The Healing Power of Yoga

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I have been practicing yoga for over twenty years. Teaching for the past two has been an amazing experience. Going into the yoga room is like pressing the pause button on time – as we settle into the breath, synchronizing its rhythm with the movements, our worries fall away and stress melts. We stretch, twist and bend. We push our personal boundaries as we expand into the poses.

Lying still for five to ten minutes at the end of class allows the benefits of the practice to sink in, body, mind, and spirit. We leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to enter back into daily life with a whole new perspective.

If you’ve never tried yoga, I recommend finding a studio and giving it a try. This is an excellent way to manage stress, that thief of health and wellness. It may not be possible right at this moment to eliminate daily stress, but it is possible to control our reaction to it. The breath awareness and coordinated poses that yoga offers will give you a new way of dealing with life. It transforms us from the inside out.

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Root Vegetable Delight

I am always looking for ways to make beets taste delightful – they are so  packed with health benefiting properties!

Beets support the liver. We all know how much the modern-day liver must deal with in terms of environmental toxins, medications and food additives. Giving this important organ support offers a big boost in how we feel, and beets are one of the very best foods for this purpose.

If we are living with any type of autoimmune disorder it is important to remember that all of the organs and systems in the body are interconnected. When we eat foods to heal the liver, we are helping our entire body heal, since the liver is such a key player in the overall function of the body.

This dish makes an excellent mid-winter lunch or dinner, and also works as a tasty side dish.

 

Recipe:

Ingredients

3 or 4 organic beets

3 large, organic yams

1 organic sweet onion

Ghee

1 Tablespoon Curry powder (can be straight ground curry, or if you have a mixture you like, that works)

3 Tablespoons Turmeric (the SUPER spice)

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1 cup organic basmati rice, soaked (soak rice for 24 hours, rinsing and changing water halfway through)

1 can organic Coconut Milk

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel beets and yams and cut them into cubes. Cut onion into strips.

Place beets, yams and onions on large glass baking dish and drizzle generously with melted ghee. Sprinkle with sea salt. Place in oven and roast, stirring occasionally, for an hour.

Forty minutes later, place drained rice and coconut milk, along with two cups of water, into a sauce pan or rice cooker to cook. If using sauce pan, bring mixture to a boil, then cover and turn to low heart.

When veggies are done roasting, melt 2 tablespoons ghee slowly in large cast iron pan on low heat, stirring in turmeric and curry powder. Stir constantly until a nice paste is formed.

Place roasted veggies into the pan, and turn heat to medium. Stir veggies to coat with paste.

Place almost all the way cooked coconut rice into cast iron mixture. It is good if it still has a moistness, even a little wet still.

Stir in well and fry together with veggies for seven to ten minutes, continuing to stir.

YUM!

Your liver will thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swimming toward the light

Amanda Rose Baker

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The past couple of years have been transformational.

In January of 2014 I was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This diagnosis came as quite a shock.

The frustrating part was that, even after following my doctor’s advice perfectly, by August of 2014, I was still dealing with the daily hives that had plagued my life for over a year. These red welts appeared all over my skin in the morning – every single day. This picture of my shoulder gives you an idea of what they looked like. They would pop up on different places on my skin. The worst was when they covered my neck, those grew the most inflamed and the feeling was most uncomfortable.

The hives would slowly subside after I took a Benadryl, only to make a comeback in the afternoon or evening. And no one had any answers aside from ‘take more Benadryl’. It was like an unsolvable mystery.

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To Metabolize Experience

I’ve always loved the snow. The way the light reflects off of the crystalline surfaces, creating small sparks of color; the way each snowflake is uniquely shaped; how when it lays on the ground, its individual flakes merge into a soft blanket of white.

It seems like each of us is as equally unique as a snowflake. I’ve always noticed this among my friends – I am blessed with amazing friends – some I’ve been close to for as long as twenty-five years, others I met in Hawaii more than a decade ago, some I’ve know less than a year. I love friendship and it is healthy for women to have strong friendships.

One thing I have noticed, is that five women can go into one experience together, and come away with five versions of memories of the experience. The rough details and outline is the same, of course, such as where and when the event took place, the sequence of events, the weather.

