Monday, February 6, 2012

Why is Surya Yoga Closed on Moon Days?

Tomorrow, February 7, is a full moon and the studio is closed (except for an Introduction to Ashtanga workshop).  Surya Yoga is always closed on the full moon and new moon.  And if you've practiced at other Ashtanga-only studios, perhaps you've noticed that they too are closed, or have a diminished schedule, on the new moon and full moon.

In the Ashtanga method, students do not practice asanas on so-called moon days. There are two principles that underlie the tradition.  First, we know that the moon affects ocean tides; and second we know that our bodies are roughly 70% water. Given the effect of the moon on the ocean tides we can expect the moon will affect the tides of our physical bodies. 
Matthew Sweeney, a student of Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, explains it this way:
"The days preceding the full moon cause an increase in fluid in the body, an internal tide, and generally an increase in energy.  As this tends to cause over stimulation, intense practice is not recommended.  The days preceding the new moon (sometimes called the dark moon) cause a decrease in fluids in the body.  As a tendency there will be less energy, the joints more dry and so an increased chance of injury."  
(Sweeney, Matthew. Astanga Yoga As It Is.  The Yoga Temple, 2005 (p. 22)). 
Tim Miller, another student of Pattabhi Jois, analogizes the phases of the moon to the breath cycle and says: 
"Both the sun and moon exert a gravitational pull on the earth.  Their relative positions create different energetic experiences that can be compared to the breath cycle.  The full moon energy corresponds to the end of the inhalation when the force of prana is greatest.  This is an expansive, upward moving force that makes us feel energetic and emotional, but not well grounded.  The Upanishads state that the main prana lives in the head.  During the full moon we tend to be more headstrong. 
The new moon energy corresponds to the end of the exhalation when the force of apana is greatest.  Apana is a contracting, downward moving force that makes us feel calm and grounded, but dense and disinclined towards physical exertion.
Practicing Ashtanga Yoga over time makes us more attuned to natural cycles.  Observing moon days is one way to recognize and honor the rhythms of nature so we can live in greater harmony with it. " 
(Miller, Tim. Ashtanga Yoga Center.  Moon Days page at AshtangaYogaCenter.com)
As you practice and move towards a new moon, think about the waning of the moon, the fluids in your body, and the process of exhaling.  Are you feeling less energetic, more dry, more grounded, calm, more prone to injury as the moon wanes to new?
As the moon begins to wax towards full, think about the fluids in your body and the process of inhaling.  Do you notice an increase in the fluids in your body, an increase in energy, an increase in your emotions and perhaps a feeling of not being well-grounded?  
Although the studio may be closed on the new moon and the full moon, there is still plenty of yoga to be done.  The asana practice is just one of the 8 limbs of yoga that we practice.  On moon days, consider reading and meditating on the yamas and niyamas.  Or take one of the yamas (ahimsa, maybe) and try practicing it in your thoughts, words, and deeds throughout the next moon day.  Give it the same degree of attention and dedication your give your asana practice and see what happens in your body, mind, and spirit.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Processed "Natural" Foods, Truvia, and More - Notes from an Insider

As I sat down to write, I asked myself  "Blogging on food, again?  Really?"  I am not a nutritionist, a scientist, a chef or even a foodie.  I'm a yogi and I try to follow Hippocrates advice, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."  Sounds like a simple enough plan but it can be irritatingly difficult in Stuart, Florida.  Irritatingly difficult throughout the United States, in fact, unless you live near an enlightened farmer or are able to grow and prepare 100% of your own food.  Why?  Because if you purchase items in Publix, Winn-Dixie, Fresh Market, or even Whole Foods, the likelihood is high that a good portion of what you purchase is processed food.  And if you are purchasing non-organic processed food, you are not only eating a hodgepodge of chemicals with known adverse health effects, you are also eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

If you committed to a nutrient dense whole foods diet, that is, fresh picked, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, you could do all of your shopping at Farmer Johns on Appaloosa and skip the conventional supermarkets all together.  But we are all busy and there are some processed foods that make sense for some of us, such as dried pasta, bread, ketchup, cheese, cereals, etc.  (I know, I know. . . . we should probably cut that stuff out too!)   I try to buy organic but that isn't always possible; and for many people organic products are economically inaccessible.   So natural products are a good second choice, right?  Well, read the labels.

What do you find on the label of a "natural" food?  Can you understand the ingredient list?  I can't, not all the time.  I've often felt like I needed a scientist by my side in Publix to interpret the ingredients.  I don't know any scientists, so I try to research what I can before I shop.  But what about the manner of the food processing?  How was that done?  And what about GMOs?  I know I don't want to eat anything engineered by Big Farma, so how can I find out if a product contains GMOs?  So far, our government has decided corporate interests are more important than consumer health and that Big Food doesn't need to label products specifically as containing GMOS.  If you haven't looked into the dangers surrounding GMOs, a good place to start is HERE on Dr. Mercola's website.  

I am not sure why our government is in the dark on the dangers of GMOs.  European countries have been debating the safety of GMOs for at least a decade.  Recently, France and five other European Union countries (Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece) initiated a blanket ban on all GMOs.  That ban has been challenged under EU trade rules; in the meantime, there are only two GMO crops approved to be grown by EU farmers:  Monsanto's MON 810 corn and BASF's Amflora potato.  

The US permits a variety of GMO crops; and in fact, most corn, soybean, cotton and canola crops growing in the US  are genetically modified.  Many of these are modified so they can tolerate frequent and heavy dosing with the pesticide RoundUp. That pesticide ends up in our food, in our bodies, in our rivers and streams and in our animals and may be the cause of many adverse health events.  Some seeds are genetically modified so that a pesticide is created by the plant as it grows.   As we eat that plant, that pesticide-producing DNA gets into our bodies.  Little is known about the effects of this on the human body, especially long-term effects.   But there are a number of scientists who know about the dangers of GMOs and are urging our government to put restrictions on GMOS.  You can read about that HERE.   A professor emeritus at Purdue University, Don Huber, discovered a new virus that is linked to genetically modified (Roundup Ready) soybeans and corn.  It is causing crop failure and animal illnesses.  Mr. Huber wrote the following letter early this year to US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to warn him about the pathogen:



Dear Secretary Vilsack:

A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn-suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science!

 This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant harm (see below). My colleagues and I are therefore moving our investigation forward with speed and discretion, and seek assistance from the USDA and other entities to identify the pathogen's source, prevalence, implications, and remedies.

We are informing the USDA of our findings at this early stage, specifically due to your pending decision regarding approval of RR alfalfa. Naturally, if either the RR gene or Roundup itself is a promoter or co-factor of this pathogen, then such approval could be a calamity. Based on the current evidence, the only reasonable action at this time would be to delay deregulation at least until sufficient data has exonerated the RR system, if it does. 

For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency.

A diverse set of researchers working on this problem have contributed various pieces of the puzzle, which together presents the following disturbing scenario:

Unique Physical Properties

This previously unknown organism is only visible under an electron microscope (36,000X), with an approximate size range equal to a medium size virus. It is able to reproduce and appears to be a micro-fungal-like organism. If so, it would be the first such micro-fungus ever identified. There is strong evidence that this infectious agent promotes diseases of both plants and mammals, which is very rare.

Pathogen Location and Concentration
It is found in high concentrations in Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn, distillers meal, fermentation feed products, pig stomach contents, and pig and cattle placentas.

Linked with Outbreaks of Plant Disease
The organism is prolific in plants infected with two pervasive diseases that are driving down yields and farmer income-sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soy, and Goss' wilt in corn. The pathogen is also found in the fungal causative agent of SDS (Fusarium solani fsp glycines).



Implicated in Animal Reproductive Failure
Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of this organism in a wide variety of livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility. Preliminary results from ongoing research have also been able to reproduce abortions in a clinical setting.

The pathogen may explain the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%.
 For example, 450 of 1,000 pregnant heifers fed wheatlege experienced spontaneous abortions. Over the same period, another 1,000 heifers from the same herd that were raised on hay had no abortions. High concentrations of the pathogen were confirmed on the wheatlege, which likely had been under weed management using glyphosate.

Recommendations
In summary, because of the high titer of this new animal pathogen in Roundup Ready crops, and its association with plant and animal diseases that are reaching epidemic proportions, we request USDA's participation in a multi-agency investigation, and an immediate moratorium on the deregulation of RR crops until the causal/predisposing relationship with glyphosate and/or RR plants can be ruled out as a threat to crop and animal production and human health.


It is urgent to examine whether the side-effects of glyphosate use may have facilitated the growth of this pathogen, or allowed it to cause greater harm to weakened plant and animal hosts. It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders. To properly evaluate these factors, we request access to the relevant USDA data.

I have studied plant pathogens for more than 50 years. We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and animal diseases and disorders. This pathogen may be instrumental to understanding and solving this problem. It deserves immediate attention with significant resources to avoid a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure.

Sincerely,


COL (Ret.) Don M. Huber

Emeritus Professor, Purdue University
APS Coordinator, USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System (NPDRS)



 Think you can avoid the dangers of GMO crops by avoiding corn, soybeans and canola?  What about high-fructose corn syrup?  Read the labels on the foods in your pantry.  Unless you have a household ban on all processed foods, you will find high-fructose corn syrup in a myriad of products -- many of those products are specifically targeted to children.  High-fructose corn syrup is processed from GMO corn.  And it's in nearly everything, except organic foods.

How do we begin to negotiate the chemical jungle we find ourselves in every time we step into a Publix?   A processed food insider can be helpful.  Bruce Bradley has worked inside for Big Food, he knows all the schemes, lies and slick advertising tricks and is willing to share his wisdom with us.  Mr. Bradley holds a MBA from Duke University and spent fifteen years working for General Mills, Pillsbury, and Nabisco.  He left Big Food in 2008 and is committed to a healthier lifestyle that includes yoga and eating fresh organic fruits and vegetables grown on a local farm. 

How can Mr. Bradley help us?  He maintains a blog that you can visit by clicking HERE.  Notably, he has been blogging about the deception that is rampant in the "natural" foods industry.   Scary stuff.  Scary, because we really cannot know what we are buying when we buy foods that contain "natural flavoring" or "natural color".  Scary because if you are a vegetarian and you diligently study food labels you are likely still buying and consuming animal products.  Here are some examples quoted directly from Mr. Bradley's post on October 30, 2011:


    • Beaver Anal Glands: This bitter, very smelly, orange-brown substance is also known as castoreum. In nature it’s combined with the beaver’s urine and used to mark its territory. In the processed food world it’s commonly used in both food and beverages, typically as vanilla or raspberry flavoring. Watch out though, you won’t find it on the ingredient list since processed food manufacturers can legally call it “natural flavoring.”
    • Cow’s Stomach: Known as rennet and derived from the mucosa of veal calves’ fourth stomach, this ingredient is frequently used in the production of cheese to curdle the milk. Often listed simply as “enzymes” on an ingredient panel, it can be very hard to know exactly what you’re eating when you buy cheese.
    • Hair and / or feathers: Called L-cysteine or cystine by the processed food world, this non-essential amino acid is made from human hair or duck feathers and is used as a dough conditioner to improve the texture of breads and baked goods. Again, since cystine comes from natural sources, you can eat “natural” and still have hair in your food.
    • Beetle Juice: No, I’m not talking about the 1988 movie starring Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis. This beetle juice is used in our food and is often called shellac, resinous glaze, or confectioner’s glaze on ingredient labels. Made from the secretions of the female lac bug, this substance is scraped from trees and branches then processed to be used on some of your favorite shiny candies and sprinkles.
    • Crushed bugs: Known as Carmine, Crimson Lake, Cochineal, or Natural Red #4 on ingredient labels, this red food coloring additive is made from insects like the cochineal beetle. Frequently used in yogurts and beverages to give them a ruby-red color, a cochineal beetle can be a tough to spot on ingredient labels since it can be listed as a natural color.
To read the complete post containing this quoted passage, click HERE

If you are a vegetarian, you should be disturbed.  But what about allergies?  I know many parents who struggle daily with their children's food allergies.  How can anyone reasonably pinpoint the source of a food allergy if ingredient lists can be so easily and legally manipulated to conceal the true source of many substances?   I google "natural red #4" and I'm at Wikipedia's entry for "carmine." (Click HERE to join me).  In addition to learning that natural red # 4 is created by boiling dried insects in ammonia and then adding aluminum, stannous chloride, borax or gelatin, I learn that it has been known to cause severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in some people.  Although concerns about severe allergic reactions have been brought to the attention of the FDA, it has declined to ban it citing "no significant hazard" is presented by natural red #4/carmine.  At least one public interest group has urged the FDA to mandate accurate labeling of carmine, but food industries are opposed to labeling carmine "insect based".  Somehow, all I can think of is "fraud."

Fraud brings me to another post of Mr. Bradley's.  If you have been trying to steer clear of artificial sweeteners you may have heard that stevia is a natural low-calorie sweetener.  Stevia is an herb with sweet leaves that yield an extract that is 300 times sweeter than sugar but does not affect blood glucose levels like sugar does. It has been used for over 1500 years in South American countries as a sweetener and for medicinal purposes.  (Read the Wikipedia entry on stevia HERE). 

Not surprisingly, the United States banned stevia in the early 1990s unless labeled as a dietary supplement.  Hmm, I wonder if the involvement of Monsanto, Donald Rumsfield and Alan Greenspan in the sale and purchase of aspartame and Nutra-Sweet around 1985 had anything to do with the US ban of stevia in the 1990s?  Gotta wonder. . .but back to stevia.  You can buy stevia extract, as a dietary supplement, and use it to sweeten foods.   If you hadn't heard about stevia before, you probably have now in the Big Food form of "Truvia" and its media blitz touting Truvia as "honestly sweet".   

Truvia is marketed by its developers, Cargill (with help from Coca-Cola), as a natural sweetener that comes directly from nature.  The Truvia website claims it is "[t]he first great-tasting, zero-calorie natural sweetener that's a miracle of nature, not chemistry."   The Truvia label not only claims that Truvia is natural, it claims Truvia is created from a natural process:   "Rebiana comes from the sweet leaf of the stevia plant, native to South America.  Dried leaves are steeped in water, similar to making tea.  This unlocks the best tasting part of the leaf which is then  purified to provide a calorie-free sweet taste."   Hmmm, sounds pretty natural, right? 

As Bruce Bradley explains in his post about Truvia, the substance is anything but natural and the process is not much like making tea.  He explains:

"Truvia has three ingredients:  erythritol, rebiana, and natural flavors.  Rebiana is made from the stevia leaf by soaking it in water.  Although Cargill whitewashes the process as similar to making tea, the truth is revealed in Coca-Cola’s patent where it outlines a 40+ step process that includes the use of acetone, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, and isopropanol. . . . Cargill manufactures Truvia’s erythritol by chemically converting genetically modified corn into a food grade starch which it ferments to create glucose and then processes further to create erythritol.. . .Cargill uses “natural flavors” to round out the taste of Truvia. The processed food industry’s dirty little secret about “natural flavors” is . . . food companies manufacture many “natural flavors” since the only legal requirement is that they are chemically equivalent to a natural flavor.  So get back out the test tubes, beakers, and distilling equipment."

I expect advertising hyperbole from companies bringing a product to market. But to claim that Truvia is "a miracle of nature, not chemistry" when Cargill knows it is using toxic chemical substances like acetone, methanol, and acetonitrile in a 40 step laboratory process sounds more like fraud to me.  To claim that Truvia is a "miracle of nature, not chemistry" when one of its three ingredients begins as genetically modified corn is mind-boggling. Genetically engineered "food" is not a miracle of nature, it is the curse of chemistry. 

Check out Bruce Bradley's blog.  He has posts discussing deception by Nature Valley here and Sun Chips here

We are collectively beginning to wake up to the dangers of our current conventional food supply and changing our food buying habits.  When organic is unavailable or unaffordable, "natural" products may seem like a good alternative.  In some cases they may be if they are produced by an ethical company.  But when Big Food gets involved -- watch out.  Truvia is just one example of an alleged "natural" product that is far removed from nature.  Don't count on the FDA to get involved.  Its regulations favor corporate interests, not consumer health.

In the end, it is up to each one of us individually to become more aware and to act in accordance with our ever-expanding consciousness.  The mantle of individual responsibility cannot be sold to another (and cannot be carried by our government) but neither can the wisdom gained be taken from us once we awaken to the truth.  The truth about processed foods, including many "natural" foods, is they are not labeled to provide accurate information to consumers; they are labeled in such a way as to promote their sale and consumption - profits over people.  Do your research.  Read Bruce Bradley's blog (click here), check Wikipedia, develop viveka, discriminative discernment, by practicing the eight limbs of yoga.  Cultivate mindful meal planning.  Recognize that we must be hunters and gatherers, even in the year 2011, hunting around town for nutrient dense whole foods and gathering only what fresh fruits and vegetables (and raw goat's milk) we can eat for 2-3 days.

And share what you find!  Share your new wisdom freely with others and share your healthy food finds!
 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

You may not be following the Occupy Wall Street revolution and the many peaceful protests that it has engendered because the mainstream media appears disinclined to report objectively on the organization, its goals and processes.  Fortunately, there are two websites you can visit to learn the facts instead of media propaganda.  First, there is the Occupy Wall Street website that you can access by clicking clicking here.   There is also a separate website for The New York City General Assembly that you can access by clicking here.   The New York City General Assembly consists of dozens of groups of people working together to organize and set the vision for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

On September 29, 2011, the NYC General Assembly accepted and published its "Declaration of the Occupation of New York City".  The Declaration, available on the NYC General Assembly website here,  is printed below in its entirety.  It is well worth reading and thinking about.

Declaration of the Occupation of New City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality:  that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
  • They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
  • They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
  • They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
  • They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
  • They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
  • They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
  • They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
  • They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
  • They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
  • They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
  • They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
  • They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
  • They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
  • They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
  • They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
  • They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
  • They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
  • They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
  • They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
  • They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
  • They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
  • They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pratyahara

If a man's reason succumbs to the pull of his senses, he is lost.  On the other hand, if there is ryhthmic control of breath, the senses instead of running after external objects of desire turn inwards, and man is set free from their tyranny.  This is the fifth state of Yoga, namely, pratyahara, where the senses are brought under control.   B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga

Have you ever considered how much time you spend looking inward at yourself versus looking outward at all the stuff around you?  Think about it for a moment.  We have TVs, movies, books, magazines, computers, smart phones, the internet.  We have developed countless tools to improve our senses and further their reach. We have microscopes and telescopes to improve our vision so we can look deeper.  We have devices that allow us to hear better and speakers of all sorts, including surround sound, to enhance sound and cocoon us in an ever-present hum of noise.   We have computers to help us think and we are bombarded constantly by messages from the media, on the sides of vehicles, on billboards telling us what we should do and how we should think and how we should act.

But when was the last time you looked inward - not to criticize or judge yourself or engage in a self-deprecating review of your past, but to ask yourself :  Who am I? What am I looking for?  Why am I here?  

Yoga is here to help us do just that.  Yoga teaches us how to look deeply inward so that we can learn about ourselves.  You may think you know yourself, but do you really?  Have you looked deep inside to discover the You that is dependent on no one and nothing outside of you?  Because if you do look deep within and begin to discover your true Self, suffering will disappear and you will experience a laslting bliss.  
 
When we consciously apply pratyahara, withdrawing our senses from objects external to us, we can begin to still our busy minds and look deep within.  Sometimes looking deep within brings us many more questions and reveals many more curiosities before we reach some clarity.   Often we have to penetrate many layers of thought patterns, habits, and beliefs and looking inward might feel more like trying to peel the layers of an onion.   Some layers will crumble away with a gentle touch and others will require us to renew our concentration and focus our effort towards lifting a layer gently without gouging through what's underneath. Will we find another layer, or have we just reached the juicy center of our very being?   We don't usually find answers to our questions right away, but we become more like scientists, patiently examining each layer our existence with objectivity, taking notes and asking questions.  

So during the next day, be a scientist studying your life.  Get the facts.  How much time do you spend looking inward and how much time do you spend looking outward?  How much time watching tv, reading books, magazines, surfing the internet?  How much time talking to and about other people? How much time on Facebook?  How much time listening to music? This is not to say that doing these things is inherently "bad" or that we should never watch tv or read books; and of course, some of this may be a necessary part of our job responsibilities or family life.  But be a scientist and look at the choices you make regarding how you use your free time.  Are you using your five senses to look outward? Or do you withdraw your senses and spend time looking deeply inward?
 
If you find you are spending more time looking outward than you would like, schedule some time throughout the day to take a break and meditate.  Find a quiet, peaceful place free from most distractions.  Sit quietly and breathe deeply.  Withdraw your senses and begin to quiet your mind.  Notice if you can find the space between thoughts.  Often you can do this simply by following your breath - following the rhythm of your breath as it moves through your body.  Do this for 5 minutes three times a day.  After a couple of weeks try to increase the time to 10 minutes a session.  Soon you will look forward to these peaceful times free from the influence of the external world.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Conventional v. Organic Produce?

Maybe you've noticed a theme in our recent posts -- nutrition.  We cannot imagine practicing ashtanga yoga six days a week and NOT being concerned about what goes into our bodies.  After all, we feel stronger and lighter and float through all those vinyasas when we feed our bodies nutrient dense whole foods.  We feel weak, heavy, toxic and nauseous after just a few surya namaskars when we eat nutrient poor, processed foods.  Need we say more?  Well, yes, we do need to say more.

Switching to a nutrient dense, plant-based whole foods diet can make you feel years younger and can prevent and cure many chronic conditions.  Such a simple solution, it seems.  We just need to eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, right?  Well, yes, lots of the right kind of fruits and veggies.  The very best fruits and veggies you can possibly consume are those you grow yourself without chemicals and consume within a day or so of harvesting.  Do you really know what you are getting otherwise?   You might know what you are getting if you buy your fresh produce from a local farmer who is concerned about nutrient density and growing responsibly without toxic chemicals (thank you Farmer John!!).  But if you are buying conventional produce at a conventional supermarket, it is unlikely you are simply buying fruits and veggies.  It is more likely you are buying produce with a hefty side serving of toxic chemicals.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?  Well, no, not if you are buying conventional apples.  The USDA Pesticide Data Program found 42 pesticide residues on conventional apples.  Of those 42 pesticides, 7 are known or probable carcinogens, 19 are suspected hormone disruptors, 10 are neurotoxins, 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins, and 17 are toxic to honeybees.  A mind-boggling forty-two pesticides found on conventional apples:  thiabendazole, diphenylamine, acetamiprid, azinphos methyl, imidacloprid, carbendazin, phosmet, tetrahydrophthalimide, trifloxystrobin, fenpropathrin, carbaryl, boscalid, o-phenylphenol, captan, etoxazole, pyraclostrobin, fenpyroximate, diflubenzuron, pyrimethanil, myclobutanil, 1-napthol, thiacloprid, endosulfan II, endosulfan I,  endosulfan sulfate, diazinon, tebufenozide, chlorpyrifos, cyprodinil, buprofezin, omethoate, dimethoate, methomyl, esfenvalerate, fenvalerate, cyhalothrin, clofentezine, oxamyl, chlorpropham, pyriproxyfen, permethrin trans, permethrin cis, and phosalone.  Would you like an apple?

Lets take a look at just at one of the pesticides found on conventional apples:  thiabendazole.  Thiabendazole is found on 87.9% of conventional apples.  It is a probable carcinogen and it is a developmental or reproductive toxin.  Do you think you will avoid thiabendazole if you buy organic apples?  Maybe not.  Twenty percent of the domestic organic apples tested were found to be contaminated with thiabendazole, albeit in much, much lower amounts than the domestic conventional apples. 

The problem with pesticides like thiabendazole, is that you cannot avoid it altogether by avoiding apples.  Take bananas for example.  A full 63.7% of imported conventional bananas are contaminated with thiabendazole.   The scary part of this pesticide paradigm is that the more conventional fruits and veggies we eat, the more toxic chemicals we will consume.  Eating animals does not solve the problem.  Most animal products have significantly more pesticides in them because the pesticides accumulate in the animals during their lifetime and you get an extra-concentrated dose when you eat that animal product.  Is it any wonder that so many Americans are suffering from chronic illnesses and cancer?   

We can go on and on like this, but we think you will find it more exciting to do the research yourself.  The Pesticide Action Network has created a searchable database that you can use to find out what's on your food.  Called appropriately "What's On My Food?", the site allows you to research the chemicals that are found on your food.  It's easy to use and there's an iPhone app available as well to help you as you shop.  You can access the site by clicking on this link.

So what's the answer?  Try to grow as much as you can.  Get to know a local, responsible farmer who is committed to growing nutrient dense, chemical free food.  Buy organic whenever possible to decrease your exposure to toxins and avoid conventional produce found in chain supermarkets. 

And what do we do about the toxins in our body already?  A committed ashtanga practice will help you detoxify and purify your body, of course!

Vaccinations

Today Dr. Mercola published a detailed article about vaccinations.  He reviews the latest science and provides information to help you make an informed choice.   Check it out by clicking here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nutrition, Cancer, Vaccinations, and General Health

I don't vaccinate my children anymore.   I did vaccinate them, years ago, when I was following the major media outlets and making decisions based on their fear mongering. Today, I think differently.

Through viveka, the discriminative discernment that yoga brings me, I am becoming my own health care advocate.  No one cares about my health and the health of my children more than me.   No one.  Period.

Big Farma is busy producing nutrient deficient, genetically modified, heavily chemicalized "food" that causes dis-eases of all sorts.   Big Pharma is forever combining chemicals to create patentable drugs to "treat" or "prevent" those dis-eases.  The doctors stand at the ready to deal those drugs to their dis-eased patients.  Insurance companies prey on the fearful dis-eased citizens.  And the government watches over them all to ensure the system can operate without interference.  Why?  There's big bucks in that stream of commerce.

Who will tell a dis-eased person to eliminate the artificial sweeteners, the artificial flavors, the artificial preservatives, the artificial colors, the GMOs and all other manner of frankenfood from the diet and switch to eating nutrient dense, plant based whole foods grown organically and sustainably?  No one.  Period.  Because there's no money for Big Farma, Big Pharma, doctors, insurance companies and our government agencies and officials in that equation.  

Fortunately there are good folks out there willing to share their education and passion with you, often at great personal risk, so you can make decisions based on sound science, and not decisions based on fear.

Here are a few of my favorite health topics along with sources for you to get started educating yourself.

NUTRITION FOR HEALTH AND HEALING:

Balch, Phyllis A.  Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 5th ed.  New York:  Penguin, 2010.  A truly fantastic compendium of information covering all aspects of nutrition along with a alphabetical guide to treating disorders using food and nutritional supplements.

FoodMatters.  An enlightening documentary movie about how food can be used to prevent disease from occurring or can be used to heal even the most serious illnesses.  Watch it on Netflix.   Go to this link for more information.

Forks Over Knives.  Another great documentary movie about the all-important role of healthy, plant based whole foods in maintaining health and curing illness.  Watch it on Netflix.  Or click here to go to the film's website.

Farmageddon.  A new documentary movie chronicling one mother's efforts to discover why healthy food is not readily available in our supermarkets.  Learn all about Big Farma.  Go to this link to learn more.

Dr. Joseph Mercola.  A physician dedicated to natural health and healing primarily through nutrition.  He maintains a fact-filled website and writes scholarly articles explaining the science behind current health issues.  A must-read for anyone concerned about natural health and healing.  Click here to go to his website.

CANCER

Did you know that Breast Cancer Awareness Month began in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and ICI, now known as AstraZeneca?  Did you know that AstraZeneca is a large pharmaceutical company in the business of creating and marketing known carcinogens that they claim can treat or cure breast cancer?  Can you really trust Big Pharma to provide accurate information to consumers when they have invested billions of dollars in their chemical concoctions and must create a demand for them in order to make a profit?  If Breast Cancer Awareness Month was genuinely about preventing or curing cancer, then intellectual honesty requires it to discuss the role of nutrition in cancer and to make accessible the various non-toxic alternative healing modalities that have proven effective with cancer.  The folks behind Breast Cancer Awareness Month don't want to you know that stuff.  Artificial and processed food cause cancer; nutrient dense, plant based whole foods prevent and cure cancer.
 
Cut, Poison, Burn.  If you want to learn more about how cancer is traditionally treated here in the US, then you must watch this documentary movie.  Learn about how little has been accomplished by the American Cancer Society.  Learn about how few options you have to choose your treatment modality if you are diagnosed with cancer in the US.  Learn about the non-toxic cures that the American Cancer Society, the FDA, and Big Pharma don't want you to know about.   Click here to go to the movie's website.


Burzynski.  Another documentary movie about how non-toxic and lasting cures for cancer are not made accessible to you if they don't involve Big Pharma.  Click here to go to the movie's website.

Dr Mercola.  Dr. Mercola is dedicated to natural health and healing.  He discusses cancer in various scholarly articles on his website.  Check him out by clicking here.

VACCINATIONS


It is difficult to make an informed decision when our government, our doctors, and Big Pharma are more interested in selling a product than providing you with up-to-date accurate information on the risks and benefits of vaccinations.


The Greater Good.  A recent award-winning documentary film about the vaccination industry and why you ought to avoid, or think very deeply about, vaccinating yourself or your children.  You can watch this movie for FREE FREE FREE from now through November 5.  Click here to go to the film's website. 


Start today.  Be your own health care advocate and liberate yourself from the sickness paradigm endorsed by our government, Big Farma, Big Pharma, doctors and the insurance industry.