This Is The Exact Number Of Minutes You Need To Read For Better Brain Health

Optimizing your brain health is no one-and-done venture. As many experts will tell you, it takes everyday interventions and a balanced, holistic approach to stay sharp throughout the years—everything from food to exercise to hydration can enhance your mental game.
Neuroscientist and author of Biohack Your Brain Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D., would agree: “Very simple lifestyle changes, if practiced consistently, will support your brain health for a lifetime,” she says. One of those simple changes? Burying your nose in a book for at least 15 minutes per day.

Click on the link below to learn how poring over pages can better your brain.


New Research Says Coffee Can’t Actually Make Up For Poor Sleep

How many of us have reached for that large coffee after a night of poor sleep? It’s not uncommon, but it also might not be all that helpful for getting us back on track, according to new research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition.

When we’re not getting enough sleep (i.e., quantity and quality), it can take a major toll on our cognitive abilities, making it more challenging to go about our day. Since coffee and other caffeinated beverages are often used to bolster us when we’re tired, researchers from Michigan State University wanted to know just how well caffeine actually counteracts inadequate sleep duration.

Click on the link below to learn what the study found. If you are struggling with sleep you might want to try out our Yoga Nidra classes or Restorative Yoga classes to help you de-stress and relax.


Acupuncture May Help You Have the Absolute Best Sleep of Your Life

If being prodded with needles is your worst nightmare, you’re not alone—but here’s a plot twist you might not have expected: Using acupuncture for sleep may actually offer super-relaxing benefits that lead to dreamy nights, and even a nap mid-acupuncture session.

Click on the link below to find out more about how applying acupuncture to specific pressure points allows your body to heal and self-regulate, and offer sleep-inducing effects.


The Latest on Lyme Disease

In Northern Virginia, we all know someone who has had, or is currently dealing with, Lyme disease. Even though Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne infectious disease in the US, we have a long way to go to figure out how to prevent it and how to deal with its long-term consequences. We don’t know why a chronic condition persists in some people despite treatment. Patient activists have contributed greatly to the current understanding of Lyme disease: They have lobbied, protested, written, and funded research, pushing the medical establishment to recognize the full extent of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). They’ve also pushed insurance companies to pay for extended treatments and have supported research on better diagnostic tests and treatments.

Click on the link below to find out more about preventions, treatments and new research on this disease.


7 Chair Yoga Stretches That Are Perfect For A Midday Movement Break

Chair yoga is a general term for practices that modify yoga poses so they can be done while seated in a chair. This practice makes it accessible for anyone who isn’t able to move through standing and supine yoga postures or who has challenges with balance. Chair yoga stretches are also ideal as a midday movement break, particularly for people who work at a desk all day long.

Click on the link below for some ideas to help you bend, twist, fold, and roll out any pent-up tension in your body. 


7 Ways to Appreciate the Natural World

One of the ways we can most deeply experience and tune in to nature is by gardening—spending intentional time to nourish the natural world. When we garden, we feel the tactile qualities of the greenery and the dirt, and get a close-up view of the insects, petal patterns, and other tiny details we’d usually skim over. And if you don’t have a garden, all it takes to zoom in to nature is to bring that same kind of intentionality to observing. Nature is abundant with nourishment, and even some surprises, if only we take our time and open our awareness to what it has to offer.

Click on the link below for some tips on how to best appreciate the nature around you.


How to Be Happy

Happiness looks different for everyone. For you, maybe it’s being at peace with who you are. Or having a secure network of friends who accept you unconditionally. Or the freedom to pursue your deepest dreams. Regardless of your version of true happiness, living a happier, more satisfied life is within reach.

Click on the link below for some suggested tweaks to your regular habits that can help you find more joy in your life and cultivate ongoing happiness – who couldn’t do with a bit of that?!


The Protective Power of Purple Berries

One of the first senses that come into play when eating is your vision. Your eyes stimulate your salivary glands, and your gastrointestinal tract is triggered. Color can help you eat healthier, control the amount of food you eat and generally feel healthy — and blue is an important color to have on your plate. For higher nutrient and antioxidant power, choose foods with a darker color. The antioxidant power provided by blue and purple foods comes from the presence of two main chemical compounds: anthocyanins and betacyanines.

