Author Archives: roeru27
The article “Eat Your Way to Happy: The Mood-Boosting Benefits of Food” found in Yoga Journal is one of my favorite articles I have read in the passed few months. As I am a part of both the mental health and yoga communities, this speaks to me on both levels.
The opening paragraph gives the example of a 27 year old woman named Andria Gutierrez who felt mentally clouded, anxious, depressed and fatigued. She was diagnosed with anxiety and was prescribed medication. However, Gutierrez sought a few other opinions and it was suggested to her to change her diet. Gutierrez began to eat clean by focusing on veggies, fruits and grains. She no longer consumed refined grains, meat or sugars. Gutierrez reported all previous existing symptoms to be extinguished.
As we come into this awareness of food affecting mood, a new field of study has been created called nutritional psychiatry. The idea that the mind and body are separate is now realized as false. The mind and body are very much connected into wholeness. What we consume and put into our body does affect the brain and neural chemistry.
The article sites three more studies from the U.S., Australia and Norway. These studies suggest that when individuals more whole foods and less processed foods that the diagnoses of anxiety, depression and bi-polar are less likely. Evidence also suggests that food may affect other disorders such as dementia, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder. However, most studies find the biggest correlation in the risk of depression.
As a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in NYC, Drew Ramsey, MD, recalls a patient of his that was suffering from depression and anxiety. The patient’s diet was very scattered and severely lacked in fruits and vegetables. After a year of treatment, which included an entire revamp of his diet, the patient reported the depression to be gone. (Note: diet is a part of treatment; always consult with your doctor before terminating medication).
The article gives several examples down to the molecular level of how food affects mood. For example: “Oxidative stress on brain cells likely plays a role, too. “Your brain is burning enormous amounts of glucose [blood sugar] for energy, and just like when you burn gas in a car and there is exhaust, when you burn fuel in the brain there’s a type of ‘exhaust’: free radicals,” says Ramsey. “Over time, those free radicals damage your cells—and that’s oxidative stress.” Build up enough damage, and it can affect emotion by interfering with the way your brain cells function. Brain cells and the signals they send to each other are part of what creates emotion and mood. So if the cells are unhealthy and damaged, the signals they send become muddled or irregular, and you end up with disorders like depression and anxiety. Antioxidants like vitamins C, E, and beta carotene, and flavonoids like quercetin and anthocyanidins (found in dark berries), have been shown to help prevent and repair oxidative stress.”
Not only are the affects of food found in the brain but also in our gut. We have “good” bacterium that lines our gut to help with signals between the body and brain. The article states: “One way these bacteria benefit the brain is by helping to keep intact the gut lining, which is full of nerve cells that constantly send messages to the brain. The gut lining also acts as a barrier to toxins and aids digestion so your brain is protected from bad stuff while still getting needed nutrients. But overwhelm the gut lining with the wrong foods—processed sugars, some cured meats (like deli meats), trans fats, and processed, white-flour carbohydrates—and it can become inflamed and start to break down, says Selhub, adding, “And we know that more inflammation is associated with more mood disorders, including depression.”
So, how can we avoid treating our bodies harshly? Here are some tips:
- Exclude anything processed. This can include dairy, meats or certain grains. Return to the Mediterranean Diet of fresh fruits, (dark colorful berries), vegetables, (dark leafy greens), lean protein and whole grains.
- Incorporate more fermented foods for your gut lining such as yogurt, kombucha, kimchi or sauerkraut.
- Avoid junk food, (of course), especially trans fats and artificial sugars. The article states that junk food messes with our good bacteria in the gut lining which results in a negative cycle of craving more of it and increasing depression.
- Increase consumption of seafood. We want those Omega-3s found in salmon, tuna, halibut, and shrimp.
- Concentrate on foods high in Vitamin B and D. “Spinach, black-eyed peas, and asparagus are packed with folate; seafood, beef, and dairy have lots of B12; and D can be found in salmon, tuna, liver, milk, and eggs.”
