Salamba Sirsasana: It’s Time to do a Headstand!

Stand on your head everyday. Stand on your head right when you wake up. Stand on your head right before you fall asleep. Salamba Sirsasana (supported headstand) is a yoga pose that provides many benefits. All of these benefits can be achieved by standing on your head- this article may induce a sense of Déjà vu

As I was saying; The benefits of Salamba Sirsasana are as numerous as the amount of upside down strange looks that your roommates will give you while you’re in the pose. Those strange looks will often be followed by compliments such as “Well, I’ve never seen that before” and of course there’s always silent curiosity.

According to Dr Rob Kiltz (yes, that’s his real name), Sirsasana will:

  • Stimulate pituitary and pineal glands, which aid growth and the production of sex hormones

    bks sirsasana

    BKS Iyengar in Sirsasana

  • Strengthen the spine, neck, shoulders, and arms
  • Tones the legs and abdominals
  • Relieves a buildup of fluid in the legs and feet
  • Allows a healthy, pure blood flow to brain cells
  • Stimulates the nervous system
  • Aids in the treatment of headaches, anxiety, asthma, sinusitis, hay fever, depression, diabetes, insomnia, and symptoms of menopause
  • Increases mental awareness and clarity
  • Calms and soothes the mind
  • May reverse the effects of lethargy, sleep loss, and memory loss
  • Stimulates and strengthens the lungs, facilitating healthy breathing
  • Improves posture and digestion
  • Aids in the relief of tonsillitis, persistent coughing, common cold, bad breath, and palpitations
  • Helps overcome problems of the liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines, and reproductive organs by reversing the pull of gravity

You use a lot of energy in this pose. And no, I’m not talking about psuedo mystical style Qi (Which, I admit I am definitely curious to know more about). I’m talking about the energy you’ve aquired from the food that you’ve eaten.

It takes quite a bit of strength, skill, focus, and work to balance on your head. You’re thoughts have to be constantly focused on maintaining the exact positioning of your body whilst upside down. Legs straight from the hip, knees straight, elbows underneath the shoulders, forearms sharing the weight. Most importantly, you must not get distracted by your thoughts.

A good way to keep focused is by paying attention to the way that you breath.

Bring your attention to the sensation of breathing. Breathe in long and out long for a couple of times, focusing on any spot in the body where the breathing is easy to notice, and your mind feels comfortable focusing. This could be at the nose, at the chest, at the abdomen, or any spot at all. Stay with that spot, noticing how it feels as you breathe in and out.

 

As you get better at maintaining the pose you’ll be able to balance for 10 minutes or longer. I like to practice Salamba Sirsasana early in the morning- right after I wake up- and right before I go to bed at night. I would definitely try it out against the wall. For all you beats out there, Jack Kerouac was known to start his day with headstands. From Kerouac’s Big Sur;

‘One fast move or I’m gone’ so I jump up, do my headstand first to pump blood back into the hairy brain, take a shower in the hall, new T-shirt and socks and underwear, pack vigorously, hoist the rucksack and run out throwing the key on the desk and hit the cold street…I’ve got to escape or die…

In Short: You should do a head stand!

 

If you’re interested in learning a whole lot more about yogic techniques A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya is a very thorough book on the topic.

Sources:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/breathmed.html
http://www.cnyhealingarts.com/2011/03/21/the-health-benefits-of-salamba-sirsasana-supported-headstand-pose/
http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/dejavu.html
http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/481
http://www.w-mystictraveller.com/what-is-qi.html

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Japanese Diet Secret: Black Soybean Tea (Kuromame Tea)

black soybean kuromame

Kuromame Black Soybean Tea http://www.hirokoskitchen.com

 

Black soybean tea, otherwise known as kuromame tea, is another wonderful secret of how the Japanese maintain their weight and health. Obesity is arguably the worst health risk threatening the developed world, especially in the West. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third, or 35.7%, of American adults, are obese. More than two-thirds of adults are considered overweight.

Kuromame tea is here to help you, if not save you. Kuromame, or black soybeans, a rare legumes native to China, and have long been used in Chinese medicine to clear toxins from the body and promote urination. Kuromame has also been linked to effective weight loss along with promoting a healthy diet. There are a few major components to black soybean kuromame tea that give it its remarkable fat shedding ability.

Related Article: Japanese Diet Secret: Kurozu (Black Vinegar)

 

Polyphenols in Black Soybean Kuromame Tea

Polyphenols are compounds known for their anti-aging properties. They are found in foods such as black rice, pears, and potatoes. Black soybeans contain a specific polyphenol called anthocyanin which is known to fight numerous human diseases. Anthocyanin has shown positive results in cancer prevention, anti-aging, reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis, lowering cholesterol, and promotion of lipid metabolism.

A study done by the Journal of Medicinal Food found that anthocyanin inhibited fat absorption in a group of mice that included a higher amount of fat in their diet compared to the control group. The mice did not gain any additional weight.

 

Isoflavones and Weight Loss

Isoflavones are themselves a type of anti-oxidant and help prevent certain types of cancer such as breast cancer. They also improves lipid metabolism. Lipid metabolism powers your weight loss, or more specifically fat loss. Kuromame tea can help you with this because black soybeans are filled with isoflavones. Lipid metabolism is the process of your body fat being mobilized to be used as energy. They also help to control circulatory blood fats.

There are two more very important components to black soybeans that make kuromame tea the choice for a healthier diet and effective weight loss. One is fiber. Black soybeans are a high carbohydrate legume. However, a large portion of  those carbohydrates come from fiber. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol and helps prevent a steep rise in blood sugar levels. The other important and not commonly known compound found in kuromame skin is saponin. Saponin is a chemical compound that also inhibits the absorption of fat.

 

Make Your Own Black Soybean Kuromame Tea

I have been making my own kuromame tea from the black soybeans I buy in the Asian markets near my house (which you can also buy on Amazon). There is really not much to it:

You grab a handful of black soybeans and put them in a pan over high heat. Let them roast for a few minutes. Nothing extra has to be added. Boil some water for later use. The black soybeans will be ready once you hear the skin crack and the color of the beans turns brown. Take the beans and put them in a french press or other utensil you normally use to prepare tea. Pour in the boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes, or let it sit until you are done drinking.

The reason I do not put down specific measurements is because you can adjust the amount of water to your own liking. Some people like kuromame tea with a smokier taste and some like it more diluted.

After drinking, you can eat the black soybeans themselves since they will be nice and soft. This way you can take in all of the healthy carbs and fiber available to you. It is also worth mentioning that black soybeans are low on the glycemic index, so they make a perfect snack for diabetics!

 

 

Sources:

Wondergressive: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

http://www.livestrong.com/article/305656-calories-in-black-soybeans/

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2000/07/03/general/its-a-drink-and-a-snack-black-soybeans/#.UYCFjbWG1rM

http://slism.com/diet/black-bean-diet.html

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2006.147

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082894/

http://www.med.unc.edu/neurology/files/documents/child-teaching-pdf/OVERVIEW%20OF%20LIPID%20METABOLISM.pdf

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/33070

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm

 

Recommended Reading for those Interested in More Japanese Secrets

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