100 Ways to Nurture Yourself

100 Ways to Nurture Yourself
From Demanding Joy.com

Probably the most important component to demanding your joy is learning to take excellent care of yourself – mind, body, and spirit.  Think of caring for yourself as if you were your own child – giving to yourself at least as much as you give to others.  You are worth it!

Like joy itself, self-nurturing comes in many little bits.  Here are 100 of those bits for your consideration.  This is not a checklist – only a list of suggestions.  Please take the ones that speak to you and ignore the rest.  Enjoy!

  1. Put a post-it on your mirror that says, “You look beautiful!” – and then accept the compliment every time you look at yourself.
  2. Buy fresh flowers every now and then. – Brighten up the place.
  3. Used colored pens for no particular reason. – Blue and black are fine, but how about orange?
  4. Take a walk without a destination. – It’s a great way to get some exercise and clear your mind.  Be mindful of what you see, hear and feel.
  5. Take a hot bath. – With bubbles.
  6. Write in a journal. – Write anything that calls you.  Ideas, experiences, dreams, frustrations – get them out of your head and down on paper.
  7. List the things that you’re grateful for. – You can’t help but feel better when you literally count your blessings.
  8. List the things that you like about yourself. – We can all list the things that we don’t like about ourselves.  Turn that around and think about your many positive qualities.
  9. Create something. – Many of us have gotten away from actually making things.  Create some artwork.  Write something.  Build something.  Make something that didn’t exist before.  It can be functional or frivolous – as long as you enjoy the process.
  10. Treat yourself. – We struggle to be disciplined, especially with money and food.  You deserve a reward, right?
  11. Smile. – It’s very difficult to feel bad when your face is happy.
  12. Squash negative thoughts. – Listen to what’s going on in your head and actively quiet the voices of pessimists and critics.  Assume the best, not the worst.
  13. Try something new. – Go out on a limb.  Learn something new.  Do that thing you’ve always wanted to try.  The more experiences you have, the richer your life will be.
  14. Get enough sleep. – Everything is hard when you’re tired.
  15. Meditate. – It takes a little practice at first, but if you find a meditation that works for you, you will be calmer and more peaceful.
  16. Drink plenty of water. – It’s basic, but it’s so good for you.
  17. Stretch. – Before you start your day, take a few minutes for a good muscle stretch.  It just plain feels good.  And, it’s fast, easy and free.
  18. Put some “me time” on your calendar. – When life gets busy, doing things for yourself is the first thing to be sacrificed.  So, actually block out time on your calendar.  Call it a ‘staff meeting’ or something so that no one intrudes on your time.
  19. Call a friend. – Think of someone who you enjoy and ring them up!
  20. Ask for help. – This can be hard.  But it’s so important to recognize when you need a sounding board, or some advice, or an extra pair of hands.
  21. Say no. – Your time is valuable.  Set boundaries to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
  22. Ask for a hug. – We all need one.  So just go get one.  The person you ask probably needs one too.
  23. Delegate. – Hire someone to mow the lawn or scrub the floors.  Teach the kids to do laundry.  Give that project to a co-worker.  You do not have to do it all.
  24. Take a deep breath. – And another.  Now another.  It’s like a mini-break to reset yourself during the day.
  25. Light a candle or use a reed diffuser. – Your sense of smell creates the strongest memories.  Find scents you love and enjoy them.
  26. Claim some space for yourself. – A place where you can go to have a quiet moment to read a book, or meditate, or cry – somewhere that you can get some peace and privacy.
  27. Get out into nature. – Reconnecting with the earth is just good for your soul. Feel the breeze.  Breathe the fresh air.  So good!
  28. Buy the good ice cream. – Even on the tightest of budgets, this is important.
  29. Use lotions & soaps with scents that you love. – It’s a nice way to pamper yourself, plus you’ll smell good all day.
  30. Give a compliment. – Telling someone that they had a fantastic idea or that they look beautiful in that color creates a pleasant environment and makes two people feel good for the price of one.
  31. Listen to music. – Listen to whatever makes you happy.  Can you be grumpy while listening to Gloria Gaynor?  I think not.
  32. Play. – Something we forget as adults.  A board game, a sport, finger painting – find something frivolous and have fun!
  33. Eat foods that you love. – Low fat, low calorie, low carb – blah, blah, blah.  Food is to be enjoyed!  Put food into your body that nourishes you in every way.
  34. Be silly every now and again. – We take ourselves entirely too seriously.  Let go.  Be spontaneous and outrageous!
  35. Laugh. – Sometimes you just need a good laugh to lift your spirits.
  36. Limit screen time. – Too much time in front of computers, TV’s, video games, and blackberries (or all of the above) disconnects you from the world immediately around you and makes your brain mushy.  Make sure that you’re getting plenty of input from the non-virtual world.
  37. Be present. – Be deliberate about experiencing what’s happening right now.  It’s all about the journey – don’t miss yours!
  38. Stop worrying. – It’s going to be fine.  Because it is.
  39. Trust yourself. – You are smart, capable and talented.  Your choices are just as valid as anyone else’s.  Don’t second guess yourself.
  40. Do something that’s only for you. – Remember that hobby that you used to have time for?  Or that food that no one else in your house likes?  Reclaim it.
  41. Make sure your health is in order. – What’s more important than your health?  See your doctor regularly.  Make sure you are getting the vitamins or supplements that you need.  Advocate for yourself as you would for your child.
  42. Give to someone in need. – Donating your time or your stuff or your money to someone less fortunate makes you feel good and puts your problems into perspective.
  43. Sparkle! – Feeling schlumpy?  Get all dolled up. Wear something schmancy.  It’s a good way to find your strut.
  44. Dance. – It’s inherently joyful.  You can’t be sad if you’re dancing!
  45. Write your own rock star introduction. – Image you’re on tour with thousands of screaming fans.  How will you be introduced?  “Please welcome the brilliant, the amazing, the gorgeous….you!”
  46. Stand up for yourself. – Your needs are important.  Don’t let anyone disregard them.  Pushing back can be scary but it’s empowering too!
  47. Celebrate! (for any reason at all) – Your kid learned to tie his shoes!  Your taxes are done and filed!  The week is more than half over!  Let’s party!
  48. Find a mantra or an affirmation that lifts your spirits. – “Today is a new day.” “I know that life always supports me.” “I get everything that I want.”  Find one that works for you.
  49. Stand tall. – Your spirit can’t soar when you slouch.  You feel much more powerful when you stand up straight and look the world in the eye.
  50. Have sex. – What can I say?  It feels good.
  51. Get a massage. – What can I say?  It feels good.
  52. Choose optimism. – Thinking positive thoughts has a tangible impact on your day and on your life.
  53. Dream big. – You can do anything you set your mind to!
