If I’m going to talk about sleep, I need to start with the whole “sleeping on the left side while pregnant” issue. I am shocked by how many students come in and have been told by their care provider that it is important to sleep on their left side, but have never received an explanation as to why. It is too often that a very concerned student asks me if she hurt her baby because she woke up on her back. So why the left side? It is because of Vena Cava Syndrome. The inferior vena cava (a large vein that is responsible for the venous return from the lower half of the body back to the heart) runs slightly to the right of the aorta. When compressed by the weight of the baby, the blood return is compromised and the mother may feel light headed and nauseated. Think of the vena cava as a big hose, and the baby as a foot stepping on the hose. When the hose is compressed, the water can’t flow out- same idea as vena cava syndrome. This is easily remedied by moving so that the baby can roll off the vena cava. Since this vein is located on the right side of the body, it is recommended as the baby gets bigger, the mother sleeps on her left side. For some women, this never becomes an issue and they can sleep however they like throughout their pregnancy. Others are more sensitive to this and must modify their sleep position. As mentioned earlier, it is not necessarily dangerous if you wake up on your back. Bodies are smart, and signal the mother with signs of light headed-ness, nausea, heaviness in the chest or breathlessness.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Whether we're standing tall in Tadasana (Mountain Pose)or flexing our toes in Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose) , yoga gives us many opportunities to focus on feet. Alas, it's often the only time we do. Foot care is not something many of us find time for, and when a yoga instructor directs our attention toward our feet, we're often unpleasantly surprised. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, 80% of American adults will suffer from some kind of foot problem in their lives, and yogis are no exception. For the regular practitioner, foot problems often go unnoticed until a callus thwarts our stance in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) or foot odor becomes a source of embarrassment in class. But here's the solution - simple home remedies both treat and prevent common pediatric problems:
1. If you've ever surveyed the feet that walk through the doors of your local studio, you know that certain problems are common among yogis. Perspiration can be one of them, and it's no wonder. With 250,000 sweat glands, your feet can produce as much as eight ounces of sweat daily. To avoid slipping around on your mat, brew two black tea bags in one pint of boiled water for 15 minutes. Add two quarts of cool water and soak your feet for 20 to 30 minutes. The tannic acid in the brewed tea will change your skin's pH level and help prevent unwanted odor-causing bacteria.
2. Athlete's foot presents another big challenge. This itchy condition around the toes ranks as the most common fungal infection in the US. You can pick up the organism that causes athlete's foot almost anywhere—including shared sticky mats—so consider bringing your own to class. Geranium oil and tea tree oil both have germ- and bacteria- killing properties, making them excellent treatments. Add these oils to your own creams and powders, or look for products containing them as a key ingredient. Athlete's foot germs thrive in damp environments, so also be sure to keep your feet clean and dry, especially between the toes where moisture can get trapped.
3. While not contagious, corns and calluses cause discomfort as well. Your body produces these growths as protection against daily friction and pressure, but if they get too large, it's time to smooth and reduce them. Use a wet pumice stone to slough off extra skin, or purchase foot creams that contain ground pumice for smooth, soft feet. Also, try adding fresh or canned pineapple juice to your footbath. This tropical fruit contains bromelain, a natural enzyme that will help soften calluses and rough heels.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
II:35: Ahimsaa pratishthaayaam tat samnidhau vaira tyaagaha
Patanjali describes perfection of Ahimsa, or loving kindness, as the perfection of Yoga. For the one who is unshakeable in their love and respect for all living things, they stimulate friendly feelings in others. All hostility melts in such a being's presence, and even in the presence of vicious animals, no violent situation will arise! When we recognize that opening ourselves to love is not just an emotional response, but links us in to the force that underlies the energetic structure of all reality. We are then harmonized (Yoga) with Bhandu, universal connectedness and cosmic order, or what the Hawaiians call Pono. Divine love it is not on the scale of good and evil, but is the highest balance of energetic forces. Love is the synergist, the organizing principle, while darkness is the denial of this principle. When we feel attacked, injured, or separate, let us look deep within ourselves, shedding the light of our conscience to recognize and offer consideration to the needs of the human soul, both ours and others. In the words of my teacher Baba Haridas,"Love everyone, including the Self. This is the highest Sadhana (spiritual practice)". Until we can learn to live with love, we will need to create endless laws, legislatures and government. The greatest thing we'll ever learn, is to love, and be loved in return.