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Thoughts and News on Corona Virus

Dearest friends, we all hope that you and your loved ones are well and calm. 
In these emotional times of concern and uncertainty, we will do our best to help and keep you posted on important news and measures from our side. Of course, just like anyone else, this situation is new to us. We are learning as we go, and therefore, any help from you as part of our community is much appreciated. Forgive us if we overlooked something in this post.  
These days our mind is overloaded with incomprehensible information. Our hearts deal with surging emotions and instability. Fear, uncertainty, and worry sometimes get the better of us. We may feel as if there is nowhere to run, like being stuck in a dream we wish to wake up from. 
At this point in time, our practice is more important than ever. Our practice can give us shelter. It reminds us that our body is a temple. One that is always open and where there is always space for us, just as we are. Our practice helps us stabilize our emotions and bring calm to our minds. While this is great in normal times, it is ever so helpful in turbulent times. For this reason, we will do our best to keep serving you in the only way we know for as long as we are allowed to. 
We cannot heal this virus but we can try and cultivate a bit of calm and well being for our nervous system, mind, and heart. 

General things to know

  • Till further notice or guidance from the authorities, the school is open and classes go on as usual. 
  • Please follow the online schedule to see if any classes are canceled and watch your emails for reservation/cancellation notifications.
  • AcroYoga classes and Massage workshops are canceled for the coming two weeks. 
  • To minimize risk we limit the maximum students per class to 12. This number might change as days go by and new guidelines are being communicated.
  • Please book ahead of time and please cancel (even late-cancel) online if you know you can’t make it so others can use your spot. Late cancellations will not be fined during the coming two weeks. 

Hygiene Guidelines when Attending Classes

  • If you are showing symptoms please stay home till you are better. Below a wonderful yoga sequence for self-practice at home. If you have any questions about it just write to us.  
  • Please avoid physical contact with each other. A smile can go a long way.  
  • Please wash your hands well before and after practice. 
  • Please bring and use your own mat to practice. If you don’t have a mat consider using a big towel that you can lay over our own mats. Please don’t use fabric towels to clean the mats. Unfortunately, we can’t find enough paper towels to replace them continuously.     
  • We will do our best to minimize the use of props during class. If you wish to use props please bring a towel to cover your bolster or blanket. 
  • We will do our best to clean the door handles multiple times per day. 
  • For as long as we can we will provide paper towels to dry your hands after washing your hands. In the event, they run out please dry your hands over your clothes.  
  • To minimize any contact with reusable glasses we will not serve tea before/after class.
  • If you cough or sneeze please do so into your elbow instead of your hands and if you do by accident please wash your hands well right after. 

Last words

We find it ever so important during these times to stay humane. To ask ourselves how we can be of help to others around us. Our first instinct is to protect our own. And that is ok of course. But if we can remember to protect each other too, to care, to ask if anyone needs help with something, we will not only overcome this as a community but also with human dignity. 
Help can be physical but it can also mean being available on the phone. Many of us live alone, others are less mobile. Look out for those around you. Give a hand. It will help us all heal the world, but you might find that it will also help you heal yourself.  
Sooner or later this will pass over. It will be a thing of the past.
Let’s come out of it looking back at ourselves with pride and dignity. Let’s show our children how to handle such a difficult challenge as a community, staying calm and loving.  

 Immune System Yoga Sequence by BKS Iyengar

In case you wish to practice at home, here is a unique yoga sequence developed by BKS Iyengar in 2012 during the SARS outbreak.  
immune system yoga sequence
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The Fifth/ Throat Chakra and what you need to know about it

The Fifth / Throat Chakra governs our energies of truth, expression, healing and creativity. Part of our self-development journey is knowing and accepting who we are. Being able to watch our inner world, and accept it, allows us to live and express it with an authentic voice – to show our true colors. This process requires some distance from our inner personal-dynamics. Such an objective, non-judgmental space of awareness is the birthplace of true expression, healing and creativity. The name of the Throat Chakra in Sanskrit is Vishuddhi Chakra. Here is what you should know about it and its associated gemstones and crystals.