But most of the fine details differ in the varying recounts of the same event or experience.

Why is this?

Ayurveda provides an interesting explanation: Each person is unique. We all are born with individual constitutions, we react to experiences differently, we have our own perceptions as to what goes on around us.

We ‘metabolize’ experiences in our own way. There are several levels on which  a person must metabolize the events and relationships of their lives. And we all do this with our own set of background experiences, viewpoints etc.

True health occurs on many levels. An important one is how we relate to the people around us. If we keep in mind that everyone is seeing things from their own vantage point, maybe we can open up great conversations and ask what someone has experienced, and then learn and grow from their answers. We can do this with love.

If they do the same for us, solid relationships built on trust and  understanding can be built.

Our health will benefit!

Reset Your Digestion and Assimilate Your Life

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December is here! There is something unique about this month. Another year, wrapping up. Tis the season to take stock of all that has occurred, to allow it to sink in. Wait – most of us barely have time to breathe this time of year, let alone reflect!

But, every experience must be digested. The obvious association with the word ‘digest’ is food and the digestive tract. However, everything we go through – all that we read, the conversations we engage in, the experiences we have –  must be processed. The physical system of digestion is but one mechanism used for this type of purpose; there are also the spiritual and mental levels. These levels are equally important, if not more so, to our health and well-being.

We are overwhelmed with news right now. Information is coming at us so fast, there is no time to assimilate it on top of our already busy lives. And so,our systems are becoming backed-up at alarming rates. This is impacting the state of our collective unconscious. We are collectively clogged up.

How can we remedy this? The benefits of meditation are gaining solid, scientific backing. Slowing down, even for a few minutes a day, and simply breathing deeply can help immensely.

Another way we can give our overloaded body/mind/spirits a chance to properly assimilate everything, is to give our physical digestive systems a rest. Between parties and festivities this month, consider eating only an easily digested food for a couple of days. As the digestive system rests, the other areas have a chance catch up – to deal with all that we are being forced to deal with.

Here is a recipe for Kitcharee – the perfect food for this type of reset. I make up a big pot and save some in a glass container in the fridge to be warmed up throughout the day. The idea is to eat nothing but this food. Water and tea can be consumed, but this reset only works if we truly give our bodies a break from sorting out myriad foods and additives.

Give yourself a rest, on the level that you can affect, while still engaging in your busy life.

 

Simple Kitcharee

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked organic basmati rice – soaked (Soak your rice in water for around 8 hours to make it easier to digest. Drain the water you soaked it in, leaving only the rice)

1 cup  green mung dahl – soaked (Same process as with the rice, but dahl can soak for 24 hours) This legume can be found in the bulk section of a good health food store.

5 tablespoons organic ghee

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

3 tablespoons organic turmeric

1 teaspoon sea salt

7 cups pure water

To prepare:

In a big stockpot, melt the ghee over low heat. Add the coriander seeds and cumin seeds, stirring continually. When you hear the coriander seeds begin to pop, add the turmeric and salt, as you stir. When the paste is mixed together, add the mung beans and stir them in well. Now add the rice, stirring well. Add the water and turn the heat up to high. Allow the mixture to boil for about three minutes, then cover and turn the heat down. Simmer for around forty-five minutes, until the water is gone and you have a soft porridge. You may add steamed veggies of any kind, except for white potatoes, to add variety.

 

 

I could only quit SUGAR after understanding THIS

So, here I was, faced with the news that I had developed food allergies and autoimmunity, and that I just had to live with these facts and get prepared for a  slow ride into the darkness of ever-worsening disease. Refusing to accept this descent, I dug in and researched. I was suddenly fascinated with the question: How does my body really work?

All my life I had taken for granted that my body worked well –  I had never questioned how. But, now that it seemed to be breaking down, I had to know. I believe life is to be enjoyed and savored. I now realized that to continue this way of living, I better get in touch with the mechanics of this body, because it truly is our vehicle, our vantage point.

One game changing piece of information I discovered is: we don’t actually have one brain, we have two, and if that second brain is unwell, expect chaos.

