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It’s definitely getting HOT in here…

Driving around most major towns, you will come across a wide array of signs, buildings and advertisements.  There was one place that stuck out in my mind; this place is called “HOT”BIKRAM YOGA. Over the years, I must have passed by this building a million times without even batting an eye. I’m starting to think the reason I became more aware of this particular yoga spot was because of my martial arts training. I’m also starting to think that because I already had the tai chi, kung-fu, qigong, meditation; there really wasn’t any valid reason for me to pay any extra money if I didn’t have to.  Not only would it have been an added expense, to sign up for classes, but I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate myself to it either.

I was getting the complete package, so to speak, with my martial arts training already. I had somewhat of an idea of the basic premise of what yoga was all about…stretching. I           already stretch, before any kind of workout, to get the muscles all warmed up. My thinking was why would I go there to stretch even more than I already do? When I thought about that question, I remembered something very valuable that my martial arts instructors told me; my techniques are getting better but I’m still lacking in the overall flexibility department. To be successful in any martial art training, you need to be flexible and limber and I needed that added boost.

So, I got to thinking and I decided to take my first “hot” yoga class, at the place I passed by for the past ten years or so. I went on a Saturday morning and I luckily had a friend that was willing to try it out with me. When we got inside of the place, we were told that one class was ten dollars; which included a mat, water and a towel. We took our shoes off and walked right into the “HOT” room, where the class was going to take place. I do not lie when I tell you that the room felt like going right from Antarctica, the outside, to the Sahara Desert, the inside, within a matter of seconds. I’ve been to Florida in August, at its hottest level, and never felt anything quite like the heat that was developing in the room.

After a few minutes of getting used to the transition in temperature, my friend and I started to stretch on our mats before the class officially began. I have to say that I was a little intimidated, initially, because the other students were putting their legs around their head and just lounging. I was lucky if I touched my toes and held it for a second or two. I kept telling myself that this person probably didn’t start out wrapping their legs around their head at first; they were probably in the same boat as my friend and I were when they started out. Like Bill Murray said in, “What About Bob?”, it’s all about taking baby steps!!!

At this point, the class had just begun and the teacher walked in the room. Before I got started in the various poses, I was a little distracted on what the instructor was wearing; he had on beach flip flops and a classic, B.U.M. Equipment tank top. As you can plainly see, it was hard for my friend and I to stay focused while the teacher’s wardrobe choice was actually taking place in real life. After about ten minutes or so, I finally started to focus on what I was there for in the first place. It wasn’t too bad for me, at least initially, because I’m used to hardcore, rigorous training at my martial arts school anyway. The more the class went on, my friend and I looked at each other like we were about to pass out, right on the floor. We kept stopping for sips of water and to get rid of the river of sweat coming down our faces.

After an hour and a half class, it was finally over. The teacher really put on a great class and kept us motivated throughout. No joke, it took about ten minutes for my friend and me to finally get up off the floor from pure exhaustion. I got back home and took a shower and felt very, very, I repeat, very relaxed afterwards. I will now do Hot Yoga from time to time, to get a great workout and most importantly, a quality stretch. It has also helped with my Martials arts training as well and I actually see how flexible I’m becoming, little by little. I definitely suggest anyone and everyone to get out there and checkout your local Yoga spots. You never know, you’re teacher might be wearing similar clothing as my instructor was. That is all the more reason to get out there and do some yoga.

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Food really does matter!

Over the past few years, there has been an abundance of documentaries focusing on what humans are putting inside their bodies. Thanks to the help of the internet, I have come across a slew of these kinds of films. There was none more informative than, “Food Matters”, that was released back in 2008. What I think puts this film apart from the others, especially for me, is that it focuses on the need to stop relying on pills, shots and creams for every problem. It was good to hear that because the Western culture has become a tad bit pill happy as of late. There seems to be pills for just about everything imaginable, even for things like having fun and laughing too much. There is a definitely a time and place for those kinds of approaches but not for chronic, lifelong issues.  Throughout the roughly hour and a half movie, you start to see that all the interviewees come to the same conclusions…proper nutrition and exercise is the key to a healthy life. It seems like a rather simplistic notion but how many people truly understand what that really means?

The other parts of the film went on to talk about how our food is being cultivated.  How many people are aware that a good portion of the fruits and vegetables, in all the major supermarkets, are being sprayed with synthetic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. I didn’t realize that until I saw this movie and I’m glad that I found out now and not later.

According to the Organic Valley website,  a good number of  pesticides are known to pose significant, acknowledged health risks to people—including birth defects, damage to the nervous system; disruption of hormones and endocrine systems; respiratory disorders; skin and eye irritations; and various types of cancers.

  • Exposure to persistent organic pollutants through diet has been linked to breast and other types of cancer, immune system suppression, nervous system disorders, reproductive damage, and disruption of hormonal systems.1
  • Male Reproductive Development: Hormone-disrupting chemicals in commercial pesticides have been linked to testicular cancer and low sperm counts in men, and to birth defects in baby boys.2
  • Public health costs associated with pesticide-related acute poisonings and cancer alone, add up to an estimated $1.1 billion dollars per year.3
  • Parkinson’s disease has been linked to pesticide exposure. 4

Organic Valley goes on to state that organic growers use biological and cultural practices to handle pests, including  crop rotation, the selection of resistant varieties, nutrient and water management, the provision of habitat for the natural enemies of pests, and release of beneficial organisms to protect crops from damage. A few years back, when I first saw this amazing documentary, I started to shop at specific grocery stores and only looked for the organic labels. They might cost a little more but my thinking is that I would rather put something in my body that does more good than harm.

All in all, I highly recommend this film for anyone and everyone. Even making minor changes in your diet might be all you need to feel better in the long run. I leave you with this timeless quote,

“Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice”?”
George Carlin

References

  1. “Nowhere to Hide: Persistent Toxic Chemicals in the U.S. Food Supply,” by Kristin Schafer, Pesticide Action Network North America, 2000 (www.panna.org).
  2. Sharpe, Richard. “Men under threat: The decline in male reproductive health and the potential role of exposure to chemicals during in-utero development.” Briefing by ChemTrust: http://www.chemtrust.org.uk/Press_and_Media.php
  3. “Promoting Sustainable Food Systems through Organic Agriculture: Past, Present and Future,” Christine McCullum-Gomez, C., and Riddle, J. HEN Post: Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association, Spring 2009. www.hendpg.org
  4. Costello, et al., “Parkinson’s Disease and Residential Exposure to Maneb and Paraquat From Agricultural Applications in the Central Valley of California,” AMerican Journal of Epidemiology, published January
  5. http://www.organicvalley.coop/why-organic/pesticides

Say Goodbye to Anxiety and Anger With A Few Deep Breaths!!

We all get worked up, or anxious, from time to time. There is no definitive way of escaping this but  how we go about making it better is the question that needs answering. When I was in school, I never really knew how to deal with my temper tantrums, rapid hearts, shakes etc. Whenever there was a situation, considered awkward in my mind, I would do everything to avoid them at all costs. It only took me one time and if I felt totally uncomfortable, I would tell myself to never get involved in those situations going forward. Awkward situations for me included things like being around highly attractive girls, a lot of people at one time, or even when I had to answer a question in front of my fellow classmates.

Whatever the reason was for my nervousness or anger, during those times listed above, I didn’t know how to calm myself inside and out. A little over five years ago, when I started practicing Tai Chi, Qigong, and stillness mediation, I finally learned how to channel my nerves. It was all through a simple technique that keeps all humans functioning…breathing. It’s kind of funny because my parents and friends would always tell me to “take a deep breath” , when they saw me getting somewhat agitated. When I was younger, I had a tendency of being hard-headed and stubborn.  I never truly understood the importance of taking a breath and how it could truly calm me down.  Who knew that doing some simple breathing could give me that momentary relaxation I needed to handle most “nerve-wracking”  situations. It has also helped  in the past couple years, especially when I worked in a sales job. Anytime the customer would get angry, I would remind myself to “just breath” and that two or three deep breaths helped me stay absolutely calm. There is nothing truly like a quality breath:))))

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