Dec 3, 2012

Yoga Mat Tips: How to Deep Clean Your Mat

Regularly washing your yoga mat will kept it soft and sticky, prevent bacterial growth and maximize the life of your mat.

How to Deep Clean Your Mat - For its first wash, or whenever your yoga mat seems particularly dirty, you will probably want to give it a really thorough cleaning.


1) Run a few inches of cool or slightly warm water into a bathtub an
d add a few drops of mild detergent. Make sure you don’t add too much soap or it will be difficult to rinse away completely, leaving your yoga mat slippery.

2) Submerge the mat in the water. Let it soak for a few minutes (the longer you let it soak, the more thoroughly it will be cleaned).

3) Gently rub both sides of the mat using the soft side of a sponge or terrycloth. This will help the mat to develop that soft, ‘grippable’ surface.

4) Rinse the yoga mat out very thoroughly in clean water, making sure you get rid of any soap residue.

5) To dry your yoga mat, lay it on top of a dry towel and tightly roll mat and towel together like a cinnamon roll. Squeeze out excess water by pressing with your hands or feet. Unroll and hang to air dry. Make sure you let it dry out completely before storing to prevent mold.

Sep 1, 2012

Scientific Benefits of Yoga

Chronic Backpain
When doctors at the HMO Group Health Cooperative in Seattle pitted 12 weekly sessions of yoga against therapeutic exercises and a handbook on self-care, they discovered the yoga group not only showed greater improvement but experienced benefits lasting 14 weeks longer. A note of caution: "While many poses are helpful, seated postures or extreme movement in one direction can make back pain worse," says Gary Kraftsow, author of Yoga for Wellness, who designed the program for the study.

Low brain levels of the neurotransmitter GABA are often found in people with depression; SSRIs, electroconvulsive therapy, and now yoga, it seems, can boost GABA. Preliminary research out of the Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard's McLean Hospital found that healthy subjects who practiced yoga for one hour had a 27 percent increase in levels of GABA compared with a control group that simply sat and read for an hour. This supports a growing body of research that's proving yoga can significantly improve mood and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Yoga and Diabetes
Speeds Nerve Impulses
One of the major problems from long term diabetes is nerve damage due to constant high sugar levels in the body. This nerve damage leads to the slowing of nerve impulses, decreased sensation, numbness of the feet, and poor bowel function. Can yoga help? Scientists at Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, in Delhi, India, studied a group of 20 type 2 diabetic subjects between the ages of 30-60 years. Their aim was to see whether Yoga asanas had any effect on nerve conduction. TheYoga asanas included Suryanamskar Tadasan, Konasan, Padmasan Pranayam, Shavasan, Pavanmukthasan, Sarpasan and Shavasan. The Yoga exercises were performed for 40 minutes every day for 40 days in the above sequence. The subjects continued their normally prescribed medicines and diet. Blood sugar and nerve conduction velocity of the median nerve (in the hand) were measured and repeated after 40 days of the Yogic regime. Another group of 20 type 2 diabetes subjects of comparable age and severity, called the control group, were kept on prescribed medication and light physical exercises like walking. Their initial & post 40 days parameters were recorded for comparison.
At the end of the 40 days, those who did the yoga had improved the nerve impulse in their hands. The hand nerve conduction velocity increased from 52.8 meters per second to 53.8 m/sec. The control group nerve function deteriorated over the period of study, indicating that diabetes is a slowly progressive disease involving the nerves. The authors conclude that Yoga asanas have a beneficial effect on blood sugar control and improve nerve function in type 2 diabetics who have mild nerve damage. Dr. Sahelian says: In addition to Yoga, I recommend my patients with diabetes take a nutrient called lipoic acid which has also been found to improve nerve function in diabetics.
Yoga Lowers Blood Sugar in Diabetics
Certain yoga asanas, if practiced regularly, are known to have beneficial effects on human body. Researchers at the University College of Medical Sciences, in Shahdara, New Delhi evaluated 24 patients aged 30 to 60 year old who had non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, also called Type II diabetes. Diabetics who require insulin are called Type I, while Type II diabetics are treated with diet, exercise, and oral medicines that lower blood sugar. The researchers evaluated the baseline fasting blood sugar levels of the patients, and they also performed pulmonary function studies. These pulmonary function studies measure lung capacity and the amount of air that can be exhaled within the first second of a rapid exhale.
After performing these basic tests, yoga experts gave these patients training in yoga asanas. The yoga practice was done 40 minutes a day for 40 days. These asanas consisted of 13 well known and common postures, done in a sequence. After 40 days of yoga asanas regimen, the testing was repeated. The results indicate that there was significant decrease in fasting blood sugar levels from about 190 initially to 140 after the 40 day period of yoga activity. Fasting blood sugar in people without diabetes is usually below 120. The lung studies showed an average improvement of about 10 percent in lung capacity. These findings suggest that better blood sugar control and pulmonary functions can be obtained in type I diabetics when they stick to a daily schedule of yoga asanas and pranayama.
The exact mechanism as to how these postures and controlled breathing interact with physio-neuro-endocrine mechanisms affecting blood sugar and pulmonary functions remains to be worked out.

A preliminary study at the University of California, San Francisco, found that menopausal women who took two months of a weekly restorative yoga class, which uses props to support the postures, reported a 30 percent decrease in hot flashes. A four-month study at the University of Illinois found that many women who took a 90-minute Iyengar class twice a week boosted both their energy and mood; plus they reported less physical and sexual discomfort, and reduced stress and anxiety.

Stress Management and Relaxation
Using Yoga to Relieve Stress
To combat stress, many people turn to meditation or other mental stress reduction tools. But stress also creates physical response in the body and, as such, can be managed with exercise -- in particular, with yoga.
"Stress sends the entire physical system into overdrive," says Garrett Sarley, president and CEO of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Mass. "The muscles tense, the heart beats faster, breathing patterns change, and if the cause of stress isn't discontinued, the body secretes more hormones that increase blood sugar levels, raising blood pressure. Yoga is one of the few stress-relief tools that has a positive effect on all the body systems involved."
Recognizing the detrimental effects of stress, especially in the area of heart disease, the preventive and rehabilitative cardiac center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles began offering yoga to their patients more than 10 years ago.
"Over the years, yoga has become one of our primary therapies for stress management," says C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., director of the preventive and rehabilitative cardiac center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Yoga-based guided relaxation reduces sympathetic activity judged from baseline levels.
35 male volunteers whose ages ranged from 20 to 46 years were studied in two sessions of yoga-based guided relaxation and supine rest. Assessments of autonomic variables were made for 15 subjects, before, during, and after the practices, whereas oxygen consumption and breath volume were recorded for 25 subjects before and after both types of relaxation. A significant decrease in oxygen consumption and increase in breath volume were recorded after guided relaxation (paired t test). There were comparable reductions in heart rate and skin conductance during both types of relaxation. During guided relaxation the power of the low frequency component of the heart-rate variability spectrum reduced, whereas the power of the high frequency component increased, suggesting reduced sympathetic activity. Also, subjects with a baseline ratio of LF/HF > 0.5 showed a significant decrease in the ratio after guided relaxation, while subjects with a ratio < or = 0.5 at baseline showed no such change. The results suggest that sympathetic activity decreased after guided relaxation based on yoga, depending on the baseline levels.
Psychol Rep 2002 Apr;90(2):487-94 Related Articles, Links. Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation, Chamarajpet, Bangalore, India.

Asthma and Breathing
Asthma is a lung condition involving chronic inflammation of the airways (bronchi) which can narrow and go into spasms. During asthma attacks, the smooth muscle cells in the bronchi constrict, the airways become inflamed and swollen, and breathing becomes difficult.
Symptomatic control of episodes of wheezing and shortness of breath is generally achieved with fast-acting bronchodilators.
A study of the effect of yoga training on pulmonary functions in patients with bronchial asthma.
Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009 Apr-Jun; Sodhi C, Singh S, Dandona PK. Department of Physiology, Christian Medical College, Ludhiana - 141 007.

The role of yoga breathing exercises, as an adjunct treatment for bronchial asthma is well recognized. One hundred twenty patients of asthma were randomized into two groups i.e Group A (yoga training group) and Group B (control group). Each group included sixty patients. Pulmonary function tests were performed on all the patients at baseline, after 4 weeks and then after 8 weeks. Majority of the subjects in the two groups had mild disease (34 patients in Group A and 32 in Group B). Group A subjects showed a statistically significant increasing trend in % predicted peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), forced mid expiratory flow in 0.25-0.75 seconds (FEF25-75) and FEV1/FVC% ratio at 4 weeks and 8 weeks as compared to Group B. Thus, yoga breathing exercises used adjunctively with standard pharmacological treatment significantly improves pulmonary functions in patients with bronchial asthma.

Obesity rates in the United States have reached epidemic proportions: 58 Million Overweight; 40 Million Obese; Eight out of 10 adults over age 25 Overweight; 78% of American's not meeting basic activity level recommendations; 25% completely Sedentary; 76% increase in Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 yrs old since 1990; In 2001 25% of all white children and 33% of African American and Hispanic children were overweight.
Solution: Vigorous Power, Vinyasa, or Ashtanga yoga classes done for 90 minutes at least 3-5 times a week will produce weight loss. Yoga keeps people more in tune with their bodies making them aware of aware of bad habits, such as eating because of stress, boredom or depression. The first study investigating the effects of yoga on weight was recently conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA.
General Stats: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of children (over 9 million) 6-19 years old are overweight or obese -- a number that has tripled since 1980. In addition to the 16 percent of children and teens ages 6 to 19 who were overweight in 1999-2002, another 15 percent were considered at risk of becoming overweight. ("Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 1999-2002"; Oct. 6, 2004)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the past three decades the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years. ("Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 1999-2002"; Oct. 6, 2004)

Heart Disease
Lower blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate and other heart disease symptoms
Several trials have found that yoga can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and resting heart rates, and help slow the progression of atherosclerosis—all risk factors for heart disease, says Erin Olivo, PhD, director of Columbia University's Integrative Medicine Program.
While almost any exercise is good for the heart, experts speculate yoga's meditative component may give it an extra boost by helping to stabilize the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels that, when irritated, contributes to cardiovascular disease. Since the lining is reactive to stress, and meditation can lower stress hormones, yoga may be causing a cascade of events that could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Retardation of coronary atherosclerosis with yoga lifestyle intervention.
Yoga has potential for benefit for patients with coronary artery disease though objective, angiographic studies are lacking. We evaluated possible role of lifestyle modification incorporating yoga, on retardation of coronary atherosclerotic disease. In this prospective, randomized, controlled trial, 42 men with angiographically proven coronary artery disease (CAD) were randomized to control and yoga intervention group and were followed for one year. The active group was treated with a user-friendly program consisting of yoga, control of risk factors, diet control and moderate aerobic exercise. The control group was managed by conventional methods i.e. risk factor control and American Heart Association step I diet. At one year, the yoga groups showed significant reduction in number of anginal episodes per week, improved exercise capacity and decrease in body weight. Serum total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels also showed greater reductions as compared with control group. Revascularisation procedures (coronary angioplasty or bypass surgery) were less frequently required in the yoga group. Coronary angiography repeated at one year showed that significantly more lesions regressed (20% versus 2%) and less lesions progressed (5% versus 37%) in the yoga group. The compliance to the total program was excellent and no side effects were observed. : Yoga lifestyle intervention retards progression and increases regression of coronary atherosclerosis in patients with severe coronary artery disease. It also improves symptomatic status, functional class and risk factor profile.
The overall benefits of yoga on risk factors for heart disease were evaluated by researchers at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Medical Division, in Mumbai, India. (Mumbai is the new name for the city formely known as Bombay. The name was changed in the mid 1990s. The effect of yoga on the body, psychological well being, and cardiovascular risk factors was studied in a group of middle aged patients. Twenty patients (16 males, 4 females) in the age group of 35 to 55 years with mild to moderate high blood pressure underwent yogic practices daily for one hour for three months. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage. Biochemical and psychological parameters were studied prior and following period of three months of yoga. These biochemical parameters included blood sugar, lipid profile including cholesterol, and blood levels of catecholmines (stress chemicals like epinephrine or adrenaline). The overall results were quite positive. There was a decrease in blood pressure along with a decrease in blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides. The patients also reported an improvement in overall well being and quality of life. There was also a decrease in the levels of catecholamines, suggesting a decrease in sympathetic activity. A decrease in sympathetic activity indicates that the patients were calmer and experienced less tension and stress, and that their blood pressure would be lower. The authors of the study conclude that yoga can play an important role in decreasing the risk factors for cardiovascular disease in those with mild to moderate hypertension.
Heart rate variability, a sign of a healthy heart, has been shown to be higher in yoga practitioners than in non-practitioners, according to research in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics. The autonomic nervous system regulates the heart rate through two routes — the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The former causes the heart rate to rise, while, the parasympathetic slows it. When working well together, the two ensure that the heart rate is steady but ready to respond to changes caused by eating, the fight or flight response, or arousal.
J Assoc Physicians India 2000 Jul;  Manchanda SC, Narang R, Reddy KS, Sachdeva U, Prabhakaran D, Dharmanand S, Rajani M, Bijlani R. All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.

Yoga Benefits for Cancer Patients Yoga's gentle exercises have numerous well-known health benefits. Practicing yoga can lower blood pressure, improve coordination and reduce stress. For those coping with a chronic illness such as mesothelioma or other types of cancers, a yoga routine can be added to a treatment regimen, whether it is holistic or traditional treatment. Like any treatment, yoga should be individualized to meet specific needs. Unsurprisingly, cancer patients often do not have enough energy and do not feel well enough for much physical activity.
Especially during treatments such as chemotherapy, even simple tasks like making dinner can become daunting chores. Cancer patients often suffer from fatigue and muscle soreness, as well as various other ailments like shortness of breath caused by mesothelioma of the lung. These problems often can be relieved by implementing a gentle yoga routine. For patients who may have trouble integrating physical activity into their lives during treatment, yoga stretches and poses provide a low-impact, low-stress technique for rejuvenating and reenergizing the body.
A patient should incorporate yoga in whatever way works best for his or her schedule and body. Some cancer patients find that a weekly 30- to 60-minute yoga session is enough to improve physical wellbeing and reduce stress. Others benefit from a daily or twice-daily practice. A short 10-minute session in the morning and another before bed can have significant physical results without imposing on a busy schedule. As with any such lifestyle change, a new yoga practice should be approved by cancer patients' doctors.
Doctors can advise their patients with regards to each specific diagnosis and condition and may even be able to recommend a therapeutic yoga instructor. In addition to communicating with their doctors, patients should tell their yoga instructors of the special circumstances and any other relevant physical problems.
Courtesy of

Fatigue in Cancer Survivors
Yoga improves fatigue in cancer survivors
Cancer can be a devastating disease that saps energy often due to radiation and chemotherapy. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York assigned more than 400 cancer survivors to one of two groups.
Most had been treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer. The first group did gentle Hatha yoga and restorative yoga twice a week for a month. The other group did not engage in such activity. The individuals who did yoga were able to cut back on sleeping pills and slept better. Yoga also increased their energy levels and improved their quality of life.

Cancer Patients and Survivors
Yoga Helps Cancer Patients
A gentle form of yoga helps those with lymphoma sleep better. Lymphoma is a cancer that arises in the cells of the immune system. The investigators found that among 39 patients being treated for lymphoma, those who participated in only seven weekly sessions of yoga said they got to sleep sooner, slept for longer, and needed fewer drugs to fall asleep. Study author Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, explained that living with cancer can be a very stressful experience, as patients cope with a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and the side effects of treatment. As is well known, stress can often interfere with patients' sleep habits. Over the years, studies have linked yoga to a number of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, beating fatigue and easing chronic pain. In the current report, Cohen and his team asked half of the patients to participate in seven weekly sessions of yoga and the results were compared to other patients with lymphoma who did not participate in the yoga program. Some studies have suggested that up to three quarters of cancer patients struggle with sleep. This may have important health consequences since sleep disturbances have been linked with problems with the immune system, and an increased risk of illness or death. Individuals with cancer should be cautioned that while undergoing or recovering from treatment one should adopt a gentle routine, and avoid excessively strenuous routines. This is particularly true for cancer patients who have metastases to the bones which would make the skeletal system more prone to fractures. There is good reason to expect that a gentle form of yoga would be beneficial to not only patients with lymphoma, but those suffering from other types of cancer.
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years to improve physical and emotional well-being. Several recent studies have been conducted with cancer patients and survivors. Nine studies conducted with cancer patients and survivors yielded modest improvements in sleep quality, mood, stress, cancer-related distress, cancer-related symptoms, and overall quality of life. Studies conducted in other patient populations and healthy individuals have shown beneficial effects on psychological symptoms, as well as other aspects of physical function. Results from the emerging literature on yoga and cancer provide preliminary support for yoga interventions for cancer patients, although controlled trials are lacking.
Dr. Ray Sahelian comments: I started yoga 20 years ago and I love it. It makes me feel so relaxed, revitalized, and supple. I heard someone once say, "You're as young as your spine is flexible." Although not completely true, part of staying younger is to have flexibility of tendons and ligaments. No amount of a healthy diet and supplement intake is going to replace the benefits of yoga or other forms of stretching practices. Although I realize how important yoga is, sometimes I don't have the patience to attend a one and half hour class, so I do it at home at 20 minute intervals a few times a week. There are several yoga programs on TV, particularly the public funded channels, and you can tape some and do the yoga postures at your leisure. Or, you can attend a local yoga class.
Yoga for cancer patients and survivors
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years to improve physical and emotional well-being. Empirical research on yoga has been ongoing for several decades, including several recent studies conducted with cancer patients and survivors. METHODS: This review provides a general introduction to yoga and a detailed review of yoga research in cancer. RESULTS: Nine studies conducted with cancer patients and survivors yielded modest improvements in sleep quality, mood, stress, cancer-related distress, cancer-related symptoms, and overall quality of life. Studies conducted in other patient populations and healthy individuals have shown beneficial effects on psychological and somatic symptoms, as well as other aspects of physical function. CONCLUSIONS: Results from the emerging literature on yoga and cancer provide preliminary support for the feasibility and efficacy of yoga interventions for cancer patients, although controlled trials are lacking. Further research is required to determine the reliability of these effects and to identify their underlying mechanisms.
Cancer Control. 2005 Jul;12(3):165-71. Bower JE, Woolery A, Sternlieb B, Garet D.
University of California, Los Angeles Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, Los Angeles

Breast Cancer
Research is becoming clear on this: Women who do yoga during and after treatment experience less physical discomfort and stress. Earlier this year Duke University scientists reported results of a pilot study in which women with metastatic breast cancer attended eight weekly yoga sessions. The doctors found that the women had much less pain and felt more energetic and relaxed.
Yoga and Breast Cancer
Women who took yoga classes during breast cancer treatment reported they could function better physically and felt better about their health. Sixty-two women who were undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer were randomly assigned to attend yoga classes twice a week or be put on a waiting list to start yoga after their treatment. The women who practiced yoga reported better physical functioning, such as the ability to walk a mile, climb stairs and lift groceries, said Lorenzo Cohen, director of integrative medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. They also felt better about their overall health and reported less fatigue and problems sleeping. No difference was seen, however, in rates of depression and anxiety in the two groups. In the study, instructors emphasized breathing and relaxation and excluded positions that would be difficult for patients with weakened range of motion. The average patient in the study was 52 years old.
Breast cancer patients benefit from a yoga program
Researchers in Ankara, Turkey evaluated twenty patients between the ages of 30 and 50 years who were under routine medical treatment for breast cancer. Eight sessions of a yoga program were included in the program such as warming and breathing exercises, asanas, relaxation in supine position, and meditation. After completion of the study, testing showed that patients' quality of life scores were better than scores obtained before the program. After the yoga sessions, there was a significant decrease in anxiety. It can be concluded that yoga is helpful to achieve relaxation and reduction of stress, helps cancer patients perform daily and routine activities in an easier manner, and increases the quality of life in cancer patients. In addition to yoga, there are foods and supplements that can be of benefit in reducing the risk or improving survival outcomes.

Yoga side effect and danger of Yoga
Even though in most cases yoga is safe, there are times that certain positions could lead to low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, hip or knee problems. For instance, should stands could aggravate neck problems. Back bends could aggravate back problems. If you have a musculoskeletal injury, take it slow and don't try to do every position the yoga instructor recommends to the class.

Yoga and Heart Failure
A regimen of yoga is safe for patients with chronic heart failure and helps reduce signs of inflammation often linked with death. More than 5 million Americans have chronic heart failure, a long-term condition in which the heart no longer pumps blood efficiently to the body's other organs.
Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta who measured the effects of an eight-week yoga regimen on heart failure patients found the yoga routine improved exercise tolerance and quality of life.

Yoga and Weight Loss
Yoga practice is associated with attenuated weight gain in healthy, middle-aged men and women.
Yoga is promoted or weight maintenance, but there is little evidence of its efficacy. OBJECTIVE: To examine whether yoga practice is associated with lower mean 10-year weight gain after age 45. Participants included 15,550 adults, aged 53 to 57 years, recruited to the Vitamin and Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort study between 2000 and 2002. Conclusions: Regular yoga practice was associated with attenuated weight gain, most strongly among individuals who were overweight. Although causal inference from this observational study is not possible, results are consistent with the hypothesis that regular yoga practice can benefit individuals who wish to maintain or lose weight.
Altern Ther Health Med. 2005 Jul-Aug;11(4):28-33. Kristal AR, Littman AJ, Benitez D, White E. Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Wash, USA.
Yoga, Weight Loss, and Teenagers
Teens bent on losing weight may want to bend into the downward dog pose -- or any other yoga position. Researchers at Hampton University in Virginia report that a program combining yoga and breathing exercises helped teens shed unwanted pounds. The study included 60 overweight high school girls and boys who were divided into two groups. One group received 40 minutes of yoga and pranayama (quiet, deep and forced breathing) four times a week for 12 weeks, while those in the control group did their normal activities. After 12 weeks, the average body mass index (BMI) in the yoga / pranayama group went from 22.8 to 21.5 (a 5.7 percent decrease), while the average BMI in the control group increased from 22.3 to 22.4. The decrease in the pranayama group could be attributed to two factors: the pranayama and yoga exercises themselves, and a possible decrease in daily caloric intake by the participants in the pranayama group because of decreased stomach size.

Yoga, Meditation and Consciousness
Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness.
This is the first in vivo demonstration of an association between endogenous neurotransmitter release and conscious experience. Using 11C-raclopride PET we demonstrated increased endogenous dopamine release in the ventral striatum during Yoga Nidra meditation. Yoga Nidra is characterized by a depressed level of desire for action, associated with decreased blood flow in prefrontal, cerebellar and subcortical regions, structures thought to be organized in open loops subserving executive control. In the striatum, dopamine modulates excitatory glutamatergic synapses of the projections from the frontal cortex to striatal neurons, which in turn project back to the frontal cortex via the pallidum and ventral thalamus. The present study was designed to investigate whether endogenous dopamine release increases during loss of executive control in meditation. Participants underwent two 11C-raclopride PET scans: one while attending to speech with eyes closed, and one during active meditation.

May 4, 2012

Bodhisattva Vow

 In Memory of MCA - - 

Cause You Can't, You Won't, 
and You Don't Stop! 

Bodhisattva Vow 

As I Develop The Awakening Mind I Praise The Buddha As They Shine
I Bow Before You As I Travel My Path To Join Your Ranks,
I Make My Full Time Task
For The Sake Of All Beings I Seek
The Enlighted Mind That I Know I'll Reap
Respect To Shantideva And All The Others
Who Brought Down The Darma For Sisters And Brothers
I Give Thanks For This World As A Place To Learn
And For This Human Body That I'm Glad To Have Earned
And My Deepest Thanks To All Sentient Beings
For Without Them There Would Be No Place To Learn What I'm Seeing
There's Nothing Here That's Not Been Said Before
But I Put It Down Now So I'll Be Sure
To Solidify My Own Views And I'll Be Glad If It Helps
Anyone Else Out Too
If Others Disrespect Me Or Give Me Flack
I'll Stop And Think Before I React =
Knowing That They're Going Through Insecure Stages
I'll Take The Opportunity To Exercise Patience
I'll See It As A Chance To Help The Other Person
Nip It In The Bud Before It Can Worsen
A Change For Me To Be Strong And Sure
As I Think On The Buddhas Who Have Come Before
As I Praise And Respect The Good They've Done
Knowing Only Love Can Conquer In Every Situation
We Need Other People In Order To Create
The Circumstances For The Learning That We're Here To Generate
Situations That Bring Up Our Deepest Fears
So We Can Work To Release Them Until They're Cleared
Therefore, It Only Makes Sense
To Thank Our Enemies Despite Their Intent
The Bodhisattva Path Is One Of Power And Strength
A Strength From Within To Go The Length
Seeing Others Are As Important As Myself
I Strive For A Happiness Of Mental Wealth
With The Interconnectedness That We Share As One
Every Action That We Take Affects Everyone
So In Deciding For What A Situation Calls
There Is A Path For The Good For All
I Try To Make My Every Action For That Highest Good
With The Altruistic Wish To Achive Buddhahood
So I Pledge Here Before Everyone Who's Listening
To Try To Make My Every Action For The Good Of All Beings
For The Rest Of My Lifetimes And Even Beyond
I Vow To Do My Best To Do No Harm
And In Times Of Doubt I Can Think On The Dharma
And The Enlightened Ones Who've Graduated Samsara 

~ Adam Yauch 

Apr 2, 2012

Tricks & Tips on Juicing from the Chop Shop Café

The juicing craze has gone nationwide and has spawned many home juicing enthusiasts. While juicing is a healthy option for everyone it can be a daunting task that quickly loses its luster for the ‘home juicer’. Mix-Master Matt, of Sutra’s Chop Shop Café, has been juicing for over 20 years and offers these simple tips to help the kitchen juicer.

Plan in advance
: The easiest way to develop good juicing habits is to always be prepared. Having vegetables and fruits in the house when the urge to juice strikes will assist you in developing good habits. Keep the fridge stocked with items you can juice within 7-9 days from date of purchase.

Buy organic: Organic vegetables carry the least amount of risk for juicing. As a rule of thumb it is best to avoid any grocery store produce, including Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes. Farm fresh and local produce will provide an incomparable flavor when matched to grocery store produce.

Wash and soak: The best flavors will come out of your produce if it is thoroughly washed to remove any solids and dirt. Any residue can make your juice bitter and gritty.

Juice hungry: Juice only on an empty stomach, early AM and/or after a workout is best. Your body and easily and effectively absorb the nutrients when it is not distracted.

Finish it: The nutrients released when juicing are best when introduced to your body immediately. Preferably your juice should be consumed within 20 minutes of juicing, no more than an hour if refrigerated. Juicing in small quantities, as opposed to storing large portions in the fridge, presents the nutrients to your body while they are still in their optimal state.

Clean up quickly: Yes, clean-up is the worst. Many decisions to juice are not based on having time to juice, but rather on having time to clean-up. Unfortunately, this is a necessary must with home juicing and should be completed as quickly as possible. Nothing is more frustrating as grabbing your juicer to find hard, crusty, green gunk plastered to the inside.

Don’t panic: When first starting to juice you may find some very colorful and explosive displays taking place in the privacy of your bathroom. Do not worry, this is totally normal. Raw juice has the power to naturally detox the body and balance its needs. If your regular diet lacks fiber, for example, you may find yourself with a stomachache after juicing. These symptoms are not the cause of bad juice, but actually your body adjusting to a healthy transition. Symptoms pass within a few days of regular juicing.

Balance your greens: Green drinks seem to be all the rage these days. While a wonderfully healthy option, greens can pack a lot of punch. A good rule of thumb when working with dark, leafy greens (spinach, kale, parsley) is the 2/3 rule. Greens are naturally bitter and can be a shock to the body, by cutting your recipes with carrots, apples, or citrus your greens should only make up 2/3 of the juice. Easier to pallet and easier for your body to digest.

Be creative: Have fun, experiment, be creative. Mix different fruits and vegetables and play with flavor, play with color, and play with texture. A common misconception is that the healthiest juices are all brown in color, this is not true. An easy way to keep juicing fun and healthy is focus on colors; make green drinks in the morning, red juices in the afternoon, orange in the evening. Be bold!

Your juicer: Buying a juicer is like buying a car; no one really cares the make or model, the only thing that matters is how well it drives. Centrifugal, masticating, auger, and blending are all a very effective means to creating fresh, nutrient rich, raw juice. Find one that seems to fit easily with your goals and feel confident with your decision; it’s really not that big of a deal. 

Have fun and keep on juicing!!

Feb 21, 2012

Enjoy the Ride

Life is crazy, without a doubt. No one can argue this simple fact. The madness of our day-to-day details; balancing work and play, managing unexpected drama, maintaining relationships, keeping our commitments, accountability, responsibility, all have the power to overwhelm and cripple any emotionally stable, overwhelming healthy, energetic adult. We all tend to measure the success of our day by determining how well we managed any unwanted tragedies that crossed our path. 

Sometimes we all need a humble reminder, a subtle over-the-shoulder wink, to simply ‘enjoy the ride’. Everything, no matter the proportion, is exactly as it should be, always. Stress won’t improve our situation. Worry can’t accelerate our desires. Fear can alter our outcome. Set yourself free, stay on course, and remain an obedient servant to your soul’s journey.  When we are clear with our intentions and straight forward about our desires there is no need to exhibit one ounce of anxiety in regard to the outcome. The beginning and the end are none of your business, but the journey is yours to enjoy!

Jan 24, 2012

Hues of History

Almost daily we receive complements on the daring interior design of Sutra. A casual chaotic blending of old meets new, polished corrosion, and refurbished chic, which we have lovingly come to reference as “Deco Punk”.  A major component of this innovative style is Sutra’s color palette, which interestingly enough, has its own unique story…

Sutra’s signature color palette is grounded in the vibrantly attractive Aqua Sky and Deep Wine hues, representing a sense of tranquility in everyday life. The marriage of the rugged exposed brick walls highly contrasted with an explosive blast of energetic tones of turquoise (what we’ve always called ‘funky blue’), and the floors, some parts of the building historic oak and other parts concrete, painted a vibrant and pulsating red, lend the space a sense of creative warm and peaceful edginess.

However, would you believe that these colors may not have been selected by us?

When Sutra first opened in March of 2009 we only occupied the southern half of our existing building, while the expansion into the northern half was not completed until November of that same year. Imagine our surprise when we began removing the layers of forgotten years from the building to discover that an almost identical color palette was used by the old factory in the 40’s / 50’s. Interior walls painted eerily similar to Sutra’s beloved ‘funky blue’ and floors, that once the layers of ceramic and laminate tile were removed,  revealed almost the exact shade of red freshly painted in the southern half of the building. Strange right!?

Coincidence? Who knows. But we were subtly reminded that by keeping an open mind we allow the Universe’s little secrets to be whispered into our ear. Next time you’re struggling with a new kitchen color, ask your house what it thinks, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Oct 27, 2011

Juicing for Allergies

Whether it's the long awaited transition of summer to fall, or the quiet fading of winter to spring, the change of seasons means more than a shift of wardrobe, but for many it signifies a time of severe allergies. For the past few days I have been forced out of the game and confined to the couch with a box of tissues, a neti pot, and a vaporizer. Achoo - sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, with itchy, watery, red eyes are only a few of the symptoms we face each year as the pollen from trees, grass, flowers, and plants find their way into the air.

In honor of the season I thought I would provide some allergy juicing tips. All types of asthmatic allergy symptoms are caused by common inflammation and certain foods can reduce this inflammation greatly. Healing foods for allergies include apples, blueberries, grapes, mangoes, oranges, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, beets, carrots, onions, red and green bell peppers, spinach and watercress. The flavonoids and antioxidants in these foods promote a proper immune response to the environment and can greatly alleviate allergy symptoms.

Introducing Sutra’s new “Allergy Elixir” raw juice!
Beets + Spinach + Apples + Strawberries

"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" - Hippocrates

Oct 4, 2011

Home Remedies: Yoga for Allergies

Dry, windy and dusty; an everyday factor commonly accepted by the residents of Phoenix. However, a widespread side effect for our desert climate is the irritating onset of allergies. Sneezing, puffy eyes, runny nose, all familiar symptoms on a windy Sonoran day, and all manageable with the power of yoga.

Two yoga poses that can be the most beneficial for combating the body’s build up of unwanted histamines are Warrior Pose I and Half Moon Pose. Both poses will open your lung and chest cavity to assist in draining the buildup of mucus; relieving much of the stuffiness and congestion responsible for your allergy outbreak.

Warrior Pose I: Stand straight, placing your feet firmly together and arms close to your body. Breathe in and place your feet hip-width apart. Now, raise your both your arms over your head and make sure your palms are facing each other. Breathe out by turning your left leg out 90 degrees to the right and your right leg in approximately around 55 degrees to the left. Exhale by twisting your torso and hip to face your left leg. Exhale and form a right angle with your shin and thigh by bending your left knee. Hold this position for 2 minutes and repeat on the right side.

Half Moon Pose: Stand straight, placing your feet firmly together and arms close to your body. Breathe in and place your feet hip-width apart. Breathe out by turning your left leg out by 90 degrees to the left. Breathe in and extend your arm out to your shoulder-height. Breathe out and reach your left arm as much as you can to your left. Now, hold your left hand down to the floor and form a Triangle Pose. Hold yourself in this position for 2 to 4 breaths.

Breath easy, Phoenix!

Sep 21, 2011

Home Remedies: Reclining Angle Pose

Reclining Angle Pose 
(Supta Baddha Konasana)

A restorative yoga pose, also known as the Goddess Pose, that stretches the thighs, knees, pelvis, and hips in a resting position. With the use of simple household blankets or pillows, this pose can easily be done in the home to support the body and offer its benefits to anyone. 

This fabulous meditative pose can assists with lower back pain and tight hamstrings, as it removes pressure from the lumbar spine and repositions the hips to release tension; ease the affects of tension and depression; and provide women relief from symptoms of menstruation and menopause.

Aug 17, 2011

Raw Juice: Power Boost

Power Boost, the name says it all, is one of the most powerful antioxidants and heath enriched juices coming out of Sutra’s Chop Shop. A raw merger of carrots, pineapple, oranges, and ginger offers a very broad range of complex vitamins, enzymes, and nutrients essential for protecting and maintaining your health. A sweet, zesty flavor, rich in color and refreshingly bold, is Mother Nature’s detergent to cleansing the body naturally.

This scrumptious recipe of raw produce is proven to:
  • Reduce the risk of cancer and stroke.
  • Strengthen cells to nourish skin and hair while combating aging.
  • Reinforce the immune system to prevent illness and disease.
  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Regulate blood sugar and enhance the function of the adrenaline gland.
  • Enhance the quality and production of breast milk.
  • And the list goes on…
In addition, this tasty treat is overwhelming loaded with beta-carotine, potassium, thiamine, biotin, manganese, iron, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and K, just to name a few.

Sutra’s Power Boost literally converts these ingredients into to raw energy, leaving you feeling revitalized, strong, and vibrantly healthy. Does your wellness need a boost? We’ve got ya covered!

Jul 17, 2011

Raw Juice: Iron Ride

Iron Ride, one of the most popular raw juices coming out of Sutra’s Chop Shop, is a straightforward blend of raw ingredients packed with a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that have the authority to transform your life. For countless generations, in a variety of diverse cultures, these basic ingredients, when combined together, have been deemed the ‘Miracle Drink’. Beetroot, Carrots, and Apples boast exceptional health benefits that are so numerous and so vast that even the most highly knowledgeable nutritionist gets exhausted trying to compile a complete list. 

A rich, robust flavor, vibrantly colorful and slightly sweet, has been proven to:
  • Prevent cancer cells from developing.
  • Prevent liver, kidney, and pancreatic diseases.
  • Strengthen the lungs and improve respiratory function.
  • Prevent heart attack, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
  • Strengthen the immune system.
  • Eliminate body pains and muscle aches.
  • Detoxify and purify the blood and intestines.
  • Assist with weight loss.
  • Combat acne and leave skin looking radiant and healthy.
  • Lessen menstrual pain and prevent anemia.
  • And the list goes on…
Plus, this highly nutritious and easily absorbed raw juice, is overwhelming loaded with:
  • Vitamins: Folic acid and vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, and A.
  • Minerals: Rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium, as well as iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
  • Antioxidants: Carotenoids and Flavanoids help reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol which could lead to damaged artery walls and ultimately heart attacks and strokes.
Iron Ride, likely one of the most efficient tools of preventive care available for achieving optimal health. One glass each day and you’ll notice substantial improvements in your personal wellbeing both internally and externally. So keep your kitchen clean - and let us do the juicing for ya!

Jul 7, 2011

Massage is not a Cupcake

Massage Therapy, too often considered a sweet, tasty, indulgence in the realm of health and wellness, where an attitude of spoiled extravagance is draped in terrycloth robes, fuzzy slippers, and magical seashells, is commonly overlooked as one of the most essential tools available for achieving optimal health. Massage, although luscious and delectable, is not a rich and gooey cupcake to be sinfully enjoyed as a rewarding dessert, but rather, in terms of fundamental health, should be treated more like a stalk of freshly grown, organically cultivated, nutrient packed, broccoli. And not hard to chew, overtly rustic, mouth coating garnish of a vegetable, but a crisp and flavorful selection of fresh produce smothered in vibrantly zesty melted cheese, good cheese, nay, great cheese.

The simple fact is, when utilized on a regular basis, therapeutic massage has been proven effective in: relieving back pain, boosting immune systems, reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, treating migraines, decreasing carpal tunnel symptoms, and easing post-operative pain. Because massage and bodywork directly, and indirectly, affects every system of the body, it promotes health, prevents illness and injury, and speeds recovery.

So yes, massage is a wonderfully glamorous way to squander a day at the spa, like a gourmet pastry selected from the local bakery’s display case, but this ancient practice of healing must not be confused as a luxury when it is a vital necessity. The power of therapeutic touch must be adored and respected as much as you would your daily multivitamin, your 10 servings of organic veg, or your 32-ounces of filtered hydration. With the vast array of medicinal benefits massage offers remember to enjoy your treatment without the underlying side effect of a guilty pleasure, but as a true means of achieving a most favorable, healthy and balanced lifestyle, sprinkles optional. 

Jul 1, 2011

Eat Your Roughs!

The average person consumes 3 daily servings of fruit & vegetables when 5 to 13 servings are recommended, depending on caloric intake. A tried and true connection to a healthy diet and for good reason; ward off heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, prevent types of cancer, and maintain proper gastrointestinal health.


Some tips to get more goodness in your day: 
1. Keep It Where You Can See It: 
Cut a bowl of fruit and leave it on the counter.

2. A Serving at Every Meal: 
Fill half your plate with veg at your next meal.

3. Keep a Wide Variety Available: 
Avoid the rut and try new produce.

4. Make it into a Meal: 
Try new recipes where the veg is center stage.

Jun 21, 2011

Fun Summer Solstice Facts

Happy Summer Solstice, the celestial event celebrating the longest day and shortest night of the year! Sol + Stice is derived by combining two Latin words meaning “sun” + “to stand still”, as the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky.

Celebrated over the centuries by a variety of diverse cultures and representing even more diverse beliefs. When digging around some interesting folklore and legends are uncovered behind this ancient celebration and its meanings. 

Interesting Solstice Facts:
  1. Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year.
  2. Pagans called the Summer Solstice moon the “Honey Moon” for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at Summer Solstice.
  3. In Lithuania it was said the dew from the morning of Summer Solstice would make old people look younger and young girls would be more beautiful.
  4. Ancient Pagans celebrated Summer Solstice with bonfires. Couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump.
  5. The astrological sign associated with the Summer Solstice is Cancer, which is symbolized by the crab. It’s said that the crab is the symbol since the year walks backwards like a crab with progressively shorter days after the solstice.
  6. Summer Solstice was thought to be a magical time when evil spirits would disappear.
  7. In England bon fires were lit to keep the evil spirits away from the town.
  8. If you don’t sleep during the Summer Solstice and sit in the middle of a stone circle you’ll see fairies, ghosts, and goblins.
  9. In Estonia if you were able to jump over a solstice bon fire, without setting your pants on fire, you were ensured of having good luck during the next year.
  10. If there’s something you want walk around the solstice bon fire three times with a pebble in your hand while you whisper what you want to the pebble before throwing it into the fire.
  11. In South America paper boats were filled with flowers, set on fire, and then released to sail down the river carrying prayers to the gods.
  12. Celtic folklore tells of placing the ashes of the Litha fire around fields of crops to assure bountiful harvests.
  13. During the Summer Solstice men named John had a wreath of oak leaves placed on their doors to honor them.
Welcome summer!

May 25, 2011

Simple Healthy Habits: Water

Simple Healthy Habits:

Did you know that adding one vegetable and drinking one glass of water at every meal will increase energy, boost the immune system, improve sleep habits, and generate weight loss.

Apr 3, 2011

Masseuse vs. Massage Therapist

Once upon a time, the term masseuse was a suitable name for a person giving massages as their profession as a means to make a living. However, as the industry has evolved so has the need to distinguish the difference between a masseuse and a Massage Therapist to ensure each client is achieving their desired service.

Masseur is from the French word masser – meaning to massage. In the U.S. however, this term has commonly been adopted by escort services operating under the guise of massage. Due to the increased popularity of this term being used by those engaging in illegal prostitution, it is no surprise that real massage therapists would be easily offended when referred to as a masseuse. 

A Massage Therapist accurately describes a professional body worker with intensive clinical training on the modalities of the body and able to execute multiple massage techniques for the purpose of health and wellness.

The most noticeable difference between the two would be, 1) A large investment of time and money in an extensive 2 year medical program. Compared to, 2) A large investment of time in offering companionship to lonely travelers and sex offenders. As you can see, a very large difference in career choices.

When selecting a massage practitioner one should avoid those claiming to have ‘massage training’ or are ‘massage certified’ and strictly trust the needs of their body to a Licensed Massage Therapists (LMT). Licensed and insured with their confident abilities in understanding the medicinal needs of the body.

PS – On a side note, as funny as it sounds in your head, no therapist will find humor in the adolescent trite humor of a “happy ending” joke. Just saying.

Mar 21, 2011

Yoga is not a fashion show – what to wear to class

For new students, attending your first yoga class can be a little intimidating, and even cause a bit of anxiety, but choosing what to wear should not. Sadly, the fashion industry has crept onto the mat as a silent esteem assassin in hopes of convincing you that their specific brand is what your practice is currently lacking. Regardless of what they may promise, we assure you that there no articles of magical clothing designed to elevate your practice to immeasurable levels.

When it comes to your yoga wardrobe it is most important to wear whatever you feel comfortable moving your body in; feeling supported and unrestricted in lightweight, breathable clothing. 

Comfort is key: t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and stretchy pants. 
Clothes to avoid: denim, short shorts, baggy pants, and baggy t-shirts. 

Remember, yoga teaches us to love ourselves, so we can love the world around us, and no one gives a sh*t who manufactured your pants. 

Mar 13, 2011

Pet Ownership = Less Stress

With the #1 method of stress relief being the yoga & massage, #2 proper diet and nutrition, it is fun to share that #3 on the list of battling stress is pet ownership.

Pets are natural Mood Enhancers that cause your body to actually go thru physical changes within minutes of contact. Levels of cortisol (stress hormone) are quickly lowered, and the production of serotonin is greatly increased, resulting in improved well being.

Feb 20, 2011

F*cking Let it Out!

Did you know that it is scientifically proven that shouting out a few choice curse words removes the edge from both a painful and/or stressful situation!? Swearing has existed for several centuries, and in many cultures, and seems to treat us to an unexplained release of tension. 

In short, f*cking let that sh*t out when needed!

Oct 20, 2010

Autumn Pumpkin Harvest

All nuts and seeds are healthy, but Pumpkin seeds are exceptionally good for you. They are nature's own little multi-supplement packed full of iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium, arguably the four most important minerals our bodies need. But they don’t stop there; these tasty little superstars are also a terrific source of protein and the essential fatty acid omega-3.