Essential oils may seem like the unicorn of the medical world. The essential oil industry’s list of assets is vast, intriguing, and honestly – pretty confusing, leaving many of us asking, “are these plant extracts actually effective?” The answer that has repeatedly been proven through science and research is “yes”.
Although the use of essential oils may sound new to us, they have actually been used for thousands of years by our ancestors to enhance physical and mental well-being throughout their daily lives. So how, exactly, can essential oils help you?
1. Fight off sickness
Some essential oils like cinnamon and eucalyptus are known to help the body stimulate the growth of white blood cells. This results in a boosted immune system and a healthier psyche overall.
As an added bonus – if you’re already feeling sick, using a diffuser can increase the needed humidity in the air to relieve your cough and sinus pressure.
2. Sleep better
Getting a good night’s rest is an essential part to our body’s health and wellness, but sometimes a good night’s sleep is hard to come by. In fact, the CDC has reported that 1 in 3 Americans are not getting enough sleep at night, leading to researchers and other professionals to turn to essential oils for support.
At the very basis of their usages, essential oils have relaxing properties that can help almost any night owl get a good night’s sleep. Chamomile and lavender are the most well-known for assisting us in our sleep, helping our mind and body start to relax and wind-down for bed.
3. Safer than candles
If you love candles for the aromas that they give off but are worried about an open flame in your home, essential oils may be a more suitable option for you.
With an essential oil diffuser, you can continue your aromatherapy practices while you sleep without having your mind constantly worry about the potentially hazardous situations that candles bring, such as burns, wax spills, or even having your pet knock it over.
4. Increase Your Energy
When we don’t wake up feeling refreshed, we often turn to (multiple) cups of coffee to combat our lethargies. Oftentimes, this may not be the healthiest option for us, as coffee can sometimes lead to headaches, a rise in blood pressure, and in some cases, an increased risk of heart attacks.
To completely eliminate these effects from coffee, consider using essential oils that will increase vitality and reduce fatigue. Some great essential oils for boosting energy are peppermint, grapefruit and lemongrass.
If you haven’t yet hopped on the essential oil train, it’s not too late – the market size in the US is valued at $3.36 billion and is only growing, with an expected growth rate of 9% from 2016 to 2024. If you’re looking for a technique that will leave you sleeping better, feeling more energized, and is all-around safer than traditional methods, essential oils might just be the right option for you.
Article written by Elise Morgan
Image by pexels
Yoga is a form of exercise that involves physical and mental wellbeing, and it has been said to help relieve body pain. In this article, we will concentrate on low back pain and how yoga can play a role in relieving it.
What Are The Benefits of Yoga
Yoga offers both physical and mental benefits for the human body.
The physical benefits are:
Causes of Low Back Pain
Low back pain is one of the most common work-related injuries. It involves pain at the waist and a lot of factors contribute to the pain.
The causes of low back pain are:
1. Sitting or lying poorly puts stress on the back
2. Tight muscles of the back and abdomen
3. Involuntary contraction of the back muscles, which is known as spasm
4. Falling and landing on your back or being hit at the back
5. Lifting with your back bent over instead of bending your legs
6. Overstretching of ligaments and muscles, which is popularly known as a sprain and strain respectively
7. Weakness of the back muscles or abdominal muscles
8. Tight muscles in the legs
9. Sitting for long periods of time
10. Pregnancy, which puts a lot of load on the back muscles
11. A slip of the discs that allow for easy movement of the bones in the back on each other
12. Medical conditions like cancer, kidney stones or weak pelvic muscles
How Can Yoga Help With Back Pain
Many times we look at conventional remedies for backache like analgesics, tens units or even massages. But looking at the benefits of yoga and causes of back pain, we can see that yoga can help prevent back pain and alleviate the pain as well. We will be looking at yoga poses that can target the major causes of pain.
While doing yoga, always remember to breathe.
