Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another reason High Fructose Corn Syrup is poison...literally.

The Mad Hatter album coverImage via Wikipedia

In case you needed another reason to eliminate products containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from your diet (and believe me if you haven't started doing this, you will want to after reading this article) here is one more: mercury. Not exactly something we want to be ingesting.

Mercury is a heavy metal and loves to store itself in the fatty cells of the body. The fattiest cells of all are in our brains, and this is not good news for this delicate organ. Remember the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland? That was actually based on the fact that "hatters" used a glue in the binding of hats that contained mercury. Constant exposure to this substance actually caused brain damage and "madness," in some cases.

When you begin the crusade to eliminate HFCS from your diet, you are going to discover it is in everything; not just things you would expect like sodas. It is in salad dressings, mustards, crackers, etc. Check your labels...buyer beware!

There are lots of healthy alternatives out there for products you commonly use, and the more consumers demand with their dollars that this is what they want, the more manufacturers will eliminate this nasty stuff from their mixtures.

The yogi strives to eat a wholesome Satvic diet that nourishes the body. This is always best accomplished by eating a whole food diet. Basically, if it doesn't come out of the ground or off a tree, try to avoid it. Packaged foods, even the best quality ones, are always going to be less nutritious, have less Prana (vital energy) then a natural food.

Make small changes every day, and it won't be overwhelming, I promise! You will feel and look better, and be on your way to a longer and more blissful life.


The original article (shown below as well), along with a lot more information on HFCS and mercury can be found on the great web site GRIST: Environmental News and Commentary, here.

Some heavy metal with that sweet roll?

The FDA sat on evidence of mercury-tainted high-fructose corn syrup

Posted by Tom Philpott at 2:04 PM on 26 Jan 2009

High-fructose corn syrup rose from obscurity to ubiquity starting in the late 1970s, borne up by an informal public-private partnership between grain-processing giant Archer Daniels Midland and the federal government. For me, HFCS is at best a highly processed, lavishly subsidized, calorie-heavy, nutritional vacuum.

I recently visited a public high school in Boone, N.C. The main hall literally hummed with machines peddling variations on Coca-Cola's formula for success: fizzy water with artificial flavor, artificial color, added caffeine, and a jolt of HFCS. Other machines displayed snack "foods" tarted up with HFCS. Why are we feeding our kids this crap, again?

Now comes news that makes even an HFCS cynic like me do a spit-take over my home-brewed morning coffee. Turns out that HFCS is commonly tainted with mercury -- a highly toxic substance -- according to a peer-reviewed report published by Environmental Health (abstract here; PDF of the must-read full text here.)

The Environmental Health study draws on samples of high-fructose corn syrup taken straight from the factory. But no one drinks the stuff straight. What about, say, cookies sweetened with HFCS? The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy plucked HFCS-containing products from supermarket shelves and tested them for mercury. The result?

Overall, we found detectable mercury in 17 of 55 samples, or around 31 percent

Traces of mercury turned up in name-brand products from makers including Quaker, Hunt's, Manwich, Hershey's, Smucker's, Kraft, Nutri-Grain, and Yoplait.

That a ubiquitous industrial-food ingredient such as HFCS should be tainted by mercury is bad enough. But it gets worse. The FDA has apparently known about this since 2005 -- and done nothing to publicize it or change it.

In 2005, EH study lead author Renee Dufault was an FDA researcher. At that time, she conducted the tests now cited in the EH report. Her results found mercury in 9 of 20 HFCS samples -- 45 percent.

She doesn't comment on why, but the FDA apparently did nothing with her results in the years since they emerged. She retired from the agency in March 2008 -- and evidently decided to go public. She deserves praise for the decision to publish her work -- essentially blowing the whistle on what looks like an egregious attempt to hide key information from the public.

So how does mercury work its way into our the food industry's favorite sweetener? It finds its way into Pop Tarts and the like through the stunning array chemicals required to transform corn into a cane sugar substitute. (As you read the following list, marvel that the FDA recently ruled that manufacturers can label HFCS-sweetened foods "natural.") According the the EH study:

Several chemicals are required to make HFCS, including caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, alpha-amylase, gluco-amylase, isomerase, ilter aid, powdered carbon, calcium chloride, and magnesium sulfate.

Two of those charming-sounding chemicals -- caustic soda and hydrochloric acid -- can contain traces of mercury.

Caustic soda and hydrochloric acid are made through the same processes that produce chlorine. It can be done in one of two ways. The first involves pumping saltwater through a vat of mercury. The stuff produced this way is known as "mercury grade."

The second process involves no mercury. The industry is shifting to the second process, but the mercury style has by no means been phased out. According to IATP, "Today, the chlorine industry remains the largest intentional consumer (end user) of mercury."

So you've got this "mercury grade" caustic soda and hydrochloric acid floating around. Guess who's using it? According to the EH study, "mercury grade caustic soda and hydrochloric acid are primarily used by the high fructose corn syrup industry."

Not only did the FDA fail to inform the public of HFCS's mercury problem; food manufacturers that use HFCS may have been in the dark, IATP reports.

There is one hopeful tidbit from the highly disturbing Environmental Health and Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy studies. Several years ago, then-Sen. Barack Obama introduced legislation that would have forced the chlorine industry to phase out mercury.

That bill failed. I hope the new Congress revives it. And I hope the Obama FDA investigates precisely why the agency sat on information that could have saved consumers from mercury exposure. The officials who made that decision -- as well as the HFCS industry, led by Archer Daniels Midland -- must be held to account.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Wish and A Prayer

Yesterday was certainly a day full of immense energy here in the United States, and around the world, as we witnessed the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama. The swearing into office of this president was particularly significant for many reasons, but I think the thing that struck me most about the ceremony, is the same thing that amazes me each time we have a new president: the peaceful transfer of so much power. We need only look around the world today, or in the annals of human history, to see what a rare, and impressive occurrence this is. It makes me very proud of my country.

As I watched the inauguration yesterday it was wonderful to see so many happy, hopeful people. As a yogini I know that there is nothing more powerful, more initiating of great change, then the power of unity, optimism and positive thinking. I feel this country has suffered a great, "dark night of the soul" in recent years, and I too, feel that yesterday was the dawn of a new day, in many ways.

However, I also felt a great level of concern about the unrealistic, and somewhat excessive nature of the enthusiasm. Without getting into what I personally perceive Barack Obama's strengths and weakness as the leader of our country may be, I am absolutely certain that he is a man, not a messiah. And man, does he have his work cut out for him.

Listening to the almost frenzied way that some people have been talking about him over the last year, I've really come to feel a bit sorry for the guy. People have put him up, I think unfairly, on a very high pedestal, and it is a very long fall from there.

I am also concerned by the ferocious hatred I see coming from both "sides" of the political spectrum. I feel it in myself. I have opinions, strong ones, and sometimes it is hard for me to accept that others are entitled to theirs. I can feel the tightness and separation this causes in myself, and I see it in other people. We must work with great vigor to recognize that this separation is illusion. We must, as the Dalai Lama says, "find through compassion that all human beings are just like me." This is the tallest order of all, but I believe it is a worthy goal that we must strive towards.

How can yoga inform a situation like this?

Yoga is at it's core a set of teachings focusing on union, and on staying firmly rooted in "the middle path," where we are not subject to the highs and lows of excess in any area, including emotions. As the Bhagavad Gita teaches us, "A lamp does not flicker in a place with no wind." Powerful emotions can set us on fire with enthusiasm and energy, but they may not sustain us over a long haul when the initial "glow" of an exciting situation has worn off.

I say all this not to rain on any one's parade, not to diminish the excitement and power of this time, but to offer a call for a level of rationalism and realism, that will help us as a country, and throughout the world, to sustain a positive momentum for all the hard and long work we, and our new president, have ahead of us.

On this day I have a wish and prayer, from the bottom of my heart, for this man, for my country, and for this planet.

It is a portion of the Saha Navavatu Mantra that we often recite at the beginning of a yoga class, and it helps to define the scope and the nature of the work before us. I think it beautifully expresses the energy of enthusiasm, realism, and unity, we must have on our journey of "the middle path."

OM saha navavatu

saha nau bhunaktu
saha viryam karavavahai
tejasvi navadhitamastu
ma vidvishavahai
OM shanti, shanti, shanti

May we be protected together
May we be nourished together
May we work together with great vigor
May our study be enlightening
May no obstacle arise between us
Om peace, peace, peace

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Monday, January 19, 2009

How are those New Year's Resolutions going?

As one year comes to a close, and we begin to contemplate the next, a lot of us make these interesting lists called, New Year's Resolutions. They are usually brimming with hope and optimism, and chock full of things we want to “fix” about our selves, and our lives. So, how does the modern yogi or yogini go about creating a New Year’s Resolution list; and what does the ancient science of Yoga have to offer us as we consider the changes we want to make?

Yoga says,
“ You are already whole, already perfect. There is nothing to do, nothing to fix.”

