ARTHRITIS

Arthritis

Arthritis is a medical term used to describe more than 100 dis-eases with one common factor: inflammation of the joints.

Arthritis can cause joint pain worsening during the day with or without swelling, redness, and hotness. It can lead to limited range of motion ROM with stiffness (especially after rest or inactivity), atrophy (muscle loss), leading to weakness, depression, and lack of motivation with exercise further exacerbating the degenerative process.

As we age, wear and tear can contribute to deterioration of the soft tissues (joint fluids, tendons, and cartilage) that protect and cover the joints. Water begins to build within the cartilage and the protein inside degenerates leading to loss of lubrication and bone on bone contact, which is often quite painful.

In the journey of a lifetime exercise can be a healing modality or a pathway to degenerative changes.

This degenerative disease is brought on by the wear and tear of life, inflammation, repetitive stress and ones very own constitution. Deterioration can be attributed to pressure and gravity on the joints from obesity, heredity, repetitive stress and ones constitution.

Yoga has been a “Joint Friendly” benefactor of arthritis with attention to strengthening the joints, observing and releasing tension patterns, minimizing atrophy (muscle wasting d/t pain and inertia), reducing stiffness, assisting balance, and regulating levels of uric acid (gout), reducing obesity, while bringing overall general attention to health and well-being with the art of attention and loving kindness or self love.

Yoga is a non-impact form of exercise with a Big Impact on maintaining joint mobility; relieve pain and stiffness, and decreases cortisol, cholesterol, and uric acid.  It is effective for preventing atrophy and promoting beneficial resilient muscle while regulating body mass and weight.  Yoga is known to be a mood enhancer and relieve stress through breath-work, physical poses and meditation. People look and feel younger when they develop a regular pranayama and hatha yoga practice.  Each attentive inhale and exhale creates support and structure that allows one to move (within the movement) with the purposeful breath during yoga and eventually daily activities.

The common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis (most common), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gout, and Fibromyalgia.

Osteoarthritis - Degenerative Arthritis is among the more common diseases worldwide affecting %40 of Americans from 45-64 and a whopping %60 age 65 and older. 80% of women in the USA are much more prone to osteoarthritis which commonly affects the knees, hips, hands, feet, and spine.

Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Affects millions of Americans young and old. Age can increase the risk and vulnerability of arthritis yet children, teens and young adults can acquire this progressive disease.

Gout

Affects men more than women with high levels of uric acid.

Fibromyalgia

Fibrobyalgia predominantly affects the female population and can co-occur with rheumatoid arthritis. It is a generalized widespread pain whereas arthritis is localized within the joint area. Between 10-15% of osteoarthritis sufferers have Fibromyalgia.

This gender factor is dually noted in Ayurveda as well. According to Ayurveda, osteoarthritis is a Vata/Pitta, Pitta/Vata condition whereas rheumatoid arthritis is a Kapha condition. Arthritis is correlated to poor muscle and bone health, disproportionate body weight, asymmetrical patterns from repetitive stress on the joints minimizing a normal ROM, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Western Treatments of Osteoarthritis include weight management, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medication for pain relief orally and possibly within the joint, and exercise. Even among western modalities and exercise, yoga is a prime alternative treatment for this degenerative disease along with walking, water therapy, acupuncture, massage, polarity and diet. Joint replacement is a palliative option when all others fail.

Unfortunately there is no cure for osteoarthritis. With astute observation, mindfulness, yoga, Ayurveda, a Vata/Pitta pacifying diet and these aforementioned modalities we can slow down the degenerative process and relieve suffering.

Arthritis Types According to Ayurveda

In Ayurveda Arthritis is called “Amavata” which translates in Sanskrit as TOXIC-AIR caused by internal and external factors. Most Osteo-Arthritis is considered a Vata disease and most often takes place in one’s Vata years (post menopausal). Arthritis is related to poor digestion and accumulation of toxins.

Our state of AGNI or digestive fire is a major factor in the disease process.

Joints are classified in three separate types.                    

Within these three classifications of joints each is distinguished by their ability to articulate;                     

Arthritis mostly affects the large number of freely movable joints called:                                                               

Diarthroses, which are composed of the knee, hip, elbow, wrist, finger, and toe.                                                  

Immovable joints (synarthroses) ie: skull joints.              

Slightly movable joints (amphiarhtoses) are the vertebrae of the spine which are not as affected by arthritic changes.

