Here at Landmark Group we have our fair share of workplace stress; it's unavoidable. Thankfully, our holistic health experts at Balance 360 tell us there are sustainable alternatives to managing it, and one of the top things they recommend is yoga.
Yoga is an effective method of reducing stress, decreasing anxiety and improving physical health. It also helps to improve concentration and allows us to cope better with the demands of our daily lives, giving us a better perspective on personal and professional issues. A regular yoga practice boosts immunity and energy levels, reduces the likelihood of need for sick leave and makes us calmer, healthier, more positive and more productive.
Sounds fantastic, right? But putting theory into practice is usually the tricky bit, so here are some practical tips on how to incorporate yoga into your everyday life.
- Just 60 minutes a week is enough. You don't have to change your entire lifestyle to get healthy - even one hour of yoga a week has been shown to be effective in managing stress, fatigue and chronic illness. It's okay to start small, but start.
- Get a yoga buddy. Sign up for a class with a friend or colleague from work - it's more fun to do it together, and you're less likely to skip class.
- Find a class close to work or home. That way, traffic, travel time and inconvenience are less viable excuses to not go to class.
- Take yoga 'micro-breaks' at work. Ask your instructor for simple yoga exercises you can do on your own, and take mini-breaks from your computer or in between meetings to do them.
- Ask about employee wellness programmes at your workplace. Find out whether your company has a link with a local gym or wellness centre that offers yoga classes.
- 'Trade up' activities. Don't think of yoga as 'yet another activity' to add to your already-packed schedule. Substitute part of an existing activity you can do less of (e.g. watching TV, poking friends on Facebook) with something you'd like more of (e.g. yoga).
- Get your family involved. If your days off are reserved for time with your family, why not sign up for a yoga class together? Look for child-friendly yoga classes if you have kids - it's a productive way to spend time together and encourage preventive-health habits in your kids.
- Shop around for a yoga class you enjoy. You're more likely to stick with a yoga class that's enjoyable. Instructors and class styles vary - try out a few and you're sure to find something that's fun for you.
Today's lifestyle comes loaded with a number of medical challenges arising from poor eating habits, long working hours and high stress levels. Meeting these challenges is not just about dispensing medication, but understanding and empathizing with patients, just like a traditional family doctor would.
Realizing this, we at Landmark Group launched iCARE Clinics to promote individualized quality healthcare in the UAE. iCARE Clinics is a one-stop family care centre catering to all primary healthcare needs in a friendly, warm environment. Our team of doctors, nurses and technicians provide easy-access medical expertise 365 days a year in areas including paediatrics, obstetrics/gynaecology, internal medicine, dentistry, radiology, pathology and family medicine, as well as general practitioner (GP) services.
It's always been our philosophy to provide exceptional value to our customers, and this venture proudly upholds that standard. We opened our first clinic recently in Dubai at the Oasis Centre mall on Sheikh Zayed Road, followed by a second clinic in Discovery Gardens. Over the next 2-3 years, we plan to establish twenty iCARE Clinics across the UAE.
Nothing is more important than your family's well-being, and we're here to support it. Here's to your good health!
We may all breathe, but do we breathe well? Take a few seconds to observe your natural breathing pattern. Do you breathe through your nose? Is your breath deep, slow and long?
Do you inhale and expand your chest and abdomen? For most of us, the answer is probably "no".
From a yogic point of view, breathing correctly is of supreme importance. Doing so helps us lead a life virtually free of stress and disease. The benefits of good breathing include:
- Adequately supplying oxygen to vital organs, which is essential for the efficient functioning of the brain, nerves, glands and internal organs. An improper supply of oxygen causes, degeneration of vital organs, mental sluggishness, negative thoughts and depression, and eventually affects vision and hearing.
- Naturally expelling waste products and toxins from our body.
- Rejuvenating the skin and preventing premature ageing.
- Improving lung capacity, thereby relieving respiratory problems.