  54. Tune out the naysayers. – People criticize for many reasons, most of which have nothing to do with you.  Follow your heart – not everyone has to get it.
  55. Add color to your surroundings. – Beiges and taupes are pervasive these days.  Depressing.  Make sure that you introduce energetic colors where you work and where you live.
  56. Surround yourself with the things you love. – Photos of loved ones or mementos that bring happy memories.  You should have the stuff that you love all around you.
  57. Declutter. – You should have ONLY the stuff that you love.  Purge everything in your life, both physical and emotional that you don’t honestly need, use or love.  Everything else distracts you from your true intentions and bogs you down.
  58. Stop procrastinating. – Procrastination is a form of perfectionism.  Accept that it’s not going to be perfect and just get it over with.  Image how great it will feel to not have it hanging over your head any more!
  59. Listen to your inner voice. – Your instincts are good.  It’s important to listen to your own head and heart.
  60. Cut yourself some slack. – Arguably the most important tip on this list.  We hold ourselves to impossible standards and then beat ourselves up when we don’t meet them.  Would you be this hard on anyone else?
  61. Slow down. – When you’re living your life at top speed, you’re missing most of it.  Stop and take a breath.  Look for ways to adopt a more humane pace.
  62. Identify your passion. – What do you love?  Do you have a non-profit organization that you feel passionate about?  Are you passionate about water polo?  How about 14th century Portuguese literature?  Find something in your life that really floats your boat.
  63. Toot your own horn. – You’re awesome.  Please make sure that everyone knows it.
  64. Move your body. – Run and jump and climb a tree.  Take a tap dancing class.  Power walk.  Anything that feels good that gets your blood moving.  The only limitation:  it has to be fun.  Don’t get on a treadmill if you hate the treadmill.
  65. Invest in really good bras. – This one is gender-specific, obviously.  You feel much better about yourself when you’re hoisted up properly.  So stand tall and salute the sun ladies!
  66. Purge things that aren’t good for you. – Unhealthy foods, cigarettes, a miserable work environment, toxic people – do what you have to do to set boundaries and demand the highest quality of life.  You deserve it.  Things that don’t nourish and support you – think about how you might be rid of them.
  67. Limit your news consumption. – It’s important to be well-informed, but the non-stop feed of earthquakes and plane crashes and economic crisis and war is not good for us.  Be deliberate in finding a balance that’s best for you.  Once you’ve seen today’s news cycle, turn it off.
  68. Say yes to life. – Opportunities are everywhere.  Take a class, join a team, go bungee jumping.  When new things present themselves to you – jump at the chance.
  69. Stop hating your body. – If the women of the world took all of the time, energy and money that we spend on hating our bodies and turned it towards something productive, there would be no war, poverty or disease left on the planet.  Your body is your body.  Nobody’s looking at your physical flaws because they’re all too busy trying to hide their own.  Let’s give ourselves a break and let it go.
  70. Sing loudly. – In the shower and the car and anywhere else you like.  With reckless abandon.
  71. Be kind. – Be nice to someone else.  You will have made the world a better place.  What feels better than that?
  72. Tell someone you love them. – We often forget to say it out loud.  It matters.
  73. Take all of your vacation days. – You earned them.  Don’t give them back to your company for nothing.
  74. Play hooky. – Call in sick once in awhile when you’re not sick.  Use the day to pamper yourself (not to catch up on errands or housework).
  75. Take pride in the hard times that you have overcome. – What didn’t kill you made you stronger.  It wasn’t easy, but you did it!
  76. Let someone else be in charge for a while. – Other people can be responsible while you do something for yourself.
  77. Don’t answer the phone unless it’s someone you want to talk to right now. – Some people find it difficult not to answer a ringing phone, but it’s liberating once you learn to ignore it or even better, just turn it off.
  78. Have faith. – It’s going to work out.  The future is bright!
  79. Take a personal inventory. – Does your behavior match your true intentions?  If there’s a disconnect, you’re carrying a heavy weight.
  80. Go on a retreat. – For a couple of minutes or a couple of days, get away for a bit to re-energize.
  81. Put your finances in order. – Money problems are enormously stressful.  Paying off debt where possible, putting bills on automatic payment, and working with a financial planner if necessary can all help to ease the strain.
  82. Eliminate all expectations of perfection. – In fact, eliminate the word ‘perfect’ from your vocabulary.  If you expect yourself to be perfect, you will never stop beating yourself up.
  83. Find a good way to blow off steam. – Bottling it up indefinitely will probably end badly.
  84. Be who you are. – your authentic, true self.
  85. Spend some time alone for quiet reflection. – We spend all of our time go, go, going.  Try stopping to think about your life, your goals, and your dreams.
  86. Keep your words positive. – Happiness and complaints cannot coexist.
  87. Let light and fresh air into your house. – Sunlight is a must.  Open up those windows!
  88. Turn off your e-mail, cell phone, blackberry, fax, etc. for a while. – It’s not healthy to be accessible 24/7.
  89. Pare down your to-do list. – Feeling overwhelmed?  What’s on your list that can be delegated, avoided, or jettisoned?
  90. Avoid boredom. – Keep your brain active to keep the blues at bay.
  91. Make your home a haven. – Your home should be a place where you can take a breath and really relax.  If it isn’t, you may have some work to do.
  92. Be stingy with your time and energy. – Both are precious and should be spent on things that really matter to you.
  93. Let go. – 80% of everything is irrelevant.  Focus on the other 20.
  94. Minimize multi-tasking. – Yeah, women are supposed to be good at it, but that doesn’t make it good for us.
  95. Break your routine once in awhile. – Get out of a rut and into a groove.
  96. Take action! – If something isn’t right in your life, fix it!
  97. Plan ahead. – With a few minutes of organizing your time and to-do’s, you will be better prepared to take on the day.
  98. Intentionally enjoy your journey. – As you go through your days, look around.  Be present with what you see, hear and feel.  You might be amazed at what you’ve been missing.
  99. Spend time with people who make you happy. – Who nourishes and supports you?  Surround yourself with those people.
  100. Enjoy your kids. – It’s easy to rush through the day without really connecting with them.  Make a conscious effort to talk with them about their day.
  101. Avoid self-deprivation. – When it comes to food, it’s OK to cut back on things that aren’t good for you (sweet, sweet carbohydrates), but if you feel deprived, it’s probably not maintainable, creating a vicious circle of cheating and guilt.
  102. Forget the word “should”. – Instead of doing what you think you’re supposed to, follow your own path.
  103. Pay attention to your energy. – Are you most productive first thing in the morning?  Are you sluggish after lunch?  Honor your natural cycles and plan accordingly.

OK, that’s more than 100.  I got carried away.
For more information visit, www.demandingjoy.com

The 10 things you’ll do once you start Yoga

The 10 things you’ll do once you start Yoga (that have nothing to do with yoga).
By Lee Anne Finfinger

The 10 Things you will do when you first begin Yoga.

Yoga

  1. At least once, you will force yourself to try to be vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free (insert any over-zealous diet here)/ drink Kombucha/ buy bottled water before class and pour it into your sustainable water bottle before the teacher/students/Whole Foods cashier next to you sees.  (If you’re craving meat, just eat it!  On your deathbed, will you really be glad that you didn’t have that steak on your 30thBirthday?)
  2. Your iPod will now include a heavy serving of Kirtan music that you will listen to on your very long commute to your yoga studio (It’s cool; if you want to listen to Kirtan occasionally, go for it!  When you start listening to it while driving and falling asleep — time to go back to your old playlists. Do NOT switch over to NPR!)
  3. You will pretend not to notice that your ass now fits in a size 6 instead of an 8, but you’re secretly thrilled.  (When you get down to a 4 though, watch it.  People will talk.)
  4. You will go back to your natural hair color/ remove your hair extensions/ cut your hair short in an attempt to stop paying so much attention to your vanity.  (Try not to cut it too short — the growing out process is a bitch and then you’ll just need more hair extensions. I did.)
  5. You’ll attempt to read the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, or the Upanishads while your stack of fashion magazines calls to you from the next room.  (Really, why can’t I like Rachel Zoe and yoga?  Now that I’m thin enough to actually wear her clothes, why should I pretend I don’t want to?) (See #3.)
  6. You will take a retreat.  Hello, Kripalu!  (It’s ok — those other people probably are weirdos.  So are you.  Eat your breakfast and shut up.  No really, shut the fuck up – it’s a silent breakfast.)
  7. You’ll start taking photos of yourself in yoga poses. Often.  And you’ll think that other people care.  It’s like the modern-day version of the vacation slideshow.  No one gives a shit, but they’ll pretend like they do so that you do the same when they whip out their own photos.
  8. You will at some point wear mala beads, which will break all over the floor of your 6:15am class.  (Basically, it’ll end about as well as when I wore my Grandmother’s rosary beads to dinner at age 6. Silver Lining: The company was kind enough to re-string them for free, and now I just wear them like a really cool wrap bracelet.  It’s very hippie chic. Thank you September Vogue.) (See #5)
  9. You will become a cheap date.  Remember, you just dropped two sizes and you continue to spend at least an hour a day sweating and twisting and breathing.  You’ll be buzzed from one drink!
  10. You’ll get over yourself.  If you teach yoga, you’ll hope that people show up because they like taking class from who you really are.  If you practice yoga, you’ll keep showing up and you’ll realize that the other shit doesn’t matter.

About Lee Anne Finfinger

Lee Anne (LA) Finfinger is a full-time Yoga Instructor, born and bred Pittsburgher. She and her husband live with their rescued cat, Harmony. When she’s not in a studio, LA can be found baking, traveling, hanging with family and friends, mentoring in the community (yeah that looks like B.S, but it’s not!), reading, writing and knitting.  She can be found at: www.lafinfinger.com

More Fun With The Crow!

More Fun With The Crow!
By Haris Lender

Crow Pose

This is Crow Pose with Michael, not Sammy.

This is so so classic I just have to post! I have even written about this in my manual and it works EVERY TIME. I entered my class today at the local bohemian school I sent my kids to. 50 kids, 4 rooms, 4 teachers all called by their first names. It’s my “laboratory”. I love them, they love me and allow me a lot of freedom to experiment with new games, concepts, etc. The kids are all amazing and have creative minds and LOVE their Yoga. I enter the room and this is what happened today verbatim:

KIDS: We have a new kid in our class named Sammy.

HARIS: Why don’t you invite him in to Yoga?

KIDS: The other boys told him it’s for girls.

HARIS: Well you know what I always do when a boy says that? I teach him the crow. Why don’t you go get Sammy.

SAMMY ENTERS THE ROOM

HARIS: Hi Sammy. I heard you were very athletic and I know you don’t want to do Yoga but I thought maybe I’d teach you to do the crow. It’s really hard to do, but I know how strong you are…wanna try?

SAMMY: OK

HARIS TEACHES SAMMY THE CROW….HE NAILS IT THE FIRST TIME…PLUS HE CAN SIT IN LOTUS AND HE’S VERY FLEXIBLE AND TOTALLY CUTE SO I KNOW I HAVE TO HAVE HIM IN MY CLASS!

HARIS: That’s awesome Sammy …I know you don’t want to do Yoga so you can go back to your class now. Thanks for comin.

SAMMY: No I want to stay! Can I stay in class?

NEED I SAY ANYMORE….IT WORKS LIKE A CHARM EVERY TIME!

For more information visit, www.kiddingaroundyoga.com

Fertility and Fish Oil

Fertility and Fish Oil
By Annette K. Scott

Fertility and Fish Oil

Fertility and Fish Oil

At Christmas time last year, my cousin told me she wanted to get pregnant and she wondered what she should be doing to optimize her fertility. She also wanted to know, once pregnant, what to do to have a vibrant pregnancy as well as a super healthy baby. Sadly, it has taken me months to get an answer together.

But happily, I was surprised to find that the answer isn’t as complicated as her question. In fact, in order for her to move toward greater fertility that would result in a robust pregnancy and a robustly healthy start to the baby’s life she needs to prioritize doing one thing first.

She must get her vitamin D levels up to snuff! I have been a champion of vitamin D for a number of years now but I had no idea how important it is for fertility, pregnancy and childbearing.

Multiple studies have already been done (and many more are being done as we speak) on the multitude of roles vitamin D (which is not a vitamin at all, but a hormone) plays in our health. A short list of its impacts on our health would include immunity, bone health, blood regulation, regulating cell growth (and thereby controlling or combating the development of cancer), the development of insulin resistance and diabetes, fatigue, depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), low fertility, autoimmune disorders as well as the control of inflammation amongst many other elements.

Specific studies regarding the role of vitamin D during pregnancy have found that a deficiency of vitamin D during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities and it may also have an impact on birth weight. Researchers are finding that if you’re lacking vitamin D during pregnancy, your baby will be (and this seems like a logical conclusion) vitamin D deficient at birth. This can put the baby at risk for rickets (which can lead to fractures and deformity), abnormal bone growth, and delayed physical development.

And what’s more, the results of the deficiency can be long lasting — Carol L. Wagner, MD, neonatologist and pediatric researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston released a 2010 study that found that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect bone development and immune function from birth through adulthood. And, here’s the interesting part, not only can it not be fully corrected with supplementation after birth but the effects may not be fully seen for 30 years.

Multiple other studies have found that a deficiency of vitamin D can also be linked to a greater risk of pregnancy complications, among them preeclampsia, and a higher likelihood of an expectant mom needing a c-section.

If you want a more complete list of the aspects of pregnancy that are affected by vitamin D, I suggest visiting the website, www.vitamindcouncil.org.

So now that we’ve established that this “vitamin” is something to pay attention to…where can you get it? In good conscience I can only suggest supplementing with Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver oil (FCLO) as they are the only fish oil producers in the market that don’t process or heat the oil and therefore, theirs is the only product that actually passes on an intact, bio-available form of vitamin D.

They have a number of “flavors” to try (yes, this a fish oil and yes, it’s fermented and yes, it is something you are going to have to find what flavor works best for you because despite its huge health benefit it still is a fermented fish oil) so visit their website to do a little reading and start your odyssey of health.

With all that said about what supplement to use the question that naturally follows is, “How much do I need?” Sadly, it is believed that a vast majority of Americans are grossly vitamin D deficient. Here are some of the most current dosage recommendations:

Vitamin D Dose Recommendations

Age Dosage

Below 5 35 units per pound per day

Age 5 – 10 2500 units

Adults 5000 units

Pregnant Women 5000 units

Note that the above recommendations are considered maintenance doses. The ONLY way to know what you actually need to be taking as a dose is to test your blood. You might need 4-5 times the amount recommended above. Ideally your blood level of 25 OH D should be 60ng/ml.

So if you want to find out what your current vitamin D blood level is you can order a pin prick test kit: http://www.zrtlab.com/vitamindcouncil/ or you can ask your doctor to do a test for you.

