When You’ve Gone Too Hard – what to do to sort yourself out when you’ve over done it in your practice

Firstly, I’d like to make it known, that not only hot headed, pitta type Ashtangi’s are the ones that occasionally find they have gone too hard. It can happen to any yoga practitioner- it’s happened to me from vinyasa classes, and definitely from Iyengar classes. Even from Yin self practice. Definitely from group Mysore practice.

Luckily, it’s less likely as you mature, mellow and grow out of your ego a bit. So, read on, whatever kind of yoga floats your boat/ navasana. This post is very much related to the last post “Effort in Yoga”

So the signs are there… maybe immediately after savasana, maybe a few hours after, or later that evening, even the next morning if you didn’t sleep well…. you feel like crap, or a bit like crap, or kind of awesome and light at the same time as feeling completely crap and about to fall apart at the seams.

Yep, you’ve overdone it.

In your practice that morning ( or whenever- some people actually practice at other times of the day, apparently, and to good effect… apparently):

You did a ‘new‘ pose.

Or you did a pose you don’t usually do.

You applied maximum effort in every single pose, pushing yourself to your limit (not me, not for some years now)

Or you did something incorrectly. Perhaps you played around with letting the buttocks go in backbend instead of your usual tightening- as you’ve heard conflicting ideas. Perhaps you doubted yourself, what you know about yourself.

Or you played around with sequencing without following yoga law and perhaps, if you are honest, that sequencing wasn’t the greatest (headstand in the first 15 mins beginning of class, anyone???… it happens, I’ve seen it! )

Or you did 108 backbends (shish!!!)

Or even 5.

Or you went ‘really deep

You forgot to engage your bandhas.

You over engaged your bandhas.

You over breathed (see Simon Borg Olivier on this topic- he’s the man)

Or you got an amazing adjustment in class. Or a shitty one (it happens)

You sweat a great deal ( doesn’t happen to me at all, I get a little jealous sometimes )

You practiced in a very, very hot room ( personally I’m not into artificially heating the body in yoga, though I know a lot of people just love it)

Or you didn’t do savasana at all or for long enough (don’t quote me on this, but isn’t it meant to be 5 mins savasana for every 30 mins of asana practice?)

Or perhaps you finished off your practice with some sex (perhaps not so common in class but in home practice, if you are both yogi’s, all those pheromones floating around….)

Whatever it was, you feel Jittery and Over stimulated. Tired- no, utterly wrecked, unable to do anything. Completely Distracted. Emotional. Off balance, Weird in your spine. Headachy. Spacey. Ravenous. Nauseous. Unable to translate concepts into words. Twitching in your eyes. Fluttering in your heart. You go outside to hang the laundry out and can barely lift your arms over your head…. and your heart pounds like it never usually does from just simple effort.

Any or all of the above ‘mistakes’ to some extent or another.

You’ve over done it. You naughty boy. Bad lady!!

Perhaps I’ve made it sound a bit dramatic. All these things above are not inherently bad in themselves ( well, not doing savasana is bad!!!! ) but they can all set you up for:

nervous system over stimulation ( jittery, spacey, weird in your spine, eye twitches, sensitivity to light and noise )

or muscle exhaustion ( pain and exhaustion, weakness ),

dehydration ( headache, nausea, muscle pain, cramps , cravings),

temporary blood pressure issues ( pounding heart, unable to catch your breath, feeling like your heart is beating behind your eyes),

feeling unmotivated – any of the above mistakes, but especially over effort, perhaps trying over and over to ‘nail’ a challenging pose. It is well known know that motivation/ willpower has a finite scope- we only have a certain amount of energy each day to do things. Use it all up getting out of bed at the cracker, in the dark and cold and going gung-ho doing your morning practice… and you may well be set to waste the rest of your day. Maybe that’s fine sometimes… but if it’s a pattern then something has got to give. If you want to contribute to, you know, the external world.

being utterly ravenous (over breathing does this, in yoga and in sport and other physical activities. It seems to be about the bodies need to return to homeostasis ) Often thirst is also mistaken for hunger, or poor food choices are made, which compounds the situation.

cranky, irritable and decidedly un-yogi ( over pushing AND over breathing, too deep and too fast, increasing adrenaline and cortisol in the body makes for a ‘hot head’– ready for some argy bargy. )

Traditionally, the aim in Yoga was always to increase the length of our breaths in each direction, slooooow inhales and even longer exhales- in order to decrease the amount of breaths we take. ( In Yogic belief, we are born with a certain amount of breaths and we want to learn to breath less in order to extend our lifespan ) SO MANY PEOPLE are over-breathing with their deep, FAST, forced breaths- in effect hyperventilating, and over doing it!

