When a Yogi Falls Sick…

English: Praveen Gurukkal from Kalarickal Ayur...
English: Praveen Gurukkal from Kalarickal Ayurveda shows the use of Yoga in Kalari practise. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…Everyone would think one of these:

1. “Look at him. In spite of being thin, he would never listen to me. Eat a lot, for God’s sake! What is going through his mind? Does starving himself really pay? So eccentricly addicted to healthy life style. What’s the point of that? Now he’s sick and ..oh…poor wretched petite bony boy.”

2. “What is wrong with him? He’s been so fit so far and just as suddenly he declares he gets sick. That must have to do with the changing seasons.”

3. “If yoga can heal people, he should be able to cure himself. Well, he is supposed to be… Let him be.”

4. “He must have bent too much, twisted his body too often. ”

5. “He’s a human. That happens. It’s not like he gets sick every week or month. His sickness is once in an entire year. Why worry?”

6. “If that usually healthy and agile man can fall sick, how about me?? With all these abundant daily consumption of fried foods, sugary bread, greasy carnivore diets… Ah, leave it to God, and my insurance company. The world keeps spinning.”

7. “He needs bear hugs and intimate chats, I suppose. Let see if I can be of help.”

8. “He must’ve cheated on the diet plan too often.”

9. “His chakras may be clogged. He needs to fix them all.”

10. “He ought to a physician nearby.  He can heal on his own with Ayurveda but that’ll take much longer time. ”

 

Schopenhauer's Porcupines Theory (A Secret to Happiness?)

Below is the transcript of a footage titled “This Emotional Life” by Elizabeth Gilberth. I find this nice and profound in meaning, thus I publish it here. Hope you all like it, readers.

“Schopenhauer in his book had a theory of human relationships. That was about porcupines. And he used that as a metaphor when he said, “In love and relationships with, woud that be our family, our spouses, our friends, we are all of us on this earth.” Because we are so uncomfortable with our emotions. That all of us are like porcupines which are out in a cold winter night. And they get cold, and they need to huddle together for warmth. They crave connections. They crave warmth. So they come together. And then they prick each other because they have these horrible spines. And it’s painful. And so in order to avoid the pain, they retreat,and then they get cold so they come together and then they get spined, so they retreat. And then they’re cold. And they come together. And this dance of intimacy is what defines our relationships with everybody we encounter. They need to be close. That is followed by needs to be separated in order to protect ourselves from the inevitable hurt that happens when you get too close. And Schopenhauer didn’t have much remedy for that. He didn’t think that it was really gonna end. He saw that as a need to human nature. What he suggested is that those who had learned had generated their own warmth were able to keep the safest distance from the other porcupines. Well, that didn’t mean we have to live a life in isolation. It just meant not impelling yourselves on other people. So you have that critical little space, in which you’ll feel a little bit self-contained to create your own warmth, your own sense of humanity, so that you could be close without being stabbed. The path of that is called a secret to happiness as anything I’ve ever learned. “

7 Golden Keys to Longevity and A More Productive Life

I’m a huge fan of Dr. Hiromi Shinya. According to the seasoned Japanese surgeon, the ultimate key to longer and healthier life is enzyme. He also emphasizes the importance of balanced life style and mostly vegan diet type.  Read on to learn more about his 7 keys to longevity and a more productive life.

Key 1: 85% vegan diet 

Dr. Shinya adores vegan diets a lot. His diet is plant based most of the time but it doesn’t mean he avoids eating living moving creatures at all. His daily menus are composed of 85-90% plant-based fresh  foods and the rest (15-90%) is animal based foods (fish is highly recommended).

He elaborates, the vegan diet comprises 50% whole seeds, legumes, beans, whole wheats, lentils, etc. Another 30% is of green and yellow veggies and plant tubers (potatoes, carrots, bits, sea plants). And the rest 5-10% is fruits and seeds and nuts.

The animal-based diet should not exceed 115 grams a day. Shinya suggests any kind of fish will do but try to pick smaller fish because bigger ones tend to contain higher level of mercury. Poultry should be limited. Beef or lamb or sheep is avoided just to be safe. Eggs may also be part of the diet but is not a must in everyday menu.

