Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Moving!

This blog is MOVING!  We have a great new website that will integrate our social media.  Please go to our website & follow the blog there:

http://mountainyogatn.com/check-out-the-blog/

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Everyday Adventures


In looking over an older Yoga Journal mag, I came across an article entitled, “everyday adventures”.  It's just a tiny clip, and offers the following as adventures in the day-to-day:

-talk to a stranger at a cafe, or in line at the grocery store

-try cooking a vegetable you've never eaten before

-go the long way to work and take in the fresh sights

-take a yoga class with a teacher you've never studied with.

This got me thinking...do I have an adventure every day?

 

Some adventures I've tried lately have been:

-ordered my Ahi Tuna steak all the way “rare”(loved it!)

-bought a new shade of lip gloss (how shocking!)

-got a haircut at a place I'd never tried

-hired on a new instructor

-grew turnips for the first time (they look good.  We’ll see how they taste)

-placed an order for a new product I’m not sure will sell

 

There are adventures to be had today, if you just start looking for them.  What adventures have you had lately?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Doctor shortage in the U.S.


I heard on the radio this morning that the US is expected to have a shortage of Physicians soon.  Maybe this should frighten me more than it does.  But I just see it as an opportunity.  It's an opportunity to teach our neighbors to heal themselves.
(Look out.  I'm about to get a little controversial here)
One of the reasons we're experiencing this "shortage" is that people go to the doctor for every little thing.  A case of the sniffles shouldn't send you running to the emergency room.
Another reason is that we, as a country, no longer take care of ourselves.  The obesity rate has skyrocketed, even in my lifetime.  We no longer get outside and work for a living.  We sit behind the computer, eating Doritos.  At night, we eat a microwave meal while watching Honey Boo-Boo.  And we wonder why we're so sick!  When will Americans wake up and stop torturing our own bodies?
Also, we've lost the ability to care for ourselves at home.  Our ancestors knew so many at-home remedies, and employed them regularly for self-care.
I'm not saying "don't go to the doctor".  Modern medicine has done so many amazing things and has saved so many lives.  But when are we going to begin to take responsibility for our own actions and behavior patterns?
For those of us who practice alternative healing methods, it's time to start educating.  Talk about the herbs you use, talk about how much water you try to drink.  Talk about how good your yoga classes make you feel.  Help them see another way. 
I believe that if everyone took responsibility for their own health, the demand on the Physicians would be less.  It would only be the sick who see the doctor, freeing up a lot of time for these great healers to heal.
I know this is an opinionated post, and I'd love to hear your comments.

Friday, May 31, 2013

What's "Neutral Pelvis"?


When I was in school, (for Exercise Physiology) each movement began “from neutral pelvis”, but no one ever explained how to find neutral pelvis.  How far do you stick your backside out?  How much do you tuck your pelvis?  This has always concerned me.  And no wonder!  I recently looked up the psoas in one of my old Anatomy books, and it barely had a paragraph about it.  I can’t believe that.  It’s such an important muscle in the health of your back, and it just had a paragraph!  Of course I had a hard time finding neutral pelvis, not to mention what a hard time I had teaching my personal training clients about neutral pelvis. 

But then, I went to yoga teacher training.  I studied under Stephanie Keach, at Asheville Yoga Center (awesome yoga teacher training program, if you get a chance to go!).  Stephanie teaches a technique she calls “Pez”, like the candy.  I’ll show you what she’s talking about in the workshop.  Suddenly, I understood!  Yay for yoga.

But over the years, with so much teaching, I started to have trouble with my left hip and sacro-illiac joint.  What was going on?  I was practicing Pez!

Last fall, I went to the workshop at AYC with John Friend.  John looked at me, and immediately knew I had been tucking my pelvis under too much.  All these years of teaching yoga had strengthened my abs to the point that they overwhelmed my back muscles.

So, I’ve modified Stephanie’s Pez just a little bit, added a bit of John Friend’s advice,  as well as my own experiences, and have come up with a workshop I call “Neutral Pelvis”.  If you have back pain, or know someone who does, try this workshop!

