Improve Your Circulation And Stay Warm!

We all struggle to keep warm at one point or another during the chilly winter and early spring days (and nights), but did you know that you can keep warm by simply improving your circulation? 

Circulation has a significant impact on how warm we feel. And poor circulation can mean fingers and toes start to feel numb or tingly. 

What Causes Poor Circulation 

How blood circulates throughout your body can be affected by a wide variety of conditions, including blocked or damaged arteries, diabetes, high cholesterol, and stress. 

If you’re anything like me when the mercury falls, or those sharp winds blow, the only thing you want to do is snuggle under a blanket with a dog and wait for summer. 

And as tempting as that may be, a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to poor circulation along with a host of other damaging health issues, such as weight gain, increased blood sugar levels, and even depression. 

So with spring still a few weeks away, here are three ways to improve your circulation and stay warm it gets here! 

Say Good Morning with Ginger Tea 

Skip the cup of coffee and reach for a steaming cup of ginger tea for all-day warmth. Simmer a 1-inch piece of peeled ginger root in a cup of water for about five minutes. Add honey for a sweeter start to your day. Hot ginger tea is a natural way to warm up the body. It will also calm any tummy issues you may have in the morning, including symptoms of morning sickness. 

Yoga 

[YogaWithAdriene]

Yoga. Improving circulation is another benefit of participating in a regular yoga class. Look for free in-person classes at community centers or even some library locations, or head over to Youtube and check out my favorite yogini, Yoga With Adriene 

Go Swimming 

While you may be thinking that swimming is just for summer, going for a heated swim is the perfect winter activity. The warm water in the pool naturally helps to improve circulation, increase your body temperature, and relax tight muscles. A quick thirty-minute swim twice a week will have you feeling warm all winter long. 

Go For a Spin 

If you hate to pack your bike away for winter, spinning might be just what you’re looking for. Riding stationary bicycles indoors, also called spinning, is an ideal way to do what you enjoy despite the snow and ice outside. 

Exercise is one of the simplest things we can do for improved circulation. And with a few weeks still on the calendar, it’s a perfect time to get moving. 

10 Cheap Seasonal Superfoods For Improved Health

Are the short winters days getting you down? Does the chill in the air making you want to crawl back under the blankets? Then keep reading!

Check out these ten seasonal superfoods that will help lighten your mood and put a spring back int your step, even before the snow melts!

Pie Pumpkin

There’s a lot more on their resume than just jack-o-lantern grins or grimaces. Pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene, linked to a reduced risk of death from certain cancers in independent studies, and they contribute to heart health. Pumpkins are high in fiber, low in calories, sodium, and fat. And toasted pumpkin seeds are just packed with iron and magnesium.

Parsnips

Sure, they resemble carrots, but parsnips’ sweeter, nuttier flavor is unequaled in Bugs Bunny’s favorite snack. An excellent add-in to rice and potatoes, pureed into sauces and soups, or drizzled with olive oil and roasted in the oven, parsnips are rich in potassium and very high in fiber.

Butternut & other ‘Winter’ Squash

One of the healthiest foods around is the often overlooked butternut squash. Similar in health benefits to pumpkin, butternut squash is beneficial for strengthening the immune system and treating cancer thanks to its high vitamin C content. It’s also great for improving skin elasticity, helping us maintain our youthfulness as we age. Can’t find butternut at your local grocer? Look for Acorn, Hubbard, Turban, or any of the winter season squashes.

Brussels Sprouts

Don’t scrunch up your face when these little ones find their way onto your plate. Brussels sprouts mild, slightly bitter taste is the perfect complement to savory and tangy sauces (think balsamic vinegar), and they deliver valuable amounts of folate, vitamin K, and iron. They help the body detoxify and prevent painful inflammation.

Kale

Yummy kale contains lutein, responsible for protecting your vision against cataracts and macular degeneration. Along with beta-carotene, kale is also high in vitamin E, folate, calcium, and magnesium, essential for keeping bones strong, and muscle cells healthy.

Ginger

Ginger Root is a must for autumn dishes. Increasing circulation and lowering blood pressure has never been so easy, or tasted so good. Many people also find ginger helpful in the treatment of migraines and arthritis. It’s also an excellent, natural cure for indigestion and nausea, including bouts of morning sickness.

Peppers

Bell peppers, especially red peppers, are ideal sources of vitamin C; just one pepper contains as much as three oranges! And the capsaicin in bell peppers helps control diabetes, eases inflammation, relieves pain, and reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol.

Apples

Raw or baked, tart or sweet, apples are one superfood everyone should be eating daily. Apples have been shown to help stave off Alzheimer’s, protect against Parkinson’s disease, prevent gallstones, promote colon health, neutralize irritable bowel syndrome, boost your immune system, and prevent cataracts.

Pomegranates (aka Winter Jewels)

Legend has it that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, planted the very first pomegranate tree in Cyprus. So it should be no wonder that pomegranates are linked to increased blood flow that improves overall sexual potency.

Tomatoes

Okay – not true winter produce, but tomatoes can grow amazingly well indoors. Small tomato plants can thrive in sunrooms or other sunny parts of your home.

Rich in lycopene, Tomatoes are linked to a reduced risk of prostate, lung, and breast cancers in studies. They also have positive effects on heart health, lessening the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. And since cooking helps to activate lycopene, autumn is the perfect time to get a big pot of your favorite pasta sauce simmering for a warm, healthy evening meal. (Throw in some red peppers for additional benefits!)

Could I ever learn to meditate if I haven’t by now?

“Could I ever learn to meditate if I haven’t by now?”

I overheard a friend, recently, ask the question above.

At the age of 76, this woman has accomplished more than many could achieve in several incarnations. Through it all, she remains a very conscious, conscientious mind; an individual who considers her place in the world and how her role can impact and affect those around her. She also has an uncanny knack for articulating stunningly profound questions, like this one.

As a practicing Hindu and a classically trained yogi (20+ years), I frequently get asked, “How do I…?” questions when it comes to meditation and introspection.

Hinduism, among other things, focuses on one’s self-awareness and interconnectedness; it helps develop stillness of the mind. And it uses meditation as a tool to facilitate that stillness.

So often, when someone says the word, ‘meditate,’ people automatically conjure images of shaven-headed monks in saffron robes, chanting Om Shanti in resounding unison.

Aum or Om is considered the  sound of cosmic manifestation

The chant, Om Shanti, roughly translates into peace for all humankind, peace for all living and non-living beings, peace for the universe.

But what you may not realize is that meditation can take just about any form of activity – or inactivity – that helps calm the mind. Take walking meditation, for example. Zen Buddhist monks often practice walking meditation as a part of their daily practice. The slow, purposeful walking combines with a concentration on each muscle used to take a single step and the breath required to complete that simple movement.

It all comes down to your breath; breath is life

When you begin to look at meditation that way, you might find you already have something that fits the bill. Do you cross-stitch? Knit? That focused attention stills the mind. Do you run? The discipline of running possesses many of meditative characteristics shared with walking meditation. What about acting? An actress or actor preparing for their role will often go through a meditative process to create their character. Even washing dishes can help to focus the mind and calm the spirit. In fact, it’s often our simplest actions – those little everyday occurrences – that we can use to help calm our senses and still our mind.

The next time you’re in a lineup or find yourself stuck in a waiting room, try this on for size:

with practice, you can meditate anywhere

Start with your toes. Slowly, intentionally, tense, and release your toe and foot muscles one by one. (You might be surprised to find this more of a challenge than originally expected.) Do this gently, remember, this isn’t a workout. You want to use the slightest amount of tension, just enough to help become aware of each muscle group in your foot. And remember to breathe. Slow, steady inhalations and exhalations will help you concentrate.

Begin with the toes on your right foot, wiggle them a little; rotate your ankle. Next, tighten your calf. Then flex your thigh muscles. So far, so good? Great. Now give your right bum cheek a little squeeze and continue on working your way up through tummy, right shoulder, arm, and fingers on your right hand. Slowly stretch your neck to the right and begin the descent on the flip side. Stretch your neck to the left and work your way slowly down to the toes on your left foot. When you’ve gone full circle, take one final deep, cleansing breath.

Hindu deity Ganapati

Congratulations – you’ve just completed your first meditation practice – no chanting, incense, or mala beads required.

Try carrying the new calm feeling you’ve cultivated with you throughout the remainder of your day or evening.

Meditation is, in its purest form, is listening to your body, mind, and spirit. Some people say it’s listening to God.

Whatever you call it, meditation is the time you take with yourself to improve your self-awareness; about where you are right now on this magnificent journey.

When you start meditating, you may be surprised by what you hear; by what wise advice you have for yourself.

And what about the woman who wondered, “Could I ever learn to meditate, if I haven’t now?”

To her, I say, “You already are.”

Frugal (Fun) Ways to Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

A cold is bad enough to go through, but getting the flu is worse. So how can you stay healthy when everyone else seems to be getting sick?
It’s true your best defence begins by washing your hands frequently and getting a flu shot, that’s not all you can do to keep those winter germs at bay. Let’s look at the most effective ways to stay healthy during this year’s cold and flu season.

Sing

The Carpenters iconic hit, “sing” can do more for your health than you knew!

Yes, you read that right. I said sing.

Japanese researchers have found that singing helps boost your immune system. When you sing, cortisol (a stress-related hormone) levels drop, and immunoglobulin A (responsible for deflecting bacteria and viruses) amounts rise. When you sing, you’re actually strengthening your immune system against cold and flu bugs. So crank the radio and pick up that hair brush. Your audience awaits.

Yin Yoga for Health

Yin yoga, a gentle yoga practice, has been found to reduce the duration and the intensity of cold and flu symptoms almost 50%. And a recent study by Tufts University found Tai Chi had similar benefits. So before you get sick, get in the habit of practicing gentle yoga a couple of times per week.

40 Winks

Sleep is vital for good health and a healthy immune system. People who sleep fewer than seven hours each night are three times more likely to get sick! Studies have shown a reduced number of protective antibodies in individuals who received a flu shot and slept five or six hours a night when compared to flu-shot recipients who slept 8 hours.
A proper night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do to arm yourself during the cold and flu season.

Probiotics

Probiotics can lessen cold and flu symptoms by reducing the body’s inflammatory response to respiratory viruses. Rutgers studies found that while people who regularly consumed the probiotics seemed to catch a cold with the same frequency as those who didn’t take probiotics; their symptoms were less severe and the duration of their symptoms significantly shorter. Liquids, powders, capsules, yogurt or other probiotic-rich foods can help keep you healthy.

Check out Dollar Tree for a great deal on probiotics ($1 for 30!)

Don’t hesitate to add fruit, springs of mint, or even frozen grapes to your water

Stay Hydrated

When you think of ways to avoid coming down with the flu, you may not automatically think of a glass of water. But drinking between 8-10 glasses of water each day can help you stay healthy year-round. When our bodies become dehydrated, they draw moisture from the air at a higher rate than usual, and that can pull airborne viruses directly into our body, increasing our chances of getting sick.

Don’t like drinking plain water? Try adding a slice of lemon or cucumber for a refreshing, flu-busting pick-me-up.

It’s no fun being sick, but by taking care of yourself before you get sick, you can make the most out of winter.