 

WHAT IS THE FIFTH THROAT CHAKRA AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT US?

The fifth chakra is referred to as the Throat Chakra. It is located in the V of the collarbone at the lower neck and is our center of communication, sound, and expression of creativity via thought, speech, and writing. It represents our connection to our innermost truth and our ability to express it in our own unique way. The potential for change, transformation and healing are all located here. The throat chakra is associated with the element Space and its primary color is Blue. Physically it governs the organs located around the Throat and Neck region such as the vocal cords, the entire mouth, and the thyroid gland.

Our Voice and Hearing are the primary active aspects of the Fifth Chakra and their balance is essential to it. The sound vibrations of our voice convey to the world around us what is going on within us on all levels (mental, emotional, spiritual). Our ability to truly listen to the world is our primary source of spiritual learning. When both aspects are in tune we learn not only the integrity that comes from living our true colors, but also develop an objective, non-judgmental perspective of the world (outer and inner) as well as true creativity.

 

HOW DOES IT FEEL WHEN THE THROAT CHAKRA IS IN BALANCE?

 

In life, we experience ourselves as individuals separated from the world around us. We have our own body, Sensations, and thoughts which are ours alone and which we need to take care of. We also know, however, that there is a non-personal aspect to life. There are people around us, a culture, a society, animals and other living beings, as well as a historical context, and ultimately god. A balanced life according to the chakra system represents an evolution from the personal to the spiritual, from the subjective to the Objective. It’s a spiritual journey of perspective and ultimately – Identity.

 

Read the full article on ManipuraMala.com 

The Fourth/ Hearth Chakra and what you need to know about it

The Fourth/ Heart Chakra (Anahata Chakra in Sanskrit) is the loving center of our being. Positioned at the very center of all the chakras, it naturally balances the physical energy of our body and the intellectual energy of our mind. People refer to as the ‘hidden city’ or the ‘cave of the heart’. Our Fourth / Heart Chakra is the doorway to our deepest self. With its qualities of Love, Compassion, Gratitude, and Courage its the connection between our personal desires and our higher wisdom, between our emotions and thoughts.

A Simple Guide to the Root chakra.
A Simple Guide to the Sacral Chakra
A Simple Guide to the Solar Plexus Chakra.

 

What is The Fourth/ Heart Chakra and how does it affect us?

The Fourth/ Heart Chakra is located behind the breast bone, in front of the spine, and between the shoulder blades. Relevant organs include the heart, lungs, circulatory system, shoulders, and upper back. It is the center of love, compassion, and spirituality. It is associated with the Air Element and its primary color is Green.  Since the heart chakra is connecting both body and mind with Spirit (consciousness).

The heart chakra is the center of Love which governs our ability to relate to the world, outwardly and inwardly, from an objective place. While it’s often described as our ability to give and receive love, In essence, it’s a bit wider than that. Seeing the world, and ourselves, objectively allows us to step outside of our personality/individuality. This is a necessary step in our development which allows us to experience love, care, acceptance, compassion, etc.

The three lower chakras deal with our individual self, its primal needsemotions, and even personal growth. The three highest chakras, on the other hand, are less personal as they deal with our spiritual essence and our connection to Spirit. The Heart Chakra is right in the middle. It acts as the bridge between our lower and higher energies. It recognizes both as important and when in balance it harmonizes them into a greater whole. This alchemy between our Earthy and Spiritual essence happens through the Heart Chakra and its qualities of Love, Insight, Courage, and Compassion.

 

How does it feel when the Heart is in Balance?

 

Read full article on ManipuraMala 

The Second/ Sacral Chakra and what you need to know about it

The Second/ Sacral Chakra is about our senses and emotions. As children, we begin to know the world through our senses. They tell us which things cause pleasure or pain. Naturally, we start longing for pleasure and avoiding pain by trying to control the things we come in touch with. This dialogue with the world affects much of our sensuality, libido, and passion for anything we do. These energies are located at our Second/ Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana in Sanskrit). which governs the ‘pleasure seeker’ inside us. Here is what you should know about it and the way to balance it.

A Simple Guide to the Root chakra.
A Simple Guide to the Solar Plexus Chakra.

What is The Second/ Sacral Chakra and how it affects us

The Second/ Sacral Chakra is located at the roof of the pelvis, just below the navel. Together with the first chakra, it governs the primal energies of our body. But while the First/ Root Chakra mostly deals with our primal need for survival, the Sacral Chakra is about the body’s interaction with the external world. It governs our emotional reaction to its sensations.

When our roots are firmly planted (being physically safe and grounded), we want to experience the world. As we grow, our emotional landscape develops through interaction with the world. The nourishment we receive on this level is not only physical but mostly sensory and emotional. We discover the pleasure in things and develop cravings to the positive sensations that some bring us. Since we are not in control over our sensations or their duration, we begin to develop emotional reactions towards them. We crave pleasant things and fear their unavoidable end. On the other hand, we fear other things and long for their end.

The emotional energy in our Sacral Chakra (which is associated with the Water Element) is forever in motion. It keeps flowing and changing throughout our lives. Like water, our push and pull game with the world is in constant flux and never rest. Our sexuality, creativity, and passions all arise from here. So too most of our addictions and fixations. In many cases, this energy is the silent driving force behind what we do (or avoid) in the world as adults.

How our emotional and sexual energies become balanced?

 

Read the full article on ManipuraMala

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The First/ Root Chakra and what you need to know about it

The First/ Root Chakra governs our primal needs to survive, to be safe, and to belong. To survive we need food, shelter, and protection from danger. It is difficult for us to live a balanced and happy life when these basic needs are not taken care off. We need to feel connected to the Earth by being an integral part of it. These primal energies are centred in our Root Chakra (Muladhara in Sanskrit). Here is what you should know about it!

A Simple Guide to the Sacral Chakra

A Simple Guide to the Solar Plexus Chakra.

 

What is The First/ Root Chakra and how it affects us

The Root chakra locates at the base of our spine, just below the tailbone. It is all about security, safety and a sense of belonging. In simple words – Grounding.  It takes care of our primal needs, physically, mentally and emotionally. Only after this happens, we have a solid foundation to evolve as human beings. Just like plants; first the roots arise, then the stem grows, the leaves, and finally, flowers appear. In other words; without a proper foundation of safety and belonging, it is difficult to speak of happiness and fulfilment on higher levels.

 

How do we plant our Roots firmly?

Read the full article on ManipuraMala 

 

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Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.

Visit our class page to find out which of our breathing classes suits you!

Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function and behaviour.

These effects on behaviour depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.

In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.

“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”

 

Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week prior to surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains in order to identify the origin of their seizures. This allowed scientists to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed.

This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas — in particular fear processing and memory — could also be affected by breathing.

Image shows the location of the amygdala in the brain.

The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular, fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.

The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular, fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing.

When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.

In an experiment aimed at assessing memory function — tied to the hippocampus — the same subjects were shown pictures of objects on a computer screen and told to remember them. Later, they were asked to recall those objects. Researchers found that recall was better if the images were encountered during inhalation.

The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said.

 

Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function

The need to breathe links the mammalian olfactory system inextricably to the respiratory rhythms that draw air through the nose. In rodents and other small animals, slow oscillations of local field potential activity are driven at the rate of breathing (∼2–12 Hz) in olfactory bulb and cortex, and faster oscillatory bursts are coupled to specific phases of the respiratory cycle. These dynamic rhythms are thought to regulate cortical excitability and coordinate network interactions, helping to shape olfactory coding, memory, and behavior. However, while respiratory oscillations are a ubiquitous hallmark of olfactory system function in animals, direct evidence for such patterns is lacking in humans. In this study, we acquired intracranial EEG data from rare patients (Ps) with medically refractory epilepsy, enabling us to test the hypothesis that cortical oscillatory activity would be entrained to the human respiratory cycle, albeit at the much slower rhythm of ∼0.16–0.33 Hz. Our results reveal that natural breathing synchronizes electrical activity in human piriform (olfactory) cortex, as well as in limbic-related brain areas, including amygdala and hippocampus. Notably, oscillatory power peaked during inspiration and dissipated when breathing was diverted from nose to mouth. Parallel behavioral experiments showed that breathing phase enhances fear discrimination and memory retrieval. Our findings provide a unique framework for understanding the pivotal role of nasal breathing in coordinating neuronal oscillations to support stimulus processing and behavior.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Animal studies have long shown that olfactory oscillatory activity emerges in line with the natural rhythm of breathing, even in the absence of an odor stimulus. Whether the breathing cycle induces cortical oscillations in the human brain is poorly understood. In this study, we collected intracranial EEG data from rare patients with medically intractable epilepsy, and found evidence for respiratory entrainment of local field potential activity in human piriform cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. These effects diminished when breathing was diverted to the mouth, highlighting the importance of nasal airflow for generating respiratory oscillations. Finally, behavioral data in healthy subjects suggest that breathing phase systematically influences cognitive tasks related to amygdala and hippocampal functions.

“Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function” by Christina Zelano, Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Stephan Schuele, Joshua Rosenow and Jay A. Gottfried in Journal of Neuroscience. Published online December 7 2016 doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2586-16.2016

 

 

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Fasting for 72 Hours Can Reboot The Entire Immune System

Anybody can cook, even if it’s only a fried egg – but not just anyone has the discipline to fast. This ancient practice of abstaining from eating for a day, or sometimes even a week or more has a history of curing a whole host of health problems, but even a brief fast can completely re-boot your immune system.

This practice isn’t without criticism by modern nutritionists and unbelievers, but research implies that when the body is hungry in short spurts, it can kick-start stem cells into producing new white blood cells.

White blood cells, also known as leukocytes, are the cells which the immune system uses to fight against foreign invaders like viruses and bad bacteria.

Scientists at the University of Southern California found that fasting could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy, or people with auto-immune disorders.

Intermittent fasting even triggers stem cells to regenerate!

Valter Longo has conducted a body of scientific research about fasting which is absolutely astounding, as well.

He published a fascinating paper in the Journal of Cell Biology based on work he did on yeast cells.  The results were considered so unlikely he almost didn’t get his paper published.  What Longo discovered was that when he starved a colony of yeast cells, about 95% of the cells would commit suicide, using the controlled death mechanism of apoptosis. They would disassemble their proteins, dissolve the cell membranes, and turn themselves into food for the remaining 5%.

Longo’s work suggests that if the fasting body is able to rejuvenate and multiply the bone marrow cells that are responsible for blood and immunity (hematopoietic stem cells), then it is obvious that the body could do this as well or better when it has plenty to eat.

Ancient Fasting Techniques

Moreover, in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is understood that our body’s metabolism and digestion are often under strain form the foods we put into our bodies on a daily basis.

For Buddhist monks in the Theravada tradition, all eating is confined to the morning hours, implying a daily fast of 16 hours, since they don’t consume food just before bed or while sleeping. The idea is that the body has plenty of time to process the food we put into it.

Sikhs often abstain from eating to heal the body and as a spiritual practice of rejuvenation.

We eat when we are stressed. We eat on the run, and we eat things that we know the body doesn’t really want. Other times we skip meals, causing a drop in our blood-glucose levels, or we eat bad food combinations. Our poor digestive system has barely had a chance to fully digest the last meal we’ve eaten before we put the next one in!

