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 – Bone Broth

 

Bone broth beef noodle soup

The cold weather is here! The temperature drop and shorter days can make us feel like flying south or hibernating. Depending on our perspective winter can be a harsh trial to endure or it can be an invitation to increase our resiliency.  

I’ve fled the cold weather at various times in my life, mainly because I didn’t know how to adjust my diet and lifestyle. After learning some basic rules of thumb my whole perspective of winter has changed. Taking care of my body allows me to feel more in tune with nature. So now instead of viewing winter as a harsh obstacle I see it as an opportunity to slow down and increase my energy reserves.

Yoga helped me begin the process of tuning into my body at this time of year. Some of my lifestyle practices include:

  1. Minimizing my exposure to artificial light at night
  2. Using candles and LED bulbs
  3. Resting when I’m tired
  4. Waking up with the sun
  5. Drinking lots of hot fluids
  6. Keeping my body well-insulated
  7. Building immunity through my diet
  8. I never get a flu shot (elderberry syrup for the win)

Food is my medicine.

Bone broth is a fairly recent addition to my culinary arsenal. I learned about bone broth when I was working in New York City. I loved going to Chinatown and one of my favorite places to eat was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that makes hand-pulled noodle soups. I’ve been hooked on that flavorful and nutrient-rich broth ever since.

This article provides a good overview of the health benefits of bone broth from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective: How Bone Broths Support Your Adrenals, Bones and Teeth

It’s very easy to make bone broth.

Save leftover bones (I use organic chicken bones), place them in a pot with filtered water and add a splash of vinegar to aid in mineral extraction. You can also add a bay leaf or some vegetable scraps for flavor. Onion peels give bone broth a warm yellow color.

Bring the broth to a boil and then simmer for a minimum of 4 hours (or up to 24 hours). The longer you simmer the more nutrient dense it will be so add water as needed. You can use a crock pot or cook it on low on the stove. Either way your house will smell fantastic!

Some people try to keep their broth clear but it’s okay if it turns cloudy. Strain the cooled broth through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the particulate. Store the strained broth in glass mason jars in the fridge where it will keep for about a week. Bone broth is a great addition to soups, stews and any recipe that calls for stock. You could also try making your own version of the latest health trend in NYC – a steaming cup of bone broth.

What’s your favorite way to use bone broth? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

Homemade bone broth soup

 

Never Leave the Park

 

Bike Outdoor Park Yoga Practice

I saw a video today called Never Leave the Playground by Stephen Jepson. I highly recommend it. Jepson is 74 years old and believes that the secret to health and longevity is to “just keep moving” through constant play. He’s designed a series of exercises that focus on movements and games that are like what children play on a playground. It inspired me to share a little snapshot of my outdoor practice session.

I’ve been housebound for the past few rainy days and so I decided to take a trip to the local playground. It was SO nice to be out in the sunshine again. I think that part of my enjoyment comes from knowing that these warm days are numbered…

I really like the Fall in New York. There’s an abundance of warm days before the cold weather hits. I was walking around barefoot today (in October!!) We’re also approaching the time change which is all the more reason to play outside as much as possible.

Around 4:00 I packed up a thermos of strong black tea and strapped my yoga mat to the bike. I hit the road for the local park and playground in Woodstock, NY. It’s a pretty sweet spot for an outdoor yoga practice. The backdrop of the mountains and the open sky are simply beautiful.

The park was almost empty except for a few high school boys. I set up on the opposite end of the basketball court near an apple tree. The boys hung out for a while and I had a chance to overhear some of what goes on in their world.

Practicing outdoors is so much better than practicing inside. It doesn’t cost anything to practice at your local playground. I hope you find some time to practice outside soon.

My home studio for the day:

Yoga mat park

 

Self Teacher Study – Mind Body Parkour

Swami Vivekananda Mind Body Parkour

So I’ve been meditating on this idea lately. It has to do with:

  1. Practicing ALL the time
  2. Perceiving the world as one big training ground

If you practice yoga for long enough it begins to weave its way into your everyday life, even in the most ordinary situations. You might find yourself stretching your calves in the airport or meditating while standing on line in the grocery store.

EVERY moment is an opportunity to practice.

Self-directed practice increases our personal power. It gives us a sense of autonomy and builds our inner strength. You can practice with other people but just like learning how to ride a bike, eventually you’ll want to take the training wheels off. Self-directed practice is something you can do anytime, anywhere. It’s kind of like the urban sport of free-running – Parkour:

Parkour is non-competitive. It may be performed on an obstacle course, but is usually practiced in a creative, and sometimes playful, reinterpretation or subversion of urban spaces.  Parkour involves seeing one’s environment in a new way, and imagining the potentialities for movement around it. – Wikipedia

I’ve been playing with how to merge the Parkour philosophy into my experience of the world. I’ve been exploring new ways of doing simple, every day tasks as well as looking for ways to improve upon pre-existing systems. For example, it’s possible to turn the act of washing dishes into a meditation exercise. Instead of going on auto-pilot I can use this opportunity to mindfully notice my posture, breath and train of thoughts. In addition to having one set time for my yoga practice I can also do little exercises throughout the day.

