Monday, October 29, 2012

Yoga's many benefits... and a personal journey

Greetings wellness lovers!

Today I have guest blogger, Carolyn, from Full-On-Fit, here to talk about some of the benefits of yoga, as well as share insight from her personal journey to discovering the practice of yoga!

 Photo by RelaxingMusic
My Journey to Yoga
by Carolyn Fallon

An individual’s yoga experience is something so unique. It’s a little hard to describe because it is unlike anything I’ve experienced. I am not all well versed on the technical jargon used to describe the poses or whatever, but I can give you a glimpse of what I experienced in my first yoga class.  

First, let me start off by giving you a little background. My fitness background consists of spinning and boot camp classes. I was a long-time member of a local gym nearby that offered challenging classes that really helped me take my fitness to another level. The classes are intense and challenging on so many levels. The energy levels of the classes are foreign to me and I appreciate the motivating instructors. I highly recommend any of the two classes. I have nothing but rave reviews for both.

So, why a yoga class?

Well, I feel like it’s necessary to step outside of your comfort zone occasionally from time to time. What better way to do that than experiment a little? I decided to try out a yoga class.

I had done a great deal of research on the subject of yoga. I knew it would be something totally different from anything I’ve experienced. The weight loss, inner peace and flexibility benefits were all benefits of interest to me, but the flexibility benefit appealed to me the most.

Many yoga classes are structured in a way that helps you adjust to stretching your body safely. The poses are designed minimize the risk of injury. The conditioning aspect from yoga classes can help improve your range of motion, promoting flexibility over time. Even sports teams are trying yoga. Dr. Glen Axelrod of the Center for Orthopedic & Spine Care claims, “Many professional athletic teams use yoga as an integral part of their training.”

And now the adventure: my first yoga class

It was exciting! Even though I had research it a great deal, I was still very surprised at how the experience affected me. I was fortunate enough to have a friend accompany me to this new experience. She had been practicing it for some time, so it wasn’t anything new for her. Thankfully, she was gracious enough to help me through the basics like the best attire to wear.  

Coming from a world of high impact, loud instructional group exercise format to a quiet setting was an adjustment. The people in the class were so quiet. I remember looking around and marveling at how all of the people appeared to be in their own world. The peaceful environment was perfect.

We started off with this mountain pose and transitioned into a warrior pose. I learned a new word, “asanas”, and how the term applies to all of the poses in yoga. I learned the importance of breathing and how it affects the experience. There were some hiccups along the way, but I had a supportive friend who quietly reassured me and kept me going.

I felt so accomplished finishing that class. I now practice it regularly on my own alone. There something about the yoga experience that transforms you. I love taking that time out on a daily basis to nurture myself.  

Carolyn Fallon is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well being.  She is an avid spinner, healthy cooking enthusiast and lover of life. Check out Carolyn’s blog Full-On Fit!

Have an excellent day!!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The saturated fat myth debunked in 2 minutes and 35 seconds

Hello there wellness lovers!

Today I wanted to share a gem of a video, sent to me by my lovely sister Alyssa.

It's called, 'Big Fat Lies'... the saturated fat myth debunked in two minutes and thirty five seconds, and it a clip from the documentary "Fat Head."

Guess what? Fat and cholesterol don't cause heart disease. The theory was based on bogus science from the very beginning.

Thoughts? :)

If you would like to read for yourself more information about fats, I highly recommend the following books.

"Nourishing Traditions"by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
"Eat Fat, Lose Fat" by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
"Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food" by Catherine Shanahan MD

Also, you might be interested in checking out the Weston A. Price Foundation, which is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated nonindustrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets. Dr. Price's research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats.

If you have been reading my blog since 2010, you may remember that I was a vegan. Based on some popular books I had read, as well as a few trendy blogs... I was convinced that a vegan diet was the way to optimal health.

However, at the beginning of 2011... I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which teaches 100+ dietary theories and the idea of 'bioindividuality'. At the beginning of the program... founder/director of the school, Joshua Rosenthal, assured us that whatever dietary philosophy we were currently following, we would be experimenting with others by the end of the year. He said that vegan IIN students would be eating meat by the end of the year... and that meat-eaters might become vegan.

I remember thinking... "Yeah right, nothing will convince me to reconsider animal products." But Joshua was right...  :)

Have a great day!!


Monday, October 15, 2012

How to Cultivate Mental Clarity with Yoga!

Greetings wellness lovers! I hope you are having an excellent week!

Today I have a special article for you by guest blogger Valerie Johnston... all about the mental benefits of yoga! 

In college, I discovered the effectiveness of yoga when it came to managing stress... and ever since my first yoga class, it's been an essential element of my multi-weekly well-being routine. :)

Cultivate Mental Clarity with Yoga

By Valerie Johnston, Healthline
Photo credit: RelaxingMusic

Yoga is an ancientdiscipline that originated in India thousands of years ago. Since the practiceof yoga was introduced to the West in the late 19th century, agrowing number of people became familiar with the discipline until it explodedin popularity in the 1980s. Over the last few decades, yoga has become ahousehold name and is practiced by people from all walks of life.  

A growing number of peoplepractice yogaas a part of their fitness program. Yoga can be used to increase flexibility,reduce the risk of injury, boost stamina, develop strength, and many otheraspects of fitness. 

There is also a strongpsychological component to yoga. Individuals who suffer from anxiety ordepression, for example, may find that they also have difficulty concentrating.Chronic anxiety and depression have a way of causing a mental fog that does notallow a person to think clearly. Other mental health disorders can also reducebrain function and cause cloudy thinking. Even if you don’t suffer from amental health issue such as generalized anxiety disorder or depression, you maystill struggle to maintain mental clarity. In the modern world, many of us areconstantly bombarded by information and live busy lifestyles. Yoga gives us away to slow down and clear our minds.

Adopting the Yogic Lifestyle

Developing positive mentalhealth takes a well-rounded approach. Self-acceptance, positive relationshipswith other people, personal growth, a healthy diet, and regular exercise,including yoga, are all important factors that contribute to improved mentalhealth. Without a healthy balance of these benefits in your life, it can bedifficult to maintain mental clarity.
Adopting a yogic lifestyleis easier than ever. There are a number of resources people can use to beginthe practice of yoga, no matter where you live. If you have access to a yogaclass, this is the best way to gain hands-on experience in the practice. An experiencedteacher can show you how to perform poses (asanas) that result in a healthiermind and body. Many people leave yoga classes feeling a dramatically improvedsense of well-being and mental clarity. These benefits typically extend intoone’s work life, social life, and family life.

If you don’t have access toa yoga class near you, there are plenty of helpful DVDs, books, and onlineresources that will help you get started. If improved emotional well-being andmental clarity are your goals, then look for resources that demonstrate how toperform poses that assist in achieving these objectives.

Focused Breathing and Yoga

While breathing is a naturalinstinct for humans, you may be surprised to discover that you do not breathein a way that optimizes your emotional and physical health. Deep breathing andfocused breathing are a common part of yoga practice. Developing properbreathing techniques can have a dramatic affect on your ability to concentratein any given situation. Proper breathing will also ensure that an ideal amountof oxygen reaches your internal organs and muscles, which will promote youroverall fitness.

Focusing the Mind

How often do you reach fordistractions in your everyday life? While there’s nothing wrong with listeningto an iPod, watching television, text messaging, or using other modern devices,there is a growing addiction to these distractions. Overuse of devices fordistraction can cause our mental well-being to become unbalanced, which canlead to memory problems, anxiety, lack of clarity, and other issues. Throughthe regular practice of yoga and other body-mind techniques, you will be ableto achieve higher levels of mental clarity, awareness, lucidity, and emotionalwellness. As an added advantage, you will also be able to improve your physicalfitness so that you both look and feel increasingly rejuvenated.

Valerie Johnston is a health andfitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running amarathon and writing for Healthline.comensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did! What's your favorite mental benefit of yoga?

Have a lovely week!!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin season is in full swing!

Well, hello there!

Happy October 1st! Now that pumpkin season is in full swing... I wanted to talk about the benefits of the cheery autumn squash, as well as share some of my favorite pumpkin recipes!

What are the nutritional benefits of pumpkin?

Pumpkin is loaded in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium,  fiber, and manganese. It's also an excellent source of folate, omega 3 fatty acids, copper, tryptophan, and B vitamins. (B1, B6, B3, B5)

Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes, bones, teeth, skin, and the reproductive system. It's also an antioxidant, protecting against free radicals that can cause ailments such as heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin C is excellent for your body's immune system, helps your body manage stress, can lower high blood pressure, and is also a powerful antioxidant.

Potassium is an electrolyte that assists with maintaining the correct balance of water in your body. It regulates blood pressure and heart function.

Fiber assists with bowel function, helps maintain colon health, lowers blood cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar, and is great for weight loss.

Manganese assists your body in metabolizing key nutrients, is excellent for bone health, helps your body synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol, supports the thyroid gland, and is beneficial for the nervous system.

Folate is beneficial to the heart, can alleviate depression, is necessary for proper brain function, and assists with the production of red blood cells.

Omega 3 fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation, increase immune function, and alleviate anxiety and depression.

Copper is essential for hair and nail growth, hair and eye pigmentation, brain and thyroid health, immunity, and energy production.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used as a building block in protein synthesis. It is necessary to regulate sleep cycles, pain, and moods. It's also a precursor to serotonin, a hormone that contributes to feelings of well-being.

B vitamins play an important role in cell metabolism by creating energy from the foods you eat. They are also critical nutrients to a positive mood and good memory.

Given the many nutritional benefits (and deliciousness!) of pumpkin... I hope you will immediately embark on an adventure to find some pumpkin and start enjoying this seasonal delight a.s.a.p!

To get you started, I've come up with a list of some excellent pumpkin recipes by fellow bloggers:

Paleo Pumpkin Bread by Elana's Pantry
Pumpkin Bars by Elana's Pantry
Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie by Oh She Glows
Homemade Pumpkin Butter by Oh She Glows
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Three Ways by 101 Cookbooks
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte by Averie Cooks
Clean Eating Pumpkin Fries by The Gracious Pantry
Harvest Pumpkin Soup by Martha Stewart
Roasted Pumpkin with Shallots and Sage by Martha Stewart

Have a lovely fall day!