Monday, January 26, 2015

Essential Oils: Lemon

I fully admit I'm absolutely fascinated with my new selection of oils right now.  So excited in fact, I have to post about it.  Because a) that's what people do and b) it kinda comes down to this:  you bought the what?

Find ways to USE them!

Speaking for myself, I'm finding the cleaning route to be the easiest avenue to incorporating or integrating the use of oils into my life.  And, having been bit by the spring cleaning bug, it's a great place to start.

Let's discuss your kitchen (or bathroom, or mud room) floor.  All are (usually) high traffic areas, maybe pets or kids leaving kibble or crumbs, outside dust and dirt being tracked in - unavoidable even if you leave your shoes in a singular location.  Kitchen has the added disadvantage of cooking oils, grease, and steam venting around the room.  Even with a stove hood, it's unavoidable.  Food prep - it's not just meat that can be contaminated with e-coli! Things miss the garbage can and might not get found.

Bathrooms are, well, bathrooms.   Shared sinks and showers.  I use lavender and tea tree in the bathroom which I'll chat about later, but lemon would also work well, especially if you don't care for the smell of tea tree.   A couple drops of lemon added to the washer when washing your shower curtain can help disinfect and deodorize. I have a high calcium content in my well water so I use 1/4 cup detergent, 1/2 cup vinegar and 5ish drops of lemon oil.   

Today is about LEMON!   I love lemon and I don't know why I didn't seek out this delightful oil earlier.  OMGosh, talk about spring cleaning in January!  Yes, actually, LET'S talk about spring cleaning in January.

It started with my kitchen floor:
  • 1 gal of HOT water
  • 1 cup white vinegar (okay, so I might have used a bit more) 
  • small squirt of dishsoap (I use Seventh Generation, free and clear)  No more than 1-2 teaspoons!
  • 10-20 drops of doTerra Lemon essential oil

Then I pulled out my stove and fridge to clean underneath, something I do at least 2x a year, and I found this gigantic dust bunny:


What I had been neglecting to do was pull the grate off the front of my refrigerator and vacuum underneath.  Folks, pull out the fridge and stove if possible and run a vacuum and mop around.   Especially if you have pets.  You will be shocked and appalled at what makes its way under appliances, things that hold dust, mildew, and mold.   Fortunately, nothing like that crawled out from under the stove.

Moving on to the counters, stainless steel stove front, front of fridge (not stainless):
1 regular sized squirt bottle
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar (I admit, I use more)
10 drops doTerra Lemon essential oil

Squirt, let stand a couple minutes, come back and wipe down. Have stubborn grease spots?  Use lemon oil directly on spots and rub in, then come back and wipe down with squirt bottle mix.  

Now the big question - when was the last time you wiped down the TOP of your fridge?  Uh huh, I thought so.  Up you go!  Scrub! Scrub! 

A NOTE OF CAUTION - in case of skin sensitivities, whether you know you have them or not, I strongly urge you to please invest in a couple pairs of dish washing gloves and protect your hands!  Even though vinegar and essential oils are "natural",  you could still have a reaction. Combined with hot water, bare hands could take a beating.

Wooden cutting boards - drop oil directly on and rub in.  Let stand upright in the sink to absorb the oil - you don't want to inadvertently leave an oil stain somewhere unwanted.  Let stand 12-24 hours or however long is possible.  Right before a trip is a great time to do cutting boards. 

Pet towels - same with shower curtain liner.  Add several drops to the wash cycle to help deodorize and disinfect those pet towels.   1/4 cup detergent, 1/2 cup vinegar and 3-5ish drops of lemon oil.   

And then there is my favorite way to take Lemon - in a glass of water.  I love, love, love lemon water - hot or cold.  I don't always have a fresh lemon on hand, like when traveling, so having a small bottle along is wonderful.  Just a couple drops can make a world of difference.  I find a cold glass refreshing, a hot cuppa soothing.  I can perk up a glass of fresh brewed ice tea because sometimes, fresh brewed doesn't mean the same thing across the county.   

I know there are many more ways to use Lemon, but this is how I've started.  If you feel so inclined, please take a moment and leave a note on how you are using lemon essential oil in your life.


Monday, January 19, 2015

doTerra Oils and Home Use

I have taken the plunge into the world of quality essential oils.  Back in 2007 I made the switch to cleaning with more "natural" products:  baking soda, vinegar, essential oils, etc.  You can read my post on it How I Learned To Clean My House, Part I  and How I Learned to Clean My House, Part II.

Seven years later, I'm still cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils.  The only thing that didn't work/hasn't worked for me was the homemade toilet bowl cleaner, and I strongly suspect it's due to the calcium and mineral content in our well water.  I can cope with buying store bought for that.

Recently I have taken the next step in DIY cleaning products and bought doTerra essential oils.  I have been researching several brands, including Mountain Rose, Young Living, Wyndmere, while using Aura Cacia and and a brand whose name I forget - real memorable, eh?

I've talked to two separate doTerra representatives (one who I liked, one who I didn't), I've talked to a soap maker, and fellow yogis at yoga workshops.  I received a free 5ml bottle of doTerra Basil at the  Minneapolis YogaFit Mind Body Conference last June, and because I'm not one to waste, I've been using it.

So why the upgrade?  Because I want to start using oils on more than my kitchen floor and in my bathroom.  If I'm going to be squirting stuff on my counters or cutting boads, and putting oils on myself (or my Husband) and breathing them in, I want to make sure they don't have the chemicals I'm trying to avoid in conventional store bought products.   

doTerra seems to be the top in quality and environmental commitment.  So I went with them.

These are my observations to date:
Basil - This was my introduction to doTerra.  I've been using it on my achy knees, and more recently a strained knee tendon.  I put a couple drops on my knees at night, focusing on the uber tender tendon and rub in.  I was dubious at first - was it really making a difference in the morning?  Or was it my imagination?  The evening I forgot, I noticed the next morning. Yup.  It was making a difference.  Wow. 

Melaleuca (Tea Tree) - I still use this one for cleaning.  I add numerous drops to my homemade soft scrub as a disinfectant (be sure to let mixture sit on surface for a couple minutes to do it's thing!).  I also keep a squirt bottle of water and oil as a natural bathroom air freshener spray.  For, you know, "those" moments.  No chemical air freshener concoction in my bathroom - phew! 

Lavender - Ditto Tea Tree above.  I used this in my first DIY diffuser with a vase of water and rattan sticks, but it wasn't the best system and eventually, my sticks got moldy.  Bleh.  With my Petal Diffuser I can freshen any room with tap water and a couple drops of lavender.  Not that I'm saying my puppies can be, ah, fragrant... (skunks, anyone?)

I also have problems sleeping through the night and lavender has shown benefits to helping provide a more restive sleep.  Something we all could use more of! 

Lemon - reading the literature on quality lemon oil, it sounds like this is perhaps one of the most versatile of the single blend oils.  I'm embarrassed to say, I haven't even scratched the surface with what I can use this one for.  So far I've used it to wash the kitchen floor as a disinfectant, de-greaser, and deodorizer.  I did NOT get the usual "ugh, lemon pledge!" reaction.  My kitchen smelled bright and spring-like!  Yay!  (I won't tell you about the grossness I pulled out from under my fridge in my spurt of spring cleaning, but even there got a good disinfecting.)   I look forward to to using this one more.

Breathe Blend - this oil I've been putting in my bedside diffuser (the one I bought).  First time I put in too many drops by accident and it was a bit overwhelming.  But the combination of humidity and the blend has become a nighttime favorite.  I'm waiting to see if this helps the Husband and his sinus's which do suffer during the dry winter months.  This blend is also touted as providing more restful sleep, which is something I need, as I mentioned above. 

OnGuard (a 'Thieves Blend").  doTerra's blend of orange, cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  Mmm!  Yummy!  I use this one on my hands as a disinfectant and on my feet especially after any gym visit.  Currently I'm trying it mixed with a bit of water for gym use, but I'm thinking I'm going to go "straight" when this mixture is finished.   I have a little bottle I carry with me that I can shake a few drops out for a quick "disinfectant".  My palms smell sooo good!  This will come with me for any airline travel this year.

