The United Nations estimates that each person needs 5-13 gallons of safe freshwater each day to cover the basic needs of drinking, cooking and cleaning. More than one in six people worldwide don’t have access to this basic need. Globally, diarrhea is the leading cause of illness and death, an unfortunate result of drinking unsafe water, and water-borne diseases are the primary cause of death for children under the age of five. Locally, several non-profits look to address clean water issues, including the Utopia Foundation.
Read on for an inspiring innovation that may soon serve the developing world!
The New York Times Wellness section recently took on a polarizing question:
“Is Pilates better than yoga for strengthening exercises?”
Click here to read the article and don’t miss the wonderful comments and dialogue below the main text! What do you think?
“What’s that?” you say. “60?! I thought you were doing 30…”
True – I had set out to do 30 hot classes in 30 days, then it morphed into 45 in 45, and upon completion it evolved to 61 hot classes in 58 days. In the end, of the number of days was less important than what I learned in 90 hours (that’s 5400 minutes, by the way) on the mat, so here goes:
All right – counting the number of times I fell over off my may it was more like 5237 minutes …
1) Pacing in a hot class will get your farther than youth, brute strength, flexibility or even a cute yoga outfit. Okay, that last one may not be true, but what is true is this: learning to pace myself was a key skill in each and every class. Not rushing into or out of postures, arriving early to class, not backing appointments up so I had to rush from the room at the end of class - all these were instrumental in completing the 60 days safely and happily.
During one class I watched a young woman slam into the postures so fast it made MY head spin. She’ll need a bite splint – for some reason that much rushing seemed to be accompanied by vicious jaw clenching like a Christmas nutcracker. For me, not rushing was both refreshing and calming.
2) Mental persistence was a key, as much or more than physical stamina. Most classes I practiced in the studio with a live teacher and other people; some I had to do entirely on my own. It was these “solo” classes that in some ways were toughest. I was sometimes tempted to skip, shorten or short-cut postures or to create my own clever dialogue to pass the time. I DO NOT ADVISE this latter strategy. Suffice it to say my dialogue for every posture sounded a lot like shivasana or got so ridiculous that I laughed out loud. “Now place your nostril on the mirror while baking a cake with your right foot…”
There were days it was extremely difficult to walk through the door knowing I would be alone. But somehow determination rose up from within and I found a strength to stay present.
3) Supportive fellow yogis and teachers were instrumental in keeping a pleasant demeanor about the whole thing. Others, like Erik, has blazed this path before me and his encouragement and instrumental advice (drink tons of water – with electrolytes) were really helpful in keeping things moving forward.
4) Laughter helps a lot. As one of my teachers says, “It’s just a posture for goodness sake!” I laughed at myself a lot during the two months.
At one point one about half way through the 60 days, one of my teachers asked us during trikonasana (triangle pose) to look toward to mirror to see if we saw a “perfect triangle” formed by the thigh parallel to the floor, the arm and the torso. When I looked, I blurted out, “There’s a booby in my triangle! Does anyone else have a booby in the triangle?”, and then I collapsed onto my mat in the kind of hysterics born only by dangerous endeavors like high altitude climbing, self-performed appendectomies and being half way through a 60 day yoga challenge.
In retrospect maybe it wasn’t THAT funny, but, at the time, I thought I was a real Henny Youngman, let me tell you.
Yes, yoga is meditative, serious business but if we cannot laugh on the mat sometimes how much does yoga really expand our heart? If we take ourselves and even our practice too seriously we miss out on a great deal.
Here is how the Sufi poet Hafiz puts it, in “Tripping Over Joy”:
What is the differenceBetween your experience of ExistenceAnd that of a saint?The saint knowsThat the spiritual pathIs a sublime chess game with GodAnd that the BelovedHas just made such a Fantastic MoveThat the saint is now continuallyTripping over JoyAnd bursting out in LaughterAnd saying, “I Surrender!”Whereas, my dear,I am afraid you still thinkYou have a thousand serious moves.
- Drink a liter of water before class
- Breath the whole time (this is a very high priority)
- [I cannot remember the 3rd Yogic Axiom of Joe, but it was a good one.]
So if you are tempted to try a 30 or 45 or 60 day challenge, I highly recommend it. Tell your teachers and fellow yogis about so they can offer you a bit of encouragement and above all be patience and gentle with yourself.
Maybe that’s the big take away from all this: be part of a community and live with grace. All the rest is commentary.
-Rabbi Chava Bahle
Meditation, like yoga, has gone mainstream. And, as in yoga, there’s a meditation for everything. Need to lose weight, de-stress or make more money? There’s a meditation for that!
But if we pause and consider meditation’s roots, have we lost touch? Is it really possible to make more money by meditating, and should we use meditation for this purpose? David DeSteno of the New York Times:
…if you stop to think about it, there’s a bit of a disconnect between the (perfectly commendable) pursuit of these benefits and the purpose for which meditation was originally intended. Gaining competitive advantage on exams and increasing creativity in business weren’t of the utmost concern to Buddha and other early meditation teachers. As Buddha himself said, “I teach one thing and one only: that is, suffering and the end of suffering.” For Buddha, as for many modern spiritual leaders, the goal of meditation was as simple as that. The heightened control of the mind that meditation offers was supposed to help its practitioners see the world in a new and more compassionate way, allowing them to break free from the categorizations (us/them, self/other) that commonly divide people from one another.
To read the rest of the article and his research to see if meditation really does reduce suffering in a measurable way, click here.
Divided in perfectly in half, the class spends 45 minutes on the bike and 45 minutes on the yoga mat. At first glance, the two exercises seem to be odd bedfellows- the highly energetic, sweaty and loud group dynamic of cycling bears little resemblance to the serene relaxation of going inward in a stretchy Vinyasa class. Upon further examination though, the metaphor is revealed. By blending the Yin and Yang, we stretch a little further and reach a little bit more to find balance.
Chris Plourde, a spin and yoga instructor based in Los Angeles, CA says, “Yoga also teaches us to sit in the discomfort, to breathe and to relax. In class, I coach my spinning students to evaluate and accept the discomfort as opposed to ignoring it. If they find a sense of calm while pushing themselves on a hill with their heart rate elevated, it’s a huge reward for them at the summit of their mountain!”
Jenny’s boundary pushing Cycle + Yoga class is on Thursday at 9.30am. Will you try it?
Dr. Michael Murray believes that muscle loss is a major predictor of future physical disability and equally significant to osteoporosis in age-related health concerns. In fact, decreased musculature can cause poor balance and an increased risk for falls and fractures. Unfortunately, it may start sooner than you think.
Muscle mass increases in childhood and peaks during the late teens through the mid-to late 20s. After that, muscle mass slowly declines. From the age of 25 to 50 the decline in muscle mass is roughly 10%. In our 50s the rate of decline is slightly accelerated, but the real decline usually begins at 60 years. By the time a person reaches the age of 80 their muscle mass is a little more than half of what it was in their 20s—unless they take strong steps to fight it.
Luckily for us, weight bearing exercise like rigorous yoga postures can help to combat the loss, as well as strengthen our hearts and increase fat burn.
Is your morning routine harried and frantic or calming and predictable?
If the way we begin the day is an indication of how the rest of our day will go, it’s worth some examination.
In this article from GOOD, writer James Clear chose to mindfully focus on his mornings, and specifically, what could make his mornings more efficient. Check out his first tip:
Manage your energy, not your time.
If you take a moment to think about it, you’ll probably realize that you are better at doing certain tasks at certain times. For example, my creative energy is highest in the morning, so that’s when I do my writing each day.
By comparison, I block out my afternoons for interviews, phone calls, and emails. I don’t need my creative energy to be high for those tasks, so that’s the best time for me to get them done. And I tend to have my best workouts in the late afternoon or early evening, so that’s when I head to the gym.