All you need to know about DETOX

So what exactly is detox? Does it actually benefit my body? How often should i practice it? What are the advantages to doing it? How do i go about getting started? More often than not, these are just one of the tons of questions that pops up in one’s mind when the word ‘DETOX’ is told. And in these days, people are using this word so frequently that got me wondering if they really knew the meaning to it. A common issue would be the various beautified terms around, ‘Detox Diet’, ‘Detox Programme’, ‘Detox Workout’ etc. And this DETOX would eventually equates to DIETING, for many.
However, if not practised correctly, this may actually lead to harmful effects to the body. Why so?
In fact, when one embarks on this diet, there will be a drastic lowering of calorie intake which usually only consists of non solid food, i.e. liquid diet. But whatever that is available in the commercial market, promotes more of its own branding than the healthy benefits for one, and as stated in womens health magazine, these diets usually have, “very low-calorie or contain diuretics that flush your body of potassium and other crucial nutrients.” And the assumingly weight lost from the 3 days detox diet, is actually just water weight, or worse still, muscles that you have lost and nothing of the fats that everyone claimed!  And since muscles are responsible for the extra amount of calorie we burn throughout the day, the metabolism actually slows way down to preserve the muscles and our bodily funtion. and the bad news is once you return back to the normal diet, you’ll eventually gain weight faster with FEWER calories!
Nevertheless, all is not lost. DETOX is actually a medium that aids the body in cleansing when done properly. With this said, as quoted from the womenshealthmag, one, “can feel like an intervention, a fresh beginning” after the period of detoxification. During this period, it also gives the digestive system a short break from the excess food taken daily.
Thus, a good plan would be one that provides minimum calorie but without a deficit for one’s body, which includes sufficient fibre and protein to sustain one through the day without feeling lethargic or any less energetic.
A Suggested Plan
Breakfast:

  • a glass of  warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Scrambled egg whites and 1 slice whole-wheat toast, dry
    or 1 cup cooked oats or cooked oatmeal topped with ½ cup berries or 2 Tbsp nutsSnack:
    • 1 medium sized apple 
    or 1/3 cup natural trail mix
    Lunch
    • 1 cup fresh spinach or lightly sautéed spinach or kale, squeezed with fresh lemon or orange juice
    or 1 cup asparagus with 1 tsp olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice
    • 4 oz grilled, baked, or broiled salmon, chicken, or pork tenderloin, seasoned with spices such as lemon pepper
    • 1/2 cup edamame beans, steamed
    • 8 pecan halves
    Snack:
    • 1/2 sweet potato or one citrus fruit (orange or grapefruit)
    • 4 oz low-fat yogurt
    Dinner
    • Large spinach or romaine salad with vegetables. Dress with 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil mixed with lemon juice or vinegar (any variety)
    • ½ cup to 1 cup asparagus or artichoke hearts, steamed
    • 4 oz lean chicken with spices, baked or grilled
    • ½ cup brown rice, barley, bulgur, or quinoa
    • 8 oz water or decaffeinated green or herbal tea
    Snack:
    • ¾ cup to 1 cup blueberries
    or ½ cup pomegranate seeds
    or low-fat organic yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese

credits womenshealthmag.
So bottomline is, lose weight the right way and do not rely on substitute foods for energry. Choose natural (sattvic food) which increases life, purity, strength, health and more, over processed food for convenience. In addition, it is also important to have a well-balanced diet with adequate amount of water which gives the body sufficent nutrients to function to the day to day chores. Water, a great cleansing  tool, helps dissolves and distributes food while removing impurities in the body. What’s more, its calorie free! Have a sip, before any cravings comes haunting, you may not be genuinely hungry there!

The Different Types of Pranayama

Breathing; an essential in our everyday life. But, just how much thought have people put into this element that enables our survival. Many people took breathing so lightly, that the inhalation and exhalation are so short which causes them to have an increase in breathes taken in a minute. This not only affects the mood but also made the heart work harder by pumping more oxygen and CO2 in and out of the physical body, as a result, reducing the life span of one. And people have not actually realised, all these small little things do link together.
In a yoga class, the first thing we do is to have the students do deep breathing, with inhalation and exhalation with a ratio of 1:2, to know their daily pattern of breathing. By being clear of one’s breathing patterns, they will be more clear as to what they want in life. This is similar to what you will hear people saying when your nervous/anxious, “take deep breaths”, however, to much dismay, the exhalation is much more important than the inhalation.
The different types of pranayama:

  • Anuloma Viloma (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

The basic breathing exercise which allows one to concentrate on the breathe going in and out of one nostril. Many a times, we will be only breathing in and out through one very nostril even without us realising.  And in yoga, the breathe in the right nostril is termed as hot, while the one in left is cool. Therefore when the breathe continues to flow through one nostril for more than 2 hours, iy is a symptom of derangement caused by excessive heat or cold. Thus this exercise is mainly for maintaining the equilibrium in the left and right processes in the body.

  • Nadi Shodana (Full Alternate Breathing)

The only difference between this and the first is that we include retention of breathe here with a ratio of 1:4:2, and 1:2:2 for beginners. By retaining the breathe, the lungs and entire respiratory system are cleansed and strengthened. And also, the rate of gaseous exchange in the lungs is greatly increased as a result of the increase in pressure. This means that more oxygen from the lungs goes into the blood stream and more CO2 are eliminated during exhalation.
Both of this alternate nostril breathing calms the mind, purifies the nadis (nerves), making the body light and eyes shiny.

  • Ujjayi

Also known as the ‘Ocean breath’, it is created by creating a soft sound in the back of the throat while inhaling and exhaling through the nose . This ujjayi breath is practiced during asanas as it creates a rhythm in the breath that allows us to flow throughout the practice. In addition, the sound also sets as a mantra to put our minds in focus and awareness. With both energizing and relaxing benefits at the same time, it makes one’s asana practice to be done at ease; increasing the oxgen intake, building internal heat as well as removing toxins all at once.

  • Kapalabhati

An exercise for the purification of the nasal passages, bronchial tubes and lungs through continuous passive inhalation and active exhalation whereby large quantities of CO2 are eliminated. With the riddance of CO2, the intake of O2 makes the blood richer and renews the blood tissues. Also, the constant movement of the diaphragm acts as a stimulant to the stomach, liver and pancreas. When practiced on a regular basis, it strengthens and increases the capacity of the lungs and intercostal muscles and also shows on the face with shine of good health and radiance.

  • Bhastrika

This is termed as the ‘King of Pranayama’ as the action of active inhalation and exhalation penetrates through the nerves directly, which is the antidote for all diseases. This exerecise is practically the combination of Kapalabhati and Ujjayi.
Both Kapalabhati and Bhastrika are pranayamas practiced to to increase the heat in the body as both activates the sympathetic nervous system. Therefore it is preferably used  before the asanas as a preparation for the workout.

  • Sitali and Sitkari

The final two pranayamas are both with a cooling effect, thus usually done after the workout to bring the body back to the normal temperature or during a hot weather. Cold air is felt during inhalation as the air goes through the curled tongue or in the part jaw, cooling the rest of the body as it goes into the esophagus, down towards the lungs. 
Both techniques are also very useful in calming the nervous system, and sitali in particular can alleviate nausea and symptoms of asthma.
By being conscious of our own breathing pattern, it eventually increases our bodily awareness, aids in relaxation and even tension and mild depression. With so many benefits proper breathing provide, let’s all start being aware of our own breath and work towards good health and vitality!

