recover well: 3 drinks for your yoga recovery.

recover (2)

 

Second piece of advice in my Summer Recovery Series: DRINK UP.  If it seems asinine to remind you to do something that your body does by instinct: think about your yesterday.  How many glasses of water did you drink between 8:00 am and noon?  How many between noon and 8:00 pm?  Most of us had a few sips when we brushed our teeth in the morning, then moved into coffee, then into tea, then into iced coffee, then… the list goes on.

If you truly want to recover well from your yoga practice (especially if you are sweating it out in the Ashtanga room, where tradition asks us not to drink water during the practice to keep the internal agni (fire) and tapas (zeal) alive) then you need to pay attention to the liquids re-hydrating your muscles and tendons.

3 drinks for your Yoga Recovery

1. Water. That seems pretty simple.  keep-calm-drink-more-waterThe Mayo Clinic suggests an adequate intake of 2.2 to 3 liters a day of fluids for healthy, active adults.  You can always follow the 8×8 rule (8 glasses of 8 ounces) because it is easy to remember.  Drinking water, which flushes the toxins from your system, drastically decreases muscle soreness by moving the lactic acid out of your muscles.  In addition, remember that the connective tissue that covers your muscles, called fascia, tightens into a more dense weave of tissue when it is dehydrated.
If you honestly want your hamstrings to feel good the next day, make sure you drink water before and after your yoga practice.  Ideally, we would all practice in the morning and then drink watetrhave the entire day to re-hydrate.  (And remember to offer Gratitude for every drink of water… there are too many families living in poverty who do not have access to clean water!  If you don’t know much about this crisis, check out water.org or Outreach International and share a few pennies with the 800 million people who need a drink.)

2. Coconut water.  Coconut water has all the important electrolytes that your body sweats out during intense breathing and movement. Most of us DO NOT need sports drinks: these have a huge amount of sugar and other additives that may as well be poison.  Not really, but pretty close.  And if your yoga practice is a part of your overall ‘get fit and toned’ plan, then adding these extra empty calories into your diet is counterproductive.  Coconut water, on the other hand, is tasty, low in calories, and has no added sugars.  It is high in electrolytes like potassium, which is the key point.  I buy ZICO because it was started by a Peace Corps volunteer, both the bottles and lids are recyclable, and it’s yummy.  According to their site, the ZICO_11oz_Natural_225x184biggest bragging point for coconut water as a recovery drink is the naturally high concentration of potassium.       “[Potassium is] an electrolyte (one of five that naturally occur in coconut water, including magnesium, sodium, calcium, and phosphorus) that helps promote hydration and is needed for muscle contraction and function. One bottle of ZICO contains as much potassium as a banana.”  It’s a phenomenal choice for recovery– lactose-free, fat-free, refreshing and easy.  (**NOTE: Stick to the original flavor.  The chocolate and pineapple flavors are not appetizing. Read: super disgusting.)

3. DIY Lemon Recovery Drink.  My favorite trick is to make my own batch of a tasty sports recovery drink from whole-food ingredients.  It’s SUPER easy, and you can adjust the flavor by tweaking the recipe.

Ingredients: lemon honey

  • Water
  • 1 tsp Table salt
  • 1 Lemon
  • Honey to taste

Directions:

  • Quick boil 16 oz of water
  • Add 1 tsp of table salt (for the added electrolytes) and stir until dissolved
  • Squeeze in lemon juice
  • Squeeze in honey and stir until dissolved
  • Store in fridge until it’s refreshingly cold, and drink for a few days!

It’s EASY and delicious and natural. (And doesn’t require any packaging that fills up your recycle bin!)

Ok, try them out.  Let me know which suggestion is your favorite or send me the recipe of your favorite recovery drink.

-lisa

 

the language of yoga: karma.

The Language of Yoga: Karma

The language of yoga: karma.