Research hasn’t uncovered every aspect of what makes these berries so advantageous to our cognitive health, but we have discovered that improvements in the brain can occur rather quickly by simply adding them to a healthy diet. Purple berries are one of the easiest and most delicious ways to:

💙 Improve problem-solving, learning, and memory
💙 Highly neuroprotective and antiaging
💙 Help with fluidity of thought
💙 Improve coordination and balance
💙 Increase alertness and focus
💙 Enhance potential for neurogenesis

To discover more about this special class of superfoods click on the link below and read about the protective power of purple berries and how they can improve brain and overall health.


9 Tips for Meditating When You Are an Over-Thinker

Does this sound familiar? “Although I’m a long-time meditator, I continually struggle to truly turn off my head. Enter my ‘monkey mind,’ the intrusive, restless thoughts that derail me from finding mental calm.”

Although the idea of quieting the mind and blissing out in meditation sounds wonderfully rejuvenating, actually achieving a meditative state can be an uphill battle for those of us with overactive thoughts.

If your mind goes a mile a minute, these meditation tips are for you. Click on the link below and get some tips meditation when you’re an over-thinker!


Yogetsu Akasaka – The Beatboxing Monk

While many Buddhist monks take a vow of silence as part of their practice, one monk named Yogetsu Akasaka is combining beatboxing beats with traditional Buddhist sutras. The Tokyo-based Buddhist monk creates music for meditation, but his songs aren’t like the instrumental tracks you may have heard before! He says his goal is to make music for less anxiety and to help reduce suffering.

Whether you’re looking for tracks to help you shift into deep focus, elevate your sense of mindfulness or make you drift peacefully off to sleep, there’s a wide variety of mixes on his YouTube channel. Click on the link below and check out some of his amazing meditation music.


What to Eat Before and After Yoga

So what foods should you be eating before and after rolling out your yoga mat? Yoga is all about learning to get your mind and body in balance—about finding inner peace and stability. If you follow that logic, it seems that eating mindfully and healthfully should actually be a huge component of yoga.

Click on the link below to learn how to stop eating mindlessly—and instead to eat mindfully— for your best yoga practice ever.


Keep Clear this Spring and Beat Allergies with Ayurveda

Spring is a time for rebirth, renewal, sunshine, dewdrops, and the promise of sunny days. It can also be a time of intense allergies, congestion, and sluggishness.

During winter we sleep more, eat heavier foods, and take time to snuggle in for some alone time. In the spring we want to begin to balance this out by eating lighter and drier foods, waking earlier as the sun rises earlier, and beginning to spread our social wings.

According to Ayurvedic principles, allergies stem from all the Kapha we accumulate over the winter accumulating in our body. We need the Kapha accumulation in the winter to keep us warm, hydrated, and nourished. In the spring, this accumulation can lead to colds, allergies, and a general feeling of sluggishness.

Click on the link to discover what Radiance Yoga instructor and Ayurveda and Holistic Health Counselor Angelina Fox recommends to prevent allergies from starting this spring.


A Neuroscientist’s Go-to Nutrients and their Sources for Brain Health

The brain is constantly undergoing neuroplasticity, meaning it’s growing and changing throughout our lifetime. One way to support that process and enhance memory function is by eating functional foods says neuroscientist and neurodegenerative disease researcher Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D.

Click on the link below to find out her go-to nutrients and food sources for a sharper brain.


Why the Okinawan Practice of Sitting on the Floor is Linked to Health, Mobility and Longevity

Are you sitting while you read this post? Where are you sitting? On an office chair, or on your squishy sofa?

Okinawa, Japan is one of the 5 blue zones where people live exceptionally long and healthy lives and is home to the world’s longest-lived women. In Okinawa, people traditionally sit on the floor to read, eat, talk, and relax instead of sitting in chairs. Okinawan centenarians sit and get up from the floor dozens or hundreds of times per day. This exercises their legs, back, and core in a natural way as they get up and down all day long. Sitting on the floor also improves posture and increases overall strength, flexibility, and mobility. Studies correlate the ability to sit and rise from the floor without support with a longer life expectancy. Sitting on the floor also develops musculoskeletal fitness.

Click on the link below to find out why sitting on the floor is linked to health, mobility, and longevity, and how you can practice it at home.


How Much Water Should You Really Be Drinking?

Quick! How much water should you drink in a day? If you instantly thought of the eight-by-eight rule (or eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day), you’re not alone.
However, according to Dana Cohen, M.D., integrative medicine physician and co-author of Quench, it’s time we take a closer look at the pervasive gold standard. “Eight glasses of water a day—it comes from nowhere,” she says. Because let’s be honest: How can two people with completely different body types, environments, and lifestyles require the same amount of water? “It doesn’t make any sense,” she adds.

Click on the link below to find out how to edit your water goals based on your body and lifestyle.


Discover the Benefits of Forest Bathing

The practice of shinrin-yoku is based on walking through the forest at a gentle pace for two hours or more. Keeping your phone switched off allows time to soak up the environment around you and come into the here and now. The phrase shikan-shouyou means “nothing but wandering along,” something we rarely get a chance to do but that is very beneficial.

How to make your next nature walk even healthier for the body and mind:
Focus on your feet as they come into contact with the ground. Sense how every muscle in your body works together as you take one step followed by another. Become an observer of your thoughts. Acknowledge them and allow them to move on as you settle into the rhythm of walking. Take note of:

🌳 Which muscles engage as you lift up one foot from the ground in order to take another step?
🌳 Which part of your feet touches the ground first?
🌳 How do your arms synchronize with your legs?
🌳 How do you feel as you walk? Are there any aches and pains or sore areas? Imagine yourself breathing into these areas, and imagine the pain easing away.
🌳 How do you feel emotionally? Are you feeling happy, or do you have anxious thoughts going around your busy mind?

See how quietly you can walk so that you can notice as many of the details around you as possible.

Read more from Yoshifumi Miyazaki, a forest bathing researcher, about how to boost the health benefits of your next nature walk by clicking on the link below.


One Word: Uttanasana!

Forward folds (uttanasana) are an essential yoga posture that show up in nearly every yoga class—and for good reason. It’s an excellent stretch, as well as an inversion, and according to Tara Swart, Ph.D., neuroscientist and author of The Source, a nice, drawn-out forward fold may be just the thing we’re missing in our regular movement routine. Here’s how to properly do it, plus why it’s so beneficial.

🧡 Start by standing in mountain pose, with your hands either at heart center or on your hips. Inhale.
🧡 On your exhale, begin to hinge forward from the hips with a straight spine, as if you could lengthen your chest outward. If you wish, you can bend the knees, allowing your stomach to come to the top of your thighs.
🧡 When you’ve gone as far down as you can go, allow the head to hang heavy, grabbing opposite elbows with opposite hands. Thighs are turned slightly inward.
🧡 Begin to shift the weight into the heels, as you tilt the hips upward and straighten out your legs (without locking the knees). Keep exercising the motion of sending your hips upward, stretching the hamstrings, and letting the head hang.
🧡 If your legs are straight without having to round your spine too much, you can reach for the floor with your hands, pressing into the mat with fingertips or palms. For a deeper stretch, wrap the arms around the backs of your ankles, palms facing in.
🧡 Engage the fronts of the thighs to allow your hamstrings to release, and start shifting your weight into the balls of your feet.
🧡 Hold for up to 1 minute. As you inhale, work to lengthen the torso, lifting it slightly, and as you exhale, release, and you’ll be able to stretch even deeper.
🧡 To come out, inhale and rise up with straight legs and a flat back. Alternatively, you can rag-doll up, one vertebra at a time, with chin coming up last.

Read more about why this neuroscientist wants you to do more forward folds by clicking on the link below.