Friday, July 30, 2010

Lubricate the spine ... no props needed!

A yoga pose that you can do anywhere you have space to be on all 4's. Cat and Cow is an excellent way to lubricate the spine. You can use this pose prior to other activity or on its own, perhaps after a stressful day or as a means to wake up in the morning.

Cat and Cow

Begin on your hands and knees. Proper alignment is key. Have the joints in your arms stacked. Place your knees under your hips. Keep your arms shoulder distance apart with your fingers spread out like starfish. Keep your knees hip distance apart. As you inhale begin to round your spine by tucking your tail and chin and drawing your navel to your spine to protect your back. Imagine becoming the image of a “Halloween Cat”. As you exhale lengthen your spine and gaze forward. Imagine holding a piece of paper between your shoulders. Take slow breaths and repeat 3 to 5 times. You can even reverse the breath pattern. This pose allows you to lubricate your spine. A benefit of the aids in digestive health.

Add balance by bringing your spine to neutral and extending opposite arms. Make sure your are looking down, lengthening from your spine and reaching your hand as if you were to shake hands with someone.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunscreen is IMPORTANT but don't forget to add VITAMIN D to your Diet

We are inundated with messages about how IMPORTANT it is to use sunscreen...and apply it often. We continually hear about SPF levels and UVA/UVB protection. Preventing or delaying the onset of skin cancer is important. Taking measures to ensure we have QUALITY and QUANTITY of life is a responsibility we have to our families and friends.

One thing that gets left out of the equation when we use sunscreen is VITAMIN D. Sunscreen with an SPF of 8 or more blocks the skin's ability to absorb Vitamin D from the sun. Therefore, as we prevent skin cancer, we block a vital nutrient,VITAMIN D, from entering our skin.

How can we replace the lost VITAMIN D? Vitamin D is added to most milk found in the United States as it is vital to the body's absorption of Calcium. After all, we have been told since we were young to "drink milk to get strong bones". We cannot rely ONLY on milk that is fortified with Vitamin D to provide us with enough Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones. There are supplements that you can take to add Vitamin D to your diet. Another way to add Vitamin D is to eat foods that can provide you with the proper nutrients. Vitamin D can be found in a variety of foods like: sockeye salmon, cod liver oil, shiitake and button mushrooms, egg yolks, some cheeses, tuna, Silk Soymilk and some cereals. Check out the following website to read about SPECIFIC sources of Vitamin D in foods:

Protect your skin AND protect your bones. Make healthy choices!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Traveling This Summer?

Take YOGA with you on the airplane or in the car!

Sukhasana (easy pose) that I discussed last month is a great pose to do with the assistance of a seat. Sit tall with your feet on the floor. Try your best to keep your knees together. Taks your left hand to the outside of your right knee and your right hand behind you onto the seat or the back of the chair on which you are sitting. Inhale to lengthen your spine, exhale to start your twist. Begin the movement from the base of your spine. Have the twist last 4 breaths on each side. The first exhalation twist your lower back, think aim your navel, to the right. One the second exhale, twist the lumbar and thoracic spine, think aim your navel and heart to the right. The their exhale, twist the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine, think ending the twist aiming your chin toward your right shoulder. The final breath is a deepening once you are in the pose. Repeat on the other side.

Always initiate twists with the right side. A fringe benefit of a twist is the assistance with digestion. Your ascending colon is on the right and your descending on the left. Thus...twisting right side first helps move food through your the proper direction.

Another exercise when siting for long periods of time is to tap your feet. Tapping both your heels AND your toes works your leg evenly...keeps the muscles from atrophy as well as increases blood flow to your lower extremities.

A final exercise you can do when seated in a plane or car for extended periods of time is to stretch your arms. One pose that does not require much space is Cow Faced Pose, Gomukhasana. Don't worry if your hands do not touch behind your can always hold onto your shirt.

To get into the pose...sit tall, draw your navel to your spine, your tailbone toward the ground and aim your shoulders to opposite walls. Inhale and stretch your right arm straight out to the right, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arm inwardly; the thumb will turn first toward the floor, then point toward the wall behind you, with the palm facing the ceiling. This movement will roll your right shoulder slightly up and forward, and round your upper back. With a full exhalation, sweep the arm behind your torso and tuck the forearm in the hollow of your lower back, parallel to your waist, with the right elbow against the right side of your torso. If you want more and your shoulder is open...roll the shoulder back and down, then work the forearm up your back until it is parallel to your spine. The back of your hand will be between your shoulder blades. See that your right elbow doesn't slip away from the right side of your torso. Go only as far as your shoulder allows. DO NOT FORCE.

Now inhale and stretch your left arm straight forward, pointing toward the opposite wall, parallel to the floor. Turn the palm up and, with another inhalation, stretch the arm straight up toward the ceiling, palm turned back. Lift actively through your left arm, then with an exhalation, bend the elbow and reach down for the right hand. If possible, hook the right and left fingers.IF YOU DO NOT TOUCH...DON'T WORRY...AIM YOUR HANDS TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER AND YOUR SHOULDERS TOWARDS OPPOSITE WALLS, DRAW YOUR NAVEL TOWARDS YOUR SPINE TO PROTECT YOUR BACK.

Lift the left elbow toward the ceiling and, from the back armpit, descend the right elbow toward the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs and lift your chest. Try to keep the left arm right beside the left side of your head. If you feel pressure on your neck, ease off the stretch.

Repeat on the opposite side.

You can modify many yoga poses to take them "on the go". Do not forget to breathe and do not forget the essence of the pose.

Photos courtesy of

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Healthy Cleaning

Back to Basics

I am trying to clean with the most natural products available. I LOVE my Amway Legacy of Clean products as they are plan based but I LOVE some natural, old-fashioned products as well.

Baking soda and vinegar to clean a drain (the bubbles from the chemical reaction remind you of being in a chemistry lab in school)

Because I liked using the baking soda and vinegar, and they are inexpensive, I decided to find out other uses for both products. I did a search and found out more about VINEGAR. I will tackle BAKING SODA another day.

The article describes how VINEGAR can:
remove oven grease
treat Tupperware stains and smells
deter ants
clean the shower door
clean paintbrushes

The Vinegar Institute lists a plethora of uses for Vinegar.

One I found particularly interesting was a technique to remove water spots from wood. All you have to do is create a mixture of equal parts white distilled vinegar and olive oil. Rub the mixture along the grain and polish.

Another I liked, and is helpful in the summer when the weather is WARM... a METHOD for getting rid of fruit flies in the house. After you eliminate the fruit that is the culprit you are left with the flies. All you need to do is place a bowl filled with ½ quart water, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar and a couple of drops of dish soap to attract the fruit flies.

Recycle the Bottle when you finish!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Snack Craving...Want Something COOL...

What do you go for...Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt?

Personally, I am a frozen yogurt fan. I probably am outnumbered here so I took the time to look for some FACTS to support my decision...FROZEN YOGURT!

One health benefit of all natural frozen yogurts is the probiotic content. Frozen yogurt that contains live bacterial cultures promotes better digestion. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is some evidence that specific probiotics are helpful for urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome, may reduce the recurrence of bladder cancer and prevent and manage atopic dermatitis (eczema) in children. Probiotic content is good bacteria that your body needs that can boost the immune system, enhance digestion and is even believed to lower cholesterol levels.

In addition to probiotic content, another health benefit of frozen yogurt over ice cream is the amount of lactose found in frozen yogurt appears to be more digestible than the lactose in milk commonly used to make ice cream. For people who are lactose intolerant, this is particularly important. Frozen yogurt contains enzymes that assist in breaking down dairy, allowing many people with lactose intolerance to enjoy frozen yogurt with little or no ill effects.

Interested? Read more about the HEALTH BENEFITS of YOGURT.