Five Points Yoga

Barrett's Blog

Archive for the ‘Health and Wellness’ Category

Farmers Markets Are Back!

 

I LOVE the farmer’s market!   Even though I’ve had a CSA share with Waltham Fields for 9 years(!!!), I still make my way to the farmer’s market regularly.    We have one every day of the week near Cambridge!

 

Check out http://www.massfarmersmarkets.org/  for lots of info about when and where.   Some markets I love:

 

Copley Square, Tuesday and Friday – my favorite one, because it’s big and has Siena Farms, which always has interesting produce.   Siena Farms is connected to Oleana, one of our best restaurants in Cambridge.  

 

Central Square, Monday – the easiest one for me to get to.   It’s really great.   One of my favorite strawberry growers is here.

 

Davis Square, Wednesday – my former closest farmer’s market.  It’s an awesome feel here. 

 

Union Square, Saturday – also a fun family feel.

 

There’s also Harvard Square on Sunday and Tuesday, Cambridgeport on Saturday, and Kendall Square on Thursday.

 

I hope to bump into some of you this summer!   Here’s to an awesome healthy summer everyone!

 

Namaste,

 

Barrett

The Birth Survey is Launched

Just Launched!   The first ever consumer ratings website for birth locations (hospitals, birth centers) and providers around the country!

 

I think this could be a really useful survey that will give many future parents good information about care providers when they are pregnant.   Read about the Birth Survey here.   If you’ve given birth in the last 3 years, I encourage you to fill out the survey.   Future moms need your experience to help them navigate through their choices in childbirth!

 

The Birth Survey was designed by CIMS – the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services.   They do great work!

 

Let me know if you fill out the survey!

 

Barrett

The 5K Aftermath – Yoga and Running

 

I’ve missed writing on the blog!  In the last 2 weeks, I devoted a lot of energy to running a 5K race.   Historically, I am not a runner, but as of this weekend, I am!   Here’s me finishing – a little sweaty and tired but happy to finish in 30:45!

 

 

It’s interesting to reflect on my yoga practice in light of this running project I’ve had going on for the past 3 months.  Really, for the past 6 months, my yoga practice has been pretty gentle overall.    First, I had an overstretched hamstring muscle at the top of my thigh.    I believe it was from demonstrating too much in classes, and the muscle got tweaked.    You know, I’m not really *doing* yoga when I demo a posture.   It’s more like I’m *mimicking* a posture, and the mindfulness is not there on the posture.  I’m trying not to do that anymore, and  happily, my hamstring is all better!

 

I think running, which is a tremendous hamstring strengthener, has helped fortify all the yoga rehab work I did on my hamstring.   Since beginning to run regularly 3 months ago, I’ve worked on straddling the line between not over stretching the hamstring (the original problem) and not under stretching and getting really stiff legs.   What’s worked for me thus far is to run every other day, and on the off days, do a long, mostly gentle yoga practice.   Gentle practice can still be pretty intense, but I’m not working on any postures that are at my edge.  I still plan to post a “routine” of sorts that I like to do after running.  Stay tuned!

 

This week, I’m really enjoying not having a “goal.”  It turns out I was a little anxious about whether I’d be “successful” in the race and be able to run the whole way.   Now that I know I can do it, my only “goal” is to really enjoy the mix of running and yoga that is currently in my life.   Oh – and to add some outdoor swimming in there as soon as it’s warm enough!

 

Namaste,

 

Barrett

The Orchid Blooms!

Spring has been so wonderful these last few weeks, with the daffodils and the tulips blooming, and the promise of more to come in the next several months.   I’ve been noticing how much everyone is caretaking their little baby plants, and it’s really lovely.

This weekend, we planted flowers and some lettuce and herbs on our porch, Now, every morning and evening, we go out and spend some time with our plants.  Yesterday, a friend came over and brought her little seedlings with her.  She’s going away for a week and doesn’t want them to die in the interim.  So we will be babysitting.   Over the weekend, we went to a 5-year-old’s birthday party, and he proudly showed us the tulips that he’d planted in the front yard.   

And finally, the orchid at the yoga studio bloomed!!!  I’ve been waiting for weeks as I’ve watched the buds develop. 

