Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I will be away from next week and will not be doing any new posting in my blog during this period.

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tips for a Better Yoga Practice

You will find it uncomfortable to do a yoga practice after eating a large meal, so wait for about two hours before starting a practice. If you want to practice but feel very hungry, eat a piece of fruit or other small snack.

Stand or sit and become aware of your breathing at the beginning of each practice. Reflect on your inhalation and your exhalation until each is smooth and regular. Try to keep that awareness and smoothness throughout your practice.

Use your breath as your teacher. When your breath becomes forced or uneven, your teacher is telling you to rest and wait for your breath to recover.

When your attention wander during practice, gently bring your attention back to focus on your breathing and the movements of your body.

"Feeling irritated, restless, afraid, and hopeless is a reminder to listen more carefully" - Pema Chodron

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Simple and Natural Ways to Keep Fit

Here are some simple ways to make exercise a part of your daily life.

Wake-up Workout

When your eyes open, sit up slowly without using your hands. With legs straight out, lean forward until you feel a gently stretch in your back and hamstrings. Hold, then, using your abs, lower yourself flat. Rest and repeat two or more times. Strengthen core.

Balance Booster

While brushing your teeth in the morning, alternate standing on one leg as you switch mouth quadrants (every 30 seconds). Balancing develops your core muscle and may even be good for your brain. You can also do this at night before going to bed.

Be a Ballerina

As you wait for the water to boil, stand sideways, put one hand on the counter, and lift the outside leg straight in front of you, keeping it extended. With upper body straight, hold for a few seconds and move it to the side, hold and extend it behind you. Do five to ten times on each leg. Tone outer thighs, hip flexors and quadriceps.

Recharge Yourself

Anytime you’re waiting in line, stand evenly on both feet, clasp hands behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together to open your chest, an energizing yoga-based move that stimulates the nervous system. Hold for ten to 20 seconds while breathing in and out, taking longer on the inhale.

Play Footsie

After dinner while you’re still sitting at the table, extend your right leg out and slowly bend it up and down, squeezing and holding it the up position for at least five seconds. Repeat on each leg five times. Sculpt quadriceps.

Lift those Hips

Before you tuck yourself in for the night, try doing this. Lie on your back on the floor with your legs up on the edge of the bed or a chair. Slowly bend your knees, lifting your hips off the floor. Hold for five seconds, relax and repeat 10 to 12 times. This exercise firms up hamstrings and core.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Mosquito Plant

During my recent trip to Kuantan to visit my cousin who owns a nursery, he gave me a plant that repels mosquitoes. My mum had been complaining that the mosquito sprays purchased from the supermarket and the fogging arranged by the condo management were not effective in getting rid of the mosquitoes.

So, when my cousin told us about the mosquito plant, we were only too glad to accept it from him. The plant has a sweet lemony citronella scent and is easily grown as a potted plant with its attractive foliage. This plant contains citronella oil, the oil is the ingredient necessary for repelling mosquitoes. Citronella has long been used to deter mosquitoes. It doesn't harm them, but they don't like citronella and avoid it.

The other night while I was sleeping in my room, I could hear the buzzing sound of the mosquito near my ear. I decided to pick a few leaves from the mosquito plant and place them in a small plate in my room. It really worked as the mosquito disappeared and I have not been bitten by any mosquitoes since. My mum also picked some leaves and left them in her room and had the same effect.

The leaves are most effective when they are crushed and rub on the skin to act as a repellent as this releases the citronella. As the leaves still maintain a strong fragrance even when they start to wilt, I have placed the drying leaves into a bowl and place them in my living room.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Throat-Control (Ujjayi) Breathing

There are various ways to control and refine your breathing in yoga. Throat-control breathing is particularly useful because you can use it throughout your yoga practice. By making a soft sound in your throat, only audible to yourself, you become more conscious of whether your breath is smooth and regular or becoming focused and rushed.

1.Open your mouth and make a “ha” sound with your breath rather than with your voice as you breath out.

2.Now close your mouth, and try to make the “ha” sound with your breath. You will find yourself making a soft hissing sound in your throat.

3.Throughout your yoga practice, except when you are resting, always breathe through your nose.

4.To begin with, try to make this hissing sound loudly each time you exhale.

5.As you become more familiar with the technique of throat-control breathing, you can work more quietly and also add the sound to your inhalation.

6.Use ujjayi breathing as much as you can in all your practice. You will soon find it natural to use it all the time.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Foods to beat the Flu Bug

The weather in the Klang Valley these days can cause us to fall sick easily, especially when it can be hot and sunny in the afternoon and then in the evening, thunderstorms and heavy rain or it could be raining non-stop for the whole day.

Here are some foods that can help to boost your immune system:

Orange juice

Vitamin C may shorten the duration of your cold, helping you get back on your feet.

Oatmeal, bananas, fish, chicken, turkey

They help maintain the health organs that make infection-fighting white blood cells.

Apples, cranberries, tomato sauce

These contain flavonoids, anti-inflammatory substances that can strengthen your immune system

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

5 Easy Ways to Keep In Shape

Regular strength training will help prevent injuries, protect joints and improve posture, Try these five moves.

Calf Raise

Stand with feet shoulders-width apart, arms by sides with a dumb-bell (or two small bottles of water or cans of soup) in each hand. Exhale as you raise your heels off the ground. Inhale as you return your heels slowly to the ground.

Abdominal Crunch

Lie on back – legs bent, feet flat, hands behind ears. Exhale as you curl up slowly. Only lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor. Don’t pull on your head or neck. Inhale and slowly uncurl until you are lying back on the floor.

Triceps Kickback

Kneel on all fours. Hold dumb-bell in hand and bend arm at the elbow (upper arm should stay in line with side of body). Exhale as you straighten your lower arm behind you. Inhale as you bring it back down.

Leg Press

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumb-bell in each hand. Inhale as you squat slowly down. Keep your back straight. Don’t bend your knees past a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you push back up. Don’t lock your knees.

Lateral Raise

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides and a dumb-bell in each hand. Keep elbows slightly bent. Exhale as you raise your arms, inhale as you lower them,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Instant Home Spa

Stiff from too much housework? Give yourself spa-style relief by trying these recipes from Healing Home Spa by Valerie Gennari Cooksley.

Sore Hand Scrub
Mix 1 tsp olive oil, juice of ½ lemon, 2 tsp honey and 2 drops almond extract. Massage into hands and wrap with a towel. Rinse after 15 minutes. The lemon cleans and the oil and honey soften.

Hot Stone Foot Bath
Place marbles or smooth, clean stones in a basin fill with hot water. Add 1 tbs unsweeted cocoa powder, 2 tbs buttermilk powder, 2 tbs baking soda and ½ tsp cinnamon and mix. Roll your feet over the stones, concentrating on sore spots and then soak.

Macho Muscle Rub
Mix 1 tbs olive oil, ½ tsp ground ginger and a pinch each of cayenne pepper and hot mustard pepper, let stand for 10 minutes. Massage into muscles, avoiding your eyes and any senstitive or broken skin.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Foods that can help beat Indigestion

Peppermint Tea contains substances that can ease spasm in the gut walls. Mint or peppermint tea made from fresh mint leaves is said to help improve your digestion after a large meal. It can also help to control nausea.

Cardamom helps protect against digestive problems such as indigestion, flatulence, stomach cramps and can prevent acid regurgitation and belching. Cardamom has a delicate spicy flavour and can be added to a variety of sweet or savoury dishes such as curries, rice puddings and biscuits. But the simplest way to use it to improve your digestion is to drink an infusion of the seeds after meals.

Fennel can help to improve digestion and relieve stomach cramps. Fennel tea relieves nausea, flatulence and bloating. However, fennel seeds are also believed to encourage menstruation and should therefore be avoided by pregnant women.

Manuka Honey is made from the flower of Manuka or New Zealand tea tree and possesses strong antibacterial qualities. A dessert spoon of cold pressed Manuka honey after each meal and another at bedtime can help heal stomach ulcers and kill bacteria.

Ginger is a popular as a treatment for digestive problems ranging from mild indigestion and flatulence to nausea and vomiting. Some people find that sucking a piece of crystallized ginger or drinking ginger ale or ginger tea does the trick. To make ginger tea, simply grate 1 cm piece of fresh root ginger into a mug of boiling water and leave to stand for 10 minutes before drinking.

How to prevent Indigestion

•Eat several small meals a day but don’t miss any.

•Take your time over eating and chew your food well.

•Avoid fried and fatty foods and any other foods which you know cause you problems.

•Control stress and avoid tense situations.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Online Yoga Music

I have always like to listen to music while on the net and have been looking for online radios that play the kind of music that I like. Well, I came across this website live365 internet radio that broadcast thousands of radio stations offering different genres of music ranging from easy-listening to classical. You can opt to listen free online without subscription with commercial breaks or you can sign-up for their VIP package with unlimited and commercial-free access.

I found some stations that play yoga music to inspire your practice on and off your yoga mat. My favourite stations are Asana – Music for Yoga, the playlist includes music from Terry Oldfield, Russill Paul, Krishna Das and Rasa; Lotus Flower Radio which plays healing and spiritual music; and Healing and Relaxation for music to ease stress and relax after a busy day.

Due to the royalties involved in broadcasting internet radio, some of the stations may be unavailable at peak times of the day if you are not a VIP subscriber. You can tune to other stations if the chosen radio is not available.

