Nutrition: Plugging In Half Way for Longevity

Lately, I’ve been unplugging for part of the day, not long stretches of days, and I’ve decided to be even more investigative in my endeavors and interests. Confession: I had to do this due to circumstances in my life anyway. First of all, I got an injury. I pulled the pectoralis minor muscle on one side of my chest and that made breathing quite painful if I took a breath deeper than 70-80%. That muscle sits deep in the chest under the pectoralis major, and it lifts the rib cage every time you take a breath, and it stretches from about the breastbone to the armpit. I have a strong pranayama practice and trail running routine that was growing more each week, and I thought that I was following my natural rhythm and growth. However, I now see that my growth required an additional focus and mentality.

In my practice, all of these changes in nutrition and physical practice resulted in some effects in my body that I didn’t recognize. Over a year ago, I gave up meat, and though I am a pescatarian (contining to eat some fish, seafood, and dairy), I am landbound so the availability of wild seafood and fish is limited. I don’t get enough of it to maintain healthy levels of vitamin B12. This is not something I had considered. I should note that I don’t take supplements of any kind and eat little to no fortified foods. I prepare plenty of processed foods for my family and eat very little of it. Surprisingly, fatigue and depression set in, some strange incidences of fingers and toes tingling and feeling slightly numb, etc. I started to retain water in my legs even though I was running (often 10+) miles per day. My metabolic rate dropped drastically, though I was active, not drinking alcohol, and eating the best fruits, vegetables, and sometimes dairy and fish that I could get.

I plugged in enough to find out what this meant. I quickly learned that vegetarians (various types) and vegans often need B12 injections or fortified foods with B12 added to the products.

That has led me to further investigate the source of fortified B12 in vegan and vegetarian pre-packaged foods. I care about this for many reasons. Those mentioned above but also because I have a meat allergy from a Texas Lonestar tick bite. My conversion to eating vegetables was at first by force of nature. I went into an anaphylaxis reaction to both beef and pork about six years ago after the tick bite. I will not eat either of them due to that condition. I don’t want to take that chance with my health. I stopped eating poultry over a year ago simply because I didn’t want to consume it anymore. It’s also much cheaper to eat raw foods (vegetables and fruits) when they are available than to eat meat, so after a modicum of moaning about it, I shrugged and allowed all of the meats to pass me by without any sadness on my part. Usually, frozen fruits and vegetable options are available most places, so it’s still relatively cheap to eat fruits and vegetables, even if they aren’t fresh. As I mentioned earlier, I do eat dairy and didn’t react to the dairy products from cows. I only reacted with anaphylaxis to consuming the meat from animals. So, dairy from cows and goats is an option. Eggs are a cheap option for protein, and where I live, almost everyone has a chicken coup and thus, we have an abundance of eggs. Still, dairy and eggs don’t provide a high amount of vitamin B12, so I can’t consume enough of those products to make up for the B12 I’ve been missing.

B12 is vital to energy levels, metabolism, brain functions, athletic performance, etc. As my running distances increased while training for the ultra, and my yoga teaching and practice intensified over the summer, and I unplugged to get into all of that, I made the decision to stop eating fish and seafood (switch completely to vegetarian), so I quit the fish altogether and began weaning myself off the little bit of seafood I was consuming sometimes. My body slowly reacted with the above conditions, and I didn’t notice the collective information that my body was telling me.

A pulled muscle stopped me, and reluctantly, I eased up on everything (so I said, but really, I just kept going). Then, more bumps, a fall down the deck stairs, and it was time to do some research. The answers all came quickly and easily.

I believe that every body is unique and must answer to the chemistry within the body’s system. I honor that connection to my body, that knowledge ensures that my body and mind stay connected, and my productivity and quality of enjoyment are in sync. For my body to be in optimal health, I discovered what I need to eat specific to my body’s reaction. Plugging in helped me to find the answers that work for me. I read the statistics and experiences of other pescatarians, various vegetarians and/or vegans to find out what might help me, and those sites and writings did help me discover the nourishment that works best for me. My body has healed and is back at optimal health, and none of the issues mentioned above exist anymore (with the exception of the allergies to meat).

We’re all playing with the scales (I’m referring to food scales here, not your body weight scales, though that could work in this context, too) in our lives, trying to find the balance again and again as life shifts and changes. Perhaps we are sometimes too blind to the effects of what we consume, not seeing the chemical reactions that occur in mind and body. Perhaps sometimes we think that we are making the best decision based on a spiritual practice or the guidance of a diet specific to someone else’s needs. The scales are ours alone, and what we place on them changes based on our unique body’s reactions to our nutrition. Answering the body’s needs during changes in our lives is vital to longevity.

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Savoring the Words: Unplugging Part 3

While I was unplugged, I read Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, mostly aloud to my dog, Mojo. He enjoyed the readings and would get very cozy and doze off to sleep after about twenty minutes of reading. I have an edition from the early 1900s and the pages flake sometimes, but I toted the little hardback around the house and allowed it to rest in my jacket pocket, where it fit so neatly and carried the appropriate heft for such a literary work. I could feel it there, the strength of those ideas and words. I love the way that Tennyson lingers on a description, crafting it out the long way. I found myself longing for the space, the way of wading into words and stories of old without the rush of time, the interruptions of technological life, and the self-consciousness of minimalism dragging the story down and making it less than it is…less reading enjoyment, less wandering in the world of a tale, less words.

I’ve also dwelt more on the words I write–in correspondence to others, in blog posts, and in my novel writing. I’ve allowed myself the words I want to use without making it less for the sake of other people.

The idea that I should shorten my statements and lessen my self-expressions is something I began when I first got a phone that would send text messages, and I was a late adopter so that was about 2011. Prior to that, I was quite old-fashioned (and still am) in my style of lengthy correspondence (and I prefer handwritten letters). After getting a smart phone, I very quickly learned that the majority of people I knew expected a text that involved as few words as possible. In fact, I wasn’t treated very well when I sent a text message that contained sentences. Some of my friends were downright rude, and justified their rude behavior based on popular culture. It was more okay to be rude via minimal text message than to communicate in complete sentences, even if they were short sentences. Being rude was cool; thoughtful communication was not cool. Finally, I experience changes to the above scenario, and many of my friends now communicate more akin to my own style of communication (and, I’m grateful for that).

All of this has reaffirmed my commitment to print books and handwritten letters. I’ve returned to my in-progress novels with renewed determination to finish them and to give them the full breadth that they deserve as stories, to use my breath as words penned down to the page, a motion of creation that has moved through my body and been born onto the page. As I breathe and read the words, write the words, speak the stories, they have lived inside of me. Yes, our stories do live any way, but there is no surer way of saving them for someone almost one hundred years later, and another hundred years later, and another hundred years later, than to tell the whole story out onto the page while loving the words and the process of creating with them.

Unplugging more has also reaffirmed my love of the spoken word and reading aloud. When I read stories and listen to the sound of the story, a new depth is present. There’s so much to discover in listening.

Yoga Schedule

​​Many people have asked me to create a place where all of my yoga classes and activities are listed. Yoga and writing are wrapped up together in my life, so I have many activities related to both. Sometimes, I even throw running into the mix, and there will be classes listed soon that are specifically FOR runners. You can also find this list with even more information at the thorncraftpublishing.com website. I definitely update that site much more frequently than my blogsite here, but I will try to keep it updated monthly here with a schedule since I teach in places and spaces a little different than your neighborhood yoga studio.

Classes by Shana Thornton, 200RYT:

For classes at Tennessee State Parks, participants can register at tnstateparks.com under ALL EVENTS. Detailed class descriptions are located on the TN State Parks website. Choose the date you would like to attend from the list on the Tennessee State park website.

UPCOMING CLASSES:

Dunbar Cave State Natural Area, a TN State Park

$10 per person.

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Saturday, August 4, 2018: Candlelight Yoga at the Cave

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Saturday, August 18, 2018: Candlelight Yoga at the Cave

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Thursday, August 23, 2018: Candlelight Yoga at the Cave (final Thursday night of the season)

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Saturday, August 25, 2018: Candlelight Yoga at the Cave

6 p.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday, September 8, 2018: Candlelight Yoga at the Cave (Final Class until Summer 2019)

Montgomery Bell State Park, a TN State Park
Saturdays, Summer 2019. More Information Coming Soon with a full monthly yoga schedule…

