Category Archives: Health

“Yoga Immunity Boosting Routine: Flu Proof”: this chicks sequence ROCKS

If you’re feeling a little under the weather or want to amp up your immune system once you notice how much snot and germs seem to be going around.. check it out.

“This Yogea routine improves circulation through the Lymphatic system as it boosts the body’s self defense mechanism. It kicks off with tapping and breathing exercises to stimulate the thymus gland and lymph nodes and open the main nerve channels through which prana or life force passes to nourish the cells. A swift and fluid warm up that opens the arms and legs, groins and shoulders, head and lower back simultaneously guide students into a cardio flow. Further, backbends alternate with forward bends, standing poses morph into seated bound twists, as the pelvic and shoulder girdle open to stimulate the lymph nodes. The sequences culminates with inversions and bound backbends that promote circulation and winds down with soothing forward bends and legs up the wall. The sequence integrates tapping and breathing defense boosters with lymph-bolstering asanas that stimulate the four main physiological systems that are linked to the immune system: the circulatory, the digestive, the nervous and the endocrine system.”

 

 

 

 

Week of February 4, 2018: Reflection + Sequence + Playlist (Detoxify, Focus, and Ground)

It’s been a great week. I have had the opportunity to spend the past five days with my sweet boyfriend down in Long Beach, CA. We spent quality time together in the desert of Joshua Tree and beautiful Deep Creek hot springs near Lake Arrowhead. The nature proved to be incredibly healing and relaxing, invigorating, and empowering. I hope for the opportunity to spend more time in nature because of its capacity to help quiet my mind and recalibrate my nervous system. My recent nature experience was inspirational and got me thinking about some of my current daily practices, and the habits I have that are not serving me as I mature into an independent, and responsible adult.

The travel associated with transporting my kitten and myself down to Southern California from where I reside in Northern California was a bit exhausting. Since I’ve reduced my life of discipline and immense self-care, I have felt a tad more lethargic. Have you ever seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love? The movie is broken down into three parts, each one representing a critical part of the characters development. The main character goes to India and takes up a rigorous and demanding mindfulness practice (Pray); however, the last part of the movie she falls in love (Love). The very act of falling in love, however, knocked her slightly off balance and because she was so elated with her newfound romance and the deep love that had presented itself to her, she shyed away from the deliberation of routine and a systematized yoga practice. In the movie, she had to discover how to find the balance between being in love and tending to her practice. I too, can relate to this, and I find that the joy I find in my love relationship has allowed for me to abandon some of my sacred and disciplined practices. So this week is all about increasing focus, detoxifying and grounding so I can be more intentional when it comes to my behaviors. I am working on reinstating my self-care practices. I feel like I’ve been very off-schedule lately. In the whirlwind of falling in love, and with so much up in the air regarding my future, I don’t have a sense of stability or routine that I find critical for keeping a healthy and sound mind. I am hustling 3 jobs and peicemealing my income in order to make sure I have enough for rent and bills and the coping mechanisms I put in place are critical.

I have been learning so much being in a relationship. My boyfriend and I have been together nearly 10 months, and it’s beautiful to notice how we just keep getting closer and the intimacy continues to grow. I spent a lot of my life in very one-dimensional relationships that often proved to present way more heart-ache than actual benefit—one of the reasons for me to outwardly despise men and relationships in many ways. Then this wonderful man walks into my life (after spending 5 or 6 months with a very concerted effort on self-care). I was ready for him. Now that I am in a relationship, and am very happy, the learning hasn’t ceased, nor the need for immediate self-care. Part of me held this belief that once I find the ‘love of my life’, all the puzzle pieces will come together and gears will click into place. This is, however, not entirely the truth. Though I am very satisfied with my relationship, I find my usual patterns and coping mechanisms to creep back in as I face the struggles with life.