Some of these yoga poses that can help relieve the causes of low back pain are:
1. Downward Facing Dog
This pose balances out muscles in the back and lower legs and also stretches the muscles of the back, hamstrings and calf muscles.
2. Cobra Pose
This pose stretches the abdominal muscle and decreases any form of stiffness in the lower back
3. Child’s Pose
This pose stretches the lower back and muscles in the legs. It also helps in reducing stress and relaxes the muscles on the anterior part of your body.
4. Cat-Cow Pose
Pregnant women can do this pose. This pose stretches the back muscles and the abdominal muscles. It increases flexibility in the spine.
5. Spinal Twist
This pose lengthens the spine and prevents the intervertebral discs from drying up.
Yoga offers a lot of poses that stretch the major muscles in the body. It also has a balancing complex which means it engages other muscles that may contribute to lower back pain such as downward facing dog pose that stretches the back muscles and hamstrings which, when tight, can cause pain at the low back.
Yoga is effective in pain relief and also has added benefits. The poses can also be done anywhere even at work.
Article by Dr. Charles-Davies, a medical doctor that spends some of his time sharing helpful health information across the internet.
Guest article by Jason Lewis.
If you’re a senior, then you have already entered your golden years. You’ve conquered obstacles, worked hard, and earned the right to live your best life — all day, every day.
For each person, quality of life takes on a different look. Nonetheless, whether your best days will be spent traveling, gardening, volunteering, pursuing your passions and hobbies, and/or spending time with loved ones, one thing is certain: You will need to be in your best health. This article will discuss the steps you can take now to improve your quality of life for the long term.
Don’t Forget to Exercise
Regular exercise is a key contributor to a longer, healthier life. It’s never too late to get your body moving and reap the benefits. Set a goal to be physically active for 30 minutes a day. If you’re not used to exercising, start slow and gradually increase your time and exertion. Exercise will not only improve your energy and joint health, but it also:
Your Brain Leads Your Body
While the brain is a mystery, a sure fact is that we use it every day. The brain is the control center for your whole body, and just like every other organ, you need to take care of it and be in tune with its needs. If you make it a regular habit to stimulate your brain with puzzles, classes, experiments, or art and crafts, you will find that your mind remains sharp and even improves through making new connections between nerve cells and generating new cells.
Mind Your Mental Health
Part of caring for your brain is caring for your mental health. Your mood and emotions affect all areas of your life, including your relationships, blood pressure, energy levels, ability to combat diseases, and zest for life. You can invest time in your mental health by doing daily breathing exercises, getting adequate rest, boosting your vitamin D levels with regular exposure to light, and writing out three things you are grateful for each day.
You can also foster your mental health by taking supplements that can help you battle anxiety, mental fogginess, or negativity. Research the best vitamins based on your needs, and consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that the vitamins will not interact negatively with any existing health condition. Then, find the most enjoyable way to take those vitamins (juice, smoothie, shake, or perhaps a delicious homemade granola bar).
Your Body Is Your Temple
More than half the battle in having a healthy body is what you put into it. Take control of your life by controlling your diet. Those who lead a healthy lifestyle not only live longer lives, but they also face less illness. Assess your needs, and from there, investigate the different foods that would help provide you with a balanced diet that wards off health problems. For most people, a diet rich in vitamin-filled fruits and vegetables, foods and drinks filled with calcium to promote bone health, hydration through water, healthy fats, and protein will help you feel 100 percent.
Your golden years can be your best years; it all comes down to taking control of your health. Keep your mind stimulated on a daily basis to stay sharp and improve cognitive function. Foster your mental health each day, and make a nutritious diet part of your routine. Start exercising 30 minutes a day. Not only will you realize immediate benefits by forming these habits, but you will also be adding healthy years to a life well lived.
Photo Credit: Pexels
Ubud: The Yoga Hub
Bali yoga exploration started: Ubud!
This town became famous over 10 years ago because of the bestseller Eat Pray Love, and now it's really the hub of the yoga scene on the island. There are several internationally renown Yoga studios offering all sort of classes, workshops, and trainings. Gourmet organic restaurants specialized on vegan, gluten free, raw food are almost the standard, and cafes offerings juices and home made kombucha are the norm. Not to mentioned the yoga clothing shops, with options for all pockets. The down side? Traffic can be pretty annoying unfortunately.
Here is a summary of my experience visiting several yoga studios and teachers.
- Intuitive Flow Yoga Center. The studio has the most amazing views over the lush vegetation surrounding town, on an only pedestrian path away from the traffic in Ubud, in a neighborhood called Penestanan. It's a little hike to get there from Ubud center but totally worth it, and you can also get a taxi if needed.
Familiar and cozy atmosphere, it felt calming and safe, international and local teachers, wonderful breezes from the fully windowed walls. Nina lead us through a meditative Hatha Vinyasa class that offered challenges in a gentle and kind way. Highly recommended!
- Radiantly Alive. Centrally located but still in a quiet road, it's nicely designed with a wide variety of classes and workshops offering, including Meghan Currie ones on Sunday. They have a nice cafe, an expensive shop, and views on the vegetation around the studio.
I took a great Ashtanga Vinyasa class with Ade, who is passionate and precise about his teaching, still nice and supportive through our sweaty efforts. I would consider going to his class regularly.
- Om Ham Resort. If you are interested also in the spiritual side of yoga you shouldn't miss the opportunity to take a tantra kundalini class with Balinese Master Ketut Arsana, who is also a healer.
Every Sunday morning he offers a class on the top floor of the Om Ham Resort, a beautiful retreat destination 10min ride north of Ubud. He also offer classes at Bodyworks in Ubud, to be booked in advance.
The class was dynamic, pretty intense and very energizing. His presence was really motivating and at the same time fun and playful. I enjoyed it very much, and it left me uplifted and smiling. Tea and swim in the pool of the retreat with some of the students made it even better afterwards. Very grateful.
He founded Munivara Ashram, devoted to Lord Shiva, which is located close by and offers accommodation and a full immersion into the spiritual indu life.
- The Yoga Barn. For sure the largest yoga studio in Ubud devoted to offering a wide program of classes, workshops, dance and movie nights, teacher trainings, cleanses and massages, natural food and juices, hospitality... and more!
It's a great place to hang out in Bali and practice Yoga and healthy lifestyle without going to an expensive retreat.
I took few classes so far, all pretty good, I'm enjoying a lot Kion's on mysticism, and spirituality of Yoga.
The studio is also surrounded by jungle and a creek and you don't feel the traffic of Ubud even if you are in a central area. A must go if you are in Ubud!
- Bodyworks. Another wonderful Kundalini Tantra class with Master Ketut Arsana at his Ubud location. Set up as a traditional balinese home, surronded by gardens, ponds, beautiful pavilions, the class was held on the top floor and was nice and breezy.
Savasana was delicious thanks to Melissa and her crystal bowls. Every wednesday, book in advance! They also offer a whole menu of massages, and if you book a lot in advance also a session with the Master healing touch.
If you’re like most people, your New Year’s resolution bit the dust about a month ago. But not to worry, it’s never too late to recommit yourself to healthy living. If you want 2017 to be the year you make healthy habits stick, here are some tips for making a permanent commitment to health.
1. Make Healthy Habits Fun
One of the reasons we don’t stick to healthy habits is we don’t think they’re fun. Of course, we’d rather eat cookies and cake, veg on the couch binge watching our favorite shows, and staying up late than going to bed at a reasonable hour. Getting up before the crack of dawn to work out and drink a protein shake doesn’t sound like fun to anyone, and if your resolution centers on activities that you don’t want to do, you won’t do them.
That’s why you should amend your resolution to include fun healthy habits. One way to make sure you stick to this amended resolution is to include your friends. Go hiking with your significant other, meet up with a good friend at a yoga class, or go to the new trampoline hot-spot with your kids.
If you’d rather have fun getting healthy with your dog, go for it. Find a class that gives both of you a workout and builds muscle. You can do cardio, strength training, and stability moves with your dog while working on obedience with him. If a class isn’t for you, you can do outdoor activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, trail running, and rollerblading with your furry friend. If you don’t have a dog of your own, consider volunteering to walk an elderly neighbor’s dog or starting a side gig as a pet sitter. That way you’ll have a four-legged pal to workout with, but won’t have to take on the other responsibilities of owning a pet.
2. Make More Manageable Goals
It’s easy to shoot for the stars when you make a New Year’s resolution, but you need to be more realistic now that the new year is well on its way. Re-evaluate your original resolution and be as specific as you can. Make sure that you include measurable goals. Some people find that writing them down and hanging them in conspicuous places in the house is a surefire way to stick to your resolution. Start small and build up when it comes to lifting weights, running a 5K, and planking for more than a minute. It may be helpful to choose an end date and work backward to set monthly goals that will get you to your overall goal.
3. Hold Yourself Accountable
Sometimes, people have trouble sticking to their fitness goals because they aren’t being held accountable. It’s easy to argue with yourself and give in to that devil on your shoulder; it’s harder to be accountable to others. One strategy is to find a friend or accountability partner that can keep you on track. Decide whether you will text each other once a day, send photos of healthy meals throughout the day to one another, or catch up with each other a couple of times a week.
Some people find that joining online groups is the best way to stay accountable because there are several people to connect with, share struggles and triumphs, and reach out to when you get frustrated or reach a plateau. Facebook groups especially are popular with people because they are easy to check into throughout the day and people are participating nearly around the clock.
If you’re more of an introvert or don’t want to share your fitness journey with others, you can purchase a fitness tracker that will help you stay on track each day regardless of how busy you get. Fitness trackers virtually eliminate excuses because they track your heart rate, the number of calories burned, and your steps taken each day. Depending on which you purchase, you can get your data online and track results for given periods of time.
A quick caveat: while holding yourself accountable will play an important role in meeting your goals, perfection isn’t possible. There will be days when you simply can’t squeeze in a workout. There will be days when you can’t resist the urge to eat that extra cookie or doughnut. And that’s ok. If you find that you’re stressing yourself out about meeting your goals or starting to slip into bad habits because you’ve put too much pressure on yourself, take a moment to reset. Healthy habits aren’t built in a day and they aren’t wiped out in a day, either. Slow and steady wins the race, so be kind to yourself, always.
Yes, 2017 is now well under way, but you don’t have to toss your New Year’s resolution for health to the wayside if you’ve fallen off course. Find ways to make getting healthy fun, re-evaluate your goals, and find a way to hold yourself accountable, and you’ll soon have a permanent commitment to health that you can carry to the end of the year and beyond.
Author: Paige Johnson
Yoga in Puglia
I recently spent a lot of time in the wonderful region of Puglia (Apulia), an area that is easily identifiable as the heel of the Italian boot and that I totally fell in love with.
I haven't found a lot of Yoga around, at least not in the way I would have liked to, e.g. yoga studios open for walk ins that focus on daily asana practice, meditation, kirtan, and inspiring workshops to raise spiritual awareness.
I noticed that often the difference between Yoga and Pilates is still not clear, and often Yoga is treated as a fitness practice and offered within gyms with the sound of dropped weights in the background or maybe in shared spaces like school gyms or public buildings but only a couple of times a week. No real Yoga Shalas there!
Once I got over the fact that I was basically alone practicing my Yoga around and people would look at me with curious faces, I realized that there was a great opportunity there and that I could be the one creating the Yoga Studio I would have liked to be part of!
So I spent the summer offering yoga classes on the main pier in Otranto and in local resorts, collaborating with local associations and like minded people, while I kept nurturing this vision, and now it seems it may become reality in Otranto pretty soon!
In the meantime I want to share few of the yoga offerings I found.
- Il Sole, Scuola Arti Orientali, Lecce. They offer Iyengar Yoga but need a monthly commitment and a medical certificate.
- YIS, Zollino (LE). They offer Yoga retreats and classes open to public, mainly Ashtanga, but schedule is not very clear and it varies all the time. I don't personally like the way the center is managed and their attitude, but the yoga classes I attended were good.
- Ratna Yoga, Maglie (LE), I've been told about this but no info on their site, you have to call them, which by the way it's pretty common.
- Namaste Yoga, Ostuni (BR) I've been told good things about it but didn't try.
New York Updates
While in NY and waiting for spring to start the Yoga in Central Park, I love to go around town and experience the amazing variety and quality of Yoga that New York City has to offer. I often use groupon or classpass to find special offers.
Here are some of my recent favorite studios:
South Pacific Coast, Costa Rica
- Envision Festival, Uvita: every year at the beginning of March this great music festival combines enviromental awareness, spirituality, Yoga, and amazing performances to dance all night!
- Dominical: Bamboo Yoga is active during high season but don't count on them or their schedule otherwise.
- Finca Mia: located above San Isidro by the Chirripo' mountains, this beautiful finca offers Yoga retreats, workshops and massage sessions. Delicious organic farm to table food, natural buildings, pristine river on site, very interesting owners and guests! Must see! I was there for a Yoga retreat with Life Force Project and it was a great experience.
- Finca Bella Vista: Tree house community founded on an unbelievable piece of land in the middle of the rain forest with a beautiful river winding around the property. The owners are committed to environmental preservation, they offer farm to table delicious food, and they offer yoga on a spectacular terrace surrounded by all kind of bird and plants.
- Yoga Farm: a rustic yoga center and sustainable living project located on Costa Rica's southernmost Pacific coast. Set amidst beautiful tropical rainforest, and overlooking open ocean, great to reconnect with mind, body, and nature.
Amazing Yoga in Amsterdam!
Amsterdam offers great Yoga opportunities, both as a teacher and as a student. Yoga mats are usually included in the class price in Amsterdam, and all the classes I took were in English.
Check some of these great studios!
- Parc Studio is a young Yoga community in the South part of the city, with a cozy studio located across from Sarphati Park, which makes you feel surrounded by Nature. I've taken few classes with the owner, Regina: both her Vinyasa and Yin&Yang classes were led with special care for correct alignment, with a nice balance between challenge and relaxation, and accompanied with inspiring Yoga philosophy. Tea and chats will comfort you after class. Price are competitive: 5 euro first timer, 12 euro walk-in. I offered some Vinyasa here in Oct & Nov.
- Svaha Yoga Shala is one of the oldest studios in town, founded in the tradition of Jivamukti. I joined their free community class on Friday, which was led by Mark, an excellent teacher who led a vibrant, fun, challenging, and inspiring 1hr Vinyasa Class. They also offer Kirtan every Friday eve. Recommended!
15 euro walk-in.
= De Nieuwe Yoga School is located in a stylish large studio in the center of Amsterdam and it's a pretty popular spot. Personally I didn't feel a sense of community, and actually I felt rushed in and out of a class with maybe 50 people. The Vinyasa class I took didn't have a good flow, more of a fitness than a holistic approach, but maybe it wasn't my lucky day! 15 euro walk in
= Delight Yoga has three beautiful locations in different parts of the city, and they offer a lot of consistently high quality classes; Ashtanga, Mysore, Vinyasa, and Yin Yang for instance. Their walk in is 15 euro, they don't accept cash, only cards. I ended up joining their Intro Offer: 50 euro for 10 classes. Recommended!
- Yogisha: the first store in Amsterdam completely dedicated to Yoga, nice merchandise and friendly staff!