Category Archives: Therapy & Benefits

A Meditation Practice IS Yoga

In the Western world, too often, yoga means physical fitness practice. People focus on mastering a pose, or hope to work up a sweat in a yoga class. But, that’s not what yoga really is. Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras wrote Sthira Sukham Asanam. To me, that means stillness in your seat, or space. Sounds much more like a meditation practice to me.

That’s also, why I tend to encourage Yin, Restorative, and Kundalini styles of yoga to my students. There’s great stillness in the first two, and mantra meditation, mudras and breath work are fundamental in Kundalini.

Likewise, I’m happy to announce a meditation and kundalini retreat at The Namaste Getaway in Wimberley, November 15-17. A few spaces are still available.

Following are personal testimonials from me, and Carrie Edmond, a meditation pro who’s leading the retreat.

My Meditation Practice

meditation

My personal path to “yoga,” began with meditation. Having struggled with digestive issues since childhood, early on, I experienced the benefits of stillness. Stillness of body. And mind.

When I added Hatha asanas to my practice, stillness of body and mind was crucial. Basically, my personal asana practice became a meditation practice. With movement.

Off the mat, I also adhere to a meditation practice. Daily, I practice japa mantra meditation. Plus, I have a labyrinth on my property for walking meditation. And, a creek for sound meditation. Finally, for traditional silent meditation, I switch between my deck, my yoga room, or my tree house.

Over the years, I’ve taken many a meditation class or workshop, across the country. In San Antonio, I found Carrie Edmonds. She is unique in the way that she tries to pass the torch. On the one hand, she educates others to lead meditation. At the same time, she is expert at making meditation enjoyable and easy to practice.

Carrie’s Meditation Practice

journaling at The Namaste Getaway in Wimberley

“Meditation is an essential part of my life,” notes Carrie, who has been making meditation accessible to San Antonio public school kids for many years.

“Since I was very young, I have experienced intense anxiety. Before I learned to meditate and developed my own practice, life often felt chaotic, overwhelming and unmanageable. Through meditation practice, I have become more aware. With this awareness, I have found an ever-present ability to notice, and allow, in a way that reduces suffering and confusion.”

“Life still offers all its joys and challenges,” continues Carrie. “But my relationships, especially to those uncomfortable hard moments, are easier to navigate. I have learned to embrace the full human experience. I have also seen first hand how others have found healing, peace and a sense of freedom through their own meditation practice.”

Carrie’s Meditation Retreat

meditation at The Namaste Getaway

Joining Carrie, November 15-17, will be Angela Harper. Angela is a San Antonio-based KRI-certified Kundalini instructor. The retreat is designed to help nurture women. In part, because women, too often, don’t have the bandwidth to nourish themselves. The retreat will help ladies to explore the dynamic energy of the feminine. Plus, nourish the body and mind through Kundalini, meditation, gong, Reiki, journaling, healthy foods, and more.

“I love when women come together in this way to share, explore and learn from one another,” adds Carrie. “By applying what we share and learn from each other, we can go back into our daily lives with inner resources along with the collective wisdom to thrive and be in service to others.”

To register, for more information, or links to articles on Reiki and meditation, visit Carrie’s Facebook event page. Or, read more on the health benefits of meditation on my blog. Note: Photos are from The Namaste Getaway, just an hour from Austin, or San Antonio.

yoga and meditation for stress

Yoga and Meditation Beat Stress

When Sat Bir Singh Khalsa told the chairman of the department of physiology that he wanted to focus on yoga for his grad studies, he was met with complete skepticism. That was many years ago.  Today, he is one of the nation’s leading researchers on yoga and meditation. Affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Dr. Singh Khalsa has partnered with prestigious facilities worldwide to be able to unequivocally prove the merits of yoga and meditation on humans.

He acknowledges that he was on the tipping point before there was any tip. Today, he says, 10 percent of the population practices yoga, and about 15 percent have some form of mind/body practice. So, there’s a great need to understand the physiology of yoga and meditation.

Stress Surrounds Us

yoga and meditation for stress

Through his research, as well as his role with the International Association of Yoga Therapists, he has pushed the agenda so that the merits of yoga and meditation are pretty much widely acknowledged. He says that both science and research are supporting the trend for yoga becoming mainstream. It’s a welcome addition in many a school and hospital nowadays, in part due to stress, which seems to be everywhere. 

“Teachers, parents, are burned out. We don’t have skills to cope with stress. We are in a time where stress is a big problem. I think it underlies many of our problems in modern society.   Stress pays a huge role in many conditions. Not only is stress highly prevalent, but it’s getting worse. This whole political climate is not helping,” Dr. Singh Khalsa noted at a workshop I attended in Austin.   

yoga and meditation for stress

“Our social structure has changed over the last few decades. The idea of being overextended is the norm. Being accessible 24/7.” He explained that social interaction is more prevalent on screens, rather than in person. Again, that’s the norm now. Along with everyday scenarios that can cause stress. An alarm clock doesn’t ring. Your boss says you’re fired. On the highway, you narrowly escape an accident. Or, there’s a bottleneck. “These challenges are part of life, and there are life-learning challenges.”

“One person’s stress is another’s nightmare. And, it can change over time.” A kid may get a thrill out of a roller coaster ride, Dr. Singh Khalsa says, but that same thrill for a senior citizen is not a thrill. Rather, they could literally get a panic attack. 

Yoga and Meditation Vs. Maladaptiveness

Dr. Singh Khalsa pointed to a study at UT. An almost unbelievable 90 percent of students said they had “unbearable stress.” More concerning, only five percent said the had the tools to manage stress. “A high percentage of people will say they have no one to talk to about problems. We are social animals. If we don’t do that (interact), we suffer the consequences.”

So, what gives? Something has to give. Though those cracks, problems arise. People reach for what isn’t the solution. Drugs. Tobacco. Alcohol. Junk food. They don’t, or can’t, get adequate restful sleep. These are some of the improper ways people respond to stress. Maladaptiveness becomes the norm, said Dr. Singh Khalsa. The need to take substances to alter the senses, which of course do not address the issues at hand.  

While Singh Khalsa acknowledged that short term (acute) stress has its benefits, such as boosting performance or the immune system, sustained long term stress can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. “You need stress in your life to keep you engaged…but not overwhelmed.” 

Yoga and Meditation a Boon

yoga and meditation for stress

According to evidence-based research done in conjunction with Yoga Yoga in Austin, Dr. Singh Khalsa confirmed that it didn’t take long for perceived stress to go down among those that practiced yoga. Not surprisingly, yoga and meditation enables you to respond in a positive manner to stress. In fact, evidence points to a resiliency factor. “You’re giving yourself more resistance (with yoga). You’re becoming a super human. You need to be a Ferrari versus a Lada.”

Our bodies are physical bodies. Regular exercise WILL make you feel better, affirmed the doctor.  

“We spend most of our time sitting on a couch which leads to no resistance. We live in a society that’s becoming increasingly sedentary. I think one of the best mind/body practices is yoga. When we relax our muscles there is a psychological effect. That is what yoga is doing. Mind/body awareness is key in yoga.  Yoga is like cognitive behavior and exercise. Plus, it’s conducive to reducing more stress than exercise, alone. Mind/body exercise can REVERSE fight or flight, and it gives you the skill to do that on an ongoing basis.