Any plant-based ‘milks’ like soybean milk, rice milk soybean cheese, almond milk must also be consumed with care and in a limited amount.

Shinya recommends some supplementary foods to our daily diets such as herbal tea, kelp, bee pollen, honey propolis, enzyme supplement, mineral and multivitamin supplements. But once again, they’re supplements, instead of replacements.

What NOT to eat or drink according to Shinya:

  • dairy products and the derivations
  • Japanese green tea, Chinese tea, English black tea (limit the consumption to only 1-2 cups a day)
  • coffee
  • sweets and sugary foods
  • nicotine
  • alcohol
  • chocolate
  • grease and fats
  • table salt (shift to sea salt with mineral)

Here are some other suggestions from the doctor:

  • stop eating and drinking 4- 5 hours before going to bed
  • chew every spoon of your meal 30-50 times to ensure it is well mixed with saliva
  • don’t eat anything but fruits between every meal time (fruits can be consumed 1 hour before bed time if you feel badly hungry because fruits can be digested faster)
  • eat fruits and drink juice 30-60 minutes before bed time
  • whole wheat, cereals, and other unhusked grains
  • consume more raw foods or foods stewed for a few minutes at temperature not more than 48 degrees centigrade.
  • never eat or drink oxidized foods like milk sold at various stores, fried foods having contacted with open air for hours, or white rice that is left unprotected
  • consume fermented foods (like Korean and Japan dishes? Nato or kimchi? Or our Indonesian iconic staple food: tempeh?)
  • Be dsiciplined. You’re what you eat.

Key 2: Great water

High quality foods are useless without the presence of water to transport the nutrients around the body. Choose water with high reduction power. Great water containing minerals like calcium and magnesium, maintaining the body optimum alkali level. This alkali inclination is good because most diseases thrive in acid environment.

Adults as Shinya puts it, should drink at least 6-10 glasses of great water on a daily basis. Drink 1-3 glasses after waking up in the morning and drink 2-3 glasses around 1 hour before meal time.

Key 3: Regular secretion

Regularly get rid of the waste out of the system. Stay out of laxative. Consider using coffee enema. It cleanses the colon from the free radicals and residue of digestion processes.

Key 4: Measured, sufficient amount of workout

Good things stay good as long as they’re done in moderation. That even holds true to physical exercises. Shinya points out that too much working out may cause more free radicals and put the body in danger. Shinya says some great workouts are muscle strengthening, walking (4 kms), swimming, tennis, cycling, golf, yoga (I told ya), martial arts (not my thing though), aerobics.

Key 5: Proper rest

 Sleep at night for 6-8 hours without interruption. Like he said before, never eat anything that stuffs your stomach 4-5 hours before bed time (with fruits as exception) . Take a nap (brief siesta) for about 30 minutes after lunch.

Key 6: Breathing and meditation

Meditation is great regardless of your faith. Think positively, he advises. Deep breathing 4 or 5 times every hour to get rid of free radicals and toxics. Wear decent outfits that don’t hamper your breathing. Hear your own body more carefully and treat yourself well.

Key 7: Happiness and love

Happiness and love will boost bodily enzyme factors, often times considered as miraculous stuff. Appreciate what you have every time. Laugh a lot and dance and sing along with friends. It keeps us alive and whole as a human being. Live the life to its fullest with passion and whole-hearted attitude.

Yoga is Likely to Enhance How Our Lungs Work

A new scientific study confirmed another health benefit which a yogi and yogini can reap from their regular practice of yoga. This time, our respiratory system thank you for doing yoga.

One can start seeing the improvement of their lungs functions after practicing approximately 10 weeks. Pranayama exercise (which requires you to breathe at a slower pace and deeper)  no doubt contribute to healthier lungs. Not only are lungs’ functions significantly improved by doing yoga, but the daily practice of it also boosts overall fitness and endurance, needless to say. Yoga also is known to be a great workout to lower heart rate and blood pressure due to the deep breaths taken throughout a session. That said, another yoga’s  benefit is of course controlling our body weight, something people long for.

The secondary study conducted by a group of researchers* examining data obtained by 10 other previosu studies indicated that yoga does make our lungs work better. The 10 studies examined showed the impact of yoga on lung function.

