Sunday, July 29, 2012

RESTORE AND DETOX BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT

Several years ago I began having chronic joint, muscle aches, feeling sluggish, sinus congestion and foggy headed.  This I believe, is due to multiple factors like hormonal shifts, life changes, stress, aging and diet choices . I normally eat pretty healthy and get plenty of exercise. But despite that, I was still having these issues. It seems like that the older I have gotten, the more sensitive I have become to certain chemicals and hormones in our foods. 
As an RN, I know that our society, for the most part, is in to treating the symptoms and not the cause. I am a firm believer that foods are the healing answer to most issues and that our American diet and lack of exercise has most to blame for the state of health we Americans are in. Have you seen the fun being poked at the 'Fat Americans' in the Olympic's  souvenirs?  OK, OK, off of my soap box and back to my issues.  I have not ruled out that possibly our bodies have become so saturated by these chemicals and hormones that symptoms appear and we think, or rather we are programed to believe that we have a disease like fibromyalgia, etc.  So instead of running to the nearest doc to get a pill to pop to treat the symptom and cover up the cause, I set out several years ago doing some research.  I have tried a lot of different supplements and remedies that helped a little but nothing helped completely.  So I have kept searching. Now I am not touting that this is a 'cure all', I'm just saying, that for now, this is working for me and I thought that I would share my findings with you, the reader.
About a month ago I ran across a video called 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead' (http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com ).  In a nutshell, it's an inspirational video about juice detoxing. Although I did not go to the extremes that Joe Cross did in the video, I decided to give it a try using a scaled down version- I ate along with juicing, just chose healthier, whole foods. Wow! Did it make a difference! I have been on a juice kick ever since. I have been juicing everything I can get my hands on. Juicing has made me feel better than I have felt in years and hubby is saying the he feels great too.  I have experimented with so many recipes that I would love to share my favorites sometime (which I will in another post).  
But alas, I am human and yesterday, I messed up...or rather, I made a bad food choice. One good thing came from it, It made me realize when I woke up feeling horrible this morning,  how really, really good I had been feeling.  
It all began last night when Noah (my wonderful 14 year old son) and I sat down to watch a re-run of 'The Big Bang Theory' before the Olympics began. On the show they were all sitting around eating Chinese food - instantly, me and Noah (whom we had just eaten dinner) looked at each other and said 'let's get Chinese food!' So off we went. Wow! The power of suggestion is amazing-yet another reason to turn off the TV! So we brought our msg laden sesame chicken home (me) and shrimp lomein (Noah) and chowed down on this food as we watched the ripped, disciplined athletes compete in the olympics. 
Fast forward.  I woke up this morning with a horrible MSG hangover feeling like I had been ran over by a train - multiple times.  I drank 3 cups of coffee to try to get going.  Since starting the juicing I have not had the need for much coffee and am down to 1/2 cup in the morning. The way I felt totally ruined my plans of doing a 30 mile bike ride this morning. Just the thought of 30 miles made me want to go back to bed. So hubby goes off to work and I set out to find a remedy for my ails...the only answer.. a detox - it worked, and by 3:00 this afternoon I was feeling like a new person. I thought I would share what I did in case anyone else can benefit from this little routine. It was also a reminder to me how important it is to make time for yourself to renew. I haven't taken a day all for myself in I don't know when.  So here is what I did :
 I started with a morning juicing of fresh fruit : strawberries, blueberries, grapefruit (all my citrus I use a wonderful juicer by cuisinart and then add to vitamix) , pineapple, apple, banana and a pear.  Add Ice and blend in Vitamix. The fruits start the day with anti-oxidants like poly-phenolic flavonoids, vitamin-C, anthocyanins.These compounds, firstly, help the body protect from oxidant stress, diseases, and cancers, and secondly, help the body develop capacity to fight against these ailments by boosting our immunity level. 
After I drank my juice I ran a luke warm bath with epsom salt and lavender essential oil - I sipped on yogi detox tea while bathing. Afterwards I used a netti pot with sea salt to clear sinus cavities, flossed, brushed my teeth with an organic toothpaste(my current favorite is naturesway periobrite), scraped my tongue, used Tom's mouthwash. My body started feeling better already, now to work on my foggy head. 
The next step was restorative yoga poses. My all time favorite is Supta Baddha Konasana: Reclined Bound-Angle Pose using a bolster. Here is a picture of it : 


