Monthly Archives: October 2009

Yoga: The True Path To Awesome Poops

Posted by Neal Pollack on Alternadad/October 15, 2009
Yoga: The True Path To Awesome Poops

Yoga does many wonderful things. It clarifies the mind and provides a solid ethical foundation for a productive, happy life. For physical fitness and a way to make loving friendships that last, it can hardly be topped. It can be a path to spiritual ecstasy. But for me, one of yoga’s most profound benefits is also one of its most simple:

If you practice regularly, you take awesome poops.

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Pamper yourself: DIY castor oil bath

Check out this great article on the ancient wisdom of oil baths written by Kimberly Flynn.
Try it! It’s really easy and it definitely makes a difference :)


Relieve aches, pains and stiffness with oil baths
By Kimberly Flynn Williams

Oil bath is a traditional, weekly Ayurvedic home remedy still practiced widely in South India. Shri K. Pattabhi Jois routinely recommends oil bath to his yoga students especially for the relief of back and knee pain as well as stiffness. Weekly oil bath reduces excess internal heat (pitta in Ayurveda) particularly in the joints, liver, and skin. This heat is generated by poor lifestyle, including consumption of oily, processed, and difficult to digest foods, alcohol and tobacco, in addition to stress, air pollution and inadequate sleep. This imbalance increases with the heat generated by yoga practice and hot climate. Eating an over-sufficiency of healthy foods that are deemed “heating” in Ayurvedic terms, also adds to this imbalance.

Excess heat can be felt in the joints as pain and stiffness and in the back, often in the lower right-hand side and hip, as a nearly debilitating pain. This heat also contributes to a short temper, burning anger, red skin, pinkish acne, and redness in the eyes. When a daily ashtanga yoga practitioner still carries extra weight, especially around the middle, has difficulty with weight loss or with digestion, and has a regularly sluggish bowel, these are all signs of surplus heat.

In India, oil bath is customarily taken with castor oil that is later removed from the skin and hair with a special herbal paste made of equal parts soap nut and green powders mixed with water. Castor oil delivers the best results, but is nearly impossible to remove without these powders. Guruji suggests that, after leaving India, the yoga student can replace castor oil with almond oil, which easily washes off with bath soap.

Daily baths in India are taken by pouring water over the head from a bucket while standing in the bath, a river, or other body of water. It is in reference to this bath that oil bath is so termed. In other words, the student is not soaking in a tub of oil; rather he or she is using oil first on the head. Oil is rubbed into the scalp which draws the heat upward through the body, where it finally exits through the crown of the head.

Pattabhi Jois recommends that a student takes oil bath every Saturday (on his or her day of rest or once per week) at the start of the morning. After oil bath, one should rest for the day and avoid the following: strong sun, cold water, yoga or heavy work of any kind. For men, tradition prescribes that oil bath be taken on Monday, Wednesday or Saturday. For women, oil bath is prescribed on Tuesday or Friday; Guruji provides that his female students can take oil bath on the day off, Saturday. A woman should never take oil bath during menstruation, rather, she should take it on the fourth day (following the first three days of menses, during which time she has abstained from yoga practice). If one is not able to take oil bath on a given Saturday, he or she may take it on one of the above appropriately listed days.

Directions for Oil Bath

Note: When using castor oil, first place the bottle in warm water to thin out the oil for easier application.

1. Apply ample amount of oil to your head, rubbing into the scalp and through to the ends of your hair.

2. Leave oil on the head for the allotted time. For your first oil bath, leave the oil on your head for only five minutes. Continue increasing the time weekly by five minute increments until the oil is left on the head for a full two hours (a 6 month process); this is the maximum recommendation. At this juncture, you should practice two hours weekly, not exceeding this time.

Important: Years of accumulated heat should safely be relieved in stages. Therefore, it is essential to carefully follow the time recommendation. Inappropriately increasing the prescribed minutes may lead to a cold, vomiting, chills or diarrhea, all of which are symptoms of too much heat rising too soon.

3. Having completed your allotted time for oil on the head, generously apply oil to the whole body. As you rub oil over your body, take time to rub and massage elbow, knee and shoulder joints, along the spine and into any areas that are chronically sore. You need not apply oil to the face. This step should take an additional five to ten minutes.

4. Take a very hot shower or bucket bath. Let the hot water run over the scalp as you massage the existing oil deeper into the crown. Continue to rub the oily skin focusing on the joints and spine. This is an important step as the hot water opens pores and draws internal heat from the skin and joints. This shower may last five to fifteen minutes.

5. Apply soap and shampoo, or soap nut and green powder mixture to remove oil. After turning off the shower, lather up with soap on the skin and shampoo in the hair to remove almond oil. If castor oil is used, then apply soap nut and green powder mixture rubbing the paste over the whole body and through the hair and scalp. Be careful and avoid getting soap nut powder, dry or wet, in the eyes or nose, as it will cause a burning sensation. As you rub the paste over the skin, it will turn from dark to light green which indicates that the oil is being absorbed.

To make the paste, in a large bowl mix equal parts soap nut powder and green powder with enough water to create a paste with a honey-like consistency. Soap nut is active in absorbing the castor oil and can make the skin feel very dry. Green powder leaves the skin and hair feeling soft and smooth.

6. Take a second shower or bucket bath to remove oil and lather or special paste. Take this shower at a warm, comfortable temperature and use enough soap and shampoo to remove the almond oil. If you are washing off soap nut paste and castor oil, be sure to close your eyes when rinsing your hair; you’ll probably want to follow up with shampoo. This shower lasts up to ten minutes.

You have successfully completed oil bath.

7. Wash the shower/bath area. The shower floor will be very slippery and the drain may be clogged a bit. Scrub the shower area well to avoid slipping and pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to keep it open. If you have used soap nut paste, you may be faced with a muddy mess. Clean all surfaces and be sure to pour boiling water down the drain.

8. Rest over the next few hours, avoiding hard work, strong sun and swimming in or drinking cold water. For the daily ashtanga practitioner, it is important to take a full day off, allowing the body and mind to rest and rejuvenate for the coming week of practice, study, work and family life.

If the desired results of oil bath are not felt at first, don’t give up. Continue to include this time-honored treatment in your weekly schedule and be confident in the radiant health benefits it bestows.


Since 1995, Kimberly Flynn Williams has traveled yearly to Mysore, India to study Ashtanga Yoga with Shri K. Pattabhi Jois and his family at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. She began her studies with Pattabhi Jois in 1993 during his teaching visit to New York City. Inspired by Pattabhi Jois’s vast knowledge of Yoga Shastra, she has been a student of Sanskrit Recitation, Yoga Sutras, and Philosophy under Dr. M.A. Jayashree since 1998. Kimberly co-directed and co-founded Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Los Angeles where she taught for 10 years and twice hosted Pattabhi Jois. Kimberly, AYRI Authorized, teaches Ashtanga Yoga and Sutra Chanting in Hawaii, throughout the United States, and Internationally. She began yoga practice in 1982.

Ukraine does have talent

You have to watch this video!
Elephantbeans presents Ukraine’s Got Talent 2009 Winner

Field Trip: Genny Kapuler

For anyone interested in Iyengar-style yoga, or really just great yoga instruction in general, the name Genny Kapuler is likely to be familiar.

In the event it isn’t… rush over to one of her classes this instant!

I decided to spend my Friday morning in one of the classes she teaches out of her large loft space in Soho.  I left myself plenty of time to make sure I found the space (it’s easy to find).  But I forgot that my wallet was empty of cash which meant finding a bank machine (I think Genny’s studio is probably the only business left in Soho that doesn’t accept credit cards).  This task proved less simple than I had imagined.  In fact the lead time I had left myself evaporated in a wash of frustration.  J. Crew: check.  Boutiques galore: check. Starbucks: check.  Everything you could buy but no ATM.  (JIC you find yourself in my position, try the delis on Prince Street, just west of West Broadway).

I finally made it with cash in hand to the building on the corner of Wooster and Houston Street. Here’s another tip for first timers: take the stairs, even though it’s a 5th floor walk-up.  Anyway, even though I was kind of late, Genny was accommodating.  Clothes and shoes were strewn about the living quarters of the giant loft.  The studio section is large enough to hold many students practicing, yet it has a homey feel that clearly sets it apart from a regular studio.

Class was fantastic of course.  Genny’s experience shines through in all her decisions, and her knowledge and passion for the anatomy are the underlying thrust of her teaching style.  I was moved by her clear and powerful voice, and brilliant directives.  The few hands on adjustments I received were clear and displayed the economy of motion that only experience can bring.  Needless to say, glancing around the crowded room I caught the faces of many of my teachers. It’s so inspiring how to see how after so many years, great teachers and practitioners like Genny keep finding more.

I exited into the rainy morning, feeling amazing.  How could this be the same guy who was cursing on the street a couple of hours earlier?

2 Die in “Spiritual Warrior Retreat”

[posted by ebean]

Spiritual Materialism At Its Finest: 2 Die in “Spiritual Warrior Retreat”

by Jayson Gaddis on Oct 11, 2009

Picture 8Would you pay $9000 to work with James Arthur Ray co-author of the Secret, as he guides you toward your ideal manifested life in a shotty sweat lodge with 64 other people?

Well apparently that’s what some participants paid to be led by law of attraction teacher James Arthur Ray.

It was the last day of “life changing” retreat. Two people wouldn’t make it out alive and 19 others would be hospitalized. And sometime during the retreat Ray, an avid twitter user would tweet this:

JamesARay: is still in Spiritual Warrior… for anything new to live something first must die. What needs to die in you so that new life can emerge?

JamesARay: Day 5 of SPW. The Spiritual Warrior has conquered death and therefore has no enemies, and no fear, in this life or the next.

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“The Story Behind Yoga”

[posted by ebean]A recent youtube discovery.What do you think?

more about "“The Story Behind Yoga”", posted with vodpod

Ashtanga Yoga Classes in Philadelphia

[updated 9/2/11]

Dear Elephantbeans,

I’m moving to Philadelphia and am looking for a place to practice Ashtanga, hopefully mysore-style.  Know of any places?

Thanks!
Here is what we uncovered.  Did we miss something?  Let us know!

Ardi’s Secret: Did Early Humans Start Walking for Sex?

From National Geographic News

Jamie Shreeve
Science editor, National Geographic magazine

October 1, 2009

The big news from the journal Science today is the discovery of the oldest human skeleton—a small-brained, 110-pound (50-kilogram) female of the species Ardipithecus ramidus, nicknamed “Ardi.” She lived in what is now Ethiopia 4.4 million years ago, which makes her over a million years older than the famous Lucy fossil, found in the same region 35 years ago.

(Full story: “Oldest ‘Human’ Skeleton Found—Disproves ‘Missing Link.'”)

Buried among the slew of papers about the new find is one about the creature’s sex life. It makes fascinating reading, especially if you like learning why human females don’t know when they are ovulating, and men lack the clacker-sized testicles and bristly penises sported by chimpanzees.

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