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Control Your Own Health

Please watch this video. Garth McLean is truly inspirational! He is a reminder that we can define ourselves to fit our own meaning for life. He has a great website at Yogarth. This is what Boomer Living said about Garth: “We profile Garth McLean and his unconventional battle with Multiple Sclerosis through Iyengar Yoga. The title “Courage and Caution” refers to the advice Yogacharya BKS Iyengar offered Garth upon learning of the challenges he faces with MS.” Garth helps people world over to claim their healthiest lives.

Why cats leap better than cows

Cows may occasionally jump over the moon, but they don’t leap like a cat or pirouette like a ballerina…
I had a conversation with my massage therapist friend, Jacqueline Gomez. It was very interesting how differently we view the word “muscle”. Jacqueline can touch any part of my body and tell me what muscles, membranes, tissues, tendons, etc are working under it and what neurological pathways they effect. This stuff is way over my head!  I have historically ignored how my body feels so I could push it to the physical extreme, keeping up with the strength and endurance needs expected of a working kitchen chef.

     So Jacqueline showed me this “Fuzz Spread” (Mayo Fascia) video with Gil Hedley. (Note: it is graphic and shows the inside of human soft tissue via a cadaver.) I showed her my NAMP Meat Buyers Guide and associated website. I told her how Kobe beef cows are free range, grass fed and massaged daily to produce the finest & most tender beef on the planet. I also told her about how, when butchering, you have to remove the membrane & silver skin to expose the succulent meat. If you don’t, the silver skin will tighten up when you cook your steak and warp it. Jacqueline excitedly explained “That’s fascia!”
     Jacqueline told me that when we are still, our muscles exude fuzz, or fascia build up, which grows between the muscle fibers, all the way deep down to the bone and binds them together, eventually turning into connective scar tissue. This is why you feel stiff when you wake up in the morning or after you have been sitting for too long. The only way to break this fascia build up is to stretch. Otherwise, the fascia build up will continue to accumulate and you will become stiffer & stiffer, as seen with the video cadaver. Eventually it will pull your body out of it’s natural physical alignment, just like the cooked silver skin on a roast or steak, and warp your “meat”. Fascia buildup will also make you less inclined to even try to stretch or recover your nimbleness. PLUS it can permanent pull your body out of alignment and aid all the accumulative physical disorders normally associated with aging.
This started me thinking. Cats stretch. They are the stretch masters! There is even a yoga pose based on the cat stretch. Cats are also excellent at relaxing. What a great combination to keep your muscles free of
fascia build up! Relaxed muscles give better circulation and transport oxygen through your body.  Tension stops that process. Stiffness promotes muscular tension. So… stretching every day does more than just keep us limber. This is a great tool to keep our oxygen & blood flow pumping AND to protect against aging stiffly. Wouldn’t it be great to do the cat pose when you are 95?

Cats stretch even while they sleep. They naturally do whatever it takes to keep their muscles in good working order.

Cat Woman?!? No Batman, sorry for the false alarm. This is the Cat Pose!

This fellow is being stretched and massaged like a Kobe cow! Seriously, this is how Jacqueline relates to a shoulder muscle group

This is what I think of when I visualize “Shoulder”! But the muscles & structure are basically the same from person to cow.


One Breath at a Time

We have a primary need for oxygen—from our skin and lungs down to our cellular level. Even our molecules and atoms need us to breathe, Breathing keeps blood oxygenated so it can pump and flow through the body. Well-oxygenated blood also helps the body distribute and absorb vitamins, especially vitamins C, D and the B’s. Vitamins A and K (found in the same food as C, D and B’s) help your blood maintain its oxygen levels.
What a wonderfully symbiotic relationship. These vitamins are also key with maintaining your physical health and emotional well-being in the cold and dark months of winter. How amazing! Our bodies know better than we do that breathing well helps us live well.
Breathing deeply and fully helps maintain your lung health. When you breathe shallowly, you only use the portion of your lungs closest to your trachea and bronchus. The exterior part, the part that all the mucus likes to settle into, becomes weak and dirty, covered with hardening mucus and easily infected nodules. Shallow breathing makes you more susceptible to colds, viruses, pneumonia, bronchitis, etc… Like any muscle, use it or lose it. We really have to work harder at this in the winter than the summer.
Another interesting thing about breathing fully: If you maintain a “core” posture, you are all set to breathe well. Your back is straight and your shoulders are relaxed. Especially in times of stress, it is important to breath fully, deeply and slowly. This keeps the “fight or flight” prone adrenaline at bay and allows your body to remain in a relaxed state of full focus.

On a Spiritual note, whether you are practicing yoga breaths or shamanic breathing, you will find kindred purposes for these deep breath techniques. When you inhale deeply, you send oxygen to every cell in your body. By holding our breath, you give your body a chance to absorb this oxygen and discharge accumulated debris and carbon dioxide. A slow exhale allows for full body release of these toxins before your next cleansing breath is begun. Deep and full body breathing is literally and exactly that.
A lovely breath meditation is to think of all the plants that provide us with life-preserving oxygen. Our air is a gift from them, filling each breath is love and blessings form nature. As we exhale carbon dioxide, we return the blessings by providing our plant brethren with their life affirming breath. This is a loving and symbiotic relationship that fills all participants with the Breath of Life.