Hope to see you there!

Friday, May 24, 2013

How to create community in your yoga studio...even as a student


www.mountainyogatn.com
 
At Mountain Yoga in Johnson City, TN, we have a great community.   We’ve introduced people who’ve become friends, who may have never met any other way.  I love to hear students making plans to get together outside of the studio, or doing business with one another.  Few of us sit on our front porches, and greet the neighbors anymore, so we have to find a way to connect with others.  Yoga studios are the perfect environment.  You already have something in common!

1-Talk.  No, I don’t mean in Sivasana!  But before class, instead of ignoring everyone in the room, smile and say hello.  Comment on the mat you like, or introduce yourself.  I know this isn’t common practice in some studios, but isn’t it a welcome change?

2-Laugh.  Stop taking your practice so seriously.  If the teacher makes a joke, it’s ok to giggle.  Who said yoga has to be boring?  (Refer to the book, Happy Yoga by _______________.  He says we Westerners take ourselves way too seriously!)  You might just catch the eye of your new best friend.

3-Stick around.  Does your studio offer tea?  If so, grab a cup, take a seat, and see what happens.  I’ve learned so many interesting things from our post-practice chats!  Plus, it’s a great way to come out of a deep meditation.  Don’t be in such a hurry to rush out the door.

I can’t point you to a Sutra, or tie it specifically to the Yamas and Niyamas, but I’ve always believed that sharing community is its own kind of yoga.  That personal interaction is so lost in today’s society.  Try today to make a new friend at your yoga class.  I’m sure you’ll have other stuff in common, too.

Monday, May 13, 2013

7 reasons to love child's pose


1-Relaxation-Childs’ pose is a great opportunity to release all the tension in your muscles, and just be supported by the floor.  If Childs’ pose isn’t relaxing to you, use props, maybe behind the knees, or under the head & chest.

2-Grounding-How often, in daily life, do we put our foreheads to the floor?  Not much.  And yet, it’s a great way to connect with the earth again.  Placing the forehead on the floor can help to bring you out of the monkey mind, and into the body once again.

3-Pranayama-One of the things I love about Childs’ pose is how my breath seems amplified when I’m all curled up like that.  The sounds of my breath reverberate back to me off my legs.  This allows my focus to remain firmly on my breath…just where it needs to be.

4-Yin time-The ‘yin’ side of life is the calm, quiet, solitude side.  In Childs’ pose, I feel like I’m totally alone in the world.  I feel protected by my strong back, and I feel I can spend some time just being me.

5-Low back stretch-This posture is a great counter pose to some of the back-strengthening poses we do in yoga.  When we’ve done several locust poses, or camel poses, it can feel so good to just shift backward and stretch the lower back.

6-Neck softness-All day long, we hold up this 8-10 lb bowling ball we call a head.  Our necks get tired and stretched, often causing neck pain, headaches, and more.  But in Childs’ pose, all the weight of the head is on the floor.  What a nice break from our daily chore.  The muscles of the neck can relax and become soft, leaving that big head to be supported by the mat.

7-Breath consciousness in the back-We are often aware of the breath coming & going through the front of the ribcage, but it also moves through the back.  In Childs’ pose, because the front of the chest is compressed, we can focus on opening the back with the breath.  Our intercostal muscles rarely get such a great workout as when we’re actively bringing the breath into the back.

Monday, May 6, 2013

5 Keys to Tree Pose


5 Keys to a better Tree Pose
1-A firm foundation-Begin by mindfully placing all four corners of your foot on the floor (both sides of the heel, big toe mound & little toe mound)  Lift & spread all your toes & place them down firmly.  Imagine your toes to be like roots, grounding into the floor.  Strength and flexibility in the foot and lower leg can make all the difference in your Tree Posture.

2-A solid gaze-Find a spot that’s not moving, a “Dristi” spot.  Hold this spot clearly in your vision.  By keeping your eyes on the Dristi, you will increase your balance dramatically.