“Karma-a-a!” the teacher hollered across the pre-school classroom.  I looked up, expectantly, wondering: what the hell happened?  A little girl in wearing a backwards purple shirt and Pebbles Flinstone hair rushed past me, rushing to hug the teacher’s knees. The teacher wasn’t yelling “karma” in exasperation as I expected… she was calling the name of an adorable pre-schooler with an under bite.  Seriously?  Seriously.  Someone named her little girl Karma.  Oh dear God, I thought… What an unlucky name.  Or, wait, maybe it’s a really lucky name.  Was this Karma a good karma or a bad karma consequence?  

Karma is probably the most-used and least-understood concept in the Yoga philosophy.  Its meanings are many, and do in fact, vary across Religious traditions.  (e.g. ‘karma’ means something different in Buddhism than in Taoism.)  A few months ago, I stumbled across this article which explains the Sanskrit term of Karma.  It isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start… and it may inspire you to re-think the next time you pull out the old shrug-and-sing ‘karma’ when your friend gets a parking ticket.

This article is re-posted from Yoga Glo.  Its original format can be found here.  Written by Alice G. Walton, PhD

Karma may be one of the most colloquialized expressions from the yogic tradition, and unfortunately it’s also one of the most misunderstood. It originally comes from the Sanskrit word “karman,” whose root “kri” means simply “to do” – no morality or ethics implied. In fact, Karma itself is usually just translated as “to act.” But we tend to think of it as having more significant undertones, with god or fate in there as a mediator between action and consequence. And this is actually not so close to the original meaning, which is much more straightforward.

Maren Showkeir, who co-authored the book Yoga Wisdom at Work, points out how misinterpreted the word often can often be today. “I think people get really confused about Karma,” she says. “Many people have the misconception that it’s about the Universe or the Cosmos or even god rewarding/punishing based on actions we take.” It’s not about this at all, she says, and there’s no third party judging or orchestrating the actions we do.

Karma is just about what happens in the world after we take action of any kind – and the fact that our actions do have consequences, though we may not always be aware of what they are. “It’s nothing more than the connection between action and consequence,” she says. “That is always neutral. It’s our perceptions and judgments that label ‘good and bad.’” Some have pointed out that it’s really just as basic as Newton’s third law of motion (“for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”). And if we can get on board with this simplicity, we’ll understand the essence of Karma pretty well.

The problem is that we’re not always aware of how our actions will affect others, so there’s always some element of unknowing – and this can give way to the feeling that there must be another force at play. “We can’t really shape karma because we can never know the consequences of our actions,” says Showkeir, “which may be why people want to chalk it up to ‘the universe.’ However, we can be mindful about the actions we take.”

In other words, it’s about keeping intention, rather than consequence, in mind as we decide on our actions. There’s no guarantee, of course, but we can hope that decisions that come from a place of kindness will – in most cases – end in positive results. Showkeir agrees that for her, “the challenge is to try not to get too hung up on the potential consequences. If I act with the assumption/expectation that if I do X, we’ll get Y positive result, I am setting myself up for disappointment. The thing that drives my actions is my intention, and that is where the focus belongs. It is a fine distinction, but in my mind, an essential one.”

Acting from a place of intention frees you up to make better decisions, because you’re not overwhelmed – or worse, paralyzed – by all the potential outcomes. In those cases, like Showkeir says, your brain sort of shuts down because it’s impossible to predict the future. But acting with the assumption that good intentions usually lead to good outcomes is a lot more logical and a lot more liberating. “We can recognize that we are responsible for the consequences of our actions,” says Showkeir. “And that will lead to more peace.”

Alice G. Walton, PhD is a health and science writer, and began practicing (and falling in love with) yoga last year. She is the Associate Editor at TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com and a Contributor at Forbes.com. Alice will be exploring yoga’s different styles, history, and philosophy, and sharing what she learns here on the YogaGlo blog. You can follow Alice on Twitter @AliceWalton and Facebook at Facebook.com/alicegwalton.

This article is re-posted from Yoga Glo.  Its original format can be found here.

only three things matter.

IMG_1832

photo cred MA

This quote is powerful.  I try to read it every single day to remind myself of what’s important in life and not to stress over what is not so important. (Remember when it was popular to sigh ‘don’t sweat the small stuff?’ This well-meant sentiment somehow turned into an excuse not to clean the kitchen. Unfortunate. Anyway…)

So, if only these three things matter: 1) how much you loved, 2) how gently you lived, and 3) how gracefully you let go, then why do we carry around so many regrets?  

Is regret an emotion that is worth experiencing? I’d like to hear your thoughts.  My Ironman is of the opinion that if you currently ‘regret’ something, then you are wasting time and energy: that emotional energy is holding you to the past and impeding your ability to move fully into the future with confidence and emotional clarity.

I’m of the opinion that regret can be useful if we use it as a lens to interpret what we consider to be a ‘mistake’ and then commit not to repeat this mistake in the future.  Sometimes we need to be able to look back and say: “I made that decision with the information I had available and the wisdom I had access to at that time.  Now, my decision may be different.”  I’m also of the opinion that the Universe provides us ample repeated opportunities to repeat the same mistake, if we so choose.  Meaning: if we didn’t learn a lesson the first time around, we will probably get another chance!  In yoga, we call this samskara.  On a personal level, our spiritual journey is ripe with repeated opportunities for learning lessons.

Carina Chocano from aeon online magazine writes an article entitled “Why regret is essential to the good life”.  While I don’t agree with everything in her article, it does supply a fascinating view on regret as an integral piece of the complexity of human psychology.

So, my questions to you: What do you regret?  Why?  What can this regret teach you?  What are you doing to strengthen yourself so these regrets don’t follow you around?  How gracefully can you let go of this regret?  See my posts on Aparigraha on why ‘letting go’ is of central importance in the yoga lifestyle.

Give it a good thought, let me know.

Happy Regretting,

-lisa

yoga teaches us it’s ok to be uncomfortable.

There are quite a few moments during a yoga practice when I am uncomfortable.  My right hip aches in pigeon pose every day and my back usually feels like steel when I try to back bend.  The other day the practice room was sweltering, humid, and packed with hot bodies.  I’ve been practicing this ridiculous backbend in the Ashtanga 2nd series (this picture is NOT me… this gumby-lady looks really comfortable in this pose) and after coming out of the pose, I thought:  “Well, that’s it.  I’m going to die.”

backBendjpg.preview_0This is not an isolated phenomenon: most people are a little uncomfortable when they first start yoga.  Balancing on one foot is a little scary.  Balancing on your head is even scarier.  Being in a room with other people wearing spandex is terrifying.  Being in a room with other people, period, is terrifying.  Bending over and touching your toes hurts.  Bending your knees hurts.  Listen: I get it.  Stretching and moving our bodies in new ways is “undoing years of doing”, and that usually feel uncomfortable.  But that is, well… the point.  If we can learn to stay calm when we are uncomfortable on the mat,  then we can learn to stay calm when we are uncomfortable off the mat.  That’s why we call yoga a practice.

keep calm and say om

One thing yoga has helped me address in my life is my anxiety surrounding change.  I like to feel grounded, safe, home, and secure.  (Who doesn’t?)  Learning to embrace yoga helped me learn coping skills to look toward big changes in my life (home, job, etc.) with excitement instead of anxiety.  Yoga helped me learn the breath is the only thing that is truly in the present moment.  We cannot breathe in the past and we cannot breathe in the future: we can only breathe right now.  This article, re-posted from zenhabits.com, is worth reading because it gives the same advice: learning to be ok with discomfort helps you plan for the future.

A Guide for Young People: What to Do With Your Life

By Leo Babauta

(original article found here at ZenHabits)

I had a 15-year-old write to me and ask about figuring out what do do with her life.  She writes:

‘As a high-school student I’m constantly being reminded to figure out what to do with my life, what career I would like to have and so on. I definitely feel huge amounts of pressure when my teachers and parents tell me to figure out something now. I’m young and I don’t want to make a mistake and ruin my future. I know what I like and what my interests are but when I read about a job related to those interests I always feel as if I wouldn’t enjoy it and I don’t know why.’

What an extremely tough thing to figure out: what to do with your future! Now, I can’t really tell this young woman what to do, as her parents might not like that very much, but I can share what I’ve learned looking back on my life, and what I would tell my kids (oldest is 21 and still figuring things out, but I also have 17- and 16-year-old boys and a 14-year-old girl).  Here’s what I’d say.

You can’t figure out the future. Even young people who have a plan (be a doctor, lawyer, research scientist, singer) don’t really know what will happen. If they have any certainty at all, they’re a bit deluded. Life doesn’t go according to plan, and while a few people might do exactly what they set out to do, you never know if you’re one of those. Other things come along to change you, to change your opportunities, to change the world. The jobs of working at Google, Amazon or Twitter, for example, didn’t exist when I was a teen-ager. Neither did the job of Zen Habits blogger.

So if you can’t figure out the future, what do you do? Don’t focus on the future. Focus on what you can do right now that will be good no matter what the future brings. Make stuff. Build stuff. Learn skills. Go on adventures. Make friends. These things will help in any future.

Learn to be good with discomfort. One of the most important skills you can develop is being OK with some discomfort. The best things in life are often hard, and if you shy away from difficulty and discomfort, you’ll miss out. You’ll live a life of safety.

Learning is hard. Building something great is hard. Writing a book is hard. A marriage is hard. Running an ultramarathon is hard. All are amazing.

If you get good at this, you can do anything. You can start a business, which you couldn’t if you’re afraid of discomfort, because starting a business is hard and uncomfortable.

How do you get good at this? Do things now that are uncomfortable and hard, on purpose. But start with small doses. Try exercising for a little bit, even if it’s hard, but just start with a few minutes of it, and increase a minute every few days or so. Try writing a blog or meditating every day. When you find yourself avoiding discomfort, push yourself just a little bit more (within limits of reason and safety of course).

Learn to be good with uncertainty. A related skill is thriving in uncertainty. Starting a business, for example, is an amazing thing to do … but if you’re afraid of uncertainty, you’ll skip it. You can’t know how things will turn out, and so if you need to know how things will turn out, you’ll avoid great projects, businesses, opportunities.

But if you can be OK with not knowing, you’ll be open to many more possibilities. Read more on uncertainty.

If you’re good at discomfort and uncertainty, you could do all kinds of things: travel the world and live cheaply while blogging about it, write a book, start a business, live in a foreign country and teach English, learn to program and create your own software, take a job with a startup, create an online magazine with other good young writers, and much more. All of those would be awesome, but you have to be OK with discomfort and uncertainty.

If any opportunities like these come along, you’ll be ready if you’ve practiced these skills.

Learn about your mind. Most people don’t realize that fear controls them. They don’t notice when they run to distraction, or rationalize doing things they told themselves they wouldn’t do. It’s hard to change mental habits because you don’t always see what’s going on in your head.

Learn about how your mind works, and you’ll be much better at all of this. The best ways: meditation and blogging. With meditation (read how to do it) you watch your mind jumping around, running from discomfort, rationalizing. With blogging, you are forced to reflect on what you’ve been doing in life and what you’ve learned from it. It’s a great tool for self-growth, and I recommend it to every young person.

Build something small. Most people fritter their time away on things that don’t matter, like TV, video games, social media, reading news. A year of that and you have nothing to show for it. But if you did a sketch every day, or started writing web app, or created a blog or a video channel that you update regularly, or started building a cookie business … at the end of a year you’ll have something great. And some new skills. Something you can point to and say, “I built that.” Which most people can’t do.

Start small, and build it every day if possible. It’s like putting your money in investments: it grows in value over time.

