Sunday, December 4, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Don't count on many posts until the new year here. As a busy chiropractic student, things are heating up. The biggest test of the program is approaching in January, and as such, things are very intense until it wraps up. After that, many more practices with Near East Yoga, kirtans at the BhaktiShop, and perhaps even some fun at the Yoga Space too. More local food too.
One promised post...a reflection on an observation of a great yoga as therapy doctor.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Of all the things that yogis and non-yogis ask me about yoga, the wrists are number one on that list. Questions like: what do you do to ease the pressure on your wrists, my wrists are too bad to practice yoga, and do your wrists get messed up from yoga. All of these things and more come up. I even get questions about people wanting to do push-ups and think that the yogis have the answers.
The thing that many people don't think about is that your bones are living things. And as living things they change in response to stimuli. How often in your everyday life are you weight bearing on your wrists/hands...as much as your body weight? Not so much. In many yogasana you are supporting half to all of your weight with your arms. That's a lot for them. Bone remodels according to the stress it regularly experiences. This is why astronauts will come back to earth after living without gravity and have bone loss. It's why your bones are not perfect lines and cylinders, the muscles create stresses on the bones at different points when you're growing and the bone grows to accommodate that. This is also why weight-bearing exercise is recommended for those with, and at risk for osteoporosis, it can give the bones strength where it's needed.
Your body can change a lot in a few weeks. It takes 120 days for cortical bone to fully remodel against a new stress and about a year for the medulary bone to accomodate that same stress. A study monitoring bone strength in patients on bed-rest found that their skeleton changed it's strong parts from places like the heel to the new weight bearing places like the back of the head in a course of 17 weeks. All of this makes me think that it is likely that my body started to change during that break in my practice schedule. During that period of practically no weight bearing on my arms, I likely lost some of the strength there. I can no longer tolerate nearly 50 vinyasas in a practice. The way to get back that strength. Practice. Repeat. The science says at least 3 times a week will do you.
As a yoga teacher I think this is a valuable lesson learned. There is a reason to focus on the standing and seated asana with beginners and especially so with elderly students new to yoga. Let their bones get stronger. Encourage regular practice, at least 3x a week. Build them up from just one or two vinyasas and one short inversion. Take the pressure off the arms and let them grow gradually. Let these students know that if it hurts in their wrists, it's okay to ease up. Teach the very valuable half-sun salute as an alternative in beginners classes. Let them insert this variation as needed. Gradually increase the amount of weight bearing in the arms. In time, a hand stand and vinyasas will be much more tolerable.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
12 pints clam chowder base
6 1/2 half pints strawberry rhubarb jam
1 gallon frozen strawberries
2+ gallons of frozen cherries
10 1/2 half pints blue-raz jam
3 gallons frozen blueberries
21 1/2 half-pints blackberry jam
12 quarts peaches
2 gallons frozen peaches
1 1/2 gallons frozen blackberries
47 quarts tomatoes
12 half pints plum jam
10 quarts pickled beets
18 quarts dill pickles
3 pints refrigerator breat & butter pickles
Many thanks to my sources of fruit and veggies for canning: ABC seafood, New Seasons Market, Sauvie Island Farms, Pat & Marina, ODFW and USF&W for providing the space for blackberries to grow free, Josey Farms, Karam Farm, Giusto Farms, and Growers' Outlet.
Nuts will be ready for sale at Josey Farms this November, they have hazelnuts and walnuts in big sacks. They're the best nuts I've ever tasted. They come pre-cracked, but you need to separate shell from nut, but it's rainy and cold out anyway so it gives you something to do. The shells make excellent fire fuel if you have a fireplace or woodstove. We don't but we do give them to a friend who says they burn super warm!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
This summer I've been going to school, manning my little dirt spot of a garden, visiting the local u-picks, and preserving food for the winter. This leads to a lot of late nights and stuffed weekends. It should all pay off in the end though.
So far this year I have stored up:
* 12 pints of clam chowder base (add the dairy when you eat it)
* 6 half-pints Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam
* 1 gallon frozen strawberries
* 2 1/4 gallons frozen cherries
* 10 1/2 half-pints blueberry-raspberry jam
* 3 gallons frozen blueberries
* 21 1/2 half-pints Blackberry jam
* Several baggies of dried herbs
* A basket of garlic
* 12 quarts canned peaches
* 2 gallons frozen peaches
My freezer is now packed to it's limits. No more freezing this year. A deep freeze is my dream for when I move into a house.
I still hope to can a bunch of tomatoes, some pickles, some beets, and try my hand at some plum jam.