Wow. Do you feel a tremendous load off your shoulders? You are done! Hooray! There was never really anything you needed to do. You are already perfect, beautiful, radiant and whole, and you always have been.

Yoga teaches us that our feelings of inadequacy stem from the illusion of separation. We often experience this “duality” or sense of separation as feelings of isolation, loneliness, and fear. We may constantly criticize our bodies, actions, and thoughts. Yoga teaches that there is no need to do this, and that these himsic, or harming, thought patterns, are toxic and keep us from enjoying the full experience of our lives.

Yoga also teaches us to practice santosha, or contentment by letting go of our grasping to the negative stories we tell ourselves, and cultivating right thinking and equanimity. This does not mean that we do not experience all the ups and downs of life, but that we are able to view them with perspective and balance.

However, there is a paradox in the idea of Contentment. If we were all completely content all of the time, we would never do anything. A feeling of discontent is what motivates all of our thoughts and actions; from getting up to get something to eat because we are “discontent” with hunger, to making a major life change because we feel a deep dissatisfaction with something in our lives.

This brings us back to the idea of making a “self-improvement list” for ourselves in the New Year. There is nothing wrong with wanting to change or “improve” something about our selves; tremendous good can come from making changes to our lives. The problem comes when we use the opportunity for constructive change, as another means for destructive self-abuse. The first and foremost aim of any yogini should be to practice, ahimsa, or non-harming, toward herself and all other sentient beings. So, as we make our lists we need to check our approach constantly against this benchmark, to insure that we are being kind and loving to ourselves, and others, in the process.

Let’s take a very common New Year’s resolution as an example: the desire to loose weight.

A common scenario is that we begin in January filled with a fire to loose weight and get in shape. We are joined in yoga studios, gyms and walking paths by others trying to “whip themselves into shape.” By the end of January those places are far less full, and we are home feeling increasingly dejected, eating more, exercising less, and feeling pretty bad about our selves.

The Yogic perspective on loosing weight would say, “Anything can be done in time, and with kindness.”

Making changes takes time, and it takes a plan; add in the component of kindness and you are bound for success. Without kindness, self-doubt and self-criticism beginning to chip away at our “resolve”, and make us feel like the task in insurmountable.

Let’s take a look at what a Yogic New Year’s Resolutions for Loosing Weight List might look like:

I (your name here) love my body and support and nourish myself with healthy food and exercise.

I give myself this love and support to increase my physical strength, cardiovascular health, and mental health.

I show my commitment to loving and nurturing my physical and emotional growth by attending a yoga class 3 times a week for 60 minutes, and walking in my neighborhood, 3 times a week for 30 minutes.

I have a positive relationship with food, and I choose foods that will give my body the optimum nutrients and calories I need to thrive in radiant health.

I am living in a healthy body, at a weight that is beneficial for all my physical systems. My body is energetic and strong and contains all the vitality I need to live my fully realized life.

As you can see this kind of list combines concrete actions with positive affirmations. This enables you to formulate a realistic course of action for self-improvement that harnesses the power of creative visualization, and reinforces the focus on self-love and the practice of ahimsa (non-harming) toward yourself and others.

Keep your list short, affirmative and in the present tense, as if you are already living the life (in this case living in the body) that you desire to have. Remember, once you think and believe these things, they already exist, all the remains is for you to manifest them into your life in a physical way. If you cannot imagine yourself in the body, or leading the life you want to lead, it will be difficult for you to realize those things fully in your life. See it, then be it!

Another helpful concept brought to us by the science of Yoga, is the focus on action, rather then outcome. The great yogic scripture, the Bhagavad Gita states, “Have no attachment to the ownership or result...” instead the focus must always be on each individual action.

We can apply this to our weight loss example by releasing our concerns about how much weight, or how many inches we will loose, and instead focus on each thing we are doing moment to moment to reach that goal. For example: focusing on the quality and attention we bring to each yoga posture, in each class; or by placing our attention on the energy we put into cooking each healthy meal, and eating it slowly with loving care for each bite.

This focus on one thing at a time, keeps us deeply grounded in the present moment, which in reality is the only thing we can influence, and the only thing that really exists. We may start with a certain goal, and find that it ends in a completely different outcome due to circumstance beyond our control. However, if we have cultivated mindfulness and focused on actions, instead of outcomes, then it is easier for us to release that result, and know that we have done our best, and that is all that we can do.

So, as you continue working on your list of resolutions for the coming year remember to keep them positive, be kind to yourself, focus on action instead of outcome, and remember that you are already perfect, beautiful, radiant and whole, and you always have been.

