Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sleep Well?

Recently my boyfriend was hit with a bout of insomnia.  I tried to solve it by telling him all of the things that help me when I feel restless such as sniffing lavender, meditating, or practicing restorative poses like Supta Badda Konasana and child's pose.  None of these things seemed to help so I suggested getting some bodywork.  I texted my friend Juliana, a wonderful craniosacral therapist and asked her if she thought a session would help his insomnia.  She immediately replied "yes."  He went to her that evening and later said the session felt subtle, but was "very cool."  He took a melatonin that night and since then he has been sleeping like a baby.

supta baddha konasana

This goes to show that there's not just one solution to every problem.  What worked for me had little impact on my boyfriend.  Magazines will say "for great abs, do this exercise" or "to stay energized, eat this food" and so on and so fourth.  Even I catch myself making these sorts of statements to my students, but in reality we are all different, and what works for one person may not work for another.   While we don't want to close off the suggestions of others, ultimately we have to find out what works best for ourselves.

Check out Juliana's site:

childs pose

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Love me some Neti Pot

Ok I know to some people this seems totally weird, but I LOVE my neti pot.  It's so satisfying to flush out all the gunk that accumulates from NYC air.  The neti pot is useful all year long, but I like to think it pushes away some of those colds that start to pop up in the fall.  You can purchase a neti pot usually at any health food store.  Fill it with luke warm water and about a teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt (they also sell special neti pot solutions, but I've never tried them) and let it dissolve.  Here comes the fun part!   Stick the spout in one nostril and tip your head sideways, letting the water run out the opposite side.  It takes some practice (the first few times the water went into my throat), but once you get the hang of it you'll be hooked... maybe!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

While in the summer fresh raw fruits and vegetables are more dominant, fall vegetables and fruits are naturally heavier ie. squash, potatoes, apples.  During this season I like to add a little more healthy fats to my diet (nuts, olive oil, avocado) and eat warmer foods, opposed to dry or cold foods.   According to Ayurveda, warmer foods are easier to digest and oils help to lubricate our body.   Think oatmeal instead of dry cereal.  Cooked grains versus crackers or chips.   Soups and cooked vegetables versus raw salads.   Warm rice pudding instead of ice cream.  You can even bake your apples instead of eating them raw.  If you feel like your digestion is sluggish, try adding some warming spices like ginger to your foods.    Eat on a regular schedule if you can and try not to skip meals.   Cut back on refined sugars and caffeine which can aggravate vata dosha.  I also like to drink lots of herbal tea versus cold water during this time of year.  It helps my digestion and keeps me warm.   I look for warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, chiles, cardamon, and cloves.    You can make your own (I sometimes just boil ginger and strain) or buy one of the many varieties they have in stores now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Kapal What?

Kapalbhati-  Kapalabhati is a kriya or cleansing technique.   It can seem a little funny at first, but it's an excellent exercise to strengthen the abdominal muscles, build heat, and clear the nasal passages;  all great things for the fall.

Sit comfortably in a position that allows the spine to lengthen (cross legged or sitting towards the edge of a chair).   Close your eyes and draw the chin slightly down so the back of the neck lengthens.

Focus on your breath and when you're ready start sharp exhales through your nose by drawing the belly in.  The inhale will naturally come in as the belly relaxes out.  If you're unable to feel your belly contract and draw in, place a hand on it.

Keep your chest open and shoulders relaxed.    Don't worry about how fast you go, just find a comfortable rhythm.  Only do as many as you can while maintaining the length in the spine and the ease in upper body.

How does Kapalbhati make you feel?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Balance Don't Fall

Today I woke up and thought, "It finally feels like fall!"  I love fall in NYC.  The cool crisp air is much welcomed after the hot humid summer.  As the weather changes so do we.  I naturally start to crave different foods and activities.  My energy level shifts and I can even feel differences in my temperament and emotions.  According to Ayurveda, each season carries a prominent dosha.  In the fall that dosha is Vata, which is composed from the air and space element and connected to the cool and crisp air we feel outside.  Just as the leaves start to dry out, our bodies begin to lose moisture.  Ever notice chapped lips and super dry skin around this time of year?  Mentally I'm prone to feeling more spaced out and anxious and I start to lose some of the plentiful energy I experienced during the summer.  My digestion feels weaker and if I must admit, I feel more flatulent.  Sound familiar anyone?  I'm definitely not an expert in Ayurveda, but I've composed a list of things that help keep me balanced during this season.   I'll be exploring those things in the blog posts to come.