Case in Point

yoga and meditation for stress

Sat Bir Singh Khalsa showed excerpts from a 2017 Facebook Live conference, A Nation Under Pressure.  Former U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy spoke to the director of NIH, about the merits of yoga and meditation, in particular.  Dr. Murthy acknowledged he had reviewed cases of how mindfulness made significant differences in schoolchildren.

In particular, one school he visited in California. It was in a high crime district with 50 murders in one year. Bodies were even dumped on the school grounds. Out of desperation, the school began incorporating meditation.  There was a marked reduction in violence and increase in students’ performance. The principal noted improvement within just two weeks. Over one year, the suspension rate was reduced 45 percent. Parents said, “what’s going on here? (My kid’s) not lashing out like he used to.” Kids recognized the benefits, too. As a result, 95 percent of the kids signed up for meditation the next term. 

Finally, Dr. Singh Khalsa spoke about the cost benefits of yoga and meditation. Especially with the soaring costs of medical care, breath and body work should be a no brainer to put on the doctor’s Rx. Inquire about The Namaste Counsel’s Chill Out series.

Yoga for self confidence, according to Ekam Yogashala in Rishikesh

Yoga for Self-Confidence

This Yoga for Self-Confidence guest blog is by Devakar Sandhu of Ekam Yogashala in Rishikesh, India

Yoga for Self-Confidence: Answers are Within

Self confidence is an attribute that everyone must have. If someone wants to be truly happy and content in their life, it is important to be confident. It helps in not getting stuck in the negative cycle of doubts, fear or a lack of self belief. If a person lacks self confidence, he can come off as weak and vulnerable to getting upset or anxious. Additionally, confidence and positivity can help a person in getting through anything. Therefore, everyone must work on their self confidence. Consider yoga for self-confidence.

Yoga for self confidence, according to Ekam Yogashala in Rishikesh

To put this simply, all the answers we seek from outside are already within us. Furthermore, it is all a matter of trusting the abilities to access all those answers. Tap into yoga for self-confidence. With regular practice, one can learn the art of turning inward. Yoga helps us to seek answers to any difficult situation with great self confidence and positivity.

Yoga is an ever evolving journey of self love, and gaining confidence. The philosophy of yoga teaches everyone that all the answers we need are within us. No matter what happens. If we continue practicing yoga then self confidence will always be there. It is just a matter of slowing down, getting quiet and paying attention to the wisdom that lies within. By doing so, we can gain a lot of clarity about all that is needed to get out of a difficult situation. 

Yoga Changed My Life

Yoga for self confidence, according to Ekam Yogashala in Rishikesh

I was depressed with a broken relationship, a huge student loan, and a job I hated. As a result, I got trapped in the vicious cycle of self loathing. What’s more, there seemed no solution for all these problems. At this point, I decided to go for a yoga teacher training in Rishikesh for a getaway. After one week practicing yoga every day, I experienced a deep sense of calmness after the longest time. I began practicing yoga religiously after my yoga teacher training. Most importantly, it changed my life in the real sense of the word. 

In addition to gaining a strong sense of self, it also helps in knowing what it feels like to become one with the universe. Once it comes into a person’s life, there’s no looking back. Even if it is a phase when a person might be at their lowest in life, yoga works wonders in no time. To give you an example, I will narrate my own personal experience about yoga for self-confidence.

Yoga for self confidence, according to Ekam Yogashala in Rishikesh

To begin with, I achieved this profound balance of physical, mental and spiritual state of being. Next, my stumbling personality improved. Soon, I gained immense self confidence. The yoga for self-confidence manifested in many ways. I started becoming aware of almost everything. Additionally, I consciously gained the energy to face any problem head on and find solutions to it. Most importantly, yoga gave birth to my spiritual identity. It invoked power within me. I started understanding the deeper meaning of life, and understood that life is meant to be lived joyously.

However, yoga is a practice that takes dedication and time. Regular practice of yoga made me understand the importance of these two things like never before. I started investing my time wisely, with utmost dedication, and started completing all the responsibilities and tasks on time. This made a huge difference in the way my goals and checklist started getting completed. Rather, I was able to mark my priorities in life well.

Yoga Changed My Students’ Lives

Yoga for self confidence, according to Ekam Yogashala in Rishikesh

I decided to teach yoga when I understood how significant and life changing yoga can be. So many people need it today. Every day, I see lives changing in front of me. I see people gaining control of themselves and realizing the power they have over their problems. There is an immense sense of satisfaction that comes when I see people winning in life because of the power of awareness.

Finally, it has been five years since I experienced the power of yoga for self-confidence. Now, I am a proud certified teacher in Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga and Kundalini yoga. Undoubtedly, this was the best decision of my life. In part, due to the effects of yoga and self-confidence. 

In conclusion, yoga has helped me embrace myself, and gain control over my life completely. I am happy and content today. Moreover, I love myself and treat my life as a divine gift because of yoga. If it had not been for yoga, I don’t know where I would be in the journey of my life. Just as yoga has changed my life, I plan to change the lives of as many people as possible. Empower them to build self confidence. Make them fall in love with themselves, and their life.

About the Author

Yoga for self confidence, according to Ekam Yogashala in Rishikesh

Devakar Sandhu is one of the most passionate yogis and avid travelers. Working with Ekam Yogashala he aims to spread the divine knowledge of yoga amongst as many people as possible.  Ekam Yogashala hosts yoga teacher training, retreats and workshops in Rishikesh, Nepal and Kerala, India. The primary aim of Devakar is to help people evacuate anxiety, strain and undesirable contemplations. He advocates growing one’s very own consciousness. 

All images are from Ekam Yogashala, Rishikesh teacher training, yoga or meditation retreats.

women's empowerment circle at Govardhan EcoVillage in rural India

Women’s Empowerment: In India and the U.S.

The Namaste Counsel is hosting a WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT RETREAT with Sita Devi Dasi, September 21, as well as Community Kirtan September 22. The retreat will focus on sisterly sangha and soaking up the prana in serene Wimberley. Sita Devi Dasi heads the Women’s Empowerment program at Radhanath Swami’s Govardhan Eco Village. The eco-village is an award-winning 100-acre spiritual sanctuary in rural India. The following summarizes her thoughts about women’s empowerment.

The Need for Women’s Empowerment in India

Govardhan Eco Village in India
Govardhan Eco Village

Women’s Empowerment is the need of the hour in today’s world. Not just in India, but all over the world. Obstacles that affect women in India, are many, Sita says. Gender inequality, male domination, institutionalized inequalities, inadequate education and even schoolhouses. In the end, limited job opportunities.

As a result, women need that extra support and encouragement. Therefore, women’s empowerment is often about women coming together. Women helping each other financially, emotionally and socially. In the cities, the women at least have better opportunities, a support system and access to a viable education. However, rural women are the most underprivileged and neglected. Usually, they are not literate. Consequently, there is a greater need in rural communities for women’s empowerment programs.

