The holidays are careening toward us again, whether we’re ready or not. It’s time to take a look at how we plan to take care of ourselves during the chaos. Let’s start with a few of the demands placed upon us. Although the list can be endless—shopping, parties, where will the money come from, baking, cleaning, entertaining, will Uncle Joe get drunk and ruin dinner—you have to carve out extra time for these chores.
All the talk lately about mindfulness got me thinking: do I really know what this is and how to practice it? If I wondered about how to be mindful, I imagine others did, too. So, I took my questions to an expert, Cara Bradley, author, yoga and meditation teacher, and founder of Verge Yoga in Philadelphia, PA.
A new year has commenced with the opportunity to think about the triumphs and pitfalls of the past year in order to plan for the future. Most of us set resolutions at this time. Fortunately, some of those resolutions become part of our daily life, but unfortunately others fall away shortly after we try to implement them.
There is a growing wave of alternative thinking in the world, and most of us are blessed to have a choice between conventional and alternative ways of living. This can include lifestyle choices, food choices, medical decisions, consumerism, spirituality and education, to name a few. What used to be considered radical is now finding its way into the mainstream.
In Boulder, Colo., where I live, there is an abundance of options for natural grocers, alternative health care practitioners and holistic education centers. Even our pets have access to natural foods and medicines. And for a city of only 100,000, there are more than 60 yoga studios in the community. Needless to say, I am at home in this place.
Here, my tendencies toward natural living are fed by the abundant and accessible information about how to integrate even more natural practices into my daily life. For instance, I was thrilled to slowly cut out every toxic product from my routine and replace it with something that wasn’t (in my mind) ruined by processing, chemicals or the like. I felt so proud of myself and my ability to live a sustainable, plant-based, organic existence!
That said, you can only imagine how I must have felt when I was faced with a very unwanted health condition that every doctor — holistic and conventional — seemed unable to diagnose.
Healthy eating begins with two simple principles:
Processed Foods = Bad
Whole and Minimally Processed (WAMP) Foods = Good
The idea that eating whole foods is good and processed foods is bad may seem self-evident, but it’s not as obvious as you might think. In fact, pinpointing WAMP foods isn’t simple. Processed foods can be sneaky and disguise themselves as healthy foods without our noticing.
For example, we all know that chips, fries, and doughnuts are processed junk-type foods — that’s obvious. But what about bagels, cereal, and yogurt? Maybe not—it all depends on the ingredients that make them what they are. Most bagels are full of refined, processed wheat, and mainstream cereals are stuffed with processed sugar — they’re certainly not WAMP foods. The fact is there isn’t a standard, regulated definition of the words “whole” or “minimally processed.” You’ll need to learn what makes a food WAMP and what doesn’t because labels on packages won’t tell you.
Luckily, there are a few key attributes that flag a food as WAMP.
How many times have you tried to tell your friends about the energy body but you just can’t seem to convince it’s real?
How many times have said friends stopped talking to you altogether, or at the very least mentally categorized you as the cuckoo?
Yoga teachers are famous for saying funny things that don’t make sense to non-practitioners. It’s hard to put into words the things we feel sometimes, especially words that everyone can understand.
But those days might soon come to pass. Stephanie Shorter, PhD, presented a lecture at the Dallas Yoga Conference on yoga research, summarizing past and current scientific research in words that yoga teachers and students can understand and most importantly, connecting all our crazy new age rhetoric into hard science.
Here are five enlightening facts to help you understand what is happening in the body on a physiological level, plus practical applications to integrate into your daily practice (good news: you probably do these things already!)
Last October, when CNN broadcast the documentary Blackfish, a film that tells the story of the 2010 killing of a SeaWorld trainer by an orca named Tilikum, there was a public outcry against marine parks — such as SeaWorld — that keep cetaceans in captivity. After the movie aired, several veterinarians and the director of the Dolphin Project at the Earth Island Institute in Berkeley, California, Ric O’Barry, stepped forward to state their professional opinions that confining orcas can make them psychotic.
SeaWorld, however, countered that marine parks such as theirs have done great works in conservation and that hundreds of millions of people have come to love and learn about orcas and other marine animals because of their popular shows and exhibits.
But given what we now know about how confinement can influence an animal’s behavior, should cetaceans ever be kept in a captive environment?
Recently, while reading the November/December 2013 issue of Sierra, the magazine of the Sierra Club, I came across a graphic that startled me. It depicted two columns, labeled “House” and “Senate.” Under each of those titles were two more columns, showing the number of Democrats and Republicans in each branch of the legislature that are climate change deniers. Under the House section were 200 Democrats; none were listed as climate change deniers. Of the 233 Republicans, 128 deny climate change.
In the Senate, there were 52 Democrats (with two Independents), again with 0 climate change deniers. Of the 46 Republicans, 30 deny that the world is warming.
My goal here is not to cast aspersions on any one party but to look at the big picture. It is possible that we can make strides to protect the planet against the devastating effects caused by rapid climate change if our leadership fails to believe it is real?
Beginning a yoga practice can feel frustrating, stressful — maybe even boring! But stick with it. Coming back to your mat again and again will improve your body, mind and spirit beyond levels that you even dreamed imaginable.
Find a blissful yoga practice by following these simple steps: