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How Safe is Hot Yoga?

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Hot yoga is trending upward in the American yoga scene. Typical classes are held at a room temperature of 90 degrees or more with the humidity maintained at about 40%.  While this practice has had its share of controversy, the effects of hot yoga on heart rate and core temperature have not been studied. Recently the American Council on Exercise, affectionately called the country’s Workout Watchdog, commissioned Dr. John P. Porcari, head of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and his colleagues to research the effects of hot yoga for healthy adults

Twenty healthy, relatively fit men and women between the ages of 19 to 44 participated in this small, uncontrolled pilot study. Baseline data regarding their level of fitness was obtained at the beginning of the study. Individuals were required to swallow an ingestible core temperature body sensor and to wear a heart-rate monitor during two, 60-minute yoga classes. The first class occurred in a room where the temperature was maintained at 70 degrees. Twenty-four hours later, the same group of participants performed the identical sequence of postures with same instructor in a 92 degree room with an undisclosed degree of humidity.  Core temperature was recorded every five minutes beginning five minutes before the class, and ending five minutes after the session. Heart rate data were collected every minute for the duration of the class.

Researchers found that the average exercise intensity averaged 56% of maximal heart rate in the typical class and 57% of maximal heart rate in the yoga class. These heart rates are associated with ‘light’ exercise based on the guidelines provided by the fitness industry. Core body temperature increased by 3.1 degrees F in the typical class and 2.9 degrees F for the hot class respectively. The highest core temperature recorded in the hot class was 102.4 degrees F, which is below a critical temperature of 104 degrees. Participants’ subjective ratings of the two classes consistently suggested that they experienced the hot yoga classe as being more difficult than the typical class even though the physiological evidence did not indicate that their bodies were working harder.  Everyone sweated profusely in the hot classes.

This study demonstrated that neither heart rate nor core temperatures rise to unhealthy levels during a 60 minute hot yoga class in this sample of healthy, relatively fit adults, These findings do not apply to Bikram yoga classes during which classes are held at 105 degrees or higher for 90 minutes.  Further studies are needed to ascertain the safety of yoga classes of longer duration and those held at above 92 degrees farenheit.  Researchers emphasized that drinking lots of water, before, during, and after hot yoga classes is critical to help the body safely regulate its core temperature.

Critics of hot yoga argue that practitioners are at risk for muscle, ligament or tendon strain, sprain or tear during heated yoga practices as individuals may push their bodies beyond their natural limits. There are also legitimate concerns that practicing yoga in hot conditions may be dangerous for children or adults with cardiac, respiratory, neurologic and other diseases and is ill advised for pregnant women. This small pilot study was conducted with relatively young, healthy, fit participants and only addressed the issue of core temperature and heart rate. As such, there is no evidence to suggest that hot yoga may be safe for the general population. Individuals interested in participating in yoga classes should consult with their physical to determine which types of yoga practice are best for them.

 

Source
ACE-sponsored Study: Hot Yoga—Go Ahead and Turn Up the Heat By Ashley Nereng, B.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Clayton Camic, Ph.D., Cordial Gillette, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D.
http://www.acefitness.org/prosourcearticle/3353/

 

The Science of Oneness: The Science and Nonduality Conferences (SAND)

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Many people practice yoga because it helps them to feel good, stay fit, or manage minor health issues like insomnia, back pain, or stiffness.  Few are aware that the practice of yoga is guided by a vast and ancient philosophy devoted to lifestyle, health and healing.

The word yoga means union. The 2000 year-old Yoga Sutras of Patanjali state that yoga is intended to still the fluctuations of the mind (yogah citta vritti nirodah: Sutra 1.2) to attain a state of sattva, or pure existence. This philosophy is similar to that of the mystics, seers and philosophers of many religious and spiritual traditions that have spanned human history.

Whether termed consciousness, pure awareness, sat chit ananda,  nirvana, spirit, or one of a myriad of other terms, the tenet that all beings are borne of the same cosmic materials and separated only by ideas transcends time and tradition.  Author Aldous Huxley referred to it as the Perennial Philosophy in recognition of just how universal this tenet is.

Many spiritual and mystical philosophies and practices have emerged and flourished in the service of liberating humans from suffering and the delusion of separateness. Yoga is one such tradition. The ancient yogis aimed to cultivate the capacity to experience the oneness underlying all of reality through the combined practices of yoga postures, breath exercises and meditation.

During the past several decades, Buddhism, Taoism, and Yoga and other Eastern traditions have proliferated in the West. Mainstream America has grown to embrace their philosophies, practices, and culture, and commerce and popular media have shifted their focus in response.

In recent years, this trend has also moved into Western universities, think tanks and research laboratories. One example is the Science and Nonduality (SAND) movement, which was founded by Zaya and Maurizio Bennazo with the goal of uniting mystics, scientists, philosophers, and spiritual teachers to create a new paradigm that recognizes the interconnectedness of life and the ancient wisdom of nonduality. To that end, SAND offers ground-breaking conferences across the globe in an effort to unite science with spirituality and personal experience.

 

SAND’s 5th conference entitled, “The Science and Mystery of Perception” was held at the National Utrecht Park in the Netherlands in the spring of 2013. Conference organizers endeavored to create a context to explore “ the nature of awareness, the essence of life from which all arises and subsides”. Over 400 participants gathered for 6 days to examine topics related to perception, consciousness, and the self, within an overarching framework of integration, exploration and nonduality.

The SAND movement represents many of the beliefs and traditions consistent with the philosophies of the ancient yoga tradition. Their leadership and innovation provide an inspirational road map from which all beings can cultivate a greater awareness of their world and the interconnectedness of all beings.

The next U.S. SAND conference will take place from October 23rd through 27th, 2013 in San Jose, California. For more information on this important initiative to bridge science and the age-old Perennial Philosophy, see the conference website here.