Benefits: 


  • Helps to Restore energy
  • Improves Circulation to the Chest
  • Releases Tension in the diaphragm
  • Helps to calm/Relax the mind
  • Helps with cramps associated with menstruation
The interesting thing and I believe the most important about this pose is that it is a heart opener - The yogi's believe this pose works on the 4th chakra - the heart chakra also known as Anahata.  It opens us up to give and receive love.  Interestingly enough, science proves yogi's right! This pose actually stimulates the thymus gland that sits beneath the sternum. The thymus gland produces oxytocin. Oxytocin is the 'love' hormone. It makes us feel compassion towards one another and the ability to love and feel love. This is an amazing and healing pose if you are feeling down, depressed and hurt by someone or just life in general. Bottom line... get into this pose. This pose is also symbolic for receiving the love  and blessing of God. Do this pose and do it often!
The next restorative pose is Viparita Karani - Legs up the wall pose. 


Benefits

  • Relieves tired or cramped legs and feet
  • Gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck
  • Relieves mild backache
  • Calms the mind
  • Bathes the abdomen with a fresh supply of blood and calms the heart.
Most importantly this pose gives you time to reflect on what you are thinking. Does your thoughts need detoxing? I found that yes, indeed, my thoughts definitely needed detoxing. I have been thinking and saying negative things lately. I took time to reflect on what I have been thinking and saying. No need to beat yourself up here. Remember, this is a time of restoration and healing, not blame and guilt.  I forgave myself and was ready to move forward. 
I am spending the rest of the day reading inspirational books and recharging my motivational battery. Lately I have been fascinated with ashtanga yoga. I am reading 'Sacred Fire' by Kino MacGregor. Hubby bought me as a gift a weekend workshop with her in January and I can't wait!  I am also reading  'Yoga Mala' The Original Teachings of Ashtanga Yoga Master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Read whatever interests  and stimulates you as long as it is positive and inspirational. 
Now, back to the juice:
This afternoon I juiced carrots, beets and ginger. Interestingly enough, I saw yesterday on TV that a lot of athletes in the olympics are juicing beets. Hubby draws the line on this one. He won't drink beet juice. He says it taste like dirt.  Beet juice is best known as a blood purifier and blood builder that helps in the creation of red blood cells.  So go figure! Beets rule!!
Tonight's juice will be a green one - It will have kale, lemon, lime, spinach, ginger, celery, cucumber, mint and an avocado.  I always feel really good after drinking a green drink. Hubby likes it, Hayden (my oldest) has always drank my green drinks, but Noah, he is one that needs a bit of encouraging to get one down. I'm happy if I can get him to drink half of one.   The benefits of drinking this green drink are very numerous - bottom line, it is an immune booster like no other!  Hail to the Kale!!!
The hardest part of the day was that I started feeling better and wanted to get on my bike.  I believe my body was telling me that I needed some down time to restore and renew. In this fast paced world, slowing down and taking time for yourself is hard. But since doing this restoration I feel good and believe the benefits are more than I will  ever truly realize.  The benefits for the people who have to live with me are great as well! 
 Now, I am human...I know that I will indulge in Chinese food again... What can I say, I love food! But if I take a conscious effort to minimize these foods and maximize whole fruits and vegetables that perhaps the quality of my life will be better, and those around me....just food for thought.
So now the big question....How long has it been since you have taken an entire day for yourself to restore and detox your body, mind and spirit? Try it!  You will be glad you did :)
Namaste'



