Superhuman Healthcare – Herniated Disks

Herniated disks are no joke. The first time I got one I was commuting to NYC every week. Schlepping a roller suitcase through the crowded subways did a number on my neck. I woke up one day with a very bad pain radiating down my arm.

In yoga we talk about the difference between good pain and bad pain. 

  • Good pain is a generalized discomfort that results from increasing your performance level. Good pain is an indicator that you are progressing with proper alignment and awareness of your personal limitations.
  • Bad pain is sharp, shooting and localized. It’s a red flag that your body communicates to say STOP what you are doing immediately.

A herniated disk (also called a ruptured or slipped disk) is an excellent example of bad pain. They can occur anywhere in the spine, but most often will occur in the cervical spine (neck) or lumbar spine (lower back). Typically a herniated disk causes a pinched nerve, leading to numbness or tingling in the neck, arm, lower back or leg. It causes pain, weakness, and/or numbness.

The good news is that up to 90% of patients can be treated without surgery. I’m a huge advocate for avoiding surgery whenever possible. And it can be helpful to know what kinds of alternative treatments are available and how they work.

This past January I ruptured my neck again (admittedly, it’s the weak link in my chain). I did it while sleeping incorrectly and it took about two months to heal. Part of what slowed the process was that I didn’t take time off. I was doing a LOT of desk work while trying to keep up with my normal exercise routines.

Pain is a great teacher.

Thankfully, I had the help of one of the top tier Oriental medical providers in America – Avi Ginsberg, a.k.a. Jin Wei. He’s helped me on countless occasions over the past twelve years, including one time when I got a serious viral infection.

Avi has an arsenal of therapies that he uses in his treatments, all of which are built upon his signature style of bodywork. The foundation of external therapy in Oriental medicine is Tui Na, or Chinese medical massage. It’s somewhat like Rolfing, as his technique is a unique form of non-invasive reconstructive surgery.

In addition to Tui Na, Avi gave me acupuncture multiple times. After administering over 30,000 treatments he’s mastered a painless needling technique. During one of his treatments I fell asleep on the table! This is not uncommon but it was a first for me.

He also used cupping therapy to help increase circulation. Cupping is amazing. It feels like deep tissue massage and is great for immediate pain relief. One time Avi combined a cupping treatment with Gua Sha, another ancient massage technique. According to Wikipedia:

Gua sha, meaning “scraping sha-bruises”, is a traditional Chinese medical treatment in which the skin is scraped to produce light bruising. Practitioners believe gua sha releases unhealthy elements from injured areas and stimulates blood flow and healing.

Again, this is deep tissue medical massage. It’s not for cosmetic purposes, it’s for getting to the root of the problem which may involve good pain. One of Avi’s clients (a retired nurse) used the analogy of how you wouldn’t try to fix acne by covering it with make up. You have to dig deep sometimes which is why a solid yoga practice is so helpful with navigating the healing process.

I’m very grateful to be pain-free after receiving such wonderful care. I’m rebuilding my strength and I’m happy to be practicing handstands again.

For more information about Avi Ginsberg please visit Hatch Chiropractic and Wellness

Thai Curry Soup

Thai Curry Soup Recipe

It’s great to be back on the Western Slope of Colorado. There is something extraordinary about this place. I felt it the first time I drove across the Utah-Colorado border. After exploring Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Utah for the past six months it’s wonderful to know that this is where I want to live. The synchronicity that led to moving to Grand Junction was nothing short of miraculous. And the work that has gone into getting to this point has been significant. Needless to say, I am very, very grateful to be here.

The weather is perfect for soup.

It’s starting to cool down a bit at night, so I’ve been making some small changes to my diet and lifestyle. Soup has been calling my name, so I made a big batch of homemade chicken stock. Last night I whipped up a pot of Thai curry soup. The warming spices and rich coconut milk melded with the slow-cooked meat and vegetables which made the house smell wonderful!

A bowl of good medicine.

This recipe is incredibly versatile, so feel free to play around with the ingredients. I used what I had on hand and made my own curry powder with a good-quality organic turmeric powder. Turmeric is a great addition to your medicine chest [a.k.a. pantry]. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola:

“It has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as Ayurvedic medicine.

Traditional medicinal uses include the treatment of liver disease, skin problems, respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments, sprained muscles, joint pains, and general wound healing.

Its benefits have since been well documented in the medical literature, and curcumin—one of the most well-studied bioactive ingredients in turmeric — has been found to promote health and protect against a wide array of health conditions.

It actually exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, as well as potent anti-cancer properties that have been intensely studied.”

The full list of health benefits is way too long to list here, so let’s get cooking! One of the ways to really amp up the flavor of any soup or stew is to add a sprinkling of Celtic sea salt in the final stage of cooking. Just be careful – this stuff is STRONG and a little goes a long way. I also add just a touch of sugar to balance the flavor of the curry. I like spicy food but I can get a little heavy handed and the sugar helps to round things out.

Thai Curry Soup

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1/3 yellow squash, chopped
  • 2 mushrooms, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked dark chicken meat, sliced
  • 1 rounded Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 a can of full fat coconut milk
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Kosher and Celtic salt
  1. Start by warming the chicken stock in a small saucepan over low heat.
  2. Place a large wok over medium heat. Add coconut oil, chopped onion, red pepper and carrot. Stir occasionally and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add chopped yellow squash and mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.
  4. Add minced garlic and sliced chicken meat. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then coat with curry powder. Stir mixture constantly (it will be dry) for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add chicken stock, coconut milk and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer until carrots are tender (15-2o minutes). Add a sprinkle of Celtic sea salt and adjust seasonings as needed.
  6. When ready to serve, add a generous handful of baby spinach and stir until the leaves are wilted. Ladle soup into two bowls.

Serve with hot white rice or cooked noodles.

Easy Thai Curry Soup Recipe

If you enjoyed this recipe you might also like: Home Rituals – Tortilla Soup 

Liberty Health and Wellness

Liberty Health and Wellness Yoga

Liberty Health and Wellness

 

I’m proud to announce a new partnership with Liberty Health and Wellness, a holistic and alternative health care service provider on the Western Slope of Colorado. We have clinics in Grand Junction and Montrose, and are planning to set up a third clinic in Moab, Utah! We specialize in home care and clinical services including acupuncture, tui na, yoga, as well as dietary, herbal and exercise therapy. To learn more about how Oriental medicine can help you and your loved ones please visit: libertyhealthandwellness.net

Superhuman Healthcare

Avi Ginsberg acupuncturist and holistic healthcare practitionerThe roulette wheel of life delivers the occasional hard knock to us all, and as luck would have it I got hit with a serious viral infection. We’re talking about the kind of sickness that will put most people in the hospital where they’ll be given antibiotics and possibly surgery. It was REALLY bad. I’m not quite sure how it happened, except that I might have picked it up on one of my five hour commutes through New York City.

At first I thought it was food poisoning but then I developed a severe radiating pain in the right side of my jaw. I could barely chew my food – eating was painful and exhausting. The icing on the cake was I had just started a ten day housesitting job in Connecticut and had no way to access medical attention.

That was one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done.

As soon as it was over I went to see Avi Ginsberg. He’s an Oriental medical provider and has been my primary care physician for over ten years. He diagnosed my condition as being an extreme case of “toxic heat” in the stomach channel. Avi proceeded to bombard the virus with remedies for clearing heat and building immunity. The arsenal of therapies that he used to treat me included:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chinese herbs (antibiotics)
  • Cupping therapy
  • Magnets
  • Qi Gong
  • Mung bean pudding
  • Watermelon
  • Daikon radish
  • Peppermint tea
  • Tamarind juice
  • Colloidal silver
  • Vitamin C powder
  • Mouthwashes (salt water, baking soda, peroxide, vinegar, vodka)
  • Raw garlic
  • Alum powder
  • Watermelon frost
  • A mysterious black powder he got in Chinatown
  • Red flower oil
  • Far Infared heat therapy
  • Moxibustion

The beauty of these ancient remedies, folk medicines, and alternative therapies is that they do not deplete the body. 

After a week I was 80% better, and after a month I’d healed completely. By allowing my body to heal through what I call “superhuman healthcare” I am healthier and stronger than I was before I got sick.

I’m sharing this with you because I want to help people understand how powerful and empowering alternative medicine is. It IS possible to heal from extreme viral attacks without toxic pharmaceuticals, surgery, or obscenely expensive medical bills.

Needless to say, I am very, very grateful to Avi for his help and I highly recommend his expertise to all of my friends. He provides Traditional Oriental Physiotherapy, Acupuncture, Dietary and Herbal Therapy, and Exercise Therapy in Grand Junction and Montrose, Colorado. For more information please visit Liberty Health and Wellness

Home Rituals – Tortilla Soup

There’s been a lot of sickness floating around lately – some nasty chest and head colds (I got hit with both). For the most part I let them run their course, knowing that my immune system would be stronger once it was all over. I upped the anti on my vitamin C intake, drank LOTS of hot tea and tried to rest as much as possible.

The double whammy slowed me down quite a bit so I adjusted my practice accordingly (downward dog is just not an option when your head is full of snot). At times like these it’s good to remember that it really doesn’t matter what you do in your home practice just as long as you do SOMETHING for at least an hour a day.

One of the best things I did for myself was cook with warming foods (garlic, onion, cayenne pepper). I added this powerhouse trio to soups, curries, and pasta dishes, and with each bite my head would clear up a bit more. One of the recipes that I made was Chicken Tortilla Soup. Every ingredient is highly medicinal and when put together they pack a powerful punch. Best of all it’s really easy to make.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves 2-3 people.

