Category Archives: Yoga Health and Lifestyle

Our relationship with Food can be too little, too much, or wrong……

“Our relationship with Food can be too little, too much, or wrong.
According to Āyurveda, even the best food eaten in the wrong amount,
or at the wrong time, or with the wrong attitude
will fail to nourish and even disturb the system.
The same could be said for Yoga Practice.”
Paul Harvey

Back Pain – 10 key points

Courtesy Irish Independent

Back pain is unique to each person. While it may be a structural issue, stress, mood or poor sleep may all be at the root of the problem. Becoming aware of the various different factors provides a better understanding of the pain and how to address most appropriately.  All of these factors form part of the 121 Yoga process and the appropriate application of Yoga for the individual and their particular needs.

Key related extracts from an article published in the Irish Independent:

Back Pain is common
While back pain can be very painful and worrying, it is very common and rarely dangerous. A total of 84pc of people worldwide will experience back pain during their lifetime. It is equally common across all age groups; from young to old and doesn’t get worse with age. Therefore, it should not be seen as a result of ageing or “wear and tear”. Mostly people recover reasonably quickly, and many recover without the need for treatment. Some people experience repeated episodes of back pain which can be distressing, but again these are rarely dangerous.

Scans for back pain are rarely needed and can be harmful
Most people believe that a scan (for example an X-ray, MRI) will identify the cause of their back pain. However, the scientific research shows that scans are only needed when a serious condition is suspected (cancer, fracture/broken bone, infection). Luckily, these serious conditions are rare and account for approximately 1pc of all back pain worldwide.

The back is NOT that vulnerable to damage
Most people think the spine is something that needs to be protected. This is incorrect and has led to the provision of information and treatments that promote fear, protective guarding, avoidance and disability. Common examples include: “Your joint/pelvis/disc is slipped/out of place.”
People often move differently when in pain, giving the impression that something has gone out of place. However, scientific research has clearly shown that these structures do not go ‘out of place’ or ‘slip’.

The back is designed for bending and lifting
Like other body parts (for example the knee), the back is designed to move and adapt to many activities. It is important to be conditioned to lift; and shown how to lift heavy things correctly and safely. The back is designed to move and adapt to many activities. In the same way that a person can get a sore knee after doing an unaccustomed activity, people can get back pain when they lift something awkwardly or something that they aren’t used to.

You can have back pain without back damage or injury
The traditional view is that pain is a sign of injury or damage. While some back pain may be related to a sudden, repeated or heavy-loading event, we now know that the volume switch for back pain can be turned up by many other factors also. These include physical (minding/guarding the back, avoiding movements), psychological (fear of damage/pain or not getting better, low mood/depression, stress), health (being tired and run down, low energy), lifestyle (sleep problems, low levels of physical activity, being overweight), and social (poor relationships at work or home, work satisfaction, stressful life events like a death or illness) factors.

This means that you may feel more pain when you move or try to do something, even though you are not damaging your back. Ever have a headache when you are stressed, sad, tired or run down? Back pain is no different. For many people, back pain can occur from just a minor mechanical trigger, like picking something up from the ground or rolling over. In this situation it is due to the spinal structures being sensitised due to other factors such as sleeping position or stress.

Don’t take back pain lying down and don’t rush for surgery
Since people often think they have done damage when they get back pain, it is common for people to go to bed and rest until all pain is gone. However, there is very strong evidence that keeping active and returning to all usual activities gradually, including work and hobbies, is important in aiding recovery. While you may feel relief from rest initially, prolonged rest is unhelpful, and is associated with higher levels of pain, greater disability, and longer absence from work.
Surgery is rarely an option for back pain. There are some uncommon back conditions where there is pressure on the nerves that supply the leg and the patient gets leg symptoms such as pain, pins and needles or numbness. For these conditions surgery can help the leg symptoms but it is important to understand that surgery is not always required.

