Thursday, November 13, 2014

Winter is coming! Self care tips for falling into winter

Winter is coming!  That is the motto for House Stark on Game of Thrones.  Well, unfortunately I think its already here and I'm not sure any of us are ready for it.  I'm certainly not:)  Yes, I know I live in Michigan and it comes every year, blah, blah blah, but it still doesn't make it any easier, especially after the brutal winter last year.  

Here are some great tips for dealing with the transition into winter.

The philosophy of Ayurveda teaches that the five elements—earth, water, fire, air, and space—are manifest in all things. Each element has certain qualities, attributes, and impacts on the body and mind. Together, these five basic elements (pancha mahabhutas) form a system of classification for all the objects found on Earth, including the human body, the times of day, seasons of our lives, and nature’s seasons.

The transition from mid-late fall into winter is a time of year where Vata predominates. The temperature cools, and the air is dry and blustery. Vata is dominated by the elements of air and space. It’s dry, cold, quick, mobile, irregular, and unstable. In nature, this is seen in the falling leaves as they dry, change color, drop from the trees, and scatter.

When Things Are Off Balance
During this “windy” seasonal change, there’s a tendency for the body to take on the imbalances inherent in Vata. This may include a bit more anxiety and restlessness, difficulty sleeping, dry skin, constipation/gas (there’s a reason it’s called “wind”), and a general feeling of being unable to settle.

When out of balance, Vata can have an especially strong effect on the nervous system, generating fear and worry, where the mind’s thoughts move quickly or in a circular motion, leaving you feeling scattered and ungrounded. When Vata is in balance there’s an overall sense of happiness, calm, and stability. The mind is clear and alert.

Practices that can tip Vata off balance include exposure to cold and wind, irregular sleeping patterns, travel, too much going on, and unscheduled eating. Digestion can also be upset by continuing to eat the raw and pungent foods of summer, such as salads and other raw vegetables and fruits, and more spicy fare.

Making Things Right
To keep ourselves from being “blown away” during this season of transition, we also require routines that encourage strong roots and plenty of self-care.
Consider one or more of the following practices when you feel yourself becoming a bit untethered. Perhaps add one or more of these daily. The practice that’s best is the one you will do. The aim is to help restore or maintain your equilibrium during the changeable Vata season.

~Pause and Breathe
Slow down and reconnect with your breath. This centering can be done anywhere at any time. Begin with awareness, noticing where the breath originates in the body, its texture, and sound. Gradually bring the inhale and exhale into balance—about the same length. Then begin to take a gentle pause at the end of the exhale. This focus on the exhale triggers the para-sympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system, bringing a sense of calm and balance to the mind and body. 

~Start a new schedule Take advantage of the sun going down earlier. Forego late nights and gradually bring your bed time to somewhere between 10:00pm and 10:30pm. This will allow getting up a bit earlier and at the same time each morning. Eat at regular 4-6 hour intervals, avoiding late night eating. Both of these practices will encourage better sleep. 

~Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Drink warming herbal teas such as those with ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon.  Also moisten the nasal passages with sesame oil or a designated Nasya oil. 

~Try more stabilizing and grounding yoga asanas. If you have a regular yoga practice, add more asanas, or postures, that stabilize the hips and ground the feet. Move slowly and focus on the breath’s exhalation. Stay longer in Tadasana (Mountain pose), Utkatasana (air chair), and Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I). Try a reclined tree pose (Vrksasana) before taking it to standing. And include an inverted pose, such headstand or shoulder stand if these are part of your regular practice. Otherwise, Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) is a perfect antidote to a Vata imbalance.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fireworks - love them or hate them!?

Fireworks...  I do enjoy a good fireworks display on certain holidays and I can handle the 3 days in which you are allowed to do them in.  What I can't take is the many weeks before and after the holiday in which people are setting off fireworks at all times of the day and night.  I have 2 dogs, one is old and can't hear very well and he's ok with it.  The other one is high strung as it is and goes absolutely bonkers when she hears any kind of firework going off.  In my neck of the woods its been happening for weeks now.  Do these people not have kids or animals?  If they do, then they really don't care about how this affects them.  I'm literally at my wits end!  Every time a firework is let off, Trinket starts barking hysterically and running around trying to attack the other dog and cat.  I think the 3 day window is plenty of time for people of the world to get out all the fireworks they can handle, but no, its not.  I find it completely disrespectful to the surrounding homes and families that it makes me what to boycott fireworks all together.  I really used to enjoy watching and setting off fireworks and now I'm so COMPLETELY over it!  The other morning I heard the first one go off at 8:00am.  Was that necessary?  If people can't abide by the rules then they shouldn't be able to do them at all.  As I'm sitting here writing this blog on July 10th at 1:57pm, I can hear someone in the neighborhood letting off fireworks.  REALLY??  I would love for someone to explain to me the point of letting off fireworks in the middle of the day.  Do they look better?  Am I missing something??  I don't want this to be a complete bitch fest, but I'm done trying to be tolerant.  Hopefully they will be over with soon or you might see me on the news in a story about how a women went crazy because of fireworks:) 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Oh, my Garden!

My garden
Last year was my first venture into full on gardening.  I've always done containers in the summer and they've turned out great!  So finally, after many years I decided to take on the task of putting in a garden in my backyard.  Why have I waited so long?  Well, until a few years ago, I pretty much had full shade in my backyard.  I have an old large maple tree in the back that decided to drop some very large limbs, so now I have full sun!  Wow, what a switch!  I had no excuse anymore, so the garden become a reality last spring.  I have to say, it was the best thing I ever did!  The thrill of watching the veggies and plants grow was amazing!  Sometimes it seemed like they grew over night!  I enjoy walking around the garden everyday and seeing what's new and what I can eat right off the vine.  Who knew I liked peas!  I never thought I would get such enjoyment out of it, but I really have!  We've finally started to plant (weather hasn't been that great) and hopefully we'll have a good turn out this year.  Below are some pictures from last year and I will post more from this year as things grow.  The naughty cat liked the garden too!

My first zucchini

My watermelons

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Benefits of practicing yoga on a regular basis

You've probably heard that yoga is good for you. Maybe you have even tried it and discovered that it makes you feel better. A regular practice can offers all kinds of mental and physical health benefits. Some, like improved flexibility, are clearly evident. Others, including mental clarity and stress reduction, may be more subtle but are just as powerful. When put together, all the benefits below contribute to an increased feeling of well-being, which helps explain why so many people find yoga so addictive.
Here are some physical benefits:
Flexibility: Moving and stretching in new ways will help you become more flexible, bringing greater range of motion to tight areas. 

Strength: Many yoga poses require you to support the weight of your own body in new ways.  Holding poses over the course of several breaths also builds strength.
Muscle tone:  Yoga helps shape long, lean muscles.

Balance: Improved balance is one of the most important benefits of yoga as you get older. 
Pain Prevention: Increased flexibility and strength can help prevent the causes of some types of back pain. Many people who have back pain spend a lot of time sitting at a computer or driving a car. That can cause tightness and spinal compression, which you can begin to address with yoga. Yoga also improves your alignment, both in and out of class, which helps prevent many other types of pain.
Better Breathing: Most of us take shallow breaths and don't give much thought to how we breathe. Yoga breathing exercises focus the attention on the breath and teach us how to take deeper breaths, which benefits the entire body.

Here are some mental benefits:
Mental Calmness: Yoga asana practice is intensely physical. Concentrating so intently on what your body is doing has the effect of bringing a calmness to the mind. Yoga also introduces you to meditation techniques, such as watching the breath and how to disengage from your thoughts. 
Stress Reduction: Physical activity is good for relieving stress, and this is particularly true of yoga. Because of the concentration required, your daily troubles, both large and small, seem to melt away during the time you are on the mat. This provides a much-needed break from your stressors, as well as helping to put your problems into perspective.  You will leave a yoga class feeling less stressed than when you started. Reducing stress can also make a big difference.
Body Awareness: Doing yoga will give you an increased awareness of your own body. You are often called upon to make small, subtle movements to improve your alignment. Over time, this will increase your level of comfort in your own body. This can lead to improved posture and greater self-confidence.

Whether you do yoga once a week or every day, you will still see some benefits from your practice.  In my opinion, the more benefits the better!!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Will Spring ever come to Michigan?

It feels like Winter will never end this year in Michigan.  It started early and has been relentless ever since.  On the bright side, Spring will be here soon!  Its hard to believe, but the official start to Spring is in 2 weeks on the 20th.  Believe me, it will still take a while for it to feel like Spring, but I need something to look forward to!  Spring is known as the universal time of rebirth.  Its our chance to clean out the old and rebirth new goals and new selves.

On this Spring Equinox, consider some of these ideas that you could do as part of your natural rebirthing process:

~Spring cleaning is always a good way to get rid of the old and make room for the new!  Try to pace yourself and do one room or closet a day, that way you don't get overwhelmed.  Less clutter will create a more relaxed and airy home environment.

~Take up yoga, meditation, walking or other awakening activities the will wake up your body from the winter slumber.

~Lighten up on your foods.  Winter is a time for heavy foods, such as root vegetables.  In the Spring, eat lighter.  More greens, vegetables and fruits.  Lightening up on your foods will help your body to adjust to the natural rhythms of the changing seasons and you adapt quicker. 

~Have your 2014 New Year's Resolutions gone by the wayside?  Now is a good time to rebirth some short-term Spring goals. 

Setting any of the above ideas as Spring goals would be an amazing start to kicking off Spring, but consider what else you would like to accomplish during the Spring?  Make a list of goals in the areas of family, relationships, finances, work, health and you-time.  Then place those goals in a prominent area for you to see throughout the day as a reminder that you are rebirthing a new you!

Think Spring!!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Is Hot Yoga really better than regular Yoga?

Many say that Hot Yoga is better for you than regular Yoga for weight loss and flexibility. The theory is that the higher the temperature, the harder the body has to work out, to achieve the same results.  Actually, there is nothing to back that up.  Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, who monitored two dozen healthy adults during regular and hot yoga classes, found no difference in the increase in their core temperature or heart rate between groups.  Experts say the same physical benefits of muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and balance could be achieved from a standard class, at comfortable temperatures.  So now it will just come down to preference at this and to each their own!

Enjoy your day!