The second brain is located in the gut, and communicates with the first brain (the one in the head) by a long nerve, called the Vagus Nerve.The Vagus Nerve begins in the brain stem, and wanders throughout the ‘viscera’, or the internal organs, specifically the organs of the chest, abdomen and pelvis. This is where the term ‘visceral reaction’ comes from – referring to a feeling deep in the gut.

What exactly is the gut? The GI (gastrointestinal) Tract is a hollow tube that runs through the body, from the mouth, through the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine or colon, and out through the rectum. This is the part of our inner body that is exposed to the outside world, by the things we ingest through our mouths. The Vagus Nerve is constantly using its sensors to see what’s going on in the gut, and sending messages back to the main brain about the state of affairs.

Interesting!! The term ‘gut reaction’ has a scientific basis. Does this have any connection to autoimmunity and allergies? Oh, yeah. I had stumbled across gold with this knowledge. Let me explain.

There is a section of the GI tract that has a whole lot to do with autoimmunity and that is the small intestine. The small intestine is a tubular structure that winds back and forth, so although it is called ‘small’ it is actually quite long. This very important organ has a wall that is not very thick, and that can be delicate. Large particles are not meant to escape this wall, they are meant to be broken down into tiny molecules that our body can use as energy. Anything we can’t use, is supposed to pass into the colon from here, and be expelled.

The problem arises when the wall of our small intestine becomes compromised, because when this happens, large molecules – usually protein chains – escape the intestinal wall and are released into our bloodstream. Now our second brain is shouting out, ‘Call in the troops!’ The troops – the immune system – rev up to annihilate these intruders. When this continues to happen over time, the immune system becomes overactive. In a later post I will go into more detail about how this eventually develops into autoimmunity and food allergies.

In this post, I am shining the spotlight on an unwanted visitor in the GI tract, one that I picture like an evil octopus –  actually, a team of evil octopi – that once introduced, will hold onto the inside of your gut, happy to have found such an awesome home. This evil octopi team is called yeast – once it’s out of control, the term is candida. And quite simply, the culprit is SUGAR. Sugar will destroy the intestinal wall and cause great havoc. That’s right, yeast will destroy the intestinal wall, making it permeable so that large molecules go where they are not supposed to go. Talk about a bad gut feeling.

In my year to heal, the first thing I did in January, was to totally eliminate processed sugar in any form from my diet. Was this hard? At first, yes. And let me tell you, candida is a real bugger to defeat. It took me 9 months to finally kill this invader, and only when I was victorious in this battle, did my hives finally stop.

Step one in your year to heal: Take your sugar bowl, tell it thank you for the good times, and throw out the window. And don’t look back.

Become the Captain of Your Destiny

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I talked about how horrible I was feeling in 2013. I haven’t yet mentioned that I actually ended up in the emergency room five times. Each time, my face and/or throat were so puffy and swollen, that my husband and I thought I was going to suffocate. Once in the emergency room, they always pumped me full of Benedryl and a steroid, and the puffiness went down. They sent me away with the advice to take Benedryl, and the diagnoses of an ‘allergic reaction’. We walked out of the emergency room – usually hours later- with the knowledge that I had experienced some sort of allergic reaction, with absolutely no idea what triggered it. This left me in constant, mild state of panic.

My doctor ordered allergy testing, and a couple of things showed up, like oatmeal (are you kidding me?? I have been eating oatmeal my whole life with no reaction, until recently, I was thinking.) Upon doing tons of research, I discovered that our immune systems are like the armed forces, and we actually have four different teams. When conventional medicine does allergy testing, they typically only test one of the teams. So, mine showed that I was just fine with gluten, but I now understand that my body was strongly reacting to gluten with an immune system team, other than the one they tested for.

Keep in mind, that I have never had a problem with food allergies. Well, they tell you that allergies can develop at any time in your life, but they don’t explain why or how. They simply arm you with an epi-pen and tell you to have it on hand at all times, and that you can always call 911. That’s great that I am equipped to handle an emergency, but I was not okay with living my life on the edge like this. I needed to know why and how this change in my body had occurred. The answer surprised me. I will share it all on this blog, over time. I will also discuss how all of this relates to auto-immunity.

The result of my year to heal, is that I no longer experience hives, and I no longer live in fear of a horrible allergic reaction. It feels like a miracle.

Even if you aren’t experiencing full blown allergic reactions, like I was, your body may be having internal issues, and sending you subtle signs, that will later degenerate into disease. Not good. Where does this leave the average person?

I believe that a steady, slow healing program is in order for many of us. We don’t need fad diets that melt the pounds away quickly, or short-term solutions to looking or feeling better. A year is a good amount of time to give yourself for the healing journey, and then the new ways will be deeply ingrained, changing your life forever – and changing the last third of your life profoundly. I believe a total body, multi-system year of healing accompanied by lifestyle changes, can eliminate future calamities such as cancer, lupus, MS and even Alzheimer’s. In this way, we become captains of our own destinies.

When we are captains of our own destinies, life takes on a whole new level of intrigue. With elevated energy levels, we can pursue the things that make life exciting. We can learn to play an instrument or plan an adventure trip, for example. If we’re just struggling to get through the day, the bonuses of life seem overwhelming, like who has energy for that? When our systems are healed, and our bodies are working properly, even our way of thinking is changed in a positive way. We actually see the world differently. What once may have made us feel uncomfortable, or even anxious, now seems exciting and doable. We are truly driving our own ship, instead of simply holding on for dear life, and letting it drive us.

In the next post, I will explain the first step I took, in my Year To Heal.

The Breaking Point

Everybody has a physical breaking point. That threshold when the body is like ‘no way, I cannot handle anymore toxic overload. I’m breaking down.’ There will be signals that precede the breakdown – fatigue, depression, weight gain, skin rashes or acne, loss of libido – are a few. Hopefully some of you are at the point where you can turn your health around now, and avoid the breakdown – which shows up differently for everyone – like MS, diabetes, arthritis. But, even if you are someone who has gone all the way over into the ‘breakdown’ stage, and have been diagnosed with  auto-immunity, or even cancer, there is hope.

In our world today, our bodies are dealing with so much toxicity, in the air, in the chemicals all around us – I mean we sleep every night on mattresses sprayed in flame retardant, a powerful chemical that is not so good for the human body. What is amazing, is how much our bodies can deal with – our bodies are so strong! Since we are attached to this body for our entire lives, it makes sense to give it as much support as we can. Why overload it with further toxins, in the areas we can actually control?

In the case of auto-immunity, there are three elements that must be present in order to reach that threshold into disease. The first is the genetic predisposition to auto-immunity. It’s in the genes, baby. The second is that monster called stress. And the third is diet. When all three aspects are present, the threshold into auto-immunity is inevitable. But, I have proven that it is possible to put a full-on auto-immune condition into remission.

How? There are many layers to the process, all of which I will share on this blog. We can simplify it though, and say that two of these elements are under our control – stress and diet – diet being a good starting place. As we understand how what we eat impacts our health, we can make wise choices in terms of what we put into our bodies. I found that the biggest empowerment in this area comes from knowledge, understanding how our bodies actually work. The myriad causes of stress make it harder to manage. We hear ‘you must control your stress levels’ and sometimes it’s like – sure, like that’s possible. It is possible, but due to the complexity of this issue, we will come back to this in future posts.

It is wise to think of our bodies as a series of interconnected systems. When one system starts to fail, a chain reaction goes off inside of our bodies, and the result is inflammation and disease.

When someone has an auto-immune disease such as Hashimoto’s, they take a thyroid hormone replacement which replaces the hormone that the body is missing, but it does NOT repair the thyroid gland, and it does NOT stop the out of control parts of your immune system from attacking your thyroid gland. If you go through your life JUST taking synthroid (as an example), and implementing no other healing practices, it is likely that eventually your thyroid will be completely destroyed.

