31 August 2016
Even if you've never heard the term "text neck" before, you're likely experiencing it. The term came about because people were getting neck pain—as well as actually causing damage to their cervical spine, supporting ligaments, tendons, and muscles—from looking down at their cellphones, tablets, or other wireless devices too often and for way too long.
Welcome to the 21st century, where technology has possibly become more important than our health. Today when you people-watch, all you'll notice is that everyone's heads are buried in their mobile devices. Kids at schools are being taught on iPads, 9-year-olds have smartphones, and even toddlers are given tablets at dinnertime to keep them quiet. Technology is the new pacifier.
The future is here, and the sooner kids start learning about technology the better off they will be once they get into the workplace. But what's going to happen to our health? Not only have our attention spans come down to three-minute blocks, but we are also literally changing the physical structure of our bodies.
How text neck affects your well-being:
A head typically weighs 10 to 12 pounds, and some say that for every inch your head moves forward, backward, or side-to-side, it gains an extra 10 pounds. So imagine you move your head 4 inches down to look at you smartphone, your spine now has to hold an extra 40 pounds up on top of the 10 to 12 pounds that your head already weighs.
Can you imagine what that will do to the bones, muscles, ligaments, and nerves over time? At this point, you may start to form some bone spurs because that will help create more stability in the spine. Ligaments and muscles are constantly being stretched, which means that they are under constant pressure to hold the head up (and remember the head is heavier and heavier now), so the ligaments become thicker and the muscles become tighter. Voilà … now you have neck pain, and you may start to see more headaches, possibly some TMJ tension, and even lower-back problems.
If text neck is left untreated, chronic issues could start to develop such as spinal degeneration, arthritis, disc herniation/compression, nerve damage, and more.
A natural technique to heal:
Acupuncture can decrease the inflammation in the neck muscles and ligaments. This will take some of the stress off and allow everything to start healing. Because acupuncture increases circulation, it will also increase the rate of healing to any acute or chronic damage created over time from the repetitive motion of holding one's head up.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we talk a lot about treating the root or the branch or both at the same time if needed. The root is the origin of the problem, and the branches are the manifestation of that problem. Since text neck can cause more than just neck pain, we will consider all symptoms the patient presents and decide then what is most important to treat. In this case we will always treat the neck (the root) because unless that becomes healthy again, none of the other symptoms will disappear. But let's say that a patient is suffering from a lot of headaches and the headache pain is more severe than the neck pain; we may for the first few sessions focus on the headache and treat the neck as a secondary issue.
How to avoid text neck in the future:
Acupuncture is very effective at treating the symptoms of text neck and can rid the body of most of the pain and discomfort you feel from it. But what are you supposed to do about technology? How do we fix the causes of text neck? It does not seem to be going away anytime soon, so we need to learn to coexist in a way that is not harmful to our bodies.
The best way to reduce the risk or occurrence of text neck is to restore proper function and posture to the head, neck, and body. Some easy ideas are simply altering your daily routine, such as setting a timer and getting up every hour to stretch the neck, walk around, get a drink of water, or wearing a posture-support shirt or posture reminder to minimize the slouching and forward shift of your head.
Other ideas such as using a standing workstation, elevating your computer screen to eye level (or getting an external keyboard and elevating your laptop to eye level), and turning up the brightness of your monitor can help to keep you from leaning in, thus minimizing the stress on your head and neck.
Technology is changing the world almost daily—we just have to make sure we are helping our bodies and routines to change as well.
Thursday 25th August, 7-9.30pm, Tauranga Boys College, Tauranga.
Post from BePure website:
Gut Health and Immunity
May 17, 2016
We often think of being sick as the result of running noses, nasty coughs or sore chests. But what if these were just symptoms of a depressed immune system. What if the reason we get sick - especially in the colder months - is actually because of gut health?
If we eat foods and nutrients that support our gut health, would we be less susceptible to illness this winter?
Yes. Absolutely. The notion that gut health is connected to our total health - including immunity - dates back as far as ancient Greece. Hippocrates once said “All disease begins in the gut.” He was a clever man!
In this week’s blog I’m going to explain what leaky gut is and its link to immunity. I will also give you some pointers for improving your gut health in the lead up to winter.
What is leaky gut?
Leaky gut is when half digested food particles can pass through the intestinal lumen into the bloodstream, resulting in an immune response.
80 percent of the humeral immune system is located in our guts. What this means is the single biggest demand on our immune system isn’t from environmental factors like germs or bugs. It’s actually from our food.
If we are eating a food we are intolerant to - or simply eating certain foods, particularly proteins, too much - our body tags that protein as an invader and alerts our immune system which issues a response.
This immune response in the intestinal system has a lot of collateral damage. The biggest problem is that it loosens the junctures in our gut and the villi in our small intestine. This allows the proteins to get directly into your bloodstream and you get another immune response.
What are some common indicators of leaky gut?
It’s important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to leaky gut. Having one or more of them doesn’t necessarily mean you have leaky gut. It’s always a good idea to discuss your health concerns with a trained practitioner. Nevertheless, these symptoms are common in people with leaky gut.
You have elevated immune issues such as an autoimmune condition, asthma, hayfever or eczema. I have never seen a client with a thyroid disorder at the BePure clinic who hasn’t had an issue with the proteins in gluten.
Gut dysbiosis or irritable bowel symptoms including bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, gas and discomfort.
Food intolerances or sensitivities. This is usually a symptom and a cause of leaky gut. Sometimes we become sensitive to a food if we are eating a lot of it and our systems need a break.
Testing for leaky gut.
Gut health and immunity.
Poor gut health means your immune system is overactive and it becomes weakened. This is problematic in the lead up to winter as there are simply a greater number of colds and flu we are exposed to. We are just much more susceptible to catching these bugs if our gut health is compromised.
What can we do?