The possibilities are endless and it’s fun to play with customizing your own version of Mind Body Parkour.  

We can start by brainstorming for a minute. What do YOU need to do for yourself?

Do you want to: feel better, eat healthier, have more energy, laugh more, love more… ?

Now ask yourself what would it take to do all of these things.

And now ask what is it that keeps me from doing these things?

Fill in the blanks = I need ____________.   I would do  _____________ if I could.

Remember, every moment is an opportunity to practice. It just takes a little self-discipline, some creativity and a willingness to think outside of the box. Parkour takes exercise out of the gym and into the world. We can do the same thing with our personal practice.

Ready to make the world your playground? Book a FREE no-obligation consultation today: Book Now

Mind Your Feet

 

Emily Seymour Yoga Mind Your Feet

Pounding the pavement in New York City is an adventure. Everyone walks there. Some people would rather walk thirty blocks than ride the subway. It’s so easy to get swept up in the sea of people, with the sensory-overload of sights, sounds, and smells all around you. It can be overwhelming but staying in tune with our bodies makes it easier to navigate these kinds of obstacle courses. One of the easiest ways to stay connected to our bodies is by focusing on our feet.

Feet are kind of a big deal:

  • There are 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles, 10 tendons and 107 ligaments in the foot
  • The soles of your feet contain more sensory nerve ending than per square centimeter than any other part of the body
  • There are approximately 250,000 sweat glands in your feet
  • The average person takes 10,000 steps per day
  • Women are four times more likely to have foot problems than men (due to wearing high heels)
  • 90% of American women wear shoes that are too small for their feet
Feet Reflexology Massage Chart
Foot Reflexology Chart

Walking on hard surfaces takes a major toll on our feet. You can walk for miles in the woods without getting tired but walking around in a mall can be exhausting. The way our feet connect with the ground affects our whole bodies. Being unconscious of our feet can induce any number of alignment issues, pain, and disabilities.

The simple act of walking can be an exercise in mindfulness if we so choose. One simple technique that I use for walking is to stay aware of the four corners of my feet – the big toes, little toes, inner and outer heels. Some other tips for walking mindfully include:

  1. Keep your feet parallel.
  2. Plant the heel and roll through the foot evenly.
  3. Keep a 50/50 weight distribution between your inner and outer heels.
  4. Roll through the foot towards the direction of your second toe. Your big toes will take on more of the weight, but keep your pinkie toes active.
  5. Relax the soles of your feet. Imagine that you’re massaging the ground with each step.

Emily Seymour Yoga FeetYou can also play with finding the balance between the two sides of your feet. Too much weight in the inner arch will cause pronation of the feet (rolling the feet towards one another) and too much weight in the outer arch of the foot will cause supination (rolling the feet away from one another).

It’s always a good idea to conclude a day on your feet with a foot massage. I teach an easy and effective foot massage sequence in my Foundations Training course.

For more information book a FREE no-obligation consultation today.

 

Basic Goodness – Summer Air

Basic Goodness Summer Air
Gayatri Mantra
Om Bhur Bhuvaha Svaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Di Mahi
Diyo yo Naha Prachodayat
Om

Happy summer solstice! I hope you were able to soak up some of the blessings of this day. I’m in the city this week and decided to honor the sun with an outdoor practice. I went to my favorite spot in Riverside Park that overlooks the water and set up shop. Kicked off my shoes, placed my backpack right next to my mat (one can never be too careful) and closed my eyes to meditate.

The mental knots of the day started to unravel as my senses tuned into the sounds and smells of the park. The sweet fragrance of linden blossoms interwove with the sharp odor of fresh asphalt. I chanted Om in harmony with a passing ambulance siren.

I’ve been practicing inside a lot lately so the change of scenery took a little getting used to. The ground was uneven and I had to stop every so often to blow the occasional ant off my hand or foot. It made me a little twitchy but I remembered that yogis used to practice on the ground with no mats.  And looking at the trees while being upside down is great for shifting perspective.

The very best part was dancing with the wind. There is something so magical about the summer breeze in the city (I swear it has a life all of it’s own). The effect of practicing asana in those warm gusts of air is so transformative – talk about wiping the slate clean.

The effect reminded me of a scene from a movie I just saw – Fearless with Jet Li. At one point Li’s character is learning how to work in the rice paddies in the countryside. Whenever a warm breeze moves through all of the villagers stop what they are doing, stand up and close their eyes. At first Li’s character is too caught up in feeling insecure and competitive and stubbornly keeps working. Later on he realizes the basic goodness of taking those pauses. Basic goodness is a term that was coined by Tibetan spiritual teacher, Chogyam Trungpa:

“Discovering real goodness comes from appreciating very simple experiences. We are not talking about how good it feels to make a million dollars or finally graduate from college or buy a new house, but we are speaking here of the basic goodness of being alive — which does not depend on our accomplishments or fulfilling our desires. We experience glimpses of goodness all the time, but we often fail to acknowledge them. When we see a bright color, we are witnessing our own inherent goodness. When we hear a beautiful sound, we are hearing our own basic goodness. When we step out of the shower, we feel fresh and clean, and when we walk out of a stuffy room, we appreciate the sudden whiff of fresh air. These events take a fraction of a second, but they are real experiences of goodness.” ~ Chogyam Trungpa

How did you celebrate the solstice today? Did you have any opportunities to practice basic goodness? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

Taoist Travel Tips

Taoist Travel Tips Canal St

I had a bit of an adventure today – two train rides and one dash through Manhattan via the subway. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some ways that I streamline these kinds of big travel days.

Travel Tip #1: The Train is Awesome.

I love the train – it beats riding on the bus every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Some of the views between the city and upstate are simply fantastic. The train rocks my world for so many reasons, including:

  • The train is much more time efficient than the bus
  • I can actually work or read without getting motion sickness
  • The chance of getting stuck in traffic in minimal
  • There’s no risk of crazy drivers.

Instead of dealing with all that, I’m can sit back and do a bit of writing while sipping on hot tea.

Travel Tip #2: A thermos makes a trip ten times more enjoyable.

The train is far less stressful than other kinds of travel (except for maybe riding a bike). Airplanes are much more time efficient but the altitude swings are pretty tough on the body. As for boats… despite growing up on the coast of Maine I’m not a huge fan of boats. To each their own, but the train is the best form of Taoist travel that I’ve found so far.

Beacon Waterfall

I call it Taoist travel because Taoism teaches us to move through life much like moving with the current of a river. This doesn’t mean living in complete submission to whatever happens to you – it’s about learning how to engage skillfully and navigate life more effectively.

One example of Taoist travel is to avoid wasting energy by fighting unnecessary battles (this includes dealings with unsavory people). You can see this principle in nature, where animals instinctively know to conserve their energy by traveling the paths of least resistance.

Taoist Travel Tips Emily Seymour

Travel Tip #3: When it comes to stuff, less is always more.

What would you pack for a two month trip? I pretty much live this way. Schlepping my gypsy carriage (which consists of a roller suitcase, backpack, cooler bag and yoga mat) has taught me that as little stuff as I think I might have it’s always too much. Try lugging a suitcase up two flights of stairs in a busy subway station and you’ll know what I mean.

Travel Tip #4: Escalators and elevators are like gold.

As much as possible, try to save yourself from unnecessary strain. Take the escalator or elevator whenever possible. A little hard schlepping never hurt anyone (it probably builds character) but try to balance the effects by switching your carrying arm regularly.

Travel Tip #5: Take your time.

There’s no need to rush. Give yourself plenty of time to figure out where you’re going, to eat slowly, and to find your connections, gates or exits. When you’re able to enjoy the journey your mood improves. You might even find yourself smiling at strangers.

Do you have any Taoist Traveler’s Tips to share?  Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

You might also enjoy reading: More Taoist Travel Tips

Taoist Travel Tips Brooklyn Bridge

Is Power Yoga the Anti-Yoga?

Is Power Yoga the Anti-Yoga

A friend sent me a coupon for a week of free yoga classes so I decided to check out a studio in Manhattan. I’d heard good things about this place – that it’s one of the better studios in the city. On their website they describe their signature style as being based on the chakra system. I let go of any pre-conceived ideas of what this could mean and went with an open mind.

There was a strong MTV element.

The walls were painted with graffiti and one wall displayed a mural of Ganesha holding a boom box and a stack of dollar bills. The floor was covered in glitter and pink hearts that were arranged to help students align their mats so they wouldn’t kick one another in a packed room.

The studio owner came in sporting an Obama tee shirt and a half sleeve. I’d never seen such a blatant political advertisement by a teacher (yoga is not political BTW). The music was bumping from start to finish and the sequencing included some creative variations. The predominant theme of the class was fun, Fun, FUN! It must be what the student-clientele are willing to pay $18 a class for.

I had a hard time concentrating.

The over-stimulation was a stark contrast to my usual “studio” of parks and nature. It felt like I was in a dance class rather than a yoga class. I didn’t experience anything about the “signature style” to indicate a relationship with the chakras. It may have not been a part of the lesson that day (which I honestly don’t remember).

A few days later I received an email from a Buddhist Dharma teacher who shared his reflections on the benefits of Slow Yoga. He said that Slow Yoga helps his students with their meditation practices and that they believe that power yoga is the anti-yoga, or at least anti-enlightenment in the same way that guided meditation is anti-meditation.

With the MTV yoga experience still fresh in my mind, I had to agree that power yoga presents an obstacle. It’s not to say that power yoga can’t be used as a stepping stone but its primary function is aerobic entertainment. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that guided meditation is anti-meditation though…

What do you think? Is power yoga the anti-yoga? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.