The Ayurvedic approach to fitness is a lot like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, not too much, not too little, but just right. Nia is Goldie Lock's answer to exercise! Any form of exercise that makes you breathe heavily and through your mouth, activates the sympathetic nervous system. Your heavy breathing is signalling that you are in danger and being chased by a tiger! Anytime your sympathetic nervous system is activated your body burns the quickest and easiest fuel available, which is sugar. You stop using fat as a fuel source. This is the reason why some people say that they are working out and doing lots of cardio but not losing weight. You want to trick your body into believing you are not in danger and that it may burn excess fat as energy. Although you may choose to work at a higher intensity at any time during a class, the goal of Nia is to relax the body and engage the parasympathetic nervous system while at the same time receive cardio and strength training benefits. Check out the Nia tab for times and locations near you!
Mindfulness and meditation have become the buzz words of the decade, but do you know the difference? One is designed for monks, the other is for people with busy minds and busy lives. Mindfulness is a "directed focus" mental practice, meaning you need to have some point of concentration during the exercise. It is the art of bringing your awareness into the present moment and is very effective at handling your stress right now. Most mindfulness practices are designed to bring your awareness into the body and into the right now, making it a wonderful tool to help you stop reviewing the past or rehearsing the future. Some examples of mindfulness exercises are counting your breath, visualizing or listening to guided audio, all very lovely. Mindfulness helps you feel better right now.
By contrast, meditation helps you get rid of stress from your past. It deals with issues in your tissues that have accumulated there over many years. Every bite of fast food you have ever eaten, every wine night, every stressful event you have encountered, all get stored in your cellular memory. Meditation gives your body the deep healing rest that is needed to rid your cells of the accumulated stress. Your body has the ability to heal itself from stress and the less stress you have in your body, the easier it is to perform at the top of your game. Meditation is a practice born our to the Vedas and is a 6,000 year old practice. It requires no effort, no focused concentration and no struggle to clear the mind. The tool we use to help with this is called a mantra. For more information on how you can incorporate meditation into your life, please contact me.
The season of fresh green salads is in full swing! On hot days, spring greens and shoots of asparagus will assist in purging the last bits of spring dampness. Bitter and astringent tastes are helpful in the wet season of late spring and early summer as both alleviate the sogginess of left over winter heaviness. Light and refreshing spring greens like arugula also support spring cleansing and increase liveliness in the body. Also good are endive, chicory and red leaf lettuce. Beets and carrots make a vibrant garnish to top salads yet still have the lightness needed for May and June. Good selections for herbs are fennel seeds, lime zest and cardamon, which are all cooling. Cilantro deserves special mention in May as it's cooling properties make an excellent digestive this time of year. It also cleanses the liver, calms the immune system and clears inflammation of the urinary tract.
For most, spring is a time of joy and relief. The days are longer and brighter, the dull winter feeling has passed. It's a time for growth, cleansing and renewal. However, many people, particularly those with Kapha tendencies, will experience less desirable side effects due to the change in climate. The added warmth and moisture in the air can wreak havoc on our respiratory tract and digestive system. Just as the snow begins to melt, so does excess Kapha. Hay fever, sinus congestion, excess mucus and sluggish digestion are a few of the symptoms. We need to assist our bodies through this process of eliminating excess liquid by modifying our diet. Check out next week's blog to find out how.
Oh gosh, it has been a while since I posted something here. It isn't that I haven't got anything to say, nor is that my life has been full, I really have no valid excuse. Which is a topic in and of itself. I hear countless times during the course of a week, "but I am too busy, I don't have time to add another thing/event/Nia class/etc. into my life!" Here's the rub, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. If one person can fit something into their life, the truth is you can too. It is all about making choices of what, where, and with whom you want to spend your time. Do you want to spend it keeping "busy" or do you want to spend it on something that is going to enhance your life is some way. Whether that is a yoga class, meditation, Nia, walking, spending time just sitting and listening to what's around you. All things that will make you more relaxed, more productive and better able to maintain your schedule.
What does a registered dietitian who has studied these diets have to say? The ketogenic diet limits carbs and protein in favor of high-fat foods, and adherents claim it can lead to rapid weight loss. That's because high-fat, low-carb diets cause your body to produce ketones-molecules normally produced during periods of low food intake or prolonged exercise. The body then uses these ketones, plus stored fat, as fuel. But many nutrition experts urge caution. Carbohydrate-rich foods like fruits and starchy vegetables benefit gut flora. Eliminating them could potentially cause harmful changes. Eating ayurvedicallly and in season provides the nutrition your body craves and needs to stay happy and healthy!
Dr. Michael Kerr points out that compulsive optimism is one of the way we bind our anxiety to avoid confronting it. This coping mechanism is often used when physical symptoms are presented in the body. How many times have you heard that positive thinking will cure the disease you are faced with.
Rather than try and convince your body and mind that all is well, we need to have a two-pronged inquiry: what is the illness saying about the past and present, and what will help in the future? Traditional medicine focuses only on the second half without considering fully what contributed to the illness in the first place. Such "positive" methods fill the bookshelves.
In order to heal, it is essential to gather the strength to think negatively. Negative thinking is not the same as a pessimistic view that is often called "realism". Rather it is a willingness to consider what is not working. Ask yourself, what is not in balance? What have I ignored? What is my body trying to tell me? Without exploring these answers the stresses responsible for our lack of balance will remain hidden. The trick is to be body aware and notice the manifestation of stress in your body BEFORE it becomes chronic. Mind/body movement practices teach you to become more present in your body and in tune with what you are feeling on a regular basis. Nia is one of the best mind/body exercises you can do! Try it once and you are hooked, try it again and you slowly become more aware of what your body is saying to you.
We have all been to the gym and know what it like to life a weight for 12 repetitions, and then do it again two more times. How often do you start to daydream and forget how many you have done? That is habitual movement. Doing the movement without really focusing on the physical sensations your body is feeling. In Nia, we move functionally and with purpose. We practice without shoes, so that we are aware of how we are moving. The 7000 nerve endings on the foot intensifies the physical and psychological feeling of being grounded. Turn off auto-pilot and move with purpose. You are not a robot.
Fitness must address the Human Being, not just the Human Body. Exercise that is done strictly for it's own physical sake, divorced from emotions and human spirit, isn't satisfying, isn't fun and eventually fails. Nia simultaneously addresses the body, mind, spirit and emotions. Nia uses physical activity to integrate one's neurology with one's outer body. Check back soon for a class near you!
As a life long learner with a ferocious growth mind set, Kammi devotes a minimum of 30 minutes a day to reading. Join her as she passes on abridged versions of the topics she finds most interesting. Enhance your life by taking what you need and leaving what you don't!