Exercise is good for back pain but people are often afraid
Contrary to popular belief, exercise is helpful for back pain….
It is emerging that the amount of exercise you do is more important than the type of exercise. More than 30 minutes per day has the greatest health benefits but any amount you can manage will result in benefit. The benefits of exercise even include reducing the risk of developing back pain.

Strong meds do not have strong benefits for back pain
Many people think strong pain needs a strong painkiller. This is not true. If you have a new episode of back pain, you should start with a simple over-the-counter painkiller and not rush for prescription medications. Scientific research has shown that strong painkillers such as those containing an opioid do not provide greater pain relief over simpler options, and actually have greater potential for harm.

Buyer beware: internet, fads, fashions and bandwagons
Be wary of commercial sites that are selling a product. We hear daily claims about miracle cures and best treatments for back pain in the media and on the internet.

Back pain can be cured
The thinking around the spine is distorted and infused with panic. Of course you can injure the back – but be confident that it will get better. It is common for people to be told that they cannot change their pain and they have to live with it. The evidence doesn’t bear this out. The back can also recover.

Think of it like an ankle sprain. It is incredibly painful at the start but it gets better with graduated activation. Avoiding movement would not help an ankle sprain, and the same goes for a back injury or back pain. The pain experience is unique to you and can involve an interplay of many different factors. It therefore makes sense that all of these factors must be considered in addressing your back pain. This could explain why many different treatments for pain fail in the long term as they only look at one piece of the puzzle.

Link to full article published in the Irish Independent.

The mind is part of a team…..

img_4404Books in the bookcase leading me to read. Apt quote around my Yoga group this evening.
” The mind is part of a team, along with the body, the breath and the senses. Everything that we do is a product of that team, but the mind is generally the boss……..We know that the state of the mind affects the breath and, luckily for us, the opposite is also true”
What are we Seeking – TKV Desikachar

To draw on Yoga during rough times…..

 

Two balanced rocks contrast a sea of stones under a blue sky.

To draw on Yoga during rough times
you’ve got to practice Yoga during smooth times.

The practice of Yoga helps to promote……

study-of-hands-and-feet-for-the-golden-age-ingres.jpg!Large

The practice of Yoga helps to promote:
– Structural well-being
– Physiological well-being
– Psychological well-being

Writing…..

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“Writing distills, crystallizes and clarifies thought”
-Dr. Stephen R Covey


Man baffles doctors when thigh bone snaps after attempting Yoga pose

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Credit for images: © BMJ 2015

“A man in Ireland broke his leg and spent 10 days in the hospital after injuring himself in a surprising way — while practicing yoga.

The 38-year-old yoga enthusiast fractured the thighbone on his right leg while doing a difficult seated yoga pose known as Marichyasana posture B in his morning yoga class, according to a new report of the man’s case, which was published online Oct. 9 in the journal BMJ Case Reports. The pose involves sitting down, with the knee bent and drawn up to the chest, and then bending the torso toward the floor. “

“At the time of his injury, the man was practicing Ashtanga yoga, a physically demanding style, for an hour every morning.Research suggests that injuries from this style of yoga are more common in the hamstrings, knees and lower back, according to the report.”

femoral-fracture-151026

credit for image: © BMJ 2015

“Indeed, a bone scan taken at the hospital revealed that he the man had did in fact have osteopenia, a condition in which his bone density is lower than normal, which could increase his risk for low-energy fractures, Moriarity explained.

“Five months after his release from the hospital, the man could walk almost pain free and had resumed practicing yoga, but was doing only less-demanding postures.”

For article on Live Science
For Irish independent article 

‘Ideal body’ stress, social medial, reality TV and suicidal ideation

body-image-worries

“Over the last two years, Pieta House – the suicide and self-harm crisis centre – has witnessed a marked increase in the number of 13- to 17-year-old girls presenting with suicidal ideation.

The most consistent issue they are presenting with is their struggle to obtain “the perfect body”.

“…..young girls regularly name social media sites, reality TV and other popular television shows as the trigger of their weight obsession.

The problem also manifests due to pressure from peers, sexual identity issues, cyber-bullying, negative online comments and relationship troubles.”

