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Prana Gyana

Family Health includes Caring for Seniors
Written by Anita Rangaswami

Family Health includes Caring for Seniors

By Anita Rangaswami

Have you ever thought about what it means to have a good quality of life? We plan for and tend to emphasize financial abundance as a key measure, and we work diligently all our lives towards gaining “financial freedom”, but what about being happy, healthy and in good spirits through every phase of life,  until it’s time to call it quits.

It may have been easier when the average life expectancy was shorter. However, with the baby boomers, who are a part of the “sandwich generation” – where they not only take care of their children and grandchildren, but also their parents – taking care of aging seniors at home becomes a daunting task. But the communities of seniors spread across the nation, who have devoted their lives caring for their children, deserve to be loved and cared for as a family member, despite the challenges it poses.  So how can we make it more manageable?

Proper nutrition, a healthy active lifestyle, help to manage their finances, and mental/emotional support are four key pillars for senior wellness. The knowledge and understanding comes from years of experience taking care of an aged mother who had multiple ailments and also suffers from Alzheimers disease.  When we begin to address these areas, it can allow the individual to age with respect and grace, and maintain a good quality of life.

Here are 5 tips to take care of a senior family member

  1. Encourage them to walk for 20 minutes every day as recommended by the National Institute on Aging.  If walking is difficult due to aches and pains, have them be in waist deep water (with supervision) and walk around the perimeter of the pool (during the early morning or late evening hours).  After all, there must be some benefits to living in Arizona in 110 degrees Fahrenheit!
  2. Help them maintain a well balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and lean protein. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout and tuna provide lean protein. Various kinds of lentils and dhals are also a good source of protein.
  3. Give them whole grains like oats, barley, millet, whole wheat and brown rice (or basmati rice if they must have it). Canola, vegetable, cottonseed, soybean, and olive oils are good. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats.
  4. Be sure to guide them with their investment decisions and help them feel secure with their finances.
  5. Above all, be gentle and patient as you tend to their needs. Show genuine loving kindness and compassion in everything that you do, regardless of the outcome or the recognition for your efforts.

With adequate physical conditioning, mental fortitude and a spiritual attitude, our seniors will be well poised to take on the challenges that appear in the autumn of life.

Written by: Anita Rangaswami                                  Date: July 8th '12

This article was published in the Natural Awakenings magazine August '12 issue.  

Conscious Thinking
Written by Anita Rangaswami

Are you practicing conscious thinking?

Just as the body must be kept fit with exercise, the mind needs to be kept agile
by using it properly. Stopping the chatter of the sub-conscious mind
(chitta vritti), even with a yoga practice is not an easy task at all! Choosing
thoughts that are nourishing for the spirit leads to "conscious thinking".
As we read spiritual and thought provoking books with awareness and become
more present through the practice of Swadhyaya(Self study), we begin to cultivate
our memory and gravitate towards becoming more conscious individuals.

For Conscious thinking to occur...

1. We must be able to transfer thoughts and ideas from Short term memory (STM)
to Long term memory (LTM).
So ideas and facts need to be understood and then repeatedly reviewed.

2. When one learns something new, a memory trace is formed. But this trace
gets lighter with every passing second till it completely disappears in 2-7 days. 
So be sure to reinforce the trace through repetition. Ensure the thought
being repeated is nourishing for mind, body and spirit.

3. It has been proven that 82% of information disappears in 24 hours unless
it is reinforced. 
So repeat inspirational information and affirmations back to your brain and
it will understand that it is important and store it.

Most importantly,

Remember to remember and forget to forget!

-Swami Gitananda

Anita Rangaswami is sharing her thoughts on Conscious Living and Prana Gyana's contributions in this area. The community collaborative produced by the FUSION Foundation on September 25th from 6 - 8 p.m. It is sponsored by Green Living AZ magazine and FireFly. Conscious Local Living travels around Arizona inviting all to engage in the local community by highlighting local faces, community innovators, and cool places for the purpose of harvesting relationships at a local level to create more of a sustainable Arizona.

Written by: Anita Rangaswami            Date: Sept 20th '12

Does your food suit your mood?
Written by admin

Does your Food suit your Mood?

Know how to feed your mind and body properly!

