Tommy

When I moved a few months back Tommy was the first person I met. Very gregarious, I soon got in the habit of petting him.

I asked a fellow tenant about him. She said that he has been around for many years, that other neighbors told her that he used to wear a collar, and that they think someone left him behind when they moved. She added that she was told someone in a neighboring building let him inside during the winter. He looked well fed, people in my town like “sharing cats” and taking turns taking care of them.

A few months later I saw a guy walking some dogs and Tommy approached them. I told the guy he wasn’t my cat, but that he was friendly. He said he knew, that Tommy was his cat, that he was an “outdoor cat”, that he got him his shots, that neighborhood children gave him treats, and that he didn’t mind.

I started buying cat treats for Tommy, but I didn’t want to leave the food outside where it might attract rats. So, I started inviting Tommy inside to give him his treats. Usually he leaves after a few minutes, but sometimes he hangs around.

Here is he making himself at home.

Goodbye B.K.S. Iyengar

B. K. S. Iyengar, Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West, Dies at 95

His book “Light On Yoga” ( unabridged ) was and probably is still the most comprehensive book on yoga in the English language. About two inches thick, super precise description of postures pages long in excruciating detail, hundreds of pictures showing the smallest of variations, a substantial introduction to the philosophy in the front, a do it yourself practice guide spanning several years in the back, and even a guide for which postures to use for which physical issues.

I discovered yoga and his fantastic book when I was teenager. I would spend hours with it every day after school, bending in odd positions while dripping sweat on the book and reading all of those detailed directions.

It was one of my first, best, introductions to Eastern thought that led to many of the things I am still into today.

I can’t find a way to say adequately how much I got out Iyengars fantastic book. I think it is a crime against humanity that newer editions were later abridged. A

All those hours of enjoyment, education, and funky experiences, during a time of discovery for me.

In the early 00’s I finally had a chance to to take yoga classes that taught his style. I remember seeing a poster of him bending over backwards and touching the floor behind him. He was 75 years old at the time. When I got into all of that stuff I remember high school friends telling me how the time spent on yoga, diet, health etc detracted from the joy in life. Aside from the fact that those things are ends in themselves as joyful things to do, BKS Iyengar was doing hand stands at an age where many people are dying and struggling just to do basic daily things.

Age can be a time of the coming together of wisdom bringing great opportunities. What a gift to have a few more years and a few more quality years, to get the most out of it.

Iyengar made it to 95 and was still highly functional almost up to his demise. I knew very little about him aside from his thoughts in “Light On Yoga”. This article was a very interesting summary of his life, and after all these years I found out what the “B.K.S.” stand for.

Sleep Hygiene Made Simple

Sleep Hygiene Chart From The Huffington Post

“Sleep Hygiene” is a term for a set of habits that promotes sleeping well and that helps ward off insomnia.

If you go see any kind of specialist about sleep issues, the first thing they will ask you about is your sleep hygiene. Better sleep hygiene will be their first prescription.

The chart above is from a Huffington Post article. I like this chart because it is simple. However, the chart does not show all sleep hygiene habits, but that is probably fine for people who do not have persistent sleep issues.

The one sleep hygiene habit not on the chart that I think is the most useful is a regular bed time.

Most of the recommendations on the chart seems to make sense from common experience. One that might not, is stopping the use of electronics an hour before your bed time.  Televisions, computer screens, screens on mobile phones, and artificial lighting all emit blue light. Blue light inhibits the production of melatonin in your body. Melatonin is a hormone that tells your body that it is night time and time to begin preparing to go to sleep. You can get your smart phone to emit less blue light at by installing special software on it to emit less blue light at night.  On your computer you can install the free software f.lux for Windows ( and Linux though it might not work well ) and Redshift for Linux.   You can also wear amber colored goggles to filter out blue light.

The other recommendation that might not make sense is the one to stop consuming alcohol 3 hours before your bed time. Alcohol will relax you and knock you out right? Yes, it will, but at a price. Alcohol disrupts the electrical patterns in your brain, stopping your brain from regulating your sleep rhythms properly. If you have persistent trouble sleeping you might want to think about minimizing your drinking.

I would also encourage people with trouble sleeping to cut off their caffeine intake even earlier in the day. Stop at lunch time/noon. If you are having persistent problems sleeping you might want to consider permanently reducing your caffeine intake or eliminating it altogether until you start sleeping well again. If you have a serious coffee or soda habit, please gradually step down to spare yourself some of the withdrawal symptoms. Green tea can be a great aide, as it has very little caffeine, but it has just enough caffiene to keep caffeine to keep withdrawal headaches away.

Lastly, you might want to read the book “Say Goodnight To Insomnia”. It was written by a Harvard researcher and pulls the best practices, as verified by real clinical research,together into one place. The author tries too hard to make the book friendly to a popular, sleep deprived, audience. You may find that the first few chapters sound like a snake oil pitch, but please soldier through reading those chapters( don’t skip them ). The advice in the book is incredibly good.