Why do you ‘om’ in yoga class?

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS -

The rea­sons for put­ting in the hours on the mat are boun­ti­ful: vis­i­ble tri­ceps, a steady mind, li­cence to spend silly money on a yoga bralette. Less ap­peal­ing to many is that bit, post-savasana, when you’re asked to end the ses­sion by mak­ing what is es­sen­tially a deep hum. ‘The om serves to rit­u­alise the time you’re spend­ing to care for your­self and tune out of daily life,’ says Mandy Ing­ber, yoga teacher and au­thor of Yo­ga­los­o­phy For In­ner Strength*. But why does it have to be that par­tic­u­lar om sound? Ing­ber ex­plains that its ‘vi­bra­tional fre­quency’ oc­curs through­out na­ture and is thought to have emo­tional heal­ing prop­er­ties. But be­fore you pass this off as new-age non­sense, lim­ited re­search on the sub­ject sug­gests get­ting your om on can have le­git­i­mate psy­cho­log­i­cal ben­e­fits. A Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia study found that yo­gic chant­ing was twice as ef­fec­tive in im­prov­ing de­pres­sive symp­toms and over­all men­tal well­be­ing as lis­ten­ing to re­lax­ing clas­si­cal mu­sic. ‘The ac­tual vi­bra­tion the sound makes in your body slows the mind and calms the ner­vous sys­tem,’ says Ing­ber. Get om it.

QCan quinoa re­ally give me leaky gut syn­drome?

The for­mer dar­ling of the su­per­food scene is un­der fire from pa­leo en­thu­si­asts. Their claim? Quinoa can cause a leaky gut (where your in­testi­nal wall lets undi­gested food and tox­ins pass into the blood­stream). ‘They blame saponins, which are com­pounds in the quinoa seed’s outer coat­ing,’ says Dr Me­gan Rossi of King’s Col­lege Lon­don. ‘They bind to other vi­ta­mins and min­er­als in food, and can make it harder for your body to di­gest and ab­sorb them.’ But let’s not get overex­cited – if that were rea­son enough to purge your cup­boards of quinoa, you’d need to empty your veg­etable drawer too. ‘Saponins are found in spinach as well, but the leaves are worth eat­ing be­cause they’re an ex­cel­lent source of di­etary fi­bre,’ ex­plains Dr Rossi. Plus, rinse your quinoa pre-cook­ing and you’ll re­move most of the saponins any­way. The bot­tom line? If quinoa – or any other food – causes you an is­sue, talk to a di­eti­tian. If not: as you were.

QCould the pill be killing my li­bido?

The con­tra­cep­tive pill isn’t for ev­ery­one and can trig­ger a ton of un­de­sir­able ef­fects. But, since med­i­ca­tions work dif­fer­ently for each of us, there is no de­fin­i­tive way to know whether it’s to blame for your li­bido fall­ing off a cliff. If you sus­pect a link, go to your GP. ‘Your sex life is im­por­tant – if you feel med­i­ca­tion is com­pro­mis­ing that, it’s your right to ex­plore other op­tions,’ says Dr Kris­ten Mark, sex­ual health ex­pert at the Univer­sity of Ken­tucky. But be care­ful that you’re not blam­ing your med­i­ca­tion be­cause it’s the easy op­tion. Dr Mark be­lieves the messy con­tex­tual fac­tors of your re­la­tion­ship have the great­est im­pact on how horny you are. So, if you’re never in the mood, dig a bit deeper. Ask your­self how happy you are in your re­la­tion­ship – but also if you’re put­ting in too much over­time at work, or not sleep­ing enough, which both slam the brakes on your sex drive. ‘Peo­ple in­cor­rectly think of sex­ual de­sire as be­ing sta­ble, but it’s ac­tu­ally some­thing that ebbs and flows,’ Dr Mark ex­plains. ‘And when it does, you need to lis­ten to that.’

Bend over back­wards

Pour­ing grain

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