Things around here have been chaotic, to say the least. Be careful what you ask for from the universe, because she will deliver! And likely all at once, just to throw a little challenge into the mix. While I was travelling for the winter, I was blessed to be able to get to yoga four or five times a week. Since coming home, well -- the real practice has begun!
After practicing yoga for nearly ten years, it's easy to stay calm, cool and collected on the mat. I get into my zone, and the next thing I know, I am getting up from shavasana feeling like a new woman. We all know that the real practice of yoga is not actually about showing up to practice yoga. It's all about what the time you spend on the mat can do for the rest of your life.
How well are you staying calm in the storm, keeping grounded, breathing deep, opening your heart, and being easy on yourself when you're hunched over your computer in a fluorescent-lit cubicle, facing rush-hour traffic or comforting a crying baby?
Staying calm, cool and collected while also simultaneously taking the best care of our physical health in day-to-day activities is no easy task, but there are tools that can help. In our world of rapid change and crazy developments in technology, all too often we are seeing these powers used to build our stress (be better, go faster, do it now).
There are also some extraordinary companies using the amazing connected world and new technologies to develop products that enhance our health. I am digging these.
I am not suggesting that we can buy our way to relaxed ways of being. But if we need to sit at a desk, and we need to breathe, and we need to walk... why not take all of those daily needs to the next level? Just as supplements can't replace a great diet, these health products will not make you healthy all on their own. They simply serve to enhance our efforts.
Below, I have a round up of my most favourite products that truly help me feel better on the days when I can't get on my mat and instead am spending 14 hours at work. It happens to all of us!
1. The Sukhasana Chair
I first saw this chair when its inventor Carl appeared on Dragon's Den. I immediately emailed Carl to chat about the awesomeness of this chair, as I was about to spend months sitting at my desk to write my new cookbook and launch the website for my new school. And I have been. I have spent more time sitting at my desk in the last month than doing anything else. This chair has saved me!
I used to get kinkles in my neck, back pain, strained hips (from the habit of crossing my right over my left leg all lady-like). Carl came by the kitchen in March to bring me chair and show me how to use it, and I have been truly blown away.
To be able to sit comfortably, with a slight pelvic tilt, my legs comfortably crossed with just enough support -- I have to agree with Carl when he says this chair is more like a yoga prop than a chair. You can also customize your chair with the eco/non-toxic fabric colour choices, the height, and the castors.
As explained on Sukhasana.com, the benefits of sitting cross legged, as compared to being in the usual slump-inducing office chair include:
- Heightened productivity
- Increased flexibility
- Improved circulation
- Improved energy
- Lowered heart rate
- Improved digestion
- A positive state of mind
- Fuller and more effortless breath
- a healthy curve in the lumbar spine
The chair is absolutely an investment. If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk every day, it is an investment well worth considering.
Our friends at Sukhasana have offered my readers a 20% discount on their purchase (when made before May 31st, 2014). Use coupon code "meghan" at checkout and receive 20% off your chair. Check them out here.
2. Grounding Shoes By Juil
Aren't these cute? Up until now, my experience with grounding or earthing shoes were that they were completely dorkus malorkus, but these kicks have proven me wrong.
When we take in deep inhales of oxygen, we cleanse our blood, bring down our cortisol levels and ultimately experience a feeling of calmness. A similar thing happens when we walk barefoot on the earth. I am sure we can all agree that walking barefoot along the sand or through the grass is one of the greatest feelings in the world. It's also intensely healing. The Earth is a powerhouse of electricity and most of us spend months at a time without setting bare feet on it. I live in the west end of Toronto, and no matter how earthy I get, I'm not walking around downtown barefoot. However, there is loads of research being done into the benefits of making contact with the earth.
Connection with the Earth restores a lost electrical signal to the body that helps to stabilize our complicated circuitry- our qi, prana or life force. Our built-in self-regulating and self-healing mechanisms become more effective. There are head-to-toe improvements including better blood flow, less pain and inflammation and more energy. The influx of negatively-charged electrons from the earth helps quench out the positively-charged electrons that circulate in our bodies in the form of free radicals. You can learn more about it here.
Now to the shoes! These shoes from Juil have these little metal dots in them at the heel and under each toe pad that connect your meridians to the energy of the earth without you having to actually walk barefoot. In my opinion, walking outdoors is one of the very best forms of exercise we can do, and now it's just that little bit better!
3. Four Sigma Foods Instant Goodness
I love playing matchmaker. I have a pretty good success rate, too. First, I introduced my best friend from kindergarten to a man whom she went on to marry and have a baby with. And then I introduced Four Sigma Foods to my friends at Raw Elements and shazaam -- they have distribution in Canada. And thank goodness, 'cause I am hooked on their goods.
You know I love nothing more than foraging around in the woods for my wild mushrooms.
But that's not always possible. And even when I do have wild mushrooms on hand, sometimes I realize I want a mug of resihi tea, or I want a chaga elixir, and then I have to spend hours brewing it up. The instant mushroom extracts from Four Sigma come in convenient grab-and-go packets (though I'd love to see them come in tins for less waste), but they make these powerful mushrooms beverages easily available for anyone who wants to try out life on real magic mushrooms.
Chaga and reishi are considered the king and queen in the herbal medicine world, and are pretty much in a category all their own. Along with shiitake, maitake and Lion's Mane, these mushrooms act as immune modulators. This means if your immune system is underactive, they will help boost it on up. If your immune system is overactive, as in the case of an auto-immune disease, they will help to down-regulate. Additionally, reishi is a great nervous system tonic, chaga is a powerful immune tonic and cordycepts -- well, that's just the whole shebang for a full system balancer.
4. Bring The Forest Indoors
Back to nature again... Seems all things healthy take us back out into the woods. So let's say you're taking a moment of relaxation at work, sitting cross-legged at your desk. In a moment of meditation, you take a deep inhale of... What? What's that? Is that cedar? No, I think it's cypress. Could it be pine? White pine, maybe?
Research is showing that visiting a forest has quantifiable benefits for both physical and mental health:
- Boosts immune system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces stress
- Improves mood
- Increases ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerates recovery from surgery or illness
- Increases energy level
- Improves sleep
If you are interested in learning more, please check out the work of amazing expert Dr. Alan Logan, who wrote the book Your Brain On Nature. Dr. Logan writes:
Less contact with nature, particularly in one’s young years, appears to remove a layer of protection against psychological stress and opportunity for cognitive rejuvenation. Japanese research suggests also that nature deprivation may have wide-ranging effects on the immune system. In the big picture, our turn away from nature is associated with less empathy and attraction to nature and, in turn, less interest in environmental efforts related to nature. An obvious concern is that a massive withdrawal from nature will immunize us against empathic views of nature. Sustainability of the planet is not merely about being a good citizen and recycling; it is ultimately about maintaining an intimate relationship with nature. Research shows that in order to truly care about “being green,” one must actually have meaningful exposure to nature.
Now, I get that we can't all live or work on a nature reserve (though I have plans!) But we can all take an inhale of some forest potions and that can help. My go-to is a selection of tree-derived essential oils. I put a couple drops in my oil diffuser (please don't 'burn' essential oils -- that does the opposite of healing), and then pretend that I'm under the trees. Pretending is just as good as being there as far as your brain is concerned.
Some of the other goodies I've fallen in love with include:
What products are making your everyday so much more awesome right now?
(We love to review and use awesome products, but we make no guarantee about featuring any of them. If you would like to send us anything, please get in touch first. We would never want to waste your efforts on things we simply wouldn't use or do not need.)