II diabetes, the onset will have begun in the prime of their lives. Diabetes is known to cause complications such as blindness, kidney failure, stroke, heart disease, hypertension and circulatory disorders (often leading to amputation of toes, feet and legs) and ultimately may cause premature death.
As the development of this chronic disease becomes more common, more and more Diabetics are turning to complementary and/or alternative therapies, such as yoga practice, to treat the disorder. And for those who have developed Diabetes (especially type 2), yoga is definitely worth trying. Although there isn’t one particular asana (pose) that will work as a magical cure, there are quite a few that will stabilize digestion, assimilation and absorption of foods, and assist in the proper elimination of wastes and toxins from the body.
Caution, before embarking on a mission to begin a regular Yoga practice it’s always best to find a certified yoga instructor and have an initial consultation with them regarding your condition, because there are some asanas that can be counterproductive (even harmful) for people with diabetes – e.g.; poses that involve crossing the legs may constrict blood flow to the lower legs, ankles and feet. For someone with diabetes a personalized protocol is often necessary since each Diabetic is unique and their physical requirements must be treated on an individual basis.
The doctors in the US are among the best in the world when it comes to treating trauma, and curing and preventing various infectious diseases. But, ironically, chronic diseases like Diabetes have them stumped. They try their best, although they are able to keep Diabetics alive with insulin and/or other prescription anti-diabetic medications. Unfortunately, long-term use of these medicines will create complications of their own. Maybe it’s time to consider a natural, non-drug way to not only to reverse diabetes, but also to prevent its future occurrence.
Diabetics all know (or at least they should) that daily exercise helps control blood sugar and improves circulation (poor circulation is a major complication of diabetes). Although the how this actually works is not completely clear, but nonetheless, exercise does reduce the amount of insulin required to maintain normal blood sugar levels. For some of the most fortunate adult onset diabetics, proper diet and exercise may be all that’s required to regulate and maintain normal blood sugar, but for the vast majority, either oral medication or insulin injection is necessary to keep them alive. Then there are those who are able to control blood sugar with diet and exercise but as they age, they also begin to require prescription meds.
The practice of therapeutic yoga asana is effective not only as a preventive measure but can also be used to treat Type 2 Diabetes, where it has been shown that the primary causes are attributed to life style, eating habits and stress. There are certain asanas that have a remedial effect upon various organs and glands throughout the body. Those particular poses that benefit the pancreas and its functional components are of the utmost interest to diabetics (and pre-diabetics). By learning the correct application of these asanas one can reverse diabetes.
Most suitable are the backward bending postures such as…
These postures stimulate the pancreas, as they exercise the erector spinae (deep muscle in the back), latissimus dorsi (broadest muscle in the back), obliques (side abdominals), deep intertransversarii (pairs of small muscles on each side f the spine and the posterior abdominal wall. Also, most of these postures cause the internal viscera (organs) to stretch, which brings stimulation to the pancreas and other glands and organs that otherwise receive no tend to lay dormant.
Other postures to consider are…
*Dandayamana-Bibbaktapada Pashimotthanasana (Standing Separate Leg stretching Pose).
*Ardha Kurmasana (Half Tortoise Pose).
*Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose).
*Janushirasana with Pashimotthanasana (Head-to-Knee with Stretching Pose).
These will provide stimulation and rejuvenation to the cells of the pancreas and other endocrine glands via compression. Compression of these glands, followed by release and relaxation, causes an increased volume of highly oxygenated blood to reach them, down to a cellular level, bringing nourishment that rejuvenates any and all atrophied cells.
By using therapeutic yoga asana as a treatment the normal functioning of the pancreas and other glands of the endocrinal system are restored. When these glands begin to function properly, the individual is on their way to being cured of the diabetic disorders and their health is gradually restored to an optimal level. Perhaps a natural cure for Diabetes isn’t too much to hope for! After all, Diabetes is an age-old disease that has been treated successfully in the Eastern part of the world by methods we here in the West are just beginning to try, let alone understand. It may seem amazing to Diabetic sufferers, but therapeutic yoga asana has been shown to control diabetes for Type 1 Diabetics when insulin levels have been reduced significantly, to control diabetes for Type 2 Diabetics even after any external medication has been eliminated, and to prevent and heal the damage from the complications caused by diabetes, utilizing the body’s own healing power.
