Monday, June 30, 2014

Yoga's Transformative Power

Ever feel so stressed that you wanted to scream? A good shout can literally help you blow off steam, releasing pent-up frustrations and leaving you spent, relaxed, and calm. We are often taught, in our society, to hold all our emotions in and to betray no trace of frustration or exhaustion. But it can be much healthier just to let it out! Earlier this month Gary and I went to a carnival with one of our daughters, her husband and their children. What better place to scream and blow off steam than at the carnival. I love to go on the rides, so I was trying to get my daughter to go with me. She finally said “take Shaylee with you, she’ll go”. Shaylee who is 10, and I had a blast screaming and laughing as we went on one ride after another. In yoga we sometimes mimic the roar of a lion in particular, but any roar or shout will help you reduce stress throughout the day. Sometimes if I sense that the class is struggling with a particularly hard pose I will have them growl loudly as they perform it. It takes the stress away and adds some humor.


Stress is just fear. 80% of visits to the doctor are believed to be stress-related. Yet what is “stress” if not fear, anxiety, and worry dressed up in more socially acceptable clothing? While we tend to view worry, anxiety, and fear as signs of weakness, most of us are perfectly willing to admit that we’re stressed. We’re also happy to parade our stress around as proof that we’re busy and productive people leaving our mark on the world. But for many people, being “stressed out” is just the code word for being really scared.


yoga encourages transformation by helping you to shift patterns you've developed over time, patterns that may be unhealthy. When you put your body into a pose that is foreign and you stick with it, you learn how to take a new shape. Taking this new shape with the body can lead you to learn how to take a new shape with the mind. If practiced correctly, yoga breaks down the psychological, emotional, physical, energetic, and psychic obstacles that inhibit us from thriving.


Maybe you are new to the practice of yoga, you can feel overwhelmed. There's so much to learn—the physical postures, the breath work, the history, the philosophy—that you feel like you'll never get it all. Maybe this feeling is enough to make you want to stop your practice completely.
Luckily, yoga is a practice that provides answers organically. In other words, you will start to understand its lessons in time if you stay with your practice of the postures.Yoga takes care of you if you stick with it. You start to sense what's right and what's wrong, and you follow a path of moral living and meditation because it feels right. The answers are in the practice, and the practice never judges you.
So instead of feeling buried under all there is to learn, or worried about all the ways you'll need to change your life, relax into your practice and trust that the right answers will come when you're ready for them.


Yoga is a cleaning process. It’s just clearing out the dust and the cobwebs so we can differentiate our minds from ourselves. As a result of yoga, the things that block our true essence dissipate. and the result is that we can shine from our true, authentic self.


One of my favorite yoga mentors Rod Stryker says, “yoga helps you remove the obstacles that obscure who you really are,  it helps you come into a fuller expression of your true nature. "We're not transforming into something we aspire to," he says. "We're transforming into the very thing that we are innately: our best Self."
                                         Nancy Adams Certified Thai Yoga Therapist
Certified Yoga Instructor
and Ayurveda Consultant

        These are my own thoughts. I sometimes take writings from others to support my own ideas.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Know Your Own Grandeur

Researchers point to nutritional imbalances as a possible cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. As an Ayurvedic practitioner I go one step further, and include fibromyalgia, epstein barr, and most other autoimmune diseases. Many of my autoimmune disease clients find they are sensitive to foods and drinks they were once able to tolerate. They may also find that a variety of foods and food additives-- caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, dairy products, and dyes, among other things--trigger symptoms. I recommend that my clients eat a dosha balancing diet, if they will do this they will find great relief, the Ayurvedic dietary changes help restore energy. I also recommend that they eat a vata--controlling diet. They should drink soup and eat food that is very mild--not too hot, not too cold, it should be spiced but mildly spiced. Also, they should not consume anything that is cold, especially cold water and ice cream. They should drink hot water only. I also recommend a diet low in protein, because protein demands great quantities of energy to digest and produces heaps of nitrogenous wastes. You want a small amount of protein and a balance of carbohydrates and fats all cooked into one soup or a juicy one-pot meal, so your organism doesn't require a lot of energy to digest. I also recommend avoiding foods that contain caffeine or concentrated sugars. these are so concentrated that they cause your system to go into a tizzy, overreact, and make the symptoms worse.

