Tips To Beat The Holiday Blues

Holidays (and other days that are now designed to celebrate commercialism) can often leave you in a dismal slump and particularly so if you suffer with depression.  Along with The Tools (my very own, tried and true combination of techniques and tricks to manage my depression), I find that the following activities keep me from sliding into the behavior patterns that get us on the Naughty List!

The “blues” and depression are results of an imbalance in brain chemistry.  This goal of this article is to give you some options to boost the positive emotion, brain chemicals naturally.  I offer you exactly what I do that works for me to make what could be a stressful time into something enjoyable – or at least tolerable and less painful.    The goal is Better today than yesterday, Better this moment than the moment before.

As with EVERYTHING, it works if you work it.  It is always up to you to (1) CHOOSE how you to respond, rather than react, to situations and (2) COMMIT to The Experiment which means not to have an attachment to the outcome (have no expectations of what should-would-could be) and to try, try, and try again to improve upon today for better tomorrows.  The main Tools to apply are:

  • Make it FUN. Do whatever it takes to transform chores into playful activities.  It is a proven fact that the more fun you have, the better your experiences are because dopamine (the pleasure hormone) is released in your brain when you’re having fun;
  • Observe your thoughts and feelings very closely so that you are aware of changes the moment they happen instead of suddenly being caught in the grip of emotions that built up while your focus was elsewhere. Do not judge your thoughts and feelings, just observe them – they are there for a reason and only by observing without judgment can you become clear on what your needs are and how to fulfill them;
  • Interrupt detrimental patterns with The Tapping Technique for immediate results; and
  • CHOOSE your desired outcome and Activate (put yourself into the mindset) to take the next step towards achieving your goals

1)    Dress Cute EVERY day.  There’s a reason for the expression, “Clothes make the man.” It is a proven endorphin (brain’s pleasure chemicals) booster that when you like how you look and what you wear, you not only feel better, but you perform better and you give off an aura of someone empowered by expressing yourself with your style.  Arrange your clothes so that it’s easy to coordinate your outfits.  The process of arranging your clothes in itself is (i) a needed and useful activity that is FOR YOU and (ii) a mood elevator because the feeling of accomplishment is always an endorphin boost.  Choose color combinations and accessories to add sparkle – it is a holiday season after all!  This tip is something you should do every day for 2 reasons: (a) expressing your style is a self-love-and-care activity and (b) you contribute to beauty by being a work of art for the world to enjoy (If they don’t appreciate your expression, that’s their problem.  There’s no accounting for taste and you didn’t dress for them, anyway – you dress for yourself!)

2)    Adopt a Holiday Perspective.  Create the season to benefit your good will.  As a child, I loved the Christmas Season because people were more polite and strangers would wish each other Happy Holidays.  As I got older, I watched the barbarians destroy the Holiday Spirit by choosing to be insulted when someone said, “Merry Christmas” because they didn’t celebrate Christmas.  News flash: the VAST majority of belief systems have some kind of celebration during The Holiday Season because for all of the mythologies and ideologies, these celebrations center around The Winter Solstice, the celebration of increasing Light.  Give or take a few days, just about every belief system has a celebration during this time of year – hence, the term, Holiday SEASON.

A logical thought; not religiously driven:  It always amazes me how people who insist that (1) there is only one God, (2) that God is Love, and (3) they are so faithful, are the first to disparage how other folks celebrate their connection to that same, one God.  How is that Love?  In my opinion, Love is the farthest thing from their intentions, which is to play the make-wrong game, which is anti-love for themselves as well as for others.  What kind of ego must you have to decide how someone should believe in God – that there is only one, right way?  Do you see how many types of beautiful flowers there are?  Well, if the One God made all those different flowers, how presumptuous is it to decide that only certain kinds are true flowers. If anything, that is limiting God – how ridiculous and contrary to the entire point of believing in a Supreme Being is that?

So along with all of the God-limiting and commercialism comes the fake friendliness.  Or is it fake?  Maybe these creeple that you tolerate all year long are only able to give themselves permission to be pleasant when the mass consciousness says it’s OK to do so!  That is something to pity – that someone needs permission to be pleasant!

My point is that when you are aware (Observe your feelings and thoughts) of what it is that bothers you about the Holiday Season, it becomes easier to Activate your intentions and change unpleasantness into empowerment for joy!  Do whatever it takes that is healthy and life-affirming to shift your perspective to sharing in the good feelings rather than focusing on the negatives.  Here’s what I do:

Depression Buster Technique: Recreate To Celebrate

You can also use this technique for any type of event, e.g., weddings, baby showers, Valentine’s Day when you’re single, etc.

  • What do you like about The Season? Focus on that and bring more of it into your environment.  For example, I absolutely adore all of the lights and decorations!  While I am not a Christian, I love the tradition of a Christmas Tree and that people of higher consciousness look to unify traditions with a Holiday Tree!  My Holiday Trees are decorated with ornaments that represent Christmas, Diwali, Channukah, Kwaanza, Yule, and New Year’s along with whatever goodies I can find to represent the best in what Deepak Chopra calls, “the world’s wisdom traditions.”  I also add ornaments in the shape of a few of my favorite things like shoes, handbags, puppies, kittens, and chocolate candies!  I usually have a Holiday Tree trimming party where guests are asked to learn something about a belief system other than their own.  They bring an ornament to represent their own faith and one to represent the belief they learned about.  If you can’t find an ornament, you make one!  The ornaments are wonderful keepsakes for me and I relive the beauty of the season every time I decorate my Holiday Tree – even when I don’t have a party.
  • Discover or make up ways to feel good during the season. The Yule Season is one of the few times of the year when people can dress up and be a little silly (Halloween is the other haven).  Break out that ugly, Christmas sweater!  Wear some jingle bells (I love to do this!), sport some antlers, drink from a holiday coffee mug, wrap your front door and decorate!  Place photos, trinkets, whatever elicits a smile in places where you will see them regularly.  This practice generates pleasure chemistry and, like all exercise, becomes stronger with repetition.  Even if you don’t “do Christmas,” do something to get into the fun and catch a ride on the positive energy wave that is happening around the world.  What you focus on expands so if you keep your attentions on jolly things, you will get your jollies!
  • Sing Holiday Songs. There are lots of non-religious songs to sing as well as Christmas carols.  Singing not only feels good and stimulates your breathing, but the pleasant lyrics and sound of your own voice in musical tones and qualities positively stimulate your brain chemistry and cellular charges.  (The same applies to the quality of your voice when you speak in depressed, angry, frustrated, etc. tones and words except these yield negative results.)  One song that instantly spruces me up is Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops version of Sleigh Ride!  When you focus on the instruments and the arrangement, there is much, bouncy fun to be had!  And don’t forget to get your dance on, too!

3)    Choose NOT to be insulted.  And sprinkle “fairy dust” on the nay-sayers.  It’s easier to be negative, so there will always be some poop-head-person to try to rain on your parade.  For whatever their reasons, the ultimate power is yours; you can choose NOT to be offended.  This may sound easier said than done, so here’s a trick:  It’s true that when a person casts negative energies onto us that we feel it deeply and “take it to heart.”  You actually feel the tightening in your chest!

When that happens, I focus on that heart “density” and visualize it as a swirl in my heart center.  I gather it up and sprinkle it away from me with a flick of my hand.  You know, like waiving someone away in dismissal.  To make this trick really work, say, “I sprinkle you with love, grinch!”  Whether you say it aloud or not is up to you, but do your best not to escalate negativity.  Remember, negative people are hurting inside and afraid to face their “stuff,” too.  So you can have a little pity for them while acknowledging yourself for doing the work not to be trapped and drawn into their pain and negativity.  Remember, they do not have power over you; you give your power to what you focus on.  So, focus on your happiness and well-being.

4)    Give to charity and give yourself a gift.  Buy a disadvantaged child a toy and buy one for yourself, too.  Toys bring back the fun of childhood when we were allowed to get lost in play.  Play is the best, natural prescription for the blues and to shift your brain chemistry.  Gifts at any time raise your endorphins, whether you give (without attachment) or receive them.  And toys are automatic up -lifters!  One of my favorite things to do is to visit toy stores to see and play with all of the new things and my old favorites that are still around.  Every Yule Season, I buy a toy for the Toys For Tots program and I buy myself something to play with.  If you’re not a toy person, choose a book or a puzzle or something to enjoy yourself with.  Be certain to purchase something that won’t be a “regret” later on, e.g., something that is not in the budget.  Doing that is a sure setup for depression and possibly, disaster as well as completely contrary to the point of gifting yourself!

5)    Know that it’s never too late.  If we’ve learned nothing else from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the lesson is that when we pay attention to what we’re feeling, we are freed from our limitations.  Ebenezer Scrooge was a bitter, old man who’d wasted so much time hiding from his pain by focusing on his fortune that he missed out on the best tat life had to offer.  As soon as he faced his pain (observed his feelings), he was renewed and the joy of living returned to him.  You can be luckier than Scrooge and not have to be forced by ghosts to face your truth.  You can use the power of being present and give yourself permission to be in the moment, moment to moment, and choose to Be Better by committing to loving yourself.  The present is the only time that there is.  The past is over and the future is being created NOW, moment to moment.  That’s why it’s called the “present” – because it’s a gift.  So, if you find yourself moping around on December 24th, it’s not too late to get into the spirit!  Kwanzaa begins on December 26th and you can celebrate The Principles of Kwanzaa for 7 more days – which is great for all cultures.  You don’t have to be African-American to enjoy the beauty of the tradition.  You don’t have to be of any particular persuasion to celebrate someone’s celebrations of life!

6)    Celebrate EVERYTHING.  A celebration is about sharing joy.  It does not have to be about anything other than that.  When you share in the joys of others, your life is richer and rewarding because you expand your happiness by being happy.  What you focus on expands.  I say, “Happy Everything!” to friends and strangers during the Holiday Season and even the grumpiest grump gets a little light in their eyes.  But the ultimate celebration is for you because the more you indulge in the good tidings, the more you will have!

7)    Volunteer.  Especially if you’re a person who doesn’t like to be alone on “certain days,” volunteer at a soup kitchen or a charity organization.  Volunteering opens up an entirely unique dimension of giving and receiving that cannot be described in words that are great enough to convey the marvelous essence of the experience.  If you’re not feeling like being around people, there are lots of animal charities that can always use a helping hand.  You will probably make new friends, too.  As with all things, have no expectations on the outcome, observe, and allow yourself an organic experience.  To offer your time and heart to the well-being of others is one of the best ways ever to beat the blues!  Note:  It’s best to acquaint yourself with the organizations you wish to volunteer with at least a week prior to a holiday so that they may organize duties efficiently.

Now, go and put on an Elf Hat and some jingle bells and fa-la-la yourself to fun!  I mean that literally!

Happy Holiday Season!

How To Develop And Use Affirmations

What are Affirmations?

Affirmations are words and phrases stated in the present that allow you to condition and empower yourself for success in whatever your goals may be.  Most often, people think that affirmations are used to focus on positive thinking.  But affirmations can be used for a variety of benefits including enhancing relaxation, stimulating creativity, and strengthening self-control among numerous other values.

Your subconscious mind acts much like a computer – whatever you tell it to do, it does.  So, if you say you want to do something, your consciousness is filled with the desire to make it happen on a multitude of levels.  But if you say you are doing something, your consciousness begins doing it now.  The more you practice affirming, the more it becomes second-nature.

By affirming daily, you allow yourself to be more comfortable, more beautiful, more joyous, and more in control of your life.

Basic Affirming – Guidelines

Remember, your words have power.  Choose them carefully to create what you truly want.

Step 1.  Achieve a Meditative State by taking deep breaths and allowing yourself to relax.

Step 2.  Make a list to identify what it is that you want to create or change.   Let’s use the example of “I don’t want to feel resentful”.

Step 3.  Empower.  Take each statement on your List and empower it by making it a statement of positive action now.  So, “I don’t want to feel resentful” becomes “I am free of resentment.”

Step 4.  Repeat your affirmations regularly.

1)  Songs. You can sing your affirmations by putting them to music.  You can make up your own tunes or use the melodies of popular songs.

2)  Post-it Notes. Write your affirmations on post-it notes and place them on mirrors, the refrigerator, in your date book, in strategic places where you will see them often.

3)  Use specific daily activities as opportunities to repeat affirmations, e.g., bathroom breaks, meal preparation, time you spend in the mirror (very powerful), while exercising, bathing, etc.

4)  I find that affirming during mundane activities is particularly powerful, e.g., turning the key in the lock on your door. You can also attach specific affirmations to specific activities.  This practice soon becomes second-nature.

  • Whenever you feel that you are in the process of doubting yourself, be sure to affirm and get back on track.

Examples And Types Of Affirmations

1)  The Gripper.  This is a situation where you feel your entire body tighten and your breath constrict.  The Gripper can be the cause and/or result of anxiety, stress, and dread among other states of consciousness.

  • Think of specific situations in your life where “the grip” gets you and form an Empowering Affirmation to assist you to choose to respond rather than to react. Example:  My body is relaxed and breathe freely and fully as I perform this activity.

2)  The Time Piddler.  This is really a tactic that we quite often use to avoid doing something we don’t want to do.  Time Piddling always leads to last minute stresses that cause less-than-desirable results – which inevitably lead t more Time Piddling the next time you have to deal with the situation.

  • Take a look at the reasons you want to avoid handling the situation and deconstruct them so that you can manage the activity and your time. Example:  I can handle this situation effectively, efficiently, and successfully with ease.

3)  The Rusher.  In a hurry much?  WHY?  Rushing is another indication that we may be avoiding certain responsibilities and situations.  People often confuse being busy for being effective in their lives, which often leads to illness and injury – and to another form of Time Piddling.  The reality is that there is only NOW.  Rushing is, in a sense, focusing on the future because you’re not fully present in the moment.  When you rush, you miss the nuances of the full experience of your activities.

  • Consider WHY you feel the need to rush to do so many things. Give yourself the opportunity to see what you could be doing to enjoy life more but are missing out on because you’ve decided on all the things you should be doing.  Notice my choice of words to focus on the present moment of being.  Example:  I allow myself time for my wellness and I have plenty of time.
  • Note: “Wellness” includes fun!

Now, have some fun creating affirmations!

How To Drink More Water And Like It

Most people do not drink enough fluids, and when they do, they seldom drink water, which is essential for basic metabolism.  A very common mistake that people make is to believe that because they drink liquids, they consume enough water.  (Here’s a bit of sarcasm: Well, the reason water is called water and other beverages have specific names is because each has different properties and effects in your body!  Duh!)

Water is the most important element in your life, perhaps even more important than air because more than three-quarters of your body is water.  Dehydration is one of the key causes of “dis-ease”.  The usual reasons people don’t drink water are that they don’t like the taste; it’s tasteless; tastes bad.  .  Here are tips to not only drink enough water for optimal metabolism, but to enjoy drinking water.

Make Drinking Water Fun!

1)  Water Chalice. Drink from a special, attractive, large glass that you use specifically for water.  Since it can easily acquire the taste of its container, water tastes better in glass (or clear/transparent plastic, if safety is a concern).  Using a Water Chalice makes the process of drinking water special and attractive.  Make a trip specifically to purchase your Water Chalice and notice the positive feelings you have when choosing it, which will enhance the pleasant associations you have every time you use your Water Chalice.  It’s also a good idea to have a separate Water Chalice for your office or any place you spend a significant amount of time.

2)  Lemon Water.  Squeeze a little, fresh lemon or lime-juice into your water to enhance its cleansing qualities and to add flavor.  A squeeze of lemon (or lime) in water assists in the body’s detoxification process.  You may also want to garnish your Water Chalice with a slice of lemon for glamour.

3)  Fruit Water.  Cut up your favorite fruits and place them into either a pitcher of water or a spoonful of fruit into your Water Chalice.  The problem of bad tasting or tasteless water is eliminated and Fruit Water is very refreshing!  Kids like this recipe, too.  You can also make Fruit Water ice cubes and place a piece of fruit in each cube.  Fruit water is a big hit at parties.  When on the go, you can chop or lightly puree fruit and place in a container (you can reuse a water bottle) to carry your Fruit Water.  Of course, Fruit Water should be one-fourth (¼) or less of your daily water consumption.  It is necessary to drink plain water daily (a squeeze of lemon or lime is acceptable).

a)  You can use this recipe with plain seltzer water to make Fruit Spritzers!

Develop Good Water Drinking Habits.

1)  Drink smaller portions of water many times during the day to being increasing your water intake. Most sources recommend drinking eight (8), eight-ounce (8 oz.) glasses of fluid per day.

2)  Drink water at room temperature, if you can. Cold water can cause your muscles to cramp and can disrupt digestion and your basic metabolism.  Cool, but not iced water, is acceptable.

3)  Good Morning/Good Night. Have a glass of water first thing upon arising to assist in overnight digestion and elimination.  A glass of water 1 to 2 hours before bed is also excellent, but you may need to adjust your timing to avoid disrupting your sleep for potty-breaks.

a)  View bathroom breaks as personal regrouping time to repeat your affirmations and focus on your goals. (See Affirmations)

4)  It is also good to repeat affirmations each time you finish a glass of water.

5)  Drink water at specific times.  You can set timers to remind you to drink water, e.g., hourly reminders, or have a glass of water every half hour that you are watching your favorite TV shows.

6)  Place reminders to drink water in strategic places such as near your phone, on your desk, on your computer, in your appointment book/calendar, on your bathroom mirror, TV, etc.  You can use post-it notes or paper that is attractive so that you will immediately look towards it to remind you to drink water.

7)  Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water.  Drink at specific times.

8)  Drink Water with alcoholic beverages.  Have one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume.  This not only helps to prevent inebriation and hangovers, it allows you to better control the desired effects of alcohol, and allows your body to detoxify more quickly.

a)  You can dilute wine with water or sparkling water (as the French wisely practice) or have ⅓ alcohol to ⅔ water, or ½ and ½.

9)  Always have a glass of water after eating sweets.  Water will help your body to metabolize the heavy sugar content of treats and assist in preventing a “sugar crash.”

Notes:

1)  Avoid “chemical” water with artificial additives. Most waters and drinks with additives (e.g., sports drinks) have chemical supplements from non-natural sources, which add to the toxins stored in your body.

2)  Tea, soda, coffee, and other liquids do not count towards your intake of water.  They contain ingredients that your body may need to filter out and which can add to toxic fat storage.

3)  Increasing your intake of water will make you have to go to the bathroom more often – which is good for detoxification.

 

Denise Cavassa’s Basic Tofu Recipe

By Denise Cavassa, CMA

Prep Time:  10minutes; Cook Time:  20-25 minutes; Serving Size: ¾ cup (3 oz.); Makes 4 servings

Tofu is made from soybean curds and provides all of the essential amino acids needed in your diet, making it a “complete protein.”  It is low calorie, gluten-free, has no cholesterol, is high in healthy polyunsaturated fats (especially omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid), and is also an excellent source of iron and calcium.  Tofu is almost the perfect food, providing daily recommended amounts of 44% of calcium, 40% of iron, 9% of magnesium, and small amounts of vitamin K, folate, choline, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, manganese, selenium, and phosphorus.  A ½ cup serving of tofu contains 94 calories, 5 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein, and 2 grams of carbohydrate.

Tofu can be purchased in a variety of textures from soft (silken) to extra firm which makes it ideal as a meat substitute for just about every kind of meal.  The problem is that it has no flavor!

I provide my tried and trusted true recipe for a basic tofu seasoning that will make it the perfect ingredient in any meal.  Aside from being absolutely delicious and using unadulterated ingredients, this recipe can be adapted to season tofu however you like to keep healthy, fully digestible meals interesting and something to look forward to!  Best of all, it’s a one-pot, quick and easy recipe with extremely easy clean-up!

Ingredients

I highly recommend using ingredients that are organic and/or have no chemical additives.

  • 1 12oz package of Extra Firm Tofu
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ medium red onion cut as desired (sliced, chopped, cubed) *
  • ¼ cup A1 steak sauce (or equivalent)
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ tbsp onion powder
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • ⅛ tsp Tabasco Sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning: ½ in mixture and sprinkle other ½ while cooking
  • ¼ – ½ tsp dried parsley to taste while cooking – add 2nd pour

Notes:

  • No salt is needed because the flavor and ingredients of both the A1 and Worcestershire sauces are salty.
  • All seasoning amounts are suggestions and I highly encourage you to season to taste. Add other ingredients for different flavors for your tofu (see Tips & Suggestions).
  • Tofu is porous so always purchase in sealed packages to avoid contamination. Be certain to check the sell-by date.  Store tofu in the refrigerator.

* Red onion may be substituted for any onion of choice.  This recipe also works nicely with scallions.

1)    Rinse Tofu and cut it into cubes.

a)    I find it easier to cut length-wise and then, width-wise into cubes.  I also recommend cutting tofu into smaller cubes for even cooking.

2)    Mix seasonings in a measuring cup with a spout for easier pouring and stir.

3)    In a medium frying pan or wok, sauté onions in the olive oil on a medium flame until translucent.  Sprinkle ¼ tsp of poultry seasoning into oil, stir, and let simmer for approximately 1 minute.

4)    Pour in ½ liquid (“1st pour”), stir, and bring to a light boil.  Turn down to a medium flame immediately and add tofu, stir.  Tofu should be covered with liquid.  Cover pot with a lid on a medium flame and let simmer.

a)    © Denise Cavassa, CMA ~ BodyKnowledge.biz, FitFun.comIt is important to completely cover the tofu with the seasoning mix on the first pour so that even absorption can occur for all tofu cubes.  You’re going for a stew type of consistency (versus a soup).

b)    If you discover that you use more than half of your seasoning mix, just make a little more.

5)    Let simmer for approximately 10 minutes.  When liquid is half-way evaporated, stir tofu, cover, let simmer for approximately 10 minutes.

a)    I recommend not removing the lid too often so that the liquid can steam as well as simmer into the tofu.

6)    © Denise Cavassa, CMA ~ BodyKnowledge.biz, FitFun.comWhen liquid is barely visible in the bottom of the pan, tofu will be covered with a soft glaze.  Sprinkle remaining poultry seasoning and parsley and stir.  Add remaining liquid, cover, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.

7)    Repeat step 4.

8)    When liquid is barely visible in the bottom of the pan, reduce flame, stir and let the glaze thicken a bit by leaving the tofu uncovered for 2-5 minutes so that the mixture becomes a slightly crisp glaze but does not stick in the pan.

a)    Tip: you can turn out flame and let tofu sit in the pan to let the glaze harden a bit more.

b)    Desired texture: a light crust from the glaze will give a slightly crunchy texture to the tofu on one or two sides, depending on how much you stirred during the final process.

9)    Serve as desired.  This recipe makes a scrumptious tofu that can be enjoyed without additional sauces or seasonings.

Tips & Serving Suggestions

  • The first time you make this recipe, I recommend babysitting the tofu to understand the timing, as it is easy to burn it.
  • Instead of water, you can use vegetable stock or soup (e.g., vegetarian lentil, onion, split pea, tomato, etc.)
  • Other seasoning suggestions: sesame oil drizzle; Tabasco (¼ tsp added to liquid mixture); curry; cumin; cilantro; liquid smoke; let your imagination run wild!
  • Serve with everything: pasta, potatoes, rice, noodles, vegetables, bread, salad, etc.! This recipe is delicious hot or cold.
  • If you make a little extra seasoning mix (approximately ¼ cup), you can pour it into the pan after you remove the tofu to season rice, pasta, vegetables, etc.
  • I often make a double batch (double the recipe) and freeze half of the tofu for later enjoyment. Freeze in an air-tight, plastic, freezer bag and you can do a quick thaw in warm water.

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 Click HERE for more Tips

 

How To Best Fold A Yoga Mat (with photos)

By Denise Cavassa, CMA

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Hygiene is one of the main considerations for having your own, personal, yoga mat.  However, one of the detriments to your hygienic practice is the improper care of that very same mat.  Aside from proper cleaning (see Cleaning Your Yoga Mat), folding the side of the mat that touches the floor to rest against the side that you rest your body and face on fosters a breeding ground for germs!  Follow the instructions below for the best way to fold and store your yoga mat with ease, efficiency, and to preserve its life.

Create A Clip Fastener

1)    Using a needle-nose pliers, make a small loop in both ends of a large, plastic-coated, paper-clip.1clip2sm

a)    It may be easier to bend the ends if you spread the clip apart a little bit.  The plastic coating on the paper-clip allows for an easier slide against the mat.

b)    Store your clip on the end of your mat during and after use.

Fold and Store Your Mat

1mat3-sm1)    Fold one end of your yoga mat to meet the other so that the “body side” (the side you rest your body on) is enclosed within the fold.
2)    Keeping the ends together, use both hands and roll your mat towards the fold.  You do not have to roll very tightly, but the tighter the roll, the thinner your mat will be to store.1mat4-sm

3)    Place your fingers in the center of your rolled mat and, holding the fold with your thumb, slide the paper-clip between the fold and the immediate layer of the mat.1mat5-sm
4)    Allow your mat to ease to be able to balance to stand for travel and storage.

TIP:  Do not roll the mat too tightly – allow it to ease a bit to allow for vertical, air flow.  Air flow prevents odor and possible mold build-up if your mat does not adequately dry.Denise Cavassa, CMA yoga mat

 

Clean Your Yoga Mat The Easy Way

By Denise Cavassa, CMA

Yoga mats can accumulate quite a bit of dirt, sweat, and grime build-up just after one use.  Below are a variety of options to keep your mat clean and sanitary.  Of course, I always opt for the most natural options, but, as I give thanks for every day, I am so thrilled to live in the “Star Trek Age” where we have so many options to achieve our goals.

While it is best to give your mat a spray and/or wipe down after every use, if you only use your mat at home, you should cleanse it at least once a week.  Clean feet with every use will cut down on dirt and odor accumulation.

Cleaning Cloths.  It’s easy to put a few cloths into a zip-locking, plastic bag to carry with you.  Most yoga mat manufacturers make wipes with essential oils that won’t cause your mat to become sticky.  You can even purchase environmentally safe cloths.  If you use a heavy-duty cloth, be certain to give your map a wipe-down with a moist, paper towel to remove chemical residue.  I have even used baby wipes in a pinch with success!

All-Natural Cleaners.  For best results, use a water-based, all-natural cleaner that won’t decompose natural, tree rubber.  This is a safe bet for most mat materials.

Spray Bottle.  Soap and water are always a good bet.  It is important not to use too much soap.  A recommended mixture is ¼ tablespoon of mild, dishwashing liquid to 1 quart of water, or 4 drops of dishwashing liquid to 2 cups of water.  Spray, wipe, and for best results, wipe again with plane water before allowing your mat to dry.

  •   It’s very easy to fill the tub with a few inches of water, a bit of dishwashing liquid, and clean your mat with a sponge.  You can even use a gentle, scrub brush for dirt that may become ingrained in a mat with crevices.  Drain the tub and rinse, hang or pat dry, and you’re done!  However, certain mats are spongy and can become “water-logged,” so it is not recommended to submerge your mat often.

Washing machine and dryer.  If you’re really lazy (and believe me, no judgment here!), you can pop your mat into the washing machine in cold water and gentle soap on the gentle cycle.  I recommend baby-sitting your mat because not all mats are created equal and some may not be as sturdy as others.  Remove your mat from the machine before the spin cycle and rinse off the soap with cool water.  Hang to dry – which can take a couple of days.  Avoid hanging or storing your mat in sunlight as it can become dried out and deteriorate.

Go Natural!  Best bet:  Equal parts of white vinegar and water, spray and/or wipe with a damp sponge.  You can add a few drops of essential oils (and I do mean a few drops) for aromatic benefits, but check with your mat’s manufacturer to ensure that their properties are compatible with your mat.

Drying Tips.  Great ways to dry your mat are to use terrycloth or other reusable fabrics, such as Sham-wow.  Allow your mat to thoroughly dry before storing it.

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Tips on How To Use Nasaline (Nasal Irrigation System)

By Denise Cavassa, CMA

Whether you’re looking forward to Spring after a brutal winter or dealing with irritants (like cigarette smoke, dust, pollution, etc.), allergies can make your life miserable on a variety of levels. While many people pray for relief from pharmaceuticals, there are no cures for allergies. There are, however, a variety of things that you can do to control and alleviate symptoms naturally.

Nasal congestion and an abundance of mucus are two major causes of allergy suffering, contributing to issues with headaches, ears and balance, sore throats and vocal cords, eye pressure and irritation, and even digestion. Nasal irrigation is a simple and effective way to manage allergy symptoms and discomforts. With repeated use, you may even be able to achieve permanent improvements – I have.

While Nasaline may be one of the simplest and best items on the market for sinus care, you can find yourself a bit frustrated as you try to learn to use it without snorting water up your nose! And then, there is the fear of pushing water up into your nose in the first place! Below are tips for safe, easy, and successful nasal irrigation with Nasline without experiencing discomforts similar to cannon-balling into a pool of water without nose plugs.

What is Nasaline?

Nasaline, by Squip, Inc., is a drug-free, simple, nasal irrigation system that is an alternative to a neti pot. Using saline solution in a large syringe made of medical-grade silicone with a specially designed tip that fits most noses, it is easy to quickly flush your nasal passages with considerably little fuss or mess. Users can control the flow, pressure, comfort, and effectiveness of the saline solution as it gently swirls to enter the nose. Nasaline is useful to alleviate symptoms associated with sinus congestion, allergies and related infections, and the discomforts associated with these conditions including headaches and ear pressure. Nasaline reduces nasal irritation, cleans and hydrates the mucous membranes, and soothes your nasal passages. Nasaline can be a quick and easy relief in and after dusty, smoky, dry, etc., environments.

How To Use Nasaline

1) Into 1 cup of warm (body temperature), sterilized or distilled water, stir to dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt (or 1 package of Nasaline salt). Gently fill the Nasaline applicator with the saline solution.

a) NOTE: The manufacturer does not recommend using iodized table salt (to avoid allergic reactions to iodine) or sea salt (which may contain pollen, algae, or other irritants. Nasaline’s brand of salt contains no preservatives or additives.

2) Leaning over a basin (e.g., bathroom sink or tub), place the applicator’s silicone tip against the nose so that it completely seals the nostril.

3) As you slowly and evenly push the saline solution up into the nostril, breathe normally (or say aaahhh…) through the mouth, refraining from swallowing. This process should take from 3 to 7 seconds for each nostril. By reflex, your palate will close so that the solution will pour out of the other nostril.

a) TIP: Try tilting the silicone tip slightly forward, away from your chin, so that your nostril is slightly stretched forward. This helps to anchor the tip while you push the saline solution into your nostril.

b) TIP: Be aware NOT to squeeze the back of your throat while inserting the saline solution (and saying aaahhh…) into your nostril to avoid trapping liquid in your sinus cavity – like what happens when constricting your muscles when jumping into a pool and water is painfully forced and trapped up your nose. The more you relax, the easier the flow of solution through your nasal passages.

c) TIP: Relax your neck and shoulders so that you don’t restrict muscles that can affect your normal breathing. I recommend leaning over the basin with a straight upper back (in other words, not hunched over) or leaning on your forearms or elbows to avoid compressing your neck, shoulders, and upper back.

d) TIP: If the solution-releasing nostril is congested, try giving a quick and gentle, exhaling blow (like a little blast of air; think of how a bull snorts to express dominance) to assist the solution in streaming out.

e) NOTE: Occasionally, the saline solution may trickle down the back of your throat, which is not harmful.

4) Repeat for your other nostril. It s recommended to flush 2 full syringes twice in each nostril once or twice a day, or as instructed by your physician.

a) NOTE: I suggest that you do not fill the syringe more than ¾ full to avoid difficulties when you press the plunger – e.g., the plunger sticking and shooting a forceful stream of water up your nose.

5) When your rinsing session is completed, blow your nose gently to clear any remaining solution and mucus. If some of the saline solution remains in your nasal passages, it will trickle out within a few hours. Or you can lean forward and tilt your head from side to side immediately after rinsing to release it.

a) TIP: I find that leaning with a gentle, forward shake a few times helps trapped water to be released from my nasal passages.

b) TIP: Simple exercises like touching your toes (soft knees) with your neck relaxed and head resting towards your knees (Standing Forward Bend) will help to pressurize your sinus cavities to release any remaining solution.

c) TIP: After nasal irrigation, you may also want to gargle to remove mucus and alleviate irritation in the back of your throat.

6) Cleaning your Nasaline. When finished nasal rinsing, clean your Nasaline by completely pulling out the plunger from the syringe, removing the silicone tip and flushing all 3 parts with water. You can also clean your Nasaline with a mild dishwashing liquid and rinse well. Allow your Nasaline to air dry.

a) TIP: I use a soft toothbrush and a cotton swab (such as a Q-Tip) to clean the Nasaline’s crevices.

7) When not in use for long periods of time, it is recommended that you store your unit in its travel cylinder to avoid any swelling of the rubber around the plunger. If your plunger doesn’t slide easily in the syringe, a drop of olive oil rubbed around the black, rubber ring will do the trick.

See video demonstration below on how to use Nasaline. More information can be found on the Manufacturer’s website along with other health aids.