Meanwhile, for this holiday season, I am tuning in to the stations that play Christmas songs.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Anti-Stress Tips

We all suffer from stress at one time or another which is a symptom of modern living which is virtually impossible to avoid. The following tips may help you relax and reduce your stress level.

1.Eating with a friend is very relaxing – sharing conversation and food at a table makes you eat more slowly so you can unwind.

2.Exercise is very important. Regular physical activity – at least 30 minute sessions three times a week – strengthens the immune system and promotes relaxation. Low-intensity exercises, such as swimming, jogging or cycling, trigger the body to produce endorphins (natural body chemicals) which produce a sense of well-being and euphoria.

3.Treat yourself to a massage – aromatherapy, reflexology or shiatsu. Massage helps to increase energy and reduce stress.

4.Take deep breaths. Stress causes breathing to become shallow and irregular. Deep breathing increases the amount of oxygen in the blood and slows down the heart rate.

5.Learn how to meditate – this can lower raised blood pressure and help to calm you down.

6.Essential oils such as rose and lavender are relaxing, rosemary and geranium are anti depressant.

7.Set aside at least 20 minutes a day to relax. This doesn’t have to be complicated – read a book, go for a walk, listen to music or simply sit quietly.

Relieve stress with these yoga poses and rejuvenate your mind and body.

You can also assess your stress level by taking this quiz.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Osteoporosis Risk Factors

(From posted by Dr Brent Ridge, Health Expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia)

What kinds of things might cause me to have a higher chance of getting osteoporosis?

• Female gender, Caucasian or Asian race, thin and small body frames, and a family history of osteoporosis. (Having a mother with an osteoporotic hip fracture doubles your risk of hip fracture.)
• Cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, lack of exercise, and a diet low in calcium.
• Poor nutrition and poor general health particularly a lack of Vitamin D, calcium, and weight bearing exercises.
• Malabsorption (nutrients are not properly absorbed from the gastrointestinal system) from conditions such as celiac sprue.
• Low estrogen levels such as those that occur in menopause or with early surgical removal of both ovaries.
• Amenorrhea (loss of the menstrual period) in young women also causes low estrogen and osteoporosis. It can occur in women who undergo extremely vigorous training and in women with very low body fat. Those who suffer from anorexia are more prone to osteoporosis.
• Immobility from any condition that interferes with walking.
• Hyperthyroidism, a condition wherein too much thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid gland (as in Grave’s disease) or is caused by taking too much thyroid hormone medication.
• Hyperparathyroidism, a disease wherein there is excessive parathyroid hormone production by the parathyroid gland (a small gland located near the thyroid gland). Normally, the parathyroid hormone maintains blood calcium levels by, in part, removing calcium from the bone. In untreated hyperparathyroidism, excessive parathyroid hormone causes too much calcium to be removed from the bone, which can lead to osteoporosis.
• Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. When vitamin D is lacking, the body cannot absorb adequate amounts of calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency can result from lack of intestinal absorption of the vitamin such as occurs in celiac sprue and primary biliary cirrhosis.
• Certain medications can cause osteoporosis. Steroids are the most common culprit.

Five Steps to Bone Health and Osteoporosis Prevention:

1. Get your daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D
2. Engage in regular weight-bearing exercise
3. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
4. Talk to your healthcare provider about bone health
5. When appropriate, have a bone density test and take medication

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tips for Better Sleep

The following tips make it easier to relax and drift off.

1. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable and conducive to sleep. It should be adequately ventilated and not too hot. The curtains should be heavy enough to keep the room dark.

2. A firm mattress, slim pillow and covers made of natural fabrics are best for sleep.

3. Get into a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time.

4. Avoid watching television or listening to the radio in bed.

5. Unwind before you go to bed by soaking in a warm bath with a few drops of lavender, frankincense, roman chamomile or clary sage oil. A sprinkling of any one of these aromatherapy oils on the pillow or sheets may also make you pleasantly sleepy.  You can learn more about lavender  oil and all its glorious benefits from Balance Me Beautiful website.

6. Regular exercise, especially if it’s in the fresh air, promotes good quality sleep – a brisk walk for 20 minutes a day could help greatly. It is more effective to exercise in the afternoon or early evening because exercising too late may over-stimulate you. You can also do some of the yoga poses that I posted in my blog on Bed-time Yoga Poses to help you sleep better.

7. If you find it difficult to get to sleep, don’t toss and turn or become obsessed with trying to doze off. Instead get up for a while, have a light snack such as toast spread lightly with honey. Read for a while or listen to soothing music.

8. Complementary therapies such as massage and acupuncture relax your body and are therefore very good sleep tonics.

9. Meditation is believed to be an even better form of relaxation then sleep.

“A taste of honey is not only sweet – it can help to soothe you to sleep. A teaspoon stirred into a cup of warm milk is just enough to keep your blood sugar in balance throughout the night”