UnBLOK by Manduka: Product review

manduka unblok

manduka unblok

The UnBLOK is a yoga block that’s rounded and convex on one side. It’s one of Manduka’s most recent innovations, and I’m a big fan.

To begin with, I want to clarify that I love rounded things because they don’t hurt me when I walk into (or in this case, fall onto!) them. Indeed, this rounded feature has been my favorite part of the UnBLOK. I can comfortably lean back onto it and do a chest opener without having a corner poke into my back! Since I do chest openers most days, even when I’m not doing a full practice, I have used it almost daily since receiving it.

I have also been using it like a regular block throughout practice. Some of my top uses for it include stability in balance poses, as well as to prop up my supported shoulder stands and a supported bridge pose now that I’m more pregnant and feeling it in practice.

My chief concern with the UnBLOK was that it might be less stable. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to work with a pair of these to try elevated transitions in arm-balances, for example, I haven’t had any issues. The convex side of the block is the side you’d hold in your hand in such poses, however, so I do anticipate the possibility of aggravating wrist issues using the UnBLOK directly in arm-balance situations.

The look and feel of the UnBLOK is also unique. The texture is smooth and comfortable, and the color of my block is a beautiful aqua (marketed as “breeze”), which is relaxing to look at. Plus, more than 50% of the materials it’s made of are recycled; it’s eco-friendly and sustainably sourced, just like most of Manduka’s products. It’s more solid (less foamy-feeling) than most of the blocks I’ve used in various yoga studios (including Gaiam and Yogitoes brands) although it is still made out of foam and lightweight. This is a plus for me because the block feels more solid beneath my weight, and because the sides are rounded anyway the potential problem of a hard corner poking in your back was solved in its design. That just about rounds out everything I could think of about the UnBLOK, please let me know if you have any questions, and get your own UnBLOCK here!  http://www.manduka.com/us/shop/categories/products/gear/recycled-foam-unblok/

“You’re Never Alone” Mentality

brain

brain

As the media show us almost daily, a single individual has the power to destroy others lives instantly. Bystanders are often put in harms way because someone has lost touch with humanity and succumbed to their irrational emotions. But we all are only human, and developing a mentality of never being alone can help society improve the quality of life for everyone. I wanted to write about this topic for Mental Health Day.

Countless cases have shown instances of physical brain trauma, from undetected tumors to accidents or even chronic stress, which have altered people’s decision-making abilities.[1] A least a portion of the harmful acts in the world happen due to such a loss of control, which anyone could experience! What if we could spot this loss of control? Or train people to recognize it in themselves and in people that are confiding in them?  And could we teach everyone to seek professional help at that point?

The first step is to follow Machiavelli’s advice: “Know your enemy and know thyself.” We tend to distance ourselves from people who we don’t understand, instead of trying to see situations from an opposing perspective. By respecting everyone’s point of view, and encouraging open and respectful discourse in the case of disagreements, we can build a foundation upon which people will learn to be vocal in times of need. It will be a strategy that will not only protect us from potential harm, but also help grow and learn as individuals.

I'm Blogging for Mental Health.Through listening to different viewpoints respectfully we all become much more accepting, broadening our horizons. Most importantly, listening and acceptance reduces the isolation from society that many people feel at one point or another, or even consistently throughout their lives. It diminishes the prevalence of negative stereotypes, including racist and sexist assumptions that have been slowing the evolution of our society for millennia.

We can never prevent all bad events from happening. But we can definitely seek to improve our own lives, and those around us, through the simple act of listening and accepting people who are different. At times, we may all need to seek professional help – whether it’s for ourselves or someone who has confided in us – and doing so could change countless lives for the better.

Myth Debunking: Beans cause gas

black beans

black beans

Beans are an important part of my diet as a legume with a high fiber and protein content.[1] I eat them daily, and it hadn’t crossed my mind recently that they may cause gas, until the subject came up during work discussions surrounding our Cinco de Mayo potluck preparations. Since then, I’ve been wondering: are beans a musical fruit that makes you toot?

A recent research study found that the myth that beans make people gassy is vastly exaggerated. Less than 50% of participants became more gassy when they introduced beans into their diet, and black-eyed peas specifically caused less than 19% of participants to become flatulent.[2] So while one type of bean may make you fart, your body may react differently to another kind of beans.

Another study found that if you pre-soak beans prior to cooking them you actually allow them to ferment a little, which introduces bacteria that prevents flatulence.[3][4] Therefore, the gas you may experience after eating beans could also be caused as a result of how they were prepared.

About two months ago, I slow-cooked a large batch of pre-soaked beans and packaging them in 2-cup zip-locks to freeze and eat later. I tend to eat about 2 cups of black beans a week, which is why I packaged them in that quantity. I never expected that cooking my own beans, instead of eating canned beans, would reduce the odds of gassiness – this is yet another example of the unintentional positive effects of avoiding processed food.  I thought that I was just avoiding sodium!

For some people, beans may cause gas, but for most of us they are a healthy, filling food that can be eaten regularly with no worries. Additionally, if you do have symptoms of flatulence, pre-soaking beans and cooking them can naturally help your body deter the gas. It’s worth the effort given their nutritional benefits, which include high-quality protein, low fat and high-fiber content.[5]