3 Simple Yoga Poses, and a Bonus, that will Dramatically Increase Your Detox Results

This is a guest post by Kimberly Johnson

If you have decided to focus your energy on your health through raw foods and detox, chances are you are looking for as many ways as possible to support this dietary change as possible. Heck, why not double down?

Some form of exercise is surely a part of your routine so that you can get all of your systems working and circulating.

So why yoga?

Yoga can be more effective, than say running, because you can get pretty specific about the outcome you want. Do you want to feel caffeinated? Sedated? Balanced? Specific poses can be combined or sequences to create these effects.

Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. It takes some time to make your own yoga pose prescriptions, but it is possible. And just like you are on your way to knowing what your body is craving for food, you can be on your way to knowing what kind of yoga practice is right for you each day. Both of these take time and steady effort, but it actually becomes fun when you can recognize what is healing for you, rather than needing a doctor to understand.

Poses that help you detox.

Yoga is an extremely effective way to sit with the difficulty that often comes up through the release of old habits. Yoga can also assist you in getting rid of the unwanted toxins that your body is probably releasing through this dietary change. And hopefully, yoga can be one of the positive habits built into your life that instigates a state of such vitality and vibrancy that your old habits disintegrate and lose power in comparison with the strength and life force that you feel when eating cleanly and taking care of your body.

The yoga postures that are most effective in helping you eliminate toxins from your digestive system, kidneys and liver are twists. Twisting postures literally wring out your organs so that when you unwind, new blood and oxygen rush back into them.

Twists are best practiced on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning is optimal. But if that is not possible, just wait a few hours after a meal.

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Pose #1 (parvritta pavanmuktasana)

I recommend the reclining double leg twist.

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Lying down on your back, draw your knees towards your chest making 90 degree angles with your thigh and shins and ankles. Reach your arms out to the side like a cross. On an exhale, lower both legs to the right without your left shoulder coming up- stay for 8 breaths or about 1 minute. Keep your knees together. Inhale, return to the center, and exhale lower your legs to the left keeping your right shoulder down.

A slightly more challenging version:

If your hamstrings are open and you can straighten both legs to 90 degrees, lower both straight legs to the right aiming them to your right fingertips, so you will be slightly piked. Inhale come to the center, and exhale lower both legs zipped together over to the left keeping the right shoulder down. (*do not do this is you feel discomfort in your lower back)

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Pose #2 (jathara parvatansana)

- Level 2 Stomach Twister

Then sit up with both legs out in front of you. If you cannot sit on the floor with your spine straight, sit up on a pillow or phone book. (It is not a good idea to twist with a rounded spine).

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Seated Twist Marichyasana 3

- It’s a mouthful but a very simple and effective twist!
Bend your right knee so your right foot comes back by your right hip. Hug your right knee with your left arm and twist to the right. If it is not too much of a strain, you can put your left elbow on the outside of your right knee.

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Pose #3 Twisted Triangle

From a standing position, step your left leg back. Lengthen forward over your right leg, place your left hand on the outside of your right foot and twist to the right.

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If you cannot keep your spine straight (which would be normal because this is a difficult pose, place your front hand on a block)

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The main principle of twisting is to lengthen your spine on inhalations and twist on exhalations. You want to wring out a long spine.

Counterindications: Do not do these twists if you are pregnant or have a history of herniated disks.

I hope that you feel the benefits of these twists. Sometimes they can be pretty immediate. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Kimberly

BONUS

Sitting. Some of the most powerful tools are often the simplest, but that does not mean they are easy. There are times in any fast, detox or diet change that are really difficult. We take away our comfort measures. When we were lonely, we used to eat M&Ms, have a glass of wine or a hamburger, now we are faced with the emptiness. An emptiness that no salad will fill. During these rough spots, be still, close your eyes, and drop in and down. This is a simple form of meditation.