Everyone knows summer is the season of the sun, outdoor activities, and vacations. Summer is also the best season for plenty of good healthy, detox foods. All produce is best when we can find and buy it locally grown and in its freshest state, which supports both our community and the environment. In most of North America summer is the season of fresh fruit and vegetables, including those nutritionally dense greens (Mustard/Turnip/Collard Greens, Kale, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Arugula, etc.) and wonderful herbs (Basil, Thyme, Parsley, Oregano, Mint & Rosemary, etc.).
Visit your local produce stand or farmers market and choose from the variety of fruits and veggies straight from the field, and often picked that very morning. These local harvests contain a great deal more nutrients than the store bought varieties. Filling your refrigerator with the foods listed below insures your body is filled with all the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients it needs. Additionally, these wonderful nourishing foods, when eaten fresh off the farm have awesome detoxing properties.
Here’s a list of healthy choices, easy to find, nutritious and delicious summer detox foods. Try to incorporate as many as possible into each week through daily planning of meals you make yourself, for yourself and/or to share with your friends and family…
Berries (Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries & Blackberries are the most popular) and are some people’s favorite summer food. Oftentimes it’s possible to pick local and fresh from the “pick your own” farms in your neighborhood. Berries are an awesome way to start your day; they are light and refreshing and their high water content helps to rehydrate your body after a good night’s sleep. Berries are rich in vitamin C, phytonutrients (cancer fighters), and their rich colors can even help to elevate your mood. They are wonderful for breakfast or as an evening desert.
Cherries are not only rich in flavor; they are also known to contain potent anti-inflammatory properties and are great for gout and arthritis sufferers. They pack high doses of beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate. Cherries also contain high amounts of melatonin which is known to help regulate sleep patterns. Enjoy a small bowl of cherries in the evening an hour or more before bed. They are delicious warmed-up slightly with some sliced apples in a pot for desert.
Carrots, Yams & Sweet Potatoes
These rich orange vegetables always add a vibrant dose of color to any meal. Carrots and sweet potatoes not only help add a bit of sweetness to a meal they are loaded with vitamin C and beta carotene, (both powerful antioxidants). These fiber rich vegetables also help to sooth and cleanse the bowel plus they fill you up, boosting your energy levels as well.
Two words that are often used to describe garlic and onions are pungent and aromatic. These are wonderful foods to add to any dish and can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. Both onions and garlic are known for their rich content of sulfur compounds (that’s what makes your eyes water when cutting an onion), they are also very active disease fighters and detoxifying agents as well. Onions and garlic both fend off infections and have been used as medicine for centuries. They help to support good bacteria in the bowel, fight cancer cells, kill viruses and bacteria, lower cholesterol and add a nice of flavor to any dish you make.
Dark Leafy Greens
Greens have an excellent reputation for packing in an extreme amount of nutrition in each and every leaf. , rich in vitamins, water and minerals bring energy and cleansing to your body when included in any meal. They are one of the richest sources of the B vitamins, insoluble fiber and phytonutrients; no afternoon or evening meal is complete without some greens, either fresh or lightly steamed on the plate. For vegetarians and those on a plant-based diet they is the best natural source of iron, B12 and folate. Because of their rich fiber content greens are digested slowly, creating nice even blood glucose levels and sustained energy.
According to results of a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health – “Yoga is beneficial for those planning to quit smoking”…And, this is no longer conjecture but a scientifically proven fact. Yoga is a good complementary therapy for cessation of smoking.
The leading preventable cause of death worldwide is addiction to nicotine. Nearly 6 million people die each year as a result of cigarette smoking, both from direct tobacco use and/or exposure to second-hand smoke. Smoking is associated with a host of adverse health related conditions such lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, heart disease and stroke, to mention a few. In addition to these health consequences, nicotine use contributes too many troublesome effects on social and psychological well-being of smokers as well as non-smokers.
Research has shown that 70% of smokers who attempt to quit do so without the use of evidence-backed programs and 90% of those will relapse. Cessation programs are readily available to smokers, but they remain largely under-utilized, mostly because smokers are unaware of them. In order to bolster cessation attempts and ultimately increase success rates, smokers need to be made aware that safe, effective, and accessible means of quitting are available and yoga is certainly one of them.
Yoga has shown great promise in helping smokers to end their addiction because it deals with emotional stress while at the same time reducing the nicotine withdrawal symptoms that commonly arise.
The hassles of trying to quit smoking…
Although there are effective strategies for smoking cessation quitting can still be tough. The onset of nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, depression, headache and insomnia are often quite difficult to manage. Therefore, most smokers fail in their attempt to quit smoking successfully. It is important to realize that quitting smoking is not one day affair but the result of good planning, a focused approach and a well controlled mind. Yoga can help overcome the obstacles most smokers encounter when they begin a smoking cessation plan.
According to American Public Health Association, yoga based intervention, with an emphasis on meditation and the help of an experienced practitioner, can manage emotional stress and help cope with the various withdrawal symptoms that are bound to arise after quitting smoking. Quitting smoking is emotionally and physically challenging, but thankfully, yoga practice has the power to address both these issues.
How yoga helps to cope with nicotine cravings…
A regular smoker’s body is habituated to receive doses of nicotine multiple times during the course of a day and that leads to nicotine dependency and addiction. When you stop smoking, the body generates its own reactions due to the absence of nicotine and this is what’s commonly known as ‘nicotine cravings’. Finding ways to deal with tobacco cravings is the biggest challenge you’ll face when you are trying to quit smoking. Fortunately yoga is there to calm the mind, control frequent mood swing, promote a sense of patience, increase your ability to listen to your body and enables you to exercise a greater sense of control. For instance, whenever a strong tobacco craving strikes, deep breathing exercises and yoga asana can help immensely to deal with stress, resulting in a reduction of the urge to smoke.
Using yoga to combat mental/emotional stress…
Some people have a harder time then others when quitting smoking. The frequent nicotine carvings that are associated with smoking cessation usually provoke a state of anxiety and stress. Yoga practice, as a complementary stress-reduction technique, helps to combat mental/emotional stress. The study referenced above states that yoga practice reduces perceived stress, negative impact, and anxiety among women smokers who want to quit. Yoga practices including regulated breathing, and focused attention are known improve mood and promote inner peace.
Yoga also helps to restore lung health…
Everyone knows that smoking has a devastating impact on your lungs and their functioning. However, regular practice of yoga is a practical way to take care of your lung’s health. Yoga opens the lungs and stimulating lung tissue, improving their functioning capacity. Restoration of lung health subsequently helps to improve success rates for those determined to quit smoking.
What is a retreat? It’s a quiet or secluded place where you can rest and relax.
What are a YOGA retreats: Quiet and secluded places where you can rest, relax, eat healthy, gain knowledge, insights, personal strength and PRACTICE YOGA.
Is your daily routine getting you down? Have you ever wondered what might happen to you and to your life if you would just make the time to retreat to a place where you’re offered delicious, nutritious food and someone leads you in daily yoga and meditation practice? Where you’re in the company of other like-minded/like-hearted seekers of truth, love and beauty? Once you’re on a yoga retreat (or yoga holiday, as they’re sometimes called) all your regular daily obstacles will be gone and your day to day hassles will be put on hold, while you’re hooked up to a program that offers solutions for you when you return, so that your “normal” daily routine will have some pizzazz, a new energy and a new and refreshing feel. You’ll return rejuvenated and recharged and with a whole new attitude, plus you’ll be feeling energy you haven’t felt since you were a kid.
Most yoga retreats take place in very special (and secluded) corners of the world (like National Parks, remote beach areas, or camps in the mountains), special places where time seems to slow down, providing a new and insightful perspective. If you’ve never had the opportunity to participate in a yoga retreat (or even if you have) and/or you feel your practice could use a bit more spark, your adventure is not as far away as you might imagine, why put it off, with a little planning you can make it happen! This unique type of getaway tends to bring like-minded/like-hearted seekers of truth, love and beauty together and creates a fertile ground for awakening the miracle that is you. A yoga retreat will affect you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, basically producing a profound and positive effect on your entire being.
Retreats provide a break from your normal routines and time to focus on releasing, discovering and applying new found tools. Retreats that are well constructed allow for personal attention given to your own specific areas of need. This personal attention gives you a tool box filled with plenty of options. There is nothing more inspiring then returning from an experience empowered with new found strength. The power gained on a yoga retreat continues to help you as you return to your regular daily life with a new set of tools to release pain, regain strength, and find deep rest and peace plus you’ll be able find and open doors to possibilities where there were just blank walls before.
There are times on a Yoga retreat when adventurous activities like hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, etc. are offered and other times when silence is to be observed while doing cooperative communal service. There will be new dietary experiences to taste and enjoy, learning to practice “Ahimsa” (non-injury to others) while savoring plant based foods – both raw and cooked. There may be a time for cleansing/detox and giving the body a break from un-healthy habits.
On some retreats you’ll be surrounded by beautiful settings, while on others you may focus on sensual pleasures like massage, energetic healing or bodywork. A Yoga retreat may involve early morning meditation to stop the constant chatter of the mind. Also, there’s Vipassana (insight meditation) for those interested in self-reflection or looking for a more spiritual experience. There may be instruction which will help you learn Pranayama and other advanced breathing methods.
What kind of people go on Yoga retreats?
∙ Some are young; others are elderly (and all in between).
∙ Some are loose and flexible, while others are a stiff as a board.
∙ Some may be exhausted or at a crossroads in their life.
∙ Some simply want a chance to get away from it all.
∙ Others want to take care of just themselves for a change.
Here are a few of the most common reasons people go on a yoga retreat:
∙ Deepening an existing practice
∙ Restarting a practice that was dropped
∙ Testing the waters (if you’re new to Yoga)
∙ Finding a new direction in life
∙ Meeting new, exciting people
When you leave your daily routine and go for a yoga retreat, you set the stage for:
∙ Stress and pain relief
∙ Deep Rest
∙ Increased knowledge and understanding
∙ Greater appreciation for all things
∙ Diet improvement with delicious healthy food
Tip: Knowing exactly what kind of experience you’re looking for before signing up will help ensure you pick the retreat perfect for your needs. Selecting retreat with a time frame suited to your schedule is also important; whether it’s a day retreat, a few days, a week, or even longer. And, perhaps most importantly, it is always recommended that the retreat you select is lead by certified yoga instructors who are prepared to work with you at your skill level. Spending intimate time with an experienced yoga teacher is one of the most potent opportunities for change available today; being a mixture of instruction and inspiration, it will guide you toward being a more authentic and powerful human being.
In conclusion: Yoga retreats are the latest trend in yoga where you will be able to gain many profound benefits beyond those found when participating in a few hours of yoga sessions or classes. Those who attend such retreats and are guided by a yoga master, report experiencing a silent, inward revolution; one that produces a conscious growth and outward “evolution” of their body and mind. Contrary to the general belief that yoga is limited to an individualistic practice, a yoga retreat allows you the opportunity to explore the social aspect of yoga. Plus, the closeness to nature and having the time and opportunity to re-examine your motivations, goals, and beliefs helps you to become re-united with yourself and the awesome person you really are, both when you’re alone and in the company of others.
Do you find yourself waking up begrudgingly after repeatedly pressing the snooze button? Well you can turn this around and make starting your day something you want to do; you may find you’re even excited about getting your day started! The first 5-minutes in the morning can provide a critical window of opportunity that might just change your whole day for the better.
When used wisely, those precious few minutes between being in lala-land and getting out of sack can greatly improve your mood, prompt your commitment to eat well, and increase your likelihood to exercise or work out that day; and all this can be accomplished while you’re still in bed! Now that’s a whole lot better than hitting that snooze button one more time, wouldn’t you agree?
Regardless of whether your exercise choice is yoga or not, scientific studies report that if you wake yourself up in a way that stimulates your body’s blood flow, balances your hormonal system and starts the process of detoxification, you’re more likely to continue those healthy habits throughout the day.
If you practice the following sequence, confident of its ability to do the above, you’re sure to shake off the usual sleepiness and generate more energy and alertness, all the while maintaining a calm, centered mind. This practice can make a big difference as to whether you decide to continue on with your morning (or daily) workout, or to skip it.
The key is to begin to move “mindfully” before the mind’s resistance gets involved, and before both eyes are completely open, you’ll already be well on your way to an endorphin-filled morning, kick-starting a more focused, fit, and self-confident day.
Now, isn’t that worth waking up for?
Try practicing the following sequence and judge for yourself…
Laying Goddess Pose
Immediately upon waking, roll over and lie on your back. Place the soles of the feet together and open your knees wide. Rest one hand on your lower abdomen and the other one over your chest as you begin to take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. When inhaling, expand your body so both hands rise. Retain the inhaled air for a few seconds, then relax and let your exhale happen naturally and your hands fall back down. At the end of your exhale, contract your diaphragm gently pressing the remaining air out of your lungs. Retain the exhale for a few seconds. Repeat this for 10 breaths.
Next you begin to work the kinks out of your lower back by drawing your knees up and back beside your ribcage. Once your knees are in position, press your hips towards the mattress, so your butt doesn’t lift up, and then draw the knees down as far as they will comfortably go by pulling with your fingers around your big toes (you can also pull on the outer sides of the feet or behind your knees). Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Take a pillow and bend your knees to lift your hips and place the pillow underneath. To effectively detox, your legs and hips must be elevated above the heart and your heart above your head. If more pillows are needed, keep them nearby. Lift your legs into the air, or rest them on your bed board or the wall for more support. Hold for 10 breaths or more.
Slowly roll over onto your right side, and gently press yourself up into a cross-legged easy pose. Wrap your right elbow over your left, bend your arms and touch left fingers to (or towards) your right palm. Lift up your elbows to shoulder height, while droping the shoulders. Maintain a long spine, for 3-4 breaths and then try rounding the spine, chin towards chest, to stretch and flex your upper back. Take 5-10 breaths while in this position, then uncross your arms, reverse and repeat with left elbow on top.
Remain seated in the easy pose and relax returning to a “neutral” spine, then place your left hand onto your right knee. Reach your right arm high into the air while inhaling, and focus on keeping the spine extended, exhale and begin to turn your chest, right shoulder and head to the right. Slowly circle your right arm behind you with your fingertips down. During each inhale maintain the length of your torso, and while exhaling you’ll be able to gently “spiral” through the heart and neck as you stretch, flex, tone and spark your energy level.
Take 5-10 breaths, reverse and repeat.
Fists Forward Bend
Following your seated twist, swing your legs off the bed and slowly stand up with slightly bent (not locked) knees. Make fists and place them in the opposite elbows (bent elbows and closed fists trigger your body to automatically release tension in the back muscles). Fold over your bent legs, and totally relax your back, shoulders and head. Breathe deeply here, feeling any unwanted tension being released and draining into the floor. Note: This is a great pose to do at work, or anytime you’re feeling an energy crash and you need a boost! Remain in this pose for one minute, and then slowly roll to standing, reaching overhead for a full body, stretching inhalation or two. You should now be ready for your morning practice or workout, or to just go start your day.
Yoga as a therapeutic practice will encourage the process of detoxification. Hot yoga in particular really prompts a release of toxins into the bloodstream for elimination. In the long-run, this is very beneficial for your skin. But in the short-term, you might ask “what gives?” Yoga’s supposed to make me healthy not cause my skin to break out?
Since the skin is the largest organ in your body, and is also one of the key organs involved in detoxification, it’s not uncommon for your face, chest and back to show signs of the cleansing process. If you’ve been experiencing unexpected breakouts after starting a yoga practice or even when coming back to yoga after a break, these uninvited eruptions may well be a result of the detoxification process. Not to worry, this is not uncommon, and it’s is a good sign that the bodily changes yoga is making are having a positive impact on you. If you’re a bit toxic and your body is releasing a lot of toxins all at once, faster than your eliminatory organs (especially the skin) can get rid of them, then these organs will be a bit overwhelmed, but rest assured, this is a temporary situation and there are a few things you can do to avoid excessive or prolonged breakouts:
•First and foremost, eat well: A clean diet is the key; so avoid refined sugars, saturated fats/partially hydrogenated oils, fast foods and most highly processed foods. Replace these foods with fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, organic whenever possible and practical.
•Remain well hydrated: Drink plenty of water! It will help flush out those toxins so they don’t get stuck in the sebaceous glands of your skin (the main cause of acne & other breakouts).
•Make sure you always use your own yoga mat: Shared yoga mats are a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria. Bring your own yoga mat and keep it clean; use a natural mat cleaner after every practice
•Wash your face and hands often: After a sweaty yoga session, wash your face and hands with mild soap and water to fresh and clear. If this is not always possible, keep packs of facial cleansing wipes in your yoga bag, then you won’t have any excuses.
A real detox reaction may last from a few days to a week, and at the very worst shouldn’t last for more than two to three weeks. Then of course, over time, yoga will work to improve your skin. Here’s a couple yoga poses that can help promote a fresh complexion and vibrant skin tone…
•Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend): Sit on the floor on a folded blanket with your legs extended. Inhale, bending your right knee and drawing your heel back toward your groin. Rest your right foot against the inside of your left thigh. Lay your outer right leg on the floor, with your shin at a right angle to your left leg. Press your right hand against your inner right thigh and your left hand on the floor beside your hip. Exhale and turn your torso to the left, reaching to grasp your left foot in your right hand. Inhale and lengthen through the top of your head, twisting further to the left. Reach your left hand to the outside of your left foot, exhaling as you bend forward to touch your nose to your knee. Hold for up to one minute, then release on an exhalation. Repeat on the other side.
•Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist): Sit on the floor or your mat with legs extended. Bend your knees, sliding your left foot under your right and laying the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step your right foot over your left leg, standing it on the floor outside your left hip, right knee pointed up at the ceiling. Inhale and lift through the top of your head, then exhale, twisting to the right. Press the right hand against the floor behind you, and then position your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh near the knee, upper arm lifted in a wave. Twist your head to look right, or counter-twist it to look left. Hold for up to one minute, lifting with each inhalation and deepening the twist with each exhalation. Release with an exhalation. Repeat on the other side.
*Remember, the health and vibrancy of your skin is directly related to circulation, so poor postural habits that inhibit blood flow to the skin can lead to skin disorders.
Twists are particularly good for increasing circulation to the face and neck because they turn the head, neck and shoulders in relation to the upper back. A few that are recommended for a glowing complexion are:
•Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja’s twist)
•Ardha Matsyendrasana (half spinal twist)
•Trikonasana (triangle pose)
* Inversions are another way to increase blood flow to the face. Begin with Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose) and ask your yoga instructor about more inversions that may be helpful.
Last, but not least: But what if you start a yoga practice and your complexion doesn’t clear up, or it gets worse? If your symptoms get worse, that may mean your practice is too vigorous. Having too much heat in the body can impact digestion and irritate the skin. This sometimes happens when you’re forcing your poses, your yoga practice is too challenging or if you’re going through your sequences too quickly. Your breath is probably the best gauge; it should remain constant and smooth. If it isn’t, try slowing down and focusing on relaxation or consult with your yoga teacher.
Never underestimate this amazing organ called the skin as the revealer of many hidden things going on within your body; things you really should pay close attention to.
As the largest eliminatory organ in the body, the skin works to assist in the elimination of toxins we encounter; from food, water, the environment, etc. The primary detoxification organs like the liver and colon are constantly and powerfully at work within our bodies, but when several factors are not dealt with properly; like diet, physical fitness, sleep, proper hydration and overuse of prescription drugs, the liver and digestive system is compromised, leaving it up to the skin to try and rid the body of excess toxins. This results in inflammation, pimples, breakouts, rashes, swelling, dryness, dark circles, and other skin disorders.
Toxins throughout your body will try and exit through the skin when your body’s toxic load is too high and can’t be handled by the other eliminatory organs such as the liver, colon and kidneys. Then your skin becomes the primary avenue of detoxification and your digestive system is compromised. Though often unrecognized, chronic inflammation can develop, and in turn, start to produce dis-ease in the body. Once you recognize these clues on your skin as powerful tell-tale signs that your health is jeopardized, you can begin initiating change and developing some better habits with your diet, physical activities and lifestyle in general. Nearly all skin conditions, including even psoriasis and eczema are just our body’s’ way of telling us that we need to detoxify and alkalize our bodies.
A good way to start is to reduce and eventually eliminate dairy, meat, processed foods and refined sugars. Next try adding lots pure water (not tap water which may contain chlorine, fluoride & even lead), tons of leafy greens and green smoothies, daily juicing, salads with lots of raw vegetables, plenty of fruit and some lightly cooked veggies. Even though this may seem a bit extreme to some, keep in mind that this lifestyle is key to optimal health, longevity and energy production. Absolutely everything you eat affects your body either positively or negatively, making it acidic or alkaline.
What to Feed Your Skin to Detox…
The #1 cleansing foods to add to your diet are bitter or astringent in nature and should be added every day. Choose from dark leafy greens (kale, chard, collards, nettles, dandelion, turnip greens, radicchio, endives, watercress, etc), Daikon radish, and Jerusalem artichoke. Other bright leafy greens like Romaine lettuce and spinach also assist in cleansing the blood & boosting collagen.
Enough fiber is also essential. Without sufficient fiber, complete elimination is not possible, if possible at all. The toxins from every part of the body, including millions of dead cells daily, end up in the colon. In order to eliminate these substances from the colon, the body needs fiber, so add apples with skin, fresh vegetables, legumes & ﬂax seeds to the diet for proper elimination of toxins. A clean colon is for clear skin.
Poisonous Foods for Your Skin…
All fried foods, soda (including diet soda), dairy products, “enriched” flour and refined sugars and artificial sweetners are the worst culprits. Eliminate these from your diet if you want clear, radiant skin.
The Importance of Exercise for Your Skin…
Once a suitable dietary regime incorporated into your lifestyle, it’s time to introduce some form of aerobic exercise. Using Hot Yoga to detox is by far one of the best ways you can help your body to rid itself of unwanted toxins. The human body contains some awesome systems for removing toxins, including the functions of the liver, kidneys, colon and skin.
The body removes waste through the skin via sweat; this is where Hot Yoga comes into play. Yoga by itself is a powerful, full body workout, but the addition of heat makes it one of the best all around workouts possible.
The increased temperature will prompt you to sweat profusely, and this sweating has a cleansing effect that involves your entire body. Many toxins present in your body will be flushed out through your skin, and you will become less susceptible, not only to skin disorders, but to disease and illness in general.
In Addition to Diet & Exercise – Rest!
A good night’s sleep is vital to the detoxification process. It is recommended you turn off or remove yourself from the effects of electronics (your computers, televisions, cell phones, etc.) at least one hour before bedtime, along with a good diet and exercise, it will help insure you get a quality 6 to 8 hours of sleep at night. Adequate rest is necessary for the health of the whole body; after a week or so of getting the required amount of sleep you’ll see your skin change before your very eyes!
Cheers to great skin and your decision today to control how you are going to look tomorrow.
Antibiotics, it seems as if practically everyone is taking them now. Ironically, in developed countries such as the United States and Canada, the average child gets 10 to 20 courses of antibiotics by the time they reach age 18. Furthermore, studies have shown that doctors all too often prescribe antibiotics before they even know whether an infection is viral or bacterial. If the illness is due to a virus, antibiotics can’t and won’t help.
Antibiotics were introduced more than 50 years ago and at that time they were thought to be a cure all. However, recent studies show that antibiotic overuse doesn’t just lead to the emergence of drug resistant “superbugs;” it may also permanently wipe out the body’s beneficial bacteria.
Antibiotic treatment for colds and other viral illnesses not only doesn’t work, but it has also developed a dangerous side effect. Over time, this practice helps bad bacteria grow and even flourish becoming more of a challenge to kill because of their resistance to the drugs.
So it has been scientifically established that frequent and/or inappropriate treatment with antibiotics causes bacteria (and other microbes) to resist the effects of the treatment. So it has become common practice to treat these resistant bacteria with higher doses of medicine or stronger antibiotics. And, now we’ve reached a point where because of antibiotic overuse, certain bacteria have become resistant to many of the most powerful antibiotics available today.
This antibiotic (or bacterial) resistance is a widespread problem, and one that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.” Bacteria that were once highly responsive to antibiotics have become increasingly resistant. Among the many ailments and diseases that are becoming harder to treat are the “pneumococcal infections” (which are the cause of pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and meningitis), plus many types of skin infections, and even tuberculosis.
So, let’s take a look at what an antibiotic really is?
– Anti = “against”, “opposed to.”
– Biotic = “pertaining to life”, “of or relating to living organisms.”
The word antibiotic comes from the Greek anti meaning ‘against’ and bios meaning ‘life’ (a bacterium is a life form).’ An antibiotic is also known as antibacterial, and as we all know antibiotics are drugs intended to be used to treat infections caused by bacteria.
But here’s the hitch; some bacteria are not harmful, and many are not only good for us, but necessary for our health and survival.
The ideal balance between the bacteria in your body is 85 percent good and 15 percent bad. This ratio between the “good” bacteria and the other bacteria is one of the critical factors determining your optimal health, as the good bacteria are essential for:
– The proper development of your immune system
– Protection against over-growth of other microorganisms that could cause disease
– Digestion of food and absorption of nutrients
Antibiotics do not discriminate between good bacteria and bad. As a human being, you have three to four pounds of beneficial bacteria living within your intestines along with a variety of yeasts (including Candida). All these microbes compete for the nutrients in the food you eat. In a healthy organism, the strength in numbers that beneficial bacteria enjoy keeps the ever-present yeasts in check, which causes them to produce nutrients such as the B vitamins.
