5 Signs That You’re Generally Healthy

Today, I wanted to write about some simple ways you can know if you’re generally healthy. Having some fundamental health perimeters in place can help you recognize when your system is going out of balance, and help you avoid complicated disease will crop up if left unawares.

Below are 5 ways to determine if your health is on track.

1. You have a bowel movement every single day

For 80-90% of the population, having a bowel movement every day is a good sign that your metabolism is functioning well. If you are having a bowel movement early in the mornings and/or at a regular time every day, this is an even better sign. Our bowel movements are one of the key observances we can use as an indicator of our internal health.

Ideally, a bowel movement should be easy to pass, fairly solid, brown in color, and the smell should not peel the paint off the walls. If any of these are occur and remain for extended periods, it is probably a good idea to seek support from your preferred health practitioner.

2. You don’t need to use lip balm or moisturizer

If you don’t need to use lip balm or skin moisturizer all the time, it’s a good sign your body has enough fluid and natural oils to regulate itself. Ongoing dry lips and skin are an indication that you aren’t drinking enough water, or your body can’t metabolize the fluids coming in.

During winter months and in some dry places on the earth it may be necessary to apply extra moisturizer, however, it shouldn’t be required every day or all year around.

Having very hot showers every day can also strip away the natural oils on your skin, leaving your skin dehydrated. You can try turning down the temperature of your showers or having more cold showers (especially if you live in a hot country). Cold showers are one of the best things you can do to wake up your organs and increase blood circulation.

If you require moisturizer or lip balm every day, it is likely you are not drinking enough fluids or taking in enough healthy oils.

3. You have clear skin

Clear skin is a great sign that your organs of elimination are working well, and your hormones are likely well-balanced too. The skin tends to develop pimples, boils and rashes only when the lungs, intestines, kidneys, and liver are struggling to clear the backlog of toxins. Stagnation, due to a sheer lack of exercise and bodily movement plus life-work stress greatly contributes to a backlog of toxins in the body. If this is the case, a series of strong physical workouts or hot yoga classes will often kick the system back into gear and move stagnation through the system.

Also, relaxation techniques like Yoga Nidra or restorative yoga can help reduce the stress response hormones in the body, which will enable the organs to function better.

4. You wake up feeling well rested

There are so many people spurting out the number of hours required for a good night’s sleep. This is misleading. The kind of lifestyle you live determines how many hours of sleep will be ideal for you. Generally, the more meditative, relaxed, and natural your lifestyle is, the less sleep you will need. The more hectic, busy, and toxic your lifestyle, the more hours you will need.

Ideally, get to bed before 11 and wake early with the sun. If you wake up easily and spring out of bed, it’s a good sign your liver is happy. If you are slow to wake up and feel groggy even after lots of sleep, it’s not about getting more hours, it’s about cleaning your liver and boosting your organ function.

5. You don’t crave carbs or sugars

Sure, having a bit of chocolate or gobbling down a tasty, fried carb will happen from time to time, but if you crave it, and eat them every day, it’s a sign you have an underlying nutritional deficiency.

Usually, it’s due to a lack of proteins and quality oils being available as the primary fuel source for the body and brain. When the body and brain don’t have a fuel supply available, it will crave its fuel in its fastest and easiest form – sugars. From my clinical experience, this tends to be common amongst vegetarians because many don’t eat enough quality proteins to fulfil their body’s demands.

Alcoholism can be connected to a nutritional deficiency (B12) which drives the person to seek out ways to “plug” the anxiety which is stemming from the underlying deficiency. Marijuana and many other drugs can also be used to “plug” an underlying deficiency, albeit for a short time. This means many substance addictions may not be a psychological problem, but a nutritional one. Many people who struggle with substance addictions are likely to have been born with a nutritional deficiency (due to the mother having a deficiency) and therefore, for these people, nutrition and supplementation will be an important factor in their ongoing life and development.

As an experiment, for your next meal, eat a lot of quality proteins (vego or non vego), oils, and a solid hit green vegetables and notice how long it takes for you to crave sweets or carbs afterwards. (*Consult your preferred health practitioner for more support)

 

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3 Supplements I’m Always Packin’

I’ve been travelling a lot over the last three years…

One of the main teachings of travelling involves how to LET GO of any attachment to your “stuff”, as well as the ongoing practice of stripping away the non-essentials.

In regards to health, I have managed to identify my TOP 3 HEALTH SUPPLEMENTS that have proved the most essential.

I thought this list may be helpful to you, so that’s why I thought I’d share…

(Disclaimer – This information is not intended to replace advice and guidance from your preferred medical health practitioner. Just sayin’.)

Without further ado, let’s get into it…

 

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is my go-to for relaxation, body aches, pains or cramps, and body recovery after any intensive exercise. It is essentially a muscle relaxant and works wonders for helping with things like anxiety, insomnia, and even cravings. Before reaching for sleeping pills, try a good dose of magnesium in the evenings to help your body relax.