Rather than going to your computer or going for a run, or substituting another form of escape where food once was, you have an opportunity to break the pattern. Instead of trying to escape the feelings or impulses, close your eyes and be with them. This doesn’t have to be some big deal. We have a false idea that meditation is either some grand enlightening experience or that it is impossible torture.

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I can say that whatever you experience with your eyes closed is actually what is present inside of you. If you haven’t practiced being still, it can be pretty shocking how scattered and unfocused our minds are. You thought meditation and yoga were supposed to be relaxing and then you close your eyes and get assaulted by a barrage of thoughts and feelings that we often keep at bay. So start with just a few seconds- the length of a breath. When you feel that urge to escape the power of your craving or the sadness, loneliness, or grief that may precede your craving, pause and take a full breath.

I call this pose sitting, but really it should be called pausing, because you can do it anywhere, except when driving don’t close your eyes! *Do not pupu this one and skip down to the “real” yoga. This is a prerequisite for getting the benefits out of the other poses, your detox and your life!

If you want more guidance with meditation and some more variety, check out these 2 minute meditations designed to fit into your busy schedule!




For the past eleven years, Kimberly Johnson has been teaching yoga all over the world, in New York City, San Diego, Chicago, Boulder, Thailand, Malaysia and Brazil. She has deeply explored Viniyoga, Iyengar yoga, and Ashtanga yoga, and found the heart of her practice to be a continual return to self-inquiry. Her classes are influenced by her background in dance, Structural Integration, the Feldenkrais method, Advaita Vedanta, and Sanskrit. She currently lives and teaches in Rio de Janeiro. Find out more about her amazing retreats at www.kajyoga.com.



Back to the Future with Raw Foods

This is a guest post by Liz Longacre.

My husband and I, and a few courageous friends, have spent the month of January on a raw food ‘live-it’. My husband suggested it and it fit perfectly in line with the current evolution of my relationship with food. So with a big fat “I love you”, I quickly agreed. I love a man who can challenge me!

I’ve been on what you could call a spiritual food journey. I’ve been exploring the relationship between eating in a way that’s right for animals, the environment and my own health. More and more I’ve been taking things back to wise old Mama Nature. Our food production system just seems to have strayed so far from what nature intended. The health and environmental consequences being inflicted upon us as a result are clearly screaming “go back”!! In this case, going backward may really be the best way to go forward.

“Nature” has many definitions. The simplest being “the world of living things”. Since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated with this world, drawn to it, captivated and comforted by it. Perhaps growing up in New York City helped me to appreciate the times I would get to fully immerse myself in all of nature’s wonders. Walking through the woods by a lake with my dog on family vacations was always my simple version of Utopia.

My fascination with nature first and foremost always included a love of animals. To me, animals are magical. They are the essence of nature, it’s most instinctual creatures, so full of emotion and sixth sense wisdom, so beautiful and so strong, yet so vulnerable…

It’s this love for animals that led me to start a travel business completely dedicated to their welfare. It’s also what led me to be a vegetarian for 12 years and, once I educated myself on our factory farming system, a vegan for the past year. Once I began my vegan journey, I knew I had to be healthy to maintain it properly.

As a woman who spent most of her life, (a) using her stove solely to brew tea, (b) acting like sticking a frozen meal into the microwave was a balanced dinner, (c) pretending that ketchup was a food group, and (d) thinking it’s okay to substitute any meal for desert because the calories would even out and I NEEDED sugar to survive I knew I had some work to do… I needed to respect my own body as much as I respected the animals I hoped to spare.

So I started exploring what it means to eat healthy. The more I learned, the more I realized, our food production system has become about endless chemicals and misleading labeling and we’re programmed to devour each bite with every ad that flashes our way. Companies providing our food care only about profits, not health. As a result we have an obesity epidemic like never seen before, increasing health problems (it’s been said that this will be the first time in history that our children’s generation will not live longer than their parent’s generation) and devastating environmental consequences. Our food is becoming a cancer all on its own.