I always think my clients are going to be so excited for the new found information, that they can finally feel better, that they will run home and get started on their new journey. However, I always find all kinds of resistance from clients who think they can’t live without a salad, or couldn't possibly drink just hot water, and, no ice cream? I continually council my students and client that the foods we eat are killing us. However it is not just the food, but also the amount of foods we eat. According to Ayurvedic principles, when you eat in moderation, your body and mind are happy. But when you eat too much, you overwhelm your agni (the digestive fire), creating chaos in your belly and inviting unpleasant imbalances such as gas, weight gain, and depression.  

It is so puzzling to me, the way we resist not only life’s difficulties but also life’s potential sweetness. I notice it in students and certainly in myself: the subtle tendency to hold back from anything that changes the balance in our lives. We don’t just resist something unpleasant, like working with a difficult health issue. We often have a strange resistance to, getting a Thai Therapy (any type of therapy that would help to heal us) or opening fully to a friend or lover, or, especially, allowing an emerging state of inner expansion--even when we sense that we are cutting ourselves off from something great.

I often find that the clients that put up the most resistance are the ones that are afraid of encountering the hidden memories or emotional dragons that can turn up if they look too closely at themselves. There’s no question that as you journey along the road to pure spaciousness, you will pass through zones of feelings that you normally shove beneath your awareness. But if you’re willing to summon the courage to take that journey, you’ll usually find that the dragons are nothing but blocked energy and that when you look at them they’ll start to melt away. More often, the resistance stems from fear--fear of your emotions, fear of the unknown, and, finally, fear of your own essence, your own grandeur.

                                         Nancy Adams Certified Thai Yoga Therapist
Certified Yoga Instructor
and Ayurveda Consultant
        These are my own thoughts. I sometimes take writings from others to support my own ideas.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Understanding the connection between meditation practice and the rest of your life

I love the story of the yoga student that went to a four day meditation retreat, on the first day he went to the Zen master. Sitting at his feet, he asked, “Can you tell me how I’m doing in my (meditation) practice?” The Zen master thought for a minute, then said. “Open your mouth.” The student opened his mouth, and the teacher peered in and said, “OK, now bend your head down.” The student bent his head down, and the zen master looked into his hair, then said “OK, now open your eyes really wide.” The student opened his eyes, and the Zen master glared into them and said, “You’re doing fine.” Then he rang his bell, meaning the student needs to leave. The next day, he returned, quite perplexed by what had happened the day before. “I asked you how I was doing in my practice yesterday,” he said, “and you made me open my mouth, bend my head, and open my eyes. What did that have to do with my practice?” The Zen master bowed his head in thought. Then he said, “You know, you’re not really doing very well in your practice, and the truth is, I am not sure you are ever going to make it.” Again he rang the bell. The student walked out. You can imagine how confused and angry he felt. The next day he went back, still fuming, and said, “What do you mean, I’m not going to make it in practice? Do you know that I sit in meditation for an hour every day? Sometimes I sit twice a day. I come to every retreat. I have really deep experiences. What do you mean I’m not going to make it?” The master just sat there, apparently thinking. Then he said, “Well, maybe I made a mistake. Perhaps you’re doing pretty well after all.” And again he rang the bell. On the last day of the retreat, the student went back to see his teacher, utterly exhausted. He felt distraught and confused, but he was no longer fighting it. He said to the master.”I Just wanted to know how I was doing in my practice.” This time, the teacher looked at him and with no hesitation, in a very kind voice, said, “If you really want to know how you’re doing in your practice, just look at all of your reactions over the last few days. Just look at your life.

Understanding the connection between meditation practice and the rest of our life means addressing many different concerns. For instance, how are you practicing in your relationships--with your spouse, your children, your parents, the people at work? How many resentments do you still hold on to? Do the same people as ever in your life trigger anger, contempt, or other believed judgments? To what extent can you say, “I am sorry,” and really mean it? When a problem arises, can you say yes to meditating with it, even when you hate what’s happening? And when criticism comes at you, are you willing to work with your reactions when they arise, instead of justifying them?  

The answers to questions like these give us the measure of our meditation practice. This measure is nothing magical. It’s simply the increasing ability to know what our life is, as well as the growing understanding that to practice with our life means to practice with everything we meet. Meditation isn't just about sitting on a cushion trying to feel calm.

Most of us hold buried emotions. We might not be aware of them, but they can affect our mood and our relationships without our even knowing it. When we meditate, those layers of emotions are brought up so they can be seen and let go of. So there will often be periods, especially in the early days of meditation practice, when emotions keep bubbling up from inside. Just understand that this is part of the process and that it can ultimately be helpful to your emotional state.

One of the great practices for working with emotions is to embrace an emotion by making space for it. You begin by feeling the emotion, focusing especially on the energetic experience of it  rather than on the “story” it is telling you. Try to find the energy of the emotion. Notice what part of your body it seems to affect the most. Focus your attention on the felt experience of the emotion in the body. Breathe into it. Now imagine that a space surrounds that part of your body, including the feeling of the emotion. Let the emotional energy and space be present together. Without trying to make the emotion go away, notice how it will naturally pass out of sight, memory, or existence into the surrounding spaciousness.

Meditation always involves seeing our edge and taking a small step beyond it into the unknown. As a Spanish proverb says, “If you do not dare, you do not live.” Meaning taking a step beyond our edge of comfort. Still, we have to step toward our edge by ourselves. Instead of regarding our edge as an enemy, a place we prefer to avoid, we can realize that our edge is actually or path. From this place, we can take a step closer toward what is. But we can do this only one step at a time, persevering through all the ups and downs of our lives. We may sense danger; sometimes we may even feel as if death is upon us. However, we don’t have to leap in headfirst, going for all or nothing. We can simply take a small step, supported by the knowledge that everyone feels fear in stepping beyond the illusion of comfort.

When you meditate with emotions this way, over time you will be much less subject to emotional upheaval. Yet you’ll also be able to feel your feeling without being scared of them.

        Nancy Adams Certified Thai Yoga Therapist
Certified Yoga Instructor
and Ayurveda Consultant
These are my own thoughts. I sometimes take writings from others to support my own ideas.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Knowing your families doshas will help you be more understanding

I feel like it is important to talk about the other doshas in your house, the last two blogs were “if you are a Vata dominant person (air) raising a Pitta” (fire) and “if you are a Pitta raising a Kapha” (water). Both of these are important to know, as I explained in the bogs. It is also very helpful to know what dosha your spouse is, knowing your families doshas will help you have more compassion and be more understanding to your families needs. Let me just give you a little understanding about the doshas.

Ayurveda,  which translates as "knowledge of life," dates back 5,000 years to the ancient Sanskrit texts, It's a system of healing that examines physical constitution, emotional nature, and spiritual outlook in the context of the universe. According to the philosophy, universal life force manifests as three different energies, or doshas, known as Vata (air), Pitta (fire), and Kapha (water).We're all made up of a unique combination of these three forces. Though everyone has some of each, most people tend to have an abundance of one or two of the doshas. This unique combination is determined at the moment of conception, and is your own personal blueprint. As you move through life, the proportion of each of the three doshas constantly fluctuates according to your environment, your diet, the seasons, the climate, your age, and many other factors. As they move into and out of balance, the doshas can affect your health, energy level, and general mood.


So, maybe you are not a Pitta raising a Kapha, or a Vata raising a Pitta. If you are a Kapha dominant person with a Vata in the house, this can be kind of tricky, because the things you crave and eat, the Vata dominant person should stay away from, and visa versa. Kapha and Vata doshas are opposite ends of the pole. A Kapha dominant person won’t feel like eating when he gets up in the morning, but he must, or the digestive (fire) system won’t turn on. Vata (air) dominant people want to eat, the air has kept the fire burning bright all night and they are hungry, but this does not mean they will, Vata dominant people can keep getting side tracked until they have forgotten a meal completely. This would never happen to a Pitta dominant person, I have talked at great length about how if you don’t feed a Pitta, YOU WILL BECOME THEIR MEAL! A Kapha falls out of balance slowly, while a Vata will fall out of balance after a physical or emotional trauma, and a Pitta dominant person can fall out of balance by exerting too much ambition and being hyperfocused.


Kaphas foods will only imbalance the Vata dominant child and make them more dry (hair, skin, stool) than they already are. On the other hand if Kaphas try to keep up with what a Vata eats they could find themselves in trouble with weight gain and food rotting in the gut. As a Kapha you must stay away from sweets and eat lighter meals, because of your slower metabolism if you overeat too often your metabolism can’t keep up, and your food will literally start to rot in your gut. Because of this undigested food  Kapha dominant people will sometimes put off a stenchy smell (skin, breath, and all body eliminations including sweat). Skipping an occasional meal is good for a Kapha dominant person, whereas it would imbalance the Pitta and Vata


If you are a very active Kapha dominant person, this is good, it is one of the best ways for Kaphas to stay balanced. However if your Vata dominant child becomes overly obsessed with sports this could cause an imbalance. Vatas minds are chattering all the time making them anxious, if they are overloaded with sports and lessons the anxiety can be overwhelming. They need time to quiet the mind.


Teach your Vata dominant child (spouse) to meditate this will help disengage them from anxious, repetitive thinking. Vata dominant people are so susceptible to depression and anxiety, however, you can help them find balance in life by helping them follow a rhythm: eating three meals a day at regular times, warm moist, and heavier foods with sweet, sour, or salty tastes, this will nourish tissues, and emotions.


The main thing for a Kapha to know about raising either of the other two doshas is this, if your Pitta dominant child is out of body, feed him, if your Vata dominant child is out of body, get him on a schedule
Nancy Adams Certified Thai Yoga Therapist
Certified Yoga Instructor
and Ayurveda Consultant
These are my own thoughts. I sometimes take writings from others to support my own ideas.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Knowing your child's dominant dosha can save you some grief

Maybe you are a Pitta raising a dominant Kapha child, this could drive any well rounded Pitta to madness! Kaphas are dominated by the water element, which makes them slower than the other two doshas, slow to make a decision, slow to get angry and slow to forgive, they also walk and talk on the slow side. Do not mistake their stockiness for chubbyness they have strong frames and are naturally athletic. As adults they need to exercise regularly to manage their tendency to gain weight because like everything else their metabolism tends to be slow and their appetite for both food and stimulation is less intense than vata or pitta types. Because of this they do better with smaller meals of fresh raw and light foods with bitter, astringent, and pungent tastes, this will help dry up the water that makes them feel sluggish, and they could fast a meal once a week and be good with it. Eating your main meal around noon is good for all doshas, but especially for balancing Kapha dominant people.

Kapha dominant people should stay away from sweets, the sweet taste just creates an imbalance of kapha energy that can lead to weight gain (meat and dairy products are also considered sweet). Instead, try an after-meal cup of ginger tea, to boost the digestion and metabolism. Also dried fruit, fresh berries, apricots, and apples can bring the kapha back into balance, and reduce dependence on heavy sweets. Raw, unprocessed honey is thought to have special heating properties that can reduce excess weight. Take a scant teaspoon followed by sips of hot water after each meal. According to Ayurvedic texts, the older the honey, the more effective it is for weight loss. Never cook honey though; these same texts note that overheated honey is indigestible.

Kaphas dominant people are  innately stable, compassionate, and loyal.  They benefit from exposing themselves to new environments, people, and occasionally fasting. They appreciate doing things in a methodical, step-by-step manner, and prefer a regular routine When imbalanced they can become unmotivated, stubborn, and complacent even when change is necessary.

It is important to let them be who they are and not force your pitta opinions on them, if you try to make them think the way you think, they will find a way to be just the opposite, even if they know you are right. Give them plenty of time to get ready to go places, or to get their chores done. If you try to rush them they will just become stubborn, then you won’t be able to move them at all. My daughter, Heather, tells of her 14 year old daughter that takes so long in the shower that it was messing up the family routine. finally, instead of trying to get Jesica to hurry faster they started having her start her shower earlier, giving her more time to shower. Now Jesica is happy she can shower in peace, without getting ragged on, Mom and dad are happy the family routine is in order.

I don’t pretend to understand people with dominant Kapha,  their natural sense of stability can become stagnation that resists even healthy change, they can take up to a year to decide to come to a yoga class, once they are there sometimes I really have to push them to get them to keep moving. They   sometimes quite because they don’t want to put in the effort, they will always take the easy way out.

Yet, if they are in balance once they have made a commitment, their slow and steady nature will keep them on the sure path until they reach their goal for a naturally balanced and healthy body. Although I don’t pretend to understand them, I have learned to appreciate their calm nature, and groundedness, they love everyone, if you need a loyal friend, a Kapha dominated friend is the best to have. Do yourself a favor and love a Kapha today, it will come back to you a hundredfold.
Nancy Adams Certified Thai Yoga Therapist
Certified Yoga Instructor
and Ayurveda Consultant
These are my own thoughts. I sometimes take writings from others to support my own ideas.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Want your child to be a happy camper? Get to know their dosha

If you are a vata  (thin and lanky, with cold hands and feet, constipation, dry skin, eat and sleep irregular,  tend toward  irregular digestion, lose weight when stressed, enjoy warm, humid weather, have insomnia and low immunity) with a pita child, you are probably having a hard time figuring him/her out. Pitta types are dominated by the fire element, which makes them innately strong, intense, and irritable. They tend to have a medium build and endurance with powerful musculature. They are strong willed and good at doing what they think is right. They approach work and play with the same intensity and competitiveness. They are natural leaders and quick learners. They have strong digestion and intense appetites, both for food and challenges. If they miss a meal they are likely to become grumpy and may take a "bite" out of somebody instead.. For balance, pittas need to manage their "fiery" tendencies, channeling them in productive ways and learning to recognize their destructive power.

The food we eat has a direct result on our health and our emotional life. In today's modern world, we rarely make time to eat mindfully. Often, we eat on  the go, in cars or at our desks for the five minutes we can spare. But when we eat without noticing our food, we miss one of life's greatest pleasures and we allow that which should nourish us to become that which causes us stress. I know this life is busy, but you must watch what and when you feed your pitta child. You must take time for regular meals, making lunch the biggest meal of the day, digestion is at its greatest from 10:00-2:00. The Pitta is the fire element, it is naturally strong with high agni (fire), which demands fuel; if the digestive fire isn’t fed regularly, it overheats. Acids and enzymes then concentrate, disrupting normal digestion and contributing to the formation of ama, a toxic byproduct that can cause faulty digestion and clog body channels causing weight gain. Also, to much pitta can cause aggressive behavior, and "hot" emotional reactions such as anger, irritability, frustration, and hatred. To keep pitta from firing up too much, especially during  hot months, begin fostering "coolness" in every sense of the word: slow down, chill out, swim, and eat cooling, sweet foods.

Cooling foods are, meat, fresh produce (except sour), and dairy products, ice cream is a great treat for a pitta that is raging, the cold dairy will bring the pitta quickly back into balance. When I talk about food I mean organic, or homemade, not processed food. The processed food with all its hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and preservatives, will put the pitta or any dosha, for that matter, out of balance.

If you give your pitt loved one an apple or banana, for a snack, this is not going to do the trick, unless you follow it quickly with a protein. The protein burns like a log on the fire, slow and long. The carbs burn like kindlen fast and furious. Therefore a starving pitta has burned through that banana before he takes the last bite! And now he is on the prowl for something more satisfying.

To keep your pitta child from crashing give him a protein snack between meals, boiled eggs or string cheese, (please stay away from those yogurts for kids). Most times pittas can’t tell they are hungry, by the time they realize they are hungry it’s too late, you will know it is too late by their meanness, mid meal snacks will also keep them from gaining weight, I know it sounds crazy, but when a pitta is starving they can clean out a fridge in a moment, the mid meal snack will keep him from getting to that ravaging moment, and he will eat less at meal time..
This is not just for children. I am a pitta. I grew up with the nickname ornery. My husband, and my 6 daughters, who are all vata’s,  now with children or their own, also thought I was ornery before I started studying Ayurveda. Now they understand not just me, but their own children as well. They remind me to take my snacks when we are going places, and they, especially my husband, know how uncomfortable it is for me to be hungry, not just physically, but emotionally, and  mentally as well. I don’t like that out of control feeling, embarrassing myself in front of others, and seeming like I can’t get a grip. I can’t!! Just feed me, it is that easy!!
Nancy Adams Certified Thai Yoga Therapist
Certified Yoga Instructor
and Ayurveda Consultant
           These are my own thoughts. I sometimes take writings from others to support my own ideas.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Testimony of Yoga

My evening class is very unique, unlike my other classes the people in my evening class start coming in about ten minutes early. They get set up while they are chattering, they laugh, visit, and kid each other, enjoying one anothers company. I call them to their mats on the hour, as they place their hands on their heart, I hear everyone take a deep breath and exhale slowly, probably the first time they have enjoyed such a relaxing exhale all day. The talking continues here and there for a minute or so, and then, I hear them turn their breath inward. As I lead them through the Sun Salutations the room becomes silent, except for the music and our breathing. We flow through pose after pose as I call them out. It's exciting to synchronize our movements,  the room is filled with energy, and we in turn feel energized,  there's something magical about connecting with other people to practice, We start to sweat and our breathing becomes deeper. My instruction gives their busy minds something to focus on, keeping them in the present moment. For people with anxiety, this is a particular blessing.
My instructions also force them to tune in to the subtle shifts occurring in their body. As they become more aware of these changes, they begin to notice subtle alterations in their mind and in their mood, too. They feel in a tangible way how the body and mind are connected.

Yoga helps you be more in touch with your thoughts and feelings as they arise in the moment, which is half the battle of resolving them. In other words, when you're able to identify that something is wrong, you can address that particular issue in the moment, rather than ignoring it and unleashing it later in some painful way.

I asked my classes to write a testimonial of yoga that I might share in my blog. Natalie has been in class for 8 years and Becky has been in class for 2 years. They are very dear to me as are all my students, I want to thank them all for giving me the privilege of teaching them the amazing art of yoga.

Dear Nancy,
I was thinking today if you really want to know what yoga can do for your mind and body stop doing it for 6 months. I feel like my body has aged 5 years since I stopped. My joints hurt, I'm having issues with my hands after I have worked all day, it's harder to ward of stress because I'm not breathing fully, I have no really calming down time to myself therefore I get over stimulated very easy. I had no idea yoga impacted my life in so many was until I didn't have it. I owe you 100 thank you's for being my teacher.
Love, Natalie

Nancy,
I keep thinking about this, and it's a bit ironic that I have such a strong belief in the good yoga can do for a person but can't seem to get my body there this month….I started yoga almost 2 years ago after the suggestion from a friend who has similar athletic aspirations but lives in a different part of the country and has found that it has helped her. After years of hard physical work and play, I found myself middle aged and with bone and muscle issues,hence I started yoga. Now I can honestly say,  many of the symptoms I would normally have called a doctor for work themselves out. Not always quickly but with time and sometimes a little extra work. I know if I had had this training 20 or 30 years ago I would not be as weak or possibly have required the surgeries I have had. However I am certainly glad to know what I do and have the strength and knowledge I have gained through "yoga" class. It is never too late to start.
Thank you, Nancy

Yoga takes care of you if you stick with it. You start to sense what's right and what's wrong, and you follow a path of moral living and meditation because it feels right. The answers are in the practice, and the practice never judges you."
Nancy Adams Certified Thai Yoga Therapist
Certified Yoga Instructor
and Ayurveda Consultant
These are my own thoughts. I sometimes take writings from others to support my own ideas.