According to the University of Wisconsin Medical School’s Integrative Medicine Program, a proper detoxification regimen has five components: healthy nutrition, exercise, sweating, bodywork and self-reflection. Yet most detox plans are just over-regimented starvation diets or pitches for supplements. But don’t let that dissuade you from trying a well-rounded, health-oriented, not-a-bikini-body diet detoxification plan. Allow me to present the DIY Detox. Simply choose a few items from each of the areas listed below, write out your plan, and follow it for a week. Before you start, give some thought to which parts of your life require some attention. Maybe you already eat healthily, but your sleep habits are abysmal. In that case, spend less time on food choices and more time developing a bedtime ritual that will afford you the deep sleep your body requires. That’s the beauty of the DIY detox. You decide what you need most.
Pause to reflect on your diet and eating habits. If your diet is meat heavy, try going vegetarian for the week. If you wonder if you have a dairy sensitivity, eliminate it and see what happens when you reintroduce. In all cases, emphasize organic foods. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits (fruit is so good for you and gets a bad rap from the carb police), whole grains and legumes. Try some new foods! Stay away from sweets or processed foods, and take the salt shaker off the table. Eat mindfully–no distractions, taking time to taste, chew and swallow.
Especially in winter when we aren’t as cognizant of lost water from heat, we need eight glasses of water a day. Steer clear of caloric beverages, diet soda, or alcohol. Drink caffeine if you must, but try to halve your intake or replace coffee with green tea, which has antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
Move your body every day. Alternate days of doing something active with days of walking, especially if you normally exercise hard 5-6 times a week. Substitute gentle/restorative yoga for one of your walks. Try a new exercise, or get back to doing something you used to love to do. Incorporate guided imagery or breathing exercises for 10 minutes daily–there are lots of free apps, podcasts and audio files on the internet to guide you.
Make yourself a priority, and aim for one whole day (or even half) where you do only want-to’s, not must-to’s. Exchange kid-watching time with a partner or friend to make this happen. Sauna, steam or just take a long shower. Get a massage. See a funny movie. Catch up on your favorite show and don’t feel guilty about it. Connect with a friend you haven’t seen. Cultivate good sleep habits (called “sleep hygiene”) throughout the day, but particularly in the hour before bed. Go on a date with your partner. Donate time someplace that resonates with you. Decide to let go of one grudge. Pay it forward every day. Go to church. Begin a journal. Take the week off from social media (this is also how you might find time to exercise every day.) Choose an activity that is just for you as well as one that helps someone else, and include some time for self-reflection.
Life is more than endless conference calls, the activities you shuttle yourself or your kids to, and microwaved dinners at 8:30 at night. Use this week to establish good habits, try new stuff, and reconnect with the things that feed your soul so that you can refresh yourself, body, mind and spirit.
The great thing about yoga is that you don’t need expensive gear or a fancy wardrobe. As long as you’re wearing something comfortable for bending and stretching you’re good to go. But while you don’t need to spend a lot of money, what you wear and the mats/props you use DO affect your yoga experience. To help you maximize your cash outlay, here are a few tips for making the most of your yoga dollar. This month, we’ll take a look at:
What To Wear
When looking for yoga apparel, you need to be sure you’re free to move easily through your asanas, with no restrictions to body or breath.
- Knit fabrics can stretch with your body, so they are usually more comfortable than a woven fabric.
- Although we usually think baggy = comfortable, baggy is NOT the best option for yoga. Your teacher needs to be able to see your body’s alignment to help you maximize the effect of each pose and, more importantly, keep you safe from injury. The baggier the clothing, the harder it is for your teacher to see what’s going on. Plus, baggy clothes tend to fall in your face when you’re folding or going upside down, which is inconvenient at best and potentially, um, revealing.
- Lots of us avoid sleeveless tanks because we don’t love our arms. Never mind that this is kind of silly, tanks are great for yoga because they give arms and shoulders total freedom of movement, and again, help your teacher see your body’s position. You can always cover up with a sleeved shirt, cardigan or jacket when you’re not in class. Give one a try.
- Beware of zippers, ties, buttons and other things that are attached to or stick out of a garment. These can really pull and poke if they’re caught in the wrong place.
- Organic cotton fabrics feel soft and are a good option for most yoga. You can also find some great fabric made of recycled plastic…and while it is synthetic, it has a nice feel and a luxurious stretch. Both of these fabrics are environmentally friendly, as well, which puts you one step closer to being at peace with the outer world.
- The downside to cotton is that it tends to stretch out as you wear it. You can avoid this problem by looking for items with a bit of Lycra in the fabric, which helps it hold its shape.