I'm still experimenting with Frankincense, Oregano, Peppermint, and DeepBlue and DigestZen (both blends).  I'm not a fan of Peppermint, but everyone seems to rave about how fantastic it is.  I don't have a lot of tummy troubles, but DigestZen could be handy for traveling, especially to Mexico.  DeepBlue is like say, Tiger Balm or maybe BenGay - good for those sore muscles.  I know it was a hot seller at the YogaFit Conference.  Lol and duh!  I should be using this one after TRX and Kettlebells on Fridays!  Need to toss it into the gym bag, I bet this would be awesome after a sauna. 

I'm super excited about this new step and direction.  With a handful of single oils and a couple of blends, I can see so much application in household application and my personal wellness.

Want to know more about doTerra and the oils they offer?  Check out the link on the left side of the page to my doTerra webpage.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Site under Construction

Hm. I somehow blew out a bunch of links and pictures.  Please be patient while I put things back together. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Time time time...

...keeps on slippin' into the future. 

On the start of this new year, I'd like to take a moment to discuss time.  Class time, to be more precise.  Instructor starting, conducting, and ending class in a timely fashion to be exact.  I've noticed a somewhat disturbing trend in the classes I've been attending of late (as a student), that they go over the allotted time, which as a student/instructor, is a HUGE peeve of mine.

It is a student's responsibility to arrive in a timely fashion; to change, make last bathroom run, get water, set out mat and be ready for the class to begin.  I will be the first to acknowledge that life does get in the way sometimes - a last minute phone call at work, traffic, family, whatever.  And various studios handle tardiness in different ways from locking the door to late-comers to letting someone slip in no matter how tardy.

However, it is solely the instructors responsibility to not only start class on time, but to end in the same.  Not 5 or 10 minutes after. You are doing your students a huge disfavor by only giving them a 1 minute or less savasana or deep relaxation.  You are doing your students a huge disfavor by squeezing in "just one more" warrior II/reverse warrior/extended side angle vinyasa flow sequence when, in fact, you should be in "cool down" mode - should have been in cool down mode 10 minutes ago. Nobody likes being told to go to the floor for deep relaxation with heart thudding away. 

So let's work through this backwards.  Class is one hour.  For example purposes let's use a 12pm class.  And we'll keep things to full minutes for this example.  I'm also assuming a vinyasa flow class, but the same principles apply for any class.

Class Ends at 1pm.  
You will need 1 minute to move people into stillness, and 1 minute to take them out.  This leaves 3 minutes for deep relaxation.  IF you can do a full 5 minute savasana, or more, fantastic!  By all means incorporate that, as long as you end on time and your clients can be walking out the door on the hour (or hour and a half mark).

12:55pm - People should be on their backs, moving into deep relaxation.

Start facilitating a cool down of some sort - moving from standing to the floor.  If boat is in the sequence, start with boat and move toward the calmer poses.  You can reasonably do about three poses, left side/right side, in 10 minutes. 

12:45 - Move toward floor stretches and poses that will slow the heart rate down.  Try not to continue to do poses that keep heart rate elevated.  This is a great opportunity for a balance pose, hip openers, seated forward folds, bound angle, twists, cat/cow, etc.  A good use of less poses held longer

12:15-12:45pm  Your sequence of choice for the day.

12:05-12:15pm  Your warm-ups of choice.

12:00-12:05pm  Greeting, grounding and centering.

So, flipping that around, and using a basic class as an example - keeping in mind here, we are focusing on ending.  And times are approximate.   

12:00-12:05p - Greeting, grounding and centering.
12:05-12:15p - Warm-ups of choice
12:15-12:45p - Sequence of choice
12:45p-12:55p - Moving toward the floor.  Posterior should be in close contact with the ground shortly after 12:45p, if not full contact.
12:55p - Moving toward stillness/savasana
3 minutes of stillness/savasana
12:59p - Closing salutations, thank-yous and class is out the door! 

