Food Yoga – PMS

photo credit health.com

 

PMS is no fun. Anyone who says it’s fun is perhaps taking lots of drugs. PMDD is a very serious condition that requires a doctor’s care. But for the 40 million women who suffer monthly with the more mild aspects there may be help. Did you know that there are several foods that can help alleviate some of the symptoms of PMS? In addition to exercise, here are 9 foods that may take some of the steam of PMS discomfort.

 

For those that are creeping closer to peri-menopause listen up as well because these tips can help you too. Cramps, bloating, moodiness and fatigue be gone!

 

  1. Artichokes. Artichokes contain magnesium. Magnesium supplementation can help alleviate many symptoms of PMS including cramps, irritability, fatigue, depression and water retention.  Magnesium is a good muscle relaxant. This makes it especially important for women who suffer from menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhoea). Cramps are caused by strong contractions of the uterus and magnesium helps to relax the powerful uterine muscles.basket-artichokes
  2. Flax seed. High in lignans, a natural hormone-balancing substance, flax seed oil flax seed oil is effective in treating mild depression symptoms brought on by PMS. (Also  It’s also good for depression and fatigue. An alternative is to buy ground up flax seed, and sprinkle it on top of your food (such as oatmeal and popcorn).
  3. Oatmeal is a good source of manganese (see #1).
  4. Tofu contains soy.  Soy may support better menstrual health by favorably altering estrogen levels and estrogen metabolismSeveral studies suggest that pre-menopausal women who consume soy protein significantly lower their estrogen levels to more “balanced” levels.
  5. Edamame also contains soy. (see #4)
  6. Dark chocolate! Eating chocolate stimulates the release of mood-affecting chemicals such as endorphins, phenylethylamine and serotonin. These feel good chemicals may also explain why women crave chocolate when they are suffering from PMS. Serotonin levels often drop in the days before menstruation begins, so eating chocolate can help boost those levels and improve one’s mood. Read this very informative article about dark chocolate benefits.Dark chocolate
  7. Brown rice is a complex carb that also contains magnesium and has fiber. Fiber-rich foods are complex carbs that take longer for your body to break down and absorb, further curbing your cravings. Eat more whole-grain breads and cereals, and produce like legumes, fruit, and starchy veggies, which are on the complex-carb list.
  8. Cheese contains calcium and vitamin D which have both been shown to ease PMS symptoms. Vegan? No worries, dark leafy greens like spinach and kale contain calcium and vitamin D as well.
  9. Wine and Grape Juice– Oh mama. Now let’s get one thing straight, we aren’t talking about tying one on, but studies show that moderate alcohol may have some benefit. Dr. Heller is a family practitioner, specializing in helping his patients with PMS, depression, anxiety, and chronic diseases since 1995. He is the founder of PMS Comfort and a Research Fellow for the Optimal Health Foundation in California. Here’s what he says about red wine consumption:

A dash of wine or other alcohol. A glass, or even half a glass, of wine every night is healthy for most people. We consider red wine preferable to white wine, since it is higher in antioxidants. That said, most research shows that white wine, beer, and even hard liquor also lower risk of heart disease and other health problems—when consumed in moderation. Once you increase your alcohol consumption to more than a drink or two per day, alcohol becomes unhealthy. Of course, some people don’t do well at all with alcohol, so this recommendation truly needs to be custom-tailored to each individual. We’ve met women whose PMS and PMDD improved quite a bit when they quit drinking.

 

Life is best lived in moderation. Servings sizes of these foods should be reasonable. Many studies suggest that no one fix is out there but a combination of healthy food choices and activities like yoga can make a real impact.

 

Namaste y’all.

 

 

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Laughter Yoga

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All you need in the world is love and laughter. That’s all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.
August Wilson

 

Have you heard of Laughter Yoga? Laugh for No Reason by Madan Kataria decribes how laughter when done mindfully and in a group can be therapeutic. There aren’t any large studies to back up the efficacy of Laughter Yoga, but there is no denying the power of joy. Cultivating a sense of calm or peace helps reduce stress, increase oxygen intake and promote an overall sense of well-being.

 

Hey- sounds good. I’ve always been a fan of a big belly laugh.

 

I’m also a fan of a good acronym. Maybe it’s too many years spent in training sessions.

 

Acronyms are everywhere. Human Resources and Training people use them at work. Personal Trainers use them to get us motivated. Support groups use them to help each manage challenging moments. Texting wouldn’t be texting without them. Whether you think they’re hokey, cool, or annoying they seem to work because they stick in our heads.

 

John Cleese (one of the funniest people of all time) spent sometime with Dr. Kataria to check out Laughter Yoga in action.

Here five ways to keep the L.A.U.G.H. in your heart and life.

 

Love makes the world go round. The Beatles may have been on to something. All you need is love. Well it’s not all you need but it does help. Studies show that love makes us healthier. Love comes in all shapes and sizes. Loving a pet reduces stress. People in happy marriages live longer. People who have loving friends and family are more grounded. And above all loving yourself is paramount.

 

Appreciate the little things like a warm spring breeze or the first sip of your morning coffee. If you were smart enough to grasp this concept from a young age congratulations, it takes others years to come to this realization.

 

Understand that life is not about control but more about letting go and being in the present moment. When we focus on what is happening right now stress over past missteps and future problems melt away. Buddhists say that worry is useless. If you have a problem and can do something it- then do it. If you can’t do something about it you can’t, worrying will not help. This isn’t a dress rehearsal.

 

Grow indefinitely. “Why stretch when you can reach?” Our lives are a journey. We can choose to learn something everyday or we can choose to think we know everything. An open mind creates an open heart.

 

Hope is defined by wikipedia as the emotional state, the opposite of which is despair, which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life.[1] It is the “feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best” or the act of “look[ing] forward to with desire and reasonable confidence” or “feel[ing] that something desired may happen”.[2] Other definitions are “to cherish a desire with anticipation”; “to desire with expectation of obtainment”; or “to expect with confidence”.[3] In the English language the word can be used as either a noun or a verb, although hope as a concept has a similar meaning in either use.[4]  

 

Armed with these tools there’s nothing we can’t do.

What inspires you to keep laughing?

So go guffaw.  Namaste y’all!

 

Keep laughing!

Laugh for no reason

Rev Jim – Taxi Yoga

Taxi-1

I’ve been without my TV for over a week now.

I need to get it set up.

But in the meantime- I’ve been watching DVDs, listening to lots more music and enjoying the silence.

The old fogey in me loves to pull out shows from my youth. Lately, I’ve been into Taxi.

Taxi was an amazing show. From the theme song to the groundbreaking story lines- it was great TV.

Jim Ignatowski, or Rev Jim was my favorite character. He always seemed to be in a constant state of flux. He was the wisdom of the show- wrapped in a cloak of addiction, confusion and forgetfulness.

And of course I think of yoga.

Reverend Jim: I saw you standing in a Manhatten sunset / Your auburn hair blowing from Atlantic winds. / Your eyes were smiling at thoughts far away, / Dancing to sonnets only you could hear. // If I could, I would build you a castle / In a world from some other time. / A castle I can only imagine/A castle only you could inspire.

Relocation Frustration aka Moving Yoga

moving truck backs

I had this plan that I would smoothly transition from my old place to my new place.

Ha. Cue raucous laugh track.

My move was more than just a new place to sleep. It was symbolic of a new life. Though I’ve been teaching yoga and working on a business plan to be a yoga entrepreneur, the new home would make it official.

At least it would feel that way. I began this blog to document my new start, and this relocation seemed like just that.

In my head everything was timed like clockwork.  The movers would come- I’d cheerfully direct them! They’d laugh. I’d laugh- we’d do a few yoga moves in my empty living room. After namastes all around they would declare that this was the most tranquil move they ever did.

Ah- but life had other plans. It was a mess.

A bloody diasaster. And not in a cute British accent way. I’m talking real f@cking horror show. At least it felt like that in the moment. I could hear people screaming out like the aliens had arrived. Flames were shooting up from manholes, the masses were running for cover declaring that this was indeed the end of the world.

Well, that’s what it felt like.

The whole delay was a few hours. It felt much longer, mostly because of me and the gravity I gave the situation.

We all do that I guess, make things more important than they are. A minor impasse is distorted to mountain-sized road block.

