In my last post I scratched the surface a wee itty bit about adaptogens. I’ve had a lot of questions since then, so I thought I’d break things down a little bit more. Let’s focus on astragalus first.
Astragalus has been known to improve circulation, improve your immune system, and balance blood sugar. Because of it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial affects, it more specifically has been shown to help combat common colds and disease, improve skin health, and promote cardiovascular health. It has been known to increase blood circulation and strengthen blood vessels thus improving symptoms caused by anemia, side affects of chemotherapy, and more. (source).
As with all herbs, check with your doctor before consuming them. In this instance it’s possible that these herbs can be harmful to someone who has an overactive immune system and/or someone who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or MS.
Now that you know what it does, here is how you can use it:
Of course, you can take a pill. Easy and cheap, but where is the fun in that?
You can make a tea (what I have been doing). It’s delicious. It’s so easy. One tablespoon in 16oz hot water. Steep 10 min and strain. It smells and tastes light and nutty. It’s smooth and comforting to sip on hot, but you can definitely drink it cold too. Order here.
You can cook with it. Getting it in powder form makes it compatible with most recipes you’ll find on “the Google”. Here is one of my favorite recipes:
Directions: Mix the first 6 ingredients until well combined (using a blender, food processor or mixer). Roll into 1 inch balls. Roll balls into coconut. If batter seems dry, add 1 TBSP of melted coconut oil and mix again.
If you have no interest or have been advised to avoid astragalus, that recipe above is just as delicious without it. It’s also full of nutrients, healthy fat and tons of antioxidants. Let me know if you try it!
Just in case you have no idea what I’m talking about: Adaptogens are herbs used to support balance and your bodies ability to manage chronic stress. Many people use them to reduce cortisol levels, manage inflammation, and improve the aging process*. Other benefits may include increased energy and improved sleep quality.
If you are someone who suffers from:
Weight loss resistance
Or basically anything that makes you feel “meh”, then you might benefit from using adaptogens.
Side note: Adaptogens alone will not solve all of your problems. If you are sedentary and eat garbage, adaptogens are a waste of your time and money.
Next question: Which ones should you be taking?
The most popular herbal adaptogens are:
This herb is known to help regulate your immune system and ease anxiety. It’s also known as Indian Ginseng.
2. Holy Basil
Often in tea form, this is known as an anti-aging elixir. It is suggested that this herb can help you fight fatigue and stress, boost your immune system, balance your hormone levels and regulate your blood sugar and blood pressure. I have also used it in capsule form.
Boosts immunity and buffers the affects of stress. Whereas many adaptogens are shown to reduce cortisol, astragalus is shown to increase anti-stress compounds that help prevent and repair stress related damage.
This is the one I’ve taken for the longest amount of time. Many athletes use it for increased endurance and energy. It’s been shown to decrease mental and physical fatigue. It contains a phytochemical called salisdroside. This is used to relieve anxiety and reduce the affects of aging. It is known for balancing appetite and improving sleep patterns. It has been used to help the body tolerate extreme conditions and treatments like radiation.
5. Licorice Root
This one is a front line of defense for your Thymus. While this one has been shown to boost energy, endurance and immune response, it can also affect blood pressure, so, as with any supplement, check with your doctor before using this.
This is a family of mushrooms (reishi, shiitake and maitake). They aren’t technically adaptogens, but they do have adaptogenic affects and are used in the same manner. They are anti-oxidant rich fungi know for their anti-tumor and immune enhancing properties.
These are not the only adaptogenic herbs out there. These are just a few that are fairly easy to find and have been well studied for safety and effectiveness. Here are a few tips for successful supplementing:
When taking herbal supplements, always check with your health care provider first, especially if you take other medications or supplements.
Don’t take more than 3 adaptogens at once. If you go hog wild using all the herbs they may cancel each other out. Additionally, if you have an undesired reaction, it will be easier to determine which one you should eliminate.
Taking one to get started is perfectly fine. However, some of them play very nicely together, so you may prefer combining them for a more complete affect. Knowing which ones to combine takes time and research. Some that are commonly combined can purchased as a blend, for your convenience.
You are a unique individual, What works for someone else might not work for you. Listen to your body and focus on your own process rather than someone else results.
Non-herbal adaptogenic benefits:
Yoga Is one of my favorite ways to achieve many of the benefits that you seek from adaptogens. Yoga massages your organs and helps move blood to areas that need healing. It supports your sympathetic nervous system which helps manage fatigue, stress and many of the issues listed above. If taking herbs isn’t for you, then think about practicing yoga more consistently. Try including this new 8 minute series into your week:
Feel free to slow this down to fit within your practice. I was definitely trying to fit a specific amount of postures into 8 minutes. After a few practice rounds, you’ll have a better idea of what pace you prefer.
This flow focuses on deep core engagement and conditioning of the low back, abs, chest and arms.
I’ve been teaching yoga for years, and I’ve certainly gotten comfortable in the style in which I teach. If you know me, you know I don’t like staying comfortable for long, so when I set my goals at the beginning of 2017, I added 200 RYT to my list.
When I started researching my options for teacher training, I was floored when I saw the number of studios that offer 200 hour programs. It’s pretty amazing to see how yoga has impacted so many people. I thought the choices might overwhelm me, but actually, when I started making calls and visits to local providers, the decision was easy to make.
CorePower Yoga felt like home immediately. I started my 200 hour teacher training program late February and in 8 weeks I took 62 yoga classes, plus 72 hours of lectures and practice teaching, plus an undetermined amount of self-study, reading and writing about yoga.
This was a lot to fit in, no doubt. On top of training full time and remembering to feed and water my 2 kids, there were definite moments of panic.
Me, 8 weeks ago:
Nonetheless, each day made a little more sense. Pockets of time that I didn’t know existed were uncovered and the friendships and connections made on this journey were invaluable. We were all making the most of every minute of every day. One very apparent benefit of taking that many yoga classes: You are constantly being guided to set an intention, remember to breathe, and meditate for at least a few minutes every day. It was almost like an intense training program for chilling out. Who doesn’t need that.
Me, 8 weeks later:
Of course, even though the completion of this course is just the beginning, it is very hard to say goodbye to the wonderful people I met through teacher training. I hope that we stay connected with each other <3
Now that I’m done, I’m ready to share what I’ve learned with you! I’m looking forward to adding new elements to the online programs and cannot wait to share new adjustments and sequences with you in studio.
Yoga can be something different for everyone. You may start for one reason and a completely different purpose may be uncovered a day, week, year or years later. It doesn’t matter if you are flexible or have good balance. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old. It’s accessible to everyone in some form.
Below is a brief sequence designed to help you build a home practice. It includes some basic elements that lengthen you body (front, back, sides and even you feet). It massages your organs and relaxes your posture. This is a great way to start your day, end it or perk up in the afternoon. After you follow the video a few times, you’ll likely have it memorized and be able to practice it wherever you are 🙂