3-A gathering energy-When you bring the foot to the inside of the leg, it’s important to gather your energy in and up.  Think of squeezing in, and lifting.  One of the chief complaints I hear about Tree Pose is that the foot slides down the yoga pants.  To keep this from happening, the foot AND the standing leg must press against each other, gathering energy toward the center.  Also, we want to lift the pelvic floor, for strength and stabilization, gathering the energy upward.

4-An open heart-Often we find ourselves just focused on the balance in Tree Pose.  But we also must remember the upper body to obtain the lightness and freedom associated with this posture.  Shoulders are back, and the sternum (the big bone in your chest) is lifted here.  Imagine floating your collar bones closer to the sky, and spreading open the front of the chest.

5-A humble ego-While we all want to do the perfect ‘Yoga Journal” pose, that’s not always in the cards.  Honor your body.  Maybe you need to keep your toes on the ground, or just barely bring the foot up.  That’s ok.  Maybe, especially if you’re just beginning yoga, you might even want to put a finger on a wall, until your balance gets stronger.  Listen to your body, and practice in the NOW.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Kombucha!

Brew your own kombucha at home!
Kombucha is an amazing, probiotic drink which is pretty expensive when purchased at the store.  But you can make this wonder drink for just pennies at home.  If you can make tea, you can make kombucha!
To begin, you need:
-a big glass jar (I use a big pickle jar, left over from a concession stand, but you can even just use a quart jar, if you don't want to make much)
-Tea (not herb tea, black tea!)
-water
-sweetener (for true kombucha, use white sugar, for Jun, a relative, use honey)
-a kombucha "mother".  These can usually be obtained by asking around (I have a few at the house right now) or can be ordered online.

Bring your water to a boil, with the tea bags in.  For a gallon of water, I use 5 small tea bags.  Once it's boiling, add your sweetener.  For my gallon of water, I use about 1/2 cup of sugar, or 1/4 cup of honey for Jun.  Make sure this gets evenly distributed.  Let cool completely before adding your "mother".  Cover your jar loosely, like in the photo above.  I use a towel and rubber bands.  Let sit on your counter or in a cupboard for several days, up to several weeks.  When the weather is warmer, it doesn't take as long.  Taste your kombucha periodically, and enjoy when it gets to your liking.
If the kombucha develops an odd smell, or a really gross look, throw it out!  When you're ready to make another batch, repeat the process, and add your new "mother" and a little of your homemade kombucha to the new tea mixture.

For more about kombucha, visit http://www.kombuchahome.com/  Happy brewing!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why I do Yoga: part 3


Do you know what a type-A personality looks like?  Always stressed, always hurried, always freaked out about one thing or another.  That’s me.  Or at least it used to be me.  And I still fall into that habit every now & then.  But it’s not how I live.

I come from a long line of worriers.  I could worry about anything.  I’m sure if there were awards for worrying, I would be a finalist.  If you’re a worrier, you know how hard it is to live that way.  Never peaceful.  Never content. 

The first time I tried Sivasana (the meditation at the end of each yoga class), it was just 10 minutes to worry, uninterrupted!  My monkey mind was all over the place.  How did these people lie still so long?  Aren’t they dying to get up & do something?

Slowly, very slowly, Yoga, Pranayama (breathing) and meditation have changed all that for me.  Most of the time, I can quiet my mind.  Now, I’m more likely to be thinking of just one thing, instead of many things at once.  I still worry, but not as often.  Now, with practice, I can breathe, calm my mind, and stop freaking out.  I can prioritize and accomplish my tasks in a calm and peaceful manner.

This has been another liberating aspect of yoga.  Slowing down, letting go.  Most of my friends and acquaintances now wouldn’t know what a type-A I used to be.  I like that.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Can Yoga Help...?