However, every time you ingest antibiotics, you kill off some of the beneficial bacteria in your intestines. As these good bacteria die, the delicate balance of your intestinal terrain is upset. Yeasts grow unchecked into large colonies and take over, becoming parasitic, in a condition called dysbiosis.
Research directed by the Human Microbiome Project (which aims to catalogue and understand the microorganisms that live in the body), has shown that a bacterial environment that’s out of balance in the esophagus, stomach and intestines leads to inflammation, causing undue changes in cells that are suspected to be contributing to rises in other chronic health conditions such as obesity, asthma, and cancer.
Now on to probiotics…
– Pro = “for”, “in favor of.”
– Biotic = “pertaining to life”, “of or relating to living organisms.”
The word probiotic is a composite of the Latin preposition pro (“for”) and the Greek adjective (biotic), the latter derived from the noun bios (“life”).
The probiotics in your stomach and intestines play an important role in helping numerous functions throughout the body, such as:
– Digesting and absorbing certain nutrients and carbohydrates.
– Producing vitamins, assisting the body in absorbing minerals and eliminating toxins.
– Keeping bad bacteria in check.
– Preventing allergies…These friendly bacteria train your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens, and to respond appropriately.
– Providing essential support to your immune system. These beneficial bacteria have a lifelong, powerful effect on both your gut’s immune system, and your systemic immune system as well.
One Washington University professor compared the functioning of this intestinal microflora in your body to that of an “ant farm that works together as an intelligence to perform an array of functions you’re unable to manage on your own.”
Natural Ways to Get Probiotics?
In the distant past and continuing today, people have used (and still use) fermented foods like sauerkraut to support their digestive health, as these foods are rich in naturally beneficial bacteria.
Fermented foods have been part of nearly every traditional culture. As far back as Roman times, people ate sauerkraut, not only because they liked its taste but because of benefits to overall health. In Asian cultures, pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots still exist today.
If you were to eat a diet rich in unprocessed fermented foods that have NOT been pasteurized (which kills the probiotics), then you will likely enjoy great digestive health.
On the other hand, if you eat a lot of processed foods or rely on mostly cooked foods, the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract will have a hard time remaining at an optimal level. Sugar is also an incredibly efficient fertilizer for growing bad bacteria and harmful yeasts in your intestinal tract, so if you indulge in a lot of it you’re fueling the bad bacteria. In addition to taking antibiotics, stress, pollution and other environmental factors can further upset the balance in a negative way.
Since helpful bacteria are increasingly absent in most people’s diets, it is important to purposely include foods that contain live probiotic bacteria in your diet, or take a good probiotic supplement.
Make your own Probiotics…
*Excerpted from “The Colon Health Handbook” by Robert Gray
“Cabbage is a vegetable that is teeming with lactobacteria. No starter is needed for making rejuvelac. Just start one morning by blending together 1 3/4 cups (420ml) distilled or purified water plus 3 cups (720ml) coarsely chopped, loosely packed fresh cabbage. Start the blender at low speed and then advance the blender to high speed and blend for 30 more seconds. Pour into a jar, cover, and let stand at room temperature for 3 days. At this time, strain off the liquid rejuvelac. The initial batch of cabbage rejuvelac takes 3 days to mature, but succeeding batches take 24 hours each.
“Each morning after straining off the fresh rejuvelac, blend together for 30 seconds at high speed 1 1/2 cups (360ml) distilled or purified water plus 3 cups (720ml) coarsely chopped, loosely packed fresh cabbage. Pour into a jar, add 1/4 cup (60ml) of the fresh rejuvelac just strained off, cover, shake and let stand at room temp. until the next morning.
“You can also make cabbage rejuvelac without a blender by chopping the cabbage very fine and using 2 1/2 cups (600ml) finely chopped, loosely packed cabbage listed above. The amount of distilled or purified water used should remain unchanged.
“Good quality rejuvelac tastes similar to a cross between carbonated water and the whey obtained when making yogurt. Bad quality rejuvelac has a much more putrid odor and taste and should not be consumed. Always avoid using tap water when making rejuvelac because chlorine has been added to it for the purpose of killing bacteria of any kind.
“Drink each day’s rejuvelac during the course of the day by taking 1/2 cup (120ml) 3x a day, preferably with meals.”