Cold and dry weather can often irritate the skin. To help, I would like to share two of my favorite vegetarian skincare products: Frankincense Intense and Beauty Sleep Body Butter by Neal’s Yard Remedies. I notice a difference in my skin instantly when I apply these moisturizers daily. The frankincense essential oil in the Frankincense Intense facial moisturizer encourages healthy growth of skin cells and has wound healing properties. It is great for the treatment of wrinkles, eczema, acne, stretch marks, and inflamed skin.
Learn More about Frankincense Intense
Beauty Sleep Body Butter contains Shea butter and Aloe vera to soothe dry skin. It also contains the essential oil clary sage which is calming and anti-inflammatory and the essential oil ylang ylang which rejuvenates and balances the skin. The aromatherapy essential oil blend in Beauty Sleep Body Butter has an overall calming effect on the nervous system by reducing headaches and stress and by acting as an anti-depressant. The essential oils are also useful for hormonal balance.
Learn more about Beauty Sleep Body Butter at my NYR Store
Baby it’s cold outside!
Warm up when it’s cold outside with the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara.) The Sun Salutation is a challenging sequence of postures that raises internal heat and adds a cardio element to your yoga practice. The origins of the Sun Salutation vary. Some say it dates back to Vedic times 2,500 years ago and was performed as a reverence for the dawn. Another theory is that it was invented in the early 20th century by the Raja of Aundh and slowly made its way to the west in the 1920s or 1930s. Whatever the origins, the Sun Salutation invigorates and uplifts the body. Watch the video for a demonstration on the Sun Salutation.
Additionally, a recent study has shown that yoga practice has a profound effect on decreasing stress and uplifting mood in women. Click hear to read the study: http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/051510.htm
Another way to take in the benefits of the sun’s energy is by using essential oils. The plants absorb the solar energy and their oils can help uplift winter stress and blues. You may diffuse the oils in a diffuser for direct inhalation or blend the oils with organic carrier oils like almond or apricot kernel oil for use on your skin.
Try this combination for Stress:
• Clary sage 15 drops
• Lemon 10 drops
• Lavender 5 drops
For uplifting your mood try:
• Geranium 15 drops
• Lavender 5 drops
• Bergamot 10 drops
Neal’s Yard Remedies has gorgeous organic oils and blends:
Surya Namaskara/Sun Salutation Sequence A:
2. Inhale and bring both arms over your head (palms together) and look up towards hands in URDHVA HASTASANA
3. Exhale and fold forward into UTTANASANA
4. Inhale and lengthen your spine up and out in ARDHA UTTANASANA
5. Exhale and step right leg then left leg back into PLANK POSE
6. Lower down into a push up position (drop your knees to the ground to modify) CHATURANGA
7. Inhale into Upward Facing Dog URDHVA MUKHA SVANASANA
8. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA
9. Inhale to walk or jump your feet to your hands
10. Inhale and lengthen the spine into ARDHA UTTANASANA
11. Exhale fold forward into UTTANASANA
12. Inhale up into URDHVA HASTASANA
Recently, I received a YouTube question regarding how to correct the injuries associated with arabesque. I am posting my response here as well.
I think, unfortunately, the problems associated with arabesque are not so much a correction issue, but rather an overuse injury. The movements needed to execute arabesque are not therapeutic in nature. Therefore, we need to cross train to alleviate some of the negative impact of the movement. The same problems occur with the Yoga pose called “Dancer/Natarajasana.”
What I would suggest to counteract the repetitive wear and tear of performing an arabesque would be to stretch and strengthen the opposing muscle groups.
To execute the arabesque we must extend the trunk at the spinal joints, anteriorly tilt the pelvis, externally rotate the thigh at the hip joint, and rotate the trunk at the spinal joints.
Here are some exercises you may try to stretch and strengthen these areas. To view some of the exercises see my video “Core exercises for Dance and Yoga” from Youtube.
• My first suggestion is to take a break from turn out and work in parallel sometimes. For instance, teach arabesque in a parallel position with a flat back which elongates the trunk and strengthens the muscles of the trunk (see Warrior 3 pose in video)
• Lie on your back and bring the knees to the chest.(see Apanasana pose below #2) This puts the spine in a posterior tilt and stretches the lower back.
• To stretch the external rotators of the thigh/hip, in the same back lying position place your right foot on your left knee, grab the back of your left thigh and gently pull the left leg back toward your chest. (see Eye of the needle pose below #1)
• Strengthening the back extensor muscles can help. Simply lie in a prone position and gently lift the chest off the ground.
• Strengthening and stabilizing the abdominal muscles will also help. The Dying bug exercise (in video) works nicely because the spine is stabilized. The Bird Dog pose (see below #3) is also good for spinal stabilization.
• Rotation of the trunk, especially combined with posterior or anterior tilt can cause irritation to spinal discs. Therefore, if you are in acute pain avoid rotation of the spine.
I hope that helps!
Many people are gravitating towards a plant based diet for a number of reasons including weight loss, compassion for animals, and the environment. If you are thinking about trying a plant based diet, especially for health reasons, here are a few tips:
1. Limit Fat intake. Avoid oils when cooking or in foods. Oils add a considerable amount of fat. Read labels thoroughly to make sure there is little to no added oils. Limit consumption of avocados, nuts, and seeds. Use these foods sparingly because they do contain quite a bit of fat.
2. Keep Protein intake at 8-10% of total calories. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, humans are incapable of using protein for tissue building purposes above the level of approximately 1.5 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. Excess protein greater than this amount is either burned as energy or stored as fat. Both of these options are undesirable because we do not want to gain fat and getting rid of nitrogenous waste from excess protein can cause dehydration.
3. Chose high fiber foods (ex. beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains). Foods high in fiber will provide satiety and help maintain a steady blood sugar.
4. Avoid processed foods and fake processed soy products (isolated soy protein). If you are considering soy products, choose tempeh, edamame, miso, and tofu.
5. Avoid foods with a high glycemic index (ex. white bread, bagels, and large baking potatoes). These foods will raise your blood sugar.
I have received several questions on the protein and carbohydrate content of plant foods recently. The truth is, you will get all the protein you need on a whole food plant based diet and you will not gain weight, even though it is a high carbohydrate diet.
Firstly, protein is an essential macronutrient that is a chain of amino acids which contain nitrogen. Protein quality is determined by the presence or absence of essential amino acids. Essential amino acids must be taken in as food, while non-essential amino acids can be manufactured by the body. Although plant proteins are considered “incomplete” because they are deficient in certain amino acids, all the essential amino acids are present in a variety of plant foods. Therefore, all you need to do is vary the plant protein sources you consume each day. There is no need for specific food combining. You will easily meet the RDA requirement for protein of 8-10% of total calories per day.
As far as high carbohydrates and weight loss are concerned, according to the American College of Sports Medicine “fat burns in a carbohydrate flame.” There is nothing in the scientific literature that suggests that lowering carbohydrate intake improves exercise performance or weight loss. In fact, high animal protein diets have been associated with kidney problems and kidney stones.
For more on this topic read my paper: “The Nutrient Quality of Whole Plant Foods.”
For more information on Plant Protein read Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s recent article in Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine: http://nutritionstudies.org/protein-juggernaut-deep-roots/
Visit our Food Blog for Plant Power Pictures & Recipe Ideas.