By Anita Rangaswami

Individuals who lead a "wellness-oriented" lifestyle are generally concerned with nutrition, fitness, stress, and typically care about their environment as well. There are myriad books on the mind, body, spirit connection and there is definitely more awareness in this area than a decade ago. Health conscious individuals are into eating raw foods, drinking Kombucha tea, being on the cutting edge and going to yoga/pilates fusion classes, running ultra marathons, meditating, dancing, drumming, and so much more, just to keep fit.

There is adequate emphasis on getting a healthy dose of physical exercise on a regular basis and it has been reiterated through several national forums including the NIH (National Institute for Health) and CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) which says one should get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days a week. Considering the 1440 minutes available each day, 30 minutes a day should be possible!  Choosing the right kind of exercise is usually the biggest challenge for most people, and I think it is important to truly enjoy any sport or exercise related activity that you are involved in. Whether it’s swimming,biking, walking, jogging, aerobic exercise or dancing, if your heart and soul is in it, chances are you will stay with it in the long term and not quit on a whim! My personal favorite includes high impact aerobics which has stuck and served me well for decades.

However, when it comes to healthy eating, the terrain is more tricky! In this age of information overload in every field, there is too much to digest and the consumer is often times overwhelmed with confusing and sometimes contradictory information. In a recent study appearing in the January edition of the Journal of Marketing, Professor Donald Lichtenstein and his colleagues from the University of
Colorado found that nutrition labels on packaged food products in the United States can lead even the most health-conscious consumers astray, if they don’t “do the math.” “The consumers who are more health conscious pay attention to the calorie information on the labels of packaged goods, but they don’t take the extra step to look at the serving size. So they are duped, if you will, by a health framing effect”, Lichtenstein said.

The study found that many consumers only pay attention to the calorie information and don’t look to see exactly what the serving size is.
So when a smaller serving size is presented, the associated calories are cut down, which makes one feel less guilty about consuming the product, and that affects their choice of food.

It is really up to the consumers to become savvier about the connection between serving sizes and nutrient information reported on the

“In the absence of any changes, public policy officials should encourage consumers to calculate negative nutrients for a reasonable
serving size, so they know the health benefits and detriments of the foods they eat,” Lichtenstein said.

We certainly pay more attention to ensure we consume foods that are listed as healthy or rich in anti-oxidants, but are we paying close
attention to the “negative effects” of certain foods that are consumed on a daily basis?

I vividly remember an incident from several years ago when I was on a long, tedious drive back from North Phoenix. Listening to the radio and stuck in rush hour traffic, I found my mind drifting away and thinking about my favorite ice cream! Ice cream has always been a favorite all through my childhood and adult years, and I remember savoring every bit of it down to the last spoonful and practically licking the chocolate fudge off the cup! But I had to cut back many years ago, when my waistline stopped cooperating and started sending me distress signals. It must have been the alluring commercial on the radio - but the description of the chocolate mousse cheese cake topped with ice cream was hard to pass up! It was not exactly what the doctor ordered, but clearly what I wanted, to get through the drive home. Before I knew it, I was already taking the next exit, turning into the Dairy Queen drive through and ordering the next best thing on the menu – a fudge brownie sundae!  Was I looking at the food labels or counting calories?

That was just the beginning! There was my favorite cheesecake at a friend’s wedding reception, so the next few days were blissful! In the following weeks, I was quick to rely on the ice cream to make it through the long drive. The impulsive behavior reminded me of a study that I had read in a Science journal where the stress response of rats was being studied. The scientists suggested that the rats became "creatures of habit", when during a three week period, they were exposed to a standard regimen of randomly timed stresses. They were typically being confined in a tube, or briefly "bullied" through a plastic window by intruder rats. The rats were expected to press a lever to get a sugar treat when they were hungry… but after three weeks, they were significantly worse at it than they had been at the start of the experiment. Unlike the other rats who were not stressed, these rats pressed the levers in the same pattern they always had -- even if they already had their fill of treats. They appeared to follow habitual patterns instead of making decisions about whether they were
really hungry for a reward. Here I was, a complex “conscious” being, acting and thinking no different than rats!

