Midlife Crisis..or is it?

Woke from a pounding headache at 3AM today and I think yoga’s the culprit. We spent a lot of time on twisting poses during my last practice, and, according to Yoga Journal online, twists provide a lot of health benefits;

“Yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar describes twists as a “squeeze-and-soak” action: The organs are compressed during a twist, pushing out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. When we release the twist, fresh blood flows in, carrying oxygen and the building blocks for tissue healing. So from the physiological standpoint, twists stimulate circulation and have a cleansing and refreshing effect on the torso organs and associated glands.”

So apparently the toxins were squeezed from my organs and glands, and they needed, er, release from my body. I spent the day wearing sunglasses and drinking lots of water (to encourage release..). The headache felt like one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had. I should have done more yoga today, but I didn’t. Instead I ruminated on the fact that I’m coming to yoga a little long in the tooth (I’m over 40!). I was feeling a little down about it, until I found a fantastic image from imgur.com:

imgur.com, Never too Old

imgur.com, Never too Old

How great is this?

As I grow up older, I want to be the womanly version of this dude.  Oh yeah — it’s on.

Advertisements

Wear Proper Protection

On my triumphant return from today’s yoga practice, I became aware of how super-hungry I was. After a sensible snack of last night’s baked chicken breast, rice, and spinach — right out of the pot — I started dreaming of a recipe from The Copycat Cook’s blog: the Black Bean Brownie.

As my brownie bakes, I thought I’d share a blog post I wrote about revising my diet and metabolism from acidic to alkaline. This  is torture a constant challenge for me, and I’m still nowhere near where I should be. The siren song of coffee and dairy are often too strong, and to be truthful, I’ve neither the will nor the want to say goodbye to either. Achieving balance will have to come mainly from additions to (and some subtractions from) my diet.

Here’s an edited version of what I wrote in December on the topic:

Danger_Acid_Wear_Proper_Protection_DX12_OSHA

Disclaimer: I’m not a dietitian nor am I a naturopath, so what I’m about to describe is anecdotal. It’s a combination of personal experience and tidbits gleaned from several online articles.

So what is this acidic diet/metabolism?

There are a number of foods that produce acid as a byproduct in the body and an abundance of this acid byproduct can lead to difficulties with metabolism, energy, and general resiliency. The route to neutralize this acid is through increasing the amount of alkaline producing foods that you eat. Simple enough, right?

So, which foods are acid-producers?

Most meat is acidic, with chicken breasts being one exceptionDrinks that contain phosphates, alcohol, and caffeine (oh coffee! how could you betray me?!) are also considered to be acid-producers.  Also add sugars, dairy, mayonnaise, mustard, and vinegars to this list. The rule of thumb that I found helpful when I was alkalizing my diet eight years ago was this: if it’s delicious and I love it, it’s got to go.

It’s not so grim. There are good eats in the alkaline family too. Take for example eggs, yogurt, sesame seeds, almost all vegetables, and a lot of fruits as well as legumes.  I have a massive sweet tooth and while some people will tell you that the craving for sugar goes away, it just never did for me. I used brown rice syrup as well as maple syrup though, and they were lovely.

Another thing you’ve no doubt found in your searches for diet-fixes online are articles with information about so-called substitutes. For example, I was told by my naturopath to substitute soy milk or brown rice milk for dairy milk, and it always felt as if I was playing a cheap prank on myself. I achieved contentment the day I decided I was going to get used to drinking these drinks instead of dairy, and using brown rice syrup instead of sugar.

Notice I didn’t use the word, “happy”. I wasn’t actually happy until about Week Eight of the big change. By then I was feeling energized and my body craved the foods it was supposed to crave. No need to worry about eliminating milk — alkaline diets can be rich in calcium. For example, kidney beans, black beans, and quinoa are excellent sources of calcium as are leafy greens, figs, and molasses.  Also, it’s important to note that I cater to my sweet tooth whenever it beckons. I deny myself nothing.

This is they key to success whenever you’re changing your diet. Wait, bear with me. Currently I’m still choosing a lot of white-sugary snacks, rich in animal fats. If I’m going to feel a change in my energy and health, I’ll need to stick with favorites like The Copycat Cook‘s black bean brownie!

Silently Screaming at My Yoga Teacher

Today’s practice was intense. And while teacher calmly talked our small group (there are four of us) through our poses I tried to quiet my monkey mind — but I know it’s going to take more than a couple of classes to discipline myself. The part of the class that held my attention somewhat was the endurance work.  During this part of the practice, teacher talks us into position, guides our breathing, and then proceeds to (take forever to) count the hold.

A (striking) point of weakness for me is that small muscle atop my quadricep.  I believe it’s called the  vastus intermedius, and the pose it seems to respond the most violently to is The Warrior 2 Pose (or,Virabhadra, for all you yogis). After a total of ten hold-seconds, this muscle is burning and as teacher counts (and counts) us through the hold, I breathe deeply and evenly while screaming loudly and erratically inside my head. All the while focusing on one unmoving spot — drishti.

Warrior

I may not have been consistently jiving with the flow of today’s practice, and as I write my quads are tender. The challenge of yoga is being where you are in the moment. Still, I’m looking ahead to a time when these muscles work with silent efficiency. And a time when I could crack an egg on them.