It is estimated that 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient. Deficiencies usually come from excessive stress and alcohol use. Common signs and symptoms include chocolate and sugar cravings, constipation, and an inability to relax.

 

2. Astragalus

This is my cold and flu or any sickness go-to. It’s a main ingredient used in many Chinese herbal medicine formulas. I used to be a big fan of Vitamin C, but I have found Astragalus trumps Vitamin C. If you have access to both, do both, but if it was one or the other, Astragalus wins every time.

Astragalus is a powerful immune system builder and has been proven to increase white blood cell count. It can be used to support the immune system and offer great support for recovering from any illness, including cancer (speak with your doctor about introducing Astragalus supplements).

You can buy it in combination formulas. However, I have found that it works its magic best on its own in a pure powder form (it’s a root), which makes it super affordable to buy and stock in your medicine cabinet.

 

3. Liver Tonic Herbs (Milk Thistle & Dandelion Root)

The liver is always working hard to keep the blood and body clean of toxins. It comes under even more stress when we are travelling, eating different foods or working harder than normal. It’s essential to keep the liver happy as it one of the first lines of defense for keeping the overall system happy and healthy.

To boost liver function and help it out, I always have “Liver Tonic Herbs” with me, which I take most days. You can use a “liver tonic” formula, or just go for the two best herbs that help the liver: dandelion root and/or milk thistle.

A trick is to take your liver herbs at night before you go to bed. This will give your liver a boost while you are asleep – one of the busiest times for the liver.

Signs that the liver is burdened are that it’s very hard to wake up in the mornings, constipation, easy to irritability, waking up sweating, and/or a very strong and unpleasant body odor. Signs of a happy liver include easy and early waking in the morning, a sense of flow and ease in life, good digestion, and daily bowel movements.

 

Bonus Supplement for Mental Health ~

4. Acetyl L Carnetine

This is an amino acid (a type of protein) that I discovered when I was looking into boosting brain health and focus.  This stuff is amazing!  While it clears brain fog and adds clarity, it also elevates mood and helps burn fat! It basically works by telling your body to burn up fat and send it to the nervous system (brain) to be used.

Generally, I wouldn’t recommend taking it at night, but rather take it any other time or to enhance any kind of performance. From studying for an exam, to writing a book or going to a yoga class, taking 1000mg of this stuff before your big moment will give you a boost of clarity and energy for the task. It is also worth trying for treating depression, lack of motivation, lethargy, memory loss, and loss of libido.

 

>> So, where is the best place to get supplements? <<

(Do I hear you ask….?)

 

My favorite place for getting supplements is online at Iherb.com. It’s super affordable, the range is huge, and the postal system is amazingly fast. (Bonus – If you want a $5 – $10 discount on your first order, use code “NKV748” during checkout).

 

Was that helpful?

Any questions, feel free to ask.

Blessings!

 

3 Simple Mind-Body Health Tips

 

1. Break a sweat at least once a day

I’m not talking about a dripping, waterfall of sweat – I’m talking about just a mild break of sweat – that feeling like you’re flushed through with heat. Try walking briskly around the block, walking up a hill, hitting the gym, attending an invigorating yoga class or having some steamy, afternoon sex – whatever gets you going! – Breaking a sweat is very supportive of overall circulation, heart health, lungs, breathing and digestion!

 

2. On waking up, drink something alkaline

It can be anything you have available – I generally prefer a hot green tea as hot drinks are great at stimulating metabolism first thing. It can also be green juice, lemon water or a hit of coconut water. Anything alkaline will do! Drinking something alkaline first thing in the morning makes the body “smile” and helps to flush out the liver.

<< The Yin & Yang Lifestyle Guide is Available Now for FREE ~ Click Here to Download >>

 

3. Dance and jiggle yourself around for 5 minutes, at least once a week

Dancing and jiggling your body around is a fun way to release “stagnation” in the body. According to Chinese medicine and yoga, stagnation is the first initial stage of disease as it indicates energy and blood blockages in the tissues, organs and joints. Stagnation is often experienced as feelings of being “stuck,” mentally, physically and spiritually, having pains in the body, feeling tired, bored, having a foggy and unclear head and other symptoms associated with mild forms of depression.

 

The Good News is, Stagnation is Very Easy to Clear!

 

The Chinese, Qi Gong method is to slap and lightly thump parts of the body to release stagnation. However, another way to do it, and is a lot more fun, is to jiggle around and dance yourself about.

Put on your favourite danceable music, set a timer of 5+ minutes to keep you at it, and then proceed to let loose and bounce yourself around the room – it’s totally fun and invigorating! For the full affect, make sure both your feet are coming off the floor!

