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Last updated Oct. 29, 2018, noon

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8 New Secrets to Ease Muscle Soreness Naturally

Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)—soreness that creeps in a day or two after a hard workout—is a double-edged sword. On one hand, tender muscles can be the sign of a workout well done; on the other, aching your way through recovery can be an indicator of dysfunction or too much stress on your system.

The truth is, soreness doesn’t have to be the inevitable side effect of intense exercise. Efficient warm-ups, hydration, environment, and natural remedies can have a powerful impact on the human body. Here are eight ways to fight (and prevent) post-workout pain the natural way.

1. Have a dedicated warm-up.

Workouts that call for overexertion, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and CrossFit, can often leave you aching. But it’s not so much the workout itself that’s to blame, but rather it’s the body you’re bringing to that workout, says Brian Bradley, Fitness Director for Elev8d Fitness, the new 8-minute home workout program from the experts at Sonima. If you bring a misaligned, stiff body to fitness, you could be unknowingly welcoming increased muscle soreness and strain.

Fortunately, a little prep work pays off. Just a simple 8-minute workout that brings your body through its full range of motion and aligns your major joints can dramatically decrease soreness. Dynamic movements wake up your deep, core muscles and help correct your posture so that you move more efficiently during the rest of your workout. “And you’ll get so much more out of your actual workout because you’ll be able to stand more erect, where your lung tissue and diaphragm can function correctly, feeding your body more oxygen,” says Bradley.

Related: I Healed My Chronic Pain Naturally in 8 Weeks

2. Fill up on H20.

Soaking yourself in an ice bath can constrict blood vessels and halt inflammation, thus delaying muscle soreness associated with exercise. But simply drinking water can provide relief, too. “Many times, people get muscle soreness and a general inflammatory response from being dehydrated,” says Janet Zand, a leading practitioner of natural medicine and Sonima’s naturopathic medical advisor. Research even demonstrates that being dehydrated during a workout can exacerbate DOMS.

If you’re sweating a lot or feeling thirsty throughout the day, skip the coffee and sip some pure H20, says Zand. The average person needs about 12 cups a day, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But that number is higher if you’re active. Also, it’s best to drink small amounts of water over a period of time, as too much at once can disrupt your stomach.

3. Massage with Ayurvedic oils.

In Ayurvedic medicine, muscular pain or discomfort is seen as an aggravation of vata energy, which behaves like the wind, says Jayagopal Parla, M.D., a professor of Ayurvedic medicine at the American University of Complementary Medicine in Beverly Hills. When you move your body to the extent that it’s stressed and depleted, that deficiency can be filled by vata, leaving a dryness in the muscles, manifesting as achiness or soreness, he says. Massaging the body with an oil such as Mahanarayana Thailam before or exercise can prevent inflammation and keep vata from reaching abnormal states, he says.

Related: What Ayurveda Says About Exercise

4. Try arnica.

This potent flower has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that soothe sore muscles. One small study of runners found that people who applied topical arnica to their muscles after a tough workout reported less pain and muscle tenderness 72 hours after exercise. Apply it topically or take the dissolving supplement under the tongue every hour for two to three hours, says Zand.


5. Soak in a peppermint and rosemary oil bath.

Epsom salts are a well-known sore-muscle solution, but there are other bath rituals worth adopting, too. Zand favors anti-inflammatory peppermint oil. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy agrees that the oil can be beneficial for muscle aches and pains. Add it to your bath water for a rejuvenating (and fragrant) soak.

6. Experiment with CBD oil.

Cannabidiol (CBD)—one of the cannabinoids found in marijuana (but not the chemical that’s responsible for the drug’s high)—is the latest pain reliever du jour. And research, including a recent review from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, confirms that cannabinoids can indeed be potent pain relievers.

“For many people, CBD oil works very nicely in relieving sore muscles,” says Zand. As for now, the data is still playing catch-up with the array of products on the market, but some preliminary research does suggest even topical CBD could be beneficial for pain.

7. Find the right herbal concoction.

Certain herbs and spices can reduce muscle soreness and tenderness, says Parla. Turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, and dill seeds are known to increase blood and lymph flow to the muscles, he says. Add these to a meal or steep with tea to sip throughout the day. Parla also suggests Vidarikanda or Kapikachhu, Ayurvedic plant powders to mix into a nut milk for a post-workout drink. This can work to pacify vata and prevent muscle soreness, he says.

8. Take a dip in the ocean.

You’ve probably heard someone preach the powers of salt water after a long vacation. There might be something to it, says Zand. “The ocean is replete with all sorts of minerals such as magnesium and iodine and it’s also typically cold, which can be anti-inflammatory,” says Zand. Consider it nature’s (cooler) Epsom salts bath.

Transform your body in 12 weeks! Try the revolutionary new approach to fitness that helps you achieve better results by doing less. Sign up now to access a FREE 14-day trial with

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Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Garlic Tahini Drizzle

These are no ordinary sweet potatoes! Loaded with tender kale and strips of naturally sweet carrots along with bell pepper, red onion, sesame seeds and fresh parsley, this simple and nutritious meal can be made in less than an hour. They’re ideal for families with young kids who love to “build their own meals.”

My trick to a perfectly roasted sweet potato is to rub it with extra virgin olive oil before baking. Feel free to swap yellow or red bell peppers with green for an extra touch of sweetness. Whichever peppers you prefer, you can expect lots of nutrients such as vitamins A, C and K as well as B6 and potassium, all of which are needed to keep your immune system healthy, especially as the weather gets cooler this fall.

The fresh herbs, sweet potatoes and kale in this recipe are loaded with fiber, which is key to keep our digestion happy and moving along (detoxification). You can also use fresh basil or cilantro to switch up the garnish depending on what your tastebuds are craving. Lastly, the Garlic Tahini Drizzle is a terrific source of calcium. If you’re like me and can’t eat dairy, this is a great way to get your calcium fix as well as a good dose of magnesium and potassium.

Meat Alternative:

If you’re in the mood for a heartier dinner, poach two large, organic chicken breasts in a large pot of water with a pinch of sea salt for 15 minutes over medium heat. Drain the water and use a fork to ‘pull’ the chicken and add on top of the sweet potatoes.

Related: Sweet Potato and Turkey Meatballs

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4 Ways to Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul

In today’s world where nearly 10 hours of the average young person’s day are spent online, success and self-branding—in almost every field—go hand-in-hand. And yet, you know that crafting and solidifying your “brand” online means a lot of time and energy glued to your phone. You also know that all that phone time leaves you feeling alone, alienated, lost in comparisons to others, and carrying around a vague feeling of not being good, or pretty or exciting or successful enough. Sure, you get a nice rush each time you get a new follow, like, or comment, but the “high” fades as quickly as it comes, leaving you feeling empty.

Don’t delete your accounts just yet. While simply dropping out of the social media game is an option for some, for those of you who have committed to career goals that require a strong online presence, it can feel unwise to leave the social media universe entirely.

So if you are one of the 88 percent of 18 to 29-year-old Americans who use Facebook or one of the 56 percent in the same age group who use Instagram, or one of the millions who use other social media sites, my suggestion is to implement the following mindfulness hacks into your social media strategy.

1. Clarify your goals, then re-examine them periodically.

Why do you need/want to brand yourself on social media? Is it so that other people in your chosen field take you seriously? Is it to broadcast your message to the world, or to connect with others? Get very specific and write these goals down somewhere where you can refer back to them regularly. As you post, notice whether you are staying true to your goals. Is there a common theme among your posts? Is your feed telling a story, and is it the story you intended?

This is not only a smart branding strategy, it is a mindfulness practice. Without clearly articulated goals about your brand and its purpose, it is easy to fall into the trap of chasing “likes” or seeking approval for its own sake. In that zone, we tend to suffer, comparing ourselves madly against other people, losing our confidence and feeling awful when we don’t receive enough affirmation from the outside world.

2. Cultivate your brand, but don’t believe the hype.

The truth is, that we which we call our “self” is not a fixed thing. Every cell in our body dies and is regenerated every few years. It is true that we all have bodies, brains, personalities, likes, dislikes, and our own unique quirks, but recognizing that every one of those things will shift and change throughout the course of our life helps us to remain flexible and loose in the face of those changes.

If I post an accomplishment on my page, for example, and it receives a lot of likes, I feel really good. There is nothing wrong with that. But if I take myself too seriously and cling too hard to my identity as a fixed thing, I will most definitely suffer when I post something and don’t get any response, or when things actually go wrong in life (which, spoiler alert, they will). Holding ourselves and our “brands” loosely, with as much humor and gentleness as possible, makes lots of room for the ups and downs of life—online and off.

Related: A Meditation for Authentic Communication

3. Be real. Others will see and appreciate it.

This is a tough one for many of us. It is very hard to be vulnerable online, especially when trying to “sell” ourselves. We often present pictures of ourselves and our lives in the most flattering light imaginable, wishing that it were true, while the “real” us sits behind our screens, flailing and failing, struggling and feeling sad, lost and lonely.

Even though it is counterintuitive, every time I see an example of someone being real online—being honest, sharing a struggle, or even just showing up unfiltered—I am filled with love and appreciation. It gives me room to do the same, to share my own messy life and still stand rooted in my own worth and love-ability. I am not advocating for endless posts complaining, whining, or being overly self-deprecating. Those do not usually help you, or the person reading them, to feel better. Just more snapshots of real life, more honesty about the ups and the downs, and more authenticity will go a long way in helping others see you in their own struggles.

4. Spread kindness, go beyond the “like.”

Nothing combats jealousy and what the Buddhists call “comparing mind” like showing love to others on social media. You don’t have to be fake or to say things you don’t mean, but if a portion of your time spent online each day is allotted to writing encouraging comments to people whose posts you appreciate, or to those who are having a hard time, has the potential to transform both of your online experiences.

When I set this as my intention for a trip into Instagram-land or the Twitter-verse, I think of myself like a Jewish-Buddhist Santa Clause, dropping gifts of gratitude and admiration around to my various heroes, friends, and people who I admire, just letting them know how they have affected me. It does not take a long time, and someone who has been on the others side of these loving gifts, it can truly make someone’s day.

I hope that I have convinced you that the social media universe does not have to be such a difficult place to maintain mindfulness and compassion, and that selling ourselves does not automatically mean selling our souls. The good news is, each new day, each new post is a chance to practice. Good luck!

The post 4 Ways to Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul appeared first on Sonima.

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A Quick Workout to Fix Tight Muscles

It’s widely believed that your muscles increase in length the more you stretch them, that if you bend down and reach for your toes enough, you’ll eventually stretch your hamstrings to a longer length.

But this traditional understanding of stretching is flawed. Flexibility doesn’t come from stretching the muscles to a more impressive length—flexibility is actually the absence of tension in the muscles. And to get to the root of this tension, you have to address why a body is tight in the first place.

“People always come to me and tell me that they are genetically tight, that their body just isn’t flexible,” says Brian Bradley, Fitness Director of Elev8d Fitness, the new 8-minute home workout program from Sonima. “But this is completely misunderstood.”

Flexibility is really all about putting your body into alignment, says Bradley. And alignment starts with the pelvis. “The hips are the epicenter of the body, so when you have function in the hips, all the muscles that originate in that area are no longer under tension, or restricted.” The better the position of your hips, the better relationship with the upper back, mid-back, shoulder blades, etc. You’re not inflexible because your muscles are short, you’re inflexible because your body is out of alignment and you’re impinging full range of motion.

How Does Alignment Improve Flexibility?

“When you align the body, the bones where the tendons connect move into a more aligned position, which loosens the tension in the muscle. It’s freeing up your muscles to their full and natural length,” Bradley explains. In other words, you are changing the position of the skeleton where the tendons attach. When you put these attachment points into alignment, the muscle can relax into full range of motion. As you slowly loosen tension in this or that muscle, the body comes into concert with itself, unifying as a single system rather than a collection of disjointed parts. And that, Bradley says, is where real strength and wellness happens.

Related: The Workout Method That Helped Me Be a Runner Again

Elev8d Fitness is designed around this fundamental principle: Align the body so that it can move through full range of motion, thus, balancing and unifying the musculature as a functional, efficient system. “The idea is that you’ll get your body to point where you don’t feel like you need to stretch. And to do that, you have to align your body,” says Bradley.

A Workout to Improve Flexibility

In this 8-minute workout, Elev8d Fitness co-founder and world-renowned physiologist Pete Egoscue will coach you through a sequence of one-minute movements. As you fire the hip-flexors and core, notice a subtle release of tightness is the upper back and knees. Remember, form is critical. In order to align and balance the body, you have to pay close attention to the position of your spine, shoulders, and hips. For example, be sure to pinch the shoulder blades in the Da Vincis and maintain a slight arch in your back when you squat down for the Elev8d Side Unders.

Related: Can’t Touch Your Toes? These Three Exercises Will Change That

“You’re going to feel some work in these exercises,” says Bradley. “But what we’re doing is training your muscles at their full length.” And that’s really the key here: Strengthening your muscles in a state of zero tension or tightness. You are training your body back into its natural and functional alignment.

“This 8-minute sequence is literally changing how each section of your spine relates to your hips and shoulders,” promises Bradley. As you work your way through the exercises, your range of motion is increasing exponentially. So much so that if you started the whole thing over again from the top, you would notice a dramatic difference in your flexibility. That’s because you’ve freed up your shoulders, your mid-back, and your hips, thus, loosening the tension in the muscles.

You’re not necessarily going to feel a stretch with this workout, reminds Bradley. “It’ll feel like work and you may start breathing a little heavy. But then all of the sudden, you’ll be able to reach down and touch your toes.”



Transform your body in 12 weeks! Try the revolutionary new approach to fitness that helps you achieve better results by doing less. Sign up now to access a FREE 14-day trial with

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What is Nature-Deficit Disorder?

Growing up, you might remember your parents hollering at you and your siblings to “Go outside and come back before dark.” You would play with the neighborhood kids, building forts, exploring, and enjoying nature until the light began to fade, signaling time for dinner.

Not anymore. A study published in Pediatrics a few years ago found that children spend less time outdoors than ever. And it’s not just kids. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, adults spend approximately 87 percent of their time in enclosed spaces or indoors. Due to lifestyle, technology, and heavily scheduled days, we’re all spending more time inside. This lack of time breathing fresh air and soaking up the sun is impacting social learning, mental health, physical health, and overall wellbeing.

In 2009, American author Richard Louv coined the phrase “Nature-Deficit Disorder” in his book Last Child in the Woods. The term summarizes the health and behavioral issues resulting from less time outdoors, and the impact this has on our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. The definition is not listed as a clinical diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), however, it is meant to encapsulate the human condition at a time when technology and being inside (at a desk or on the couch) dominate our lifestyles.

The bottom line: Nature-Deficit Disorder takes a toll on quality of life. Less movement, diminished time in the sun or fresh air, and the lack of spontaneous socializing all affect us. More than we know.

“Wonder is the source of spiritual growth. And nature is a source of wonder,” writes Louv.

Science is starting to substantiate that nature is not just a luxury, but also a significant part of the human experience. For example, being outside has proven to positively effect symptoms of ADHD, reduce stress, and improve cognition. A recent article in The New York Times noted that doctors are now prescribing time in nature. While more data is still being collected, human instinct, common sense, and an urgent need to untether from the tentacles of technology is driving us to reconnect to the earth.

“Going outside moves you to another level of consciousness—it gets you to think differently” says Brian Bradley, Fitness Director of Elev8d Fitness, the new home workout program from Sonima. “When you leave your phone behind and get out in the wind and the trees, you actually start partaking in your environment.” And what’s more, especially for those who have struggled with mental health issues, getting in touch with nature and learning outdoor skills prove to be powerful healers. “It’s about connection—with yourself and the environment around you,” Bradley emphasizes. “Nature gets you out of your head and into your heart. And your heart is your instinct.” Wilderness and adventure therapy programs have been using the outdoors as a therapeutic tool for decades.

How Nature Influences the Brain and Body

“For more than 25 years, patients have reported feeling better in nature,” says Janet Zand, a leading practitioner of natural medicine and Sonima’s naturopathic medical advisor. Zand often prescribes time outdoors, especially for mood conditions, such as anxiety and stress—two very common concerns. She cites the findings of a recent study where two groups who walked for 90 minutes—one in a grassy, tree-filled path and the other along a heavy trafficked highway. Their brains were scanned and heart and respiration rates measured. There were significant changes in the brain. The subgenus prefrontal cortex (a brain area that is active while ruminating on redundant thoughts generally focused on negative emotions) decreased among the individuals who walked in nature versus the highway.

Nature-Deficit Disorder leaves many of us spending, not only too much time indoors, but too much time thinking. When we get out, our senses are active, we’re breathing fresh air, and able to quiet cyclical and negative thinking. Hence, why rumination was diminished in those who partook in a more scenic nature experience. Consequently, time outside allows us to literally get out of our heads.

Some organizations are recognizing the need and becoming part of the solution for Nature-Deficit Disorder. The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, for example, has certified over 300 forest guides, including professionals from the healthcare industry. The association seeks to integrate nature and forest therapies into healthcare, education, and land management systems. According to their website: “We are connecting people with nature to benefit both.” The deeper conclusion being that awareness and immersion in the environment leads to deeper empathy, action, and symbiotic well-being.

“Ayurveda teaches that we humans are the microcosm of the macrocosm—that the natural world is reflecting the beauty and perfection of its five elements back to us and our own five elements,” says Erin Casperson, Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. Ayurveda, as an ancient health science, is couched in the natural rhythms of earth. This includes awareness of how the elements influence us, and how to live in accordance with the seasons and the time of day. Therefore, being in harmony as an individual is rooted in harmonious living, at one with the world.

“A positive aspect of being in nature is that it allows us to slow down. The world is in constant flux and influenced by the speed of modernity. Hence, the stillness we find in nature helps us to land in the present moment, breathe deeply, and relax our nervous systems,” adds Casperson. Consequently, from an Ayurvedic perspective, time in nature is essential to health.

Related: How Nature Impacts Our Health

Nature-Deficit Disorder is very real, according to Sanjeev Verma, a meditation teacher and Master Vedic astrologer, who is also a columnist at Sonima. “Just as cells are interconnected, we are part of one organic universal body. The earth and humans are intertwined. But we’ve lost this awareness. Our modern lifestyle deprives us of this abundance. We don’t get enough air, oxygen, and water. Artificial light throws off our natural rhythms. “Growing up in India, one of the things my parents taught me was to get up early, go outside, and experience Brahama Muhurta, the auspicious time of day. This early morning hour outdoors is the ideal window for tapping into prana, or energy, as Westerners say,” notes Verma. When we spend this time outdoors, we connect with the abundance of earth. This is vital to physical and mental well-being. The early-morning hours are ideal, but any time of day is best spent in nature, adds Sanjeev. This allows us to access the vitality surrounding us each moment.

5 Key Benefits to Spending Time in Nature

The rewards of getting outside is being further documented by researchers and clinicians. In the meantime, here’s what science currently says about how leaving the house, office and car may be good for your overall health.

1. Nature improves mood and mental health. The results of studies show that forest environments can increase relaxation, lower cortisol (the stress hormone), decrease pulse rate, and increase parasympathetic nerve activity. A study in Japan determined that a walk in the nature impacted urban dwellers with a 12 percent decrease in cortisol levels and 7 percent decrease in sympathetic nerve activity (known as fight-or-flight mode).

2. Nature reduces anxiety. Time outdoors can help ameliorate negative thoughts, stress, and diminish feelings of anxiety. In one study, individual biometrics and psychometrics related to stress were measured. Green, natural environments had an impact, reducing markers of stress. Another randomized trial found that park visits decreased levels of stress overall.

3. Nature enhances memory and cognitive function. Research from Stanford in 2015 showed marked difference in brain function. Participants demonstrated greater retention and memory following consistent exposure to the outdoors. The individuals participated in a 50-minute walk in either a natural or an urban environment. They completed assessments related to their psychological state and cognitive functioning. Those on the nature walk showed decreased anxiety, rumination, and cognitive benefits (increased working memory).

4. Nature impacts inflammatory conditions. The research has just started being amassed in this area, but some findings show that the immune system may benefit from forest bathing or time immersed in nature. In addition, time outdoors can even potentially boost the immune system’s ability to function. “Shinrinyoku” is the Japanese name for forest bathing. One study from Japan found an increase in intracellular anti-cancer proteins and a decrease in the amount of stress hormones following forest bathing.

5. Nature helps you live a longer, happier life. The great outdoors potentially improves lifespan, but certainly improves quality of life in our later years. In a study from Jerusalem, elderly participants who consistently went on daily outings showed reduced functional decline and greater markers of positive health. Data from the NIH shows that those living in proximity to green spaces had a lower mortality rate. “It is important to know that trees and plants provide health benefits in our communities as well as beauty,” said NIEHS director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. in a press release. “The finding of reduced mortality suggests that vegetation may be important to health in a broad range of ways.”

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