This is no small matter. The thyroid gland, although small, is a crucial player in the mechanics of being alive. It is shaped like a butterfly, and it wraps around the windpipe on three sides. The function of this little butterfly is to secrete hormones that deliver energy to every cell of the body. If you think your cells can function without energy, think again. In other words, if you have Hashimoto’s and you bury your head in the sand, you will become increasingly dependent on thyroid replacement hormones, as your little butterfly continues to be ruthlessly attacked and destroyed.

If you have hypothyroid, I would recommend asking your Doctor to check your thyroid antibodies, to see if you have Hashimoto’s. In my research, I came across so many stories where people did not even know they had Hashimoto’s for years and years – in fact, this happened to me. Many times if you are hypothyroid, you have Hashimoto’s and the attack on the thyroid is causing your thyroid to be under active.

Take charge of your health now, wherever on the spectrum you may lie! We have a huge opportunity to do this, in the area of diet. Your Grandma didn’t say ‘You are what you eat.’ for nothing. For me, someone who thought I was eating healthily for years, and was not eating an ideal diet for my unique composition, educating myself about how the body actually works was a crossroads in my life. Each of us is as unique as a snowflake. We can delve in and discover what diet is best for us, and impact our health, upgrading the quality of our lives forever. In the next post we will look at this further.

Vibrancy Is Our Birthright

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Today, I wake up in the morning, full of energy – not a burst of energy that is easily expended and depleted, but a slow-burning, steady energy that sustains me through my day.

In 2013, this was not the case. That year, every day, no matter what time I went to bed, I woke up tired. At 6 a.m. the day loomed before me like an insurmountable Everest. I remember getting my kids up and fed and bathed, and looking at the clock and thinking ‘No way – 8 am – I will never make it all the way through this day!’ And then my body would fill up with a kind of panic. Because, I literally did not feel that I could make it through the day – my energy was too low. This was not in my head, this was a physical reality.

It didn’t help that I had to take Benedryl soon after getting up, in order to calm down the angry, red hives that covered my body. The deep love I have for my children was what got me through those days, that and sheer will. I would tell myself ‘you can do this’ over and over. And I was a stay-at-home mom whose job was to cook, clean, and care for my little ones. I put everything I had into their care. If I had been forced to leave to a job where I had to drive and get ready and interact with adults, there is no way I would have made it, in a situation like that. I simply did not have enough energy.

I know a lot of women struggle with fatigue. Is this just life, just the way it is? No. I have proved otherwise by regaining my health, clarity and energy. But, it is crucial to understand that our bodies are comprised of various interconnected systems. If one of these systems goes down, or is compromised, a chain reaction ensues. Fatigue is one symptom that things are off.

Do we want to wait until we are in the doctor’s office undergoing tests, hearing bad news? Because that is the inevitable outcome of a life lived under stress, or with a diet that is taxing our system to the point that a domino effect of collapse is occurring within us, silently.

The first step is understanding how it all works. This is our health we are talking about, our very vitality. It is paramount. We can’t leave it to the professionals to understand how we work – sure we can rely on them to be the experts, but we can have a good grasp on how our own bodies work, so that we can instigate healing for ourselves. As women, we have an invaluable tool in our box, and that is intuition. Couple this tool with knowledge, and healing is accessible to us all, no matter how sick we are.

Depression – not situational sadness that is a normal part of life – but depression, that bleak feeling of hopelessness, or that life is too boring or too flat, is a symptom that our internal systems are failing. Before we have total health collapses like MS or cancer, our bodies send us subtle red flags that something is off. These include depression, fatigue, weight gain or difficulty losing or gaining weight, , loss of libido and brain fog. These symptoms are not ‘just part of life’. There are situational reasons for all of these, but if there are no explanations for these symptoms, we should not have to live with them.

It is our birthright to be vibrant. We each have something to offer this world, and this world needs us now more than ever. We were born to be bright, imaginative, energetic beings, with a zest for being alive. Anything less, and we are being short changed. Let’s not get to the last years of our life and be filled with regret. Let’s not die slow, miserable deaths as our bodies finally collapse from years of inner disease that we simply ignored.

Let this be the year we ALL choose healing!

My next post will start to dive into the mechanics of how our bodies work – a fascinating exploration into the reality within.