- Producing internal heat through specific yogic breathing exercises to increase metabolism, improve digestive function and burn fat.
- Cooling the body with other yogic breathing techniques to maintain body temperature during summer.
- Preventing the entry of pathogens and dust into our respiratory passages by breathing through the nose.
Try turning your attention to breathing better in your daily life and when you exercise - you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. Breath is life, and good breath is good life.
Healthy eating and regular exercise are two
of the most important considerations for your overall health. They're like two
sides of the same coin: if you don't eat the right amount of healthy food, you
won't have enough energy to exercise. Without exercise, you run the risk of
developing high cholesterol, obesity or any number of other modern lifestyle
disorders that are so prevalent.
Over-exercising, on the other hand, can lead to injuries (thus disrupting our regular exercise routines). Excessive eating or craving sugary foods or junk foods can result in vicious cycles of guilt/shame and indulgence/punishment.
For many of us, striking a healthy balance
between diet and exercise can be a challenge. Enter yoga: its regular practice
not only brings physical benefits, but also helps balance our emotions, keeps
us grounded and virtually eliminates stress. It is rigorous enough to yield
tangible results, yet gentle enough to be practiced every day.
Combined with Ayurvedic concepts of the trigunas and tridoshas (bio-energies), yoga also helps us have a better attitude towards food. It teaches us that the cause of most disease is through under- (ajjeranatvam), over- (atijeeranatvam) or incorrect (kujeeranatvam) digestion. We also learn about our approach to food, the kinds of foods that suit our specific body type and the importance of timing and moderation in diet. In time, yoga reduces harmful cravings in the body, which makes a healthy diet more enjoyable.
Overall, yoga offers a sustainable,
holistic solution to the problems associated with balancing diet and exercise.
A combination of modern nutrition, yogic practice and Ayurvedic thought can do wonders
for our health and longevity - and there's no better time to get started than
Have you experienced better health through yoga? Share your experiences with us here.
Indian food is often perceived to be spicy, overly rich and ultimately unhealthy. I differ from this opinion, however, as I know that, prepared correctly and thoughtfully, Indian cuisine can be a delicious way to take care of all your health needs.
Try these ideas for making Indian food that's as good for your body as it is for your palate:
- Healthy samosa. The samosa is a
delightful evening snack consisting of a flaky pastry casing
traditionally stuffed with potatoes and deep-fried. Up the health
quotient by stuffing these with broccoli, raisins and nuts. Broccoli is a
superfood full of phytonutrients and antioxidants, and also works well
stir-fried with coriander, ginger and chilli and filled into a samosa.
To reduce the fat content significantly, try having your samosa baked
instead of fried.
- Tandoori food. Another healthy option
for Indian cuisine is the use of the tandoor, or clay oven. Tandoori
food is grilled, but not doused in heavy sauces. Meats are traditionally
marinated with aromatic spices and yoghurt, then grilled at high
temperatures to retain the moisture, flavour and nutrients of the food.
- Saag. Saag usually refers to a variety
of seasonal leafy green vegetables like spinach, fenugreek greens and
mustard greens. Dig out those tasty, long-forgotten saag recipes to add
some extra fibre and dietary bulk to your meals.
- Green chillies. Use fresh green chillies more
than dried red chilli powder - the capsaicin (the volatile oil that
creates the sensation of spiciness) in fresh green chillies is more
readily absorbed by the food, giving that pleasurable tickle to the
tongue instead of the uncomfortable burning feeling in the stomach.
- Extra-virgin mustard oil. Try cooking with extra-virgin mustard oil - like olive oil, it has monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and a high density of lipoproteins (HDL)
or the "good cholesterol", and offers similar health benefits with a
flavour that's better suited to Indian food. Mustard oil is good for
tempering Indian spices, stir-frys, stews and sautéing.
- Unrefined sugar, honey and jaggery.