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clarksville
$10 per person.
4p.m. – 5:15 p.m., Sunday, August 5, 2018.
Gentle class. Candlelight. Mats available. Beginners welcome. Yoga Nidra at the end of practice.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clarksville
$10 per person.
10a.m. – 11:15 a.m., Thursday, August 9, 2018.
Gentle class. Candlelight. Mats available. Beginners welcome. Yoga Nidra at the end of practice.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clarksville
$10 per person.
10a.m. – 11:15 a.m., Thursday, August 16, 2018.
Gentle class. Candlelight. Mats available. Beginners welcome. Yoga Nidra at the end of practice.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clarksville
$10 per person.
4 p.m. – 5:15 p.m., Sunday, August 19, 2018.
Gentle class. Candlelight. Mats available. Beginners welcome. Yoga Nidra at the end of practice.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clarksville
$10 per person.
10a.m. – 11:15 a.m., Thursday, August 23, 2018.
Gentle class. Candlelight. Mats available. Beginners welcome. Yoga Nidra at the end of practice.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clarksville
$10 per person.
10a.m. – 11:15 a.m., Thursday, August 30, 2018.
Gentle class. Candlelight. Mats available. Beginners welcome. Yoga Nidra at the end of practice.

Upcoming Workshop:
Yoga and Writing Exploration Workshop

2p.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, August 25, 2018.
At Yoga Mat studio. 227 Dunbar Cave Rd. Clarksville, TN.
Register on the MINDBODY APP. $15 per person
Explore writing techniques and styles of yoga. Discover the creativity and self-expression of blending writing and yoga in this 3-hour workshop. From meditation to pranayama to flow styles of yoga, this workshop will give you an opportunity to explore yoga and writing as you grow in your practice and voice.
Workshop teachers: Shana Thornton, 200RYT, editor of the BreatheYourOMBalance yoga book series, and Amanda Rush, 200RYT, writer and co-owner of Yoga Mat studio.

With all three practices (writing, yoga, and running), I will always be a student first, a listener. I am also truly a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance. You can find me on their registry here. I keep up with my hours and extra studies. My practice is always growing.

I do publish a yoga book series, BreatheYourOMBalance, which is also a registered trademark. We do accept outside work for the book series during open reading periods. Visit Thorncraft Publishing for information about the book series and open reading times.

Wishing you all easy breaths,
Shana

I Marvel at Mockingbirds

The book proof for Thorncraft’s 7th title arrived in the mail during a late summer rainstorm while the sun was shining. As I opened the book, I suddenly heard bird songs and chatter, and I looked up expecting to see starlings or a similar flock.

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Cover designed by etcetera… Cover image by SaltH2Ophotography

 

I realize that they are mockingbirds. I’ve never seen this many mockingbirds in one yard. I count over 20 of them playing around the dying garden, in the field, flapping from cedar tree to fence to persimmon branches to vitex bushes. Around 30, I give up the count and watch as the birds swoop and the white of their wings flashes against the green of the field. They whistle, chip, tweet, chirpity chirpity chirpity, st-weeet with a little trilling laugh on the end of the call. The calls and songs are so varied that I grasp for ways to describe them. It’s better to listen and enjoy. I marvel at the similarity in this first volume of the BreatheYourOMBalance book, thoughtfully selected and introduced by S. Teague.

As I read through the stories and poems, I am taken aback by the number of voices moving through Thorncraft. I’m always grateful for each book. Each one has represented a different stage in the publishing process for me, new awareness, and growth into another form. Every book has been unique to the author and my relationship with that person, as I care for all of the books that we make throughout the process.

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The Breathe book includes work from 28 women who have enriched my experience as a publisher by sharing their voices, and some of them by opening themselves to working through the editing process. I’m humbled that they trusted me to share their ideas, and I’m proud of their courage and dedication, both of which shine in these stories about the transformative practice of yoga.

This is Thorncraft’s 7th book. Five books of fiction. One book of collaborative nonfiction. One series book about yoga by women. 4 book authors. 28 contributing authors. I marvel that this creative endeavor continues to grow and include women who make me proud to share their work.

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Now, the book proof goes into the trusted hands and under the “red pen” (she actually uses blue or black most of the time) of senior editor, Kitty Madden. In the meantime, we’re excited to share some blurbs about the book from authors as well as fitness and yoga instructors. Book Forthcoming, Fall 2016. Visit http://www.thorncraftpublishing.com for more details about all of our books and authors