wai lana health tips

3 Simple Steps to an Inspirational New Year

Well, the New Year is here! This is a great time to set goals and aspirations for the coming months. Most often, New Year’s Resolutions revolve around specific achievements, such as losing weight, quitting smoking or saving money. However, what if there were some simple steps that would allow you to accomplish many goals at once? And what if those simple steps also helped you to become happier and more peaceful at that same time?

The ancient science of yoga is a holistic way of life that helps to inspire and motivate you from within, so that achieving positive goals is a natural side effect of being healthy, happy and productive. Yoga is different from ordinary goal-setting because rather than just struggling to achieve a particular goal, you simply embark on the yoga path to optimal physical, mental and spiritual well-being. You’ll be amazed at what you accomplish in the process.

So, here are those 3 simple steps that will propel you forward to an inspirational new year:

Wai Lana Yoga Peaceful Meditation

Step #1: Take a little time every day for peaceful relaxation and meditation.

When we feel stressed out and pressed for time, usually it’s the farthest thing from our minds to take time to stop and relax. We may feel that we can’t take a breather until we finish X, Y and Z. Of course the excessive stress simultaneously makes it harder to be productive, hurts our health, and leaves us feeling tired and drained. When we’re overly stressed, we simply can’t be at our best.

On the other hand, just 10 or 15 minutes of daily relaxation and meditation can work wonders for your overall health and well-being. Simple relaxation techniques, such as those in Wai Lana’s Rest and Relax CD, have a profoundly positive effect. On a physical level, your blood pressure lowers, your heart rate slows and relaxing “feel good” hormones are released. On a mental level, your mind becomes more calm and peaceful. And on a spiritual level, you’ll gradually experience a deep sense of happiness and interconnectedness.

Wai Lana Healthy Eating

Step #2: Try to gradually eliminate meat and processed foods from your diet.

The way you eat has a powerful effect on the way you feel. Eating foods such as meat and processed food leaves you feeling tired, sluggish and irritable. Modern scientists have found that the ideal diet consists of the same foods that yogis have recommended for thousands of years: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and milk products. Every one of these foods has been found to have remarkable healing benefits. Yet you won’t find a single study showing that eating more meat, more artificial dyes, more white sugar or more preservatives has any health benefits!

It takes a little effort to change your diet, as it’s natural to be attached to eating the foods that you are used to. However, as you gradually make changes towards foods that are wholesome and healing by nature, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel and even how much better those foods taste! Taste is acquired; if you eat unhealthy foods, you’ll crave unhealthy foods. If you eat healthy foods, you’ll crave healthy foods.

Changing your diet for the better helps with so much more than just your health. It also helps you feel calmer and more peaceful. Researchers have even found that eating a wholesome diet makes it easier to give up undesirable habits such as smoking.

Warrior Pose

Step #3: Practice some type of soothing exercise at least 3 days a week.

We all know we should exercise, but sometimes it can seem so hard to stick with it! One of the reasons why so many people fall in love with hatha yoga is because it feels good. The gentle strengthening, stretching and firming movements of yoga leave you feeling peaceful and invigorated. Yoga actually releases calming “feel good” hormones that make it almost like a positive addiction!

Of course you don’t have to practice yoga to experience these benefits. Other eastern-inspired exercise systems, such as Tai Chi and Chi Kung, can also help you to achieve fitness while simultaneously relaxing your body and mind. Even walking, especially while listening to a soothing soundtrack such as Wai Lana’s Yoga Sound, can be very helpful.

So as you embark on your own personal journey over the course of this New Year, let us help you incorporate the wonderful, healing benefits of yoga into your life.
Happy New Year!

3 Ways to Improve Memory Naturally

A quick, sharp memory is a useful tool that comes in handy throughout our lives. Whether we’re trying to remember someone’s name, making a shopping list, learning a new language, or studying for exams, our ability to recall assists us with practically everything we do in a day—even remembering where we put our keys!

According to ayurveda, an ancient health system that means “life science,” our bodies become dryer and less flexible with age. Our joints stiffen and our eyesight weakens due to this dryness. Similarly, this dryness affects our minds and we can forget things more easily. This erosion can begin as early as our twenties—and when we neglect our health, it speeds up even more.

Fortunately, ayurveda offers simple remedies that are easy for anyone to apply. I often turn to ayurveda as a guide to health and healing in my own life because it includes positive lifestyle choices that are affordable, practical, and straightforward.

Apply these simple practices to sharpen your own memory:

Practice yoga asanas

The regular practice of yoga asanas is a boon for the mind. It improves concentration on a cellular level by assisting the body in breaking down carbohydrates into glucose—the primary fuel that your brain uses to focus. Upside down poses are especially helpful. Plough, Shoulderstand, Downward Dog, and all inverted poses increase your brain’s power by nourishing its tissues with fresh blood. In addition, yoga asanas have a relaxing effect on the psyche, and work to reduce stress and balance emotions—two things that cloud the mind.

Rejuvenate with herbs

Brahmi, also known by its Latin name Bacopa monnieri, is considered the greatest herb in ayurveda for revitalizing the brain’s cells. It removes toxins and blockages within the nervous system, improves circulation, and has a calming, nurturing effect on the heart and mind. For over 3000 years, brahmi has been used in ayurvedic medicine to improve memory, increase alertness, and ward off the insomnia, restlessness, and mental deterioration that come with age. I have included this wonderful herb in my Brain Boost supplement to help your memory function at its best. Brain Boost is made from 100% wild-crafted fresh brahmi leaves and prepared according to traditional ayurvedic principles.

Add antioxidants

Ayurveda emphasizes the important role that foods play in keeping our bodies and minds strong, healthy, and free from disease. Antioxidants in particular have the amazing ability to protect us from damage caused by dangerous free radicals. In excess, and without the support of a balanced diet, free radicals can speed up the aging process and contribute to memory loss. Although some free radicals are a normal byproduct of metabolism, most are born from pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, and pesticides. Fight free radical damage by adding fresh, antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries, cranberries, kidney beans, and Red Delicious apples to your diet.

How to Cleanse and Protect Your Liver Naturally

Wai Lana, host of the long-running PBS series Wai Lana Yoga, shares tips on liver health.

Knowing the important role that my liver plays in keeping me healthy, I often share this simple truth with others: “Take care of your liver now, and your liver will take care of you.” A healthy liver will cleanse and nourish your blood, regulate your hormones, break down fat and cholesterol, form blood-clotting proteins, and store iron and other essential vitamins throughout your entire life.

Unfortunately, environmental pollution, chemicals and pesticides in our foods, and over-consumption of painkillers and other medical drugs are far too common in today’s world. In excess, toxins can overwork your liver. When your liver is weak, instead of purifying the pollutants that enter your body, it sends them into your bloodstream. When this happens, it can make you feel overly tired and sick. A sluggish liver can also lead to allergies, bad skin, mood swings, weight gain, and even obesity.

Mother Nature, as always, provides us with safe remedies in the form of foods and herbs that can help nourish, detoxify, and strengthen our livers. Here are a few healthy ways to make your liver sing. Remember too that regular gentle exercise such as hatha yoga, walking, and swimming will help you assimilate these nutrients and assist with the detoxification process.

Beets have such a vibrant bright red color that it’s not hard to imagine they are an excellent blood purifier. Try grating them on top of salads for a colorful and crunchy topping, or make a traditional Russian beet soup called borscht, which can be served hot or cold depending on the season.

Herbs like milk thistle, which is strengthening for the liver, and dandelion, which is detoxifying, have traditionally been used as liver tonics to keep the liver’s lifeline flowing and healthy. My Liver Support supplement combines these two potent herbs to gently cleanse and nourish your liver.

Bitter, leafy salad greens like arugula, endive, chicory, and dandelion mixed with regular salad greens are one of my favorite ways to end a meal. Bitter salad greens, when eaten after the main course, help your organs digest the starchier foods from the meal. They also stimulate bile flow from the liver, which helps your liver naturally cleanse itself. With an herbal vinaigrette (or, if you prefer, a creamy ranch-style dressing), bitter greens can feel very soothing and renewing to your liver.

Hot water with a little squeeze of lemon is a good way to start the day. It also helps cleanse and detoxify the liver. I recommend doing this for a few days in a row and then stopping for a few days since lemon juice in excess can be hard on the stomach.

7 Life-Changing Benefits of Becoming Vegetarian

Namaste!

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month so we wanted to provide positive inspiration for you to take some steps—little or big—toward a healthy vegetarian yoga lifestyle. If you’re already a vegetarian, here are some reminders of what a great choice you’ve made!

Occasionally there is some confusion about what it actually means to be a vegetarian. A true vegetarian doesn’t eat meat, fish, or eggs. A healthy vegetarian diet is focused on whole grains, beans, and legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, healthy fats and oils, and a moderate amount of dairy products.

1. Increase Your Inner Beauty:

Going veggie makes you more beautiful from the inside out. The toxins and stress hormones found in meat cause you to be more tired, stressed, and irritable. Vegetarian food choices have just the opposite effect. They uplift your mood, enhance your feelings of peace and optimism, and give you lots of exuberant energy.

2. Enjoy Radiant Skin and Hair:

Every year people spend literally billions of dollars on cosmetics and personal care products in their quest for youth and beauty. Yet just by choosing vegetarian foods, you’ll enjoy more beautiful skin and hair than you ever could by purchasing expensive beauty products. Vegetarian foods nourish your body from the inside out, providing invigorating antioxidants and nutrients.

3. Reach Your Ideal Weight and Stay There:

The battle of the bulge has become a serious health problem around the world. Being overweight or obese also causes many people a great deal of emotional, mental, and physical discomfort. Yet just one simple choice—choosing the vegetarian lifestyle—makes reaching and maintaining your ideal weight actually easy. There’s no need to struggle to lose weight. Vegetarian foods balance your body so that you’re more in touch with what actually tastes good and makes you feel good at the same time.

4. Reduce Your Risk of Painful and Deadly Diseases:

Have you ever noticed that virtually every single food to hit the headlines for health benefits is a vegetarian food? Whole grains help you lose weight, ward off diabetes, and cut your risk of cancer. Fresh fruits and vegetables help prevent just about every kind of disease in the book. Nuts and seeds promote cardiovascular health and even help you lose weight. Even dairy products are associated with numerous health benefits such as weight loss, reduced blood pressure, and a lower risk of cancer.

5. Promote World Peace:

Becoming a vegetarian is in harmony with the yoga principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence. Raising animals for food causes untold suffering for no real purpose other than to satisfy people’s desire for meat. While some people make the argument that you have to kill living things even to survive as a vegetarian—and there is truth in this statement—the fact is that animals have a much higher consciousness than plants and experience far greater suffering when killed. Eating a plant-based diet is by far the more compassionate choice.

6. Live Green:

Vegetarian food choices make the best use of our world’s precious resources. They use just a small fraction of the amount of water, land, and fuel that it takes to raise animals for meat. Factory farms, where animals are raised for meat, are also one of the biggest polluters of our waterways. Simply becoming a vegetarian is the biggest single step you can make to help protect the environment.

7. Pave the Way to Spiritual Happiness:

Ultimately, the greatest and most perfect happiness you can experience is the internal spiritual happiness that transcends all the ups and downs of the material world. Becoming a vegetarian helps to cultivate qualities conducive to spiritual realization, such as compassion, self-control, and peacefulness.

Release Anger Through Yoga

Anger can be very destructive. It can cause physical and mental problems and can even destroy our personal relationships. But you don’t have to let it. You can learn to release your anger through yoga.

Breathing exercises are particularly good for calming down immediately. Just take as many slow, deep breaths as you need to.  Yoga sound meditation combined with breathing is even more effective, as the sounds themselves are calming. Yoga asanas also help release tension in both body and mind. So before you blow off steam and hurt yourself or someone else, release your anger with some yoga.

Learn a New Pose Today!

Some yoga poses are easy for us; we like doing them and practice them regularly. At that point when the pose becomes easy for you, it’s time to find another pose!

Let’s say you learned a new pose yesterday that was quite hard for you. When it comes time to do it today, you’re reluctant. You know how stiff you were in that pose, how little movement you got, and it felt uncomfortable. So you’re inclined to skip that one. Those are just the poses that your body needs.

If you persevere to learn a new pose, you’ll go through different stages. The first stage of reluctance usually lasts about a month. But as your body loosens up, you’ll move into the second stage. The pose becomes tolerable and your body and mind no longer resist so much. This stage may last another six weeks or so, getting better and better. Finally, you’ll get to stage three; the pose will be quite pleasant and enjoyable.

Try to imagine it. While I’m not advocating pushing too hard, sometimes just imagining you can go further into a pose will get you there. It gives you the will to try just a little harder.”

Relax as you practice. Don’t stress about how stiff you are; just watch your breath; notice how it affects your body, and let it help you open and release into the pose.

So next time you’re doing a pose you find difficult, instead of doing it halfheartedly, thinking “I can’t do this pose,” remember these tips. And be careful to follow all the safety guidelines, especially the most important principle which is to listen carefully to your body and never push your body beyond its limits.

~Wai Lana

Three Ways to Prevent Sickness

Wai Lana, host of the long-running PBS series Wai Lana Yoga, shares tips on how to stay healthy naturally.

Getting sick is never fun. It not only makes us feel tired, achy, and sore, but also keeps us from doing the things we love. I have always felt that good habits are the foundation to good health. And, over the years, I’ve noticed that by practicing a yoga diet and lifestyle, I have far more energy and get sick less often.

Here are a few simple, effective ways to help keep yourself and your loved ones from getting sick:

Go to bed early

One of the most important things you can do to curb illness is to get enough rest. Studies show that cells regenerate themselves while we sleep. And although burning the candle at both ends is sometimes unavoidable, it can also weaken the immune system, making you more vulnerable to the latest bug going around school or the office. A busy schedule, heavy exercise, and even changes in the weather can sap our energy. That’s why it’s important to take care of ourselves and monitor how much sleep we’re getting. At the end of a tiring day, I like to get to bed an hour or two earlier. I find that a little extra sleep helps me feel relaxed, recharged, and more prepared for the next day.

Choose snacks wisely

The food we eat is the fuel our bodies need to function properly—down to the very last cell. So if our meals and snacks are nourishing, vital, and health-giving, our immune systems will grow strong and less prone to harmful bacteria, viruses, and disease. So skip the junky snack aisles next time you go grocery shopping. Opt for foods that make your body feel good, like fresh fruits, wholegrain breads, nut butters, and veggies and dip (a vegetarian egg-free mayonnaise mixed with a little mustard, honey, lemon juice, and salt makes a tasty, all-purpose vegetable dip).

Supplement your diet

When you consider that many of the foods sold in grocery stores today are over-processed, transported for long periods of time, and sprayed with chemicals and pesticides, it’s no surprise that many of them lack the vital nutrients we need to stay strong and resilient to infection. Drinking goji juice is one of my favorite ways to supplement my diet naturally with vitamins B, C, and E as well as beta-carotene. I often recommend drinking the juice from this ancient Chinese berry as a natural way to improve overall health, including eyesight and liver and kidney function. I am delighted to be able to add a pure goji juice to my line of supplements that contains no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. Made from fresh berries—not reconstituted or powdered—goji juice tastes delicious and contains naturally-occurring essential fatty acids such as omega-6 and linoleic acid, which also help to regulate hormones.

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