Dave, the studio owner, is such a great caretaker of the studio and the plants.    Isn’t it beautiful?

May we take care of each other just as tenderly as we do these springtime plants!

Namaste,

Barrett

Neti in the News

I love the neti pot.   I don’t use it often, only if I have a cold, or if it’s allergy season.   Well….. it’s getting to be allergy time!   I haven’t felt any allergies yet, but I can only assume it’s coming.

 

Traditionally, a yogi does Jala Neti (the purifying practice of nasal washing) every day.  For awhile, I tried this, and I felt dried out.   Now I use as needed.  As a teenager, the first time I used the neti pot, I remember thinking, “Well, I have no nasal issues.   Everyone else in my teacher training gets sinus infections, allergies, etc.  I have none of these, so this isn’t for me.”   Nevertheless, after my first foray into neti cleansing, I felt like I had never taken such a full, satisfying breath.  It was awesome! And, several years after moving to Boston, I developed allergies – and was very happy to already know about the neti pot!

 

Yogis have known for a LONG time how helpful the neti pot is, but in case you need scientific evidence, there are actually studies to prove its efficacy – check out this recent NYTimes article.

 

Don’t get me wrong – I’ll also be taking allergy pills and using eye drops when the going gets rough.    But the neti is unsurpassed for helping me feel clear and unclogged. 

 

Don’t resist!  If you have nasal issues (and even if you don’t), try out a neti pot.     

 

My neti pot looks like this, only blue.   You can buy them at Whole Foods and awesome natural food stores such as Cambridge Naturals.

 

Yin and Yang – Yoga and Running

 

I’ve never been a runner – it doesn’t come naturally for me. Sometimes I’ve felt bad about this, and felt like my body just wasn’t cut out to have that kind of stamina.  Yoga throughout my teen years and 20’s was a great way for me to feel good about my body and feel “in shape.”  It seems like I have tons of endurance and stamina in yoga, which has been validating. 

 

But I’ve always wanted to run.   A few years ago, I started running, but I went too fast and an old back injury kicked in.  I’ve had some stops and starts since then, but now that I know soem things to do to stick with it and not feel injured, I’m really committed.

 

And I just signed up for a 5K race for next month! 

 

Over the years, I’ve figured out that I do best if I run every other day, and do lots of yoga on the off days.  I’m mostly running on the treadmill so that I can control how fast I run and how long I go, so that I don’t overdo the training and tweak my back.   And if my back gets a little achy, I know what I need to do if my back starts to hurt.   Basically, I do lots of gentle yoga stretches and some good self-massage with tennis balls and foam rollers and Yamuna Body Rolling.  I also love to soak in a hot tub, especially right after a run J

 

Here is one of my favorite asanas, which I do just a little right after I run and then as part of a long practice the day after:

 

Lying down hamstring stretch (Supta Padangusthasana), holding in the center as shown, and then going to each side – holding each variation for a LONG time (2 minutes or more)

 

 

 

If you’re interested, I can tell you others :)   This is probably my favorite, but there’s so much to choose from! 

 

Happy spring everyone – I hope we all get outside a lot more this month and take some deep breaths, whether you’re running, walking, biking, or practicing yoga :)

 

Be well, and enjoy your practice,

 

Barrett

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Trust the Internet More than My Pediatrician – Part 2

 

Here’s our Part 2 installment from new mom blogger Catherine.  A few weeks ago, she wrote this post about some common postpartum issues.   Enjoy!

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The next issue is a major one – the Vaccine Issue. My husband and I had been warned that there were some controversies around vaccines (mercury content, unnecessary vaccines, bad side effects, possible autism links, and so on). We did our best as new parents to look into this, research it with our friends, and read about it. But, of course, we are busy people so we don’t have time to read all of the literature about vaccines. We came across the Dr. Sears book (aptly named “The Vaccine Book”) which, for us, was the most balanced look at vaccines written for laypeople. We decided to follow Dr. Sears’ alternative vaccine schedule for our son. In this schedule, you get all of the recommended vaccines, just in a different order and staggered differently. From our first pediatrician visit, I warned our pediatrician that this is what we wanted to do. I offered to set up a special meeting with her where we could talk about the vaccine schedule that we were going to follow. Nevertheless, at our two-month visit, she had the four regular shots prepared to give him and was offended when I told her that we were not going to get those because we were doing something different. She harrumphed and made a photocopy of the Dr. Sears schedule. She then told me that what we were doing was against all medical protocol. I said, “OK, but that’s what we are doing nevertheless.” She was disgruntled for the rest of the appointment and I started thinking seriously about changing pediatricians at that point.