What Fast is Right for You?

There are few choices if you want to reboot your whole immune system with a brief fast.

Selective Fasting

Selective fasting means that you abstain from only certain foods or for certain hours of the day.

Water Fasting

In this fasting diet, you consume only water for a specified duration. It not only helps you to feel full, but also helps to cleanse toxins form the entire digestive tract as you abstain from food.

This might be one of the more difficult fasts to complete, because you are consuming zero calories, but it has hailed as a cure-all for chronic pain, arthritis, migraines, and more.

Intermittent Fasting 

Intermittent fasting is often confused with dieting, but it more closely resembles making a conscious decision to skip certain meals. You fast and then feast on purpose, (consuming only healthy foods). Intermittent fasting means that you eat your calories during a specific window of the day, and choosing not to eat food during the rest. This is similar to what the Theravada Monks practice.

Working Out on an Empty Stomach

You can also do a half-day fast and add a moderate workout. This combination of fasting and exercise maximizes the impact of cellular functions which break down fat and free up glycogen for energy-use. It forces your body to burn fat without eating up muscle. A word of caution, though. You might not have as much energy to do a hard-core workout as when you have eaten.

Caveat: fasting can be harmful. If you have any serious health conditions, and you’re seriously thinking of trying this, you should consult your doctor first.

Taken from: https://themindunleashed.com

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How Yoga changes your Brain

There is increasing evidence that yoga and meditation can improve our memory and attention, both help us to function at a higher level at work, home or in school. Furthermore, these benefits occur whether you’re new to yoga and meditation or a long-time practitioner, and studies show it might even help starve off age-related neural decline. The reason, neuroscientists have discovered, is that certain areas of our brain undergo positive structural changes when we meditate. Because the brain exhibits plasticity, which means it has the ability to change, whatever you experience will be reflected in – and have impact on – your brain structure.

Several groundbreaking studies have shown how meditation, especially when practiced over the long-term, can produce significant changes in the structure and mass within certain brain regions. For example, a continued meditation practice can produce a thickening of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, awareness, thought and language. Like a body builder who pumps iron, the bigger his biceps get, the heavier weights he can lift. Likewise, when we meditate, we exercise the parts of the brain that involve the regulation of emotion and mind-body awareness that lead to changes in brain activity and structure, which in turn improve our memory and attention.

Studies have shown how meditation can produce significant changes in the structure and mass within certain brain regions.
Studies show how meditation can produce significant changes in the structure and mass within certain brain regions.

One of my fellow researchers, Dr Sara Lazar of the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, found these brain changes to be especially apparent in long-time meditators. In her 2005 study, for example, MRI brain scans were used to assess cortical thickness in participants with extensive meditation experience (averaging about 9 years of experience and 6 hours per week of meditation practice), and a control group that did not practice yoga or meditation. Dr Lazar found the brain regions associated with attention, sensory, cognitive and emotional processing were thicker in meditation participants than those in the control group who did not engage in yoga or meditation.

This was the first significant study (of now more similar studies) to provide evidence for a link between long-term meditation practice and structural brain changes. Equally exciting is that the greater prefrontal cortical thickness found in the meditation group was most pronounced in older participants, suggesting that extensive meditation might also offset age-related cortical thinning. It appears that the brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing, which frequently diminishes over the years, can remain more youthful in those people who continue to practice meditation.

Alt text hereThe brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing can remain more youthful.

In another interesting study conducted at the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at UCLA, differences in the brain’s anatomy and structure called gyrification (or cortical folding) were also discovered in people who meditated. Although the implications of this research remain to be fully established, the findings from this study support the possbility that meditation can lead to changes in regulation of activities including daydreaming, mind-wandering, and projections into the past or future, and a possible integration of autonomic, emotional, and cognitive processes.

And while research reveals long-term meditation can produce structural changes in specific areas of the brain that enhance our ability to learn, one does not have to practice for thousands of hours to reap the positive brain benefits. Dr Lazar also found that these increases in grey matter in some regions of the brain occurred after just 8-weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Education (MBSR), a formal program involving meditation and some yoga practice. These results suggest that even short-term participation in meditation-related practices can lead to changes in grey matter concentration in brain regions that are involved in learning and memory processes, as well as in emotion regulation.

 

Long-term meditation can enhance our ability to learn.
Long-term meditation can enhance our ability to learn.

Yoga makes the brain Smarter

Think about how we feel when we’re stressed. We might eat more, lose our appetite, sweat profusely, or simply want to bury our troubles in mindless television or computer games. What happens to our brains when we are under stress is that our bodies increase the secretion of cortisol, a well-known stress hormone. When faced with sustained, high levels of chronic stress, the associated high levels of cortisol can actually be toxic and even fatal to our brain cells. Because our hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, is particularly vulnerable to high sustained cortisol levels, we may ultimately compromise our learning and memory capacities when faced with uncontrolled chronic stress. By managing stress through yoga and meditation, you can actually improve your memory, concentration, and your ability to learn.

While researching the effects of long-term yoga and meditation, I found an intriguing study that reported improvements in attention, mood and stress over a very short time period. When a group of 40 undergraduate students were given 5 days of 20-minute meditation training, this group showed significantly better attentional abilities and control of stress than a similar control group of 40 students given only relaxation training, including greater improvement in attention, lower anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue and an elevated mood.

There was also a significant decrease in stress-related cortisol.

These studies, which are just a few of those being conducted today, clearly show a strong relationship between our ability to maintain attention and our responsiveness to stress and emotional reactivity. In other words, the more one practices the contemplative skill of controlling attention through meditation and yoga, the more one has a manageable stress response and improved emotional reactivity. Ultimately, our cognitive performance is most efficient and at its optimal level when we are more in control of our stress and emotions.

Our cognitive performance is most efficient and at its optimal level when we are more in control of our stress and emotions.

The Effects of Yoga on Memory and Decision Making

Yoga and meditation not only make our brain more efficient, they also improve brain activity related to decision-making and cognitive performance. In a research study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana, scientists compared the effects of a yoga exercise session to aerobic exercise, the results showed that the memory retention and cognitive performance after yoga was significantly superior (ie. shorter reaction times, increased accuracy) to aerobic exercise. The reason yoga can be better for the brain than aerobics (although both are good), is that it allows us to cope with stress and emotions more effectively.

Long-term yoga improves concentration, processing and motor speed

Research clearly indicates that yoga and meditation, especially a long-term practice, improves the way our brain functions, including our ability to concentrate and perform well on certain tests. In one study comparing 15 yoga practitioners with a control group of non-practitioners and involving a series of tests for attention, the yoga group performed significantly better. Long-term practitioners of yoga and meditation showed greater attention span, processing speed, attention alternation ability,and performance in interference tests.

Another recent study also showed improvement in cognitive functioning and dexterity among 57 research volunteers who were given tasks requiring attention, visual scanning and motor speed. Each participant was assessed before and after three types of sessions: yoga meditation, supine rest, and control (no intervention). The results showed that the yoga condition was associated with the greatest improvements in psychomotor functioning with no improvement in test skills for those who did not practice yoga and meditation.

Yoga was associated with the greatest improvements in psychomotor functioning.
Yoga was associated with the greatest improvements in psychomotor functioning.

Yoga Improves Computation Skills

Many people believe that equation solving and memorisation are the most effective ways to improve one’s mathematical aptitude—all of which can be extremely time-consuming and, to the math phobic, feel like an ordeal. The fact is that sessions of yoga and tai chi can also sharpen your mathematical ability. These were the findings of a Bolo University of Miami School of Medicine study in which 38 adults participated in a session that included two minutes of tai chi movement and two minutes of sitting, standing, and lying down yoga poses. The researchers measured self-reported math computation skills of each participant before and after the session. The findings showed that the tai chi/yoga participants performed better on basic math after the workout. Why? The increased relaxation may have contributed to the increased speed and accuracy noted on math computations following the tai chi/yoga class.