 

*Sources:

  1. Abel, AN, Lloyd LK, Williams JS. The Effects of Regular Yoga Practice on Pulmonary Function in Healthy Individuals: A Literature Review. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.0516.
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com

These First 7 Days as a Glasses Boy

I had been avoiding wearing glasses since a long time ago. They look cool on others but when it came to think of it, they don’t on me. I don’t know. I just felt it was an odd idea.
But then I quit teaching in 2009, which provided me a lot of spare time to blog actively on a daily basis ever since. Prolonged contact with screen was then unavoidable. I could, let’s say, spend hours with eyes glued to the laptop screen every single day for like 8 months. In the 8th month, I already complained how strained my eyes felt after every day working with laptop. My eyes screamed for help. I was surprised if they didn’t , considering how mean the way I used them both.
In my hometown, only fewer opticians are found. Frames are too cheap I couldn’t think they can last for years. I don’t mean to sound snobbish but I’d rather spend more money for something worth my money than a cheaper thing which can barely survive a year.
So this time is different. My eyes are in dire need of help. Professional help. And that brought me to Ambassador Mall, where anyone can find practically everything. Spectacles are among them.
That Saturday night, I went home with glasses on my face. Kind of weird to stare at the floor for the first time.
The first day was Sunday. I remembered my yoga teacher quipped,”So you wear glasses now?” That was the first response to smile at before the others’ similar response upon learning my new looks.
There have been varied responses to my wearing glasses. Some are neutral, some of mockery, some others provoking, and the rest jovial.
Upu – coworker: “Peter Parker look-alike. Hence I call you Peter Pilot” (He referred to “Parker”, a brand of luxury pen, and “Pilot”, a brand of cheaper pen, bah!)
Andri -coworker : “Since when did you wear glasses” (He forgot a long time ago I wore but later ditched them)
 Eky – coworker: “Hi Superboy!” ( Are glasses with thick dark frame and working as a reporter prerequisites for becoming Superboy?)
Lina – coworker: “You look like a real genius” ( Which means I am actually NOT?)
Asep – coworker: “So they’re not  plano” (A term eye care professionals use to describe lenses with no corrective power. The term is most often applied to nonprescription sunglasses or contact lenses that are worn for cosmetic purposes only.)
Danu – coworker: “Are you some new employee I haven’t known before? Btw, your frame doesn’t suit your face. Why not pick the thinner one for your thin face?” (I did try thinner frame, and yes I looked like an erudite scholar. Nonetheless, the thinner frames gave me an impression of older looks as well. That would be something a 30-40 year olds to pick.)
 Guna – coworker : “Yeah, you really look like Korean ….after a prolonged tanning session” (How I love the punch line!)

Latest Job Vacancy for Metrosexuals: More Korean Boys Recruited to Sell Cosmetics

 Ladies and gents, welcome the dawn of the new era of SPG! No, it doesn’t stand for Sales Promotion Girls, but Sales Promotion GUYS. As reported by english.chosun.com, in South Korea more and more good-looking boys get recruited by cosmetics shops.

So how could this happen? It looks like these gorgeous males will be employed as tools to attract more female, heterosexual customers. Besides, there’re more males out there pay more attention to their outlook (read: facial skin), and the sales promotion guys will surely provide more convincing testimonies for these potential customers. Seriously, how can you guys reject cosmetics offered by supple-skinned fellows whom you’re dying to be like!

But it doesn’t stop there. Aside from hair style and facial skin, a sales promotion guy ought to let their hands manicured on a regular basis. Sorry dudes, rough palms with lots of dead skin cells turn of the company’s female shopping appetite.

This may sound as silly as it can do but face the fact, girls. Apart from the men physical exploitation, it’s true that boys (start to) rule your world, ladies. Talk about men emancipation! (source: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/02/09/2012020900448.html)

 

A Flag Worshipper Kid (A True Story of Mine)

I, if my memory served right, worshipped Indonesian flags  very much as a kid. I didn’t remember since when I fell in love with this glorious red-and-white flag. Yet every time I saw that flag, my heart jumped in utter joy. Nothing could beat the enjoyment of watching flags blown so hard by the gusting wind.

