I don’t know about you, but I am jumping for joy. I have been preparing over the past several months to put together online material that is relevant, accessible, high quality, and affordable. It is with great pleasure and excitement that I share with you the launch of my online courses!
The material I’ll be sharing with you over the next several weeks and months will cover a range of topics — everything from getting your first full push-up and pull-up to holistic lifestyle courses and a special online course for women which will be released late 2016/early 2017.
In addition to sharing this online school and course launch with all of you, I’m also going to share with you the official launch of…
…rather than create a downloadable pdf of the blog I shared with you all a while back, I decided to take the material and create a FREE course for you that you can access at any time. If you are looking to develop your upper body pushing strength, want to feel the connection between your core and your arms, or want to begin the process of developing shapely shoulders and triceps, then this is a good place to start.
More exciting news in the days and weeks to come! If you’d like to keep abreast of all that is coming down the pike, be sure to follow me on any of the social media accounts in the sidebar; or subscribe to my newsletter (I’m only going to be emailing once per week unless I have something to share that cannot wait) and receive your FREE copy of “9 Secrets to Living a Vibrant Life.”
A lot of what I choose to eat and supplement my biology with is purely intuitive. Over the years, through much practice, I’ve learned to tune into and provide what my body is asking for. A couple of weeks ago, I felt called to incorporate Himalayan Shilajit into my biology. I don’t know why, but I tend to smell everything before I eat it. So, I smelled the Shilajit and was surprised to be transported back to my childhood and Band-Aids. Yes, the scent of Shilajit reminds me of Band-Aids.
Why would I want to ingest something that smells like Band-Aids? Beats me. But, I did and I have been. The flavor is a bit strong and definitely it’s own thing, unlike anything else I’ve eaten. Like anything else, when the body want something and needs something, I kind of go for it. You know what? I like it and, I miss eating it if I happen to not have it on a given day.
What is Himalayan Shilajit?
Shilajit is formed from the compression of organic materials between the rock fissures within the Himalayas. In the summer months, this compressed biomass oozes out of these fissures.
Himalayan Shilajit, also known as “the Conqueror of Mountains and the Destroyer of Weakness,” contains over 85 plant-based minerals and trace elements in an ionic and bio-available form. Minerals that are bio-available are ready for uptake and integration into our system without our bodies needing to break down, or catalyze, the minerals first. Himalayan Shilajit also contains fulvic acid, which aids in the cellular uptake of the minerals and trace elements.
What are some of the benefits of Himalayan Shilajit?
- Adaptogen. Shilajit helps the body to adapt to given stressors, much like many tonic herbs. It helps the body fight stress and fatigue, while providing energy at the cellular level.
- Energizes. Shilajit helps the body produce additional ATP (adenosine triphosphate) – our body’s primary source of energy.
- Anti-aging. Shilajit activates, stabilizes, and revitalizes CoQ10, an important cofactor in mitochondrial production. The mitochondria serve as the body’s energetic powerhouse and is used in the production ATP.
- Decreases fatigue and turbo-charges the body. Shilajit contains humic acid. Humic acid increases the rate of electron transfer to the mitochondria, which, in turn, increases the production of ATP (energy). Humic acid is bio-available.
- Helps to maintain brain function. Shilajit inhibits the enzyme responsible for catalyzing (breaking down) acetylcholine — a neurotransmitter responsible for memory retention and attention span.
- May help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Shilajit brings additional oxygen, minerals, and nutrients to the brain, which assists the body’s natural ability to self-protect against plaque forming proteins amyloid beta and tau.
- Calms the nervous system. Shilajit has been shown to increase parasympathetic activity, thereby decreasing stress (the fight or flight response) within the body.
- Boosts performance and pleasure. Shilajit may trigger the release of dopamine – the feel good hormone – as well as increase performance when under stress.
- Supports fertility. Shilajit has been shown to increase sperm production by 60% and activity by 12%.
According to Ron Teeguarden, Shilajit’s traditional functions are:
- “Jing tonic – Tones the sexual organs, supports sexual energy and stamina (traditionally considered to be an “aphrodisiac”), supports healthy prostate function
- Qi tonic – Enhances energy and stamina.
- Shen tonic – Enhances spiritual power
- Enhances bioavailability and action of other herbs
- Detoxifying – huge high-valence surface area collects debris and free radicals, cleansing the blood and tissues of the body
- A carrier – binds to herbal constituents and minerals, delivering them to their targets
- A catalyst – promotes the activity of minerals and organic constituents
- Supports urinary functions
- Supports healthy microcirculation
- Supports healthy menstrual functions
- Supports the immune system
- Supports healthy fat metabolism
- Supports lung functions
- Used for general fortification and tonification of the entire body.”