 

Encinitas Ruling: Yoga Is Exercise, Not Dogma

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Yoga, as taught in the Encinitas school system, is a simple exercise program rooted in American culture, not Indian culture, a judge of the San Diego Superior Court ruled on Monday.

Yoga, as taught in the Encinitas school system, is a simple exercise program, a judge of the San Diego Superior Court ruled on Monday.

The parents of two children in the school system had filed the suit, claiming that teaching yoga in the Encinitas schools constitutes religious indoctrination and violates the separation of church and state. With the ruling, the Encinitas Union School District can continue teaching yoga as part of its health and exercise curriculum. Students attend two 30-minute yoga classes each week.

San Diego Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer emphasized in his ruling that yoga’s origin in Indian culture doesn’t mean that its use in the U.S. is religious in nature.

"Yoga as it has developed in the last 20 years is rooted in American culture, not Indian culture," Meyer said, according to Reuters. "It is a distinctly American cultural phenomenon. A reasonable student would not objectively perceive that Encinitas school district yoga advances or promotes religion."

Meyer noted that the school district had removed cultural references from the curriculum, including Sanskrit terms. Yoga postures have been given more kid-friendly names: Lotus pose, for example, is referred to as the "crisscross applesauce" pose.

Meyer noted that the opponents of the yoga class were not describing yoga as the phenomenon taught in the school classes, but rather relying on information from the Internet and other unreliable sources.

"It's almost like a trial by Wikipedia, which isn't what this court does," Meyer said.

The ruling is particularly important by setting a precedence that even though a cultural phenomenon has its root in metaphysical beliefs and practices from another culture, those beliefs don’t necessarily automatically carry over into its U.S. expressions. Yoga in the U.S. today has become a uniquely American phenomenon, which stands on its own merits.

Encinitas Supt. Tim Baird emphasized that the program is about teaching healthy exercise and eating habits; the school also hopes to decrease instances of fighting and bullying. Supporters also noted that yoga is used at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego to help military personnel wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We are not instructing anyone in religious dogma," Baird said to the LA Times. "Yoga is very mainstream."

The yoga program is funded by a $533,000 grant from a local Asthanga Yoga studio. The studio is linked to the Jois Foundation and supported by hedge-fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II and his wife, Sonia, who studied with yoga teacher Krishna Pattabhi Jois.

The ruling is not likely to be the end of the story. The lead attorney for the parents, Dean Broyles, said he will likely appeal.

Yoga is increasingly taught at public schools and social programs to ease the stress that even kindergartners are exposed to in today’s hectic world. Most yoga classes so far are part of an after-school program or are offered at only a few schools or teachers.

The Encinitas case is significant, because the Encinitas Union School District was the first to adopt yoga classes as part of their district wide PE curriculum. The Jois Foundation believes the program could eventually serve as a national model to help schools teach students life skills, the AP reports.

 

 

Closing Arguments in Yoga in Encinitas School Trial: Ruling This Week

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yoga in schools Encinitas

The trial challenging the offering of yoga classes as PE in the Encinitas school system resumed last week, with closing arguments extending far longer than expected. While a ruling was first expected on Monday, July 1, the lengthy closing arguments may delay a ruling in the case till Thursday, U-T San Diego reports.

The ruling could prove historical, determining whether yoga is a variant of Hindu-based religion or, as proponents say, simply exercise. The suit was filed by parents wishing to remove the yoga program from the physical education curriculum in Encinitas schools.

In the closing arguments, plaintiff’s attorney Dean Broyles argued that the program sets “a horrible precedent for other religious organizations to buy influence,” since the program is funded by a grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation, which he says has deep roots in Hinduism, reports the Encinitas Coast News.

Referencing testimony from Candy Gunther Brown, a religious studies professor at Indiana University, Broyles maintained that there are two broad categories of religion, “Those that are belief and word focused such as…Christianity, and those that are practice and experience focused such as Hinduism. Americans may not recognize practice and experience-oriented religions as religious, because they think religion requires that one believe or say certain things.”

Using that logic, Broyles argued that yoga poses are inherently religious and demanded that the yoga classes be discontinued, in line with the Constitution’s separation of church and state. The Coast News reports:

As further evidence of yoga’s spirituality, Broyles said that the sequence of poses in EUSD classes mirrors Ashtanga yoga, a particularly religious kind of yoga. Further, he said some children spontaneously chanted “om” during yoga classes, even though that wasn’t part of the planned lesson, and they weren’t instructed to do so.

“It shows they’re connecting it to something more than physical exercise,” Broyles said.

Judge John Meyer questioned that reasoning, among other parts of Broyles’ closing arguments.

“The curriculum is the basis for the class,” Meyer said. “What happens in class is not what happens with the curriculum — there’s a difference. “If you go to observe a class, and there are two children that use profanity, and then you conclude the curriculum includes teaching profanity, that’s wrong.”

On the defense side, Attorney David Peck, representing 150 families in the Encinitas school district, made his closing arguments Wednesday morning, citing that the yoga exercises are strictly stretching and breathing. It was introduced into the schools with the hopes that it would help the elementary school students focus better on their studies, keep them calm, and perhaps even curb bullying.

Equating yoga with religion means other school programs could theoretically be sued, he noted. The Coast News reports:

“Think of the slippery slope implication we would be faced with if any type of physical exercise that someone perceives to be religious, or incorporates into their religion, is banned from the public schools on constitutional grounds.

“There are sects out there that consider running to be religious…and certainly nobody is suggesting that we ban running from the schools,” Peck said.

Another attorney representing the families from Encinitas, Jack Sleeth, countered Brown’s testimony, stating that it is not credible, as she also believes chiropractic care and acupuncture are also religious.