Joint health is affected by:            

Imbalanced Doshas (mostly VATA)                               

Presence of Ama (natural buildup of toxins)

The most common form of Arthritis occurs when Vata is allowed to remain imbalanced over a prolonged period of time. The main tissue of Vata is bone (bone density). Vata enters the bone from poor digestion, low Agni, environmental exposure and insufficient waste removal with its accumulation of Ama (toxins) in the colon (seat of Vata), which are then transported, to the joints. Injury, stress, “wear and tear”, and repetitive patterns repeatedly wear down the joints protective cartilage diminishing the synovial fluid and protective coverings leading to bone on bone.

Arthritis is more common in windy, stormy, damp, dry and cold climates.  It is considered an immune system disorder where the body attacks itself.

Ayurveda and Arthritis

Ayurveda classifies Arthritis within the three constitutional categories of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and each of the types & stages (Samprapti) of this degenerative disease.

VATA

The joints in Vata arthritis will include immobilizing, throbbing, or searing pain that can be variable. Joints may be cool to the touch. Heat relieves the pain and cold aggravates the joint. Pain is felt upon movement with a localized area of pronounced tenderness. There can also be stiff and cracking joints d/t Vata. . Strenuous exercise exacerbates the pain promoting more stiffness with inactivity. Deformation of the joints can occur along with muscle wasting and asymmetry. There may be constipation, abdominal distention and gas accompanying this disease and is one of the markers of the first stage of arthritis.

PITTA

Redness, inflammation, swelling and a burning sensation are the hallmarks of this variety. Pain is alleviated by cold and stimulated by heat. Concurring symptoms can be sweating, irritability, and loose bowel movements.

KAPHA

Edema, swelling, and stiffness in and around the joints where the pain is somewhat localized, dull, achy and heavy feeling with limited ROM (range of motion). Heat will relieve the pain and damp, cool weather will aggravate it. Some movement and exercise will reduce the pain, which can be greater in the morning and diminishes during the day. Along with this the skin can be oily with congestion and mucus in the stool.

Treatment for Arthritis

Ayurveda’s treatment for arthritis is unique according to each individual clients constitution, lifestyle, diet, emotional patterning, and age.

The main feature and starting point is to initiate a progressive treatment through the colon for all dosha’s. Vata is involved in most of these cases or is the initiator of the imbalanced state leading to the final functional and structural changes.

Osteoarthritis is particularly alleviated by the preventative modality of Ayurveda early on in the disease process.

Reducing Vata is the keystone of treatment!

We pacify Vata through diet, herbal remedies, lifestyle and the removal of toxins.

Following a Vata/Pitta/Kapha (VPK) pacifying diet is essential depending on which arthritis is presented.

Western medicine has a great role to play in the progression of this disease to maintain and protect the natural joint.    There are multiple non-surgical options including physical, aquatic, and manual therapy, active release technique, anti-inflammatory medications, cortico-steroid and cutting edge injections. The final options include osteotomy with re-alignment, arthroscopy to reshape bone, surgical dislocations, and finally semi and total joint replacements by an orthopedic specialist.

It is paramount to have an initial and correct diagnosis through X-ray, MRI, specialized scans, manipulation, palpitation, and clinical observation by a certified medical/surgical specialist, or professional. Once an Ayurvedic Practitioner has the essential tools they can work along with a M.D., PA or health care worker. 

Ayurveda is a fascinating science that is 5000 years old and allows us to blend its ancient wisdom with modern medicine for the prevention and treatment of arthritis.

Blending western and eastern modalities are the foundational tools in Ayurveda.

Helena Zera, RN, 500E~RYT, 200~APTA, 200Ayuryoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First New Moon ~ January 20th, 2015

The First New Moon ~ January 20th, 2015


 

The Perfect Day to Set Your Year Long Intention

The New Moon represents another portal and beginning. It is the initiation process for the potent renewal and Intention of what you would like to procur as the moon waxes (with an array of quantum possibilities) in the night sky.  Allow this opportunistic time to discover the powerful energy of January's first New Moon. Map out a  plan of action that is do-able, realistic, and attainable every day within your ability and time. Be it five minutes a day or 30 minutes.

The beginning of January (as the moon wanes) was a time to look inward and allow the reflective qualities of the moons luminosity emanate with another new beginning.  Set the tone, make a simple plan of action, and manifest your dreams or desires for 2015.  From the darkness of this new moon we have a clean slate to make a plan and carry on. We can set the tone for our enlightenment with a new thought process, a realistic goal, an exercise routine, yoga pose, or counter-pose. Its time to make the magic of our dreams a reality.  The small changes we make in the day to day intentions that we have set multiply and set the pace.

Our mat is a sacred space of transformation  and allows us to move with attention in the physical realm and realize where our thoughts, negativity and so called failures show up within our bodies and breath. We all know (far too well) where we carry our tension and our practice is the re-patterning to release tension and start anew.

Our Yoga practice changes our bodies as it transforms our mind and thought patterns. This is the beauty of sadhana- to Yin our Yang, so to speak, and discover the balance of being. Within this BEing we become enlightened to a new way of thinking. This evolutionary process is a revoltuion and will allow us to  "see" a new passage or portal into our future.

Along with this powerful energy of moving forward there is a waft of potent energy around this New Moon in Aquarius with equal opportunity for those who chose to allow a new way of thinking, observing, facilitating and changing any old patterns that we may need to just let go.

 

MAKE IT SIMPLE ~ YET PROFOUND

Since the 1st of January I have been playing around with the top three daily poses to do 365 days/ year along with Ayurvedic implements and daily spiritual readings.  It started out with 3 poses graduating to 21 pose (kramas to a pose- yoga chikitsa), 3 books to read daily, and an extra ayurvedic addition amidst my many a dinacharya(daily ayurvedic rituals).  If I kept the entire list it would take me 6 hours to leave the house or I would have to wake up at 3 am every day. NOT gonna happen in this householder life.  In the end I let go and edited my A list like the Emmy's decide what will be in the top list. So here it goes.

SIMPLICITY
Simplicity is the  key to unlock the door of  opportunity.

Know how much time you can do each day (like brushing your teeth) and then implement your 3 small tasks whether they be self care, a thought change, diet, mindfullness or purposeful intentions.  To make a small change each and every day is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.  The path to be healthy, happy, and successful is to live stress-less without attachment and that means to simply do it.

As a Vata I have to keep it ~potent and simple ~
which is the most difficult thing to do  since there are way too many options for us and we can get side tracked so easily... LOL.  Fortitude is my attitude here and now to do these things without attachment,  yet with purpose, and my complete art of attention.

MY TO  "BE" LIST
Spiritual*Physical*Ayurveda

#1     Patanajalis Yoga Sutras -  revisit my first "yoga" book reading a stanza every am
          after pranayama and before meditation.
# 2     3  Simple Therapeutic Poses
           Independent as Yoga Chikitsa (ayurveda/yoga therapy)
#3     3 minutes/day personal Aerial yoga to Nasayana with Dr. Lad's Super Nasaya Oil             
          (hang upside down and spinal decompress -even we yogis multi-task) .



Can you add three to 20 minutes to your day for you?
Add a shoulder opener to relieve your tightness at your desk at work every hour. Fold forward in your chair to relieve your lower back 3 times per day. Take a daily 10 minute walk as a meditation. Eat mindfully. Stop speeding. Floss your teeth. Chew your food at least 20 times per bite. Meditate for 1 minute or 3 minutes each morning. Learn one new breathwork or pranayama and implement it. (do I sound like your Mom? lol )

These are the small intentions that add up immensely as the year moves transpires. This is similar to a trickle of water over time... for it is in the daily practice in actions and deeds where change happens and transformation blossoms.


Make the BIG picture for your Brand New World.
Now lets get going...
Your invitation is in the darkness of the New Moon for it will lead you to your time to shine.

Shine Bright and Illuminate Your Life. I know you do mine.

Helena

The Auspicious ESSENCE of TIME ~ January 2015

We all are moving back toward the light and entering a new beginning... once again.

For some of us each mOMent is a new beginning and not just the New Year date. The ending of a year and the beginning of another is a vast potential portal of what was and what is to BEcome.

The New Year is powerful reminder of TIME.  Real or Illusion.

"Time is on Our Side", "Time is of the Essence", "Time Heals all Wounds", "Time is Money", "So Many Men So Little Time", "Do you have the Time?" , "In a Timely Manner".  These are all relative quotes and statements to Kala/Time and represent powerful questions of our existence;  be it limited or limitless. 

And so when the New Year and first week of January rolls out we notice... BIG TIME!

The Mandala of time seems to quicken its pace each year we circle the Sun. How does tan alternate timeline sequencing seem possible as a perpetuality?  Is there an illusion of time travel right here on earth?  Are we living faster lives creating a fracture in the time/space continuum with electronic devices and a Vata disturbed lifestyle, or does time project swiftly like a waterfall on its exhilarating journey as it tumbles and courses along with gravity on its side?

A myth or reality? Perception or Cognition? Does time really go by faster the older we become? There may be no steadfast simple answer to this age old phenomenon; yet there could be a very simple solution. Lets investigate a few paradoxical sentiments regarding Time/Space and Age from a Doshic standpoint.

I  questioned my creative, impulsive, spontaneous, fun loving and sometimes deranged VATA friend why they thought time flew by faster as we age and she said  "Because we are spinning faster, really.... we are losing time everyday!  The world is revolving and the universe is at its half life where time moves onward picking up speed. The days are getting shorter, they really are --- its a documented fact!"  How ? I ask.  "I don't remember but I read it somewhere." Fascinating!!

I proceeded to ask my lovable, consistently reliable, kind KAPHA friend and his reply was   "We become more still and reflective the older we get, our thoughts become more indepth.  We think, we muse, we ponder eliciting a rushed response to make a decision is only done when provoked.  We move and relate a bit slower internally so time seems to go by faster all around us because people and "the lifestyles of the itch and aimless" are  moving in a blur of unattached activity".  Intriguing!

This promptly prompted me to  ask my PITTA predominant goal oriented friend what they thought .  "We are completely preoccupied and have more to do in modern society- literally with no time left to relax. There is so much more responsibility as you age, the sandwich years, more activities, a bigger "to do" list that never ends and when you look at your day the time has just been chock full and flies by. Where did it go? I just made my bed and now Im' turning down the sheets. How did that happen? What the F*&k did I do today" Unbelievable!

Your perception of time is how you relate to life... your Life.

This exact time in your life and the attention to your intention is what "sets about time".  We come to our perceptions by living an experiential life with emotions, feelings, and more, a life of stored images and memories that vividly color our inner world. When younger, everything we do is New and Exciting. When something is new to you there is much more to absorb, assimilate, think about and digest. Years later, when you rediscover that memory, it seems as if it lasted longer than actuality. Memories are elongated within our mind, as an illusion, that time has deeply embedded those provocative images in your brain. Your brain encodes new experiences with past experiences (lush lingering scenes at 10 years old vs sketches of another regular day past 50 years and older).  First occasions are novel events we tend to make more elaborate and detailed with lasting memories. When we repeat the event, year after year, it is less likely to make a unique or lasting impression.

Observe the same phenomenon in a shorter space of time. For instance, the first couple of days of a 2-week vacation seem leisurely. You're grateful that time is going slowly. But, the next thing you know, it's over and you are packing your bags! That new romance with butterflies in your stomach, dating, a first kiss and before you know it, it's your 20th anniversary. Days are long and years Zip by.

In answer to "the perception of time", is to TAKE THE TIME to notice life and slow the pace down, at least psychologically.

When we breathe deeper and longer we expand the boundaries of time.

Pause to INHALE the flowers, watch the sun set and EXHALE, star gaze under a mid-summer night, have a glass of wine by the fire with a friend,, learn a new language, be yoga, join a sport or club...  take advantage of new and unique experiences.

BE PRESENT.

Allow YOGA to enter your life, in the union of everyday life, so that you may thoroughly observe each breath and moment as a blessing, a new beginning and a novelty.  When we do the same thing with the same mindset time seems to march on but with a novel and curious approach we are recreating a positive perception encouraging distinct memories. Focus on past memories that are positive in order to discover many an INDIVIDUAL MOMENT in time, which allows us to hold a positive perception of the future full of hope and optimism.

 

Bending Time and Space                                                                                                                   

 In Gratitude and Grace,
Helena

A "Prop"er Thank You Mr. Iyengar

 


Last Wednesday on 8/20/2014 after 95 years on earth,  Guruji B.K.S. Iyengar passed on to another realm; the ultimate adventure.
I am saddened, and yet hopeful regarding the end of an era yet also the re-birthing of a new paradigm maintaining the integrity of this ancient practice.  Krishnamacharya's legacy lives on through K. Patthabi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar students and teachers globally.  I have been blessed to study with so many of you, as teachers and friends over the last 13 years.
 
Guruji Iyengar- I am ever so grateful to you. You were my first teacher in such a profound way with Light On Yoga 13 years ago. There was little yoga in my hometown; thus this book became my perpetual teacher along with "the practice".  I was stunned and shocked to visually see and read about each exotic and foreign pose you relayed in this sacred book. I never imagined that one day they would be accessible to me.  This book was and continues to be my yoga bible.

I vividly remember the day (after 2 years of  personal practice and rereading this book) where I truly felt the LIGHTNess of BEing you spoke of so well. I felt as light as a feather with breath, movement and wonder!  This energetic emancipation would come and go over the years; yet with each sacred practice the effects of  spiritual clarity and lightness embodied deeper within my heart and soul.
Eventually I discovered my personal teacher; Shiva Rea from Krishnamacharya's lineage and Mr. Iyengar's instruction guided me from a grounded home practice into the dance of Prana Vinyasa®.
I never realized the precious link we shared until I developed the HastaPada and how Mr. Iyengar revolutionized #YOGAFOREVERYONE.  His sickly childhood taught him how to evolve and heal through dedication and yoga. He had a vivid clarity and passion to assist those who wanted to heal themselves with practice and persistence. Props were the norm with Mr. Iyengar; he used blocks, wall units, chairs and BELTS. Many people benefited from these supporting modalities; not as a crutch but as an evolutionary tool.
I am so grateful for your passion, brilliance and incredible genius in this lifetime. Your teachings have influenced so very many of us and will continue to do so. You have been a brilliant lightness on my dharmic path illuminating the way for Vyana.

Enjoy the true lightness of being Master Iyengar...
 


“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they're meant to be."  
~B.K.S. Iyengar~

 

The Familiar Within the Dosha Family

Image Source:  Godlikeproductions.com

Image Source: Godlikeproductions.com

They say in life treat your enemies like friends and then they’ll become frenemies, which in my experience has been known to evolve into besties when you really, really get to know them.

I have a Frenemy who I adore.  Sometimes that imperceptible line between love and hate is like the thinnest veil on Halloween; barely there! I am always pacifying this friend who will most likely not remain anonymous for long. You have one too- someone we all have, know far too well, and love dearly. 

I am just stating the obvious- this isn't about cattiness or simply gossip, it is simply the way it is.  

A Familenemy (part friend, part family, part enemy) is impossible to live with and impossible to live without. I'm sure you are intimately familiar with this evasive concept; it's something we keep hidden and never discuss or crab about endlessly.

Its safe to say I cannot change someone else but I can respond by putting up a great defense to promote peace, harmony and love. 

In the name of compassion I have to make sure this friend is pacified, because if she is not then the big bad wolf is a 'knockin - actually pounding at my door- and PUFF there goes the entire house or in this case MY TEMPLE (divine- that is). 

You know whom I'm talking about; it's a family affair.  So what if she is the oldest, thinks she comes first all the time, and can hear everything I say because our voices - hell yeah even our thoughts carry like the wind…she is everywhere and then here. Outa thin air. Whooosh.

Who am I talking about? By now you may have guessed she is my dearest, most creative, funn (yep two n's), constitutional loving, gypsy swingin, spontaneous wheelin, often hysterical and sometimes forgetful BFF -VATA.

 

In Ayurveda (the ancient preventative modality of India and sister science to yoga) there exists three homes or constitutions- like the Harry Potter houses Gryffindor and Slytherin each with their own unique characteristics. We need and have all three to maintain our castle, or homeostasis, in balance. At times it is just like playing Quidditch on the battlefield of life. If we don’t heed the rules, use teamwork, and abide by our houses chaos ensues and you lose. It’s a high stakes and diligent game with a seeker (aren’t we all?), seven players (the chakras), two teams (duality), and an enchanted golden winged snitch (immortality, bliss, nirvana). 

Anyway, I digress... but simply how elusive is that snitch! (to snatch)

Ayurvedically be mindful of Vata, the first of the three constitutions and the most likely variable in this sacred equation. Always pacify Vata! Learn how to fly a kite, balance on a tightrope, stay warm, focus and do your hOMework!

With Vata the winds are ever-changing. Since you cannot control the wind, you learn to adjust the sail when this dosha takes flight. 

When VATA is deranged (or out of whack) she whips things up and gives PITTA a smack. Pitta will maintain the peace and attempt to judiciously carry on but Vata is as relentless as the media.

Pitta is officially pissed- ‘’how dare Vata do that?”  Any great Pitta does not like to be pushed around or told what to do, and being the super-heated powerhouse they are, it’s time to react appropriately  (Inappropriately so)! 

PITTA is officially inflamed and going to bully KAPHA.

KAPHA, notoriously slow to respond, will ignore Pitta and maybe even absorb the shock. She will stew then brew, until loving Kapha's passive and bull-headed nature gives way to stone cold aggression. 

A dead end of sorts where there is no return. 

Eventually and quite dramatically taking it out on YOU!

Do I really want that kind of a dance with my Constitution?

I would rather be dancin’ to the blues than singin’ them.

When I pacify my beloved Vata I am able to keep peace and not start a war within the trilogy. All in all, we cannot live without our DOSHA Family. Compassion and communication are essential. So I keep my friends close, my frenemies even closer and always make peace with my Familenemy; after all we do share the same house for a lifetime… or at least just this one.

CONSTITUTIONAL Chaos?  

Not the kind of threesome I desire.

 

Check this article out here on Yoganonymous!