Eat a diet rich in probiotic foods including sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kimchi and fermented vegetables
Drink bone broth. The gelatine in bone broth helps to line the gut to repair the damage caused by leaky gut. I am posting an extensive look into the benefits of bone broth later this week
Take a probiotic supplement. I recommend the bio-kult range as it is a multistrain probiotic
Eat a nutrient dense diet that is right for your genetics which ensures you feel full for the longest period of time. Eating in a way that promotes blood sugar balance will help relieve some of the stress your body is under, meaning it is better able to fight colds.
Sleep. Adequate rest helps our body restore itself.
Antibiotics and gut health
Antibiotics are undoubtedly necessary in some circumstances. I don’t have an issue with them when used correctly. They do however have huge implications on gut health. Doctor Natasha Campbell-McBride is a gut health specialist and founder/author of the GAPS diet. She says it can take up to four years to restore and rebuild the gut biome following a course of antibiotics.
If you do require antibiotics ensure you drink bone broth to seal your gut lining and consume a diet rich in probiotic foods including kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut.
Traditional approaches to gut health in winter.
I’ve spent a long time researching ancestral societies. Interestingly in winter months traditional communities increased their intake of probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut and fermented vegetables significantly. My research shows that traditional communities consumed 12 serves of probiotic foods per day.
The reason for this is a lack of refrigeration and modern agriculture. In winter, less vegetables were available and they couldn’t keep autumn produce in a fridge so they preserved their summer and autumn crops with fermentation methods.
I find this so interesting. Because of following nature’s seasonal patterns, they automatically followed their own need for immunity-building tools to keep them healthy throughout winter.
If you found this information useful and would like to learn more, be sure to join me at my new event - Your Gut, Where Health Starts.
21 July 2016
Terry Wahls, M.D., is a functional medicine doctor, clinical professor, and a survivor of progressive multiple sclerosis who used her own protocol to heal. This week, we're sharing her expertise in a new series on adrenal fatigue and natural techniques to restore energy. To learn more, check out her new mindbodygreen class, How to Heal Adrenal Fatigue: The Food & Habits You Need for Optimal Health & Energy.
You make an appointment with your primary care doctor because you're concerned about your fatigue and wonder if it may be related to your adrenals. There, you receive some basic lab tests to check on your cortisol levels but no clear answer. And you learn little about how your adrenals are connected to your energy levels or how your diet and lifestyle choices affect how the adrenals function.
Unfortunately, this experience is all too common. Most primary care health practitioners receive very little training on the diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors that contribute to the health of our adrenal glands and the balance of our stress hormones.
Here are a few key concepts about the health of your adrenals that your doctor probably hasn't told you:
1. Caffeine slows down the processing of the hormones secreted by our adrenal glands.
If you need caffeine to get through your days, it's an indication that your adrenals are getting less effective at managing your adrenal stress hormones.
2. Chronic stress levels lead to a depletion of magnesium.
Since a majority of Americans eat a diet that does not meet the recommended daily allowance for magnesium, the loss of magnesium due to chronic stress is a big problem. Lower magnesium levels increase the risk of insomnia and poor sleep quality, which in turn raises stress levels. This leads to further loss of magnesium and poorer sleep and higher stress levels.
3. The adrenal hormones are made from cholesterol.
The push to drive cholesterol levels lower and lower can lead to cholesterol levels so low that the adrenal glands can't make sufficient adrenal hormones. Because the adrenal hormones help manage the mineral levels, inadequate adrenal hormones can lead to increased loss of minerals.
4. We need an abundant supply of B vitamins, cholesterol, and minerals to make the adrenal hormones.
Many Americans eat fewer than one and a half servings of vegetables a day, instead they are consuming 4 to 10 servings of sugar- and white-flour-based products. This poor diet increases the strain on the adrenals and makes it difficult to produce all of our hormones, including the adrenal hormones.
5. Lack of sleep increases the production of adrenal stress hormones.
Americans are now sleeping one and a half fewer hours each night than they did 50 years ago. The result is higher levels of stress hormones, which in turn is associated with higher rates of obesity and mental health problems.
6. Diets high in sugar lead to increased production of the adrenal stress hormones.
Eating a diet high in sugar and white flour leads to more insulin, a drop in blood sugar, and a spike in adrenal stress hormones. Keep a stable blood sugar level by avoiding sugar- and flour-based products to reduce the strain on your adrenals.
7. Adding a stress-reducing practice can lessen the strain on your adrenals.
This could be a daily meditative practice, exercise, mindfulness, or some other stress-reduction technique that fits into your life.
This man knows how to breath ... & when not to breath, breaking his own world record today, New Zealander William Trubridge.
Yoga, breath work & meditation are all part of his preparation in pushing all his own boundaries for success. We congratulate you!
His mantra - All is Now
Thanks to Pinterest for the photos
I've always been a night owl and craved the alone time it gave me. All through my 20s, I followed the cycle of begrudgingly waking up early for work on weekdays and then sleeping in until noon on weekends.
But upon discovering Ayurveda, I began tinkering with a lot of its teachings. I was especially intrigued by its concept of Dinacharya, or a suggested routine of morning and nighttime practices, which includes waking up early. Really early.
Last year, I finally mustered the courage to admit to myself that I wanted to do this. It took months and months of trying different things, and my determination to wake up early would often fall by the wayside by the fourth day. But I also began to notice that sleeping in was not doing me any favors; it was the reason I felt sluggish and heavy all day despite sleeping eight hours.
After a lot of trial and error, I finally developed a sweet repertoire of activities that help me wake up at 5:30 a.m. every day. Today is the 60th day of my journey. Here are a few tips that helped me along the way:
1. Wake up before 6 a.m. to feel energised.
Ayurveda is all about timing. It is not about whether you're clocking eight hours of sleep per night—but rather what time you're going to sleep and waking up.
