Yoga Digest is a vibrant community of passionate change-makers. We inspire, educate and connect through a shared desire to create optimal health and well-being for all. Our welcoming platform nurtures independence and growth toward a common goal of awakening to truth, liberation and happiness.
November is not just turkey month—it’s also the month of Movember, when men all over the world grow mustaches and take the Move Challenge to raise awareness for men’s health issues. This makes November the perfect time to educate yourself, schedule a pre–holiday season checkup with your doctor, and maybe start some healthy new habits.
We were able to get Dr. Dudley S. Danoff to share his insight on a common male issue that is on the rise: prostate cancer. Here is what he had to say:
YD: How common is prostate cancer?
DD: Prostate cancer is one of the most serious health problems in the global community. Other than skin cancer, it is the most common malignancy among American men and has touched almost every family. Recently, the rate of prostate cancer caught up to that of lung cancer among men. More than 164,000 cases of prostate cancer will be detected this year in the United States alone. About one in every nine men in the United States will develop the disease during their lifetime.
YD: Can prostate cancer be prevented?
DD: With the prevalence of prostate cancer, it’s understandable to want to ask the question, how can I prevent prostate cancer? The truth is, you cannot actually prevent prostate cancer—not by diet or activity, nor even by picking your parents wisely. We must turn to early diagnosis to beat the deadly potential of this disease. Many patients live long and productive lives with prostate cancer. With a thorough examination, the ability to make a timely diagnosis is nearly 100 percent. If the diagnosis is made early enough to allow the maximum effective treatment, life after prostate cancer surgery or other treatment can be rich and rewarding, allowing a man to be continent, sexually active, and vigorous in all areas of his life. A similar situation exists for other cancers in the genitourinary tract, including testicular cancer.
YD: What advice do you have?
DD: The best course of action is to educate yourself. Patient awareness allows you to assume a proactive and participatory role in the treatment process. Part of educating yourself is getting your yearly PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test and digital rectal examination. Published data has shown that screening using the PSA blood test in conjunction with a standard, digital rectal examination doubles the detection rate of early prostate cancer.
If you are male and over the age of forty, a PSA test and a digital rectal exam are recommended annually. If prostate cancer runs in your family or you’re African American, annual PSA screenings are even more important, as the chance of suffering from aggressive prostate cancer is higher among these groups. If either test is abnormal, consult your urologist immediately. Further testing and evaluation will be required and might include the following:
Your urologist should also review any medical conditions you may have, including hypertension, diabetes, and coronary artery disease. In addition, your lifestyle, sexual activity, anxiety level, and accessibility to a prostate cancer treatment center should be considered before a treatment plan can be determined.
Since widespread PSA testing began in the early to mid-1990s, the ten-year survival rate for prostate cancer has increased from 53 percent to 98 percent. In addition, the death rate from prostate cancer in the United States has decreased by about 40 percent. It’s the perfect time to schedule that PSA—don’t put it off any longer.
Dudley Seth Danoff, MD, FACS, is president and founder of the Cedars-Sinai Tower Urology Group in Los Angeles, a Diplomate of the American Board of Urology, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and the author of two books on men’s health.
The holidays are the busiest time of the year and when you’re working, have kids, school run and other responsibilities you may find yourself neglecting to take care of yourself.
If you find you’re not centered and constantly stressed, you’re far from alone. The hustle and bustle of
every day life can consume you and leave you feeling stressed. It doesn’t have to feel that way, there are small ways that you can add relaxation or mindful techniques to the daily grind. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
1. Try to practice mindful driving in the car during your commute. Take in all the details you can while you’re driving- as long as you don’t zone out. Most people start to zone during regular commutes when they’re used to driving a particular route so try to really focus. If you have to, turn off the radio and listen to the sounds of the road. After practicing for a few weeks, you’ll start to get used to it. Buy a meditation audio book to play during your commute. Find one specifically for driving and tune in. Focus your mind on a mantra and relax and focus on the road.
2. Wake up 30 minutes early, sit up in bed, close your eyes and focus your energies on waking up. Make sure you don’t fall back and focus your mind on waking up. Open the curtain and watch the sunrise, take in the scenes and repeat your mantra.
3. Sneak small workouts into your morning routine. At work, park a little further away to get some extra steps in or stand up from your desk to stretch and do a position or two after you finish a task. Take a walk around the office during your lunch break. Pack a lunch that you can eat on the go and walk while eating.
4. Do a few simple poses, lunges or squats in the shower. Spend your shower focusing on everything- the sound of the water, the feeling of the water on your back, the smell of the shampoo and repeat your mantra while rinsing your hair.
