Attending a yoga class

I have started attending yoga classes again. I hadn’t attended yoga classes in 30 years. When I was raising my children, I did practice at home a few asanas (yoga poses) on and off, along with some ballet stretches. Now, as a chiropractic assistant, I am familiar with the main yoga poses. So taking part in a yoga class again is not like a brand new experience. It just feels like something I shouldn’t have waited 30 years to start again. 

Focusing on your breathing

As explained in Yoga for Rejuvenation by Nergis Dalal, “Without pranayama – the science of the control of the breath – there can be no yoga. Every asana has its own breath pattern and breathing forms the basis for all yoga practice.” The first yoga class I attended this month was focusing on very simple poses, reinforcing the importance of deep breathing. Box breathing, that I have described in 4 Easy Breathing Exercises for Relaxation, was practiced as well. What a nice way to start the morning!

Core strength, balance, and flexibility

The second class I attended covered traditional yoga poses: tabletop position, to cat/cow, to child’s pose; warrior II and warrior III poses, downward dog, plank, cobra, and mountain pose, among others. Along with paying attention to your breathing, this set of poses reinforces your balance, flexibility, and the importance of building adequate core strength. Still according to Nergis Dalal, “The alternate stretching and contracting movements of the asanas help muscles to retain their tone and keep bones strong and lung tissue healthy. The heart is strengthened and made more resistant by being subjected to alternate pressures, thus improving the circulation of blood to the body.”

In summary

Maintaining muscle tone and flexibility, improving balance and breathing skills, strengthening how organs can function through various poses, all these are good reasons for practicing a few yoga asanas every day if you can. Yoga helps reduce daily stress too. What else is there to say? Is there something you haven’t done in 30, 20, or 10 years that you would like to start again?

Reference
Nergis Dalal. Yoga for Rejuvenation : Revitalizing Techniques of the Yogis. New York, Thorsons Publishers, 1984, pp. 11–17.

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Setting up a routine

There’s nothing better to start the day with than with setting up a routine in whatever way feels like the right picks for you to implement. It can change over time of course, so just choose what seems easy to carry out right now. Setting up a routine to start the day is setting up a little bit of time for yourself before dealing with the usual daily ups and downs. I have picked for 4 easy steps for myself to start each day for quite a while now. I thoroughly enjoy this morning ritual.

Red light therapy

Each morning, before having my breakfast, I use the TrueLight Energy Square for 20 minutes. It offers two types of red light wavelengths for rejuvenation of the cells (helping with collagen production, among other things) and near-infrared light for strengthening the cells, mostly targeting the mitochondria too. The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells. They are little organelles within the cells that produce ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), the energy that our body needs each day in order for us to do anything. So whatever we can do to strengthen our mitochondria, especially as we get older, is a big plus. The TrueLight Energy Square also offers the option to use a yellow/amber light, mostly to help with skin health. I have used in the past a Joovv Light Mini which is another great option. Red light therapy also increases blood flow to whichever area you wish to target. Increased blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients delivered to the given area, another big plus for overall health maintenance.

The 4-7-8 breathing exercise

The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is a vagal nerve stimulating exercise that I wrote about in a previous post: 4 Easy Breathing Exercises for Relaxation. This exercise has been promoted by Dr. Andrew Weil and is so easy to implement. No excuses! I will describe it here again briefly as I heard it described in a Bulletproof podcast. Begin by sitting comfortably without crossing your arms or legs. Place the tip of your tongue right between your palate and the upper teeth. Breathe in for 4 seconds through the nose. Hold the breath for 7 seconds. Breathe out through the mouth for 8 seconds, making a “whoosh” sound as you still have your tongue placed between your palate and upper teeth. Repeat 4 times only, twice a day. Starting a meditation practice can be a great addition to this.


Morning detox drink

Each morning, before drinking my Bulletproof coffee, I always have a cup of warm water to which I add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, the juice of ½ a lemon, and a teaspoon of Celtic sea salt as described in this YouTube video. This helps detoxify the liver, among other things. As explained in the YouTube video, the original recipe (just warm water and lemon) was created by nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman. I mentioned this morning detox drink in a previous post about my Paleo/Primal eating habits

A few stretches

I like to incorporate a few stretches while fixing my morning beverages (the morning detox drink and Bulletproof coffee). As mentioned in Why Everyday Movement is Non-Negotiable, I usually start with the upper cat back stretch and have gotten into the habit now of doing standing calf raises while blending my coffee. After that, whenever I have a minute throughout the day, I do a few more stretches. Incorporating stretches to whatever else you have to do is a sure way to exercise without even really noticing it. So start with any stretch that feels right for you to practice right now, and build up from there, a little bit at a time, based on your schedule.