As a yoga teacher, I tend to think yoga can help everything.  But here's a list of some of the health conditions shown by scientific studies to benefit from the practice of yoga.  From Yoga As Medicine:  The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing by Timothy McCall, MD
Alcoholism & other drug abuse
Anxiety
Asthma
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Cancer
Carpal Tunnel Syndrom
COPD (Emphysema)
Congestive Heart Failure
Depression
Diabetes
Drug Withdrawal
Eating Disorders
Epilepsy
Fibromyalgia
Heart Disease
High Blood Pressure
HIV/Aids
Infertility
Insomnia
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Monopausal and Perimenopausal Symptoms
Migraine and Tension Headaches
Multiple Sclerosis
Neuroses (e.g. Phobias)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Osteoarthritis
Osteoporosis
Pain (chronic)
Pancreatitis (chronic)
Pleural Effusion (fluid collection in the lining of the lung)
Post-Heart Attack Rehabilitation
Postoperative Recovery
Post-Polio Syndrome
Pregnancy (both normal and complicated)
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rhinitis (Inflammation of the Nose)
Schizophrenia
Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
Sinusitis
Tuberculosis
Urinary Stress Incontinence

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why I do yoga: part 2


In this series, I’m exploring all the reasons I choose to do yoga and own a studio.  What I’m discovering is that it could be a long series.  There’s so much I love about practicing yoga!

But today, I want to talk about one of the physical reasons I practice yoga:  my back.

If I could show you my x-rays, you would see a weird bone formation at L-4/L-5.  Those are two of the lower vertebrae, just above the pelvis.  When I was 18, I was having a lot of back pain, and I went to a Chiropractor.  He found that I have a natural fusion of the two vertebrae, and that they form a strange shape, and are connected on the left side of my spine.  This was affecting me in several ways.  First, the spot of fusion was hurting a lot.  It seemed that the fused bones were rubbing on the upper part of my pelvis, and since there was no natural cartilage there, it was pretty painful.  Also, I got “referred pain”, which means that I had muscular pain on the right side of my mid-back, in my left shoulder, and in the right side of my neck & jaw.  And I was just 18, and very fit.

My parents took me to an Orthopedist, who said he could do nothing for me.  He also said that I wouldn’t be able to walk by the time I was 30, and then they would do surgery.  (BTW, I’m about to turn 36 and I walk pain-free!)

Dejected, I began studying how to strengthen my back.  I found that the stronger my back, the less pain I experienced.  I was a personal trainer, and everything I had been taught had to do with the superficiality of the body-the muscles you can see.  I began training the deep muscles of the back.

But then came yoga.  At first, I was so frustrated when I struggled with some of the poses.  I was so strong and healthy, right?  But I learned that my core strength, while better than before, was sadly lacking.  Yoga works better than any other exercises to target, strengthen, and stretch the deep muscles of the back, to support the spine.

Today, I have been practicing yoga regularly for almost 10 years.  I have no back pain.  On a rare occasion, I will “over-do” and hurt.  But now, I know how to fix it.  Yoga has been the ultimate solution to my back pain problem.

If you’ve got back pain, what are you waiting for?  Try a class!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why I do Yoga: part 1


I've been reading a business book, entitled, "Start with Why".  It's been pretty powerful.  I've asked myself, "why DO I work this hard to keep up a yoga studio?"  So, the following is just the first story of why I love yoga.  Some of these will end up in our marketing materials, but it's been very therapeutic, just to write about it. 
I spent the majority of my life critical of myself and others.  There were many reasons for this, but it was mostly a lack of self-worth.  I was my harshest judge.  Anything short of perfection was unacceptable....so I was always unacceptable.
When I went to teacher training for the first time, I was so uncomfortable.  Look at these people:  she needs to brush her hair, his clothes don't match, what's with all those tattoos....Not to mention judging myself:  what will they think of me?  What should I say?  That was stupid of me.  How do I look to them?  I could not relax.
But one morning, in my hotel, getting ready to go, I looked at my messy, wild hair and for the first time, I thought "that's OK."  I suddenly realized that my yoga friends weren't judging me.  This was a major first in my life:  unconditional acceptance.  It blew my mind & opened the door for me to stop judging myself.
I have not mastered this skill.  I'm still my own worst critic.  But now that I've tasted the freedom of accepting myself, it's a part of my daily life.  And I find I can be kinder to others as well.
This is just one of the ways that yoga has helped me find my peace.  Let it help you find yours.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Don't compare your body to anyone else's!

