My wish for you is PEACE of mind, JOY of heart, HEALTH of body, GRATITUDE for blessings, KINDNESS both given and received, INSPIRATION that fuels CREATIVITY, and GRACE—the immediate presence of Spirit.
Daily, I carve out time to sit like a bump on a log, or in my case, a meditation bench which I lovingly refer to as a “Buddha butt.” As a high energy, fast-paced, go get ‘em kind of person, sitting still doesn’t come easy for me.
The slight elevation of a meditation bench affords me the opportunity to stay in a seated position—spine upright—for an extended period of time. And because my rear-end isn’t resting right on top of my calves, ankles, or feet, my legs don’t go to sleep from cutoff circulation. I enter this still and quiet space with one objective — no expectations.
In my experience, the busier I am the more important the practice of stillness becomes. And the benefits of sitting quietly are tremendous:
You remember the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, that sassy little miss who made herself at home in the three bears house and:
Sampled porridge—too hot, too cold, just right—and gobbled it all up.
Tested chairs—too big, too small, just right—and ends up breaking it.
Tired after leaving a wave of destruction in her wake, she heads upstairs and tries the beds—too hard, too soft, just right—and falls asleep.
What I want to know is what really happens between Point A (falls asleep) and Point B when baby bear exclaims, “Someone’s been sleeping in my bed and she’s still there!” Not with Goldilocks, but with all the rest of us during slumber…
There’s a wide brushstroke of speculation regarding what actually takes place when we sleep:
Some people feel that dreams are just that—dreams. And sleep is just that—sleep.
Others feel that we leave our body when we sleep; that we experience tests, receive instruction, and interact with other people in previous, current, and future time periods.
Where do you go and what do you do when you’re sound asleep?
Interesting Side Note: A survey conducted by the American Cancer Society concluded that people who sleep 6 hours or less per night, or who sleep 9 hours or more, had a death rate 30 percent higher than those who regularly slept 7 to 8 hours. Even those who slept 6 hours or less who otherwise had no health problems had death rates 1.8 times higher than those who slept “normal” hours.
Yoga invites us to drop beneath the surface of life into quieter, more introspective realms; at our house it’s a family affair.
First and foremost, it’s important to pay close attention — especially to one’s breathing.
Next, sink into stillness and get comfortable…
Our online instructor says, “Yoga straps help us stretch to the limit, increasing flexibility and muscular strength.” Willa’s look says, “You have GOT to be kidding!”
“Happy Baby” pose gently brings a greater awareness to the hip joints.
The “Butterfly” pose (also known as “Cobbler’s” pose) provides relief to muscle tension around the inner thigh area.
We use several props in our practice. Lexi will be the equivalent of 77 human years this August. She appreciates the comfortable support of an extra blanket throughout the session.
Legs-up-the-wall (or simply balanced in the air) is a posture that gets blood flowing to parts of the body that need it.
Willa is doing an exaggerated “Downward Facing Dog” pose. This posture feels especially good after resting because it elongates and lengthens the back. And as a mild inversion, it’s great for increasing blood flow to the brain and eyes.
Certain yoga postures can strengthen the cervical curve in the back of the neck.
Commonly referred to as “Corpse” pose, we simply call it “Dead Dog” at our house.
After a balanced practice, the muscles in the entire body will have been stretched. “Shavasana” provides the body with a chance to regroup and reset itself.
Namaste — hands held in prayer-like fashion in front of the heart, accompanied by a slight bow — represents the belief that there’s a divine spark within each of us. This gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one, by the soul in another.
nam means bow as means I te means you
Therefore, namaste literally means “bow I you” or “I bow to you.”
If you have animal companions at home, what do they enjoy doing with you?
Recently I started the early-morning practice of standing on my head. And it’s great (except for the top of my head was getting really sore, not to mention flat)…
think, Think, THINK
Do you wanna hang around?
Of course, an inversion table!
Many people who use an inversion table do so to relieve back and neck pain. But there’s a much wider brushstroke of benefits:
Develops balance awareness (great for skydivers, gymnasts, and scuba divers)
Rejuvenating effects (helps to age gracefully)
Decongests internal organs
Increases oxygen to the brain
Relieves varicose veins
Promotes an overall sense of wellbeing
Don’t be fooled. Now you’ll know what I really mean if you receive a call from me and I ask, “Do you wanna hang around?”