Become trustworthy. When someone hires a young person, the biggest fear is that the young person is not trustworthy. That they’ll come in late and lie about it and miss deadlines. Someone who has established a reputation over the years might be much more trusted, and more likely to be hired. Learn to be trustworthy by showing up on time, doing your best on every task, being honest, admitting mistakes but fixing them, trying your best to meet deadlines, being a good person.

If you do that, you’ll build a reputation and people will recommend you to others, which is the best way to get a job or investor.

Be ready for opportunities. If you do all of the above, or at least most of it, you’ll be amazing. You’ll be way, way ahead of pretty much every other person your age. And opportunities will come your way, if you have your eyes open: job opportunities, a chance to build something with someone, an idea for a startup that you can build yourself, a new thing to learn and turn into a business, the chance to submit your new screenplay.

These opportunities might come along, and you have to be ready to seize them. Take risks — that’s one of the advantages of being young. And if none come along, create your own.

Finally: The idea behind all of this is that you can’t know what you’re going to do with your life right now, because you don’t know who you’re going to be, what you’ll be able to do, what you’ll be passionate about, who you’ll meet, what opportunities will come up, or what the world will be like. But you do know this: if you are prepared, you can do anything you want.

Prepare yourself by learning about your mind, becoming trustworthy, building things, overcoming procrastination, getting good at discomfort and uncertainty.

You can put all this off and live a life of safety and boringness. Or you can start today, and see what life has to offer you.

Just remember: this advice isn’t just for young people– you can change your life trajectory at any age to uncover more fulfillment in your life.  You only get one life: ‘Keep Calm and Say Om.’

-lisa

summer smoothies. (recipes galore!)

 Summer smoothies. (Recipes galore!)

2014-05-23 13.44.32

Yeah, I know that Barnes and Noble has a whole shelf filled with Smoothie Recipe Books… but making my own is so much more fun!  I tried my best to measure ingredients (ugh… you all know by now how I feel about measuring and concise quantities) to provide you all with the best summer smoothie recipes of 2014.  Katie Carnahan-Shipley/ “Ms. I’m so bored with my morning smoothie routine,” these are for you!

Sedona Surprise (aka Pineapple and Avocado)

  •  1/2 avocado
  • 4 pineapple slices
  • 6 kale leaves
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup aloe juice or water

Beets for Lunch

  • 1 beet, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 Cup mixed berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, etc)
  • 1 Cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 apple
  • As much kale as you can fit in

A Team (Carrot and Kale)

  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1 pear
  • 1 Cup carrot juice
  • As much kale as you can handle

Green Tart  photo

  • 1 green apple
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 cup grapefruit juice
  • 10+ rainbow chard leaves

Healthy Elvis

  • Frozen banana
  • 6 frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 Cup soy milk
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 cup Spinach

Earthy Smooth

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 4 oz + spinach
  • 1 Cup orange juice
  • 1/4 Cup walnuts
  • 1/2 pear
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds

‘downward facing dog’ reduces diabetes?

So here’s good news: we all know that weight bearing exercise supports bone density and reduces body fat (stronger! leaner! yeah!) but finally researchers are counting strength-based yoga poses as ‘resistance training.’  A newly released study involving women aged 30-50 found that the women who routinely exercised– even doing non-aerobic activities like yoga– reduced the risk of diabetes.

A recap of the Harvard study can be found on NPR Health Shots.  It says that “for each 60 minutes of activity in a week, the women reduced their risk of diabetes by about 14 percent… Women who did muscle-strengthening and conditioning exercise more than 150 minutes a week lowered their diabetes risk by 40 percent.

And Downward Facing Dog counts!  That’s super good news for those of you who detest running and aren’t coordinated enough to bike for more than a few minutes. Aerobic activity is awesome for your cardiovascular health (Sun Salutations totally count– check out this video by Kino MacGregor for great instruction), but rest assured that the work you do in yoga class is contributing to your physical health on a level that you can’t always see and feel.

Celebrate your health!  Do some down dogs!

dd

photo courtesy of yogajournal.com

~lisa