Friday, July 30, 2010

Non-Fat Summer Slaw! Yum..

Without the mayo this slaw has great nutritional value with no fat and is high in vitamin C.   It works great as a side dish with your favorite grilled meat or seafood, but it shines as a topping for homemade tacos!

½ Cabbage, shredded or cut finely
1 Red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 Jalapeno pepper, sliced thinly
½ Red onion, sliced thinly
2 Limes, juice only
1 Bunch of Cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare cabbage, remove the outer leaves and toss them (or better yet put in the compost bin.)  Cut cabbage in half, then quarters.  Remove the cabbage core, by cutting through the base end of the cabbage at an angle.  Thinly slice the remaining cabbage or grate on the largest setting of a box grater.

Place cabbage in a bowl with sliced red bell pepper, jalapeno (seeds and membrane removed for less heat or left in for added heat) and red onion.

Cut the limes in half and juice directly into the bowl.

Chop the cilantro and add to the cabbage mixture.  Toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Opening up!

 What obstacles do you face daily in life or maybe physically, we all face them from time to time.  It's how we deal with them that's important.

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal." You see, we have the power to either turn our experiences and truths into obstructions, weights tethered to any possible rise in self-esteem, greater awareness, and health; or to remove them. 

Yogis have fabulous resistance-busting tools. We can get on the mat and practice, opening tight places and dissolving emotional and mental tension. We breathe, switch our thinking, learn to see more clearly and, by deciding to love ourselves a little more, we begin to widen the very doorway into our own hearts. By applying awareness to each situation we encounter, we open a threshold to our core, allowing our deepest wisdom to sweep through, and away, into the world in the form of our most courageous, conscious actions.

In my classes, any time I want to clear the threshold, I ask my students to focus on hip opening. I call the hips "the Gateways," because they can allow, or block, the energy moving from you foundation into your core. If the gateways are closed, the posture is incomplete and with it, the opportunity to gain the full benefits of the asana is lost. Try the following pose any time you feel a little closed yet feel ready to  make the space you need to cross the threshold into that next, most incredible state of being who you really are.

Core Pose: Funky Lunge

This posture clears a common tight area--the side leg and outer hips--all the way from the foundation to your center. When you open this gateway, issues like sciatica may recede, since the piriformis muscle at the side of your pelvis often compresses it. As well, you'll open the IT band, making this a wonderful way to free yourself from over-closure of the gateways of the hip muscles and joints and, quite literally, be able to walk through any threshold more freely.

Come into Down Dog. Step your left foot to your right thumb. With this crossed foot placement, you'll bring the right knee to the mat. Center your hips, and come onto palms or fingertips, on the mat or on blocks, so that your hands are under your shoulders.

Begin to roll onto the pinky toe edge of your left foot. As you ground the foot down, and resist it back towards your hip, roll the outer left hip and upper thigh back and down so that it's not hiking up toward your ribcage.

Inhale, lift your lower belly and wave long through your spine. Exhale, and fold at the hip creases as you bend the elbows to your capacity. Play your edge of flexibility as you begin to straighten your front leg until you begin to feel sensation. Breathe and soften there before moving further into your stretch.

If you want more of a challenge, try tucking the back toes under and lifting the back knee as in a Low Lunge. Your hands will walk back to remain under the shoulders for support.

Breathe here for one minute, taking small spinal waves on the inhalation, and deepening your fold on the exhalation. Return to Dog Pose, and switch sides.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Improving your Lung Capacity!

Proper breathing is essential during exercise but should you try to increase your lung capacity? It seems like the average person who exercises regularly wouldn't concern themselves with increased lung capacity the way an endurance athlete would. However, improving your own lung capacity can benefit you when you are working out. Even if you have no plans to race in a triathlon, you can reap the benefits.

Most athletes work on improving their lung capacity because in turn, it increases their endurance and stamina. If you exercise on a regular basis, you may notice an increase in your own endurance and stamina by improving your lung capacity.

Ways to Increase Lung Capacity

You cannot physically increase the size of your lungs but there are ways to improve the efficiency of your lungs. The average person's lungs holds between 4 - 6 liters of air. Lung capacity also varies on height, age, sex, weight, as well as physical activity. For example, a swimmer would have a much larger lung capacity than someone who only works out a few times a week.

Cardio Exercises

One of the most common ways to improve lung capacity is through regular cardio exercise. Running is a good exercise to begin with. Some runners purposely live or train in areas of higher altitude because there is less available oxygen. The body then has to adapt to training with the lack of oxygen which in turns increases lung capacity. However, this can be dangerous as there is the risk of altitude sickness when the lungs cannot process enough oxygen for the body.

Breathing Exercises

Another method is by performing breathing exercises. Yoga is often turned to for learning how to breathe better. One breathing exercise I practice often is deep belly breathing. It really helps to relax me when I am feeling anxious or stressed. I once read that the average person does not breathe properly and that we lose lung capacity as we age. Breathing exercises are probably beneficial for those reasons.

Improve Your Posture

Having good posture also helps to improve lung capacity because when you are slouching over you constrict the amount of air your lungs take in. Practice sitting and standing with correct posture.

It should go without saying but smoking reduces your lung capacity among the other negative side effects. I think improving one's lung capacity wouldn't hurt. Have you purposely tried increasing your own?