Myth and legend surround the mighty baobab tree. The baobab is known as the African Tree of Life. According to some African bushmen,
With such legend, one might assume that the mighty baobab has some incredible benefits, yes? Yes! I recently stumbled across the mighty baobab, have been researching it, and incorporating it into my biology. It turns out that this tree and its fruit have quite a few benefits that are naturally used in traditional African medicine.
What are the benefits of the mighty baobab?
Powerful antioxidant. Baobab fruit is high in Vitamin C. One single serving contains ~80% of the RDV of Vitamin C. The baobab fruit powder has an integral antioxidant capacity that is 37x greater than that of oranges and 3x the antioxidants found in blueberries. The baobab seed oil contains Vitamins A, D, and E as well as Omega 3, 6, and 9.
Analgesic. The fruit pulp is shown to have pain relieving affects similar to that of aspirin.
Hepatoprotective. The pulp has been shown to have a protective and restorative effect on damaged livers in rats. I personally am curious if baobab fruit helps to heal livers damaged by flukes (platyhelminths).
Anti-diarrhea. The fruit pulp contains ~50% fiber (equal parts soluble and insoluble) as well as tannins and citric acid.
Pre-biotic. Gut health – yes! The soluble fiber in the pulp stimulates the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. When the pulp powder is combined with certain ferments, it may prevent and/or inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella sp., Bacillus sp., and Streptococcus sp.
Reduce fever. The bark, fruit pulp, and seeds may be used to reduce fever, particularly in cases of malaria.
Anti-viral. The fruit, leaves and seeds may act as an anti-viral against herpes, flu, and respiratory viruses.
Anti-trypanosoma. Baobab roots serve as anti-trypanosoma (an anti-parasitic) and reduce or eliminate the motility of trypanosomes – the causative agent of sleeping sickness.
Skin care/beautification. A decoction of baobab roots promote smooth skin.
I found these traditional medicinal uses particularly interesting:
The leaves may be used as an anti-asthmatic and anti-histamine. They may also be used in the treatment of Guinea worm (a parasitic worm), urinary tract diseases, eye and ear inflammations.
The bark may be used as a substitute for quinine in reducing fever and as a remedy for toothache. In addition, the bark, fruit pulp and seeds are used as an antidote to the poison often used on arrows.
The dried fruit pulp, which tastes similar to a mild creamsicle, is available through various super food retailers. In addition to all of the benefits listed above, baobab pulp is also rich in B Vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, and manganese.
How can you use baobab?
- Add it to your morning smoothie.
- Add it to homemade ice-cream (dairy or vegan).
- Sprinkle it on your yogurt.
- Mix it in a smoothie bowl.
- Add it to un-baked, or baked goods.
How do you use baobab? If you have a favorite recipe that you would like to see featured on my blog, email it to me with a picture of your mighty baobab creation (amanda(at)onalimb(dot)org) and I’ll feature it in an upcoming blog post.
Kabore, Donatien, H. Sawadogo-Lingani, B. Diawara, C.S. Compaore, M.H. Dicko, and M. Jakobsen. 2011. A review of baobab (Adansonia digitata) products: Effect of processing techniques, medicinal properties and uses. African Journal of Food Science. 5(16): 833-844.
Images: theholbox(dot)com, bumblerootfoods(dot)com
This one’s for the ladies and any men who work with women, train women, teach women yoga, and care about women in general. In other words, although moon cycles are a “taboo” topic, discussing them and the impacts it has on training can benefit everyone. Besides, I’m all for demystifying and diving right on in to “taboo” topics to rock the boat and see what I can stir up in folks. Put on your life-jackets and let’s go for a swim…
Some of the frequent questions I receive from women regarding their moon cycles are:
- Can I train when I have my cycle?
- Can I train hard when I have my cycle?
- What does it mean when I’m training a lot and I miss a cycle?
- Is it ok to practice inversions when I have my period?
While it’s great to have plans and goals during and throughout your cycle, it’s important to keep in mind that your monthly visitor may or may not invite you to alter your training habits. Many years ago, women’s cycles were seen as a time to gather together, to create, and to rest. Nowadays, women’s cycles are seen more as something to hide, something to be ashamed of, something unnatural. And, this is shifting. Yes!
Can you train when you have your cycle and can you train hard when you have your cycle?
