Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Topsy Turvy

Currently, I am thinking of a third incarnation for the title for my blog. The blog was originally called "Eat Your Ego" followed by its current title. However, I've lately been searching for something different. Recently, I've been toying with a variation of "Through the Looking Glass". "Through the Wine Glass" and "Through the Mason Jar" have been contenders but seem to miss encompassing the theme of healthy eating. Essentially, when we look at what food and beauty products (the good and the bad) do to our bodies we can sometimes encounter Alice's Wonderland in which, "everything [is] what it isn't and contrarily-wise what it [isn't] it [is]," to use some poetic licensing. So I'm looking for a title to encapsulate the magical and microscopic world of our bodies which we often need a looking/magnifying glass to view. But for now, since this post is actually about spending time upside-down, I'll settle on a subtitle rather than a main one.

Sooner or later, we all fall through the rabbit hole.

When I was in college, my professor had a map that seemed to be upside down, much like Alice sees when she falls through the rabbit hole. I never asked her about it but I was curious, thinking it was a misprinted map that she got for free (poor teachers, you know). However, one day, she pointed to the fact that the map was printed from the perspective of someone living in Australia and it kind of blew my mind. Such is what happens when we see things from a new perspective. Our minds often need time to adjust but when they do, we're able to see things in a completely new light. Indeed, when I was attending the same college, I read a book by a Zen practitioner (maybe Jon Kabat Zinn) who stated that seeing things differently often exercises our minds, breaking the old habits of seeing what we expect and exposing us to something our brains have to freshly comprehend. His advice did not take on Herculean tone. Essentially, he suggested one sit in a place they normally didn't sit, take a new route to work or pack something different for lunch: little things that could add up to a large change. This same philosophy was encountered in a yoga class taken yesterday which helped us view things from a completely new perspective: upside-down.

Map from an Australian perspective.

Currently, I am at a yoga retreat in Mexico, where we do some yoga and some workshops. The workshop yesterday was on back-bends which our instructor told us, "releases tension from the spine." Apparently, a lot of emotion can be stored in the spine which can come up and thus, be released when it is stretched. Additionally, when we stretch our spines through traditional back-bends (think of the bridges you did in gymnastics growing up or, if you were extra-lucky, in gym class) we view the world upside down and through a new perspective, allowing us to form new neural pathways, according to Zahra Vaezi of Arlington Bikram Yoga. To this extent, back-bends can serve the dual purpose of healing both our bodies and minds. Indeed, Zahra noted that patients with Alzheimer's are sometimes asked to walk barefoot in order to encounter new sensations which, in turn, can also help them develop new neural pathways. To receive such benefits through a back-bend, simply lay on your back (in comfortable clothing). Bring your arms up and place your palms on the floor next to your ears. Place your feet on the floor and, using your arm strength, push your body up so only your palms and feet remain planted. Hold each back-bend for several seconds and repeat if desired. This pose will help strengthen and stretch your spine while releasing tension and giving you a new perspective... much like Alice receives as she delves into her wonderland. Enjoy!

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