Responding to stress is natural, but staying in a constant state of stress eventually produces negative health effects. Cortisol—also known as the death or stress hormone—is part of our body’s natural response to stress. Yet when it’s released at high levels and/or not allowed to ease up, it decreases immunity, bone density, and the overall quality of life.
Because aromatherapy triggers the relaxation response, it’s an effective self-health method that can diminish, if not eliminate, stress from taking root in the body. This response can balance cortisol levels, decrease heart rate and blood pressure, improve digestion, and normalize blood sugar levels.
Totally portable, essential oils are easy to use. You can inhale a single essential oil, or create a synergy—a blend of oils.
At HolEssence we use diffusers that waft our Signature Scent—a proprietary blend of lavender, ylang-ylang, and rosemary—throughout the yoga studio, office, and treatment room. Inhaling the aroma is immediately calming, yet uplifting. Many people who walk in say, “Ahhhhhh, it smells like heaven in here.”
Most people tolerate essential oils well, but care must be taken that the fragrance isn’t overpowering. Essential oils you may want to consider in your self-health program include:
Chamomile is calming, soothing, and relaxing. It has a sweet, herbal, and fruity aroma.
Ylang Ylang is anti-depressive and relaxing. This evergreen tree has intensely fragrant flowers, followed by green fruits—a little goes a long way.
Eucalyptus is balancing and stimulating. Its aroma is a mix of camphor and the forest.
Geranium is comforting and healing. It has a sweet, floral, and earthy aroma.
Lavender is well known for its calming and therapeutic effects. It’s floral, sweet, woodsy, and herbal smelling.
Rose is warm and deeply floral—a little goes a long way.
Rosemary is refreshing and stimulating. Its fragrance is refreshing, woodsy, and herbal.
Sandalwood is very relaxing. It has a woodsy, sweet, and exotic scent.
Marjoram is used to deal with anxiety and insomnia. Its fragrance is warm and spicy.
Jasmine is soothing and relaxing. It has a warm, floral scent.
Neroli is relaxing—it has sedative properties. Its fragrance is floral and refreshing—a little goes a long way.
Note: as with anything used for medicinal purposes, check to ensure that the essential oils you use don’t have any negative interactions with current health issues and/or medication. The purpose of this post is not to for you to stop your current healthcare regimen. Rather, to bring awareness that Aromatherapy is a wonderful complementary self-health treatment that can help to create a healthier you.
That’s a picture of me and my dad. I’m currently visiting him in Encinitas, California (Dec 16 – Jan 1). One of the many purposes of my visit is to research local options for all levels of elder care.
But not just any elder care. I want my dad to be on the receiving end of heart-basedelder care if and when he needs it; heart-based elder care with a holistic approach. In other words, people who have his best interest—body, mind, and spirit—at heart.
While here, my goal is to help my dad understand that there are many ways to approach optimal rest-of-life wellness, stress, pain management, and comfort. My desire with the research findings I present, is for him to make informed decisions as he crosses various bridges associated with the ageing process.
My objective during this visit is to maximize his self-confidence and independence, and to help him integrate complementary and traditional approaches in an effort for him to reach and maintain a state of balance.
In addition to working with healthcare and associated insurance benefits, we’re working on financial and legal aspects. Hands-on we’ve been doing lots of breathwork, cranial therapy, and reflexology. I think he’s actually having fun—at least I hope so.
In a recent email discussion about elder care with my friend Barbara K. she said:
“I have witnessed so many people headed for the 20-year chronic disease and disability in retirement sentence. I have listened to that lesson and, like you, practice good eating, exercise regularly, watching that cholesterol level, and working this brain on both sides. The women in my family live into their 90s and I can either do that vertically and independently, or horizontally and dependently. Genetics pretty much determines how long we live. Lifestyle determines how well we live.”
George Burns, the comedien who lived to be 100, is famous for saying: “If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”
Leaving you with that wonderful food for thought, please know that my next post won’t be until I return home on January 2, 2011.
