Archive for July, 2011

Getting your Bell rung

It was nearing the end of the third quarter of my brother’s basketball game the day after Thanksgiving of his junior year in high school.  He stood his ground and took an offensive charge.  Down he went, sliding a few feet.  After the call was made, he popped right back up and resumed play.  For the remainder of the game he led the team as their point guard.  Running plays, playing tight defense taking command.  Per usual, once the final buzzer went off, he met my parents before going to the locker room to shower and change and then board the bus back to school.  Mom, dad and I got in the car and started driving home.  About twenty minutes into the ride there was a call on the cell phone.  We needed to turn around, the bus was headed to the hospital.

Once my brother got into the locker he was dazed, confused.  He didn’t know where he was and that he had just played a basketball game.  He didn’t know what day it was or that we had celebrated Thanksgiving the day before.  All he knew were the phone numbers to my parents.  He rattled those off without a hitch.  Signs of a concussion were setting in.

Concussions are a major topic in the sports world these days.  Seventy-four former NFL players filed lawsuits against the league saying they concealed information on the dangers of concussions.  The players claim they have problems such as blurred vision, migraines, memory loss, dementia and anxiety to name just a few.

Several NHL hockey players have been blind-sided and sit for much of their season.  In some cases, ending their career.  Soccer, football, ice hockey and boxing have the highest rate of reported concussions.  Concussions don’t always happen on the athletic field.  Snow skiing, bicycling, and play ground activities are common ways to sustain a concussion as well.

taken from the CDC

What is a concussion?  It is a brain injury that:

  • is caused by a bump or blow to the head and/or body
  • can occur in a practice or game of any sport
  • can change the way your brain works
What are the symptoms?
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • dizziness, blurred vision
  • confusion
  • memory loss
  • difficulty paying attention
  • bothered by light or noise
What to do if you think you have a concussion?
  • tell your parents or coaches
  • seek medical attention
  • rest, avoid play
How to prevent concussions:
  • use proper fitting sports equipment
  • practice good sportsmanship
  • follow coaches and safety rules

In all the years I have played sports, I am fortunate to never have a concussion.  Seeing some of my friends and family member that have can be quite frightening.  I encourage you to seek medical help with any sign of a concussion.  It could save your health down the road.

be well-


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Ahhh, Savasana

“If student does not get up from savasana,” says Pattabhi Jois, “or lifting student up (and he/she) is like a stiff board, savasana is correct.”

As I sit in silence and watch how still my students are, I can often tell how deep they have fallen into savasana by the response to the tap of the singing bowl with its padded mallet.  This lets me know that the work they did is well deserved of a peaceful savasana (pronounced sha-vahs-ana), corpse pose.

For those of you unfamiliar to the yoga world, this is typically the final pose of any class.  It looks just like it sounds.  While on your back, find a way to balance the right and left side of the body.  By extending the legs out and arms down along your sides.  Maybe covering the body with a blanket as the body temperature will drop.  Close the eyes as they fall softly into their sockets.

During this time, we allow the body to just be.  While in savasana it feels like we are in a space between effort and sleep.  The breath will have a natural rhythm as the chest rises with every inhale and will fall with every exhale.  Any sort of stress or tension the body is still holding onto may be released through a twitch of energy leaving the body or tears running down our cheeks.  These are normal responses the body has when we have finally surrendered to ourselves and our practice.

As we live in a high-strung society and some students feel the last few moments of class are unnecessary, I strongly encourage you to stay for the entire duration of class, including savasana.

Some of the great benefits to savasana are:

  • can improve concentration and focusing power
  • gives new energy and establishes harmony between body and mind
  • instills calmness and relaxation to those holding to stress and tension
  • helps relieve depression
  • reduces headache/fatigue

Even though you may not have endured a 90 minute power yoga class, we all have the ability to play dead.  Take a few moments out of your day to allow for a short savasana and see how powerful this great pose can be.

be well-

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Express your Savage Beauty

“Some of the most powerful works of art have been produced by older Americans by hands that have engaged in years of  hard work, eyes that have witnessed decades of change, and hearts that have felt a lifetime of emotions. — Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1996

After spending nearly two hours in line to see Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty, I now understand why so many people from around the world have come to visit this exhibit.  The late designer had a story to be told with each piece that was detailed in creativity and craftmanship from wardrobe to shoes to accessories.  “I am not big into fashion, but I appreciate its form of art.”  I said this yesterday afternoon as we were leaving one of the greatest special exhibits I have ever seen at a museum.

Creativity and wellness are linked closely to the human psyche.  Studies show that when we are more creative, we tend to be more alert, physically well and psychologically vital.  There are many ways for us to express creativity.  A few examples are :

  • Get outside and play.  That means take away the competition and just play.
  • Build something with your hands.
  • Attend an art festival.
  • Create music.  Write words.  Paint.
  • Explore something you have never done before; a special class, a food/wine tasting, travel.

From my own experience, I know that when I see art in any form, I am inspired.  There is a light that goes off inside me and this is the little nudge that reminds me that I need to be more creative in my own life.  Writing.  Photography.  Drawing.  And best of all, Imagination.

How do you express your Savage Beauty?

be well-

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Dog Days of Summer

If it were really that simple to just take a dip whenever we felt the sultry sun beating on us.  The old saying Dog Days of Summer generally occur between early July and early September, when it is hottest here in the northern hemisphere.

The following information is taken from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website and explains the topic of extreme heat illnesses:

  1. What happens to the body as a result of exposure to extreme heat?
    People suffer heat-related illness when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs. Several factors affect the body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions that can limit the ability to regulate temperature include old age, youth (age 0-4), obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug use and alcohol use.
  2. Who is at greatest risk for heat-related illness?
    Those at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to four years of age, people 65 years of age and older, people who are overweight, and people who are ill or on certain medications.
  3. What is heat stroke?
    Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
  4. What are the warning signs of a heat stroke?
    Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:
  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  1. What should I do if I see someone with any of the warning signs of heat stroke?
    If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Do the following:
  • Get the victim to a shady area.
  • Cool the victim rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible.
  1. What is heat exhaustion?
    Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, those with high blood pressure, and those working or exercising in a hot environment.
  2. What are the warning signs of heat exhaustion?
    The warning signs of heat exhaustion include the following:
  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

The skin may be cool and moist. The pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. See medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.

  1. What steps can be taken to cool the body during heat exhaustion? 
  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages.
  • Rest.
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
  • Seek an air-conditioned environment.
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  1. What are heat cramps and who is affected?
    Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms – usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs – that may occur in association with strenuous activity. People who sweat a lot during strenuous activity are prone to heat cramps. This sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture. The low salt level in the muscles causes painful cramps. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion. If you have heart problems or are on a low-sodium diet, seek medical attention for heat cramps.
  2. What should I do if I have heat cramps?
    If medical attention is not necessary, take the following steps:
  • Stop all activity and sit quietly in a cool place.
  • Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
  • Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in 1 hour.
  1. What is heat rash?
    Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. It can occur at any age but is most common in young children. Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters. It is more likely to occur on the neck and upper chest, in the groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases.
  2. What is the best treatment for heat rash?
    The best treatment for heat rash is to provide a cooler, less humid environment. Keep the affected area dry. Dusting powder may be used to increase comfort.
  3. Can medications increase the risk of heat-related illness?
    The risk for heat-related illness and death may increase among people using the following drugs: (1) psychotropics, which affect psychic function, behavior, or experience (e.g. haloperidol or chlorpromazine); (2) medications for Parkinson’s disease, because they can inhibit perspiration; (3) tranquilizers such as phenothiazines, butyrophenones, and thiozanthenes; and (4) diuretic medications or “water pills” that affect fluid balance in the body.
  4. How effective are electric fans in preventing heat-related illness?
    Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness. Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness. Consider visiting a shopping mall or public library for a few hours.
  5. How can people protect their health when temperatures are extremely high?
    Remember to keep cool and use common sense. Drink plenty of fluid, replace salts and minerals, wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen, pace yourself, stay cool indoors, schedule outdoor activities carefully, use a buddy system, monitor those at risk, and adjust to the environment.
  6. How much should I drink during hot weather?
    During hot weather you will need to drink more liquid than your thirst indicates. Increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour. Avoid drinks containing alcohol because they will actually cause you to lose more fluid.
  7. Should I take salt tablets during hot weather?

    Do not take salt tablets unless directed by your doctor. Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body. These are necessary for your body and must be replaced. The easiest and safest way to do this is through your diet. Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage when you exercise or work in the heat.
  8. What is the best clothing for hot weather or a heat wave?Wear as little clothing as possible when you are at home. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. In the hot sun, a wide-brimmed hat will provide shade and keep the head cool. If you must go outdoors, be sure to apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going out and continue to reapply according to the package directions. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids. It also causes pain and damages the skin.
  9. What should I do if I work in a hot environment?Pace yourself. If you are not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or at least in the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.

I hope that you are able to take some of this great information with you and be mindful of how your body is feeling when spending any amount of time in the extreme heat.

stay cool and be well-

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This one’s for Kip

When I first started this blog nearly one year ago I asked many of my friends what topics they would like to see.  I was flooded with very creative and practical answers from views on diets and exercise to benefits of breast-feeding, opinions on vaccinations, which sun screen is best and more.  Last week another topic was suggested, “Giving.”  I cannot agree more than the importance of this subject and what better time than now.

Yesterday our nation celebrated its birthday. A few days prior, we lost one of the greatest women our country had the fortune of knowing for the past 85 years, Kip Tiernan.  Many of you from outside the Boston area will not recognize the name.  Others will know her as the founder of Rosie’s Place, the nation’s first shelter for homeless women.  “Every day of her life she lived for social justice, and the lives she saved were untold,’’ Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “She always said that someday we will stamp out homelessness, but until that day we have to make sure everyone understands that a homeless person could be one of us. She was a very special person, and there’s a big hole in our lives today because Kip’s not here. This nation is going to miss Kip Tiernan because of her fight for social justice.’’

We don’t all have to be Kip.  In fact, many of us could not even understand the depth of what she’s done.  That doesn’t matter.  The power of giving is a selfless act.  When doing this with a full heart, there are no expectations of anything in return.

There are many ways to give.  Just a few examples are:

  • offer a hug to someone in need
  • become part of the Big Brother/Sister program
  • teach an illiterate adult how to read
  • hold a clothing drive at your local school
  • collect canned goods for the food bank
  • participate in a walk/race for a charity
  • work the phone banks or walk the beat during election time
  • write a check for a cause you truly believe in
Giving comes from the heart.  Find the Kip in you.
be well-
For more information on Rosie’s Place

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