For me, the yearning for ice cream came up every few days and I would give in… until it literally grew on me. It was nothing more than impulse that took over my mind and body in the 6 weeks that I made the long trips. The dessert appeared to lighten the stress of the commute back home - making the trip more enjoyable. I started looking forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I could try a different location or flavor of ice cream each week and technology was certainly on my side! With the gizmos in the car and in my palm, I could plan the route I had to take, to get to the flavor of the week…

What I didn’t factor in was the negative effect of the excessive dairy and sweet consumption on my physiology. It was only after about 2-3 weeks that one day I “suddenly” seemed to come down with a bad cold and chest congestion. I attributed it to being out in the cold for an hour the previous evening, without a jacket… or maybe it was the “flu” bug that was going around? It certainly seemed plausible but was that the whole truth?

The chest was congested; the runny nose and dull head ache wouldn’t go away, my eyes watered for a whole day, and my inner ear felt warm and squishy! At night, there was a sense of heaviness in my chest and the breath pattern had changed. The deep full breaths that I was used to taking had morphed into more of a shallow labored breathing that went on for a few days.

Being one who likes to visit the doctor only for an annual physical exam, it was natural to reflect on what had changed in my eating habits. I began to recollect the possible sequence of events that may have caused this “sudden” shift in my physiology.  Maybe it wasn’t as sudden as I thought it to be! Perhaps there was a pattern that was being formed in the last few months and I had unknowingly encouraged it.

Could it be that the dairy product consumption was in excess of what my body could digest completely? Was I just not paying attention to the initial signs of the onset of the symptoms? Or maybe the hour spent outside in the cold on Saturday was the straw that broke the camel’s back?  There might have been multiple factors in play and we may never fully comprehend the exact cause.  But as we become more observant of the nature of the food we eat and, of course, when and why we indulge in the foods that we do, we may be able to voluntarily change those patterns that are not nourishing for our mind and body.

With Ayurveda, a natural medicine system known as the “Science of Life,” we learn to understand our mind body type and become aware of foods that are nourishing for our body, while avoiding others that may not be as conducive. “You are what you eat,” an old adage, takes on special significance when we use these nature based principles and work towards alleviating physical and mental imbalances or disease symptoms. Food is considered to be the first and foremost form of medicine, and without the right kind of food in the body all other healing modalities can only be partially effective.

According to Ayurveda, every individual is unique and has a mind body type called “Dosha”. Dosha means “that which darkens, spoils or causes things to decay,” and when they are out of balance, the imbalanced doshas cause disease symptoms in the mind and body. An
individual can determine the right kinds of food for them based on three primary Doshas, or biological humors called Vata, Pitta and Kapha; essentially a combination of the natural elements of Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.  Each Dosha has primary qualities such as dry, light, cold, warm, moist, sharp, wet, or sticky, and an excess or deficiency of these qualities indicates an excess or deficiency of the particular Dosha. All sentient beings have an innate ability to heal naturally, and as humans we have the gift of intelligence and the power of discrimination to understand and apply these principles. It is only when we can properly identify an imbalance, avoid the foods causing it, and choose the appropriate foods to pacify the imbalanced Doshas, that we begin the healing process.

Here are three key principles to help feed your mind and body

  1. Don’t let your mood influence your food!
  2. Know what you are eating; always eat with total
  3. Know your Ayurvedic mind/body type and be in
    tune with nature’s rhythms ….Bon

Anita Rangaswami is an Ayurveda Consultant, Yoga, & Meditation Instructor who is Yoga Alliance registered and certified through the Chopra Center. Originally from Bangalore, India, Anita has practiced Bhakti yoga, the yoga of love and devotion for over 30 years.  She is the Founder of Prana Gyana Holistic Health and Wellness Center in Tempe, where Ayurvedic consultations are offered to improve physical, mental and emotional health, by harnessing the Life Force energy (prana). The Center also offers group and individual yoga and meditation classes, chakra balancing and holistic nutrition, and stress relief workshops for kids and adults. She enjoys sharing
the insights following a spiritual awakening that led her to several Masters in India and the US, including Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Vama Deva Shastry and Dr. Swami Gitananda.

Go to www.pranagyana.com for more
details. Phone – 480-598-9961


Bringing Yoga to Seniors with Compassion and Caring

Traditional yoga on the mat originated in India thousands of years ago and the techniques were practiced by the ancients as a way to keep mind and body healthy and happy. More recently, in the last century, Yoga came to the West and has become popular in gyms and yoga studios. Chair Yoga has also gained momentum over the years for people who cannot get to the mat due to illness or physical limitations or perhaps need a break in the office as a way to keep fit.

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Phone: (480) 598-9961
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