© 2008 Teal Marie Chimblo and Blissful Body Yoga

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

I Few Yoga Quotes for Inspiration

yoga 8Image by kristin pfannkuchen via FlickrJust a few quotes to inspire your practice of Yoga, on, and off, the mat this weekend...

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.
~Author Unknown

Yoga is bodily gospel.
~Reaven Fields

Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one's being, from bodily health to self-realization. Yoga means union - the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one's actions.
~B.K.S. Iyengar, Astadala Yogamala

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. ~Krishnamacharya

Yoga is 99% practice and 1% knowledge.
~Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.
~Swedish Proverb

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Yoga Radio and Blissful Body Yoga iMix

NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art - Dancing Cel...Image by wallyg via FlickrLooking for some new tunes to enhance your yoga practice? I just found Yoga Radio this morning and it is a cool way to hear some new music. Check it out:


If you are an i tunes fan and user like me, you can check out my first i Mix, the
Yoga iMix from Blissful Body Yoga

My students are always asking, "what was that song?" So, I thought this would be a nice way to share some of the play lists I create for my yoga classes, and just mixes of music that I enjoy. Hope you will enjoy it too, and that it infuses your practice with energy and ananda (bliss).

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Guided Ritual Teleconference this Saturday from


Contact for information on upcoming conference call rituals!

Let’s weave our web and connect during the full and new moons for conference call ritual!

Whether you are new to ritual, don’t have anyone to practice with, or just want more magick in your life - the time is now!

Visit and sign up today for the first ever live teleconference full moon ritual this Saturday, January 10,
7:15 PM PST!

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ahimsa: a resolution for non-violence

A symbol of Jainism consisting of a hand and a...Image via WikipediaThose of you who are long-time students of yoga are already familiar with two of the great ethical precepts of yoga: the yamas and niyamas. These two short lists of abstentions and observances, respectively, create a clear road map for the yogini's life. They are as follow:

YAMAS (abstentions/restraints)
Ahimsa: non-violence
Satya: truthfulness
Asteya: non-stealing
Aparigrapha: non-coveting
Bramacharya: correct use of energy

NIYAMAS (observances)
Saucha: purity
Santosa: contentment
Tapas: right-effort or discipline
Svadhyaya: self-study
Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender to the highest ideals, to Source, or God.

I am not going to address each of these in detail in this post, but check back as I will be forming discussions of each of them in the coming year, and I greatly welcome and encourage your reflections and input on the meaning and application these precepts have in your own lives.

For now, I would like to focus on Ahimsa: non-violence, or non-harming. This yama is the one I have been most preoccupied with in my personal study in the last few years. In part this is because of what I see externally in the world around me, and in part, as a result of what I observe within myself. In my mind, the two are inseparable. If each of us was not consistently practicing some level of harming within ourselves, and in our actions in our lives, it would be impossible for us to live in world that is fraught with fear and violence; that sort of world simply cannot exist without us each individually contributing to and supporting it with our own brand of violence.

While that may seem like a fairly heavy indictment, in truth I feel it to be really, really good news. This concept reminds us of the deep and far reaching power of our own personal thoughts and actions. And since our own personal thoughts and actions are the only thing we really have dominion over, we have an exciting opportunity to practice peace in every step.

At this time of year many of us are forming resolutions and plans of action to make changes to many areas of our life. I would offer the yogic precept of Ahimsa as an incredible spring board for any inquiry you undertake. Whether you are trying to loose weight, break an unhealthy habit, become a better parent, or start a new business venture, consider making Ahimsa the corner stone, and benchmark, for your efforts.

To do this simply check each thought or action against the standard of non-harming. Simply ask yourself, "are my thoughts, or proceeding with this particular set of actions, bringing harm or perpetuating violence in anyway?" If the answer is "no," you can go forward knowing that you are adding, in a powerful way, to the forces if good in this world; if the answer is "yes," then you have a wonderful opportunity to consider an alternate thought pattern or plan of action.

In applying Ahimsa to your New Years Resolutions, or just to your life in general, remember that the most critical place to stay grounded in kindness and non-violence, is in relation to yourself. If you do something "himsic" (harmful) in your life, and then use that as a way to think angry, disappointed thoughts towards yourself, you are only perpetuating more violence. Remember, we are only human, and we will make mistakes on our way along our path, but intention is everything, and we can always begin again... in the very next moment.

Ahimsa is at its root a path to non-suffering. I hope you will welcome this yogic ideal into your life in 2009. May it bring you peace, and peace to our world.

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