- If you are doing more vigorous yoga and regularly breaking a sweat, cotton is not your friend. Its natural breathability is overridden by its tendency to hold onto moisture, which means it gets heavier as you sweat and the dampness by your skin makes it harder for your body to regulate its temperature. In extreme cases, you can even get chafing from the inflexibility cotton gets when it’s wet. Solve this cotton dilemma by opting for wicking and performance fabric (always synthetic) when you’re doing a vigorous, power or hot class. These fabrics are designed to pull moisture away from your body and to dry quickly, so you’ll be more comfortable in the long run. Just be sure to wash them frequently and check the label for care instructions, because some wicking fabrics require air drying to maximize their performance.
Next month, we’ll take on picking the right mat.
This month, our student story is from Katy Walsh, one of our HWY students and also a business neighbor. She is the Director of Development and Communications at the National Runaway Safeline, Ganesha’s mat donation charity for the next month. Read her story, and click on the links at the bottom to learn more about NRS and the good work they’re doing.
And now, Katy……
I stumbled on Ganesha coming and going from my office at the National Runaway Safeline, 3080 N. Lincoln. The tagline on the Ganesha sign intrigued me: “Real Yoga for Real People.” When I checked out their website, I saw they had Heavyweight Yoga. I decided to give it a try. I had my first class in December 2012 and that launched my love affair with yoga and Ganesha.
I’ve been overweight all my life. I was diagnosed obese in kindergarten. I spent the next 40+ years hating my body and dieting. I’ve tried Weight Watchers, The Diet Center, Slimfast, Atkins, Body for Life, the Grapefruit Diet, the Potato Diet, Figurines, and starving. I’ve been on Phen-fen and Redux. In 2001, I had gastric bypass surgery. I went from 288 pounds to 175 pounds. Since that procedure, I had a tummy tuck, a breast lift and put on forty pounds.
Other than being overweight, I’ve always been healthy with abundant energy. I love to bike, walk and dance. I’ve done spin, step, circuit and various aerobic classes at the gym. I’ve done my time on ellipticals, treadmills, stairclimbers and weight machines. For me, the activity was a punishment rather than a pleasure. The gym was a prison rather than a recreational center. About ten years ago, I even tried yoga but injured my neck. I was in pain for three weeks and didn’t return.
As I approached turning 50, I wanted to give yoga another chance. I was searching for a gentle exercise for my aging and stiffening body. Heavyweight Yoga blew away all expectations. Mindy is an inspirational and kind instructor. I wrote about my initial experience on my 500 Days to 50 blog. I started out going once a week. After a while, I was going to two classes a week. In addition, on the quarter, I was going to restorative yoga. And November 1st, I started the Sun Salutation challenge and have continued pretty regularly for 3 ½ months.
The surprising thing to me is I look forward to my yoga practice. I’ve embraced it as a lifestyle. Physically, I feel stronger and more agile. Mentally, I feel less stressed and more centered. Overall, I appreciate my body for its ability and endurance. In December when my NRS work team was under a lot of pressure, Mindy tailored a four week self- care course. We loved it! Ganesha has supported NRS by donating an auction item for our event and the use of space for our meeting.
I feel incredibly fortunate that I wandered into Ganesha searching for something better. What I found was acceptance, encouragement and myself.
The National Runaway Safeline (NRS), formerly known as the National Runaway Switchboard, established in 1971, serves as the federally-designated national communication system for runaway and homeless youth. Annually, NRS, with the support of more than 120 volunteers, makes 250,000 connections to help and hope through hotline, online and offline resources. Through its crisis hotline (1-800-RUNAWAY) and online services (1800RUNAWAY.org), NRS provides crisis intervention, referrals to local resources, and education and prevention services to youth, families and community members throughout the country 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. More than 14,000 youth have been reunited with their families through NRS’ Home Free program done in collaboration with Greyhound Lines, Inc. For more information, visit http://www.1800RUNAWAY.org.
Gentle yoga is a hidden gem of a yoga style. Not only is it appropriate for a wide spectrum of practitioners, contrary to popular belief, a gentle class isn’t necessarily an “easy” one. It does move at a slow and steady pace. Asanas are primarily floor-based, reclined or seated with few, if any, standing poses. In general, poses will be held for a short or moderate length, with props available for assistance. You will work, but at a low-intensity level.
A gentle class is also different from a restorative yoga class. In the latter, poses are entirely floor-based, held for a long duration with abundant use of props, and a therapeutic mind-set. You will stretch in both a gentle yoga class and a restorative one, and both will induce a sense of peaceful well-being. Gentle yoga has a greater degree of physical participation, while restorative is more passive.