Friday, February 24, 2012

LET GO OF THE TREE

I am going through a 'strange' season.  We all have them, or at least I think we all do.  Lately,  I have been in 'the rabbit hole' where things don't seem quite as they should be. Some peoples logic and justification on how they treat others seems warped (or at least from my perspective).  One such incident happened this week.  I was looking forward to getting to know a person that I thought would make a great friend when out of the blue this person alienated me.  I was shocked, stunned and hurt.  The thing that disappointed me the most about the sudden alienation was the removal of what I thought would be a future close friend and confidante.  Although my faith is not founded in people, I have not yet evolved enough to allow myself to not get hurt by their actions.  I am working on that.  I wanted the friendship so bad that I did not listen to what this person was saying.  Had I taken the time to truly listen I would have known what fate would bestow upon me for this person had treated every one else who started to get close to them the same way.  Hurting people hurt people. It is as simple as that.  I would have loved to have helped them, but alas, it is not my job to fix people when they do not want to be fixed.  Please don't get me wrong, I am certainly not perfect.  I am broken too.  I believe we are all broken to different degrees, it is all simply a matter of picking up our pieces and trying to put them back in place in the best way that we can. Perhaps I should work on my own listening skills for life's lessons come in many forms.  If you resist learning your lessons in their gentler forms, life is more than prepared to teach you through ever-increasing hardships. I think my lesson from this particular situation would be to work on my listening skills and work on my own thoughts that I allow to run amuck in my head at times.
Time to let go of the tree.
I say this saying to myself while I am running the beach and I find my thoughts wandering to a past hurt.
Let go of the tree.
Same thing with yoga, meditation, driving or anytime I find my thoughts going back to the unchangeable past.
Let go of the tree.
The tree story comes from a book I read called 'The Four Desires' by Rod Stryker.  The story goes something like this; An old man was out in the woods, while there a great storm came upon him.  The next day the villagers came out to survey their surroundings and realized that the old man was not among them and they went in search of him.  They found him out in the woods yelling "help me, help me!" Clinging to a tree in the bright sunshine, the old man yelled, "This tree will not let go of me!"
During the storm, the old man clung to the tree, but after the storm the old man refused to let go of his tree, even blaming the tree.  The thing that saved his life could have potentially become his fatal downfall.
Time to let go of the tree.
How someone treats you is a reflection of how they view themselves.  So when someone does something hurtful to you remember, it is generally not about you, only about them. Don't  take it personal and try to react with compassion. I don't know a lot, but one thing I do know is that there are a lot of hurting people out there and if we are not allowed to help them, then we must let go of the situation, focus inward and pay close attention to our own thoughts about them and the situation.
There are numerous scientific studies about thoughts and their impact on overall health.  Did you know that when you think of a past hurt your body releases the same stress hormones as it did when the actual event took place.  The body cannot differentiate what the mind is thinking versus the actual event!  Stress is believed to be the root cause of all disease!  So it is very important to think about what you are thinking so that you do not do your body any further harm.   This also falls under ahimsa: Do no harm.  Do no harm not only means to not hurt others, but do not hurt yourself as well!  So it is very healthful to keep a close watch on your thoughts.
When a hurtful situation presents itself to you focus on the lessons that have revealed themselves to you and what you could learn from the situation.  This turns the hurt into an opportunity to improve yourself  and thus the hurt then becomes a blessing and you will be better equipped to handle with grace the next time something similar happens.
If I could leave you with just one thought from this blog it would be this.
Let go of your tree my friend, the storm has passed.
Namaste'