This happens with poses. A point of resistance becomes a place where push happens. A more effective response is to breathe. This allows for release. I can feel it now even as I type- I feel a space where it seems like I can’t get deeper and after a few deep breathes my entire body falls into place.

On my mat I know this is how it works.

Off my mat, I need reminders.

I didn’t deal as effectively as I would have liked.

As I watched my things file out of the old space, I was happy.

After every storm the sun comes out. Nothing is forever. This too shall pass etc… etc..

More importantly though, I realize now that nothing is that critical. Because in comparison with the age of the universe, we are only here for a second.

And I, just like the stress that seemed so finite and so lasting is temporary.

My next part of the chapter awaits.

 

Namaste y’all.

Adventures in Yoga- Get on the Good Foot

yoga toes

It’s all about the feet.

The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament that lies beneath the skin on the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel to the front of your foot, and also supports the arch of your foot.

Strong feet make for strong poses, which builds the foundation for a strong practice. A strong stance works in concert with the breath which ultimately (in this humble yogini’s opinion) cultivates peace.

Last Friday with Daba, we worked on our feet. I love classes like this. A few months ago I talked about finger splits.  Finger splits changed my practice especially my downward dog. I want everyone to have hands like platypuses. Though incorrect, I like the sound of platypi better.

Hands flat and fingers wide like platypi. It sounds plain old silly when you say platypuses. 

Sorry, I digress.

Let’s jump back. After a vigorous standing series in the heat we spent time working on our toes. By standing on a block with the toes on and heel off, I was able to work on the big toe and the calf muscle. With my heel level as if I was standing on the floor I moved into vriksasana.

After we removed the block and did the posture on the ground. I swear I felt roots spring from the sole of my foot.

I also dug doing toe squats. You can feel the fascia stretch. It’s intense but wonderful. My feet felt fantastic the next morning, especially now that I’m getting older. The older I get the more my feet hurt in the morning. Ugh.

Toe squats are a part of my morning routine now. Foot pain be gone!

This is yoga. Haaaaiiiiiiy! Get on the good foot.

Namaste y’all.

Don’t be Sorry, Be Yourself

Oneika Tree

It seems like when you get down to it when we’ve lost our peace we should go look in ego’s backyard. It’s sure to be lounging under a tree with an overfed belly and head full of worry.

A few days ago I read a great post, 3 Things Yoga Students Need to Stop Saying.

My favorite was #3- saying I’m sorry.

Students apologize. Despite constant conversations about non judgement, students (and teachers) can get caught up in ‘I’m sorry’. Which is really saying I’m not enough, I’m not worthy. Put one more way it’s all about ego.

And it’s hard not to judge sometimes. I must remind students (and myself) not to do someone else’s practice. For as many reasons as we come to our mats, we have as many different practices.

Trying to match someone else’s outside won’t mesh with your inside.

Let it go.
Simhasana-I-BKS
It’s one of the reasons I love teaching a long, slow meditative savasana.
With the eyes closed its easier to let go of judgement.
It’s easier remember how to love yourself when the gaze isn’t dialed into an external picture.
Sometimes if I’m feeling a lil off I let go of anxiety as I release a body part into the mat.
I let the back of my head melt into the mat and release any thoughts of feeling anxious. 
When my hips let go I release lurking feelings of inadequacy. 

 

By letting go of the body and the feelings I can open myself up to drift with looping thoughts or excess chatter.
Sometimes it works like a charm. Other times, it’s a struggle.
But it is always my yoga.
And that makes me feel peace.
This is yoga. Do you, yo.
Namaste y’all.
keep-calm-and-savasana-

African warriors, dancers and cobras

Do you know about the Africa Yoga Project? If not, please go right now and check them out!

Namaste y’all.

Yoga & Joyful Living

Sometimes you come across ideas worth sharing. This is one of them.

Thanks to the Africa Yoga Project over 250,000 Kenyans a year get to practise postures that can not only transform your body, but your mind. The project’s 52 teachers roll out their mats everywhere – yes, really. Everywhere. In prisons, schools or special need centres. They also teach members of HIV support groups, pupils at deaf schools and travel to rural villages.

So why is the language of yoga universal?