No matter how well we eat, there are usually some nutritional gaps in our diet. Multivitamins and minerals are an easy and convenient way to help fill those gaps and insure that our bodies get all of the nutritional support they need every day.
There are 13 vitamins classified as either water soluble (C and B-complex) or fat soluble (A, D, E and K) each having a key role to play in our bodies.
Water Soluble Vitamins: Stored in the body for a brief period of time, water soluble vitamins are then excreted by the kidneys. The one exception is vitamin B12, which is stored in the liver. Water soluble vitamins need to be taken daily.
Fat Soluble Vitamin: Together with fat from the intestine, these vitamins are absorbed into the circulation. Any disease or disorder that affects the absorption of fat, such as celiac disease, can lead to a deficiency of these vitamins. Once absorbed into the circulation these vitamins are carried to the liver where they’re stored.
In addition to vitamins, our bodies need several minerals for the proper makeup of bone and blood, and for maintenance of normal cell function. These are divided into 2 groups:
Major minerals: phosphorous, calcium, sodium, potassium, chlorine, sulfur, and magnesium.
Below I’ve provided a brief thumbnail sketch of some of key vitamins and minerals. It doesn’t include healthy oils (i.e., fish, garlic, flaxseed) or herbal supplements (i.e., milk thistle, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, echinacea).
Vitamin A – Vitamin A prevents eye problems, promotes a healthy immune system, is essential for the growth and development of cells, and keeps skin healthy.
Vitamin B-Complex – It’s my perspective that B vitamins should be taken as a complex, a combination of B vitamins that are essential for quality longevity, heart health, and aiding the body during times of stress. Here is a quick look at the individual B’s:
B-1 (also known as thiamin) helps the body to convert carbohydrates into energy and is necessary for the proper function of the heart, muscles, and nervous system.
B-2 (also known as riboflavin) is essential for turning carbohydrates into energy and producing red blood cells. It’s also important for vision.
B-3 (also known as niacin) helps the body convert food into energy. It helps maintain healthy skin and is important for nerve function.
B-6 is important for normal brain and nerve function. It also helps the body break down proteins and make red blood cells.
B-9 (also known as folic acid) helps the body make red blood cells, and is needed to make DNA.
B-12 helps to make red blood cells, and is important for nerve cell function.
Vitamin C –is needed to form collagen, a tissue that helps to hold cells together. It’s essential for healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels. It helps the body to absorb iron and calcium, aids in wound healing, and contributes to brain function.
Calcium – Essential for teeth and building strong bones. Adequate calcium in a healthy diet may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Vitamin D –Promotes the strength of the immune system, supports bone and joint health, and enhances calcium absorption. Vitamin D is unique in that the body is able to produce it when ultraviolet rays, specifically UVB, penetrate the skin. When these ultra violet rays come into contact with a compound in the skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol (a cholesterol precursor), this compound is converted to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (vitamin D3), the active form of vitamin D.
Vitamin E – is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. It’s also important for the health of red blood cells, maintenance of a healthy heart, lungs, prostate, and enhances digestive tract function.
Folic Acid – aids in the prevention of birth defects when it is taken prior to conception. Given its potential to protect the health of newborns, healthcare professionals strongly advocate that women begin taken folic acid supplements three months prior to the time they plan to conceive.
Iron – helps red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia include weakness and fatigue, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath.
Vitamin K – is necessary for blood clotting.
Magnesium – helps muscles and nerves to function, steadies the heart rhythm, and keeps bones strong. It also helps the body create energy and make proteins.
Phosphorous – helps form healthy bones and teeth. It also helps the body make energy. Every cell in the body needs phosphorus to function normally.
Potassium – helps with muscle and nervous system function. It also helps the body maintain the balance of water in the blood and body tissues.
Zinc – An infection fighting mineral, zinc is important for normal growth, strong immunity, and wound healing.
Not all vitamins and minerals are created equal, be sure to read the label. Naturally, you should work with your healthcare provider to find out which supplements you could benefit from, and how much is right for you taking into consideration your gender, age, weight, activity level, health concerns, and any medications you may be taking.