Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

Sleepless in New York

August 12, 2013

Lately, I have been sleeping like a baby. For those of you who have never actually had one, let me clarify:

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I wake up every hour or two during the night.

I fall asleep easily, but wake up several times during the night, starting about an hour after I go to bed, and continuing through the night. Sometimes I just look at the clock and fall right back asleep. Other times, it’s not as easy. Since nobody around here gets up to rock me back to sleep, or offer me a bottle, I am looking for my own solutions.

It started during the heat wave, when the air conditioning seemed to die during the course of the night, leaving me hot and uncomfortable. Now that the weather is not an issue, I am still waking up. Sometimes I feel restless and fidgety. Sometimes, I am just thirsty. Often, I just simply wake up. I don’t feel overly stressed out about anything,(except perhaps, not sleeping well!)  but I still keep waking up.

After a few weeks of this, I decided to do a little research on why this is happening and natural solutions for a  better night’s sleep. Here is what I discovered:

What I am experiencing is referred to as “middle insomnia,” or difficulty maintaining sleep. Since our bodies go through various cycles throughout the night, where sleep is deeper or lighter at times, this is considered completely normal. However, if you stay awake for 30 minutes or more, it could be a sign of a deeper sleeping disorder,such as sleep apnea, where one stops breathing during sleep, or narcolepsy, where one falls asleep randomly throughout the day. ( Thankfully,I don’t have any of that.)

Intermittent light or noise can cause frequent wake ups. Living in the city, I am sure there are plenty of these factors that could be jolting me out of slumber. However, I have slept in this bed in this room for almost 18 years, so it would seem odd that something like this is a would just pop up.

Most experts advised skipping naps and avoiding alcohol, which extends the time spent in deep sleep,and shortens the time in light sleep, often disrupting the normal sleep cycle.

Screen time is a big culprit. While the experts suggest getting up and reading  a book, or doing a relaxing activity if you can’t get back to sleep after 20 minutes or so, they all agree that anything with a screen is a no-no. Those electronic devices we are so dependent on exude a blue spectrum light that is proven to disrupt sleep. (now we may be getting somewhere!)

Mother with newborn baby sleeping on shoulder

Some tips for a good night’s sleep:

Power down 1 hour before bed. Unplugging mentally and physically is key to sleeping well.

Have a routine. Try to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, even on the weekends. Giving your body consistency can be helpful in establishing a proper sleep cycle.

Exercise in the morning, or at least several hours before bed. Exercise may rev up your system, making it hard to fall asleep. Exercise earlier in the day is shown to promote good slumber.

Avoid caffeine late in the day, as well as alcohol. Both can act as stimulants, hours after they are consumed. Herbal teas are calming and could help relax you enough to fall asleep normally.

Skip heavy snacks before bed, and avoid overly spicy foods that can cause heartburn or indigestion.

Try doing some simple yoga poses before bed. They will calm your mind, as well as your body. Some recommended poses include fore ward bends, child’ pose, plow, shoulder stands, and spinal twists. End with Savasana, (the corpse pose) and drift off from there.

Deep breathing, and some meditation is also good. Practicing relaxing each body part, from toes on up, can often bring on sleep.

Lavender is also said to bring about calmness and sleep. A dab of lavender oil on your wrists, or pillow could be helpful as well.

You will feel more rested in the morning from relaxing in bed, than you will from staying up all night doing an activity. Try to stay in bed if you can, rather than engage in something that might serve to wake you up.

Sweet dreams!!!

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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The Superbowl is Not a Giant Bowl You Fill With Snacks

February 3, 2013

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Today is Superbowl Sunday. It is an annual event that is to junk food what turkey is to Thanksgiving.

It is expected that Americans will consume over 11 million pounds of potato chips, 8 million pounds of tortilla chips and more than 4 million pounds of pretzels. Add in 1.24 billion chicken wings, 4.4 million pizzas and 111 million gallons of beer. No word on guacamole and bean dip consumption.

The average person will consume 1200 calories during the game. That’s alot of calories.

What would it take to burn off the day’s excess?

Actually playing football instead of just watching it could torch the entire amount in two hours. Walking it off could take 5 hours, but a moderately paced run could burn them off in two. A good spinning class or 3 could solve the problem in about 2 1/2 hours.

Taking a relaxing yoga class could help you come to terms with your indulgence, and work it off if you are willing to practice for 7 hours straight.

Or you could just enjoy the game and go back to healthy eating tomorrow.

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Yoga Barbie

June 19, 2012

The fitness world is abuzz this week, bashing athletic apparel retailer Lululemon, for an ad campaign that features the new Yoga Teacher Barbie doll.

The doll, which is sold exclusively at Target, features Barbie in yoga apparel, and comes with a pink mat and a Chihuahua (?!) The box bears the slogan “ Yoga makes me feel alive.”

Lululemon spoofed the doll on their website saying:

“We’re so excited to announce the launch of our new Perfect Balance collection, inspired by our Silicone Valley yoga ambassador, Tiffani!

Her 1 year goals include mastering tree pose in high heels and travelling across the country in the convertible of her dreams.”

Deanne Schweitzer, the company’s VP of women’s design stated that they are “so excited to elevate the doll industry from mediocrity to greatness, one XXXS Groove pant at a time.”

Facebook fans rebelled with a backlash of comments related to the doll and the campaign.

Barbie is often associated with negative body image for women and young girls, due to her unattainable physique.

While I understand that a plastic doll falsely idealizing a women’s body is not in keeping with Lululemon’s yogic philosophies, is it really that bad?
Barbie is an iconic toy that little girls have played with for over 50 years. She often symbolizes what many of us aspire to. I personally attribute my career as a fashion designer to the time I spent with my Barbie dolls, dressing her in couture inspired outfits, and later designing some of my own.

It seems that every time we look up to a model, an actress or even a plastic doll, the health and fitness blogs go crazy, saying that they project un-realistic views of a woman’s body.
I work hard at the gym and aspire to achieve the strongest, healthiest and yes, sexiest body that I possibly can. I am not turned off by those who look better than I do. In fact, they inspire me.

I don’t compare myself to a little plastic doll, and I think accusing her of being “brainless” is kind of silly when you think about it. (Operative words here: plastic doll)

Why do we expect companies who make clothing, cosmetics and other items, which are created to enhance a woman’s beauty, to only show us “real women?”  The average woman is over weight and out of shape. Do I really want to aspire to that? Isn’t that feeding negative body image issues in another way?
Lululemon has removed the campaign from their website, and issued the following statement:

“Hey Everyone, We really appreciate all the conversation and feedback happening here. I want to clarify that this is absolutely not us poking fun or mocking our guests, but rather us taking part in a conversation currently happening in the yoga community. We believe in sparking conversation and it’s never our intention to offend or upset anyone. While we welcome and encourage dialogue and feedback, any posts that contain offensive language or personal attacks will be removed. Again, thank you all for sharing your thoughts and taking part in this conversation with us.”

Balancing Time and Passion

August 15, 2009

1188800230.JPGDo you have a passion you would like to pursue, but something is holding you back? Do you constantly say you would love to do something but you just don’t have the time? Toss away the excuses and meet Alexander Mays, a 14-year-old yogi, gourmet cook and aspiring ballet dancer who manages to fit his passions into his life as a teenager and student.

As an 11-year-old boy, Alex accompanied his mother to a yoga class. He immediately felt a connection to the practice, and began studying on his own.  At the age of 14, Alex has completed 200 hours of teacher training, and is now a certified yoga instructor. Originally introduced to a form of yoga known as Sivananda, he now practices mostly Ashtanga and Anusara under mentor and yogic follower, Patrick Creelman, at Pure Yoga in Hong Kong.

Alex also enjoys cooking, and prepares the family’s meals everyday after he has completed his homework and household chores. He enjoys Mediterranean and Moroccan/North African cuisines, which he finds interesting and colorful. Inspired by his Grandmother in Sweden who used to run a culinary school, Alex taught himself to cook, by reading and experimenting.
Says Mays: “I love how food can be so conventional, yet so sophisticated at the same time. All you need is fresh, wholesome ingredients and a creative mind, to have a good meal.”

Yet, amid all of this creativity and commitment, Alex has developed a passion for ballet.

On a recent trip to New York, Mays took classes, and was discovered by Alexandre Proia, of the Juilliard School and the Joffrey Ballet. His natural grace and flexibility from practicing yoga, has made the transition to ballet seamless.

Mays believes in pursuing something he is passionate about as a future career.
Always artistic, he has planned a future in the performing arts. He dreams of dancing with the New York City Ballet, while simultaneously getting a degree in political journalism.

When asked how he juggles school, yoga practice and teaching, cooking and pursuing dance, Mays replied: “it is quite challenging, but you have to learn to prioritize and organize your time. If you focus and concentrate on your goals, everything else will fall into place.”

Sounds like a plan to us!

photo:Glasshouse Images


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