Complex/refined sugars hit the liver faster and harder, and their
excessive consumption is linked to obesity, heart disease and type-2
diabetes. Unrefined sugar, honey and jaggery (unrefined whole cane
sugar), in limited amounts, are healthier sweeteners - they have a lower
sucrose content and are absorbed more slowly and steadily by the body.
Choose these sweeteners to make Indian desserts like kheer.
- Roti over naan. Opt for roti (unleavened whole wheat flatbread) instead of naan (leavened, refined wheat flour bread) as it's easier to digest.
- Spices. Most spices used in Indian cuisine have
certain medicinal properties attached to them, and are included in
traditional recipes for both taste and health reasons. For example, both
ajwain (thymol seeds or bishop's weed) and cumin seeds aid digestion;
turmeric and ginger are known antiseptics.
- Fresher is better. Choose fresh seasonal ingredients wherever possible. As with any cuisine, fresher is always better for Indian food.
- Skimmed milk. Substitute skimmed or low-fat milk for whole milk in recipes.
- Tofu. Many Indian recipes call for paneer
(homemade whole-milk cottage cheese). Try substituting low-fat tofu as a
- Less oil. Tempering spices actually requires quite a small amount of oil, but many restaurants load food with oil because it speeds up cooking time. Try using less oil (and a little bit of patience) for Indian food that's lighter on the arteries.
It just takes a few minor modifications and thoughtful choices to be well on your way from heartburn to good health. Happy eating!
Do you have ideas for healthy Indian food? Share them with us here.
As the Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant at Balance Wellness Club, I like to work in an environment that soothes the senses. My office serves as an inner sanctum, where the subtle aroma of scented candles permeates the air, and the relaxing softness of melodic background sounds produces a general air of calm. This sense of balance is the essence of what we are trying to achieve with the Wellness Club.
The Club has the distinction of being the only one of its kind in Dubai. Unlike regular spas that are concerned only with water treatments, the Wellness Club takes a more holistic approach. The same treatments are available as those in spas across the region: steam bath, sauna, ice machine, hydro bath, Vichy shower, etc., but here we take things further by combining treatments and therapies with a balanced healthy diet and a dedicated exercise programme.
We were one of the key participants in the recent Oasis Wellness Festival, held between 15-29 February 2012 at the Oasis Centre. One of the central aims of the Festival, from my perspective, was to encourage people who were unfamiliar with the Balance Wellness Club and its work, to visit and learn more about us. This aim was more than fulfilled by the stream of new clients that descended on the venue, each keen to try any one of a diverse programme of events -- including yoga sessions, exercise classes and lectures.
The Wellness Festival was a great success, with many of the sessions full to capacity. I found it personally very rewarding to witness the enthusiasm with which our visitors embraced the classes, treatments and lectures. We certainly succeeded in raising their awareness of the Club and the services it offers. This in-turn has laid the foundations for a stream of new visitors: ranging from 40-60 year old people with weight issues embarking on a life-changing detox treatment, to busy 20-30 year old's simply seeking some exercise.
The reasons for attending no doubt differ for each visitor, but it seems clear that people enjoy coming to our "sanctuary for the self", enough to give it a try and to keep coming back for more.
If you have any wellness tips or life leveling experiences to tell, we would love you to share them with us.
In these days of fast food, fast cars and fast living, it's reassuring to know that there's a place you can go to get away from life's stresses, strains, aches and pains.
Now into its second week, the Oasis Wellness Festival is responsible for the transforming air of calmness, relaxation and rejuvenation that has descended on the Oasis Centre over the past week.
So what is a wellness festival you may ask? It's a two-week celebration of healthy living that encompasses yoga classes, fitness sessions, cooking groups, health talks, competitions and a host of other initiatives, all aimed at improving people's health and general wellbeing.
We're all guilty of overdoing things at times: long days at the office, driving instead of walking, eating the wrong types of food. This is your opportunity to kick back, relax and let your body know that you care about it.
Supported by Beat Diabetes, Medical Partners and Zuleka Hospital, the festival runs from 15-29 February at venues throughout the Oasis Centre Mall. Fitness First gym has sessions aimed at beating the bulge, fighting the flab and generally giving excess weight a hard time. The Balance Wellness Club offers yoga sessions and guest speakers to instill a sense of harmony into our hectic lives, whilst the Balance Café focuses on food, food, food, all prepared in a healthy and wholesome way of course.
The Wellness festival classes and lectures are free, yes absolutely
free! It's the perfect opportunity to find out how to make a great
smoothie, or take advantage of family fitness sessions. You can delve
within yourself to rejuvenate through the power of the subconscious
mind, or put on some dancing shoes and Zumba till you drop. There are
even free glucose checks, so now there's no excuse to neglect your body.
Here are some simple tips for healthy living on the go:
- Enjoy an early morning pint of water - It rejuvenates the body's cells, replacing the oxygen lost through the night
- Grab some fresh fruit on your way out - They're full of essential nutrients, vitamins and sugars
- Avoid the lure of junk food - Fast food is full of "empty calories" and unhealthy fat. Go for the salad every time
- Exercise on the go - Don't be a couch potato, get your blood
flowing by taking the stairs instead of an elevator, or leaving your
desk for a walk now and then
- Drink herbal teas - They're good for you! Try to replace caffeine with your favourite herbal infusion
- Snack on a handful of nuts - A late afternoon mouthful of almonds,
cashews, pecans and raisins increases energy and productivity
- Say yes to freshly squeezed juices - boost your energy, body health and vitality with an intake of fresh fruit juice
- Make time for deep breathing - Inhale for 5 second intervals, hold then release: at your desk, in the car, when cooking food. It's great for your blood cells.
For those living in hot climates, the onset of winter often means welcome respite from the blistering sun and oppressive humidity. What we don't always realize is that the transition to cooler weather can affect our body and mind. Ayurveda - the oldest existing system of medical practice aimed at spiritual, mental, and social well-being as well as physical health - provides valuable tips on how to look and feel your best during the winter months.
When temperatures drop, the air turns cold and damp, the skies gray: it is the season of the elemental energies kapha and vata (two of the three doshas in our body). Kapha represents Earth and Water out of the five elements of the universe, and is situated in and around the chest and throat area. Likewise, Vata represents Ether and Air, and is situated in the lower extremities of the body.
Maintaining a good balance between the doshas brings about good balance between the body and mind. Follow these handy Ayurvedic tips to stay healthy and happy this winter.
Rise & shine
1) Wake a little later in the morning (around 7am, or when the sun rises). Scrape your tongue to remove accumulated dead bacteria and yeast, and to improve circulation to the visceral organs.
3) Drink a glass of warm water (optional: add the juice of half a lime) to promote bowel function.
4) Apply warm sesame oil or Ayurvedic medicated oil to your entire body - especially on the scalp, ears and feet - as this helps heat the body and stimulate circulation. Leave the oil for 5-10 minutes to be absorbed well through the skin, then shower with hot water and exfoliate your skin.
5) Finish your morning with yoga, pranayama and meditation. Opt for poses that open the chest cavity (fish, boat, bow, locust, lion and camel poses are good). Shoulder-stands and headstands, if you can do them, are excellent to eliminate mucus and clear congestion in the chest.
6) Don't forget to eat a healthy breakfast! Skipping this important meal tends to dry up bodily tissues and increase vata. Try porridges made from oatmeal, barley, cornmeal or rice flakes (poha). To increase your digestive fire, an hour after breakfast have a cup of hot water spiced with fresh/powdered ginger, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of powdered/ground clove.
Cold weather may invite you to curl up in a corner and sit still, but it's a better idea to keep the body active to remain healthy. If the weather outside permits, try a brisk walk, run or bicycle ride. If it's too cold outside, join a gym or fitness class, try a workout video at home or simply hop onto the treadmill to boost circulation and balance the doshas. Soak in some sun if you can, too - early morning or evening light is best - to improve the mood and promote healthy sleep cycles.
Eat & drink right
Appetites tend to increase in the winter months. Opt for more proteins - beans, legumes, tofu - and eggs, chicken, turkey and fish if you're not a strict vegetarian. Incorporate whole grain yeast-free breads, buttermilk, cottage cheese, steamed vegetables, hot soups with ghee (clarified butter) and spicy foods into your diet. Use warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper to promote digestion. Avoid cold drinks - they aggravate kapha and vata - and choose hot water, hot tea and, occasionally, hot cocoa or chai. Avoid excess coffee or other caffeinated products as far as possible.
Steer clear of cold drafts, choose warm clothes, and remember to cover your head with a hat or cap - more than half the body's heat is lost through the head alone. Covering your ears and neck helps keep kapha in balance, and wearing socks on your feet helps in balancing vata.
Cure that cold
According to Ayurveda, common colds are considered a kapha-vata disorder. An excess of cool/moist kapha qualities leads to congestion and a runny nose; excess vata brings about chills and poor appetite and digestion. Here's help:
1) Dried ginger is the best remedy for colds. Put it in tea, infuse bath water with powdered ginger and baking soda (1/3 cup each) or try a ginger steam treatment to relieve congestion: boil a teaspoon of powdered ginger in a pint of water, put a towel over your head and inhale the steam through the nose for about 5 minutes. You'll feel a whole lot better.
2) Vitamin C provides excellent defense against colds and improves the immune system. Include lime and other citrus fruit - all natural sources of Vitamin C - into your daily diet.
3) To reduce nasal irritation, congestion and sneezing, drip 3-4 drops of boiled, cooled mild salt water into each nostril. For an itchy, sore throat, gargle with warm salt water with a pinch of powdered ginger twice a day before meals.
4) Warm water, drunk at regular intervals throughout the day, removes toxins from the system and improves your recovery time from the common cold.
5) Reduce dairy products and avoid milk while you have a cold, as they increase mucus and congestion.
Has Ayurveda helped improve your health? Share your experience with us here...
In the ancient healing system of Ayurveda, diabetes is known as "Madhumeha" (sweetness) or "Prameha" (excessive urination), and is considered to be a type of urinary disorder. According to Ayurvedic principles, an imbalance in kapha dosha (dominated by earth and water) and vata dosha (dominated by space & air) due to improper food, lack of exercise and an imbalanced lifestyle leads to Diabetes Mellitus.
Ayurveda for diabetic neuropathy
What is diabetic neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of Diabetes Mellitus in which nerves of the body get affected due to high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time. As a result, nerves are slow or unable to carry messages to and from the brain to different parts of the body.
What are its symptoms?
Symptoms of diabetic neuropath include numbness, loss of sensation, loss of balance and co-ordination, pain in the feet, poor digestion and loss of appetite. The legs and feet are usually the first to be affected; other areas such as the arms, abdomen, etc. are affected only rarely.
How can it be managed by Ayurveda?
Ayurveda aims to manage diabetic neuropathy by treating its root causes. To restore balance of both kapha and vata doshas in the body, Ayurvedic approaches include a well balanced diet, massages, specific exercises, yoga, pranayama, and detoxification, rejuvenation and panchakarma therapies.
Therapeutic massages and treatments help activate and nourish the nerves, improve the loss of sensation, reduce numbness, lend more mobility, reduce pain, cool and relax the brain and regain an active life style.
The benefits of yoga for diabetes
Yogic wisdom also addresses diabetes, and prescribes specific asanas effective in impacting the intestinal muscles near the pancreas in order to stimulate insulin secretion and reduce glucagon levels, both of which are essential to maintain balanced blood glucose level.
Yoga helps manage Diabetes Mellitus in many ways:
- By increasing the production of insulin. Yogic
exercises that promote blood circulation in the pancreatic region are
believed to stimulate pancreatic function, thereby increasing insulin secretion.
- By reducing the secretion of Glucagon. Glucagon is
a hormone secreted by the pancreas which raises blood glucose levels,
especially during stressful times. Yoga effectively reduces stress, thus
regulating glucagon levels and likely improving insulin action.
- By increasing physical activity. Yoga as a form of
low-impact exercise can help manage diabetes through muscular
stretches, which leads to greater sugar uptake by muscle cells and thus
lower blood sugar levels.
- By helping to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet. Yogic practices help prepare your mind and body for a change in your lifestyle and diet.
Balance Wellbeing 360 and diabetes
At Balance Wellbeing 360, we combine the best of traditional Ayurvedic and yogic practices in modern therapies to restore the balance of doshas and increase physical activity, thus assisting in the effective long-term management of diabetes.
Our goal is to offer a full change our clients' lifestyle by helping to control diabetes, which is the root cause of diabetic neuropathy. On-site Ayurvedic doctors offer a detailed consultation and chalk out a personalized plan. This includes therapies, a nutritionist-supervised meal plan (served by Balance Café), yoga, pranayama and expert-customized exercises all under one roof.
Whatever you choose, know that there are several alternative approaches to help in the long-term management of this condition. Now go out there and beat diabetes!
Have traditional or alternative methods helped manage your diabetes? Share your experience with us here...
Diabetics should be careful when exercising - even a small medical problem can hamper your ability to exercise safely. So remember to consult your doctor and a fitness expert before starting any kind of exercise program. Make sure you don't have any symptoms of cardiovascular problems or evidence of retinopathy, neuropathy, or nephropathy. And follow these seven tips to help you Beat Diabetes!
1. Monitor your blood sugar levels. Exercise lowers blood sugar. If you're diabetic, keep a regular check on your blood sugar levels before and after you exercise - hypoglycemia can occur during exercise or up to 12 hours after. Ideally, you shouldn't cross 250 mg/dl; if your levels are lower than 100 mg/dl, make sure you eat a workout snack before you start. If you feel faint, dizzy, weak or confused, stop exercising right away and drink some orange juice or other source of quickly digested sugar.
2. Join a gym. Or take a walk. It's a good idea to start in a gym if you can, as the personal trainers there help you understand your body and make exercise a part of your life. But if you can't, just start walking. And yes, it's free. Wear a pedometer and add 10,000 extra steps each day.
3. Thirty a day. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Start by doing 5-10 minutes a day and add five or ten minutes each week until you reach 30. It's better to build your stamina slowly than burn out after a single, tiring session. Also, allow five minutes to warm up before and another five to cool down after your workout session. This allows your heart rate to return to normal when you're done.
4. Take a friend, make a friend. I don't like to walk alone. If you can't find a workout buddy, make music your partner and stop procrastinating. Regular exercise is a lot easier if you do something you really enjoy - for instance, take up dance if you like it. That way, you get your exercise, have fun and make new friends all at once.
5. Stay hydrated. Being dehydrated can raise blood sugar levels. Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day, and always make sure to drink enough liquid before, during and after your workout. If you use insulin, make sure that you inject into your abdomen, not your leg or arm muscles when you exercise.
6. Watch your feet. Most forms of exercise - except swimming - can affect your feet. Keep an eye out for sores or blisters when you work out. Make sure your workout shoes fit well and are comfortable. Wear soft, absorbent socks. If your feet suffer from poor blood circulation, opt for exercises like swimming, yoga or Tai Chi, as they don't pressure them.
7. Get involved! Connect with your local community for support and advice. And learn more about all the things we're doing to Beat Diabetes.
Has exercise positively affected your diabetes? Share your story with us here...