Counter Posture in Practice

“Yoga teaches us that with every action there is both a positive and a negative effect. Anything we do in life will have both a positive and a negative effect. We must recognize what effects are positive and what effects are negative. Then we must stress the positive while we neutralize the negative. In all details of āsana, we must follow this principle.”

-TKV Desikachar – Religiousness in Yoga

Boredom is the effect of…..

Boredom is the effect of suppressing something.
When I’m bored, it’s because
there’s a thought or feeling inside
that is so intense or uncomfortable
that I can’t bring it out so I distance myself.
Then I become bored and lose focus.

Food as Medicine & Nutrigenomics

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”

Patrick Holford’s top tips for healthy ageing


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”


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.


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.


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.

While on the matter of food…..

“While on the matter of food, the practitioner must not just consider whether the quality of food is nutritious, nourishing and appropriate to the constitution, age and season, but one must also consider the attitudes with which it is consumed. The most appropriate food, consumed with a negative attitude is as poisonous as the wrong kind of food.”

T Krishnamacharya

Āyurveda – sūtra 2

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

“Air, fire and water are the three principles most fundamental to life. They appear in the body as vāta, pitta and kapha and their subtler forms are prāṇa, tejas and ojas respectively. They represent, in order, the cosmic urges to movement, transformation and stability.”
Robert E. Svoboda

Habits – Saṃskāra

IMG_3141“We become conditioned to certain habits or comfortable grooves. When we can’t continue in them because of change, we suffer. Even if the change is the right one and will lead to a better awareness we would rather stay in the comfortable groove even knowing it to be a negative pattern.

An example of this could be taking time to practice and the patterning of the psyche compelling us to find other activities or in-activities to fill the time. We can make a career out of finding a myriad of ways of staying too busy to make time for ourselves.”

Excerpt from article by Paul Harvey cYs on Āyurveda & Yoga

Scans ‘show mindfulness meditation brain boost’

From the BBC website:

“The theory that meditation can reduce stress, depression and even chronic pain is one that has been gaining in momentum in recent years.

So the BBC’s David Sillito has been learning the art of mindfulness meditation in order to find out for himself.

After getting to grips with the activity, he joined some other devotees for an MRI scan to find out what impact the practice can have on brain activity.”

View article and video.

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Patients & Complementary Therapy – Irish Study

A summary of the details of a new Irish study has shown that a significant number of patients use alternative and complementary medicines without informing their GP, despite the fact that these may negatively interact with conventional medicines. The article is published by Irish Health.

“We found that a significant number of patients were using alternative and complementary medicines, with the majority not disclosing this to their GP and a significant proportion having chronic medical conditions for which they were also taking conventional medicines,” the researchers explained.

I think if research was conducted on the disclosure by clients to their complementary therapist in relation to their use of conventional medicine the findings would be similar. My experience in the area of Yoga teaching and Yoga therapy, in Dublin, is that students/clients quite regularly do not disclose relevant information in relation to specific physical conditions and the taking of prescribed medication.

While clients complete a confidential health questionnaire, additional information is frequently revealed though dialogue and verbal questioning. Clients often do not appreciate the importance of full disclosure in relation to their medical situation. It is as if there is a perception that medical treatment and complementary treatment are separate and that what is prescribed by one may not relevant to the other.

The point is that they are mutually supportive.