Regarding the Arm Swinging technique, it is good to note that it can be done not only when you are standing still, but also when you are walking. Most every morning, I walk down to the temple and Student Union as I swing my arms and silently chant some Mantras.
And, just a reminder that according to the ancient Qigong masters, physical health has to do with development of connective tissue rather than muscle.
Watermelon is very cooling and good for Pitta. I understand that according to Chinese Medicine, the seeds are extremely cooling. Once one gets over the programming that the seeds are to be spit out, the crunch is actually enjoyable… like popcorn!
Watermelon is also, according to Chinese Medicine, very purifying… flushing out all sorts of toxins. They say that eating a large amount can result in a great excretion of fluids at first (even loose stools) which are Pitta and toxins. But then, everything normalizes as the Pitta disperses.
The sun and moon’s rays have an effect on the earth. Of course, when we refer to “rays” here, we mean it not just on the more superficial levels, but also on the astrological and Transcendental level. Normal sun and moon shine create a normal environment for the earth. Physical earth is made up of the five elements and those five elements have a certain balance under normal conditions. The same is true with our physiology.
The eclipse affects the sun and moon rays, creating an abnormal environment for the earth. This also upsets the balance of the five elements, upsetting our environment on earth and also our physiology, including our mind and emotions. Scientists have done research and found that during an eclipse, there is an increase in bacteria and viruses.
Because there is imbalance physically, it is suggested that people not eat or drink because the body does not process food and water correctly. It is a little bit like avoiding certain foods when a person is sick. Some do not eat from sunrise to sunset that day and others just avoid eating near the time of the actual eclipse. Because there is an imbalance mentally and emotionally, it is suggested that people go inward and meditate or chant mantras.
It is advised not to look at eclipses. Even if you do not look at the eclipse, the effects of an eclipse last 3-6 months. It states in the Vedas that as a result of an eclipse, there can be changes in nature and natural disasters can occur.
For people, with the lunar eclipse, the effect is on the mind/emotions, whereas with the solar eclipse, the effect is more on the whole body and health.
During the whole solar eclipse (in Asheville, this would be from 1:00-4:05pm), it is best to stay inside and not look outside or even allow light in. During the eclipse, it is best to meditate or chant, and it is a good time to go inward. Finish solid food 3 hours prior to the start of the eclipse and wait to eat 2 hours after the eclipse ends. Shower right after the eclipse and then you can start cooking. Don’t save cooked food to eat after the eclipse, including in the refrigerator. No showering, drinking, or eating during the eclipse.
If you are visiting or staying at Mount Soma, once Sri Somesvara Temple has been purified (probably after 6:00 pm), then offer a red flower to the Sun (outside at the Navagrahas), and do Pradakshina 9 times while chanting “Shri Ram Ravaye Namaha.”
This particular eclipse especially affects those people whose Moon is in the sign of Cancer, Leo, or Virgo in their Jyotish (Vedic astrology) chart. Those people whose Moon is in Scorpio or Pisces also need to make sure to follow the guidelines suggested above.
This first simple exercise was taught to me as a Kung Fu exercise. In the West, Kung Fu is often thought of as a fighting art, but it is much more. Honestly, when I first saw the exercise, it seemed far too simple to be of much value. But according to Chinese Practitioners, it is a cure all, opening every meridian and circulating Qi throughout the body. They even claim it is a cure for serious diseases like cancer and diabetes, which I don’t know about.
I have to admit that when I first did the exercise, I was amazed. I could actually feel the energy moving up my arms, through my heart, and permeating my entire body. How could something so simple be so significant? I was told to do it for about 5 minutes, 3 times daily. If I have time, 10 minutes is even better than 5.
You can watch this short video to get a feel for the exercise. Note that as the arms swing up, the palms face up and when the arms swing down, the palms face down. There are some additional points below, but most are intuitively obvious.
Feet shoulder length apart.
Flexible knees, slightly bent, bouncing a little at each swing (just as is comfortable).
Relaxed upper body, feet firmly planted.
Tongue gently touching the roof of mouth.
If you would like, your mind can focus on any God of preference.
Arm swings frontward only to shoulder height.
Whole exercise should be in a relaxed state.
In general, 30 minutes each day—can break it apart to 2-3 sessions. Even occasional sessions of a couple of minutes are beneficial.
It has been suggested by the Chinese that if a person has cancer, they do a minimum of 2,000 times daily (but we have no way of knowing the validity of this and you should have doctor’s approval).
Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional.
This is the simplest exercise of the 3 part series. I do all 3 parts essentially every day. They have transformed my perspective on exercise as well as that of others here at Mount Soma, even people who I feel are in excellent, athletic, physical condition.
Elephant Journal is an online magazine that started out in Whole Foods and such. They emphasize a mindful life with subjects such as yoga, organics, sustainability, conscious consumerism, enlightened education, the contemplative arts, etc.
My article is currently featured on the home page of the Elephant Journal website, so a lot of people are reading it. Your comments will greatly help engagement. Thank you!
I just heard yesterday about drinking raw potato juice. It is supposedly a panacea… anti-inflammatory, diabetes, cancer, heart trouble, etc. I have no personal knowledge on the subject but when I Googled it, a lot came up. According to Dr. Kuai, a local acupuncture practitioner, Chinese traditional medicine says to drink 8 oz. twice daily on an empty stomach and do not eat anything else for an hour at least. He says some honey can be added for flavor. Online, some say carrot juice can be added for flavor. Use only the thin-skinned, white potatoes. Cut out any black spots, green patches, sprouts, etc. before juicing. The skin of those potatoes, I am told, is fine to leave on when juicing.
I do not know anything more and cannot say from my own experience if it is useful or not. I can’t imagine how it can hurt so I am going to give it a try.
If anyone has knowledge or personal experience with this, please post your comment.
Here is a nice little quote my fitness coach passed along today.
“If you continually do the stuff you’re already good at, you’re not training, you’re performing… When you focus on what needs to improve, now you’re training.”
Everything maps. The principles of fitness map nicely on to life. People aspire to a comfortable life of familiarity. People also wonder why they are not happy. Happiness means evolution, means expanding beyond that which is familiar and comfortable.
You have only two choices: drop back and punt, or go for a touchdown.
The cycling of hormones in the body is an incredibly complex and intriguing science. I have read a fair amount from many difference sources on the subject. I recently found a book that offers an interesting perspective on the hormone cycles involved in nutrient metabolism very concisely and very well. It is called The Renegade Diet. If you are interested, a brief summary follows:
The nervous system has two aspects: the sympathetic (which involves outward action sometimes referred to as fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (which involves internal homeostasis or internal maintenance of the body). The sympathetic ‘takes over’ during the day while we are active. The parasympathetic takes over a night when we sleep and the body rebuilds.
Cortisol is a hormone that stimulates action, the sympathetic. It is naturally high in the morning. Insulin is a hormone that drives nutrients from carbohydrates into the cells of the body.
If you eat a lot of carbohydrates, you first get an insulin surge and a lot of energy, but that is followed by a hypoglycemic crash when you become sleepy (think post Thanksgiving dinner).
According to the book, there are three phases in healthy eating which conform to the eating habits that humans evolved through millions of years:
1) The evening feast of protein and healthy starchy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, white potatoes, etc.
This provides the nutrients for the body to rebuild over night. The carbohydrates spike insulin, which drives nutrients into the cells. Then the hypoglycemic crash occurs enabling one to get to sleep easily so the body can continue to regenerate all night. It is a natural time for Growth Hormone to be high, facilitating growth. This then is also the natural time for the nervous system’s parasympathetic phase. Minimal fats should be eaten at this time since fats and carbohydrates eaten together overwhelm the system and cause nutrients to be stored as fat instead of feeding the muscles and other cells of the body. 2) The 16-hour, overnight fast
This allows the food of the evening meal to be efficiently utilized. Growth hormone remains high throughout the fast, building the body. The fast also gives the digestive system time to rest and restore, rebuilding the enzyme stores, cells, etc. 3) The 8 hour daytime window to eat protein, veggies (for nutrients and fiber), and healthy fats like omega 3s, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.
This keeps the sympathetic nervous system ‘in charge,’ which prevents daytime hypoglycemic crash, thereby providing a full day of energy for an active, bright, clear, and dynamic life. Minimal glucose from carbohydrates in the system during this time has many health benefits:
• If carbohydrates are eaten often, then the cells become resistant to the spike of insulin post carbohydrate ingestion. This in time can lead to obesity and diabetes.
• The fatty acids in the blood are utilized as energy for the day. This ‘teaches’ to body to burn fat instead of storing it.
Too much stress causes too much cortisol to be released which creates abdominal fat and other health disadvantages. Coffee stimulates cortisol so a little in the morning, when cortisol is naturally high, is ok. However, coffee all day long and too much stress over stimulates cortisol, which is a problem.
Then comes the evening meal when the cycle starts again. There are many fine points involved but these are the basics. If you are interested there is plenty to read on the Internet. Many who follow this diet consider themselves to be on the 90% paleo diet.
One last hormone I would like to mention is Leptin. If you diet without a break, leptin forces the body to resist the process and you hit plateaus in your weight loss. Therefore, a couple of times a week, they recommend a fun meal of whatever you want… just not excessive. This actually speeds up weight loss and health.
So, there you have the basics. If you are interested you should certainly learn more about it before trying it out. Needless to say, consulting a doctor for any health issues before trying it out is wise.
Prior to eating along the lines of The Renegade Diet, I followed a more traditional six small meals a day. A takeoff on The Renegade Diet works better for me. The main way I deviate from The Renegade Diet is that I only eat one large carbohydrate meal in the evening, whereas some may eat carbs in the evening over a longer period of time. Also, for vegetarians, getting enough protein can be a challenge, but is certainly doable.
Personally, I find the whole arena of nutrition and physiology fascinating.