Dance and jiggle yourself around at least once a week to help keep yourself flowing and help clear out any build up of stagnation.

You’ll feel much clearer and free flowing afterwards – try it out! Let loose!

Remember, life is meant to be fun!

 >> Want More? Click Here to Download My Yin & Yang Book for FREE <<

 

Sadie Nardini Online Course Review: The Yoga of Success

A few weeks ago, I completed one of Sadie Nardini’s online courses on Udemy.com

The Yoga of Success: Messaging Marketing and Money

 

The course involves a panel-like discussion with Sadie Nardini herself and two of her business colleagues and wisdom advisors, Tyler McCoy and Ava Taylor, where they laid down “The 10 Steps to Success.” They targeted yoga teachers, however, I feel the info they shared is applicable to all business owners, in particular, those who are looking to build a personal brand.

The 10 Steps They Cover Are:

  1. Dissolve Your Money DiscomfortSadie Nardini Yoga Weight Loss
  2. Add Value and the Money will Follow
  3. Brand your Weird
  4. Get Clear
  5. Do it Yourself
  6. Make Relationships not Business Transactions
  7. Get Socially Smart
  8. Get Organized/Build a Team
  9. Get Passive
  10. Money Loves Structure and Freedom

 

I absolutely loved this course so much so that I gave it an easy 5 stars.

 

Why?

 

 1. Firstly, they tackled head on the common disconnection between living and working in the yoga, spiritual, new age industry and the issue with making and generating money. Often people sabotage their success because there is often a teaching or myth that money and spirituality can not co-exist. Or that being spiritual and yoga vibed, will not include wealth. This is complete nonsense, and they bring clarity and energy to the issue.

2. Secondly, I just felt high from watching it. There energy and vibe are infectious, and they make you feel like you are very welcome into their circle and their energy. It feels like they are genuinely offering a support network and that they care about your success.

3. Thirdly, I love how Sadie Nardini owns her uniqueness and encourages us to do the same. In step 3, they focused on how to “Brand Your Weird”. The core message here is that it’s good to be different and if you can hone in on understanding your differences, it will help you develop your message and therefore, your brand. I totally love this! There is nothing more uninspiring than another yoga teacher (or business person), doing what everyone else is doing! Being unique and owning it is what makes you more valuable and attractive to potential clients.

They encouraged us to get clear about who we are, what we are about and to drive that home as this is one of the major keys to success when it comes to personal branding.

Other things they talked about and encouraged was why skilling up with technology is important, how to build a team and how to generate passive income streams. All valuable information.

 

The only thing that I found a little disappointing is that it ended so quickly. It would be great if Nadie Sardini and her team where to suggest where to go next or have some next level course for ongoing support and business training.

 

However, all in all, it’s a great course full of good vibes and valuable information.

Highly recommended for all yoga teachers (newly qualified as well as experienced), therapists, healers, personal trainers, artists or anyone looking to build their personal brand, find their true voice and make Sadie Nardini Rockstarmore money and success doing it!

 

5 STARS

 

Check out The Yoga of Success course here on Udemy.com

Nadie Sardini also has some other excellent courses on yoga teacher training. She offers next level training with a focus on leading edge understandings of anatomy. She teaches with authority and clarity and I would also highly recommend any of her other courses.

14 Day Yoga Detox and Empowerment Course

Rockstar Teacher Training

The Warrior within: Empower Your Yoga and Inner Strength

The Journey Training

The Revolution Yoga Anatomy Teacher Training Course

 

 

 

A Healthy Poo is a Healthy You in Chinese Medicine

Let’s talk about poo. Yes, poo. Why?

Because learning to “read our poo” is a very accurate and reliable indicator of our internal organ health.

In traditional Chinese medicine, asking patients about their poo is one of the most important tools we have in our consultation bag of tricks. In fact, it is among the top 10 first questions that all medical practitioners should be asking.

Talking about our poo seems like such a taboo. (Yes, it rhymes!) We have even designed our toilets to sweep away our poo so that we don’t have to see it or smell it like we used to. The good old Asian squat toilet is quite the opposite. The Asian squat toilet has a little bench area carved out where the poo can sit so that we can have a good look at it before we flush it away.

So, if our poo is an indicator of our internal health, what is healthy poo and unhealthy poo? (I hear you ask…maybe?)

Okay, let’s talk about healthy poo first.

A healthy poo is a poo that is easy to pass, is neither too loose nor too compact, is brown in colour, has some ribbing marks on the side and doesn’t smell too much.

Another good sign is the frequency and timing of our poos. Ideally, we should be pooing in the morning; before breakfast is ideal and it should be happening about once a day. After the poo, we should feel light, a little empty and with a spring in our step. Of course, there can be slight variations in the regularity of our poos, as we are all a little different. However, it should be, on average, around once a day.

