Get to Know: Vanilla

If you always thought that the name vanilla was a proprietary property of all those industries producing mouth watering ice creams, chocolates, cakes, pastries, custards, biscuits, confectionaries and soft drinks, and there could not be a better use of it, then you can’t be more wrong. The essential oil of vanilla is extracted by solvent extraction of a resinous substance obtained from fermented vanilla beans. These beans grow in vanilla plants, a creeper that grows mainly in Mexico and neighboring countries and bears a scientific name Vanilla Planifolia. Most of the flavors with a ‘vanilla’ tag on them are not derived from original vanilla at all; they are mostly synthesized from hydrocarbons!

Vanilla has been a critical ingredient in the food/beverage industry, as well as pharmaceutical and wellness too. Below are a list of the wonders that is vanilla.

  • Antioxidant. This property alone can take care of most of your problems. Oxidation is one of the biggest causes behind most of our troubles and diseases. It is directly and indirectly responsible for a number of diseases caused by organic malfunctions and infections. Oxidizers or free-radicals cause oxidation of the living cells and tissues and burn them to death. Gradually, this results in weakening of the immunity, loss of memory, organic and nervous malfunctioning, gradual loss of vision & hearing, mental instability, macular degeneration and many more. The anti oxidant property of vanilla essential oil neutralizes these free radicals and protects the body from wears and tears, infections and even some forms of cancer, such as those of prostrate and colon. It also repairs the damages already done to the body.
  • Febrifuge. The vanilla oil can effectively reduce fever by fighting infections due to presence of components like Eugenol and Vanillin Hydroxybenzaldehyde in it. Being a sedative, it also reduces inflammation due to fever which also contributes to reducing fever.
  • Antidepressant. You were sitting alone, depressed. Then somebody brings you a vanilla ice cream or a vanilla flavored drink, you have that and lo! The depression is gone! You start feeling pleased, satisfied and get into mood. This is one of the biggest advantages of the aromatic vanilla. The flavor alone is so pleasingly sweet and soothing. Vanillin Hydroxybenzaldehyde, a component of vanilla essential oil is an effective anti-depressant and mood uplifter.
  • Relaxing: This oil has a relaxing and calming effect on the brain and the nerves, and provides relief from anxiety, anger and restlessness.

 

The Impact of Stress on Physical Health

With the fast-paced, high-pressure lives that many of us lead, full of hefty job and family responsibilities, it’s no wonder that we sometimes feel stressed to the limit and out of control of our lives. We all have to live with stress, but if not reined in, it can profoundly affect both mind and body.

Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit.

Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

It’s important to learn how to recognize when your stress levels are out of control. The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feels familiar even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll.

You can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can control how much it affects you. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of joy and serenity. They also increase your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure.

Everybody has the power to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening in that moment. With practice, you can learn to spot stressors and stay in control when the pressure builds. Sensory stress-busting techniques give you a powerful tool for staying clear-headed and in control in the middle of stressful situations. They give you the confidence to face challenges, knowing that you have the ability to rapidly bring yourself back into balance.

Another great way to de-stress is with a complete massage. Massage therapy can be effective for a variety of conditions, including arthritis, lower back pain, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, circulatory problems, and recovery from a sports injury. Clinical studies also show that even a single 1 ½ -hour session of massage therapy can significantly lower heart rate, cortisol levels and insulin levels – all of which help reduce stress. By adding therapeutic massage to your routine now, you’ll feel, look and simply be healthier far into the future.

History & Benefits of Yoga

Imagine an activity that increases your flexibility, strengthens your muscles, centers your thoughts, and relaxes and calms you. Yoga does all that and more!

The word yoga is Sanskrit for Yoke, or union. In the practice of yoga, we seek to create union between the mind and body. Yoga is the perfect example of holistic health because of this combination of mind and body. It is a systematic practice of physical exercise, breath control, relaxation, diet control, and positive thinking and meditation aimed at developing harmony in the body, mind, and environment. The practice entails low-impact physical activity, postures called asanas, breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation, and meditation.

Yoga professes a complete system of physical, mental, social, and spiritual development. For generations, this philosophy was passed on from the master teacher to the student. The first written records of the practice of yoga appeared around 200 BC in Yogasutra of Patanjali. The system consisted of the eightfold path or Asthangayoga.

In the West, several schools of yoga are popular and use some or all limbs of Asthangayoga described by Patanjali. The eight limbs are as follows:

  • Yama: rules for successful living in society
  • Niyama: techniques for managing and purifying self
  • Asaana: posture techniques for physical and mental balance (what most people think of as yoga)
  • Pranayama: breathing techniques for physical and mental balance
  • Pratihara: techniques for detaching the mind from the senses for mental balance and calm
  • Dharana: concentration techniques for mental balance and calm
  • Dhyana: meditation techniques for mental balance and calm
  • Samadhi: ultimate advanced meditation techniques and psychic procedures attained after regular practice for universal consciousness

The process involves the arousal of the Kundalini Shakti, or serpent power, believed to be located at the base of the human spine. As one practices the various techniques, this power/latent energy rises through a series of centers or Chakras corresponding to various endocrine glands. When this power reaches the highest center, which is associated with the hypothalamus gland regulating the hormonal secretion of the endocrine system, it results in the control over the hypothalamus. In this way, secretion of hormones from various endocrine glands can be regulated. This mechanism may explain the importance of yoga as a stress management technique.

The benefits of various yoga techniques have been professed to improve body flexibility, performance, stress reduction, attainment of inner peace, and self-realization. Yoga has been advocated as complementary treatment to aid healing of several ailments such as coronary heart disease, depression, anxiety disorders, asthma, and extensive rehabilitation for disorders including musculoskeletal problems and traumatic brain injury. It has also been suggested as a behavioral therapy for smoking cessation and substance abuse including alcohol abuse.

You don’t have to be flexible to practice yoga. In fact, yoga will help you become flexible. When learning yoga, don’t force any movements or poses. Mastery will come with practice. A yoga class should make you feel invigorated, calm, and not in physical discomfort.

Alternatively, you can opt for a traditional Thai massage in our Centre. A traditional Thai massage is an ancient form of massage unique to Thailand using deep tissue, pressure point and stretching techniques (similar to that of yoga) to reduce stress and relieve muscle soreness.