People think Yoga means always standing on your head or doing some pose. But the aim of yoga is to calm the mind. That's why it's called Integral Yoga, because we integrate everything; mind, body, and spirit.     ~Sri Swami Satchidananda

Archive for the ‘Body’ Category

Transitioning into Fall and the Doshas

September 5th, 2012by Michelle Muttart

Hari Om,

 

The fall and winter months often prove to be more difficult to handle for some and for others they sail through what they’ll often refer to as their ‘favorite time of year’.  I fall into the first category often beginning to struggle sometime during the transition into fall.

 

For many years I wrestled with seasonal depression.  Of course, in my younger, more naïve years I’d visit my family physician and start taking an anti-depressant.  That never ended well.  Once yoga philosophy came into my life and I learned about Ayurveda I realized that what was actually happening was an imbalance in the elements that composed my body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the transition out of Summer (Pitta) and into Fall (Vata) began I would usually have more fire energy in my body but it didn’t take long to swoop right into having too much air, the result was feeling cold, restless, anxious, indecisive, my body hurt, my stomach would swing from constipation or dysentery, I would feel irritated and loose my temper, I’d overeat or not eat enough, and soon I would be sleeping too much causing fatigue and ultimately depression.

 

Through an analysis I learned that my body is made of a lot of air with ether (Vata), equal fire with water (Pitta), and a smaller amount of water with Earth (Kapha pronounced Ka-Pa).  More importantly, there were actions I could take to help improve how I felt.

 

What I now change or implement at the beginning of fall:

 

  • Eat warm foods like soup, stews, and casseroles
  • Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables especially rooted ones to help keep me grounded
  • Not eating frozen, processed foods, or cooling foods like melons, cucumbers, or grapes
  • Not using ice in my drinks and drinking more hot teas and warm water with lemon
  • Doing yoga everyday and meditating more often
  • Travelling to warmer climates whenever I can
  • Eliminating things that cause me to move at a hectic pace, doing less and nurturing myself more
  • Coconut oil massage and moisturizing with it daily, even eating it
  • Adding more omega 3 to my diet
  • Adding spices to my foods that help warm me from the inside out (in moderation)
  • Soaking in the sunlight whenever I can
  • Wearing warm clothing to ensure that I’m comfortable, opting for layers

 

 

 

Many things stimulate the Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.  The saying is true; “Like attracts like,” and I am no different.  We all are naturally attracted to what speaks to us most, good or bad.  To further understand the Doshas, I’ll tell you a little more about how they work in my life.

 

My Vata expresses by:

 

  • Exploring mystical ideas
  • Creative pursuits
  • Having many pursuits
  • Being somewhat thin and of low weight
  • Having small teeth and eyes
  • Loving change and travel
  • Dry skin
  • Exploring spirituality
  • Loving warm weather and sunlight
  • Sensitivities to noise
  • Getting restless at times
  • Joints that pop often
  • Under stress my body hurts
  • Loving to counsel or teach

 

My Pitta expresses equally by:

 

  • Often striving for perfection
  • Sometimes having digestive issues
  • Having lots of moles
  • Having owned my own business
  • A slight athletic build
  • Having equal proportions
  • Color coordinating my closet
  • Working well under pressure
  • Sensitivities to heat
  • Loving be next to the lake or ocean
  • A love of learning
  • Getting irritated at times

 

My Kapha expresses too by:

 

  • Having blue eyes and blonde hair
  • Having softness physically (no six-pack here, Kapha is a voluptuous creature!)
  • Get melancholy at times
  • Allergies in the spring
  • Wanting to help others
  • Not liking to be rushed by others
  • Feeling a connection to nature
  • Sensitivities to smells
  • Cold, damp weather bothers me

 

You might see similar characteristics in each list and that in natural.  We are all made of all three Doshas; it’s the amount of each one that varies for the individual.  Once you realize what you are made of, you can learn to lean more to what really balances you and not just what feels best, because sometimes what seems right isn’t always.  Sometimes we have to look at the whole picture.

 

I realized that some of the things causing chaos for me were things that ‘society’ said were normal.  I pushed through for many years, but in yoga we are taught not to push but to look for the path of least resistance.   I found that I couldn’t participate in the normal and remain balanced.  I had to make some major lifestyle adjustments in order to honor my family and myself more.

 

One of the things I chose to do was to take my children out of public school and bring them home.  I realized several years ago that the change into the school year made the pace of which our family flowed turn into a type of stress vortex! Between the schedule, work, homework, and sports we were all tapped out by the end of the day and there was no time for any of us to nourish ourselves.  Sometimes it would be weeks before we had a chance to balance.

 

Not finding time for balance results in dis-ease; so some major changes had to be made.  The result has been rewarding.  It wasn’t easy, however, we are beginning to see the fruits of our labor now.  Each change we make brings us closer to where we need to be, a place of perfect health and peace.  A place where our spirit can remain connected with those closest to us, to others who need us, to ourselves, and most importantly, to our source.

 

Honor yourself this fall and make the changes big or small!

 

Namaste.

 

If you or a loved one are interested in having your own analysis, I will be scheduling appointments now through Oct. 1 for a discounted price of $55. Please see the services page for a detailed description.

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The Power and Benefits of Juicing

July 12th, 2012by Michelle Muttart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently purchased a juicer and love it! A couple weeks ago I watched a documentary on Netflix called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  It is the story of an overweight Australian man using juicing to lose upwards of 150lbs and the health benefits that he encountered along the way.

 

He travelled through the US talking to many people about food.  Along the way he met another man with a similar story to whom he offered his help when he was ready to make a change.  Some six months later this man calls and is in dire health and severely overweight, the Australian man, flies back to the US and gets his new friend started on juicing, continuing to document his progress.

 

What starts out as a 10-day cleanse turns in to 30, then to a full 60 days of consuming nothing but juice!  Of course, doctors for the full length of their 60-day process monitored both men and the results were impressive.  So much so that the American man has also dedicated his life to educating others.

 

I was inspired to start juicing….

 

I wasn’t drawn to juicing for weight loss, but what interested me were the health benefits.  The fact that I could more than double my intake of healthy raw foods and thereby significantly increase my nutrients and vitamin intake intrigued me.

 

While I haven’t committed to do a cleanse at this time, I have been juicing at least once per day for the past 2 weeks, mostly in the morning, and adding vegetables to those juices.  I have found recipes online and try the ones that sound tasty; I have even tried beet juice and loved it!

 

There are many juicers to suit different lifestyles and budgets.  I picked up my juicer at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $99.  There are options available that range from $20-$500.  Some juicers use a blade and some are juice pressers.  It’s really about what works for you and how much you want to commit to.

 

Some additional reasons to juice…

 

I have a saying, “Being healthy is going to cost you either way, you can pay now or you can pay the doctors later.” Meaning it is up to us to take care of our own health. Juicing one glass is about $2.50, organic will naturally cost more.  I pick up as much locally grown fruits and vegetables as I can, and if you have a garden or fruit bearing trees this is a great way to reduce waste.  You can even use the pulp to add to pies, quiche, make feezer pops, or compost it.

 

Most fruit juices on the market have added sugar or corn syrup, most vegetable juices have added sodium.  A lot of these juices are also frozen concentrates or heated through the pasteurizing process required by the FDA. Basically, you know what you are ingesting and the preparation process.

 

Studies have shown that the absorption rate and amount of nutrients of juiced foods vs. eating them raw is substantially increased. According to Stanford University, “1 cup of carrot or celery juice provides most of the same nutrients found in 5 cups of those same vegetables chopped up.”

 

Other considerations…

 

Juicing in moderation is great, however juice-fasting is not for everyone and should be monitored by a health-care professional especially if there are any health related issues already in play.  For instance, a lot of the fruit juice is high in natural sugar, which needs to be considered for someone diabetic.

