For whatever I can share to inform, inspire, enlighten, and bring joy and hope to others, then this blog has best served its purpose.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Guest writer Allison Brooks shares about the positive impacts of "yoga" to human health

Yoga for your health
Yoga is an ancient practice–at least 5,000 years old–that has become a modern craze. Fifteen million Americans practice some form of yoga and three-quarters of the nation’s health clubs offer classes. One appeal of yoga is the concept that the person is more important than the disease; yoga works toward the integration of body, mind and spirit through physical poses and breathing. There are few controlled studies but much anecdotal evidence that yoga can help with medical conditions ranging from heart disease to asthma to chronic pain.

One of the theories about yoga’s impact on health is its effect on the lymph system. Like the circulatory system, the lymph system runs through the entire body; its function is to carry infection-fighting white blood cells and drain the waste products of cells. Exercise helps activate the lymph system, and some yoga postures such as downward-facing dog promote lymph drainage.

Another health-promoting aspect of yoga is relaxation. Stress increases blood pressure, pulse and the secretion of hormones that can be detrimental–for example, high catecholamines increase the aggregation or clumping of platelets, which increases the risk of heart attack. Yoga by its very nature–deep breathing, stretching and inward focus–helps your body to relax. The heartbeat slows and blood pressure and breathing decrease.

Research on the health effects of yoga is difficult, because the ideal study is a double-blind study in which only half the group practices yoga to determine what changes occur in the body. The yoga practice must be technically correct and the researchers must look at the specific variable they think yoga will influence–such as blood pressure–over a long enough period to ensure that change can occur. Such studies are expensive and there is little impetus for the usual sponsors–pharmaceutical companies or other manufacturers of medical therapies–to provide funding. Yoga can’t be formulated into a pill.

There is some anecdotal evidence. Barbara Benagh, a yoga teacher, developed asthma after a bout of viral pneumonia. After an attack that was bad enough to land her in the intensive care unit, Benagh experimented with yoga breathing techniques that allowed her to decrease the attacks–she has not been hospitalized or needed steroid medications for a long time and her exercise capacity has increased dramatically.

Cancer Treatment pain is another medical condition for which yoga shows promise. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy can lead to a serious of other side-effects that might feel worse than the actual cancer itself. To promote active cancer treatment doctors recommend yoga and other alternatives to help with the pain and stress. Cancer like pancreatic and mesothelioma are at the top of the list, since aggressive treatments have to be taken to combat the disease.

So try stretching, breathing and posing your way to better health–Namaste!

About the guest author
My name is Allison Brooks who, after graduation, spent most of my time in Bolivia studying the effects of biomedicalization on the culture. I study how this change affects the traditional healing practices of Bolivians. Through my studies, I have witnessed firsthand the incredible effects of certain natural therapies had on the body, and now I am a strong advocate for promoting their acceptance. I am not against conventional medicine or pharmaceuticals at all, but I just want to keep the public mind open about holistic and natural ways to heal, and not deprive people of these sacred ways to heal. I can be reached at:

Monday, February 20, 2012

San Pedro de Cebu: Pedro Calungsod will be the second Filipino to become a saint

The Vatican has formally announced last Saturday morning (Vatican time) about the canonization of  Pedro Calungsod, the second Filipino to become a saint, which will be on October 21, 2012. The announcement has been made after the installation of 22 new cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI during liturgical rites held at St. Peter's Basilica. San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila  was the first Filipino saint canonized 25 years ago by the late Pope John Paul II, who is also now a candidate for sainthood.

Pedro Calungsod, a young cathechist, together with the now Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, a Spanish Jesuit priest, became martyrs when they were attacked by the natives in Guam in 1762 while they were on their way to a hostile village to do baptismal rites. They were sent to Guam from the Philippines to spread Christianity. The natives armed with spears and bolos, attacked father Diego first and killed him on the spot and then turned towards Pedro and ordered him to give up his faith. He could have ran away and saved his life but the young cathechist chose to die for his faith instead.

San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, the first Filipino saint, suffered the same fate when he died for his faith in Nagazaki, Japan. He worked as a calligrapher for the Dominican parish of Binondo, Manila before he was sent to Japan together with the missionaries to spread Christianity. The canonization is the final step towards sainthood from which a candidate must undergo the beatification and canonization processes. Miraculous healings attributed to the intercession of these candidates are the main requirements.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

If to a flower love must be likened

I should have written this sonnet on Valentine's Day, but then I ended up writing an essay instead and it took me a few days later to recollect the verses I would have lost forever if not for the little child I met in a narrow street this morning carrying in his hand a beautiful flower. That was one of the most captivating sights I haven't seen in a long time as I inhaled the sweetest smell of fragrance.

If to a flower love must be likened
And appreciated most for what it brings
So that our senses all will be opened
To feel the throbbing heart, beyond, of things.
Because a flower only blooms within
The nurture of a hand that truly cares
From which to brave the sunshine and the rain
And may its beauty looks as it appears.
What more shall we want of love to become?
It is a flower, as simple as that,
Yet as obscure and misleading to some.
Love promises less and offers a lot.
Somehow in our dear life we need to know
What is that one flower we help to grow.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love restores a broken relationship

Looking for a perfect relationship? You will never find it. Relationships are never without a flaw and a challenge. It is through the imperfections that we are motivated to make a relationship works and to bring it to the point where we can always do something to improve it. There's no such thing as a perfect relationship, but the trials endured together strengthen it.