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DON'T FEAR THE YOGA

I have just completed my third week of Yoga Teacher Training Certification class.  The course is 200 hours that consists of 10 weekend classes.  This meets yoga alliance certification criteria so that I will be able to 'legally' teach yoga as a certified instructor.  I have learned a tremendous amount about yoga, and if there is one thing I know for sure, I need to learn a lot more.  I do not think that I will ever 'arrive' in the vast expanse of knowledge on Yoga.  I had no idea that yoga was so 'in-depth' and 'deep'.  It has been a truly enlightening and dare I say, liberating experience.  I absolutely love it!  I feel at home when I am in the classes.  I only hope that I can benefit others with my new found experience.
If there is one thing I could say to my wonderful Christian friends it would be this...'Don't fear the Yoga!'  It is not something to be leary of as 'spooky spiritual' or 'new agey'.  Once you understand it, I believe and hope that you will learn to love and embrace Yoga just as I have.
It is extremely hard to describe what yoga is.  Most believe that it is just a form of exercise.  I have known for many years that yoga was very therapeutic and beneficial to physical health, but I have always felt deep down inside that there was something much more to yoga than my mind could comprehend, but I could not put words to it.  As I learn more through my Yoga teacher training classes, I realize that my intuition was right.  There is so much more to yoga than just stretching the body.
I will make this blog as brief as possible with the shortest explanation that I think sums up a tiny fraction of what Yoga is.  I found this explanation in 'The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali' translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda.  It is Yoga Sutra #2 the first book. 'Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodhah'. Which translated means 'The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.'  The entire science of Yoga is based on this.  Which is what surprised me the most, since most of us thought Yoga was a form of exercise.  The exercise portion of Yoga is the most minute part of Yoga.  Yoga teaches that in order to find peace and happiness, we must first learn to control our mind; aka thinking.  Yoga does not bother much about changing the outside world, for it is believed that if we each change ourselves then the outside world will change as well.  There is a Sanskrit saying, "As the mind, so the man; bondage or liberation are in your own mind."  If you feel bound, you are bound.  If you feel liberated, you are liberated.  Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude toward them does that.
So if you have control over the thought forms and change them as you want, you are not bound by the outside world.  There's nothing wrong with the world.  You can make it a heaven or a hell according to your approach (or mindset).  This is why the entire Yoga is based on chitta vritti nirodhah.  If you control you mind, you have controlled everything.  Then there is nothing in this world to bind you.
No one knows exactly who wrote the The Yoga Sutra's.  They estimate that they were written over 3000BC! Interesting enough the Bible teaches the same things.  For example, Romans 12, 1-2 Renew our minds so that we can manifest the will of God. Proverbs says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." And 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 talks about house of thoughts or patterns of thinking.
The best words that I can use for my own experience for Yoga is an 'unraveling'.  I feel my body, spirit and mind unraveling to new possibilities, a new way of thinking and a new beautiful light on Christianity.  I believe that Yoga has strengthened my faith in God and Christianity.  I have been told in the past by other Christians that Yoga opens the door for demonic activity.  At no point during my Yoga meditation have I had any desire or thought to worship anything but Jesus. My goals as a Yoga teacher is to bring Yoga to the Christian community using Christian worship music and creating a whole new worship experience. Yoga has created new life goals and visions for me. My husband has recently started a church on Siesta Key called 'Life in the Son.'  I would love to open a Christian Yoga studio to incorporate with 'Life In the Son' and call it 'Son Yoga'. I envision a juice and tea bar and an environment where health and healing is the expected and the experienced.
Running and triathlons are still in my future, but Yoga has carved a deep river in my heart and I would love to share it with my friends.  So please...Don't fear the Yoga :)
May you be blessed.
Namaste'

Sunday, January 15, 2012

ATTACHMENT

These last 2-3 weeks I have been sick.  I am much better now, but still not totally up to optimum, but I am getting there.  Being sick, I have been through a gamut of emotions from pity party to down right mad to finally acceptance.  I am not one that does sickness well.   So when my husband suggested that we downgrade our marathon status to a half marathon, I pouted.  'I had worked too hard', I whined, 'and I wasn't letting a stupid cold stop me from completing this'.  As I sat back and contemplated the 'what if's' of downgrading from marathon to half marathon I realized that I was very attached to the outcome.  Bottom line, I wanted that 26.2 mile bling.  I wanted it bad.  Simple as that. I was attached to a stupid medal.  I  was also attached to the sentimental value this race had for me.  5 years ago it was my first marathon, this year it was going to be my husband's first marathon and I wanted to complete it together.  By the way, Mike is not nearly as attached to this goal as I am.  So back to the 'what if's'...so what if my medal isn't inscribed with 26.2 but 13.1 instead?  What if we cross the half marathon finish line instead of the full?

