I have been receiving many questions from my readers lately, so thought I would take this time to provide you with some answers! If you ever have fitness, food and yoga related questions, please do not hesitate to ask me! Here are a few of the questions that I have chosen to share with you this week:
Question 1: Hey Julie, found you through mindbodygreen.com. In regards to yoga and meditation, is there a neutral form of meditation that is not religiously intrusive or based on certain religious beliefs? I want to get into it, but don’t want to cross that line.
Julie Wilcox: Yes, there are many and I have a couple of videos on my site of meditations that you can do. In fact, all Tantric meditation techniques are secular as are those of many other schools of yoga (my background is in Tantra). Here are a few simple meditation techniques you might like to try:
- Hum-Sa/Hamsa: Inhale and say the mantra “hum” to yourself. Exhale and say the mantra “sa” to yourself. Watch a white glowing ball of light starting from the base of your spine floating up to the crown of your head and then back down. Hum is the sound of transformation and sa the sound of liberation. The Sanskrit word Hamsa means goose or swan, and represents the idea of flight out of the cycle of life (samsara).
- Visualize a violet beam of light coming from the universe and striking your third eye center (violet is the color of the 6th chakra, Ajna, center of command and control) Let this light permeate throughout the screen of your mind and enter your brain filling each and every cell of it with prana (life force). Sit with the violet glow allowing it to relax your mind and replace your thoughts.
- This is a basic meditation, which helps you to tap into your 4th chakra, Anahata, the seat of love and compassion. It can help to both release and balance emotion. With your internal gaze, try to see a pin of light at your heart center. As you inhale watch the light expand and glow, as you exhale watch it contract. Over time, let this shining ball of light expand to the edges of your heart, into your other organs, then into your entire body, and finally beyond your physical being and into the room around you. Let it keep expanding stage by stage until it fills the world and the universe at large. Always watch the light come back to its starting place at the center of your heart. With each inhale, repeat the mantra “sat” to yourself and with each exhale “yam.”
For all of the meditations, if thoughts come up distracting you from you point of focus (your mantra, visualization or nothing,) become a witness to them–watch them as though you are watching a movie. Then let them go and bring your focus back to your breath, mantra, visualization or pure clarity of mind.
Ultimately let all of the techniques dissolve so that you can sit with no thought at all. This is Samadhi and may take years so be patient. Meditation is still remarkably effective each time you do it as you move towards Samadhi.
Hope this helps and be in touch!
Question 2: Dear Julie, I’m 39 years old and starting to look and feel my age and regretting not taking better care of myself. I’m not really over weight, but I have no muscle tone and my flexibility it not good. Is it too late for me to become healthy? I would like to build a bit of muscle and at least be able to touch my toes. And eating healthy is something I try to do, but need to do it more. Thanks for any tips!!
Julie Wilcox: It is never too late. Being in good physical shape is necessary to remain youthful looking. For you though, if you are feeling the way you express, I do recommend that you follow The JWM to build muscle tone, flexibility, and a solid diet regimen. All the information you need is there and I am here if you need more specifics.
Watch the video Tone Your Arms, The Chaturnaga on how to build arm strength from the inside of the muscle out so that it is deep and not superficial. Practice yoga in general if you can at least 3x a week to gain muscle tone everywhere; if you have a good teacher, which you must find, yoga will also help you become more flexible (I just posted a video on Two Poses for Inner and Outer Hip Flexibility). Check out the 30-Minute Method Videos on cardio, yoga, and abs and do them. Get to know how I eat and what I recommend as a healthy and balanced diet (make some of the recipes!).
You will begin to feel better about yourself if you start taking charge of your life. All this will only happen if you have a dedicated, focused, and positive-minded approach to your well-being. One of the essential tenets of yoga is that one’s practice must be disciplined and regular in order to achieve strength in body, mind and spirit. I believe this firmly and apply it to fitness, diet and all aspects of my life.
Finally, you must also be happy, at peace of mind, emotionally balanced, and spiritually content. You wear on the outside what you feel on the inside
Question 3: Quick question for you– Is hot yoga better/healthier for you than regular temperature yoga?
Julie Wilcox: In my opinion hot yoga is not better/healthier than regular yoga but I pass no judgment on such things. Folks should do whatever makes them happy as long as they are working safely and for their optimum health. It is nice to sweat occasionally to the extent that one can in hot yoga because it feels purifying and invigorating, but it can also be dehydrating, exhausting, and dangerous. External heat causes muscles to stretch much more than often expected. Many people injure themselves in hot yoga because they do not have the mind/body/health awareness and knowledge to avoid knowing their bodies’ limits. Through regular yoga you can generate incredible internal heat, which still feels great and allows for awesome natural sweat (if done rigorously). You can become just as flexible through regular yoga and work more safely. Hot yoga is contraindicated for people with illnesses and conditions of many kinds as well as for pregnant women. So that is something to be conscious about too.
Question 4: What is the best juice recipe for swollen joints?
Julie Wilcox: Hi Sabrina- I feel as though your queation requires an answer from a doctor so I asked to my friend, Dr. Klauer, a New York City based physician whose clinical expertise in nutrition, metabolic adaptation to exercise, and biology of body fat regulation has made her one of the country’s leading authorities in her field. I hope this helps. Do let me know.
Here is her answer: Swollen joints: There are many causes of joint swelling; it is often a sign of an auto-immune process within the body. The writer should visit her doctor if this is something new because permanent damage can result. But in the meantime, try natural anti-inflammatory remedies: all berries and leafy greens have anitoxidants, green tea and ginger have COX2 inhibition properties. Try green tea with ginger – it’s delicious! Omega3 capsules are strong anti-inflammatory agent: aim for 1000mg/day. Stay away from pro-inflammatory sugar and processed foods. Hydration is important too – so I hope she is drinking a minimum of H2O/2L/day.
Question 5: What about Kind bars as compared to Lara bars?
Julie Wilcox: Kind bars are okay and I like Luna Bars too but both are on the sweet side for me. Luna is probably my second favorite to Lara, the Peanut Butter Cookie and the Oatmeal Raisin flavors. I like the fact that the Lara Bar I eat is totally natural and contains only 3 ingredients, dates, peanuts, and salt. I find that most bars have many foreign ingredients in them and are often very caloric or as mentioned, too sweet.