Why do you ‘om’ in yoga class?
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