In summary

“4 Easy Steps to Start the Day” emphasizes the importance of creating habits (whatever they may be for you) that will benefit your overall health and wellness goals. Incorporating healthy habits into our daily lives is a long-time process that will most likely be challenged at times. But persevering nonetheless is strengthening the right mindset that can allow us to become stronger human beings, able to overcome or simply better cope with whatever we have to deal with in life.

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Why counting calories is not needed

We’ve heard for years that we have to burn more calories than we take in in order to lose weight. This phrase is too insufficient of an explanation. This makes us think that it doesn’t matter whether those fewer calories come from nutrient-dense foods or from junk food. In Keto Answers, by Dr. Anthony Gustin and Chris Irvin, it is stated that, “[a]s nutrition journalist and author Gary Taubes explains, obesity is a disorder of fat accumulation rather than excess calorie consumption.” So if too many calories is not the main issue, then what is triggering this fat buildup?

Why consuming too many carbs may be what keeps you from losing weight

Not all calories consumed are going to be utilized by the body the same way. It is important to keep in mind that when a food triggers a high insulin (an energy storage hormone) response, this high insulin level in the bloodstream is going to prevent the body from burning fat or in other words from losing excess accumulated fat. Consuming high-glycemic foods on a regular basis will probably precipitate this fat-storage pattern. It is also important to keep in mind that we are all different individuals with different metabolisms and genetic predispositions, so we are not going to respond to the same foods consumed the same way. Even a single individual is going to handle various foods differently as the years and decades go by. We constantly have to adjust and see how our body is responding to the foods we eat.

What works for weight loss

What we want are calories from whole, nutrient-dense foods, not from processed foods. Healthy fats are what can keep us satiated for long periods of time (especially if we want to lose weight) as mentioned in the previous blog post: What are Ketones? As a side note, Dr. Mark Hyman wrote Eat Fat, Get Thin, which highlights how healthy fats are far from being our enemy when we want to lose weight and stay healthy.

In summary

Counting calories is really not a primary requirement for weight loss. In most cases (as we are now aware), it’s having high insulin levels that can prevent fat burning and appropriate hormone balance.

Reference

Gustin, Anthony, and Chris Irvin. Keto Answers : Simplifying Everything You Need to Know about the World’s Most Confusing Diet. Middletown, De, Four Pillar Health, 2019, pp. 96-98.

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5 affirmations to start 2020

So what did you decide to tackle in 2020? I have no specific New Year’s resolution besides continuing the routine I have set for myself to keep my energy levels and health as they are right now. That alone is work and that is plenty for me. That said, I have a set of affirmation cards (Affirmators! by Suzi Barrett) that can give oneself a nice little boost when the moral is not at its best. Reminding ourselves of what truly matters in life on a regular basis can make a world of difference over time. Out of this set, I have picked 5 affirmations to start this brand new year: 

  • Follow your heart: “I’m always rewarded when I follow my heart. I trust that the GPS in my heart knows all the best routes. And when it seems like it’s taking too long to get where I want, I know that’s because there’s some cool, weird stuff to see along the way.”
  • Generosity: “ I give generously to those around me, no matter how much (or how little) I have. I know there is more than enough to go around, and that the key is to allow it to keep going around without stopping. If I stop the flow, I’m like the one person at the stadium who doesn’t do the wave.”
  • Impermanence: “Life is always changing, and I drift easily through those changes, good and bad. As I drift through hard times, I can take comfort in knowing that I will leave them behind. As I drift away from good times, I can take comfort in knowing that more will come my way. Impermanence is an equal-opportunity nonentity.”
  • No judgment: “I release myself from any and all judgments. I find my inner critic, call it into my office, and tell it to take a vacation. As it leaves the room, I let out a sigh and begin to enjoy the joy of simply being. Who hired that guy anyway?”
  • Power: “I am strong, I am grounded, I am powerful. I am like a cross between a dinosaur and a tank. But not a tank that is used for war. I am like a peaceful, loving dino-tank who feels so strong it doesn’t need to do anything but be.”


In summary

These are 5 powerful affirmations that I think can go a long way to help us wherever we are in life. So beyond the different resolutions we may take this new year to better or maintain our health and wellness, it seems to me that feeling grounded is what can allow us to take on new healthy habits and keep them beyond the first month.

To your health and wellness, and to this brand new year!

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