Each of these women weigh 154 lbs.  I saw this from EJNamaste Fitness and Yoga Inspiration, on facebook.
What strikes me is that the four in the middle are around the same height, but carry their weight very differently.  But aren't they all beautiful?  So stop comparing!  God made you beautiful.
Also, notice the confidence radiating from each of those faces.  That's inner beauty shining through. 
If you want to be more beautiful, practice yoga, but not just the movement (asana)...practice the meditation, practice the lifestyle....and your confidence will shine through, also.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bikram Choundry Sex Scandal


Photo & background info from gawker.com
Yogis aren’t perfect people.  One famous yogi has demonstrated this…again…in a spectacular way.  Bikram Choundry has now been accused of sexual harassment and assault on a student.  I don’t know if this is true, and fortunately, I don’t have to stand in judgment of anyone.

Unfortunately, this is becoming all too common within the yoga community.  Several well-known gurus have been discovered in compromising situations, most often with students.  John Friend, being a recent example.

I believe, at some level, this is a power issue.  As students & practitioners, many people put these gurus on a pedestal that a regular human cannot sustain.  When will we learn that these teachers, while wise in many ways, are just human beings, like the rest of us?

We often see celebrities & ball-players whose money and fame have gone to their heads.  This leads to a feeling of superiority and behaviors they ordinarily would not participate in.  But even dedicated yoga practitioners can fall in that trap.

One of the tenants of yoga is that all beings are special…so why is EXTRA specialness applied to the rich and famous?

I ask you today, to look at how you view celebrities of all types, and realize you are just as wonderful, just as cherished as they are.

And if you’re on your way to becoming a famous instructor, let these stories be a warning for you.  Retain your humility.  Don’t think of yourself as a guru, but as a servant.  That’s a tough way for anyone, but a valuable practice, in itself.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adam Levine's Yoga

So, I'm not really into celebrities, but it seems the whole world is talking about this guy, Adam Levine, right now.  He's the lead singer of Maroon 5 and the host for the hit show, The Voice.  But more importantly, he's a yogi.  Details.com reports that at each of his concerts, he has a yoga room set up back stage.  "Playing a show before thousands of people is a highly unnatural state" he says,"and when I get on the mat to do an hour of yoga before the show, I come out physically relaxed."  If yoga can help Adam Levine relax in front of all those people, what can it do for you today?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lululemon, Modesty, & Yoga


So, by now everyone's heard of the Lululemon problem with their see-through yoga pants.  It's a big joke all over the country.  It was clearly an accident, and they did not mean to have such skimpy wear.  But it makes me think about yoga and modesty and clothing.
Here, in Johnson City, Tennessee, we're pretty conservative.  It's rare that I think a student is exposing too much.  But in other parts of the country, skimpy yoga wear is a way of life.  It's all about "the look", with your designer yoga gear.  (Lululemon is one of the more expensive brands, but many companies carry yoga pants that cost over $100)  Seen and be seen is often the main issue of someone's practice.
I'm not against looking good, or even purchasing from these companies.  I think they have great performance products, and if you do a lot of yoga, it can be a good investment.  One day soon, I'd like to carry great yoga clothing here at the studio.
But let's look at the original yogis.  They were men, to begin with.  But they were also ascetics.  They renounced all worldly goods, and lived by the kindness of others.  I can bet they didn't do spandex.  They probably modeled the latest in "dirty rags".
So, let's look for balance.  Enjoy your cute yoga clothes, but keep in mind that yoga is so much more than the outside.  It's all about what's inside that counts.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Negative thoughts: Now What?

