Category Archives: Uncategorized

Reducing Inflammation by Reducing Stress

Below is a link to an article from Psychology Today about the vagus nerve and it’s relationship to inflammation. In addition to breathing practice, there are asanas (postures) that reduce inflammation.

Yoga Teacher’s Anguish

After listening to many yoga teachers anguish about the competition from other systems of yoga, I have come to the conclusion that if we dwell on the competition in the “yoga marketplace” we loose the essence of what yoga is about.  Yoga is about bringing ourselves into harmony and health.  It is not about a sweaty workout.  Often we sweat in an Iyengar yoga class, but only as a result of the hard work required to teach our bodies how to become more intelligent through attention to correct movement from muscles that have not move correctly.  Eventually, the work is about working smarter, not harder.  Working smarter is often as tiring as the hard physical work.  Working smarter forces the practitioner to take her/his attention inward.  We must be fully present as we practice without the distraction of music, incense, and other externalizing distractions.  Below is a link to an article that is what can happen when teachers get caught up in the commercialization of yoga.

The Colossal Failure of Modern Yoga

How to Choose a Yoga Teacher

Choosing a yoga teacher is an important first step in beginning a yoga practice.  There are many “brands” of yoga available.  The certification requirements range from nationally standardized certifications to individual studios that are under an umbrella of a national organization.  Some yoga organizations require their teachers to have a minimum number of hours of continuing education annually while some have continuing education requirements based on a three year cycle.  There is even one teacher training site that gives only online training consisting of 17 lessons for $69.95.

The primary reason for choosing a particular yoga teacher or method is your safety in the class.  A competent teacher will know how to make adjustments for you in class that allow you to perform asanas according to your physical ability.  Additionally, not all asanas are for all people all the time.  A competent teacher will know when a particular asana is inappropriate for you and will give you an alternate asana.

A comparison of three of the most well known systems in the U.S. are Iyengar, Yoga Alliance, and Bikram.  Yoga Alliance has a 200 hour certification program and a 500 hour program.  The teacher trainings are done by independent studios with only broad guidelines regarding curriculum.  Continuing education is based on a three cycle with much of it that does not include contact time with a senior teacher. Many of the teachers with Yoga Alliance recognized certifications are not well versed in the use of props other than non-skid mats and blocks. (Props are specific pieces of equipment that aid in modifying the classic asanas to make them more accessible.)  Bikram teachers receive a 60 day training for certification in classes of a few hundred. They use only mats, and hands-on adjustments are not permitted except by Bikram or his senior teacher.  The rooms are also to be kept at 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Re-certification is required every three years. The Iyengar certification process is divided into multiple levels of certification with testing for each level that includes a list of specific asanas for that level. This process is administered by a the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the U. S. Iyengar yoga teachers are taught to use an extensive array of props as well as the correct way to make hands on adjustments. The testing process allows for only 8 to 10 candidates at a time with 3 assessors scoring each candidate. The continuing education requirement is 25 hours of contact time with a more senior teacher per year.

The method of yoga is not always an indicator of a teacher’s competence; however, it is a place to begin.  The method of yoga also gives you a clue about whether the teacher will be able to accommodate any special needs that you may have. Below are photographs of props in a typical Iyengar yoga studio.


Winter Cooking Inspiration

During the winter months when I  have fewer options for cooking from my summer garden, I look for ways to use the few remaining Butternut squash.  The squash were particularly sweet this year.  They grew in the newly sheet composted bed in the back of the garden.  Some I planted and some came up from the unfinished composted material from the compost barrel.  Even though they were not large the extraordinary flavor  made up for the small size of most of them.  Probably they didn’t get enough sun as they crawled around and through the tomato plants.  I like having the smaller ones since they are about the right size for creating a dish that serves two.  I have saved some of the seeds from one of the nicest small ones to see if I can grow more small ones.

One of the recipes I created for the squash was to expand on a dish that my mother and grandmother used to make, fried apples.  To make this recipe you simple fry apples in butter and add a little honey at the end.  Here’s the recipe.

3 Cups sliced Butternut squash (about 1/4 inch thick),2 Granny Smith apples, sliced, 1 Bosc pear sliced, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, fresh ginger to taste, 12 cup chopped walnuts and or pecans. If you use organic apples and pears, you will not need to peel them. Melt the butter in a skillet and add squash. Cook squash for about ten minutes before adding the apple and pear and ginger.  Add the maple syrup and chopped nuts near the end of cooking.  It’s done when the apples and pear are tender.  I used Bosc pear because it is firmer and holds its shape better.  If you want to make the dish vegan substitute coconut oil for the butter.  This recipe serves 6.