August 21, 2014
Essential oils have become hot in the last few years. They’re cropping up in all sorts of ways, with a myriad of uses described in blogs, on websites, etc. Sometimes, the countless suggested uses are enough to have one’s head spinning, and it always seems that each suggestion is a harmless way to use the oils.
However, that’s not always the case. Some oils aren’t good for certain times of life. Take pregnancy. If the wrong oils are used while pregnant, it can cause toxicity during gestation of the baby. Certain constituents within the oils can cause more harm than good. Below are a few examples:
- Camphor: while in the majority of cases, the babies were born safely, camphor seems to induce labor and toxicity buildup (within the mother, at the very least).
- Sabinyl acetate: considered very dangerous to use while pregnant, this component crosses the placenta and induces abortion.
- Salicylates: studies done with rats conclude that when given, these produce dose-dependent congenital abnormalities.
Although most of the studies mentioned in Essential Oil Safety are done on rats, there is some concern backed by evidence that certain oils pose risks–some of which are very serious–to unborn children. Below are two lists of contraindicated oils during pregnancy/lactation and those that should be used in limited quantities while pregnant and lactating.
Essential Oils to Avoid Throughout Pregnancy and Lactation
Anise Hyssop (pinocaphone CT)
Anise (star) Lanyana
Araucaria Lavender (Spanish)
Artemisia vestita Mugwort (common, camphor/thujone CT)
Atractylis Mugwort (great)
Birch (sweet) Myrrh
Black seed Myrtle (aniseed)
Buchu (diosphenol CT) Oregano
Buchu (pulegone CT) Parsley leaf
Calamint (lesser) Parsleyseed
Carrot seed Pennyroyal
Chaste tree Sage (Dalmatian)
Cinnamon bark Sage (Spanish)
Cypress (blue) Tansy
Dill seed (Indian) Thuja
Fennel (bitter) Western red ceder
Fennel (sweet) Wintergreen
Feverfew Wormwood (all chemotypes)
Benipi Wormwood (sea)
Hibawood Wormwood (white)
Ho leaf (camphor CT) Yarrow (green)
Essential Oils to Restrict During Pregnancy and Lactation
Basil (lemon) Myrtle (honey)
Boswellia papyrifera Myrtle (lemon)
Champaca (orange) absolute Nastertium absolute
Lemon balm (Australian) Tea tree (lemon-scented)
Lemongrass Thyme (lemon)
May chang Verbena (lemon)
I should like to note, in closing, that essential oils are much more powerful than their whole food/plant counterparts. For example, one drop of peppermint oil is roughly 28 cups of peppermint tea. Therefore, just because an oil like cinnamon is contraindicated while pregnant doesn’t mean that you cannot still enjoy a little bit of cinnamon powder in some applesauce.
Tisserand, Robert and Young, Rodney. Essential Oil Safety, Second Ed. New York, NY, 2014; p. 147-163.
August 14, 2014
Sometimes, when I’m looking for inspiration, I go to Pinterest. There’s a lot of great photos to enjoy there, as well as tips and how-to’s on pretty much anything you want to do. One of my favorite items to research, however, is workouts. Below are a few that I thought were good to help shake up and/or start your routines.
Please click on the picture to see the whole workout.
Sorry about this one being in Spanish (I believe; it might be Portuguese though)!
There are, of course, many, many more workouts out there to choose from. I hope you take some time to find the ones that work best for you. Remember to start slowly, easily, with beginner workouts–even if you’re a regular gym rat–just to stay safe…and if you find that you don’t know an exercise, try YouTube. I seem to find good, solid explanations for pretty much every exercise I’ve never done before from qualified instructors there. Good luck and get fit!
I know that many of us would love to have a crystal ball that actually worked, but we don’t. As a result, life throws us surprises that oftentimes leave us saying, “Hey! Wait! Wasn’t ready for that!”
In my case, I just learned that I’m expecting Bumpkin #2! While I’m thrilled about the news (I want my kids close together and love being a mom), I’m also somewhat dreading the pregnancy. For those who don’t know, my first one was terrible. I vomited the entire time, felt so awful that I ate whatever I could hold down. Needless to say, I pretty much told everyone who asked how I was feeling that pregnancy and I don’t get along.
Then there’s the fact that I’m just getting somewhere in the development of a personal yoga practice. While the alteration of this won’t be a major downer for me, I had a few goals I’d hoped to accomplish. Nothing big. Just a few poses I’m aiming to perfect.
Funny how so often we start to think, “But that’s not what I wanted to do.”
Perhaps not, but if we stop and reevaluate, perhaps what we want isn’t the best for us at that time. Perhaps what we really need to do is far more important. I’ve been thinking a lot about this since receiving the news. Personal goals are all well and good–in fact, they’re great as they keep us motivated–but so often we find ourselves so driven to succeed that our goals end up driving us rather than being used as stepping stones toward a larger achievement (whatever it is).
So I’ve decided that I’d like not only to survive this pregnancy in a better frame of mind (and body), I’d like to thrive. Here are my steps to thriving:
- First, I’ve taken a step back from myself, taken a deep breath, and said, “It’s okay. Now is the time for new and better things.” Motherhood is an amazing journey that I’d not trade for all the riches in the world. It is truly one of the greatest blessings we can receive.
- Second, I’m letting go of the expectations I’d set for myself since my daughter was born. This isn’t easy. I’m a goal-oriented person. But I know that this frees me up to be happier in my current situation.
- Third, I’m not giving up on the things I’d set out to do. This might sound like I’m still expecting of myself, but in all honesty, I’m not. I’m going with the flow. I’m letting life happen as it comes. Instead of berating myself for not practicing, let’s say, I’m realizing that taking that nap is exactly what I needed. I also know that I’ll eventually achieve the things I’ve started out to do…just perhaps not in the time frame I’d originally thought they’d be done in.
- Fourth, I’m stripping away the extras in my life, focusing on what’s really important. So often, many things clutter our homes, our thoughts, and our time. Paring down helps shift focus back to the intangible things that matter most to us.
It may not sound like a lot, but then refocusing yourself in order to thrive doesn’t require a whole lifestyle change. It just requires setting priorities. Mine are my family and faith, my writing endeavors, and my teaching…in that order. It may seem like I’m short-changing myself on the potential of a star-shining career, but really, what can we take with us when we leave this world? Nothing, but we can leave behind a memory that is carried into the future with our children and I’m hoping that the one I leave will be full of happiness and love.
Besides, if my daughter is any indication of what’s in store for me these next 18-20 or so years, kids just make me laugh. I like laughing. I hope I laugh a lot!
This month, take 10% off InTune, doTERRA’s focus blend. Apply onto the temples and back of the neck, and wrists to help improve concentration, focus, and mental clarity.
The Product of the Month for those wellness advocates who achieve a product
Remember also that if you choose to order doTERRA products, you can save 20% when you sign up as a preferred member. It’s a one-time fee of $10, but the savings are well worth it. (Wellness advocates buy at wholesale pricing, or 25% discounted price.)
July 17, 2014
It’s been a while since I wrote about Pilates, but as it was my first venture into mind-body fitness and I promised myself I’d become an instructor in it, I thought I’d take the time to write about the basic principles that act as the foundation for Joseph Pilates’ method of “Contrology” which he based on a lifetime of study of movement and fitness. There have been a lot of studies coming out on the benefits of doing Pilates in the past year, ranging from improving sleep to quality of life. Before I launch into the explanations of the six principles (sometimes they vary a little depending on the school teaching them, but these are the main foundational ideas he wrote about), I want to talk about the powerhouse.
In Pilates, the powerhouse is considered your core. Not just your rectus abdominus, the superficial muscle that makes six- or eight-pack abs look good but actually can contribute to back pain when overworked, but the integrated system of muscles that supports your lower back and pelvic girdle. There are a lot of them because the pelvis is where the two halves of your body combine. Besides the rectus, which is focused upon least (in my opinion), the powerhouse includes:
- The transverse abdominals
- The internal and external obliques
- The erector spinae and other back muscles
- The hip flexors
- The gluteals
Most of the focus is on the transverse abdominus, obliques, hip flexors, back muscles, and other supporting trunk muscles. Pilates believed–and science has since proved–that all movement originates in the core. When the mind-body link is established through practicing the Pilates principles which underline the method of Contrology, you’ll find that you have an enormous sense of understanding of what’s happening within your body as well as being able to control what your body is doing. It no longer acts of its own accord, but instead you become more mindfully aware of how you move.
The principles are:
Concentration: perhaps the most important principle (again, in my opinion), it is absolutely necessary to stay focused on what you are doing throughout your practice, whether it be a 15-minute or hour-long workout. Concentration establishes the mind-body link, allowing for new neurological pathways to be established over time with repeating the exercises. It takes at least six seconds to begin establishing these new neurological pathways, and at least 1000 times repeated with an average of 10,000 times, equating roughly to 18 hours of practice for each exercise.
Centering: this principle states that all movement starts in the powerhouse, with the main working muscles being those of the deeper abdominals, back muscles, and glutes. From the powerhouse, each movement flows outward into the rest of the body, enhanced by correct form and anatomical alignment.
Precision: in addition to doing an exercise with full concentration and the activation of the powerhouse, Pilates asks the student to approach each exercise with goal. “Honor every movement,” said Pilates. Every exercise has a purpose, a way it will help build strength and the connection between mind and body. Therefore, each exercise should be done with the aim of achieving perfected repetitions, which is part of the reason most of them are performed in a low number of repetitions. It is vital that, as you practice your exercises, you continually scan your body and breath (coming up) to see if you are doing all six principles.