 

It’s important not to only drink juice.  We have to drink water.  Hydration is #1.  The standard for water consumption is half your body weight in ounces.  So, if you weigh 140lbs. you would consume 70oz. of water per day.  (I will be writing soon on the benefits of consuming PH balanced water.)

 

Juicing cannot be a replacement to eating fruits and vegetables, which are high in fiber.  It’s important to diversify and continue to eat different sources of nutrients and fiber for balance and optimal nutrition.

 

 

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The Tree and Roots of Avidya

February 5th, 2012by Michelle Muttart

In talking with many people who are on a path of growth I get the opportunity to witness; witness their walk and turn inward to witness my own. When we step back, sometimes we can see the error of our ways and with guidance learn a more positive approach. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras teaches about the concept of avidya. Let’s look at what avidya is and how it plays a part in our lives.

 

What is Avidya?

 

Avidya literally means “incorrect understanding”. The opposite is vidya or “correct understanding”. Avidya in some ways is the characteristics and habits that we develop because of our life experiences. For example, say a friend falls to the ground and we extend a hand to help them up and they smack it. We would be confused, maybe even hurt or angry. But they are our friend and so we reach out again, but again they smack our hand. In fact each time we try to help them we get the same result. Eventually, we no longer offer assistance to them with a fear of what may happen.

 

Let’s move forward a month and another friend slips and falls. Will we help them? By this point, it will at the very least cross our mind that we could be slapped again. Of course we want to help, but our past experiences tell us we may not get the result we hope for and in fact we may be hurt in the process. We may even replay the event in our mind so much that we become traumatized and decide never to help anyone who falls. This is avidya.

 

Asmita


Avidya is like a tree and it’s sometimes easier to recognize the branches. The first branch is asmita or the “ego”. Asmita makes us think we need to be the best, the fastest, the coolest, the richest, the prettiest, the skinniest, and so on.

 

Raja


The second branch is raja. Raja is demanding. For example, Sue went shopping for furniture and found a table she’s been looking for and was so happy and excited to have something new for her house. Today, Sue wakes up and wants to go again, get something else. Even though she may not need anything and it may not be good for her budget, she wants to feel good like she did yesterday. This is raja.

 

Dvesa


Next is Dvesa. In a way, it’s opposite of raja. Dvesa is when we reject things. When we no longer help a fallen friend because we are afraid we will get hurt again, like our example. We may even reject things that are unfamiliar even if we have no reason. We reject people, thoughts, places, and things because of what we relate to them or because we can’t relate to them.

 

Abhinivesa

 

Last is abhinivesa or fear. Fear affects us more than we realize. In our society it’s best to blend, to be part of the norm, to do what is expected. When we express ourselves in a way that is individual or different we have doubts. These doubts can be about our jobs, relationships, about being judged, about our looks and the aging process, and so on. Think about the amount of doubt that goes through your mind on a daily basis. Thoughts This is abhinivesa.

 

Roots

 

Just like a tree, avidya grows. It may be slow and subtle then before we realize it the roots have overtaken and we are immersed in negative thoughts and fears, not thinking clearly because avidya is like a cloud over our eyes. At that point, we are living in an illusion and cannot see the truth. This can be in a single are of life or many.

 

Yoga Helps!

The good news is yoga helps us to see. It helps to remove the cloud by practicing the philosophy. The practice teaches that what happened yesterday is not guaranteed for today. If yesterday was great and I want it all over again or if it was bad and I never want it again. Today is a new day and with this day we are renewed and all of our experiences are new.

 

Practice

 

Take time this week to see what you cling to and what you reject. See what branches of avidya are creeping into the garden of your mind, body, and your spirit. Acknowledge it, then begin the process of letting go by allowing yourself to feel how you feel, accepting it. Next, move your awareness into the body and see where the roots are on a more physical level, imagine them unrooting and releasing in whatever way that unfolds.

Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih

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Natural Beauty

September 20th, 2011by Michelle Muttart

 

Awareness is the best and sometimes the worst part of a yoga lifestyle, because with knowledge comes responsibility.  So once the product junky who often thought the pricier and prettier the package, the better, is now the long-word on-the-label identifier and “can’t use it, it say’s fragrance” type shopper.  Some might see it as a hinderance, however I’m invested in living as long as I can with as little problems as possible.  It also helps to limit consumption (another lesson that comes with the lifestyle)!

 

It’s a Process…

 

My first moment of clarity came when I used to purchase Bath & Body Works products.  I like most of the girls I knew was so excited when they moved into the local mall and soon owned an array of smelly good lotions and soaps.  One day, I noticed that the smell was so generic that I looked at the label which of course was filled with words I can’t spell, pronounce, and surely had no idea what it was. I decided to look it up and stumbled onto a database that listed more than I ever intended to find out.  Horrified of what I was potentially creating in my body, namely CANCER, I decided it was time for a change.  A change in consciousness equalled a manifested change in how I was living my life.

 

Remember, as you set out on any journey of change that it is a process.  I found that it was easier to start small when cleaning up my products and to buy as I needed a particular product vs. trashing everything I already had and going gun ho…and it’s cheaper too. Over the years, I have tried different products, some have worked and some I didn’t care for.  There are a few that have passed the test and some still in transition. I’ve listed a few products that I use daily:

 

Chandrika Ayurvedic Soap – I love this soap for washing my face. It’s made with pure vegetable oils. The formula features coconut oil to moisturize, wild ginger to soothe, lime peel oil to refresh, orange oil to cleanse and sandalwood oil to cool skin, which is great for anyone who has blotchy skin or prone to breakouts.  Now my face is dry so I only use it once per day and follow with moisturizer.

 

Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant Body Spray– I love the Lavender and White Tea blend.  It’s the only natural deodorant that I’ve found that works for me.  I do have to re-apply after yoga, but I love that I don’t have to worry about stains and even better, I don’t have to worry about it causing breast cancer! It’s made with water, natural mineral salts and essential oils and smells fantastic. Works for even the profuse Pitta perspiration.

 

Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil– Absolutely could not survive the winter without this product.  Coconut oil is a wonder in itself, there are so many uses.  I use it for lotion, for massage, for eye make-up remover, for a mouth rinse (Yes, really; swish and spit to reduce germs and to whiten teeth!), its great for cooking, and two teaspoons taken orally can ease constipation. Rubbing the soles of the feet before bed can calm you and helps to soothe Vata’s restless mind. Miracle oil!

 

Cell-food Oxygen Skin Care Gel – Just started using this aloe vera based gel that is packed with amino acids.  You can really feel the tightening of the skin, one of the benefits claimed by the manufacturer.  It softens fine lines and restores moisture balance for all skin types. I like to think of it as ‘youth serum’!

 

Neutrogena Oil Free Sunblock– Still on the search for something safer, but have been using this sunblock that has a low percentage of the common ingredients found in sunscreen.  It’s easy to find locally. I’ve always worn sunscreen everyday, I think it’s an important part of reducing fine lines and wrinkles as well as sun protection.

 

 

Change is Possible…and Affordable!

So, what is your beauty drawer filled with? With the availability of choices today it’s time for all us to become more aware of what we are ingesting through our skin.  After all, everything we put on absorbs into our blood.  I think it’s important to support products that are attempting to move in a conscious direction, in turn large bath, body, and hair product suppliers will realize that it’s time to put the health and not just consumerism first.

 

There are resources to help you start your natural beauty process.  Skin Deep is a cosmetic safety database easily accessed online and even from your smart phone while out shopping.  This website is genius! They list products of all kinds, even perfumes, with a  safety rating of 0-10. There are over 65,000 products currently in the database each with the rate and issue of concern listed.  Trust me, it’s worth checking out!  When it’s time to purchase, local health food stores are great.  For right now, safer products are slightly pricey, I have found through my own transition that the quantity of product I’m purchasing is less and therefore I’m spending close to the same and probably less.

 

Good luck on your natural beauty journey and please share
what you’re using!

 

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