Controlling those thoughts!
Monday, we looked at how to recognize automatic negative thoughts when they come to mind.  But now what?
Unfortunately, through depression, I have lots of experience with this!  When I first started becoming aware of my automatic negative thoughts, I was overwhelmed with their constant presence.  But over time, I've been able to quiet my mind, and to recognize "true" thoughts vs those automatic bad ones.
Step 1:  Acknowledge the thought as negative and/or destructive.
Step 2:  Examine the thought:  Is it true, or is that just your monkey mind working overtime?
Step 3:  If it's true, but a negative thought, what can you do right now to change the situation?
             If it's untrue, remind yourself strongly that "THAT'S NOT SO!"  Follow up with encouraging words to yourself!
Step 4:  Take action:  If you thought of a way to change the situation, do that immediately!  If it was untrue, or there's nothing to do about it, this is when the yoga & meditation come in.  Notice your body.  Notice your breath.  Count your breaths, or otherwise shift your focus away from the negative thought.  If it's convenient, practice a yoga pose or two, to get you out of your head and into your body.
This seem simple, but it's a powerful practice to change your thoughts today.
How have you dealt with negative thoughts in the past?
Have you been able to change your life by changing your thoughts?
I'd love to hear your story!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Recognizing Automatic Negative Thoughts

Do you suffer from negative thought patterns?  (samskaras)
In The Mindful Way Through Depression,  by Williams, Teasdale, Segal and Kabat-Zinn, the authors offer the following practice:

"The following is the same list of automatic thoughts reported by people who were currently depressed that we saw in Chapter 1.
1-I feel like I'm up against the world
2-I'm no good
3-Why can't I ever succeed?
4-No one understands me.
5-I've let people down
6-I don't think I can go on
7-I wish I were a better person
8-I'm so weak
9-My life's not going the way I want to.
10-I'm so disappointed in myself
11-Nothing feels good anymore.
12-I can't stand this anymore
13-I can't get started
14-What's wrong with me?
15-I wish I were somewhere else
16-I can't get things together
17-I hate myself
18-I'm worthless
19-I wish I could just disappear
20-What's the matter with me
21-I'm a loser
22-My life is a mess
23-I'm a failure
24-I'll never make it.
25-I feel so helpless
26-Something has to change
27-There must be something wrong with me.
28-My future is bleak
29-It's just not worth it.
30-I can't finish anything
As you look at the thoughts on the list, think about how strongly, if at all, you would believe each of the thoughts if it popped into your head RIGHT NOW.
When you have finished, think back to a time when you were at your most depressed and then return once more to the list.  Think now about how strongly you would have believed each of those thoughts had they occurred AT THAT TIME"

If you've ever struggled with depression, or if you know someone who has, I recommend you read The Mindful Way Through Depression.  It might just change your life.

Friday, March 8, 2013

How Jennifer Aniston Stays in Shape




Jennifer Aniston yoga
Jennifer Aniston in Badakonasana

I know this is SO yesterday's news, but did you hear that Jennifer Aniston is getting married?  It just reminds me that she is well known for doing yoga.  She is a beautiful, strong woman, and will tell you that yoga changed her life.  You can hear it in your own words in this video.  In 2009, People magazine did an article titled, "Jennifer Aniston: Yoga changed my life."  In this article, Aniston sited her great friend and yoga teacher, Mandy Ingber, as her guide.
I hope Jennifer is still doing yoga.  I know it helped to keep me calm and centered while preparing for my wedding.
And if she happens to read this:  Thank you so much for promoting yoga to the world!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yoga & Addiction


Addiction is a part of everyone's life, whether we realize it or not.  We sometimes jokingly say "I'm addicted to _____", but in reality, we all know a true addict or two.  Many times, the person is just going through life, trying to hide their ever-growing dependence on whatever it is.  But for some, they've crossed over into recovery, and that's a beautiful thing.  At the studio, we have several recovering addicts that I know of.  Not everyone is comfortable speaking about it, so I'm guessing we have more.  And yoga helps.  The breathing, the being-in-the-moment.  It's all life-changing to an addict.
Recovering addicts inspire me.  They are courageous, dedicated, and wonderful individuals who fight with something greater than themselves.  And I realize that if they can use yoga to recover from an addiction, I can use yoga to recover from selfishness, or greed, or hate, or envy, or any of the other negative things we humans do.
I found this article on Kripalu's blog, and thought I'd share.  In the meantime, if you know an addict, please take the time to listen, to love them, and to help them breathe.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

John Friend


Saturday, I had the great pleasure of spending all day studying under a couple of amazing yoga instructors.  One was our very own Joe Taft, who did a workshop with us at Mountain Yoga a couple of weeks ago.  The other was the legendary founder of Anusara Yoga, John Friend.

I loved both sessions, and always learn so much from Joe.  But John introduced a concept or two that might just change my body for good.  For most of my life, I was told that I had excessive lumbar lordosis (too much curve in my low back) and that I needed to strengthen my abs, to ease my back pain.  As John said, “you did a good job!”  He actually encouraged me to bring that curve back. 

For the last couple of years, I’ve had a nagging pain in my left hip.  At times, this has affected my practice, and my teaching.  During John’s class yesterday, he encouraged a strong use of the gluteal muscles, and creating space in the pelvic floor…a concept I knew, but rarely employed, because of my lordosis.  But by sivasana, I knew I had done too much.  Before he rang the bell, I had to bend my knees to take the spasm out of my low back.  After class, I approached him in pain.

John looked at my normal standing posture, and had me shift the tops of my femurs back, essentially sticking my butt out, and sitting down into my legs a little more.  Ahhh….sudden relief…  But is it just temporary?  John says no; that changing my stance back to what my body WANTS to do naturally will heal my hip in short order.

Needless to say, after all these years, I’m a little skeptical. But I’m willing to try.  So, if you see me with my pelvis tucked under, give me a gentle reminder.

One more lesson from John Friend.  He has been practicing and teaching yoga for many, many years.  He developed a world-renowned yogic system, which has helped to heal thousands of bodies and minds.  But in humility, he brought a different concept to us yesterday.  Because he watched and learned from his students, he is able to change and adapt his teaching.  It’s all about learning, growing and healing.  And that may be my biggest take-away from practicing yoga with the famous John Friend.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Child's pose

Ahhh....child's pose...
When all else fails, this beautiful, restorative pose can help heal the soul.  When the world is just too much to bear, kneel, sit back on your heels, and place your forehead on the floor.  Grounding.  Settling.  Letting the chaos swirl around you, but not in you.
This pose is a beautiful stretch for the low back, the quadriceps, the ankles, and even the shoulders, if you stretch your arms out like the woman in the photo.  But to me, its real benefits are emotional.
This winter come inside your self, inside your body, and breathe in child's pose.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why food fermentation?




 

Why fermented foods?
Probiotics, that’s why!
For the entire history of man, people have been fermenting foods, whether intentionally or not.  Before refrigeration, it was often a matter of survival.  Most fresh foods won’t keep long.  Imagine your life without fridge or freezer…  Winters like this would be hard.  Sure, things would stay cold out there right now (as I write this, there’s a state of emergency in TN for all the ice!) but what about tomorrow, when it gets above freezing.  Well, there goes dinner…
Now, pretty much everyone in the US has a fridge or freezer, and many people have multiples of each.  But we still see fermented products for sale at every grocery store.  They are delicious and nutritious.
We’ve all heard of the benefits of taking probiotics, especially when we take antibiotics.  We have to replenish the “good bacteria” in the gut.  It’s part of our immune system, and helps us to digest.  But the easiest, cheapest, and yummiest probiotics don’t come from a pill.  They come in the form of fermented foods.  One of the most amazing probiotics is called Lactobacilli, and it happily grows on any kitchen counter, or in the back corner of any basement.  You just have to set up the correct conditions.
I talked about home fermentation in another post, but if you want to make your belly happy without getting into your own chemistry experiments, look for these foods at the grocery store:
Yogurt (look for live-cultures)
Kefir
Sauerkraut (check the label)
Some home-canned pickles, chutneys, and fermented relishes can be found at the farmers’ markets, too.

Get your gut happy again with fermented foods!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...



