Nearly everyone enjoys starting their day with coffee. Some like it black, some like it iced, some like cold brew, some like espresso, and some take a full 5 minutes to detail their order to a patient barista. What all this variety has in common is they are all vehicles for the drug we are seeking: caffeine. With the rise of energy drinks and high caffeine pre-workout powders, some are beginning to wonder, “How much caffeine is too much?” The article below details what current research gives as the answer.
Hopefully by this point, you are well aware of the need for a full night’s sleep (8 hours or more). Risk of injury goes up and our immune system takes a dive when we try to skate by on suboptimal sleep. This article provides some tips for how to actually fall, and stay, asleep.
No matter how much information comes out, some food myths refuse to die. Who has ever heard that eggs will raise your cholesterol or that eating late at night will cause weight gain? The following article separates the fact from the fiction based on current research.
Chances are you take a multivitamin of some sort. More than half of Americans do. But do they really do us any good? What does the research tell us? This New York Times articlelooks at what we know (and don’t know) about vitamins currently.
We know that sleep is essential to our mental and physical well being. Eight hours a night is the standard recommendation. There are some people,though, who find that even though they hit the sack early, they are unable to fall, or stay, asleep. One new question researchers are asking is whether gut health could be a factor in sleep health.
In this edition of Urban Reads, we explore sarcopenia, the long term benefits of 1% investments in self, and the difference between the en vogue diets: low fat versus low carb.
1. Have you heard of sarcopenia? Even if you haven’t chances are you are experiencing it right now. Sarcopenia is age-related muscle loss and it happens to all of us. The good news is there are ways to combat it or even reverse it. This article from CNN describes how.
2. There was a time that low fat diets were all the rage. We’re currently in an era where low carb or ketogenic diets are en vogue. Is one better than the other? Are either good ways to lose weight? This article from examine looks at both diets side by side.
3. What if you could just get a tiny bit better at something every day? At first, you might think, “This won’t make any difference. I have to work harder and faster!” James Clear shows, using the British cycling team as an example, how small changes lead to big results.
In this edition of Urban Reads, we explore the connection between our immunity and the fast food movement, fermented foods (and the perk of making sourdough bread at home!), and the quality versus quantity of those 10,000 steps a day.
1. This article from Examine.com explains how fast food affects our immune system in the long term, and why your body might treat that fast food cheeseburger just like an infection.
3. Many of us are using Fitbits, Garmins, or Apple Watches in an effort to track our steps. The goal is often to hit 10,000 steps a day. This article below explores whether it’s the number of steps or the effort behind them that really counts.
Check out what we are enjoying this month – from a sleep study, to the wide breadth of strength training benefits, to the real deal on those holiday potatoes.
Popular Science offers an answer to the question “How much sleep do I need?”. The author also explores how scientists arrived at that number and what happens when we consistently get too few hours of sleep.
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, let’s settle the debate: potatoes or sweet potatoes? Some stalwarts of the Atkins Diet might say, “Neither! Carbs are bad for you!” (Bogus.) Fortunately, the folks at Precision Nutrition have laid out a helpful infographic to cut through the misinformation and see the bottom line of nutrition.
Yoga’s purpose is to yoke body, mind, and spirit through conscious thoughts and actions – how can you cultivate your best life now?
In this two part series, we will explore the science of yoga outside of the physical practice, and how to transform the mind space we live in. You will learn how to break mental limitations through yogic study and how to establish a meditation practice that is both maintainable and consistent.
Part I: Sutra Study
Origins of Yoga
Yoga means “to yoke” or “to unite” our greatest self so we can live fully, and exist beyond the push/pull of the human experience (Vieira). Yoga is not limited to one belief or religion – it is an inclusive science that acts as mental, physical, and spiritual vehicle for unity, peace, and wholeness for both the practitioner and their collective community.
In the West, we often just know yoga to be a series of postures, (known as “asanas” in sanskrit) and a physical practice to stay well and limber. Yet, the physical practice, or Hatha Yoga, is just a portion of and is the most recent addition to the science, and serves as a way to prep the body for the ultimate vehicle of change: meditation.
Raja Yoga is the mental science and is the study of the mind and consciousness that has roots as far back as 5000 BC. Its goal is to break the common human experience filled with limits, pains, and pleasures and evolve the student to a sage with fixed joy, peace, and service to creation as a whole. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is the primary text for this system of yoga. The Yoga Sutras were compiled from 5,000 BC to 300 AD and served to both systematize and compile the existing ideas and practices of yoga. Sutras meaning “thread,” and each a thread where teachers can place their “beads” of experience to enhance teaching (Satchidananda, xi).
These “threads” of teaching help us broaden our attitudes, reduce selfishness, and make us better masters over our own body, senses, and mind. The Yoga Sutras are a practical handbook, and lay the path to live out Yoga to reach the highest, most liberated state, known as samadhi. 196 sutras were written by Patanjali, each to express a theory of yoga in a succinct, and digestible way.
My favorite sutra, and one I have found is potent for breaking patterns of pain, hate, and negativity is Sutra 2.33: “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of” (Satchidananda, 120).
Here Patanjali gives us a start on how to control the mind and clear thoughts we don’t want. If a thought filled with hate comes to mind, we invite in love. If a thought of anxiety comes in, we invite in calm. With a heightened awareness on the inner dialogue, we can begin to control what thoughts come to actions, and what thoughts could use some “re-grooving” or “re-patterning” to positively affect our life.
Using this sutra as a tool, we have the opportunity to take harmful thoughts, feelings, and actions and cultivate thoughts, feelings, and actions of love, kindness, and compassion. Using this newfound positive outlook (no matter how forced it may be at first), we can create statements, or mantras, that can be thought and spoken repeatedly over ourselves for positive life change.
Take a moment to reflect on what thought patterns could use some revamping in your inner dialogue? What mantras can you speak over yourself?
An easy way to create a mantra is to start with “I am” and fill in the blank.
Example: “I feel anxious and uneasy.” → “I am grounded and calm.”
Sutras in Action:
Challenge yourself to a day of thinking the opposite of anything negative and affirming it over yourself and your life.
For more focused change in “thought life,” choose one negative thought pattern that plagues you. Create the opposite, and speak it over yourself multiple times and repeat this throughout the day. Whenever the opportunity arises, speak kindness over yourself and others.
Stay tuned for Part II for more practical ways of implementing this sutra and how to finally establish a daily meditation practice that is realistic, maintainable, and consistent
Patanjali. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda. 5th edition, Integral Yoga Publications, 2016.
Vieira, Prajna. “Origins of Yoga.” Nourishing Heart Yoga Teacher Training, Willow House, Bloomington, IN, May 2017. Lecture.