Now, more than ever it’s important for me to focus on self-care. I am noticing within myself this dramatic need to be disciplined. Last year, I spent ten months of the year gluten, dairy, alcohol, and substance – free. Though challenging, the experience was very rewarding. One thing I noticed, the brain fog had lifted and the amount of time I spent lamenting over a somewhat intrusive hangover was literally non-existent. Being sober of all of these ‘allergens’ really taught me an immense amount of self-control. While I was the annoying person at the restaurant, asking to see a gluten free menu, or drinking water at a bar and leaving before everyone else, in ways I feel like I had this sense of control over my life. My friends would stumble home drunk, when I was already curled up in bed having slept for hours. In ways I felt more in control. I knew that I wasn’t going to feel negative waking up, or say anything that I would regret later. I knew I would wake up with roughly enough time and energy to meet the next challenges offered to me by life.

Slowly but surely my habits have started to creep back in, and slowly but surely after my ten months of detoxing away I started to reintroduce these things back into my life. Where is the line drawn between being healthy and being neurotic? How can I introduce health in my life in a balanced way? These next few weeks I am going to detoxify, yet again, taking the month of February to remove allergens from my life and meditating on health. The yoga poses for the month of February will challenge self-control/discipline to practice that muscle, support working through cravings, and encourage grounding. Twists are great for detoxifying as well.

Enjoy!

 

Sequence (Runs about thirty minutes):

Mountain Pose

3 grounding breaths & set intention

I-Arms up/ Look up

E-Forward Fold

I-Flat Back

Plank (hold for 1 minute: Last ten seconds lift one back leg, then the other)

Chattaranga

Upward facing dog

Childs Pose (hold for 10 breaths)

Side Plank (hold for 1 minute each side: Last ten seconds try tree legs)

Plank

Chattaranga

Upward facing dog

Puppy Pose

Neck Warm-Up (circles both directions)

Seated Twist (both sides)

Walk hands (sitting cross-legged) out in front of you.

Hands and Knees (Cat/Cow)

Elbow to Knee Each Side (X10)

Opening A X 2

Opening B X 2

Boat -> Canoe (X10)

Pigeon Pose

Floor Twist

Shoulder Stand

Happy Baby

Savasana (10 minutes of silence)]

 

Week of January 28, 2018 (Reflection + Playlist + Yoga Sequence)

These past few weeks have presented slight but unforeseen challenges. Though, in more ways than one, I am having the best time of my life, I can’t help but sometimes fall prey to  the stress and anxiety regarding my future and purpose in this world as a 25-year-old millennial. I believe, the cause of this stress,  is a feeling of not being in control and among this uncertainty I need to trust in the ever-present universal assistance . Applications to my potential PHD programs went out December 1, and it has been roughly two months since this endeavor was completed. I am now waiting to hear back from my universities (six schools along the west coast from Vancouver down to LA), and within the next month will start receiving acceptances, denials, and hopefully interview opportunities. There is something to say about this ‘waiting game’. I spent the six months prior, pre-applying, preparing my life to fit comfortably in this elevator-sized  little package, and it’s a form I’ve grown familiar with. My application identity, a pair of shoes that I started liking to wear, is now awaiting ACCEPTANCE. Oh the ultimate aspect of survival.  Now, this creative and adorned manifestation of me is marching up to the iron gates of these exciting institutions in her best dress hoping to be accepted and seen for her worth and this makes me NERVOUS.

But here’s another thing I’ve been realizing and meditating on, and that is the power of resilience.  No matter the outcome, (whether it be utter denial from world of academia, or more simply, recovering from a conversation that touched a nerve) I will be ok. My pretty little PHD self, will live on regardless of acceptance and this is something I’ve had to cope with. This, limbo—wondering, will I live here or there, will my life change AT ALL has been a stress.  The familiar, like dairy, found in a grilled cheese sandwich is readily coming to my side. Hello old friend. And other undesirable old strategies for coping are sitting in line hoping to be chosen to provide either instant or long-term relief. In a way, it’s quite beautiful. My consciousness is acting on this body to try and help soothe me. The very nature of reaching towards a stimulus for comfort is an act overflowing with compassion. Like a dear friend we are reaching towards what makes us feel better. Even if sometimes what we reach for, in turn, doesn’t provide us with relief. On some level—we hope it will. And the sheer act of seeking and providing comfort within ourselves is a delicate and unshaken relationship.

There’s a part of me that’s been feeling super energized. I’ve been making lists like crazy and knocking ‘to-dos’ off left and right. I’m packed and ready 4 days in advance for my trip down to LA (Can you tell I’m excited?), and have the meal plan down to the last granule for our two day camping adventure. I’m feeling very inspired, writing yoga sequences and soothing myself through the resources found in being organized and racking my brain making lists so as to not have any lingering considerations slip through the cracks. On one hand I am really feeling together and with it. Like I can take on the world, and more importantly have fun doing it! I’m reaching lots of goals, preparing that bomb ass lentil meatloaf that I’ve been excited about for weeks. But there is also this gnawing feeling from the not-knowing about what’s next. It’s hard to commit full-force to any project when my future could be so blissfully and spontaneously uprooted in the next month. So there is this gnawing of uncertainty and with that, I’ve been seeking to regain control and a semblance of certainty.  I’m coping with a lot of pleasure and reward stimulus. “Ahhhh I want something and can have it”, this relieves the pain of “ahhh I have no idea whats happening and I am completely at the hands of anothers approval”.

It all makes great sense, so as 2018 is ramping up and I’m having the time of my life, I am becoming increasingly aware of my stress, triggers, and coping mechanisms. Awareness of this, and mastery of the “dance” sounds to me like the ultimate control. It’s interesting, as I’m facing the potential reality of a lifetime in academia—seen to some as a stodgy and dry profession, I feel incredibly creative. Most of my creative energy, I’m finding is landing on lots of goal-orienting and future-planning, and while it is giving me bliss to FANTASIZE, reeling my energy back to the grounding now, is something I am learning and working on. Here’s a yoga sequence to do just that. Energizing and opening up the heart, strengthening the shoulders, allows for increased learned coping with sensation uncertainty and vulnerability , some grounding breaths and hip-opening poses to help with presence, and some self-soothing, because hey I think we could all use a little more of that. Enjoy.

Playlist:

Sequence: (Maybe, I will start making videos/audio…typing out sequences is quite exhaustive…and might not be that effective)

(Runs: About an hour/ Seating: Mandala formation )

Child’s pose

Hero’s pose…lean backwards

Shoulders to ears (inhale up, exhale down)

Sitting on our heels, extend arms directly out from body, arms straight, palms up pinkies facing eachother, put block towards forearms between elbows. Make a 90 degree angle with arms, fingertips facing the ceiling. Lift finger tips up (resembling a pull-up position), strengthen shoulders.

Plank (3 minutes): last minute, experiment

Side Plank (3 minutes each side): last minute, experiment ( ‘tree legs’)

Cat/Cow (X10)

Puppy Pose

From tummy, body is in a T-shape, Roll to one side-open shoulder, and the other.

Downward Dog

Sway in Ragdoll (walk your hands towards your feet, forward fold)

Roll up Vertebrae

Mountain pose

grounding breaths  (for these, standing in mountain pose, imagine that you are drawing energy up from the ground, on the inhale, let it circulate throughout your entire body, and on the exhale bring that energy back down to the ground through your feet)

Opening A: (variation)

-Inhale look between hands

-Exhale forward fold

-I flat back

-E plank pose (hold it for 10 seconds)

-I prep for Chattaranga

-E Chattaranga (ELBOWS IN)

-I Upward Dog

-E Downward Dog

-I Extend R leg up and back

-E Warrior 1

-I Deeper in stretch (extend arms up up up , while still remaining in sockets)

-E Sink into the knee

-I Extend arms

-E Triangle

-I Warrior 1

-E Triangle

-I Warrior 1

-E Plank pose / Chattarange

-I Upward Dog

-E Downward Dog

 

DO OTHER SIDE

-E hop forward fold

-I Flat back

-E forward fold

-I reverse swan dive

-E Mountain Pose

Opening B: (variation)

-I/E Chair (hold for 10 seconds)

-I Flat Back in chair

-Chair twist (both sides)

-E Forward fold

-I Hands to shins

-E Chattaranga/ Plank

-I Upward Dog

 

-E Downward Dog

-I Right leg extends

-Warrior 1 (R)

-Warrior 2

-Reverse Warrior -> Side Angle (X3)

-Extended Side Angle/ Bird of Paradise

-High Lunge->Bring Back leg forward and bent held up in front of you (X3)

-Warrior 3

-Half moon

-Standing splits

DO OTHER SIDE

Star ->Goddess (X10)

Skandasana (side lunge) both sides (X3)

Malasana Squat (10 seconds)

Extend feet: Hands behind back, shoulders come up over head (goal: touch head to the ground)

Dolphin

Headstand

Handstand Prep

Camel pose (lean back reach for your heels)/ back and forth X 10

Boat -> Canoe  X10

Bridge/Wheel (X3)

Shoulder stand

Twist (Both sides)

Happy baby

Reverse Suptavarakanasana (sp?)

Face yoga, face/head/neck shoulder taps, Belly Rubs

Savasana (10 minutes silence)

 

Menstruation and Moon Cycle: 101

Interestingly, many women cycle with the moon. We all know about ‘syncing’ up with people that you are close with and live with. This is something I would like to do more research on. But one thing, that many people don’t know, is the frequency in which women’s cycle sync with the moon.

moon

Mystic Mamma, cites in her article, Moontime~ Sacred time for Women

“Traditionally, the Moontime is the sacred time of woman when she is honored as a Mother of the Creative Force. During this time she is allowed to release the old energy her body has carried and prepare for reconnection to the Earth Mother’s fertility that she will carry in the next Moon or month. Our Ancestors understood the importance of allowing each woman to have her Sacred Space during this time of reconnection, because women were the carriers of abundance and fertility…”

moon 3

One thing I’ve come to learn in my own experience is how frequently our moon time LITERALLY syncs up with the MOON. That is, the frequency in which women have their period BEGIN with the FULL or the NEW moon. This is fascinating to me, and any supporting research surrounding this is of great interest.

This study explores female menstruation and it’s relationship to the moon cycles, The regulation of menstrual cycle and its relationship to the moon.

Here is a great article from Cycle Harmony that discusses the different moon cycles, and goddesses associated, The Moon Cycle and The Menstrual Cycle

For the sake of brevity we will discuss the history of two cycles (though many women may have their cycles during waxing and waning phases of the moon as well) .

Moonsong has a great article, Menstrual Lunar Asynchrony here is a brief synopsis:

A woman who ovulates during the new moon and menstruates on the full moon is part of the Red Moon Cycle. This cycle represented a woman that was not using her sexual energies for conception, but rather for self expression. Women who had their cycles during this time were looked at as the ‘evil woman’,  witches, seductresses, wise woman, medicine women because they represented women that were not using their sexual forces for only conception. It showed orientation away from the energies of procreation. Energies associated with this cycle: outward, world nourishing, learning to transform energy, turn rage into creative action. Creativity and sexuality may be more pronounced during this cycle.

The goddess associated is Ishtar.

ishtar

A woman who ovulates during the full moon and menstruates on the new moon is part of the White Moon Cycle. This cycle was thought to create the best conditions for conception and was often seen for being the ‘good mother’, the only aspect of womanhood acceptable to the patriarchal society. Energies associated with this cycle: inward, healing, self-nourishing. Cleansing and purification may be more pronounced during this cycle.

The goddess associated is Hecate.

hecate

Often times we can cycle more towards one moon time or another, so we are not fixed in these energies but rather it’s a fluid dance of womanhood to vacillate between the two.

This infographic shows how our cycle is often observed.

moon 2

Tracking your cycle can be fun and empowering. MyDays is a good app that allows you to put in your period times so you can become more self-aware! Regardless of where your period falls, our period is a good time to care for ourselves and provide self-love and relief.

Here is an article that discusses good yoga poses for menstruation, Yoga for Menstruation.

Some teas and herbal remedies for menstruation, Herbal Remedies for Menstruation

Check out this article, Can Essential Oils Relieve My Menstrual Cramps?

And Wellness Mamas article, Essential Oils for Hormone Balance

Please comment with any knowledge/experience/research surrounding menstruation!

 

KISSES <3

 

Vetiver: Travel, Magical Indian Grass and Supporting Research

vetiver

When I first smelled vetiver, it blew me away. There was something so specific  about it… so, familiar. My co-worker was putting some on one morning (we are yoga teachers and work in inner-city public schools, so it was no surprise that she was loading herself up with protective essential oils to face the potential brutality of the day).

She asked if I wanted to armor up, and I immediately fell in LOVE with this smell, I couldn’t stop sniffing my sleeve where it’s magical droplets had found themselves. It permeated my skin, my car, and right when my mom hugged me several hours later, it was the first thing she noticed and mentioned.

Different countries have plants native to them. They may have a plant so ingrained in their culture it is like apples and bananas to us. Some magical and mysterious herbs and spices and scents that we had no idea existed, exist. Vetiver, I have come to find, is one of them. How fun would it be to travel and explore the smells of different lands…

Vetiver is native to India, but has exploded all over Asia and Africa. In Sri Lanka it is known as the “oil of tranquility”, because it is known for it’s COOLING properties; thus, tropical places use it to cool down in hot summer months. It is built into thatch walls to freshen up a room.

Positive Health Wellness dives into the value of travel for health, check out this great article:

8 Reasons Why Traveling Is Good for Your Health

Surprisingly, there has been quite a bit of research done on the effects of Vetiver:

-Skin problems (Biological activity of vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts)

-Soothe feelings of anxiety and nervousness (Anxiety-like behaviour and c-fos expression in rats that inhaled vetiver essential oil)

-Treat symptoms of ADHD and ADD (ADHD Research by Dr. Terry Friedmann )

-Antioxidant Properties (Evaluation of antioxidant activity of vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides L.) oil and identification of its antioxidant constituents) (Vetiver oil (Java) attenuates cisplatin-induced oxidative stress, nephrotoxicity and myelosuppression in Swiss albino mice.)

-Improve Sleep (Modification of sleep-waking and electroencephalogram induced by vetiver essential oil inhalation.) ; (Odors enhance slow-wave activity in non-rapid eye movement sleep.)

vetiver

Aromatherapy: In Hospitals, and Suggested Uses.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each. “With it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. “You shall beat some of it very fine, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; it shall be most holy to you” [Exodus 30:34-38]

IMG_6047
“Aromatherapy uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds for improving psychological or physical well-being. [Wikipedia]

It is even making it’s way into hospitals… 

aromatherapy 1

“Studies already have found that inhaled Mentha piperita reduces the need for Zofran in chemo-induced nausea, she said. Also, the M technique, with or without essential oils such as frankincense or lavender, can be effective in reducing terminal agitation at the end of life, Buckle says.”

Fort Worth Hospital Incorporates Aromatherapy, 2008

The following mentioned study had statistically significant results, and evidenced the use of lavender oil to improve the quality of sleep of patients.

Effect of aromatherapy on the quality of sleep in ischemic heart disease patients hospitalized in intensive care units of heart hospitals of the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 2010

Now, this use of aromatherapy is called “complementary medicine”: “Complementary medicine (CM) or integrative medicine (IM) is when alternative medicine is used together with functional medical treatment, in a belief that it improves the effect of treatments.” [Wikipedia]

aromatherapy 3

If done mindfully, and safely, we can experiment with aromatherapy at home. Explored in a controlled and conscious way we can do self-study on its effects. Here are some common ailments, and the suggested essential oils said to provide relief:

Agitation: Chamomile, Lavendar, Mandarin, Sandalwood

Anxiety/ Fear: Bergamot, Chamomile, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Jasmine, Lavendar, Neroli, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood

Aphrodisiac: Clary Sage, Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang

Fatigue: Basil, Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Ginger, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sandalwood

Isolation: Chamomile, Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Rose

Memory Boosters: Basil, Cypress, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary

Sadness/Grief: Bergamot, Chamomile, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Rose, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang

Self Esteem: Bergamot, Cypress, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Orange, Rosemary

Stress Relief: Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Patchouli, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang

aromatherapy 4