He stated that the small link between the school’s yoga program and Hinduism does not make yoga religious. He stated: “The Easter egg hunt on the White House lawn is linked to Druidism, as practiced in England before the Roman conquest,” Sleeth said. “But it would be nonsense to say that the president can’t put out Easter eggs.”

San Diego’s Superior Court Judge, John Meyer, anticipates that a ruling will be given Thursday at the soonest. Both sides of this case have agreed that the Judge, rather than a jury, will make the decision.

 

Water Fasting and Juice Fasting

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By Jon Barron, Baseline Health Foundation - 

Water fasting and juice fasting, like detoxing--and heck, if done correctly, they are forms of detoxing--are the Rodney Dangerfield of alternative health: they "don't get no respect."
1 According to WebMD, for example, there isn't enough evidence to support health claims for either water fasting or juice fasting, and "that type of fasting can actually be dangerous, especially for people who have other medical problems."2 And according to an NBC News article that cites a number of so-called experts, long-term fasts can lead to muscle breakdown and a shortage of many needed nutrients, in addition to depriving the body of the vitamins and minerals that you get from food, which can "actually weaken the body's ability to fight infections and inflammation."3 The article goes on to state that because crash diets--their euphemism for either water fasting or juice fasting-- can upset blood sugar, potassium and sodium levels in the body, people with diabetes, heart or kidney disease or women who are pregnant or nursing shouldn't try them; and children, teens, older adults, or people with certain digestive conditions should also steer clear.

More recently, juice fasting in particular has taken beating. For example, an October article in The Washington Post cites Nazrat Mirza, pediatrician and co-director of the Obesity Institute at Children's National Medical Center, who states, "Most parents give their kids fruit juice because of the perception that it's healthy. I don't know where that perception came from."4 Mirza goes on to state that while it's true that many juices -- particularly orange juice -- are fortified with calcium and have a healthful amount of Vitamin C, you are getting those vitamins at a high calorie cost." (By the way, note that if she's talking about "fortified" juices, she's not talking fresh juices.)

And a website called "Hooked on Juice" (yes, it really is named that) takes on all forms of juice fasting with the statement, "Even with no sugar added, fruit juice has the same amount of sugar as soda. Why? Because fruit is full of sugar!"

Water Fasting VS Juice Fasting VS Juice Fasting Plus Single Cell Protein, Part 1

Water fasting, juice fasting, and juice fasting supplemented with single cell proteins are not the same thing. They are closely related, but they are different. Although they share "some" of the same benefits, you use them for different purposes and in different ways. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of these differences and use the different forms incorrectly, at the wrong times, and in the wrong way. This leads to problems--and allows the medical community to pounce on the problems this creates and thus brand all fasting as ineffective, unnecessary, and generally harmful. We will return to this topic a little later when we explore those differences…and benefits.

But for now, despite what you have been led to believe, there are still elements of fasting--notably water fasting--that have been studied by the scientific community with consistently positive results.

Benefits of Fasting as Demonstrated in Studies

Curiously, the medical community chooses to say that these studies are not conclusive, thereby rendering all benefits of fasting moot. It's a marvelous inconsistency, of course, considering that the medical community has decided to forego similar rigor when it comes to the issue of off-label pharmaceutical prescriptions. Off-label drugs, freely prescribed by doctors, are often accompanied by a complete--zilch, nada, zero--lack of clinical evidence supporting the efficacy or safety of that off-label application. Perhaps the doctors are relying on Ralph Waldo Emerson's statement from his essay on Self-Reliance, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," to justify what otherwise might be viewed as hypocrisy.

In any case, there is a great deal of scientific support for the virtues of fasting. Here are a handful of such studies.

Heart disease, Cholesterol, Diabetes, and HGH

In 2011, research cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute reported that fasting not only lowers one's risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, but also produces significant beneficial changes in a person's blood cholesterol levels.5 According to the researchers, "Fasting causes hunger or stress. In response, the body releases more cholesterol, allowing it to utilize fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose. This decreases the number of fat cells in the body. This is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance, or diabetes." In addition, the study effectively confirmed earlier findings about the effects of fasting on human growth hormone (HGH). HGH works to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance, a response triggered and accelerated by fasting. During 24-hour fasting periods, HGH increased an average of 1,300 percent in women, and nearly 2,000 percent in men. And yet another study found that simply disrupting normal eating cycles through intermittent fasting improved the ability of the body to process, sense, and recognize the nutrients it was consuming, thereby helping to prevent obesity, diabetes, and liver diseases in mice on a high-fat diet.6 In addition, intermittent fasting raised bile acid production, which is essential for properly digesting fats, and energy expenditure and reduced inflammation.

Brain aging

A 2006 study found that both caloric restriction (CR) and intermittent fasting (IF) can prolong the health-span of the nervous system by affecting fundamental metabolic and cellular signaling pathways that regulate life-span.7 CR and IF affect energy, free radical production, and cellular stress response systems in ways that protect neurons against genetic and environmental factors to which they would otherwise succumb during aging. Specifically, the researchers found that both IF and CR induce a mild stress response in brain cells, which results in the activation of compensating mechanisms. According to the researchers, IF regimens have previously been demonstrated to lessen and even stop damage to neurons and improve outcomes in animal models of both neurological trauma such as stroke8 and also age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease9 and Huntington's disease.10

Cancer

Building on previous work that had found that fasting for as little as two days protects healthy cells against chemotherapy,11 a new study published just this month found that fasting may actually retard tumors, while at the same time protecting against the harmful side effects of chemotherapy.12 As mentioned, the cell-protective effects of starvation had previously been demonstrated in a 2012 study. Researchers found that mice given a high dose of chemotherapy after fasting continued to thrive, while half of the normally fed mice died and half experienced lasting weight loss. Importantly, the chemotherapy extended the life span of mice injected with cells from an aggressive human tumor, and the animals later gained back the weight they had lost due to food deprivation. In addition, laboratory studies of normal human brain cells and cancerous brain cell lines that underwent a short period of starvation (low glucose) revealed that normal cells also became resistant to chemotherapy (a good thing), while cancerous brain cell lines remained susceptible. In fact, the 2012 study found that five out of eight cancer types in mice responded to fasting alone. Just as with chemotherapy, fasting slowed the growth and spread of tumors. And without exception, "the combination of fasting cycles plus chemotherapy was either more or "much more" effective than chemo alone.