The last phase of our 24-hour body clock is from 2 to 6 a.m. This is the period of Vata, or movement. If you're asleep, it’s during this period that you tend to dream a lot. To stay in sync with nature, Ayurveda recommends that it's best to wake up before sunrise, when there is natural movement in the atmosphere. To give you a surfing analogy, waking up before sunrise is like catching a wave. That wave will ensure that you ride through rest of the day effortlessly.
In comparison, the period between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. is Kapha time. Kapha energy is heavy, slow, and steady. By getting up before this Kapha period, you'll avoid that feeling of heaviness you can get even after a good night's sleep.
2. Finish dinner early.
I always thought that by eating at 8 p.m. and sleeping at 11 p.m., I was turning in early, because in the modern context, this is what we have come to define as early right? Turns out, in Ayurveda, early is a lot earlier.
I now have my dinner by 6:30 p.m. or before sunset and am in bed by 9:30 p.m. with the lights out by 10 p.m. To make this happen, I had to move a few things around and resist the temptation of Netflix. However, this has been the single biggest enabler for Project Wake-Up Early.
3. Create a wind-down routine.
Unlike my husband, who can go to sleep immediately, I need at least an hour to myself just to wind down. This really helps me fall asleep once my head hits the pillow.
I'd highly recommend incorporating a few rituals of your own that you find relaxing. A simple one is to massage your feet before sleeping. According to Ayurvedic physician Dr. Vasant Lad, ayurvedic foot massage can be traced back 5,000 years and offers myriad benefits: It nourishes the skin, helps reduce fungal and bacterial infections, and soothes an agitated mind. "The doors to the body's inner pharmacy are under the bottoms of your feet," he says.
You can also try having Golden Milk before you fall asleep. Milk contains the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan, and having warm milk at bedtime is a good way to help lull your body into sleeping.
4. Set an intention rather than an alarm.
I hate alarms. And I'm quite sure you do too. No matter how sweet sounding your alarm might be, it's a rude and unnatural way of waking up your body. Our ancestors woke naturally and gently before or with the rising of the sun.
What I do now is I set an intention to wake up early each day and then go to sleep before 10 p.m. When I do this, along with eating and sleeping on time, the natural energy in the universe always wakes me up between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. I kid you not!
5. Wake up the Ayurvedic way.
According to ancient Indian wisdom, before you get up in the morning, you must rub your hands together and place your palms upon your eyes. That's because there's a heavy concentration of nerve endings in your hands. So when you rub your palms together, these nerve endings get activated and the system awakens right away.
Once you get out of bed, immediately make yourself comfortable. If it’s winter, I keep myself as warm as possible with a sweater, socks, and sometimes even a hat so that the bed doesn't look as tempting anymore. In the summer, I take a quick shower to completely jilt any remnants of drowsiness. Splashing your face with water works well too.
6. Find your reason for waking up early.
One frequently mentioned benefit of waking up early is increased productivity. But I could never connect with this reason. Instead, what I love about waking up early are the spiritual and health benefits. Early rising for me is a spiritual journey that also happens to make me more productive—not the other way round.
For instance, one of my long-term personal goals has been to wake up early and carry out my Buddhist practice of mantra chanting to my heart’s content before I begin my day. Waking up early helped me achieve this. I could roll with the punches for the rest of the day knowing that I had done my most important task for the day first thing in the morning. (Note that I say important, not urgent. There is a difference.)
So, find your own reason. Schedule your favorite things for the morning. This could be going for a jog, journaling, practicing yoga, or simply sitting in silence. You will feel like a million bucks.
I know this is easier said than done. But I can confidently say that developing this one keystone habit will lead to many other positive changes in your life. Start by trying this for 21 days—and you'll never want to go back to hurrying your way out the door again.
I knew the practice was healing me from the inside out, and I trusted all the stories of changed lives I’d heard. But even my husband asked a very emotionally volatile me if trying this esoteric practice was a good idea.
Thank goodness I kept it up. A few years later, meditation has become the single most influential spiritual practice in my life. It's helped me heal a lifetime of repressed emotions, tune in to my heart, and finally find peace.
Here's what I wish I'd realized from the beginning, though: You don't need to stop thinking in order to meditate.
The truth is, meditation isn't about stopping your thoughts. It's about becoming aware of your thoughts. Trying to squash your thoughts is resistance, and resistance causes suffering, not healing. Resistance makes you fear yourself and emphasizes that dreadful feeling that you're flawed and doing something wrong.
You're not meditating wrong. You just haven't sat for long enough. It's my mission to help you learn how to accept every part of yourself, even the thoughts you'd rather not think. Here are some lessons I've learned along the way:
Consider this: All day long, you're thinking—but you're not really acknowledging your thoughts. When you sit down to meditate, however, the frenzy of this nonstop chatter finally annoys you.
That's actually progress. Because before, you weren't aware enough of this chatter to feel annoyed by it. This awareness is the thing you're cultivating just by showing up every day to practice.
Technically, meditation is a boundary-less state of being in which your body, mind, and heart merge with the present moment. Everything else—focusing on the breath or chanting mantras, for instance—is a tool to glide you into that state of being. Using the tools is the practice.
Focusing on your breath helps peel your attention away from your thoughts. Your thoughts will continue to attract your attention; that's where you've been focusing your entire life. Your thoughts and attention are stuck together like one of those annoying pieces of protective plastic, but keep showing up and you'll weaken this attachment.
While seated, you will repeatedly notice that your attention has wandered back to your thoughts. Simply return your awareness to your chosen point of focus. Back and forth, back and forth—that's meditation practice.
Not glamorous, and it feels like nothing is happening. Summon a little blind faith and keep showing up. Your whole life will change.
At the beginning of your meditation journey, it's easy to cling to thoughts and feelings. Your attention will focus on one or the other. Focus is constriction, and the idea of meditation is to create expansion.
During practice, experiment with expanding your awareness to include not only your thoughts and feelings but also your breath or heart center. As you expand your awareness to include everything, you'll release your grip on any one thing and begin to relax into the stillness.
As you relax, suddenly, you feel peace.
