An Inspirational Quote
“Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right
It’s all right”
The Beatles, “Here Comes The Sun”
Our friends in Canada, Chicago, New York, London and Scotland may have a big laugh, but this has been an especially cold, particularly wet and unfortunately dark winter in Atlanta, Georgia.
Average February temperature for Atlanta is 44.8 degrees, with humidity at 76 percent in the morning and dropping to 55 percent in the afternoon. The past three months have had us all shivering well below normal.
To our friends in more northerly climes, this is not much to whine about, but the lack of sunshine has been particularly affecting our clients and students.
One of my yoga students put it best. When I asked her at the beginning of class what she wanted out of our practice, she said, “I want to leave with sunshine in my heart!”
This was a particularly astute comment as sunlight is crucial for human health.
Early morning sunshine helps to promote the day’s production of normal hormones. Throughout the day, adequate sunlight promotes optimal circadian rhythms, which affects the vitality of our entire acupuncture system. Sunlight supports the immune system, helps our bodies produce adequate vitamin D, relieves stress and fatigue, strengthens the eyes and helps to control viral infections.
Ask your Total Fitness practitioner to help you determine three things:
How much sunlight your individual body needs every day.
What will work to keep you balanced if you are not able to get enough sunlight.
What emotions you tend to feel if you are not able to get enough sunlight, so you can make the connection between how you feel and lack of sunlight and not blame your bad mood on other factors.
Many of our clients are surprised just how much sunlight they actually need.
It all makes sense when you think about the hunter/gatherers and farmers we are all descended from. My mother tells me I am descended from Mennonites, so my ancestors spent their days toiling in the sun.
For me personally, I need 7 hours of direct sunlight every day. This is easy for me to get in normal circumstances, as I walk my dog and work in a studio with giant glass windows looking out over trees, flowers and a flowing fountain.
If I am not able to get enough sunlight, what works for me is practicing yoga. In fact, if I practice at least 3 hours of yoga every week, my body stays balanced even if I am not able to get enough sunlight.
But many of our clients are not so lucky. They work in small, dark offices, don’t enjoy canine companions who force them to walk outside every day whether they want to or not, and many don’t have adequate stress-relieving routines or regular work out schedules.
Here are a few things you can do to cope better with the winter, where ever you live.
Light On Your Pineal
The pineal gland is an important part of your brain. It is the size of a grain of rice located just below the corpus callosum, and it uses large amounts of tryptophan and zinc. Light and dark trigger the pineal to maintain our normal circadian rhythms.
The pineal produces the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin from tryptophan and from serotonin it produces the hormone melatonin, which allows us to sleep deeply and dream at night.
Because melatonin is derived from serotonin, I am always explaining to my clients that one of the simplest tests of your mood is the measure of how well you sleep at night.
If you are not sleeping deeply enough to dream, more than likely your melatonin and serotonin levels are a little low, and you may not be getting enough sunlight for your brain to work properly.
Directing light onto your pineal gland is one of the simplest, cheapest ways you can maintain normal circadian rhythms, a good mood and deep sleep even in the wintertime.
I like to teach it to everyone, because no matter how much money you have, most people have access to a flashlight.
Get an ordinary flashlight.
Lie on your back and hold the light directly over your third eye area, directly between your eyebrows.
Hold the light there anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes daily. The best time of day to do this procedure is first thing in the morning, as light on the pineal helps to signal the body to start producing hormones. Do not do this after dark as the procedure may interfere with your sleeping.
If you are depressed or have seasonal affective disorder, you may need to hold the light longer or you may need to repeat this procedure more frequently throughout the day.
This is also very helpful if your hormones are out of balance in menopause or in PMS, or if you have not been sleeping deeply enough to dream.
You will know when your pineal is producing adequate melatonin when you sleep deeply and dream throughout the night.
Usually lack of sunlight is not as much of an issue for those of us in Atlanta, as we live at a latitude on the planet that allows us to get adequate sunlight even during the winter.
In 2005, I taught a series of seminars in London, beginning in March of that year. In March in London, absolutely nobody in the class had an adequately functioning pineal gland. So this procedure is even more important if you live in London, Scotland, New York or Canada.
“Good broth resurrects the dead.” South American Probverb, from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Everybody argues whether natural or more medical approaches are better for curing or preventing a cold, but there is one subject all experts agree on – chicken soup is the only remedy scientifically proven to help a cold, according to The New York Times.
One of my yoga students told me recently that 10 years ago, her elderly mother was tired of getting colds, so she started making chicken soup and drinking it every morning for breakfast.
Now the purists make their broth from actual chicken feet, but I found this recipe for those too squeamish to start that way.
1 organic chicken breast, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves
4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 boxes 32 ounces of organic chicken broth
1 cup organic brown rice
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
Celtic sea salt to taste
In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil. Remember, coconut oil is the only fat that will withstand high heat cooking. Brown the onions and the garlic in the coconut oil, then add the chicken, carrots, celery, salt and rosemary.
Meanwhile, put the chicken broth in a crockpot, heat the water and add the brown rice. When the chicken and vegetables are done, throw the mixture into the cock pot and simmer throughout the day.
What’s so healthy about this recipe:
Organic chicken is free of hormones and antibiotics. It is a good source of protein. Chicken soup stops the movement of neutrophils, white blood cells that eat up bacteria released in great number during a typical winter cold. Neutrophil activity also stimulates the release of mucous, so chicken soup may help reduce your coughing and sneezing.
Onions and garlic are members of the allium family, which promote anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity.
Personally, I like a lot of carrots in my chicken soup, but you may also want to add peas or green beans. Carrots are high in beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is helpful for the lungs.
Brown rice is higher in nutrients than white rice, especially manganese, selenium and magnesium as well as the B vitamins that boost our mood.
A naturopath who used to live in Atlanta always referred to rosemary as “a girl’s best friend.” Rosemary is a natural anti-depressant. According to alchemy, a system of herbology dating back to the middle ages, rosemary counteracted sun imbalances. Rosemary boosts the immune system, circulatory system and is anti-inflammatory.
Celtic sea salt is high in 75 minerals and trace elements.
C Series Sun Salute Variations
So it’s cold, wet and you don’t have a dog to force you to bundle up and go for a walk, whether you want to or not. One of the best things you can do to keep your energy balanced right now is C Series Sun Salute Variations.
Please visit our exercise library at the following links to watch 30-60 second videos on how to do these variations:
C Series Sun Salute
C Series Sun Salutes Variation 1
C Series Sun Salutes Variation 2
Being a long-time yoga teacher, I would be hard pressed to pick my absolute favorite yoga exercises. However, I don’t think I have ever taught a yoga class where I skipped sun salutes – they are that important to me.
Why I love sun salutes:
Sun salutes are considered a complete practice in themselves. If you don’t have time for a complete work out, doing 2-6 sun salutes followed by a 5-minute meditation will cover many bases.
They balance the marma points, which are gateways to major energy pathways in the body. They strengthen and stretch all the major muscles and joints.
By alternating forward bends and backbends, C Series Sun Salutes balance the two sides of your nervous system so that you are neither stuck in stress nor lazing around in the doldrums.
Traditionally, sun salutes are practiced at sunrise and warm, tone and energize the body.
I like to be creative when teaching my C Series Sun Salute variations. Give yourself permission to explore what is happening in your body, mind and spirit. Rediscover how graceful you can feel while you are exercising.
Vitamin D In Your Multi
Last year, I overheard a fellow fitness person tell one of her clients, “You can get everything you need from food.”
As a practitioner who actually runs lab tests for nutritional deficiencies, I can report for a fact this is technically not true, especially when it comes to Vitamin D, the only vitamin that is also a hormone.
If you get enough sunlight, your body may be able to produce enough Vitamin D, but the number of people I see who are actually deficient in this essential nutrient is quite astounding.
The season of the year, color of your skin, your age, the latitude you live on the planet and the amount of time you spend outdoors may all affect your Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms include a suppressed immune system, low bone mass and osteoporosis, low energy and fatigue, depression, heart disease and stroke.
That is why when I private labelled a multivitamin, I waited until I found a really great one at a great price with adequate amounts of Vitamin D.
Total Multi is a high quality, hypoallergenic, balanced propriety multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement with Albion activated minerals to assure maximum utilization at the cellular level. Two capsules twice a day, a standard daily dose, gives you 200 IU of Vitamin D.
You can find out more by visiting our webstore at this link: http://www.totalfitness.net/1ShoppingCatalog/nutrition_products.html.
Feel free to download the ingredients list.
Other Helpful Approaches
Here are a few other approaches that may be helpful:
I particularly like the Australian Flower Essence Sunshine Wattle in these cases.
Stuck in the past
Expectation of a grim future
Acceptance of the beauty and joy in the present
Open to a bright future v
Vision Boards. With sun deficiency, there is often underenergy in the sixth chakra. Your sixth chakra is the energy center that allows you to have a vision for your life. Many times, when people are stuck in literal darkness, they are unable to see where they are going in their lives.
Rhododendron Brocade Plus and Rhododendron Griffithianum. These two flower remedies are made by Don Dennis, creator of the Living Tree Orchid Essences, from 50 acres of rhododendrons on the Isle of Gigha in Scotland. Many times people do better with the essence of something rather than the actual substance. 5HTP is made from rhododendrons, and I prefer using these essences over the actual 5HTP. Brocade Plus is an essence of vibrant joy. Griffithianum is more helpful for relaxation and is part of a combination of flower essences that helps deepen the quality of our sleep.
Chrysoprase is a green chalcedony. This crystal reminds us of sunlight falling through green leaves in springtime. It helps us connect with Mother Earth and connects us to the abundant energy of love. It heals our hearts and supports regeneration. I made a beautiful necklace of chrysoprase and herkimers over Valentine’s weekend.