Also, remember that our body actually creates vitamin D when we are in the sun but you need extended daily doses of the sun without the impediment of sunscreen/block and so supplementation and/or consumption of concentrated food sources are probably still a necessary part of your nutrition.

Happily (for me), one of the very best places to get vitamin D naturally is in fish roe. I suggest reading Sarah Pope’s, Tampa’s Weston A. Price’s chapter leader, blog on the benefits of fish roe. It can be found on her site at http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/2011/05/fish-eggs-a-superior-vitamin-d-boost/

I might suggest also reading her other articles on vitamin D if your want to continue to marvel at it’s amazing properties.

Now, before signing off, it must be said that while getting your vitamin D levels up is clearly of great importance and would be number 1 on my list for prepping the body for a baby, it is hardly the only thing on the list. Those, however, are a topic for another blog!!! Thanks as always for reading.

For more information visit, www.annettekscott.com

(Image credit: Hans-Petter Fjeld)

Why Organic Cotton Products

Creating a Demand for Organic Cotton
By Annette K. Scott

Organic Cotton

Choose Organic Cotton Products

Buying is voting. The implications (and potential for discussion) about this piece of truth are endless. It is a fact that we are, by nature, consumptive beings – our very survival requires many external resources to “fuel” our lives. But because it is inevitable, that doesn’t mean that it should be done willy-nilly. Rather, the challenge is to do so with awareness so that it might be done in alignment with one’s overarching priorities and values.

Now sometimes making a well-thought out and weighted decision can be incredibly complex, potentially confusing and perhaps even time intensive. But deciding to buy organic cotton is easy. And here’s a short list of reasons why:

1. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. It is important to know that conventionally grown cotton is globally the #2 most heavily sprayed crop (behind coffee) and it’s #1 in the US. In fact, about 25% of all pesticides used in the US are applied to cotton. Globally, about 10% of all pesticides are used on cotton. In California, five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton are known carcinogenics. This endangers farm workers’ health and contributes to environmental degradation.

2. More than 75% of all the cotton grown in the US is GM (genetically modified) cotton. While there may be some that think the jury is out on whether GM crops are an issue, current research is indicating that we are in grave danger of unintended harm to other organisms, a long-term reduction in the effectiveness of pesticides, gene transfer to non-target species, increased allergic reactions in humans and that doesn’t even touch the topic of the yet unknown consequences to our environment, other plants, animals and humans.

3. Oh, and those pesticides (see #1 and #2) don’t just land on crops. They make their way into our groundwater, which is drinking water for 60 percent of Americans. And here’s the kicker about that – an April 21, 2011 UC Berkeley study just substantiated a link between OP (organophosphates {read pesticides}) levels in a mother’s blood and her child’s IQ — the result? For every 10-fold increase in OP’s found in the mother’s blood there was a 5.5 decrease in her child’s IQ by age 7! (See my quick video on this study on YouTube)

4. And you can help prevent suicide. Yep, suicide. India, the second largest global producer of cotton (China and the US being 1 and 3 respectively), has been experiencing large numbers of conventional cotton growers resorting to suicide when they find themselves too far in over their heads in debt to the GM cotton seed companies.

It is worth knowing that GM seed, unlike organic, can’t be harvested and saved for planting in the following year. And, GM seed, while being more expensive, is not effective against many cotton pests, and so still requires some spraying. The result is a crop that is more expensive to bring to harvest and a big yearly seed bill.

At least 17,368 Indian farmers killed themselves in 2009, and while it would be inaccurate to say that all those deaths were cotton farmers or that it was singularly due to the debt that farmers had to the companies that sold GM seed, it would be equally ridiculous not to look at the correlation.

Creating a demand for organic cotton can change the world – yours and others (and don’t stop at just thinking about humans – think water, plants, animals, birds, bees and bugs and so on). And, yes, organic cotton is more expensive — raw cotton’s cost per pound is only 25 cents more for organic than conventional, but the organic market is still small, so it lacks economies of scale – that is until enough of us vote for it through our purchase of it.

For more information visit, www.annettekscott.com

Our Sick Earth

Our Sick Earth
By Annette K. Scott

Environmental Toxicity

Our Sick Earth

James McWilliams recent July 11, 2011 article about “conscientious carnivores” pushed a whole bunch of buttons for me. In my last post, I addressed his lack of imagination as to how alternatives to factory farms and CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) could manage to meet a growing need for humanely raised meat.

Again, as before, I continue to find myself frustrated by McWilliams’ oversimplification and dumbing down of an incredibly complex topic in the attempt to make an emotional point. In doing so, he fails to address a number of truly key points about how we get our food and its inherent impacts on the environment.

Let’s start with a critical and simple point – if 10, 20 or 30% of us decided to change the way we ate, much less all of us, there would be pandemonium. And that’s because there’s too many of us overall.

At the end of my last blog I promised to address one of our culture’s sacred ‘cows’ which brings me to talk about population control. Most commentators avoid this topic because it is so heavily overlaid with emotion. And historically, we have never had to think about this issue on this scale so there are no readily available, simple solutions.

But there is no way around this kernel of truth – we need to self-regulate our growing numbers. The very idea of sustainability (no matter whether we’re talking about the sustainability of a system or of our species) holds within it – inherent to the concept itself – a premise of manageable numbers.