Yoga as a learning tool for students around the world.

Another study providing preliminary evidence that yoga may improve academic performance of children in schools was done on 8OO teenagers in India. The students in this study who were engaged in a yoga program performed better academically than those who did not do yoga. Researchers selected 159 high-stress students and 142 low-stress students. Both groups were given tests in mathematics, science, and social studies. Those who participated in a 7-week yoga program of (poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation performed better in academics than those who did not do yoga. The study also concluded that low-stress students performed better than high-stream students, showing, once again, that indelible connection between stress and academic performance.

Taken from: https://upliftconnect.com

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The breakfast Dilemma

‘What should I eat for breakfast? ‘ is one of the most common question I hear and I know it represents a real problem most of us struggle with. Is breakfast indeed the most important meal of the day? Should we eat a light or full nutritious breakfast ? High in carbs? Or rich with proteins? Let’s think about it for a moment, the word breakfast consists of two words; break and fast meaning literally breaking the fast. That is good because in order the break the fast you need to fast first and then eat, right?

 

EVOLUTION OF HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY

When we evolved as a species, food was not available 24/7, when we found or hunted something, we ate and then perhaps had to fast for hours, days or even more. Our physiology has evolved to deal with these conditions, hence the whole mechanism of hormonal production, secreting insulin to remove excess glucose from the blood to keep it ‘for later’ and leptin to manage energy storage in fat cells and releasing it back to the blood when needed (when there is no food available). Now, our bodies still work exactly the same, only we don’t really stop eating all day long…

The more the nutrition science develops the more we look into understanding our ‘manufacturing manual’ in order to understand what is the optimal diet and lifestyle for us and this principle of ‘intermittent eating’ proves to have a lot of health benefits; regulating hormonal production, natural weight balancing, leveling blood sugar, regeneration of cells and natural healing processes and many more. For most of us, who live busy life, working, taking care of families, it is practically impossible to stop eating for a whole day or more and therefore shorter fasts on a regular basis e.g. narrowing the eating window is a perfect solution.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

So I say, fast first and then break the fast; try fast for at least 12, and even better, 14 hours before you start eating again. For example, if you finished your dinner around 7 or 8 pm, stop eating until 7or 8 am and if you ate later then start eating later. Some of us are naturally not hungry in the morning and some of us can’t start the day without breakfast. The only golden rule I suggest here is to listen to your own body and needs. If you have to leave the house you can always pack your breakfast to eat later. The nature of your breakfast should also take into consideration the type of work or activity you do. Is your work physically challenging or do you sit the whole day in front of a computer?

PRACTICAL TIPS

And now for some practicality. For most of us, midweek mornings are hectic as hell and not much time at hand and therefore the ultimate quick yet super nutritious breakfast can be a smoothie. You can throw in fruit, green leaves, nuts and seeds, good fats like coconut oil or avocado, your favorite super foods like green powder, maca, cacao or protein powder. As liquid you can use any nut milk, coconut water, green veg juice or herbal tea. The possibilities are endless and there are so many recipes out there, experiment a little and find your favorite. You have a whole nutritious meal in a glass and you can easily pack it in a flask or a jar and take it with you. Remember though, smoothies are food not drinks so drink really slowly as if you’re eating them rather drinking.

Here’s another dilemma, most of us tend to eat a very sugary and starchy breakfast thinking that all these carbohydrates will get us going and fuel us for the day but in fact what happens is that our blood sugar levels shoot up and come mid morning we start feeling peckish and perhaps experience an energy drop (especially if you had refined carbohydrates like cereals or white bread for breakfast). So make sure to pack your breakfast with vital nutrients (vitamins, minerals, good fats and proteins) and minimize the sugars.

