Leaf Lessons

It feels like the annual tree dance took quite a while to get going this year, but suddenly the leaves are turning gorgeous shades of warmth, and some branches are already appearing to bare slightly. A few of these organic masterpieces are now glowing at the height of brilliance, with such a delicate shading of green to yellow to orange to red, it almost seems to me as though the tree is a shimmering three dimensional portal to another place far away and divine.

Perhaps we are seeking to make a change in our own lives too? Much as the trees, it may feel like no change is visible for days or weeks, but if we focus our energy and will, day by day we can enact subtle shifts and before we know it, a new season is revealed in our life's journey. For example, I recently decided to give up caffeine. I wasn't drinking too much, about 1/2 a small cup of strong coffee before 7am, but I felt like I was relying on it too much to go from a coma-like state to false energy each dawn. Also I wanted to add a daily practice of yoga in the morning so I figured that could be my new cafe, replace a bad habit with good to wake me up more naturally.

I really had to think it out, because I do not instantly wake up in the morning like some people, in fact I think my brain stays in alpha waves for a while. I set my ipod alarm clock on a peaceful but peppy playlist, and programmed my autolight to come on. It seemed cold in the mornings but I made it through the week, adding small shifts along the way. I use a metal container to hold my mat right by the wall to remind me to lay it out and find my practice. I didn't do down dog or anything more energetic the first few days, I was too sleepy. I tried to use the 1/2 series some, and then decided to focus on a standing warm up because child's or supine was just too much like bed and brought those soporific alpha waves back. Today I finally reprogrammed the thermostat to automatically warm up a little more around 5am, so it's not as chilly by 5:30 when I get up.

As for the coffee that was tough as well. The first day I had some weak tea with a little caffeine, but still suffered the typical headache I get when not drinking coffee so I had some tylenol ready to help. My whole head felt like it was too big for my skull, and in general I felt a little more slow and clumsy, especially before I got out the door in the morning. However, it's been a full five days and I feel pretty good. I think my sleep has been more restful, and I feel more calm, less easily excited or stressed. I have had enjoyed a little dark chocolate here and there, so I'm not 100% caffeine free, but much closer than before. This is probably the longest I have gone without coffee for a few years. I'm not sure if I'll stay off it, spring can be difficult with soccer, my energy levels usually get absorbed more then, but maybe this year will be a little easier since last spring was the first official season. Also, I just feel that a change exists now, one that is interesting and worthwhile. When I knew I would eat out, I imagined asking for water in advance so I would not accidently order a diet coke in a weak moment. At a work lunch, they had a cooler of coke but I saw a water peeking out and grabbed it gladly.

What yoga philosophy is required to enact change? One yama and two niyamas come to mind. Tapas is our discipline, Shaucha is our purity, and Brahmacharya our moderation. Change is not easy, but it is often powerful, and always possible. May you find the change you seek, one leaf at a time. Feel free to comment and share here any new experiences that you are exploring!



Water Pure and Natural

Over dinner at the Well in Waldo recently, I sat with 3 close friends after a long hiatus in our girly group getting together. How often does time get away from us? We vowed to meet more regularly as we enjoyed the atmosphere and catching up. One friend is preparing for her upcoming wedding, another is on the verge of a great promotion. The third is dealing with issues at work, we can all relate to that!

The topic of water, or to be more exact, how much water intake is ideal came up and we had a bit of a debate going. One friend said you might not need much at all, and we discussed 64 oz as the magic number (about 8 large glasses), so I decided to turn to some research to see if I could find a better answer. Masaru Emoto comes to my mind immediately. He conducted some interesting experiments about the nature of water, after all, our bodies are at least 62% water by weight! Check him out for details on how water might be affected by the vibes it receives! The fact alone that we are way more than 1/2 water has me thinking less is not more when it comes to hydrating.

What are some effects of chronic dehydration? There are MANY. According to http://nutritioninfo.tripod.com/id19.html: "The body is composed of nearly 75% water, and water is required for many of its essential functions. Water is utilized as a solvent. It also provides a means to transport nutrients, hormones and other elements. It is used to produce hydroelectric energy, especially in the brain. It is essential for maintaining cell structure. Water is also necessary to maintain a lower serum viscosity that enables proteins and enzymes to function more efficiently. Chronic dehydration can lead to a loss or decease in these functions and may ultimately result in disease or can exacerbate an existing condition. Contrary to popular belief, dry mouth or thirst is not the first sign of dehydration."

The same web page goes on to list a host of other issues like allergies, asthma, joint pain, constipation, suboptimal enzyme function, headaches, heartburn, reflux, and others. An really excellent way to gauge your water intake is to notice your urine, if it's a light color or clear, you're where you need to be, dark urine means the ratio of waste to water is higher and you need more H20. This is a better indicator of dehydration than thirst, according to the Mayo clinic. To read a list of mild to moderate symptoms when we don't get enough water, according to the Mayo clinic, click HERE.

So back to the question, how much do we need? It varies. According to Mayo Clinic, here's what we LOSE each day. "The average urine output for adults is about 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) a day. You lose close to an additional liter of water a day through breathing, sweating and bowel movements. (WOW!) Food usually accounts for 20 percent of your total fluid intake, so if you consume 2 liters of water or other beverages a day (a little more than 8 cups) along with your normal diet, you will typically replace the lost fluids."

Anyone getting up for a nice refreshing glass yet? I just did. I can't tell you what and how much to drink since it varies due to age, weight and other individual needs, but keep in mind that coffee, tea, and any other caffeinated beverages can actually rob you of liquid due to their diuretic properties. If you would like to read more on this subject, consider reading: YOUR BODY'S MANY CRIES FOR WATER By F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.

Personally, to mix my water up I enjoy drinking a nice cold can of La Croix flavored water, or Canada Dry. These are pure water and sugar free, but give a little twist to the tap!

Cheers to hydration for all. Ching Ching!



Fall Finds Us

We find ourselves in October, trickling and swirling into Autumn. This is a cooling time of year, we are falling to and toward stillness, with inward reflection. Who can say it better than John Keats, 1819. Here is his poem that lights up the ideas of the present.

On Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river shallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


Summer Sparkler!

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