Because yoga’s language is the language of universal postures which speak to all of us, touch this very special, sacred space within us. No matter if we’re clad in Lululemon practising in NY or in a wonderful red traditional dress performing side plank in Kenya. But then, words are just words, and nothing illustrates the project’s impact better than – exactly, photos.

(All images…

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Adventures in Yoga – Silent Retreat (Final Thoughts)

Catskills

When the mind is clear of all noise and self talk, this is when solutions are revealed, artists are inspired, paradigms are shifted.
Stephen J. Kochan 

We entered back into the world of speaking as gently as we left it, with quiet words and a yoga practice.

After we made a circle to share a bit about our experiences. It was lovely. Clearly the weekend meant a lot for the entire group. It was a quite a weekend. Lots of yoga, an intense hike, a sweat ceremony, more yoga all the while drinking nothing but lemon cleanse juice with cayenne pepper.

Tough stuff.

We packed up and lots of us chatted, not urgently but intentionally. Words weren’t wasted.

And finally, we headed back home.

I want to tell you about a huge awakening. Regale you with tales of conversations with my spirit animal in the woods as I was covered in mud. Faint from hunger but strong as a warrior.

Yeah, um- that didn’t happen. Prior to the retreat I think I was half expecting something dramatic. Wondering if this would be some strange tipping point for me- I would fall into the yoga abyss never to return.

Nope.

Here I am. Writing to you.

But seriously- I didn’t walk away empty-handed.

In the quiet I realized that I worked hard over the past year and a half to find my version of happiness.

Guess what?

I found it.

I’ve lived most of my life yappin’ away. I lived a lot of my life looking. Seeking. Yelling even.

In the quiet it turns out- happiness and peace were here all along.

Truth be told- the other half of me suspected that I might discover this in a weekend of quiet.

It’s nice sometimes to confirm exactly what you suspect.

You. Are. Exactly. Where. You. Should. Be.

Rock on.

It feels good.

Sssh.

Namaste y’all.

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Adventures in Teaching Yoga – Being Wrong Feels So Right

Yoga Costa Rica

I was wr- wr- wr- wrong about something.

Clearly this yoga ish works because despite the false starts, in the past the word wrong was the ‘he who shall not be named’ of my vocabulary.

Back up, back up!
In the not so distant past, it (this notion of wrong) wasn’t even a thought.
There was what I knew to be true. That’s it.
I know- what a maroon.
Enough of my silly past- the point of the story is far more interesting than my arrival at said point..
How or why one starts yoga doesn’t matter to me.
Let that marinate.
Let me explain, of course I care why someone decides to come their mat. The catalyst matters to the extent that I shape a class or a program for private clients.
As a teacher and yogi it’s my job show them a path that helps connect body, breath and individual goals.
I think I wanted students to arrive at their mats with grand plans of a seeking higher awareness. This was a secret I kept to myself until I realized yesterday that it’s unfair to impose such expectations on anyone. What the hell Neik? You know better… I came back to my mat for good because someone broke my heart. No grand shit there. Pretty cliche actually.
This is a little icky to admit, but isn’t that the point of yoga- to share what makes me feel awkward and dorky so I can embrace it?
This acknowledgment is my connection to the world I suppose. This is how I breathe.
Learning to breathe is a funny thing. If you have been living life with stifled, ragged breathing learning how to exhale can be revolutionary. It can change your way of thinking.
It can also make you face some shit. That’s the dirty, happy secret about body and breath. Once you learn how to do it, all sorts of truths can rise to the surface, some good, some not so much.
No such thing as a little bit of freedom- you are free or you are not.
Not everyone wants to sit with that on their mat.
That’s cool.
Really it is.
If a student discovers that they are a fellow traveler, a seeker if you will- she/he will ask questions and it will be apparent.
Some people just want to relax.
Some people want to learn how to touch their toes.
Some people want to learn how to sit up straighter.
It’s all good.
It’s not my job to judge. It’s my job to teach, love and grow.
Most days I feel like two steps forward, two steps back.
Today, I can flip that.
Ha! It’s a good moment. I’m going to enjoy it.
This is yoga and it loves me even when I am dead wrong. Word.
Namaste y’all.
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