If you need more time for closing chanting, pranayama, or a brief meditation, shorten the sequence aspect to 20 or 25 minutes.  

Reminder, end of class is not the time to be making announcements.  Keep those at the beginning of class.  End of class people are in their own personal bliss-world, thinking ahead to next task/errand/phone call and not mentally there for further input. 

So, to conclude, please be cognizant of your timing.  This small courtesy can go a long way and facilitate not only a better class, but better relations between you and your students.

Monday, September 22, 2014

YogaFit Training: Prenatal

Session was held at the Shift Fitness and Massage Studio, NE Minneapolis, MN.   The instructor was the fabulous and dynamic Katie S.  Yoga peeps, I could listen to her for hours, she is so incredibly knowledgeable about anatomy, alignment, kinesiology, biomechanics, prenatal, postpartum and yoga and how it is all inter-related. 

The session started right at 8am, with a smaller class of 10.  Eight of us knew each other from either the Level 4 training  or Anatomy and Alignment.  What made the class even better, was we had an delivery nurse taking the session, so she brought her knowledge and understanding to compliment the instructors.

We did a review of the Courses Purpose:
  • Safety for Mom and Baby
  • Physiology, hormonal and bio-mechanics of pregnancy
  • Emotional aspects
  • Sleep
  • Importance of nutrition (did not go into depth or details)
  • Social Support
  • Breathing
  • Poses
And ultimately, the message for the Mommy-to-Be, "Yeah, you can, but should you.  What risks are you incurring to you and your baby?"

It's those risks as related to yoga that we would be covering, for either a prenatal specific class OR if you have a regular in one of your classes who becomes pregnant.  

We touched on the Three Trimesters and what's happening physically.

We discussed breathing that's appropriate - because the breath is linked to the nervous system and has a direct impact on Mom and baby.

We stuffed pillows up our shirts and did a 90 minute moving yoga session to simulate what it's like to move (minus the weight of an actual baby). 

And we did a pose discussion - what is appropriate and safe for a pregnant woman during the various trimesters then broke down a handful of partner poses.

Now, I will say this is a summary of most of what covered. The conversation and discussion walked a mid-line between holding a prenatal specific class with newer-to-yoga students and having a regular yoga practitioner in one's class.   For the regular, long(er) practicing Mommy, this is where the statement: "Yeah, you can, but should you.  What risks are you incurring to you and your baby?" really comes into play, because of all the hormonal changes happening to the Mom's body she may not be aware of. 

A lot of what we covered could also be used for a Senior Class (though YogaFit does have a Senior specific training that I'll probably be taking at a later date), a class for Guys or for a larger body type.  Heck, it could also be used in a restorative class!   The Prop workshop also compliments any of these trainings.

Overall, I was very pleased to finally get some Prenatal instruction.  My only criticism of the session was the class was a bit short for the topic being covered - perhaps there was the assumption that we were all women, so either you had kids or were planning on having kids and understood much of this (which is not true).  And the class got a bit squirrel-y toward the end of the day so maybe skipping breaks and having a working lunch isn't necessarily conducive to a learning environment.  I would have like a longer discussion on poses.  But, at least I have something to work with now.

Highly recommend this training. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

B.K.S. Iyengar 1918-2014

YogaSpy is studying in Pune, India and was present the day Mr. Iyengar left his body.  Her post is far more poignant than anything I could say.  

To incredible man who has given the world so much - thank you.

Vande Gurunam Charanaravinde
Sandarshita Svatma Sukava Bodhe
Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
Samsara Halahala Mohashantyai

Abahu Purushakaram
Shankhacakrsi Dharinam
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam
Pranamami Patanjalim

2004 at his 86th birthday

Not familiar with the Iyengar tradition, follow this link here: 

Monday, August 18, 2014

YogaFit Training: Anatomy and Alignment

This past weekend found me at another YogaFit training, this time in Excelsior, MN – Anatomy and Alignment I.  This is the training I wanted to take, that started me on the YogaFit path back in 2013 – YogaFit requires Level 1 training to take this particular workshop.  