Here is a picture of a healthy-looking poo.

Okay, now let’s talk about an unhealthy poo, or a poo that is suggesting signs of imbalance. There can be a lot of variations here, so I will just discuss the most common versions.

The first type of unhealthy poo is one that is very loose and watery. It smells like it’s going to peel the paint off the walls. It can often come with abdominal cramping.

If there is a burning sensation when passing, it is a sign of too much heat in the body. Heat is often caused by too much spicy food, alcohol, coffee or meat in the system. The heat and general toxicity in the system cause the organs to let it move through the system fast so as to get it out of the body. Once it’s out of the body, it reduces the toxicity load and will also help cool the system.

To give you a better idea, here is a very convenient and neat picture of what watery, loose, poos tend to look like. If there is a lot of heat involved, they will also be very dark in color.

If there is no burning sensation on passing and the stools are loose, it could likely be due to too much “cold” in the body. This means that the organs don’t have enough energy or heat in them to process the food properly, therefore letting the food simply pass through the system unprocessed. Common signs include being able to see unprocessed food in the poo. This often occurs with people who eat “cold” foods like raw foods; eat too much fruit; use a lot of laxatives; follow extreme diets and don’t balance them out with warming drinks; hang out in warm environments; or engage in exercises that generate internal heat.

Another type of unhealthy poo is on the opposite side of the spectrum. We commonly call it constipation, meaning that poos come every two, three or four days, or even weeks at a time. 

These are difficult to pass and may have us sitting on the loo long enough to be able to finish reading a novel. They are also often pebble-like in appearance and are usually dark and compact. This is a sure sign of “stagnation,” meaning that the body is clogged up and the energy is not flowing smoothly. It is often related to a lack of exercise and an excessive consumption of wheat products, especially breads. It can also be related to the mind of the individual as well as the body, indicating that the person is resistant to change, finds it hard to adapt or let go, or is very stubborn in some way.

Generally speaking, small periods of time with any of these expressions of unhealthy poos are normal and common.

For example, if we have a big night out drinking and being merry, it is normal to have a hot, smelly poo the day after. Or if we are on the road and changing our living quarters regularly, it will often disturb the regularity of our bathroom habits.

However, a general rule of thumb is that if the unhealthy poo patterns continue for longer then two weeks at a time, that’s a sure sign of some underlying organ system imbalances at play.

When left untreated or ignored, it will often lead to some form of disease. It may not present as an illness directly connected to the bowel system, yet the bowel system provides an early indicator of an overall imbalance that may manifest in another part of the system later on.

Therefore, the moral of the poo story is that looking at, inspecting and keeping tabs on the quality of your poo will give you insight into your internal health. 

If you regularly experience unhealthy poo signs, try adjusting your diet and exercise regimen. Tweak your lifestyle and see how this influences changes in your poo. Consider your poo to be an indicator of your body’s health. The good news is that changing the quality of our poo can be a quick process and that you can see positive changes in just a few days. Therefore, it’s a great way to keep tabs on your progress.

If you have been experiencing unhealthy poos for a long time, I would suggest seeing an acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist or traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner to get treatment or advice as to what you should adjust in your lifestyle or what herbs will bring things into better alignment.

I suggest TCM practitioners specifically more so then medical doctors or other health practitioners simply because in TCM poo is a large component of the medical approach. Therefore, TCM practitioners are very open to discussing it because they acknowledge how important it is. In fact, a TCM practitioner could even inspect your poo and come up with a fairly accurate diagnosis and treatment plan without even needing to talk to you.

If your poo shows indications of being healthy and regular, it’s a great sign that everything is working well and things are on track. I would suggest keeping up with whatever lifestyle you have set up because you would generally be in a good place physically, mentally, emotionally and, potentially, spiritually. Who would have thought that your poo could be connected to how healthy you are spiritually?

I wrote this blog with the goal of bringing poo out of the taboo, and to help people become more clued in about how our poo can help us identify imbalances and health indicators early on. It also provides direct feedback regarding our lifestyle choices.

I bet you didn’t expect how much your poo could tell about you!
(Yes, I had to finish it with another cheesy rhyme:)

 

What’s next?

  1. Check out my free book The yin & Yang Lifetstyle Guide
  2. Share this article with friends or anyone with whom may benefit.

How Vegetarianism Can Produce Imbalances

This has become an increasingly controversial topic of late as awareness has increased in the foodie world. I want to discuss how vegetarian and vegan diets, according to an Oriental medicine framework, bring about “cold” diseases in most people and why they aren’t always a good path to go down.

While people can approach vegetarianism and veganism from many angles—from a moral standpoint, from a spiritual view and from a health angle – I want to put address the issue in relation to the health and vitality of the individual. Therefore, I will not be going into the moral or spiritual aspects in any depth here.