For beginners, a gentle class is a wonderful alternative to Yoga Basics. The moderate pace creates an accessible environment for students with less yoga experience. That said, continuing yogis will also benefit from a gentle class. As long-time yogis, we seek to refine poses bit by bit, and the more deliberate rate of gentle yoga can lead to new insights. And let’s face it, we all have days we aren’t at our peak for any variety of reasons. A more introspective practice might be what is best for our body and spirit that day.
Gentle yoga is good for active students, as well as students with limited mobility or pregnant students, and it’s friendly to any body size or fitness level. While you should consult your medical practitioner, listen to your own body, and do what feels right, the pace of a gentle class is accessible to most students in good health. And at Ganesha, we keep the gentle class small so each student gets personal attention.
Evening is a wonderful time to practice more quietly. The rhythm of the day lends itself to going inward when darkness falls, soothing the mind and preparing the body for a deep, sound rest. Many students report sleeping better on the days they practice yoga. Gentle yoga is a lovely way to begin the journey to sweet dreams.
Give Gentle Yoga a try…Thursday nights from 745-845p. See you on the mat!
Are you looking to add something new to your fitness regimen in 2014?
The benefits of Pilates apply to every human on earth from all walks of life, spanning the activity spectrum from couch potato to professional athlete. Whether you are a yogi, skier, golfer, swimmer, runner, or not currently exercising, the preparatory exercises along with options to modify for individual injuries and body type make this method universal.
“Pilates is an exercise technique appropriate for all body types and abilities, making it applicable to sport-specific training and everyday life.” (courtesy of STOTT PILATES).
Pilates Mat improves core strength–not just the outer muscles, but the deep inner stabilizing muscles of the pelvis, abdomen, and back. By improving pelvic and shoulder stability, Pilates also improves posture, and is a full-body strengthening work out. The mat exercises are designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and the muscles surrounding and activating the joints. Pilates Mat builds bone density with low impact exercises. This method is safe, effective, and can enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury in other activities.
Ganesha Yoga offers Pilates Mat on Thursday nights from 7:30-8:30 PM, and Sunday afternoons from 12:30-1:30 PM. I am certified to work with special populations such as pre- and post-natal ladies, persons recovering from back, knee, and ankle injuries, and all body types. I encourage you to give it a try!
I went to my first yoga class willingly in 2011, though I like to tell people I was brainwashed into it like Patty Hearst into the Symbionese Liberation Army. 2011 was a tough year. I had been through 4 months of chemotherapy, 9 months of heavy steroids and immune suppressing drugs. My greatest achievement that year was learning to swallow 18 pills at once without gagging. By the fall of that year, I was beat down and vulnerable and my pals Mindy and Julie spotted it and took advantage of me. They didn’t lock me in a closet and hand me a machine gun. No. Instead they bored me for 2 ½ hours of “yoga has changed my life; let me tell you all 406 ways” and “yes, chubby people can do yoga; let me tell you how” and “my favorite 48 poses are…”. Zzzzzzz. Being vulnerable, the brainwashing worked and a few weeks later I was taking yoga classes.
Two years later, I love yoga. It has changed my life in 406 ways. I started out chubby and could do yoga just fine. I love most asanas except those that cause me to fall on to my ass(ana) every time. I love all the warriors, the twists, the inversions, the balance poses, the folds. But, the one thing I have really struggled with is the sun salutation sequences. During classes I’ve never liked them and can’t wait for them to be over. Why? The pacing is too fast or slow and rarely where I practice best. The sequence is different from instructor to instructor. I forget which leg I’m lunging with. So I get cranky about them. I know. I know. I should do my own practice, even in class. Reality is though that I’m competitive (shame, shame) and self-conscious and still have a strong desire to blend in class. And If I’m still like this two years in to my yoga journey, imagine how I was when I started. Eek. Progress.
So in late fall, I noticed my pal Mindy posting sweaty pictures of herself on Facebook with the hashtag #ganeshasunnieschallenge. I looked into it and discovered the Ganesha Sun Salutation Challenge- 24 sun salutations each day for 30 days. Initially horrified, I thought that sounded like a completely insane and miserable thing to do. Jane and Mindy’s excitement and encouragement is infectious though and I reluctantly joined in the fun a week later. I have always struggled with a home practice because I couldn’t figure out what to do. But here were my instructions- 24 sunnies a day for 30 days. Okay.