It's easy to say we love someone, but the problem lies in the translation of such wonderful words into actions. I was writing this essay with a hope of reminding everyone about the importance of love in a relationship and especially because today is Valentine's Day. And because today is a special day for lovers, we can make it everyday of the year if we try.

Now back to the main topic, relationships may fail but love restores them. Our willingness to accept the fact that love can do the works for us will be the defining factor in saving a relationship that is on the brink of a collapse. Love restores what has been broken.

Love is slow to build; it is a process. You've got to plant its seeds and nurture them till they grow into a beautiful flower. It is not something you only keep as long as you like and abandon when you think you no longer needs it. Because if that was so, then you probably might have mistaken love for something else. Love is not just a feeling but the ability to connect to the inner sense of responsibly doing what is going to be done according to God's teachings.

Just as all things are reconciled to God through Christ so as all of relationships as well be restored with love. Stay faithful. Be full of hope. Love always. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Floating book fair Logos Hope visits Cebu, Central Philippines

Floating book fair Logos Hope is in Cebu for several weeks of goodwill mission until the 12th of February, 2012. They are here bringing knowledge, help, and hope. Its international crews and staff members are ever friendly and some of them can even speak fluently of our local dialect which is the Cebuano-Visaya.

It's an early Valentine date treat I had with my girlfriend as we boarded the ship last night and took a look on the wide arrays of affordable books and souvenir items for sale. Logos Hope was docked at pier 1 near SRP (South Road Project), just a walking distance away from Plaza Independencia and Fuerza de San Pedro (Fort San Pedro, the oldest Spanish-era military stronghold in the Philippines). The entrance fee is Php (Philippine peso) 20 per head and business hours are up to 9 PM only.

I ended up buying some of the Logos souvenir items and as I reached up for the counter I heard the young blonde cashier saying, after a warm smile, "Hi! Como esta?" by which I simply answered, "Muy bien, gracias!" I shot her back a smile. A woman standing next in line to me is, by the look, a Korean carrying with her the books she must be buying for. The place has become international as I saw people of different nationalities/races from both the visitors/customers and the ship's crews/staff members alike interspersing with each other.

By the time me and my girlfriend went out of the ship we were greeted by the same tall young man of Nordic look who went to say "maayong pag-abot (welcome)" upon our entry, this time saying, "salamat sa inyong pag-anhi, maayong pagkatulog! (thank you for coming, sleep well!)". I told him thank you and he answered back in an unassuming tone of voice "way sapayan (you're welcome)". I laughed at that being just so amazed by the fact that a foreigner can speak very well of the local dialect. It's a wonderful experience. I hope Logos Hope will come back again in the near future.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What to do in times of emergency: lessons that should be learned from yesterday's 6.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked Cebu, Central Philippines

A 6.9 magnitude earthquake has rocked Cebu, Central Philippines at noontime yesterday. I was at the third level of a mall when the quake happened and I was one among those who rushed to go out the building. When I say "rush" I didn't mean like running but only walks faster than normal and being attentive. There was panic inside but I tried to be as calm as I can and took a deep breath although I was feeling a little bit nervous.

I thought the quake would soon stop but when it continued and even got stronger I have but only these words to come out from my mouth: "help me God!" Upon reaching the escalator going downward I was met with a heavy traffic of people. There was great commotion as everyone wanted to come out first. For fear of stampede, I took the less crowded going upward escalator and walked against it until I reached the ground floor and came out of the building safely.

Outside, a huge crowd of people already occupied the streets. Their faces registered clear imprints of shock and fear. It was not until a few hours later that people began to run in the streets after someone had said that a tsunami is coming. Cebu city lies along the east coast of the island province and the tsunami alert number 2 issued by the authorities made the people to panic more than what the earthquake has able to cause. I just ignored the people and stayed as calm as possible because I know that the tsunami alert number 2 was only for precautionary measure and not to be so much worried about. I went home immediately, though.

I was actually much worried by the earthquake than the rumor of a tsunami after. What made the earthquake different from other calamities is that it comes like a thief. No one could predict when it's exactly coming and where despite the most advance technology of today. Scientists are still finding ways and studying more on how to predict earthquakes. It remains a puzzle yet to be solved. But there was a time in my childhood in my hometown when the ducks in our backyard all gathered together in one particular place. Several minutes later,  came the earthquake. I have also noticed back then that when ants began to migrate to higher grounds that rainy days and/or a flood would be expected in a few days. Perhaps some animals have more acute senses than humans to detect future natural activities and calamities.

Yesterday's quake should have thought us many lessons. It is important that we know some of the most basic knowledge on how to deal with when such a kind of situation/calamity occur as well as in times of emergencies. A little learning, as what Alexander Pope would have us all reminded, is a dangerous thing. Misinformation can only lead to confusion, chaos, and panic. The following are just some of the few but most important things to do to survive in times of emergency:

Before any action, what you need is "STOP".

  • "S" is for Stop. Take a deep breath, sit down if possible, calm yourself and recognize that whatever has happened to you.

  • "T" is for think. The most important survival asset is your brain. Use it. Do not panic. Think first, take no action. Unrecoverable mistakes and injuries, potentially deadly in a survival situation.

  • "O" is for observe. Take a look around you. Assess your situations and options. Take stock of your supplies, equipment, surroundings, and personal capabilities. Absolute basic necessities are a good knife (like a quality folding knife), fire starting equipment (like matches), and mirror/major signaling.

  • "P" is for plan. Prioritize your immediate needs and develop a plan to systematically deal with the emergency and contingencies. Then follow your plan. Adjust your plan only as necessary to deal with changing circumstances.

One more thing you need to remember: a positive mental attitude is the most important survival resource.

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