BREAKFAST IDEAS & THE ULTIMATE RECIPE

Other breakfast ideas could be:

  • yoghurt with some fresh fruit, nuts and seeds
  • Egg of your choice with cut vegetables
  • A rich (miso) broth with some greens, sprouts and tofu, just like they eat in the Far East (cook the broth in advance and reheat in the morning)
  • Whole grain crackers with avocado, sprouts and fresh cut veg

And here is one of my favorites:

CHIA SEEDS PUDDING WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS

Chia seeds pudding is absolutely the ultimate breakfast for me, easy to make and ever so nutritious. Rich in the precious fatty acid omega 3, minerals, fibers, essential amino acids and more. They promote good digestion and stabilize blood sugar level. What more could you ask for?!
This dish will boost you with energy and will keep you going for a long time

 

 

 

Makes 1-2 portions, depends on how hungry you are in the morning…

1. 4 spoons raw chia seeds
2. 1 cup coconut milk (or other nut nut milk)
3. ¼ cup Goji berries soaked in water over night
4. a handful of fresh berries like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries etc.
5. a generous handful of raw nuts
6. 1 spoon cacao nibs (optional)

Mix the seeds and milk well by using a whisk to make sure there are no lamps. Let it ‘rest’ and thicken for 10-15 minutes, wile you’re busy with other morning tasks. You can prepare this in the night before and keep it in the fridge for the next morning. Spoon the soaked Goji berries on top of the pudding and top it up with the fresh fruit, nuts and cacao nibs. Here you can play with it and add any topping of your liking.

Enjoy! Your body will thank you…

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Ayuryoga – Ayurveda & Yoga

The concept of AyurYoga was formed around three years ago when Elena & Cristina met in an Ayurvedic Nutrition course in the Academy of Ayurvedic studies in Amsterdam.
Elena, Ayurvedic practitioner & therapist certified at the Ganesha Centre of Ayurveda en Yoga studies in Alkmaar and Cristina, Iyengar yoga certified teacher.

 

MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND AYURVEDIC NUTRITION

They say Yoga and Ayurveda are sisters sciences, they are in fact coming from the same philosophical background. Further as Yoga practitioners we know that it’s impossible to engage into a yoga practice without spontaneously reviewing one’s own lifestyle and as Ayurveda practitioners we know how physical activity will benefit our mental and physical condition.

Instead of dogmatically applying Yoga and Ayurveda teachings and impose a rigid military lifestyle forcing changes from the outside, with our workshops we want to take participants to the level of simple observation of their nature.
Here Ayurveda offers a simple method based on the Doshas system and their qualities that, beyond any kind of “judgment”, supports people to reestablish their body/mind equilibrium throughout reviewing and tuning diet, daily routine, massage and the use of spices and herbs that are finally just a part of your diet.

Ayurvedic doshasHOW TO APPLY AYURVEDIC PRINCIPALS?

This knowledge is very simply learned; once the basic principle is understood it can be applied to every situation. In this sense you don’t need to go indian to remain healthy. Speaking about food, eating what you need at your cellular level as well as your emotional level is enough, provided that you are aware of your needs of course!

To become aware of one’s own needs requires a process that may be chaotic, dynamic, concerning at the first sight, but it is a necessary step to remove any external conditioning that may prevent you to develop your own, unique personal awareness.
With our AyurYoga workshops we hope to make a contribution into supporting students in taking responsibility towards their own health and joy.

AYURYOGA WORKSHOPS AT LIVE YOGA AMSTERDAM

The AyurYoga workshops are tuned with seasonal changes affecting body and mind as well as nature around us. They are generally composed by 3 parts:

  • Asanas & Pranayama practice
  • Eat & Learn experience based on Ayurveda Nutrition concept
  • An interactive discussion amongst participants on topics treated by the workshop in relation to their personal experience.
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