Jo and I were excited to wear some of our new flowy pants!
We started off with tea in the serenity corner and Becca led a session on nutrition. Everyone shared how they were feeling, how they were impacted by detox and the vegetarian/vegan diet at yoga teacher training, and food/exercise habits back home. Becca is a health coach and yoga teacher and lent an interesting perspective to nutrition. She is studying nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (online).
Points to consider:
-there are two types of food... primary and secondary food. Primary food includes the things that feed our souls and hunger for life, such as relationships, career, and spiritual practice. Secondary food is the actual food on our plate. Both types of food nourish us--we are fed by more than actual foods.
-food has prana, or a unique energy, and special properties depending on how it was raised, harvested, and transported, before it ended up on your plate. An example is an organic, garden-grown tomato picked when it was perfectly ripe versus a tomato that was picked when it was green, forced to ripen, and transported thousands of miles to a grocery store. Which tomato is more nourishing?
-Becca also assured us that cravings aren't bad. Cravings tell us what our bodies need; however we need to correctly identify what it is we are actually craving and how to meet our cravings in a healthful way. For example, craving ice cream may actually be a craving for a human connection with someone.
-there are different food issues, and recommended courses of action, associated with each of our seven chakras. For example, with our heart chakra, we often associate food with love and connection, and food is an important aspect of our relationships with the people around us. How to deal with cravings that come from the heart chakra? Meditate and find ways to meet these needs without using food. Heart opening yoga poses are helpful too.
-we often use foods to reward ourselves and make ourselves feel better--I often think of this picture when I want to reward myself with food!
-Becca also recommended "crowding out" our bad habits with the addition of positive habits. Fill your life with good habits so that there is no longer room for the bad habits. For example, if you eat dessert every night, start having a cup of your favourite tea to "crowd out" the need to eat something sweet.
-we also had some great discussion about different kinds of diets and how they might work for some people and not for others. Becca said that everyone's body is different and one diet does not work for everyone. Our blood type and ancestry plays a role too--what did your ancestors eat?
We concluded our morning with Becca with an hour of blissful restorative yoga. Thanks for a fantastic morning--I learned a lot :)
After lunch and a break, we had theory with Michelle. Today's session focused on the sixth chakra, ajna, more commonly known as the third eye. It's located deep in the brain and is linked to the pineal gland. It was interesting to learn that babies are born with a larger pineal gland, but by the time they are 8-10 years of age this gland has shrunk in size and basically atrophied. Research has shown that people who meditate a lot have larger pineal glands and a higher level of consciousness.
A person with an awakened or balanced ajna chakra has strong will power, keen intuition, and permanent happiness and satisfaction with life (Michelle compared it to a 24-hour orgasm--that woke us up and made everyone pay attention). The third eye is linked to telepathy and the ability to see the past and future, and a person with an awakened sixth chakra can manifest what they think about. This last part reminded me of witchcraft and wizardry out of Harry Potter. Michelle also shared that people with a well-developed third eye can "live on light" or prana energy, no longer needing to eat or sleep because their powerful pranic energy sustains them. Michelle's yoga teacher from India, Swami Vidyanand, only sleeps two hours a night as he requires very little rest. Michelle herself only requires six hours of sleep to be fully rested.
And then stuff got really crazy in yoga land. Jala neti is the yogic practice of cleansing the nasal and sinus cavities with salt water. Using a little teapot (pictured below) with a saltwater solution, you pour salt water through one nostril and let it flow out the other. I was thrilled! Finally something I was good at! I've used a neti pot for years on and off to treat colds and sinus infections! Michelle demonstrated the technique, and then some of us tried it. A agreed to be the jala neti model for the blog!
Here she goes!
A demonstrated fabulous nose irrigating technique and felt refreshed after!
So what's the yoga tip of the day? Using a Neti pot of course! They are available in most pharmacies (such as Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada) and come with packages of salt to which you add distilled lukewarm (or previously boiled) water. Bending over a basin or sink, you pour half the pot through one nostril and let it run through and out the other one. After you've irrigated one nostril, you blow your nose and do ten little puffs of air (clenching your abs each time, it's called breath of fire) through each nostril individually and then through both nostrils. Then repeat on the other nostril.
Why use a neti pot?
-it thins out and flushes mucus from the nose
-helpful in treating sinus infections, allergy symptoms, and colds
-it leaves you feeling refreshed and breathing easier
-yogis believe that regular use of a neti pot helps awaken the third eye