Lately, I’ve been reigniting my love for food fermentation.  Several months ago, I managed to kill my kombucha mama.  (If you’ve never tried kombucha, go to Earth Fare or Natural Foods and pick up a bottle.  It might be your new love, too!)  But the wonderful Tammy Ozment shared some of hers.  So, I am waiting, not so patiently, for my first batch of Tammy Kombucha to ferment on my kitchen counter.  Also, I just scheduled with Marc Williams, from botanyeveryday.com, to teach a fermented foods class in March for us.  So the excitement was bubbling…
Then, I discovered that Earth Fare had (has?) the book, Wild Fermentation on sale for only $12.50!  I’ve been wanting that book a long time, so with the ice storm, I read the whole thing in less than a day.  Sandor Katz goes about fermentation in just my style:  few rules, lots of creativity.
Last year, Scott and I made homemade sauerkraut.  It was awesome, and met with rave reviews.  I wanted to start a batch last night, but was not going to brave the icy roads for a couple heads of cabbage!  But I had some turnips.  So, currently, on the kitchen cabinet, sets a quart jar of “sauerruben”, or fermented turnips.  If I get moving later today, I might make the same thing, but with carrots.  I love how Katz encourages you to try stuff.   In a week or so, we’ll find out if we like sauerruben!
For those reading this and worrying about my health, afraid of listeria and other monsters lurking in my crocks, fear not.  I am careful to keep my containers and hands clean, and watch for any signs of yuckiness.  If it smells bad, don’t eat it….or just try a tiny bite….  Also, Katz says that in all his years of home fermentation, he never made anyone sick, or even heard of a case.  In fact, a few years ago, the government did a study and found that most of the cases of milk-borne illnesses came from PASTEURIZED milk products!
I have also made lots of yogurt and plan to make kefir soon.  So, don’t be afraid.  Get the book, take the class, but start fermenting!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Green Soup

In the winter time, I just can't force myself to eat a cold salad.  Nor should I.  Ayurvedically, I'm a Vata.  Brrr...  So, warm food for me.  And now, I love GREEN SOUP.
I came across an article in Reader's Digest about green soup, and gave it a try.  It needed a little salt, but otherwise, delicious and very green and nutritious.  Here's what I did, but you can make your own:
4 cups spinach
2 cups kale
2 cups veggie broth
1 onion, chopped
a little olive oil
salt to taste
In one pot, cook down your kale, with a little oil.  In a saute pan, brown the onions with a drizzle of oil.  (This is a great place to add a little more flavor.  Next time I plan to add tumeric!)  Once the kale wilts, add your broth, spinach & onions.  Let this mixture cook down.  Use a hand blender on the whole pot & enjoy!
Nutrients and vitality!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Practicing acceptance of the weather

"It is what it is."  If you think about it, this is a funny phrase.  Because of course, it is what it is.  What else could it be?  But, anyway, most of the time you hear this phrase, it's someone trying to accept the way things are.  To look at them without judgement.
I'm working on it.  Right now, I'm working on accepting this crazy weather.  Several things about the weather give me a tough time of accepting.
1-I do not like to be cold or wet, or cold & wet.
2-Driving in snow & ice scares me.
3-I really don't like having to shut down the studio, when there are people who want their yoga!
But it is what it is.  There's not a thing I can do about it.
And I am remembering to be grateful.  A couple of years ago, on one of our missions to Nicaragua, we helped to finish a home for a family.  I've spoken about this family, and this home before, in our newsletter.  But when it's muddy outside, my mind and heart always go to them.
This family was literally living in the mud.  They had no way to get out of it.  Their home had no floor, and really, no walls to speak of.  Just sticks, loosely tied together.  We were there during the rainy season, and it had been raining, like it is here, but for 3 weeks.  The father, in an effort to keep his family dry, dug a ditch in front of the little home, to help redirect the water.  But there was so much, that even inside the house looked like a puddle.  One mom, one dad, and four beautiful little girls shared a space smaller than my office.  They slept on pieces of cardboard, to try to get out of the mud.  As you can imagine, it didn't help much.
There's a happy ending to this story.  Our group was the last to work on their new home.  And while this home had no floor, and in America, someone would store their lawn mower there, at least it was dry inside.  And I will never forget the smiles.
So, tonight, when you go to your warm home, with a dry floor, a soft bed, running, hot water, and plenty of food to eat, please think of this family.  These beautiful children.  And be grateful for your blessings.