Friday, January 3, 2014

Flexibility and Diet

Can we affect our flexibility with diet and herbs?
We are what we eat. Our nourishment saturates, transforms, builds and re-wires our cells, nerves, DNA, tissues, muscles, mind... even our soul. No wonder the term "soul food" is so popular. Or the series of books "(Veggie) Chicken soup for the soul" resonate with so many people. Because food can affect every layer of our being all the way up into the soul spheres. 
My core belief is that food and herbs are what builds and maintains our body and health. And that's the reason why I am not just a passionate herbalist, actually I am crazy about herbs :). And I apply herbs into every aspect of my life. Herbology is also my way of paying respects and admiring Mother Nature in her vast profound intelligence.
And to be clear herbs are food, they are just an extremely potent, concentrated form of food.
OK now let's get to the theme of this blog.
If you google flexibility and herbs there is the same information regurgitated over and over. And it seems like there is very little authored unique content and a few quite misleading articles. I don't know about you but I would like to learn from people's direct experiences...

I have had my own personal journey into flexibility and my own ways and techniques of developing it, supporting it and deepening it. Things that have worked for me:

1. Alkaline plant based diet- that's a given. An acidic body is inflamed, stiff, injury prone and most of all CONTRACTED! (contraction as the opposite of expansion) Add a lot of melons, berries, citrus and bananas, coconuts (potassium, electrolytes in general) to your diet. Eat fruit on empty stomach away from grains and proteins. Eat lots of greens and veggies. Make fruits and veggies the main bulk of your diet and eat small amounts of the more concentrated or animal foods. 

2. A low sodium diet can help- again sodium is a contracting substance and tends to pull our QI/ energy in and draw it down, it has an inward and downward motion, which is needed in small quantities.(chinese medicine food energetics concept) Salt is especially helpful in winter when we need to contract and ground and go in.

3. HYDRATION - this is another obvious one. Keeping our cells hydrated, flushing the kidneys and cleansing the body with water is key in maintaining a clean and functioning digestive system.  It's great to drink plenty of pure water, tea and even green juices. Adding water rich fruits and vegetables can support our detox, nourishment, alkaline state of body and of course our fitness.

4. Specific herbs for muscular and joint flexibility- slippery elm, licorice, saffron, astragalus, ashwagandha, horsetail, agar agar (a favorite of mine and a vegan jello), seaweed, flax seed, celery, cayenne (improves circulation), ginseng, okra (slimy like cartilage), burdock. (if you notice the theme is slimy brews, roots that bend, plants that have natural flexibility in them, adaptogenic herbs, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic herbs), cat's claw (a flexible vine), turmeric & ginger & galangal (they look like arthritic joints),  yucca root (contains specific saponins known to reduce inflammation, stiffness, arthritis, pain and swelling of the joints), flowering quince fruit (anti-rheumatic), and the list goes on and on.
I am also using the principle of similarities - foods that look like organs, or plants that grow in conditions that require certain adaptation skills or plants that remind us of qualities in humans. If you are not getting this concept thats perfectly fine! My wish for this article is to open more questions than give answers so we can go deeper,  learn more from personal experience, inquire more, study more, experiment more, realize more, experience more  and overall grow and expand exponentially :)

5. THINGS TO AVOID! A diet high in meat, dairy, eggs, and concentrated cooked foods, coked fats, a diet high in fats, processed foods, old, canned foods. Avoid a diet high in protein -it makes the body stiff, more solid, tight, acidic and it's very damaging for the kidneys. Stay away from mucus forming foods (dairy, grains), acidic foods (most grains, meats, old food)

All in all if you are familiar with AYURVEDA avoid too much 
Tamasic Foods -  foods that dull the mind, the body and the senses.  This would include old, stale foods, heavy meats, cheeses, rancid foods, processed foods, low quality foods. 
Instead Opt for food that lifts you up & calms you down,  food that invigorates your mind and senses, stimulates you intellectually and 
food that gives you joyous energy :)

6. Not a diet tip- but keep learning how to breathe. We are here to  continuously deepen our breath and thus deepen our connection to source! (I will write more on the subject of breathing soon) Breathing techniques have been one of the main tools I have used in deepening my own personal flexibility. 

7. Mental attitude- try not to get stuck in a mental rut, avoid being self-righteous, avoid dogma,  stay away from teachings that give you strict inflexible rules, you get the picture :)


Ali Kamenova


  1. I really liked this article. I too am a lover of herbs, but reading your list of foods made me so excited for the things I have not tried! Your recipes are fantastic and so was this post! Please keep the info coming! It is so helpful and encouraging. Clean mind and body is a journey that is extremely important to me and I have no doubt other people will benefit from your knowledge!

    1. NaturalAmazon thank you so much!!!! Yes, isn't it exciting to have all these amazing tools and plants to support us on our journey to more refined, more connected human beings! I will make sure to write on regular basis- anything that can be of help to others is worth writing! Love and Blessings

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  3. I think you gave a good schematic summary of what is known about the matter. It's certainly well done and quite complete, but I'm not sure (as far as my personal experience concerns) that food and nutrition are the main aspects affecting flexibility. Of course they do, but I think that flexibility is related and has to be linked to some other (more important) aspects.
    I actually know plenty of ballet dancers, gymnasts and also "normal" people (who never did any physical activity) with a meat- and (animal) protein-based diet being highly flexible like I probably never will. And I know vegans and vegetarians being stiff as a board. I think you got the point with...point 7;-)
    What most affects our body and its characteristics are first (psychological and emotional) traumas, the way we elaborate our life experience and the way we perceive the world and our surroundings. But most of all our body and its status (health, etc.) depend on...our shapes-thoughts! As well as on our inner thoughts and beliefs.
    And once again: while it's true, of course, that nutrition affects (or can affect) our thoughts, it's also true that this relationship is not always so direct.
    I know so many vegans being silly people and behaving so badly, while there are lots of meat-dependent people (supposedly aggressive) being so nice, smart and kind.
    You can eat veggs, fruits and herbs as much as you want, but if you are poisoned innerly (emotionally and energetically), it will all be useless. Also with reference to your health.
    Everything affects everything...that's true. But it always depends on how the individual then elaborates its life-experience and what he/she beliefs in.

    1. Walter I think either I have not made it clear or you missed the point. flexibility is a result of practice and physical capacity but i am offering a more broad and not very popular addition to your practice. i am well aware that you can achieve a lot and still be unhealthy but thats not my mission. my mission is to spread healthy attitudes and habits the way i see it obviously. its all based on personal opinions. i know yoga teachers who say that their flexibility changes dramatically as soon as they stop eating a lot of meat. so there i s a reason why the ancient yoga books advise certain observance. another thing is i am not gonna offer mainstream information cos that's not how my mind works. its my unique approach :D

    2. No, you made it very clear,'s only a question of focus and perspectives! But it's quite ok. Also because what you told is already common knowledge and largely tested. And thus...true:-)

    3. Once again we agree hehe ;) Yes everything is so interconnected and interdependent. we can't just address stretching or food or breathing alone and solve it all. But they do add to the whole and affect each other. The way your thoughts can affect your tissues, your tissues can affect your thoughts. Your food can affect your mind and emotions .... or you can just use the power of visualization.... :) No one way to do it :D That's the beauty and complexity AND simplicity of it! but i am opening up a discussion/contemplation. and i don't mean to have covered it all. the quest for knowledge is endless <3

  4. Makes complete sense! Thank you for the incredilbe knowledge that you provide! As well as the kick ass yoga amazing!!!! :)
    I can relate to your approach and am grateful to have found you on utube!! (Love your style of practice!!!)

    1. I am so glad you are relating! Sending love <3

  5. ali this i a good read. you keep on giving us new and i must say unconventional information about health and fitness. it's just interesting what you said about proteins and grains. i have read a lot of articles which say that proteins and grains are good for the body. in fact, as a Filipino i eat white rice on a daily basis and i'm trying to up my protein in take coz i know it builds muscles. what is your take on this? if we should avoid grains and proteins, what should we substitute them with?

    1. hehe Jayzel I agree, my approach is extremely unconventional :) I would't worry about rice. Organic or GMO-free rice can be healthy. It's healthy carbs. I am more concerned about hybridized wheat, high in gluten and other grains, including GMO corn. Traditional Filipino diet is healthy :) Just make sure it's not too high in fat. As far as protein goes my protein intake is around 10% of my diet - I don't eat high in protein foods except for tofu here and there and i find it to be sufficient. My strength and recovery time is great :) As far as substituting certain grains- try to add as many fruits and veggies as you can. Even higher in calories fruits such bananas so that you can get your healthy carbs :) hope that helps. we'll keep the diet discussion going <3

    2. thanks ali. we have lots of banana here and i try to eat them on a daily basis. and yeah i'm still taking my fruit and veggie shake almost everyday lol. how about oats? is it ok? coz i love oatmeal.

    3. if it doesn't bother your belly it's fine. you can always experiment and exclude food items and watch how you feel after you include them :)

  6. When I quit eating cheese, I noticed increased flexibility in my body. And overall, plants-based diet works wonders for me. At the same time yes, we are all different, and we should probably experiment more with food to learn more about our bodies and how we feel based on what we eat.
    Thanks for the great info!

  7. You look amazing! I love when people are conscious of their health and lead an active lifestyle. We're only given one body after-all! Thanks for posting informative tips.Waiting for your next post!

  8. Nice article! Thank you so much for sharing! Can you recommend any books to read about this? Keep up the good work!