Making the challenge work for me was difficult at the beginning. It took lots of adjustment to the sequence in the first several days. I had to remove the lunges because I was getting too hung up about forgetting which leg I lunged on first. Next, I had to figure out the right pace. It turned out that one very long inhale or exhale per movement and not lingering beyond one breath in each pose was perfect for me. Doing that increased the speed of the sequence a bit, but I rarely end up getting lost in my breath/movement sequence. I then gave myself permission to modify the sequence to accommodate what my body was telling me it needed. For example, some days I need to do all up dogs after chaturanga and some days all cobras or a mix of both. I even gave myself permission to give up the chanty/gongy music I thought I should be listening to and put on some Fischerspooner and let loose. I also needed to overcome my bad attitude and just do the practice even on days when I didn’t want to. When I was done, I never regretted it.
Just over two weeks later, I feel a lot stronger. I have gradually added more asanas to the practice instead of just flopping in to savasana after my sun salutations. I feel more mindful and connected with what my body is telling me it wants during practice. I feel a muscle/breath memory developing that has allowed me to occasionally get lost in my sun salutations and find that several minutes have passed by without much awareness of my surroundings. What I’ve realized is that I have finally given myself permission to have MY practice. I don’t have to get a yoga stamp of approval on it from anyone. It is MINE and I can do with it what I please. For the first time, I feel like I have a strong foundation for an ongoing home practice. And that, friends, feels great. If you haven’t joined in the Ganesha Sun Salutations Challenge, it is never too late. You won’t regret it and your life may change in 406 ways that you can share with all your non-yoga friends.
Q: I know I shouldn’t eat two hours or so before my yoga class, but what should I eat afterwards?
A: The answer depends on the strenuousness of the yoga class. If you didn’t exert yourself much, simply eat a normal meal the next time you feel hungry. Be sure to drink some water right after class, however, because even though you might not feel like you were sweating, you were. We lose about a quart of water per day through “insensible” loss, meaning that you can’t feel it happening. Chances are you aren’t properly hydrated to start with, especially in the winter, so it is a good habit to get into for many reasons.
If you got sweaty and really used your muscles during class, sports nutritionists recommend eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein, roughly 60-80 grams of carbohydrate and 20 grams of protein as quickly as possible but definitely within 2 hours of exertion. This equates to a 320-400 calorie snack. This ratio of carbohydrate to protein eaten during the “anabolic window” has been shown to stimulate lean muscle growth. And lean muscle is where it’s at. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so even if you don’t want to lose weight, if you gain muscle you will be able to eat more food and still stay in weight balance.
You definitely need to drink water as well – at least 24 ounces, and perhaps more if you were really sweaty. There is no need for an electrolyte replacement drink unless your class was in a heated room, or lasted 90 minutes or longer.
If some protein is good, is more better? No. There is no additional muscle-building effect if you eat more than 20 grams of protein immediately after your class.
But I just worked out and burned 400 calories! Am I really supposed to turn around and eat 400 calories right away? Yes. It is a substantial snack, so you can eat a smaller lunch or dinner to balance out your daily caloric intake.
Got some examples of what I can eat to get there? Sure! A 4-ounce whole wheat bagel, topped with 2 ounces of lowfat cheddar, and an apple. An 8-ounce low fat greek yogurt, a whole wheat English muffin and 3 ounces of lean turkey. A tall non-fat latte and a reduced fat turkey bacon and cheddar sandwich from the ‘buck. An energy bar with adequate protein (I like the taste of ThinkThin) plus a piece of fruit (apple, banana, orange).
Follow up question…Is it REALLY that important not to eat before class? I won’t explode or anything, right?
A: Everyone asks this. In fact, there will likely come a day where you’ll throw caution to the wind and grab a smoothie or a sandwich on the way to class. Ask any teacher you know…they’ve definitely done this. ONCE. Will you explode? No. But a) when you bend and twist you’ll wish you would, and b) it’s called “wind relieving pose” for a good reason.
You don’t need special clothing to do yoga…as long as you can bend and stretch comfortably, you’re good. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel great to have a funky new outfit once in awhile. With the help of Amanda from vive la femme, and Amber from stylepluscurves.com we spent an evening combing through the racks to find some killer cute options to transform your look, both in and out of class.
Leading the way…Amber!
Curve-conscious silhouettes fit snugly for maximum mobility in high-energy activities with a twist of studio-chic style. A throw-and-go hoody in dusty gray and the necklace’s spot of sparkle add weekend-worthy elements perfect for the plus-size girl on the go.
Moving comfort Cozy Hoody and Bestie top, Lola Getts Capris, Recycled glass necklace from Bottled Up Designs
Everyone loves a gal with a hula hoop! Womanly hips are ensconced nicely in ultrasoft cargo pants popped with a tie-dye tank and waist-flattering cardigan. A sports bra especially for fuller figures encourages a comfortable workout, and the headband is all sorts of sporty sass.