It might be my late grand father (of my mom’s side) who introduced me  to the grandeur of “Sang Saka Merah Putih”. He was a retired military official (purnawirawan) at the time, which was why he named me after the title (‘purna’ in Indonesian pronunciaton-> ‘purno” in Javanese -> ‘purnomo’), He was once serving as a local legislator as well.

I mostly spent my childhood with my grand father. You know what a grand father will normally do with his first grand son. That’s why almost all my childhood memory revolved around him. I loved him but never did the cigarettes he stuck in his mouth every single day. Oddly enough, he taught me to hate smoking by being a heavy smoker.

Back to the topic, I still remember when I was ‘abandoned’ in offices. Yes, my childhood was all about one office to another. My grand father quite often brought me with him while he paid a visit to Pepabri office in Kudus (FYI, I don’t know what Pepabri actually stands for). As my grad father mingled and had a warm chat with his friends, reminiscing their past and sharing current life details mostly related to health issues (no wonder, at such age), I was all alone and found the flag placed in the front yard of the office sexy enough to gaze.  Then my mother, a teacher of an elementary school nearby, was busily writing math problems with the chalk on the wooden blackboard while I collected all the tiny red-white flags placed in every teacher’s desk at school and ran to and fro just to see them wave in the air. Or I’d rather go outside, at the yard, staring at the tip of flag pole. The waving graceful movement of flag lured me into standing there. I just stared like a statue, couldn’t care less about anything around me. My dad, who was back then a principal of an elementary school, pretty much did the same thing to me.

The Advisable Eating Pattern that Keeps Us Healthy in Ramadan

Wax apples Taken June 30, 2005 by Allen Timoth...
Image via Wikipedia

First of all, I need to disclose that all the ideas stated in this post are based on what Erikar Lebang said on Twitter (@erikarlebang). I only copied, pasted, added (just a bit here and there) or edited, rephrased and/ or translated the ideas into English. Here we go…

Prior to fasting discussion, we’d better recall some basics of human beings’ biological cycle regarding digestion system, usually referred to as ‘circadian cycle’.

In a nutshell, there’re 3 periods in human beings’ biological cycle, namely:

  1. Intake period (12.00 – 20.00): This is a phase when our body ( the digestion system) is fully ready to welcome foods. Our energy is mainly focused on the digestion system during the period. Other types of bodily activities are still in progress but in a minor state.
  2. Processing period (20.00-04.00): All of the foods consumed during the intake period are then slowly processed by the system at its best. The body itself does anything to survive, such as regenerating cells, repairing the damaged cells, and so forth. This way another type of energy is lowered at the minor level, which explains why the Almighty designs the body to take a total rest during the processing period.
  3. Secretion period (04.00-12.00): This is a phase when the body needs to get rid of the waste resulted by the digestion process. The waste could be in the form of vapor, perspiration, urine and / or faeces. The amount of energy to perform this task is a lot, leaving a little for other processes, including digestion system. This is the main reason why we ought to eat easily digested foods at such hour (early in the morning) to prevent disturbance to our digestion system.

Based on the circadian cycle, we’re able to define what it takes to fast in a healthy way. Fasting doesn’t change much the way our body works. The difference lies in the time when foods are consumed on a daily basis.We thus are expected to adapt our food types consumed during Ramadan to the natural cycle of body. Otherwise, various digestion and health problems may arise. Diarrhea, constipation, dehydration are several commonly found ailments during Ramadan.

We need to understand that sahur (or early breakfast/ meal before the daybreak) occurs when the body is at the end of processing period and about to commence secretion period. People need to choose types of food that may assist digestion system over foods that give extra burden to the body.

 

Do’s

The core principle  of eating healthily for sahur/ early breakfast is  to eat as light as one can so as not to disrupt the circadian cycle. But this light meal shouldn’t mean a skimpy one that leaves us dying in hunger before the dusk. The challenge is how we can choose the appropriate foods without torturing the body, because overeating is just as bad as undereating.

These are several steps to take to eat early breakfast healthily:

1. Before munching anything, drink a big glass of fresh water. Yes, Fresh water! That means no syrup, or sweetener, or additives added to it. Give time to yourself around 20-30 minutes before eating something else. In the meantine, you can pray tahajjud or read the Quran.

2. Start eating sweet, high-fiber, juicy fruits like apple, pineapples, oranges, guavas, pears, etc. But leave fruits containing alcohol, e.g. durian, jackfruit, etc. Bananas and other fruits containing lots of carbohydrate requires a little treatment (which I have no idea) before one can eat it.

3. Eat 1-2 kinds of fruit that you consider enough. Wait for another 20-30 minutes and you may eat ‘the main course’.

Dont’s

Eating too much food containing nutrition may not be quite bad but sahur is an exception. It’ll only leave you a series of digestive problems because the time is just NOT right. High protein foods, foods with additives and preservatives, processed foods are definitely NOT foods to eat for sahur. Bread, pasta, noodles are NOT advisable to eat either.

 

 

A Bit of Yogic Essence in Ramadan (An Excerpt from Yudhi Widdyantoro's Speech)

Yudhi in action!

In the broader sense, ‘yoga’ itself can be defined as ‘a controlled mind’, ‘a harmonious bond between individual soul and the universe soul. It’s an effective method to calm and ease the troubled, anxious mind, which in turns can channel the energy in the right, constructive manner.

The highest purpose of yoga is to reach unity with the Divine in order to create a inner peace of mind and soul. Both physical and mental aspect are equally honed while doing yoga. This will eventually enable us to gain a fuller, more well-rounded perspective of life.  The unity here may also be interpreted as  how mind, body and soul complete with each other.

On “the Pursuit of HappYness”

Human beings are destined to continuously pursue happiness. We, unhappily, tend to seek bliss from the outside (read: material, earthly) world, some of which are the greed for financial satisfaction (money we spend extravagantly during Ramadan), the urge to impress others (that BlackBerry),  social status, and so forth. We’re inclined to forget that happiness lies within ourselves by getting to know ‘inner conflicts’ . As told earlier, yoga is a synthesis of body, mind, and soul.

When it comes to the needs of body, yoga provides what the body exactly needs. Performing yoga poses  (asanas) gives health benefits as each of the poses may give different body therapeutic effects. Bhujangasana, for instance, is good for digestive system health in general when done properly.

As for the needs of mind, yoga can train us to control or ‘tame’ our unmanagable mind as well so that our ability to focus upon the present improves. More often than not, most of us are usually distracted by what happened or what we experienced in the past or what will occur in the future. Both types of attachments (to the bygone past and the uncertain future) prevent us from enjoying what matters to us most, that is living to the fullest in the present.

So what should we do to dismantle these attachments? By meditation, concentration, and proper rhythmic breathing exercise (pranayama), we’ll find it much more easily to focus on what is happening in our inner ‘self’. Listen to how our lungs work, observe the way the fresh air comes in and out of our respiratory system.

The most important thing for yogis and yoginis, which is related to fasting and the spirit of abstinence in Ramadan, is to get to know ourselves by doing good deeds that we think we don’t have to do or we can otherwise ignore. For example, while performing a yogic pose, one is supposed to hold it for some time although it feels a bit painful or uncomfortable. We may release the pose and give up to the pain at once but that way we fail to know who we really are, what fear we have to conquer, which affliction we have to overcome.

This is analogous to fasting in Ramadan. We try to hold ourselves in torturing hunger and agonizing thirst while consciously learning about how we feel about an external or internal stimulus and thus how we react to it. It’s part of the undertake of knowing who we are, which at last enables us to know the Almighty.

A Brief Introduction to Food Combining (1)

Food for Life distributes food on an internati...
Image via Wikipedia

Claudia Jones in Namaskar (April 2011 issue) extolled the significance of food combining to our digestive health. So she said this method may help us reduce gas and abdominal bloating after eating, fast eliminate and balance body weight (ok, I need that someday, not for now).

Jones further explained what food combining principles are:

  • Fruit should always be eaten separately 20-30 minutes before other foods. Eating any fruits after a meal is definitely counterproductive.
  • Sugary foods should also be eaten alone, before other foods and never after a meal.
  • Protein and starch should not be mixed together in the same meal.
  • Protein should only be eaten with non-starchy vegetables.
  • Starch should only be eaten with non-starchy vegetables.
Later on my next post, I’ll tell you why these principles matter.
(to be continued)