And yet, already someone reading this is thinking about nationalism, or their religion’s stance (and that particular religion’s notion of god and his/her stance) on the edict to bring forth children, or personal rights and/or blood lines, not to mention the quagmire of how we might actually practically apply this concept on a national, much less global scale. Most all these generally fall into the, “Sacred – Do Not Touch” bucket and for the most part, no one does. The fear of reprisal is heavy.

But I would be grossly remiss, however, if I didn’t start here. I am fully aware that references such as this exist in Genesis: “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” and while I am no theologian I am sure that similar sentiments exist in most every other ancient religious text.

And if we, as a collective, were to be honest with ourselves and take a look at a wide variety of markers of how we are doing with that stewardship, we might have to admit that in our unchecked fruitfulness we have done way more than subdue and rule…We have desecrated. If we, as the thought goes, were actually given stewardship of the earth and all that moves on it, I think we’re about to get a pink slip.

Here’s just a short list of why:

1. Increasing numbers and sizes of ‘Dead Zones’ in our waters and oceans – caused largely by run-off from the chemicals we use on our lawns and from the way in which we grow most of  our food (pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer use) but we can’t forget the growing numbers and size of the floating plastic debris swirling en masse in our oceans.  One of them is the size of TEXAS.

2. Mass extinction of plants, animals, fungi, fish – basically most of the earth’s diversity is currently in gross decline as a result of our increasing numbers and need for more land. It’s not all bad apparently – zebra mussels, kudzu, city pigeons and rats are doing well as a result of our continued “progress”.

3. Loss of potable water and topsoil caused, in most part, by our current agricultural practices and continued development.

4. Increasing toxicity of the environment as evidenced by toxins in breast milk, umbilical cord blood and in the baby’s tissues itself, not to mention the growing numbers and frequency of cancers (genetic mutation of cell structure), skyrocketing rates of asthma and autism to name a few.

5. Loss of forests, their accompanying habits, and the increasing imbalance in the carbon cycle which has a whole array of secondary effects which are way too vast to address in this blog post but suffice it to say that none (that I’m aware of) are orientating the planet toward renewal and abundance.

But to return to the topic of population control, I too have no idea as to how we affect this change and yet, I know that it will have to be a part of our solution going forward. Of course, I have my own fears about how we would achieve this change – one of which is humorously captured in the film Idiocracy. So maybe after this sobering and bleak recounting of where we are as a species, you should watch a bit of  comedy….Thanks, as always. for reading and your thoughts on this are welcome!

For more information visit, www.annettekscott.com

Ayurvedic Physical Activity

Ayurvedic Physical Activity – A Matter of Balance
By Denise O’Dunn

Ayurveda is the Science of Life. In Ayurveda your physical, mental and emotional well being is described within the context of the three dynamic forces of nature or Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The fundamental Ayurvedic principals of like increases like and opposites create balance dictate that you choose the type, intensity and duration of the physical exercise you do, according to your individual Doshic makeup and the current Doshic influences in your life.

Vata Dosha
Individuals who are primarily ether and air dominate are Vata. Are you very tall or short? Do you have a thin build? Vatas generally have long, narrow or small features and their slight structure and quick metabolisms make it easy to maintain their weight. Because of Vata’s quick and lively nature, you may be drawn to fast-paced activities that require quick, short bursts of speed and agility like racquet ball. However, due to Vata’s lower endurance, it’s important to pace yourself to avoid exhaustion or injury. The Vata mind is always moving, so your natural desire for change will prompt you to start an exercise program, but your dislike for routine can prevent you from staying with it. To balance your Vata nature, choose physical activities that include slow, rhythmic movements that are grounding and centering.

Vata Balancing Activities
Hatha Yoga – Classical Style
Tai Chi or Chi Gong
Swimming
Walking
Pilates
Golf
Archery
Bowling
Ballet
Gardening

Pitta Dosha
Individuals who are primarily fire and water dominant are Pitta. A Pitta person is usually of medium height and bone structure, with well developed muscles, symmetrical build and balanced medium size features. Your efficient metabolism allows you to gain or lose weight with reasonable effort. Your intense, fiery nature drives you to individual competition requiring endurance, strength and speed like a triathlon, but your competitive and demanding character needs to be tempered to keep you from overheating — so it is important that you enjoy yourself when it comes to the physical activities you choose. To balance your Pitta temperament select exercises that keep you cool and composed.

Pitta Balancing Activities
Hatha Yoga – Avoid Hot Yoga
Surfing
Skiing (water or snow)
Kayaking
Mountain Biking or Hiking
Swimming
Rowing
Walking or Jogging (early morning or cool shady areas or indoors)
Tennis (cool times of day)
Karate
Gymnastics

Kapha Dosha
Dominate Kaphas (primarily earth and water elements), are most likely to be taller or shorter than average with large bones, a solid build and broad or full features. Kapha’s stable structure and slow metabolism makes it easy to gain weight and difficult to lose excess weight. Your easy-going nature may lead you to a sedentary lifestyle, but it’s your steady energy, high endurance and ability to remain calm under pressure that give you the capacity to participate in strenuous activities that require staying power like Soccer. You may need to be motivated to begin a fitness regimen, but once you start, your love for routine will keep you going. Your relaxed manner makes you want to take it easy, but to balance your slow constitution, you need exercise that is stimulating and vigorous.

Kapha Balancing Activities
Hatha Yoga – Hot Yoga or Power Yoga
Aerobics
Bicycling
Football
Racquetball
Volleyball
Rock climbing
Walking or Jogging (long distance)
Rollerblading
Weight Training
Dancing

When planning an Ayurvedic fitness program, consider the current Doshic influences in your life, including; your life cycle (age), the season of the year and even the time of day. Honoring these natural rhythms will guide you on your path to personal balance and physical fitness.

Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.

 

Vyayama – Ayurvedic Approach to Exercise

Vyayama – An Ayurvedic Approach to Exercise
By Denise O’Dunn

Vyayama, or physical exercise, is an essential component of Ayurveda’s system of preventative health care, rejuvenation and longevity. The ancient Ayurvedic texts describe Vyayama as the movements and body postures designed to stabilize and strengthen your body. Ayurveda suggests that a daily routine of proper physical activity, affects not only your body, but has a positive influence on your mind, emotions, senses and spirit. The benefits of Vyayama are achieved as you focus on your chosen activity in awareness of your breathing, physical responses, and sense of well-being. When you exercise according to Ayurvedic tradition, your energy and vitality are enhanced by the appropriate demands placed on your body and you are left with a feeling of joy.

AYURVEDIC GUIDELINES FOR FITNESS

Exercise
Classically, Vyayama includes Gardening, Running, Walking, Swimming and Yoga in regularity.

Time of Day
Morning (Sunrise to 10 a.m.) is the ideal time to exercise as your body naturally has more strength, stamina, and coordination. Early morning exercise prepares you for your day with a clear mind, increased circulation and added strength to your digestive fire.

The Middle of the day is no time for exercising, the middle of the day (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) is time for eating as your ability to digest food is increasing and your body’s capacity for physical activity is in decline. Avoid exercising in the middle of the day. This is the time to eat your main meal of the day.

Strenuous exercise in the evening is out too. In the evening it is best to participate in gentle activities that promote restful sleep.

Environment
While it is recommended that you include outside activities in your regular workout to insure there is sufficient air flow, it is best to also consider the temperature and condition of the air. Air that is sweet, moving, and not too hot nor too cold is important, fresh air and exposure to nature are balancing.

Breathing
Take slow, deep abdominal breaths through your nose to calm your mind and enhance your endurance during exercise. Remain fully engaged in your activity by allowing your breath to be your focus. Inhalations prepare you for exertion by providing oxygen and exhalations assist exertion by relaxing you and carrying away wastes.

Frequency
Daily moderate exercise produces predictable and positive results. Irregular, intense exertion will place unnecessary demands on the systems of your body and create a stress response.

Intensity
The essence of Ayurvedic exercise is to exert yourself to half of your maximum strength or capacity. This Ayurvedic principle is called balaardh. Balaardh helps to maintain a consistent energy through your workout. To maintain fifty percent of your capacity, never exert yourself to the point that you have to breath through your mouth.

Nose breathing is superior to mouth breathing because your lungs fill more completely with air and you’re your lungs are protected from harmful particulates by the cilia in your nose. When you exert yourself to the point that you have to breathe through your mouth, you lose good physical form. Balaardh allows your capacity for exercise to increase gradually without creating stress, strain or imbalance.

One of the most basic principles of Ayurveda is that we have our own unique body-mind constitution with distinctive traits and tendencies. This means that in our diversity we have different needs for our personal balance, including the way that we exercise. The important thing is that physical exercise should enhance you, adding to your relaxed, balanced and blissful state.

Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.

 

Understanding Ayurveda

Understanding Ayurveda
by Denise O’Dunn

Ayurveda is the study of natural law. The word Ayurveda means the Science of Life; therefore, the essence of Ayurveda has always existed. Ancient Vedic texts tell us that the Rishis, or Holy Ones of India, acquired the knowledge of Ayurveda through meditation and the keen observation of nature. The Rishis, through their inquiry, obtained the understanding of life and how to end physical and emotional suffering. For generations the knowledge that the Rishis attained was passed along through an oral tradition. Since Ayurveda predates the written word, its exact beginnings are difficult to calculate, but we know the Vedic texts, the documents where Ayurveda is recorded, date beyond five thousand years.

Ayurveda is the World’s oldest medicine. Ayurveda is the foundation of all healing practices on earth and is the basis for modern allopathic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ayurveda thrived in India for thousands of years despite invasion and occupation by Muslim, Turkish and Mongol rulers. The practice of Ayurveda was driven out of the major cities by the English as they established colonial rule over India (1765 – 1947). Ayurvedic schools were closed and the medical practice of Ayurveda was displaced by Western (Allopathic) medicine, but Ayurveda continued to be practiced and taught in villages and homes. When India reclaimed independence from British rule in the mid-20th Century, the education and medical practice of Ayurveda began to flourish once more. Since Indian independence, the significance of Ayurveda as a path to health, longevity and well being, has been recognized by the government of India and is practiced side by side with modern allopathic medicine. Ayurveda is becoming better known in the USA as it is being practiced by the millions of those who have discovered it through their practice of hatha yoga.

Ayurveda is an ancient system of preventative health care, rejuvenation and longevity. Ayurveda as a way of life creates harmony by teaching us to honor our individual nature, while we consciously follow the rhythms and cycles of the natural world.

Ayurveda is based on elemental principles that pertain to life on earth. Ayurvedic philosophy establishes the five great elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth as the building blocks of the natural world. These five elements pair-up in three combinations to form the primary forces of nature called doshas.

According to Ayurveda, we were born with a unique combination of the doshas that result in our prakriti, or constitutional nature. Our prakriti is fixed throughout our lifetime, but can go out of balance, as it is influenced by the time of day, the season, our diet, environmental conditions, and our place in the cycle of our life. Our current doshic state is called our vikriti. Vikriti may be in balance with our prakriti, which is our original nature, or can refer to a state that is out of balance to our original nature.

Ayurveda teaches that in a state of doshic harmony we experience true health and happiness. According to Ayurveda, disease is a state of doshic imbalance. Ayurveda gives us the necessary guidance to live in harmony with our true nature, as we experience all of the doshic influences we encounter in life. Ayurveda gifts us with the knowledge of using foods, herbs, oils, gems, metals, colors, hatha yoga and meditation, to maintain our doshic balance. Ayurvedic writing instructs us about cleansing and rejuvenation routines and treatments to assist our doshic balance. As Ayurveda encourages us to acknowledge our original and unique nature, it empowers us to walk our individual and perfect path to balance and bliss.

Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.

 

Beat the Summer Heat with Ayurveda

Beat the Heat of Summer with Ayurveda
By Denise O’Dunn

Relentless heat, major tropical storms, an overbearing sun piercing your eyes, never enough shade… If this is all you can see about summer, you are most likely of a Pitta dosha and you need to be careful in summertime; read on.

Ayurveda is an ancient system of preventative health care, rejuvenation and longevity. Ayurveda is a way of life that creates harmony by teaching you to honor your individual nature, while consciously following the rhythms and cycles of the natural world.

Ayurveda is the Science of Life or the study of natural law; the essence of Ayurveda has always existed. Ancient Vedic texts tell us that the Rishis, or holy men of India, acquired the knowledge of Ayurveda through the observation of nature and meditation. Ayurveda predates the written word so its exact beginnings are difficult to calculate, but we know the Vedic texts date beyond five thousand years.

Ayurveda is based on elemental principles that pertain to life on earth. Two fundamental principals of Ayurveda are: like increases like, and opposite actions balance one another. Every living thing is affected by these simple, yet essential, laws of nature.

Ayurvedic philosophy establishes the Five Great Elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth as the building blocks of the natural world. These five elements pair-up in three combinations to form the primary forces of nature called doshas. Doshas regulate all natural processes of your body, mind and emotions, as well as, all aspects of your life. Air and ether form the Vata dosha. Fire and water make up the Pitta dosha. Water and earth create the Kapha dosha.

According to Ayurveda, you were born with a unique combination of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, that resulted in your Prakriti, or constitutional nature. Your Prakriti is fixed throughout your lifetime, but can go out of balance, as it is influenced by the time of day, the season, your diet, environmental conditions, and your place in the cycle of life. Dosha means that which changes. The forces of Vata, Pitta and Kapha are constantly moving to maintain a natural state of balance. Your current doshic state is called your Vikriti.

With your awareness of your Prakriti or personal nature, and the impact the environment has on your life; the practice of Ayurveda provides you with the tools necessary for living in harmony despite the forces of emotional stress, business and family pressures, or the heat of summer.

Summer is Pitta. Pitta elements are Fire and Water and we are embarked on a long, hot and humid Pitta season. In the Florida summer you are especially prone to accumulating excess pitta. If your dosha is predominantly Pitta, you are at an even higher risk of becoming out of balance because Like increases Like = Hot increases Heat. Tempers rise with the humidity and temperature. Even if you have less Pitta in your Prakriti, you may find that you need to take steps to pacify Pitta to stay balanced and healthy.

Transformation is the main function of the Pitta dosha. Pitta is the heat that drives your digestive system, metabolism, and glandular functions. The stomach, liver, skin, heart and eyes are primary locations of Pitta in your body. Pitta is also responsible for sensory perception, discrimination and precision thinking. By its fiery nature, Pitta is intense, purposeful and passionate. Out of balance the above attributes of Pitta will be weakened or over active.

Though Pitta is aggravated in summer, elevated Pitta can occur at any time, look for these signs of aggravated Pitta: Skin irritations, any burning sensations, aggression, acid indigestion, anger, excessive sweating, hypertension, diarrhea, irritability, fever, blurred vision, inflammation, and impatience.

To ease Pitta one seeks to calm and cool the burning effects of the Pitta season. Follow these guidelines:

• Meditate

• Practice Yoga that is calming and soothing

• Perform physical activities in the coolest part of the day

• Rest or swim during the high heat of the day

• Walk in the moonlight

• Insure that you take a vacation, preferably in a cooler climate with a relaxed schedule

• Drink plenty of liquids

• Consume your heaviest meal between 10 am and 2 pm (Pitta time)

• Eat cooling foods, favoring those that are;

o Sweet: Melon, Cucumber, Pineapple, Coconut, Wheat

o Bitter: Dandelion greens, Kale, Turmeric, Pumpkin Seed, Maple Syrup

o Astringent: Pomegranate, Blueberry, Spinach, Sunflower Seed, Chickpea

• Use cooling herbs and essential oils, such as; Mint, Cilantro, Fennel, Rose and Sandalwood

• Wear light, breathable clothing in shades between blue and cool green or white

• Sleep on your right side, this facilitates cooling left nostril breathing

• Allow for leisure time

• Schedule time for pleasurable things

• Practice moderation in all matters

• Avoid heated confrontations, deadline pressures, artificial stimulants and alcohol, hot, spicy and salty foods, and the mid-day sun

I hope that you find these summer time tips helpful in reducing the effects of excess Pitta. Please keep in mind that if you have a dominate Vata or Kapha Prakriti, you already have some protection from the heat of Pitta. The best way to determine your original nature and your current doshic state is to have an Ayurvedic consultation with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.

Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.