Hard Tail Double V Tank in pink tie dye over Grey cargo slouch pants from Hard Tail and a Moving Comfort Fiona Bra, with the Chic Wrap Hoodie from Moving Comfort. Sweatybands Headband
Girly flourishes are always appreciated when it comes to performance wear! This cozy cowl neck pullover offers a seasonal warmth to the yoga-class friendly underlay in a pop tangerine color, while the sweet skirt detail on the yoga pants celebrates the serene yogi with a gorgeously generous figure.
Moving Comfort Sweatshirt and burnout tee, Skirtsports Tough Girl skortpants, and Sweaty band
Finding inner peace is serious business and one must adorn oneself accordingly. In keeping with the theme of deep cleansing breaths and a radiantly healthy body, it becomes self-evident that an ineffable melange of tie-dye, lotus flowers, and chunky jewelry is effervescently appropriate.
Soul Flower Stacked Lotus Tank, Shining Shakti Pants in Hearts Ablaze, and Sandpiper Imports fair trade accessories
Next up, I have a go to see what I can find…
Snappy color combinations, yoga-inspired designs, and shape-showcasing pants are always a joy to wear to size-friendly yoga class at Ganesha. Sunshine yellow paired with juicy raspberry twirl together for a smile-worthy combo, and the super stretchy pants in a smoked gray pick up on the tank’s lovely graphic.
Moving Comfort Chic Wrap and SpaceDye tights, Judi Lichtenstein tee
Track suits have been the butt of many a joke but this sleek combo of fit-and-flare pants topped off with a figure-flattering hoody in rich sapphire eludes any punchline. A fitted tank with a built-in bra offers support for mid-chested yogis while the rich gold accessories take the suit effortlessly from studio to street.
Post modern track suit from NUX, and you’ve paired it with a Hard Tail Tank and a necklace from Michelle Starbuck Designs
Not to be outdone, Amanda closes out this fashion show…
Toting a yoga mat around town is a breeze in this adorable orange backpack! A bra-friendly orange tank under this vneck sweatshirt in deep charcoal picks up on this fun burst of color, while the pixelated pants in black, white, and gray are fantastic on yogis up to a size 16, and are sure to make lots of friends in yoga class — or elsewhere!
Moving Comfort Endurance Tank and Gotta Love It Sweater, Soybu Allegro Leggins in Pixels, Yoga Sak backpack, and Manduka pro-lite mat
This clean and classic front-pocket hoody in a simple shade of snow white is designed especially to lay perfectly against fuller chests and hips. A tie-dye tank underneath in a marbled black/white/blue patterned partnered with classic black fitted yoga pants make this a wonderful outfit for the full-figured first time yogi.
Hard Tail Girly Hoodie, Tank and Booty Pants, Bottled Up Designs necklace
Ganesha loves when yoga is sweet and juicy like the color of this top! We’re digging this dolman-sleeve sweater in the most fun and flattering shade of coral. Lightweight and versatile, the textured gray infinity scarf is the perfect match to the top’s luscious color. Capri pants in black keep the look proportional and perky.
Soybu Aleida V-Neck, Starburst Tank and Lacey Circle Scarf, Moving Comfort Flow Capris
The fastest path to equanimity? Awesome yoga clothes. This lightweight topper jacket in pale gray picks up on the tank’s deep charcoal pattern against a basic background of black, and the simple black pants with a cropped legline complete this lifestyle look without compromising sizing, fit, or feel.
Moving Comfort Flow Capris, Soybu Starburst Tank, Moving Comfort Sprint Jacket
Thank you, God
For the perfect practice of Yoga
And for the immense inner peace
I have received from my practice.
And as I practice, please help me
Not to curse when I fall out of tree pose
When everyone in class is nailing it,
And help me not to self-congratulate
When I kick ass in my Warrior II.
Because, face it, I’m great at it
And everyone else looks like a freak show.
And, God help me if that skinny bendy b*%#&
Shows up in class all perky again
Because I swear I will have to take her out
With my immensely inner peaceful ways.
Thank you again, God
For the perfect practice of Yoga
And though I am not perfect,
I can now touch my toes
And that, my friend, is awesome.
- an anonymous yogi, whose yoga rage is abating every day
I was talking with a yoga teacher the other day who mentioned that “yoga without conscious focus on the breath is just gymnastics.” (Not that there is anything wrong with gymnastics. It just isn’t yoga.) As I read “The Breathing Book” I kept thinking of the flip side of that coin–what is a conscious focus on the breath without movement? Author Donna Farhi would tell you that it isn’t possible. Continue reading Book Review: The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi