Devin’s Blog




photo by Maureen Benoit

Quote of the month:

What is the state of Yoga? A state of blissful depth, it allows for detachment from tainted views of self, the world and others.

Carol, Graduate of Rishi Yoga Institute


The definition of laughter is: “an expression or appearance of merriment or amusement. To express mirth, pleasure, with an audible, vocal expulsion of air and is usually accompanied by characteristic facial and bodily movement.”

“Merriment” and “amusement.” Odd words to use in modern times, yet just saying them can turn the corners of your mouth up just a little bit, relaxing tension in your face and lifting your Spirit just a little. Try it. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and say, out loud softly, “merriment and amusement” five times. Take another deep breath, and do it again. And one more time.  Three times is the charm.  Open your eyes and I believe you will feel more relaxed, more centered, more at ease. It works for me.

Now build on what you just did. As the corners of your lips lift, separate them, let your smile grow wider. Let it grow. Feel your cheeks lift and become round. Allow your lips to open a little further. Practice.  Both giving and receiving a smile can change your day,

There are even definite health benefits to laughter. It promotes relaxation. Having a sense of humor relieves physical tension and stress It stimulates circulation and aids in muscle relaxation. The positive relaxation effects can last for up to 45 minutes after a bout of good, hardy laughter. When you laugh, endorphins are released into the blood stream. These natural pain relievers promote a sense of relaxation and wellbeing.

Laughter boosts your immune system. The act of laughing decreases the secretion of epinephrine and cortisol. It reduces stress, promotes relaxation and improves circulation. Deep belly laughter is positively linked to the lymphatic (immune) system.

Laughter improves your mood. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, interferon-gamma (IFN) and serotonin. These are nature’s own feel good chemicals and are responsible for helping to keep your mood uplifted. Your mood in turn has a contagious effect on those around you. When you are happy you attract good vibrations from others If your mood is upbeat you are empowered to make more positive choices when confronted with life’s challenges.

Here’s a great one… laughter prevents heart disease.  A study at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that people with cardiac disease laughed 40% less at life situations than those without cardiac disease. Laughter may have a protective effect. Mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels. This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up and ultimately a heart attack.

Laughter shifts your perspective. Laughter allows us to entertain the absurd and imagine alternate possibilities. It stretches our imaginations and helps us to see things from various angles. It allows you to visualize situations in a more realistic light.  By creating psychological distance, laughter allows you to feel safe when confronted with anxiety provoking life situations.

And of course, laughter has social benefits. Laughing together with others fosters emotional connections. It improves co-operation, communication and romance. Various studies have found a correlation between laughter and positive patient outcomes, reduced hostility in schizophrenic patients, lower levels of psychopathology and positive provider=patient interactions.

Sooooo, the bottom line is laughter is goooooood for you! Chuckle with a friend, read a funny book or watch a funny movie. Just sit quietly and turn the corners of your mouth up. You will feel happier, more ready to deal with the day to day and simply more in love with life.

Have a beautiful month and laugh from the bottom of your belly at least once a day.


Body Talk

A monthly article written in easy to understand language to introduce you to the miraculous systems of the body and how they work to keep you healthy

Let’s talk fat. And, all fat is not created equal. Abdominal fat, especially the visceral fat stored deep inside, is much more dangerous than the flab on your hips, butt or thighs. The reason is location. Think of it this way, your liver and pancreas are like apartment buildings – they’re efficient, well-oiled machines that have been there forever. Belly fat is like the loud, disruptive neighbor who buys the building next door and turns it into an all night dance club and lets the whole place go to seed. Before you know it, there goes the whole neighborhood.

But this toxic fat doesn’t have to take up permanent residence beside these vital organs. Ground breaking research shows that exercise may be the key to blasting it off your belly. (Where have you all heard that before?) People who lose weight without exercise take the off the pounds but don’t reduce fat-cell size. People who lose weight AND exercise reduce fat-cell size by approximately 18%. Generally, the greater the fat-cell size, the greater the amount of abdominal fat. Good news is when you start working out and reducing calories, toxic abdominal fat may be the first that you shed.

There are three layers to our outer abdominal wall.

  1. Subcutaneous fat is right beneath the skin. It is commonly found in the buttocks, hips and abdomen. This fat is neither necessary nor healthy. It’s also significantly more dangerous when it is in your abdomen because it can adversely affect your internal organs.
  2. Muscle is the next layer. More muscle means you burn calories faster which helps with weight loss. Muscle is more dense and compact than fat and gives you a lean, strong body.
  3. Visceral or “Toxic” fat is found deep in the abdomen. It has access to your portal circulation, the highway of blood vessels around your organs and it likes to hop on. This can affect your liver’s ability to manage cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease. It also causes insulin, the hormone responsible for storing fat, to become less effective making you more susceptible to diabetes. Studies have also linked excess visceral fat to an increased risk of breast cancer although experts do not fully understand the connection.

What can we do to alleviate the visceral fat? One thing is to stop eating “trans fats”. What is a trans fat? An easy way to think about it is just avoid any oil that has been tampered with.  Hydrogenated oil is a trans fat that is used in fast foods, donuts, etc. Margarine is a trans fat. Research now tells us that actually, margarine is much worse for us than butter. No one has come up with a definitive reason why trans fats go straight for the abdomen but one theory is that the body doesn’t know what to do with this man-made fat and the abdomen is a quick place to store it. Another theory is that trans fats interfere with insulin and its job to distribute fat throughout the body. The American Heart Association recommends eating as little trans fats as possible, less than two grams a day. Remember that ALL fried foods have trans fats. Heating any oil changes the chemical structure of it, leading to and excess of trans fats.

Start working out and keep it up. Hate those twisting bicycles? Buck up and do them anyway. And don’t give up eating all fats. Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil and nuts can slash a woman’s risk of heart disease by 33% according to a new Harvard Health Study. Also, don’t skimp on sleep. A study on obesity at Columbia University medical Center showed that individuals who slept five hours a night were almost twice as likely to be obese as individuals who got seven hours sleep. Lack of sleep can add to your hunger because it knocks the appetite regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin out of whack so you crave sweet, salty snacks. And it can increase the stress hormone cortisol, which may be associated with abdominal fat.

Have realistic diet goals and respect and honor your body. Do things that make you feel good and that are good for you. Take a walk. Treat yourself to a massage. Before you know it, that extra ab flab will be nothing but a fleeting memory.

Source: Fitness Magazine, March 2007

Research, Wake Forest University

Pamela Peeke, M.D. assistant professor of medicine, University of Maryland

James Gangwisch, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center

Did you know???


ALERT – Food and drugs that don’t mix… Grapefruit juice is delicious however there are some medications that can be highly affected. It blocks a common enzyme that breaks down some drugs so extra medicine gets into you system. Even drinking a glass of juice a few days earlier can cause problems, so it’s best to abstain altogether.

Do not mix grapefruit juice with

  • Cholesterol-lowering statins like atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • The heartbeat regulating drug amiodarone (Cordarone)
  • Immunnosuppressants, including cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral) and tacrolimus (Prograf)
  • Antiretroviral agents like saquinavir (Fortovase)

Source: Evelyn Hermes-DeSantis, director of drug information services

Rutgers University

We’re designed to breathe through our nose. Mouth breathing is an evolutionary response to stress. When you breathe through your nose, you stimulate your vagus nerve, which helps reduce stress by slowing down your heart rate and relaxing blood vessels. You’ll feel more alert because you’re taking in more air and your response to stress will be much more controlled.

Source: Christiane Northrup, M.D.

The healthiest diet for humans is one that is high in alkaline foods. The balance between acid and alkaline in the body is the most basic and fundamental driving force of our bodily functions. The higher the acid in the body fluids, the lower the oxygen level. The higher the alkaline, the more oxygen rich. Every cell in the body needs oxygen to survive and reproduce. By adding alkaline rich raw fruits, vegetables and nuts to our daily diet and reducing the acid forming meats and grains we promote greater oxygenation in our cells. Happy cells are happy bodies and happy bodies are vibrant and full of life. So make sure your daily food intake consists of at least 60% raw, natural foods. If you would like to learn more, attend the April 7 Balancing workshop. Our speaker will be there to answer your questions.

Researchers analyzed dietary and eye data for 3,377 people ages 60 to 80 over an eight year period in cataract research. The result was that people who ate more white bread, sugary foods and other foods high on the glycemic index (a measurement of how quickly a food boosts blood sugar levels) were 29% more likely to develop cataracts than those who consumed less of these foods. Their theory is that high GI foods damage the eye lens by exposing the tissues to higher sugar levels than low GI foods.

Source: Chung-Jung Chiu, PhD. Assistant professor of ophthalmology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston

Researchers analyzed the dietary intakes of 1,574 lung cancer patients and 1,735 healthy controls over an eight years period. The results showed that men who ate the most foods rich in plant chemicals known as phytoestrogens, such as soy products, grains, fruits and vegetables, were 46% less likely to develop lung cancer than those who ate the least. For women, lung cancer risk was reduced by 34%. The theory is that phytoestrogens may inhibit lung cancer by binding to estrogen receptors (molecules that stimulate cancer cell growth in the presence of estrogen hormones (in men and in women).

Source: Matthew Schbath, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston

An injection of your own blood platelets (red blood cells) into the tendon of the elbow might just be the most effective way to treat tennis elbow. Research has shown that patients with ongoing elbow pain got a shot of their own plasma, their pain diminished by 60% compared with just 16% for those who got an injection of a local anesthetic. Blood platelets contain compounds that encourage cell growth needed to repair damaged tissue. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a concentrate of platelet –rich plasma protein derived from whole blood, then centrifuged to remove red blood cells. It has a greater concentration of growth factors than whole blood, and has been used to encourage a brisk healing response across many specialties, in particular dentistry, orthopedics and dermatology.

Source: The American Journal of Sports Medicine

Turn down the music!!! The average spin class exposes you to nearly nine times more noise in 45 minutes than what’s recommended over a duration of eight hours. Not just spin but many gyms and fitness studios are cranking up the volume. That’s a big problem because less than an hour of loud noise reorganizes the hearing circuits in your brain, leading to mild hearing loss. If you have to raise your voice to make yourself heard during class or your ears ring afterward, your hearing just took a hit and that information comes from the World Health Organization. And you might need music to power you through a treadmill routine but be very aware of those earbuds around the house and while you are hiking. Noise-induced damage depends on the duration and frequency of exposure in addition to volume. Listening to the Zen “sound of silence” will not only save your hearing but will reduce your noise related stress response. So when you hike, listen to the nature’s music. In your home, be aware of the peace that you can find in your own surroundings and save your hearing for the long, long life you have ahead of you.

Source: World Health Organization

Your blood pressure reading will almost always be lower if you are standing when it is taken.

Antibiotics decimate the healthy gut bacteria that strengthen immunity, fire up metabolism and improve mood. Without a thriving population of these bugs, the body is vulnerable to future infections and weight gain. It can take months to replenish the trillions of bacteria needed to optimize health and weight loss through diet alone. Fortunately, bacteriophages can help speed things along. These unique cellular organisms replicate good bateria’s DNA, quickly increasing levels of healthy bugs. In one study, subjects given bacteriophages saw a 100-fold increase in probiotic levels and a decrease in bad bacteria after 24 hours. To get the benefits, look for probiotics that contain phages.

Source: First for Women/Jayson Carlton, Ph.D.

Just in from the Journal of American Medicine…a follow up of more than 27,000 women who were in the original Women’s Health Initiative study that linked HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to a higher risk of breast cancer and heart problems, did not have a higher risk of cancer, heart attack or death than those given a placebo. If you are suffering from severe menopausal issues, discuss HRT with your doctor.

Journal of American Medicine




The practice of Vinyasa yoga is powered by the breath, not caffeine.

Source – Devin Morgan

The cancer fighter in your kitchen… Eating about 3 ounces of onions (cooked or raw) a day can reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by 73% and colon cancer by 56%. Researchers suspect the protective effect is due to high levels of antioxidants.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

The Eagle and the Crow.  Crows are incredible pests to eagles. They bait them, fly around them squawking and dive bombing them. Now, that eagle could engage…it could turn around and snap the crow in two, but does it? No, it’s an eagle. It can fly higher than the crow. It just spreads it’s enormous wings and rises higher and higher until it’s so high, the crow can’t follow. Eagles can fly so much higher than a crow. So, here’s my question…when conflict comes into your life, are you the eagle or the crow? Luckily, the choice is up to you.

Success breeds ambition

Bottled water holds the 2nd largest share of the beverage market in America. Today the average American drinks 39.3 gallons of bottled water a year. In 1999 the average was 16.2.

Source: Consumer Goods and FMCG

Personal excellence is doing the right thing when no one is watching

Eating walnuts with a meal high in saturated fat may limit damage to your arteries. The walnuts preserve the arteries’ elasticity because they contain an amino acid that the body uses to make nitrous oxide, which helps blood vessels expand. 8 raw walnuts are enough to do the trick so don’t over do.

Source: the American College of Cardiology

We love someone not for just who they are, but who we are when we are with them.

I believe we are all innately confident as children. Children believe they are invincible and can do anything. But as we grow up, we lose touch with ourselves and let other people’s opinions and thoughts get louder than our own. It’s so important to stay true to ourselves and find that confidence we had as children. Know that your opinion of yourself matters more than anybody else’s. Keep turning up the volume on your own voice, and don’t let other people’s voices drown you out. People who tell you they know you better than you know yourself need to get in touch with reality. Only you TRULY know who you are and how you feel. Be brave. Be strong. Speak loudly to yourself for true inspiration.

More ALERT on trans fats…In a research program at Harvard Medical School over an 8 year period, researchers examined data for 41,518 women and found that for every 1% increase in the portion of calories from trans fat the women ate resulted in a 1.7 pound weight gain. So here it is another way, A woman who eats 6 percent of calories from trans fat (that’s 120 calories in a 2,000 calorie diet) would be 12 pounds heavier after 8 years than a person eating the same number of calories with no trans fat.

Source: Researchers, Harvard Medical School

In 1960 the average American woman weighed 140.2 pounds. Today she clocks in at 168, has a waist of 38.1 inches and is just under 5 feet 4 inches. The average American man over age 20 weighs 195.7 pounds, has a waist of 40.0 inches and the average height of 5 feet 8 inches. The average weight of women today is the same as the weight of men in 1960. One third of American adults and one sixth of children in America are obese. In the last twenty years obesity rates doubled for adults and tripled for children. That’s approximately 78 million adults and 12 million children.  Now, here’s the thing we don’t think about…fuel consumption and weight gain. And I don’t mean food as fuel, I mean gasoline as fuel. Read these statistics and be amazed.

938 million extra gallons of fuel cars consume per year

2.2 billion dollars extra money spent on fuel for cars per year because of weight gain

350 million extra gallons of fuel airplanes consumed per year because of weight gain.

275 million extra dollars spent per year on plane fuel because of weight gain

Source: University of Illinois

Center for Disease Control

Keeping a steady weight for 5 years gives people stronger immune systems. Weight fluctuations, whether up or down, seem to impair the body’s ability to produce infection-fighting cells.

Source: Cornelia Ulrich, Ph.D., Journal of the American Dietetic Association

97% of earth’s water is undrinkable.

A little more about visceral fat… You raise your risk of heart disease if your waistline is greater than 32 for women and 35 for men. Excess abdominal fat can create dangerous hormonal changes that that contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Source: Elizabeth Bower, M.D., Oregon Health and Science University

Whether you walk or run, humans burn about 100 calories per hour

People are affected not by what is “real”, but by their own perception of what is real based on their own past experiences.

You should be able to squeeze 50 pounds of pressure with one hand. This is a key indicatory of your overall muscle strength and may be a sign of how likely you are to develop osteoporosis. Studies suggest that people with a strong grip have denser bones and a lower risk for spine and hip fractures. To measure your grip strength, squeeze a device called a hand dynamometer available at some gyms in the area.

Source: Elizabeth Bower, M.D., Oregon Health and Science University

And last but not least, Mattel’s Barbie has a full name. It’s Barbara Millicent Roberts. Ken is Kenneth Carson.

Knowing little known facts is fun!

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our ears and nose never stop growing.

If you are in possession of a little known fact, email me and I’ll share it with everyone.