It depends. It depends entirely on you, your body, and the changes your body is experiencing during your monthly cycle. If you have a cycle with little to no challenges — your flow is fairly regular, you’re not gushing or passing large clots, you don’t suffer from severe cramps that leave you laid up in bed with a hot water bottle on your abdomen…basically, if your cycle days are pretty similar to your non-cycle days, then by all means train away.
If your cycle tends to resemble a scene out of a horror movie — super heavy, passing large clots, painful, irregular — then perhaps it’s time to slow down a little (or a lot) and honor your body. Allow yourself to take advantage of the invitation to explore a more restorative, rejuvenating, self-nurturing practice rather than beat yourself up in the gym. Your body will thank you in more ways than one.
What might this look like? You could go for a walk in the woods, practice gentle yoga or yin yoga, turn down the intensity and volume of your regular practice, allow yourself to create art. Maybe the most loving thing you can do for yourself during this time is take a warm, soothing bath with essential oils and epsom salts. Receive a foot massage. Let yourself be held and nurtured during this time.
What does it mean when you are training a lot and start missing cycles?
Unless we’re pregnant or going through menopause, irregular cycles and/or missed cycles are a sign that something is off in our bodies. We are out of balance. It’s often a sign that we’re experiencing stressors beyond our capability to handle them. I often see women in the bodybuilding world who lose their cycles when they cut, continue to train hard, and their body fat percentages drop below levels at which we’re able to sustain the life-giving force that is inherent within us as women.
In my opinion, this is a big sign to slow way down and reevaluate what you are doing, why you are doing it, and get really clear as to whether or not the stress is worth it. When your cycles stop due to over-training or low levels of body fat, it’s an invitation to take care of your health. To me, it’s a gigantic STOP sign with flashing lights and sirens blaring.
How to begin to bring the body back into balance — slow down, destress, reduce training volume and intensity. Eat pure, vibrant, high quality organically grown food, not processed crap and stop starving yourself. Eat healthy fats and incorporate hormonal supporting and balancing herbs and tonics into your meals.
Is it ok to practice inversions when you have your cycle?
Again, it depends. If you follow strict, dogmatic yogic principles, then no. However, I tend to shy away from anything dogmatic. Perhaps I’m being dogmatic in my distancing myself from and calling out practices or beliefs that are dogmatic. Hmm…
Anyway, it totally depends upon you and what works for your body. Chances are unless you are in Cirque du Soleil, you’re not spending hours upon hours upside down on your hands. So, if you feel up to it, there’s really nothing wrong with popping into a headstand, pincha mayurasana, or a handstand when Cousin Flow is in town. You may not want to if you feel particularly bloated or if the river is flowing more like Class V rapids than a quiet, meandering brook, but again, that’s completely individual and may change as quickly as the weather in the northeast.
The bottom line is to develop a relationship with your body and with your cycle. Your body will tell you what it needs, when it needs it, whether to train hard, to rest, to go upside down, or to take a relaxing stroll through the woods. The largest considerations are whether or not you hear your body when it speaks to you and whether or not you choose to listen to your body when it speaks to you.
You’re a male trainer/teacher. What can you do?
If you’re a male trainer, movement or yoga teacher, or male in general, there are some things you can do to help support your students when they have their cycles. Have some feminine products on hand just in case your student unexpectedly gets her cycle in the middle of a session or class with you. Organic…
Your menstruating or nearly menstruating students may be more in tune with their emotions during this time. Please don’t call them “emotional.” This is a natural part of the intuitive process of being a woman. Granted, if there are significant mood swings, it may be a sign of a hormonal imbalance, but that’s a post for another day.
Your student may feel fat, bloated, gross, worried about leakage, and/or in pain. Please be kind. If your student has made the decision to show up and be present on a day when she may be feeling less than stellar, support her. Likewise, if her cycles are spot on and she feels great, wants to crush it in the gym, let her.
If you notice your student chooses to not practice inversions around the same time each month, chances are mentioning it in front of class isn’t going to be the most supportive time to share a conversation. She’s likely already self-conscious about people noticing that she has chosen to not go arse over teakettle when she has her moon cycle.
The more comfortable you are regarding women’s cycles and discussing women’s cycles, the more likely your female students will be in opening up and discussing this natural part of life with you.
I love comments, questions, and feedback so please post below.
Before diving into 10 benefits of MSM, you may be wondering — what is MSM? MSM, is also known as methylsulfonylmethane. It contains sulfur, a mineral which we are largely deficient in due to the poor mineral concentrations in the majority of soils today. Even if you eat large quantities of plants high in sulfur, it’s still likely you may be deficient in this superfood.
What are 10 benefits of MSM?