The body is ripe with bacteria—most of which lives in our gut and has a huge impact on our overall health. Your microbiome regulates inflammation and immunity throughout your entire body.
That's why I think that tending to your gut is the number one thing you can do to boost your overall health and immunity. Here are five simple ways to boost your gut health today:
1. Remove the possible offenders
In order to rebuild a healthy gut, you have to remove what could potentially be causing the damage. This includes refined sugar, gluten, dairy, and most processed foods. Refined sugar is the worst offender because it feeds the negative gut bacteria and depletes the positive bacteria that support a healthy microbiome.
2. Focus on food
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, easy-to-digest grains (gluten-free oats, quinoa, millet and amaranth), and healthy fats like avocado, flax, hemp, pumpkin seeds, almonds, raw coconut and walnuts. These foods reduce inflammation and support gut health. For alternative sources of sweetness, try pure stevia, yacon syrup, coconut nectar or raw honey.
3. Bring back the good bacteria
Bring in good bacteria to combat the bad stuff that's wreaking havoc on your gut. Fermented foods like kefir, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh are all full of good bacteria, as are prebiotics. I especially love raw asparagus, garlic, onion, leek, bananas and dandelion greens.
4. Count your zzz’s
Sleep has a major impact on the digestive system, as deep sleep allows the digestive organs to rest, repair and replenish. During this time, the body detoxifies itself and gets rid of wastes from the day. Each person requires a different amount of sleep, but aim to get 7 to 8 hours a night to ensure a restorative sleep cycle.
5. Practice stress management
The stress of modern life often triggers the sympathetic nervous system, creating a fight-or-flight response in the body. This response may help you become more alert and focused, but it inhibits your digestion in the process.
Digesting food requires a parasympathetic nervous system response. Balancing the parasympathetic system decreases stress levels, so you can rest, repair, and heal your gut. Engaging in calming exercises such as walking, deep breathing, restorative yoga and meditation can help you do it.
Steve Jobs (Harvard, 2005)
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."
Ellen Degeneres (Tulane, 2009)
"Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else's path unless you're in the woods and you're lost and you see a path; then by all means you should follow that."
J.K. Rowling (Harvard, 2008)
"I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom: As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters."
Jim Carrey (Maharishi University, 2014)
"Fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about your pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it."
Neil Gaiman (University of the Arts, 2012)
"And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art."
Ed Helms (Knox College, 2013)
"So long as your desire to explore is greater than your desire to not screw up, you're on the right track. A life oriented toward discovery is infinitely more rewarding than a life oriented toward not blowing it."
Susan Sontag (Vassar, 2003)
"It's hard not to be afraid. Be less afraid."
Larry Page (University of Michigan, 2009)
"It is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams... Since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition."
Jennifer Lee (University of New Hampshire, 2014)
"When you are free from self-doubt, you fail better."
Dalai Lama (Tulane, 2013)
"Despite difficulties, always keep optimism. ‘I can overcome these difficulties.’ That mental attitude itself will bring inner strength and self-confidence."
Will Ferrell (Harvard, 2003)
"As you set off into the world, don't be afraid to question your leaders. But don't ask too many questions at one time or that are too hard because your leaders get tired and/or cranky."
David Brooks (Sewanee, 2013)
"The daily activity that contributes most to happiness is having dinner with friends. The daily activity that detracts most from happiness is commuting. Eat more. Commute less."
Chris Gardner (Berkeley, 2009)
"The balance in your life is more important than the balance in your checking account."
Sue Monk Kidd (Scripps College, 2010)
"One of the more powerful outbreaks of happiness and meaning in your life will occur when you pair your passion with the world's need."
The psoas muscle (pronounced SO-as) may be the most important muscle in your body. Without this essential muscle group you wouldn’t even be able to get out of the bed in the morning!
In fact, whether you run, bike, dance, practice yoga, or just hang out on your couch, your psoas muscles are involved. That’s because your psoas muscles are the primary connectors between your torso and your legs. They affect your posture and help to stabilise your spine.
The psoas muscles are made of both slow and fast twitching muscles. Because they are major flexors, weak psoas muscles can cause many of the surrounding muscles to compensate and become overused. That is why a tight or overstretched psoas muscle could be the cause of many or your aches and pains, including low back and pelvic pain.
The types of movement which can strain your psoas muscles include standing and twisting from your waist without moving your feet (think old fashioned calisthenics), or any movement that causes your leg to externally rotate while extended, such as Ballet-style leg lifts (or battement), and even doing too many sit ups (your psoas muscles complete the last half of a sit up).
But, since many experts don’t understand the complexity of the psoas muscles, it’s not uncommon for people to be given the wrong diagnoses and treatments for their psoas-related pain.
My What Muscle? What You Need to Know About your Psoas
Structurally, your psoas muscles are the deepest muscles in your core. They attach from your 12th thoracic vertebrae to your 5 lumbar vertebrae, through your pelvis and then finally attach to your femurs. In fact, they are the only muscles that connect your spine to your legs.
Your psoas muscles allow you to bend your hips and legs towards your chest, for example when you are going up stairs. They also help to move your leg forward when you walk or run.
Your psoas muscles are the muscles that flex your trunk forward when bend over to pick up something from the floor. They also stabilize your trunk and spine during movement and sitting.
The psoas muscles support your internal organs and work like hydraulic pumps allowing blood and lymph to be pushed in and out of your cells.
Your psoas muscles are vital not only to your structural well-being, but also to your psychological well-being because of their connection to your breath.
Here’s why: There are two tendons for the diaphragm (called the crura) that extend down and connect to the spine alongside where the psoas muscles attach. One of the ligaments (the medial arcuate) wraps around the top of each psoas. Also, the diaphragm and the psoas muscles are connected through fascia that also connects the other hip muscles.
These connections between the psoas muscle and the diaphragm literally connect your ability to walk and breathe, and also how you respond to fear and excitement. That’s because, when you are startled or under stress, your psoas contracts.