Level 1 and Anatomy and Alignment were both taught by Katie, an absolutely amazing instructor.  The enthusiasm she brings to class is infectious and inspiring, her delivery makes what could be a dry topic fun, and she uses a variety of tools to teach.   It was easier to copy her bio from the YogaFit webpage:

Katie has been a Hatha Yoga Teacher for over 12 years. She holds certifications in personal training and group fitness instruction and designation of E-RYT 500. She has done extensive training in using Yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation in promoting positive affect and is a Level 1 LifeForce Yoga Practitioner, a mindfulness-based Yoga program that focuses on the intentional design of Yoga classes to manage mood. She is also a Senior Master Trainer for YogaFit Teacher Training Systems and the creator of YogaFit for Balancing Mood teacher training. Katie has studied Ayurveda, Tibetan Medicine, and Hatha Yoga at the University of Minnesota and has spent 4 months in Northern India studying these traditions. 

Katie earned her MA at Gonzaga University. As part of her PhD study in Kinesiology, she is minoring in Prevention Science, as well as in Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices through the Center for Spirituality and Healing. Her PhD research project examines the efficacy of mindfulness-based Yoga in reducing depressive symptoms in currently mild to moderately depressed women. In addition, she serves as project coordinator for a large NIH-funded randomized trial that examines the efficacy of a physical activity intervention for the prevention of postpartum depression. Katie serves as Graduate Faculty at the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota and currently teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in Hatha Yoga history, asana, pranayama, meditation, philosophy, lifestyle, and ethics as well as research methods in Kinesiology.

I could sit and listen to Katie for hours (which, technically, I did…) and would love to take one of her classes at the U of MN.  I bet it would be challenging and inspiring.

As I type this, I’m still reeling a bit from information overload.  Katie admitted she was giving us in two days what she usually gives over a semester in one of her courses.  I thought my knowledge of anatomy was pretty strong, I’ve always been interested in how the body works, but after this weekend I realized just how little I really understand.  Uff…

To recap the training, we began by taking the YogaFit  Seven Principles of Alignment and applied them directly to Anatomy:
1) Establishing base and dynamic tension starting with the feet
2) Soften and align the knees
3) Hinge at the hips
4) Create core stability
5) Align the spine
6) Relax the shoulders
7) “shorten the lever” 

Then it was a review of anatomical and kinesiology terminology, which I admit I’m really weak in. We discussed the planes of the body, what flexion/extension/ medial and lateral rotation/adduction/abduction are in relation to those planes, and eccentric/concentric/isometric contraction.  Next came the bones, joints, muscle groups up to the base of the neck, plus some of the tendons.  Then we put all of those together to understand how the body moves.  That was day one, 8am to 6pm. 

Day two we started at 8am, had a 20 minute lunch, and finished at 4pm.  We reviewed the above terms – lots of review and repetition via group work and 90 minute asana practice – and we applied what we learned to yoga poses specifically.  What is happening when we move into a warrior II, what are the hamstrings actually doing in a forward fold, what needs to lengthen in order to do a heart opener (backbend), what muscle groups support us in our twists, and so on. 

The books we referred to – and in this workshop we actually did use the books – were the Key Muscles of Yoga by Ray Long, PhD and Anatomy and Asana: Preventing Yoga Injuries by Susie Hately Aldous.   Key Muscles is a great book.  I was reading the moment I pulled it out of the box, and this training gave me a better understanding of what I was looking at.  I’ve had Susie’s book for years from a previous training, but until now I never really looked at it.  Again, a deeper appreciate of what I resource I now have. 

The weekend, the instructor, the participants were amazing.  I need to let things gel a bit before I start reviewing the material. This is too important to just set aside, especially since I intend to take Anatomy and Alignment II - which is also taught by Katie - in another year or so. 

If you are serious about leading yoga classes, take an anatomy and alignment class.  If you are in the YogaFit program, this workshop was outstanding. You'll be overwhelmed, but your personal practice and teaching will be better for it.