January 4, 2017
HERB OF THE MONTH: GINGER
by: Kulreet Chaudhary, M.D.
Neurologist balancing modern life with ancient knowledge of Ayurveda
Ginger is one of the natural home remedies that has actually been tested and researched by the medical community. Ginger has been used for thousands of years in India for many different ailments, in addition to being used as a garnish in everyday cooking. Ginger is added to chai, Indian tea, to help counteract some of the negative effects of caffeine. Ginger is also recognized as an effective home remedy by many other cultures around the world.
The three most commonly studied roles of ginger are as a digestive aid, anti-inflammatory, and immunity booster. Ginger is also being studied for the treatment of colon and ovarian cancer.
What is so special about ginger besides the nice little zing it adds to your food? In ayurveda, diet is the basis for a healthy, balanced body and mind. If your digestion is working properly then, according to ayurveda, chronic disease cannot take root in your body. Ginger stimulates good digestion, the basis of health. Ginger stimulates the digestive “fire” by helping the body to release the proper enzymes to break down food so nutrients can be easily absorbed. For people suffering from a loss of appetite, such as during chemotherapy, ginger can stimulate hunger.
Ginger has been proven to be a powerful treatment for nausea, morning sickness, and motion sickness. There is nothing more soothing to an upset stomach than a warm cup of ginger tea. The studies touting the benefits of ginger are prevalent enough that many doctors recommend the use of ginger over prescription medications for nausea. For pregnant women who are suffering from severe cases of morning sickness and do not want to take medications, ginger offers safe, effective relief from their symptoms. Ginger is also excellent for getting rid of gas and abdominal pain due to intestinal spasms. (If you are tired of your spouse’s gas problem, introduce them to ginger.)
Ginger contains strong anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These naturally occurring compounds help reduce pain and increase mobility in individuals who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Ginger not only lowers inflammation but it also has molecules that improve joint circulation. In studies, ginger was as effective as ibuprofen for the treatment of osteoarthritis, but without any of the negative effects on the stomach associated with ibuprofen. In fact, ginger actually helps to alleviate stomach problems rather than cause them. People who are suffering from arthritis can add ginger to their daily routine to find relief from their pain without worrying about damaging their gut.
According to ayurveda, ginger warms the body and helps to break down the accumulation of toxins in the organs, particularly in the lungs and sinuses. Ginger helps to cleanse the lymphatic system, which is our body’s sewage system. By opening up these lymphatic channels and keeping things clean, ginger prevents the accumulation of the toxins that make you susceptible to infections, especially in the respiratory system. It doesn’t take long to see the benefits of ginger when you have a sore throat and a cold. Ginger is a must-have food during flu season.
My favorite way to use ginger is adding fresh ginger directly into my meals. I typically cut a half-inch of fresh ginger and cut it into small pieces and sauté it with other spices to add that extra kick to my dishes. During flu season or whenever I feel a cold coming on, I make ginger tea a couple of times a week to keep my immune system strong.
Ginger Tea Recipe
Cut one inch of fresh ginger root – use two inches if you want the tea to be stronger. Cut it into small pieces and add it directly into a pot of water. Let it boil for 10 minutes. Pour into mug and honey* and lemon to taste if you like. (* do not cook honey). Put the tea in a thermos and take small sips throughout the day.
Now you have an immune-boosting, sore-throat-relieving, stomach-calming tonic made in your own kitchen that you can consume any time of the year.
November 23, 2016
Year by Year the complexities of this Spinning World grow more bewildering and so each year we need all the more to seek peace and comfort in the joyful simplicities. - Woman's Home Companion, December 1935..
What was written 81 years ago sure does resonate here today - right now!
A way to appreciating the simplicities of our lives which cultivates a feeling of peace and stability which can help us feel comfort is gratitude journaling.
Since 2000 I have kept a journal of gratitude, using a journal book by Sarah Ban Breathnach called "the Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude". It is a perpetual calendar of pages with inspiring quotes at the top of each page. There are five lines for each day of the month.
January 1, 2000 I begin. I list 5 things I am grateful for that day. I am diligent in this practice for a few days, feeling good about my effort. Then oops, I am in bed and forgot to enter in my journal. I turn on the light, and think through my day. So easy to come up with 5! Grateful for my warm bed in January, my favorite bathrobe, precious moments of laughing with my 15 year old son, Collin, (who these days is more out of the house than at home), the morning sun coming through my bedroom window, cuddle time with my daughter Sarah ( who just got her own journal for her 9th birthday. We're doing this together!) Geez this is easy! Just flowing with my entries through the week! And when I forget, Sarah reminds me.
And then a few days go by. And I have forgotten about the journal, and Sarah has forgotten. Okay, Let's just begin where we left off, let's see what day is it. Let's start here. Appreciate the the hot water to melt the lock on my car, calls from my friends, Cheryl and Jennifer, my son saying "I love you", time spent with Mom, the landlord for shoveling the sidewalk, all the great yoga students.
Again days go by, months go by, years go by, Sarah is in her last year of college, and has long forgotten about her journal. I spy mine on the bookshelf. I pull it out and I fill in where some days were missed years ago.
March 15, 2014. Thankful for my golden retriever Sporty, my yoga practice, my breath, snow melting and feeling the warm sun, my old car that keeps running. Another day or two of entries. Great. I'm in the groove or so I think.
Again, as helpful and good as this is for me - still not an established habit and it falls by the wayside again.
It's the day before Thanksgiving. I pull the journal from the shelf, and see so many pages - waiting for me to appreciate Life in this deliberate way. I let the approaching holiday inspire me to recommit. Where is my daughters journal? She wrote so many beautiful precious gratitudes! I'll look later. I need to record my five for today before I forget. Life is complex, and I forget over and over again to pause, and see the gifts in the moment, to appreciate that which is so simply right in front of me. The haphazard way that I have kept my journal is evidence of that. The cool thing for all of us is that we can just begin again, right where we are, start fresh. So here I am....
Thinking of you - Each who has come to class, worked with me individually, called to talk about your concerns, or clicked the sign up button to be added to the mailing list.
Entry in my Journal:
November 23, 2016
I am grateful to you for your interest in your health and well-being.
Thank you for your willingness to grow and thrive -You are each so unique and beautiful
I am grateful for your presence, your friendliness and caring hearts
Thank you for being a part of the Yoga Unlimited community.
I am grateful for the joyful simplicities that we share as we come together in Yoga.
May you feel Peace
and in the midst of complexity...
May you find Joy in the Simplicities of your Life.
October 25, 2016
Yoga at my 45th class reunion
- by Bonnie Showalter
45 years is a long time, lots of living in those years. Further schooling, the birth of children, the passing of friends, of parents, relationships gathering and dissolving, and everything in between. The ten thousand joys and sorrows of a lifetime.
So here I am at the Beverly Hills Tavern, getting acquainted with people I had not seen in a very long time - many that I had barely known in school. How to do this? I had definitely changed since I was a teenager. Very quickly realizing that we all had changed, and not just our appearances. Perhaps that is what fueled the connectivity.
So now it's a we. Here we all are at this 45th reunion gathering ...Yes we had some time for talking...and yet the words not seeming to do justice to all that had been experienced from 1972 to now. How could it? What could we possibly say that expressed all the moments of 45 years?
And then the music started and I knew what needed to be done. I had to dance! I had to dance with my classmates. Our stories were encoded in our bodies, our biology was our biography.. all those moments of our lives, encased in our flesh and bones, directing our hearts. I moved; we moved. We played, we swirled, we danced and we danced. Our bodies talked and we told our stories to one another.
The feel of an uplifting, as we huddled, swayed and laughed - goofy and serious -all at the same time. The powerful sharing of our lives, through our bodies, of all that we had gone through. We sang the songs from our high school years, finding rich common ground, so totally cool! A brief moment of a slight twinge, spying someone sitting by themselves...the coaxing them in to dance, wishing in those moments that no one be feeling outside this "family".
Wow! So rather than a re-union, it was a fist time union - with my class of 1972, at least for me. Our small groups and clicks of those high school days, so important back then, totally dissolved. And I knew that I was experiencing yoga in a most powerful way, the union of our humanity. I looked around and saw the faces of my comrades, and I was fairly certain that they felt it too.
I am left with gratitude for this feeling of connection, this Yoga. May my classmates be safe, be happy, be healthy and have ease until we reunite for our 50th!
October 25, 2016
RESTORATIVE POSES HELP RELIEVE THE EFFECTS OF CHRONIC STRESS IN SEVERAL WAYS.
- by Judith Lasater
First, the use of props provides a completely supportive environment for total relaxation.
Second, each restorative sequence is designed to move the spine in all directions. These movements illustrate the age-old wisdom of yoga that teaches well-being is enhanced by a healthy spine. Some of the restorative poses are backbends, while others are forward bends. Additional poses gently twist the column both left and right.
Third, a well-sequenced restorative practice also includes an inverted pose, which reverses the effects of gravity. This can be as simple as putting the legs on a bolster or pillow, but the effects are quite dramatic. Because we stand or sit most of the day, blood and lymph fluid accumulate in the lower extremities. By changing the relationship of the legs to gravity, fluids are returned to the upper body and heart function is enhanced. Psycho-biologist and yoga teacher Roger Cole, PhD, consultant to the University of California, San Diego, in sleep research and biological rhythms, has done preliminary research on the effects of inverted poses. He found that they dramatically alter hormone levels, thus reducing brain arousal, blood pressure, and fluid retention. He attributes these benefits to a slowing of the heart rate and dilation of the blood vessels in the upper body that comes from reversing the effects of gravity.
Fourth, restorative yoga alternately stimulates and soothes the organs. For example, by closing the abdomen with a forward bend and then opening it with a backbend, the abdominal organs are squeezed, forcing the blood out, and then opened, so that fresh blood returns to soak the organs. With this movement of blood comes the enhanced exchange of oxygen and waste products across the cell membrane.
October 25, 2016
BEYOND MEDS - ALTERNATIVES TO PSYCHIATRY
About Yoga and the Vagus Nerve - By Gopi Rao
Sometimes we refer to our instinctive wisdom as “gut feelings.” Maybe we don’t know why we feel the way we do or how we know the answer to a question. We just do. Some of us chalk it up to instinct or a sixth sense while others discount the phenomenon altogether. Could there be a scientific explanation? The answer may be the vagus nerve, a physical link to the mind-body connection.
What is the vagus nerve?
The vagus nerve starts in the brain stem and goes all the way to the colon. It returns sensory information from the throat and the intestines to the brain. According to researchers, it is, in fact, the internal eye that connects the mind to the body.
How is the vagus nerve related to Yoga?
The vagus nerve literally activates the parasympathetic nervous system – the mechanism that controls involuntary actions and affects mood. Doctors sometimes implant vagus nerve stimulators into patients with treatment-resistant depression, but a Yoga practice can produce some of the same effects.
Researchers at U. C. Berkeley question whether the vagal nerve bundle is also the body’s center for compassion while alternative health practitioners more often associate it with the chakra system or Kundalini.
How does Yoga stimulate the vagus nerve?
Asana (Poses) We know that Yoga postures activate the parasympathetic nervous system by massaging the organs, improving circulation, relaxing muscles, and quieting the mind. They not only serve as moving meditations, but they also prepare the body for meditation during Corpse Pose.
Pranayama (Controlled Yogic Breathing)When we breathe deeply and slowly, we stimulate the vagus nerve. Although breathing is a part of poses and meditation, it is also a limb of Yoga in itself. Techniques range from simple to complex, but most are easily learned.
Mantra (Chanting) The vagus nerve controls physical functions in the throat, larynx and ears - the area known as the throat chakra. (The vagus nerve may also be responsible for the proverbial “lump in the throat.”) Chanting or listening to chants energizes nerves in the throat area and releases blocked energy.
Imagine a pill proven to release neurotransmitters, promote feelings of good will, release tension, and improve health. We would be standing in line to buy it. Why not try Yoga instead?