“Last week, a new report from the Children’s Rights Alliance (CRA) revealed that Ireland had the highest rate of female youth suicides and the second-highest rate of male youth suicides in the EU between 2009 and 2011.”

“Over the past 12 months, the charity, which has supported more than 17,000 children, adolescents and adults since 2006, is seeing more teenage boys presenting with body image issues.”

“Boys are looking at six packs and think it’s the perfect body,” Ms Kiely said. “There is nothing wrong with wanting to be fit but if they are over-indulgent and are on steroids or taking protein supplements to build themselves and bulk up, that’s not healthy.”

“However, Pieta House believes this is also a good sign and that young people are reaching out.”

For full article Irish Independent

Duḥkha is a disturbance of the mind…..

Mind

“Duḥkha is a disturbance of the mind. While sometimes the words sorrow, misery, and disease are used to define duḥkha, it is best identified as a feeling of restriction.
Somehow something deeply disturbs us and we feel restricted.
This restriction is duḥkha…….
We all aim to remove duḥkha……..
That is what Yoga is trying to do.”

TKV Desikachar, Religiousness in Yoga

Mindfulness and Mindlessness

With plenty of focus on Mindfulness today,
Mindlessness is crucial to our mental health too.
Spacing out out from time to time is beneficial for our psychological health,
during these periods creative insights happen.

Source: nymag.com/scienceofus

Yoga for You


Yoga Journey

Yoga, practiced regularly, offers tools for
– maintaining stability
– supporting development
– coping with change.
Yoga is a practice that you can learn ‘for you’.
It is a practice that can be personalised for where you are now
and constantly adapted for creatively meeting what is to come.

More than one quarter of Irish adults…..

stock-running-fit-app

“More than one-quarter of Irish adults are not physically active and do not participate in any kind of exercise as they “don’t have the time”.
“people simply must look at their week and find one hour out of the 24 hours in the day that they can be physically active”.
Irish Independent

To reach a point we have not reached before

Yoga “to reach a point we have not reached before”
TKV Desikachar

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Yoga – Group Classes & Individual Lessons

Michele_Brochure_2013

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Signs that you have real hunger and good digestion…..

Fire

Here are some signs that you have real hunger and good digestion:
There has been a complete bowel movement today
The body feels light, energetic, and ready to work after eating
The mind is clear, alert, and attentive, even after eating
The tongue is clean (like a smooth rose petal)
There are salivary secretions with fragrance in the mouth
The previous meal has been fully digested
When hungry: the stomach is grouchy and feels light
There is no odor if the person burps
There is no desire to overeat; when optimally full, hunger is easily satisfied

Vasant Lad – courtesy The Ayurvedic Institute

viniyoga of Yoga

Posted by Michele Harney, Yoga Rathgar & Dundrum – Dublin

The essence of the viniyoga of Yoga lies in the adaptation of the practice to the individual, rather than the adaptation of the individual to the practice.

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Pesticide in Fruit & Vegetables

Posted by Michele Harney, Yoga Rathgar & Dundrum – Dublin

A guide to pesticide in fruit and vegetables to help you determine those fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. Pesticide intake can be lowered substantially by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating those least contaminated.

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Food as Medicine & Nutrigenomics

Posted by Michele Harney, Yoga Rathgar & Dundrum – Dublin

Some excepts from an interesting article by Dr Mark Hyman on the emphasis placed on food as medicine in Asian countries and the field of nutrigenomics. While the Asian country in question was China, my thoughts were drawn towards Āyurveda and the its’ emphasis on food in terms of health and healing.

“What you put at the end of your fork is more powerful medicine than anything you will find at the bottom of a pill bottle. Food is the most powerful medicine available to heal chronic disease…..

There is no distinction between food and medicine in Asia.

However, the notion that food is anything other than calories for energy and sustaining life is foreign to most Westerners.

Food contains information that speaks to our genes, not just calories for energy. We are learning from research in the field of nutrigenomics, that good “talks” to our DNA switching on or off genes that lead to health or disease. What you eat programs your body with messages of health or illness.

But in Asia dinner has long been a date with the doctor”

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Patrick Holford’s top tips for healthy ageing

1105-thinkstock

Credit for image: Getty Images
“Scientists have discovered that markers for how well you are ageing – found in every cell in your body – can be altered by, among other things, the kind of exercise we do, the food we eat and the way we handle stress”

“AGE CHANGES

By 40 you’re already starting to lose muscle mass at the rate of 1% a year, and your tendons and ligaments are becoming less elastic. Only 20% of us in the UK aged between 65 and 74 exercise enough to reverse that.

By age 50 your levels of hormones needed for the likes of libido, muscle mass and skin repair will have dropped sharply.

Half of those who reach 65 have signs of osteoarthritis, and every year after the age of 65 one in two will have a bad fall that can cause a bad fracture, a hospital visit and possibly an admission to a nursing home.

Over 65 is the watershed. This is when 50% of heart attacks occur, most strokes, three-quarters of cancers and 95% of the deaths from pneumonia.

A BIT LESS FAT

The average person eats up to 40% of calories as fat, much of it as saturated fat, and that’s probably too much and the wrong kind.

But rather than trying to dramatically cut fat down, the important thing is to make sure the fats you eat are healthy.

“That means eating fish, nuts, seeds and their oils and using spreads such as tahini, almond and pumpkin-seed butter, which should be staples in a healthily stocked fridge,” Holford advises.

Also use good quality oils, including cold-pressed virgin olive oil on salads.

THE FIBRE FACTOR

Fibre in complex carbohydrates is what slows down the release of sugars into the blood, so go for soluble fibres such as those found in oats, which are also present in chia seeds and flax seeds – you can sprinkle these on to a meal.

“To get maximum fibre effect, try glucomannan fibre from the konjac plant, ” he says.

“Add a heaped tablespoonful to a glass of water, then take it at the start of a meal. Glucomannan taken this way will almost halve the blood sugar spike of that meal, therefore making the whole meal more slow-releasing and therefore healthier.”

A SPOONFUL OF CINNAMON

The active ingredient in cinnamon, MCHP, mimics the action of the hormone insulin, so a teaspoonful a day helps to remove excess sugar from the bloodstream.

“It also seems to reduce levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood and to decrease blood pressure,” says Holford.

“The mineral chromium also makes you more sensitive to the effects of insulin, reversing insulin resistance and improving blood sugar control. Some supplements combine chromium with a high-potency cinnamon extract if a teaspoon seems a lot.”

MOVE IT

Exercise has a direct effect on a gene linked with laying down fat, says Holford.

The more exercise you do, the less likely the gene is to push fat into storage and the more likely it is to burn it off.

“Beside burning calories, exercise can help to lower insulin, improves blood sugar levels and builds muscle. Muscle-building resistance, such as using weights, makes your body more sensitive to insulin,” he says.

“Also, simply getting moving after a meal, such as taking a brisk 10-minute walk, actually helps to get the glucose out of the blood into the cells which need it, such as the brain and muscle cells.”

SLEEP TO SLIM

Not getting enough sleep can make you put on weight, says Holford. American research found that less than four hours of sleep makes people 73% more likely to be obese than those getting between seven and eight hours, while an average of five hours gives a 50% greater risk, and even six hours pushes the risk up by 23%.

“Sleep is life-enhancing as during the deep sleep phase, your body releases growth hormone which stimulates the regeneration of cells,” says Holford.

“Growth hormone also burns fat and builds muscle and stimulates your immune system.”

Avoid alcohol and caffeine after midday if you have difficulty getting to sleep because it suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin for up to 10 hours”

To read full article appearing in Irish Independent 11th May 2012.

Āyurveda – sūtra 5

Posted by Michele Harney, Yoga Rathgar & Dundrum – Dublin

The fifth of five sūtras fundamental to the study of Āyurveda:

“Whatever affects the body affects the mind and vice versa”
Robert E. Svoboda

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