Healthy Holidays

13 12 2012

The holiday season is fast approaching. Christmas decorations are on the shelves, the must-have toys are advertised on TV, and images of sugar plums are dancing in my head. I enjoy the holidays, but sometimes the hustle and bustle can make me feel stressed and run-down. You would think the season would be a time of joy and excitement, but with the lack of sunshine due to the shorter days, my mood can tend to lean towards the gloomy side, if I am not careful. This is when I need to take care of my immune system to avoid getting sick.

Sleep is important. During the holidays my routine may be  interrupted by changes at work, get-togethers with family and friends, kids coming home, which then my concern is not only sleeping, but getting enough sleep. Personally, I know I need 7-8 hours of sleep to function during the day. If I am unable to reach the 7 hours, I try to take a half hour power nap sometime during the day. I have even taken 10-15 minute naps in my car. You would be surprised what those few minutes of relaxation can do.

Diet is a tricky thing for me to control at this time of year. When I say diet, I don’t mean I am trying to lose weight. By diet, I am suggesting a way of life. My goal most days is to eat as healthy as possible, knowing there will be days that I veer off course. But, I have found that if I am consistent with my diet 80-90% of the time, I can easily get back on track. So, when I am looking over the buffet of food I am tempted with only once a year, I enjoy myself in moderation.

Learn to say “No”. This is a suggestion where you do as I say, not as I do. I am not good at saying “no”. I enjoy helping others and want to please, sometimes at the expense of my own mental and physical health. During the holidays, it is easy to try to squeeze one more thing onto the agenda: one more gift to buy, one more cookie to bake, another party to attend. I am learning to think twice before committing myself to something I may regret and causes undue stress. I pick and choose want to do rather than what I feel obligated to do.

I love to shop. I don’t mind the crowds, but then I have never ventured out the day after Thanksgiving. Shopping online has become a great way for me to comparison shop, or to find an item that wasn’t available at the store, or to make a purchase when I don’t have the time to shop. One of my friends does all her shopping online. Another friend tries to avoid crowded stores that are packed with all types of germs. To each his own.

Exercise. Now, as much as any other time of year, it is important for me to keep up with my workout routine. It keeps me mindful of my eating, my sleep, my energy, and my mood.

Lastly, I need to set aside time for myself, time to relax. A good book, a bath, mediation can be forms of relaxation to rejuvenate and refresh. We all need to take care of ourselves. Listen to your body for signs of a cold or sluggishness and respond with some self care.

 Tammy’s Challenges

Mind: Attempt to sleep 7-8 hours per night.

Body: Maintain your workout routine as much as possible.

Soul: Choose to “taste” the holiday treats or share with a friend.

I would love to hear from you.  Contact me through email at Tammy@TammYoga.com and Facebook at TammYoga and Twitter @TammYoga.

Namaste

Tammy

 





Cranberry Juice

6 12 2012

Cranberries, the small deep red, sweet fruit has some big health benefits. Some areas of the US list it as a superfruit, or a fruit with numerous health benefits.

You may have seen the cranberry juice commercial with the two guys standing in a cranberry bog. Many cranberries are water-harvested, floating in bogs, which makes it easier to harvest. But, this way of harvesting also promotes phytonutrients in the berry and gives it the beautiful red color, by exposing it to the natural sunlight. Increasing the sunlight also increases the amounts of anthocyanins, which provide the greater health benefits.

What are some of the benefits of this little berry?

Traditionally, cranberry juice has been used as a natural way to reduce or eliminate bladder infections. The berries have been found to inhibit bacteria from accumulating on the walls of the urinary tract, preventing infection.  Drinking the juice daily, may prevent the infections all together.

Reducing dental plaque is another benefit of cranberry juice. The juice inhibits the growth of bacteria that causes plaque in the mouth. Eliminating plaque will keep your teeth and gums healthy, fresh, and clean.

Medical research is ongoing to see if cranberry juice may help to prevent kidney stones. Cranberries naturally rid the body of bacteria and waste, which makes sense they may even prevent kidney stones to form. We shall see…

Watch the sugar content of the cranberry juice. Juice with no added sugar will contain higher concentrations of antioxidants, making it a better choice than sweetened versions. Unsweetened, the juice may seem tart to taste. But, the concentration of phytochemicals providing all these benefits make it more beneficial. Try adding it to smoothies, water, or other no sugar added juices to offset the tartness. Or course, the greatest concentration of health benefits will be found in the raw cranberry. The juice is more readily available year round and may be easier to consume on a regular basis.

Tammy’s Challenges

Mind: Eat with your non-dominant hand all day for one day. This will help you to focus on your meal and slow down between bites. This will give you time to chew between bites and let your stomach and brain connect to listen to the body’s signal of fullness.

Body: Look for cranberry juice (no sugar added) when shopping for groceries. Learn to read labels to reduce sugar in your diet.

Soul: Have your last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime. This will give your body a chance to digest the meal before lying down, which will make for a more restful sleep.

I would love to hear from you.  Contact me through email at Tammy@TammYoga.com and Facebook at TammYoga and Twitter @TammYoga.

Namaste

Tammy





Mindful Eating

19 11 2012

“Food and emotional nourishment are intimately bound together in the depths of our unconscious. Just as you might fill an inner emptiness with food, so you can reject or deny your needs, and therefore reject food, in the misbelieve that the smaller the body the less the longing for love.” Deb Shapiro, Your Body Speaks Your Mind

Eating mindfully is not a diet or special formula for weight loss, but a way to live in the moment and notice behaviors that may not be serving us. Most of these behaviors have become habitual reactions to common triggers we encounter throughout our day.

One trigger may be stress. Stress is our body’s way of redistributing energy: our hearts start to race, our blood sugar rises, and we are more alert. This is good if it is for a short period of time, but our lifestyles have put our body’s stress mode into overdrive. This causes the adrenal glands to produce higher than normal levels of cortisol, which has been linked to increased weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area.

Sleep may be a cause for some that deal with weight problems. Too much or too little sleep has been proven to increase hormones that affect our ability to read the signs of hunger and fullness.

There is no easy or quick way to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. You may need to go deeper into your current patterns for dealing with stress. Do you eat to feel better? What feelings do you associate with certain foods? What foods do you eat to suppress feelings of anger or loneliness? What is preventing you from breaking through these habits?

Tammy’s Challenges

Mind: Examine your feelings about your body, relationships, and other areas of your life. Are these feelings true? Begin to notice negative thoughts running through your mind and replace them with life-affirming thoughts to heal those feelings. It may not be easy at first, but you may be surprised at the thoughts that may be keeping you from being the person you would like to be.

Body: Focus on a healthy body. Find exercise that you like to do. Realize that what you are capable of may not be what your spouse or friend is able to do. Your body is built different, you are at different places in your life, but you are doing what you know to be best for you.

Make room for plenty of rest.

Explore ways to reduce stress: yoga, meditation, journal, etc., and incorporate them regularly into your daily life.

Soul: Spend time to discover your passion. What do you enjoy doing? What do you do well? Explore your passion and share it with others. Send that positive, loving energy out into the world.

How are you taking care of yourself?

Namaste

Tammy





Legs Up the Wall Reduces Stress

19 08 2012

It just takes five minutes in Legs Up the Wall pose to relieve stress. Sometimes I like to end my yoga session with Legs Up the Wall, or midday to rejuvenate my body and mind. This pose is considered an inversion pose and all inversion poses help to clear the mind. Situations, relationships, and we take on a new perspective when we are looking up, rather than down.

Practiced regularly, Legs Up the Wall may help to:

 Calm the mind

 Relieve low back tension

 Aid in relieving minor anxiety and depression

 Ease stress on the adrenal glands

 Reduce swelling and cramping in the legs and feet

 Aid in digestion

 Relieve minor headaches

 May help regulating blood pressure

 Insomnia

 May relieve some symptoms of menopause and PMS

CAUTION: Legs up the wall is generally not recommend for those menstruating, with eye problems, with neck or back problems, after third month of pregnancy, and anyone with heart problems. Check with your yoga teacher first. during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis.

Moving into Legs Up the Wall:

Before beginning, you may want to have a blanket or two handy to use, if needed for support. Remember, comfort is important.

1: Stand next to wall with your left shoulder and left hip against the wall. Sit to the floor with the shoulder and hip remaining against the wall. (Option: place a folded blanket close to the wall and place buttocks on blanket when sitting.)

2: Swing around to bring your bottom up close to the wall and legs reaching up the wall towards the ceiling. Lower back and head to the floor. (Option: If using a blanket, position hips comfortably on blanket to relieve any back or leg discomfort.)

3. Move hips away from the wall if hamstrings are tight or lower back is uncomfortable. (Option: Bring soles of the feet together, bend knees out to the sides, and slide outside edges of feet down the wall towards the pelvis.)

4. Make sure the neck is comfortable. A folded towel under the head or neck may be helpful.

5. Arms are placed out to the sides away from the body with palms up. (Option: Body temperature may drop slightly. A blanket to cover up with may be helpful.)

6. Close the eyes and breathe deeply. Inhale and exhale slowly, filling and expelling the lungs.

7: After 5- 10 minutes, bring knees toward chest and roll to your right side. Remain on the right side and take 2-3 deep breaths before sitting up slowly.

Experiment with the blankets and positioning of the hips and legs.

Need to de-stress before going to bed? Grab a blanket and head for the nearest wall.

Tammy’s Challenges

Mind: Do what is necessary to be able to sleep 8 hours each night.

Body: Trade workout DVDs with a friend or borrow one from the library. Ask a friend to join you!

Soul: Smile at yourself each time you look in the mirror. You must love yourself before anyone else is able to love you.

Namaste

Tammy





Shavasana – Final Relaxation

11 03 2012

Why is it so hard to relax? Shavasana, final relaxation, is the last pose in a yoga session, where we quiet our mind and body. It is the toughest pose to master! You are lying in your back, legs stretched out on the mat, wider than your hips, arms by your sides, away from the body, palms up. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath, following the inhale and exhale of your breath. Other thoughts will come into your mind, acknowledge them, release them, coming back to the breath. Try it just for 5 minutes.

Try it. It’s harder than you think. Most of us multi-task all day. Doing nothing could be the toughest thing we tackle today. But, the rewards are worth the effort: restful sleep, clearer thoughts, mental focus, less anxiety, the list is endless.

People have such a hard time with Shavasana, that some will even leave class at this time. Some think it is a waste of time. They came for the workout, but do not realize that the poses were designed to tire the body to be able to do Shavasana and quiet the mind.

Next yoga class, keep in mind the most rewarding part will be Shavasana.