 

The final issue that made me switch pediatricians is not really a single issue. After the vaccine visit, I had other new parent issues and questions come up. Are his grunts normal? Until when should I swaddle my son? Is the red around his bottom a diaper rash? What kind and what’s the best treatment? Will the white bump on his face go away? He hates being on his tummy, is his neck really weak now? These and many other questions. I realized that I didn’t want to bring up any of these little questions with his pediatrician because I did not trust her. I was afraid that she wouldn’t respect my desire for a non-interventionist approach to raising my son – i.e. as few prescriptions and medications as possible. I was afraid that if I brought up an issue, she would bring out her prescription pad. 

 

This was the point where I realized that I trusted the Internet more than my pediatrician. I could go on the Internet to look up diaper rash, for example, and choose to read the information that accorded with my desire for natural methods (rubbing breast milk on his bottom – a natural solution that really worked!) And the Internet was full of information and never condescending to me. I didn’t have to withold information from Google because I wasn’t afraid of what Google would think of me as a mother.

 

So why not just have the Internet as your pediatrician, you might ask? (You probably wouldn’t ask that, but just for the sake of argument…) Well, looking up diaper rash and swaddling is one thing, but what if he becomes really ill? I don’t want to be keeping that information from my pediatrician and hoping that WebMD will be able to diagnose him remotely (“Please click here once you have placed your baby on the scanner.”) I realized I needed a pediatrician who I could trust, who would respect my wishes for a low-intervention parenting style, and who would understand that I’m trying to do the best I can for my son. I think I have found the right practice – one town away – and I hear they are friendly to alternate vaccine schedules. We have our first appointment tomorrow.

 

The supervitamin of the year – Vitamin D

Has everyone else noticed how often people are singing the praises of Vitamin D?

 

Just the other day in the NYTimes, it was reported that low levels of Vitamin D are associated with a higher incidence of Cesarean surgery. 

 

In fact, this year, it came out that a lack of Vitamin D may increase your risk of heart disease, autism in children, cancer (colon and breast), and some autoimmune diseases.

 

Doesn’t it seem like every few years, there’s a new wonder vitamin?   And then a few years later, that vitamin, in high doses, seems bad for you.   I did a little research, and surprise!   I found out that just taking higher doses of Vitamin D may not be a great idea.

 

Here’s an article about Vitamin D supplementation from Science Daily.  In it, the study suggests that “ingested vitamin D is immunosuppressive and that low blood levels of vitamin D may be actually a result of the disease process. Supplementation may make the disease worse.”

 

This means that in some cases, taking a Vitamin D supplement may make the situation worse.   I thought it was important to note that it says “ingested” Vitamin D.   Most of us know that the “sunshine” vitamin is produced in our bodies from exposure to sunlight.  

 

Even in the wintertime, taking a walk outside can expose you to some Vitamin D.   Go out in the unseasonably warm winter days and expose your skin to the air and the sunlight!   Try to get away this winter to a warm, sunny place.   I think all these years, when I’ve been saying that I was “soaking” in the sun while on vacation in the winter, what I was partially doing was storing up Vitamin D!

 

Yay for a healthy wintertime in 2009!

Back to Practice, Back to Blogging, Back to Life

 

Though the holidays can be fun, I love love love being back to my life!   We just got back from visiting our families in Buffalo, and I practiced about 30 minutes total of yoga in the past week.   Coupled with about 20 hours of driving, and OUCH!  I was out of sorts.

 

I pulled up last night, and went directly to teaching two classes back to back.  Then up again early this morning to teach two more.   So when I arrived home this afternoon, I immediately rolled out my yoga mat and had a luscious practice for about an hour.   It set me right, physically and mentally!   I also made a massage appointment for next week, when I know I will really need it (right before the start of the Odyssey).  

 

I’m loving taking care of myself, and I’m so excited for myself personally to undergo a month of consistent practice, bolstered by the Odyssey.  In my practice, I took it slow, as I’ve promised myself I would.   It’s kind of my resolution during the Odyssey – I think I’ve been trying to cram in a lot of postures into limited time, and it really doesn’t work!   You’d think I’d know this after 10 years of teaching, but sometimes you need to learn the lessons very experientially.   I’ve learned it!   I’m slowing down, even it means I only do half as many postures as I want to.  

 

Happy New Year everyone!  We’re having a party at our house tomorrow night.   Maybe I’ll be able to convince some attendees to do a group yoga pose, champagne in hand….

 

Namaste,

 

Barrett

Practice for One Month with Us

It’s been a week since I’ve posted because I’m right in the middle of finishing up preparations for the Yoga Odyssey.  This is the month-long home practice program that I’ve run twice now, and I can’t wait for it to start again January 4!  You can sign up here for the Odyssey.

We’re starting to get a critical mass of yogis signed up and ready to practice – very exciting!   I wanted to post because the early registration deadline is December 15.   Register by December 15 for $30.  It’s good to register in advance because you’ll be able to mark your calendar and go through holiday time without this hanging over your head to do.   Also, I’ll send you a preparatory email with tips (including optional book, video, and music selections) on December 16, just to get you thinking about setting up your life for a little more yoga practice.

In the spirit of preparation, here’s a little article I wrote about how to practice at home.   It might help you roll out your mat today, and definitely will help you as you embark on the Odyssey next month.

Enjoy!

KICKSTART YOUR HOME PRACTICE

 

If you struggle when you try to practice at home, you’re not alone!   Many people are daunted by the prospect of creating a yoga experience without a teacher to lead them.  I have been leading a month-long self practice course several times per year wherein students have explored how to develop their own practice. 

 

Here are some tips that have come out of those courses:

 

1) Take a moment to plan the logistics of your practice. 

 

Sometimes this is the biggest impediment.   Where in your house will you practice?   At what time?   Can you free yourself from distractions, like phones ringing and kids/pets needing attention?   Sometimes students have needed to talk with their family members to make sure they will have some uninterrupted time to devote to their yoga practice.

 

2) You only need a minimal amount of time.

 

Often, we sabotage ourselves by thinking we need to find 60-90 minutes to practice yoga, because that’s how long a yoga class is at a studio.   Thankfully, that’s not true! Yoga postures are so potent that you can feel a difference after only about 10 minutes.   Commit to 10 minutes of practice for the next week or two, and notice how much better you feel.  Within a short amount of time, you’ll likely want to practice for a bit longer.   Students have often commented to me that it is easy to find more time when yoga has become part of the daily routine.

 

3) There are lots of postures to practice.

 

As for what to practice, draw your inspiration from any number of sources.   Many yoga books have suggested sequences to follow.   Several websites offer free yoga sequences, such as yogajournal.com.  Consider writing down a practice that your teacher led you through in class, or even ask your teacher to write something out for you to practice at home.  Many of my students simply practice the traditional morning yoga warmup of  Sun Salutations – energizing and easy to remember! 

 

4) Be kind to yourself. 

 

In our home practice program, my students have mentioned over and over how much they needed to hear that any little bit helps.   It’s okay if you don’t practice for a day, or even a week!  Life happens – the important thing is not to feel so guilty that you never start again.  And it’s okay if you only practice for 10 minutes and never longer – I bet you still feel better than when you weren’t practicing at all.  Many of us need one space in our lives where we don’t have to be perfect.  We don’t even have to be good.  Yoga can be that space.  Give yourself permission to do nothing but child’s pose for your yoga practice, if that’s what you feel.  Cut yourself some slack if you don’t make it onto your mat – can you just close your eyes for a moment at your desk and take a deep, relaxing breath?   That’s yoga at work for you as well!

  

Enjoy your practice – Namaste!

 

 

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