- Reduce pain. MSM is an anti-inflammatory and natural analgesic (pain reliever). It also increases cellular permeability and dilates blood vessels, increasing circulation and the removal of waste products from the cells, decreasing time needed to heal from injury and wounds. MSM is also a muscle relaxant.
- Is a synergist. MSM aids in the uptake of vitamin C, all B vitamins, CoQ10, amino acids, calcium, magnesium, and more.
- Antioxidant. MSM, particularly sulfur, aids in the production of glutathione – one of the key antioxidants in reducing oxidative stress.
- Detoxification. Aids in the removal of heavy metal toxicity and cellular waste products. In addition, the production of glutathione assists the liver in removing waste products from the body.
- Improves neurological function. MSM can cross the blood-brain barrier, improving cellular function and removing heavy metal toxicity within the brain cells. It may also improve memory.
- Reduces/relieves allergies. MSM may work as an antihistamine and works to heal the mucosa within the gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts as well as the respiratory system. This decreases the availability for allergen, pathogen, and parasite binding.
- Reduces the severity of autoimmune disorders. The anti-inflammatory, analgesic, detoxification, mucosal healing, and antioxidant effects of MSM help to reduce auto-immune reactions, particularly in and around joints and connective tissue.
- Helps to balance blood sugar. Sulfur is needed for proper structure and function of insulin, essential in carbohydrate metabolism.
- Reduces muscle soreness and cramps. When taken prior to training, MSM may reduce post-training muscle soreness and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). When consumed after training, MSM aids in reducing muscle cramps and increasing recovery between training sessions.
- Beautifies skin, hair, and nails. Sulfur is needed in the production of collagen and keratin — two proteins required for healthy hair, skin, and nails. It helps keep skin smooth, soft and youthful looking, hair shiny.
Are you willing to admit that you are feeling needy? When you feel needy do you fall into the societal trap of feeling toxic shame for experiencing part of the human condition – neediness? Watch the video to learn more…
What are four things we can do when we are feeling needy?
1. Acknowledge your neediness. Admit to yourself that you are feeling needy.
2. Would you be willing to accept that you are feeling needy? If you are not willing to accept that you are feeling needy, would you be willing to accept that you are not willing to accept your neediness?
3. Breathe. Give yourself permission, space, and support to explore whether or not this need is a need that you are capable of meeting yourself. If it is, I invite you to give yourself what you need. 🙂
4. If you truly cannot meet your need and need external support, then ask for it from a place of acknowledgement and connectedness. The more grounded you are in vulnerably expressing your authentic need, the more likely people will be willing to support you in helping you meet your need.
I wasn’t going to share this video, this poem, with all of you. I am not concerned or afraid about experiencing whatever thoughts, feelings, and opinions you may feel inclined to project my way. I actually really enjoy sharing my raw vulnerability with you!
Upon watching myself on video, I caught myself stepping into a trap of sorts that I have fallen into many times. I’ll share what the trap was in an upcoming video and how I made a conscious decision to very quickly change course and get out of it.
Sometimes I feel more than I can handle.
Sometimes I feel too raw, too real, too vulnerable.
Watch the video for the full poem.
I hope that my sharing my raw vulnerability with you inspires you to get in touch with yourself and to plant yourself in the soil of your belonging. You are not alone on this journey, fellow travelers. Although it may certainly not feel like it at times, it is a blessing to feel everything so deeply, so rawly, so at the heart and core of your beingness.
“How do I quit smoking?” is a question I have received a few times from people. In this video, I share a few tips behind why you may be choosing to smoke as well as 4 tips to help you quit smoking.
Before quitting smoking, I find it important to consider:
1. Why am I smoking? Why have I chosen to smoke?
2. Perhaps you are being asked to develop a relationship with the tobacco plant (not the toxic mimic otherwise known as cigarettes).
3. Are you smoking to connect with yourself or to disconnect?
Perhaps you’re asking, how do I quit smoking?
1. Explore smoking real tobacco – organically or biodynamically grown. Develop a relationship with the real plant. Explore and research indigenous’ cultures use of medicinal tobacco in ceremony.
2. Notice when you are choosing to smoke. Is it the same time each day? Different times? Certain circumstances?
3. What are you feeling when you are choosing to smoke? Are you feeling fear, anxiety, stress, anger, depression, etc? Would you be willing to give yourself permission to feel your feelings?
4. Integrate beneficial and support healthy habits into your day. Eat some raw cacao. Drink a green smoothie. Begin to fill your day, particularly your chosen smoking trigger times, with healthy habits.
5. Bonus: seek out a support network to help keep you on track.