Good Natured

The Heart Chakra

Connecting to a love-focused life

By Karen Frye

The chakra system, comprised of seven major energetic centers, is inside each of us. Constantly spinning, these centers run vertically through the body from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, creating a kind of spiritual nervous system.

Each of the seven chakras has a particular organ or gland to assist. In order to operate efficiently, the chakras must be balanced. Tuning in to the seven centers in the morning before getting out of bed is the best way to ensure they are all in sync, helping you maintain an energetic body. Often, physical and emotional imbalances improve.

The heart chakra is the fourth chakra located in the center of our being. It represents love, which is the glue of the universe. The field of love that is all around us is intelligent and compassionate, ready to embrace us and bring us countless blessings. We need only to melt away the barriers we build around ourselves to receive it. When we open our hearts fully, we wash away the fears that keep love away.

February is the month to open your heart, connect to the love you feel, and receive the love given to you by others.

Generosity, compassion and forgiveness can all generate the opening of the heart. You never know when selfless acts of kindness will have a ripple effect in the world, creating positive change.

When you live from your heart center and address situations with love rather than a negative state of mind, the most incredible, and seemingly impossible, outcomes can emerge. Grasping the power of a “love-focused life” can lead to less hardship, sadness and anxiety.

Let it begin one day at a time.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

It Works!

A simple plan for happiness

By Karen Frye

The original copyright of It Works: The Famous Little Red Book That Makes Your Dreams Come True! was 1926. The author of the book did not want his name mentioned, only his initials, RHJ, believing that the greatest good comes from helping others without expecting praise. Even before the book had a title, he sent it to a friend for his appraisal. The friend returned it with a simple reply, “It works.” The title was born.

RHJ believed he’d found an answer to the question “Why are some people so lucky and others are not?” He was successful using his plan and shared the simple instructions for his technique with friends who also enjoyed amazing results.

But this isn’t necessarily about financial success. Your desires may include being healthy, enjoying happier relationships, having success in school or career, basically anything. The important first step is knowing what you want.

You likely know people who, because of a mental roadblock, feel as though the things they desire will remain forever unattainable. But there is within us a “Great Power.” The power is ready and very capable of helping us achieve our desires, but you must be earnest about what you want. Half-hearted desire does not connect. You must be sincere and truthful about what you want — be it mental, physical or spiritual.

The Plan

Write down on a paper, in order of their importance, those things you really want. You can change the list daily, adding or removing things.

Three Positive Rules of Accomplishment

Read the list of what you want three times a day — morning, noon and night.

Think of what you want as often as possible.

Do not talk to anyone about your plan except the Great Power within you. The method of the accomplishment will unfold itself.

Write down whatever your desires may be, even the ones that seem impossible. Don’t analyze the power within you to accomplish these things. If you follow the plan and carry out the three simple rules, the method of accomplishment will reveal itself.

It is natural to be skeptical. When you have these doubts, get out your list and go over your heartfelt desires. Be specific about your dreams. As your plan unfolds, accept the accomplishment with gratitude, happiness and strengthened faith.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Swedish Bitters

The long-life elixir

By Karen Frye

This is the story of a 500-year old European remedy that rejuvenates vital organs, improves regularity, aids in digestion, and cleanses entire bodily systems. The original recipe of 11 herbs was the work of the “Luther of Medicine,” a Swiss/German named Paracelsus (whose full name was Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim) in the 1500s.

The formula for his elixir, lost for almost 200 years, was rediscovered in the 17th century by two Swedish physicians, Dr. Claus Samst and Dr. Urban Hjärne — hence the name Swedish Bitters. Hjärne lived to be 83, and Samst died at the ripe old age of 104, in a riding accident, no less. It’s worth pointing out that life expectancy in the 17th century was 20-40 years.

It was Maria Treben — a distinguished Austrian herbalist — who brought Swedish Bitters to the world’s attention. As a refugee in Czechoslovakia, she became ill with typhoid fever in a camp in Bavaria and was hospitalized for more than six months. Soon after her release, and while she was still very ill, her husband and family took her to Austria. A woman there heard of Maria’s suffering and, wanting to help, brought her a small bottle containing a dark, strong-smelling liquid. Along with that bottle of Swedish Bitters was the manuscript written by Samst explaining how the bitters heal every illness.

Maria was skeptical that a few modest drops could help her regain her health, so she put the bottle aside. Eventually she changed her mind and decided to give the bitters a try, and her symptoms disappeared.

Treban later put together a book about the maladies Swedish Bitters could help. Health Through God’s Pharmacy is still the best source of information on the many ways to use the bitters to improve one’s health and add years to one’s life.

Prevention is better than a cure, and using bitters as a daily tonic may ward off something that could lead to a health crisis. Our ancestors used herbs as treatments, so the list of the uses of the Swedish Bitters formula is long. Internally, it’s used to improve digestion and relieve pain. Nearly every malady you can think of is mentioned in Treben’s book. There are even uses as topical applications to alleviate skin diseases.

An herbal tonic that’s been around as long as Swedish Bitters and is still highly regarded earns a certain level of trust. It may be the missing ingredient to improving your health.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Giving Thanks Daily

Why wait for a holiday?

Whose heart is fixed upon the good because it is the good shall fill his soul with good. — Ernest Holmes

By Karen Frye

Why dedicate just one day of the year to be thankful? There are 364 more days to be appreciative for all the things, great and small, in our lives. Giving thanks is a practice that supports us in a positive way.

Gratitude journals are an effective tool to practice being grateful. Once we are focused on the things we appreciate by writing them down daily, we establish a much deeper experience of gratefulness, and no longer need the list. It simply becomes part of our daily routine. You begin to see more goodness and the glass will be half-full rather than half-empty. By honoring the good in our lives, we are creating a lifestyle that will enrich us each day.

Going through challenging times like these puts life into perspective. Giving thanks for our blessings is important and can sometimes change outcomes to our benefit. It will certainly make the journey, and the challenges, easier to tolerate if we grasp some control over our mental outlook.

When we see good all around us and within us, only more good can come to us. If like begets like, then we are drawing to us the very best in life in every respect. When we are grateful for blessings large and small we create a magnetic attraction to more divine and wonderful things: more happiness, more prosperity, good health and, most of all, love.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Boost Your Immunity

The list of supplements is long

By Karen Frye

It seems the virus of 2020 is not done with us yet. While a vaccine will likely be the most effective solution to slow the spread of COVID-19, what about the upcoming typical cold and flu season?

Some of the supplements known for building a strong immune system, like vitamins C and D, zinc and elderberry, were sought after by so many in the early months of the pandemic that they are now in short supply in some areas. However, there are a few other effective immune-boosting supplements to help you make it through this pandemic — and other cold or flu germs you may come in contact with. Your immune system is your best defense. Take care of it and it will take care of you.

Glutathione tops the list. A recent study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases links a deficiency of glutathione — resulting in an impaired immune response  — to serious manifestations in COVID-19 patients. Glutathione is a small protein composed of three amino acids: glutamate, cysteine and glycine. It is a powerful antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage, and maintaining a super-strong immune response. And the list is long on other benefits of glutathione, such as anti-aging and detoxifying abilities.

Another supplement is quercetin, a plant flavonoid found in green tea. It has long been used for seasonal allergies and works well with vitamin C as an immune boost along with some anti-viral effects.

Probiotics are crucial to keeping the gut and intestines healthy. Feed yourself good bacteria with fermented foods to get a daily dose of a good probiotic, so your immune system can thrive.

One more to keep in mind is olive leaf. The extract has many benefits when it comes to lung and respiratory health, and is great for the cold, flu and virus season.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

The Big Little Mineral

Lithium could power your life

By Karen Frye

Usually when we think of minerals, we think of calcium, magnesium, zinc and so on. But there’s a trace mineral, lithium, that could possibly change your life in wonderful ways.

Unfortunately, trace minerals are scarce in the food supply, often due to modern farming practices. That’s one of the reasons we put our faith in supplements.

Lithium is found in nearly all rocks and, as water flows over and through rocks and soil, it picks up small amounts of this trace mineral. When people drank regularly from springs and wells, they would get little doses of lithium on a daily basis. At one time, people — including Mark Twain and several past U.S. presidents — traveled to Lithium Springs in Georgia to collect drinking water because of its natural abundance in the mineral. Believed to have beneficial effects on people’s moods, it was at one time used to treat depression.

While most people drink treated water today — removing harmful substances as well as natural trace elements — more recent research reveals a wide range of health benefits associated with the use of lithium.

One of the important things lithium does is slow down the aging process by regulating the enzyme glycogen synthase kinase-3, GSK-3. Too much of this enzyme can lead to age-related conditions that we accept as part of growing old.

Some studies have found that people who live in areas with even modest levels of lithium in their drinking water tend to live longer. Even those who take low doses for medical reasons have lower mortality rates from diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Lithium is critical in slowing down the aging process, protecting the brain, and improving mental health. Small doses may be effective in slowing cognitive decline and conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Could it be the secret ingredient in the “Fountain of Youth” that we all seek?  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Secrets from the Blue Zones

Get a running start on a long life

By Karen Frye

Living to a ripe old age, with clarity of mind and freedom of movement, is what many of the people who live in areas of the world called the “Blue Zones” enjoy. About 15 years ago, their lifestyles were studied by a group of doctors and researchers, with the help of National Geographic, to shed light on the amazing good health and longevity of folks living in these specific areas.

The Blue Zone areas are Sardinia, Italy; the island of Okinawa; Ikaria, Greece; Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula; and Loma Linda, California, home to a large community of Seventh Day Adventists. The people living in these areas live well into their 90s and beyond. They are active, moving about freely throughout their community, often choosing walking over driving a vehicle. Most of them do not rely on modern day conveniences. They have gardens and eat a healthy diet. They socialize regularly with family and friends and have a sense of purpose and responsibility for their family, community and the following generations. They are healthy and energetic.

The diets vary, but upward of 90 percent are plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans and whole grains. They do eat some meat and fish, but only small amounts several times a week. With modernization arriving to many of the areas in the ’70s, members of the younger generations began following a fast food, processed food, standard American diet. The consequences were alarming. The rate of diabetes escalated, and the life expectancy dropped. The older folks remained vigilant in their way of living, and their health stayed robust.

In all five Blue Zones, beans are a staple of the diet. Inexpensive, versatile and easy to prepare, they contain adequate amounts of protein, fiber and antioxidants. Blue Zone diets use the same 20 or so ingredients consistently. Less variety may keep them from overeating and help keep the immune system strong.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are consumed regularly, protecting the heart and reducing risks of cancer. They use olive oil to finish off dishes instead of heating it to sauté or fry. Add olive oil after cooking for the greatest benefit, by drizzling it over veggies and salads, soups, stews and breads.

Fiber is also a very important part of any diet. Seeds, nuts, whole grains and beans contain adequate amounts.

Reduce the consumption of refined sugar.

Enjoy a little red wine with meals. Red wine contains high amounts of antioxidants.

Remember, it’s not only what you eat for longevity, but how you eat. Dining with friends and family and expressing gratitude are important parts of the longevity lifestyle.

Here’s a recipe from Ikaria, Greece, perfect for the summer.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Mint and Onions

1 pound dried black-eyed peas, or four 15-ounce cans, drained

3 green onions, tops removed and coarsely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 cup chopped mint

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 cup chopped greens (spinach or baby kale)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Fresh dill for garnish

If using dried beans, place in pot with water. Bring to boil; reduce to simmer; cover with lid, tilting the lid so some of the steam can escape. Cook for an hour, or until done. While the peas are still hot, mix all remaining ingredients together in a large bowl, and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. (If using canned beans, just drain, rinse and heat on a stove on medium heat. Mix with all other ingredients until warmed through, 5-6 minutes.)

Garnish with fresh dill if you like. Serve hot or cold. Enjoy!  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Immune Health Basics

Help yourself help yourself

By Karen Frye

All of us are now clearly aware of the importance of maintaining a very healthy immune system. It is the body’s defense against invading germs, viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that we are constantly exposed to every day.

Some people have a healthier immune system than others. It’s hard to say why. Is it simply the hand you were dealt when you came into this world? Maybe so. But even if you were born with a less robust immune system, you can make it stronger and more dependable by having a healthy lifestyle.

A healthy diet is a key element in preventing, and recovering from, any disease. Sugar and refined carbohydrates contribute to obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and many other issues. Sugar can deplete nutrients and disrupt hormones, increasing the risk of degenerative diseases. When you crave something sweet, go for some fruit or a bite of dark chocolate. One of my favorites is a small dark chocolate honey mint.

Spring and summer are great times of the year to improve your diet by adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals. Many of us have planted gardens. The farmers markets will be filled with a beautiful bounty of berries, melons and vegetables. The prices can’t be beat, and you’ll find the freshest produce around in them.

The convenience of fast food (and other poor food choices) has made nutritional deficiencies common among our population. Many of the vital nutrients our bodies need aren’t contained in these foods. Instead, we are ingesting chemicals, preservatives and unwanted hormones that can undermine our health.

There is a lot to be said for taking supplements to keep the immune system healthy. Vitamin C has outstanding benefits, and vitamin D is another common nutrient that many people may need to supplement. Try to get out in the sunshine for 10-20 minutes a day to increase vitamin D levels. Choose a time of day like the morning or late afternoon to reduce skin damage. Go for a walk and enjoy nature. The mineral zinc has become a key nutrient because of its ability to reduce the risk of susceptibility to viruses and ease the recovery from them.

Do your research. Eat well. Sleep well. Think positive thoughts. Don’t be afraid; fear weakens your immune system.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Boost Your Happiness

Techniques to soothe the mind

By Karen Frye

The first quarter of the year has been a challenging time, more so than I can ever remember. We have ways to lift up our spirits when things seem uncertain and fear takes over our thoughts. Here are some suggestions that can make you feel better in just a few minutes.

Look at pictures of people and animals you love. Remember the enjoyable times you shared and send them a silent wish of happiness.

Exercise, even if only for a few minutes. Take a brisk walk, do jumping jacks — anything to get your heart rate up and, breathing deeply, more oxygen into your lungs. In one minute you will feel better.

Give someone money. Research shows that when we give money to someone in need, we immediately feel better about ourselves, and the other person will feel better, too, because someone cares.

Work toward a goal. It can be a simple task like organizing your desk (that always makes me feel better), or eating healthier foods. Feel good about your progress.

Remember the power of appreciation. Saying “thank you” to the people who work in public jobs — the grocery store checkout person, the server delivering take-out meals, the garbage collectors, the UPS driver — is a quick happiness booster.

Write down a few things that you are grateful for in your life. Your children, your pets, the food on your plate. When you write things down you have a visual reminder of all the goodness in your life.

Do a 90-second heart meditation. Take a deep breath and imagine exhaling from the center of your chest. Then close your eyes and imagine someone you love. Recall times you’ve shared with them and feel gratitude that they are in your life. This simple method can take you from stressed out to blissful in 90 seconds! It can reduce your stress hormones for up to five hours.

Play a song that you like, and sing along. This can lift you out of almost any bad mood.

Finally, the most effective way to quickly boost your happiness is to do an act of kindness for a stranger or a friend. Even the smallest acts have beautiful outcomes.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Yoga to the Rescue

Helping yourself to age gracefully

By Karen Frye

The lights are soft, and the room is warm. Everyone is quietly lying on their yoga mat. The teacher enters the room and announces, “Lights are coming on.” On that note, everyone stands in the middle of their mat. Suddenly you realize that the room is surrounded by mirrors. Oh no! You have to look at yourself for 90 minutes. Painful!

The class begins with a breathing exercise to get more fresh oxygen into the lungs to circulate throughout the body during class. During this “Pranayama” breathing exercise, you notice that your busy mind is beginning to calm down, and a sense of focus and peace is now taking over. This is a form of meditation, an open-eye, moving meditation. You have to listen to the teacher carefully, and move your body correctly (as much as possible) to achieve the benefits from the yoga postures. This process does not include thinking, just looking at yourself and trying. Every class is a beginners class, no matter how long you have been practicing yoga.

Hatha Yoga began thousands of years ago. It is popular all around the world, but had its start in India. Everyone can do yoga. You are never too old, too stiff or too out of shape to start. The comment I hear most often from the people is how they’re “not flexible,” and my reply is, “That is exactly why you need yoga!”

The fascia in our body is like a web of fibers made of collagen and elastin. These fibers are strong and stretchy. The fascia goes from head to toe; it’s what holds us together and upright. As we age, our fascia becomes stiffer and tighter. Working out with weights, running, and just about every physical activity that builds muscle and makes us stronger also tightens the fascia. It can become like beef jerky. When you do yoga, you stretch your muscles and go deeper to stretch the fascia, too.

Keeping the fascia healthy is crucial to aging gracefully. You will also be stimulating and toning your body’s vital organs and glands.

Yoga is one of the best anti-aging things you can do for yourself. Some of the health benefits are: increased sense of well being; boosting the immune system; calming the mind; improving balance and flexibility of mind and body. There are cardio and strength benefits as well. If you choose to do hot yoga — which is my love — the heat promotes sweating, and sweat removes toxins from the body.

We are fortunate in this community to have a variety of yoga studios and wonderful teachers to guide you on this journey, if you choose. The hardest thing about a yoga class is getting yourself there. Give it a chance and you’ll fall in love with how your body and mind feel after you practice. It is a wise investment in your health and a lot of fun, too!  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.