The new study, published just a few days ago, on the other hand, actually found that cycles of starvation were as effective as chemotherapy drugs in delaying the progression of different tumors and increased the effectiveness of these drugs against melanoma, glioma, and breast cancer cells. In mouse models of neuroblastoma, fasting cycles plus chemotherapy drugs--but not either treatment alone--resulted in long-term cancer-free survival. According to the researchers, these studies suggest that multiple cycles of fasting promote differential stress sensitization in a wide range of tumors and could potentially replace or augment the efficacy of certain chemotherapy drugs in the treatment of various cancers.

That's not insignificant.

Diabetes and Brain Damage

And finally, it has been known for many years that calorie restricted diets have been shown to have several health benefits including increased insulin sensitivity, stress resistance, reduced morbidity, and increased life span. The mechanism still remains unknown, but the need for a long-term reduction in caloric intake to achieve these benefits has always been assumed, at least until a 2002 study found that intermittent fasting by itself resulted in beneficial effects that met or exceeded those of caloric restriction. We're talking about benefits including reduced serum glucose and insulin levels and increased resistance of neurons in the brain to excitotoxic stress.13 In other words, intermittent fasting produces the same kinds of beneficial effects on glucose regulation in diabetics and neuronal resistance to injury as caloric restriction…but most likely exceeds them.

Water Fasting VS Juice Fasting VS Juice Fasting Plus Single Cell Protein, Part 2

Water fasting is certainly more extreme than juice fasting or juice fasting plus spirulina or chlorella, but is the extremity worth it? That depends on what you're after. Water fasting provides two benefits that juice fasting does not--but they come at a cost.  Let's take a look

 

Water

Juice

Juice/plus

       

Ketosis

Yes

No

No

Autolysis

Yes

So So

So So

Cleansing toxins

Yes

Yes

Yes

Cleansing reaction

Yes

So So

So So

Resting the organs of the digestive system

Yes

Yes

Yes

Losing weight

So So

So So

Yes

Electrolyte imbalance

Yes

No

No

Glucose imbalance

Yes

So So

No

Fatigue

Yes

So So

No

Loss of muscle mass

Yes

Yes

So So

Alkaline pH

No

Yes

Yes

Ketosis

Normally your body burns carbohydrates for fuel. Ultimately, carbs are the main source of fuel for your brain, heart, and most other organs. During a water fast, after your body has used up all the available carbohydrate calories from your last meal, it then turns to the glycogen stored in your liver to meet its energy needs. Once your glycogen stores are used up, your body finally turns to its fat reserves. At this point, your body is in a state of ketosis. A person in ketosis is getting energy from ketones, little carbon fragments that are the fuel created by the breakdown of fat stores.  Mild ketosis, at least short term, can be beneficial. The first benefit is that it accelerates the loss of fat in your body; the second is that it can actually help stabilize your body's glycemic response over time.14 And thirdly, it can actually reduce hunger. When the body is in ketosis, you tend to feel less hungry.

But longer term, or at more extreme levels, ketosis is definitely more bad than good. High levels of ketones can cause gout, kidney stones, and even lead to organ failure--particularly kidney failure. Note: as little as 100 grams of carbohydrates a day (not counting fiber) can prevent ketosis in your body.

Autolysis

The technical definition of autolysis is the destruction of the tissues or cells of an organism by substances that are produced within that organism. When it comes to fasting, we can think of this as the body digesting parts of itself to compensate for insufficient calories being consumed. The breaking down of fat cells through ketosis is one example. The breaking down of muscle and organ tissue to extract protein for more immediate needs is another. If we believe the process to be random and arbitrary, as the medical community supposes, then it should be avoided at all costs. But as any endurance athlete can tell you, your body does not break down arbitrarily under autolytic conditions. As it turns out, you body is fundamentally self-aware and intelligent; it "digests" diseased and weakened tissue before healthy tissue. For an endurance runner, that means her body will "use up" her upper body tissue before it even thinks of taking anything from her legs. Quite simply, your body has the ability to readily adjust to changing circumstances--breaking down tissue in one part of the body and reassembling it in another, again as circumstances require.

Years ago, I hiked the full 212 mile length of the John Muir Trail and lost 13 lbs during the trip. At altitude and carrying a 70 lb pack, I was burning better than 5,000 calories a day and couldn't come close to eating that much. At the end of the hike, you could count my ribs, but I had legs like a Billy Goat. My body digested the tissue it didn't need for the task at hand, but built it even stronger where necessary. Autolysis is not arbitrary. During fasting, autolysis is self-aware.

Since you are consuming fewer calories in a water fast, autolysis is more pronounced than with a juice fast. This means that your body will be breaking down unneeded, damaged, and toxic tissue faster than with other forms of fasting. However, as long as you are not overdoing the calories while juice fasting, autolysis will still take place while on a juice fast -- just not as pronounced.

Cleansing Toxins and Cleansing Reaction

Different health experts will have different opinions on this, but I believe that the main purpose of fasting is to remove toxins from the body. And in that regard, juice fasting is just as effective as water fasting when it comes to the amount of toxins removed. But juice fasting goes one step further. The breakdown of tissue during fasting both creates and releases toxins into the bloodstream. The body's response to these toxins is to first oxidize them, then reduce them, and finally conjugate them (i.e., combine them with something else) to create a less toxic or inactive compound and safely escort those compounds out of the body. Most of this is accomplished in the liver, but--and here's the key point--the process requires nutritional cofactors to conjugate the toxins. When juice fasting, these cofactors are abundantly provided by the fresh juice. When water fasting, no such luck. Elimination of these toxins when water fasting is, therefore, much more uncomfortable.

And it is here that fasting with juices plus single cell proteins such as chlorella and/or spirulina stands out.  Both chlorella and spirulina are chelating and purifying agents that bond with the toxins and usher them out of your body. It's not a coincidence that algae such as chlorella are used in water treatment plants to remove toxins from drinking water.

Resting the Organs of the Digestive System

All three forms of fasting are useful when it comes to resting the digestive system since they require no, or very little, work from the digestive system in terms of processing.  Note: this is why protein supplementation for the juice has to be of the single cell variety--to minimize any effort made by your digestive system.  Spirulina is so easy to digest because it is surrounded by a thin membrane of complex sugars which dissolve easily in the stomach. Chlorella, on the other hand, is easy to digest since virtually all varieties sold as food are "broken-celled," meaning that the cell wall has already been breached and requires no further digestion to access the nutrients inside.

Note: while fasting, you are not only resting the organs of digestion from their workload, you are also freeing up the energy in your body normally devoted to digestion. Most people think that food provides them with energy, and it does…long term. But short term, digestion is an energy intensive process. Just consider for a moment how exhausted you feel after eating a large meal. While fasting, you free up that energy that was previously employed in digestion for the purposes of rebuilding and repairing other tissues in the body. In his book, The Science and Fine Art of Fasting, Herbert Shelton calls this "physiological compensation.15" As he says, "Energy saved in one department may be expended in another."

Electrolyte and Glucose Imbalance and Fatigue

Water fasting is the most likely form of fasting to cause problems in terms of electrolyte and glucose imbalances, as well as fatigue. Since you're not taking in any electrolytes or glucose, you are going to run short. If you're healthy and the fast is short term, that's not a problem. But if you're not healthy, or the fast goes on longer than three days, the problems and risks increase. Water fasts longer than three days can cause irregular heartbeats (especially if your potassium levels have dropped) and extreme swings of fatigue from the drop in glucose levels. And in some cases, where the faster doesn't know what they're doing, water fasting even presents a risk of death from the lack of electrolytes. It's the reason, if you're new to fasting, I never recommend a pure water fast longer than three days unless someone knowledgeable is personally guiding you through the process. Experienced fasters who are in tune with their bodies, on the other hand, can navigate longer periods of water fasting safely. Juice fasting is much less problematic for newbies in this regard.

Interestingly, juice fasting can present an opposite problem. If you rely too much on sweet fruit juices for your fast, you can push glucose levels up much too high, which can lead to severe glycemic swings. It's the reason that I recommend juicing primarily with vegetable juices while fasting and diluting any fruit juices you drink with pure water. The sweeter the juice, the more you'll want to dilute it--two or three parts water to one part juice is not unwarranted for such juices.

By the way, this is why the Master Cleanse adds both lemon juice and maple syrup to its version of the water fast -- lemon for the electrolytes and maple syrup to prevent glucose dips.

Loss of Muscle Mass

This is pretty automatic: unless you are consuming protein, you will lose overall muscle mass. Yes, you can build muscle in particular areas even while fasting, but you accomplish that by cannibalizing protein from other muscle tissue that is not being stressed. As I mentioned earlier, when I hiked the John Muir Trail, I built muscle in my legs, but only by cannibalizing muscle from my upper body. And this is where consuming single-cell proteins while fasting truly shines. Because they are such highly concentrated proteins, and so easily digested, supplementing with them while fasting minimizes the muscle loss and ensures that the majority of weight lost is water and fat...while at the same time giving you the benefits of fasting.

Alkaline pH

Ketones are both acidic and acid forming in the body; thus, pushing your body into ketosis while water fasting can be acidifying to the body. However, drinking enough water will flush the ketones quickly from the body, thereby minimizing that effect. Nevertheless, there is nothing in a pure water fast to help promote alkalinity. Incidentally, that's one of the reasons the Master Cleanse fast includes lemon juice with the water. As I've explained in other newsletters, although citrus fruits are acidic, they actually promote alkalinity in the body. Another possibility is to water fast using a water ionizer, which will help promote alkalinity in the body. Be careful, though, not to set the alkalinity too high; otherwise, since you'll be drinking so much water during the fast, you can promote a state of too much alkalinity.

In any case, juice fasting--especially with vegetable juices--is helpful in promoting a proper alkaline state. And the single-celled algae are also alkalinizing.

Weight-loss

Water fasting is the least effective form of fasting for weight loss since with no calories your body quickly goes into shut down mode to prevent starvation. In other words, water fasting slows your metabolism so that you "survive" on fewer calories. This means that you progressively lose less weight as the fast goes on, but even more important, you have a high rebound effect once you start eating again…since your metabolism is now slower and it takes even fewer calories to put weight back on.

For that reason, juice fasting is better for losing weight and juice fasting with one-celled protein even better. They both offer less slowing of your metabolism--and, therefore, less rebound. That said, if you decide to use either water fasting or juice fasting for weight-loss, I recommend alternate day fasting. Eating every other day prevents the body from shutting down. Note: just make sure you don't overeat on your alternate eating days in an unconscious attempt to "compensate" for what you didn't eat the day before. Overindulging in calories on eating days pretty much nullifies the gains you make on fasting days.

Conclusion

Fasting is an essential component of the Baseline of Health Program for preventing and even reversing catastrophic illness. I personally have done all different kinds of fasting over the years--including longer water fasts, Master Cleanses, and juice fasts. In the end, after years of trial error, I've settled on the vegetable juice fast (with a small amount of fruit juice), supplemented with chlorella or spirulina, as the best form of fasting for the vast majority of people. And it's the form of fasting I personally use most often. It's effective; reasonably pleasant, as fasts go; has the smallest chance of a detox reaction; is the easiest for most people to do, and is far and away the safest form of fasting. That said, I recommend the following guidelines.

Type of Juice

In general, you want to use low sugar vegetable juices over high sugar fruit juices. Be sure and dilute any fruit juices that you do use. As I mentioned earlier, diluting two or three parts water for each part juice is advisable when drinking fruit juices.

No bottled juices! They are essentially sugar water, or just plain dead. Get a juicer. My favorite juicers now are the Breville 800JEXL - Juice Fountain Elite Extractor for when I want something quick and easy to clean up after and the Tribest Green Star Green Power Gold when I am juicing throughout the day for more than a couple of days. The Green Power does a superior job but is more of a pain to use and clean. However, if you are juicing throughout the day, you only need to clean it at the end of the day. And for those who want only the very best, the Norwalk Model 280 is the crème de la crème of the juicing world. But at $2,500, it's outrageously expensive and a real pain in the butt to use and clean. Most people will not have the patience to stick with it; but for those who do, it produces superior juice. Note: I love my VitaMix blender. I wouldn't own anything else, but it's a blender and not a juicer. It liquefies fruits and vegetables; it doesn't juice them. It's great for pure fruit and vegetable smoothies, but not for juice fasting.

Chlorella, Spirulina, or Blue Green Algae

It's six of one, half dozen of the other. My personal preference is for chlorella because I believe it does a better job as a detoxing agent. It's certainly superior in its ability to chelate heavy metals. But spirulina and blue green algae offer a better protein source. Also, look out for allergies. People who are allergic to seafood may have a problem with one or the other of these foods. Note: blue green algae is likely to be the least problematic in this regard.

In any case, buy organic from a trusted manufacturer that grows their algae in a very clean environment. Don't buy bargain brands that don't state how they are grown.

Juicing schedule

As a basic schedule, I like the following:

  • One day of juice fasting with chlorella a week. (I like Mondays because it cleans things up after the weekend and breaks the flow after any indulgences I may have allowed myself. And if I'm trying to lose any weight, I'll do both Mondays and Fridays for a couple of weeks.)
  • Once a month, I like to extend that one day juice fast three days. There's an old saying in the world of fasting. One day gives your body a rest; three days is good for minor repair; and five to seven days works as a complete overhaul for your body.
  • With that in mind, twice a year, I now do a five-day juice and chlorella fast in combination with my bi-annual kidney/liver/gallbladder/blood detox. I do one of those the first week in January to cleanse my body of all the bad stuff I ate over the holidays--and to break any bad eating habits I acquired during that period. I do the other one mid-summer, but am more flexible as to the exact dates.

Warnings

Diabetics need to exercise special care when fasting--even short-term. Diabetics should not start with water fasting as this can play havoc with your blood sugar levels. And absolutely, do not base your fast on undiluted fruit juices as this can send your blood sugar levels through the roof. Vegetable juices are preferable, and the use of supplemental single-celled proteins can smooth the edges out even further. In any case, work with your physician and monitor your blood sugar regularly. Also fasting is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding as it can stir up toxins that can impact the child. And anyone who has a chronic illness, is using prescription medications, or is under a doctor's care should check with their doctor or naturopathic physician before embarking on a fasting program.

Final Word

Despite what the medical community may feel about the practice, fasting is one of the cornerstones of many alternative health programs. As I have repeatedly stated over the years, a good juicer is one of the single best investments you can make in your health. And let me be absolutely clear, I do not sell juicers, and I do not make any money if you buy one. I just recommend their use.

 

Written by Jon Barron or staff member at The Baseline of Health Foundation

Material originally published at www.jonbarron.org.

Copyright © 1999-2011. Baseline of Health® Foundation

Used by permission of the Baseline of Health® Foundation.

All rights reserved worldwide.

Yoga Research Surges Over Last Decade

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yoga research

Interest in yoga has grown fast and furiously, and so has research into the benefits of yoga, providing a doorway towards acceptance of yoga as a tool for healthier living.

If you’re following new research developments on yoga, you may have noticed that almost every week brings one or more reports on new studies on the health effects of yoga. But just how many, and how does the current number of research studies coming out compare to the past?

This was the question posed by Dr. Troy Cellmer, Chief Editor of Active Life DC. He set out to chart the number of research studies, starting all the way back to the 1950s, when yoga was still a relatively unknown practice and very few studies were done on the effects of yoga. Even in the 60s, with increased interest in the practice, few studies were done. But starting at the turn of the 21st century, the number of scientific papers on yoga has soared. In 2012 alone, there were 41 more papers published than in all the 1990s together.

The numbers are continuing to climb. If 2013 continues to look into yoga at the same rate this one year will break all records with the number of yoga-related studies reaching upwards of 380! The studies document the physical and psychological benefits of practicing yoga using protocols that typically focus on performing asanas.

This burgeoning of interest in yoga can only bode well for yoga being recognized more and more as a vehicle for better health. The studies are encouraging for yoga practitioners and teachers seeking to achieve specific benefits, from working to improve diabetes, to addressing insomnia, relieving back pain, or ‘simply,’ improve general health and well-being.

Studies that reveal hard evidence with rigorous documentation can open doors and lead to greater acceptance of yoga by the medical field. With more and more research, many doctors may increasingly begin to integrate yoga as a cost-effective, non-invasive complementary treatment for many health conditions.

  
 

 

 

Vinyasa Perfected: Surya Namaskar

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Surya Namaskar

 

Enjoy this excerpt from Matthew Sweeney's upcoming yoga DVD - Vinyasa Unlocked. While this excerpt only features only written instructions and text, it's well worth watching for the sheer grace and beauty of Matthew's practice. 

If you ever wondered how to jump gracefully (and soundlessly) into Chaturanga or from Downward Dog into Uttanasana, here's how! Surya Namaskar the way we all wish we could practice it. :-) 

 

 

Abhyasa and the Practice of Yoga - Creating a New Reality Through Your Practice

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By Susan Grossman

"Practice (abhyasa) is a dedicated, unswerving, constant, and vigilant search into a chosen subject, pursued against all odds in the face of repeated failures, for indefinitely long periods of time."  ~BKS Iyengar
 

Last night at yoga class, we reflected on this profound quote from one of the greatest yoga teachers.  Even today, as I read it again and again, I was amazed at the depth and the wisdom contained in such a succinct and beautiful way.  Here are some reflections on the profound meanings of this quote. 
 
"Practice (abhyasa) is a dedicated, unswerving, constant, and vigilant search . . . "
 
Practice is a search, a dedicated, unswerving, constant and vigilant search, Mr. Iyengar states.  ‘Practice’ to each of us may represent many things not specifically related to yoga.  We practice controlling our emotions and desires.  We practice our work.  We practice our roles within our lives.  We practice daily toward becoming more proficient at everything we do.
 
If we are dedicated to our practice, we search it out in a diligent way to uncover our deepest understanding.  As we diligently search out our yoga through practice, we actually learn to understand ourselves on a much deeper level.  Through a diligent yoga practice we learn to let go of the things that do not serve us well.  We also learn to embrace our own unique beauty and the beauty of others.
 
"into a chosen subject"
 
We choose the focus of our practice.  I have always believed that wherever we are - right now - in our lives, we've made the choices that brought us here.  Sometimes the philosophy of choice brings tears of pain and regret when we connect our reality with our choices.  All is not within our control but our choices remain completely our own.
 
Perhaps we have fallen victim or prey to someone else's bad choices; yet our future remains truly unwritten.  When we choose, we write a new reality for ourselves and all of those, who surround us.   Our goals become our future.  Our choices - right now - matter very much.  We must choose wisely the pursuits which use up much of our valuable and finite energies.
 
"pursued against all odds in the face of repeated failures"
 
Pursuit of a goal requires full and total dedication.  When we practice yoga, we are pursuing a dream for ourselves that our bodies will be stronger and more open.  
 
Dedicating ourselves completely to full spinal opening in Urdhva Dhanurasana (backbend) may takes years of practice.  We will fail over and over again before we achieve even a semblance of the pose.  Our spine may have lost most of its deeper movement.  We may be given advice that we are "too stiff" to achieve backbend, or that we are out of our minds to even attempt the pose.  If we are to truly realize our goal, though, we must disregard the negativity and continue in our practice. 
 
"for indefinitely long periods of time"
 
We must pursue yoga with a passion that does not fade with time.  With full and total dedication we continue onward in the face of failure for as long as the pose requires.  We cannot give up in the middle of the battle or we may lose our desire to practice at all.  We refocus and change our strategy but we do not give up.  We continue onward with the steady focus of realizing our goals which are a reflection of our deepest intentions.
 
Learn to fully embrace the wisdom of Mr. Iyengar, and proceed with practice, even when it is difficult or challenging.  Pursue and realize your goals for achieving a better body through the amazing journey of yoga.
 
Susan Grossman is a yoga teacher based in Warsaw, Indiana.  She is a contributing author for three ebooks, “Get Fit for Your Pregnancy: Simple Exercises to Look Great & Feel Energized Through Your Pregnancy,” “Body Sculpting Exercise for Women Over 40,” and “Fat Blasting for a Shapely Butt and Toned Thighs.”  She teaches weekly yoga classes at her studio where she works with many individuals in the beginning stages of their yoga journey, as well as, individuals who are over seventy years of age with mild to moderate health considerations. Susan also instructs kettlebell classes. For more information go to: www.WarsawsSecret.com

 

 

 

A Teacher of Teachers—Iyengar Yoga Teacher Karin O-Bannon and the Moment that Changed My Life

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By Christie Hall

In this blog post, writer Christie Hall portrays her first meeting with her teacher Karin O'Bannon, and how it forever changed the trajectory of her life. Karin O’Bannon became an Iyengar Senior Intermediate 3 teacher in 1996. She influenced students across the globe, from Los Angeles to Louisiana and Georgia to Taiwan to Rishikesh. She died June 10, 2013. She had been a yoga teacher for more than 30 years. 

For some yoga students, the act of walking into a yoga class is a leap of faith.  It’s true for many of my students, who bring woes ranging from gout to bulging vertebral discs to post-traumatic stress disorder.

That I am standing in front of them teaching yoga is an act of faith as well. I must constantly draw on the words of the teacher who taught me to teach, Karin O’Bannon, Iyengar yoga teacher and teacher of teachers.

She asked me on my third day of yoga teacher training if I was teaching anywhere. I stammered, that, no, I wasn’t.

Was she crazy? Here I was with all these people who were actually GOOD at the poses. And she addressed me while I was struggling my way into Ardha Chandrasana, my elevated leg mere inches from the floor, restricted by such impacted hip joints that two years later I would have them both replaced. My back was to the wall, and my hand was on a chair seat.

“You should be.”

I was shocked. I was there because my teacher at a health club had urged me to get some training so I could sub for her.  After my first day of class that June day in 1997, I was sure I could never teach, but I was there to get more of the learning Karin provided, which had immediately taken hold of my heart.

I struggled with more than my utter inability to do the poses with even 10 percent of the quality of my fellow students.

I struggled with the concept of ishwara pranidhana, surrender to God. As an atheist, I didn’t even know how to begin to deal with this. A few weeks later, though, Karin gave me something to hold on to. In response to an assignment, I had written that at the end of a yoga class, I felt that the possibilities of all the individuals within the class were magnified far beyond the strength of any imagining. She had written: “For some, this is God.”

When I started teaching later that year, it was with her faith in me.

Over the years, perhaps encouraged by my own limitations, students came to me with problems and encouraged friends to come, too. Their courage inspired me. Over time they learned to have faith in yoga. When they thanked me, I had to point out that they were the ones doing the heavy hauling, that it was the yoga and their work that they should thank.

One day in 2010, a 30-something student came to my class who was in such immense mental pain that I felt overwhelmed. I was so frightened of doing her harm. I contacted one teacher by e-mail. She told me to trust my instincts. I realized later that what I came to trust was the student’s determination to heal herself and the ability of the yoga itself.

A few months later, I was able to see my teacher Karin and ask her directly for advice. (She had moved to India a few years earlier and then had moved back to Louisiana.) She said the same thing, to trust my instincts. Then she looked me straight in the eye and said: “And know that she is a gift.” I had no idea what she meant at the time.

Her workshop that evening touched on Sutra 2.15, that it was the “axial aphorism” for the entire text.

“The wise man knows that owing to fluctuations, the qualities of nature, and subliminal impressions, even pleasant experiences are tinged with sorrow, and he keeps aloof from them.  (Translation: Edwin F. Bryant.)”

Eventually our discussion went to ishwara pranidhana, my old nemesis, as she knew. And she said it might also refer to surrender to “absolute truth.” As a former journalist, I found the idea of an absolute truth perhaps even more difficult to grasp than the concept of a supreme soul.

The 30-something woman and I attended the Iyengar yoga conference in Washington, D.C., in May 2012, in large part to be able to study again with Karin. We also attended Professor Fred Smith’s discussion of the Yoga Sutras. Here I came across another explanation of the niyama: surrender to the “lord of yoga”, to trust in the act, the doing of yoga.

I thought I had come to that point, teaching as an act of faith in yoga. Then, in April 2013, I learned my teacher Karin is terminally ill, and I realized that, no, I was still teaching from her faith in me. Without her, how could I find the courage to keep teaching?

Student by student, the answer has come. Sometimes from someone who knows I am quavering, but as often not. Over the past weeks, many students have told me that I am an inspiration and that is why they have found healing in yoga. Rather like when I heard my teacher Karin, I have no idea what they mean. I am so very ordinary. But I find that I must accept their faith if I am to keep on teaching.

And so the gift I have wanted to give my students, faith in yoga, has come rebounding back, multiplied many times over.

Christie Hall became a full-time yoga teacher in 2004 after asking Karin’s advice and receiving her encouragement to do so. 


Christie Hall began studying yoga in 1995 to cope with crippling back pain. Her home practice started with the book, Yoga: The Iyengar Way. She started teaching in 1997 after studying with Iyengar teacher Karin O'Bannon and she has studied as student and as teacher exclusively with Iyengar teachers, including BKS Iyengar in Colorado in 2005 and Geeta Iyengar in 2007. More of her writings can be found on her blog: www.pratipaksha.com. Her Web site is www.christieyoga.com.


 

Study: Yoga Offers Encouraging Mental Health Benefits

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Mental illness is a significant health concern worldwide, in spite of increasing improvements in treatment modalities and access to care. And, while the number of medications that are available for mental health disorders has been increasing, drugs are often very expensive, have significant side effects, and don’t necessarily offer the desired results.

In this environment, it is generally recognized that there is a need for safe, cost-effective forms of treatment for mental illness. A number of studies looking at the effects of yoga for people with mental health issues have shown promising preliminary results. But does the cumulative evidence across studies support the use of yoga to help offer relief for depression and other forms of mental illness? 

This was the question asked by a group of researchers at Duke University, who set out to examine the evidence across a number of studies for the usefulness of yoga for mental health disorders. 

To answer the question, the researchers conducted a review of studies on the mental health benefits of yoga. They initially looked at a pool of 124 studies, but only 16 studies met the rigorous criteria for final inclusion in the review. Specifically included were studies on the effects of yoga on depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, sleep complaints, eating disorders, and cognition problems. The study was published in the January 2013 issue of Frontiers of Psychiatry.

Across multiple studies, the review found, there is cumulative evidence for the usefulness of yoga as an adjunct modality in the treatment several mental health issues.

In particular, studies have consistently shown potential benefit for depression and for schizophrenia (as an adjunct to drugs treatments), as well as for sleep complaints and for children with ADHD.
 
The review also found that yoga may balance biochemical markers thought to play a role in mental health. One of the studies included indicated that a regular yoga asana practice affects neurotransmitters as well as markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, lipids, and growth factors. Other significant benefits noted above drug therapy were the absence of side effects, the low cost of practicing the postures, good accessibility, and general improvement of the patients’ level of fitness. 
 
Still, while results are promising, more rigorous research with larger groups is required, the researchers concluded. The studies revealed conflicting results for cognitive and eating disorders, and none of the existing studies looked at issues around primary and relapse prevention, or compared the effectiveness of yoga therapies versus drug therapies.
 
 
Source
Yoga on Our Minds: A Systematic Review of Yoga for Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Meera Balasubramaniam, Shirley Telles, and P. Murali Doraiswamy
Front Psychiatry. 2012; 3: 117. Published online 2013 January 25. 

 

 

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