This is not what Yoga is about, feeling like this! Yoga is about restoring the body, supporting it. Purifying it and making it ready for meditation. For union. For self, as in SELF realisation. Loss of ego. You know the score.

Effort is fabulous, and doing tapas is vital to yoga practice. A strong practice is great for many people. But going over board in any form of Yoga is not tapas. It’s not sattvic and it is not a practice of ahimsa, either.

aside: Here is a quick definition of tapas, from yoga journal. Thanks Yoga Journal, my motivation is running out 🙂

  1. The word “tapas” comes from the Sanskrit verb “tap” which means “to burn.” The traditional interpretation of tapas is “fiery discipline,” the fiercely focused, constant, intense commitment necessary to burn off the impediments that keep us from being in the true state of yoga (union with the universe).

You can still be doing tapas without messing with your homeostasis, baby!

Ok, so I could go on at length. Ok, so I have already…

BUT what can we do when we have found, oh dear, that we have gone too hard. What can bring us back to equilibrium?

These things have worked for me in the past- back when I used to push it too hard in a younger, more pitta dominated time ( and when I could spend all day practicing then flopping around lazily post practice- and back when I wasn’t a parent and I didn’t see the direct consequence of being cranky/exhausted/overstimulated etc etc. Nothing is quite as irritating as the noise of children, even happy delightful ones, when you are fried/not in balance. )

Go back and do savasana… for at least 15 minutes. With blankets and eye bag even if it is warm. Go back to bed if you feel really crappy- if you have the lifestyle for it!

savasana

Drink more water… warm to hot, never cold. Dehydration takes a while to resolve.

Eat warm food, grounding food such as oats, buckwheat bread, eggs, soup. Root vegetables. Not salads. Not spicy curries. Not raw food. Not cold food. Not processed food. No crackers.                                               A little fruit could help- dates and figs are great if your digestion can cope- just one or two. Warm, cooked apples with cinnamon and a fat source like butter or ghee or coconut oil, unrefrigerated perfectly ripe mango, banana… no sour fruits or citrus. No yoghurt either until you feel in balance again.

buckwheat chia bread

Eat GHEEghee is good! I have studied pranayama several times with O.P Tiwari of the Kaivalydham and he always tells me to ‘eat more ghee’. prescribing 4 TBs a day for my needs- not easy to consume that much but I do my best. I make it every week and use it in everything. Here it is solid, being winter both outside and inside the house, but if you melt it, it’s easier to eat.

ghee

Rub your feet with ghee before going to bed and put socks on, if you feel overstimulated and are worried that sleep might not be yours ( upward moving energy poses and practices can do this- hence not doing headstand, uddiyana bandha practices or even backbends in the evening)

Give yourself a foot massage– again, with oils.

Put socks on- cold feet can really mess with the body after practice.

put some socks on

Drink some milk if milk is your thing. I can’t drink it so homemade, warm almond milk with spices and honey is a good one too.

Go for a quiet, slow walk, barefoot great if it warm enough. Keep your chest and throat and lower back WARM.

Go get some shiatsu. Tell your practitioner what you’ve gone and done to yourself.

Do some Alternate nostril breathing for at least 5 minutes. More is better. Without kumbhaka ( retention of breath ) is advised if you are new to it.

Do Shitali pranayam if you are irritated and cranky. It is a fabulous panacea for over heated, over stimulated post practice yogi’s.

Legs up the Wall pose ( Vipariti Karani) – what a magic pose over over stimulation. Or Legs Up the Couch pose if you find yourself without a wall to lean on. Having your legs above your heart does wonders for the nervous system. Stay for 10 minutes, keeping warm.

legs up the couch pose

Take a warm bath with magnesium salts – especially if you are feeling it in the muscles.

Hide. Choose your activities. Going to the Southern Hemispheres largest mall for some ill advised retail therapy might not be the right thing to do right now (or ever?)

Ok, so say you’ve jumped in your car and are headed to work and you realise you have over done it. The ideas above might not be an option, right? Perfect thing for you to do would be to hum. humming is the way forward. Inhale long, quiet, slow breaths, exhale while humming- long, slow and completely. Inhale, repeat. For at least 5 minutes. Humming quietens down the over stimulated sympathetic nervous system and feeds the parasympathetic nervous system. Chanting Aum could do it, but try any humming- along to music if you like. When you hum for some time, taking care NOT to over inhale, you will notice the benefits. It helps you concentrate, too.

On public transport? Think humming might not cut it with your fellow passengers? Inhale very very very slowly, through the nose into the belly and only lightly up into the chest, ( yes, abandon bandhas for this, people) and exhale even more slowly, making sure to relax the belly on the next inhale. For as long as it takes.n’t reach for coffee, tea, chai or chocolate. But… don’t forget to eat! But then  also, don’t go overboard trying to replace that weird feeling with food.

Oh, one more thing. Get off the computer. Doesn’t help a bit.

Any others I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments.

Sweet Chai of Mine- virtuous spiced snack cookies for yogi’s and their friends

Another recipe!
I’ve gone gluten free for a trial period. I never thought I would do so, as I am a champion sourdough baker, but all the signs are pointing to a gluten intolerance, which is a bummer. ( Actually, I think many people are gluten intolerant, or on the way to becoming so ) I feel very good, clear headed and light and mobile in my muscles and joints- but you’ve heard it all before and I won’t bore you with the details now.
Anyway, it’s not as hard as I thought, though the next step- grain free might prove a bit harder, so I am gearing up to that by getting some good recipes on the family menu.
Bikkies (cookies) are well loved around here- I like to grab a couple before teaching a class to keep me going, so after looking at various cookbooks and websites I came up with this very virtuous, healthy recipe that ticks all the boxes.
The kids even like them, but then again, there was often ginger and spices in their breast-milk so they are used to it. You might like to tone the spices down a bit to suit your palate.
Here they are:
sweet chai cookies

Sweet Chai of Mine
SNACK COOKIES
Paleo, Vegan, AIP friendly, Sweetener free, Gluten free, Grain free, Nut free, Dairy free… and still good to eat!

1 ripe, medium sized banana ( mine are usually frozen- no need to defrost- & always organic )
3 fat juicy organic medjool dates – pitted
3 tablespoons coconut flour, measured flat not heaped
1 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil- hard or soft or melted ( on the second trial I ran out and used homemade ghee instead- even better taste- though no longer vegan )
3 heaped tablespoons shredded natural coconut
1 heaped tablespoon of lucuma powder ( optional, makes for a lovely sweet caramel undertone and comes with awesome superfood powers )
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated – or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom ( optional – not always AIP friendly )
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or kombucha vinegar or lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon baking soda ( you could probably skip it if intolerant )
Pinch of pink salt

Throw the lot in a high powered blender ( I use a thermomix ) and mix until a smoothish paste – some texture remaining is nice. A tiny bit of water may be needed to make it into a cookie style batter, depending on your brand of coconut flour.
Coconut flour takes a few minutes to absorb the moisture, so if you think it is too thin, wait a few mins before adding a tiny bit more coconut flour.
Spoon onto a silicone baking mat or baking paper, shaping with your fingers a little. I make about 15 smaller cookies- I find them very filling and satisfying. Great with a cup of tea.
I threw some cacao powder and cacao nibs to 1/3 of mine, to make chocolate chai bites ( though no longer AIP friendly perhaps) The darker ones in the above photo are the chocolate version.
Bake at 180 C 325F for 10-20 minutes, depending on your oven. A little browned around the edges is nice.
Wait a little before transferring onto a cooling rack.
Store in a cool place in summer.
Let me know what you think, I like comments and feedback!

Home made Coconut Yoghurt- budget friendly, tummy friendly food.

I’m really into yoghurt but I choose not to eat much dairy. I love the vegan coconut yoghurts out there on the market, but they are really very pricey, prone to going bad too quickly, and usually are sweetened with agave, which is just a fructose overload, or stevia which gives my mouth the complete heebie jeebies.
So I decided to bite the bullet and make my own. Making your own is a truly guerilla thing to do, anyway.

Homemade- twice as much for half the price

Homemade- twice as much for half the price

Coconut milk doesn’t thicken like dairy does, so I did a lot of looking around various recipes on the net for a thickener- many used kudzu or tapioca for thickening, but I wanted something less likely to go lumpy. Lumpy yoghurt doesn’t appeal, somehow. So I chose agar agar flakes as the thickener -which have the added benefit of being a rich source of calcium and potassium (plus a little iron).

High quality gelatine could be substituted for the agar, but I wouldn’t know how as I don’t use it, so please don’t ask me for advice on that one. 🙂 You could use canned coconut cream, but damn that stuff is nowhere near as good as the home made stuff, has a weird after taste- plus it often is packaged in BPA lined tins, and you can make your own for pennies- keep it on hand in the freezer as it doesn’t keep for long .

The resulting recipe is somewhat laborious, but that never stopped me. Ever. Someone who gets up every day and jumps around on a sticky mat for an hour or three is not going to be put off by such things.
If you are time poor, just buy the store bought stuff for 4 times the price, it’s good- but not nearly as good as the home made version.

You’ll need:
a high powered blender ( thermomix is perfect)
a nut milk bag
a wide mouthed thermos or thermoserver
( note to thermomix people- this recipe uses the older model and a thermoserver. Apparently you can make yoghurt straight in the bowl of the new model, but as that would put my thermie out of bounds for 8 hours I don’t much like the idea of it anyway. With the thermoserver you also get a nice long culturing time- greater benefits- without the use of electricity.
a thermometer that records low levels of heat
an esky ( Australian for coolbox ) or thick insulated, zip up shopping bag
probiotic powder of at least 45 million live cultures per 3 gm dose (tiny, powerful buggers )
Clean, filtered water ( I use my Nikken Pi Mag water for everything we consume including cooking pasta etc- I sell them if you are in the market for the best, purifying, alkalising water filter ever )

two clean towels and a ‘lacka band ( Aussie for elastic band ) or peg.

350gms of flaked or shredded coconut, organic and additive free
( you could make your own from coconut flesh just to make it that much more time consuming, but I can’t get organic fresh mature coconuts very often so am denied that privilege )

800ml of filtered water
100gm of melted coconut oil- extra virgin is best

2 tbsp agar agar flakes
a little under 1 tsp probiotic powder- with acidophilus, thermophilius, etc, nice and fresh is best.
1-2 tblsp organic maple syrup- or rice syrup if anxious about fructose ( don’t use honey, its natural bacterial components may mess with the system.)
1 TB is plenty, you may like to try the yoghurt once set and then add more sweetener when adding the vanilla, before blending or whipping.
1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla essence ( optional )

In your high powered blender, blitz the hell out of the coconut flakes until fine. Add the water and blend on high until absolutely thrashed- in the Thermomix this takes one minute, perhaps a fair bit longer in other machines. It needs to be as fine as it is going to get.

Strain through a nut milk bag and squeeeeeeeze every last drop out with your hands.
(You can re- blitz this pulp in water to make a much thinner coconut milk to add to soups, smoothies , green drinks, etc )
Put the coconut milk in a bowl sitting in a pot of warm- hot water to warm it very, very lightly to 37 degrees Celcius ( OR- ideally- put back in a clean Thermomix bowl if you are lucky enough to have one, and warm for 5 mins at 37 degrees, speed 5)
Slowly, slowly add the melted coconut oil, whilst the milk is warming- mixing well with a whisk if heating in a bowl over water, blending at speed 8 for 30 seconds if heating with a Thermomix.

Use 750 ml of the thick coconut cream style milk, place in a thick based saucepan or your Thermomix. You’ll have a little left over to add to something special- it’s a thick coconut cream, but not having emulsifiers it separates a bit in  the fridge.
Sprinkle the agar flakes over the top and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring constantly ( speed 4, @ 90 degrees in Thermomix )
Leave to cool naturally, uncovered ( don’t speed up the process ) until 37 degrees again- this will take an hour or two.
Add maple or rice syrup and the probiotic powder and mix very well with your whisk. ( speed 7 for a few seconds in thermomix ) Over doing the amount probiotics in the hope of making it work or better for you is not advised. Probiotics as with any fermentation agent need room to move. You can add more later if you like.
Pour the mix into pre warmed thermos or thermoserver ( pre-warmed with warm filtered water, not hot or boiling)
Wrap in two teatowels, one with the opening at the top, the other with the opening underneath, seal with a rubber band or peg or something clever, and gently place in an esky or insulated bag, sealing in the heat.

Place in a warmish room- not hot- which stays at a fairly constant temperature.

Try not to forget it is there.

In at least 5 and up to 12 hours , remove thermos from esky, check it has set. ( if not your agar is old, use the mix in smoothies instead – this has never happened to me however )

Place in the fridge for a few hours, then remove and blend again in your blender, first adding 1/2 teaspoon of organic vanilla essence, and checking the sweetness is to your liking. If you are using a thermomix, whip with the butterfly for the creamiest and most wonderful texture. If you think the yoghurt looks too thick, add a very little coconut milk before whipping. You may have been a little heavy handed with the agar agar.
You can also add more acidophilus powder now if you want to get even more friendly gut flora into your tummy.
Pour or spoon most of it into a glass container with a lid or a couple of jars, saving a bit to eat straight away. Place jars in fridge.
It’s quite rich and you may find you can’t eat nearly as much as dairy yoghurt. The agar agar makes it very filling and acts as an appetite suppressant- for better or for worse ( who wants their damn appetite suppressed??)

( I have no idea of the calories involved per gram/ serving, as I don’t believe in calorie counting, but it’s rich, like a dessert really )

Use a clean spoon each time you slip a mouthful in as you pass the fridge to ensure it keeps for a week or two.

I eat about a 1/4 cup post practice with my outrageously good coconut/sprouted buckwheat/macadamia/sour cherry granola- but that’s another lengthy (process and) post.

Yogi food: Pumpkin Buckwheat Almond Bread….. a recipe!

A nourishing, protein rich, yeast-free, gluten-free breakfast or lunch bread.

This is my first recipe post on yogaguerilla’s blog.
I think I’ll be doing more as healthy, nourishing food is a major interest of mine.

Yogi food

Yogi food

I made this bread this morning before the heat of the day, and it baked while we were doing our practice. It was a perfect breakfast, delicious topped with yellow butter, high in protein and pleasantly filling. Eating your vegetables for breakfast is a wonderful thing. I had some for lunch, toasted, and it toasts beautifully, too.

I am not sure how long this would last on the counter, especially when it is hot like today, so perhaps pop it in the fridge after a day, if there is any left.
I am in no way a gluten free yogi, as I make my own rye based sourdough, wholegrain bread several times a week for my family. We tolerate gluten containing grains prepared properly (ie- fermented). However, several times a year I choose to take a few days to a week off from gluten (and often dairy) to give my system a break.

Be sure to use free range, pastured eggs. Anything else is just not fair on the chickens. No excuses. I have 6 out of my 8 chickens laying currently, so using up excess eggs is always a good thing.

Pumpkin is a good source of beta carotene, antioxidants, omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) and grounding, natural sweetness. Sweet potato would also work here, or a mix of the two.

Almonds are full of protein, plus omegas, vitamin E, calcium and fibre. In Ayurvedic medicine, almonds are said to promote ojas (essential life energy), and nourish the nervous system.

Eggs have recently become my best friend- a great source of protein, fats and vitamins and a quick easy filler, bringing you down to earth after a strong practice. I was vegan for years but find adding eggs and a little cultured dairy to my diet brings a much needed balance and nourishment when working the body so intently.

Buckwheat brings a rich supply of flavonoids- rutin being the key one- providing a lipid lowering effect, protecting against heart disease and blood clots. Buckwheat is a good source of manganese, copper and magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and muscles, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery- that’s just what we yogi’s need after practice- and lowering blood pressure.

Ingredients:

450 g ( 3 cups) grated raw pumpkin ( I blitzed mine in the thermomix which left a few bigger chunks, they cooked through easily )

4 whole large free-range eggs (or 5 bantam eggs if you have smaller feathered friends )

1/2 tsp sea salt/ himalayan pink salt

1/4 cup (60 ml) cold pressed macadamia nut oil (olive oil works too, but coconut oil would be too dense and make for a constricted batter and a bread that is only good whilst warm. Cultured butter- melted and cooled- would also be delicious)

2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder- make sure it is fresh.

1 cup/100 gm almond meal- with or without skins ( I use whole activated -soaked and dried- almonds, ground to a flour in my thermomix )

1 cup/100 gm buckwheat flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour- or is you don’t have that, perhaps brown rice flour or another gluten free option.

1/2 cup true arrowroot- or perhaps sub’ in up to a tablespoon of coconut flour if you have a bag of it and are wondering how to use it ( ie- sparingly )

Note: You can experiment with the grain flours, to make up 200 gm/ 2 cups. Or use more almond meal, less grain flours if you like. I threw in some teff grain here ( 1/8 cup ) for the additional iron. If I had any chia on hand I would have used a bit of that, too. The batter should be thick but still move easily when you tip the bowl.
2 teaspoons molasses or rice syrup ( I did one of each) or not, if you are reducing sugars. The pumpkin provides sweetness as it is.
Seeds- sesame, sunflower, flax or pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 180 C , or 150 to 160 C if fan forced.
Mix the pumpkin, eggs, salt and oil in a bowl.
 Add the almond meal, grain flours and baking powder to bowl, and mix with a spoon so that no powder remains. 
Scrunch up a piece of baking/parchment paper and smooth out, and use it to line a large loaf tin.
 Dollop the mixture evenly into tin. Sprinkle the top with your chosen seeds.
Bake for approximately 1 hour if fan forced, up to 30 minutes longer if not. Test to see that no stickiness is left on a skewer. Ovens are so variable, so check after 1 hour and keep checking every 15 minutes if not cooked through.
 Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the tin for 15 minutes before pulling out in the baking paper and putting on a rack to cool.
Slice with a serrated knife.

Eat warm, cool or toasted. Tastes great with nut butter, soft butter, ghee, goats cheese or avocado. I’m thinking it would be nice with cinnamon or even ginger for a sweeter bread in winter,
Please share with your gluten free and yogi friends- and if you try it, let me know what you think.

YOGA, ACHES and PAIN- and what to do about them.

This is the first in a series of posts about the aches and pains that may arise from a regular or daily, physical yoga practice.

Like any other activity where you use your body- sport, working out at the gym, gardening, housework- aches and pains and injury may result. Lack of activity will also cause aches and pains ( think how you feel when you get off a plane, do some long distance driving or after a long day of sitting meditation )

It’s a part of living with a body.

Over the many years of my yoga practice, I have had various aches and pains move about my body as areas opened up, or strength was developed, or indeed if I performed an asana incorrectly or without mindful attention- so I have had much experience experimenting with what works to alleviate these pains.

Yoga is designed to balance the body, and this certainly means that it aims to create balance in flexibility and strength. Areas of the body that are flexible- especially over flexible, need support from muscle and bone strength. Areas of the body that are strong can be tight or blocked, and require flexibility to be efficient and comfortable. Keeping this in mind- and applying it to your own body specifics in a mindful way, can help prevent injury and even everyday aches and pains to a certain extent. Simply put, flexible people coming to yoga needs to work on strength, strong people- especially those with strong or ‘built’ muscles need to work on flexibility. But thats getting off topic a bit…

There are a lot of great things you can do to alleviate aches and pains and minor injuries, so I have split them into various categories over several posts:

Please note that I have only included what has worked for me personally- or my partner ( a tradesman, sportsman and long term yogi himself ) .. so while there are many studies out there, and I have read countless articles ( some shown in the links ) this is largely an anecdotal post.

I would love to hear from you if you have other tips apart from these… please make a comment below.

Supplements, tonics and foods that heal- Internal.

Magnesium– is a vital mineral in which so many people are deficient. Magnesium helps the body repair the muscles, essentially feeding them, so they grow larger and stronger. Magnesium eases muscle cramps and helps you relax, is additionally great for stress relief (which in turn relaxes the muscles) and encourages a good nights sleep. It helps keep the integrity of the bones with a synergy with calcium and Vitamin D, and it suppresses the parathyroid hormone which increases blood calcium levels ( not a good thing ) which will break down bone if in excess.
It is a vital nutrient for the functioning of the heart. It is alkalizing and helps hydrate in its use as an electrolyte.
Magnesium can be found in the diet in nuts- especially almonds, in seaweeds, buckwheat, and whole-grains prepared properly for digestion ( soaked overnight in water with a little yoghurt or lemon juice to help break down the phytates ) and leafy green vegetables.
HOWEVER magnesium is such an important mineral that it is the one nutrient I take as a supplement several times a week to ensure I am getting enough, especially if my muscles are aching.

Vitamin C is essential for the restoration of collagen, which helps to rebuild muscle tissue that has been broken down. This can happens when muscles are not used, or when muscle fibres tear, which happens when muscles ARE used ( strengthening muscles actually requires the muscles to have minute tears which heal, forming a denser stronger muscle).
Citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, especially super berries like kiwi, goji, goldenberry and amla are high in C, as are many leafy greens and broccoli. Raw milk has vitamin C to some extent.
I tend not to take C as a supplement as it is so easy to find in the diet, and much easier on the stomach when taken as food.

Glucosamine,Chondroitin and Collagen ( Bone Broth or Stock )
Strict vegetarian yogi’s need to be aware this is not vegetarian, though I have heard that vegetarian supplements have been developed. Glucosamine and Chondroitin and Collagen are used for joint pain relief.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements are expensive, however. Making your own stock from organic, free range animal bones is a cheap and highly bioavailable way of including these substances in your diet.
Happy, pastured chicken, cow, lamb or wild game animals (I wont partake of the mammals, personally, but I make them for my family ) OR wild caught fish bones from a non oily fish are all good things in which to make bone broth.

The gelatin found in bone broth is hydrophilic- which means it attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices in the gut, thereby supporting proper digestion and absorption of the food it is cooked with (such as grains, soups etc) . It also helps with longer term hydration, holding liquid internally for longer. The gelatin in stock has the anti-inflammatory amino acids arginine, glycine and proline. It helps to heal the gut, and of course, the gut and digestion is the centre of all health.

Here is a link on how to make and use bone broth.
http://nourishedkitchen.com/bone-broth/

Kombucha

Kombucha has much anecdotal evidence supporting its use as a tonic for the body and a liver detox aid. Kombucha is also great for recovery IF you are used to caffeine and sugars, as it does still contain some of both after fermenting. I suggest having water first however, than going straight for the hard stuff, and not relying on Kombucha for energy as some people do with coffee. I find it very useful in relaxing over-used muscles, and give me a pleasant buzz- but I find it too over stimulating if taken after mid afternoon.
Many people have had success drinking kombucha- especially that brewed at home- for muscle pain, joint pain and arthritis, even fibromyalgia symptoms.
Kombucha can contain glucoric acid ( this has both been proven and disproven.. some say it has precursors to help the body produce its own glucoric acid) which is a great liver cleanser and helps with rebuilding the joints. It is full of probiotics, another way help make for a healthy gut.
Here a couple of sites to peruse about the use of Kombucha
http://www.cajunernie.com/arthritis.php
http://www.kombuchakamp.com/2011/04/kombucha-glucosamine-glucuronic-acid-athletes-healthy-connection.html

MSM is a natural nutrient that needs to be taken as a supplement as it occurs in small amounts in food. It is a type of sulfur, which is a vital building block of joints and cartilage ( as well as skin, hair and nails) and is also a methyl compound- which supports many vital biochemical processes in the body, including production of energy.
It is often taken with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.
Here is a link about MSM from a company that produces the stuff and as far as I can tell it is vegan, or vegan options are around.
http://www.msmguide.com/jointpain/sportsjointpain/

Coconut water… a glass of coconut water supplies you with the salts, sugars and electrolytes required for hydration. Make sure your choice of coconut water is not from concentrate… better still drink it straight from the nut. Coconut water can hydrate quickly and help prevent muscles from seizing up after use or over use. Remember, dehydration can be the main cause of headaches and muscle aches!

Green foods are seen as anti inflammatory, as they are alkaline forming, not acidifying.
An acidic body- one that has high levels of acid ( in the blood) will have high levels of calcium being leached into the blood from the bones, the teeth and bones will weaken.
I tend to think our diets should be based around vegetables, with a lot of them leafy green vegetables, slightly cooked for better absorption and digestion.
Warm foods tend to be much gentler on the yogi’s body and hence nourishing to the muscles, joints and bones than raw foods… raw foods are best in summer and in the middle of the day- but that is another post altogether. ( yoga and food )
Green food powders are widely available, and often used for their alkalising properties. While I have bought them many times, I have never been able to incorporate them in my daily life, and they end up lurking- far past their use by date- in the back of the fridge. I suppose I’m just more into eating green veggies, personally, than powdered green foods.

Ghee– over the years I have had several Indian Master teachers tell me to ‘Eat more ghee’- usually in a stern and commanding tone. Ghee is a pure oil made from cow butter which has been heated and strained to clarify, removing the milk solids and lactose.
Ghee contains vitamins D, E, K and Omegas 3 and 9- but should always be sourced or made from grass fed butter in order to have good levels of the above.
Ghee is used in Ayurvedic medicine to lubricate the joints and nourish the muscles, amongst many other uses and is highly regarded for its ability to facilitate the absorption of the beneficial substances present in the foods with which it is prepared or served.
The reason yoga and pranayama teachers often recommend eating more ghee is for recovery after strong yoga practices ( and exercise, including childbirth ), building strength and for muscle repair. It also does a great deal towards calming the vata dosha and soothing pitta dosha. I’ve been prescribed 4 tablespoons a day! And although I love the stuff and use it instead of butter on everything, 4 TB’s is quite a feat.
Make ghee yourself! It is a lovely process, and costs far less to buy organic butter to make your own, than to buy the ghee pre-made.
Ghee can also be used externally as a body rub (but that’s for the next post, where I go into detail on the remedies and practices taken externally)

and last, but never least…WATER

The very first thing you should do after practice is drink water- every time, no exceptions.
Quality, purified, alkaline water, served room temperature and drunk in abundance.
Yoga practice releases toxins, and if you are not well hydrated after (and before) your practice you are doing yourself a real disservice. Not only from not allowing the body to flush out the toxins – and built up lactic acid- through the kidneys, but robbing your muscles of the water they need to recover. Fascia needs water to function properly, as does skin- to stretch and remain elastic.

If you find that water sits uncomfortably in your gut, seeming to not be absorbed and leaving you feeling bloated, you need to find better water. It’s quite possible that the water you are drinking is lifeless, and not hydrating to the body- being chlorinated, acidic or stale, or full of impurities such as VOC’s ( volatile organic compounds found in paints, chemicals, plastics and always major components of modern air and water pollution )

I have had many water filters over the years, but the one I have stuck with for the past 10 years is the Nikken PiMag water system. The PiMag filter removes impurities, toxins and chlorines out and, mimicking a natural waterfall, negatively ionises, alkalises and remineralises the water, with silver stones for anti bacterial purposes. Plus it is magnetised on the way out of the spigot. I have heard it referred to as a ‘structured water’ – which is highly absorbable, just like water flowing in a stream ( but in this day and age, quite likely a lot cleaner)

It is sweet and delicious and when you own a PiMag water system you find that you finally begin to drink the amount of water you should ( I also use it in all my cooking ) – and it’s then you begin to notice the benefits of a well hydrated body.
Many yoga and pilates studios and gyms are choosing the Nikken PiMag water filter to provide the best water for their students and themselves, and can write the cost off in their taxes!

PiMag waterfall water filter

PiMag waterfall water filter

One more point about water- it should be room temperature, or warm, never cold or chilled. Cold water on an empty stomach, or for that matter on a belly with digesting food, is not good for anyone, it literally freezes the guts, slowing down absorption and digestion.

To find out about PiMag water click here : http://www.nikken.com/product/technology/piMag-water/

I do sell these water systems ( available to 40 countries ) at a discount for followers of this blog, so if you are interested please contact me on heidi (at sign) yogaguerilla (dot) com

I have no affiliation with any of the products I use above EXCEPT the Nikken magnets (next post) and the PiMag Water filters- which I love and believe in, and have seen so many positive effects through- I decided to sell myself!
Please be sure to follow this blog for the next post on this topic Yoga, Aches and Pain- External and share it with fellow yogi’s and friends.

A comment- or if you have another tip that you favour yourself- is always appreciated.

Om
Heidi – yogaguerillagrrl