From my observations of hundreds of people and from my own experience as a vegetarian for five years, vegetarians and veganism tend to produce similar imbalances, which traditional Asian medicine classifies as “cold diseases”.

When we look at disease from an Oriental perspective, part of the diagnostic process is to determine whether it is a “hot” or “cold” disease.  The signs and symptoms most commonly experienced from a “cold” disease include deficiency of blood and quality “Qi”, pale white face, poor circulation (cold hands and feet), cold body, weak limbs and poor muscle tone, waves of fatigue, lack of endurance, flighty mind, ungrounded, poor concentration, fluid retention, bloating, stomach cramps and a compromised immune system (susceptible to colds, flu and allergies). All of these symptoms are classic signs of “cold” diseases, often associated with vegetarianism and veganism.

“Hot” diseases produce symptoms that include inflammation, red face, red eyes, excessive heat in the body, excessive sweating, increased anger or outbursts, loud voice, violent dreams, headaches and restlessness. All of these symptoms are associated with a diet that is likely to be too acidic and can often be attributed to too much meat and alcohol.

Now, let’s look at food and how it contributes to “hot” or “cold” diseases. Oriental medicine looks at food as having a particular nature to it. In its simplest forms, it either has a “hot” or “warm” nature, or it is considered “cool” or even “cold”. There are also foods that are considered neutral, neither heating nor cooling. “Hot” or “warm”  foods are, for example, chili, ginger, garlic, turmeric, spices, meat, alcohol, coffee and so on. Cool or cold foods include things like tofu, milk, dairy, ice drinks, cold water, vegetables, uncooked foods, fruit, ice cream, yogurt etc.

To support the internal energy system we need to eat both hot and cold nature foods to support the balance of Qi and blood through the system. It is the yin and the yang at play within the body, and we must work with both. If we go too far in either direction, either too cold or too hot, it disturbs the inner state and will eventually produce psychological and physical imbalances and disease. In most cases, vegetarian and vegan food does not produce much warmth or heat in the body, making it difficult for the body to transform it into blood and energy. Meat is one of the most potent sources of energy because it also produces a lot of warmth and is easy for the body to turn into blood, energy and heat. Vegetarian and vegan food tends to produce more “cold” than heat in the body. Raw food is the most “cold” type of food you can eat.

An excessive amount of cold food puts out the digestive fire because it takes a lot of energy from the body to heat it up and transform it into fuel. Over time, cold foods contribute to a very sluggish digestion. If food sits in your belly for hours, and you feel heavy or tired, it’s a sign of a sluggish digestive system that needs a bit more fire. Try hot soups with a bit of chili to get things moving!

Therefore, most of us need to be more conscious of the warming and cooling nature of our foods to support the internal balance. Our environment also contributes to this, for if we live in predominately a cold environment, it is likely that we will need to take in more warming foods, and if we live in a predominately hot environment, it is likely we will need to reduce warming foods.

Another factor that contributes to the likelihood of developing a hot or cold disease is our constitution or genetic makeup. If we have a naturally “hot” body type, we will be able to handle colder foods better than the person next door who has more of a “cold” body type. We can see that each person has his or her own balance to discover, and there is no one diet that suits everybody.

There are some individuals who can handle strict vegetarian or even raw food diets, and they are people who have a very strong and steady body type or genetic predisposition. These people are often very toned, fit-looking, and well-proportioned, even when they do little exercise and probably don’t even follow a healthy lifestyle. These people, due to their robust constitution, can handle cold foods for extended periods and actually thrive on them. For most of us though, this is not the case.

The point I want to make is that while vegetarianism and veganism sound great in theory, they tend to produce imbalances in most people. Those who are aware of the “hot” and “cold” nature of foods and who make the effort to educate themselves on how to eat a non-meat eating diet and still gain the required nutrients will have a good chance at managing it.

Therefore, be smart when it comes to subscribing to any diet or eating program. Always take the time to educate yourself from a variety of sources, use good old-fashioned common sense and work at becoming increasingly aware of your own bodies intelligence which offers the best advice and guidance of all. Any diet or food program, which pushes towards any extreme, is unlikely to be healthy or beneficial in the long term.

 

List of Cold (Yin) and Hot (Yang) Foods

Very Yin Yin Neutral Yang Very Yang
Aloe Vera Apple Almond Alcohol Strong Alcohol
Asparagus Alfalfa Aduki Beans Meat Chilly
Avocado Banana Butter Black beans Pepper
Seaweed Beetroot Carrot Bay leaf Ginger
Cashew Cabbage Eggs Cardamom Garlic
Cucumber Celery Corn Cauliflower Cinnamon
Grapefruit Cream Ginko Coffee
Ice cream Green Tea Lentil Coriander
Kelp Melon Liquorish Dill
Kiwi Fruit Lemon Maize Fennel
Lotus Root Lettuce Malt Frankincense
Mung Bean Lime Cow milk Ginseng
Seaweed Linseed Rice milk Guava
Pear Juice Mango Miso Horseradish
Rhubarb Milk soy Mushroom Jasmine
Salt Mulberry Oats Lamb
Soy sauce Orange Olive Leek
Sugarcane Peppermint Peanut Milk goat
Tomato Plum Pineapple Mugwort
Watermelon Radish Polenta Mustard Seed
Wheat bran Sage Potato Onion
Wolfberry Sesame Oil Quinoa Oregano
Yogurt Spinach Rice Paprika
Tofu Rye Parsley
Watercress Salmon Peach
Wheat Sardine Pumpkin
White Wine Turkey Red Wine
Zucchini Vanilla Salami
Yam Shallot

 

 

 

The Truth About Yoga and Weight Loss

 

Yoga does provide favourable conditions for weight loss, however it is not the silver bullet that the marketing world has made it out to be. 

 

There needs to be a variety of elements at play before healthy and sustainable weight loss is experienced. Additional factors like nutrition, stress reduction, good quality sleep and other lifestyle factors also greatly influence people’s ability to lose weight effectively.

The following information comes out of my own experience being a yoga student of 10+ years and a “hot yoga teacher” (2 – 7 classes a week) for a good 5 years. During this time I was witness to 100’s of students, myself included, and observed how the body tends to respond to yoga (in particular “Hot Yoga”) in relation to weight loss. During this time I also experimented with heart rate monitors during classes to help measure calories burnt and the results I discovered were eye opening, yet also supported my suspicions.yoga for weight loss

While yoga isn’t the ideal exercise or approach to support weight loss (especially on its own), it does however offer a lot of support to the cause.

 

One of the main benefits that yoga offers is in the support of the detoxification process via the lymphatic system.

 

As the lymphatic system does not have its own pumping system to move lymphatic waste through the body for elimination, it therefore requires physical movement, namely stretching, in order to flush itself properly.

If we repeat similar movement patterns and don’t stretch the tissues in the body, lymph waste and fluids easily stagnate.

This doesn’t support weight loss and the waste fluid tends to turn into a phlegmy-type substance which clogs up the energy system of the body. Therefore, we need to move the body in a variety of ways in order to support the lymphatic system.

 

Yoga also promotes tonification of muscle tissue and enhances flexibility, but the one thing it doesn’t get into deeply, is the cardiovascular system.

 

Generally the heart rate needs to be slightly elevated for at least 20 minutes for the cardio system to really get a good workout and most yoga practices don’t provide this. I see many people practicing yoga regularly yet they don’t tend to lose much weight.

Often this is because they are not including cardio exercise in their weight loss program, which I think is the missing piece of the puzzle. The most common forms of cardio are swimming, running, fast walking and cycling, and are therefore encouraged to be included in any weight loss program. The best book I have ever come across regarding working with cardio-based exercise is the book is called Slow Burn: Burn Fat Faster By Exercising Slower by Stu Mittleman. Stu Mittleman explains how exercising slowly, steadily and with more mindfulness enhances results and adds joy to our practice.

 

Yoga asanas and yogic breathing adds more digestive fire!

 

This is great news because many people tend to have a lack of, or weakened digestive fire, which we often translate as a sluggish or slow metabolism. Yoga and any exercise that generates more heat and circulation in the body will support digestion and speed up metabolism.

 

Other things to generally avoid in regards to diet are ice-cold drinks and phlegmy producing foods such as cheese, dairy and saturated fats.

 

These foods tends to extinguish the inner digestive fire which makes it harder for our digestive system to function optimally. Many people who are overweight have weak digestive fire. Thus the focus should be on re-igniting the fire using slightly spicy foods, warm foods and warm drinks.

I would generally suggest for most people that raw foods (especially in excessive amounts, meaning 2 meals a day as raw ongoing) are generally a no-no for those wanting to loose weight because they weaken the digestive fire!

If after eating any meal feels like its sitting heavy in your belly – its a sign that there is a lack of digestive fire. A small cup of hot tea or a shot of coffee can often help with that after a meal.

Interestingly, Ayurveda (the mother medicine of which yoga branches out from) does not supportyoga food raw food. Ayerveda strongly suggests warming, easy to digest, well cooked foods such as kitchari (image) and dhal for losing weight and for healing. How we connected raw food with yoga I don’t really know.

 

Another important factor found in yoga and Ayurveda is that the yogi never eats to over 80% full.

 

To do so damages and stretches the tissues in the gut, further inhibiting one’s ability to digest foods efficiently.

So, while yoga does support the body in the weight loss process, it alone is not enough to lose wiehgt. It offers support to the lymphatics and adds fire to the digestion but thats about it.

With a few extra adjustments in lifestyle alongside yoga practice, weight loss can be a successful, healthy, sustainable and enjoyable journey.

 

IN SUMMERY, THE 4 KEY LESSONS ARE:

1. Move the body in various and dynamic ways to support the lymphatic system in flushing waste materials out of the body.

 

2. Add some form of cardio-type exercise alongside the yoga practice.

Aim for a slight elevation in heart rate for 20 minutes at a time. Avoid overexerting yourself, as this tends to drain internal energy excessively.

 

3. Avoid ice-cold drinks, dairy and foods that are generally cold and phlegmy in nature.

Focus on stimulating and re-igniting the digestive fire with slightly spicy foods and warm drinks.

 

4. Avoid eating to more than 80% full.

 

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How to get the Most from your Acupuncture and Massage Treatments

There are a number of things you can do to enhance the benefits and quicken the results from treatments such as acupuncture or massage. I have listed them below…

1. Don’t eat a huge meal before treatment, but also don’t go in starving.

If you receive a treatment when the belly is trying to process a large meal it can be uncomfortable when lying on the table. During digestion, the body will keep a lot of your energy in your belly area and therefore a treatment can be impaired due to the belly’s reluctance to let the energy flow elsewhere. Also, don’t go to your appointment starving as your blood sugar levels might crash and leave you feeling very light headed after the treatment. It is best to have a small meal or small bowl of food at least 30mins before treatments.

2. Don’t take pain killers before the treatment.

I once had a lady come to get acupuncture from me, but, afraid of the tiny needles, she downed a load of pain killers before the treatment. Firstly, the insertion of acupuncture is usually not as painful as the mind would have you believe; in truth, it’s no more then the feeling of a mosquito bite. Secondly, with acupuncture, if you can feel and sense qi moving in your body, the more powerful the treatment will be. If you block out all the ability to feel qi by dropping pain killers, the treatment is less effective and the patient probably won’t be able to sense any subtle changes afterwards. Thirdly, pain killers add toxins to your system and irritate the liver.

3 Show up 5-10mins early to your treatment.

There will be paperwork to fill in before your treatment, so allow time for this. Rocking up late often causes more stress and anxiety to you, the patient, and can add stress to the practitioner because they have to now juggle the time change. It can also mean your treatment won’t be as long and therefore as deep, and it may put the next patient out because your treatment went overtime. Please show up a few minutes early to your appointment to give yourself the best chance of getting the best results.

4. Don’t eat processed sugars soon after treatment.

At one clinic I worked at, the receptionist had a little bowl full of jelly beans for the patients in the waiting room (like in the old school doctors’ clinics). This infuriated me because I would often see my patients gobbling down a few jelly beans after I had been working my butt off for the last hour or so trying to get their bodies back to a more balanced, “switched on” state. Processed sugars send a stress signal through some of the meridians as soon as they touch the tongue and put the body into a “switched off” state. Soon after any treatment the body and energetics are in a venerable and fragile state, so taking in any processed sugar will affect the system quickly and dramatically. Therefore, avoid processed sugars for a few hours after any treatment. Fruit is a much better option.

5. Don’t drink alcohol after the treatment or for the rest of the day.

For similar reasons as made in the previous point. The body is in a fragile and venerable state after a treatment and putting in a toxic substance such as alcohol can quickly affect the body and energetics and potentially undo a lot of the work carried out on that person. Instead, drink plenty of water and hit the sack a little earlier then usual that night so the body can have a good chance to recover.

6. A little nap, sleep or shavasana (resting yoga pose) after treatment helps the benefits to integrate.

During acupuncture and massage, the body gets a massive energetic and chemical shakeup. The best way I have found to really let everything settle into its new pattern, its new arrangement, is to have a little nap or sleep soon after treatment. The opposite of this would be to go straight back to work and pump yourself full of coffee to try to shake off the desire to have a nap.

7. The best time to receive a treatment is in the late afternoon or early evening.

In the afternoons, the energy of the day winds down as it prepares for night time. Therefore, if you get a treatment in the late afternoon it will feel very natural as you leave feeling relaxed and a little sleepy so you can go home and chill out. If you get a treatment in the morning, it often feels like you have to push through feelings of sleepiness in order to get on with your day.

8. During treatments, close down the eyes and watch the sensations running throughout your body.

If we can add our mind to the sensations that are being experienced in the body, it adds more qi and energy to them, therefore enhancing the treatment. “Where the mind goes, energy flows.” This is also a practice similar to meditation which will also help slow down the breath, again enhancing the treatment.

9. Breathe.

Breathing enhances results because, when you move the breath, you move energy throughout your system. If you hold your breath, energy stops flowing. The best thing you can do when you are faced with any intense sensation during a treatment is to breathe through it. It helps if you can imagine that with every exhalation you are releasing any stagnant or unhealthy energy out of your body.

