Hot Water with Lemon
I love to learn new things and to study! One of the ways I connect with other people is by sharing what I’ve learned. The last two years I have been taking a deeper dive into learning the wisdom of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga and is literally translated as the Science or Knowledge of Life. Ayurveda offers a different perspective on health and well-being. It offers instruction on how we can keep and care for our physical bodies. One simple concept in Ayurveda is Dinacharya-following the daily rhythms of life. We can create optimal health and well-being by following nauture’s cue and getting into the flow and rhythm of our planet and our own natural cellular intelligence. These rhythms include things such as going to bed early, waking early, elimination, exercise, meditation, eating at the same time each day and body care practices. Our body systems thrive when we are in sync with nature and with the nature of our body systems. For example, our digestive system has an intelligence to its’ inner workings and when we are tuned into that and honor that, we can extract maximum nutrients from our foods, we have regular elimination, and no digestive issues.
The Dinacharya practice that I have made a consistent habit is drinking hot water with lemon in the morning. This practice over a period of time has many health benefits. It helps with hydration, boots your immune system, assists with digestion and peristalsis, flushes the liver, reduces inflammation, and is loaded with nutrients. Since making this a regular morning practice, I have found that I start my day hydrated and clear headed. I have more energy, improved digestion and my skin looks great too! Give it a try and see how your body systems respond. Upon waking in the morning, heat 8 ounces of water and add the juice of half a lemon. Drink it within 10 to 15 minutes. Good luck!
Stand Up, Sit Less, Move More
Sitting is the new smoking! It’s estimated that we sit for about 10 to 15 hours a day and our bodies just weren’t designed to do that. When we sit the muscles in our lower body aren’t working. That inactivity not only changes our body’s metabolism, triggering it to slow down, but it also produces other biological signals which have been linked to cancer; it impacts our organs, skeletal framework and musculature health. Researchers in Australia published results that even coming to a standing position for a short time will activate those lower body muscles and get the blood flowing which lowers blood sugar and cholesterol. Adding movement increases blood circulation even more, pumping oxygen throughout the body, and it burns calories. All of your body systems will benefit from standing. Of course, standing for too long brings its own problems such as varicose veins and back pain. Balance is key.
US guidelines for aerobic activity recommend at least 150 minutes a week. However, if the remainder of that time is spent primarily sedentary, you are still at a higher risk for heart disease, cancer or diabetes and even increased risk of early death. Here are some of the health issues we encounter as a result of too much sitting:
• Eye strain
• Foggy brain
• Wrist issues
• Neck and back pain
• Tight and weak hips
• Weak glutes
• Weak abdominals
• Weight gain/obesity
• Heart disease
• Certain cancers
There are different guidelines as to how often we should get up and move around from our desks, but everyone agrees that we should. The Annals of Internal Medicine recommends that we get up for 10 minutes of every half hour. The formula goes like this, sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8 minutes and move around for 2 minutes. You will also see guidelines that say move every 30 minutes to an hour for at least 5 minutes. The bottom line, is move!
How can we move more? There are some easy ways to increase movement into your “sitting” day at work and your everyday activities. Here are some ideas:
• Stand up whenever you use the phone
• Stand in meetings
• Take a micro break and do a different task, using your muscles in a different way
• Sit on something wobbly
• Use sit-stand desks or other ergonomic products
• Ergonomic software which reminds you to take a break from the computer
• Treadmill desk
• Yoga at your desk, seated or standing
• Take a 10 minute break and walk around, go get water, go to the restroom
• Go out to eat or take your lunch elsewhere to eat it
• Park the car far away
• Take the stairs
• Do household chores while watching TV
• Walk or ride a bike to local shops if possible
• If using public transportation, get off one stop early and walk the remainder of the way
• If using public transportation, stand up if possible
Yoga Eye Exercises
Yoga is for our whole body, even our eyes! Here are some great eye movement exercises that will strengthen and relax the eyes. Anyone that is suffering from a diagnosed eye condition such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, loose retina, eye disease or any other infection should not perform these exercises and consult with their doctor. Take off your glasses to do these exercises if you can. If you experience any pain, stop immediately.
Stretch Your Eyes
Keep your head still and bring your eye focus straight ahead. After each movement, bring the eyes back to center focus, straight ahead.
· Move the eyes side to side as far as you can right and then left. Repeat 3 times.
· Look all the way up and then all the way down. Repeat 3 times.
· Move eyes diagonally-look to the upper right hand corner and then down to the left hand corner then back to center. Look to the upper left hand corner and then down to the right hand corner and back to center. Repeat 3 times. Close the eyes for a breath.