For more detailed info about our molecules, neurons, and bacteria, (which is really cool), explore below:
As we all know, yoga has become extremely popular now in America. However, I’m sure if you think about who does yoga, a certain image may arise in your mind. Maybe some slender, muscular male or female balancing on their hands. What about everyone else? Especially individuals with any type of disability. I found an article that addresses this issue. There is an upcoming first annual accessible yoga conference in Santa Barbara, CA. The founder of the accessible yoga movement, Jivana Heyman, is interviewed in this article.
- This conference will center on the awareness of adaptive yoga for individuals with disabilities or chronic illness.
- The mission is to share yoga with everyone. It’s not just a physical practice.
- Adaptive yoga students and yoga teachers will be attending the conference in order to build & empower the community.
- Teachers and adaptive students will be trained first hand from the experts at the conference.
- Learning to attend to the needs of adaptive yoga students.
- Debunking the popular image of the yogi. Yoga is for all bodies.
- Sponsors will be present & addressing the issue of affordable yoga teacher training.
If you would like to go to the conference or get involved in this movement click the link below:
If you’re looking to perfect your yoga practice, here are some great tips! I found a video from Yoga Journal that explains the difference of moving into Cobra pose or Upward Facing Dog during a Vinyasa flow (Downward Facing Dog, inhaling to Plank Pose, exhaling Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale Cobra or Upward Facing Dog, exhale Downward Facing Dog), and which is appropriate for you. I’ve noticed in some of my yoga classes, while moving through a Vinyasa flow the teacher will say move to Cobra or Upward Dog. What’s the difference?! Which pose is appropriate for you?
First let’s run through Cobra Pose:
Beginning with the feet:
- Tops of the feet are anchored to the ground
- The thighs and the hips are pressing down into the earth
- The elbows are slightly bent
- Shoulders are back and down away from the ears allowing for the heart to be open
Compare to Upward Facing Dog:
Beginning with the feet:
- Tops of the feet are anchored to the ground
- The thighs and hips are lifted from the earth
- The arms are straight & wrists directly below the shoulders
- Shoulders are back and down away from the ears; heart is open
When should you do one or the other? That answer depends on where you are in your yoga practice. If you’re able to move from Chaturanga Dandasana without your hips or legs touching the ground, then Upward Dog may be a choice for you. If moving from Chaturanga Dandasana to Upward Dog seems to be too challenging for you, then lower your body completely to the Earth for Cobra Pose.
Always remember, it’s not about what you look like, it’s how you feel. Do what you can & your journey will unfold in its own time.
I suggest checking out the video to receive the full visual. Enjoy!
Even though Spring arrives in a couple of days, I have noticed that some people are getting that “end of the season cold & cough” that they cannot kick. I wanted to share with you what my mom has given to me since I was a kid to help kick those annoying colds a bit faster or even prevent them. If you like the earthy spicy taste of ginger, you’ll love the simplicity of ginger root tea. Ginger is an ancient herb traced back to 5,000 years ago in Chinese, Indian, Greek & Roman cultures. It’s first use as a tonic came from the Chinese and Indians.
Let me recount the benefits of ginger root:
- Helps settle nausea, indigestion, bloating
- Colds, flu
- Motion sickness
- Menstrual cramps
- Anti-inflammatory for joints
- Lowers high blood pressure
The list goes on! It’s even speculated to suppress cancer cells.
How to make ginger root tea:
- Buy ginger root at your local supermarket
- Rinse and cut up into slices of your choosing
- Boil water
- Pour hot water and sliced ginger root into your mug or tea cup
Remember that ginger is a little spicy. You may want to start with three slices of ginger root and see how you like it. This tea will warm up your entire body and is great for chest colds. Lastly, there is the option to add lemon or honey.
For more information, click below:
Scientific & History: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/
It’s common knowledge how healing yoga and meditation is. The benefits of both are plentiful; not just for the body but for the mind and spirit. I came across an article in Yoga Journal discussing the healing powers of yoga and meditation for Veterans. The article itself doesn’t go into too much detail about the healing process. It does however, state the positive results that yoga and meditation provide for Veterans: decreased insomnia, anger, depression, anxiety, and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The article also interviewed five Veterans that have practiced yoga and meditation. The major themes of their experiences with yoga seemed to be it helped them accept themselves, opened their hearts, provided empowerment, and concentration.
Lastly, the article discusses the Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans program. This is a really awesome training to do if you are already a yoga teacher or just want to give back to the Veteran community. For Veterans, this is a program that may be offered at a local VA Hospital! It’s a win win!
For more info & the slide show of the Veterans interviewed click below:
Check out the Mindful Yoga Therapy website for training opportunities and programs near you:
Yes, you read that right! The weed that you poison on your lawn is actually extremely healthy for you. Dandelions are packed with vitamins A, C and D, zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium. They are chiefly used for detoxing the body, specifically the liver. Dandelion can aid with inflammation, eczema, and regulate blood-sugar levels. The green leaves can be eaten raw in salads, cooked, or brewed into tea. You can buy dandelion at most supermarkets and pre-made organic teas are available. Why buy the plant at the store when it probably grows on your front lawn?!
For more information, check out the links below:
It is common knowledge that if one is suffering from addiction, he or she will most likely frequent a Twelve-Step program. This is the Western approach to addiction. However, the Eastern approach to addiction is that it is not a separate disease, rather it is an over attachment within the condition of human suffering.
Kevin Griffin, the author of One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps and cofounder of the Buddhist Recovery Network (BRN), explains that addiction may be a “misguided spiritual search”. The longing for a spiritual connection may manifest itself as addiction. Addicts can be seen as sensation seekers, looking for something else in life, so why not satisfy that hunger with yoga and meditation?
Where do yoga, mindfulness and meditation come into play? Think about how addiction is the polar opposite of possessing a bodymind connection or maintaining a full and present mind. Through the integration of yoga and meditation with Twelve-Step programs, an addict can become more present and mindful of his or her thoughts and actions, instead of giving into impulsivities and cravings.
A recovering alcoholic, who has remained anonymous in this article attested to the following: “I wasn’t drinking, but my addictive tendencies were making the rounds in different areas of my life, so I still felt crazy and restless and unhappy. At the suggestion of a fellow recovering alcoholic, I signed up for a yoga class. In yoga postures, I got introduced to how frenetic and negative my thinking was, and I knew that that’s where the change needed to happen. Abstinence from alcohol wasn’t enough. Eventually I started a meditation practice, which is where I get to both observe and train my mind.”
For the full article and more information, click the link below:
Alternate nostril breathing is one of my favorite breathing techniques! It’s simple & easy to do. What I love about it is you can do it anywhere; at school, work, or just running around. It’s a great way to de-stress and most importantly it balances the mind. Alternate nostril breathing is found to be calming and can help clear the mind. According to the article listed below: Nadi Shodhan Pranayama “Helps harmonize the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which correlate to the logical and emotional sides of our personality”. Lastly, it can improve circulatory or respiratory issues.
How to do it:
- Whether you’re at home or out (bathroom, car, etc.), find a quiet place for yourself.
- Ideally you’d like to be seated, spine is long & erect.
- Using the right hand, place the index finger and middle finger on the space between the eyebrows.
- Thumb rests on the right nostril; ring finger and little finger rest on the left nostril.
- Begin to close off the right nostril with the thumb and breath deeply into the left nostril.
- Then, close off the left nostril with your ring finger and little finger and let the breath flow out through the right nostril.
- Breathe deeply into the right nostril, closing it off with the thumb, and breathe out gently through the left nostril.
- This completes one around. Suggested 9 rounds.
I hope you enjoy Nadi Shodhan Pranayama as much as I do!
For more information and a video of this technique click the link below:
My love for running came before I started practicing yoga. Once I began to practice, I noticed how good the poses felt and in particular, how great the stretching feels. I thought ‘Imagine incorporating some of these stretches while I run?’ If you are a runner you’ll love the integration of these poses:
Also, if you would like an entire one-hour yoga class made for runners, click below: