31 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos - the trees, the clouds, everything.
Thich Nhat Hanh

30 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult.

29 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

Everyday we do things, we are things that have to do with peace. If we are aware of our life..., our way of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment, we are alive.
Thich Nhat Hanh

28 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

On action alone be thy interest,
Never on its fruits.
Let not the fruits of action be thy motive,
Nor be thy attachment to inaction.
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2

Drop back with Nancy Gilgoff

Drop back with Nancy Gilgoff - at her workshop in Wiltshire. Nancy will be back in the UK in July 2011.

27 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

For certain is death for the born
And certain is birth for the dead;
Therefore over the inevitable
Thou shouldst not grieve.
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2

26 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

Communion with God
Devout men (Yogins) who are intent (thereon) see this (spirit) seated in themselves; but the senseless, whose minds are unformed, see it not.
Bhagavad Gita 15:11

25 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

He whom the world troubles not, and who troubles not the world, who is free from the emotions of joy, wrath, and fear, is dear to Me. The man who is guileless, pure, upright, unconcerned, free from distress of mind, who renounces every enterprise and worships me, is dear to me. He who has neither delight nor aversion, who neither mourns nor desires, who renounces good and evil fortune, and worships me, is dear to me. He who is the same to friend and foe, and also in honour and dishonour, who is the same in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, who is wholly free from attatchment; To whom praise and blame are equal, who is silent, content with every fortune, home-renouncing, steadfast in mind, and worships me, that man is dear to me.
Bhagavad Gita 12:15-19

How not to do mum and baby yoga

This baby is not real and it's definitely not how you should practice yoga with an infant. I also find the commentary pretty disturbing. Women in Russia do not throw their babies around like this; and nor should anyone else!

To see the content of the video, you will need to be signed into Youtube.

24 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

He who hates no single being, is friendly and compassionate, free from self-regard and vanity, the same in good and evil, patient; Contented, ever devout, subdued in soul, firm in purpose, fixed on me in heart and mind, and who worships me, is dear to me.
Bhagavad Gita 12:13-14

23 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

Purity of Heart
Whenever the wavering and unsteadfast heart wanders away, then so often let him subdue it and bring it back to the control of the soul; For supreme happiness comes to the Yogin whose heart is at rest, in whom passion is tranquilised, who is one with Brahma, and free from sin. The Yogin thus uniting his soul (to Brahman), who has ceased from sin, enjoys easily the boundless happiness of union with Brahman.
Bhagavad Gita 6:26-29

22 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

He that does everything for Me, whose supreme object I am, who worships Me, being free from attachment and without hatred to any creature, this man, Arjuna!, comes to Me.
Bhagavad Gita 11:55

21 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

Yearning for Divine Edification
Perseverance in (seeking to gain) the knowledge of the Supreme Spirit, and perception of the gain that comes from knowledge of the truth: This is called knowledge : all that is contrary to this is
Bhagavad Gita 13:11

20 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

Distrust of Intellect
"The wise who knows the Self as bodiless within the bodies, as unchanging among changing things, as great and omnipresent, does never grieve". "That self cannot be gained by the Veda, nor by understanding, nor by much learning. He whom the Self chooses, by him the Self can be gained. The Self chooses him (his body) as his own". But he who has not first turned away from his wickedness, who is not tranquil, and subdued, or whose mind is not at rest, he can never obtain the Self (even) by knowledge.
Katha Upanishad 1.2.22-24

19 January 2011

Moon day

The Camden Market, originally uploaded by Ginger Nut Designs.

Today is a full moon day. Here is a photo of a full moon over Camden Market.

Quote of the day ...

Disdain for Material Things
Which is as poison in the beginning, but is like nectar in the end; that is declared to be "good" pleasure, born from the serenity of one's own mind. That which is like nectar in the beginning from the connection of the sense-object with the senses, but is as poison in the end, is held to be of "passion".
Bhagavad Gita 18:37-38

18 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

As a man can drink water from any side of a full tank, so the skilled theologian can wrest from any scripture that which will serve his purpose.
Bhagavad Gita

17 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

Living creatures are nourished by food, and food is nourished by rain; rain itself is the water of life, which comes from selfless worship and service.
Bhagavad Gita

16 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

The non permanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of summer and winter seasons.
Bhagavad Gita

15 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

He who, before he leaves his body, learns to surmount the promptings of desire and anger is a saint and is happy.
Bhagavad Gita

14 January 2011

What are ladies' holidays in Ashtanga yoga?

Ashtanga yoga is a dynamic form of yoga practiced six days a week. Ladies' holidays are when women are menstruating and are advised to refrain from practising Ashtanga yoga, during the
first three days of menses.

I have looked at the different anatomical reasons for not practising Ashtanga at this time and here are a couple of examples:

Inverted poses

Where the head is lower than the heart, affects the downward flow of the menstrual cycle. Mula bandha and uddiyana bandha Are internal muscular locks, used during this yoga practice, to increase the upward flow of Prana (energy). During menstruating the natural flow is downward Apana, therefore affecting a woman’s natural cycle. A lot has been written about this subject but I have chosen not to list them (see last paragraph)

When I first started to practice Ashtanga yoga I did not adhere to “Ladies' holidays” and I still have a little bit of a problem with the “ladies” word, but I am not about to try and change Sri K. Pattabhi Jois' language to suit my own.

As Ashtanga became a regular part of my life and I became more aware of my bodies needs, I have grown to love these "ladies' holidays" and find a quietness and stillness in these non-physical practice days. When I return to my mat, I feel softer and it feels like a renewal on all levels. This is how I seem to practice yoga these days. My body [and mind] now has a cycle that is flowing. I no longer feel the need to go against my natural cycle and can now embrace the feminine changes (most of the time).

This, of course, is a personal view on "ladies' holidays" and probably says a bit about my personality. When I first started I did not want to be told by a man that I could not do something during my period. I thought if a man can practice Ashtanga yoga everyday, then so can I. I looked at the pros and cons, I analysed the bio-mechanical reasons for and against Ashtanga yoga "ladies'
holidays" and I eventually withdrew from the debating society.

When I discussed this with one of my yoga teachers, who has been practising for over thirty years, she laughed and said that also felt like that in the early days but soon changed her
mind and looks forward to those days off from this physically demanding practice.

Quote of the day ...

It is better to do one's own duty, however defective it may be, than to follow the duty of another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it, never sins.
Bhagavad Gita

13 January 2011

Video: Lino Miele - Kuttutasana

Here is a video of Lino Miele practising Kuttutasana. Enjoy!

Yoga reduces cytokine levels known to promote inflammation

Here is an interesting article by Jan Kiecolt-Glasner of Ohio State University that informs us how yoga has been shown to reduce cytokine levels, which are known to promote inflammation.
Regularly practicing yoga exercises may lower a number of compounds in the blood and reduce the level of inflammation that normally rises because of both normal ageing and stress, a new study has shown.

The study, done by Ohio State University researchers and just reported in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, showed that women who routinely practiced yoga had lower amounts of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in their blood. The women also showed smaller increases in IL-6 after stressful experiences than did women who were the same age and weight but who were not yoga practitioners. IL-6 is an important part of the body's inflammatory response and has been implicated in heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, arthritis and a host of other age-related debilitating diseases. Reducing inflammation may provide substantial short- and long-term health benefits, the researchers suggest.

"In addition to having lower levels of inflammation before they were stressed, we also saw lower inflammatory responses to stress among the expert yoga practitioners in the study," explained Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology and lead author of the study. "Hopefully, this means that people can eventually learn to respond less strongly to stressors in their everyday lives by using yoga and other stress-reducing modalities."

For the study, the researchers assembled a group of 50 women, age 41 on average. They were divided into two groups - "novices," who had either taken yoga classes or who practiced at home with yoga videos for no more than 6 to 12 sessions, and "experts," who had practiced yoga one of two times weekly for at least two years and at least twice weekly for the last year. Each of the women was asked to attend three sessions in the university's Clinical Research Center at two-week intervals. Each session began with participants filling out questionnaires and completing several psychological tests to gauge mood and anxiety levels. Each woman also was fitted with a catheter in one arm through which blood samples could be taken several times during the research tasks for later evaluation.

Participants then performed several tasks during each visit designed to increase their stress levels including immersing their foot into extremely cold water for a minute, after which they were asked to solve a series of successively more difficult mathematics problems without paper or pencil. Following these "stressors," participants would either participate in a yoga session, walk on
treadmill set at a slow pace (.5 miles per hour) designed to mirror the metabolic demands of the yoga session or watch neutral, rather boring videos. The treadmill and video tasks were designed as contrast conditions to the yoga session.

Once the blood samples were analyzed after the study, researchers saw that the women labelled as "novices" had levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 that were 41 percent higher than those in the study's "experts." "In essence, the experts walked into the study with lower levels of inflammation than the novices, and the experts were also better able to limit their stress responses than were the novices," Kiecolt-Glaser explained.

The researchers did not find the differences they had expected between the novices and experts in their physiological responses to the yoga session. Co-author Lisa Christian, an assistant professor of psychology, psychiatry and obstetrics and gynaecology, suggested one possible reason: "The yoga poses we used were chosen from those thought to be restorative or relaxing. We
had to limit the movements to those novices could perform as well as experts. "Part of the problem with sorting out exactly what makes yoga effective in reducing stress is that if you try to break it down into its components, like the movements or the breathing, it's hard to say what particular thing is causing the effect," said Christian, herself a yoga instructor. "That research simply hasn't been done yet."

Ron Glaser, a co-author and a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, said that the study has some fairly clear implications for health. "We know that inflammation plays a major role in many diseases. Yoga appears to be a simple and enjoyable way to add an intervention that might reduce risks for developing heart disease, diabetes and other age-related diseases" he said. "This is an easy thing people can do to help reduce their risks of illness."

Bill Malarkey, an professor of internal medicine and co-author on the study, pointed to the inflexibility that routinely comes with ageing. "Muscles shorten and tighten over time, mainly because of inactivity," he said. "The stretching and exercise that comes with yoga actually increases a person's flexibility and that, in turn, allows relaxation which can lower stress." Malarkey sees the people's adoption of yoga or other regular exercise as one of the key solutions to our current health care crisis. "People need to be educated about this. They need to be taking responsibility for their health and how they live. Doing yoga and similar activities can make a difference." As a clinician, he says, "Much of my time is being spent simply trying to get people to slow down."

Source: British Osteopathic Association

10 January 2011

Pose of the day

Utkatasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

Utkatasana- Chair pose

Quote of the day ...

Knowledge, the object of knowledge and the knower are the three factors which motivate action: The senses, the work, and the doer comprise the threefold basis of action.
Bhagavad Gita

06 January 2011

Quote of the day ...

Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed.
Bhagavad Gita

02 January 2011

Healthy beetroot and feta soup

This is a lovely healthy detoxifying soup and tastes delicious with or without the cheese option. The colour of this soup is amazing and if you add feta becomes slightly pinker. My kind of soup... simple!

  • 250 g (1/2 lb) beetroot, grated coarsely
  • 250 g (1/2 lb) tomatoes, halved
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped roughly
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive or sunflower oil
  • 250 ml (8 fl oz) stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 60 g (2 oz) feta cheese
  • Place the halved tomatoes in an ovenproof dish. Throw over the garlic and drizzle over half the olive oil. Roast them for 25-30 minutes at 190°C/375°F/Gas mark 5 until soft and pulpy and pass through a sieve to remove the skin and pips.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a pan and sweat the onion for a few minutes until soft.
  • Add the beetroot and the stock and bring to the boil.
  • Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Simmer gently for 7-10 minutes until the beetroot is tender.
  • Stir in the tomato purée, transfer the soup to a blender and process until completely smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Reheat the soup until thoroughly hot but not boiling.
  • Divide between warm bowls and crumble over a little feta into each bowl.
  • Serve with crusty bread.
Recipe courtesy of Abel & Cole

01 January 2011

Happy New Year

Fruit n soup 008, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy 2011.
May the juicing commence...