In other words, your psoas has a direct influence on your fight or flight response!
During prolonged periods of stress, your psoas is constantly contracted. The same contraction occurs when you:
sit for long periods of time
engage in excessive running or walking
sleep in the fetal position
do a lot of sit-ups
All of these activities compress the front of your hip and shorten your psoas muscle. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should automatically stretch your psoas if you have pain in the front of your hip joint.
In fact, depending on your situation, stretching your psoas may actually do more harm than good! The key is to know whether your psoas is short and tight and thus in need of stretching, or if it’s weak and overstretched and in need of strengthening.
When you have a tight (or short) psoas muscle, you may experience pain in your lower back or in your hips, especially when lifting your legs. This is caused by the muscle compressing the discs in the lumbar region of your back.
Stretching your muscles and releasing the tension on the psoas is the best way to prevent this from happening. It takes time and daily attention to keep your psoas muscles relaxed, stretched, and strong.
And, while most people with psoas issues have tight psoas muscles, there are some people whose psoas muscles can be overstretched. In this case, if you stretch your psoas and it is already overstretched, you will cause more problems.
Your body will tell you what your psoas ultimately needs. Here are 7 ways to tell if you have a psoas muscle imbalance:
Leg length discrepancy. A tight psoas muscle can cause your pelvis to rotate forward. This in turn can cause an an internal rotation of your leg on the affected side. The opposite leg will rotate externally in an effort to counter-balance. This will make the affected leg longer so that every time you take a step, it drives your leg up into your hip socket. This can lead to functional leg length discrepancy.
Knee and low back pain. If you experience knee or low back pain with no apparent cause, it may be coming from your psoas muscles. When your femur is in essence locked into your hip socket due to a tight psoas muscle, rotation in the joint can’t occur. This can cause your knee and low back to torque.
Postural problems. When your psoas is too short or tight, it can pull your pelvis into an anterior tilt, compressing the spine and pulling your back into hyperlordosis or “duck butt.”If your psoas is overstretched or weak, it can flatten the natural curve of your lumbar spine creating a “flat butt.” This misalignment is characterized by tight hamstrings pulling down on the sitting bones, which causes the sacrum to lose its natural curve and results in a flattened lumbar spine. This can lead to low-back injury, especially at the intervertebral discs. You may also feel pain at the front of your hip. Finally, it is possible for your psoas muscles to be both tight and overstretched. In this case, your pelvis is pulled forward in front of your center of gravity, causing your back to curve (swayback) and your head to poke forward.
Difficulty moving your bowels. A tight psoas muscle can contribute to or even cause constipation. A large network of lumbar nerves and blood vessels passes through and around the psoas muscles. Tightness in the psoas muscles can impede blood flow and nerve impulses to the pelvic organs and legs.
In addition, when the psoas is tight your torso shortens decreasing the space for your internal organs. This affects food absorption and elimination. As such it can contribute to constipation, as well as sexual dysfunction.
Menstrual Cramps. An imbalance in your psoas muscles can be partially responsible for menstrual cramps as it puts added pressure in your reproductive organs.
Chest breathing. A tight psoas muscle can create a thrusting forward of the ribcage. This causes shallow, chest breathing, which limits the amount of oxygen taken in and encourages over usage of your neck muscles.
Feeling exhausted. Your psoas muscles create a muscular shelf that your kidneys and adrenals rest on. As you breathe properly your diaphragm moves and your psoas muscles gently massage these organs, stimulating blood circulation. But, when the psoas muscles become imbalanced, so do your kidneys and adrenal glands, causing physical and emotional exhaustion.
In fact, according to Liz Koch, author of The Psoas Book, “The psoas is so intimately involved in such basic physical and emotional reactions, that a chronically tightened psoas continually signals your body that you’re in danger, eventually exhausting the adrenal glands and depleting the immune system.”
Exercise, sitting in your favorite chair, wearing shoes, and even unhealed physical and emotional injuries can cause imbalance in your psoas muscles. Getting things back in balance will give you a greater range of motion and relief from pain. Plus, you feel more grounded and relaxed!
Here are some tips for getting things back in balance:
Avoid sitting for extended periods. If you must sit for work or other reasons, sit with good posture and be sure your hips are level or slightly higher than your knees. Avoid bucket seats and chairs without support for your low back. Try to get up and move around every hour.
Add support to your car seat. Use a rolled up towel underneath your sit bones and/ or behind your lumbar spine to keep the psoas and hip sockets released. If you are traveling long distances, stop every 3 hours to stretch and walk around for 10 minutes.
Lay off extreme exercise routines. I don’t mean completely or forever. But, if you are a power walker, distance runner or sprinter, or even if you do a lot of sit-ups, you may want to alternate your workouts.
Try Resistance Flexibility exercises. Resistance Flexibility exercises can do wonders for your fascia.
To strengthen your psoas, lay on your back with your hips abutting the wall next to a door frame. Raise one leg straight so that it is against the wall. (Your other leg will extend through the door way.) Bend your extended leg and using your hands to slow down the movement and create resistance, bring your bent knee toward your chest.
Do this while also pressing your raised leg into the wall. Then reverse the motion of your bent leg. As you straighten it, continue to create resistance using your hands to push your leg out as your leg resists.
Learn more about Resistance Flexibility & Strength Training developed by Bob Cooley at com and flexiblestrength.com.
Get a professional massage. Getting a massage from a seasoned practitioner can help relieve a tight psoas muscle. Understand that this work is not the most comfortable, but can be of great benefit. In fact, getting myofascial release on a regular basis helps to keep your psoas, and all of your muscles, fluid. Assisted stretching (as with a Resistance Flexibility trainer) and yoga are also excellent ways to restore balance to your psoas.
Take constructive rest. The Constructive Rest Position (CRP) can relieve low back, pelvic and hip tension while it allows your entire body to come into neutral. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor hip-width apart and parallel to each other.
Place your heels a comfortable distance from your buttocks – or about 16 inches away. Do not push your low back into the floor or tuck your pelvis. Rest your arms over your belly. Let gravity do the work. Doing this for 10 to 20 minutes every day will release tension in your psoas muscles and help to reestablish the neuro-biological rhythms that calm and refresh.
Pay attention to your pelvis! The length of the psoas determines whether or not your pelvis is free to move. To tell whether your psoas muscles are tight or overstretched, stand sideways by a mirror (or even better, have a friend take a photo of you from the side). Note the position of your pelvis. If you were to draw a line along your pelvis from back to front, that line should be pretty straight. If the line tilts downward, your pelvis is anteriorly rotated or moving toward the front of your body. This means that your psoas muscles may be short and tight. If the line runs upward, your pelvis is posteriorly tilted toward the back of your body. This means that your psoas muscles may be overstretched and weak.
Release stress and past traumas. We store stress in our bodies. Tension in the hips is common and it’s usually not just caused by lifestyle, age and physical events, such as injuries or accidents, but also due to mental stress and unhealed traumas. Releasing stress daily can help keep your psoas healthy. Take a leisurely walk. Soak in a bath with Epson salts. Acknowledge your emotions, express and release them. Divine Love is a great way to heal from past traumas. Finally, get out and do something pleasurable every day!
Read The Psoas Book. If you want to learn more about your psoas muscles, read The Psoas Book by Liz Koch. Koch believes that our fast paced modern lifestyle — including car seats, constrictive clothing, shoes that throw our posture out of alignment, and more — chronically triggers the psoas as it “literally embodies our deepest urge for survival, and more profoundly, our elemental desire to flourish.” You can also visit her website, www.coreawareness.com.
Psychiatrist Dr. Drew Ramsey discusses how poor diets and a lack of nutrients have harmed our brains, causing anxiety and depression, and why a client who visits him now for problems with her love life might just leave his office with a bunch of kale.
We've all heard about the microbiome, but what is it? Why should we care? And, most importantly, what should we do about it? Integrative gastroenterologist Dr. Robynne Chutkan breaks down what you need to know about the microbiome, the vast collection of microbes that live in and on your body, and how you can optimize your gut health to live a longer, better life.
by Tom Casano April 13 2016
If we do more of the things that make us happier, we will be happier. Pretty obvious, right? So, what's the holdup? Maybe the thing that makes you happy feels too time-consuming, too expensive, too daunting, or something else. Rather than let your fear paralyze you, though, why not start with the little things?
Taking small steps toward happiness energizes us and gives us the confidence we need to make more profound changes over time. With that in mind, here are 14 easy, fun ways to get happier right now:
1. Pet an animal.
Spending time with pets can be therapeutic and relieves stress. Don't have a fluff-ball of your own? Pet-sit for a friend or volunteer at a local animal shelter. The animals will appreciate your TLC, and their cuddly way of showing gratitude is a major mood boost.
2. Envision someone having the best day of their life, right now.
Someone somewhere is marrying the love of his/her life, celebrating a promotion, or has just won the lottery. By focusing on the good in the world and the lives of people around us, we begin to feel more optimistic about our own happiness. Just try it.
3. Take a walk (or a run).
Elle Woods wasn't wrong in Legally Blonde when she said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” (I'll bet you can finish that line for me.) Truthfully, though, if you're in search of a quick buzz, a 20-minute circuit workout is going to have a more positive effect than a glass of wine: It's that simple.
4. Flex your creative muscle.
A lot of these things we know make us happy (you know, the things we aren't doing?) involve expressing our creativity. Feeling the urge to paint, but have zero skill? Don't make yourself take a class first. Try finger painting. Who needs a brush to re-create a sunset? You could even try a coloring book or sticker collage. Start where you are. The idea is to get outside of your comfort zone without going so far outside it that you get discouraged by failure.
Love woodworking? Maybe you can graduate to building a doghouse. Are you a karaoke fiend? Try writing a song. If you're your own favorite chef, challenge yourself to cook something extra fancy. Clear your schedule and give your undivided attention to this creative endeavor. When you're in a flow state, nothing else matters. Learning how to get there is a gift you'll never stop appreciating.
5. Watch a feel-good movie.
There are so many uplifting movies with inspiring messages out there. When you can't imagine doing anything but diving into the couch and hibernating under the covers, at least pick a movie that'll make you feel better about life when you're done. The Mighty Ducks, Legally Blonde, Ferris Bueller's Day Off—all worthy places to start. Grab your favorite snack and let the inspiration take you away.
6. Get by with a little help from your friends.
Spending time with people who make you feel good will brighten your day and keep you in a cheery mood. Sharing smiles, memories, and hugs are all activities proven to improve your mood. Surround yourself with positive people who love you and remind you that life is meant to be enjoyed.
7. Pump up the jams.
We all have songs that always put us in a good mood—even when we'd rather wallow. So, if you're trying to stave off (or climb out of) a stale mood, make a playlist specifically for this purpose. Start injecting music into your day—while you work, walk, drive, or cook. You might even let it replace some of the stress-triggering stimuli in your life like traffic reports or news broadcasts. If being informed is ruining your life, it's not worth it.
8. Stop procrastinating.
Stop putting off doing things that make you uncomfortable. Have that tough discussion with your friend, partner, or co-worker. Go to the doctor and get that lump checked out. Go to the dentist and have your tooth filled. Stop letting things loom over you like some harbinger of doom. It's hard to feel good when you're staring down the barrel of unpleasantness constantly. Get the things you dread out of the way as soon as possible.
9. Meditate on and cultivate a positive feeling for two whole minutes.
Find a feeling of joy, and don't let it go. Try to extend that feeling for two minutes or longer. This exercise can help you release negative emotions and cultivate optimism. You can repeat it as often as necessary. And with this strategy in particular, the more frequently you do this, the better you'll feel.