  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Anaheim pepper, diced (or 1/2 of a green pepper)

Cut VeggiesCut Veggies

Heat a medium-sized sauté pan on a low setting (**see note about cookware**)  Add 1 tablespoon butter. Add the carrots, onions and peppers and increase the heat to medium. Sprinkle with salt (Kosher or sea) and sauté for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saute

Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring to keep the veggies from browning. Garlic can burn very easily, so you want to keep a close eye (and nose) on your pan at this point. As soon as you smell the garlic add the tomatoes. This helps to keep the veggies from sticking to the bottom of the pan and will prevent any burning.

Add Garlic

Cook the veggies for another couple of minutes. At this point the onion should start to look translucent. Add a quart of chicken bone broth (I used this recipe: Home Rituals Bone Broth)

Chicken Stock

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender. The bubbles should break continuously on the surface (between a rolling boil and a slow simmer).

Bubbling

Drain and rinse half a can (8oz) of organic black beans. Add to the soup, along with a 1/2 cup of cooked, diced chicken and cook for another few minutes. I used dark meat because it doesn’t dry out like white meat. If you wanted to use white meat you could – I would just recommend waiting until the very last minute to add it. Season the soup with:

  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
  • Salt to taste

In the last minute of cooking, add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro and the juice of half a lime.

Add Cilantro

To serve, place a half of a cup of cooked rice in the bottom of a wide bowl. Ladle the soup over the rice. Garnish with a small handful of crushed organic, non-GMO corn tortilla chips, a few sprigs of fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime. Voila!

Home Rituals Chicken Tortilla Soup

** Just a quick side note about cookware – avoid aluminum at all costs as it’s one of the causes of Alzheimer’s. I used stainless steel because that’s what was available at the time, and it’s pretty good for cooking. Teflon is okay as long as you don’t use metal cooking utensils which can scratch and release poisonous Teflon particulate into your food.  The best option for cookware is a good-quality ceramic or ceramic-coated pan. And you don’t want to use any metal utensils with ceramic cookware. Wooden or high temperature plastic utensils are fine. **

What’s your go-to recipe when you’re feeding a cold?  Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

Yogis Can Eat Meat (if They Want to)

Yogis Can Eat Meat
I’m a flexitarian, which means that I eat small amounts of healthy meat. As a yoga teacher, people tend to assume that I’m a vegetarian. I enjoy vegetarian cuisine and have experimented with vegetarianism, but it isn’t in my best interest to eat that way.

I could replace meat with supplements or food combining options (such as rice and beans) and would do so if I had no other options. I just know that my energy level and health is enhanced from animal proteins. I understand that every person’s body is unique and their diet should reflect that. This is just what works for me.

I grew up in an American home. My family belonged to a co-op for a while and supported the Maine organic farmers association. I experimented with vegetarianism when I was in high school, but quite honestly I had no idea what I was doing.

When I went to college I didn’t like the cafeteria food, so I wound up eating a lot of cereal, bagels and salads. My boyfriend came to visit and saw how depleted I was, so we bought a hotplate and we made pasta and sausage in my dorm room. That first home-cooked meal was like finding water in the desert.

After a year at college I decided to take a leave of absence and began apprenticing with my dance teacher. Being on the road and eating out a lot while teaching five days a week took a major toll on my body. During spring break I experimented with the Blood Type Diet. After just a week of eating according to my Type O recommendations I felt healthier than I had in years. I was eating sprouted grain breads, vegetables, fruits and small portions of healthy meats and fish. The higher cost of eating this way kept me from continuing, so I fell back into my old patterns.

After my dance teacher passed I became friends with a group of people who had a cooking tradition. Each week a different person would cook a shared meal. I was very nervous about cooking for a large group, and my first attempt was a failure. One of the older women shared some of her cookbooks with me. One was specifically for “starving artists” like myself.

I started teaching myself how to cook.

I began to integrate these books with what I’d been learning about food energetics. Cooking became a meditation for me as I practiced listening to my intuition while preparing simple meals.

I moved to New York where I met a Chinese doctor and martial artist. He taught me about cooking alchemy from an Oriental medicine perspective. I started to view my food as medicine. For the first time in my adult life I started relaxing my belly while I ate. As a dancer I’d always held it in out of fear of eating too much. I was exercising a lot and learned that in order to train effectively I had to have enough of the right kinds of fuel in my body.

I went on to study yoga and Ayurveda, and continued learning about food as medicine. Like any other food, meat has medicinal benefits. My yoga teacher (who eats fish and eggs) taught me about the importance of gratitude and the power of prayer when eating.

There’s a common misperception in New Age circles that eating meat is somehow less “spiritual” than vegetarianism or veganism. There are many yoga teachers who eat meat and even the Buddha ate meat. Apparently eating meat was what killed him though – the story goes that he died from being served contaminated pork, which is a great argument against mishandling.

Every person has the right to eat however they want.

This is just my story about food and I’m interested to hear yours. Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.