Growing your own veggies and fruits can empower you to be able to eat the freshest foods possible. Some of the easiest foods to grow, are also the healthiest! Greens of all kinds, swiss chard, kale, spinach, lettuce are all very easy to grow and can be grown in a bucket. Greens also grow well from spring-early snows. Kale especially, is packed with high levels of plant-based protein and calcium, far better sources than from animals. It helps to lower LDL cholesterol, boost cardiovascular strength, prevents surges in blood sugar levels, and increases your feeling of satiety. It can be eaten raw, lightly sautéed in water, or added in at the end of the cooking process and allowed to just wilt in your favorite sauces.
Other easy summer favorites that grow well in buckets are beets, tomatoes, peppers, and all herbs. My favorite herbaceous summertime herbs are basil and dill. Both herbs brighten up all dishes, and can be added in at the last minute for maximum health and flavor benefits. Woody, perennial herbs like sage and thyme are great to have in the garden as well. They can be cut at the end of the summer, hung upside down to dry, and provide you year-round organic home-grown herbs.
Raw foods help to refresh and hydrate the summer body. This salad is light and refreshing, perfect for summer. It’s great cold, so a perfect do-ahead dish. Learn MoreRead More
While tending our gardens we take heed of the cycles of the seasons that are best for our plants to flourish. Observing the rhythms of the seasons in a yoga practice can also be beneficial to our minds and bodies. Our bodies will begin to naturally shift and adapt to the changes of the seasons to produce the balance of wellness. Adding a calm and cooling practice that would help sustain us from the heat of the day is one such adaptation.
Our Spring Retreat practice introduced us to an invigorating, warming meditation to promote circulation and stir up the metabolic fire. As we enter the warmer months, practice should be relaxed and soothing to balance the energy of summer. One way to do that is to practice Moon Salutations in place of Sun Salutations which cause the body to heat up. Moon Salutations are a particular series of poses that produce a cooling flow and calm the mind. This sequence is favorable when energy and/or temperature are soaring. Another great pose cooling pose would be legs up the wall, which helps calm the mind and relieves lower back pain.
I invite you to come discover more ways to enrich your summer practice at our Seasonal Wellness Retreat on the 18th of July.Read More
There’s a lot of rotation in our movement. Whether it’s the athletic challenge of swinging a golf club, tennis racket, or softball bat, or working in the yard digging a hole to plant a shrub, success depends in large measure on our ability to twist and where the twist takes place in the body. Some joints are designed to help generate rotation and should have good mobility, such as the ankles, hips and rib cage while other joints, in particular the knees and low back, should play more of a stability role. The likelihood of a substandard performance on the links or tennis court or injury in the yard may be a result of role confusion of your joints: your low back and knees are getting tweaked because they move too much as you twist because your ankles, hips and rib cage are simply too stiff or haven’t been put through the paces in training to use their available motion to help make you successful at the twist. So let’s do the twist, in fact conquer the twist by starting with a few basic mobility drills:
The Half Kneel Calf Stretch:
Ankle mobility is essential for total leg rotation. In this picture the calf of the front leg is stretched. The key is to keep the front heel firmly pressed into the floor as the shoulders, torso and hips move as one unit forward (in other words don’t tip your shoulders ahead of the hips). Keep the pelvis parallel to the wall to avoid twisting the spine.
The Side Step Down:
This will help improve the outward roll of the heel, which is the first link in the chain of joints necessary for rotation:
Most of the rotation that generates our movement happens by the pelvis rotating on a stable femur so training your nervous system to do this without twisting the spine goes hand and hand with having mobility in the hip.
Check out Dr. Heller’s explanation and demonstration:
The Scap(ula) Stick:
This is an excellent exercise to improve rib cage and shoulder girdle mobility with a twist that drives hip rotation. The key is the foot pivot on the ball of the foot, which allows the pelvis to turn on the femur (thigh bone) and limits lumbar spine twisting. Make sure to keep the elbows extended (straight) throughout the twist to drive rotation of the shoulder blades and rib cage.
NEXT MONTH: “ANTI-ROTATION’ STABILITY DRILLSRead More
Historically, food, spices and herbs have been used to treat and prevent illness, infection and disease. As early as 2700 BC, cinnamon was used to reduce inflammation and relieve cold, flu and respiratory symptoms. In the 4th Century, ginger was used in China to aid digestion and treat nausea. The chia seed was a staple in the Aztec diet, a seed supplying carbohydrate, fat, protein and fiber.
As we investigate culture and different regions around the world, research has shown consumption of certain foods are associated with lower disease rates. The Mediterranean diet is comprised of whole fruits, vegetables, olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish. The typical Western diet includes processed carbohydrates, meat and limited in whole fruits and vegetables. Epidemiological studies have shown lower rates of cardiovascular disease in Mediterranean countries compared the US. This association supports the role of olive oil, nuts, and fish in reducing inflammation and risk of cardiovascular disease.
Food can help repair tissues and decrease risk of disease. However, food can also cause trauma to tissue in the form of inflammation. Processed foods high in refined sugars and fried foods can alter blood sugar levels, increase cholesterol, alter hormones, and destroy cell membranes. Inflammation can also be present post-surgery, sports injury, or accident.
All foods provide nutrients, however there are certain foods with specific nutrients that can aid in healing and disease prevention. Unprocessed, whole foods contain the most “healing” nutrients compared to processed foods, which are stripped of nutrients during processing. Nutrients that play a key role in tissue repair and disease prevention include: Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and phytochemicals. Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are high in vitamin A and C which aid in tissue repair at the cellular level. The B vitamins found in asparagus, spinach, banana, seafood, eggs, and whole grains, stimulate neuralgic tissues responses, required during muscle rehabilitation. Avocado, rich in magnesium and manganese are essential for tissue repair. Vitamin C which maintains collagen, the structural component of skin is available in citrus fruits, green vegetables, especially broccoli.
Phytochemicals found in whole fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices are compounds that may reduce risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and improve immune function. Cranberries have been shown to reduce infection, while the antioxidant properties of artichokes may help to reduce LDL levels. Berries such as cherries and blueberries may also play a role in reducing cancer risk. The antioxidants found in beets help to reduce inflammation and promote tissue healing. The list continues; substituting processed foods for nutrient rich foods can decrease inflammation, thus reduce tissue destruction and help promote tissue healing. In conclusion, food can heal, but only the right type of foods.Read More
Spring has arrived! Sometimes we may find it hard to notice the early signs of spring when Mother Nature sends a few flurries our way, but if you cultivate awareness you will see nature breaking free from the long winter nap. Buds suddenly appear on tree branches. Dainty little snowdrops begin to dance about. While being present in nature, we can begin to feel the earth warming. At this time, water and nutrients begin to flow through the xylem and phloem of plant life. Just as the plant’s transport system begins to flow so too does our bodily humors. Changes in seasons produce changes in the movement of our bodily humors making Spring a time to heat up the body and detox it from its dormant period of winter. Creating awareness for these changes helps one to keep in touch with the flow of energy inside the body and outside in nature.
There are certain yoga poses or asanas, and pranayama (breathing practices) that can be added to one’s practice that can warm up the body and begin to release the toxins that have been gained from the winter months. The process of heating produces sweat to expel toxins from the body. Mostly all asanas tend to heat and cool the body depending on where we direct our energy, but the regions where asanas increase circulation or contracts tend to be heated. Good examples of heating poses are backward bends and standing postures. There are aspects of heating and cooling in pranayama also. Like the Yin and Yang, there always has to be opposites to create balance in the systems of the body. Sometimes we need more heat in the body, while other seasons will require a cooling. The practice of breathing creates heat by engaging the heart-lungs system and the process of circulation. Inhalation tends to be cooling, while exhalation tends to be heating, but if you retain after inhalation this can cause a heating. While holding the breath, air is digested creating heat, then directed and dispersed into area to energize the body. Learning to produce heating and cooling effects together with channeling them to different areas of the body can enhance your practice and cultivate well-being. One must have the mindset to engage in spring cleansing of “Self” as one would empty their homes of unwanted goods.
To discover more benefits to boost your spring practice, I invite you to join us for our Spring Wellness program where we will enjoy Sun Salutations to promote circulation, also twists and agni sara to enhance metabolic fire in the body. Spring a time for renewal, come explore your awakening….Read More