10. Read something inspiring.
Self-help books transform millions of lives, but if that's not up your alley, there are countless works of fiction and other genres to draw on for their inspiring stories. We all have libraries, e-readers, Amazon. Why not read something motivational, inspiring, or therapeutic? Absorb the wisdom and advice from a book like this and just see if your life doesn't get better.
11. Plan a vacation.
Don’t worry about saving the money or asking for time off yet. Just have some fun planning your dream vacation. Create a whole itinerary—continents, countries, cities, and activities. Don’t focus on the impediments to the trip of your dreams. Instead, just imagine how great it will be when it happens. Let yourself play.
12. Make peace with something or someone.
Make peace with a situation that has been bothering you, then focus that attention on something that makes you feel better. Forgive someone who has wronged you and release any negative emotions or grudges you're holding on to.
Smiling tells your brain you're happy—whether you feel that way or not. Next time you need a boost, smile until you notice a change in your mood, and make it a habit to smile more often. It really does keep you happier.
It may sound silly, but if you force yourself to laugh, it will eventually result in genuine laughter. If that feels too weird, try to find something funny to watch or listen to, or spend more time with people who make you laugh. Laughter is healing. It releases endorphins and other chemicals in the brain that alleviate pain. The more laughter you can bring into your life, the happier you'll be.
Life isn't always easy, and our circumstances aren't ever in our control. Regardless, we can always control our own responses to them. We can choose to engage in activities that remind us life is good and remain appreciative of all the things that are going right. There are infinite ways to add joy to your world. These just scratch the surface.
The following exerts are taken from the very informative book "Exhausted to Energized" by the gorgeous & super talented
"Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) dominance
The SNS is behind the fight-or-flight response, driven predominately by the stress hormone adrenaline, whereas the opposite part of the nervous system, the PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System), acts as the rest, digest, repair & reproduce arm.
The challenge for so many people, & a major reason why they don't sleep well or feel their best, is that they are stuck in SNS dominance.
And what leads us to make adrenalin? Caffeine & our perception of pressure.
Too many people have made what they have to do each day full of pressure & urgency. And too many people have forgotten to see each day as one filled with ridiculous gifts, opportunities & a life that is so privileged because all of our basic needs are met, whereas, today, that is still not true for far too many people on the planet.
Your body doesn't understand that it is safe when you are churning out adrenalin, even if all you have done is had a few coffees & felt overwhelmed by how may emails you have. And some of you live on adrenalin & no longer even really feel stressed because you have become so used to it. It feels "normal" to you now.
If you are churning out stress hormones & they are communicating to every cell in your body that you are not safe, your body does not want you to sleep deeply, as you need to be able to wake up quickly & save your own life. Your body has your best interests at heart. You just need to communicate to it that you are safe & that it is safe to sleep deeply & restoratively.
There is no more powerful way to activate the PNS, than through the way you breathe. The rest & digest arm of the nervous system is activated in response to diaphragmatic breathing. I know it might sound too simple to make a difference, but how you breathe consistently over a day - short, sharp, shallow breaths driven by adrenalin, or long, slow, tummy-moving diaphragmatic breaths - has an impact on your nervous system, your blood chemistry, your oxygenation, & hence your energy.
Adrenaline drives those short, sharp breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing communicates safety to your body. It is the fastest way to decrease both adrenaline & cortisol. Simply investing some time each day in focusing on how you breathe can truly be game-changing.
Schedule diaphragmatic breathing. It truly is the cornerstone of calm, which is essential to restorative sleep & consistently great energy.
You can switch over to the rest & digest arm of the nervous system through how you breathe, & also by decreasing, or omitting, caffeine & beginning to identify where you perceive pressure in your life when you don't need to. These shifts will help the SNS lose its dominant position in your nervous system, which for some of you will help resolve your sleep challenges & help you wake with better energy!"
Make slow, deep breathing breathing part of your daily life by taking 3-6 YogAlign SIP Breaths with each visit to the toilet, so it becomes as natural as brushing your teeth.
by Light Watkins April 2, 2016
"There are many guidelines out there for how to meditate. But it’s also good to understand what not to do in meditation. Here are 10 common pitfalls that keep you from getting the full benefit of your practice.
1. Engaging in a power struggle
Your mind wants to use your meditation time to think about your unpaid bills, but you would rather focus on a white light image. Guess which thoughts are going to win? The thoughts about bills. Every time. The more you resist them, the more they will persist. So if you want to make meditation feel a hundred times easier, practice leaning in to the unwanted thoughts, and surprisingly, they will start to go away on their own.
2. Grading your meditations
“This morning’s meditation was amazing.” “Yesterday’s meditation sucked.” “The meditations from last week were OK.” Stop labeling your meditations and comparing them to one another! Five years from now, there will be no one meditation that stands out for being incredible—or horrible. But the feeling you will have as a whole from meditating for that long will be noticeably and positively different from the one you have right now.
3. Being inconsistent
The best way to feel virtually no results in meditation is to be an inconsistent meditator. The problem here is that people think the value in meditation needs to be sourced within the individual meditations themselves when actually the true value of meditating is only ever found in your life outside of meditation and only as a result of meditating consistently.
If you find yourself with a bullhorn and posterboard with a pro-meditation slogan scribbled on it while barking about the benefits of meditation to anyone who will listen, you’re going to have the opposite effect. The best way to get your friends and family to pick up the daily practice of meditation is for you to quietly meditate every day like clockwork and let them see the benefits naturally and organically unfolding within you.
5. Getting single-meditation-itis
You had an amazing meditation. Now, you unfairly compare all of your other meditations to that one pinnacle experience. And if you haven’t been able to get back to nirvana, you begin judging the boring meditations as being ineffective, or you become insecure about your abilities. Like showering, the overwhelming majority of meditations are going to be uneventful. But, also like showering, you will notice a tangible effect that follows each meditation, because you feel clearer and more focused. And if you happen to have the occasional moment of bliss in meditation, treat it as an exceptional surprise rather than a hard-fought goal.
When meditating, there is no need for a play-by-play dictation of experiences, as if you’re Marv Albert calling a basketball game. In other words, if you’re having thoughts like: “Now I’m just sitting here thinking,” and “Now I’m falling asleep.” “Oh, no, there’s that annoying thought about my ex again…” just allow yourself to engage nonchalantly in your thoughts, and you’ll eventually lose awareness of the fact that you’re meditating—which, by the way, is when you’re really meditating.
7. Looking for perfection
You are afraid to miss a meditation. Or the environment has to be perfectly quiet, or dark, or distraction-free in order for you to meditate successfully. To liberate yourself from the burden of perfection, try purposefully meditating in noisy and distracting places. Eventually, you’ll make yourself resilient to most noises and distractions.
8. Treating it like an emergency room
Do you only meditate on the dramatic days? If so, you’re giving the power of meditation too much credit. It can still be effective, but understand that meditation is less emergency medicine and more preventive maintenance. By waiting until you really need it, the last thing you’re going to feel like doing is meditating and, ironically, it won’t seem to work fast enough or be effective enough in the midst of all the drama.
9. Having an agenda
You enter into your meditations with a to-do list: “I need to figure out the solution to this problem,” or “I want to feel this particular way afterward.” These expectations actually work against your interests, because they keep your mind in judgmental mode, particularly if what you want to happen doesn’t end up happening. What’s really happening is your body’s intelligence is in charge, and you’re merely the facilitator of the experience. Let your intelligence do it’s job, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.
In the gym world, "cheating" is when doing pull-ups or bench presses, you’re not going all the way up or all the way down. Or, you’re swinging your entire body to perform the exercise instead of using your core to do the work. To the untrained eye, your efforts may look sufficient, and your number of repetitions are high. But if cheating becomes the norm, you’re ultimately not going to get the results you’re looking for (plus, you risk injury). A meditation cheat is when you’re meditating consistently, but short-changing yourself on the time. Let's say your commitment is to meditate for 15 minutes a day, but you regularly stop after 5 minutes, or 8 minutes, because it feels like nothing is happening. That's cheating. Just like in the gym, it's happening because you are being outcome-oriented instead of process-oriented, not realizing that you’re only cheating yourself. If you decide to meditate for 15 minutes, then sit for the entire 15 minutes."
Start out with a regular daily practice like 3-5 minutes, be gentle on yourself and increase as you feel comfortable. Namaste
Protein is essential for living organisms. It gives us energy, helps our bodies recover, and keeps our tummies satisfied. Protein is composed of long-chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle.
Your body produces 11 amino acids and the others—the 9 so-called essential amino acids—you must consume from food.
How would you know if you're protein deficient? Below are some symptoms that can be related to inadequate protein. Keep in mind that as with any nutrient deficiency, symptoms can have other causes, so this is a general list and not to be used to self-diagnose.
1. Food cravings
Constant food cravings and needing snacks often between meals may be the consequence of a high-carb/sugar and low-protein diet. Protein evens out blood sugar highs and lows.
2. Muscle and joint pain
Muscle weakness, pain, or being flabby where you used to be muscular may be a sign of your muscles or joint fluid breaking down to supplement calories instead of using the protein you eat to build muscles, tissues, and cells.
3. Slow recovery from injuries
To heal and rebuild new cells, tissue, and skin and for immunity we need a sufficient amount of protein.
4. Hair, skin, and nail troubles
Thin hair, hair falling out, peeling skin and nails, and ridges in nails are some of the first signs your body may not have enough protein.
5. Fluid retention
Edema, or fluid accumulation: protein plays a part internally in keeping fluid from accumulating in tissues, especially in feet and ankles.
6. Getting sick regularly
Frequent illness means you have a poor immune system and immune cells are made from proteins.
7. Brain fog
Foggy brain, short bursts of mental energy, followed by the fog may be related to fluctuating blood sugar and lack of protein.
How much protein should you eat?
It's pretty difficult to become protein deficient if you eat a diet with a variety of whole foods. If you aren’t getting enough protein, that probably means you aren’t eating enough calories, you’re following a bizarre or unhealthy diet, or you have some digestive imbalances.
If you eat too few calories, your body will use the protein you do eat for energy instead of building muscles, immunity, and healthy hair, skin and nails, etc.
At a minimum, the average person needs to consume 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For a person who weighs 150 pounds, that would be about 55 grams of protein per day.
But the “right” amount of protein depends on many factors, including activity levels, age, muscle mass, and current state of health.
Who's at risk of protein deficiency?
As we age our digestion and ability to use protein is less efficient.
Athletes burn more calories and use more protein to build muscle.
Those recovering from an acute illness or injury
To heal you need at least one and a half times the normal protein recommendations.
People who are stressed
Stress hormones increase muscle and tissue breakdown in times of both physical and emotional stress.
People on a weight-loss diet
It's been shown in studies that adequate protein is needed for weight loss to balance blood sugars and prevent muscle breakdown.
Those with digestive issues or low stomach acid
Many people have an imbalance in their gut and don’t digest proteins efficiently, which can lead to lowered immunity, weight gain, and protein deficiency. To digest protein you must have adequate stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCL).
What can you do if you think you're lacking in protein?
If you're eating processed foods and lots of carbs and sugars, start replacing those with whole foods like three or four servings of fresh meat, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs, plus whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. There's great protein in plant foods as well as in animal products.
If you're vegan, great protein sources include whole grains, lentils, soy, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
If you don’t like protein foods or don’t want to eat them, consider a protein powder supplement made from soy, egg, rice, peas, or whey.
If you think you may have low stomach acid, check with your physician or dietitian to get a good supplement.
If you have too much stress in your life, look into learning to meditate or do yoga, or find whatever activities work best for you to reduce stress.
Lucky for us, protein is available in many forms, raw and cooked. No matter what type of diet you follow, we have a number of ways to add more protein to our diets in a healthy and delicious way!