Women’s Empowerment in the West: Me Too

women's rights are human rights

There is a need for women’s empowerment in the U.S., too. At first glance, women appear more privileged, and have greater resources and opportunities in the States. However, emotionally and socially, women are still exploited. The #MeToo movement calls it out. There is mental, physical and sexual exploitation which American women face at the hands of the opposite sex. Women are not given the merited respect or dignity. In the workplace, they often have to outperform their male counterparts, and then are victimized by sexual harassment. 

This greatly undermines a woman’s confidence and self esteem. She feels lost and discouraged. Therefore, it’s about time for women to come together, support and speak out for each other. Give one another mental and emotional support to fight together and command respect and dignity. 

Women’s Empowerment: Spiritual Too

Govardhan Eco Village in India
Govardhan Eco Village

Furthermore, women, when spiritually enlivened and realized, can become the true leaders and role models of society.

As a case in point, consider Tulsi Gabbard. This 2020 U.S. Presidential candidate served honorably in the military. She was raised in, and continues to lead, a highly spiritual life. All the while, maintaining a high degree of femininity. 

We can all benefit from spiritual women’s empowerment.

Realize one’s true spiritual potential. Use one’s feminine power to come together and create a powerful force that can bring transformation in the world today. Women can support and pacify each other like no other man can ever think of doing. Instead of wasting one’s time competing with men, women should come together, strengthen our true feminine qualities and work productively.

Govardhan Eco Villag
Govardhan Eco Village

All scriptures in the world speak about the exalted position of the woman. Great saints and seers emphasized this.

But, still, women today struggle to get dignity and honor.

Worse, there is a growing trend of crimes against women. Rapes and assaults are common news in every newspaper. This is due to the moral and spiritual degradation. Western culture focuses on exploitation and sense enjoyment. Hence, men see women as objects, and not as people.

The need is to awaken and educate women spiritually. Then, women can impact society and hopefully bring forth a generation of men who respect all women and not see them as objects for enjoyment.

Sita’s Women’s Empowerment Program in India 

Womens empowerment at Govardhan EcoVillage in India
Womens empowerment program teaches sewing at Govardhan EcoVillage

A trained dentist, Sita launched her first free dental clinic six years ago. She was part of the community living and working at Govardhan EcoVillage, several hours outside of Mumbai. Here, she saw the dire need for dentistry— and more. 

Sita met with the village women who were all farmers. First, she chatted with them. She listened to their stories. As a result, she realized that they needed so much help. Both financially and socially. They were a very neglected section of the society. These rural women had minimum means, and resources. She was inspired to make a difference in their lives. That’s how the Women’s Empowerment and Skill Development Program connected to the Govardhan EcoVillage was launched.

Another important aspect was to teach them income-producing skills. Among the areas that took off were sewing, handicrafts, incense and candle making.

Next, Sita established self help groups in each village. Groups of 10 women opened joint bank accounts. More importantly, they learned the importance of saving money, and helping each other financially.

One Village’s Success Story 

Womens empowerment at Govardhan EcoVillage in India
Women’s Empowerment Group painting handcrafted items — most had never before held a pen, pencil or paintbrush

The women of Dhusal Pada village are relegated to work in the fields, and stay at home. The first year, Sita’s program taught them to paint terracotta lamps. Most, were holding brushes for the first time, as they had never gone to school. With practice, they painted with such expertise that their work was so appreciated — and purchased. Now, they have a steady source of income from their handcrafts. 

That has made a great difference among the men of the village, to boot. The men now respect the females as earning members of the home. More importantly, the women feel more confident and encouraged.

While Sita has invested her time and energy with this program for the last six years, she’s also reaping many benefits.  She says she feels blessed and privileged to be part of the women’s empowerment movement. Moreover, she considers she has benefitted far more than them. Now, she has a higher purpose in her life. What’s more, she feels closer to her soul, and God. Sita recalls Mahatma Gandhi’s words. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Power in Unity

Womens empowerment at Govardhan EcoVillage in India
Items made by Women’s Empowerment Group at Govardhan EcoVillage

Americans can reach across the ocean and help empower these women in India. Sita invites Westerners to visit the rural women of India. Connect with these ladies.  Sit with them. Sing with them. Dance together. Encourage them by making them feel valued and appreciated. By doing this you too will feel valued. Perhaps, you, too, will find the real purpose of life.

If traveling to India isn’t on your agenda, support Sita’s initiatives. There will be at least two “trunk shows” in the Austin/Hill Country area September 20-22. Contact Deborah for viewings of the women’s hand crafted items.

Finally, Sita will be coming to Wimberley for a women’s empowerment boost in Texas. Contact Deborah for details, or book the Women’s Empowerment Retreat at The Namaste Getaway September 21, and Kirtan at Orange Moon Yoga on September 22.

“The next generation of women should understand the real power of women. I see them as the leaders of the future. They have the potential to achieve so much, but I feel that can only happen if the women come together in women’s circles and leadership circles. Women gain maximum strength from each other and also the worst enemy of a woman can again be a woman because we let a man come in between. So let us recognize our strength and that lies in our unity.” — Sita Devi Dasi

The Healer

As a child, they kiss your boo boo 

And it feels better.

When your ice cream cone falls to the ground 

You feel bad.

In school, when you score a 100,

A big smile, and feeling of pride, fills you up.

But, when Johnny calls you “funny face,” you hurt. 

Your mother’s spaghetti, or your dad’s grilled cheese, warm your tummy,

And give you a sense of completeness.

When you have a dry cough, a hot chocolate or honey with warm lemon juice is more soothing that anything from the pharmacy.

I am a warrior. I am a natural woman. I am a healer. 

The best heart surgeon cannot cure a broken heart. 

The man in the white coat with an office plastered with diplomas cannot strengthen your soul.

The “brilliant” MD cannot feed your ego what it has been lacking. 

The google search for cures doesn’t fulfill your quest for inner knowledge.

I am a warrior. I am a natural woman. I am a healer. 

The healer uses presence and balance to fill emotional holes.

The healer listens to the words…the silence…and the body…

With sensitivity.  Loving kindness. Non-judgement. 

The healer taps into the powers of the earth to minimize pain and dis-ease.

The healer allows tears to flow to wash away pain.

The healer respects and recognizes our planet’s power to heal,

The healer embraces one’s own powers to heal.

Dhanvantari, deity for Ayurveda

Om Namo Bhagavate Maha Sudarshana Vasudevaya Dhanvantaray

berries and cherries, best for low glycemic diets

Diabetics: Try Yoga with Low Glycemic Diet

yoga for blood sugar management

Like me, Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends a low glycemic diet, for blood sugar management. And, yoga.

“We are a nation in a diabetes crisis,” says Dr. Oz. “Over the course of my career, I’ve watched patients who were destined for diabetes completely rewrite their fate by losing weight and getting in shape,” he states. Dr. Oz and I recognize yoga as a holistic method to mend mind, body and spirit.

“Add diabetes prevention to the ancient art’s long list of health perks. Studies show that yoga increases the rate at which glucose moves from the blood into our cells. It also reduces levels of stress hormones, which can cause an accumulation of abdominal fat and interfere with the secretion of insulin.”

Case in point: me. Diabetes killed my mom. My aunt, uncle and grandmother were diabetic. Then, one day after re-reading my mom’s article in a diabetes magazine about her beginning insulin, I got the call.  It was my turn. Never mind that my weight was normal. Didn’t matter that I’d been watching sugar intake my entire life.  Ka-bam. The preachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda were clear.  We are all unique. We must find balance through diligent lifestyle management. Finding, and following, our own wellness regimen. Our dinacharya.

Fortunately, a great Ayurvedic doctor coached me. Way beyond a low glycemic diet. Today, I’m 61 years old. My vitals are perfect. I take zero meds.  

My blood sugar management approach goes far beyond drugs and calories. That’s why I created a therapeutic workshop series, The Sugar Drop, focused on blood sugar management. A low glycemic diet is just one component of my workshops. While extremely important, it’s not that simple. Which is why I’ll delve into that a bit, here.

Low Glycemic Diet — Not Always Fruit-friendly

Most people equate fruit with low calories and good health. An apple a day may seemingly keep the doctor away. However, for those of us with insulin resistance, or compromised production of insulin, we have to be careful with fruit. 

low glycemic fruits

For example, my personalized Ayurvedic diet, allows me to eat fruit only in the mornings. Furthermore, I don’t mix fruit with non-fruit. As a result, no smoothies.  No snacks of fruit and nuts. Nor, apples in my salads, or berries in my yogurt. Just a small serving of fresh fruit, ideally on an empty stomach.

Moreover, the types of fruit for those with blood sugar issues is critical. To me, fruit is fructose (sugar) packaged in different sizes, shapes, colors and degrees of sweetness. Among the worst offenders: bananas. I haven’t had one in a decade.  Fortunately, not all fruit are as sweet as bananas.  Bottom line: I opt for a low-glycemic diet–and an Ayurvedic approach molded to my needs.

Low Glycemic Diet: Index Vs. Load

Dr. Andrew Weil explains the importance of a low-glycemic diet. 

“The glycemic index ranks carbohydrate foods on the basis of how they affect blood sugar (glucose). This is important for many people because eating a lot of foods that rank high on the glycemic index will produce spikes in blood sugar that can lead over time to loss of sensitivity to insulin, the hormone needed to allow blood sugar to enter cells for use as fuel. When using the glycemic index as a guide to food choices, you also have to consider “glycemic load,” a measure of how many grams of carbohydrate a normal serving contains.” He gives examples of carrots and beets which have high glycemic indices, but low loads. 

berries and cherries, best for low glycemic diets

Hence, lemons, limes, berries and cherries are “good” fruits. The glycemic index for strawberries and blueberries are in the 40s. On the other hand, the glycemic index for fresh tart cherries is just 22. The load for strawberries and limes are equal. As low as you can go. One. Tart cherries are just a tad higher. Three. 

cherries for low glycemic diets

So, following a low glycemic diet approach, cherries are a winner to avoid sugar spikes. But now, studies are indicating that fresh cherries, and even tart cherry juice, can help regulate blood sugar. (Caveat: In my coaching, I place all juices and dried fruits in the same category. Do not consume.)

Moreover, my acupuncturist wants me to eat cherries, and other deep red foods like beets, to “build blood.” Similarly, my Ayurvedic doctor recommends pomegranates, which are also deep red in color.

Studies with Cherries

tart cherries for blood sugar management

A team of research nutritionists summarized findings* from around the world.  

“Consumption of cherries decreased markers for oxidative stress in 8/10 studies; inflammation in 11/16; exercise-induced muscle soreness and loss of strength in 8/9; blood pressure in 5/7; arthritis in 5/5, and improved sleep in 4/4. Cherries also decreased hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and triglycerides/high-density lipoprotein (TG/HDL) in diabetic women, and VLDL and TG/HDL in obese participants. Similarly, tart cherry juice and one of its main polyphenols known as chlorogenic acid inhibited enzymes α glucosidase and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 which are involved in promoting diabetes …there exists evidence to suggest that cherry consumption may promote healthy glucose regulation.”

If that’s hard to understand, Dr. Oz makes it simple. He raves about cherries. The famous TV personality advocates cherries to address pain, inflammation and sleep disorders. Even more impressive, he says cherries can reduce your risk of heart disease. Finally, Dr. Oz says cherries remind him of his boyhood. His grandfather had a cherry farm in Turkey, and they made cherry juice. Turkey, by the way, is the world’s largest producer of cherries. 

Cherryland USA

In the U.S., sweet cherries tend to be harvested in the Northwest. Conversely, tart cherries are primarily found in Michigan. However, Door County, Wisconsin at one time was called “Cherryland USA.”  Currently, Door County produces 8-15 million pounds of Montmorency cherries, annually, across 2,500 acres. 

I visited Door County last month, hoping to pick a few fresh tart cherries in the fields. Instead, I had a tour of the packaging plant at Sequist Orchards. Dale Sequist runs the largest cherry orchard in Wisconsin. His great-grandfather immigrated to Wisconsin from Sweden in search of religious freedom.  Ended up a cherry farmer.

“It didn’t take him long to realize this area was good for planting. He paid six cents a tree. All of a sudden, he had more cherries than he knew what to do with.”

The Sequists now harvest tart cherries on nearly 1,000 acres. To diversity, 30 acres are dedicated to apples and pears. Another 15 acres are for sweet cherries.

Fully embracing growth and technology, they no longer sell just simple cherries. The family now produces 75 different hand-poured specialty food items, including tart cherry juice. The others, most of which are not appropriate for diabetics include salsa, barbecue sauce, honey mustard and poppyseed salad dressing. All made with cherries.

“God has blessed us here, and I want to give him credit.”

* “A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries” March 2018 issue of Nutrients

gutsy yoga

Yoga and GI Disorders aka Gutsy Yoga

Gutsy Yoga. That’s the name of my signature workshops that explores yoga and GI disorders, helping people deal with digestive issues. (Note: A GUTSY YOGA workshop will take place at The Namaste Getaway Saturday, June 15.  Contact Deborah to register, or for details.)

I developed Gutsy Yoga, in part, because of my personal health history. And, my solution: Yoga and GI disorders. As an adolescent, I had all the testing done. Diagnosis:  irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  Then, as a young adult, I experienced flare ups whenever I went out to dinner with a certain set of people. Can’t say for sure if the trigger was the food, overeating, conversation, or company.

Yoga and GI Disorders: A Personal Story

Govind Das turned to yoga for his GI disorders

My worst experiences were while I was living and working, undocumented, in Mexico City, Once, in my true style, I endured severe pain until my class ended. I put my books and tapes in my backpack, and waited for a bus to take me to the nearest hospital ER. In Mexico, I practiced breathwork between sips of manzanilla tea, ideally at a beach or poolside. Not because I wanted to swim or sunbathe, but because I’d learned early on that many of our physical problems are emotional.

Unlike my Sarah Bernhardt sister, I held everything inside, causing havoc on my innards.

In retrospect, I have my tummy to thank for bringing me to the lotus pose. Once I had an established practice, my pains were few and far between. The last time I had too much pain to endure my asana practice, was the morning of my father’s burial. Never one to say ‘no,’ I carried most the responsibilities on my shoulders — and in my belly.

So, I understand the connection between the brain and the belly, and yoga and GI disorders. That’s why as a yoga therapist, I want others to make the connection between the different branches of yoga, the body and the brain and use the branches of yoga to heal their dis-eases.

The Story of Another Guy’s Yoga and GI Disorders

Govind Das is what some may call a Celebri-Yogi. He headlines at all Bhakti Fests, owns a popular yoga studio in Santa Monica, and has recorded CDs with his wife Radha.

This guy is the epitome of a calm, cool, collected, yogi. So I was curious when I heard that his path to yoga was similar to mine. Govind Das’ complications were severe. He suffered from ulcerative colitis and IBS, with some diagnosing the cause as the incurable Crohn’s. His antidote was a trifecta: yoga, bhakti and Ayurveda.

“Here I was, in my 20s… my body wasn’t working. I didn’t know what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life.” Govind Das recalls, “I had a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety. I felt there was so much more. My birthright is to be healthy and well. My spiritual self had been awakened, but I didn’t know how to express that. So, I walked into my first yoga class, ever, at 24. I walked out and I knew that yoga was going to be my avenue … my tool for healing.”

He was in a rut, but his inner wisdom knew the way out. As he delved deeper into yoga, he experienced teachers, Krishna Das, Jai Uttal and Ram Dass, all of whom led him toward Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaj-ji), who ultimately would become his guru.

Neem Karoli BabaGovind Das Turned to Yoga for Digestive Relief

“Everything was pointing to him,” recalls Govind Das. “Neem Karoli Baba said, ‘Suffering is Great.’ Our suffering, our challenges, push us to evolve. Illness. Financial struggles. They are not mistakes. There are no mistakes. If we see them as gifts, they are opportunities to grow.”

Govind Das‘ physical ailments were his opportunity for spiritual development.  “From that place of acceptance, we can start to put new routines in our life that produce karmic roots. We have to have a deep faith in that law. From that faith, our healing can take place.”

The bhakti embodiment of love and unity were appealing to him. Of course the road between a first yoga class and becoming a bhakta (devotee) is long. Likewise, overcoming years of ill health are not overturned like magic. After a certain period of time, his symptoms started to recede, and a new digestive system manifested. He took on a new identity, a new name, and a new view of life.

“It was mental, emotional and spiritual. It took a radical shift of my being, for that new being to take root in my body.” He learned to “Relax and feel your way into the journey. Let yourself flow into a vast ocean of love … A field of unified energy. Let it be a tool … An opportunity to come back to your essence.”

Govind Das Turned to Ayurveda for Digestive Relief

Thus, Govind Das turned to Ayurveda, which goes to the root of the problem and works to find the missing internal balance. His anxiety and fear, for example, are indicators of excess vata, as is IBS.  Moreover, he heeded his Ayurvedic doctor’s challenging Rx.

“I grew up eating tremendous amounts of white sugar and white bread. The large intestine is where it all ends up,” says Govind Das. So he adopted a more yogic and Ayurvedic way of eating based on whole, organic, unprocessed foods. Basically, ensuring there was more prana (life force) entering his body, and less tamassic or rajassic (aggravating) foods.

Swami Vishnu-Devananda

Swami Vishnu-Devananda

“My Ayurvedic doctor put me on a kitchari (mung beans with rice) diet for two years. It was 75 percent of my diet. The taste of kitchari is completely satisfying to the tastebuds. (Before,) I spent so much time wasting energy and time, thinking about what I was going to eat.  Mung dal is (the goddess) Lakshmi herself. Those yellow mung dal are golden. They’re very easy on the digestive system, balancing to pitta and vata.”

As is always the case with yoga therapy and Ayurveda, you need to constantly monitor your lifestyle. Nothing in life is constant, hence, imbalances can still arise.

“I consider myself healed, but it’s something I have to continually manage. The flare-ups in the past would last for years. Now, I know what I need to do. I believe so much of digestive stuff is related to emotional aspects of our lives. I think if anybody has digestive things going on, it’d be worth looking at that. Where is fear present in my life? Worry? Anxiety?”

Swami Vishnu-Devananda, who is responsible for bringing Sivananda Yoga to the western world, in one of his books, acknowledges the strong link between the emotions and the body. “Every emotion takes its toll on the body. The constant tension put on the mind owing to unnecessary worries and anxieties takes away more energy than physical tension. However one tries to relax the mind, one cannot completely remove all tensions and worries from the mind unless one goes to spiritual relaxation.”

Tibetan Medicine: Eastern Sages Seek Root Causes for Dis-ease

The Benefits of Tibetan Medicine

I am a yoga therapist because I don’t believe in band-aid medicine. Why take a pain killer to mask a problem? I’d rather address what’s causing the pain. My yoga therapy is rooted in eastern medicine. Seeking to find balance in body, mind and spirit. Hence, I attended a Tibetan Medicine workshop last month in Costa Rica. 

The Tibetan Medicine course was led by Dr. Rodolfo Paz. Dr. Paz is a medical practitioner who combines east with west. Research-oriented, he values clinical trials while respecting the ancient sages’ learnings.  

He describes allopathic medicine as symptomatic. It requires large teams and modern technology. Plus, strong synthetic drugs with side effects. Tibetan Medicine, along with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, are based on subtle, energetic and physical anatomy. The ancient life sciences attack the root issue. Eastern Medicine may be low tech. However, rich with thousands of years of case studies, and thousands of plant-based remedies that have no negative side effects.

He says dating back to the seventh century, the Tibetans were studying the human body. Not only externally or energetically, but examining cadavers as part of funeral rites. They recognized humans were comprised of 360 bones, 28 primary joints and 210 secondary ones, plus 35 million pores and 21,000 hairs. 

“It’s absurd that people take pills for their entire lives,” Dr. Paz said. As an example, he recalled his own childhood. He had severe migraines. His doctor prescribed heavy doses of meds from the time he was 12. Of course he was on a vicious cycle. Migraines and meds. Forever. Until he went East. Through Tibetan Medicine, they identified the imbalances…the root of his problems. Since he tried Tibetan Medicine, he hasn’t had another migraine.

Another Tibetan Medicine anecdote he share related to his girlfriend. Constipated for two weeks, she went to a large modern hospital in Dharmasala (the most Tibetan of Indian cities).  The doctor didn’t palpate her belly or order imaging. Rather, he checked her pulse. His diagnosis: liver imbalances. He treated her liver, and her digestion was back on track. 

Similarities between Ayurveda, TCM and Tibetan Medicine

Tibetan Medicine emerged as a fusion between TCM, Ayurveda, Greek Persian and its own widely practiced Tibetan Bon practices. 

Similarities between the Tibetan Medicine approach, and TCM and Ayurveda begin with the approach. They seek to identify imbalances and energetic centers, and identify root problems to achieve well being. Tibetan Medicine asserts that there are four four causes of illness. 1. Weather 2. Food 3. Behavior and 4. Subtle influences. Likewise, TCM and Ayurveda adopt approaches based on the above.

TCM talks of meridians. Ayurveda calls them nadis. In English, we may say channels whereby the prana, qi or life force circulate. Tibetan Medicine acknowledges 72,000 channels which include the veins, arteries, nervous systems and meridians which they call rtsa that transport tsog-lung (prana)

“The body without its life breath or tsong-lung, is nothing more than a cadaver or empty vessel,” Dr. Paz says. 

Three main channels, according to Tibetan Medicine are Uma, Roma and Rkyan Ma. Ayurveda recognizes three main nadis called Ida, Pingala and Shushumna. In Tibetan Medicine, one equates to solar, and the other lunar, which is the TCM yin/yang concept.  

Beyond the channels, there are both differences and similarities to what Ayurveda calls the doshas. Tibetan Medicine talks of three nyepas. Loong (air) travels along the 72,000 channels. In Ayurveda, vata equates toair plus ether. The other two Tibetan nyepas are mKrispa (fire) like the Ayurvedia pitta and BadKan is water and earth. Ayurveda also combines water and earth for kapha. Moreover, just as in TCM and Ayurveda, Tibetan Medicine focuses on balance. Dr. Paz explains that the three nyepas are vital forces that impregnate the subtle body and must be in balance for optimum wellbeing. 

Based on one’s dosha, one should follow certain diets. Just as in Ayurveda, there are six Tibetan “flavors” and a combination of those is recommended to help balance the doshas. For example, Loong should eat sweet, acidic and salty foods, along with more fats and proteins, whereas BadKa are encouraged to eat spicy, astringent and acidic foods, devoid of fats and mKrispa are the only ones better off with raw foods. Additionally, as in TCM and Ayurveda, rarely are people 100 percent one element.  To underscore that point, Dr. Paz says that there can be 106 different loong pulse readings.

Beyond the Doshas

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is buddhist-737198_640.jpg

Eastern medicine is complex.  You can’t just solve your life-long problems with a dosha reading.  For example, both Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine recognize five vayus (winds) that regulate the way energy and elements in the body move. This is actually why women on their cycle should not do inversions in yoga classes. Because it negatively affects the movement of bodily fluids and energy, according to Ayurveda.

The five Loongs, or vayus differ energetically from Ayurveda. 

  1. According to Dr. Paz, the first wind is life sustaining and is associated with the head, sense organs and thorax. This vital wind is responsible for breathing, swallowing and even mental clarity. 
  2. The second wind is an ascending one that circulates through the nose and mouth. It affects speech, memory and physical vigor. 
  3. Next is the wind that permeates or circulates through the blood and nervous system. Therefore, it’s responsible for growth, movement of the extremities and even subtle thoughts. 
  4. The fourth wind accompanies the “fire.” In Ayurveda, fire is responsible for digestion and assimilation of nutrients. The same is true for this Tibetan wind.
  5. The last is a downward wind, which is very important in Ayurveda. In Tibetan medicine, likewise, it helps to remove toxins or waste in the form of urine, feces and male or female fluids. 

Additionally, the eastern life medical practitioners identify five types of mKrispa (fire), and five types of BadKan (earth/water) in their patients. Dr. Paz explains that in Tibetan Medicine, the balance between these 15 aspects is what leads to mental and physical well being.  

“The cause of illness is ego. When the body is separated from its entorno or environment. That can lead to 84,000 psycho-emotional diseases.”

Energy and Electrical Impulses

Most yoga practitioners are aware of the chakras. Tibetan Medicine refers to tantric energetic hubs which coincide with the chakras. The ancients considered these more important than the nervous or vascular systems. What’s fascinating is that modern medicine aligns the chakras with the endocrine, adrenal, thyroid, pineal and pituitary glands. 

Dr. Paz says the Tibetans were way ahead of western medical practitioners. “They understood there were subtle energies. Electric energies and magnetic fields chakras that were more important than the veins or muscular systems.”

Unique to Tibetan Medicine is the recognition of the nyepas as types of electrical energy in the body, influenced by the moon. Tibetan Medicine practitioners spend seven years at the university studying electrical energies and breath. Through Tibetan pulse readings, doctors can detect not only tumors, but the growth of cancerous cells. 

With simple exercises we can bring electrical charges to the fibers and ions, Dr. Paz explains. For example, Kapalabhati (breath of fire) brings electrical charges to the liver. Additionally, the Tibetan Medicine system taps into TCM practices of acupressure points, cupping, moxibustion, needles and drainage (blood letting). However, the points are not identical to those in TCM.

Nanotechnology

Today, people want everything. All the time. Eastern medicine believes there’s a time and place for everything. Eat in season. Choose local. Additionally, Tibetan Medicine says you should only harvest when it’s time. Year-round crops don’t allow plants to regain their energy and nutrients. These practices date back to 600 Century BC. Today, modern medicine recommends some people avoid night shades. Tibetans always recognized the importance of where and when something was growing in relationship to the four coordinates.

New clinical trials are indicating that nanotechnology of propolis, for example, kills cancer cells. Likewise, nanotechnology of shilajit combats Alzheimer’s. Tibetan Medicine has followed nanotechnology concepts since the 13th century. The premise is that nano particles can enter and stimulate cells from within.

Not only did the ancients understand what is now called nanotechnology, or nanomedicine, but the Tibetans based medical principles on what we call quantum physics. There must be balance. And, matter is energy.

“The great fountain of youth is alive and well,” said Dr. Paz. 

abhyanga: auto masaje ayurvedico

El Masaje Ayurvédico para Protejer tus Huesos

La Salud Ósea y el Masaje Ayurvédico

El cuidado de los huesos, y prevención de la osteoporosis no sólo se trata de levantar pesas u otros ejercicios en los que se carga el peso del cuerpo.  Hay un método ayurvédico que es sencillo, y una forma de mimarse o cuidarte de ti mismo. Se lo puede llamar champi, sneha o abhyanga. Son costumbres tradicionales de masaje a la cabeza, articulaciones o todo el cuerpo. Próximamente, impartiré un taller con una práctica del auto masaje ayurvédico, abhyanga.  Se llevará a cabo a las 13h el 24 de noviembre en Sueños de Maya, San José, Costa Rica.

Tres formas de masaje ayurvédico

abhyanga: auto masaje ayurvedico con aceitesNo importa la palabra, champi, sneha o abhyanga, cada uno es un tratamiento de la medicina tradicional de la India.

  • La palabra champi significa frote o fricción. El libro “Masaje Champi” explica que “este masaje ha evolucionado a partir de las costumbres ancestrales que forman parte de los rituales del cuidado integral en la vida familiar de la India, siendo una de las tradiciones más arraigadas dentro de esta cultura.” Si la palabra sánscrito champi  te suena, es por que la referencia al masaje a la cabeza dio paso a la palabra champú. 
  • Sneha, significa ambos aceite, y amor, en sánscrito. Laura Plumb, autora de un libro de cocina ayurvédica, y anfitriona de un programa de televisión acerca de los vedas explica, “después de los años 40, es oleación, oleación y oleación.” 
  • Abhyanga refiere al auto masaje al cuerpo, especialmente a las articulaciones. La práctica de abhyanga normalmente utiliza aceite de coco o ajonjolí, a menos que tu constitución (dosha) indica un masaje con pólvora como trífala.  Según Laura Plumb, el ajonjolí es alto en antioxidantes y es un anti-inflamatorio. También es recomendable para los de la dosha vata, o en el invierno.

La relación entre el masaje ayurvédico y los huesos

abhyanga: auto masaje ayurvedico para la salud ósea“Masaje Champi” nota que el masaje limpia el sistema linfático para así deshacerse de las toxinas presentes en nuestro organismo. Además:

  • “Estimula el sistema parasimpático: facilitando el descanso corporal e incentivando la relajación y el sueño. 
  • Aumenta el flujo sanguíneo de la cabeza, el cuello y los hombros: favoreciendo la nutrición de los tejidos y la oxigenación a través de la circulación arterial, y contribuyendo a la eliminación de toxinas por vía venosa.
  • Libera los espasmos y las adhesiones en las fibras musculares: calmando las molestias y mejorando la capacidad de movilidad articular.
  • Disminuye la inflamación de los tejidos: aliviando el dolor y reduciendo la sobrecarga en huesos y articulaciones.”

Hay otro beneficio del champi. 

La terapia que yo ejerzo combina mucho la medicina tradicional china y el Ayurveda. Conociendo los puntos claves de la acupresión (estilo chino) se puede hacer un roce o presión suave con los dígitos o las yemas en los puntos apropiados para estimular los meridianos (canales energéticos o nadis en sánscrito) y sus órganos conectados. Por ejemplo, en mi estilo de yin yoga, miramos a los meridianos del riñón y la vesícula para tratar desequilibrios que puedan contribuir a la artritis o la ciática, entre otras enfermedades.   

Contrarrestando la vejez—empezando con los huesos

abhyanga: auto masaje ayurvedico El reconocido médico Deepak Chopra, en su libro “Grow Younger, Live Longer,” hace énfasis de lo dañino de las toxinas ambientales. “Puedes revertir tu edad biológica eliminando las toxinas de tu vida.”

Chopra, quien aprecia ambos la medicina alopática como el Ayurveda, informa: “Cada impulso de la vida se puede considerar en términos de si trae alimento o toxicidad. Los científicos ahora entienden que el daño tóxico a las células y tejidos es la consecuencia de los radicales libres que se forman cada vez que se metaboliza el oxígeno. Estos químicos hambrientos son indiscriminados sobre cómo reemplazan su electrón de misión, y eliminarán uno de cualquier fuente cercana, incluidas las proteínas, las grasas o las moléculas de ADN.

Explica Chopra que entre las enfermedades más comunes que se puede atribuir, en alguna parte, a las toxinas radicales libres son: el cáncer, enfermedades cardíacas, la diabetes, la artritis y la osteoporosis. Para minimizar el contacto con los radicales libres y así proteger los huesos y articulaciones, hay que evitar el tabaco, alcohol, comidas fermentadas o los productos añejos, las carnes ahumadas o cocinadas al carbón, demasiados aceites saturados o hidrogenados, y el estrés. Otras toxinas fuertes, dice Chopra, son la quimioterapia y la radiación. 

De igual manera, se puede hacer una limpiecita de las toxinas agregando antioxidantes a tu dieta. Por ejemplo: comidas con alto contenido de las vitaminas A, C y E, mas frutas y legumbres frescos, granos, legumes y nueces. Además, como se sugiere la medicina Ayurveda, hay que agregar muchas especias a su comida. Las que contienen más antioxidantes son la menta, jengibre, ajo, eneldo, semillas de cilantro, el tomillo, hinojo y la hierba salvia. Finalmente, Chopra recomienda la meditación pare reducir el estrés, y se entiende que el masaje brinde el mismo efecto. 

Algunas técnicas del masaje ayurvédico

kidney massageConsta que hay diferentes formas del masaje ayurvédico. En la mía, fijamos mucha atención a las articulaciones.  El libro “Masaje Champi” detalla algunas técnicas para los hombros y escapulares en particular.

  • Fricción palmar circular en los hombros: hazlo vigorosamente y con ritmo, ejerciendo una presión suave
  • Presión dígito-pulgar en los brazos: En cada una de las presiones, suelta el aire y libera la tensión; mantén cada una de las presiones entre 5-10 segundos
  • Fricción palmar en los brazos
  • Presión dígito-pulgar en los hombros
  • Roce palmar desde hombros hacia las manos
  • Fricción palmar desde hombros hacia los codos
  • Presión con antebrazos en los hombros
  • Presión con pulgares en los hombros
  • Percusión cubital sobre la cima de los trapecios
  • Presión con pulgares sobre los puntos sensibles en el trapecio
  • Deslizamiento palmo-digital en el trapecio
  • Presión con pulgar en el reborde inter-escapular
  • Presión con canto de la mano inter-escapular 
  • Deslizamiento palmo-digital inter-escapular, y en la escápula: 10 veces, subiendo y bajando, o en moción horizontal

Lee acerca del yoga y la artritis. Para participar en el próximo taller, o para concertar uno en tu comunidad, comunícate con The Namaste Counsel.   

Esther Vexler, San Antonio's Yoga Godmother

Yogaterapia para Huesos Saludables

En una publicación anterior compartí una experiencia personal que me llevó a una exploración sin fin: Yogaterapia para Huesos Saludables y la fuente de la juventud. Mi brújula me apuntó a un sinfín de libros, talleres y charlas. Entonces, ahora les paso mis trucos favoritos a mis estudiantes a través de una serie de talleres de Yogaterapia para Huesos Saludables. Es decir, la osteoporosis, la osteoartritis y la salud ósea en general. Lo llamo Dem Bones (Esos Huesos Saludables). La serie no se basa en las afirmaciones imposibles, sino en la investigación y el conocimiento de muchos terapeutas de yoga, muchos de los cuales son médicos.

Mi primera sesión de Esos Huesos Saludables fue en México, hace unos años. Mi próxima sesión sobre los huesos saludables es el 24 de noviembre en Sueños de Maya en San José, Costa Rica. Para registrarte en la sesión de noviembre, o para reservar sesiones privadas o talleres grupales, conéctate conmigo.

mantenerse joven con el movimiento y el yogaDem Bones (Esos Huesos Saludables)

Tendemos a pensar que es normal que nuestros huesos soporten el impacto del tiempo. Casi todos hemos visto los efectos de los años avanzados en los huesos. Una joroba de viuda. O, el abuelo que ya no es tan alto como solía ser. Dios no lo quiera que una persona mayor resbale y se caiga, ya que las articulaciones frágiles no pueden manejar lo que solían ser choques o golpes normales. Los reemplazos de cadera y rodilla le costaron a Medicare USD$7 mil millones en 2013. Con nuestras poblaciones envejeciendo, una dieta y un estilo de vida pobres, los costos para nuestra sociedad se dispararán si no somos proactivos en la protección de la salud ósea.

Los Huesos Son Preciados

Como una hebra de perlas o cuentas mala conectadas entre sí por hilos finos pero fuertes.

La enfermedad ósea degenerativa no suena tan aterradora como una fractura de cadera. Pero, eche un vistazo a las estadísticas.

  • Los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades de los Estados Unidos informan que entre los estadounidenses de 65 años o más, a la mitad se le ha diagnosticado artritis. Y, dos de cada tres personas que son obesas son propensas a desarrollar artritis en una o ambas rodillas.
  • Según la Fundación Internacional de Osteoporosis, desde 1990 hasta las proyecciones en 2050, el número de fracturas de cadera en mujeres y hombres de 50 a 64 años en América Latina aumentará en un 400%. Para grupos de edad mayores de 65 años, el aumento será de un asombroso 700%. Además, un estudio en Bogotá, Colombia, informó que entre un grupo de mujeres mayores de 50 años, casi la mitad tenía osteopenia (densidad ósea inferior a la normal) en la columna vertebral y la cadera.

“El yoga es útil para abordar los problemas agudos de la hinchazón y el dolor, y los problemas a largo plazo para mejorar la movilidad, la fuerza y la estabilidad de las articulaciones de la rodilla”, dice el Dr. Bell, refiriéndose a la artritis.

Yoga y Envejecimiento Saludable

Bell dirigió un taller sobre Yoga y Envejecimiento Saludable en un simposio al que asistí de la Asociación Internacional de Terapeutas de Yoga (IAYT, por su acrónimo en Inglés). Sin embargo, no es tu médico típico. Renunció a una exitosa práctica médica familiar en Ohio para convertirse en un terapeuta de yoga. Hoy en día, integra las aplicaciones terapéuticas del yoga con la medicina occidental y da conferencias a profesionales de la salud en todo el país.

Bell comparó al yoga como “herramientas para fomentar una vida saludable más larga”, y salud física mejorada. Dijo que el yoga fomenta la ecuanimidad, la agilidad, la coordinación y es ampliamente reconocido que reduce el estrés. El estrés no se puede ignorar, ya que es un disparador importante de las enfermedades del corazón, la presión arterial alta e incluso la artritis.

Cuando somos jóvenes, casi todos nosotros damos por supuesto el hecho de tender cuerpos saludables. Podemos estirarnos para alcanzar un estante alto, o agacharnos para sacar algo de debajo de la cama. Podemos dar vueltas en nuestro auto para revisar a los niños, y no tener problemas para levantar a los bebés y cargarlos a cuestas. No solo podemos pasear al perro, sino jugar con él. En resumen, la mayoría tienen una excelente movilidad.

A medida que envejecemos, si no nos mantenemos al día con estilos de vida saludables, nuestros cuerpos parecen traicionarnos. Nuestros músculos se encogen y pierden masa, lo que afecta la flexibilidad. Nuestros tejidos blandos se secan y se ponen rígidos. Los cojines de cartílago se descomponen dando lugar a articulaciones artríticas. Es como un círculo vicioso. Entonces, perdemos fuerza, flexibilidad, equilibrio y movilidad. Todos estos están interrelacionados.

“Necesitamos fuerza para mantenernos activos”, dice. Da ejemplos de cómo algunos medicamentos administrados habitualmente para pacientes con osteoporosis traen inconvenientes.

Practica Yoga Para Huesos Saludables

yoga para huesos saludables

El programa de Guardia de la Salud de las Mujeres de Harvard informa que existen varios peligros asociados con el uso prolongado de productos farmacéuticos. Recomiendan, “no tome Fosamax a menos que esté seguro de que lo necesita. Continúe con todas las otras medidas que ayudan a proteger y mantener la densidad ósea”, incluidos el calcio, la vitamina D y el ejercicio con pesas.

Presentando, el yoga. Y mi forma favorita, afuera, al sol. Tomando el prana (incluyendo la vitamina D).

Una vez que la galleta se desmorona, es demasiado tarde. Es por eso que el yoga es una excelente medicina preventiva. Baxter Bell, MD, recomienda “una práctica de yoga equilibrada (que) incluye desafíos de estiramiento, fortalecimiento, equilibrio y agilidad, y posturas y prácticas anti estrés.

Bell también habló sobre la sarcopenia, una pérdida gradual de la fuerza muscular que se observa con mayor frecuencia entre las personas mayores de 50 años. Según WebMD, “las personas que están físicamente inactivas pueden perder entre un 3 y un 5 por ciento de su masa muscular por década después de los 30 años de edad ”. Además de que el yoga mantiene tu cuerpo en movimiento, la salud de tus músculos está directamente relacionada con la salud de tus huesos. Bell habla sobre cómo podemos influir en nuestro bienestar futuro mediante la recuperación de la fuerza muscular.

Bell explica por qué el yoga construye los huesos. Durante el yoga, el fortalecimiento de los huesos comienza en solo 10 segundos de mantener una posición. Cuanto más fuertes son los músculos alrededor de las articulaciones, más los protege su cuerpo.

Los músculos comienzan a construirse después de sólo 90 segundos en muchas posturas de yoga, explica Bell. Toma las poses del guerrero por ejemplo. Mantener la postura durante al menos seis respiraciones largas, puede ser agotador, pero vale la pena, tanto para los músculos como para los huesos. Algunos maestros de yoga alientan a los estudiantes a juntar los muslos con energía, la barriga a la columna, o activar los bandhas. Esos son ejemplos de contracciones isométricas que contribuyen a construir más fuerza y, en última instancia, nutrir los huesos. Sin ellos, perdemos nuestra independencia, y luego nuestro orgullo, alegría e incluso el cuidado personal y la depresión. Es una bola de nieve.

Asanas para Huesos Saludables

viparita karani supported legs up wallBell dice que algunas de las herramientas de salud físicas tanto para el cuerpo como el cerebro son poses de fortalecimiento como el perro para abajo o el guerrero 2. Las prácticas que se enfocan en la flexibilidad como el gomukhasana (cara de vaca) también son esenciales para una fórmula saludable de envejecimiento.

Otra herramienta es una rutina de ejercicios que promuevan la circulación. Acostarse con las piernas sobre la pared es siempre un favorito, y el trabajo de respiración es una adición importante a esa caja de herramientas. Sabemos que a medida que las personas envejecen, tienen más dificultades con el equilibrio, por lo que las posturas como el árbol pueden, en última instancia, ayudar a prevenir caídas que, a su vez, pueden dar lugar a fracturas.

Las fracturas conducen al dolor crónico, pueden ser debilitantes, causar angustia emocional y una mayor degeneración muscular. Finalmente, Bell apunta a estudios de personas que han vivido hasta una edad avanzada que muestran que la comunidad es un factor importante en el envejecimiento saludable. “Practicar yoga juntos ayuda a crear una comunidad”, dice Bell.

Para huesos saludables, recuérdate que al igual que el hueso del tobillo está conectado al hueso de la rodilla, los músculos se conectan a los huesos, a través de la fascia y los ligamentos. La salud de nuestros huesos está relacionada con la salud de nuestros músculos, y también nuestras emociones, el corazón y otros órganos principales.