Happy Feet

Every time I stretch in that relieving head-to-knee pose sitting on the floor, stretching out my hamstrings and back, I find myself giving my feet a little rub. You’re supposed to grab your foot to gently pull your torso towards your leg, and in that moment of deep relaxing stretch I have begun the practice of massaging the foot that I’m holding. It feels amazing and reminds me that I used to give myself a little foot rub each night before bed! Just about a minute per foot, with a little pump of lotion, so that I woke up with relaxed, soft, HAPPY FEET! 🙂

Well it got me to thinking…how much do our feet endure everyday? I know I’ve read the literature before, but the alarming relief I felt from such a quick little rub up and down my own foot (and anyone who’s ever given their own feet a massage knows it can’t hold a candle to one given by another person – what is that? It’s sort of like when someone else makes you a sandwich it always tastes better than the same one made by yourself. Hmmm…) urged me to look up some more information. I did, and thought I’d share it with you lovely folks!

 

Check out the number of bones, tendons, muscles, joints and nerves we walk around with in these puppies!

http://www.healthcommunities.com/foot-anatomy/foot-anatomy-overview.shtml

 

Good reason to give them a little rub down in thanks for carrying us around all day, right? 🙂 One step closer to happy feet!

Nut Butter Delight

Are you an old fashioned peanut butter fan? Glued to the skippy jar, literally?
Or do you not care for the buttery spread at all? The latter is fine, I suppose, but you’re certainly missing out.
Almond butter is my latest fave, and I only yesterday purchased my first ever jar of Tahini butter. Thinking that it was only a hummus ingredient, I did not anticipate the incredible sweet potato topping this would be! I stole that idea from the popular HEAB blog, and have also smeared almond butter across a yam as well. I’ve tried hazlenut butter – who can say they are not Nutella fans!? Being German I grew up with it as a staple of the pantry! – Whole Foods also sells cashew butter, walnut butter, cacoa butter, soynut butter and sunflower seed butter, amongst others.
Now, I’m not bagging on peanut butter. It’s a prevalent staple in many American diets (PB&J anyone?!) and it’s delicious. However, it’s not the most nutritious nut around and quite often, people are ready to expand their palates after a lifetime of peanut butter sandwiches.
How interesting does a hazlenut butter sandwich with sprinkled cocoa powder? Or perhaps a slice of toast with walnut butter and chunks of banana…mmm how about a square of extra dark chocolate smeared with creamy almond butter? The options are endless and, though it sounds decadent, consuming your favorite nut butter can become an intricate part of your love for food!
Lately I’ve been triple dosing my servings of nut butter, but naturally it goes through phases, and remember a balanced diet is key. Nut butter is an extremely calorie dense food, so you mustn’t eat it half a jar at a time. But it’s most certainly something you could, and should, enjoy everyday.
I found this AWESOME website listing the differing nut butters and their health benefits, respectively. Check it out! http://www.care2.com/greenliving/from-fat-burning-to-cancer-protecting-which-nut-butter-is-best-for-you.html
Once you decide what flavors best suite you, start experimenting. I love adding almond butter to my oatmeal! How do you like it?

Yoga – Are the Beneficial Claims True?

I found myself thinking about this, in a momentary savasana during the last half of a recent Bikram class. My second Bikram class, to be exact. As I lay drenched in my own sweat, I couldn’t help but think to myself…is this good for me? All the hooplah the bootcamp-esque instructor kept telling us…”This is an oxygenating move…this is excellent for the descending colon…right now you’re sending vital nutrients and fresh blood to all the nooks and crannies of your body!” I have never questioned the detoxifying affects of yoga in any other class before this. As I said, I was only in my second Bikram class. I purchased a month unlimited for an outrageusly good price…I couldn’t turn it down! I had heard all sorts of talk about Bikram, from it causing yeast infections, to being bad for your heart, to being geared towards those who want to lose weight. Well I didn’t want any of these three outcomes! So until now, I’d avoided the 105 degree yoga studio.

Well, as I lay there sweating, I couldn’t help but wonder…”Is this all a bunch of bologna the instructor is telling me right now? Is this really detoxifying? Would a doctor back up any of what she’s saying? Am I causing myself any DAMAGE? Oh God I can’t breathe…”

I vowed halfway through each class that it would be my last, and yet walked out at the end after final savasana excited for my next class. I’m certainly not in love with Bikram, I absolutely love Vinyasa and Ashtanga far more and nothing could ever replace them for me, but I’m developing an appreciation for this heated form of practice.

I came home and did some research. I found the following site:  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-1378/7-Proven-Health-Benefits-of-Yoga.html which was very helpful, although it’s referring to yoga in general. I also read up on other sites that informed me Bikram is indeed a flush for the system, but in the long haul is essentially going to cause your heart to work extra hard for cardio-vascular fitness that could be achieved the same in a far cooler room. I found no evidence that it’s bad for your heart, persay, and also no evidence that it causes yeast infections. I also beg to differ that it causes any crazy weight loss because I’ve never been so ravenous for a day following Bikram class, and I ate far more than I would have on any other day. I also had a mighty thirst, my body literally whispering all day long to please replenish all the lost liquid that morning.

While I lay there on my sweaty back, on my sweaty mat, I came to this conclusion: the research doesn’t matter, nor does the actual definitive answers. I decided that if all the plethora of yoga benefits are true, then fantastic. If half of it is without proof or evidence, so what. Even if some of what yogis preach and promise through the practice has a placebo affect on those who follow the principles, then so be it! I decided that I’ll swallow the little sugar pill whole, because whether or not every benefit can be proven, I feel the benefits. I feel like a more mindful, sound, flexible, understanding, calm and healthy person. I sleep better, I have less back pain, better posture, a renewed passion for life and living, and an appreciation for all the marvelous gifts I reap from yoga.

Namaste 🙂