10. Drink warm water or warm herbal tea as soon as you get up from the treatment table.

The body tends to use up a lot of water during treatment to assist in the healing process and, often, you can get up from the table feeling very thirsty. Drinking warm water or tea as soon as you get up allows the body to absorb the liquid quickly and efficiently, bringing it back into an ideal state. If we guzzle down ice-cold water it can cause the body some stress as it has to work hard to heat the water up before it can absorb it.  If the clinic doesn’t have warm water, room temperature water is the next best thing.

11. Be gentle with yourself and don’t expect miracles from one treatment.

Miracles can happen, there is no doubt about this, but, in most cases, repetitive treatments are necessary. The body takes time to re-adjust itself to new patterns and new ways of being. Generally speaking, the longer the condition has been present, the longer it will take to adjust. For maximum results with acupuncture, usually around 6-10 treatments are required. Healing takes time, but, with enhanced bodily awareness and an open mind, improvements in one’s condition are often sped up dramatically.

 

Feel free to leave a comment below!

Losing Weight According to Oriental Medicine

Losing Weight

There is so much information out there regarding weight loss, some helpful, some not, so I thought it would be a good time to explore weight loss according to Traditional Oriental Medicine principles.

Firstly, there is really only 3 ways to lose weight and 2 out of those 3 are actually harmful and not recommended according to Traditional Oriental and Chinese Medicine (TCM). The third option I will discuss later is the most balanced and healthiest approach to weight loss.

Obesity is basically caused by an overload of cold, damp producing foods and liquids that dulls the digestive fire needed to process foods efficiently. When the digestive fire is weakened the foods and fluids accumulate in the body and eventually turn into a thick phlegm that clogs up the whole system. The digestive fire can also be dampened from ongoing internal psychological and emotional turbulence. Excess worry and excess thinking for extended periods actually harms your digestive fire also. If you are not having a bowel motion every single day then this is a sure sign that your digestion is not up to proper function and may be sluggish and stagnant which is a precursor to unhealthy weight gain.

Ok, so what are the 3 methods to loose weight?

1. The first one is described as a cold purge.

It involves purging the body by the use of cold foods and diuretics. It essentially damages the spleen and stomach and can leave the person looking very pale and fatigued or sometimes wired and ungrounded and totally mentally unstable. The stomach and spleen are important in the overall function of the immune system and its also involved in mental cognition and processing. Therefore this method of weight loss, though may be rapid, is potentially very harmful and can lead to long term weakness of the stomach and spleen function and threaten mental stability. Anorexia and other eating disorders tend to fit under this method.

2. The second method is using stimulants to invigorate the qi and blood to send it upwards and outwards.

It’s like burning a fire so the heat and energy rush upwards and outwards. It’s equivalent to taking speed, pharmaceutical “uppers”, energy drinks and excess amounts of coffee. It depletes the kidney energy stores and often leads to insomnia, fertility problems, mental instability and can often lead towards increased feelings of frustration, anger and rage. It can also easily lead to an addiction to stimulants. Essential fluids are lost in the forms of excessive perspiration and urination.  In some cases of obesity, a little stimulant can be helpful, like green tea just to kick over the metabolism. Things like burn out, chronic fatigue and addiction to stimulants are a regular occurrence if this method is employed and supported on-goingly.

3. The third and healthiest way to lose weight effectively is to support the stomach and spleen.

You can do this through only taking in warming and wholesome foods that keep the fire of digestion burning strong therefore allowing digestion to be efficient. Ginger and a little bit of spice in most foods will assist greatly. Avoid cold drinks, ice water, cold raw foods and phlegm producing foods like milk and diary. Bread, especially white bread tends to clogs up the digestion and therefore should be minimized. Green tea supports the spleen and stomach while also stimulates the digestion via the small caffeine content. Weight training tonifys muscles and this stimulates the stomach and spleen to send nutrients, “food energy”, around the body to the muscles. To burn fat, regular walks where the heart rate is elevated slightly will stimulate digestion and burn fat cells. I would advise to avoid the super intense forms of exercise like sprinting, or running up hills as fast as you can because it simply trains your body to burn glucose rather than fat cells. A slightly elevated heart rate sustained over a long period of time is much more effective in burning up fat cell stores. And you want to get to the point where you have a good and healthy bowel motion every single day. Your bowel movements are one of the best ways to assess your bodies health but that’s a another story that deserves more explanation (maybe I’ll write about bowel movement as my next blog entry). This method may take longer to see results yet it is a more balanced and healthy approach to go about it according to TCM principles mixed with my own understanding.

I hope this info helps you in some way.

For any questions or comments please feel free to contact me.

If you want more information about this, I have expanded upon these ideas in one of my books.

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