5. Meditate yourself to sleep. Before you go to bed, drink a cup of peppermint herbal tea and read a relaxing book or take an aromatherapy bath then as you lay in bed, repeat your mantra as you close your eyes. Clear your mind and start counting your breaths.
6. Practice deep breathing and mindfulness while at the checkout. Standing in line annoys a lot of people, but you can use this opportunity to practice a little meditation. Come up with a mantra to help take your mind off the wait and repeat it while standing in line. There are a lot of little ways you can work on adding some extra exercise and meditation into a stressed/packed day- just look for the little opportunities to start. Once you have got the routine down, after a few weeks you’ll find it will start to come naturally and before long you’ll be at greater peace.
Athletes get hurt from time to time—that’s just one of the risks of any sport. Injuries can sideline anyone from a promising young prospect to a seasoned pro, and there can also be unintended consequences of injury, including addiction to painkillers. Even over-the-counter medications can cause problems like high blood pressure and kidney damage.
To avoid injury whenever possible and to cope with it when it does occur, athletes need to take preventative measures and learn how to cope with pain using natural methods. One practice that can help with both injury prevention and pain management is yoga—a popular activity among athletes that has many benefits.
Yoga, especially when paired with meditation, can help athletes improve their well-being and may even reduce chronic pain, blood pressure, and fight off mental illness. Here are 4 great ways yoga and meditation can benefit athletes who are concerned about injuries or pain management.
1. Create More Flexibility and Ease
Obviously, preventing injury is the best-case scenario for athletes. Many athletes don’t cross train, however, and become injured when they must move their bodies in unfamiliar ways. Yoga is a great way for athletes to increase their flexibility, strength, and ease.
Yoga poses train a wide range of different muscles, making them more flexible. This flexibility means that even areas of the body that aren’t directly trained for the athlete’s sport are prepared for unexpected movement. That can help prevent injury from occurring in a wide range of situations, which is why it’s a good idea for all athletes to practice yoga regularly, even if they aren’t recovering from an injury.
2. Breathing Reduces Inflammation and Stress in the Body
We’re a nation of stress, with most people constantly on the go. Meditation and yoga focus on being present and breathing fully and deeply. The breath patterns help restore the body to a peaceful state and can relax the parasympathetic system. Yoga and meditation can help to decrease inflammation in the body and help athletes feel more at ease. Improving one’s well-being can help athletes recover faster and more fully from an injury.
3. Improve How Athletes Cope
Because they are injured so often, athletes are more likely to need painkillers than the average person. These are extremely addictive, and an athlete who uses painkillers, especially opioids, may continue to use the pills after the pain is gone. As a nation, we are in the midst of an opioid crisis, with an estimated 2 million Americans dealing with an opioid abuse problem. Around 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016. Once someone starts using opioids, they need progressively higher doses to get the same effects, which can ultimately lead to an overdose.
Instead of relying on these highly addictive painkillers, athletes need resources to help them cope with pain when healing from an injury. Yoga can be part of both the prevention and rehabilitation from injury. Natural alternatives are available, and can help athletes avoid the possibility of addiction from prescription painkillers.
4. Creates Body Awareness
Sometimes, injuries occur when athletes do not have enough awareness and connection to their bodies. They may push their bodies too far, causing anything from a hamstring pull to neck strain. Regular yoga practice helps athletes to understand their bodies and what they’re capable of. Yoga helps players to take care of their bodies and monitor how different muscles and joints feel on a regular basis. Body awareness can help athletes prevent injuries and ensure that they are able to continue playing far into the future, without abusing their bodies.
Every Athlete Should Add Yoga and Meditation
Becoming more centered, flexible, and strong helps in any sport. All athletes should consider adding yoga and meditation to their training regimen at least a couple of times a week. Not only can these activities help to improve performance, but they can also keep athletes on the field. No one wants to take a forced break because of an injury—and maintaining flexibility can mean the difference between healthy playing and sitting on the bench.
As the sun starts to set faster and fold into cooler nights, we begin to see the trees, once working hard to acquire energy from the sun, release and let go of their leaves. Autumn is definitely a time for taking in and letting go.
So too is our internal nature. We may find ourselves appreciating our hard efforts and passionate pursuits, even enjoying the fruits of our labor, as we move towards more of a harvesting time of year.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient practice that supports health and wellness, and believes in harmony between the opposing complementary forces of yin and yang. TCM also believes that the human body is a microcosm of the expansive universe around us. The five elements that appear in nature (fire, earth, wood, metal and water) also appear within us and represent all manners of life and explain the function of the body and how it changes during dis-ease. In TCM, disease is a result of an imbalance between yin and yang, and fluctuation of energy within the five elements. This vital energy that flows through the body is known as qi (CHI) and performs multiple functions in the body and helps maintain health.
Each season corresponds with an element, just as we have different seasons in our own lives. This time of year is defined by the metal element and the meridians of lung and large intestine. This is a time to literally draw in a breath of fresh air — called “grasping the qi of the heavens” — and find inspiration in our daily living, create healthy boundaries and firm schedules for meet our need for routine and ritual.
When the energy movement through the meridians of the lung and large intestine is imbalanced, we might be especially rigid or stuck to a particular way of doing things. We might be socially cut off or extremely judgmental of others and their decisions. And you might be seen as a perfectionist or a rather dogmatic individual. Of course, there is the extreme imbalance — where one is sloppy with their work and places very little value in their work. We might find ourselves sick often, struggling with upper respiratory issues, allergies and just an overall poor immune system.
Here are seven ways to improve the energy in your metal element using yoga asana and other practices:
1.) Breath work: Laying on your back, place your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your chest. Breathe into your belly, feeling the right hand rise and then spilling over into the left hand. Exhale from the left hand and then the right hand at the belly. If you are used to another way, do what feels comfortable and be consistent. Breathe for 2-4 minutes.
2.) Supine pec roll: using a yoga blanket, roll your blanket long ways and then lay over the blanket, matching your spine over the yoga blanket. You can use a second blanket at the neck to support your cervical spine. Allow your arms to open out to cactus arms even overhead holding your elbows. Relax for 5 minutes.
3.) Cat pulling its tail: Lay on your right side. Scissor your legs with your left leg forward and your right leg back. Sweep open your left arm and reach back and grab your bent right leg around the ankle. If available, grab your left foot with your right hand. Slowly lower your left shoulder to the mat. Hold for 2-4 minutes. Switch sides.
4.) Reverse tabletop: Sitting upright, place your hands behind you and plant your feet hip distance apart, knees bent. Push through the hands and puff the chest, bringing the shoulder blades onto the back. Gently lift the hips into the letter “M” or higher into a reverse tabletop. Hold for 5-7 breaths.
5.) Supine gomukhasana arms: Lying on your back, take your right hand behind your head, holding the nape of the neck or even placing your hand palm up between the shoulder blades. Roll to your right, tucking the left arm behind you at the lower back or as high as the shoulder blades, palm facing down. Feel free to bind if it is comfortable. Roll back to your back and relax over your hands. Relax for 2 minutes. Repeat on the other side.
Contemplate something bigger than yourself: Get outside and seek inspiration from the natural world. Balance your daily routine of the mundane with some moments of walking in nature appreciating the bigger picture.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Respect YOURSELF! Let go of your imperfections, let go of the things that no longer serve you, and focus on a life without regrets or complaints. This will require working to accept fear and vulnerability. Be bold, be brave! People with integrity live with curiosity and courage over comfort and complacency. Create a mantra or positive affirmation and practice reading it in the mirror daily.
These are just a few steps to help you balance your qi this fall, to see your own fantastic value, and to encourage you to hold on to the things you need and let go of the rest.
The butterfly effect is a phenomenon which has evolved from the Chaos Theory. In metaphorical language, it means that a small change can give rise to a big tidal wave. That a simple movement like that of a flapping of a wing by a butterfly gives wind to a hurricane somewhere else.
That rippling or butterfly effect “refers to the fact that each of us creates, often without our conscious intent or knowledge, concentric circles of influence that may affect others for years, even generations. That is, the effect we have on other people is in turn passed on to others, much as the ripples in a pond go on and on until they’re no longer visible but continuing at a nano level.” Can you imagine “the idea that we can leave something of ourselves beyond our knowing offers a potent answer to those who claim that meaninglessness inevitably flows from one’s infiniteness?”
We are all role models for one another and how we behave moment by moment sometimes powerfully influences the behavior of other people around us, especially other people who actively look to us for knowledge.
WHY DO SOCIETIES CHANGE?
The answer, of course, is that people within it change. We have a long way to go before we can say we’ve achieved a truly just and humane society anywhere on planet Earth. But fortunately, we also each, therefore, have ample opportunity to leave meaningful parts of ourselves behind that can continue to exert positive effects. None of us should think that by focusing on raising our children well or being kind to those immediately around us that we’re only affecting our children or those immediately around us.
The problem is that our influence is so difficult to measure. Only rarely do we get feedback from others about how meaningfully we’ve influenced their lives for the better. And even less often how they then may have gone on, as a direct result of our influence, to influence the lives of others. But there’s little doubt this effect is real.
Not only that, the small kind word you leave with a stranger who you’ll never see again may not just spread out like ripples on a pond but may strike with the force of a tidal wave. We just never know. Sometimes the message our behavior imparts goes out to someone particularly receptive at that moment to being influenced by it. But even if the messages our behaviors send reach ears at the volume of a whisper, our influence never ends with only the person in front of us. Through the conduit they and others behind them with whom they interact represent, we all have the potential to contribute to shaping the future of our world. “The fight for world peace goes on with or without you. The question is, what kind of contribution do you want to make to it?”
Spread the Light
In our yoga teachings we learn from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra that the only person you can change is yourself; your practice is to create change from within by clearing your mind, connecting with your true self, and acting from a place of wisdom. But the beauty of this seemingly “selfish” practice is that when you do your inner work, others around you, particularly those you are closest to, experience the positive effects of your work firsthand. Our loved ones are often inspired by the positive changes they see in us to start their own yoga practice. As you continue with your practice, you can inspire others on the path of yoga, creating a community of support and encouragement. What better way to create positive change in the world than through your own quiet and powerful example?
The Four Principles of Peace:
1 – Community – We come-in-unity, acknowledging we are in this together.
2 – Cooperation – Find common ground and work together.
3 – Non-Violence – Respect for life, do no harm.
4 – Witness – Peace is a living presence within all of us.
“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” ~Mitch Albom
Just an everyday overachieving, hypervigilent, perfectionist, striving for success, kinda girl. Two educations and two careers. Interior Design and NASM Personal Trainer.
You say, “I’m successful and a great mom,” even though my mind and body scream otherwise without your knowing.
No biggy. That’s what we all do, right?!
Then my world came to a screeching halt when I was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive stage 3 triple negative breast cancer. Say WHAT?! This girl eats salads everyday, bans fast food, and won’t touch a soda! WHY!?
My journey through this mess quickly began with conventional treatment such as port placement, double mastectomy and onward to chemotherapy (but not without a fierce fight to run from chemo treatment for 6 months)…After my second round of the chemotherapy (that the cancer wasn’t even receptive to), I quickly became very discouraged, depleted in spirit, and progressively closer to death. Something had to change!
It was time to evaluate why my life was not working in my favor, much less my treatment plan. I made a promise to myself that I would come out on the other side of this cancer better and healthier than I was before. I refused to let myself or my loved ones down with this promise.
Massive research, self discovery, and purging ensued.
Little did I know that I was birthing a personal healing protocol that not only would rid me of my cancer, but every affliction I had ever been diagnosed with. Gone!
“What did you do”, you ask? Well, A LOT! But, one major game-changer was my yoga practice. That “Yoga” that I reluctantly “bought into” in 2006 when heart surgery was on my agenda and intense workouts were nixed, per doctors orders. However, after beginning my practice 12 years ago, I thought it was frivolous that I ever doubted it’s benefits. But, did I really get it?
So, when a girl that now had limited range of motion from being cut open like a deer, that struggled to breathe correctly from punctured and fluid filled lungs, had new “body parts” and a traumatized mind, showed up on the mat in such broken vulnerability and determination for healing and answers-
…a new student, lessons and epiphanies arrived.
This time around, “I just did THAT,” became a post-practice response, with disciplined urges to journal my euphoric awareness and stature, after EVERY practice! What the heck is going on with this yoga stuff? Something profound was truly shifting in my body, in my mind. I overcame my inability to breathe correctly, my inability to even lie on my back, on the floor, without pain. My range of motion came back and so did the peace in my spirit. An incredible balance of mind and body started to become attainable, even routine.
So, I committed myself to the philosophy and teachings of this ancient practice, and little did I (previously) know, that yoga was not just a physical practice to give me a playground for my dance and gymnastic roots in festive pants anymore. It was really about going inside myself, not outside of myself. Myself actually paying attention to my breath and my thoughts with unbiased expectations and then letting my body flow with its ever changing rhythm on the daily. A new dance in life formed! Who knew that peeling back these layers would create a breeding ground for such major healing and space for life-giving qualities to take its place.
This, now, not so everyday girl, has hung up her interior design hat and societal ways so that I may serve you through life’s adversities, as a teacher and facilitator, with this beautiful practice and approach.
See you on the mat!