King of Asanas, Sirsasana

The headstand, one asana that i have not tried despite practicing yoga for 4-5 years. This is also one pose that many studios out there fear to teach it to the students. Inevitably, i was breaking out in cold sweat when i was first asked to perform it in class. Imagine supporting yourself only on the forearms, legs hanging in the air, the feeling of inbalance, the feeling of fear comes naturally.
However, this is also one inversion that provides tons of benefits to the body magically!
Benefits:

  • Awakening the sahasrara chakra which in turn help calms the brain and relieves stress and mild depression
  • By being in an inverted position, it allows the reverse flow of blood in the legs and visceral regions which aids tissue regeneration, thus allowing the removal of the unsightly visceral veins

Many a times, people tend to rush into going into the pose, like i did initially. So, we forget all about the help from the other parts of our body other than supporting on the forearms. However, the most important thing to do here is to squeeze the abdominal muscles as much as possible to raise the second leg up with full control. Once we get that up, all the weight will be distributed out evenly and thus the balance will come.
With this, this pose also aids in,

  • Toning of the arms, abs, legs muscles
  • Improves digestion

Now that I am getting the gist of this ‘King’, holding it in place for 20- 30 seconds, can really make a difference to the whole body. Once your up with full balance, the legs no longer are a hindrance, they would be feeling as light as feather and the whole body is just relaxing itself while you remove more CO2 out of the body.
The magic of just one pose.

My Best Friend, My First Student

Yesterday, was my very first lesson as a teacher. Even though it was my friend, i was feeling rather tensed up to conduct! However the feeling gradually subsided as the lesson went by.
And i realised, coaching an all beginner’s class is extremely different from a beginner who at least knows abit about yoga. It was a challenge to even get them to flow from one move to another, needless to say about the proper alignment and postures. And amusingly, like what we said to the masters in our first few lessons while doing Marichyasana, “my hand is too short, i cant bind”. That’s exactly what my friend complained! “my legs are too long, i can’t put my heels down” while doing downward facing dog, when i got her to straighten the back and putting the heels down.  HAHA.
It was a one-to-one personal lesson, and i think it was really nice, it felt more exclusive and i could put all my attention on her, allowing her to work out to her max. Though she was complaining about aches here and there today, but this shows i worked her hard. (And, isnt this the time for us to compensate for all the pain and sweat we’ve been through all these while! haha) Soaking in perspiration after the lesson, it also changed her perception of yoga being one with only easy,simple stretches!
Now, i feel the satisfaction to make one work out, sweat it all, be a teacher to all. It’s a feeling hard to describe, a feeling you can’t derive from other jobs. Love it, more lessons to come! (:

YOGASANA – the elixir* of life

Yogasana is the ultimate workout
A wonderful elixir without a doubt
With deep breathing and own body weight
To increase circulation and oxygen intake
With the breath, pranic energy** is introduced
Penetrating the cells and fatigue is reduced
This vital energy is the source
For awakening the dormant spiritual force
All joints and muscles are challenged into action
Lubricating the joints and increase their flexion
The spine is coaxed to bend in all directions
To maintain its flexibility and increase retraction
With the twisting, bending and body resistance
The internal organs are reminded of their existence
Glands are encouraged to secrete and work properly
Normalising imbalances within the body
The practitioner becomes lithe and agile
The bones bear weight and become less fragile
The skin is nourished with increased blood flow
The whites of the eyes shine and glow
Each asana is carefully designed
With spiritual and physical benefits in mind
Postures are practised with purpose and precision
With proper alignment and correct positions
At times, the body may show some resistance
But the body is pliable so practise with persistence
Practise with Tapas*** and mindful concentration
The results will bring you great satisfaction
The standing poses strengthen and revitalise
The prone poses energise
The sitting poses are calming and soothing
The twists are cleansing and rejuvenating
The supine poses are restful and relaxing
The backbends are exhilarating
The balancing poses give a feeling of lightness
The inversions bring mental brightness
Yogasana removes tension and relieves pain
Invigorates the body and refreshes the brain
Sharpens the intellect and aids concentration
Stills the mind and steadies the emotions
Yogasana strengthens the body in every way
Improves the immune system and keeps diseases at bay
Promotes healthy sleep and aids recovery from illness
Creating a vigorous being with overall wellness
To term Yogasana an exercise is a gross insult
The elixir of life will give rewarding results
Get on the mat!! I do plead
How much more convincing do you need?
An original
By Val Adams
15th Sept 2010
* Elixir=supreme remedy
**Pranic energy= vital force or ‘chi’
*** Tapas =A burning effort which involves purification, self-discipline and austerity. “Light on Yoga” B.K.S. Iyengar

The Journey

Im amazed by how time flies; amazed by myself; amazed by all my classmates, at how we perservered through the intensive course these 3 weeks. As the title itself suggests, intensive, was definitely not a scam. Our day started as early as 5am, reaching the studio by 7.
In fact, the first week was torturous! I would drag myself out of bed, lug my mat, my big bag and leave the house when everyone else were still in their deep slumber. I would secretly whine to myself inside, but today, i have not regretted once, for taking up this course and never will I be. I am already seeing myself doing this, 10 years,20 years down the road and i know i will.
Despite the absence of luxurious facilities, I love the place. For its conduciveness, for the peacefulness, for the warmth spread by everyone, which made that place very much like a second home to me for the past 3 weeks. We brushed through pain and sweat, finishing the very last set of moves with cleanched fists and teeth, burying our heads in the books of words, going beyond our limits day after day just for the aim of becoming an excellent teacher, to our future students. Like what the masters said, we want to become a ”teacher” and not just an ”instructor”, we want to be able to share all our knowledge to the students and not be one who just enters the class to conduct and give lessons.  Doesn’t sound like a task huh, but all these takes more than just actions. It’s the passion, the love to share.
Now that I have finished the course, I actually felt lost for the day, for there was no one around to push me deeper into the asana, get me to pump harder, suck in the belly more, use the core instead of momentum, squeeze your glutes, square the hips. OMGOSH. Im missing everyoneeeeeee!
All the best for the rest of you completing the 500. and me, I’ll work hard on my own here, and i shall visit all of you very soooon! :DD

The amazing healing powers of Asafoetida

What is Asafoetida?

Asafoetida, also known as Narthex or Hing, its powder is commonly used in Indian cooking.  Recognized by its overwhelming odour when raw, which has given rise to at least one of its many popular names, “devil’s dung”
Asafoetida is a plant from the Apiaceae family, which includes carrots, parsley, dill, celery, fennel,  Most similar in appearance to fennel, asafoetida smells like rotting feet, which causes many cooks to feel nervous about using the herb.
This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment and in pickles. Its odour, when uncooked, is so strong that it must be stored in airtight containers; otherwise the aroma will contaminate other spices stored nearby. However, its odour and flavor become much milder and more pleasant upon heating in oil or ghee, acquiring a taste and aroma reminiscent of sautéed onion and garlic.
Asafoetida is an herbal medicine used to treat nervousness, bronchitis, and gas pain. Other names for Asafoetida include: Ferula foetida, Devil’s Dung, and Giant Fennel. Asafoetida is a species of Ferula native to Iran. It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2 m tall, with stout, hollow, somewhat succulent stems 5-8 cm diameter at the base of the plant. Asafoetida is the dried latex exuded from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula , which is a perennial herb..
The leaves are 30-40 cm long, tripinnate or even more finely divided, with a stout basal sheath clasping the stem. The flowers are yellow, produced in large compound umbels. There are two main varieties of asafoetida. Milky white asafoetida and Red asafoetida. Asafoetida is acrid and bitter in taste and emits a strong disagreeable pungent odour due to the presence of sulphur compounds therein.

Benefits and Uses of Asafoetida

  • It is used to help relieve flatulence, abdominal pains, and digestive disorders and will kick-start peristalsis to prevent constipation.
  • Asafoetida is commonly used to treat bloating and gas to prevent flatulence, but it also quells stomach cramps, eases indigestion, and relieves constipation.
  • Asafoetida combines the properties of a stimulating antispasmodic with those of an efficient expectorant, making it a valuable remedy in spasmodic affections of the respiratory tract, as whooping-cough, asthma, etc.
  • It is powdered and mixed with ghee and rice and served to women after childbirth.It helps in relieving toothache.
  • Using the dried gum, this herb helps relieve headache pain and shows promise in treating migraines and tension headaches when mixed with water.
  • Efficient in preventing snake bites and repelling insects when mixed with garlic.
  • Asafoetida used for food stagnation, weak digestion, intestinal parasites and flatulence as well as asthma, whooping cough and chronic bronchitis.
  • It is also a laxative , especially useful in cases of flatulence.
  • Asafoetida was one of the most commonly prescribed herbs for the treatment of hysteria and for many symptoms associated with mood swings and depression.
  • Benefits of Asafoetida seed treatment for jowar becomes immune to drought conditions, increase in resistance to diseases, increase in crop yield.

VAsavasana

SAVASANA
The mother of Asanas is the relaxation pose
I am fully alert although my eyes are closed
My body is relaxed and in total melt-down
Fully supported and in touch with the ground
Tensing and relaxing each part in turn
Melting away the muscle burn
The mind is relaxed and completely at ease
Enjoying the silence and feeling the peace
Breathe steadily and deeply to ease the tension
Allowing my chest its full expansion
This asana is about letting go
In total submission I go with the flow
As worry and fatigue drain away
A gentle euphoria fills the day
A wonderful tonic is SAVASANA
Surrendering to gravity without the drama
So comforting, forgiving and sheer bliss
Why can’t all asanas be like this?
That’s Yoga…….if you must
Saving the best till the very last
An original by
Val Adams

My faithful friends

My faithful friends

Everyone of us holds treasured thoughts and mental pictures of experiences and loved ones and no one can take that away from us. For me, one of the most treasured and joyful mental pictures is of my Leo getting out of his bed and immediately doing a perfect “downward dog” to release every muscle of his body, before he trotted off about his important business. Leo, my pet dog and faithful companion of 19 years ‘taught’ me the benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog Yoga Asana).
This asana is my desert island pose and will forever have a place in my heart.
It has also become my faithful friend because I can rely on it to set me right.
It is an important pose that forms part of Surya Namaskar.(Sun Salutation)
Therapeutic Benefits of Downward Dog pose

  1. Restores, gives energy and removes fatigue
  2. Eases shoulder stiffness and relieves arthritic shoulder joints
  3. Enhances blood circulation
  4. Rejuvenates the brain cells and invigorates the brain
  5. Improves the functions of the digestive organs
  6. Slows the heartbeat as the diaphragm is lifted to the chest cavity.

Physical benefits of Downward Dog pose

  1. Stretches the gluteal muscles, hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendons
  2. Tones the abdominal muscles
  3. Strengthens the arms and shapes the legs
  4. Strengthens the Quadriceps and anterior tibialis
  5. Increase flexibility of the ankles


Technique (Getting into the pose)

  1. Begin in Balasana (Child’s pose) with arms extended in front.
  2. Rest the palms by the side of chest, fingers straight and pointing forward. Elbows close to the ribs
  3. Press down with hands and lift forearms away from the ground
  4. Externally rotate the shoulders and straighten elbows.
  5. Inhale and draw yourself up to your hands and knees, feet hip distance apart.
  6. Exhale and press hips back and up and lift the sitting bones
  7. Draw the stomach in towards the spine.
  8. Ensure feet are parallel and let head hang
  9. Press heels to the ground
  10. Align ears with the upper arms

Technique (Getting out of the pose)
Inhaling and lower the body down to the floor. Relax the arms by the side of the body back into Child pose
Tips:

  1. Keep the weight evenly on both arms and legs
  2. Hands must be firmly grounded
  3. From the diaphragm stretch the abdomen up and chest down
  4. Focus on the power of the thighs to hold this asana steady

Contraindications:
Sciatica, lower back problems, carpel tunnel syndrome
Persons suffering from high blood pressure can do this pose.
Val Adams