Instead of eating what was given to us by Mother Nature, we’re eating mass produced low quality chemically filled cheap processed foods that are ironically often labeled as “vitamin enriched”. Manufacturers are certainly creative. Perhaps in this instance, creativity has betrayed us.

Our RAW-Donkulous Month!

So, to start off the New Year being the healthiest we can be, off we went into our raw food month. Back to living foods full of healthy enzymes that will keep us younger longer. Back to fruits, vegetables and nuts, straight from the earth. I knew one thing, it was our turn to get creative.

To avoid eating the same old salad everyday, my husband and I have been raw “cooking” up a storm! It’s been new and exciting, and admittedly challenging at times. But I’ve been following Raw Foods Witch ever since I met Nathalie at a conference, so I knew I’d be armed with great information
and recipes!

My favorite part of this experience has been juicing and drinking green smoothies every morning – AMAZING. It’s like kick-starting your day with a green jolt of nutrient filled power fuel! For once, I don’t miss my cafe con soya!

But it hasn’t been all peaches and almond cream and we’ve had a few bumps along our zucchini-bricked road (which admittedly led to a bit of cheating…).

Some of the lessons we’ve learned:

1. Gradual Changes are Easier

Some friends participating in our raw food month went straight from full on meat and/or dairy eating, junk food downing, smoking and/or hardly exercising (I myself needed improvement in the junk food and exercising categories), to nothing but raw foods – not easy. Starting as a vegan made the transition a little less drastic for me. To make a raw food ‘live-it’ work as smoothly as possible, a gradual change might be easier for both your body and your brain to process.

2. Prepare Ahead

Sticking to raw foods at home was easiest because we emptied our fridge of all temptations. When you’re out and about in the world, things get tricky. Plan ahead! Bring snacks and leftovers and find restaurants with raw food options so you’re never wandering around hungry and aimless!

3. Avoid Alcohol

I admit, this was not a no alcohol month. Not surprisingly, the times I struggled the most were the times I went out to dinner with friends and had drinks. My booze tolerance is next to nothing. After two glasses of wine I approach full on deep-fried carb-packed cravings. After 2 dinners like this, I realized that alcohol was not going to be a friend of my raw food challenge. Shocking.

4. Have a Support System

Doing this month with my husband and friends made all the difference. My hubby and I often spent Saturday nights in the aisles of Whole Foods with our recipes in hand. It was fun and even kind of romantic :)

5. Watch Your Ecology

Being healthy and feeling great isn’t just about the foods you eat. It’s also about how much you exercise, your lifestyle and your emotions. To feel good you have to check all your systems and fine tune them. One thing cannot carry all the rest by itself!

6. Get Creative

As mentioned earlier, you simply cannot eat the same thing everyday. A lazy raw food diet could mean salad, a handful of nuts and some fruit, every-single-day; here enters food boredom and stir-crazy cravings. To prevent this, we got creative and constantly tried new things.

We’ve made everything from raw chili, to raw mushroom “calamari”, to raw veggie burgers, to raw spaghetti and tomato sauce, to raw jicama fries, to Nathalie’s raw strawberry shortcake and key lime pie! Not to mention the endless amount of smoothies and juices we’ve concocted. Have fun with it, get good recipe books/websites and get your creative green juices flowing!

Liz Longacre is the founder of Your Time Travels, a travel company for animal lovers. Whether you want to volunteer abroad with animal welfare projects, go on safari adventures, enjoy vegan resorts, or travel with your own adorable pets, her company can get you there! You can keep up with Liz at her blog Yourtimetravels.com/blog and website www.YourTimeTravels.com.

What is Earthing Technology?

This is a guest post by Emma MacDougall.

It’s been four days since I received my earthing technology. I went all out and bought the earthing sheet and the Earthing Connection Universal Mat. For those of you who haven’t a clue what I’m going on about, earthing technology helps us to ground to the earth. You get a pad or a sheet with a wire attached that either plugs in to a socket (that has been checked to see that it’s earthed) or a grounding rod you physically stick in to the ground. This then passes the groundedness (is that a word, I think not) on to you. Using this technology is in effect the same as going outside and walking about on the earth with bare feet, but without the need to actually go outside.

Why would we want to connect to the earth anyway?

Well, when we ground, we access the planet’s powerful, amazing and mostly overlooked natural healing energy which anyone has access to at any time just by touching the earth (without shoes which insulate us from this energy field). Throughout most of evolution humans walked barefoot and slept on the ground, largely oblivious to the fact that the surface of the Earth contains limitless healing energy. Science has discovered this energy as free-flowing electrons constantly replenished by solar radiation and lightning strikes. Few people know it, but the ground provides a subtle electric signal that maintains health and governs the intricate mechanisms that make our bodies work.

Modern lifestyles have disconnected us from this energy and this physical disconnection from the Earth creates abnormal physiology and contributes to inflammation, pain, fatigue, stress and poor sleep. By reconnecting to the Earth, symptoms are rapidly relieved and even eliminated.

So why do we need the technology when we have the ground?

Well, where I live (Scotland) it’s pretty cold and snowing at the moment. I might think of myself as quite a hardy young lass but going out in the snow with no shoes on is not my idea of a good time! On top of that, I do still have to work for a living (working on changing that) so most of the day I’m cooped up in front of the laptop. Having the earthing mat technology means I get all the benefits of being outdoors, indoors! It’s recommended that you ground for at least 8 hours a day so the mats and sheets are perfect.

What benefits have I noticed?

earthing

Interestingly there’s a bit of disagreement between those that have used the technology as to whether you sense that you’re actually using it. Whilst it should be no different than what you’d sense standing on the ground, I do feel a mild tingling sensation when on the mat or lying on the sheet. I’m happy to admit that this may be purely psychological as my husband says he can’t feel a thing! What we both agree on however, is the amazing sleep we’ve both been getting since using the earthing sheets. My sleep has been so deep and restful and I haven’t woken up during the night once. Even better than that, his snoring seems to have stopped!

There is a downside to such an awesome sleep and that’s not wanting to get out of bed! I’d say that having slept on the earthing sheet I definitely won’t go back. I have noticed my digestion has improved but can’t say that this is definitely due to the sheet although it’s one of the benefits cited in the book, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Clinten Ober – a must read if you’re interested to find out more. Other benefits cited include improved eczema and arthritic conditions, pain relief, detox and PMS relief.

I’d definitely recommend these products from my own experience but if you’re lucky enough to live in warmer climates, then just get outside and kick those shoes off!

Emma MacDougall is the author of Me Raw: You Cooked, teacher of raw food classes in Glasgow, Scotland and regular blogger at www.rawfoodscotland.com


7 Simple Steps to Looking and Feeling 10 Years Younger

This is a guest post by Sukie Baxter.

Growing older is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel like you were born when rocks were soft and dirt was newly discovered. Have you ever heard the saying that age is simply a mindset? Well, this is half true. Certainly, if you focus on being happy and leading an active life, you’ll be less likely to notice the years passing. But what about when age related conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure set in? It’s difficult to defy your chronological age when physical dis-ease is holding you back from doing the things you love.

But, believe it or not, there’s an underlying thread connecting not only these conditions but also depression, memory loss, fatigue, digestive disease, fibromyalgia, allergies, lupus, psoriasis, diabetes and autoimmune disorders. Chronic, systemic inflammation
is the root cause of all diseases and also triggers early aging. In fact, elevated C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker, is the strongest predictor of a future heart attack, much stronger than cholesterol levels!

So, what causes systemic inflammation? There are several factors, but fortunately, all of them can be controlled or eliminated. Below are seven keys to reducing systemic inflammation, which will leave you with fewer aches and pains, younger looking skin, a stronger immune system and more energy for life!

1 . Consume foods that are raw or cooked at low temperatures.

Cooking food on high heat chemically alters the sugars and fats, creating glycotoxins, the same residual matter produced in your skin and joint tissues as a result of normal aging. Consuming foods high in glycotoxins – i.e. cooked at high temperatures – promotes the formation of glycotoxins in our tissues, accelerating the aging process and contributing to increased levels of systemic inflammation, according a National Academy of Sciences study.

A Mt. Sinai Medical Center study compared levels of glycotoxins in two groups of participants. One group followed a normal western diet while the other group avoided grilling, frying or baking their food in favor of poaching, stewing, or steaming their meals. The latter group showed a 60% reduction in blood levels of inflammatory markers after four months, so it stands to reason that a healthy dose of raw veggies each day will help keep the doctor away!

2 . Eliminate food sensitivities.

Allergies first happen on the cellular level with the production of white blood cells to fend off the ‘foreign invader.’ As we age, foods that didn’t used to bother us, like dairy or wheat, can become problematic. Constant consumption of foods that create cell-level inflammation can lead to systemic issues down the road. If you suspect that you have a food allergy, consult a qualified naturopath who can assist you with an elimination diet to determine which foods are the culprits, and then avoid those like the plague.

3 . Eliminate sugar, starch and refined carbohydrates.

Anything white or foods that can be bleached white like bread, flour, rice, corn, sugar, cereals, baked goods, etc, will cause inflammation. Carbohydrates create an insulin spike that puts your body on red alert, causing the production of arachidonic acid, a pro-inflammatory agent. Look for foods with a low glycemic index that will not cause insulin spikes to keep your inflammation levels in check.

4 . Take magnesium!

A 2005 article in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition demonstrated that as magnesium levels fall, C-reactive protein levels rise. Even worse, the study found that most adults consume less than the daily recommended amount of magnesium (between 310 and 420 mg).

There are no foods that contain large amounts of magnesium, and this might be responsible for our nationwide deficiency. We are constantly reminded by the dairy industry to get enough calcium and by the orange juice companies to drink up for vitamin C, but no one is pushing magnesium, so we don’t really think about it. Also, most of us now drink bottled or softened water instead of well or spring water that is rich in magnesium.

Since dietary magnesium can be difficult to absorb, I recommend using transdermal magnesium oil from Ancient Minerals for direct delivery into the blood stream.

5 . Reduce stress and get more sleep.

There’s good stress, like that of entering a sports competition or going on a first date, and there’s bad stress. Bad stress tends to be chronic, like a cranky boss, a job you hate, financial worries or even a poor
diet. Chronic physical and psychological pressure results in elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol are linked to increased systemic inflammation. In addition, a study conducted by the Emory University School of Medicine in partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine found that acute sleep deprivation resulted in elevated inflammatory hormones.

So, it stands to reason that taking time to alleviate stress will result in increased levels of health. Taking magnesium, as I mentioned in #4, will help you to sleep more soundly, but there are other strategies you can use to reduce stress such as getting regular massages and diffusing stress relieving essential oils into your home or office (I recommend a blend of lavender and peppermint…smells delicious!).

6 . Take systemic enzymes.

If you’re suffering from painful conditions like arthritis, back and neck pain or muscle stiffness, systemic enzymes will be your best friend. Whereas most people treat pain with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs) like ibuprofen and aspirin, these medications only cover up the pain without addressing the root cause. Systemic enzymes, on the other hand, work holistically throughout the body to clean up excessive fibrin. When fibrin is too thick, it restricts blood flow, which slows healing and makes it impossible for your circulatory system to remove metabolic waste that causes further pain and inflammation. Systemic enzymes are available at most health food and supplement stores.

7 . Soak up the sunshine!

Whenever somebody moves to my hometown of Seattle, the first thing I suggest is to start taking supplemental vitamin D right away! We have one of the highest incidences in multiple sclerosis in the entire nation, and it’s
all because cloudy skies cause vitamin D deficiency. But we’re not the only ones!

