Archive for the ‘Mind, Body, Spirit’ Category

Gene Variants Linked to Diabetes

February 4, 2010 Comments off

These findings could lead to new treatments in glucose regulation

A major international study with leadership from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers has identified 10 new gene variants associated with blood sugar or insulin levels. Two of these novel variants and three that earlier studies associated with glucose levels were also found to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Along with a related study from members of the same research consortium, associating additional genetic variants with the metabolic response to a sugary meal, the report will appear in Nature Genetics and has been released online.

“Only four gene variants had previously been associated with glucose metabolism, and just one of them was known to affect type 2 diabetes. With more genes identified, we can see patterns emerge,” says Jose Florez, MD, PhD, of the MGH Diabetes Unit and the Center for Human Genetic Research, co-lead author of the report. “Finding these new pathways can help us better undertand how glucose is regulated, distinguish between normal and pathological glucose variations and develop potential new therapies for type 2 diabetes.”

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Yoga: Get started with the right props!

January 10, 2010 Comments off

We are proud to present this article by guest blogger, Courtney Pearce, certified yoga instructor

Whether you are taking a class or are practicing yoga at home, investing in some props can be helpful in assuming correct stances and postures.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to assemble your props.  Here are some suggestions for equipment that can enhance your yoga experience.

Durable mat

Although most yoga studios are equipped with mats for patrons, it’s a wise idea to get a mat of your own if you plan on having a personal practice. Things to look for in a mat are durability, traction (you want to stick to your mat like flypaper!),  and portability. Mats shouldn’t be very thick and should roll up tightly. There are a myriad of mats out there that vary in colors and texture.

I’m currently using a Gaiam yoga mat, which is made of rubber, but one can find mats made from all sorts of materials, ranging from the more eco-friendly to synthetics.

In my opinion, Jade offers the Cadillac of yoga mats!

Yoga strap

The yoga strap is a versatile prop, which can be used in many ways for varying functions. It can be integral in certain poses, which require full extension of one leg while keeping one’s spine aligned.

For example, in supta hasta padangusthasana one should not lift one’s pelvis off the floor or allow the leg to fall inward. Each of these can cause misalignments, which are a great disservice to the spine. A strap allows for the student to concentrate on the spine, instead of focusing on reaching the extended foot.

A strap can also act as another pair of hands, which can pull muscles inward or draw them away from the body. Use a strap around mid-thigh to keep knees from splaying out in backbends.

Finally, straps are fantastic for isometric stretches such as shoulder warm-ups.
One can substitute a rope, belt, or even an old t-shirt as a strap. In stores, straps come in all different lengths so be sure you are getting the length you desire for your practice.


Bolsters are by far my favorite prop, probably because I associate them with restorative yoga poses! Yogis should treat themselves to a good bolster to use at home on the mat. Open your heart and get a restorative backbend in Supta Baddha Konasana with a bolster beneath your head, neck, and most of your spine. Let your lumbar and sacral spine drape over the end of the bolster, bum grounded on the earth.

You can substitute a rolled up blanket or a pillow for a bolster or you can find bolsters in all different shapes and sizes all over the web.

Yoga blocks

The use of blocks in yoga practice will encourage a deepening into the posture or allow one to stay aligned within a pose for longer. Using a block to gain a more grounded position in poses such as trikonasana/triangle or Ardha Chandrasana/Half Moon will drastically improve alignment and help deepen one’s understanding of the pose.

Blocks can also call awareness to a part of the body that needs to be engaged. For example, placing a block in between the thighs in tadasana/mountain pose gives the student a way of working towards an inner rotation of the inner thighs. To get the block to move towards the back wall with ones inner thighs is a visual acknowledgement of correct engagement!

I love using Hugger Mugger’s cork block, but of course there are many substitutes that are free.

Try these:
A thick small book, Tupperware, a shoebox filled with something to give it a little extra weight, or a box of Kleenex, for poses which won’t be weight-bearing.

Let your imagination inspire you!

Courtney Pearce is a certified yoga alliance instructor and practices in the western part of NC. Courtney instructs all ages of yoga students, from children to the elderly.  Be sure to check out Courtney’s blog:

Travelers: Cure for Jet Lag?

November 13, 2009 Comments off

A study published in the journal of Minerva Cardioangiologica reveals Pycnogenol, pine bark extract from the French maritime pine tree, reduces jetlag in passengers by nearly 50 percent. The two-part study, consisting of a brain CT scan and a scoring system, showed Pycnogenol lowered symptoms of jetlag such as fatigue, headaches, insomnia and brain edema (swelling) in both healthy individuals and hypertensive patients. Passengers also experienced minimal lower leg edema, a common condition associated with long flights.

Pycnogenol has been shown to be beneficial for flight travel in previous studies pertaining to edema, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and blood circulation improvement. A study published in Clinical Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis recorded passengers supplementing with Pycnogenol on long distance flights lasting 7-12 hours were significantly protected from thrombotic events, complications resulting from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and superficial vein thrombosis (SVT). In 2005, a study published in Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis showed Pycnogenol to be effective in reducing leg and ankle swelling (edema) during long airplane flights lasting seven to 12 hours.

The study, conducted at the G. D’Annunzio University in Pescara, Italy, consisted of 133 passengers who took flights that were seven to nine hours in length. Fifty mg of oral Pycnogenol was administered three times daily, for seven days, starting two days prior to the flight.

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Disclaimer: CarolinaLifestyles does not endorse any particular pharmaceutical regimen. Always check with your physician and/or pharmacist before taking any drug or supplement.