No, this isn’t some random word association game. These practices and symptoms are all related.
Let’s start at the beginning: Kegals, or more accurately, kegal exercises. These exercises have almost mythic adoration in our culture. To perform a kegal exercise, people with a uterus contract their vagina and anal sphincter (the instruction is often to “feel like you’re picking a marble up off the floor with your vagina”). People with a penis create a movement that feels like lifting their penis up. The benefits of a kegal exercise? Better tone of the pelvic floor, which can prevent urinary and incontinence issues in later life. For women, the other major benefit of the kegal is toning the pelvic floor so it better returns to it’s natural shape after giving birth.
Kegal exercises are the most often recommended exercise for pregnant women (and they’re even encouraged to do “super kegals” – holding the contraction of the muscles for up to a minute!).
Kegals also show up under another name that you might be familiar with: mula bandha. In our yoga asana practice, there are three bandhas, or locks, that concentrate energy in specific areas. The lowest of the bandhas is “mula bandha” which is essentially doing and holding a Kegal.
This sounds great, right? Kegals are good for us, and more is better, so yogis should be in the best shape!
Not always the case. Big surprise, there’s such a thing as doing too many kegals, and it can result in major health issues. Let me explain.
I have been on a multi-year quest to make a great roti, and I didn’t realize that I would hit my stride when I switched to gluten free flours.
Roti is a fabulous fresh flatbread found in Indian cooking. I love it for so many reasons:
the ingredients are simple: you only need flour, water, salt, a little oil, and any spices you want to add
it’s fast and easy to make: you don’t need to let the dough rise (it sits for about 15-20 minutes, but in a pinch you could cook it right away)
you make it on a stovetop, so no need to preheat your oven or get the whole house hot
you eat it fresh and warm, so it feels so nourishing.
Flipping and cooking the roti is the part that used to elude me. You see, the best roti has bubbles. This makes the dough get light and tasty, rather than bready and heavy. Unfortunately, getting the bubbles sometimes seems more like chance than method. What I do know: rolling a flat dough and using a hot skillet is important for getting your bubbles. So is leaving the dough a sufficient time before you start flipping it.
I’ve had varying success making the roti with regular flour, but I was amazed that I consistently got great bubbles when I used gluten free flours. These gluten free vegan rotis have actually been my best roti yet. Luckily, the flavor is also just as good as the regular flour.
This bread is a great addition to any meal, particularly kitchari and palak daal. It’s fun to make as a crowd (I do it at cooking classes), and kids can enjoy flipping the bread just like you’d flip pancakes.
One note: it’s not uncommon for your first roti to not turn out that good (the same way that the first pancake tends to be a dud). Don’t get discouraged and keep cooking! You’ll have great rotis as you keep going.
“The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
This morning I meditated. I did abhyanga. I drank lemon water, ate a filling breakfast, and even did a handstand. And yet, I’m still in a bad mood. I still have this veil of sadness that’s resting like dust on all of the surfaces.
Didn’t I pay the happiness tax? Didn’t I do every self-care measure in the books?
There’s this perception that all emotions can be instantly healed. All we need to do is apply our organic band-aids, drink a green juice, and get a facial.
“Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do.”
I say this in all of my workshops on Ayurveda: I wish I had more kapha energy. It’s probably the same way that curly haired people wish they had straight hair, or tall people wish they were shorter. We always fantasize about the beauty of being different than they are. But truly, as a Vata-Pitta, I do love my kaphas.
I don’t think I’m alone in this wish either. Kaphas are so much fun! Kapha energy is playful, uncomplicated, and open. Kaphas are loyal, funny, and thoughtful.
Of course, we all have our work we need to do. And when I was thinking about the “work” that kaphas need to do to navigate the world with ease and joy and strength, the concept of boundaries quickly came to mind.
“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral, we have already climbed many steps.”
When I was getting my PhD in nutrition and epidemiology, we used statistics to model human behavior. We would take data from thousands of people and use a mathematical equation to explain what was happening. These types of studies are the ones that tell you the risk of smoking or eating salt. They’re all based on a mathematical equations that summarized what happened to thousands of people who consumed different levels of cigarettes or salt.
Finding the correct mathematical equation is where the real work of epidemiology happens. For some relationships, it’s an easy, linear process: “smoke one more cigarette and you’ll get X more risk of lung cancer, no matter what”.
One of the most common side effects I see in my clients after they stop taking the birth control pill is acne. Whether on their face or back, they get more breakouts than ever before, and it’s sometimes enough to make them want to be back on the birth control pill again! While acne is annoying cosmetically, this skin issue actually indicates a much larger *internal* issue that needs to be dealt with.
Here’s what’s happening in your body when you get acne after stopping the birth control pill:
The parable of the two monks and the woman is one that I think of often, and whenever I tell this story in yoga classes, I get multiple people telling me they really needed the lesson in the story. It was on my brain again today, so I thought I would share it with you all.
As a lactose-intolerant vegan who deals with inflammation issues…I’ve stayed away from eating dairy for a LONG time. But in the last year of so, I’ve finally started experimenting with making vegan cheeses, and I will admit, I’m loving it.
For a long time, I stayed away from any food in quotes. veggie “burgers”, “sausages”, “cheese”….just give me some beans and vegetables please. I don’t have much interest in creating fake version of animal products. But I have to admit, the vegan cheese phenomenon has opened up a world of great flavors and textures that I’m loving.
I’m lucky enough to be spending this week with my almost-2-year-old niece, Bernie (oh yeah..and the rest of my family too 😀 ). Let me start by saying that Bernie is THE. BEST. The girl’s got a cheerful disposition, an insatiable curiosity, and 95% of the time is a content, chill little lady.
“Yoga does not change the way we see things, it changes the person who sees.”
Today is part 2 in a series about creating a consistent home yoga practice. I’ve gotten great messages from readers who have answered my three questions in part 1 about why you’re doing your home yoga practice. If you haven’t checked that one post out, check it out here.
Now that you know why you want a home yoga practice, and what you need from your home yoga practice, it’s time to get ready to move.