The last chore of the harvest will be to get the walnuts and hazelnuts from Josey Farms. They come pre-cracked, but you need to separate the nuts from the shells. The nuts are ready in late october/early november.
With all of this I don't have a lot of free time during the summer, but I'm fitting in a few roadtrips anyway! We're off to the Redwoods during my 'fall break' from school.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Seventh quarter in chiropractic school is very demanding. I think the whole point of this quarter is to see how many balls you can juggle at once without collapsing. I asked my boyfriend how I could practice daily, fufill the demands at school, eat, and sleep. He replied that he didn't know, that I'm pretty much maxxed out. I shouldn't be so hard on myself.
After just about 3 weeks of this schedule I came home today and collapsed on the couch without taking my dog out to pee...for two hours. Talk about crashing. I have been barely practicing at all, getting very little sleep, and beating myself up for not practicing 6 days a week like I did in Philly and not sleeping enough. This is not productive. It leaves me too drained to even practice on the weekend, when I actually could enjoy yoga, sans timer, pehaps even make it to the studio!
Clearly this is not the way. The first limb of yoga is the yamas, the first of which is ahimsa. I have not been kind to myself. I DO need to get through these 10 weeks, successfully. I will do what I can to make that happen. But perhaps I should stop beating myself up about literally making the choice to sleep. Cut the "mandatory" practice to the weekends/holidays. At the end of these ten weeks, I can go back to a daily practice over vacation.
Yoga has many parts, not just asana. I think my weekday practices will change to something new for now. I am contemplating meditation on a daily basis. Perhaps after the dog's after-school stroll.
Has anyone else ever felt like this? What did you do to get through it?
Monday, July 4, 2011
All the waiting has basically turned the U-Picks on Sauvie Island into a bit of a scene. Today I saw too many people in very nice outfits showing up with five gallon buckets. Sundresses and pretty white capris abounded. I sat there in my clothes that are meant for getting dirty...literally sitting in the dirt for three and a half hours. Picking the juicy bundles of early summer sunshine for a total of 7 1/2 pounds. The pretty clothes people walked about bending every so often to pluck a berry, commenting on how low the bushes were. They left with maybe a quart in their buckets. Strawberry picking is dirty work, as well as the rest of farming. Come prepared and reap the rewards!
I picked Hood Strawberries. A local favorite. These berries remind me of the field of wild strawberries across from my parents' house. Delicious and tiny. The only difference is they are bigger, but not by much. They are much smaller than the average berry you find in other varieties.
Seven and a half pounds of strawberries will keep me busy after my shower. Tonight I will make strawberry-rhubarb jam. I will tart freezing berries...hoping for a gallon to make treats throughout the year. The rest will be for us to eat in their most simple form throughout the week.
At the farm they mentioned blueberries and raspberries will be ready next week. This summer is moving right along. It looks like another batch of jam will be cranked out within a week or two!
Thursday, June 30, 2011
My favorite spring salad?
Saute chopped garlic scapes, asparagus, and chives in butter. Hardboil an egg. Chop radishes and a small amount of cheese to add to whatever greens you have on hand. Combine the whole thing and dress simply with a bit of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper.
Sometimes I'll make some croutons by drizzling some baguette pieces with olive oil and toasting them in the toaster oven. You can also rub them with a split chunk of garlic scape or add salt if you like.
Dessert can be a piece of chocolate or strawberries/cherries when they become available.
At least another two weeks of salads at my place.
Strawberries are popping and jam making is in order now. Some other spring preserving I do is to freeze a gallon each of cherries and strawberries. This gives me something to make smoothies out of throughout the year. Another smoothie prep I'm adding this year is to juice a watermellon and freeze it into cubes.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Glaucoma affects 15% of people in their 60s and up. This disease creates irreversible vision damage due to increased interocular pressure pressing on the II cranial nerve which supplies your retina. Inversions, all of them, including downward facing dog and child's pose, can increase interocular pressure and aggrevate glaucoma. You would think that the solution is just to not practice asanas with your head lower than your heart if you have glaucoma, and you're right. Except, many people that have glaucoma don't know it until big damage has been done. The disease starts by gradually eliminating your peripheral vision, you really don't see it coming. The only way to find out is to have an eye exam by a professional.
Who is at risk?
*African Americans 35+
*People with a family history of glaucoma
*People with cardiovascular disease
*People with hypertension
*Those that experience vasospasms
*Likely at risk people: migrane sufferers, the obese, smokers, heavy alcohol users, those with anxiety or high stress levels
I would like to hypothesize that regular yogasana practice including inversions would help your body to learn to control and tolerate increased interocular pressure. However, I could find no research to support that hypothesis. On the bright side, there is also no evidence that yogis have a higher glaucoma rate.
The Mayo Clinic lists weight & blood pressure control and excerise as good prevention, all of which yoga practice provides.
They also recommend eye exams every 3-5 years, every year if you're over 60. I'm clearly due. The good news is the reason I dislike eye exams is the air-puff glaucoma exam. Apparently, this went out of style years ago and now a more accurate, non-air-puff test is used. Nothing should hold me back now.
What do I recommend for the inversion-loving yogi?
1. Get regular eye check-ups.
2. If you have glaucoma, follow doctors orders and practice ahimsa by modifying your asana practice appropriately.
3. If you are a yoga teacher, teach inversions with great reverence and perhaps encourage your students to love their drishti with a eye check-up.
A side note: Corticosteroids, especially those in eye drop form can increase interocular pressure. The effect can last a few weeks to months after you are off the drug. If you are on these drugs for any reason, it may be wise to modify your practice until this time period passes.
Appropriate asana practice modifications would be to keep your head above your heart as much as possible and definitely no shoulder, head, or hand-stands. Perhaps prop your head on a folded towel for legs up the wall instead. Make your backward bends all ones that start from the belly down position. Spend little if any time in standing forward folds and downward facing dog; instead practice your forward folds seated. Get creative and protect your drishti!
Saturday, May 21, 2011
My favorite quote from the lecture was that "Ashtanga yoga has a reputation of being serious and severe, but it's not that at all; rather it is very sincere."
Here are some other gems I took away from the experience:
*A main key to this practice is moola bhanda, by engaging it you can contain all the energy that you gather in with practice instead of it all draining out of you.
*Morning practice has the effect of connecting you to the world around you.
*Personalizing your practice is the best thing you can do to strengthen it.
*Marichiasana is about sending the energy up the shushumna nadi, you need to sit up to make that happen.
*Prasarita is about opening your back body, breathe into your kidneys.
*Sometimes the only thing holding you back is fear. This is where a teacher comes in handy. They can give you a safety net that can allow you to realize what is true.
*Lighten up. Do what you can, and come back to your practice tomorrow. This is a practice that can last a lifetime.
*Pranayama is essential past 60. Be strong enough for it.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Saturday, April 2, 2011
- Last night I was blessed in many ways to spend time with Manorma, an amazing teacher, at the BhaktiShop. Blessed in one way because yogis trust one another. My wallet was stolen on Thursday. I had to cancel all my cards and thus, have no access to my money until the bank sends me a new ATM card. The very sweet BhaktiShop received and e-mail from me explaining the situation and immediately extended the offer to pay them when I could. I don't practice here and don't know these people, but yogis CAN trust one another because yogis are bound by ahimsa, satya, and asteya to not harm each other, not lie, and not steal; we can trust each other. I will send them the money AND a thank you card when I can.
- On the greater level, I am blessed that Manorma (which translates as charming to the heart, delight to the mind), comes to Portland from New York at all. Here is some of what I took away from just two hours. I highly recommend that you go see Ma even if you have little interest in Sanskrit at all. Her spiritual knowledge is the best. Check out sankritstudies.org.
- Manorma talked about the point of yoga: Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah. (Sutra 1.2) Stop fueling the spinning of the mind. Without giving it energy it can't keep turning. Asana, chanting, meditation pranayama-these are all tools we are given to achieve this task. Eventually you will drop all tools. The mind and the body are also tools. We should use them to play, but remember that they too are merely tools for this lifetime. DON'T do anything that doesn't come naturally-the point is not to be crazy. The point of yoga is to come closer to answering the question "who am I?", not loose yourself. How to do this? Have some formal practice using the tool(s) of your choice-go all the way with that particular tool. Manorma highly recommends meditation. I really should do more of that. No one likes meditation, especially me! This is because it is the height of intimacy and you might get TMI from yourself. The point of meditation is to cultivate witness consciousness. this witness helps you function in the world without becoming controlled by your mind and body, but rather control them. The best way to answer the question "Who am I?" and stop the spinning of the mind is two-fold:
1. Have a formal practice of some kind. Do this every day. Why? YOU are different every day. If this is true, then you need to expose every piece of yourself to the practice to learn more about YOU.
2. Be conscious in your life. Notice what your mind does in every waking moment and don't let it carry you, you carry it in its like/don't like duality. Use it as the tool that it is. Meditation helps with this.
- Always keep your rhythm. It will hold you steady. The rhythm is breath, mantra, heartbeat.