The art of convalescence

“I want this to go away. I just want to be healthy again. I hate being sick”. Does this sound familiar? I speak of experience. Just had and survived Dengue fever. I was miserable, my head was pounding, I felt nauseous, I didn’t even have the strength to stay seated for a few days. All I wanted was for it to be “over”.

Yet, when the worst days were over, I began feeling something strangely comforting. I was happy to just lie there and do nothing. I was content not being in pain, eating small and nutritious meals, enjoying the odour of my essential oils again (for example Ginger when nauseous and Peppermint for clarity), being able to walk up the stairs without panting. This, my friends, is the convalescing period and it is the most important part in recovery.

08_convalescenceThere are several ways to support the immune system to get well again. First of all it’s the all but forgotten art of resting. Resting allows the body to aim its energies toward healing rather than using up precious resources to complete the latest deadline. If you need to be back at work, go to bed earlier. Eat nutritious food, you just need to listen to your body, it will tell you what you need; soups for example are a great way to ease the burden of digestion and nourish the body during convalescence.

Adjust your life-style to incorporate stress-reducing activities. This can be anything from a drawing class to practising Yoga or meditation, albeit for convalescences practice a gentle Yoga routine. Take a stroll in nature or practice Tai Chi. We are all different, do something you enjoy and make those necessary adjustments in life. And last but not least, saying thanks to our capacity to heal and be well again. Our immune system is the greatest gift we have been given. All we need to do is – to support it.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Many practicing Yogis have heard of the Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga and the Patanjali Yoga Sutras (http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras.htm), which tenets are used mostly in teacher trainings. They incorporate the eight steps to attain ultimate wisdom (http://www.yogajournal.com/artic…/beginners/the-eight-limbs/.

29_Hatha Yoga PradipikaHowever there is another text less quoted: The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which is said to be the oldest surviving text on Hatha Yoga. Swami Swatmarama, a disciple of Swami Goraknath, was the author of the text in the 15th century CE.

The text incorporates descriptions of asanas (postures), purifying practices (shatkarma), mudras (finger and hand positions), bandhas (locks), and pranayama (breath exercises). The purpose of Hatha Yoga is explained as the awakening of kundalini (subtle energy) to experience deep meditative absorption known as Samadhi (http://www.yogabasics.com/learn/hatha-yoga-pradipika/).

Have a little conversation with yourself

“I can’t meditate!” is a response I often get, when I say I teach Yoga. Apart of teaching 07_meditationpredominantly Hatha-Yoga (in Samkkya Yoga StudioI often do add a little self-exploration at the end of the class. Swami Rama, the founder of Himalayan Yoga Meditation, was a very practical teacher. Being born in India and educated in the Western hemisphere (he studied psychology) he was well aware of the restrictions of the human mind. He suggested using an ‘internal dialogue’ as the first step of meditation. The observer (you) and that which is observed (your thoughts) have a conversation and as we analyse and observe the train of mental objects, we thus slowly rise above them and they will not dominate our consciousness anymore.

The Sun is pure energy

suryanamaskar-mantra

Malaysians will probably not understand why some Caucasians lie in the sun midday, exposing their skin to harmful UV-light. I do understand that deep yearning for the warmth of the sun having grown up in a country of four seasons, albeit they are not as romantic and confined to a certain time of the year than imagined by many Asians who never left their countries of origin.

The sun has a different role to play in a climate as hot as Malaysia, mostly to be avoided as much as possible, admittedly it yields as much energy as harmful elements, however we will all agree that without sun there is no Life.

I believe that through the practice of Asanas (postures) which are named after plants and animals – for example the tree pose, the camel, the cat pose –  we express the energy of that particular Asana within ourselves.

Thus by practicing The Sun Salute we celebrate and manifest the energy of the sun within ourselves.  The flowing movements of the body create a psycho-physical rhythm that soothes and energises body and mind simultaneously. In the classic Surya Namaskar a Mantra is being sung to each asana, stimulating the release of endorphins and balancing of mind, body and spirit. Each Yoga teacher (also in Samkkya Yoga Studio) might have their own variation of Surya Namaskar, however the benefits remain similar for all styles: improved body fitness, harmonizing of the endocrine and nerve functions and increased energy.

Yoga and the Spine

Did you know that every evening we are a little shorter, due to water loss in our inter-43_Easy twist on floorvertebral disks? During sleep the disks re-hydrate and expand again. Stretching exercises, s.a. Yoga speed up the oxygen uptake into these inter-vertebral disks (because they rely on blood-vessels from the bodies of the vertebraes), increase circulation and remove waste. And by the way, people don’t get shorter because their inter-vertebral disks flatten permanently, they get shorter due to bone-loss in the vertebraes itself!

The most complete exercise system in the world is……?

  • Requirements: Space for a mat
  • Initial investment: classes with an appropriate and trained teacher.
  • Personal investment: self-motivation
  • Further investment (if needed): staying inspired through joining classes
  • Possible execution and results:
  1. Feeling more relaxed
  2. Feeling healthier, stronger and more flexible
  3. Skills for a self-adjusting personal routine
  • 41_Yoga Flow posess.a. cardio-vascular exercise (flow-sequences, e.g. sun salute)
  • calming routine
  • adjustable postures for personal health issues and needs
  • Feeling happy  and content

And the answer is: YOGA!

Is the brain a muscle?

39_BrainI just love my life. That is if I don’t get distracted by thoughts of fear, if then… The brain works like a muscle, it needs to be exercised in order to remain positive. Well, at least my brain. Some babies get born with a smile on their face; I was probably born with a frown on mine. Nevertheless, I feel fortunate to be blessed with abundance of opportunities to improve my life in every aspect. To be assured on a daily basis that it is my choice to see the world in a positive or negative light is a blessing in itself; and to have experienced for half a century that my attitude, my focus and my attention does make a difference in what I perceive and attract in life is another bonus. So every day I make a choice to love my life and wait in anticipation, like a child presented with a wrapped gift, what life has to offer me. Guess what, I haven’t been disappointed so far.

The Course of a disease

YOGA v1.1Because I have been teaching Yoga for over 22 years and have been practicing Yoga for 30 years; therefore there often is an assumption that I am:

  1. never losing my temper
  2. am in perfect control of my life and
  3. should be in a perfect state of health

Because I have immersed myself with knowledge of holistic health and applied it on my family and myself for the past 30 years, thus there might be an assumption that

  1. I or my family members never get sick
  2. if I or my family members get sick I do have the magic bullet making them healthy immediately and
  3. I have endless amounts of energy and endurance

I wished the assumptions were all true.

The truth is, I am a human being doing my best to maintain balance in me and my family’s body and mind. We are, like everyone else exposed to countless assaults of viruses, bacteria, environmental pollution and stress.

The only difference is: I use natural methods, s.a. Yoga, exercise, nutrition, homoeopathy, Schuesslers tissue salts and therapeutic essential oils to deal with the onslaught of external factors which bring my delicate physical, mental and spiritual balance out of sync.

The course of a disease in most cases of a general infection, s.a. the flu will mostly occur as follows:

  • Incubation periodin between being infected and manifesting symptoms
  • Prodromal period – pathogen multiplies, symptoms, s.a. headache, nausea and general malaise may appear
  • Acute or invasive phasepathogen invades and damages the host tissue – fever, chills, runny nose due to body producing pyrogens (produces fever) and antibodies and reactions to toxins produced by virus or bacteria
  • Decline phaseimmune system overcomes the effects of the pathogen, symptoms subside
  • Convalescencebody starts repairing itself and regains strength

Now why bother dealing with illness – and unstable emotions the natural way? Because:

  • it aids me and my family to get over the stages faster
  • it aids me and my family to remain healthy for longer periods of time in between illnesses
  • it may help me and my family not to develop chronic conditions
  • it aids our own natural defenses
  • it aids in the detoxification process through elimination (instead of suppression)
  • it contributes to my overall sense of well-being

I and my family just went through a bout of flu. I surrendered, put up with my runny and stuffy nose, kept helping my body to get rid of toxins and today I am feeling much better. The only way not to have symptoms (e.g. in flu, runny/stuffy nose, malaise etc.) is to temporarily knock down your immune response by taking over the counter medications. That can be a choice, however in my experience the symptoms will come back in full force as soon as that medication wears off. So my choice is to take/apply therapeutic essential oils, tissue salts, rest, lots of fluid and wholesome and light nutrition. What’s yours?

Lavender fields YL

Until yesterday, when I listened to the founder of Young Living essential oils, Gary Young, I just read about the seed to seal process and although very impressive I didn’t understand the full scope of what that actually means. Gary Young took the trouble to explain in minute detail – accompanied with photos, chemical charts and analytic data – the process of acquiring land, cultivating it, restoring balance to a stressed soil, which can take up to five years, the selection of the best seeds, planting and harvesting the herbs at the right time of the year – even the right time of the day – to distilling it. The whole presentation was backed up by research data and his personal learning journey throughout the last 28 years of cultivating these highly potent essential oils. He further elaborated on many of his personal experiences witnessing the power of these potent, highly concentrated oils. When I hold a bottle of these oils in my hand now, I understand the sweat, the research, the venturing into lands all over the world in search of the right piece of land (e.g. Frankincense in Somalia) that has gone into 15 ml of a substance that has incredible powers to restore balance in our body and I revere, honour and appreciate every single drop of it.

 

The cycle of Life

  • “I37_cycle of life never want to grow up”, “I want to stay like this forever”, “I don’t want to die”. No, I didn’t read Peter Pan to my daughter. She has been telling me a few times already, I just didn’t pay attention. I asked her why don’t you want to die and she answered me that it is scary. She must have thought about it for a while. It just put everything into perspective for me. How do you explain death to a child? I don’t mean the grieving and pain that we, who stay behind, must endure. It is not that I know for sure but I explained it like this: “imagine God or Divine is like a big puzzle and we are all a little piece in that puzzle, waiting to be re-unified with the Divine, whence we come from”.

I am not of the religious sort and all the different teachings in religion have alienated me more than anything else. I grew up with teachings of evil and good and somehow always questioned the ultimate truth religion claims to possess. So how am I to explain to an 8-year old what death means?

Whatever I was taught about death through religion scared the hell out of me. I don’t want to do that to her.  I have read of spiritual masters (yes I believe Jesus was one of those master) that describe the ultimate reunion with the Divine as something mere words cannot describe, but closest to it comes absolute unconditional love and acceptance. I am not denying that evil exists but I am as sure as hell (there we go – absolutely anchored in the language we use) not going to tell my already scared child that death might be the Day of Judgment. I never believed it and I still don’t.

I believe each one of us has a choice to recognize the essence of life and death perhaps by way of religion or perhaps through a personal philosophy and live (and die) by it. Everything else is mere politics, little pieces of puzzles being lost and scared in the vastness of possibilities.