Breathing: not only do you need to perform exercises as well as possible, you must also breathe with them. The breath is integral to every exercise because it helps create a rhythm and flow with which to follow. It also makes the exercises easier, though it can take getting used to. Sri K. Pattabi Jois used to say to his students, “Incorrect breathing, pain coming.” So many people hold their breath when they work out, causing an increased thoracic pressure (and elevated blood pressure), veins popping out of their bodies, redness in the skin, faintness that might lead to nausea or fainting, etc. As a general rule, a student inhales through the nose on the preparation and exhales through the mouth to execute the movement.
Control: in order to prevent any injury from happening to the body, all exercises need to be done mindfully. A student needs to be in full control of every movement they execute, both in body and mind. (Again, coming back to the link between body-mind is very important in establishing those neurological pathways.) This idea is where Pilates got his “Contrology” term, or “The art of control.” When done without sudden, thoughtless, or haphazard movements (and distracted thoughts), Pilates is one of the safest exercise regimens out there.
Fluidity of movement: also called “flow,” this principle states that each exercise should have a smooth, graceful quality to it; additionally, transitions between each exercise should also flow together. With practice and time, any jerkiness, static rests, or fragmented movements will melt away into an effortless dance-like practice.
As with any exercise, particularly if you are new to it, it’s going to take some time to learn all of this. I highly recommend finding a qualified instructor under whom to study. As I tell my new students, who often look like deer in the headlights when they have to think about all of these things at once (and look a little worn out after class from having used their brains in new, unexpected ways), take things one step at a time. Master one principle at a time–make it the focus of a practice and as you begin to learn the movements, add more and more principles until you can concentrate (no pun intended!) on them all while flowing (hehe!) through all the exercises.
July 10, 2014
I stretched my brain to think of something to talk about this week besides the products of the month from doTERRA (below). Sometimes, it’s hard to come up with something each week. Then, I stumbled upon this challenge and thought I’d share it for you.
Simple, straightforward. Right? So often, we get caught up in the cyclical nature negative thinking and negative speaking can lead to. Stopping to think about what we’d like to say–how they can affect not only those around is but also ourselves–can lead to the start of cognitive restructuring and positive mood shifts.
Give it a try! See if you notice a difference :)
Here are this month’s doTERRA products of the month, plus a great opportunity for those seeking to start up selling essential oils to those in their own communities:
SAVE 10% on doTERRA Essential Skin Care Clear Skin Foaming Face Wash! With amazing essential oils like rosewood to manage sebum levels, white willow bark for cell renewal, and black cumin seed with its antioxidants to help protect skin, this gentle cleanser is designed to rid your skin of impurities without stripping it of natural moisture for beautiful, clear skin. For more information on doTERRA’s skin care line, check out this PDF: EssentialSkinCare Foaming Face Wash.
This month’s oil of the month is Serenity Essential Oil Blend. I personally used this blend in final relaxation at the end of my yoga class last night, and the whole class really enjoyed its fragrance and calming benefits. Lavender, sweet marjoram, Roman chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood and vanilla bean all combine to create a wonderful blend that can bring about a sense of peace and a good night’s rest. (A friend told me that if she doesn’t put it on her feet before she goes to bed, she has a very hard time falling asleep.)
As an added bonus, for those doTERRA wellness advocates who sell at least 125 product volume (PV) before the 15th of the month, you get a free bottle of Serenity! This has instantly become my favorite essential oil that I have tried thus far. I hope you take the opportunity to do so as well.
One additional note: For those interested in becoming doTERRA wellness advocates, if you enroll between July 1-31 with an order of 100 PV, you will receive another 50 product credits free. (Each item ordered is designated a product volume, PV, usually–with some exceptions–equaling the wholesale value of the item.)
Please note, I am a doTERRA wellness advocate (also known as an Independent Product Consultant, or IPC). I will benefit from any sales made through my website, but promise that I will do my best to bring accurate essential oils and product information to you. Please feel free to leave me any questions you may have and I will do my best to answer them in a timely fashion, and please check out my Facebook page, Joyous Living and Wellness, where I post not only about health and fitness but also the benefits of essential oils.
June 19, 2014
Two of my goals this year were to learn how to make my own skincare products and become more debt-free. I’ve also had a growing interest in essential oils in the past two years, since being formally introduced to them through my yoga teacher training (one goal accomplished, by the way, back in January). Well, this week, after much waiting (on what direction the husband’s career was going to take) and praying, I’ve finally committed to becoming a doTERRA wellness advocate! And I’m terribly excited!
I’ve tried several brands of essential oils in the past, but none have stood up to the quality that I’ve found with doTERRA. Their oils are more fragrant, richer, and work better than any other product that I’ve used in the past. Here are some of my experiences with their oils:
- Melaleuca (tea tree) oil is a staple in my kit. I use it in almost everything, from adding it to sugar scrubs to cloth wipes (I cloth diaper) for my daughter. Since skin issues run in my family, melaleuca helps soothe and heal eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. It also has kept my daughter rash free from birth!
- Lavender is another one of my must-haves. Not only is it extremely calming and helps with insomnia, from which I suffer from time to time, it also aids in digestion and intestinal relief. When my daughter was a few months old, she developed bad gas. I placed a drop of lavender in a vegetable carrier oil and rubbed it clockwise on her belly, and it helped relieve her pain and pass the gas.
- Peppermint is both invigorating and relaxing. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I developed some swelling in my ankles. Another student of mine had very bad edema throughout her own pregnancy. We both experienced water loss–in her words, she no longer felt like she was going to “burst out of her skin.” (I gave her the rest of my bottle to keep.)
- Ginger is well-known for it’s effect on nausea. As many of you who follow this blog may know, I had extreme nausea throughout my entire pregnancy. Ginger, combined with peppermint beadlettes (which doTERRA still sells), greatly reduced my nausea so that I could complete a yoga training.
- Lemon is not only one of my favorite fragrances, it also tastes fabulous in water and has powerful detoxifying properties. I love putting a drop or two into a glass–and that’s all you need!
- Wild orange has an uplifting fragrance that, when I wear it on my wrists, just makes me a little bit happier and gives me a slight boost in energy. Yet, it does not promote anxiety, but acts as a soothing scent while not making you sleepy.
- Oregano was once used in a yoga class I took during a training to help support the immune system. We were focusing on moving lymph. I don’t know precisely how it worked, but I felt terrific after class.
- DeepBlue is an oil blend that I personally have not tried but several of my friends and family have. My favorite story is that of my mother, who has a couple herniated discs in her back. When DeepBlue was applied to her back at the site of pain, she had instant relief for quite some time. (Note, no oil takes away pain permanently.)
There are many oils out there that I haven’t yet tried. Recent studies suggest that cancer patients may be helped by such oils as frankincense and sandalwood. The woman who introduced me to doTERRA’s products stated that she hadn’t had a MRSA outbreak since she’d started a regular essential oil regimen. One of my instructors told me that she hasn’t been sick since she’s begun using them regularly.
Regardless of whether or not you try doTERRA, there are a few things you want to look for when sourcing essential oils. First, look for the use of science in the quality testing done by the company–doTERRA uses mass spectrometry and gas chromatography to verify the purity of their products. Look also to see whether a company gets their products independently tested for purity. DoTERRA uses one such source that certifies the oils’ purity. Third, make certain that you are using a therapeutic-grade oil that is not cut with any other fillers. Part of the reason why many store-bought oils are so inexpensive is because the oils in them are cut with fillers.
Most importantly, if you have any questions at all, talk with a consultant. Also talk with a doctor knowledgeable in alternative holistic practices, especially if you have conditions. By and large, good, certified pure, therapeutic-grade oils are not toxic to use, but it is important to know which ones will help and which ones may hinder. The FDA does not regulate the development, sales, and use of essential oils as they are considered supplements.
On one final note, I will be posting doTERRA’s specials each month with information on them. There is no obligation to purchase. It is as much informational as it is a plug for my fledgling business. Please always feel free to contact me with questions. I will do my best to answer them.
This month’s oils:
- Balance (blend): “Everyone experiences moments of disconnectedness or anxiety. The warm, woody aroma of Balance, doTERRA’s grounding blend, creates a sense of calm and well-being. We perfectly blend spruce, rosewood, frankincense, and blue tansy with fractionated coconut oil to offer an enticing fragrance which promotes tranquility and a sense of balance. For aromatic and topical use.” (Taken from doTERRA website.)
- TerraShield (blend): “TerraShield is an all-natural formula of citronella, cedarwood, and a blend of 11 other therapeutic-grade essential oils blended in a base of fractionated coconut oil. A primary function of essential oils in plants is protecting against insects and other predators. Unlike other products that contain synthetic and toxic chemicals, TerraShield is a natural approach to managing exposure to biting insects. TerraShield’s fresh, light citrus smell is wonderfully invigorating and can be used safely by everyone in the family. One application provides coverage that lasts up to 6 hours.” (Taken from doTERRA website.)
Those who may have sensitive skin may wish to use a vegetable carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil, olive oil, etc.) to dilute pure essential oils. While the two above are already blended with a carrier base, the wearer can choose to dilute them further if necessary. Consult physicians if the sensitivity becomes worse or before using any oils on young children.
Want to know more? Watch this “Ask Dr. Hill” about TerraShield: