Natural Health
Better living through nature

Avoiding Holiday Air Travel Health Risks

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According to USA Today, more than 27 million passengers, a record number, will fly U.S. airlines worldwide November 18-November 29. How many people of those people do you think will be sick? An Auburn University study revealed MRSA bacteria can survive on an airplane for four to seven days and E. coli can survive up to four days. That is risky business!

As an adult with no small children, the only times I’ve been sick in adulthood is after airplane travel. So this year when I get on the plane to visit my family in Philadelphia, I am going in armed. Pledge to avoid getting sick this year with me!

Here’s our plan:

Before the flight

Go for a brisk walk outside in fresh air and sunlight the day of or before the flight. Vitamin D is the body’s best defense against sickness.

Get a good night’s sleep; the immune system thrives when it is well rested.

Take Vitamin C and Zinc supplements every day for one week before the flight.

Drink warm water with lemon and lime as its alkalizing effect helps the body maintain a higher pH. The higher or more alkaline-rich your pH, the more your inner terrain is resistant to minor and major disease.

If you are not taking a probiotic already, start taking one! I do this year-round.

During the Flight

Keep your tray table up! According to CNN, airplane tray tables contain the most bacteria on an airplane, with 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) of bacteria per square inch. Bring along your own antibacterial cloths so that if you must use your tray table, you can wipe it down.

Open the bathroom door with a tissue and wash your hands afterwards. Lavatory flush buttons and door locks have considerably fewer CFUs per square inch (265 and 70 respectively), but they can still be a danger.

Bring your own pillow and blanket.

Stay hydrated. Drink warm water and green tea instead of coffee, soda and alcoholic beverages on the plane.

Bring some Emergen-C Immunity packets along and drink one or two. (2000mg of vitamin C is the recommended max dosage)

Avoid sugary snacks as sugar dramatically weakens the body’s ability to fight of bacteria and flu viruses.

Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season to you all! Enjoy family and friends in good health!

Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram!

5 Yoga Poses to Beat Insomnia

Yoga’s benefits have been touted by natural health enthusiasts, holistic health practitioners and yogis for decades. But in more recent years, research has proven some of these many benefits—from longevity to improved mental and physical health. There are a number of ailments that yoga can alleviate or, at times, even cure. One such health concern that yoga, and most exercise routines, will help you beat is insomnia. Yoga’s focus on breathing helps relieve stress, calm the brain and lead to better sleep at night.

We all know that sleep is a crucial part of health and wellness, but for some it can be quite elusive. If you’re among those, try these five relaxing poses so you can rest easily.

fire log pose
Photo courtesy Martinez.

Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana)

Although simple, Fire Log Pose will release tension that may have built up in your hips throughout the day—especially for those who stand or sit for long periods. This release will prompt other areas in the body to relax, as well.

seated spinal twist
Photo by Fotolia/fizkes.

Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Seated Spinal Twist, also called the Half Lord of the Fishes, stretches the spine and promotes relaxation throughout the body. You can keep your bottom leg tucked in, like the photo above, or outstretched for this pose.

locust pose
Photo by Fotolia/AntoniaDiaz.

Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

If you suffer from anxiety or depression and the racing thoughts that can accompany these disorders, Locust Pose can reduce these to aid in a good night’s rest.

yoga forward bend
Photo by Fotolia/djoronimo.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Calm the mind, relieve stress and alleviate headaches and anxiety while stretching your spine, hamstrings and shoulders. A relaxed body and mind will help you ease into sleep!

corpse pose group yoga
Photo by Fotolia/Jacob Lund.

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

End your yoga sequence with this super-calming and relaxing pose. Corpse Pose allows you to focus on your breathe and let go of the day’s worries before heading to bed.

If yoga, on its own, doesn’t improve your sleep significantly, try meditating for 5-10 minutes before bedtime to help clear your mind.

Want to learn more about the importance of sleep? Check out 11 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Sleep to discover just how necessary quality sleep is for your health.

Ingredient Watch: Limonene

Limonene is a scenting ingredient and solvent found naturally in the rinds of citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons. This compound is what gives these fruits the fresh, clean scent we all know and love. However, following extraction, exposure to light and air breaks limonene down into a number of oxidation products—these are what can act as irritants for some. Limonene has not been linked to cancer, but may cause allergic reactions or other irritation to the skin or eyes, as well as respiratory and immune systems, with repeated or prolonged use. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has seen bioaccumulation of D-limonene in fish, but there is currently no evidence of similar occurrences in humans. Although this ingredient is currently under some restricted use in cosmetics, it is still found in a number of products from shampoo to lipstick, and more.

What to Look For?

• 1-Methyl-4-(1-methylethenyl)-cyclohexene
• 4-Isopropenyl-1-methylcyclohexene
• p-Menth-1,8-diene
• DL-limonene (Racemic)
• Dipentene
• Limonene essential oil

4 Yoga Poses for Mental Health

Today, many of us view yoga as a fitness exercise, but it is actually a centuries-old life philosophy that aims to unify the mind, body and spirit. By combining breathwork, meditation and physical postures, yoga provides many benefits for overall health. Instructors have seen yoga help with anxiety, insomnia, and pain, as well as give practitioners more energy and lower stress levels.  Add these four yoga poses to your self-care routine to reap the mental and physical health rewards.

reclining bound angle pose
Photo courtesy

Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasa)

When life gets too hectic, remember to give yourself the time and space for relaxation. Reclined Bound Angle Pose is great for taking a moment to unplug from the constant state of connectedness we’re all in. In this pose, we can focus on our breath, clear our minds and become centered once again.

camel pose
Photo by Fotolia/Microgen.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Boost confidence and happiness when anxiety strikes with this pose. Any pose that creates a backbend position is invigorating, and Camel Pose can be modified in a number of ways to accommodate your flexibility and experience with yoga. Backbends also help reverse the effects of forward bending—whether from sitting hunched over a desk all day or poor posture—which occurs all too often in our modern world.

standing forward bend
Photo by Fotolia/fizkes.

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Simple and relaxing, Standing Forward Bend stretches the hamstrings, calves, hips and back. It may also alleviate anxiety and symptoms of mild depression by calming the brain.

yoga inversion headstand
Photo by Fotolia/GVS.

Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)

Although more advanced, inversions, such as headstands, can be the ticket to boosting mood and energy quickly. Inversions are the definition of gaining new perspective (you’re literally upside down). Quiet an overactive mind by focusing on the balance required to maintain this pose. If you don’t have the strength or balance just yet, you can do Legs-Up-The-Wall to achieve a similar effect.

Whether you’re feeling the stress of daily life, suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), fatigue or simply have a case of the blues, these four yoga poses are sure to help relax, re-energize and get you back to feeling like your normal self.

Essential Oils for a Healing Bath

The power of bathing not only cleans but relaxes the body, and creates a sense of peace within the soul. Bathing helps relax tense muscles, opens pores, softens the skin, detoxifies the body, boosts the immune system and promotes sleep.

We can patronize spas and hot springs, but when we need to immediately restore ourselves the bathtub is usually a few steps away. We may be so tired when evening arrives that we don’t even have the energy to wait for a tub to fill up. But there’s good news, once you are in the tub with a few drops of essential oils and a scoop of salts you’ll be hooked. All you need is up to 20 minutes of soaking and you will emerge ready for a good night’s sleep.  

Before you get in the bath leave electronic devices in the other room, make a cup of organic tea, burn a soy candle, play calm music and make sure your bathroom has been decorated in relaxing colors. Go ahead, make a home spa appointment with yourself!  

Photo by Fotolia

Essential oils for a bath

“There’s no place like a bath to stretch your soul and listen to your own inner voice.” -Seneca

Bergmot, Jasmine and Frankincense are therapeutic essential oils with constituents that help you unwind after a long day.

Bergmot citrus bergamia - The aroma is fruity with a faint floral scent and constituents that help you relax when tense or anxious.   

Jasmine sambac - It has an intense floral aroma and properties to help with nervous anxiety and restlessness.

Frankincense boswellia - The odor is fresh terpene-like, and is used to alleviate nervous tension and stress-related conditions.

Combine these essential oils and then add 5 to 10 drops to your bath water, along with a scoop of Epsom salts.

If you are not up combining these essential oils, Nectar Essences has a blend of the oils infused with flower essences that are ready to be added to your bath or to rub on your hands for inhaling. Use the coupon code desiree10 for 10% off.

Desiree Bell is inspired by nature and loves to explore, write, and create to help others achieve a naturally creative and healthy lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook at Beyond A Garden.

How to Make the Outdoors Your Gym

Outdoor Gym

Even the most basic gym should have all the equipment needed for a complete workout, so why does it often feel so lacking? We drag our feet through the front door, push out a couple sets of bench press, bore ourselves on the treadmill for 15 minutes and then leave. Only the most dedicated gym rats can make it through those places without going crazy. There has to be a better way.

Believe it or not, there was a time when there were no gyms and humans were all in much better shape, but over the centuries our sedentary lifestyle has caught up to us and now there's nothing left but to do the bare minimum at the gym each week. But if you just stepped outside you would see a world just waiting to be your natural gym.

If you're ready to step out of the globo-gym and embrace the outdoors, here are some great places to get started.

Trail Running

Trail running grew from niche hobby to popular sport thanks to events like Ragnar, which give trail runners a place to socialize and compete (though must run for non-competitive fun) across some of the most scenic trails in the country. But if you don't live near the national parks of Utah or the redwood forests of Northern California, chances are there is still a trail waiting for the tread under your shoes.

Check with local parks to find good trails, and grab some of the few essentials for an exhilarating and challenging workout. A good pair of trail running shoes from Merrell, Salomon, or La Sportiva offer the support and traction needed for rugged terrain and a hydration pack from CamelBak or Osprey will provide plenty of water on the trail.

Stadium Climbs

We all don't have the luxury of climbing the steps at the Los Angeles Coliseum, but every town with a decent high school football program also has a stadium that can double as the perfect outdoor gym — and running up the stairs is just the beginning. There are a variation of different elevated push-ups you can do thanks to the different heights of the bleacher seats. And when it comes time to run the steps, add some variety to your stride by skipping a step, two-stepping (when both feat touch each step before moving on) or broad jumping steps. This provides a killer cardio session while also adding in great footwork.

Competitive Shooting

Target and sport shooting is a big part of outdoor life, but it doesn't do much for physical fitness outside of hand-eye coordination. But there is a new activity growing in popularity that tests accuracy and endurance.

The "3 Gun" competitions require you to quickly navigate a course and shoot targets with a shotgun, handgun and rifle. It's tons of fun for anyone who loves to shoot and requires more movement than traditional target shooting. If you need to purchase guns for sport shooting, check local and online retailers for their selection of firearms.

Park Workouts

If you think park workouts are a puny alternative to a real gym, think again. Monkey bars might be fun and games for kids, but they can deliver serious muscle building and toning for adults. The various bars and rings found in parks and playgrounds are perfect for pull-ups, dips, muscle ups and other body movements that will build grip strength, improve mobility and target muscles that you might neglect in a tradition free weight gym.

Jim Burch is a copywriter from Phoenix and avid admirer of alliteration. His goals are to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, see all 30 baseball stadiums, and eliminate the improper use of "literally," but he figuratively can't even.

4 Simple Yoga Poses for Arthritis Pain

Regular physical activity has proven psychological and physical benefits, from improved mood and longevity to weight loss and reduced risk of chronic disease. But for those living with arthritis exercise can seem problematic; your joints hurt, so why would you want to stress them any further by exercising? However, regular exercise may promote joint health, decreasing pain and discomfort associated with these conditions. It can also help build strength in areas prone to arthritis, such as the spine, knees and hips.

Recent studies have shown that a regular yoga practice can benefit those with arthritis in a number of ways. Although not all study participants reported changes in the amount of daily pain they experienced, yoga did help them change their attitude and relationship with the pain. The following poses are extremely gentle and will help you relieve pain, improve mobility, and live a happier, longer life.

cat pose and cow pose
Photo by Fotolia/f9photos.

Cat & Cow Pose

Both of these poses are great for spinal health as it increases blood circulation—even if your spine mobility is very minimal. Cat Pose will lengthen the spine by increasing the space between vertebrae, while Cow Pose will stretch the spine. Together they may improve back flexibility and posture.

mountain pose
Photo by Fotolia/alexshalamov.

Mountain Pose

This very simple, low-impact pose often begins yoga sequences. Although Mountain Pose may not seem to do much, the prayer position used in this pose stretches the hands, fingers and wrists to improve circulation and create space between joints.

bridge pose
Photo by Fotolia/f9photos.

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose is yet another way to improve circulation to the spine, stretch and strengthen the back muscles and reduce headaches.

crescent lunge yoga
Photo by Fotolia/f9photos.

Crescent Lunge

Improve flexibility and reduce tightness in your hip flexors with this deep stretch. While Crescent Lunge is a more advanced stretch, modifications can be made for those with knee, shoulder, neck or back pain.

If you think your range of motion is too limited to benefit from yoga, think again: Iyengar poses are easily modified to accommodate limited mobility. So don’t count yourself out if your arthritis prevents fully bending. Plus, the soothing nature of yoga will leave you feeling relaxed and reinvigorated!