According to Deepak Chopra there are Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga.  The 6th law is The Law of Detachment.  This law reveals a paradox of life.  In order to acquire something in the world, you have to relinquish your attachment to it.  This doesn't mean to give up the intention to fulfill your desire, you simply give up your attachment to the outcome.
Attachment is based on fear and insecurity - believing that you need something outside yourself in order to be happy. In my case, holding that 26.2 medal gave me visions of happiness. By practicing detachment and embracing uncertainty, you relinquish your need to hold on to the past, which is the only thing that is known.  Being open to what is happening rather than trying to control how things unfold, you experience the excitement, adventure, exhilaration, and mystery of life. Have your intentions clearly in your awareness while you maintain an attitude of Thy will be done.  The coexistence of these apparently contradictory forces -intention and detachment- cultivates the flexibility that enables you to fulfill all your goals in life.  Attachment breeds rigidity. I was certainly rigid in my ideas and how things should unfold. So after studying this concept I realized that if I let go of my attachment I no longer had the pressure of not being fully prepared to complete this marathon.  Most importantly, we had wanted to make a small family vacation in Miami and down grading to a half marathon would certainly give us more time and the time we had would be more enjoyable with my kids.  So I got on the ING Miami marathon website and I sat in front of the button that you push to change your marathon status.  I asked my husband several times, "are you sure?"  He was dead sure. I pushed the button to change our status and unexpectedly a flood of relief came over me.  I felt great about my decision.  I now look forward to this trip and know we will have a more enjoyable time with the family.  From now on, I will make a more conscious effort to identify my attachments to outcome for I now know that it spoils the journey, and the journey  is what it is all about my friends.
May you be blessed.
Namaste'

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'M SICK :P SO HERE IS WHAT I DID ABOUT IT

I am one who rarely gets sick.  I boast and brag about never getting sick to my friends and co-workers. So this week, after 3 days of denial and shear torture for my spouse, I find myself....sick. There. I said it. I'm sick.  And to make matters worse, I'm training for the ING Marathon that is 25 days away. This is the most crucial time in my training and I haven't gotten my scheduled runs in.  I have spent the last two nights sleepless.  My husband has spent the last two nights sleepless as well for I have coughed nonstop like a 90 year old 2 pack a day smoker with COPD .  My muscles and joints hurt so bad that I have accused my husband of beating me with a two by four in the middle of the night while I am temporarily unconscious from too much cold medication.  Mike vehemently denies this accusation, but he has a suspiciously sneaky look in his eyes so I will not rule that possibility out.  Being this sore without running a marathon is...well...simply wrong, so very wrong.
So being the holistic nurse junkie that I am, I set out to cure myself.  I thought I would share with you, the reader, some of the things that have helped me during this time of illness/ denial.
#1. Make good old fashion chicken soup.  Here is a simple recipe that I made that is nourishing and good for the soul.
2 organic free range chicken breast
2 boxes Wolfe Gang Puck's organic free range chicken broth (I think they are 32 oz each)
1 cup Yogi brand organic brown long grain rice
2 diced organic carrots
2 stalks organic celery-dice
1 T Braggs liquid aminos (add more to taste)
Olive oil
Basil
Salt and Pepper
Thyme
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil over chicken and season with Salt and Pepper. Bake until done and cut into small pieces.  While chicken is cooking cook rice using 2 cups of the organic chicken broth (instead of water) according to package instructions (usually 50 minutes over low heat).  Combine all ingredients in large soup pot and let simmer on stove.  The smell is wonderful and healing.  Enjoy with organic crackers.

#2 For a persistent cough that makes your spouse want to beat you about the head and neck with a bat or a two by four - here is my helpful cough syrup remedy :
It soothes an irritated throat and relieves chest congestion and phlegm. The bad news: it tastes terrible -- it really does -- but if you have a persistant cough, it's worth a try.
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger ( I used fresh ginger root)
    1 Tablespoon honey-(make sure it is local raw honey)
    1 Tablespoon Braggs apple cider vinegar
    2 Tablespoons water

Mix and take by the teaspoon.
 I took 3 teaspoons the first time because I had a bad dry cough and I was desparate for some relief. It worked and I got a good night's sleep.
Consider the beneficial effects of the individual ingredients:
    Ginger (zingiber officinale) has long been used and recommended for arthritis and bursitis, because it is a natural anti-inflammatory. According to Home Herbal, by Penelope Ody, D.K. Publishing, June 1995, ginger is a natural antihistamine. It has also been used for for motion sickness and nausea, and in addition, it's known for relieving chest congestion, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, Herbal Medicine Chest http://cgi.pathfinder.com/drweil/herbal/medchest
    Cayenne (capsaicin) reduces pain, according to Herbs for Health and Healing, by Kathi Keville, Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA, 1996. The same substance that makes cayenne peppers hot relieves the pain by suppressing a chemical that carries the pain message from nerves in the affected area to the brain. According to Home Herbal, by P. Ody, cayenne is warming and stimulating, it is a good cold remedy and eases chills and will even ease the lingering pain from shingles.
    Vinegar has so many healthful uses.
    Honey, according to Home Herbal by P. Ody, will draw pus and poisons out of wounds and it is useful for relief from colds.
    Water is probably added to make it less strong tasting but it is still strong!
#3  Here is a tea to make cough 'more productive' and sooth a sore throat:
Make some peppermint tea.
About 6-8 ounces of peppermint tea
Add about 3 tablespoons of honey,
2 tablespoons of lemon juice,
and JUST A PINCH of cayenne pepper.
(optional) a shot of liquor-- personally I like amaretto.
Stir all ingredients into the peppermint tea while it's still boiling hot.
Wait for mixture to cool enough for you personally to drink. Mixture tastes pretty good - kind of spicy sweet.
**I recommend making your tea, running a hot bath with epsom salts and a few drops of eucalyptus oil and lighting some candles. Relax and enjoy.

#4 Coat your feet with Vicks Vapor Rub and put on socks.  I would like to recommend something that does not use  a petroleum base, I know that the health food store carries something similar to Vicks, but unfortunately this was the only thing I had on hand.  It works.



#5 For immune boosting support and all natural antibiotic effect (prescription antibiotics do not work on viruses) I use sublingual (under the tongue) colloidal silver - the brand I use is Sovereign Silver.  Take as instructed on bottle.

#6 Do restorative yoga.  This one is my favorite remedy. Your sore and achy body will thank you for this one. I subscribe to Gaiam TV and have access to a full range of yoga videos. If you do not subscribe to Gaiam TV I recommend Rodney Yee's restorative yoga DVD to keep on hand in times of stress and illness.  It is blissful.
# 7 Last, but not least, remove all hard and sharp objects from your spouse so that in his/her sleep deprived state he does not harm you any further.  Remember, your immune system is depleted enough without having to try and heal bone and soft tissue injures too!

Sickness is a part of life.  We all get sick. It is a natural way for the body to detox and force you to slow down from the chaos of the world.  Take advantage of this downtime and turn off the TV, read a good book, relax, burn candles and know that if you care for your body properly, it will be stronger in the end.
As for the marathon, well, we will see what happens...that will be for another day/another blog.

Here is to your good health my friends.

Namaste'

P.S. Don't forget to drink lots of orange juice and fluids too!