According to a recent study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, 75% of Americans aren’t getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. A nutrition science researcher at the University of Missouri discovered that a slight drop in vitamin D levels caused increased inflammation even in healthy women.

You can get more vitamin D by exposing 25% of your skin to sunlight for 10 minutes a day, three days per week. Consuming fatty fish is a good dietary source of vitamin D, or you can choose to take dietary supplements. The amount you need to take depends
on your geographical location. Those who live in cloudy cities (like Seattle) will need to take significantly more vitamin D.

Clearly, inflammation is on the rise, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a victim. By taking simple steps to eliminate pro-inflammatory agents from your diet and environment and feeding your body the right nutrients, you can avoid a lot of the common age related symptoms. That means more life in your years, so get out there and play!

Sukie Baxter is an anti aging and longevity specialist who helps you defy your age! You can get tons of rejuvenation secrets and discover your younger, happier self at www.SukieBaxter.com!

Is Coffee Your Guilty Pleasure? Get The Truth About Coffee’s Calories

This is a guest post by John Davenport from World of Diets.

While most people know that the wrong food can make you gain weight, not too many are aware that what you drink can do the same. Coffee, in particular, is seldom thoughts of as a beverage that can make you put on weight. But if coffee is your cup of tea (pardon the pun), it’s time to learn the truth about the calories your morning cup of Joe may contain.

Coffee should have no effect on your waistline. A cup of black coffee contains less than 8 calories. This isn’t something you should worry about. The problem is that most of the coffee that is served in coffee chains today is vastly different from the pure form of coffee.

Today, coffee is served in so many ways that it’s difficult to keep track of how many calories each cup contains. The ugly truth is that some forms of coffee contain hundreds of calories that you simply can’t afford.

Let’s take a look at the calorie content of coffee cups from various restaurants and coffee chains:

Dunkin Donuts – A Coffee Coolatta® with Skim Milk Large contains 420 calories, while a Mocha Coffee Large contains 230!

McDonnald’s – A Nonfat Hazelnut Latte (Large) contains 260 calories, while a Hazelnut Latte (Medium) contains 280.

Caribou Coffee – A medium sized Caramel High Rise will add 360 calories to your body, not to mention 18 grams of fat. The Berry White Mocha large with milk chocolate is a whooping 790 calories!

Starbucks – A Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte will cost you 260 calories, while an Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Grande is 520 calories.

I could go on and on. You will find high calorie coffee options in practically every major coffee chain and fast food restaurant. Some of these drinks hardly resemble coffee any more. They may contain caffeine but they’ve been turned into something else entirely.

Let’s put some of these numbers in perspective: According to the USDA, the average recommended daily calorie intake for a 25 year old female who is active for less than 30 minutes each day is 1,800 calories. If you drink a cup of coffee, which contains 270 calories, you’ve already used up 15% of your daily intake and you hardly got any of the necessary nutrients in. If you drink a 520 calories cup of coffee, you’ve used up nearly a third.

The reason why there are so many calories in some of these coffees is all the stuff that’s added to it. Milk, sugar, half and half, caramel, chocolate, all of this is what makes these drinks so rich in calories. Coffee, by itself, hardly contributes any calories.

What should you do to still drink coffee and not gain weight?

1. Educate yourself – Be aware of how many calories your coffee contains and choose low calorie options.

2. Stick to small and medium – The bigger the cup, the deeper the calorie hole that you’re digging.

3. Moderation is key – Coffee can be addictive. Some people drink 3 – 4 cups each day if not more. You shouldn’t go overboard. Limit yourself to 1 – 2 cups a day at most.

If you stick to these guidelines, you may still enjoy coffee without it making you fat.

John Davenport is a health and fitness author who writes about exercise, nutrition, and the mindset needed to lose weight and stay fit. For one of his most recommended diet plans visit the Diet Solution Program.