Dehydrated Food, Alpha Music & The Eastern Arts

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Dolly asks:

I always hear how you need to exercise before stretching. My routine is at the end of my workout. However, what about days I’m not going to exercise? Would I be well off to do some stretches anyway, or skip them if I’m not exercising beforehand?

Okay, Dolly, this is a great question. A lot of people get confused. What people call stretches is often really warm-ups, so like before you go for a run, before you do some kind of physical activity, what you see people doing in the park. That’s really warm-ups or even cool downs. Stretching, in terms of the way that we talk about stretching, is really for flexibility sake, and you do want to do that after exercises. So, deep stretching practices always after exercise.

Now, if you’re not doing any kind of exercise that day, for sure, do deep stretches. Do warm-ups, too, if you like, but deep stretches should be done after exercise, and warm-ups are just a different thing. They’re moving your joints through the full range of motion, flexing all your muscles, getting your body engaged and ready for exercise. So I hope that’s helpful.

Kalpesh asks:

I found in one of your articles the word “Alpha music,” and I learned about that but it’s difficult as there are so many different alpha musics. Can you suggest to me the name of any website where I can go to get good, soft and simple Alpha music?

Okay, this is an interesting question. I got really into frequency-following music and binaural beats, probably about four years ago, and I was using them a lot. And if you’re not familiar with that, your brain has different states that it’s in, waking states and sleeping states, and you move from different states at different times of the day and in different meditation and peaceful and sleeping and waking states.

And there’s music out there called binaural beats, and there’s also frequency-following beats, and it’s really interesting technology. It’s been around since the 1970s, maybe even earlier than that, but really heavily used since about the 1990s. There’s a lot of really interesting tracks out there, and what will happen is, you’ll play these binaural beats and it helps to put you in a very relaxed state, like in Alpha state, which is more of a meditative state. And so, in the same way that you can do that through meditation, through yoga or through breathing, you can reverse engineer it and use sounds to put you in that state.

I have mixed feelings about this. Sometimes I’m really into it, other times I’m not in to it. At the moment, I’m not using it much, but during certain periods of my life I’ve been really excited about it and I thought it was a really great tool to use before bed especially.

In terms of where you can find it, there’s lots of different places. We’re actually developing a line of meditation music using frequency-following and binaural beats. But for now, what I would do is go to Amazon and search in Amazon search, Alpha music or binaural beats or frequency-following response and you’ll find out quite a few different tracks. There’s none that I could really recommend.

The one that I used, I’m not going to recommend to you because it was just so expensive. It was about $1,500, which is absolutely ridiculous, and so I can’t recommend that one, but there are quite a few available pretty inexpensive. You can also find them at new age bookstores, alternative bookstores and even mainstream bookstores you’ll find meditation music, and what you’re looking for, again, are those binaural beats or frequency-following beats.

And what it does, is it affects your brainwaves by specific frequencies of sound. Anyway, we’ll be talking more about that. Thanks for the question. I appreciate the reminder. We’ve had that project in the works for a while. Hopefully we’ll revisit it soon.

Kaiesha asks:

If I start off with two pills of YOGABODY Stretch a day, how do I move up to 6 a day? Do I exercise more, stretch more, what do I do?

Kaiesha, the first thing is that everybody’s different. If you’re taking two capsules of Stretch per day and you’re feeling great, that’s great. You don’t need to worry about it. Certain people respond to things differently, so there’s periods where I’ve taken 6 to 8 of YOGABODY Stretch, if I’m injured, and there’s other times when I might just take 2 a day as well.

So don’t worry about the quantity. Worry more about how you’re feeling. It’s not about trying to get up to take tons and tons and tons of supplements, that’s not really the idea. You just want to find out what balances your body. So for most people, it’s 4 capsules a day, for some people 4 to 6, but figure out what works for you, but don’t worry about trying to take more. That’s not going to be beneficial, unless it is beneficial, unless it’s working for you.

Durai asks:

What are the poses that would help to strengthen my wrist or hand? Poses like Mayurasana or any other poses that needs me to balance on my hand requires a lot of wrist strength, so I’m hoping you can help me out on this.

Mayurasana is a real tricky pose. Your hands flip backwards and you balance kind of on your wrists and forearms, with your body out long. Maybe I’ll try to post a link to a photo in here. In any case, that is a really challenging pose for your wrists for sure, Durai.

And in terms of strengthening your wrists, it’s two parts, strength and flexibility, and it takes a bit of time. It’s not something you can rush. We teach a pose called Pins and Needles in the Gravity Yoga Series that’s really great. We also teach a pose called Reverse Down Dog, which is very intense, but that’s exactly the pose you want to be doing, is that Reverse Down Dog. Just be very careful. Never push in those poses, because you can really do some damage to your wrists.

You’ll find that your wrists will open up and they’ll strengthen quickly, but quickly is like 6 weeks, 8 weeks, so do take your time, but take a look at that Pins and Needles Pose. Take a look at Reverse Dog Pose that we teach.

Liron asks:

As a martial arts enthusiast, I’m well aware of the need to actively balance your body, and the yin/yang philosophy is a great way of approaching that. I would love for you to expand upon this subject, if you can. I have severely limited range of motion, due to weight lifting. Also, if you could specifically speak of the benefits of Tai Chi or possible yoga-Tai Chi hybrids.

So, the first thing that I’ll say is that all of us are always trying to move towards balance in any kind of Eastern art, whether it’s Tai Chi, whether it’s yoga, even most of the martial arts. Some of the mixed martial arts these days are much more yang and they’re very much about strength, and it’s more similar to boxing than Kung Fu or something like this.

But originally, all the Eastern arts are really moving towards balance. These days, we all tend to be out of balance, and the reality is, we’ll never become perfectly balanced. We’re always bouncing one way or the other. We’re too active or too passive, and that’s okay. The goal is just to move towards balance, and the best way to do that is to really force yourself to do it.

So, if you’re doing martial arts and you’re doing really strong practices, like if you’re doing strength training it sounds like, Liron, you’re doing resistance training. You need to make sure that at least 25 percent of the time you spend doing strength training, so if you’re working out in a gym, take at least 15 minutes of your hour to do deep stretches, deep, deep, long-hold gravity pose stretches to try and balance that out.

The other things you can try to do are lifestyle things and activity thigns and mix up your training a bit so that it’s not all yang. And if you do mostly yang practices, it’s not necessarily bad for your health but it’s bad for your balance and what can happen is, you just develop muscular imbalances. You tend to be more injury-prone and long term it can be really challenging.

In terms of Tai Chi and yoga Tai Chi hybrids, I can’t say enough good things about all the Eastern arts, and anything that works for you is great. Even new Western practices that have popped up, hybrids of hybrids of hybrids. Anything that really integrates your mind and body, whether it’s a meditation, moving meditation, mind/body physical practice, anything that does that I’m 100 percent in support of, so whatever works.

Henry asks:

What happens if you do all the stretching exercises but you eat all types of food with meat? Will you still stay fit and in shape?

Henry, meat is not your primary enemy when it comes to flexibility. The real curse of flexibility is dairy and grains, specifically wheat. Wheat is like glue in your body. It’s really inflammatory and has all kinds of digestive issues, and dairy is the same. It’s really mucus-forming and not the best for flexibility. If you eat all types of foods, well, if you’re eating all types of great foods you’ll do just fine. If you’re eating lots of junk and processed foods and you’re dehydrated and you have neurotoxins and all these other kinds of things, then it’s not that big – you’re going to feel it for sure. If you eat a clean diet, you’ll feel it in your practice right away. Your practice really holds up a mirror to your eating habits very, very fast.

Again, meat is not the enemy, and lots of people can become flexible eating meat. For a number of interesting reasons, advanced yoga students tend to stop eating meat, but that does not necessarily – it’s not required. If you’re eating high-quality meats and you’re skipping the dairy and skipping the grains, you can still become quite flexible, and I don’t think you’ll find it a hindrance to your practice at all.

Frank asks:

Do you use a food Dehydrator? And if you do, which one do you recommend?

Frank, I used to dehydrate like crazy. Back in my raw food days, when I was teaching and touring around doing raw food, we would use what’s called an Excalibur Dehydrator. It’s a big box. It’s probably about 12 inches tall and maybe 24 inches deep, and it has four different trays in it. I personally now hate dehydrators. When you become a raw foodist, you get really excited about the dehydrator and you start making all kinds of dehydrated snacks and goodies and you can make food taste really great.

What I found really quickly though, after just a few months of getting into the raw food scene, is that all real raw foodists, they hate the dehydrator. And what happens is, it just becomes this place where bacteria grows and all your sugars get concentrated and it gives you an upset stomach.

The only thing I really like dehydrators for are things like soaking almonds and then drying them again. They get nice and crunchy, but they’re still raw. If I make almond milk, I like to dehydrate the almond pulp. You can use that almond flour for a lot of different things. I loved to use a dehydrator to dry herbs. I loved to use a dehydrator to dry greens or to dry vegetables. But for most of the stuff people use dehydrators for, like fruits and raw cookies and all this kind of stuff, honestly, those things, they’re really tasty but they really do a number on your stomach, because after you dehydrate something for 24 hours, it’s got all kinds of bacteria in it. And ultimately, one of the greatest things about live foods is their water content.

But yeah, if you’re going to get one, and it’s great to have one. I don’t have one now, but I’ve had many over my lifetime. I’ve had the circular ones as well, the cheap ones you’ll get in the store, those aren’t so great, but the Excalibur, it’s a couple hundred bucks but it’s worth it. And, yeah, for making nut flours, for drying nuts and seeds, for drying herbs, for drying vegetables, they are really handy to have. And the Excalibur is the one that I’d recommend. Hope that’s useful for you.