Circle Your Eyes
· Look up and begin to circle the eyes in a clockwise direction. Move slowly, taking your time. Make sure you are making a full circle with your eyes and that you can reach all the corners. Make about 10 circles or make circles for one minute.
· Repeat in counter clockwise direction.
· Close the eyes for a breath.
There are many ways you can change your focus. Get creative and have fun. The idea is to change your focus from near to far and you can choose multiple distances to focus your eyes on.
· Cover one of your eyes with your hand. Holding something with small letters at reading distance, begin to trace the shape of any small letter for 2 to 3 seconds. Then, look up and focus on something that is at least 20 feet away. Keep your focus there for another 2 or 3 seconds and keep the eyes relaxed. Repeat 3 times.
· Switch to the opposite eye and repeat the process.
· Close your eyes and take a breath.
· Hold a pen at arm’s length. Bring your focus to the tip of the pen. Begin to slowly move the pen closer so that it’s near your nose. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
· Bring your focus to the tip of your nose. Then look to an object further out, either at arm’s length or 20 feet away. Shift your eyes back to the tip of your nose. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Blink your eyes a few times. This lubricates the eyes.
· Fully open the eyes and then close them.
· Rub the palms of your hands together quickly to create heat. Then cup your palms over your eyes, keeping the eyes closed. Stay there and just breath for about a minute or longer if you like.
Spring Clean Your Body Systems! Just like your closet, garage or junk drawer, your body systems also need cleaning. Spring is nature’s natural push and the optimal time for us to detox our body from winter accumulation and stagnation.
Why should we detox?
Because, we live in a world full of pollutants and toxins. Our bodies are bombarded daily and have become overloaded. This toxic environment contributes to many of the illnesses and poor health that we experience. Our bodies are designed with an amazing detoxification system, primarily the liver, colon and kidneys. However, because of our modern lifestyle, our bodies can’t keep up with the amount of toxins that it needs to eliminate. So, in order to assist our bodies own detoxification systems, we give it rest and support so that it can function optimally.
We can support our body’s detoxification systems by doing a cleanse. The benefits to detoxing our bodies are many including: expel toxins from the body that can lead to health issues, boost our immune system, reduce inflammation, help with weight loss, clear skin, boost mental energy and alertness, control cravings, curb food addictions and reset our food choices.
The traditional yogic cleanse is usually done for 3 to 7 days with an easily digestible meal called kitchari. Kitchari is jasmine rice and mung dhal beans with some spices and veggies. You eat the same dish 2 or 3 times a day depending on your hunger level. By eating kitchari for all of your meals, your digestive system can take it easy and get the rest it needs. Kitchari is also very nourishing for the body and has lots of nutrients. If you’re looking for a good cookbook with yoga style food recipes, I recommend Everyday Ayurveda Cooking by Kate O’Donnell.
There are also many other cleanses out there as the benefits of detoxing our body’s is becoming more recognized. Another good one is Dr. Mark Hyman’s, 10-Day Detox. This is an excellent plan to follow if you are diabetic, have high blood pressure, have sugar addictions/cravings including artificial sugar or have over 15 pounds of weight to lose.
When choosing a detox cleanse, make sure that you look for plans that have only organic food, no caffeine, no alcohol, no dairy, and no wheat. You also want to make sure that you eat at least one solid meal of food per day. I do not personally recommend all liquid diets for extended periods of time. Detoxing is not for pregnant women or for anyone who is ill. Before starting any diet change, please consult with your Doctor, especially if you are on medication.
And, of course, do Yoga! Our physical yoga practice helps the body detox by increasing blood flow, twisting to support the internal organs, by deepening our breath and providing rest.
In addition to cleansing internally and physically, we also need to cleanse our emotional and mental state, which contribute to our overall health and well-being. Ask yourself these following questions. If you enjoy journaling, write them down and just let the answers flow.
1. What limiting belief do you have about yourself that you want to release?
2. What limiting belief about someone else do you want to release?
3. Is there an unproductive emotion that runs you or keeps you from being present in your life?
4. What physical pain, old injury or trauma do you want to release?
5. Do you have any unfinished business that you need to complete?
6. What do you need to clean out from your physical environment?
7. What would your life be like if you could release all that does not serve you?
Good Luck on your journey!
Meditation is a technique used to rest the mind and bring about a state of consciousness and sense of oneness with all. It is an inward focus which brings our mind beyond the daily mind experience and mental chatter to a higher state of awareness and awakening. This awakening invites us to step into the capacity we have to live fully and to connect to universal wisdom. Meditation happens when we focus our minds in a chosen direction and we are able to maintain that connection for some period of time. It’s about cultivating the ability to be continuously connected to wherever you put your attention. It is the absorption of the observer and the observed. When this union happens and all else falls away, you are in a meditative state. It doesn’t matter how long this state lasts. It can be a few seconds to minutes at a time. The practice of meditation is about continuously bringing your attention back to your object of focus, i.e. breath, mantra, object, prayer.
Starting a meditation practice can seem intimidating, but let’s take the mystery out of meditation by following these simple steps. Let go of any expectations you might have about what it’s “supposed” to be or look like. Every person is different. Each time you meditate, it will be different. There is no right way to do things. You’re doing just fine.
▪ Set a realistic expectation of yourself for how long and how often you will practice. When creating a new habit, it is important to start small and build up. If you’ve never mediated before, even 5 minutes might seem like a lot. You can try beginning with 1 to 5 minutes of meditation. Do it as many days as you realistically think you can. Do this until it feels like a new habit. Then you can begin to either add time or add a day, but don’t do both at once. When you are pressed for time, instead of skipping your practice, just shorten it. If you fall off the wagon, try not to judge yourself or beat yourself up. Just recognize it and begin again. Daily practice is the goal and for maximum benefits, work your way up to 20 minutes a day.
▪ Find a space in your home that is quiet and away from distractions. You will need a place to sit comfortably. It’s up to you if you want to make your space pretty. If you like, you can add candles, an altar or fresh flowers. If you are using your phone as a timer or for guided meditation, make sure it is on “Do Not Disturb.”
▪ Sit upright with a long spine, as this helps keep us alert and aware. If you can’t sit comfortably on the floor with the legs crossed, then see if you can raise your hips by sitting on a pillow or sit in a chair with your spine supported and have your feet flat on the floor.
▪ For beginners, using your breath as your object of focus is easiest. To begin, close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. Just follow the inhale and exhale and notice the qualities of the breath as you breathe. For example, you can notice the coolness of the air as you inhale and the warmth of the air as you exhale or the rise and fall of the belly as you breathe.
▪ When your focus gets interrupted (as it most definitely will) with thoughts, then acknowledge the thought and let it float by like a cloud in the sky, bringing your attention back to the breath. This may happen many times in the beginning of starting a meditation practice, but it will lessen over time as the mind becomes accustomed to stillness.
Important Questions to Ask Yourself:
Non-judgement is probably the most important thing you can remember when beginning a meditation practice. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t judge your practice. If you fall off the wagon, hop back on. Remember that the point of meditation is not to have a particular experience or outcome, but to become aware of the present moment and Be in that moment, whatever it is. Bring an open heart and open mind to your meditation practice. Fill the spaces within yourself with compassion and love and in return you will find more peace, a greater connection to all and awaken to divine wisdom.
If you feel you need a little more assistance with your meditation practice, try a guided meditation. Look under Downloads on this page and try one!
Chakra is a Sanskrit word which translates to spinning wheel and represents the 7 energy centers in our body. Anahata is the Heart Chakra and is located in the center of the chest at the heart level. The heart chakra is linked physically to the heart, lungs and circulatory system. The subtle influences on emotion and intellect are represented by love, compassion and relationships. When the heart chakra is out of balance it can manifest physically as heart disease, lung problems, difficulty breathing, circulatory problems, aching in the chest or upper back, or a weak immune system. It manifests energetically as inappropriate emotional expression, poor emotional boundaries, jealousy, martyrdom, being a pleaser or in the opposite direction of having no heart, not feeling emotions, being anti-social, intolerant, lonely, isolated or fear of intimacy. When our heart chakra is in balance the health of the related body parts function optimally and we are compassionate, caring, empathetic, accepting, self-loving, peaceful, centered, and content. The color of the heart chakra is green, the element is air and the sound is yam.
To create balance in the heart chakra you can do any of the following: connect to the color green in your clothing and your surroundings; hold green crystals or stones (aventurine or malachite); connect to the element of air by being spending time in the fresh air, bringing awareness to your breath or lighting a candle; chant the mantra yam; use affirmations; do yoga. Yoga poses that open the chest allow the heart chakra to open and energy to flow freely. Try reclined butterfly with a bolster or any back-bending yoga pose to allow your heart chakra to open, heal and flow.
Love is the answer to everything in life, and I give and receive love effortlessly and unconditionally.
I am light and love.
Love opens and heals me.
I forgive others and ask for forgiveness.
I know that I am worthy of love.
I am compassion itself.